Monday, October 24, 2011

New Blog

With the move to a new church, I am launching a new blog ( I will leave this one up for a while still, but will only be writing on the new one. Thanks for reading, and I hope you keep up with our new ministry too. God bless. Pastor Mike

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Last Day

Time has most definitely flown by this week in Vietnam.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here.  There hasn't been much down time since Tuesday. I had to do so much rearranging of my lesson plans to accomodate the material I really need to teach the class. I stayed with the topic assigned: the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.  But I knew going in that I would have to be fluid rather than ridged.

Today was simple enough though. I had the students complete my post-test survey, then they took their final exam (that's the first one I've ever created), and then I had developed a short coarse evaluation that I asked them to complete, rating the coarse in general, the content, and the instructor. I'm just hoping I get invited back.  The highest complement I received this week was one student asking when I would be returning, and then telling me he would be praying it would be soon.  I smiled and said me too.

Now I'm hanging out waiting for 9 PM to role around so I can head to the airport. In the meantime, I'm gonna go shopping for the girls and Melissa, and will have supper with Huy and KB.  See ya soon.

Serving Him,

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 3

Day 3 was a great day. We covered so much material. I began the day teaching on the biblical differences between being baptized with the Spirit at salvation, the pentecostal idea of Spiritual baptist/second baptist, and filling of the Spirit.  Then I moved to the topic of the fruit of the Spirit. My final topic today was the gifts of the Spirit with a focus on the biblical teaching concerning the sign gifts.  I think the students tolerated the other 2 days so they could hear what I had to say about gifts.  FYI, pentecostal/charismatic theology is sweeping the world.  I love their passion to preach the gospel, but I don't believe they have a biblically accurate understanding of the Holy Spirit.

The students definitely interacted more today than any other day, and it was because of their desire to understand what the bible says about this.  They have very strong feelings and thoughts about it, that's for sure.  I love their desire and passion to know and live out their faith in a way that exalts the Lord Jesus Christ above all.  I have to say, I was convicted in this area of my life.  I honestly believe I learned as much from them and was encouraged by them as I may have ever been able to teach them.  These students welcomed me and treated my with such respect as I am not accustomed too.  They are kind in ways that I can't describe.  And were so appreciative of the time I gave to come here to help them.  I wonder where this attitude has hidden in the US.  I believe it would be valuable time spent rediscovering it.

On a lighter note. I coming home tomorrow night. My flight leaves Saigon at 11:50 PM. I fly to Seoul, and from Seoul to Atlanta. I have a lovely 5 hour layover in Atlanta and am suppose to be in Jacksonville at 5:30 PM Saturday where my beautiful wife and children will meet me at the airport.  Then its a week of relaxing in St. Augustine and final packing of the house in Green Cove Springs.  The movers will be there on the 27th to load our stuff up for the move to North Carolina and the beginning of a new ministry at Highland Baptist Church.  I have such a hope and expectation that great things are instore in the near and distant future. Lord Jesus, I can't wait.

Serving Him,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Teaching Day 2

Wow, what a day! I like it, I love it, I want some more of it.  I have had a blast today. You would think that teaching all day long would not be that fun, but at the end of the day, I was wishing for more time. There was so much we needed to talk about, but didn't have time to get too.  All I was able to cover today was John 14-16. I had planned to get through that just in the morning session.  But I felt we needed to take our time, and that's what we did.  I was amazed at how much these students were willing to interact with me. That fact alone was a huge cultural barrier that we were able to overcome together. The Vietnamese students usually sit and listen and take notes, but do not say anything during class. It is disrespectful to the teacher. It was awesome to see and hear them dialogue with each other and me during and inbetween class about the topic of discussion. I pray Vietnam is never the same; I pray it is eternally changed for the honor and glory and fame of the great name of Jesus Christ.

I have spent the evening, after supper (I went to 24 and had Pho), studying for tomorrows assignment, preparing a final exam and answer key, and a student evaluation of the class. I look forward to hearing what they have to say about our time together.  I believe it has been a great week, let's see what they think come Friday after the exam.

Tomorrw I will be addressing the difference between "baptism of the Spirit" and the "filling of the Spirit" in the first session in the morning.  Then I will move to Galatians 5 and address the fruit of the Spirit vs, the works of the flesh.  After lunch we will spend 2.5-3 hours dealing with the gifts of the Spirit.  How in the world am I going to cover all of that in one day?!!! I don't know, but I've gotta try. Much prayer is appreciated.

