Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"A Social Network Christmas" mini-movie (4 min.) . . . The Christmas story as told by Facebook status updates and wall posts

What if a timeless story had been set in a digital age?

From the creative minds at Igniter Media, below is "A Social Network Christmas," a 4-minute mini-movie of the Christmas story as told by Facebook status updates and wall posts.

Per the YouTube.com description,

This video is an artistic take on how the story of the nativity might have read had a social network existed at the time of Jesus's birth. Follow this historical period as it unfolds as a digital narrative. This vignette is great for highlighting the truths and circumstances of our Savior's birth in a fresh, unique way.

The Dallas-based Igniter Media (est. 2003) creates media resources for churches by "simply visually sharing (not creating) the Truth which God has already declared."

For other creative works by Igniter Media, visit their online Seasonal Store, "the one-stop-shop for your church media and video ministry, featuring mini-movies, motions, stills, software and editable stock footage." Or consider a paid membership.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

20th anniversary of baptism (and conversion to Christ) . . . Independent Bible Church, Port Angeles, WA . . . Lake Crescent Lodge, Olympic National Park, WA

Today marks the 20th anniversary of my baptism "in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

It was on Sunday, November 1, 1992, that Pastor Mike Chinn baptized me by water immersion during an evening service at Independent Bible Church (IBC, est. 1888) in Port Angeles, WA. A glorious and life-changing event it was!

Along with one of my heroes--the "uncommon Christian" James Brainerd Taylor (1801-1829)--so I also exclaim with utter amazement, wonder and joy,
Surely I am a miracle of grace—a sinner saved by grace, free grace, sovereign grace, almighty grace.

I am indeed a wonder to myself when I think what I once was, and contrast my former with my present situation and prospects.
Francis Kyle, the baptized. 1992.
Seasonal waiter. 1992-97, 1999-2001.
Lake Crescent Lodge, Olympic National Park, WA.
Pastor Mike Chinn, the baptizer.
With wife Carolyn.

Independent Bible Church. Est. 1888.
Port Angeles, Clallam County, WA.

A simple yet treasured and framed document.
Certificate of Baptism. November 1, 1992.
Independent Bible Church. Port Angeles, WA.

One church's Statement of Faith summarizes baptism like this:

We believe that baptism is an ordinance of the Lord by which those who have repented and come to faith express their union with Christ in His death and resurrection, by being immersed in water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is a sign of belonging to the new people of God, the true Israel, and an emblem of burial and cleansing, signifying death to the old life of unbelief, and purification from the pollution of sin.

Thus, and among other spiritual truths as just mentioned, the baptism 20 years ago today symbolized my being "dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus," and no longer being an "instrument for unrighteousness" but an "instrument for righteousness," per Romans 6:1-14 in the New Testament:

[1] What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? [2] By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? [3] Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? [4] We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

[5] For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. [6] We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. [7] For one who has died has been set free from sin. [8] Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. [9] We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. [10] For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. [11] So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

[12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. [13] Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. [14] For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

It was a long and spiritually dark 21.5 years that led up to the baptism and surrender/conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ just 1-2 weeks prior in mid-October 1992.

An employee dorm room at historic Lake Crescent Lodge in Washington State's Olympic National Park was the location the Sovereign God chose whereby I would be "born again"/spiritually regenerated (John 3:3, 7; 1 Peter 1:3, 23), repent of my sins and place my faith/trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

At the time, I was a seasonal waiter nearing completion of the first of what would be 9 seasons (1992-97, 1999-2001). Only those bosses, co-workers and returning guests who knew me that first season of employment could truly contrast the "before and after" Francis.

I had grown up in a nominal Roman Catholic home in West Hartford, Connecticut, and was thus some 3,000 miles away from familiar territory at the time of my conversion to biblical Christianity (Evangelical Protestantism) and subsequent baptism.

From leaving Roman Catholicism in October 1989, to reading the Bible cover-to-cover in Connecticut and while traveling/working in 3 western U.S. national park hotel-restaurants (Glacier in Montana, Big Bend in Texas, Olympic in Washington State), to losing a Jewish girlfriend due to a break-up, to attending a "college-and-career" young adult Bible study in the home of an Independent Bible Church elder and his wife (Todd and Noni Huber in Port Angeles), to meeting one-on-one with Pastor Mike Chinn who explained the Gospel to me--the Lord used various Christians and circumstances to bring me to a saving knowledge of Himself.

