Recommendations

General Assembly attractiveness in the PCA: doing the impossible...

The fourth key issue identified by the PCA's Cooperative Ministries Committee (first, here; second, here; third, here) was:

Making the General Assembly more attractive to younger pastors and ruling elders.

General Assemblies, like elder board and presbytery meetings, are work sessions. If we try to lure men to attend GA by it's attractiveness we detract from the task at hand: doing the work of the church. For me, GA would be more attractive if we dispensed with the pre-assembly sideshows and seminars and immediately got to work. We could define ourselves by our actions rather than by talking about who we are ad nauseam (sorry, I like the sound of that drum).

But, since you asked, here are a few more things that would make GA attractive to me...


Because Moses was married to a Cushite woman...

Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman)...  - Numbers 12:1

Preaching on Psalm 90 the first Lord's Day of the new year, I wanted to say a bit about Moses since this Psalm begins with the attribution, "A prayer of Moses, the man of God." At the time of the rebellion against Moses led by his sister and brother, Miriam and Aaron, Scripture brings the account to an end with that wonderful statement that Moses was "very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth."

Wanting to explain the context of this high praise, I went roaming for commentary on the racism of Miriam and Aaron that was behind their rebellion...


Gift suggestions...

Need some ideas for Christmas gifts? Some recommendations...


You are what you read...

Years ago, my father-in-law, Ken Taylor, worked to get me to read Christianity Today. He suggested I subscribe, then tried to give me a gift subscription (which I declined).

An hour or so ago, my dear brother David Wegener left a copy of the November issue of CT on my dining room table, pointing me to a one-page article he thought I should read. I'll read the article, but only because I love David and please understand my love for David is very, very deep. Yet even in the throes of such loving deference, I still found myself a minute ago tearing the magazine in half and placing everything but the article in the trash. Why?

Jesus warned His Disciples—and thus us: "Beware of the leaven of the scribes and Pharisees." I can find nothing that so precisely matches "leaven" as the editorial content of CT and nothing that so precisely matches "scribes and Pharisees" as the men CT promotes...


Book recommendations: Baxter's Reformed Pastor and Shusaku Endo's Silence...

It seems inane to say so when so many others have said the same so often for so many centuries, but having recently led our Pastors College men through Richard Baxter's The Reformed Pastor, I was reminded how central to the development of my work as a minister of the Word Baxter has been. After seminary, I read The Reformed Pastor, followed quickly by Baxter's Autobiography, and it's impossible to overstate the impact both had on my pastoral conscience and commitments these past thirty years. Page after page, I see my markings and marginal notes and think to myself, "that's where I learned that" and "that's why I think that way!"

Whether you're a deacon, pastor, or elder, if you haven't read Baxter's Reformed Pastor, buy it now and read it yesterday! Then preach on Acts 20 and you're good to go! (Or to sit down and mourn and cry and beat your breast and confess your failures to the Chief Shepherd, asking for His mercy and renewed commitment to faithfully shepherd Christ's Church which He bought with His Own precious blood.)

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Speaking of books, I also just finished Silence by Shusaku Endo and recommend it to our good readers. (I was up staying with my brother, David, for a couple days and pulled it from his bookshelves, so thank David for the recommendation.) Silence is said to be the masterpiece of Japan's most respected novelist and the work is a fictionalized account of the great persecution Christians suffered in Japan during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries...


New version of The Gospel Blimp released today...

Speaking of books, if you haven't yet read Dad's Gospel Blimp, you really should. Written back in 1962 after two decades working in the parachurch world of Evangelicalism, Dad's parable remains quite funny and painful.

Good news! Today Clearnote Press released a new version of this classic. With an intro by Doug Wilson, the Gospel Blimp is bound with a full set of Dad's other stories/parables formerly published as I Saw Gooley Fly.

The title is The Gospel Blimp (and Other Parables); (Kindle), (Paperback), (Nook), and (eBook-Kobo). Later this week it will be available on iTunes.

It would be a great encouragement to the men of Clearnote who did the work of revision, proofing, and design if readers of Baylyblog were each to buy a copy. And, if you're willing, you could like, share, and/or comment on the announcement on the FB page of Clearnote Fellowship. Thanks.

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BTW, for the foreseeable future, no Bayly family member will receive any royalties on the sale of this book.


An updated reading list on sexuality...

