Monday, January 30, 2012

Traci Royse Sings "I'd Rather Have Jesus"

Traci Royse, Music Minister at NW Baptist Church in Ardmore, Oklahoma sings "I'd Rather Have Jesus" at the church's 58th anniversary on January 29, 2012.

Here's a link to the videocast of the 58th anniversary service at NW Baptist Church. Larry Stevens, pastor of Noble Avenue Baptist Church in Guthrie and Interim Coordinator for CBF Oklahoma and a former Associate Pastor at NW Baptist, returns to preach a sermon on "Being Church."

Note: Traci's solo comprised the offeratory which was not included in the other videocast of the anniversary service.

Friday, January 27, 2012

NASA Scientist Predicts Global Temperature Record within 3 Years

James Hansen, Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies has released the above video of global temperatures for the last 131 years. He predicts a record breaking annual temperature whenever the El Nino weather pattern returns -- in the next two or three years.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Church Freedom by Preston Clegg

Preston Clegg's sermon on "Church Freedom: Saints in the Light" at the CBF Oklahoma Fall Gathering on October 15, 2011. Preston is pastor of Spring Creek Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. He is introduced by Joey Pyle, Associate Pastor of Youth and Missions at Spring Creek. The scriptures are read by Sue Wright of Spring Creek Baptist Church.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bible Freedom by Meredith Stone

Meredith Stone's sermon on "Bible Freedom: Understanding Scripture as a Living and Liberating Authority" at the CBF Oklahoma Fall Gathering on October 15, 2011. Meredith is the Women in Ministry Specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Texas. She is introduced by Pam Durso, Executive Director of Women in Ministry. The scripture is read by Jerry Sparks, a member of Spring Creek Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Religious Freedom by Kyndall Renfro

Kyndall Renfro's sermon on "Religious Freedom: Recovering Memory" at CBF Oklahoma's Fall Gathering on October 15, 2011. Kyndall, a native of Oklahoma, is a recent graduate of Truett Seminary now serving as the pastor of Covenant Baptist Church in San Antonio, TX. Kyndall is introduced by Pam Durso, Executive Director of Baptist Women in Ministry. The scripture reading is by Pam Williams, a member of NorthHaven Church in Norman.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Soul Freedom by Dr. Lavon Brown

Dr. Lavon Brown's sermon on "Soul Freedom: The Priesthood of All Believers" at the CBF Oklahoma Fall Gathering on October 15, 2011. Dr. Brown is the retired Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Norman, OK. The Fall Gathering was held at Spring Creek Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. Larry Stevens, pastor of Noble Avenue Baptist Church in Guthrie and Acting Coordinator for CBF Oklahoma, introduces Dr. Brown.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

NorthHaven Worship 1-15-12

NorthHaven Worship 01-15-2012 from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Dr. Mitch Randall leads worship at NorthHaven Church in Norman, OK on the Sunday before Martin Luther King's birthday.

The Sunday was also the fifth anniversary of Dr. Randall's call to be pastor of NorthHaven. His sermon, "God Still Whispers in the Night" was based on I Samuel 3:1-10.

Missy Randall, Dr. Randall's wife, participates by reading Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 -- the lectionary reading for the day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Peerless Biography of Roger Williams

I have not read every biography of Roger Williams that has been written, but I have read all that are in print and those that can still be found on the used book market. Nothing I have read holds a candle to the biography released last week by award winning author John M. Barry.

Best known for his books Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America and The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History about the deadly pandemic of 1918, Barry intended to turn his pen to write about 1919 which he labels “the most tumultuous peacetime year in American history.” His research on evangelist Billy Sunday prompted him to examine opposing visions for the role of religion in American public life that he traces to a conflict between Roger Williams and John Winthrop in early colonial America. Their opposing visions for society – one separating church and state and upholding individual liberty, the other projecting “a city on a hill” with an authoritarian theocentric state – created a tension within the American soul that remains to this day. The subject proved so fascinating and so relevant that Barry postponed writing his book about 1919 and wrote Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty. For that, every lover of American and English history should be grateful.

Barry excels at correlating the political, legal, economic and social history of England with that of early colonial America -- an area where most biographies of Roger Williams are weak or spotty, at best. He is both a careful historian and a masterful story teller. The book begins with a page-turning account of the debate between King James and Sir Edward Coke over the divine right of kings versus the individual rights secured by English common law. A debate at which Roger Williams held a ringside seat.

