Monday, January 28, 2008

"Show Me" Church Planting Fund Update

Today I had the chance to interview Darren Casper, who is overseeing the Show Me Partnership fund for the churches affected by the MBCEB's decision to withdraw financial support for Acts 29 church plants here in MO. He graciously gave me an update on the funding issues and his opinions on the future of Southern Baptist and Acts 29 Network relations.

Here is the paraphrase of our Q&A:

Q: What is the current goal of the fund?
A:
$24,000.

Q: What are the total contributions to the fund to date?
A:
$14,000. So we are about $10,000 away from meeting the goal.

Q: What churches are receiving the financial help?
A: There are two. Believer's Church in Hannibal, MO and Karis Community Church in Columbia, MO. They had conversations with the MBC to try to restore their funding as budgeted for them prior to the EB's vote but were unsuccessful. This was unfortunate, because these churches in no way violated any agreements with the MBC. The other Acts 29 churches are not affected by the defunding.

Q: Are these churches already receiving funding as of 2008?
A: Yes. As a matter of fact, their first checks were mailed out today.

Q: Who has contributed to the Show Me fund?
A: The St. Louis Metro Baptist Association started the fund with $5,000. A couple of individual churches within the Association have given some in addition to that startup amount. There have also been churches in Florida, Washington, and Texas that have made donations as well. Specifically, the church headed by Tom Ascol (who leads the Founders Ministries) in FL has contributed.

Q: How many churches and individuals together have made donations?
A: Eight total.

Q: On the local church level, what has been the response/attitude toward the MBCEB's decision to defund Acts 29 church plants?
A: There are 140 churches in the Association. I would say that a vast majority of churches in the association are disappointed with the timing of the decision. It would have been less disappointing if the EB made such a vote after fulfilling the current budgeted committment to these churches.

Q: In your opinion, do MBC churches understand the Acts 29 Network?
A: No, they do not, and this has been a problem in MO Baptist life.

Q: Will the Show Me fund continue on and help future Acts 29 church plants in MO?
A: Our first priority is to make up the shortfall for Believer's and Karis. Beyond that, we'll just have to see. The Association does give to four Acts 29 churches already.

As for what does the situation here in MO means for Southern Baptists in general, Casper is optimistic that SBC leaders in other states and nationally will weigh the partnership issue more carefully.

I hope so.

What the immediate need is for more than eight parties to donate to help fund Believer's and Karis through the year. Donations can be sent to

Show Me Partnership
c/o Darren Casper
St. Louis Metro Baptist Association
3859 Fee Fee Rd.
Bridgeton, MO 63044

Friday, January 25, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Ouroboros Collection -1-

Abortion Does More Than Kill

It robs.

In 1975, abortion was newly legalized. My mother was 41 years old and pregnant by surprise (with yours truly). If she had followed her doctor's suggestion to abort, she would not have the pleasure of enjoying these lovely grandkids.




The Ouroboros Collection -Intro-

The Ouroboros Collection is a name I've chosen for a series on reasons and considerations on the abortion debate. Traditionally, the Ouroboros is a symbol used to represent the cycle of life, the yin-yang of the Tao, or alchemy.

I am repurposing this symbol. Instead of representing a cycle of life, light and dark, and whatever several other cultures use it to represent, I christen it the cycle of death. As the snake seeks life by devouring its own tail, it consigns itself to an inevitable death.

So I believe our society's acceptance of abortion inevitably leads to death and destruction even as we claim to seek a more productive and convenient life through its practice.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Think, St. Louis Metrovoice

The February 2008 issue of the St. Louis Metrovoice features articles written by Michael Spielman, taken from Abort73.com. All articles are superb arguments for the pro-life case, thoughtfully and winsomely written and articulated. One of them in particular, titled "The Cost of Life", is particularly noteworthy, for Spielman prefaces his main argument with a lengthy reference to the movie Schindler's List. Great movie. Great article. But...

Tsk tsk, Metrovoice. Don't you know that Schindler's List is rated R?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Mormons!"

