Viewer Poll

Josh and I are heading to our nations capital tomorrow afternoon and are looking over the vast array of things to do and see. (I got this picture from a website in the midst of the searching) Any favorite, can't miss places that you all suggest?


The Definition of Gaudy

gaud·y [gaw-dee]
gaud·i·er, gaud·i·est.
1.brilliantly or excessively showy: gaudy plumage.
2.cheaply showy in a tasteless way; flashy.
3.ostentatiously ornamented; garish.

Meet my next door neighbor's house.
It's been so easy to give people directions to our house the past month.

Those 3 Christmas trees light up in sync with the Christmas music that accompanies all the lights.
That's a moving snowman on top of the roof.
Yes, the Ferris Wheel does rotate and is filled with little bears.

This is the side of the house, next to us.

Who knew Tigger was a snowman?

A stark contrast.
This is a picture of both houses: his on the left, ours on the right.


Cookie Monsters (oops... Makers)

Sarah and a couple friends had cookie-baking fest a while back.

Here is my lovely wife showing the viewers several creations.
If only she knew she didn't need to tilt her head to fit it in the picture.

The renowned Kelley Smiff, showing she is indeed a high-rolla, gets the dough ready.

Despite much success, you know what they* say:

"Not every apple on the tree turns out sweet.
Especially when it's a tree that only grows sour apples."

Well, this batch didn't have any sweet apples.
It didn't have any soft cookies either.

*I don't know who "they" are. Nor did "they" say it. I just made it up.

Sarah with a (metaphorical) sour apple.


A Picadrawapicame

In high school,
we made badges to be used for all of the occasions that us Student Council big wigs needed to be set apart from the commoners.
I found a white robe, some fake grapes, and a plastic vine and dressed myself up for the occasion.

Later in high school, my friend Ryan Hunter had an art project.
He had to take a photograph, and then draw it stretched out.
He found said picture, and made art.

A few years later, he gave the picture to me, and it has stayed with me through the years.
Last week, as Sarah and I were moving, I stumbled across it, and took a picture of it.

So, what you see below is a digital picture of a drawing of a picture of me.
(A Picadrawapicame.)


Best Costume??

Good candidates...

Alice in Wonderland

The White Rabbit

The Ladybug

The Green M&M


The Ferocious Shark

The Pumpkin

The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Jim and Pam (from The Office)

Mowgli from The Jungle Book

The Blurry Bee

The Three Blind Mice

Not sure about this guy.
Maybe a silk-wearing Rubix Cube mastermind from the 80s with minimal social skills.


Sarah, the Duke OESO EOQ

My wonderful wife is the Employee of the Quarter for Duke's Occupational and Environmental Safety Office.


William Arrived

William Morrison was born earlier this afternoon.

Oh, no, I think that must have come out wrong again...

William, the Moore's son, was born this afternoon.
Yes, Ryan and Marty are now the proud parents of William Ryan Moore.

Once again, I wish I could have been over at the hospital,
but nobody wants a cold around a newborn.
Ryan and Marty, we rejoice with you over here at the Dimgus abode.

(Disclaimer: To everyone, I apologize for the repetition of a bad joke.
It just sat there, waiting to be said after the first one. What option did I have?)


Hudson Arrived

Hudson Nixon was born this afternoon.

Oh, no, I think that came out wrong...

Hudson, Nick's son, was born this afternoon.
Yes, Nick and Allison just had their second boy, Hudson Parker Roark.

I wish I could have been over at the hospital,
but I have been plagued with a trifle of a cold and sore throat,
and nobody wants that around a newborn.

Nick and Allison, we rejoice with you over here at the Dimgus abode.


Somehow I Graduated

I did pretty well in school.
But sometimes when I think about some of the assignments in my past that I have turned in,
I begin to question how I did pretty well.

But regardless, somehow I graduated.

For example...
I took an acting class at NC State that I should not have been allowed to take.
The "easy" assignment for the semester simply asked us to provide a Theater Resume.
You can see how well I did below.

That wasn't the only assignment that brought my grade down.
We were asked to perform a monologue from a play from the classical era.
Well, that didn't sound fun, so I asked the professor if I could perform the 3rd chapter of Paul's letter to the Philippians instead.
After he reluctantly consented, warning me that it would affect my grade negatively, I had my plan.
Unfortunately, no revival broke out, and I did lose points for failing to pick a monologue from a classical play.


Fun Things to Do With Your Wife

In no particular order...

Take a picture with her.
Mountains help.

Or, to borrow an idea from the Carringtons...
Take a silly picture with your wife.
For example, pretend like you are pregnant, not your wife.

Or, you could take a picture of just your wife.
You gotta seize the moment though, or you may miss something good.

Or, you could have your wife take a picture of you while trying your best to look like an athelete from Greece.

Yet again, you could have your wife take a picture of you right before you cut your hair.

But taking a picture with both you and your wife is what she likes best.
So do that again.

Moving on to other activities,
you could walk around in underground caves.

You could plant an initially small habanero plant in her plantar that will grow very large and eventually dominate all of the plants that she was excited about.

You could somehow cause (without doing anything) your wife to plan a surprise weekend,
which involves camping out in the mountains.
Remember, the key is to have this happen without doing anything.
This is a great activity, and must include a wonderful wife for it to happen.

You could be nervously ready to catch your wife in case she falls off a waterfall.

You could let her cook eggs for you, in a zip lock bag.

You could hike up a mountain together.
Notice again the commonly present idea of taking a picture with her.
Hence, we have now gone full circle.

Fun Things to Do With George

In no particular order...

Gather a group of silly people and kidnap him.
Plenty of fun will follow.

Watch him eat.
He has been experienced many cultures, foods, and decades.
He knows what to order at a restaurant.

Don't overwhelm him with high tech amusements.
Keep it simple.
See-Saw, for example.

Go shopping for luggage with him.
He knows what works on airplanes.

Watch him sleep.
He's earned it.


Q'doba is Winning

If you actually visit the blog address (as opposed to using a blog-reader), you will notice the poll on the right side of the blog, indicating that Q'doba is superior to its inferiors.

Just wanted to make sure people knew that.

Also, any suggestions of a new poll?

Death, the Conquered Tyrant

"Death has become like a tyrant who has been completely conquered by the legitimate monarch; bound hand and foot as the passers-by sneer at him, hitting him and abusing him, no longer afraid of his cruelty and rage, because of the king who has conquered him."

-Athanasius, On the Incarnation


We Got Friends

Sarah got to hang out with a bunch of girls at Marty's baby shower today.
She is due in a few months, and the Moore family lives close by to us.
We look forward to babysitting.

This is Will, one of the only two dudes allowed at the shower.
He and his buddy Silas kept flirting with the ladies, including my wife apparently.


Baptism and Church Membership

In the blog world, some guys that I respect a lot have been talking through
an important issue for churches today.
So, firstly, I post this because the issue of baptism and church membership
is an important one for us to consider and evaluate.
But secondly, I post this to show how Godly men can disagree and discuss the issue
in loving way that is healthy for the body of Christ.

The following are 3 blog posts.
The first is from John Piper, addressing a change that Wayne Grudem made in his systematic theology book.
The second entry is Wayne responding to John's comments.
The third entry is from Mark Dever, evaluating the debate from his understanding of baptism and church membership.

So, if you are interested, go for it.
It is a lot to read.

[John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, responds to Wayne Grudems shift on baptism]

Lots of people know that Wayne Grudem and I are the deepest of friends. We love to room together at conferences. We love to do things together with our wives. We were both in seminary together for a season. We have co-edited a book together. We taught together at Bethel College. And at this very moment I love him and would fly to his side in a crisis. But, Wayne, Wayne, Wayne, why did you rewrite page 983?

Justin Taylor drew our attention to the fact that Wayne revised section F1 in his new edition of Systematic Theology (pp. 982-983). The section is titled, “Do Churches Need to Be Divided Over Baptism?”

In the first edition, Wayne answered that question no. In the new edition, he does not answer it. He concludes, “Some kind of ‘compromise' position on baptism is not very likely to be adopted by denominational groups in the future.” That's probably true.

But, with that cautious comment on what is likely to be, rather than what ought to be, the new section has lost the prophetic, biblical force of the original edition. Evidently, Wayne is not so sure any more that we should make the effort to overcome the divisions among evangelicals for the sake of welcoming true brothers and sisters as members in the local church. I think his first edition was closer to the biblical balance.

In the first edition, he advocated finding a way to have conscience-persuaded paedobaptists and credobaptists as members of the same local church. He said,

This would mean that Baptist churches would have to be willing to allow into membership those who had been baptized as infants and whose conviction of conscience, after careful consideration is that their infant baptism was valid and should not be repeated. Of course, Baptist churches could be free to preach and to attempt to persuade prospective churches members that they should be baptized as believers, but if some, after careful consideration, are simply not persuaded, it does not seem appropriate to make this a barrier to membership.

