Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The economy in post-War Laurens County, SC

Map of South Carolina highlighting Laurens County
Laurens County in South Carolina (Wikipedia)
ECONOMICS AND GENERALITIES AT WAR'S END
Let’s begin by looking at the realities of Laurens County’s economy and generalities of life at the end of the War for Southern Independence.  

The poverty which the post-bellum Confederate was to know was first of all a direct result of the North's hatred and blatant destruction of the South. But there was an element of the poverty that the slave owner brought upon himself.  Before the war, men would live not much better than their slaves in order to

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reconstruction-era Laurens County, SC

A new series on Sunday in the South . . .
Old Laurens County, SC, Courthouse
            Of the most fascinating and colorful periods of the history of Laurens County, SC, the Reconstruction years after the War Between the States were brilliantly radiant, desperately dark, and foundationally formative.  By the end of the Late Unpleasantness of the War, Laurens County had lost or seen crippled one half of her white male population from battle or disease. Several million dollars in capital evaporated with the end of the “peculiar institution of slavery.”  What she gained were

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Acts 6:1-7 - The Affirmation of Ordination

Deacon ordination in a South Carolina Baptist church
What guidance does the Bible offer in the important matter of setting men apart for Christian ministry, and in our case today, of deacons?
Some Baptists have totally rejected ordination because they do not think it squares with our church polity. Dwight L. Moody refused ordination. Hopefully ordination is not what C.H. Spurgeon called it: the “placing of idle hands on empty heads.” Most Baptists, however, have practiced ordination, seeing several positives.
1.   Protecting the church from

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Great Prayer Meeting Revival

On July 1, 1857, a quiet businessman, Jeremiah Lanphier, was appointed a city missionary at the North Dutch Reformed Church on Fulton Street, Lower Manhattan. In September, Jeremiah decided to start a noonday prayer meeting once a week, and he began to pass out flyers to advertise the meeting. On the first day, Sept. 23, six men gathered to pray. 

The second week of October, the stock market crashed. On October 17, twenty gathered in what was now a daily noon prayer meeting. The prayer meetings grew, and six months later,

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The Second Great Awakening 1800-1820

After the Revolutionary War, spiritual darkness descended over America. Sin and immorality was rampant. Christianity was mocked on college and university campuses so much that the handful of believers were forced to keep their faith secret. But something was about to change. In 1784, a significant chain of events began, which directly contributed to

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Shalom and society

English: "shalom" in Hebrew. type-fa...
Shalom
Shalom. The Hebrew word for peace (shalom) is found over 200 times in the Old Testament. In the narrative books, like Joshua, Kings, and Chronicles, it usually is used to describe simply an absence of hostility or strife. 

In the Psalms and the Prophets the meaning goes beyond that. It expresses a basic and vital biblical idea of not just a condition without war, but goes further to suggest

Monday, August 11, 2014

The King will pour out the Spirit of Righteousness

When there is no revival and repentance in the hearts of God's people, there will always be complacency and carnality, pride and prejudice. When there is no revival, no one thinks they need the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Churches are self-run, or personality-driven, or deacon-possessed, not Holy Spirit-led.

Isaiah gives us a picture of revival in chapter 32 of his prophecy. He says that God's judgments are the precursors to revival. They are meant to shake us out of our complacency (Isa. 32:9-14; note the similarities between Isaiah 32:1-20 and Isaiah 3:1-4:6). Perhaps the judgments we are seeing are God's answering prayers and intercession for revival and spiritual awakening.

When revival begins, complacency is replaced by

Thursday, August 07, 2014

The King will reign in righteousness

There is coming a day when the Lord is going to right the wrongs in this world. 

He sees the employee that gets away with stealing and then gets promoted. He sees the children who are beaten and molested every day. He hears the cries of the victims of cancer and genetic diseases.  He hears the cry of the blood coming from the ground from aborted children. 

