Three times each semester the Institute for Biblical Worship at Southern Seminary hosts a special speaker and lunch for the worship majors enrolled in the Boyce College and Seminary music and worship programs. In the past we’ve had a wide variety of guests including Matt Boswell, Keith Getty and Mike Harland. We try to expose our students to influential voices in the area of worship leadership and ministry beyond the classroom. You can hear recordings of past presentations here.
In his chapel message at SBTS on February 21, Dr. Denny Burk spoke on 2 Timothy 2:22, where Paul reminded Timothy to “flee youthful passions.” It is not coincidental that Dr. Burke is sensing the same concern for students throughout the entire seminary that we have for our worship majors.
The sobering story of Brandon Watkins
Last week, we had a speaker named Brandon Watkins. Brandon drives a Schwan’s food truck. He gets up every morning at 2:30 a.m. and delivers frozen food to the customers on his route in this region of Kentucky. He didn’t always work for Schwan’s. Several years ago he was a student at Southern in what was then the School of Church Music. Throughout his high school and college years, Brandon sang for a traveling evangelist in a ministry that took him all over the world. When Brandon speaks you can tell he can sing. . . he has that natural, resonant quality to his vocal tone you often hear from someone on a stage in Nashville.
Until about seven years ago, Brandon was a full-time worship pastor in a large, growing church in the south. He was married and had two little girls. But he lost them and everything else in life because of an addiction. While he was in high school he, like so many other young men, began looking at pornography. As a Christian and a traveling musician in an evangelistic ministry, he convinced himself that he could “manage” the sin. After all, good Christians (especially traveling evangelists) aren’t supposed to struggle with bad things like porn, and he didn’t want to admit he had a problem.
Brandon said this to our students:
“When sin isn’t exposed to the light, it leads to a stronghold, and when a stronghold isn’t dealt with, it leads to an addiction.”
Brandon’s story is heartbreaking. At the height of his deception, he still thought he could “manage” the double life of being a worship pastor and a daily customer at a strip club. He justified his actions by saying that God didn’t answer his prayers. Here was his prayer: “God, if you want me to quit going to the strip club, then take my voice away from me.” He told our students it was incredible the things he would come up with to justify his double life. His singing voice stayed strong, the ministry at his church flourished, and he kept right on living in the darkness of what he thought was a secret sin.
Finally, the stress and burden of lies and deceit became too much and he confessed to his wife, his pastor, and his church what he had been hiding. For the next six months, he lived the life of the prodigal son. There was no more hiding what he had become, and he stepped completely out of the light and into darkness. Five months later, on his 31st birthday, he was alone on the back porch of his empty house. The water and heat had been turned off, and other than a mattress and a table, there was not any furniture in the empty rooms of the home he once shared with his family. As he sat on his porch and looked down at the half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels next to him, reality finally hit him—he had hit bottom.
Watkins’ testimony opened the eyes and ears of several of our students. He told them his pride kept him from asking for help and his arrogance duped him into thinking at each stage of his growing addiction that he could “manage” his sin and deceive everyone around him. Through his tears, he looked at our students and said, “Each one of you is living in one of three categories right now:
- You are actively and intentionally protecting yourself from a fall because you know you are vulnerable.
- You are in the middle of a fall.
- Or you are arrogantly thinking you will never fall—and if that’s the case—you’ll be calling me within five years and asking for my help because you’ve lost everything.
I once heard a pastor say that among men who are no longer in ministry because of moral failure, the fall was never a moral blowout, but a slow leak. Those men let down their guard on the small things, like a second look at the tabloid in the grocery store check-out line, or a daydream that fueled lustful thoughts. For Brandon, and all of us, this is a battle that never ends. The measures of protection match the severity of the sin. Brandon and his new wife, Kala, do not have internet at their house.
Why should we take address a topic like this? Because so many worship leaders and pastors are struggling with the devastating sin of pornography. During the Q&A time with Brandon, one of the students asked, “Why aren’t we talking about this more and being proactive in battling against it?” Brandon said that when he was younger he didn’t want to share his battle because a worship leader wasn’t supposed to be dealing with a sin like porn.
As he ended his testimony, Brandon introduced his mentor, Ray Carroll, who has a book and a ministry called Fallen Pastor (www.fallenpastor.com). In the last few years since he began this ministry, Ray has spoken with more than 500 pastors who have fallen. Over and over throughout Brandon and Ray’s talk with our students, they encouraged the students to seek help, develop true accountability, and shed light on the sin.
So, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall. No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)
Joe Crider is the Ernest and Mildred Hogan Professor of Church Music and Worship and serves as executive director, Institute for Biblical Worship. He also serves as worship pastor at LaGrange Baptist Church in LaGrange, Kentucky.
Los cristianos son seguidores de Jesucristo. La palabra que se usaba en los tiempos de Jesús para designar a sus seguidores es discípulos. Por lo tanto, ser un cristiano es ser un discípulo de Cristo (Hechos 11:26).
