Monday, December 29, 2008

Atheist Admits Africa needs God

At TimesOnline, avowed atheist Matthew Parris writes an article admitting that "Africa needs God." Here's a portion of the article:

Travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.
HT: Phil Johnson

10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4

The Probability of Storms

This portion was taken from J.C. Ryle's sermon called Peace, Be Still

I. Learn, first of all, that following Christ will not prevent your having earthly sorrows and troubles.

Here are the chosen disciples of the Lord Jesus in great anxiety. The faithful little flock which believed when Priests, and Scribes, and Pharisees were all alike unbelieving, is allowed by the Shepherd to be much disquieted. The fear of death breaks in upon them like an armed man. The deep water seems likely to go over their souls. Peter, James, and John, the pillars of the Church about to be planted in the world, are much distressed.

Perhaps they had not reckoned on all this. Perhaps they had expected that Christ’s service would at any rate lift them above the reach of earthly trials. Perhaps they thought that He who could raise the dead, and heal the sick, and feed multitudes with a few loaves, and cast out devils with a word,—He would never allow His servants to be sufferers upon earth. Perhaps they had supposed He would always grant them smooth journeys, fine weather, an easy course, and freedom from trouble and care.

Reader, it is good to understand this clearly. It is good to understand that Christ’s service never did secure a man from all the ills that flesh is heir to, and never will. If you are a believer, you must reckon on having your share of sickness and pain, of sorrow and tears, of losses and crosses, of deaths and bereavements, of partings and separations, of vexations and disappointments, so long as you are in the body. Christ never undertakes that you shall get to heaven without these. He has undertaken that all who come to Him shall have all things pertaining to life and godliness. But He has never undertaken that He will make them prosperous, rich, or healthy, and that death shall never come to their family.

I have the privilege of being one of Christ’s ambassadors. In His name I can offer eternal life to any man, woman, or child, who is willing to have it. In His name I do offer pardon, peace, grace, glory, to any son or daughter of Adam who reads this. But I dare not offer that person worldly prosperity as a part and parcel of their Gospel. I dare not offer him long life, an increased income, and freedom from pain. I dare not promise the man who takes up the cross and follows Christ, that in the following he shall never meet with a storm.

I know well that many do not like these terms. They would prefer having Christ and good health,—Christ and plenty of money,—Christ and no deaths in their family,—Christ and no wearing cares,—Christ and a perpetual morning without clouds. But they do not like Christ and the cross,—Christ and tribulation,—Christ and the conflict,—Christ and the howling wind,—Christ and the storm.

Reader, is this the thought of your heart? Believe me, if it is you are very wrong

37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
Mark 4

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Profession of Faith

Should We Question Professions of Faith?

Quoting Mark Dever . . .

Sometimes I get the feeling that people think there's something wrong with questioning the reality of a profession of faith. It's legalistic, or judging, or holier than thou. Or something. But if evangelists want to see lost sinners saved, and if evangelists know that we sinners can deceive ourselves, then it's not surprising that we want to try to make sure (with all appropriate qualifications about our limitedness) that conversions professed are conversions possessed. Or is it just sour-faced theologians who think about such things? Are preachers who think about such things unevangelistic?

Here's what one preacher said, reflecting on Jesus' parable of the sower and the soils.

"There are so many stony ground hearers, who receive the Word with joy, that I have determined to suspend my judgment till I know the tree by its fruits. I cannot believe they are converts until I see fruit brought back; it will never do a sincere soul any harm."

Does such a determination seem uncharitable or unevangelistic? What preacher would say such a thing? That was George Whitefield. I don't think George Whitefield was unevangelistic for wanting to know a tree by its fruit, and neither are we today. In fact, I think such a concern would actually help our churches to do more real evangelism. And besides, as Whitefield says, such caution "will never do a sincere soul any harm."

What should we do? Encourage the new believer in all things good. Remind them of the gospel. After some appropriate time (which would vary much from case to case) they should be baptized and join a church. They should regularly hear the preaching of the Word, commune, fellowship, pray and obey the Word. They should be building relationships in order to do that. And they should be told to hope in Christ alone for their salvation. Our desire is to find every professor getting safely home to heaven.

And then what about counting converts?

The final tally will be made by God in due time.
And that's the only tally that matters.

Wrong Evangelism Fails to Start with Doctrine

The trouble with all false evangelism is that it does not start with doctrine, it does not start by realizing man's condition. All fleshly, carnal, man-made evangelism is the result of inadequate understanding of what the apostle teaches us in the first ten verses of this second chapter of Ephesians. If you and I but realized that every man who is yet a sinner is absolutely dominated by 'the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience', if we only understood that he is really a child of wrath and dead in trespasses and sins, we would realize that only one power can deal with such an individual, and that is the power of God, the power of the Holy Ghost. And so we would put our confidence, not in man-made organizations, but in the power of God, in the prayer that holds on to God and asks for revival and a descent of the Spirit. We would realize that nothing else can do it.
We can change men superficially, we can win men to our side and to our party, we can persuade them to join a church, but we can never raise the spiritually dead; God alone can do that. The realization of these truths would of necessity determine and control all our evangelism.
(Martin Llyod Jones)

Barriers to Sharing the Gospel

(taken from Together for the Gospel)

by lduncan

In Mark Dever’s The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, he helpfully identifies five things that keep us from sharing the Gospel with others. Here's my spin on these reasons from Mark's chapter on "Why Don't We Evangelize?"