Here's a reading list of thirteen books on the meaning and purpose of the two sexes created by God—man and woman. It's been slightly reworked since it was last published.

1. Scripture, starting with these texts
2. Henrik Ibsen: A Doll's House
3. Paul King Jewett: Man as Male and Female
4. Stephen B. Clark: Man and Woman in Christ
5. Walter Neuer: Man and Woman in Christian Perspective
6. Steven Ozment: When Fathers Ruled
7. G. K. Chesterton: What's Wrong With the World or The Thing
8. Doug Wilson: Reforming Marriage


Some good listening as you drive or cut the grass...

In response to a reader's comment requesting recommendations of free books to listen to, I threw this together:

I'd start with this page of Chesterton's works available free on LibriVox. Chesterton is an acquired taste that assumes some ability on the part of the reader or listener. If you haven't listened to him before, maybe I'd start with What's Wrong with the World around chapter 15 or so because...


Books that make you think long and hard...

Recently, Tim commended the works of E. Michael Jones to our attention. Several of us have been reading them, but I've been complaining about their high prices. So Tim wrote Mr. Jones, and he reports that a number of them are back in print and available from Culture Wars for much better prices than you will find on Amazon. A few samples...


On the necessity of reading the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments...

Thy words were found and I ate them... - Jeremiah 15:16

You accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. - 1Thessalonians 2:13

My dear children: Throughout much of our lives, we have read the Bible together. Why did we do that? Why should you do it on your own?

Reading the Bible plunges us into a spiritual bath...


Merle Haggard...

When I was in San Diego working for Youth Specialties, back when they published the Wittenburg (sic) Door, the Doorkeepers were Mike Yaconelli, Denny Rydberg, and Wayne Rice and Wayne had a bluegrass band named Brush Arbor. They'd opened for Haggard, so I bought a Haggard album and I'm listening to him now...

Give Haggard a listen. Maybe start with "Farmer's Daughter"--it's a tender love song of a Dad for his daughter and wife. Then "Working Man Blues"--it's the favorite of young dads at Clearnote Church, Bloomington. "I'm a Good Loser" or "No Reason to Quit


Looking for a church in Toledo, Bloomington, or Indianapolis?

Looking for a church home in Toledo, Bloomington, or Indianapolis? We'll put up a post about Christ the Word soon, but much of what is said here about Clearnote Church Indianapolis and Clearnote Church, Bloomington is characteristic of Christ the Word, Toledo, also.

CNBHomePageIt's hard to move and have to find a new church home. All of us have done it and those of us a part of Clearnote Fellowship want to make your work a little easier by telling you why we love our Clearnote churches in Bloomington and Indianapolis. So read on and spend a little time learning about the work God is doing within Clearnote Fellowship.

First, a few words about our doctrine and denominational roots. If this stuff isn't your brand of coffee, click through and start reading about our ministries.

ClearnoteFellowshipDoctrinal and denominational roots...

The roots of Clearnote Fellowship are deep into the Presbyterian Church in America: I've served as a teaching elder of the PCA in Wisconsin and Indiana for almost twenty years; six of Clearnote Church, Bloomington's elders have been members of PCA churches; son Joseph Bayly who pastors Clearnote Church, Indianapolis was a part of the PCA's campus ministry (RUF) and attended a PCA congregation while studying at Vanderbilt; we have referred many families moving away from Clearnote Church, Bloomington to PCA congregations across the country; and several sons of our church now serve as PCA pastors.

This to say the people of Clearnote Fellowship have decades of experience as members and officers of the PCA, so those of you moving and looking for a PCA church in Bloomington or a PCA church in Indianapolis will find the congregations of Clearnote Fellowship to be spiritual homes where you and your children will thrive. Come and visit our Bloomington or Indianapolis congregations...


Save the date for Clearnote Summer Conference (2012)...

IBGFACONFIf you’re a father or mother, husband or wife, pastor or elder or deacon or Titus 2 woman who has benefited from the work of Baylyblog, please mark your calendars for this coming July 6th and 7th, and join us for the annual Clearnote Fellowship Conference. Our theme this year is "I Believe in God the Father Almighty."

To those with eyes to see, the Fatherhood of God is everywhere! The Spirit of God witnesses that we are adopted sons of God by our hearts crying out, "Abba! Father!" Seeing God's Fatherhood writ large across His Creation is a radical vision that's entirely countercultural in our day of both father-hunger and father-hatred...