Dan Phillips from TeamPyro has written a cute account of his most recent encounter with Mormon (LDS) missionaries at his doorstep. Though he admits not knowing much about LDS teaching, I'd say that he hit on the right questions with the right tack, proving that you don't need to know much about Mormonism to have a successful dialogue with their missionaries. You just need to know how to ask good questions (and know the answers to your own questions as well).

I count all the households with thoughtful Christian people that get visits from Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses providentially blessed indeed. Do note I said "thoughtful." I mean, don't we Christians regularly pray for opportunities to share the gospel? What better opportunity is there when they literally appear on our front door?!?

Hats off to Dan for a job well done. The TeamPyro blog kicks my ire once in a while, but they've proven that old doggs can learn new tricks. ;-)
(disclaimer: The Damsel is neither calling TeamPyro "old" nor "dogs." Gotta keep those i's dotted...)

The question I have is this: can you handle it?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bananas, Coconuts, Oreos...

crackers, and chocolate.

From petty insults to New Orleans' Myr. Ray Nagin's deplorable "chocolate city" statements, those who make race-based caricatures of people as food items should be ashamed of themselves.

Are we talking about people?

And about bananas, coconuts, oreos, crackers, and chocolate? I happen to like all those!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Firing Line of 15 Against Calvinism. Wow.

I started out writing this blog in a serious attempt to critique the latest Baptist Press article about Calvinism and the SBC. But as I perused it over and over again trying to understand what the blink it was really saying, the more my thoughts kept getting satirical in nature. So, that's where I'm going with it. Besides, Timmy Brister has already given the more pointed eval, so I won't bother repeating what he has already blogged.

Objectively, this article reads like a conversation with Don Quixote, logically impaired but full of inuendo. As a Baptist, I totally understand it. Follow the line of thinking in the article:

John Piper is a Calvinist that speaks at big events--->preachers who wear Hawaiian shirts don't tell people they're going to hell--->Bill Hybels' seeker methodology discourages evangelism--->therefore, that would make Bill Hybels a Calvinist.

Southern Baptists have neglected "serious Christian education"--->Calvinism is on the rise among those in higher education (college and seminary) seeking "a more intellectual approach to Christianity"--->therefore, some serious Christian education should reverse that intellect that is plaguing Calvinists so much.

My husband says that this article, if not those being interviewed for it, is just spraying bullets every which way. I kinda agree.

Okay, I'll break with my above demeanor just to ask the following serious questions, in places where the article seems to leave the reader hanging:

In one paragraph, the article states "Calvinist-led churches are generally smaller in worship attendance and baptisms than non-Calvinist churches," but goes onto point out that John Piper preaches to "huge, stadium-type events" (according to Hal Poe). Is this ridicule for having generally smaller worship attendance congruent with the high attendance seen at Piper's speaking events? Which of these contrasting venues is evidence of error?

Further down, Poe throws out that Piper's popularity is due to his passion. Passion about what? His passion about Calvinism? Apparently the content of Piper's sermons and speaking topics are less important than how he feels about it, which must certainly make his theology so much more appealing.

Wayne Bristow expresses that Calvinism has forced him to be "labeled." Labeled what, exactly?
And what about this?
[Jerry]Drace told the group he currently is working with some young pastors who
are "so leaning in this morphed Calvinism that they almost laugh at evangelism.
It's almost to the extent that they believe they don't have to do it. So
[Calvinism] gives them an excuse not to do evangelism."
Without explaining what "morphed Calvinism" is compared to nonmorphed Calvinism, I'm detecting a bit of fraud in this quote. What Calvinist-leaning person, who truly understands Calvinism, seeks to avoid evangelism? Names, please, so they can be slapped upside...

All this brings me to my final question: although Poe and Drace each claim that Calvinism as it is believed today is foreign to John Calvin himself (and Spurgeon as well), the article never lays out what makes today's Calvinism different than it ever was. How do they understand Calvinism better as it was framed by Calvin than today's reformed Christians? Besides, there is the little matter of Augustine to deal with before Calvin.