I agree with this. And the main reason I do is that excluding a true brother in Christ from membership in the local church is far more serious than most of us think it is.

When I weigh the kind of imperfection involved in tolerating an invalid baptism because some of our members are deeply persuaded that it is biblically valid, over against the kind of imperfection involved in saying to a son or daughter of the living God, “You are excluded from the local church,” my biblical sense is that the latter is more unthinkable than the former. The local church is a visible expression of the invisible, universal, body of Christ. To exclude from it is virtually the same as excommunication. And no serious church takes excommunication as an invitation to attend the church down the street.

Wayne's new considerations are less compelling than what he wrote in the first edition. In the new edition, he writes:

For someone who holds to believer's baptism, admitting to church membership someone who has not been baptized upon profession of faith, and telling the person that he or she never has to be baptized as a believer is really giving up one's view on the proper nature of baptism.

No, Wayne, this is not true. I would gladly admit Ligon Duncan or Sinclair Ferguson or R. C. Sproul or Philip Ryken to membership at Bethlehem (if I were allowed by our constitution), and in doing so I would not be giving up my view on the proper nature of baptism.

I would say to them: “Brothers, I think you are not baptized. But you believe on biblical grounds as you see them, with as much humility and openness to truth as God has given you, that you are baptized. Your understanding of baptism does not imply that Christ's command may be neglected or that infant sprinkling is regenerating. You give good evidence of being born again and that you embrace Christ as your Savior and Lord and Treasure, and you manifest an authentic intention, on the basis of that faith, to follow Jesus as Lord and obey his teachings. Therefore, since there is good evidence that you are members of the Body of Christ, you may be members of this local expression of that body. But understand this: I will spend the rest of my ministry trying to persuade you that you and your children should follow through on the full obedience to Jesus and be baptized. In admitting you, I do not give up on my view of baptism. That is the whole point. We are finding a way to work on this disagreement from inside the body of Christ in its local expression.”

When Wayne says that admitting to church membership a biblically conscientious paedobaptist amounts to saying that “he or she never has to be baptized as a believer,” he is being (I am sure unconsciously) slippery. “Has to” implies a result that will not be achieved if one doesn't do it. What goal does Wayne mean? “Has to in order to go to heaven?” He doesn't believe that. “Has to in order to be fully obedient to Jesus?” Both he and I would agree with that. But that is precisely what I would say to any paedobaptist who joined our Baptist church.

Then Wayne continues: “It is saying that infant baptism really is valid baptism!”

No. Admitting a conscientious paedobaptist to membership in a Baptist church would not say that the infant baptism is valid. What it does say is: “Your mistaken understanding of baptism and the invalid baptism that follows from it are not the kind of disagreement, mistake, and failure that we are going to use in defining the meaning of the local church. We view you as a brother whose resting place is Christ alone, through grace alone, by faith alone, to the glory of God alone. You are in the Body of Christ. You may be in this body of Christ.”

Finally, Wayne says,

But then how could anyone who holds to this position tell anyone who had been baptized as an infant that he or she still needed to be baptized as a believer?

By saying: “You are wrong in your understanding of baptism. And your practice is wrong. You need to be baptized to be fully obedience to Jesus.”

Turning the tables, I would say that when a person looks a true and precious brother in the eye and says, “You may not join this church,” he is doing one of two things: Seriously diminishing our spiritual union in Christ, or seriously minimizing the importance of church membership. Very few, it seems to me, have really come to terms with the seriousness of excluding believers from membership in the local church. It is preemptive excommunication.

There are dozens of questions that need to be answered. When we walked through this several years ago, I did my best to answer as many as I could. I have hope that I will have Wayne back on this side of the issue eventually.

[Wayne Grudem responds]

Dear John,

Thank you for the kind, gracious spirit in your response!

And thank you for your friendship, which has meant so much to me for so many years.

And thank you for helping me to think more clearly about the details of what I have written. You write so persuasively! In fact, last night I printed out what I had written and your response, and gave it to Margaret, and before we went to bed Margaret informed me with a smile, “I agree with John.” Now what can I say to that??

Nevertheless, here are some responses:

(1) I do not see denial of church membership as “virtually the same as excommunication,” nor do any of the Baptist churches known to me.

Non-members who are clearly believers in Jesus Christ are welcomed as believers into many aspects of fellowship. They share in the Lord's Supper together with members (in all but a very few of the most strict Baptist churches). They participate freely in worship and prayer and fellowship. Sometimes a Baptist church will even have a Bible-believing Presbyterian or Episcopalian or Methodist or Lutheran pastor preach as a guest from the pulpit. That is far from “excommunication”!

