Monday, January 29, 2007

Dr. Baird to Speak at the Men of the Covenant Luncheon This Thursday

Men, mark your calendars for this Thursday, February 1st, as we will begin with the first of our spring Men of the Covenant luncheons.

"Men, Mercy, and Missions"
Dr. James Baird
11:45 a.m - 1:00 p.m. in Miller Hall
Reservations are not required and the cost of lunch is $5.00

This month it is a privilege to welcome our former Senior Minister, Dr. James Baird, to kick-off our spring series. Dr. Baird was born in New Jersey and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Before his call to the ministry, Jim served three years as first lieutenant in the Army. He then went on to serve as senior minister to churches in Brewton and Gadsden, AL; Macon, GA; Clinton, MS; and Coral Gables, FL. Jim was the Senior Minister of First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, for twelve years. Following his retirement in 1996, he has served on the Board of African Bible College, acted as Dean of Chapel at Belhaven College, and served on the Board of Reformed Theological Seminary.

If you have any questions, please contact the Discipleship Office: 601-973-9118 or


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"Super" Men

"When Dungy walks away from coaching he likely will devote more of his time to the prison ministry about which he's so passionate. He and [Lovie] Smith are examples of what a strong man is. Never mind what they look like."

Character and Christianity. In professional sports? Believe it or not, Michael Smith's ESPN article is well worth reading.


Lewis Letters

Time Magazine Cover, September 8, 1947

I’ve waited for years. Finally, Volume III of the Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis has been published. Volume I (1057 pages) and Volume II (1132 pages) are treasures. Volume III (1810 pages) doesn’t disappoint. For all of his popularity, C.S. Lewis must be read carefully. Reformed folk will, and should, disagree with Lewis on some basic doctrinal points. But, Lewis has much to teach us. In this book Lewis interacts with Cornelius Van Vil's statements regarding his orthodoxy, responds to an invitation from Winston Churchill, corresponds with a Belhaven College graduate, and expresses his desire to visit New England, the Rockies, and Yellowstone Park.

Below are a few selections from The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963, ed. Walter Hooper (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2007).

The Church

“For the church is not a human society of people united by their natural affinities but the Body of Christ in which all members however different (and He rejoices in their differences & by no means wishes to iron them out) must share a common life, complementing and helping and receiving one another precisely in their differences. . . .If people like you and me find much that we don’t naturally like in the public & corporate side of Christianity all the better for us: it will teach us humility and charity.” 12 July 1950, p. 68-69.

God’s Sovereignty

“Unless He wanted you, you would not be wanting Him.” 13 June 1951, p. 127.

“But I think you are already in the meshes of the net! The Holy Spirit is after you. I doubt if you’ll get away!” 23 Dec. 1950, p. 76.

Theological Liberals

“I really think that in our days it is the ‘undogmatic’ & ‘liberal’ people who call themselves Christians that are the most arrogant & intolerant.” 23 May 1951, p. 112.


“I do not think there is demonstrative proof (like Euclid) of Christianity, nor of the existence of matter, nor of the good will & honesty of my best & oldest friends. . . . As to why God doesn’t make it demonstratively clear: are we sure that He is even interested in the kind of Theism which would be a compelled logical assent to conclusive argument?” 23 Dec. 1950, p. 75.


“You say the materialist universe is ‘ugly.’ I wonder how you discerned that? If you are really a product of a materialist universe, how is it that you don’t feel at home there? Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? . . . Notice how we are perpetually surprised by time. (‘How times flies! Fancy John being grown up and married? I can hardly believe it!’) In heaven’s name, why? Unless, indeed, there is something in us which is not temporal.” 23 Dec. 1950, p. 76.

Roman Catholicism

“The question for me (naturally) is not ‘Why should I not be a Roman Catholic?’ but ‘Why should I?’ . . . By the time I had really explained my objection to certain doctrines which differentiate you from us (and also in my opinion from the Apostolic and even the Medieval Church), you would like me less.” March 1951, p. 106.


“It becomes more and more evident every day that we are certain to have a Labour government in a few months time, which I suppose means back to the old scheme of austerity for everyone and extravagance for the government. Worse still, we expect them to get in with a majority which will take at least ten years to break down. So it looks like Warren and I had seen our last Conservative government.” 16 Nov. 1963, p. 1480.

“My brother tells me gloomily that it is an absolute certainty that we shall have a Labour government within a few months, with all the regimentation, austerity, and meddling which they so enjoy.” 16 Nov. 1963, p. 1481.


