Why Do You Object to Gay “Marriage” but Eat Shrimp?

In this sermon, Dr. Baucham addresses the most common objection posed by proponents of same sex marriage.  The idea that opposing ssm while continuing to eat shrimp or shave the edges of one’s beard has made it all the way to prime-time TV.  Addressed to an audience of college students, this sermon tackles the issue head on and gives practical, logical, biblical answers that lead squarely to the gospel.

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A Humbling Photo

A friend of mine at Desiring God Ministries sent me a photo the other day that brought tears to my eyes. They were inside a maximum security prison shooting a documentary when a photographer came across what he thought was an interesting shot. It was an inmate’s desk with a copy of the Bible and two other books. Those two books were, The Ever Loving Truth, and Family Driven Faith. I had preached in this particular prison before and sent several books in when I left. This inmate was obviously one of the beneficiaries of that gift.

I am always torn when I sit down to write. Whether it is a book, an article, or a simple blog post, I struggle with several emotions. On the one hand, I feel compelled to write. On the other hand, I find writing to be a terrible taskmaster, and I really can’t say that I ‘love’ to do it. Then there are the days when I ask myself, “Are you so arrogant as to believe that you have something to say that is worth putting in print?” The answer to that question is always a resounding NO! (Yes, I talk to myself and answer) However, I write nonetheless. And as I write, there are a few groups of people I keep in mind.

I Write for My Grandchildren

One group of people that motivates me to write is my children’s children who are yet to be born. When I sit down to write a book like The Ever Loving Truth, Family Driven Faith, or What He Must Be, I often remind myself that what I am doing will serve as a historical marker of sorts for my descendants... many of whom I may never meet. I want my great grandchildren to be able to glimpse into my life and discover something about what the Lord did to pave the way for them. Perhaps a wayward member of my family will be brought back into the fold a hundred years from now when he reads words penned by his long-dead ancestor.

“Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” (Psalms 78:1-4 ESV)

I Write for My Brothers and Sisters in the Lord

Not only do I think about my descendants when I write, I also think about my brothers and sisters in the Lord who are wrestling with some of the very issues about which the Lord has led me to write. I know my books are not for everyone. In fact, they are probably not for most people. However, I am equally sure that they are definitely for someone, though I know not whom. I guess that’s why this photo meant so much to me. It was a glimpse into the world of one man whose life has been touched by a labor to which my life has been devoted. That is an exhilarating, satisfying, and terrifying thought. That’s the kind of thought that makes me ask myself, “Are you so arrogant as to believe that you have something to say that is worth putting in print?” And of course, the answer is still, “NO!”

Finally, I write for those whom the Lord is drawing to himself. One of my prayers for each of my books is that God will use the words therein as a link in the redemptive chain. I am thoroughly convinced of the Lord’s sovereign, monergistic work in salvation. However, I am equally convinced that he ordains the ends as well as the means. I believe God uses the gospel to call sinners to himself. As such, I pray he uses my writing as a means through which he saves some. Thus, I continue to write. And amazingly, people continue to read... even people behind bars. God is good!

VB

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New Scenery… New Accents… New Audiences on the U.K. Tour

Our time in England was both rich and rewarding. After several days of preaching and long nights of personal ministry, we enjoyed a day of sightseeing, including double-decker busses and a boat on the Thames, all capped off with a trip to Hamleys toy store! The children are convinced we need a second home there (after we find a home in Zambia). Of course, they haven’t quite figured out how to pay for it.

Wednesday was a travel day. We left London and flew to Belfast, Northern Ireland. I must admit I love it here! This is my third trip to Ireland, and I have always enjoyed the people, the land, the history, and the Christian fellowship.

We’re staying in a quaint farmhouse near Enniskillen, complete with dogs, cats, ponies, cattle, and an amazing yard/garden for the children to run and play (Yup… now we have to buy a farmhouse in Ireland to go along with our place in London!). Thursday is Simeon’s second birthday and Sunday is Micah’s sixth, so there will be celebrations galore!

After that, I start preaching. My ministry here will mainly be among Presbyterians (England was a Reformed Baptist affair). Some I’ve known for years, and can’t wait to see again. Others, I will meet for the first time, and, Lord willing, establish new life-long friendships in the Body of Christ.

