Friday, February 27, 2009


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Market Day of the Soul

Disciplined Duty vs. the Lie of Legalism

Wise words from John Piper.

". . . the hard truth is that most Christians don’t pray very much. They pray at meals—unless they’re still stuck in the adolescent stage of calling good habits legalism. They whisper prayers before tough meetings. They say something brief as they crawl into bed. But very few set aside set times to pray alone—and fewer still think it is worth it to meet with others to pray. And we wonder why our faith is weak. And our hope is feeble. And our passion for Christ is small.

And meanwhile the devil is whispering all over this room: “The pastor is getting legalistic now. He’s starting to use guilt now. He’s getting out the law now.” To which I say, “To hell with the devil and all of his destructive lies. Be free!” Is it true that intentional, regular, disciplined, earnest, Christ-dependent, God-glorifying, joyful prayer is a duty? . . . Is it a discipline?

You can call it that.

It’s a duty the way it’s the duty of a scuba diver to put on his air tank before he goes underwater.

It’s a duty the way pilots listen to air traffic controllers.

It’s a duty the way soldiers in combat clean their rifles and load their guns.

It’s a duty the way hungry people eat food.

It’s a duty the way thirsty people drink water.

It’s a duty the way a deaf man puts in his hearing aid.

It’s a duty the way a diabetic takes his insulin.

It’s a duty the way Pooh Bear looks for honey.

It’s a duty the way pirates look for gold.
I hate the devil, and the way he is killing some of you by persuading you it is legalistic to be as regular in your prayers as you are in your eating and sleeping and Internet use. Do you not see what a sucker he his making out of you? He is laughing up his sleeve at how easy it is to deceive Christians about the importance of prayer.

God has given us means of grace. If we do not use them to their fullest advantage, our complaints against him will not stick. If we don’t eat, we starve. If we don’t drink, we get dehydrated. If we don’t exercise a muscle, it atrophies. If we don’t breathe, we suffocate. And just as there are physical means of life, there spiritual are means of grace. Resist the lies of the devil in 2009, and get a bigger breakthrough in prayer than you’ve ever had."


Friday, February 20, 2009

A Servant on Service

Marcus Wilson, our new Chaiman of the Board of Deacons, has been inviting fellow deacons to give devotions at the start of their meetings.

Tim Threadgill gave such an excellent one at the first meeting of this year that I wanted to share it with you. It is based upon Jim Boice's book, Christ's Call To Discipleship.

Diaconate Meeting
January 12, 2009

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
John 13:12-17

· “It is the duty of the deacons to minister: (i) to those who are in need, (ii) to the sick, (iii) to the friendless, and (iv) to any who may be in distress. BCO, 9-1.

· HOW can we serve others?

1. Listen to others.

· Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: “It is God’s love for us that he not only gives us his word but also lends us his ear. So it is his work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him. Christians often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.”

· James 3:6 => “The tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness.”

2. Respond to what we hear by helping one another.

· When we listen, we often learn that people are hurting, thus triggering our duties as deacons.

· James Boice said: “The problem is that helping people is seldom convenient. We have our own schedules and our own hours, and days are full. This is perhaps truer of our time than earlier times due to the frantic pace of modern life, but our situation is not fundamentally different from what people of earlier days experienced. It is always inconvenient to help others. It was inconvenient for the Samaritan in Jesus’ parable who helped the poor man who had fallen prey to thieves. He had his own journey. He too was on the way to Jericho. He too had business or family obligations. But he interrupted these. He stopped his journey, attended to the wounded man, deviated from his itinerary in order to take the victim to an inn, spent the night, paid for his care, and then planned to return the same way after his own business was settled. This is what service means. It means putting others’ well-being ahead of our own." [JMB, p. 64]

· Bonhoeffer said: “It is part of the discipline of humility that we must not spare our hand where it can perform a service and that we do not assume that our schedule is our own to manage, but allow it to be arranged by God.”