1. Fear - of rejection, of offending
2. Ignorance - don’t know what to say, don’t know how to say it
3. Inexperience - haven’t seen it done, haven’t done it
4. Attitude - that’s just not me, leave it to the experts 5. Lack of true love - we don't really care about the lost and their eternal destiny

In response, Mark suggests that we do twelve things:

(1) Pray - for a desire to witness to Christ, and for the opportunities. (2) Plan - to witness (who, when, how). (3) Accept - you are a witness. (4) Understand - how God uses his witnesses. (5) Be Faithful - be more concerned to be faithful to God, than for people to like you. (6) Risk - something! - invite to a meeting; share a book; befriend someone. (7) Prepare - that’s what this course is all about. (8) Look - keep your eyes open for God’s opportunities. (9) Love - cultivate a genuine love for lost people. (10) Fear - God, rather than man. (11) Stop - and realize the logic of sovereignty - "God is sovereign, therefore I’m responsible." (12) Consider - the greatness of his love to you.

We will be most effective in bearing witness to Christ if we cultivate:
(1) a joyful fear of God; (2) a biblical knowledge of who we are in Christ and what the Gospel is; (3) fellowship with people who have a passion for the Gospel, and for showing and telling it; (4) a proper attitude toward the task - not a drudging "I have to share the Gospel" but a joyous "I get to be a part of God’s work of salvation;" (5) a genuine Gospel love for the lost, because of God’s Gospel love for us.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Martin Luther

"If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefields besides, is mere fight and disgrace if he flinches at that point." -Martin Luther

Thursday, December 25, 2008

David Phelps- enjoy

Casting Crowns Christmas Song

Can I deny the Virgin Birth and still be a Christian?

This post is by and taken from the great Albert Mohler.

Can a true Christian deny the virgin birth? This question would perplex the vast majority of Christians throughout the centuries, but modern denials of biblical truth make the question tragically significant. Of all biblical doctrines, the doctrine of Christ's virginal conception has often been the specific target of modern denial and attack.

Attacks upon the virgin birth emerged in the aftermath of the Enlightenment, with some theologians attempting to harmonize the anti-supernaturalism of the modern mind with the church's teaching about Christ. The great quest of liberal theology has been to invent a Jesus who is stripped of all supernatural power, deity, and authority.

The fountainhead of this quest includes figures such as Albert Schweitzer and Rudolf Bultmann. Often considered the most influential New Testament scholar of the twentieth century, Bultmann argued that the New Testament presents a mythological worldview that modern men and women simply cannot accept as real. The virgin birth is simply a part of this mythological structure and Bultmann urged his program of "demythologization" in order to construct a faith liberated from miracles and all vestiges of the supernatural. Jesus was reduced to an enlightened teacher and existentialist model.

In America, the public denial of the virgin birth can be traced to the emergence of Protestant liberalism in the early 20th century. In his famous sermon, "Shall the Fundamentalists Win?," Harry Emerson Fosdick--an unabashed liberal--aimed his attention at "the vexed and mooted question of the virgin birth." Fosdick, preaching from the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church in New York City, allowed that Christians may hold "quite different points of view about a matter like the virgin birth." He accepted the fact that many Christians believed the virgin birth to be historically true and theologically significant. Fosdick likened this belief to trust in "a special biological miracle." Nevertheless, Fosdick insisted that others, equally Christian, could disagree with those who believe the virgin birth to be historically true: "But, side by side with them in the evangelical churches is a group of equally loyal and reverent people who would say that the virgin birth is not to be accepted as an historic fact. To believe in the virgin birth as an explanation of great personality is one of the familiar ways in which the ancient world was accustomed to account for unusual superiority."

Fosdick explained that those who deny the virgin birth hold to a specific pattern of reasoning. As he explained, "those first disciples adored Jesus--as we do; when they thought about his coming they were sure that he came specially from God--as we are; this adoration and conviction they associated with God's special influence and intention in his birth--as we do; but they phrased it in terms of a biological miracle that our modern minds cannot use."

Thus, Fosdick divided the church into two camps. Those he labeled as "fundamentalists" believe the virgin birth to be historical fact. The other camp, comprised of "enlightened" Christians who no longer obligate themselves to believe the Bible to be true, discard this "biological" miracle but still consider themselves to be Christians.

More contemporary attacks on the virgin birth of Christ have emerged from figures such as retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong and German New Testament scholar Gerd Luedemann. Luedemann acknowledges that "most Christians in all the churches in the world confess as they recite the Apostles' Creed that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. Now...modern Christians completely discount the historicity of the virgin birth and understand it in a figurative sense." Obviously, the "modern Christians" Luedemann identifies are those who allow the modern secular worldview to establish the frame for reality into which the claims of the Bible must be fitted. Those doctrines that do not fit easily within the secular frame must be automatically discarded. As might be expected, Luedemann's denial of biblical truth is not limited to the virgin birth. He denies virtually everything the Bible reveals about Jesus Christ. In summarizing his argument, Luedemann states: "The tomb was full and the manger empty." That is to say, Luedemann believes that Jesus was not born of a virgin and that He was not raised from the dead.