He sees the corruption in our government. He hears the cries for help from victims of human trafficking. He hears the pleadings of the persecuted church. He knows about

Monday, August 04, 2014

Giving, squandering, and missions

Poor giving and churches squandering Kingdom resources has consequences. Missions suffers.

Eighty-five cents of every dollar given in a church offering stays at that church.That might not be so bad, especially if they are using it to minister to their community. But what follows is not good.

In 2000, 97 dollars of every 100 of the entire income ($269.61B) of all Christian organizations was spent on, and primarily benefited, other Christians at home or abroad. 

Church spending on ministering to already-evangelized non-Christians was $2.90 of every $100 ($7.8B). 

We spent 3 cents ($0.81B) of every $100 on unevangelized non-Christians. [1] In 2010 that spending dropped to 2 cents per $100.[2] (Where did the other 7 cents go?)

Is this a focus on investing in missions? I think we can do better.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Your only hope

Bush River Church, est. 1771
When I was seven years old, Mr. Thomas Daum, the pastor at Bush River Baptist Church, came to see me. I had been asking a lot of questions about the Lord and salvation, and my folks felt it was time I talked with the pastor. He sat in a straight back chair in the den and asked me a long list of questions while I sat on the hearth and answered them. 

I don’t remember the questions, but I knew one important thing.

Monday, March 10, 2014

What will the redeemed do in the New Heaven and New Earth?

English: Binkley Chapel at the Southeastern Ba...
Binkley Chapel at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

What will we do in heaven? The Revelation affirms that we will (1) rest (Rev 14:13), (2) worship (Rev 15:2-4), and (3) serve (Rev 22:3) God and others. We may be given (4) stewardship over the new creation as we were the old one. Could that be part of ruling and reigning with him? 

If God had given up when Adam and Eve failed at the cultural mandate (Gen 1:28), why did he repeat the command with Noah after the flood (Gen 9:1)? What God-honoring works of art, technology, building, even sports might we develop? Remember, the Lord created us in His image, and He is a creator. If we can create and solve mysteries and cure diseases in our current sinful, depraved minds and bodies, what could we create and develop in a creation without sin? 

Friday, March 07, 2014

How the Bible describes the New Heaven

(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

How does the Bible describe the New Heaven and New Earth? Despite the fact that no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him, He has revealed it to us by his Spirit (1 Cor. 2:9). We can get a glimpse of what heaven is like. Here are a few images that Scripture supplies:

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

A New Heaven and New Earth

(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Most cultures have a belief in the afterlife, but our contemporary culture has more than ever lost any real vision for heaven. John Lennon urged people to imagine there is no heaven. The Christian music group MercyMe even says, “I can only imagine,” underscoring the deep need for the teaching of a living, powerful, Biblical, and passionate doctrine of heaven.We have lost sight of the wonder and glory of heaven, and we cannot imagine life much better than we have it here. 

We in the West have a joyless view of heaven. Perhaps we have lost the sense of the transcendence of God and therefore heaven. Perhaps we are so self-absorbed and wealthy in the West that we honestly cannot imagine

Monday, March 03, 2014

What is Heaven like? (Part 2)

The Transfiguration Lodovico Carracci 1594
The Transfiguration Lodovico Carracci 1594 (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Do people have intermediate bodies in the present heaven? God and angels are in essence spirits (John 4:24; Heb 1:14), but human beings are by nature both spiritual and physical (Gen 2:7). God did not create Adam as a spirit and place him in a body. He first created a body and then breathed into a spirit. We cannot, it seems, be fully human without a both a spirit and a body. 

We don’t know for sure, but between our bodily death and our bodily resurrection, God may give us some

Friday, February 28, 2014

What is Heaven like? (Part 1)

Look at Earth from the Heaven

(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

God created heaven. Therefore, he did not always dwell there. He chooses to dwell there, but He needs no dwelling place. Finite humans do. Since God needs no accommodation, it would make sense that heaven is accommodated to furnish us after death. One day in eternity we will dwell in a physical new earth, but until then we must dwell in heaven.