3. Bear one another’s burdens.

· Paul tells the Galatians in 6:2 to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

· To do that effectively, we have to create a relationship/atmosphere of trust and acceptance.

· Boice issues this warning: “To bear another’s burdens, particularly those of an extremely disoriented and needy person, means involvement with him/her at our own cost and inconvenience, which means we will only be able to bear it by a genuine crucifixion of ourselves.”

4. Speak God’s truth to the other person.

· Although we must be good listeners (#1), when it is time for us to speak, “Christians are different from others at this point because we have something genuinely helpful to say – because we can speak God’s words as we have heard them in Scripture.

· Even though we are imperfect and confused ourselves, “fear of our own proneness to failure should not keep us from saying what is necessary at the proper time.” In Romans 15:14, Paul writes: I myself am satisfied about you, brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.” In other words, Paul is saying the church already knew the truths he was writing. As Christians, we are called to give one another practical, real-life wisdom and counsel. This is especially true of us as church officers.

· Of course, on occasion (as we minister to those in distress and those in need) we must tell our brothers of a sin in their lives. When we do so, we should be quick to note God’s words in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

5. Restore one another.

· In doing so, we should approach our brother in meekness, gentleness and great love, recognizing that we are capable of the same sin ourselves.

· Speaking of “gentleness,” Harry Ironside: “If you are going to wash someone else’s feet, we must be careful of the temperature of the water.” Neither too hot nor too cold.

John 13:17=> “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Missions Conference Update (2)

This Sunday will conclude the annual Missions Conference.We will have the opportunity to sit under the ministry of the Word through Mike Campbell, the Senior Minister of our sister congregation, Redeemer Church. We will also have the joy of indicating our financial commitment to the support of missions through Faith Promise. And following the evening service, the leaders for the Short Term Summer Missions Trips will gather in Hutton Chapel with information about the trips planned for this summer. Come hungry and expectantly!


Missions Conference Update

The Missions Conference got off to a fantastic beginning yesterday. During the Wednesday evening program, we had the privilege of hearing from our missionaries in a interview format. Some of the exciting news we learned last night:
1) The FPC Missions Conference is an excellent place to bring a date.
2) The work in Ukraine has come full circle, from the beginnings of evangelism to the establishment of churches, a denomination, and a seminary.
3) The Lord is blessing RUF at Jackson State where their large group includes as many as 90 students!
4) The translation work done through Wycliffe in the Philippines is nearing completion.
5) Efforts in Portland, OR have progressed from a small group meeting for dinner to recently receiving 39 members into a mission-status church.
6) The Lord has been gracious in sending outstanding people to work with Peru Mission, and churches are being planted there.
7) The Lord is blessing Gospel efforts in Mexico in magnificent ways.
(8) Palmer Home is doing tremendous work with needy children and orphans who need the love of Christ demonstrated in tangible ways.

And Mike Campbell challenged us to be Spirit-enabled ambassadors of Christ, and by relying upon His strength, to take risks in support of a Kingdom that is beyond our human expectations.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

M-I-S-S-I-O-N Defined

M stands for MESSAGE. At the heart of missions lies the message of the gospel. It is a message of grace to undeserving sinners.

It declares that a holy God, the only god there is, has found a way to be just and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus (Rom. 3:26). Unconverted folk are inclined to believe that God exists for us, to make us happy. This views God as a cosmic butler whose role it is to ensure that our needs are met and satisfied. But the truth is that we are rebel sinners, estranged from God and at enmity with him. Made for God to reflect his glory, man now finds himself in a state of spiritual inability. We are dead by nature to God’s every overture. But what we cannot – will not -- do, God does. God has gone into action as mankind's redeemer. God first of all sends us a Savior to make atonement for our sins, and then he sends the Holy Spirit to change our hearts and make us willing to see and respond to Christ. Unless we appreciate that it is God who must give us the gift of faith to respond to the Savior we will not even be able to tell people what the gospel means. The gospel is a message of grace apart from effort or achievement on our part.