Serving Him in Vietnam,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Teaching Day 1

I had a great day in the Lord today with the students from the VBBI. They were so gracious in filling out the questionnaire and pre-test for my DMin research. It took them almost 2 hours of the morning. One thing I learned as they went through that this morning is that even the way we ask questions in the US is sometimes difficult to translate into another culture.  How much a student of culture the Apostle Paul and others like him had to have been to go into so many different cultures around the world at that time and effectively share the gospel of Jesus with so  many lost people.  I am becoming more and more confident that to effectively and efficiently share the gospel we must know our culture and cultures we invade thoroughly.  Become a student of culture today, so you might change the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ tomorrow.  One size does not fit all.

After the class of 40+ pastors and church leaders (can you imagine how they could change Vietnam and the world if they catch a glimpse of the call and command of the Great Commission) finished the paper work I gave them, we jumped into the deep end of the pool, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. One of the most difficult things for me to do  is decide what to try to talk with them about and what not to discuss concerning this doctrine. With only 3.5 days of actual teaching time, and that cut in half when you account for translating time, there is not very much time to cover vast amounts of material. I keep praying and asking: "Lord, what are the essentials I need to speak to considering the context and the need?" We covered very briefly today the fact that the Holy Spirit is a person, the Holy Spirit is divine, and the Holy Spirit is co-equal with God the Father and God the Son in the Trinity.  What is so challenging is you could spend weeks studying any one of those three aspects biblically.  My goal is to overload their wagons with scripture that they can then in turn return home and study, allowing God the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Word of God in their hearts and minds. 

And speaking of returning home, the guy traveling the farthest to attend class this week, besides me, traveled over 700 KM to get here. Not sure how far that is in miles, but I know it's a long way.

The goal for tomorrow and Thursday will be to exegete passages on the job of the Holy Spirit from John 14-16, the fruit of the Spirit from Gal. 5, and spirtual gifts from I Cor. 12-14, etc...  Please be praying for me as I seek to honor the Lord Jesus and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Thanks and God bless.
Serving Him,

Monday, September 12, 2011

The First 48 in Vietnam

I arrived in Saigon on Saturday night about 11 PM Vietnam time. I am 13 hours ahead of EST, it's normally 12 hours, but they don't do Daylight Savings Time here. I slept about 4 hours, and was up to get ready for church about 6:15 AM. I went to worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ at Grace Baptist Church. The church also hosts the bible institute I will be teaching in Tuesday through Friday.

After church I came back to the room and did some reading. I tried to watch the end of the Gator game, but espn360 doesn't work over here for some reason. Went to lunch about 12:30 PM and then came back to the room to do some more reading and preparing to teach. I went to sleep about 2:30 and slept til 7 PM when my phone rang. I had made an appointment to meet with a guy to talk. Didn't realize how tired I was, but I got up and we hung out for a couple of hours. There is this awesome little coffee/desert shop right next door to my hotel, so we went there. On my last trip over here, Dr. Ewart and I spent alot of time there in the evenings hanging out, drinking coffee, and talking. Bet I have a repeat performance this time too. When I got back to the room I spent some additional time in God's Word and praying. I know this will be an horrible experience without his outstanding power and guidance as I teach.

What amazed me, was that I went right back to sleep when I was done studying, and I slept til 5 AM. One of the things which makes trips like this doable is technology like Skype. I've been able to talk with my kids in NC and my wife in FL already this week. I would always prefer to be with them, but when I can't, being able to see them and talk with them is a comfort and blessing. In this way I am so thankful to the Lord for technology and the internet. I love my family!

Today (Monday) I'm just hanging out in the hotel room this morning studying for tomorrow. I'm reading the second book in a series by Dr. Jerry Vines on the Holy Spirit. Good stuff. Praying for wisdom, guidance and a keen ability to communicate cross-culturally this week. Pray with me!

Serving Him,

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The SBC's voted stance on the NIV 2011

Patterson, Mohler endorse resolution critical of NIV '11
Posted on Jun 29, 2011 | by Michael Foust
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Two prominent Southern Baptist leaders have endorsed a resolution passed by convention messengers that calls the New International Version (NIV) 2011 Bible an "inaccurate translation" the SBC cannot recommend.

Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, say messengers were right to pass the resolution and take a stand against what the language calls "gender neutral methods of translation." Mohler, though, did say he regrets the resolution addresses LifeWay stores so directly.

The controversy over a newer version of the NIV dates back to 2002 when messengers passed a resolution criticizing the Today's New International Version (TNIV) Bible, which also employed a gender-neutral philosophy of translation for pronouns. After receiving criticism from James Dobson, Southern Baptist leaders and other evangelical leaders, the TNIV never gained widespread usage and finally was discontinued.

At issue in both cases are pronouns for humanity, not pronouns for God.

The NIV 2011 is an updated translation to both the TNIV and the NIV 1984. It maintains 75 percent of the gender-neutral changes found in the TNIV, according to the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, a Louisville, Ky.-based group that supports a complementarian position on manhood and womanhood. CBMW did acknowledge that the NIV 2011 had "numerous commendable improvements" from the TNIV but that the newest translation still had problems from CBMW's perspective. The NIV 2011, CBMW contends, changes the meaning of the text in numerous verses, and by changing singular pronouns to plural pronouns, "removes the emphasis on an individual, personal relationship with God and on specific individual responsibility for one's choices and actions."

The NIV's popularity -- it's the bestselling Bible translation -- is a driving force behind the controversy. Zondervan, the North American publisher, is discontinuing the NIV 1984 and replacing it with the NIV 2011.

The fact that the resolution on the NIV 2011 was debated at all at the SBC annual meeting was somewhat of a surprise, because the Resolutions Committee, the body charged to recommend resolutions to the convention, had declined it. Instead, messenger Tim Overton asked from the floor that his resolution -- previously submitted to the committee as required -- be brought forward, and messengers voted to consider it by the required margin of at least 2-to-1. After a brief debate, it passed overwhelmingly by a show of ballots, receiving opposition from only a few dozen messengers out of the 4,800 who were registered.

CBMW's lengthy NIV 2011 evaluation, released in May, helped give the resolution momentum.

"The adoption of a resolution on the NIV offered from the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention has three major points of significance," Patterson told Baptist Press in a statement. "First, it demonstrates anew that a grass-roots response on the part of Southern Baptists is still a unique feature of the DNA of the Convention, something that we must never loose. Second, the adoption of this resolution demonstrates the continuing concern that the overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists have for gender-neutral translations of the Scripture and the questionable advertising techniques of the NIV marketing program. In fact, Southern Baptists will continue to reject all agenda-driven translations of Holy Scripture.

"Third," Patterson continued, "this action from the floor of the Convention should send a message to all Southern Baptist Convention institutions and agencies that we are expected to pursue our ministries out of conviction rather than out of concern for profitability."

Focus on the Family also has quietly taken a stance on the NIV 2011. Its website lists a series of Bibles it recommends, specifically stating the "New International Version 1984 Edition" as an acceptable translation. An asterisk guides readers to the bottom of the list, where it says, "For a preliminary analysis of the NIV 2011 Edition, see the CBMW's review." The link takes readers to a November article where CBMW said it "cannot commend" the updated translation.

Mohler said he thought the Resolutions Committee and messengers were both right.

"The Committee on Resolutions had good reason for deciding that this was not the most timely opportunity to bring a resolution on the NIV," Mohler told Baptist Press. "I would not second guess the Resolutions Committee, and I certainly know their conviction on these issues. But once that resolution was brought to the floor, Southern Baptists simply had to support it, and support it overwhelmingly, on the basis of the fact that what it said was patently true and did reflect the established concerns of Southern Baptists."

The resolution, Mohler said, reflected his concerns "related to the gender issue and specifically related to the linkage between a verbal plenary understanding of inspiration and the importance of an accurate and formal translation."

The doctrine of verbal plenary inspiration holds that all the words of Scripture are God's words and that all Scripture is authoritative.

Douglas Moo, chairman of the Committee on Bible Translation -- which translated the NIV 2011 -- previously told Baptist Press there was no agenda in the translation process other than to render a Bible into more contemporary language. The committee did, he said, make significant changes following the controversy over the TNIV.