Five Aspects: another excellent ministry to commend...

BillMouserThis past October 1st, we were blessed with a fly-by visit from Father Bill Mouser and his wife, Barbara. On sexuality, if would be hard to do better than taking our churches through the Mousers' Five Aspects curriculum--Five Aspects of Man/Woman. My closest friend, Pastor Robert Woodyard, is using Five Aspects with men in his church and has found it excellent. Here at Clearnote Church, Bloomington we have a Saturday morning program...


A Harris Tweed is just plain serviceable...

This is likely a first, but may I offer a little sartorial advice? Few things are more serviceable to pastors than a good Harris Tweed. It goes down, to the middle, then up from jeans to chinos and then even gray flannels, shirt, and tie. But where to get one without breaking the bank? After much searching a year ago, I decided to use the internet and hop over the pond to make the purchase. I'm happy I did and want to recommend two sources for this jack-of-all-trades jacket. I've ordered from both these companies and commend their service and price.

Harris Tweed Isle of Harris (bought my own here)

Peter Christian (also good moleskin pants)


Midwives, denominations, abortions, and my present political philosophy...

I don't write much about Indiana politics and government but it's caused me no small sadness to contemplate the term-limit-departure of our fiscally excellent governor a little over a year from now. Gov. Mitch Daniels will have completed his second term and will have to leave office.

If I am comforted in our loss of Mitch's magnificent fiscal leadership, my comfort comes from this: that his likely successor is a man, Representaive Mike Pence, who promises to govern with the same fiscal commitments while adding a theological framework to those commitments that promises to extend far beyond fiscal discipline, on to principles concerning many other areas of governance including the battlefields on which the destroyers of our nation and its states are focussing their revolution: sexuality, the Image of God in man, the origin and nature of sexuality and marriage decreed by our Creator in His Order of Creation, and so forth.

As you read through Daniels' penultimate State of the State Address delivered yesterday evening, you will gain a hint of why I respect him. He has been unflinching in disciplining the educationists of our state by a host of private initiatives that have finally brought competition into public education. True, he brags about over half of our state budget going to edcuation, and he seems to see higher education as an unqualified good. I disagree with both things as I disagreed with President Bush on similar matters. Mitch Daniels is not a wild-eyed enthusiast. He's a realist who really changed our state. Definitively. And reading, you'll see what difference it makes to each citizen of the state.

But there's something else I want to say, here.

Some thirty years ago, I was at the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly to oppose their denominational abortion policy. My dear Mary Lee was pregnant and, since we were in the habit of having home births, I'd called the midwest representative of the PC(USA)'s self-funded independent medical insurance plan to ask if they'd cover the cost of our midwife? It was awkward. He hemmed and hawed and said he didn't know and would have to get back to me on it...


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.)


Buying a Bible for your son or daughter...

Someone asked what Bible I'd recommend he buy his son and I thought I'd post it since postings have been few these days and maybe others would be interested.

In the second half of life eyes need larger print than this, but for those in the first half of life the Pitt Minion of Cambridge Press would be my Bible. For versions of Scripture I still recommend the NASB95 since it's readable and the modern translation that is most faithful to the original Hebrew and Greek text.

Too I think it's a bad idea to print men's comments about God's words on the same page with God's words themselves so I don't use or recommend study Bibles. Study helps, yes--they're indispensable starting with the New Bible Dictionary and Calvin's commentaries. Maybe third you could keep a paraphrase or a study Bible on the table next to you as you read the Bible itself. But in yourself and your children, cultivate a radical distinction between any words of man and the very words of God.

After the question of which version or translation of Scripture, we're down to questions of...


Music for a foggy day...

Can I just say there's hardly anything more fitting for a foggy day than Mozart's Clarinet Concerto? Second movement, adagio; and Gerard Schwarz.


TidBITS, smartphones, music sales, newspapers, and Google+...

The only Mac publication I read is the Engsts' (not Angsts') TidBITS. If you use a Mac or iPhone, go ahead and subscribe now. It's free so just do it and you'll thank me. I've read TidBITS for maybe twenty years and it's the first place to go for accurate information on all things Apple.

The latest issue links to an interesting chart showing the relative obsolscence of Android and iPhone handsets by tracking their ability to take operating system updates. In other words the chart shows how long this or that phone is able to run the current version of its OS.

But once you look at that chart, keep clicking on Michael Degusta's other charts. Fascinating...