The first I stands for INTERCESSION. Praying for missions should form a central part of our lives. Prayer is the power-house that ensures the fulfillment of God’s plan and purpose in the world. Not only has God made the accomplishment of his global purposes of salvation hang on the preaching of the Word; he has also made the success of the preaching of the Word hang on prayer. The gospel will not be proclaimed in power to all the nations without the persevering, earnest, global, faith-filled prayers of God's people. This is what Paul believed: “Pray also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel” (Eph. 6:19). And again, “Pray for us also, that God may open to us a door for the Word, to declare the mystery of Christ” (Col. 4:3). It is what Jesus taught when he said, “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:38).

The first S stands for “SENDING” which renders the Latin word missio that lies behind our English word mission or missionary. It is precisely what Jesus told his disciples: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). Every Christian individual and every Christian church is sent into the world to fulfill Christ’s purpose in making the gospel known. We are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). We are sent with marching orders to go into “and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). No Christian is exempt from this charge. No believer may refuse the order without committing insubordination. We are soldiers under orders to obey our Master’s command.

The second S stands for SUPPORT. Some of God’s soldiers serve on the front lines, in the thick of battle. Others are called upon to remain at home and support through encouragement, prayer and regular, sacrificial giving. Without these, soldiers lose their vision and grow despondent. “Remember our troops” has become a regular battle-cry of our troubled times and it stands equally valid in the church. “Remember our missionaries – regularly and effectively. Pin their prayer cards in prominent places – fridges, prayer reminders in our Bible, prayer meetings at church.

The second I stands for INTEREST. It is an important test of our discipleship: where does our interest lie? What is it that excites us? Where is our treasure? It cannot be gain-said that God’s “interest” lies in saving sinners. He sent his Son to die on a cross for this purpose. But can we say that we share that interest. An interest in Missions is not a preoccupation of the mature or elite; it is the consuming passion of every Christian. To disregard missions is to demonstrate a selfish and parochial interest that is un-Christlike.

O stands for ORDERS. Some serve at home. Some serve abroad. But all serve. Every Christian has an obligation to obey the command of Jesus to be a witness. Its concern may vary: ministries relating to evangelism, poverty, medical care, unemployment, hunger, abortion, crisis pregnancy, runaway kids, pornography, family disintegration, child abuse, divorce, hygiene, education at all levels, drug abuse and alcoholism, environmental concerns, terrorism, prison reform, moral abuses in the media and business and politics, -- all these fall under the purview of mission. So does reaching unreached peoples in far-away countries of the world. All these follow orders from the King of Kings to bring the gospel so as to bring the personal and societal change that the gospel effects. Wherever God calls, at home or abroad, domestic or frontier, we are under orders to obey.

N stands for NATIONS . The vision of missions is of Christ ruling over the nations. The vision of Psalm 47:8-9 is the model: “God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!” It is the picture that we see at the close of the Bible: “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:9-10). Reading something like Operation World with its facts and statistics of human populations in various countries of the world will focus our attention on the task ahead. There are far too many un-reached people-groups, at home and abroad, for us to grow complacent. Is this global vision ours?


Friday, February 13, 2009

Missionary Spotlight

Pedro and Cecelia Tarquino; Columbia

Pedro was born in Faca, Colombia, South America in June 29, 1952. His parents met the Lord during the first year of their marriage, and by the grace of God, he was raised knowing every day about the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit according to the Holy Scriptures. Along with his parents, his relatives also met the Lord and a church was started in their house and just celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of their church in Faca.

Pedro grew up during a time of persecution and political violence. They were discriminated to a point where they could not attend public school. In 1972, he moved to Cali, South West Colombia, because of a job with the government. Since the very first day, he started to attend the Central Presbyterian Church, one of the oldest Christian Evangelical churches in Cali. Six months later Pedro quit his job and started to work as an Assistant pastor at the church. In 1974, he then had the opportunity to work in the church and study Civil Engineering in Cauca Valley University.