It has been a marvelous last 19 years of "living by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7).

I am looking forward with eager anticipation and expectation to what my 5th decade of living (began last year/2011)--and now 3rd decade of Christian living--will consist of.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.  Psalm 139:16

NONE but Christ; ALL for Christ.  James Brainerd Taylor

Location of conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ in mid-October 1992.

Employee dorm room (southwest corner).
Lake Crescent Lodge, Olympic National Park, WA.
Room faces U.S. Highway 101, located only a few hundred feet away.

"You must be born again" (John 3:3, 7, New Testament).

Lastly, an instructive sermon on believers baptism is this message from a California pastor who was instrumental in my early spiritual growth as a believer. Be blessed!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Peter J. Brashler (1912-1995), missionary with Africa Inland Mission -- honoring the 100th anniversary of his birth . . . Yoane Akudri (1898-1997), beloved African pastor . . . First Baptist Church of Marysville, WA

Peter and Edythe Brashler.

© John McMillan of McMillan Design, Inc. 
Gig Harbor, WA.
The 100th anniversary of the birth of Peter James Brashler took place October 4, 2012.

A tribute in his honor took place on October 21, 2012, at First Baptist Church of Marysville, WA.

I gave a 30-minute biographical presentation and various longtime members of FBC reminisced about Peter, his parents, siblings and Edythe, his wife of 55 years.

FBC was one of Dr. Brashler's supporting churches.

After 36 years (1940-76) serving with Africa Inland Mission in the Belgian Congo--later named Zaire (1971-97), today called the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)--Peter served as an Associate Pastor at FBC for 13 years (1978-91).

He died on February 2, 1995 (age 82). A plaque in his honor hangs in the foyer of FBC.

It was a wonderful night of inspirational missionary biography combined with African missions history, regional history (Snohomish County, WA) and local church history.

A.I.M. Est. 1895.
With his widowed wife Edythe (1915-2003) and adopted son Stephen (1953-1997) both deceased, and with no grandchildren, the lone public tribute to Peter was obscure and somber.

Yet to those present, it was a boost of encouragement to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ to the very end, knowing that the all-seeing God rewards faithful servants. "God will give to each person according to what he has done" (Romans 2:6). "Because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free" (Ephesians 6:8).


Peter James Brashler (1912-1995)
Edythe L. (McKee) Brashler (1915-2003)
~ obituary and photo of Peter/Edythe's gravestone found here ~
Adopted son Stephen H. Brashler (1953-1997)
~ photo of Stephen's gravestone found here ~

Marysville Cemetery.
Marysville, Snohomish County, WA.
Marysville Cemetery.
Marysville, Snohomish County, WA.

October 4, 1912 - Peter born in Dexter, N.M., to South Holland, Cook County, IL, natives--and 640-acre N.M. homesteaders--William (1887-1968) and Gerrigje/Carrie (1887-1979) Brashler. Siblings eventually include brothers Clarence and Bill, and sisters Pauline and Jean.

November 29, 1915 - Edythe born in Park Rapids, Hubbard County, MN. Raised in Seattle and Everett, WA.

1916 - Brashler family (Peter age 4) moves to and operates a dairy farm in Arlington, WA. Joins maternal relatives who migrated to WA from IL.

Spring 1921 - Peter's parents convert to Christianity (Evangelical Protestant) through the efforts of an Irish evangelist holding meetings at the Gospel Hall in Arlington, WA (Plymouth Brethren church). (Peter's Dutch parents had grown up in the Calvinistic-based Christian Reformed Church.)

January 1922 - Peter (age 9) converts to Christianity (Evangelical Protestant) while attending the Gospel Hall in Arlington, WA (Plymouth Brethren church). Over time and through biblical studies, Peter inherits and accepts his parents' Calvinistic beliefs and its emphasis on the sovereignty of God.

1930's - During the Great Depression, Brashler family sells farm and moves to Everett, WA. Peter drops out of high school to help with family finances. Works his way up to manager of a grocery store. Meets his future wife Edythe at First Baptist Church of Everett where Edythe's Irish-American father (Dr. H. R. McKee) is pastor. Quits smoking.

1933 - Edythe graduates from Everett High School (WA).

1934(?) - Peter joins future wife Edythe as a student at Biola University in CA.

1937(?) - Peter and future wife Edythe sense a call to missionary service in Africa upon hearing Ralph Davis, the home director of the Africa Inland Mission, speak at Biola University's missionary conference. 

1937 - Edythe graduates from Biola University.

1938 - Peter graduates from Biola University. Ordained to the Gospel ministry.

Summer 1938 - With 6 others, Peter studies under Dr. Elbert McCreery at the Wycliffe Summer Institute of Linguistics at McCreery's rance in Estes Park, CO.

September 15, 1939 - Peter and Edythe marry at First Baptist Church of Everett, WA.

1939-40 - As W.W. II begins, Peter and Edythe's plans to go to Africa are delayed. Peter serves as pastor of First Baptist Church of Lake Stevens, WA.

1940-76 - Peter (ages 28-64) and Edythe (ages 25-61) serve as missionaries with Africa Inland Mission, in Belgian Congo. Make at least 6 furlough trips (every 5-7 years) to USA, giving missionary reports to supporting churches, furthering their linguistic and other studies (Everett Community College, University of Washington), and Peter ministering as interim pastor and sometimes employed outside the church (yellow pages salesman, etc.).

February 15, 1953 - Adopted son Stephen is born in Everett, WA. Peter and Edythe take 1-year-old Stephen back to Africa with them.

1971(?) - Stephen graduates from Rift Valley Academy in Kenya.

1973 - In Bunia (city in northeast Zaire/DRC), Peter receives the prestigious National Order of the Leopard medal from Zaire's President/King Mobutu and General Victor Lundula. An honor accorded few white men, the medal is Zaire's highest military and civilian award (created May 24, 1966).

1978-91 - Peter serves as Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church of Marysville, WA.

Autobiography by Peter Brashler. 1979.
1979 - Peter writes autobiography Change: My Thirty-Five Years in Africa. (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 215 pages.)

--> "This volume will delight your heart, inform your mind, and challenge your will to become involved with God in world evangelization."  From the Foreword by Peter Stam, Africa Inland Mission.

Spring 1981 - Peter serves as Zaire's Pastor Yoane Akudri (1898-1997) western U.S. interpreter during Akudri's 3rd and last speaking tour in the U.S. (Other tours were in 1970 and 1975, the 65th and 70th anniversaries of the Africa Inland Mission.) A friend and former student of Peter's, the 82-year-old Akudri ends his final U.S. tour by preaching on Mother's Day at First Baptist Church of Marysville, WA.

Biography of a beloved African pastor. 1990.
1990 - After a trip to Zaire for research purposes (first and only trip to his former mission field), Peter writes the biography Akudri: The True Story of Yoane Akudri (1898-1997). (Marysville, WA: Cascade Publishing, 239 pages.)

--> "Yoane Akudri's life is not unlike that of David Livingstone [1813-1873], or of Hudson Taylor [1832-1905]. There are humorous situations that will keep the reader awake, and also challenging situations that will attract younger and older people to commit their lives to Christ."  From book's back cover.

--> "Most so-called 'missionary' books see life in a developing country through the eyes of the foreigner. It is refreshing to read a biography, which includes much missionary endeavor, seen through the eyes of an African--an African of giant spiritual stature, yet so humble that he is glad to acknowledge his personal, and his national church's, debt to the foreign missionary, despite all the mistakes we have made."
From the Foreword by Dr. Helen Roseveare, WEC International.

1991 - Peter suffers a massive stroke.

February 2, 1995 - Peter dies (age 82) in Everett, WA. Buried in Marysville Cemetery (Section B, North) in Marysville, WA. After 55 years of marriage, wife Edythe becomes a widow.

December 1, 1997 - Adopted son Stephen dies (age 44). Buried in Marysville Cemetery (Section B, North) in Marysville, WA.

March 1, 2003 - Edythe dies (age 87) in Everett, WA. Buried alongside Peter in Marysville Cemetery (Section B, North) in Marysville, WA. "Edythe continued her witness for Christ to her very last day." (Edythe's obituary and picture of Peter/Edythe's gravestone found here.)

Congo church service. 1960.

"Rev. Peter Brashler and family return home after spending 19 years in Belgian Congo."
Marysville Globe (Marysville, WA). Thursday. June 11, 1959.