“Can it be good, from the age of 10 to the age of 23, to be always preparing for an exam, and always knowing that your whole worldly future depends on it: and not only knowing it, but perpetually reminded of it by your parents and masters? Is this the way to breed a nation of people in psychological, moral, and spiritual health?” 12 March 1950, p. 17.

“My idea is that unless one has to qualify oneself for a job (which you haven’t) the only sensible reason for studying anything is that one has a strong curiosity about it. And if one can’t help studying it. I don’t see any point in attending lectures etc. with some general notion of ‘self-improvement.’ . . . I never see why we should do anything unless it is either a duty of a pleasure! . . . I think one usually learns more from a book than from a lecture.” 7 March 1951, p. 96


“St. Augustine’s Confessions will give you the record of an earlier adult convert, with many very great devotional passages intermixed. Do you like poetry? George Herbert at his best is extremely nutritious. I don’t mention the Bible because I take that for granted. A modern translation is for the most purposes far more useful than the Authorized Version.” 9 May 1961, p. 1265.


“Don’t bother much about your feelings. When they are humble, loving, brave, give thanks for them: when they are conceited, selfish, cowardly, ask for them to be altered.” 13 June 1951, p. 127.

Men and Women

“I had not thought of it before but it might be, as you say, that the decay of serious male friendship has results unfavorable to male religion. One can’t be sure, though, because, if more women than men respond to religion, after all more women than men seem to respond to everything. Aren’t they much more easily stirred up than we in all directions? Isn’t it always easier to get female members for anything you are getting up?” 6 May 1950, p. 20.


“I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than him.” 19 April 1951, p. 109.


“Here is one of the fruits of unhappiness: that it forces us to think of life as something to go through. And out at the other end. If only we could steadfastly do that while we are happy, I suppose we should need no misfortunes.” 5 March 1951, p. 93.


“What inclines me now to think that you are right in regarding it [evolution] the central and radical lie in the whole web of falsehood that now governs our lives, is not so much your arguments against it as the fanatical and twisted attitudes of its defenders.” 13 September 1951, p. 138.

American Poet Robert Frost

“He is one of the few living poets for whom I feel something like reverence.” 23 May 1957, p. 855.

Letter to a Young Girl

“Many thanks for your kind letter, and it was very good of you to write and tell me that you like my books; and what a very good letter you write for your age! If you continue to love Jesus, nothing much can go wrong with you, and I hope you may always do so. I’m so thankful that you realized to [the] ‘hidden story’ in the Narnian books. It is odd, children nearly always do, grown ups hardly ever. I’m afraid the Narnian series has come to an end, and am sorry to tell you that you can expect no more.” 26 Oct. 1963, p. 1474.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Christian Pluralists

Cindy Mercer Photography

It seems that new ways to define "Christian" are all the rage. As I was driving back from Dallas on Friday, January 12, I was listening to NPR's "Morning Edition." Now, not only do we have "Half-Christians," we also have "Christian Pluralists." We really can have our cake and eat it!

In the report, entitled, "Experiencing Other Faiths to Find One's Own," Judy Woodruff says,

"If Gillian Siple had to describe herself in one word, it would be 'spiritual.' A senior at Davidson College in North Carolina, Siple spent the past year traveling and studying in Asia and Europe, immersing herself in religions other than her own."

"Amid an abundance of information about religion easily available via the Internet and television, she says, 'maybe the youth of today aren't sure if the way of their parents is perhaps the way that they want to follow, and I think that's wonderful.'"

"With a small group of students, Siple, a religion major, lived in China, Thailand and India. She meditated in monasteries and ashrams, lived and studied among Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus — not your typical study-abroad program."

Read the rest of the report here.

Paul demurs:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me” (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Spring 2007: Men of the Covenant Line-Up

Men, mark your calendars now for the first Thursday of each month, beginning in February. We have a great slate of speakers scheduled for our Spring luncheons. The lunch line will open at 11:45 a.m. and our speakers will end by 1:00 p.m. Reservations are not required, the cost of lunch is $5.00, and we encourage you to bring co-workers and friends.

February 1st- Dr. James Baird
James Baird Ministries
Dr. Baird was born in New Jersey and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Before his call to the ministry, Jim served three years as first lieutenant in the Army. He then went on to serve as senior minister to churches in Brewton and Gadsden, AL; Macon, GA; Clinton, MS; and Coral Gables, FL. Jim was the senior minister of First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, for twelve years. Following his retirement in 1996, he has served on the Board of African Bible College, acted as Dean of Chapel at Belhaven College, and served on the board of Reformed Theological Seminary.

