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Where there are many words...

When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise. - Proverbs 10:19

Dad was fond of saying criticism is the manure Christians grow best in. As you can imagine, I get a fair bit of it and do my best not simply to pass it off. I meet with the Clearnote Pastors College men each Tuesday for two hours of discussion surrounding a text of Scripture. From time to time, criticism comes up and one thing I try to remember to say is that, while we should not treat them with much respect, we should always read anonymous letters. Often they're anonymous because of a deep root of bitterness in the author, but not always. And usually such letters say things I need to hear and take to heart. (On the other hand, anonymous letters of thanks and praise are always, always perfectly true. These are to be sincerely believed, meditated on, and placed under our pillow at night where we might nuzzle them with our cheek during the wee hours of the morning.)

You won't be surprised that my initial response to criticism is often to be defensive and argue with my critic. Over the years this has declined, as I trust my dear Mary Lee would testify. She's always been my first and best critic, particularly since my dear Mother died. And when the defensiveness is there at first, usually it doesn't take very long for me to see whatever truth is in the criticism, at which time I go back and thank the critic telling him his words were true and helpful. And if my defensiveness was sinful, I ask his forgiveness.

In the past three weeks, I've received three criticisms of the blog and those criticisms highlight another aspect to responding to critics that's quite important...


Spam blocking and comments...

Because of a growing problem with spam recently, we've had to change our spam filter's settings to a higher level of intensity. This may lead to some of you having trouble getting your comments published. If you have problems, would you please send Pastor Lucas Weeks an e-mail? Thanks.

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House rules...

Dear Readers,

Again recently we've asked for identification information from those submitting comments that are personal in their criticism of the author of the post (usually David or me), a publicly known leader, or another commenter on Baylyblog. This has long been our policy: if a reader criticizes the character of someone, if he gets personal, he needs to identify himself by name—first and last, and verifiable.

We've also long said that men should identify themselves when engaging in public teaching and discussions of Scripture's doctrines.

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Word of the Father...

All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10)

Some time ago, an interesting blog post from an unbeliever came up in my Google Reader feed. I left no comment on the entry since it was interesting for none of the intended reasons. The writer was prepping his father's house for selling since his father can no longer live alone. Part of the prep work involved packing up his father's books for donating. He was sure to grab handwritten notes his father had written for keepsakes. The son said that, in the end, none of his father's books were worth keeping.

In the same breath, the son also said he was surprised to see just how "spiritual" his father was. He had no idea...


FAQ: about comments...

If people haven't noticed, when the identity of a commenter is unknown to readers, I've started putting their names inside quotes to make it clear that readers don't actually know who they are. (This is not true of names like "Fr. Bill" and "Kamilla" for obvious reasons.)

I'm not doing this to be obnoxious, but to make a point of the anonymity of most of what goes down on the web.

This is not to say anonymity is not sometimes required. We had a case recently where someone identified with Baylyblog was threatened with termination at his annual evaluation because his identity could be traced to this blog. Please pray for our brother's protection. Still, we are convinced we should each do our best not to try to avoid shame over our idenitification with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One further matter: we have men who consistently lie about their identities, and almost always they are the ones whose comments are viciously personal and lie about God and His Word...

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Humble is as stupid does...

Recently Jared Wilson of The Gospel Coalition put up a quote from Doug Wilson's book Fidelity. The post (not the book) was meant to be an explanation of why women today are reading books like Fifty Shades of Grey, which include pornographic BDSM content. The simple version says it's because when we deny that authority and submission play any role in sex, we are lying to ourselves. Authority and submission are built into our nature, and rejecting them doesn't get rid of them. They just end up coming back to us in a "pathological form." Oh yes, and the quote also said, "This is of course offensive to all egalitarians." 

Then those who claim to be true sons of Abraham, but are in fact of their father the Devil, went on the attack. They were, quite appropriately, led by a woman in this battle--


The Reformers were pamphleteers...

Again and again within the PCA, men sound the trumpet against the approaching enemy and immediately are shouted down by other men who say the blowing of the trumpet violated proper "process." Their claim is that sounding the alarm is not to trust the courts of the church where schismatics and heretics ought properly (and only) to be dealt with. They shush the buglers and their clear note.