Monday, September 24, 2012

"Unworthy of the regard of my Christian friends" . . . James Brainerd Taylor's self-astonishment and wonderment

In his diary on November 18, 1820, the 19-year-old Lawrenceville Academy (N.J.) student and striving uncommon Christian James Brainerd Taylor (1801-1829) wrote,
I feel myself, as heretofore, unworthy of the regard of my Christian friends; and at times I am astonished that any should love such a one as I am. Surely if they could see me as I sometimes see myself, they would wonder too. Alas! in all things I come short, and in many I offend.
Yet I bless the Lord for what he has done for me, and I rely on his grace to make me more like himself. My soul daily pants for more holiness, more devotedness to the cause of my Redeemer; and through him I do hope to be made useful.
*John Holt Rice and Benjamin Holt Rice, Memoir of James Brainerd Taylor, 2nd Ed. (NY: American Tract Society, 1833), 52-53.

When it comes to Christian friends and being a friend of God (James 2:23), may such J. B. Taylor-like humility and self-amazement characterize all present-day uncommon Christians.
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
John 15:12-15 (words of Jesus Christ)

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
                              1 Peter 5:5b-7

Appropriately, here is the song "Friends" (1983) by the contemporary Christian recording artist Michael W. Smith:

Friday, August 31, 2012

Prayer of Agur, Proverbs 30:7-9 . . . "Two things I ask of you"

The latest sermon from UCM.

From Proverbs 30:7-9--the only prayer recorded in the Book of Proverbs--a closer look at a very appropriate prayer in light of today's economic "new normal." May it add a boost to your prayer life as you commune with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The message was preached to the striving "uncommon" Christians at Grace Church in my native West Hartford, Connecticut. See "Sermons - By Speaker" (Dr. Francis Kyle), August 26, 2012. A gem of a church in the midst of spiritually hardened New England.

--> FYI: Grace Church's pastor, Dr. Ted Bigelow, authored a fine book, one that should be read by every church member and elder: The Titus Mandate: Rescue, Protect, Restore (2011). 

Proverbs 30:7-9.
Old Testament (Tanakh).

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Changing human pastor vs. Unchanging divine pastor, Hebrews 13:7-8 . . . Audio sermons, First Baptist Church, Marysville, WA . . . CBAmerica, CB Northwest

First Baptist Church. Marysville, WA.
July 22, 2012.
As UCM moves 90 miles east from Port Angeles to Marysville, Washington, here are its first two sermons, based on Hebrews 13:7-8, to the congregation at First Baptist Church of Marysville. See July 22 and 29, 2012.

If not available any more online, simply contact UCM.

Founded in 1903, FBC is in major transition. The flock numbers about 100 people.

Since 1959, FBC has been a member of the Conservative Baptist Association of America. Prior to 1959, FBC was a member of the American Baptist Churches USA.

Formed in 1947 in Atlantic City, N.J., CBAmerica has over 1,200 churches in the U.S. and over 200,000 church members. CB Northwest (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington) consists of some 240 churches.

Among its four seminaries, Denver Seminary (Colorado) and Western Seminary (campuses in Portland, Oregon, and Sacramento and San Jose, California) are members of CBAmerica.

Please join Uncommon Christian Ministries in PRAYING for
First Baptist Church of Marysville, WA.

Times of major transition can be very exciting when a congregation submits
to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, and seeks their next pastor from Him.

First Baptist Church. Marysville, WA.
Est. 1903.
Current (2nd) church built 1957-61.
Marysville, Snohomish County, WA.

Conservative Baptist Association of America-Northwest.

CBAmerica. Est. 1947.
Western Seminary. Est. 1927.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day 1820 with James Brainerd Taylor, uncommon American Christian . . . "The contrast will be fully seen only above"

Here is how one 19-year-old student--the "uncommon" American Christian, James Brainerd Taylor--spent his American Independence Day holiday near Lawrenceville, New Jersey, in 1820.

On Tuesday I called at ten houses. At most of them I presented one or more [Gospel] Tracts such as I thought likely to be useful. This was the fourth of July.
In the evening I had many reflections on the manner which I had spent the day, so totally different from that in which I had heretofore spent that anniversary. O how much greater cause of triumph to be instrumental in delivering one soul from the power of sin and Satan than to be the conqueror of nations! The contrast will be fully seen only above.
*Benjamin Holt Rice and John Holt Rice, Memoir of James Brainerd Taylor, 2nd Edition (NY: American Tract Society, 1833), page 48.

May today's Christian--American or otherwise--not take holidays off in our efforts at telling others about the sin-bearing Savior Jesus Christ who "came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10).