Later, the roles of Roger Williams, the Winthrop family and other colonial Americans are deftly woven into his gripping narratives of the battles between King Charles and parliament, the long parliament, regicide, Cromwell’s protectorate, and the restoration of the English monarchy.

Most biographies of Roger Williams do a good job of recounting the theological and political differences that led the Massachusetts Bay Colony to banish Williams. Barry’s account is second to none and his description of events in the Colony engaged this reader more than all the others.

Many accounts of Roger Williams life and work, particularly in traditional Baptist circles, praise Williams for not only advocating separating religion and government, but also for founding Rhode Island colony and securing a legal charter that secured liberty of conscience for all persons without regard to faith or religion. Other accounts, particularly in contemporary Baptist circles, denounce Williams for being an recalcitrant individualist who was hostile to community. In such disputes, it is helpful to have an opinion from the perspective of a disinterested researcher and Barry offers much to ponder on this issue.

First, Barry describes the impact of the unjust banishment that isolated Williams and made him feel “cut off” from the Colony:

In the seventeenth century, the term – usually spelled “cut of” – meant not simply isolation; it meant violent death. It connoted an outcome absolute and final. It referred to one man killing another, usually in battle; when the fight was between Indians, “cut off” meant the victor had beheaded the loser. Williams frequently used the term in his letters and tracts; he used it so often, over so many years, so much more than other writers, that a reader cannot help but note it and cannot help but wonder at its significance to him. Each usage seems to reflect his unceasing, unremitting inability to comprehend why he had been cut off by Massachusetts, and his bitterness over it. His use of the term suggests the extent to which what happened to him became an obsession, even as he went on with his life. He was no loner, much less a misanthrope. He was a social creature, a man who made friends easily and often, and man who enjoyed the society of others.

Later, Barry explains why Williams could not conform to the Massachusetts commonwealth:

Winthrop and Cotton and most other emigrants to Massachusetts had come to America with purpose and mission; they believed that God blessed that mission, which was the furtherance of God’s design and not simply civil government. In order to succeed in their purpose, they believed that the entire community must conform and that their government must use compulsion if necessary to ensure conformity. . . . Every element of church and government was to contribute to the creation of the godly commonwealth.

Williams also sought a commonwealth in which all shared. To the benefit of the larger community, he had voluntarily relinquished any political power which these landholdings could have given him. He had forgone profit and donated the bulk of his original land purchase from the Narragansetts to the town stock of Providence. And he was as godly as any Puritan in Massachusetts, as devout as any, as committed to Christ as any. But he did not share their view of a godly commonwealth in which government advanced a biblical message, much less one which imposed such biblical strictures as Cotton’s Mosaic legal code.

Williams also saw conformity in a different way than did Winthrop and Cotton, or for that matter than did any of the members of the Westminster Assembly or of Parliament. Conformity is a function of the desire for certainty; the greater or lesser the desire, the greater or lesser the demand for conformity. . . .

Error was key. His experiences had made him conscious of both the power of the state and the state’s willingness to use power even when in error. He had also come to see the church as tainted, . . .

The words “Conformist” and “Nonconformist” had a specific and limited meaning in England, defined by whether one did or did not adhere to the Church of England practice. In America the words took on a more general and unlimited social and cultural meaning.

Williams wished to conform in this more general sense, but he could not. He simply could not. He abhorred any power which would force conformity, and he championed a new kind of individualism almost by default: he had been forced to it. His views of individualism, freedom, and nonconformity, in both the specific and general sense, were rooting themselves in both England and for now in that small parcel of America that became Rhode Island.

Yet Williams’s ideas nonetheless became quintessentially American. So did Winthrop’s. Williams saw the individual standing alone with God, in glorious isolation, and so independent of the state as to almost be outside it. Winthrop saw a state committed to Christian ideals, demanding conformity and imposing community standards upon individuals. Between Williams’s views on one side and those of Winthrop on the other was a tension, and that very tension was also quintessentially American. It was in that tension that the American soul was being created.

Barry’s biography of Roger Williams is not perfect. On more than one occasion I made a marginal note of something that I would contest. Nevertheless, in my humble opinion, it is the new standard by which biographies of Roger Williams should be measured. I heartily recommend it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dr. Leslie Downs' Piano Recital

Dr. Leslie Downs' Christmas Eve 2011 Piano Recital at NorthHaven Church in Norman, OK.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Angela Paganoni plays Jesu Bambino

Violinist Angela Paganoni plays "Jesu Bambino" at NorthHaven Church in Norman, Oklahoma on the evening of December 24, 2011.