During these years of study, an Intervarsity group was formed under his leadership and worked with him in Evangelism and Discipleship. During these years he lived in the university dorms, and had a wonderful opportunity to be a witness of Jesus Christ. Just last week, one of his peers reminded him of an episode, when a communist leader told him, “If you continue to preach your gospel, I am going to chop you.” I extended my hands and told him: “Even if you chop me every little part of my body shall tell you about the love of God.” This student was never hostile to him again. Pedro then graduated as a Civil Engineer in 1980 and worked as a Building Contractor.

During this time he then met his wife Cecilia and they married in July 24, 1982.

After this, they prayed for four years, until the Lord opened a door for them to go to the US for further studies. In a miraculous way, they got in contact with the First Presbyterian Church in Gadsden, AL. Since they were looking for programs in Counseling for his wife and Theology for Pedro, they were advised and supported to go to RTS in Jackson, MS. At RTS,

Pedro was then invited to be the pastor of the Central Presbyterian Church in Cali in 1991. His emphasis in the church and the Presbytery was: Personal devotional based upon the reading of the whole Scripture throughout the year; God-center worship and service; Personal evangelism and discipleship; Biblical and Scriptural stewardship; and the opening of a new mission field every year and 50% of the budget for missions. In 1998 Pedro went back to RTS with his family to work on a PhD. in Intercultural Studies. During this time they developed “The Colombian Project” in order to establish a Christian University in Colombia.

Pedro says, “My family and I continue with our vision and work in Colombia, with the hope and conviction that a Christian University is a reality in our country.”

They have three children: Alejandra Maria, Pablo Samuel, and Jonathan David.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Further Thoughts on President Obama

Submission to Lawful Authority

Ligon’s excellent blog on praying for our new president has gotten me thinking: how can Christians, especially those who disagree with our President’s policies, glorify God and adorn the Gospel of Christ to a watching world? Of course, opposition to the President’s agenda is not the de facto Christian position. But it is probably not overstating the case to say that many (most?) conservative Christians take issue with some (lots?) of the policies and agendas of our President and his administration. In the first several weeks of President Obama’s presidency, it seems almost commonplace to encounter Christians who (1) gripe, and feel justified in doing so, since God is on their side; or (2) are dismissive and disrespectful in thought and speech, speaking of President Obama as if he were a small child misbehaving in the checkout line of the local grocery story. Christians seem not to have gotten off to a stellar start in the area of joyful submission.

Now, I understand that there are legitimate causes for disagreements, some very significant. Our President and his administration have significant responsibilities, and their actions have significant consequences. People may disagree with the discharge of those responsibilities, with the actions taken, and the results that are wrought, and do so on more than one ground. We may disagree over an issue that is clearly described in the Bible. Abortion would be one of those areas. Our President favors policies that at least allow for abortions and perhaps encourage them; the Bible teaches clearly that human life is sacred, and far from being easily ended, should be actively protected (see Larger Catechism questions 134-136). In this category, we note objections based on the clear and revealed will of God.

Second, disagreements may arise that stem from what we might call wisdom or discernment. We may view some policy and believe that it is an unwise course to follow. We wouldn’t put these in the category of sin and we wouldn’t have a verse that would lead us to our conclusions, but instead have considered an issue and have come to a different conclusion. Whether these things be centered around war, economic policies, or international diplomacy, we differ on decisions and policies that are being pursued. When ought a withdrawal from Iraq be implemented, and how? Should the government pursue some kind of ‘economic stimulus package’ and if so, what ought it look like? These questions might fall into this second category.

Third, and maybe a little uncomfortably, we may have a disagreement over something that we believe will negatively impact us. We hear of some agenda, and fear that its implementation will have some repercussions which we do not want to experience. Rumors may abound about the government’s intentions with respect to a person’s life savings, and we fear that what we intended to keep and pass on may be taxed in a way we deem detrimental to our own economic wellbeing.