This article gets a "D-" for poor writing and poor content.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Oh Joy.

Seems like Joy Behar accepted Weird Al's challenge to "Dare to Be Stupid." Her outrageous reasoning on why the Catholic Church has not declared any saints in the modern era (with the possible exception of Mother Teresa) rivals Caitlin Upton's ( Miss Teen South Carolina 2007) unintelligible answer about maps. According to Ms. Behar, Catholic saints were mentally ill, and since we treat mentally ill people with meds nowadays, in a twist of irony, the pool of available saints has effectively dried up.

Thankfully, Father Jonathan Morris has provided a pointed, yet gentle critique of Joy Behar's disrespectful and off-base remarks.
In true irony, Ms. Behar’s “comedic” monologue — meant to make a serious point —
turns out to be rather funny. She tried to use Mother Teresa to prove her point
that modern saints (that don’t exist?) don’t hear voices anymore (because they
take psychiatric medicine?). But Mother Teresa, in fact, did hear voices and
they were not dissimilar to the ones heard by Joan of Arc, the French saint and
true feminist who Ms. Behar suggested needed a prescription of Thorazine.
Personally, I'm less amused at her motivation for making such comments rather than at the comments themselves. If anyone denies that the Christian faith is the whipping-boy of the secular media and its majority of voiceboxes, I'll gladly point back to Ms. Behar and Rosie O'Donnell again and again. Such tv personalities use their airtime to pontificate their certainty that Christianity is false and oppressive. They, in effect, are preachers of anti-Christianity. They can sure dish it out, but can they take it in kind?

Now, a few distinctions are in order. When Ms. Behar refers to "saints," I know she is referring to Roman Catholic saints. Not being Roman Catholic myself, I can't speak to the specific criteria of sainthood of the Catholic Church. But I can defend my own biblically derived understanding of sainthood and where Ms. Behar is completely off the map (pun entirely intended). In the evangelical perspective, sainthood is conferred onto every believer in Jesus. The Spirit of God communicates to every believer through Scripture and through divine conviction, which is wrought through various means (prayer, reasoning, life experiences), including visions if God so wills.

All true believers have experienced God's revelation in one or more of these ways. No amount of meds in the world can squelch that.

It is evident now that Joy Behar has never experienced God then. Otherwise, wouldn't she be on Thorazine as proof?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Trash Day








Mondays are trash day. With camera in hand, I took a stroll down our street to give you a look at what trash days typically look like around here.

The second photo has, I think, four 20lb. bags of cat litter plus other trash. It could be five bags of cat litter...

The third, fourth, and fifth photo (close-up of fourth photo)--just about everything you see is recyclable.

The last can is ours. In a week, we don't even fill it up all the way. But, I don't post this to say how great I am and how everyone else is trash city. Certainly not everyone on the block puts out equal to my worst case neighbors, and I'm definitely no ecovironut by any measure. But how about a little restraint? The weekly trash output is astounding, especially given the few people that actually occupy each house. Recycle your trash, people.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What Are My Credentials?

Tim Challies has written a book called The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment.

He operates a great blog and has made himself known as a terrific Christian thinker in the blogosphere. In spite of that, some other bloggers think that blogging is all he is qualified to do, since Challies has no higher (Christian) education. Before I get into whether this is fair or not, I would like to point out that such questioning applies perfectly to me as well. So, whatever befalls Tim Challies in the numerous comboxes out there also sets a the temperature of my reception out in Christendom should I, too, write a book one day.

Compared to the average layperson in a similar lifestage to mine, my mainstage interests in theology and philosophy (and politics, I grudgingly admit) are unusual. Through NO church influence, I began studying Christian apologetics, culture, and theology at age 12. I became a believer in Reformed Theology at age 19, again, not as a result of any church/pastoral influence, but by the biblical and theological strength of Calvinism, aside from the divine conviction that this was so. But as a Calvinist, I would say such a thing, wouldn't I? :)

Now, as an adult, I find that that the God-given learning experiences I have diverge greatly from most other moms and homemakers. It's weird, because I don't see myself as being particularly different that any other SAHM with wee ones. But I'm blogging and reading Alister McGrath (if and when I can) when many of my mom-friends hardly know what blogging is and are reading, for lack of a better term, chick books (not that there's anything wrong with that...).