March 1st- Dr. Woodie Mason
Retired Physician
Dr. Mason is originally from Pascagoula, MS. After attending UMC, and completing his residency in urology, Woodie went into private practice in Jackson, MS from 1974 until 2003, during which time he and his wife were members here at FPC. Following his retirement, he and his wife Diane moved back to the Gulf Coast. There, they were both active members of FPC Gulfport where Woodie served as a Ruling Elder, adult Sunday school teacher, Clerk of Session, and chairman of the pulpit search committee. August 29, 2005 changed the direction of their lives, as Hurricane Katrina destroyed both their home and church and brought them back to Jackson. They now reside in Madison and both Woodie and his wife are active members of our congregation.

April 5th- Dr. Paul Chinchen
Director of African Bible College in Lilongwe, Malawi
Dr. Chinchen and his wife, Laura, have been missionaries with African Bible Colleges in Malawi and Uganda for 17 years. In addition to Paul’s administrative responsibilities at the college, he oversees the operations of the mission’s four support ministries—the ABC Community Clinic, the ABC Christian Academy, Radio ABC with stations in Lilongwe and Mzuzu, and the college’s Evangelistic Outreach Program. The mission of the African Bible Colleges is to equip African leaders to train their own pastors and church leaders. Paul, his wife, and their five children have spent the past year on furlough here in Jackson, MS.

May 3rd- Mr. Danny Wuerffel
Executive Director of Desire Street Ministry and
Former NFL player
Mr. Wuerffel is originally from Pensacola, Florida and upon graduation from high school, where he was valedictorian and led his football team to the state championship, he attended the University of Florida. Danny led the Gators to four SEC championships and a National title, and in 1996 was awarded the Heisman trophy. He was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 1997 and three years later, he joined the NFL’s European league. In February of 2004, Danny retired from professional football to work in New Orleans with Desire Street Ministries, a faith-based organization in one of America’s toughest and poorest neighborhoods. Danny now serves as the Executive Director of Desire Street and has led the ministry through great transition following Hurricane Katrina.

For more information or if you have questions, contact Ashley Hall in the Discipleship Office at 601-973-9118 or


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Poignant Invitation from the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Just received this from our dear friend, Dr. Guy Richard of the First Presbyterian Church, Gulfport:

"On Sunday, May 14, 2006, in a very difficult decision, the congregation of First Presbyterian Church voted not to rebuild the facility that it has called home since November 22, 1964, and, instead, to purchase property on Mississippi 605 and build a new facility there. This decision is something that very few, if any, of us wanted to face, especially me. As your new pastor—admittedly, an outsider as far as the history of the church is concerned—the last thing I wanted to tackle in my first year of ministry (or tenth, for that matter) was such an intensely personal matter. Many folks remember working on the building committee for the (then) new sanctuary or sacrificing so that it could be paid for. Most remember the years of Sunday services, weddings, and funerals; the meals; the Bible studies; the fellowship groups; the choir practices and special anthems; the many youth activities, baptisms, children’s programs, and officer installations. It is clear that the Lord has richly blessed this congregation over the generations.

"In light of the recent negative attention that our church has received in the media and our desire to be good witnesses to the surrounding community, and in light of the congregation’s vote in May of this year and the approaching FEMA deadlines for debris removal, we, as a church, will soon be faced with the reality of losing the church facility. Because of this, we would like to come together as a church family to give thanks to the Lord and to remember the years of faithful and fruitful ministry that were conducted from our downtown facility by having a “Service of Remembrance” on January 21, 2007, at 3 pm in the courtyard of the church. Note: we have chosen this date for our service because it was on this precise day, 42 years ago, that the current sanctuary was first dedicated in a special service of consecration. And what better time is there to look back over these last 42 years, and ahead to the next 42, than this anniversary of the church’s consecration?

We are inviting several special guests to take part in this service of remembrance. Please make it a point to be there yourself.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

2007 Mid-South Men's Rally with Dr. Harry Reeder

Authentic Biblical Leadership, as Illustrated in the Lives of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Joshua Chamberlain

Men, mark your calendars and plan to join us on Friday, January 26, 2007 for our annual Mid-South Men's Rally. This year, we are privileged to have Dr. Harry Reeder, senior minister of Briarwood Presbyterian Church, as our speaker.

