Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Prayer-response to Southern Seminary chapel sermons: 3/25 and 3/27/08.

[Southern Seminary chapel sermons may be heard HERE.]

My Father,

You know my heart even better than I know myself. You know my sins against You, dear God. You know my weaknesses. You know how I struggle with those things mentioned in chapel this week: with failure to place You as my absolute priority, with compromise. You know my desperate need for Your Son- for His perfect obedience to You, where my obedience has failed and earned me Your just condemnation, for His work on the Cross satisfying Your wrath against my sin, for His resurrection power and intercession at Your right hand, so that my imperfect works may be acceptable in Your sight and I may be more conformed to His image. You know with what expectation the spirit You placed within me longed to hear Your Son proclaimed from Your Holy Word in chapel this week. You know what disappointment I have suffered in hearing other things- tangential truths of Your Word apart from He who is Truth itself- proclaimed instead.

Omniscient God, my Holy Lawgiver and Judge,

You know the thankfulness of my heart for the work You have done in the Southern Baptist Convention and at Southern Seminary. I praise You for the faithfulness You have given Your people to the Scriptures and to the gospel of our Lord. Shall we now, in affirming the Scriptures as inerrant, yet forget that all the Scriptures point to Christ? Shall we now begin to view the gospel as a first step to be followed by a life of mere moral instruction? Shall we not seek Christ Himself and His glory in all things through reflection on who He is and what He has done? I praise You that the leadership and faculty of Southern Seminary is committed to training ministers to proclaim Christ from all the Scriptures. But, O God, You be the judge of whether we have seen this consistently modeled in our chapel services. You be the judge of whether the talk on Tuesday gave any clear presentation of who Jesus is and what He has done. You be the judge of whether the sermon today could not have been preached by Pelagian heretic, a Roman Catholic, or even a Jewish rabbi or Pharisee, if only the word "church" was changed to "synagogue."

Immutable God, free from favoritism,

Does it honor You when we applaud men in chapel due to their secular achievements? Would it not be better to applaud You when we have a preacher from a small church who has faithfully proclaimed Christ speak to us (if that is ever to happen)?

Lord of hosts,

I thank You for the work of the early Baptists who served in the military. I praise You for the accounts I've heard in Baptist History of men in Cromwell's army who spread Your gospel across the English countryside. I praise You for the churches that were planted, for the false religion that was challenged, and for the lives that were changed. O Lord, was this advance of Your gospel accomplished by those who were unclear in proclaiming Your Son? Has Your Holy Spirit ever been pleased to work by men who speak approvingly of soldiers speaking in the name of Jesus or 'whatever name of their choosing'? Can Your glorious gospel be reduced to 'make God the priority of your life'?

God of grace,

You have heard the speeches made from the pulpit of chapel at Southern Seminary this week. You have heard the exhortation to make You our priority. You have heard the admonition to personal integrity. You know that these good messages apart from Christ are damning. You know that we have all failed and will continue to fail in making You our priority. You know that we all lack a perfect, holy character free of compromise. You know the burden that these admonitions place on men's hearts that mere principles and commands are unable to lift. You know that if we try to follow these instructions, we will be subject to pride or despair and will sink into Hell under Your just condemnation. So You know how Jesus must be proclaimed in order that reconciliation to You may be affected. You know how people must be pressed to forsake any false hope, but to cling to Your Son in faith. You be the judge of whether faith in Christ was proclaimed this week.

My Redeemer,

Work in the ministry of the men who spoke in chapel this week. Have Your gospel to sound clearly through their words, so that they may make the most of every opportunity to proclaim Jesus. Grant wisdom to the leadership of Southern Seminary, that they may present the students with models of Christ-centered, biblical preaching.

My Rock,

My trust is only in the righteousness of Christ. Any action I perform is stained by sin. I pray for the intercession of the Holy Spirit, that my prayer might be heard and accepted at Your throne of grace through the blood of the Lamb.

It is in the precious name of Jesus that I pray,



Blogger Terry Delaney said...

Dude, thank you for sharing this with us. I pray that more men have this deep a meditation on what is shared with us at chapel. God bless.

2:13 PM  
Blogger said...

Given the nature of the comments about the speakers (warranted or not? I do not claim to know. I have not listened to the messages), but perhaps these types of "prayers" would be best spoken or written in the secret prayer closet.

If sermon-critique is the goal, make it a forthright post. In the genre of written prayer, your words come across as sanctimonious and acidic.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Gordan Runyan said...

Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth, Paul = Sanctimonious and acidic.

You go, brother.

10:34 PM  
Blogger said...

I am glad that you did not leave Jesus himself off your list. We have hereby been officially notified that to critique the original posting by Aaron is tantamount to questioning the ministry of Jesus or other authors of Holy Writ.