I have credibility and speak authoritatively on topics I know well to the people who know me. For Tim Challies, the situation is the same. Those who have endorsed his book know him and his strengths. They are confident enough in him as a Christian thinker to support him. As I see it, he fares much better than many a pastor who have written pure heresy (Benny Hinn, anyone?).

Blogger Mike Leake has blogged three considerations addressing credibility in the Christian world:
1) If they have an accurate Christology as clearly revealed in Scripture
then perhaps it is from God.
2) If their teaching sounds like the world, then it is not from God. (This is where the Osteen's and prosperity teachers fall off). If their teaching matches up to what is revealed in Scripture then it should be received.
3) What do trusted believers say concerning the matter?
Since the Holy Spirit dwells in believers and he confirms truth, what is the
consensus of godly men. Since this one is the most subjective it is the most
unreliable, but still should be strongly considered. Ultimately our trust in
discerning these matters should be in the Lord.


The rest of his post is great, so I highly recommend everyone to take a look.

Ultimately, credibility is found in the truth. Anything written, said, or implied by Christians as public message must correlate with Truth (with Schaeffer's capital "T"), whether it be Tim Challies, seminary students, or a humble homemaker like myself.

The thing I'd like to throw out there: Christian teachers and leaders aren't made, they're born (you might say reborn). The luxury of a seminary education may be out of reach or for some individuals. For others, seminary isn't a divinely appointed thing. In either case, formal Christian ed shouldn't be held as a prerequisite to the edifying of the Church.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Playing into the Media's Hands

As much fun as this MBC/A29 snub has been, I'd like to touch on an angle that has received little attention, and that is how the media has played a role in how things have shaped up. That is, unless you have been living under my roof, because I've been sounding off about Tim Townsend and Jennifer London since the "Beer and the Bible" article appeared on the front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch early this year.

But, that's about to change.

Basically, Southern Baptists have repeatedly fed the beast that is the liberal media. Among the newsworthy events: Texas SBC faction secedes from the Union--er, the SBC; Next, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship secedes from the SBC. In MO, secession by Word & Way newspaper, The Baptist Home, Missouri Baptist University, Windermere Conference Center, and Missouri Baptist Foundation. And now, the rejection of the Acts 29 Network by the MBC. Hmm, a trend. The media has certainly eaten well this decade.

This is a minor point with larger ramifications. The current stink about the MBC and A29 over alcohol should be an internal matter that only impacts the respective parties involved, but sadly, this is not the case. Newspaper and tv reporters can and are blowing disputes among Christians up into juicy news. This might get them a plaque on their cubicle wall, but I daresay that they'd like to make this yet another black eye to parade to the public about how conservative Christians cannot do anything but disagree and split...

especially here in MO. Regardless of the specifics, the implication is that Southern Baptists cannot help but focus on issues that divide Christians rather than on unity for the gospel's sake.

When are we going to lose this image? When is conscience going to override the tendency to play clique-religion within the Christian faith? Why are our leaders of the Conservative Resurgence, supposing to right the wrongs the theological liberals committed during their leadership, not doing any better than those they have deposed? At this juncture in the MBC saga, I predict not too few aspiring young leaders will seek opportunities to preach and lead outside of the SBC. What then? Perhaps by their absence, the current SBC leadership will come to realize just what they have become, a beauracracy of stubbornness that holds legalism as a higher ideal over the preaching of the gospel. Maybe it will come to that and maybe it won't. But if decisions like the one the MBCEB has made toward A29 spread across the country, the SBC is finished.

And wouldn't that be one salacious story for the front page of the newspapers?