Amazingly, this trip will mark my first venture into the Republic of Ireland (Northern Ireland… think Belfast… is part of the U.K., the Republic of Ireland… think Dublin… is independent). Unfortunately, I will not get to ‘kiss the Blarney Stone,’ but I will get to enjoy sweet fellowship with the brethren at Milford Reformed Presbyterian and New Life Fellowship in Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

Please pray for us. Also, if you have friends and/or family in Ireland, please tell them about the trip and invite them to join us. Here’s the Ireland/Northern Ireland schedule:

AUGUST 14-20 NORTHERN IRELAND/
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

AUGUST 14TH

Men's Conference

Church: Cullybackey Reformed Presbyterian Church:
Venue: Main Street, Cullybackey, Ballymena, County Antrim, U.K. BT421BN

Theme: The Christian Man and the Church

Website address of Cullybackey RP Church: www.cullybackeyrpc.org
Contact Philip Dunwoody: [email protected]

AUGUST 16TH

Lord’s Day Morning:

Church: Hamilton Road Baptist Church
Venue: 112 Hamilton Rd, Bangor, BT20 4LQ, UK

Topic – Psalm 19

Contact: Jonathan McClaughlin

AUGUST 16TH

2015 Lord’s Day Evening

Church: Hamilton Road Presbyterian
Venue: Prospect Road, Bangor, BT20 4LN

Topic – Psalm 51

Contact: David Johnson: [email protected]

AUGUST 18TH

Churches: Milford Reformed Presbyterian and New Life Fellowship
Venue: Mount Errigal Hotel, Ballyraine, Letterkenny, Co Donegal.
Contact Mark Loughridge: [email protected]
www.newlifefellowship.ie
www.milfordrpc.org

AUGUST 19TH/20TH

Bible Conference

Church: Enniskillen Reformed Presbyterian Church
Theme: Being shaped by the Word of God
Venue: Killyhevlin Hotel, Dublin Road, Enniskillen, BT74 6RW

Schedule:
19th August 2015 7.30pm Wednesday “Why you should believe the Word of God”
20th August 2015 7.30pm Thursday “Family discipleship shaped by the Word of God”.

Contact: William Armstrong [email protected]
www.enniskillenrpc.com

 

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Jacob: The Toledot of a New Nation

The final toledot is that of Jacob. Jacob’s story represents the culmination of all the previous historical and theological streams in Genesis. Jacob’s birth reminds us that the promised seed has nothing to do with birth order. Jacob’s marriage takes us back to when Abraham’s servant found Isaac’s wife. Jacob’s name change reminds us of God’s promise to establish a people. And Jacob’s material acquisitions remind us of God’s providential care for his people.

We must not miss the fact that this is the final toledot. This is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it tells us that Joseph’s story is actually part of Jacob’s story. In other words, the toledot of Jacob forces us to look beyond Joseph to understand the meaning of Joseph’s life.

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Encouragement and Hope on the VBM U.K. Tour

The decline of Christianity throughout Europe has been well-documented.  Here in England, church attendance is somewhere below 5%.  Historic cathedrals stand empty, or converted into pubs.  The people know nothing of Charles Spurgeon or D. Martin Lloyd-Jones.  And worse, Islam is thriving.  However, all is not lost!

These last few days have reminded me that God always has a remnant.  The homeschool conference in Madeley was well-attended by enthusiastic men, women and children, eager to learn how to disciple the next generation more effectively.  Response to this event was so substantial that the venue had to be changed!  

The next day I preached at Providence Chapel in the morning, then headed down to London for the evening service at Hackney Evangelical Reformed Church.  It was an exhausting day.  After a wonderful morning with the brethren at PC, we headed to the train station where me, Bridget, and our seven children (with all our bags... remember, we're headed to Zambia after this, so we've got EVERYTHING!) boarded a train as onlookers stared in horror.  

The fine people of the ERC had booked us in the First Class cabin.  Upon entering, the attendant looked at all of us and said (think of the most stereotypical British accent and demeanor), "This is the 'Quiet Cabin.'"  I simply said, "Ok, and continued to move the troops forward, at which point she felt the need to be more direct, and less gracious, asking, "Do you have tickets for the 'Quiet Cabin'?"  "Yes, we do," I replied.  By now all the inhabitants of the Quiet Cabin were looking at us.  One man, a distinguished older gentleman, appeared to start working on his strongly worded letter to the railway company complaining about the youthful hoard invading his space.  The woman moved aside and we proceeded to our seats.  

As we took our seats, the children, having overheard the conversation, began to say to one another, "Shhhh... this is the 'Quiet Cabin.'  I voiced a quick prayer, "Lord, I know it's a small thing to you, but it would be AWESOME if we didn't have any meltdowns in the next hour and a half."  The Lord was gracious and the children were spectacular!  We were unable to sit together, so some of them had to sit across from some of the passengers who had earlier given them the, "how dare you!" glare.  They colored, slept, ate snacks, and marveled at the sights.  God was indeed gracious!

