I grew up when Diff'rent Strokes was a popular television show. That's no big deal unless your last name is Willis. To this day I still hear those famous words popularized by Arnold: "Whatchu talkin bout Willis?" Usually they are uttered by someone looking at me as though I may have never heard it before. Yeah, right! Well this blog is what I (Willis) am talkin bout...my thoughts, observations & opinions. Enjoy...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

New Feature

Because WTBW? is all about customer service a brand new feature is now available to you. "Take a Listen" is a new list of links that will take you to some very fine preaching/teaching. I list several guys with different styles, but all of them can bring it. You may be familiar with many of these guys, while others may be new to you. All, for the most part, come from a solid doctrinal orientation with the notable exception of Mark Driscoll. While he is right on in many areas, his soteriology comes up short and his reformed perspective is disappointing. I have him on the list because his thoughts & practices can be very valuable. I should also note that many of the messages come from the Crown Hills Church website and are a result of the hard work of Scott Sheridan. Scott has done an incredible job and I'm especially grateful that he has made so many messages available from the late Roger Chambers. I'll add more as time goes by, but this intial effort reflects some of my favorites. Enjoy!

PS. As always, be Bereans!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fishing poles, bicycles & asphalt...OUCH!

Yesterday I attempted a relatively short bicycle ride with my lovely wife. We were preparing for a 100 mile ride tomorrow that starts on the campus of Roanoke Bible College. About five miles into our ride we encounter an obstacle of sorts - a fishing pole! How? Well we were getting it at about 20 miles per hour and approaching some seemingly harmless parked cars when a man pulls a fishing pole from his trunk and whips it out into the street. Tammy brakes and I try to swing wide. I caught her bike tire a slammed onto the asphalt. OUCH! We both wreck, but thankfully her injuries were minor. The street was not particulary receptive to me and my flailing body. I slammed onto the pavement pretty hard and my helmet saved my from a potentially very serious accident. Waer your helmets boys & girls! I went down on my left side and acquired some big time road rash. Worst of all I smashed my shoulder - the same one I separated a few years ago. Anyway, I lay in the street for a bit while a few folks drove around me! Yeah, I thought about the Good Samaritan too. I won't bore you with all the details, but I've done the ER, pain pills, anti-nflammatory pills, a visit to an Orthopedist, my first cortisone injection and I have an MRI on my calendar. The good news is that I am eating very wel! My long time friend Frank brought over two double cheese what-a-burgers (the best). And my mom brought me 2 bags of caramel creams - my fav candy! So now I have a bum shoulder and a bulging midsection, but hey it could've been worse!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jumbo Shrimp Anyone?

My bud Aaron Saufley is soon to be unleashing his first ever book - The Jumbo Shrimp Gospel: Living Out the Paradoxical Message of the Kingdom of God. I rediscovered Aaron through the blogosphere and regularly visit his site - The Road Less Travelled. I highly recommend you do the same. Aaron is bright, insightful & biblical - all the things you need to be in order to write a book worth reading. I was privileged to get a little preview by reading the first chapter and I can't wait for the rest. I always thought writing a book would be a very cool thing to do, but it is no easy task, so I congratulate Aaron for getting it done.

Monday, April 20, 2009

If this guy is Minnesota's new Senator then you can add that state to my growing list of places where I will never live! Governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura was bad enough, but this proves his election was no anomaly. First a "professional" wrestler and now a comedian! I'm all for anyone having a shot at political office, but Minnesota could do better. Maybe they should vote for NFL bottom tier QB Tavaris Jackson as the other Senator!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Crying in the Chapel - Allies

That's Bob "Butterfly Kisses" Carlisle singing lead for Allies. This is from WAY BACK IN THE DAY - the late 80's! The band broke up in the early 90's and Bob went on to brief mainstream success. This song is from the album "Long Way From Paradise" - an all time classic IMHO.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Any Elders Out There?

Here's a really challenging quote from Alexander Strauch, author of Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church . . .

When the church eldership is viewed as a status or board position in the church, there will be plenty of volunteers. When it is viewed as a demanding, pastoral
work, few people will rush to volunteer. One reason there are so few shepherd elders or good church elderships is that, generally speaking, men are spiritually lazy. That is a major reason why most churches never establish a biblical eldership. Men are more than willing to let someone else fulfill their spiritual responsibilities, whether it be their wives, the clergy, or church professionals.

