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Archive for the ‘Baptist’ Category

If there is one thing that the Excogitating Engineer enjoys, it is listening to podcasts. He listens to podcasts almost every time he drives to and from work. He listens to various kinds of podcasts — news, apologetics, sermons, history, etc. In this particular post, the Excogitating Engineer would like to give props to his favorite podcasts in the category of Christian Podcasts. Sermons that churches upload to i-Tunes do not fall into this category. This category of podcasts are basically podcasts that are Christian commentary or discussions. Sermons will be another category so don’t be offended if your favorite preacher is not on this list.

I am going to list my top Christian podcasts in the same way that the College Football Playoff selection committee lists their top teams. I will give you my top four Christian podcasts and then I will give you my first 2 podcasts out which just barely missed the cut. These podcasts are not necessarily ones that I agree with the most. They are merely the ones that I find listening to the most in my car. Some of them could be analogous to a train wreck that you just can’t stop looking at. The podcasts could be a train wreck but I just keep listening. So here we go with my top four podcasts and the first two out.

  1. White Horse Inn. The White Horse Inn is hosted by Dr. Michael Horton and he has a panel of pastors or teachers. They discuss theological issues, doctrines, or sometimes they will just walk through a book of the Bible and discuss it. I like it because it is 30 minutes which is a perfect length for my commute to work. The hosts are solid theologically. I don’t always agree with them but I like the fact that the panel is made up of people from various church traditions but have a solid commitment to the Gospel.
  2. The Briefing. The Briefing is a 30 minute cultural commentary by the amazing Dr. R.  Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He selects the major news stories or editorial articles of the day from major new sources and will talk about them. He discusses the news items and helps you, the listener, understand how to view the story through the lens of a biblical worldview. It is all done on the fly with no transcript. Not only is his commentary excellent, he constantly amazes with his knowledge on a vast array of topics.
  3. Theology. Driven. This podcast is a relatively new podcast for me. I’ve know about it for less than six months. There are three guys that drive around in a car and another who joins their conversations via Skype. They talk about whatever they want. Usually they start out with a few minutes of banter and spend the rest of the time discussing a theological topic. I haven’t been listening to this podcast for very long but the guys on this podcast are not learned like the ones in my top 2 podcasts, but they are solid lay people. There is one thing I can’t figure out. Why do they have to drive around to talk? Why not just sit down somewhere with a good internet connection and record the podcast? I understand the “driving” theme in the name of the podcast but is it really necessary to literally drive to “explore the open road of life?”
  4. Doctrine and Devotion. Doctrine and Devotion is very similar to the previously discussed podcast. Instead of having a panel of four hosting the show, it is a panel of two. The type of conversation is similar and they come from a similar theological perspective — Reformed Baptist. The hosts are Joe Thorn and Jimmy Fowler who are both elders at the same church in St. Charles, Illinois. They have a lot of banter in their show as well and they get very silly and even rude sometimes. If you can get through that, the content of what they have to say is pretty good. And, I wish they would stop talking about smoking all the time.
  5. Mortification of Spin. This podcast is a discussion or conversation between Todd Pruitt, Carl Trueman, and Aimee Byrd. The Excogitating Engineer enjoys their conversation and sometimes disagreements. Carl Trueman is especially enjoyable to listen to with his British accent. One of the shortcomings of this show is that the hosts are all Presbyterian. I know, the previous two podcasts are hosted by Baptists. The difference is that this podcast is supposed to represent the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. That being the case, I do not think that Presbyterians are the only Confessing Evangelicals. I enjoy the show but would appreciate more diversity in church traditions.
  6. Stand to Reason. The last of my top 6 is Stand to Reason. This used to be my most listened to podcast, until I introduced more variety into my podcast library. I’ve definitely been listening to this podcast the longest. The host, Greg Koukl, starts off with some commentary and then takes questions from callers. I enjoy listening to the questions and I learn from Greg by listening to how he answers people’s questions. I think about how I would answer the same question as I listen to him  skillfully present the Christian position on issues or theological challenges.

There you go. My top 6 podcasts. I would love to hear your thoughts on these or what your top Christian podcasts are. Of course, there are others that I like but these are the ones I listen to the most.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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It is the weekend leading up to Independence Day which means it is that time of year again.  It is time for the church worship service to go patriotic.  We can expect to see special patriotic music, flag ceremonies, or times set aside to honor those who serve in our military. It is, after all, the birthday of our great nation and we have much to celebrate, not the least of which are the freedoms we enjoy and the men and women who have sacrificially given their lives so that we can enjoy this freedom.

This morning we went to the house of worship where the my church gathers for corporate worship on this weekend before Independence Day. Our worship started off with a patriotic song which was spectacularly performed by the choir and orchestra. This song received a standing ovation and everyone remained standing as we joined in for the Pledge of Allegiance. After the pledge, the entire assembly sang our national anthem. There was a thunderous applause for the patriotism and then we sat down for the continuation of the worship service.

I love our country. I appreciate the men and women of our armed forces and I think there is much to be celebrated about our country. I am thankful that my citizenship is in this country. There is much about our culture in this present day that is concerning but we have great freedoms in this country which is to be celebrated. Many people the world over are envious of people who have the privilege of being citizens of our country. Having said that, I take the position that the pledge and the celebration of our country should happen in the context of civic celebration events but not in the context of Christian worship. I love to watch Pops Goes the Fourth but I don’t love to see those songs sung in church.

