Posts filed under ‘Thoughts’

9Marks Journal on “Biblical Theology: Guardian and Guide of the Church”

Biblical theology is not just about reading the Bible rightly, though it begins there. It serves to guard and guide the local church. It maintains the right message, defines the task of the messenger, identifies imposters, tells us what we do when we gather, and sets the trajectory of our mission. It answers the question, Who are we, as the church in the world?
The newest 9Marks journal explores the role of biblical theology in the life of the church. Biblical theology is not simply “theology that is biblical”, it is a theological discipline. For a good introduction to biblical theology, see David Schrock’s blog post Biblical Theology for the Non-theologian.

August 19, 2014 at 10:07 am Leave a comment

Are some Christians being unfairly shamed out of the public sphere?


Alan Noble is the managing editor and co-founder of Christ and Pop Culture and is an assistant professor of English at Oklahoma Baptist University.

Noble recently wrote a thought provoking article on Christians and the public square for The Atlantic titled Is Evangelical Morality Still Acceptable in America?

Is evangelical Christian morality still viable in American public life?

…There is a fear that in an increasingly secularized society, there will be less tolerance for people who wish to act upon their deeply held religious beliefs, except in narrowly defined, privatized spaces. This is a fundamentally American concern: Will I have the right to serve God as I believe I am obligated to?

Often, Christian claims to religious liberty are framed as homophobia and misogyny, rather than disagreement grounded in morality.

Often, the Christian defense of what they believe is their religious liberty is framed as fundamental hatefulness, homophobia, and misogyny, rather than disagreement grounded in morality. Much to the shame of the faith, a few who claim to be Christian really are motivated by hate. Those who disagree with them see little point in engaging with them on these issues, which is understandable, but it’s unfair and counterproductive to extend that attitude to all evangelical Christians. If the evangelical worldview is deemed invalid in the public sphere, then the public sphere loses the value of being public. American discourse will be marked by paranoid conformity, rather than principled and earnest disagreement. And our ability to prophetically speak to one another and to our nation’s troubles will be restrained.

I encourage you to read the whole thing.

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

July 15, 2014 at 7:05 am Leave a comment

Money Possessions and Eternity by Randy Alcorn

“Who wants to settle for fleeting treasures on earth…when God offers everlasting treasures in heaven?”

51uPHkA8A+LRandy Alcorn’s Money Possessions and Eternity is an extensive volume exploring money and possessions from a biblical perspective. When I say ‘extensive’, I mean it. This book has almost 500 pages of material to work through. I recently read this book and found it very beneficial. Specifically, there were a few sections I found most helpful when examining ones heart, and shepherding the heart of others concerning their finances.

The Sin of Materialism 

First and foremost, Alcorn argues that the human heart is the primary issue of materialism. He argues that “we [modern Christians] have failed to take materialism as a serious threat to our godliness” (74). Treating materialism as a deadly sin, the author maintains that we cannot grow in godliness until we answer these questions:

  • What is it that we really long for?
  • What is the deepest desire and need of our hearts?

These heart searching questions help dig deeper on issues related to possessions – enabling one to see the desire behind the “want”. Alcorn makes the case that like other sin and idolatry, materialism is a fruitless attempt to find meaning and satisfaction apart from God. The problem, according to Alcorn, is that most evangelical Christians write off materialism as characterizing other people, but not themselves.

Giving and Simple Living 

As for giving, Alcorn upholds that if Western Christians all practiced healthy giving, “the task of world evangelism and feeding the hungry would be within reach” (186). Powerful point. I see this as one of the most powerful reasons for living frugally as a Christian, namely, the ability to give freely. Alcorn’s section on “living simply” is an excellent resource to think about how one uses their resources. He reasons that Christians should live simply because:

  1. Heaven is our home.
  2. It frees us up, and shifts our center of gravity.
  3. Because we are God’s pipeline of grace to others.
  4. The reward we’ll receive in heaven.
  5. The joy it brings us now.
  6. Because of the dire needs in the world.

For many this emphasis of strategic living will require looking hard at one’s lifestyle. But “better to be seen as fools now in the eyes of other people – including other Christians – than to be seen as fools forever in the eyes of the audience of one” (419).


Alcorn presents a biblical and comprehensive view of money and possessions. “The best way to check our heart’s attitude regarding material possessions to is allow all the principles of God’s word to penetrate our innermost being. (xvi)” There is plenty of biblical material in this book to do just that.

July 18, 2013 at 8:06 am Leave a comment

In Honor of Will Toburen: The Transition to Summit Church in Durham, N.C.

Today marks the end of Will Toburen’s pastoral ministry at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C. However, Will’s legacy will continue at Calvary for many years to come. Will served as an Associate Pastor and Senior Associate Pastor at Calvary for well over a decade. He will now join the pastoral team at the Summit Church in Durham as the Executive Pastor for Discipleship Ministry. I’ve talked with the Summit’s pastor J.D. Greear recently and he, along with the rest of their team, is excited to welcome Will to their staff. What a great addition to an already stellar team!

photoWhen I came to Calvary as a seminary student in the Calvary School of Pastoral Leadership in 2006, Will along with Al Gilbert immediately pulled me in and began investing in my life. These two men have a very special place in my heart (and heart of hearts). They have both shaped my own life and ministry in ways they may never fully know. As for Will specifically, I view him as an older brother in the Christian life. A much wiser brother.

