Yes, I have been on a small hiatus. I wish I could say it was due to vacation, like my brothers Lance and Anthony, but it was not. I simply have been trying to be faithful to pastoral duties, keeping my word to other ministry and writing commitments, and giving my “free time” to my family. Also, it is true that something happened to me at the SBC Annual Meeting in San Antonio, for which I am grateful.

  

Speaking of the Annual Meeting, I was also grateful to hang out with a few friends. Pam and I shared a meal with fellow bloggers and alumni Jim Hamilton and Denny Burk at the Founders’ Ministry Breakfast. We all heard a tremendous message by Voddie Baucham, which we hope will become available on founders.org soon. I did not get the T-shirt, but I got the book (and you should too). Of course, Tom Ascol was there, and it is always good to see a man who can stand for right on an issue almost single-handedly within a whole association, somewhat like Phinehas. Tom announced a major conference coming soon—one that gives a second opportunity to those of us who were awaiting the Thrilla in Manila (…er… I mean the debate at Liberty University). My friend and former fellow trustee at SWBTS, Dwight McKissic, was also at the breakfast, as well as fellow blogger Ben Cole, who I met formally for the first time, who threw in his one vote for me in the elections (and may have helped to put me over the top with his blog. Ben, I’m sorry I did not get a pix of you, but I did not get one of Tom either. Ha!) I also was able to catch a glimpse of my friend, Mark Dever. I know you think the picture below is his stunt double, since the man in the picture is wearing a necktie outside of the pulpits at CBHC and SBTS, but that really is Mark! Thabiti has said some kind words about Mark on which I have commented, for I could not agree more. The world needs many more Mark Devers – men who are always “doing better than [they] should be” and helping others to do the same.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

I cannot count the number of friends from the NAAF, the SBCV, and SWBTS I was able to see. But representative of you all are some guileless friends with whom I spent some extra time like Mike and Linda Hughes, (Drs.) Craig and Diane Blaising, Bill and Karen Wennersten, and Dexter and Kim Hardy, all firends I hope you will get to meet on this side of glory. I probably should mention my unpaid PR director, Doyle Chauncy, who spoke as if he has known me since childhood. (Thank you, Doyle.) Doyle is leading a great association to the glory of God. I am thankful that they have received me and Hillcrest as their own. Mark Croston takes on a third year as the internet-savvy NAAF President. (God bless you, Mr. E-President! I am grateful to be working under your leadership for another year.)

  

 After dealing with the normal writing and reports from time away, completing a major writing project, catching up on work in general, and immediately rolling into a week of adult VBS – stop laughing at me – in which I make a week’s worth of lessons from scratch instead of using pre-packaged materials, I am now in a position to resume (weekly) blogging. I am so far behind where I would like to be that I may not be able to catch up. First there is the article on “the new Black father” in the June 2007 Ebony (ironically set opposite the article “Bringing Sexy Back: 2007 Bachelors”). I would encourage those of you who do not normally read Ebony to read the article. As far as African American’s favorite pop-culture magazine goes, this article is relatively good.

  

 But before I could get to write a comment on that article, Ebony put out a series on “the culture of disrespect,” challenging “Black America in an honest examination of race, language and the culture of disrespect.” The cover article and series invokes discussion about “the N-word.” The article “I Can, But You Can’t,” on Don Imus’, alone makes the series worth reading. I do not agree with the entire analysis in that article or sentiment in the series. I hope to blog on it later.

  

  As I was going through the airport in San Antonio, I got to a newsstand newly stocked with Vanity Fair’s 20 different covers’ issue on Africa. OK, I am concerned about Darfur, as I hope you are. But Bono and Oprah always get the press. Because I am still a Condoleeza fan, I bought a copy with Condi and Bono on the cover. While the 20 covers are sure to become a “Roadshow” item (if you can get all 20 and keep them in mint condition for 40 years), the series of articles on the plight of the peoples in many African nations are something I think all of my brethren should read. I encourage you to pick up a copy of the July 2007 Vanity Fair today and read it in its entirety. I am praying through our church’s responsibility and my family’s responsibility to the people of Darfur. I am grateful to God that our church could help send off a couple fluent in Arabic to serve as career missionaries in Darfur, but I believe the Lord would have us do more. (By the way, the Washington Post has revamped its Darfur interactive, which I have added to my blogroll; see the right sidebar.) If I can, I will try to highlight some of the thinking in the Vanity Fair issue.

  

Then there is the reading on preaching I have been trying to do for my own refreshment. Between Three Faithful Preachers, Preaching the Cross (TG4G), and The Expository Genius of John Calvin – all books which I would encourage laypeople, deacons, and non-vocational elders to read in order to understand their pastor, his task, and the importance of expository preaching – I have been greatly encouraged to clear my weekly schedule of items that are getting in the way of more study and more prayer in preparation for preaching. (For me, I know this means keeping blogging to a minimum, even if there are others of you who can blog more frequently and remain faithful to the charge to preach.) I am continuing in the book of Proverbs, chapter 16. I will be focusing on the providence of God. I have been reading James Spiegel’s, The Benefits of Providence, and John Flavel’s, The Mystery of Providence. (I hope to use the sections on Theology Proper in A Theology for the Church, a text which a gracious editor signed and gave to me. I like the emphasis on the practical implications of theology for church life found in every chapter of the book. But I am pressed to finish reading Candide, Waiting for Godot, The Stranger (one of my favorite reads from a day gone by), T. S. Elliot’s “The Waste Land” and “The Hollow Men”, and Freakonomics (rev. and expnd.) in conjunction with the series. I am attempting to understand the ((pre-)modern) secular mind on (the absence of) Providence before considering the contemporary secular mind on providence – which at this point in my reading do not seem to differ drastically; the false assumptions about God’s working in the world are the same. In an ambitious undertaking, I have invited my church to join me in considering the Shorter Catechism’s questions and answers on the Decrees of God and on the Providence of God while we are in the series. Starr Meade has helped make this task easier for the church.

  

So, I hope to get back on this page in full swing by next week, working around other deadlines, and trying to be faithful to the charge. Later today I do hope to make a post on the Democratic debate. In the mean time, I defer to my pundit-hero, LaShawn Barber.