There may be others areas for disagreement to be sure, but I do think it important to recognize that all reasons are not equally valid. Where God has spoken on an issue (the value of life), we operate from one kind of footing. Where he has not (tax rates on the richest citizens), we are on a different sort of ground. We would do well to remember that good Christians can differ on what may seem to us to be clear principles of wisdom or personal preference.

But even when we are certain that we are on the side of angels (and one of the things we learn from Job is that we can be terribly mistaken about assuming such a thing!), that does not provide carte blance to disagree in any way we choose. There is still the issue of submission to legitimate authority, which is what Paul is saying in Romans 13. Every legitimate authority that exists does so because God has established that authority, and as such, all of our disagreements are subject to the criteria of submission. What does it mean to submit to someone with whom we disagree? And what if those disagreements are informed by biblical mandates?

Let me suggest a few things. First, even when opposition is based upon clearly articulated principles of divine authority (or those drawn by good and necessary consequence), there is yet a difference between a government advancing an immoral agenda, and a government requiring Christian citizens to violate the mandates of God. When obedience to government requires disobedience to God, the Bible is clear. We are to serve God and not man. But being asked to sin in order to conform to civic code is not the same thing as living as a citizen under the authority of a government that is itself pursuing evil. Ought a government pursue things contrary to the revealed will of God? No. Does that thereby remove the command to submit? I think not. After all, Paul would not have been a proponent of lighting the roads into Rome with the burning carcasses of Christians, and yet he can still say that the Roman emperor was put in place by God, and as such, deserved honor, respect, and revenue. Peter, whose letter was received by those who most assuredly were suffering, could say, “honor the emperor.” Daniel continued to pray even when it was illegal since such a law would have caused him to sin. But we have every reason to believe that Daniel was normally a faithful, helpful, competent servant of the Babylonian Empire which was itself an evil nation. By performing his responsibilities, an evil nation was helped, even though Daniel would not obey any particular statue that would cause him to sin.

Second, even under administrations that severely deviate from the biblical purpose of government, we can and should be thankful for the policies which do punish evil and reward good. To imagine that American in 2009 is devoid of any such officially sanctioned, governmental agenda is to be willfully ignorant. To ask a brother or sister in Christ living in North Korea for commiseration in times like these would be insulting. Or compare the United States to some of the brutal regimes that followed independence in African countries in the latter half of the 20th century. There is more that a world’s difference between former Ethiopian Dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam’s policies during the 1980s famine that contributed to the deaths of an estimated 1,000,000 people, and unwanted government spending in the US. No comparison at all.

Third, a little self reflection on motivations may also be in order. That we may find legitimate, biblical reasons to stand opposed to easy abortion or the degradation of the institution of marriage is one thing; to think that we are always motivated by a desire to see righteousness abound may be giving ourselves too much credit. It is easy to begin our criticisms on solid ground, and then careen off into areas without such sure footing, believing that our traction remains the same. To stand up for the weak and powerless is admirable. But admirable arguments may serve as convenient smokescreens for the things which truly motivate us. To stand up for the powerless and weak is to do good; to then continue to criticize policies which may negatively affect our tax bracket, assuming that our previous good offers sufficient cover is an evidence of the our own selfishness. That Christians may have a diminished role to play in setting the national agenda may be lamentable, but let us not assume that the voices crying out are necessarily doing so in order to prepare the way for the Lord, and not lamenting their own personal loss in stature. Just because we may be able to articulate a criticism from the side of the angels does not always mean that our angelic rationale is the motivation behind our criticism.

Fourth, if it is true that Christians in the west are about to find themselves increasingly marginalized, such a development may prove to be something other than negative. Who says that brighter lines separating the Church and the world is bad for the Church? Nominal Christianity seems to flourish in a “Christian America.” Perhaps hearty, robust Christianity will do likewise in an America that seems more hostile to Bible. If grace grows best in winter, perhaps Christianity can likewise flourish in a hostile environment.