And in varying degrees (in different churches) non-members are encouraged to minister to others in the church — they can become active members of home fellowship groups (and in some churches, such as my own Scottsdale Bible Church, they can lead such groups). They can become (in various churches) members of the choir or worship team, youth group workers, ushers, greeters, and so forth. These all give visible signs of treating this unbaptized person as a brother or sister in Christ. (I realize that Baptist churches and denominations have varieties of allowed participation in such things, but they all allow some measure of participation and treat unbaptized Christians as Christians.)

And surely a Baptist church would not give notice to the whole church that the unbaptized non-member should be “treated as an unbeliever from now on,” which would be done in the case of church discipline and excommunication. All these examples show that Baptist churches do not consider the refusal of membership to be equivalent to, or anything even similar to, excommunication. So I am not persuaded by that part of your thoughtful response to me.

(2) But there is a still a clear difference between members and non-members. Unbaptized believers are not members, so they cannot be elders or church officers. They cannot speak or vote at church business meetings. In other words, they can have no formal, recognized part in determining the ongoing policies and teachings of the church. And there will be other activities that each church decides, for various reasons, to restrict to members. There is considerable freedom for churches to decide what they think is wise in this area, in my opinion. And I have seen considerable variety in the Baptist and other believer's baptism churches that I have known. But there is a clear difference, which I think is right.

(3) There was an unexpressed assumption in my discussion, an assumption which your response makes clear to me. I did not express it because it is so commonly assumed in nearly all churches. The assumption is this:

Baptism is required for church membership.

I think I assumed this because, as far as I know, it has been the practice of all major denominations throughout history. Presbyterians believe that baptism is necessary for church membership (for they consider infant baptism true baptism). Episcopalians believe that baptism is necessary for church membership. Baptists believe that baptism is necessary for church membership. Pentecostals believe that baptism is necessary for church membership. Methodists believe this. The Evangelical Free Church of America (which allows both views of baptism) believes this. Independent Bible churches believe this. Even Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox churches believe this. Apart from some unusual groups that don't practice baptism at all (such as the Salvation Army), I think that the whole church throughout its history has held that baptism is necessary for church membership.

In the light of that assumption, which I have now made explicit by adding the words in boldface type, I think the section that you objected to makes good sense: [In this section I am explaining the problem that will arise if a church decides to allow both views of baptism to be held and taught:]

On the other side, those who hold to believer's baptism (as I do) would have to be willing to admit into church membership people who have been baptized as infants, and who did not make a personal profession of faith at the time they were baptized. But from a believer's baptism position, genuine baptism has to follow a personal profession of faith. So how can believer's baptism advocates in good conscience say that infant baptism is also a valid form of baptism? That contradicts what they believe about the essential nature of baptism — that is an outward sign of an inward spiritual change, so that the apostle Paul could say, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ,” Gal. 3:27.

For someone who holds to believer's baptism, and who holds that baptism is necessary for church membership [I just now added these words], admitting to church membership someone who has not been baptized upon profession of faith, and telling the person that he or she never has to be baptized as a believer, is really giving up one's view on the proper nature of baptism. It is saying that infant baptism really is valid baptism! But then how could anyone who holds to this position tell anyone who had been baptized as an infant that he or she still needed to be baptized as a believer?

(4) Now it may be that someone would want to start a new denomination in which baptism is not necessary for church membership. Or people may decide to change their church constitutions so that baptism is no longer required for membership. People are free to do that if they wish.

In that case, I suppose a (hypothetical) Baptist church could say to someone, “We require baptism for church membership, unless you disagree with our view of baptism. For those who disagree with us, we do not require baptism for church membership. Whether we require it or not depends on what you think of baptism.” I suppose a church could say that.

In such a church, they could allow an unbaptized person to be a member. If a godly, Bible-believing, born again Presbyterian (such as your examples of our friends Ligon Duncan or R. C. Sproul, or others) came and wanted to be a member, this (hypothetical) Baptist church could say to him, “We don't believe you have been baptized, but you can become a member anyway because we allow unbaptized people like you to be members.”

(5) But I don't think I could support such a practice in a church. I think the reason churches throughout history have required baptism for membership is that the New Testament so clearly makes baptism the public act that every believer undergoes at the outset of the Christian life. It is right there in the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). There is no such thing in the New Testament as an unbaptized person being an active member of any local church. So how could we say today that we should start allowing unbaptized persons to be members of our churches? But that (it seems to me) is what my earlier position, and your current position, would have to say.