"Our gender decisions were made on the basis of very careful and significant research ... and the decisions we've made about gender have no motivation of not offending people," he told Baptist Press, explaining that the committee used the Collins Bank of English, a database of 4.4 billion words showing how people are speaking and writing. "The motivation, rather, is to communicate clearly to people what we think arguably is contemporary English," Moo said.

He added, "Where, in our view, the original text is intending to be inclusive then we feel our job as translators is to figure out what is the best way to make that inclusive point in modern English.

"Where the original text is exclusive, on the other hand, then our task as translators is to choose the appropriate contemporary exclusive English construction that conveys the meaning of the original. That is not to say that all of the decisions are easy ones. There are a lot of texts which are very tough to make that decision about. Of course, we struggle with those, and good scholars can come to different opinions on some of them."

An example of the NIV 2011's gender-neutral language is John 14:23, which reads, "Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." The NIV 1984 read, "Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." Changing "him" to "them," CBMW says, removes the emphasis on an individual, personal relationship with Christ. Another example is 1 Samuel 18:2, which the 2011 NIV rendered, "From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family." The 1984 NIV translated it " ... let him return home to his father's house" -- a translation CBMW said emphasizes the role of fathers in Israelite society.

Still another verse of concern for CBMW is 1 Timothy 2:12, a passage dealing with church roles. The controversy actually does not pertain to pronouns. The NIV 2011 rendered it, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet." The NIV 1984 translated it "have authority." No other major modern English translation translates it as "assume." The verse, CBMW said, takes sides in the debate over female pastors. "As soon as a church adopts the 2011 NIV," CBMW said, "the debate over women's roles in that church will be over, because women pastors and elders can just say, 'I'm not assuming authority on my own initiative; it was given to me by the other pastors and elders,'"

Said Mohler, "It's very healthy that the convention sends a very clear signal that we take the issue of faithfulness in Bible translation and accuracy in Bible translation to be of utmost, nonnegotiable importance."

Overton, pastor of Halteman Village Baptist Church in Muncie, Ind., said "Southern Baptists have a long and proud history of speaking biblical truth to important issues." Overton used the 2002 resolution as the basis for writing the 2011 resolution.

"Biblica [the worldwide publisher] and Zondervan made serious errors when they chose to insert a gender-neutral philosophy of translation into the 2011 New International Version," Overton told BP. "This flawed translation undermines verbal plenary inspiration, which is a core belief of Southern Baptists. Every single word in Scripture, including pronouns, is inspired by God. When the bestselling NIV Bible disregards the smallest 'jot or tittle' of Scripture, Southern Baptists have an obligation to make a firm stand upon God's inerrant Holy Bible."

Among the resolution's highlights, it says the NIV 2011 erases "gender-specific details which appear in the original language" and "has gone beyond acceptable translation standards." It cites CBMW's 75 percent statistic and says messengers "cannot commend the 2011 NIV to Southern Baptists or the larger Christian community."

It also says messengers "respectfully request that LifeWay not make this inaccurate translation available for sale in their bookstores."

"It has been a part of established SBC tradition not to address the convention's entities by means of resolution, and this is a good policy," Mohler said. "I do regret that this resolution addresses LifeWay so directly. This puts LifeWay in an almost impossible position. The very significant complications now handed to LifeWay include the fact that the NIV is not the only English Bible to involve many of the same translation issues. The resolution rightly addresses many translation concerns, but the NIV is hardly alone with respect to those issues. Furthermore, removing a specific Bible translation is no simple matter."

As an example, Mohler cited B&H's popular New American Commentary series, which is based on the NIV translation.

"This is true across the board for many evangelical commentary series, and for a host of devotional works as well," Mohler said.

LifeWay released a statement after the resolution passed, stating, "LifeWay Christian Resources has received the resolution. Our first step is to involve our board of trustees since they are the representative body Southern Baptists have elected to oversee our work."

Other gender-neutral translations are the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), the New Living Translation (NLT), the New Century Version (NCV) and the Contemporary English Version (CEV).
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. To read Baptist Press' overview story of the NIV controversy, which includes quotes from Douglas Moo, who chaired the committee that translated it, visit

Read CBMW's evaluation of the NIV 2011:

Read the Committee on Bible Translators' statement on the translation philosophy: