"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Philospher's Stone of Relationships

18th century scientists, including the brilliant Isaac Newton, were of the persuasion that it was possible to turn base metals into precious metals. It's hard for modern scientists to grasp that the man who gave us Newton's laws of physics could be so captivated by a search for the philosopher's stone,  that magical stone whose touch turns the base into something precious.

Yet the desire to take the common and turn it into the uncommon fascinates us all. Unlike alchemy, there seems to be evidence that it is possible to turn any base and common relationship into an extra special one.

Here's how.

There's a principle of relating, when understood and properly applied to any relationship, becomes like the fabled philosopher's stone. It's very touch has the ability to turn base relationships into a golden ones. Here's the principle:
"Every external action is the direct result of an internal reaction; when Jesus calms the core, intimacy grows all the more."
To illustrate, when your spouse becomes accusatory and you feel under attack, how do you respond? The person whose core is calm can delight that his or her spouse is actually feeling. In other words, if your internal core is under the control of Christ, you can allow your spouse to feel without becoming defensive.

There are some marriages where one or both spouses are in the habit of bringing up past failures. When my core is calmed by Christ and I'm resting in His forgiveness, then it's easier for me to allow my spouse to feel hurt and wounded and not become defensive.

Likewise, if your spouse is accusatory, your response to the accusations may indicate whether or not Jesus is calming your core. For example, when in a relationship where it is being pointed out that you are deficient in your performance (whatever that  may be), you can acknowledge the deficiency (or perceived deficiency) and validate your spouse's feelings because your true and eternal acceptance (by the One who counts) has been settled. God's acceptance of you is not based upon your performance, and that knowledge is the only thing that ultimately settles your internal core to allow your spouse to feel you are inadequate.

Accepted people accept people. Forgiven people forgive people. Loved people love people. Encouraged people encourage people.

You get the idea. The philosopher's stone of all relationships is the grace of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Only He can calm my internal core. Once He does, every external actions springs from my healthy inner core.

If you are in a marriage where meltdowns are a common occurrence, reflect a while on the statement "every external action is the direct result of an internal reaction; when Jesus calms the core, intimacy grows all the more."

The definition of intimacy is 'into-me-you-see.'

Too many people are not allowed to feel in relationship, because feelings are taken by the other person as their own reality. "I feel disappointed with you because you didn't...." How do I respond when my spouse is disappointed? If I'm healed by Christ in my core, then I delight that she is able to express her disappointment (even if her disappointment is with me) because she is feeling and sharing with me what she is feeling. She is letting me see inside her. That's 'in-to-me-you-see' (intimacy), and when a spouse is validated for what she or he feels, intimacy grows!

So, I can validate my spouse's feelings, because I know those feelings are never an accurate reflection of my real worth. Feelings expressed only accurately reflect what is being felt, and I love everyone who takes the risk to share with me what it is that is being felt inside. I'm not in control of those internal feelings (God is), but I can sure listen, validate, love, and feel no need to defend.

That's golden.

I promise you....

When you begin to understand that every external action towards your spouse is the direct result of an internal reaction within you, you will begin to focus on what Jesus is doing in you in terms of calming your core.

You are not your spouse's problem, nor is your spouse your problem. We suffer meltdowns internally and externally because we either haven't come to know or accept (or may have temporarily forgotten) who we are by the grace of God.

I am forgiven by His grace. I am loved by His grace. I am accepted by His grace. I am guided by His grace. I am perfect by His grace. I am His.

Jesus Christ is my Philosopher's Stone.

In His Grace,


P.S.  Those who are experiencing illegal, unethical or immoral behavior by someone in authority should calmly and boldly involve civil authorities (police and/or the courts), because God has ordained civil authorities to hold in check the wicked. By not calling civil authorities, the abuser's actions reveal the inner core is not being calmed by Jesus and His grace. Only Jesus can  give the assurance that life is possible without the abuser present.

Are SWBTS Bylaw Changes Motivated by Money?

Is it a mosque, a church, or a seminary?
It is impossible to know why the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary issued a summary statement this past week stating they are "taking the steps to amend the bylaws" in order to allow the enrollment of Muslims, Mormons and other non-evangelicals into their seminary educational programs. Allegedly, the proposed bylaw change is necessary for Southwestern Seminary to educate prison inmates who do not profess faith in Jesus Christ, allowing these prisoners to enroll in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's educational courses while in prison.

However, the controversy at Southwestern Seminary erupted this year when President Paige Patterson admitted a practicing Sunni Muslim into its residency seminary degree programs. The problem was never 'prison ministry.'  It was a Muslim on the campus mingling with our Security Three Zone missionaries. In addition, there are allegedly other cases where professing Mormons have been allowed to enroll in on-campus theological education at Southwestern Seminary, granted 'exceptions' to the bylaws by President Patterson.

In this week's summary statement, SWBTS trustees only stated that the exceptions granted were a violation of the bylaws and charter of the Seminary. However, and this is a head scratcher, the trustees then stated they are going to begin the process of 'changing the bylaws.' When I pressed one of the trustees as to "Why are you changing the bylaws?" he responded,  "For our prison ministry."

It seems the United States government precludes any seminary from discriminating against any religion if that seminary enters its prison system to educate prisoners.

Next spring the trustees will come out of their closed door meetings and try to reassure Southern Baptists that the proposed bylaw changes are intended to only allow them to continue doing prison ministry and the bylaw changes will not affect what is being done on campus.

Not so fast.