1:26 AM  
Blogger ajlin said...

i don't quite understand the criticism above- particularly in regard to what was perceived as "acidic"- please clarify.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Timmy Brister said...


Don't let Scott's comments bother you. That's all I am going to say about that. I will talk to you later.

1:32 PM  
Blogger said...

So those who give public blog critique should not listen to, or be bothered by those who might give critique back?

I'll stand by my original comment to Aaron. Go ahead and give formal critique and analysis to a chapel sermon if you want. I've heard (and delivered) my fair share of poor (i.e. "whatever happened to Christ?") sermons. If you want some real poor sermons, let me know and I will send along some of my own eisegetical gems.

However, my actual point of stumbling over Aaron's post was the genre. When the critique is put it in the genre of public, written prayer, I think it just looks a lot like Matthew 6 "public prayers" and Luke 18 "public prayers".

Timmy, I know this "critiquing SBTS chapel" thing hits close to home for you. You and I know how many hours we spent talking about this very subject in the past. Furthermore, your stance on SBTS chapel speakers is a matter of public record. I just finished up Collin Hansen's book "Young, Restless, Reformed":

"For someone who says he doesn't want to stir controversies, Timmy Brister often finds himself in the middle of them. His blog writing doesn't endear him to the executives at Southern Seminary, where he is preparing for pastoral ministry. He gives seminary leaders an earful when they welcome chapel speakers who have elsewhere derided Calvinism. "It bothers me that I get reprimanded for doing the very thing I'm taught to do," said Timmy, twenty-eight." (page 77)

However, as close to home my comments might seem to you, my original comment to Aaron is actually about something else.

Given that blogging is such a public vehicle, and give that blogging invites praise and/or censure (i.e. getting linked by uber-bloggers), my criticism is NOT in regards to his criticism of chapel, but the fact that he puts it in the form of a prayer to God.

My goodness, we certainly have Scripture to guide us here, regarding the dangers of "public prayers":

"When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you." (Matthew 6:5-8)

The public prayer of the Pharisee also comes to mind (Luke 18:9-14).

When I say his words are "acidic" and "sanctimonious", it is for the very reason of the genre chosen. Aaron, if you gave the same analysis, but did so in the format of a Terry Delaney chapel review, I promise you one thing- I would have never commented on the post. Privately, I may have still disagreed with your decision to critique the administration you have chosen to sit under, but having failed in the past to convince anyone of my position on that matter, I would not have attempted the same with you.

Aaron, I did not comment here to be upsetting to either you or Timmy. I am sure that we would have warm fellowship with many shared theological convictions, as do Timmy and I. I do praise God for the gift of theological discernment that is so very evident in young men coming through Southern Seminary, you and Timmy being two examples.

That is all I wish to say about it in the public forum here, but if you do desire follow-up with me, please feel free to email or call.

Scott Lamb

2:52 PM  
Blogger said...

Strike through the "Aaron".
Insert "Andrew".

Sorry, I was thinking Old Testament instead of New. LOL

4:56 PM  
Blogger Timmy Brister said...


While I don't want to speculate about your intentions about putting the blurb about me in the meta, I do want to say thanks for the plug for Collin's book. I will be interviewing him this week to talk about it, so I thought I'd pass that along if you are interested.

You perceived Andrew's words as "acidic" and "sanctimonious" while others received them with sympathetic agreement. What gives? Yes, there should be open discourse and critique, and I am not saying that you are not entitled to expressing your opinion. But your opinion, as it stands, comes with history (as you and I well know), and that history colors (for better or worse) any drive-by comment you make regarding any dissenting voice of concern regarding Southern.

Know, brother, you have not upset me and will not upset me. I have been down this road and don't plan on traveling down it again. I look forward to seeing you at the Band of Bloggers where we will enjoy some sweet time of fellowship talking about Jesus and the gospel.

10:06 PM  
Blogger ajlin said...


Is it your position that any posting of prayers is sinful?


11:29 PM  
Blogger Joseph Gould said...


I want to be very upfront in that I am not trying to judge the motivation of these prayers. Based upon your comments on this thread, I do not feel I have any reason to do so. I would just suggest that as bloggers we remember that perception is just as, if not more, important than the truth.

Whether intentional or not, I would expect that the majority of individuals who read this post see unnecessary sarcasm in these public prayers. As a result, they give the appearance of disrespect towards both the chapel speakers and towards the seminary for inviting them.

Again, I am not suggesting that sarcasm or disrespect is intended, only that this is what is conveyed. I would simply encourage you not to publicly criticize chapel in this format. There are ways to offer constructive criticism that do not give the perception of what your posted prayers conveys.

I hope my comment has been clear.

Blessings on your ministry,

5:24 AM  
Blogger ajlin said...

In sarcasm, one employs words to indicate something different (usually opposite) of what is directly stated in order to mock someone or something. This prayer contained no sarcasm.

11:45 AM  

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