When we got off the train, I noticed it took Bridget a while to 'bring up the rear.'  Later, she told me that virtually every passenger in that car stopped her and told her what a marvelous job the children had done, and how impressed they were... Even the guy who looked like he was about to file a formal complaint!  

At this point, no less than a dozen young people from the church showed up to help us off the train and get us to our next destination.

The evening was spent at Hackney Evangelical Reformed Church.  It's an old (by American standards) building built in typical 'turn-of-the-century' style.  It was magnificent!  The building was packed to the gills with eager, energetic, mostly young people (20 and 30-somethings) of various African and/or Caribbean descent.  

After the service, there were refreshments in the fellowship hall where I spent a couple of hours meeting, greeting, taking pictures and answering questions.  It was amazing!  These young people (and the older ones) were such an encouragement!  They love the Lord, are serious about their faith, are eager to learn, and passionate about the gospel.  Many were there from the Metropolitan Tabernacle (Spurgeoun's old church, currently pastored by Peter Masters).  

We talked about biblical manhood/womanhood, home education, marriage, cessationism, 1689 Federalism, current events, the move to Zambia, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, to name just a few subjects.  Eventually, I had to 'tap out' and cut it short, as they seemed to be ready to stay all night.  

The event continues this evening, and I can't wait!  If you're in the area, we'd love to have you.  Bridget and the kids will be there tonight (which is always a treat), so come meet the crew.  And if you know anyone in the London area, please, send them by.  You can find details here.  Also, please continue to pray!

Next stop... Northern Ireland!

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Esau: The Toledot of Election

Esau’s toledot is unique in that it is the only toledot repeated twice. Both mentions come in the same chapter, however, so there may be nothing to it. Regardless, the toledot of Esau completes a pattern. Three times—the toledot of Noah’s sons, the toledot of Ishmael, and the toledot of Esau—Moses highlights the relationship between the promised seed and other offspring. Each time, the offspring that is not the offspring of promise is mentioned first.

The point here is clear: the promised seed is not a matter of circumstance, but one of election, sovereignty, and providence. Both Ishmael and Esau were firstborn, but neither was the promised seed. In Ishmael’s case, one could argue that the problem was his parentage. But Esau and Jacob are twins. The message and the pattern are clear: God’s electing grace does not depend on circumstance.

This pattern is played out in Joseph’s life more than once. First, his firstborn brother, like Ishmael and Esau in previous generations, was not the promised seed. Second, when Joseph’s sons are adopted by his father, Jacob, they are not blessed according to their birth order. Hence, again, we see that the story of Joseph cannot be understood properly apart from the broader context of the book of Genesis.

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Launch the Move: Why I’m Going to Africa

Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:2
Speaker: Voddie Baucham

Dr. Voddie Baucham, Jr has accepted the position of Dean of the Seminary at African Christian University (ACU) in Lusaka, Zambia. He, his faithful wife, Bridget, and their seven youngest children plan to make this bold move from the heart of Texas to the heart of Africa at the end of this summer (2015).

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Isaac: The Toledot of Promise

The toledot of Isaac reminds us of several things. First, his story reminds us of the providence of God as he accomplishes the impossible in order to bring his promise to pass. Second, Isaac’s sin reminds us of the need for a redeemer. Isaac is, obviously, not the promised seed because of his character or faith, but in spite of his lack thereof. Finally, Isaac’s marriage, and the lengths to which Abraham went to arrange it, lay the groundwork for the marriage of Jacob (which does not go well). This helps to put Joseph’s life in perspective when we arrive at his marriage.

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Barack Obama: A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

Barack Obama is the most pro-abortion candidate ever to run for President. He could not even bring himself to vote for the Born Alive Infant Protection Act which would have protected children born in the process of an abortion. That’s right, Mr. Obama cannot even bring himself to support a plan that simply says to doctors, “If they slip past while you are trying to kill them, you have to let ‘em live.” With this vote, Obama was more pro-abortion than the radical abortion group NARAL.

I am absolutely amazed that at a time when Margaret Sanger’s Darwinian, Eugenics inspired dream of eliminating the poor, the lame, and the inferior races through targeted abortion is being propagated at record rates, black people still support the man who epitomizes her murderous philosophy. Black and hispanic women make up less than 13% of the population, but account for nearly half of all abortions. The overwhelming majority of Planned Parenthood’s abortion mills are located in minority neighborhoods. Abortion is absolutely racist. Yet most blacks have no problem supporting people like Mr. Obama who want to make sure that the killing doesn’t stop.

In his article, “Shepherds Leading the Sheep to Slaughter,” Rev. Clenard Childress notes:

“Here are the birth statistics for African-American babies in the City of Philadelphia just a couple a years ago: 10,880 born, 9,259 aborted. Nearly half or 46% of all babies in the City of Brotherly love were dismembered and brutally killed by means of abortion. Moreover, there are twenty-five other major urban cities in America that report having a higher abortion rate than live birth rate.”

This is absolutely astonishing! The only thing more astonishing is the fact that black clergymen in Philadelphia are supporting Mr. Obama. Then there is the consistent mantra from black supporters of America’s first “bi-racial” candidate... “I’m just happy to see a black man in this position.” Amazing! That’s like Hitler hiring a Jewish doctor (on his father’s side) to run the human experiments at Dachau and hearing the Jewish prisoners hail the fact that ‘one of their own’ has ascended to such great heights in the Nazi regime.

America is slaughtering children at a rate of about 3,600 per day. Unfortunately, a disproportionate number of those children look just like me. I was born to a single, teenaged black girl in South Central Los Angeles, CA in 1969. I shudder to think about the pressure my mother would have faced were she to find herself in that position in the current moral climate. Today people consistently make the argument that people in my mother’s position would do better to kill people like me before we’re born.

But what about cases of rape? Well, as the father of an adopted son whose biological mother was a rape victim, I say, he didn’t deserve to die either. I praise God his mother realized that he was an innocent party in a terrible tragedy. I am also honored to call him my son. Our second adopted son was born to a fourteen year-old middle school girl who also bucked the odds and gave her baby life.

So many people are more concerned about gas prices than they are about the greatest moral crisis of our day. I’m afraid we are going to get precisely the leadership we deserve. I was just in Munich, Germany where people are paying over $8.00 a gallon and still driving over 100 mph on the Autobahn. Ironically, gas doesn’t cost as much as bottled water, but we are more worried about paying a few bucks at the pump than we are about genocide right under our noses.

God help us! Or should I say, God Forgive Us!

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Nehemiah’s Nursery: Part 1

If you’ve walked into a church service lately with a baby in your arms, chances are you are well aware of the new anti-child atmosphere that dominates much of the modern American church. There are smiling men and women stationed at every door ready to “guide” you to the nursery where your child “will have a very enjoyable experience” and be cared for by the best childcare staff in the history of the universe.

Rebuff these helpful people and their smiles will soon be replaced with determined glares. Things escalate slowly at first, but eventually the truth comes out. These people are not here to help you and your child; they are here to protect the sanctity of the sanitized worship environment. Their job is to see that you –and people like you—don’t ruin the service for everyone else. They’ve been warned about people like you. You just don’t get it. For millennia Christians have been denied the privilege of enjoying worship the way God intended it (sans children); now we’ve finally arrived, and you want to mess it up by bringing in your squawking baby! How selfish, inconsiderate, and unspiritual can you be?

Then along come churches like ours that don’t help things a bit. At Grace Family Baptist Church, we don’t have a nursery. Families worship together from the oldest to the youngest. We welcome the cooing of babies and consider the act of taking an unruly child out of the service as an invaluable teaching opportunity for both parent and child. What’s more, we think it is as important for children to learn to ‘endure’ a service, and see worship modeled by their parents as it is for them to have an ‘age appropriate’ lesson. As a result, our church (along with others like it) has been thrust into the middle of many a debate over whether or not the concept of the nursery is “biblical”.

In an effort to address this issue, some pastors have employed what I like to call the “Nehemiah’s Nursery” argument. These men feel the need to justify their use of separate spaces for children by appealing to Nehemiah 8 as “biblical” support for their practice. Unfortunately, this passage does not settle the issue. In fact, the passage in question, the broader Old Testament context, and several New Testament examples all serve as evidence against reading the concept of separating children in a nursery during worship into the words of Nehemiah.

The Passage in Question

The first problem with the “Nehemiah’s Nursery” argument is the fact that the passage in question does not suggest that children are to be segregated into nurseries during corporate worship.

“And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.” (Nehemiah 8:1-4 ESV)

A careful examination of what Nehemiah said, and what he did not say will make it clear that it is a stretch to argue for the modern practice of segregating children from corporate worship from this text.