Fifth and finally, there is a tremendous opportunity being presented to Christians who oppose the agenda of our current administration. This is not to say that all Christians adopt such a stance. But for those that do, it provides an opportunity to demonstrate joyful submission. It is easy to submit when we agree; it is another matter altogether to give due respect to the one who leads in a direction which is not where we would chose to go. The aroma of submission is sweetest not when it is easy but when it is hard. Christians who favor different politics can adorn the Gospel by joyfully submitting and respecting an administration that has been given by God for our good. Are our water cooler conversations indicating that we honor God’s servant even if we do not favor his policies? Or are we showing something less than the respect which his office is due?


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Window on the Word

Thinking with Jesus

I am constantly amazed how easy it is to day-dream. Sitting in a less than riveting meeting, wondering how it is that your friends can get so excited about these details your mind begins to drift. And, as John Owen reminds us, a crucial test emerges: what do you think about when you allow your mind to drift into neutral.

I am constantly amazed just what it is we think about on such occasions. Rarely is it spiritual. Paul writes in Romans 8:6, “to set the mind on the Spirit is life.” Spiritual mindedness is a discipline we must learn.

There is a war taking place within us: “The flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh” (Gal. 5:17). Our minds struggle constantly to submit to Scripture, because our minds wander all over the place. I sometimes wonder why it’s so difficult for us to sit down and think about the Lord Jesus for five minutes when we can think of almost anything else in the world for five minutes.

There is a text that we will be coming to shortly in Ligon’s exposition of Luke. It is one of those verses that has always taken my breath away. It is reference to the growth of Jesus from an infant through the stages of boyhood and teenage life into adulthood. The Scripture encapsulate all of this in a sentence by saying, “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). He grew physically. Yes, I can understand that. But he also grew in wisdom. And the question is, How did he grow in wisdom? We are facing several issues here. One is that Jesus was incarnate and in possession of real human body and real human mind. As a child he had a child’s mind and not an adult mind. He would have thought of things in a childish kind of way. That may sound wrong to evangelical Christians but to deny it, as a man called Apollinarius did in the fourth century, was something the church declared a heresy.

In his divine nature he was omniscient, but as a man he was not. Even as an adult he would declare himself ignorant of the date of his own Second Coming. He grew in wisdom, but how? The answer seems to be (as the rest of the Gospel of Luke affirms) that he grew in wisdom by meditating on the Scriptures, not because it kind of fell on his head because he was the Son of God, but because he deliberately developed a mind-set that focused on the Scriptures. And on the other side of this statement in Luke, we are told that he grew in favor with God.

I imagine that Jesus spent a great deal time meditating on the Old Testament Scriptures. I imagine, too, that he had learned sections of it by heart. I imagine that he spent many hours wondering as to exactly what they meant. And if we are to find favor with God, we must develop that mind-set.

We must think spiritually – with the help of the Spirit.


Monday, February 09, 2009

Scout Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Eagles Have Landed!

If you missed the Sunday morning 11 o'clock service yesterday, you missed a treat. We had Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scout Dads and Scoutmasters galore. Earl Davis told me he saved about 140 seats. I can't ever remember a crop of Scouts like this at First. We recognized these young men before the service, and we also asked all the Eagle Scouts present to stand. There was a hush of awe as dozens stood, all around the building, and then a spontaneous expression of recognition. Many have remarked to me how special it was.

For the young men involved in scouting, there is no greater achievement than attaining the rank of "Eagle Scout". Statistics tell us that fewer than 5% of boys who get involved in scouting ever achieve the penultimate rank of Eagle, but there are a lot of 11 and 12 year old scouts who go to sleep at night reading their Boy Scout Handbook and dreaming of the crowning accomplishment.