Dr. Reeder is the creator and speaker of an audio series on "Christian Manhood." In this series, he gives biographical illustrations of Christian leadership using the lives of Robert E. Lee, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. The Men's Rally evening messages will be based on this series.

In 1999, Harry recieved the call to become the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church, where he continues with a vibrant preaching ministry. He receieved his Doctor of Ministry Degree from Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte in 2002. Since then, his first book has been published, entitled, From Embers to a Flame, in which yearly conferences are hosted at various churches around the country and world with the purpose of teaching a biblical paradigm for church growth. Dr. Reeder also brought into existence a growing radio ministry called, "In Perspective," which is heard across the Southeast each week.


5:15 - 6:30 p.m. Dinner served in Miller Hall, bookstore open
6:30 - 7:30 p.m. Session I
7:30 - 8:00 p.m. Break: Refreshments in Miller Hall, bookstore open
8:00 - 9:00 p.m. Session II

Advanced registration is not required and there is no charge for the rally or the dinner. A freewill offering will be taken during the service. If you have any questions, please contact Ashley Hall in the Discipleship Office: 601-973-9118.


"Half" a Happy New Year

This just in from the truth is stranger than fiction department: we now have a new kind of "Christian." It's true. As Gene Veith recently pointed out, we now have "Half-Christians."


Monday, January 01, 2007

I Predict . . .

Cindy Mercer Photography

The sun has set on 2006 and risen to 2007. Do you remember past predictions?

Inventions have long since reached their limit, and I see no hope for further developments. Julius Sextus Frontinus, Roman engineer, A.D. 10.

Despite the trend to compactness and lower costs, it is unlikely everyone will have his own computer any time soon.Reporter Stanley Penn, The Wall Street Journal, 1966.

By the turn of this century, we will live in a paperless society. Roger Smith, chairman of General Motors, 1986.

Aldus Huxley, in Brave New World, envisioned a freer world where everyone would take mood-enhancing drugs and babies would concocted in giant laboratories.

In 1966, Arthur C. Clarke wrote in Vogue magazine that houses would fly by 2001. He thought entire communities would head south for the winter or move to new locations for a change of scenery.

In 1823, British scientist, Dionysius Lardner, warned that rail travel at high speeds was not possible because “passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.”

Captain E.J. Smith of the Titanic said, “I cannot imagine any condition which could cause this ship to founder. I cannot conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.”

In 1979, Business Week asserted that “with over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market.”

In 1893, Mary E. Lease predicted that within the next 100 years “we would hold communication with the inhabitants of other planets, and Sunday excursions to the mountains of the moon will not excite comment.”

You get the point. The consistent emphasis in Scripture is preparation not prediction. “Watch therefore,” Jesus told the disciples, “for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13).

I am still reflecting upon a sentence I read several years ago: “[Jonathan] Edwards spent his whole life preparing to die.” This sobering statement is the first sentence from the final chapter of George Marsden’s magisterial biography, Jonathan Edwards: A Life.

Marsden continues, “Edwards worked constantly to cultivate gratitude, praise, worship, and dependence upon his Savior. Whatever his failings, he attempted every day to see Christ’s love in all things, to walk according to God’s precepts, and to give up attachments to worldly pleasures in anticipation of that closer spiritual union that death would bring.”

As Ligon so poignantly reminded us in our Watch Night service last night, as you prepare for a new year, consider this stunning entry from Edwards’ diary:

“Saturday, Jan. 12. In the morning. I have this day, solemnly renewed my baptismal covenant and self-dedication, which I renewed, when I was taken into the communion of the church. I have been before God, and have given myself, all that I am and have, to God; so that I am not, in any respect, my own. I can challenge no right in this understanding, this will, these affections, which are in me. Neither have I any right to this body, or any of its members — no right to this tongue, these hands, these feet; no right to these senses, these eyes, these ears, this smell, or this taste. I have given myself clear away, and have not retained any thing, as my own. I gave myself to God, in my baptism, and I have been this morning to him, and told him, that I gave myself wholly to him. . . . This, I have done; and I pray God, for the sake of Christ, to look upon it as a self-dedication, and to receive me now, as entirely his own, and to deal with me, in all respects, as such, whether he afflicts me, or prospers me, or whatever he pleases to do with me, who am his.”

Amen. Happy New Year!