Biblical eldership, however, can't exist in an atmosphere of nominal Christianity. There can be no biblical eldership in a church where there is no biblical Christianity. If a biblical eldership is to function effectively, it requires men who are firmly committed to living out our Lord's principles of discipleship. Biblical eldership is dependent on men who seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33), men who have presented themselves as living and holy sacrifices to God and view themselves as slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 12:1,2), men who love Jesus Christ above all else, men who willingly sacrifice self for the sake of others, men who seek to love as Christ loved, men who are self-disciplined and self-sacrificing, and men who have taken up the cross and are willing to suffer for Christ.

Some people say, "You can't expect laymen to rear their families, work all day, and shepherd a local church." That statement is simply not true. Many people rear families, work, and give substantial hours of time to community service, clubs, athletic activities, and/or religious institutions. The cults have built up large lay movements that survive primarily because of the volunteer time and efforts of their members. We Bible--believing Christians are becoming a lazy, soft, pay-for-it-to-be-done group of Christians. It is positively amazing how much people can accomplish when they are motivated to work toward a goal they love. I've seen people build and remodel houses in their spare time, for example. I've also seen men discipline themselves to gain a phenomenal knowledge of the Scriptures. The real problem, then, lies not in men's limited time and energy but in false ideas about work, Christian living, life's priorities, and--especially--Christian ministry. To the Ephesian elders, Paul says, "You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive' " (Acts 20:34, 35). How do working men shepherd the church and still maintain a godly family life and employment? They do it by self-sacrifice, self-discipline, faith, perseverance, hard work, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

That's good stuff from Strauch and should be pondrerd by every current and would be elder. I highly recommend the aforementioned Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church.

"We bought and paid for the lie that Six Flags over Jesus was what the world needed. We believed that if we built better churches, our cities would be better off. . . The jig is up . . . The program-driven church has produced a brand of Christianity that is despised, not just ignored, by people outside the church." Reggie McNeal

The above quote comes from Reggie McNeal's latest : Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church. I did the "look inside" deal at Amazon and this book has moved into "next purchase" position for me. It looks to be following in the lines of McNeal powerful The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church.

From the inside flap...
"In Missional Renaissance, the much-anticipated follow-up to his groundbreaking book, Reggie McNeal shows the three significant shifts in the church leaders' thinking and behavior that will allow their congregations to chart a course toward becoming truly a missional congregation. To embrace the missional model, church leaders and members must shift

From an internal to an external focus, ending the church as exclusive social club model
From running programs and ministries to developing people as its core activity
From church-based leadership to community-engaged leadership"

Looks good, huh?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Yeah, I've been absent for a week or so, but I'll be back soon. I've been buried in the book of Nehemiah and that's a good things. I'll be teaching on "Leadership" tomorrow at the Haw Branch Church of Christ in NC and I'm using Nehemiah for our study. I'm actually teaching for the East Carolina Bible Institute (I think that's it). Also, we have our 3 kids swimming 3 nights a week for 3 hours (1 hour each!). And I'm helping coach t-ball 3 other days so it has been BUSY. Mrs WTBW? has recently started a part time job so I've had to pick up the slack. Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining. It's all good and we could use the extra $$$. I'll be starting a new sermon series on Nehemiah this Sunday at Olivet. I'm pretty excited about it. Have a good one.

Oh - the name of the series: Nehemiah (Thanks Levi for the winning suggestion!)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Something to Think About

Your Thoughts?

I recently received an email from one of the WTBW? regulars, "SammyBoy", requesting that we weigh on a prevalent issue/question within the church. Sam is a good brother and deep thinker. So guys & gals, read below and have at it.

Sam's email message to me...

I’m often involved in on-line discussions, with people from all sides of the faith spectrum. One discussion I’m in right now concerns baptism (as so many of our RM discussions seem to). I’m going to paste into this note an entry I’m making in that discussion. I wondered if it might be fodder for your blog, for you and others to respond to.

The question at hand is something like this: Can we have any hope that, in the Christian era, individuals have been/will be saved who have not submitted to immersion into Jesus (the main caveat being that the people under discussion miss immersion because of simple ignorance or bad teaching, rather than rebellious rejection; and that they are people who are, as best they know how, intending to be faithful to God, trusting in Jesus’ atonement for forgiveness from sin.)

