Visions from the Vincents

December 30, 2008

Joshua’s top ten books of 2008 (not necessarily in order).

Filed under: Books — Joshua @ 3:02 pm
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1. The Gospel & Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever—The most fruitful evangelist I have ever met personally wrote this book. This easy to moderate, short read is chock full of practical advice on how to evangelize faithfully (apprx 100 pages).

2. Prayer and the Knowledge of God by Graeme Goldsworthy—This work looks deeply at a full-orbed biblical picture of prayer. It is a moderate to difficult read, but is extremely helpful for the person seeking a deeper understanding of prayer (apprx 200 pages).

3. What is a Healthy Church Member by Thabiti Anyabwile—Thabiti preaches with power as a six-foot tall African-American man with the voice of a Lion. More importantly for this book, he writes with simplicity and clarity—much of this, I think, comes from the fact that all of his preparation for ministry came from the church. The book itself is brief and easy to read (apprx 100 pages).

4. Reasons why we believe: 50 lines of evidence that confirm the Christian Faith by Nathan Busenitz—This work can be used in a number of ways. The book is approximately 200 pages in length–an easy to moderate read–and offers 50 arguments for the existence of God. Ultimately, we know that belief requires a work of the Spirit, but truth is the seed that needs to be sown to reap its benefits. Busenitz does an excellent job of making difficult thoughts easy and short—most chapters are 3-4 pages. This is helpful for apologetics and evangelism (apprx 200 pages).

6. Reason for God by Timothy Kellar—Kellar is one of my favorite thinkers—mainly due to his brilliant mind and humble heart (I long for both!). This book addresses 7 of the most common arguments today against belief in God and 7 reasons for belief. I would say that this is a medium to hard read, and fun (apprx 240 pages).

7. When People are Big and God is Small by Edward T. Welch—the deacons read through this together. This book addresses the natural tendency we all have to seek to please man (or woman) above our desire to be faithful to God. Welch does an excellent job of grappling with heart issues in this work. It is an easy to moderate read and (apprx 200 pages).

8. Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll—Mark represents a respectable movement towards seeking to bring strong doctrine in relevant, fresh ways. This book takes a look at Jesus from a historical and biblical perspective and his full of excellent doctrine as well as fun turns of phrase. I hear this book quoted a lot. The younger crowd will love it. This too is an easy to moderate read (apprx 200 pages).

9. Resurrection of the Son of God by NT Wright—this book is a mammoth, 800 pages and a difficult read. I am not even done with it yet. But, Wright’s work on extra-biblical and biblical resources to understand what the resurrection meant in the context of the Ancient Near East is profound. Anyone willing to work at this book will be blessed.

10. Holding Hands Holding Hearts by Richard and Sharon Philips—the Philips communicate helpful thoughts on dating from a biblical perspective. Every person who is not married should read this book. Even though highlights dating, I even found helpful insights for married people. It is an easy read (apprx 200 pages).

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.

July 15, 2008

Student Life 2008

Filed under: Youth — Joshua @ 2:18 am
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Louie Giglio

This past week 11 of us set off for Student Life at the Beach with LouieGiglio and Christ Tomlin.  The camps theme was “The Way” with the theme verse being Acts 19:23—“About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way.” We had an excellent experience and I believe we met with God.  My hope is that the time that we spent together will prove fruitful.  I challenged the congregation and the students with six practical ways to encourage growth after the weekend.  Three take aim at the congregation as a whole and three are particularly focused on the youth.

Where to go from here?
Church
1.    Pray for particular youth by name.  The way is hard and narrow that leads to life, and youth need other Christians who are willing to get involved in their lives on a relational level so they can know how to pray intelligibly for them.
2.    Invest in a youth with more than financial investments.  Get to know them.  Speak truth informed from the Bible into their lives.  Get involved.  Young adults are facing big issues and they have big questions. It is going to take more than a playstation 3 to address the questions and problems they are grappling with.
3.    Know the Way yourself.  You can’t speak truth into a students life it you do not know the truth yourself.  It is hard to apply God’s timeless truth in time and space.  We need lay theologians who are equipped and ready to speak to difficult issues.  If you are not prepared, you could give a student poor advice that will result in life long consequences.  If you are prepared, you could help send him down the narrow path and through the narrow gate.
Youth
4.    Practice the spiritual disciplines, including coming to church.  Your parents might not come to church.  They may be unfaithful.  In fact, you may be more faithful than they are.  But, one day it will be you standing before Christ and giving an account for the breath that God has given you.  What will you say?
5.    Remember Ashley and be an agent of conviction in your parents life.  Louie shared the story of a girl who was converted by the faithful testimony of a Christian room mate she called Fruitcake.  Three months after her conversion she died in an automobile accident.  Because of the radical change in her life over those three months, the day after her funeral, her atheist father, told Louie that he didn’t believe in God but that he wanted to speak to the man that had spoken to his daughter and led her to dynamically change her life. In gentleness and love encourage them in the gospel.  Live in such away that parents are convicted that they need to be more faithful to God and others.
6.    Live big on the narrow road.   Louie encouraged students to have a big idea for how God can use them to make Jesus famous.  I would simply echo these sentiments and encourage students to live for God’s renown.

June 13, 2008

Southern Baptist Convention 2008

Two words describe the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention: honest and encouraging.  Six things in particular struck me as provocative.

  1. The Convention chose to pass a resolution repenting of gross error in membership numbers–a decision that was mocked just 2 years ago in Greensboro, North Carolina.
  2. Frank Page was the model of humble leadership during the convention.
  3. Danny Aiken, president of Southeastern Seminary, pointed out ten points of agreement all Southern Baptists shared and then demanded that Arminians and Calvinists quit disagreeing in such an ungodly way that it is inhibiting the missional purposes of the Convention.
  4. Al Gilbert stood in front of the messengers of the SBC and challenged them to rethink how churches give to the Cooperative Program and state conventions.  I am not sure what kind of practical outworkings he has in mind.  He clearly wasn’t seeking fame in the convention.  More than that, his heart wrenching plea for parents to pray for their own children to become missionaries coupled with his own testimony of struggling to desire after that for his own children (three of which are now involved in missions) left me just short of tears.
  5. Eric Redmond 2nd Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention preached an edifying message at the Founder’s breakfast preceding the Convention at 6:30 am on Tuesday challenging pastors not to loose the book of the law like those of Josiah’s day had.
  6. Southern Baptist elected the first American Indian, Johnny Hunt, (from the Lumbee tribe) as their president.

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