En Lucas 14:25-35, y en otros pasajes más, Jesús establece los requisitos para los que quieran ser sus discípulos. Grandes multitudes le seguían asombradas de su mensaje y autoridad. Sin embargo, Jesús no estaba complacido solamente con que mucha gente le siguiera sino que él deseaba que aquellos que tomaran la decisión de hacerlo, lo hicieran de acuerdo a unas normas específicas. Así que, Jesús se detuvo y delineó en esta ocasión cuatro características indispensables para sus seguidores. Para ser un buen cristiano o discípulo de Cristo es necesario cumplir con las condiciones que Jesucristo indica.
The post Justification by Faith Alone: The Perspectives of William Kiffen and John Owen appeared first on Southern Equip.
The post John Owen, Richard Baxter and the Battle for Calvin in Later-Seventeenth-Century England appeared first on Southern Equip.
The post John Owen and the Traditional Protestant View of the Hebrew Old Testament appeared first on Southern Equip.
The post “… And Yet be Loth to Die?” Death and Dying in the Theologies of John Owen and Richard Baxter appeared first on Southern Equip.
As a high school student, I went to a two-week worldview experience in the mountains of Colorado Springs called Summit Ministries. I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. Looking back now, over two decades later, I realize that it was one of the most formative faith experiences of my life.
Although there were probably a couple dozen speakers at Summit (who addressed all sorts of worldview issues related to theology, economics, apologetics, science, and more), my favorite was Dr. Jeff Myers. He has since become a good friend of mine, and he is now the president of Summit Ministries, a vital worldview experience for students. Dr. Myers is a popular speaker, the author of many books (including one of my favorites, Handoff), and is one of the most important contemporary voices in the church ...
I don’t like to wait. No, let’s be completely frank: I despise waiting. There is a certain highway in the city where I live that is notorious for snarled traffic, often for a couple of hours on both sides of rush hour. I avoid it like cream of broccoli soup. Every Sunday morning, there are certain members of my family who move at the speed of a glacier in getting ready for worship, and I’m convinced they make less haste on the days I preach. They make me wait, and I don’t like it.
And I am not alone. Fallen humans categorically do not like to wait. We want instant gratification. We want life’s knottiest dilemmas solved in a half hour. Why is it so difficult for sons of Adam to wait? Conventional wisdom says doing absolutely nothing should be easy for us, but it is not.
Over the years, I have learned that waiting on the Lord is one of the most potentially sanctifying (and necessary) aspects of the Christian life. It is one of those glorious “gospel paradoxes” that helps us understand what the LORD told Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Is. 55:8).
We pray in hope, and then we wait on the Lord to answer. A Christian man prays for a job so that he can provide for his family as God has commanded, and then he waits. A mother prays that God will draw her wayward son to himself unto salvation, and then she waits. We pray that God will make our future path clear, and then we wait. We read Matthew 6:34 for a thousandth time for comfort.
We wait, but we don’t surrender to passivity.
The Puritans understood this reality well and developed something of a doctrine of waiting; they referred to it as “God’s school of waiting.” William Carey understood it well. He spent seven years on the mission field before seeing his first convert. Of greater import, the inspired writers understood it well: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Ps. 27:14).
Many seminary students will complete their theological training then do the last thing they anticipated: wait. I snail-mailed or e-mailed more than 200 resumes and suffered through seemingly as many interviews with schools and churches after completing my Ph.D. before leaving Louisville for my first full-time ministry, a pastorate in Alabama. Total wait time: three years. The last year of that period was particularly agonizing as I watched my closest friends take off, one-by-one, like jets off an aircraft carrier, and soar through ministry doors God had opened.
But there I sat, feeling a bit like mold or moss, waiting. But it was for my good.
As difficult as it can be, waiting builds spiritual muscles in a unique manner. My sinful impatience notwithstanding, Isaiah makes this truth clear:
“But they who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount with wings as eagles, they shall run and grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.”Lessons from God’s school
What a glorious promise! And yet our discontented hearts find it difficult to wait on God. Still, waiting on the Lord does many good things for us. Waiting:
- Causes us to pray without ceasing. We are needy, and he owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He is always faithful, and the outcome of our waiting proves him wholly true.
- Instills in us a clearer understanding that we are creatures absolutely dependent upon our Creator. Though our sinful hearts crave omniscience and omnipotence, we possess neither, and waiting helps us to focus on that reality.
- Increases our faith. After all, does not the writer of Hebrews define faith as “the conviction of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”? (Heb. 11:1). We wait and God works.
- Transfers the doctrine of God’s absolute sovereignty from the speculative realm to the practical. In waiting, we actually experience God’s lordship in an intimate way.
- Grounds our future in a certain hope. This is Paul’s point in Romans 8:24-25: “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” As we wait God instills in us patience, that most elusive of spiritual virtues.
- Reminds us that we live between the times. When Jesus returns, the not yet will collapse into the already, and there will be no more waiting for an answer to desperate prayers. The kingdom will be consummated, and Jesus will set everything right. Until then, we pray and wait and are sanctified by God’s wise process.