A dangerous unbiblical idea crept into the church through the Greek philosopher Plato and the teachings of the Jewish writer Philo (c. 20 BC – A.D. 50) and the Christian writer Origen (A.D. 185 – 254). It is the worldview teaching that immaterial things such as the soul are good and material things such as our bodies and the earth are

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Did Christ descend into hell?

Russian icon with 5 themes. Fragment: Adam, Ev...
Adam, Eve and others follow Jesus from Hell to Heaven. Russian icon (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Did Christ descend into hell? Yes, if you mean Hades. The reference at Ephesians 4:8-9 mentions that Jesus led captives in his train, i.e., he captured and led in a Roman-style triumphal procession the evil principalities and powers (demonic forces; Col 2:15; 1 Peter 3:22). He also gave gifts (of the Holy Spirit) to men. He also “descended to the lower, earthly regions.” Some interpret this phrase to mean either Christ’s life on earth or the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, but it is best to understand it as a reference to Hades, the underworld. 

Christ went there following his death on the cross to

Monday, February 24, 2014

Is purgatory real?

Deutsch: Johann Tetzel
Johann Tetzel (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

The most important word in the Old Testament for the intermediate state is Sheol, found 65 times, variously translated as grave, pit, hell, place of the dead. Sheol is mostly known as the abode of the dead. It is the OT designation of the intermediate state, that time between physical death and physical resurrection. A shadowy understanding may contribute to an assumption of

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Is it unloving to talk about Hell?

Mountain road to Lysebotn
Mountain road to Lysebotn (Wikipedia) 
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

If you were giving directions to Charlotte and you knew one road led there but a similar dangerous road ended at a sharp, steep cliff, would you only talk about the safe road? No, especially if the dangerous road was wider, broader, and more people traveled it. 


Would a doctor be unloving if a she told you that you had a potentially fatal cancer? No, she would be doing her job. Would she be more loving if she knew about the cancer and did not tell you? No, then she would be derelict.

There are only two destinations in this life: Heaven or Hell. Each is real. Each is eternal. Though it was not created for us, we are all headed to Hell unless we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ. The most loving thing to do is to

Friday, February 21, 2014

Does God choose to send anyone to hell?

Sky over ELWA beach in Liberia
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Does God choose to send anyone to hell? No. Heaven and hell have differing purposes for God. God created man in His own image to enjoy His presence forever. Hell was not created for man. It was prepared for the devil and his angels/demons (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10). It is not his will that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9). God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek 33:11). Hell is a destiny chosen by

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Will Hell's torment last forever?

Tormented Figure, Baltimore, MD
Tormented Figure, Baltimore, MD (Grufnik)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Annihilation is the teaching that Hell will eventually burn out, and therefore, its inhabitants will not suffer forever. Those holding to annihilation are General Baptists (1660), Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the well-known evangelical scholar and commentator John Stott. Extinction is the idea that those who reject God cease to exist at death. Scripture, however, teaches the soul’s survival after death (Luke 16:19-31; Num. 16:30; Rev. 14:9-11)

Why would sinners be eternally kept in existence to suffer?  At issue is

Monday, February 17, 2014

Why does Hell exist? What is it like?

Loose icon in Gelati monastery shows somewhat ...
Hell: Loose icon in Gelati monastery. (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Hell was not created to punish human beings. God created hell to punish those angelic beings which rebelled against him. There is no possibility of redemption for them. Though hell was not created for human beings,

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Does Hell really exist?

