Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Christian Fruit

A Tribute To Linda Clement Richards: September 14, 1949 - July 17, 1996

Galatians 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."

Over the past few months several people from FBCH have found the big top here at Bread and Circuses. We had one particular member who insisted that we were attacking her faith since we do not believe the heresy of King James Onlyism. I do not doubt that she is a sincere and lovely individual, but she was dead wrong on her description of our beliefs. We have also been told by some good people that we must be "bitter" in order to have a blog like this--again this is an emotional response to our criticism of unbiblical teachings at FBCH. Just yesterday we had an apparent staff member with family high up at FBCH accuse us of being "bitter" and "betraying traitors" who are trying to "“attack"” FBCH and her pastor. Lastly, I have heard recently that some members believe that Josh and I must hate FBCH because we are "“attacking"” them with this blog--I want to say that we absolutely DO NOT hate anyone at FBCH and count many there as dear friends besides the many family members that we both have involved in that ministry. This accusation caused me to think long and hard about what we are trying to say with this blog--I suppose that there is at least a kernel of truth in any criticism--perception is reality to some people and so I would like to clear the air on a few things. There are some people on the internet who would have us to believe that everyone and everything at FBCH is wrong and evil--that certainly is not the case here at Bread and Circuses.

Allow me to share a very personal story from the lives of Josh and I that will help us to clarify some of these misunderstandings.

In the winter of 1988, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and told by her doctor that she probably would live only 18 to 24 months. You can imagine the shock and disappointment when a seemingly healthy 38 year-old woman with 4 children between the ages of 9 and 18 receives this news. We were all very sad and over the next 8 years or so my mother fought and no doubt was kept alive in part by the prayers of God's people. Exactly 10 years ago yesterday, my mother went to Heaven after battling cancer for 8 years--she finally received the complete healing for which we had prayed--God does all things so well. As I think about her today I am reminded of what the Psalmist said in Psalm 115:
"Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! Why should the nations say, '‘Where is their God?'’ Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases."”
Later the Psalmist continues in Psalm 135:6
"Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps."
John Piper comments on this topic in his book, The Pleasures of God, by stating:
"God has His wise and holy purposes in all that He does and He does all that He does according to His own good pleasure."
Our mother was a godly woman who loved the LORD dearly. She was a wonderful example to us not only by the way she lived, but also by the way she fought cancer and departed from this life. Many of the things on this blog that we are criticized for are issues which I debated with my mother while I was at HAC--I have come full circle to where she already was--I thank God for such a blessing to have a mother who loved me even when I was belligerent and foolishly parroting unorthodox and unscriptural beliefs that I learned at college. Our mother loved to read books by Francis Schaeffer, Watchman Nee, C.S. Lewis, and John MacArthur among others. We miss our mother badly, but we know that she is where God wants her right now and we trust that God knows best and He does everything perfectly and in accordance with His own good pleasure.

It may seem unclear where I am headed with this story and post--it is very personal, but I hope that you will bear with me a little longer. As my mother was battling cancer--chemotherapy, radiation, bone pain, nauseau, etc... some of the good people of FBCH offered much help and care. I hesitate to list names because there is no way to remember everyone--the LORD knows how kind and helpful they were, and He will remember their service. My mother's missionary circle was the Canada Circle and they brought meals to my father and us four boys on a regular basis. Names like Ault, Auclair, Boardway, Duff, Colsten, Moffitt, Kimmel, Moore, Jorgensen, Weber, Mock, Streeter, Mitchell, and the list could go on and on. I am sure that over the 8 years we received hundreds of meals from these fine people and others like them at FBCH. Many of these folks were the wives of men who taught at HAC or were deacons at FBCH. I will never forget their care for my mother and our family--they were and are still some of the most kind-hearted and generous people that I have been privileged to know.

I want to go on record as saying that these people showed Christian fruit and Christ-like care for our family--I would never question their genuine salvation, their love for the LORD, and their devotion to Him. All that being said, I do not believe that because we are calling some false teaching into question that we are automatically "ungrateful" or "bitter". Nothing could be further from the truth--we cannot allow sentiment and emotion to control our theology. Jack Hyles himself told stories about his being disowned by the SBC and his home church because of his problem with some of their doctrine--funny how no one in Hammond called him bitter or ungrateful, but somehow it is much different when we find ourselves at odds with some of the teachings at our "home" church and alma mater.

As I look back at the life that my mother lived, I cannot help but remember the wonderful testimony that her many friends at FBCH showed by their acts of service and fervent prayers. Some of my mother's best and dearest friends were and still are members of FBCH--I pray that they would never take personally our issues with certain doctrines at HAC and FBCH. I do not wish any harm or ill will to those involved in the ministry of FBCH. I seek only to analyze the ministry of FBCH in the areas where she is propagating unorthodox and erroneous teachings. Nobody is required or forced to visit this blog--—we are simply providing a place where open debate is fostered in a Christ-like and humble spirit. It is easy for those at FBCH to simply cast Josh and I as "“bitter"” or "“traitors"”, they were taught by the best at this kind of game. We are not bitter and we are not filled with hatred for all things at FBCH--—we love hundreds of folks there and simply desire to point them to the Word of God for their doctrine and methodology and not to what some man dogmatically trumpets as Gospel truth.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

If It Looks Like A Duck And Walks Like A Duck...

Daniel 1:8 ESV "But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that "he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself."

I wanted to take this opportunity to make a quick post concerning Youth Conference 2006 since it is set to commence in less than a week in beautiful Hammond, Indiana. If you have not had a chance to review the brochure for the upcoming Youth Conference at First Baptist Church of Hammond I highly recommend your taking a quick glance at it here.

It is amazing to me how anyone can still argue that First Baptist Church and Hyles-Anderson College are not unashamedly anthropocentric to the very core. On a regular basis I have sincere members of FBCH inform me just how much things have changed for the better at the old church downtown. The first couple of times that I heard this claim I was anxious to find out the reason for this conclusion--sadly after just a small amount of research all of these claims lose their credence.

This brings us to the topic at hand--a simple perusal of the brochure sent across the fruited plain promoting Youth Conference 2006. We are told that our teens should be resolved to stand and be one of the 10,000 people who attend Youth Conference this year! I can think of many things that Christian teens ought to be committed to--standing as one of 10,000 noses to be counted at FBCH does not make my list.

The brochure goes on to announce that interested teens will have the opportunity to hear some dynamic youth speakers! There will be a talent contest, three on three basketball tournament, dodgeball aplenty, and a chance to meet Jack Schaap at the altar on Thursday evening! Does anyone else notice the absence of a Cross-centered message? Some may think that we are nitpicking, but why is it that there is no mention of God's glory or the grace of God? I have seen some announcements for conferences and conventions in the past, but I do not think that I have ever seen one so void of anything Christ-exalting.

The dandelion of pragmatism is in full bloom at First Baptist of Hammond during this exciting time on the church calendar! Week after week and event after event FBCH just keeps heading down the path that provides ample material for us here at B&C--my prayer is that they do in fact change their methods and man-centered ways and put us out of commission--I spent a lot of years under the influence of this ministry and sincerely desire to someday see the old ship on the right course.

**You will notice that FBCH does not fail to mention what is most important to them--numbers and this standard little quip:

"Young ladies are not permitted to wear pants, gauchos, or walking shorts at any time."

Externalism, pragmatism, decisionism, narcissism, and good old-fashioned anthropocentrism--all the essential ingredients for youth ministry Hammond-style!

Any other thoughts?