Drawing Near

A Pastoral Perspective on Biblical, Theological, & Cultural Issues | The Personal Website of James B. Law, Ph.D.

Yearly Archive: 2014



December 2014



Living for Christ in This Present Darkness

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I once pastored an elderly believer who was habitually late. She treated her tardiness as if it was something unusual because she would always give an explanation for her delay.

Of the many excuses given, one sticks out above them all when she said one particular Sunday morning that the devil had made her late because when she had opened the freezer door of her refrigerator a frozen chicken fell out and landed on her toes.

Well, I think her problem had little to do with Satan and more to do with a poorly packed freezer! I certainly do not want to promote a skepticism of Satan’s existence and activity, for he is alive and well in this world. Though a defeated foe, Satan’s plans are to undermine the authority and will of God.

A.W. Tozer wrote with prophetic insight about a lot of things and he was certainly correct when he penned, “The world is not a playground, but a battleground.”

Like the smell of napalm, an honest reading of the New Testament affirms that this world is a war zone. How could we think otherwise when we read commands like I Peter 5:8,9, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion.”? Or, James 4:7 where believers are commanded to “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”? (more…)



August 2014



Suicide: Where Do We Go From Here?

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On a cold November night in the early days of my ministry, I received a panicked call from a family in the church I pastored. The request in between sobs was simple, “Come now.”

As I raced to their home and pulled into their driveway, I was stunned by the sight of a young man who had hanged himself in the family barn. The young man had been residing in their home to attend a local community college, and for a reason unknown to anyone decided on that day to end it all.

I sought to comfort the family as they tried to process this tragedy and found myself praying for his parents who were coming from out-of-town to the scene of their son’s death. (more…)



August 2014



Dr. Donald Whitney to Lead Pastor’s Conference at FBCG October 3-4

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Pastor’s Conference

First Baptist Church Gonzales, Louisiana

“Spiritual Disciplines in a Pastor’s Life”

Dr. Donald Whitney

October 3-4, 2014

donald-whitneyFirst Baptist Church Gonzales is excited to offer a second mini-conference this year for pastors and church leaders in Louisiana and beyond. By mini-conferences we are referring to a 24 hour event for the purpose of offering biblical challenge and encouragement to pastors and church leaders. On October 3-4, we are thrilled to have Dr. Donald Whitney as our conference leader, and he will be teaching on “Spiritual Disciplines in a Pastor’s Life/Church’s Life.”

 As you are probably aware, Dr. Whitney has written widely on this topic most notably in his book, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” which was recently updated and expanded.  Dr. Whitney brings a wealth of ministry experience to share, and I trust that the biblical teaching and materials, along with the fellowship of other pastors will be a great encouragement to you.

Our heart’s desire in hosting these conferences is to make them accessible and affordable.  The registration fee for this conference is $25 which will also cover meals.  If there are pastors who would like to attend, but are not able for financial reasons, please let us know.

We will also have a bookstore at the conference and will give a number of free books and resources to conference attendees.

Our prayer is that God would bring pastors and church leaders together to forge a network of encouragement and ministry mobilization for the glory of Christ and the building up of His church.  We hope you will join us on Friday, October 3th and Saturday, October 4th at First Baptist Church Gonzales. Register today!   Click here to Register  Please feel to contact us by phone, 225-647-8575 and ask for Brent Hill, or by email at events@fbcg.net



June 2014



The Unpopular Promise

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In recent days, many of us have followed with great interest the story of the Sudanese woman, Mariam Ibrahim, who was sentenced to death. Her crime? She was found guilty of apostasy because she converted to Christianity from Islam. In addition to the death penalty, she was also sentenced to receive 100 lashes for adultery for marrying a Christian man.

Giving her story global traction has been the presence of her children with her in prison, a 21 month old boy and her daughter who was born in prison last month. Thankfully, we have received encouraging reports of an appeals process and it is expected that Mariam will be released soon.