- Stamps eternity on our eyeballs. When we bring urgent petitions before the Lord, we wait with expectation, and the city of man in which we live fades in importance as we begin to realize that the city of God is primary. As Jonathan Edwards prayed, “O Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” Waiting helps to do that. It prioritizes the eternal over the temporal in accord with 2 Corinthians 4:18: “as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Though it’s difficult for us to see, waiting, in God’s economy, is for our good. Even our waiting achieves God’s sovereign purposes. And waiting must not paralyze us. It should not delay ministry, even if it’s not what you are presently doing full-time. If you are called to ministry, unleash the gospel where God has planted you, even as you await his providential guidance for the future.
As Paul Tripp puts it, waiting on God is not at all like the meaningless waiting you do at the dentist’s office:
We don’t just wait—we wait in hope. And what does that hope in God look like? It is a confident expectation of a guaranteed result. We wait believing that what God has begun he will complete, so we live with confidence and courage. We get up every morning and act upon what is to come, and because what is to come is sure, we know that our labor in God’s name is never in vain. So we wait and act. We wait and work. We wait and fight. We wait and conquer. We wait and proclaim. We wait and run. We wait and sacrifice. We wait and give. We wait and worship. Waiting on God is an action based in confident assurance of grace to come.
I pray that God will sanctify my impatience. After all, isn’t that the word that really describes our distaste for waiting? Perhaps it really is a sign of God’s love for me that I seem to find the rush hour traffic jam virtually every day.
In our day, wherever it is found, the fruits of intellectual inquiry grow from the conviction that there is such a thing as truth out there to discover. Take an axe to the existence of truth and you no longer have education, you have propaganda. Ideologies that deny the very possibility of truth can be found in many (thankfully, not all) fields of education. In the quip of postmodern philosopher, Richard Rorty, truth is simply a matter of whatever your colleagues will let you get away with saying. With no truth to seek and discover, we are left with only social constructs to endlessly dream up and deconstruct. In the words of one lamenting Harvard graduate, “The freedom of our day is the freedom to devote ourselves to any values we please, on the mere condition that we do not believe them to be true." When the very idea of truth is considered so out-of-fashion, schools gradually turn from the pursuit of knowledge to the business of data transfer, indoctrination, and diploma-printing ...
The world is such an uncertain place. We are awash in political, economic, even religious uncertainty. Currents of circumstances crisscross one another in endless complications. Terra firma is difficult ground to find in these days of turbulent turmoil. It seems the one certainty in every area of life is uncertainty.
It was that way in April 1521, when Luther’s ramshackle cart wobbled its way to Worms, Germany. He had been summoned to appear before the emperor and Catholic prelates to give an account of this new “heresy” he was teaching called “justification by faith alone.” The learned Johann Eck laid out all of Luther’s writings and then asked Luther if he was prepared to recant.
Luther retired to his room that night. His Bible fell open to Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change…. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.”
Luther returned the next morning to stand before his Catholic detractors. In response to their call to recant, Luther responded, “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”
The Reformation was off and running.
Psalm 46 was Martin Luther’s favorite psalm. During the dark and dangerous periods of the Reformation, Luther would turn to his trusted friend Philip Melanchthon and exclaim: “Let’s sing the 46th Psalm, and let the devil do his worst!” It inspired his great hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”
No psalm in all the psalter expresses the tremendous truth that God’s presence and power are with us in all circumstances more than Psalm 46. We need to know God offers us two kinds of help: a stronghold into which we can flee and a source of strength by which we can face the uncertain future.
Psalm 46 is divided into three stanzas, each ending with the mysterious Hebrew word “Selah.” “Selah” was most likely originally a musical notation indicating a pause in the music for contemplation on what was just sung. You might translate it, “Pause and think of that!” When the mountains quake, the Lord is my refuge and strength … Selah! When nations are in uproar and kingdoms fall, the Lord Almighty is with us … Selah! Be still and know that I am God … the Lord Almighty is with us … Selah!
Every new year brings us 365 days of uncertainty. Every new day brings us 24 hours of uncertainty. But every second of every hour of every day, God’s presence and power in our lives is available to us. What does the future hold? It really doesn’t matter, does it, as long as Psalm 46 is true! HIS KINGDOM IS FOREVER! So every day, reflect on Psalm 46, or any passage of Holy Writ, and Selah—pause and think of that!
... Kids today are surrounded by a secularized society that bombards them with advertising, television, and social media messages. Parents are juggling demanding careers and family life in light of societal pressures to be more, do more, and have more. Our good intentions of helping, protecting, and providing for our kids can quickly turn to enabling or even disabling them.
How do we help our kids grow into mature Christ followers without falling into the trap of enabling or disabling them? ...
Hello Dr. Craig,
Today I stumbled upon a few online articles that reported that the stone the Jesus was laid upon after his burial was found. This stone was released from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. National Geographic reported that they can now uncover more information about Jesus' death and burial. Then I saw a linked article that said that they bible is "wrong" about Jesus' death and burial. How well established are the biblical facts of Jesus' death and burial? ...