Saturday, June 30, 2012

WANTED: "Uncommon Christian" evangelists, church planters and pastors in New England

"The Puritan." 1882. Restored 1995.
Springfield, Massachusetts.
Image of Samuel Chapin (1595-1675),
one of the founders of Springfield.
(I.F. Kyle III photo. Sept. 1, 2011.)
Recent research has shown that the 6 New England states--Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont--have now surpassed the Pacific Northwest as America's least churched region.

Please join me in praying for more Gospel-centered "uncommon Christian" evangelists, church planters and pastors in New England. And that the Lord would be pleased to spare New England's children and youth of the dark, Gospel-less upbringing I had in Connecticut (1976-91).

The New England region was once home to such godly American Puritans like Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) and to such evangelists like James Brainerd Taylor (1801-1829). It experienced the First and Second Great Awakenings and saw the establishment of America's earliest seminaries.

The region is in dire need today of spiritual revival, a fresh and mighty outpouring of Holy Spirit fire.

Historically, revival often happens in the context of the local church. Because this is so--and for the local New Englander or visitor--here are listings of some Gospel-centered churches in New England:

+ The Gospel Coalition's Church Directory;

+ Church Search by 9Marks Ministry: Building Healthy Churches; and

+ Members of Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.).

Also, here are some informative and insightful articles from two pastors presently ministering in Vermont. Both men--Wes Pastor and Jared Wilson--relocated to New England and thus write from an outsider-turned-insider's perspective. May the articles be used of God to stir your heart to pray for New England, especially for the spiritually lost and for more Gospel laborers.

+ "Why New England is the New Missional Frontier" by Jared Wilson, 8/12/10

+ "New England Ministry Resources" compiled by Jared Wilson, 2/28/10

"Has the Gospel Lost Its Power in New England?" by Wes Pastor, 2/23/11

+ "New England Then, As Now--And Now, As Then" by Jared Wilson, 2/23/11

+ "10 Reasons New England Suffers For Mission" by Jared Wilson, 3/9/11

+ "10 Reasons You Should Move to New England" by Jared Wilson, 7/12/11

+ "Planting vs. Replanting in New England" by Jared Wilson" by Jared Wilson, 7/26/11

+ "What Are New Englanders Like?" by Jared Wilson, 12/21/11

+ "The Challenges in Church Replanting in New England" by Jared Wilson, 4/16/12

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."
Luke 10:2

Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Uncommon Christian" James Brainerd Taylor article on American Society of Church History blog

For an article on James Brainerd Taylor (1801-1829) that was posted on the blog for the American Society of Church History (May 27, 2012), see here.

As stated in the article, "My specific attraction to Taylor is his challenge to be an 'uncommon' Christian. Taylor defined an 'uncommon' Christian as an 'eminently holy, self-denying, cross-bearing, Bible, everyday' Christian."

I have been a member of ASCH since 2007.

Founded in 1888, ASCH's central purpose is
"the scholarly study of the history of Christianity and its relationship to surrounding cultures in all periods, locations and contexts.
Through publications conferences, awards, research support, and other means, the Society encourages the study of the Christian church and faith, its figures and movements, in institutional and non-institutional settings.
We welcome scholars and practitioners of all backgrounds who employ traditional or newly developing methods, disciplines, and approaches to the study of religion.
The ASCH cooperates closely with the American Historical Association [est. 1884] and other scholarly societies and organizations in joint annual meetings."
ASCH annual dues are $70 and include receiving the quarterly journal Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture (published by Cambridge University Press).

In addition to ASCH, I am a member of four other entities. It s good to give one's name and money to societies and associations--academic or otherwise--that one believes are worthy of support.

Monday, April 30, 2012

"Follow" - The Easter Story using Twitter tweets

A must-see video for believers and skeptics alike, as well as those unfamiliar with the Easter story.

From Igniter Media, the creator of the 6-minute, mini-movie "Follow":
Throughout the course of his public ministry, Jesus knew both the adoration and desertion of the crowds. Today, just as 2,000 years ago, the Gospel asks a question that demands an answer: Will we follow? This video illustrates this truth through the dynamic lens of a 21st-century social network.
Watch, learn and be blessed with becoming a follower of the One who is "the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6), the Lord Jesus Christ.

"And [Jesus] said to all, 'If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
Luke 9:23, New Testament

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Together For The Gospel . . . 2012 theme -- The Underestimated Gospel: Power to Change, Power to Start Anew

Uncommon Christian Ministries is set to attend the 2012 Together For The Gospel pastor and church leadership conference, April 10-12.

Held at the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, this is the 4th T4G conference. The others were in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Centered around the friendship of 4 key leaders in the American church (Evangelical Protestant) today--Mark Dever (pastor, Washington, D.C.), Ligon Duncan (pastor, Jackson, Mississippi), C. J. Mahaney (Founding President, Sovereign Grace Ministries) and Albert Mohler (President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville)--the 5 other plenary speakers include Thabiti Anyabwile, Matt Chandler, Kevin DeYoung, John Piper and David Platt.

For the elective seminar/breakout session, I will be attending "Why the Reformation Isn't Over" by Carl Trueman, Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary.

Also included in this year's conference are 7 panel sessions ranging from "Inerrancy: Did God Really Say?" to "Complementarianism: Essential or Expendable?" to "Celebrity Pastor: Indecent Exposure?" to "Gay Marriage: Now What?" to "Preaching: Is There a Plan B?"

Here is the 97-second promotional trailer for T4G 2012:

And here is T4G's description of this year's theme of "The Underestimated Gospel:"
Power. Power to change. Power to start anew. Everyone is looking for power. Political campaigns point to the power of people. Advertising agencies exploit the power of appetite.
But Churches have something different and better. Something seemingly implausible. Something that comes in a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Churches have the Gospel.
Though we live in the world, we must not wage war as the world does, or fight with its weapons. On the contrary, we have divine power in the gospel to demolish strongholds. To redeem sinners. To create life. To transform and remake the universe. Talk about power.
Witness the underestimated Gospel.
Please join me in praying for the Lord's blessing upon this major biennial gathering.

Along with T4G organizers and the 9,000 attendees this year, I too am "convinced that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been misrepresented, misunderstood, and marginalized in many Churches and among those who proclaim the name of Christ."  

And I agree with the goal of T4G: "Therefore, the goal of these friendships, conferences, and networks is to reaffirm this central doctrine of the Christian faith and to encourage local Churches to do the same."

May the American and global church get back to preaching and living the true, biblical gospel, with the gospel being defined by T4G as

the joyous declaration that God is redeeming the world through Christ, and that He calls everyone everywhere to repent from sin and trust Jesus Christ for salvation.
Each of us has sinned against God, breaking his law and rebelling against his rule, and the penalty for our sin is death and hell. But because He loves us, God sent his Son Jesus to live for his people’s sake the perfect, obedient life God requires and to die in their place for their sin. On the third day, He rose bodily from the grave and now reigns in heaven, offering forgiveness, righteousness, resurrection, and eternal blessedness in God’s presence to everyone who repents of sin and trusts solely in Him for salvation.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

J. Ryan Fullerton, uncommon Christian friend to sinners . . . Pastor, Immanuel Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky . . . 2011 Fellowship Conference, Denton, Texas

Here is a listening- and watching-worthy sermon jam, followed by the entirety of the same sermon.

The sermon is based on Luke 15 and its Parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin and Prodigal Son.

The opening two verses of Luke 15 give the reason why the Lord Jesus presented these particular parables:
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, 'This man receives sinners and eats with them.' So he told them [these parables].
Be blessed as this choice servant of God, uncommon Christian and former Bible college classmate of mine proclaims the truth as it is found in the compassionate, love-filled and non-discriminatory Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:21).

"Jesus: A Friend of Sinners" 
13 minutes

"The Value of Sinners, Prostitutes and Drunkards"
or "Great Worth of Worthless Men"
1 hour, 12 minutes

Granted Ministries--a literature, music, sermon and online ministry of Christ Fellowship in Hannibal, Missouri--describes the sermon and its Canadian-born and raised preacher this way:

This message was preached at the 2nd Annual Fellowship Conference (April 21-24, 2011) in Denton, Texas, by J. Ryan Fullerton, one of the elders (2002- ) at Immanuel Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.
[NOTE: Sponsored by three churches, the Fellowship Conference is also affiliated with the HeartCry Missionary Society and its founder Paul Washer. The 3rd annual Fellowship Conference is April 5-8, 2012, in Denton, Texas. Pastor Ryan is a scheduled speaker.]
Those who have sat under Ryan's preaching know that he can expound Scripture to the satisfaction of scholars while at the same time driving the word authoritatively into the heart of those who hear. His messages rarely fail to transform the listener, and they never fail to arouse some kind of response. 
This message is no different and accomplishes a great many things. 
Mainly, Ryan urges us to consistently and diligently preach the gospel to the "prostitutes, tax collectors, and sinners" of our communities—and not in a distant and impersonal way, but in ways which bring us into close contact with their lives, even by inviting them into our houses. 
Along the way, this sermon makes many other points.
It shows the graciousness of Christ, who practiced this kind of evangelism. It also confronts common misconceptions of holiness. It even corrects a misapplication of the biblical doctrine of sin, reminding us that even worthless sinners still have great worth before God. 
As Christians, whenever we hear a preacher challenge us, we need to "search the Scriptures to see if these things be so" (Acts 17:11). It is our belief that God intends this message to work repentance into the hearts of many professing Christians lacking Christ-like love for sinners. 
May you listen well, having asked God to open your heart to the word preached.

Among others available online via YouTube.com, IllBeHonest.com and other websites, here are some more messages by Pastor Ryan. Some are videos and some are audio only.

Be blessed as you are instructed and exhorted by this preacher of the Gospel.

+ "The Convicting Power of Grace," 4th annual Fellowship Conference, Denton, Texas, March 29, 2013 . . . "It is grace that spurs on radical obedience to reach lost areas around the world. It is not simply exhortations to be radical that result in people being radical. It is tender forms of kindness and grace that form the most radical discipleship in the world"

+ "3 Reasons Why We Must Cling to God's Word," 1st annual 9Marks Conference ("Expository Preaching") at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, March 2, 2013
--> For all 6 sessions (Dever, Mohler, et al.) and Q&A's, see here

+ "Where Is Your Faith?" (Luke 8:22-25), dorm meeting, Boyce College, Louisville, Kentucky, October 29, 2012

+ "Holy War: Is God Guilty of Genocide?" (Joshua 11), Fellowship Conference, Denton, Texas, April 6, 2012

+ "Daniel: A Man of Prayerful Dependence" (Dan. 9:1-23), 2012 Men's Pancake Breakfast, Clifton Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky, March 10, 2012

+ "Radical Evangelism," breakout session at "Radical: Give Me An Answer" collegiate conference, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, February 18, 2012

"Biblical Manhood & Womanhood," 8 messages including Q & A, delivered at Lake Road Chapel, Kirksville, Missouri, February 2012
--> Said one attendee and blogger: "I personally know of no finer introduction to manhood and womanhood from a Christian perspective"

Lake Road Chapel.
Kirksville, Missouri.
February 2012.

Click here to listen to sermon series.
"The Power of Example: How Not to Ruin a Perfectly Good Preaching Ministry" (1 Timothy 4:12), chapel message at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, October 19, 2010

+ "Truths That Will Drive You Into A Life of Service" (Hebrews 2:1-4), dorm meeting, Boyce College, Louisville, Kentucky, March 14, 2011

+ "What Is A Christian?" (John 17), dorm meeting, Boyce College, September 13, 2010

+ A message on balance given at a dorm meeting, Boyce College, February 1, 2010

+ Various sermons at Immanuel Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky, October 2007-present

+ Some portions of Ryan's sermons have been included in songs by Christian hip-hop recording artist Flame

Also, see here for some blog posts written by Pastor Ryan.

Information on Ryan's biography and the church where he ministers are both online.

10th Anniversary Surprise Service of Ryan's Pastorate

Immanuel Baptist Church 

Louisville, Kentucky

February 2012

For a 10-minute personal reflection video about Ryan that was given during the commemorative service from one of his mentor-friends (and former Bible college classmate of Ryan and me), Pastor Clint Humfrey of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, click here.

Immanuel Baptist Church. Est. 1887.
Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

Current building (shown here), built 1905.

Spiritually revitalized, 2002-present.

See here for a 10 minute video on Immanuel's

"Deeper and Wider" vision campaign (2013). 

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Est. 1859.
Louisville, Kentucky, USA.
Boyce College. Est. 1974.
Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

Boyce is the undergraduate school
of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Independent Spirit: Good, bad (sinful) or indifferent?

For better or for worse, a pattern of independence is evident in my life.

I am not proud nor embarrassed by this fact, a fact that is common knowledge to those who know me well. It is simply my life's reality.

Maybe this is true of you or someone you know. If so, how are we to understand the person with an  independent spirit? Is his or her independence sinful or not sinful towards God and others? Or does the good/bad categories not matter?

