Saturday, May 28, 2005

Baptism Vows

Tomorrow, several families will present their children for baptism. Here are the questions that will be presented to them and to the congregation.

The minister shall then propose the following questions:

1. Do you acknowledge your child’s need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit?

2. Do you claim God’s covenant promises in (his) behalf, and do you look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for (his) salvation, as you do for your own?

3. Do you now unreservedly dedicate your child to God, and promise, in humble reliance upon divine grace, that you will endeavor to set before (him) a godly example, that you will pray with and for (him), that you will teach (him) the doctrines of our holy religion, and that you will strive, by all the means of God’s appointment, to bring (him) up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

To the congregation:

Do you as a congregation undertake the responsibility of assisting the parents in the Christian nurture of this child?

56-6 Then the minister is to pray for a blessing to attend this ordinance, after which, calling the child by name, he shall say:

I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

As he pronounces these words, he is to baptize the child with water, by pouring or sprinkling it on the head of the child, without adding any other ceremony; and the whole shall be concluded with prayer.

New Members

One significant activity will be going on at church tomorrow that most people will be unaware of. Elders will be meeting with attenders of the New Membership class during the 9:00 hour to hear their testimonies and receive them into communicant membership. In July, you will see these new members when they come forward during a worship service for public reception. The only exception about membership has to do with baptism. If a person has never been baptised, his membership takes effect at baptism.

To be received as a church member, candidates are required to give a credible profession of faith and assent to the following questions.

1. Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope save in His sovereign mercy?

2. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?

3. Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ?

4. Do you promise to support the Church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?

5. Do you submit yourselves to the government and discipline of the Church, and promise to study its purity and peace?

Friday, May 27, 2005

I No See CD

"Nancy already has the cds," I told Valerie who wanted Nancy Hala to keep them to send to people requesting them (cds of my "Speaking the Truth in Love").
"Are you sure?" she replies, "Because Nancy says she doesn't."
"I gave them to someone to give to her. I remember distinctly someone saying that Nancy should have them, so I handed them over to whoever the person was. It probably was Dot."
As Valerie shut the door to see Dot, I pulled open my desk drawer to find the cds staring at me... The best I can figure is that Nancy or Dot sneaked back in and put them in my drawer. Surely, I could not recall what never took place.

Anyhow, copies are available through Nancy for $3.50, plus $1 for mailing. It would be best not to go through me to get one.

What Are You Saying?

In my previous posting about drawing others out to talk to you, I mentioned that one reason they will not is a fear of not being heard or of being misunderstood. Here are some tips to help:

1) Don't interrupt. Don't comment on what the other is saying and don't try to complete the other person's thought. It is good to give verbal signals that you are listening, but when you interrupt to give comment, it is possible that you are communicating that your interest lies more in what you have to say than in understanding the person talking.

2) Ask questions. The other says something like, "I struggle with keeping up my Bible reading." Don't then give advice on how to have a daily quiet time. Instead, ask probing questions. "When do you read your Bible?" "What keeps you from reading it daily?" "What happened yesterday?" etc. By asking questions, you demonstrate desire to hear the other person. You also help him to think through whatever issue he may be struggling with. By not asking questions, your helpful advice becomes hit or miss. You may or may not be touching on real solutions or even the real issues. Daily Bible reading may not have been the person's issue, but rather a besetting sin that he is struggling under, of which the poor Bible reading discipline is merely a sympton.

3) Repeat what you have been told. This is not merely parroting what has been said, but offering a paraphrase. The goal is to clarify that you have heard what the other has said and understand his perspective. This latter point is crucial. "You said you hate ministering with _____." That may be an accurate quote, but more insightful would be to respond, "You are saying that you have difficulty ministering with _____ because he does not listen to your ideas." The other person will either affirm your understanding or correct it. In either case, you demonstrate that you are trying first to understand before giving comment.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Denomination Magazine

This came in from the editor of byFaith magazine, the new denominational magazine. You can suscribe by going to

I wanted to let you know that the feedback we’ve received has been “immeasurably more than we asked or imagined.” People outside our denomination have read the magazine and made a special effort to find a PCA church. After reading feature stories congregations are exploring new ministries to prisoners and the disabled.
The magazine has sparked conversations with non-believers about what it means to have a Christian worldview. Bible study groups are discussing our articles.
And many of our people are encouraged to see the PCA taking on serious “everyday” issues.