Please note that I have no hesitancy in preaching the truth about immersion’s role in salvation. I teach it and preach it as part of man’s God-commanded response to the gospel. The question on the table is not so much about immersion as it is about God’s grace and the extent to which He may extend it.

Sam's aforementioned post:

Okay, here's how I see that aspect of "grace overlooking imperfect behavior and adherence" working in the NT scheme. What is generally acknowledged (by classic RMer's, anyway) as being necessary on man's side of the salvation covenant is: intellectual understanding of God's godhood and Christ's atonement (belief); emotional and volitional investment in God's godhood and Christ's atonement (faith); verbal and behavioral acknowledgment of God's godhood and Christ's atonement (confession);emotional, volitional and moral response to God's godhood and Christ's atonement (repentance); and submission to a specific expression of all that (immersion).

Two of these five items -- the first and the last -- are "point in time" things. There is a point in time when you come to initial intellectual acceptance of the whole idea (belief) and a point in time when you act out the specific expression called for (immersion). And as I said in another place among these conversations, that could be part of the reason we tend to be so adamant about baptism -- it's relatively easy to verify. If you tell me you've been immersed into Jesus' death, that can be checked (not that we ever do.) And if I've been immersed into Jesus' death, it's almost like an item on a checklist -- there we go, got that one accomplished; don't have to worry about it any more.

However, the other three are all things that we continue to grow into as we live out the Christian walk. And we fulfill them with varying degrees of success -- sometimes more, sometimes less -- throughout our lives. That varying response quality on our part is the reason we have to continue to rely on God's grace after our conversion. God commands of us these three things -- faith, confession, repentance -- as part of our side in the salvation covenant, just as strongly as He commands the two point-in-time events. But as perfect as I can be in those two, I am imperfect in these three things. I would like to be perfectly faithful . . . but I'm not. I would like to be perfectly repentant . . . but I'm not. I would like to confess God's godhood and Christ's atonement with every word I say and everything I do . . . but I don't. And so I rely on grace to cover for those times when I am imperfect in behavior and adherence.

I know that you would agree with that. But here's one of two places where this whole discussion comes to a head -- if God, in the NT scheme, is willing to apply His grace and Jesus' perfection to my imperfect behavior and adherence in these three, why wouldn't He be willing to do so in the other two? (And surely He does in the first -- when I first come to believe, there are huge gaps in my understanding of God.) If He gracefully accepts the atoning blood of Christ where my faithful intentions and efforts in faith, confession and repentance come up short, why do we believe that He would refuse to do so concerning baptism?

Three things I hope you'll note at this point -- 1) at this point, I'm not arguing or trying to convince you of anything or trying to score points in a debate. This is a point where I struggle to find just the right answer spoken just the right way. If you can help me toward that, I'll be grateful.

2) I'm still dealing with unintentional, faithful failure or ignorance, and not rebellious rejection.

3) Simply saying, "Because the Bible says to be baptized" does not address the question sufficiently. The Bible also makes commands about faith, confession and repentance. Now, if what I'm about to say is incorrect, i beg your forgiveness, but I'm going to guess that at least part of your response will be something like this: Once you're in covenant relationship. grace covers a lot of failure, but you have to first be in covenant relationship for that to be. And since immersion is what brings you into covenant relationship, its absence can't be allowed. In fact, you've essentially already said it, when you said [i]"I believe He is gracious to those of us in Covenant relationship because of our weakness but covenant is paramount to even be considered sons and you have already expressed agreement as to how one enters this state."[/i] But I would assert that all five of those items are commanded for entering the covenant, and I am certain that none of us can confidently claim perfection in faith or repentance at the time of our conversion. So the question remains, Why does grace cover unintentional, faithful failure in #'s 2, 3, and 4, and not #5?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Hey Creative Types

As many of you know I'll be starting a sermon series in a couple of weeks based on OT the book of Nehemiah. I'm trying to come up with a title for the sermon series. Sure I can go with "Nehemiah" but I know some of you creative types could help me with a really hip title. Maybe even a song suggestion too. A little brainstroming would be appreciated... I'll start...

"God the Builder" (sounds a little too junior churchish)
"Under Construction"
"Extreme Makeover - Jerusalem Editin (A little overused)
"If it is Broke - Fix it!"
"A Great Project" (6:3)
"T-R-O-U-B-L-E" (2:17)
"Another Brick in the Wall"

Okay, it's obvious I could use some help. Any ideas???

Wednesday, April 01, 2009