Will’s belief in me, his loving support, and his timely challenges have been formative and affirming – something that every Christian needs and few have the opportunity to receive. Not only has Will become a dear friend, he was part of our wedding ceremony, supported our adoption process, and always encouraged me to grow in ministry through preaching, teaching, and dozens of other ministry opportunities in the local church. Since I cannot be at Calvary for his last Sunday, or attend his going away fellowship, I would like to offer a few thoughts on Will here.

Will is a gifted preacher. I would put him up there with almost anyone. While Will is one of the best, he will never seek his own fame – he gladly points to the Father. I watched Will bring passion and humility to the pulpit for almost 7 years. First and foremost, Will always preached with Jesus as the center of his sermons. Will understands the gospel and works hard to apply the gospel through every text he preached. Will was also humbly honest from the pulpit. One of the things I valued dearly in his ministry was his willingness in admitting where he had failed and where he could work harder in his own personal life. Unlike some preachers who believe that one must always “have it together” to maintain strong leadership, he lead through repentance and humility.

While he was strong in the pulpit, he was so gentle with the people. Calvary loves Will. He grew up at Calvary. He was taught in Sunday School by many of the people who eventually sat under his preaching. I could always sense the mutual endearment when Will would visit some of those dear saints in the hospital or when he would stand by them as they slipped into eternity. I have watched Will weep with those who weep, hold congregants hands when they needed a pastors love, and celebrate the joys of life with many of the people. These are lessons I will treasure for the rest of my life. When I think of servant leadership – many of my lessons were learned under Will.

As a West Campus team we would meet once a week to pray, plan, and hold each other accountable. Each week Will would not only ask us hard questions, but he would also ask for our feedback on his life and ministry. He was always quick to go above and beyond to serve others. He rightly sought chances to grow and learn from others, even guys like me who were well under his ministry age. As I look back I can only conclude that Will wanted to be the most God honoring pastor that he could be. He wanted to preach the word with clarity and with Jesus as the hero. He also wanted to be sensitive to the Spirit when it came to his own life. And being open to allow others to speak into his sanctification process speaks volumes of his character and love for the church.

Strong in the pulpit, gentle in the hospital room. Always growing, and desiring others to grow. Like all of us Will has his faults, but he acknowledges them seeking to grow in the gospel. More importantly, Will loves Jesus, loves his family, and loves the church. I am grateful for our years of ministry together. I am also thankful for our friendship. I look forward to seeing what God has in store for this gentle giant of the faith.

I love you as a dear brother Will, and pray that God would continue to bless you as you begin this new chapter. Rock that sweater vest in your new ministry setting.

April 14, 2013 at 7:00 am 3 comments

Review of Robert Wuthnow’s “The God Problem”

The Gospel Coalition recently posted my review of Princeton sociologist Robert Wuthnow’s The God Problem. Here are a few excerpts from the review. The God Problem

The God Problem is a fascinating study of how people talk about their faith, and how they do so in a way that reflects their desire to appear reasonable. Princeton sociologist Robert Wuthnow observes that while the United States is one of the most highly educated societies on earth, it is also one of the most religious.

In The God Problem, Winthrow examines how middle-class Americans juggle the seemingly paradoxical relationship between faith and reason. Using the tools of discourse analysis and cognitive anthropology, Wuthnow takes the reader on a tour through the United States to sit in on 165 qualitative interviews in which he carefully examines remarks about prayer, tragedies and miracles, heaven, freedom in Christ, and science and faith.Wuthnow suggests that people’s faith is often guided—and perhaps restricted—by their own desire to seem reasonable.

Read the whole review here

You can purchase The God Problem here.

December 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm Leave a comment

The Morning After The Election

Last night America decided that President Obama should be granted a second term. Regardless of how you voted, or how you feel about the outcome, President Obama is still our commander-in-chief. Throughout the day I will be collecting articles on this blog post related to the 2012 election. These resources will be aimed at helping Christians think and respond well to the election. These resources will also help us understand what we can learn from the 2012 election.

To be continued…

November 7, 2012 at 9:57 am 1 comment

Matt Capps:

In light of all the political conversation…

Originally posted on Matt Capps Blog:

- To Watch Sermon Video Click Here -

The very word patriotism comes from the word patriarch; and we all acknowledge that each of us have a connection to a “father land.” This has with it identification to a particular kinship, a kinship that has worked, and sometimes fought to sustain and protect the family. I believe that just as one honors father and mother one should also honor where God has placed you. My great grandfather served in World War I, my grandfather served in World War II as a helmsmen on a Navy ship.

Obviously, these men did not battle the other side because they hated the individual men in front of them, they simply loved the men behind them.[3] They stood for their fellow Americans and stood against the ideals that the enemy represented. When I hear the Patriotic songs and pledge allegiance to the flag…

View original 4,994 more words

September 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

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