In His Service,

Dick Doster,


Why Won't People Talk to Me?

Have you asked that question, perhaps about your spouse or children or friends? Two common reasons others will not open up to you are 1) fear of judgment and 2) fear of not being heard (misunderstood).

Regarding the first cause, understand that the answer is not to avoid making judgments. If someone is presenting sin, then sin needs to be recognized and dealt with. Judgment, per se, is not the issue; it is the manner in which you respond. Paul says in Galatians 6:1 to restore the sinner in a "spirit of gentleness."

Here are some practical tips to achieve this:

1) Understand that you are giving signals through your facial and body expressions. A grim or shocked expression tells the other that he has disappointed you, and he will shut down or fumble his words, not really expressing what he needs to say. You need to express in your face and body that you want to hear and that you are not shocked by the confession. (After all, we should not be shocked to discover sin, considering our depraved natures. Sin should bother us, but not surprise us.) You need to nod your head, indicating that you are listening and for him to continue. You need to look him in the eye.

2) Patiently listen. Do not weigh in before he has finished, except to clarify a comment made.

3) Repeat what you have heard to make sure that you have heard correctly and that he has expressed himself correctly.

4) Avoid such responses as: "How could you...?" "I don't believe this!" "I would never have done that." "I don't understand how a Christian could this." "Why didn't you tell me before?" These kind of phrases shift the focus on you. Instead of focus being on the actual behavior of the other person, it now shifts to him having to deal with your emotions.

5) After these steps, then weigh in as appropriate - identifying sin, correcting error, etc.

But do so conveying the following:
- though the sin is real, God's grace is the reality under which we are to put everything in perspective;
- that you will come alongside to help, not merely form judgment;
- that his sin, though he should feel shame for it, does not mark him as cut off from other Christians (again, we might be distinguished from one another by the specific sins we commit, we all share the same bond of being sinners who break all the commandments in one form or another);

Once he has opened up to you and found that you did not reject him, but have shown understanding love and wisdom, he will all the more share his heart.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Make That Vegan to Go

Phil's Window on the World asks the question, "Should Christians Be Vegans?" Do you know you can get all of Phil's WOWs on text through the church website?

Who's on the Pulpit

With the summer approaching, here is the preaching schedule:

Phil continues in Luke. His Sundays off are 6/12 (Gordon Campbell, professor at Reformed Seminary, Aix-en-Provence); 7/24, 31, 8/7 (Aaron Messner); and 8/14 (myself).

Aaron is opening the evening pulpit to staff and interns:
6/5 & 8/28 - Carroll Wynne (Psalm 1 & Psalm 150)
6/12 & 17 - Jerry McFarland (Obadiah)
6/24 & 7/3 - Bruce McDowell (Philemon)
7/10 - Hunter Powell(2 John 1-6)
7/17 - Luke Herche (2 John 7-13)
7/24 - Chris Seah (3 John 1-8)
7/31 - Aaron Snethen (3 John 9-15)
8/7, 15, 22 - Me (Jude)

From the Field

This came in from our missionary Rich Wolfe, who used to be the youth minister at Tenth:

I was privileged to teach on “Leadership” twice in Jamaica for a week. Then after returning I taught a men’s retreat for a local church on “Grace Alive in Us”. I was reminded of the great importance of the Bible being the foundation for all we do and who we become. Everything in life falls under the rule of Scripture—just as everything is to be submitted to the Lordship of Christ. One of the most profitable exercises I ever went through was writing out my calling and philosophy of ministry. Twenty-two pages later I summarized my calling as following: “I am called to develop leaders through teaching and mentoring in the context of a team.” I thank the Lord for opportunities to teach, mentor and develop leaders.

Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The word of God, which is contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments(c), is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy himd.

c 2 Tim. 3:16 d 1 John 1:3,4

Q. 3. What do the scriptures principally teach?
A. The scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man (e).

e 2 Tim. 1:13 (See in letter c above)

Thank you for your prayers!