When George W. Truett spoke from the East Steps of the National Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, May 16, 1920, during the Annual Session of the Southern Baptist Convention, this remarkable Southern Baptist leader and pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, spoke these prophetic words:
"Christ's religion needs no prop of any kind from any worldly source, and to the degree that it is thus supported is a millstone hanged about its neck."
If Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees are allowed to change their bylaws to accommodate the federal government, it is in essence tying the proverbial millstone around its neck. Once they allow government intrusion into their religious educational mission, their allegiance is switched from Christ to Caesar.

Why would Southern Baptists ever give up requiring a public confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, as well as an affirmation of their Christian walk by a local church, before allowing that student access to the resources and educational opportunities of our seminaries?

Money, Money, Money

When Paige Patterson became President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2004, he set a goal of reaching 6,000 students. SWBTS's own website trumpets that Patterson 'has reversed the trending slump in enrollment" since he came on board, "creating a need for more buildings."

Public relations and facts don't often correlate. For example, the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in the United States and Canada, keeps records for every seminary in the United States. It's difficult for the average Southern Baptist to mine those facts from the reports submitted by our seminaries. However, using ATS own records, the following graphs will give you accurate information regarding Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS),  Southeastern Theological Seminary (SEBTS), and Southern Theological Seminary (SBTS). For the sake of comparison, I'm using these four seminaries in the graphs and statistics below. It is obvious hurricane Katrina affected New Orleans numbers, but I'd like for you to focus on the graphs outlined in the orange color - Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. All graphs reflect the past ten years. In the second graph, FTE stands for "Full Time Enrollment."


What we have in very vivid graph form is an understanding that for the last ten years headcount, full-time enrollment, Masters of Divinity students, and graduates at Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas has been steadily declining. The following statistics put it in stark percentages.

Is it possible that the reason Southwestern Seminary is willing to change its bylaws is because if the school could enroll people who do not profess faith in Jesus Christ into their theological educational programs they then have bigger pool of people from whom they can obtain tuition or 'scholarships'  to enroll at SWBTS?

I know some people will object by saying, "Of course not! It's about evangelism! Don't you believe that our seminaries should be in the prisons leading people to Christ by offering Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, neo-Nazi's, and all other people of faith (or non-faith) by giving them the opportunity to enroll in theological educational courses provided by our seminaries!"

Answer: "No." Let me make that "A resounding no."

Our seminaries should be training Christian men and women how to go into the prisons and lead people to Christ.

Ironically, the SBC founding fathers agree with me. That's why the trustees must change the bylaws and/or charter (allegedly, they are only changing the bylaws). They are wanting Southwestern Seminary to do what it was not originally designed to do.

It's hard to know the rationale behind the bizarre effort to change the bylaws at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to allow the enrollment of people from other faiths. I never dreamed I'd see the day when Southwestern Seminary would go down the path of classic liberalism.
Of course,  "Money is the root of all evil."

Immoveable: Standing Firm in the Last Days

The following is a guest post regarding a new book by author Tim Riordan.

What is going on in the world? This question seems to be on the minds of many people today as we consider world events. Some people face these times of uncertainty with great fear and dread while others engage these times with wonder and expectation. For those of us who are Christians, there is another question on our minds: “Do world events have anything to do with Bible prophecy and the return of Jesus?” While God is clear in His Word that no one knows the time or day when Jesus will return (Matthew 24:36), He also tells us in the same passage to “keep watch.” He gave us specific prophecies in the Bible related to world events telling us these would be indicators that His return was near, and He stated that these anticipated happenings would grow in increasing intensity: “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs” (Matthew 24:8). The miracle of birth begins slowly, maybe even weeks before the actual delivery. Early contractions are so insignificant that many young mothers may not even notice them. As the prophecies of Matthew 24 begin to be fulfilled, they will start small and grow in significance. There is no doubt that we are seeing a growth in intensity of world turmoil, and some of these specific prophecies are becoming more pronounced with every passing day.

If we are living in the last days, what does this mean for the Church? What does it mean for you and your family? It is because of my burden for the Church and my belief that we could be facing very challenging days in the near future, I wrote my new book, Immovable: Standing Firm in the Last Days. I believe that God has given Christians equipment, or armor, to help us endure the evil days leading up to Christ’s return and to bear fruit during a time of unparalleled opportunity. Ephesians 6:13 says, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” I shared these thoughts about this verse in my book: “While ‘the day of evil’ can refer to a time of intense temptation or spiritual conflict that can come at any point in any Christian’s life, it seems that God may be calling us to think about THE day of evil. Is it possible that this passage is calling Christians approaching the last days to prepare for battle by putting on spiritual armor?” With that question going through my mind, I began studying Bible prophecy about the last days comparing it to the teaching of the spiritual armor of Ephesians 6. The connection was significant, and I believe there are important implications relating the spiritual armor for the last generation before the return of Christ. These implications are not only important for us, but also for our children and grandchildren.

I encourage you to consider our times and the clear teaching of Scripture. Study Bible prophecy with an eye on the evening news and consider how the spiritual armor of Ephesians 6 will help you prepare for what is to come. What do you need to do to put on the spiritual armor of God so you will stand firm in the last days? Being immovable is really not an option for the Church. The world is desperate to see strong, healthy believers standing firm in the last days. When the winds of heresy and deception blow, will you be immovable holding firmly to the truth of God? The only way you or I will stand firm is if we put on the armor of God and allow the immovable Lord Jesus Christ to live victoriously through us.

Dr. Tim Riordan serves as pastor of SonRise Baptist Church in Newnan, Georgia and is the author of Songs from the Heart: Meeting with God in the Psalms and his newest book Immovable: Standing Firm in the Last Days. For more information on his books or ministry, visit his website at www.timriordan.me.