Scream Cropped
Scream Cropped (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

The New Testament teaches that sin has consequences in this life of punishment after physical death. It has images of unquenchable (Matt. 3:12), eternal (Matt. 25:41, 46; Jude 7) fire (Matt. 5:22, 29,30; 18:8-9) and phrases like “lake of fire” (Rev 20:15; 21:8) and “second death” (Rev 20:6). It is described as a place of darkness (2 Peter 2:17; Jude 13; Matt 8:12), weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt 13:42, 50; 22:13), and separation from God (Psalm 9:17; 34:15-16; 2 Thess 1:9; 1 John 1:5) with continuous torment (Matt 3:12; 25:41; 2 Thess 1:9; Jude 7) and conscious agony (Matt. 10:28; Rom 8:29; Jude 7), perhaps with degrees of punishment (Mark 12:40; Luke 12:48).

However, many, even some who claim to be evangelical, deny the reality of hell. Some believe that 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Hell

Dante And Virgil In Hell by William-Adolphe Bo...
Dante & Virgil In Hell (Bouguereau) (1850) (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

The Bible teaches that there is coming a final resolution of history when God will stop all evil and establish perfect peace and righteousness. While Hell is the default post-Fall destination for everyone, ultimately it is the destination of those who reject God’s offer of redemption found only in Christ Jesus

Most people believe they are going to heaven, but this optimism is in contrast with

Friday, February 07, 2014

What happens when infants die?

firefighter carrying the dying baby
Firefighter carrying a dying baby (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

It is hard to think of anything more tragic than the death of an infant or a young child. For parents, the grief can be overwhelming. They say that one never gets over the death of a child, but one only learns to live with the pain. They console themselves that their precious little one is in a better place. Some believe their child has become an angel, “God must have needed another angel in heaven.” Surely their little one is in heaven with God. Are those consolations true?

For those who live under the authority of the Word of God, sentimentalism and emotional hopes are not enough. We must know if God’s Word has said anything about this. Do those who die in infancy or as children go to heaven? How do we know? What evidence is there to support such a conclusion?  If we are sinners from birth (Psalm 51:5), then how can infants who die in infancy be saved?

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

What happens after we die? Part 2

English: The Shade of Samuel Invoked by Saul Р...
The Shade of Samuel Invoked by Saul Русский: Аэндорская волшебница вызывает тень пророка Самуила (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

The prior post looked at five questions about what happens when we die. Today we look at five more.

Do we become an angels after we die? No. We will be like angels only in that we, like they, will no longer die (Luke 20:36). Angels are actually lower life forms than human beings who are made in the image of God.[1] Angels are created beings as servants of those who are redeemed (Heb 1:14). They are of differing makeup, do not have access to redemption, and are only following along as servants wanting to know what is taking place (1 Peter 1:12). Why would one want to step down in created order from the grace of redemption and authority over the earth (Gen 1:26-30).

Will we be judged when we die?

Monday, February 03, 2014

What happens after we die? Part 1

Jesus Christ Bobby
(Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Paul felt it was important to know what happens when we die (1 Thess. 4:13). Just after we die we enter what is called the intermediate state, the time between physical death and Resurrection (2 Corinthians 5:1-8). What is it like? What happens? Well, it depends on whether you are a

Saturday, February 01, 2014

February Top 5

English: beginning of the Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of Luke (Wikipedia)
The most popular posts on Sunday in the South in the past month:

1. Luke 6:17-49 - Sermon on the Plain
Posted: Feb 26, 2012
2. Luke 6:1-16 - Lord of the Sabbath
Posted Feb 26, 2012
3. Luke 2:21-40 - The Presentation of Jesus
Posted Jan 1, 2012
4. Luke 14:1-24 - The Great Banquet
Posted Oct 14, 2012
5. Isaiah 58 - True Fasting
Posted Jan 9, 2011

What about near-death experiences? Part 2

Photographic illustration of a near-death-expe...
Near-death-experience (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

So how do we evaluate near death experiences? The most common response among conservative evangelical leaders is to view them as drug-induced lucid dreams or even demonic in origin. Certainly if one looks at the direction many of these near-death researchers have taken, most of them have moved into the occult (Lev. 19:31; 20:6; Deut. 18:10-13; Rev. 21:8). 

Perhaps the light people see is