At Troop 18 we have awarded 8 young men their EAGLE this year. Many of these young men are covenant sons of our church, which sponsors Troop 18 through the Christian Education Department. Since our inception in 1922, Troop 18 has had the distinction of awarding 270 Eagle Medals.

If you visit one of our Courts of Honor or look at the Plaques adjacent to the FPC Sanctuary, you will see the wooden boards with the names of all of out Troop 18 Eagles. It reads like a "Who's Who" of civic leaders . . . judges, teachers, elected officials, doctors, fathers, church leaders, and influential men of our community.

Troop 18 is very proud of the 11 young men who achieved the rank of Eagle in 2008. They are:

Thompson Moore
William Carpenter
John Frey
Elliot Guffin
Luke Love
Nelson Parker
Stuart Ramsey
Jack Taylor
Jay Vise
Buckner Corso
Davis Abraham

To get more information about the activity of our Troop, please visit their website at


Understanding the Times

Culture Watch: 24 Things About to Disappear

Rod Dreher (aka "Crunchy Con") at Beliefnet, does a little sociological prognostication here. HT: JT. Also, John Seel pointed me to the following short clip. Kinda scary and exhilirating.

Check this out.


Friday, February 06, 2009

Missionary Spotlight

Don and Fran McNeill, Uganda

Don McNeill serves with MTW and Africa Inland Mission in the areas of Theological Education. He is on staff at Westminster Theological College & Seminary in Uganda.

Don and Fran were reared in MS and met at MS State where both received a Bachelor of Science. Don later earned a Master of Christian Education in 1979 and a Master of Divinity in 1994 from RTS, Jackson. Married for 32 years, they have four children and two grandsons.

Church growth in Africa has outstripped the growth of available training institutions. Insufficiently trained pastors, most of them leading three or more congregations, serve a growing church and this has resulted in congregations which are ill-equipped to understand and apply the Scriptures adequately. WTC’s goal is to train Christian leaders for expositional preaching and teaching in cities, towns and the remotest villages of Uganda. The ultimate aim is to help African Christians develop a Christian world-view in which the implications of the gospel penetrate to all areas of life that God might be glorified.

Don focuses his efforts on theological education and writing textbooks for the students while Fran works in administration and library. Both enjoy personal interaction with the students and have, also, been involved in one-on-one discipleship and marriage and family studies.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Tom Elkin's Talk at MOC

Ligon's Notes

Tom Elkin's message at Men of the Covenant today was superb.

Here's the outline.

Tom summed up three key points of Christian theology in these three phrases:
(1) the sovereignty of God
(2) the sinfulness of man
(3) the substitution of Christ

He then noted that these are all based on and derived from Scripture, and so, when we have a low view of Scripture, the embrace of these truths can disappear.

He argued that your view of Scripture underpins your view of the world and your theology, and challenged us to take six steps to make sure that the Bible is the final rule of your faith and practice and the source of your world and life view.

1. Hear the Word of God

2. Read the Word of God

3. Study the Word of God

4. Memorize the Word of God

5. Do the Word of God

6. Teach the Word of God


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Men of the Covenant

Dr. Tom Elkin, Minister of Marriage & Family Life

On Thursday of this week we will have the distinct privilege of hearing from our new Minister of Marriage and Family Life, Dr. Tom Elkin, on the Men of the Covenant topic this quarter, "A Man's Public Witness for Christ."

Tom joined the pastoral staff of FPC Jackson in February 2009, after retiring as a clinical psychologist and Adjunct Staff Minister at Independent Presbyterian in Memphis, TN. He earned a B.A. from Belhaven College in 1962 and B.D. from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA in 1965. He earned his Ph.D. from Fuller Graduate School of Psychology in Pasadena, CA in 1972.

The luncheon meets from 11:45a.m.-1:00pm in Miller Hall. There is a $5 charge for lunch. No reservations are necessary. If you have any questions about the luncheon, please contact Shannon Craft, Administrative Assitant of Discipleship, at or 601-326-9243.