What Nehemiah Said

The first problem with the Nehemiah’s Nursery argument is the fact that it goes beyond Nehemiah’s words. Nehemiah is emphasizing who came to the assembly. He is not making a statement about who didn’t come. The text reads, “So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard.” Is the phrase, “and all who could understand…” meant to exclude some? Or is Nehemiah merely emphasizing the fact thateveryone came? He does not say, “only those who could understand.” He says all (läOk◊w). Every major English translation renders läOk◊w as all in verse two. The Nehemiah’s Nursery argument would be much stronger if Nehemiah had written, _JKAa (only.) instead of läOk◊w (all).

Second, Nehemiah is emphasizing the scope of the meeting. Many official meetings in Israel included only men, or heads of household. In fact, Nehemiah notes that one such meeting took place the very next day. In verse thirteen we read, “On the second day the heads of fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law.” (Nehemiah 8:13-14) Thus, his words in verse four can be seen as emphasizing the scope and magnitude of the first meeting, and not necessarily declaring who did not come.

What Nehemiah Did Not Say

What Nehemiah said is important. However, what he did not say in this passage may be even more important. Nehemiah informs the reader as to who came to the assembly, but he does not say who, if anyone, was absent. That must be implied from the text. Therefore, making pronouncements about who is not welcome in corporate worship based on this passage is a tricky proposition. To do so is essentially to make an argument from silence.

Nehemiah Did Not Say ‘Children’

Nehemiah could have been referring to children, but not necessarily so. It is true that Nehemiah could have been referring to the absence of children in the assembly. However, it is not necessary to read the text this way. There is no precedent in the Old or New Testament for children being excluded from the general assembly of God’s people. In fact, quite the opposite is true. There are numerous instances where men, women and children are present in public assemblies and worship (see: Deut. 31:12-13; Ezra 10:1; Matt. 18:1-5; 19:13-15; Eph. 6:1-4; Col. 3:20).

Nehemiah could have been referring to the mentally impaired. Nehemiah’s words, “all who could understand what they heard,” could just as easily be a reference to the mentally impaired, or the ignorant. People with a variety of mental disabilities have difficulty understanding what they hear. Should we have the equivalent of a nursery for those who suffer head trauma or brain disorders? Should we have a special room for those with a low IQ? Wouldn’t a consistent application of the nursery principle –based strictly on Nehemiah’s wording—call for such action?

Nehemiah could have been referring to foreigners. Foreigners, or those who speak another language, would also qualify as those who could not ‘understand’ the words being read. Foreigners who have not mastered Hebrew sufficiently would definitely have had difficulty understanding what they heard, and thus (if we view Nehemiah’s words as precedent for the exclusion of such people from the public assembly), they would definitely have to be excluded.

There is nothing in Nehemiah’s words to indicate that he had to be speaking of children when he penned this clause. We must also remember that Israel was very particular about who could and could not participate in worship. There were segregated sections of the assemblies, and not everyone could participate freely. As Victor Matthews notes:

To determine those who could freely participate in the ritual activities of the temple, the entire nation was divided according to the pattern set in the genealogical list in Neh. 7:7-60. The population of Judah was therefore made up of the following classifications: priests, Levites, laypersons, converted Jews, men of uncertain descent, eunuchs, and non-Jews. To participate fully in the religious activities of the community, a person had to be able to provide proof of pure lineage (Ezra 2:59-63). (Victor Matthews, Manners and Customs in the Bible, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1988, 1991)

Hence, there is not only the question of whether it is appropriate to assume that Nehemiah was referring to children in chapter eight, it is also necessary to note that the New Testament church no longer employs exclusionary Old Testament patterns in worship. Therefore, even if Nehemiah was making a reference to the absence of children, that in itself would not be sufficient grounds to argue for the systematic exclusion of children from the gathering of the New Testament church.

Nehemiah Did Not Say Where the “Others” Gathered

Another key weakness in the Nehemiah’s Nursery argument is the fact that Nehemiah makes no mention of where the others gathered. Nor does he imply that there was such a gathering (i.e., a nursery). Why not say that those with young children should stay home and not come to church at all? Wouldn’t that be more in keeping with what actually happened in Nehemiah’s day? Is it even conceivable that there was an actual nursery on site with workers waiting to take little children from the arms of their mothers as they walked into the service?

Of course this raises another question. Who was watching the children in the nursery? If the gathering included “all who could understand what they heard,” that would leave only foreigners and those with mental disabilities, or low IQ to care for the children. Anyone else would have been able to understand, and thus “gathered at the square before the water gate.” This is simply an untenable position.

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