I do not think such a position is wise, or consistent with the New Testament, and I would not recommend any church to adopt it.

Thank you again for your thoughtful, gracious response, John.

Your friend,


Update: Grudem sends this correction:

There is a factual error in my reply to John Piper that someone has pointed out. The Evangelical Free Church does not require baptism for church membership, contrary to what I said. This is stated in an article by an EFCA pastor (PDF), Bill Keynes. I suppose this is the natural corollary to their "allow both views" position, and it is an internally consistent position. If a church adopts the "both options" view, then it seems they also have to go to the "baptism not required for membership" view. But, as the article by Pastor Keynes shows, many in the EFCA denomination are concerned with the resultant downplaying of the importance of baptism. This is not surprising.

[Now, from Mark Dever, pastor of Capital Hill Baptist Church]

OK, I'm on vacation with my family, but I took print-outs of the Piper/Grudem exchanges on baptism and chruch membership. 9Marks guys, can we weigh in on this? What would you add to, disagree with, nuance in this argument?

Baptism SHOULD be required for church membership:

1) Because Jesus clearly commanded baptism and to disobey this command is sin [whether intentional or not]. To continue in such an unbaptized state is unrepentant sin [whether intentional or not]. Thus, no careful paedo-baptist will follow John P's apparent "generosity" about membership. That is, they will never knowingly admit someone to the Lord's Table that they understand to be unbaptized (even if they took that evangelical Quaker or believing Salvationist to be their brother or sister in Christ). John P wants us to admit to the Lord's Table those that he and we all agree are not baptized. John has no doubt that infant baptism is not baptism. He is solid on that point. But I think that actually leaves his position unusually open to other difficulties--knowingly admitting the unbaptized to regular communion. I simply don't want to take the responsibility to so disregard Jesus' commands (not that John P intends to in anyway disregard Jesus' commands). I especially don't want to do this in what has been an area of relatively unanimous Christian agreement from Jesus til now. Baptism precedes the Lord's Table. MUCH more could be said on this, but it probably already has been.

2) Because according to the New Testament, it is not merely the elders, but the entire membership of the local church that bear responsibility for establishing and patrolling "border & boundary" issues of discipline (Mt. 18; I Cor. 5) and doctrine (Gal. 1; II Tim 4). I think John P recognizes the importance of unity among such a responsible body, but he understands [I think] the local congregation NOT to be this responsible body, but rather the active followers of the elders--but merely followers. A congregationalist on the other hand (as Baptists have traditionally been) understands that it is the congregation who must ultimately establish such issues. John P would NOT want such divisions on baptism in the body that he takes to be the final earthly adjudicatory--the elders--and neither would we Baptists. The difference is, we think that body is the congregation as a whole, led by elders, yes, but only with the necessary and Biblical consent and cooperation of the congregation. (So, in classic terms, John would be an independent, but not a congregationalist.)

Much more we could say here, but, reader, please keep in mind that this is written by one who loves John Piper, appreciates his ministry (see earlier blog post) and who is planning to have an Anglican Dean and a Presbyterian former Moderator of the General Assembly preach in his Baptist pulpit in the next few months. There is a great unity in active cooperation, honoring, encouragement and love that is not broken by our lamentable temporary separation over local church membership.


What We Done Lately

Here is a photographic highlight reel of our activities of late.

New Bern

We were able to join Berea Community Church for worship on July 22nd.

It was awesome to be able to get to know this small community of believers.
We left very encouraged.

We did some walking around in downtown New Bern in the afternoon.
I love my wife.

Sarah's cover art few her new CD.
The CD release date is quite uncertain.

New Bern is a great place because they grow peppers next to the sidewalk.

Outdoor Baptism

Every summer our church relocates our baptism service out to a lake.
It's a very fun time to fellowship and rejoice with those being baptized.

Leon Tucker actually baptized me back in the day.

Ricky Mill is baptizing Melissa, a faithful servant in the college ministry.

We Are Parents!!!!

The happy mother holding baby.

Just kidding.
This is Vivian, Andy and Erica's child.


We have had two trips lately to Lake Norman.
One for the big family vacation and one to replace the wood on the dock.

The Hintons play cards a lot.
I have one heck of a poker face (or in this case, a Rook face).

We got to see sweet Hazel.

Though it may look like I am not helping, I am.

While ripping up the old wood, I happened to destroy something else...
a nest of angry wasps.
Of a couple places, one got me right next to my eye, causing some quite attractive swelling.
This was a day and a half after it happened.