Visions from the Vincents

November 17, 2008

American Idol comes to Florida Baptist Convention 2008


Monday morning Brian and I gassed up the Nissan and traveled up to the 2008 Florida Baptist Convention held in Lakeland, FL at FBC at the Mall—this church literally purchased a Mall for their church building.  Apparently, attendance among women and teenagers has increased dramatically since they moved into the mall, while the number of men suffering from extreme anxiety upon reaching the parking lot has simultaneously increased.  Just kidding!  We were happy to attend this convention, and appreciate our church affording us the opportunity to do so.  I wanted to give you some reasons we were encouraged by the convention and one area I think improvement is needed.

Encouragements
1.    I have to get one highlight out of the way upfront.  Chris Sligh, a contestant from season 6 of American Idol, sang at this year’s convention—and, no, he wasn’t singing Bobby Brown.  He actually turned down the opportunity to sing secular music professionally to sing and write Christian music.  He sang a couple of songs from his newly released CD, Running Back to You.
2.    I was extremely encouraged to see the convention’s zeal for evangelism and missions.  Every pastor that preached sought to challenge and inspire pastors to witness.  I am so grateful to be a part of a denomination in a state that hungers to see more people saved.
3.    I was further moved by the obvious emphasis many of the pastors put on their need to seek God’s help in prayer.  Many of them recounted significant moments of prayer their staffs had had together regularly.  I praise God that we have pastors throughout the state petitioning God to cause revival to break out in their cities, state, country, and even world.

4.    Johnny Hunt delivered an excellent expositional message as the new President of the Southern Baptist Convention.  I was moved by his passionate heart for the gospel, for seeing people saved, for seeing orphans adopted, and for seeing the poor provided for.  This really is pure and undefiled religion.

5.    Florida Baptists also made the need for adoption in our state clear.  The image of 3 football stadiums full of children without mommies and daddies weighs on the heart.  How can the church ignore this?

6.    Finally, I learned much from the gifted communicators at this convention.  Many of the preachers were engaging, entertaining, and moving.  They were also articulate in explaining many of the successes they had in ministry as an encouragement to go and do likewise.  I learned a lot from these seasoned pastors.

Always looking to improve
1.    Now for my list of one improvement.  While there is much to be encouraged by, the convention also reminded me of a trend in Southern Baptist life.  Preaching today tends to stray from the actual meaning of the text.  A number of preachers failed to make the point of the Scripture they preached from the point of their message, and in some cases, they taught something that was clearly wrong to encourage something that was entirely right.  For instance, one pastor taught that the “hidden treasure” in Matthew 13:44’s parable represents all of the people in the world, including lost people, and that God treasures them.  He used that to inspire others to evangelize.  While it is true that God treasures all people because they were created in the image of God, it is not the point of this text.  In fact, the treasure of this text is clearly the message of the kingdom.  If you are not willing to sell out your life to follow this message, then you are not worthy of it.  I agree with this pastor that evangelism is critical—plenty of Scriptures affirm this—but his interpretation of this text is wrong.  The real treasure of this text is not the people, but the message of kingdom that is available to all people.

Conclusion

Brian and I labor to preach what the Bible clearly says.  In fact, we meet weekly to review our messages and to make sure we are making the point of the Scripture we preach from the point of our message.  Why?  Because we believe in equipping our people with an understanding of God that goes beyond just telling them what to do.  We believe Chrisians have been created in the image of God and that they have been given his Spirit.  We also understand that this world is tough.  Stuff doesn’t work like the commercials say.  We can’t tell our people the right answer to every dilemma, because the world is so full of them.  But, if you understand what the Word of God actually says, we believe that, with the aide of the Spirit, they will be equipped to make wise decisions.  In other words, right action follows right understanding when led by the Spirit.

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April 22, 2008

T4G Afterglow

Filed under: Pastor — Joshua @ 1:55 pm
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Much could be said about TG4. I am still coming down off of the mountain. If I had one word to describe it, it would be refreshing. If I had a another it would be soul-satisfying. Obviously one word doesn’t capture it. It truly is a joyful thing to sit and listen to competent men open up God’s word and proclaim. I am sure that I am not alone in feeling that the strong words of this conference were a timely ointment. Some of the things that stick out include:

“Race like unicorns doesn’t exist. To assume race is to rely on completely unbiblical assumptions.”–Thabiti

He went on to say that race posits that thire is an essential biological difference between various races. Instead, Thabiti affirms the use of the term “ethnicity” because it is a more fluid idea that includes, language, citizenship, etc. and is not rooted in biology. His main contention is that the Bible claims that we all go back to Adam. The implications are that we all share Adam’s sin nature (original sin) and Christ died for the son’s of Adam (substitutionary atonement). So, to buy into the ideological assumptions underpinning the term “race” is to deny the essence of the gospel. I have never heard this, but found it humbling, freeing, and exciting. The consequence is that the church is a mixture of people from various ethnicities that in essence become a new ethnicity in Christ. We are no longer defined as a racially distinct people gathered together to worship one God but we are all redeemed son’s of God who join to form an ethnicity that is grounded in Christ, and characterized by being a member of his Kingdom.

“Doctrine is for delight.”–Lig

I have to give props to Mississippi’s finest. Ligon Duncan showed that if you kill doctrine you kill joy. Talk about giving doctrine a face lift. I know many grown at thoughts of doctrinal systems. But, he assaulted such notions from God’s word clearly showing the significance of doctrine to the people of God (John 17:13, 28:18-20, 1 Tim 1:3-5, 1 Tim 6:2-4, Titus1:1).

“Try to make the gospel kinder and you will lose it” and “We might be tacking fruit on trees.”–Mark Dever

Much more could be said of this talk. Few men have influenced and invested in me so much, but I think his points capture the essence of his full on assault against the heavy hitters compromising the gospel today, which is an excellent example of charging others not to teach a false gospel. He lists 5 attempts to “improve” the gospel. 1. Make the gospel public-the gospel is not aimed chiefly at changing societal structures. 2. Make the gospel larger-the implications of the gospel aren’t part of the gospel. 3. Make the gospel relevant. 4. Make the gospel personal-does the word normally bring me into fellowship in the local church? 5. Make the gospel utilitarian-don’t try to justify God before unbelievers.

“Hard preaching makes soft hearts.” John M

My prayer for you is that your life and ministry would have a radical flavor, a saltiness, and brightness about your life.” “Jesus is the ticket. When the show starts your throw away your ticket.” “All will suffer for the gospel. So, don’t feel as thought something strange is happening to you when you suffer.”–John P

C.J. challenged us with Create a culture of gratefulness in church.” “Have a joy in ministry characterized by a grateful heart as evidenced by Paul.”

In light of this I am profoundly grateful to my church for allowing me to go to this conference. I pray it produces much fruit.

March 31, 2008

C.J. and Company on Early Morning Battles

Filed under: Pastor — Joshua @ 4:39 pm
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Read this helpful article by C.J. and Jeff on the struggle of waking up in the morning to fill their hearts with thoughts of God.

Newsweek on Keller

Filed under: Evangelism,Pastor — Joshua @ 1:15 pm
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Check out this article in Newsweek. The writer actually praises Keller’s approach to ministry. His recent book, The Reason for God, should be excellent.

March 12, 2008

Questions Pastoral Candidates Must Ask

Filed under: Pastor — Joshua @ 5:54 pm
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Matt Schmucker offered some helpful and practical advice for pastors considering a call to a church.

March 4, 2008

The Pastor’s Priority of Reading

Filed under: Pastor — Joshua @ 3:20 am
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C. J. Mahaney offers counsel on the importance of reading to the daily life of a pastor.

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