Rev. Dr. Richard Wolfe
MTW--Regional Director for Central America
and the Caribbean

The Other Daughter

My other and younger daughter Jean is coming for a visit this weekend with three friends. We are excited about seeing her. Jean remained in Gainesville, Florida where she is working full-time and has just started classes at UF. She is taking all of her business courses online. It is the wave of the future.

The Final Curtain

It is the final curtain call for Judges Sunday night, as Aaron completes his series. He says it has been an enjoyable experience preaching through the book, but I imagine he must be sighing relief that there is not one more atrocity to deal with. Those final chapters are brutal. His text will be the final verse: "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes." He will be demonstrating how the themes of Judges fit in with the themes of Scripture as a whole. Make a special effort to come out that evening as he completes a significant milestone in his preaching.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Just Email It

I've been wondering what the little envelope at the bottom of each posting indicated and finally clicked one. You can send the posting as a quick email. Cool!

The Pastoral Prayer

I received an encouraging note on Sunday evening's prayer: "you nailed every single thing I've been fighting with or struggling with in a very specific way. Insane. Our God is amazing like that."

He is amazing. I remember while sitting on the platform wondering what I would be praying about. It is amazing how the Holy Spirit generates thoughts in one "jar of clay" that at the same time speaks to the hearts of many "jars of clay" in their multiple experiences.

If I had to analyze why my pastoral prayers have impacted others, I think it lies in this: I pray what impacts me, what I need to hear. What you hear is not only a pastor praying for and on behalf of his people, but one who is praying for himself.

Pride Goeth Before...

Am reading Icarus in the Boardroom by our own ruling elder David Skeel. It is a look at corporate scandals in historical context. Right now I am in the chapter about the rise and fall of Jay Cooke in the mid-1800s. David notes three factors that are involved in corporation collapses: excessive and sometimes fraudulent risks, competition, and the increasing size and complexity of the corporation. If this were a blatantly Christian book, he could rephrase his language to say that the underlying causes are pride and greed. The first historical example given lays open the greed of men to get as large of a piece of the money pie as possible and the pride of successful men to believe that they cannot fail whatever the risks. Check out today's "Proverb of the Day" (see side column) for the Bible's commentary on the subject.


Valerie Godwin, who has served as my and Carroll Wynne's assistant, is saying goodbye to us on Thursday. She and her husband Clyde are moving to Atlanta where Clyde is planting a new PCA church. I think they have planted two previous churches in North Carolina.

We have said hello to two returnees - Aaron James as sexton and Sharon Miller as part-time support. Sharon's project is to scan the complete Bible school curriculum into the computer.

Monday, May 23, 2005

News from the Field

This comes from the Missions Assistant, Geri Secrest:

I had voice mail from Bruce saying he arrived safely in Medellin and the Olsen family arrived safely in Bogota. Bruce and JDO have phones and are able to communicate to one another. They overlap a few hours in Bogota when Bruce needs to make connecting flights to Cucuta and Barranquilla. They are due back in Phila. on May 28, but since they are arriving from diff. cities, they arrive at different times on separate flights

Sunday, May 22, 2005

A Proverb a Day

Check out my new devotional site - A Proverb a Day on the side panel. Starting today, I and others will post a proverb a day with commentary during the weekdays. We will start with Proverbs 10:1 and work our way through. Have a proverb today!

Old News

Now that I have managed at the stroke of a button to wipe out two months of postings, I need to post at least one of them.

My daughter Sarah is moving to Philadelphia June 11. She is seeking a job. She is a trained zookeeper, plus experience in retail. I will attest to her being a hard worker, conscientious, and receiving commendations from her supervisors and fellow employees in all of her jobs.

A friend, Nick, is also moving. He has an A.A. in Criminal Justice and would love to do some kind of work with youth. Let me know if you know of possibilities. Call or email me.


Ginger dashed into the room to the loud, wailing cry of despair of her husband. "What's wrong," she asked in alarm, beholding a pale face framed in anguish. "I accidentally deleted my entire blogsite!" It is a sad, bitter tale, some day to end up in a sermon illustration.