I have taken this position because of what I understand to be corporate worship in the context of the local church. The church is coming together for the sake of the community of saints but primarily to worship and exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. We are there to exalt the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We are there to praise the creator of the universe.  (Of course, the centerpiece of worship is the exposition of the Word of God, but that is a subject for another post.) With this understanding of Christian worship, these are the reasons that I think that patriotic songs and the Pledge of Allegiance do not belong in our church worship services.

  1. The Pledge of Allegiance.  This is the easiest issue to point out. While we do pledge our allegiance to our nation on a temporal level, we pledge our allegiance to God on an eternal level. We follow our civic authorities until they conflict with God’s commands. We are at church to worship the God of the universe. What are we doing pledging our allegiance to a lesser authority when we are there to praise God Himself.
  2. Why do we praise God? God has blessed his people in many ways. The blessings of God are not measured in material ways but in spiritual ways. We are blessed to live in America. There is no doubt about that but is that why we worship God or do we worship because of the gift of His Son, His Spirit, and the Gospel? The Gospel is far greater than the privilege of living in the USA. This is why people can gather in places like North Korea and still worship and know that they are blessed by God.
  3. What about internationals? God is moving around the world and is bringing people around the world to our doorsteps. Hopefully your church is trying to reach internationals. What do you think that your international guests think about your patriotic celebration in church? Would they think it is appropriate to be pledging allegiance to the USA in a service of worship to the creator of the universe. They would probably shudder at doing that in a worship service in their home country. They may wonder why worship to God includes allegiance being pledged to a country.
  4. God is calling people from all nations. The United States of America is not God’s chosen nation.  God is calling people from all tribes, tongues, and nations into His church. Our God is a God who will be worshipped by all nations. That is what the story of history is about according to Genesis 12.
  5. It causes people to confuse spiritual blessing with material blessing. We are blessed to have freedom in this country that other around the world don’t have. Celebrating that freedom makes people think that the greatest freedom which God has given us is the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of America. What happens when those freedoms disappear? People will blame God because he is the author of those freedoms. But the real blessings we enjoy are enjoyed by Christians around the world and many of them are experiencing intense persecution.  We can face intense persecution and still be immensely blessed by God. We celebrate the gift of Christ and the gospel which is not limited to people in free nations. Celebrating the freedoms in America in church worship is the first step towards the slippery slope of the prosperity gospel.

There is much more to be said but I will cut this off here. What are your thoughts on this issue? Does your church do a patriotic service? Do you feel comfortable with it?

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Whether you move to a new community or your church decides to shut its doors, you may find yourself looking for a new church home at some point.  When you are looking for a church, what do you consider the most important issues or reasons in selecting a particular church.  As I consider this, these are what I consider the most important issues in the selection process of a new church home.

1. Agree on primary theological issues. The first and most important characteristic needs to be that we agree on the primary theological issues. That is, they must have a biblical understanding of the gospel. This is a non-negotiable point. They must understand the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ’s work on the cross. They must agree that one’s salvation is by grace and grace alone. Salvation is a work completely of God and He doesn’t need our help. You must only repent. The church must agree with the inspiration, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture. We may not always agree on how to interpret Scripture but we must at least agree that the Bible alone is the rule for all that we do.

2. Credobaptism. Any church that I join must practice believer’s baptism. I will not join a church that does not practice baptism by immersion. Sprinkling is not baptism. Baptism is, by definition, dipping someone under water. Baptism must be reserved for believers who have demonstrated a credible evidence of regeneration and who want to join the church and become part of the community of believers. They cannot baptize infants. They must baptize only believers.

3. Ministry to all ages. I need the church to minister to all ages, at least the ages of the people in my family. Since I have youth aged children, I need it to be a place where my youth aged children can live in community with other youth. I need it to be a community of believers where adults speak truth into children’s lives and show them what it means to live as an intentional disciple of Christ. I need the church to be intentional about preparing the youth biblically for a world that is hostile to Christian ideas. I don’t need it to be about parties, concerts, and amusement parks. I need it to be intentional and gospel driven. I need to it to be a church that understands the parents’ role in the youth’s lives but will alongside the parents in discipleship.

4. Expository Preaching. I believe that a church needs a steady diet of expository preaching. It is okay to depart from it on occasion but in general, expository preaching needs to be the practice of the preacher. It helps in preaching the full counsel of God and not just focusing on the favorite texts of the pastor. It also allows the text to drive the message rather than using a Bible verse for a launching pad to say whatever they want.

5. Welcomes workers. I hope that my next church would be open to having new people serve and minister in the area of their gifting. There are areas in which we could contribute to the ministry of the church but I need the church to be open to having new people get involved. I don’t want to be a part of the church that always goes to the same people to step in and minister.

6. Missions. I would hope that the church would have a biblical understanding of missions. But, if they don’t, it needs to be a church where the pastor is leading them to give financially to support missions. It should be a significant part of the budget, prayer, and preaching.  It should be a climate conducive to the church growing in this area.

7. Love in spirit and practice. Does the church have a sense of unity in spirit? Do they love on one another? Are they welcoming to visitors?

The answer to these should be a resounding “yes!” These are really the minimum of what I think should characterize a church that I join. There are several other traits that I think are important but are not must-haves such as high expectations and accountable church membership.  However, if the church is getting a steady diet of expository preaching, these other issues will eventually fall into place.

What are your thoughts?  What do you look for in a church?

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