Below are some thoughts that include an autobiographical sketch.

Independence, USA

I became a Christian in 1992 through the ministry of Independent Bible Church in Port Angeles, Washington. IBC was, and remains, a member of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (I.F.C.A.).

One of the things that attracted me to IBC was the "Independence" in its church name. As a not-yet Christian who had never attended a Bible-believing church before, I was wanting a church that was simply an independent (non-denominational) church that preached the Bible and pointed me to the Lord Jesus Christ. In leaving the Roman Catholic Church of my Connecticut upbringing when 18-years-old, I did not know what a Protestant was nor its denominational branches such as Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.

Shortly after conversion to Christ, I served as an intern at Quilcene Bible Church, 1993-94. Located in the rural logging and oyster town of Quilcene, Washington, QBC continues to be a member of the Northwest Independent Church Extension. N.I.C.E. is a church planting ministry of I.F.C.A. in the Pacific Northwest.

In 2008, University Press of America served as the publisher of my works on the American evangelist James Brainerd Taylor (1801-1829). U.P.A. is a member of the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, one of the largest and fastest-growing independent publishers and distributors in North America. R.L.P.G.'s motto is "Independent Publishing for Independent Minds."

With James Brainerd Taylor and 19th-century America being my primary historic interest and academic specialty, I am a considered an "independent scholar" by the American Society of Church History and other academic societies I am a member of. This designation is because I am not a member of a college or seminary faculty, serving the needs of academia.

As an American, our country's founding fathers wrote and adopted the Declaration of Independence. The historic document that severed us from Great Britain in 1776 was signed by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia's Independence Hall. Every July 4th Americans celebrate Independence Day.

Surrounded by Africans, Asians, Europeans, Middle Easterners and those from Oceania (especially Australia and New Zealand) during my 26 months in the melting pot that is Israel (May '09-June '11), I realized just how much we Americans--or at least this American--value our individual and political independence and freedom.

In November 2011, I became an individual member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.). I was a member of a F.I.R.E. church in Jerusalem for 2 years, and now am in the process of becoming a member of a newly begun (summer '09) F.I.R.E. church in Port Angeles, Washington.

Lastly, I have been an avid motorcyclist since 1990 and a member of the U.S.'s largest motorcyclist organization, American Motorcyclist Association, since 2007. Motorcyclists are known, of course, for their rugged and individualistic independence.

Circumstances, Disposition, Choices

As I review my own life and observe that of others, it seems that three factors are involved in a person's independent spirit.

Life's circumstances. From an early age, and like some others in their family environments, I have had to learn to do things myself. The answer was often "me" to the question, "If no one else is going to do it or teach me, then who will?" concerning a variety of life's skills, be it how to shave one's face to how to make money to pay for a pack of baseball cards when a kid.

Also, and as one born and raised in America, it seems Americans are born with an individualistic, independent attitude. This seemed especially true in the generally socially-cold New England of my upbringing (1976-91) where a family hardly knew or spoke to their neighbors.

Disposition. I have in mind a person's natural/innate temperament that has a bent towards independence. This in-and-of itself is not sinful.

However, this can also refer to a sinful disposition or inclination to not submit to God's authority, thereby rejecting the truth that it is God who "gives everyone life and breath and everything else" (Acts 17:25). A rejection of God's authority often leads to a rejection of man's authority; for instance, one's parents, boss at work or a school teacher. Independent people often do not like to cooperate with others or submit to authority.

Choices. Though circumstances and disposition play a part, an independent person still must be held accountable and responsible for the choices he or she has made. On certain occasions, and either to my or others' benefit or harm, I know I have intentionally chosen the way of independence over the way of dependence and reliance upon others.

Is Independence Sinful or Not Sinful towards God and others?
Yes and no. It depends.

No, if understood that one can a have a God-given personality that has an innate bent towards independence. For instance, many in leadership positions are often independent in nature. Moreover, being independent and self-sufficient on one's own land is commendable and not morally wrong. Senior citizens wanting to continue their independent lifestyles--and thereby not be a burden to family, friends or the government--can be commendable. Fill in your own example of non-sinful or spiritually-neutral independence.

Yes, if a person's independent ways leads to a rejection of a dependency upon God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for physical and spiritual life. Yes, if by one's independence a person is being selfish and sins against others. And yes, if not submitting to God-ordained authority, be it at work, in the church or from one's government.

Any thoughts?