This is to punish men for the very act of courageous obedience by which they serve our Lord and His Bride, and it's the same sort of punishment and condemnation Calvin, Luther, and Knox suffered. So buck up, men! You have a great patrimony! Calvin, Luther, and Knox blew their bugles, also, sounding the alarm house to house, city to city, day and night with tears.

Now to the details. When the Lord commanded Ezekiel to be faithful in his calling as a prophet, he called him a "watchman." Pastors today are watchmen, also, as indicated by...


Meeting Valerie Kyriosity in person...

Today Mary Lee and I had the joy of meeting Valerie "Kyriosity." Valerie was passing through on the way to the wild west and did us the kindness of stopping in Bloomington for lunch. We'd never met her in person although we'd known her through her excellent contributions on her own and other's blogs. Thus it was good finally for all of us to meet in person.

But more than meeting, it was good to be able to correct some wrongs I'd committed two years ago when I was the cause of Valerie taking a hiatus from commenting on Baylyblog.

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A technical introduction to the new BaylyBlog

In my previous post, I introduced BaylyBlog readers to a few of the new features of the site. In this post, I will introduce a few of the technical details:

  • We are using a slightly modified LAMP stack. Instead of Apache, we're using Ngnix as our server to improve overall performance of our sites. The rest is pretty standard: Ubuntu Linux, MySQL, and PHP.
  • Joseph got a head start on me on this one, but I'll add it here also: we are running Apache Solr on a separate VPS to handle all the indexing and retrieval of content.

Welcome to the new BaylyBlog!

Joseph, Ben and I are very happy to present the new BaylyBlog! We hope you like what we've done to the place. Please take some time to look around. And while you check out the new design—I think Ben did a bang-up job, myself—you can also take advantage of a few of the new features:


Coming up Wednesday...

This Wednesday Baylyblog's new design will go live. To help with the transfer we'll be shutting down comments for a day or so, likely starting Tuesday evening. So if you run into problems commenting Tuesday night or Wednesday, please be patient.

The work that's gone into the new design has been heavy since we're not simply switching from one blogging software to another--TypePad to WordPress, for instance. Baylyblog is being transformed into a site running on the open source content management platform, Drupal.

There are a number of features this will allow, but search is the big winner...


Klout...

With the senior year men of Clearnote and Reformed Evangelical Pastors Colleges this morning, we were discussing Iain Murray's Evangelicalism Divided.

This is one of the most important books for any officer of Christ's Church to read today. In it Murray exhaustively documents the history of the herding instincts of men like John Stott and Jim Packer who chose to acknowledge as "Christians" and to make common cause with fellow British Anglican churchmen who denied the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Birth, and the substitutionary Atonement (for instance). Then Murray exhaustively documents the rotten fruit of their terrible compromises.

We discussed why Martyn Lloyd-Jones refused to go along with such betrayal of the Church, warning against it when men like Stott and Packer were such promoters? One student said he thought Stott and Packer wanted to protect their clout whereas Lloyd-Jones was willing to lose his.

Which took me back to the Wired piece on Klout I read last night. It's a web business that rates men on the basis of how many they influence or lead--hence the name "Klout." The author, Seth Stevenson, starts out by reporting that the perfect Klout score is 100. Justin Bieber's Klout is 100 and President Obama's 91. Influence and leadership, you know.

Officers of Christ's Church are constantly choosing whether to keep or lose their Klout...


Why Baylyblog?

A brother who's ordained to pastoral ministry wrote: "I'd like to hear some real-life examples of how you and the pastors of Clearnote Church, Bloomington (or Christ the Word) are 'playing the man' for their flocks. Not the blogosphere stuff, important as it is...."

"Not the blogosphere stuff?"

The web is our lives, today--all of us. We do FB and e-mail and get our news and views there. Or should I say here?

So David and I view the web as a wonderful tool through which it's possible to bypass the suits of the publishing corporations and radio and conference ministries who will never do anything to jeopardize their moneymaking. We use the web to feed and guard and protect and admonish and warn our flocks.

The printing press was a central component to Luther and Calvin's reform of Geneva, bypassing the coffers of Rome. And the web is, we pray, a central component to the reform of Bloomington and Toledo...


Rejoice each day...

Here's a good devotional Rev. David T. Myers will be writing each day. It's a ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America's Historical Center which is run by our good friend, Wayne Sparkman. Each day's reading will include short doses of church history and the Westminster Standards, plus honey from God's Word. Why not subscribe and make your commitment to read this devotional and five chapters of Scripture a day this year? It's not too late to start.

The only way Biblical Christians today can survive without going all ghettoish is to remind ourselves that every doctrine we live and teach has been boringly normal across the centuries of Church history. It's only the hirelings of our own time who call these doctrines monstrous. So subscribe to Pastor Meyers' devotional and innoculate yourself against becoming a sourpuss. We stand in full and joyful agreement with all those fathers of the faith who went before us!

(TB, w/thanks to David Mc.)


Our new blog design...

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Please pray for RC Jr. and his dear Denise...

One brother we love is suffering, with his family, an intimate knowledge of the tenuousness of his wife's life just now. RC Jr.'s wife, Denise, is suffering under Leukemia and we ask you to pray for them. RC just posted a meditation on the shortness of life and God's kindness and tenderness in numbering our days. It's good. May I ask you to read it and pray for RC and his dear Denise? (TB)


House rules on comments...

Dear Readers,

Again recently we've asked for identification information from those submitting comments that are personal in their criticism of the author of the post (usually David or me), a publicly known leader, or another commenter on Baylyblog. This has long been our policy: if a reader criticizes the character of someone, if he gets personal, he needs to identify himself by name—first and last, and verifiable.

We've also long said that men should identify themselves when engaging in public teaching and discussions of Scripture's doctrines. It's not good to be a closet Christian, to have a secret commitment to doctrines that are hated, and therefore a clear confession of Christ in this evil day. Unashamed acknowledgment and proclamation of everything Jesus commanded is integral to our fulfillment of our Lord's Great Commission. If we're not faithful in these small things, our Lord may well not find us worthy of the larger stewardship of the baptism of blood.

He has warned us of the consequences of being ashamed of Him, of publicly declaring His word that sodomy is an abomination against God, His word that greed is idolatry and greedy men will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, His word that woman is not to teach or exercise authority over man because He created Adam first, then Eve.

Take those Biblical doctrines under the most intense attack today: it's precisely those places where our shame or zeal is best measured...

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FAQ: about title changes...

If you've read Baylyblog for a while, you've learned that we make changes to posts after they go up. Some of those changes are to correct my failure to honor Jesus in my tone or arguments, some are because I catch typos, some are to correct factual errors, and some are to improve clarity. Well over ninety-five percent of those changes are made in the first hour following publication and are insignificant. Four of the remaining five percent are made in the first twenty-four hours and are usually insignificant. Less than one percent are made later than that and those late changes are almost always due to more significant mistakes, so when those changes are made, they're usually noted at the beginning of the post. Which is to say significant changes are always noted.

Blogs aren't hard print publications and one of the principal differences is that blogs aren't static. After a magazine is printed it's impossible to make a correction, but it's the work of a moment to correct a post. Some online publications are mirror images of hard print publications, so they follow hard print rules. Others have no hard print version and are able to make insignificant changes without facing the problem of a discrepancy between the article's hard copy and its online version.

Online publications should not be forced onto the Procrustean bed of hard copy rules. Hard copy and online publications are as different as night and day, so new wine should be given new wineskins.

I mention this because a web site has noted that I changed the title of a post published yesterday and they assumed my title change was due to readers e-mailing me with negative feedback...


Update to "A minister with a scripture" post...

The blog of the Gospel Coalition men continues to show itself thin-skinned, circling its wagons and refusing to respond to readers. The "Minister with a scripture..." post has been updated with the latest. Scroll down to the bottom of that post to keep abreast...

(TB)


"A minister with a Scripture..."

A few days ago, Tim Keller used his own Gospel Coalition blog to issue an apology for this very bad interview he did back in 2008 in conjunction with the release of his The Reason for God. The matter came to light only now because the video of the interview was only just released by Veritas Forum. Keller's apology is good in that apologies generally are; but it's bad in that some aspects of the interview that are most unfaithful to Scripture aren't addressed by the apology.

Noting this, I submitted a comment under the Gospel Coalition's announcement of the apology. The comment appeared for a few minutes, then was removed. Five days ago I submitted a request to the Coalition's e-mail asking them to...