Christians have always been comforted by the promises of God found on the pages Scripture. We treasure these promises as they strengthen faith and resolve and give to us hope to press on.

However, there are some promises that we would like to ignore. The promise of persecution is one we would like to put on the shelf, but if we would follow Jesus Christ faithfully, we are promised suffering and persecution in this life.

My ministry was inaugurated in some of the roughest sections of New Orleans. In 1989, I pastored a church in St. Bernard parish and on one particular day I was involved in neighborhood evangelism. As I was talking with a man in his front yard, I heard yelling behind me. I turned and saw an enraged man coming at me yelling obscenities and wielding a knife. He spewed hateful and profane threats and promised that he would cut me in pieces. (more…)



March 2014



Thoughts on Open Letter Regarding Louisiana College Troubles

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I read this morning an appeal to the churches of the Louisiana Baptist Convention from some of the trustees at Louisiana College.  Jay Adkins posted an open letter on his blog “The Cresent Crier” (Here)  Along with Adkins, signees of the open letter were trustee Lyndon E. Dawson, Jr., Jim Garlington, Glenn R. George, Ryan Gregory, Larry Hubbard, Michael Moore, Tony Perkins, Lonnie Scarborough, and Roxanne West.

The open letter is significant because it is a statement of appeal to the churches of the LBC to potentially intervene in what they believe has been an inability of the board of trustees to address the problems of the college. Indeed, over the last year and a half, we have watched trust evaporate and have had very little to inspire confidence in cooperation with regard to Louisiana College.

Last April, I wrote in Drawing Near

“The present situation at the college has not been handled forthrightly. When the trustees insist on having consecutive executive session meetings accompanied by public disclosures of deception and volatility, confidence is deeply shaken.  When you have Board members like Tony Perkins who is arguably one of the most trustworthy leaders in Louisiana, a godly man who has served in our Legislature and now serves as president of Family Research Council, calling for integrity and transparency among board members, it raises major questions to those of us outside the deliberations of the trustees. The events of recent weeks have strained the fraternal efforts of cooperation among Louisiana Baptists.”

As I have followed this conflict, I have done so with great interest and sorrow because I believe that it threatened to derail us off mission.  I believe that is true today.  We stand in need of repentance, prayer, fasting, humility, honest confession, and brokenness before the Lord. We also need “wisdom from above” (James 3:13-18) and a resolve to make some very hard decisions for the purpose of getting us back on assignment.

What will not work are more executive sessions with compromised, expedient decisions without honesty.  This is not about using rules and bylaws for subterfuges or saving face.  This is about disclosure and actually communicating with the convention of churches who support you and to whom you are accountable.

There is comfort and hope for the people of God in that Christ is always doing a work among His people. Our focus must be on him and his Kingdom.  May the Lord take the ashes of the last 18 months, and bring his healing and help to us.  Otherwise, it will only get worse, and that is hard to imagine.





March 2014



One of the Most Misunderstood Bible Verses

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imagesSomeone has said that judging others is one of the favorite indoor sports of humanity. Indeed, judging others just seems to flow naturally from a fallen heart.

Even among the ranks of the redeemed, believers battle with sinful, judgmental attitudes. In fact, one of the crushing criticisms leveled against Christianity has been those instances where professing believers have been cruel, harsh, and condemning in their action toward others.

Instead of providing a covering of comfort in the blows of life, believers have been known to shoot their wounded.  These cancerous thoughts and actions can defile many, thus falling woefully short of the command of Jesus who taught, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

In context, the crosshairs of this command were upon the Pharisees whose judgments were so severe and without mercy that Jesus rebukes them for noticing the speck in another’s eye while ignoring the log that was in their own eye. (Matthew 7:2-5) Like the Pharisees before us, we can be good at speck inspecting and log ignoring.

Like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son, we can rehearse the failures of others without taking a breath, but are often very slow to embrace our sins and failures. (more…)