Another angle of attack on the virgin birth has come from the group of radical scholars who organize themselves into what is called the "Jesus Seminar." These liberal scholars apply a radical form of interpretation and deny that the New Testament is in any way reliable as a source of knowledge about Jesus. Roman Catholic scholar John Dominic Crossan, a member of the Jesus Seminar, discounts the biblical narratives about the virgin birth as invented theology. He acknowledges that Matthew explicitly traces the virgin birth to Isaiah 7:14. Crossan explains that the author of Matthew simply made this up: "Clearly, somebody went seeking in the Old Testament for a text that could be interpreted as prophesying a virginal conception, even if such was never its original meaning. Somebody had already decided on the transcendental importance of the adult Jesus and sought to retroject that significance on to the conception and birth itself."

Crossan denies that Matthew and Luke can be taken with any historical seriousness, and he understands the biblical doctrine of the virgin birth to be an insurmountable obstacle to modern people as they encounter the New Testament. As with Luedemann, Crossan's denial of the virgin birth is only a hint of what is to come. In Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, Crossan presents an account of Jesus that would offend no secularist or atheist. Obviously, Crossan's vision also bears no resemblance to the New Testament.

For others, the rejection of the birth is tied to a specific ideology. In The Illegitimacy of Jesus: A Feminist Theological Interpretation of the Infancy Narratives, Jane Schaberg accuses the church of inventing the doctrine of the virgin birth in order to subordinate women. As she summarizes: "The charge of contemporary feminists, then, is not that the image of the Virgin Mary is unimportant or irrelevant, but that it contributes to and is integral to the oppression of women." Schaberg states that the conception of Jesus was most likely the result of extra-marital sex or rape. She chooses to emphasize the latter possibility and turns this into a feminist fantasy in which Mary is the heroine who overcomes. Schaberg offers a tragic, but instructive model of what happens when ideology trumps trust in the biblical text. Her most basic agenda is not even concerned with the question of the virgin birth of Christ, but with turning this biblical account into service for the feminist agenda.

Bishop Joseph Sprague of the United Methodist Church offers further evidence of modern heresy. In an address he presented on June 25, 2002 at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, this bishop denied the faith wholesale. Sprague, who serves as Presiding Bishop of the United Methodist Church in northern Illinois, has been called "the most vocally prominent active liberal bishop in Protestantism today." Sprague is proud of this designation and takes it as a compliment: "I really make no apology for that. I don't consider myself a liberal. I consider myself a radical." Sprague lives up to his self-designation.

In his Illiff address, Bishop Sprague claimed that the "myth" of the virgin birth "was not intended as historical fact, but was employed by Matthew and Luke in different ways to appoint poetically the truth about Jesus as experienced in the emerging church." Sprague defined a theological myth as "not false presentation but a valid and quite persuasive literary device employed to point to ultimate truth that can only be insinuated symbolically and never depicted exhaustively." Jesus, Sprague insists, was born to human parents and did not possess "trans-human, supernatural powers."

Thus, Sprague dismisses the miracles, the exclusivity of Christ, and the bodily resurrection as well as the virgin birth. His Christology is explicitly heretical: "Jesus was not born the Christ, rather by the confluence of grace with faith, he became the Christ, God's beloved in whom God was well pleased."

Bishop Sprague was charged with heresy but has twice been cleared of the charge--a clear sign that the mainline Protestant denominations are unwilling to identify as heretics even those who openly teach heresy. The presence of theologians and pastors who deny the virgin birth in the theological seminaries and pulpits of the land is evidence of the sweeping tide of unbelief that marks so many institutions and churches in our time.

Can a true Christian deny the virgin birth? The answer to that question must be a decisive No. Those who deny the virgin birth reject the authority of Scripture, deny the supernatural birth of the Savior, undermine the very foundations of the Gospel, and have no way of explaining the deity of Christ.

Anyone who claims that the virgin birth can be discarded even as the deity of Christ is affirmed is either intellectually dishonest or theological incompetent.

Several years ago, Cecil Sherman--then a Southern Baptist, but later the first coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship--stated: "A teacher who might also be led by the Scripture not to believe in the Virgin Birth should not be fired." Consider the logic of that statement. A Christian can be led by the Bible to deny what the Bible teaches? This kind of logic is what has allowed those who deny the virgin birth to sit comfortably in liberal theological seminaries and to preach their reductionistic Christ from major pulpits.

Christians must face the fact that a denial of the virgin birth is a denial of Jesus as the Christ. The Savior who died for our sins was none other than the baby who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin. The virgin birth does not stand alone as a biblical doctrine, it is an irreducible part of the biblical revelation about the person and work of Jesus Christ. With it, the Gospel stands or falls.

"Everyone admits that the Bible represents Jesus as having been conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary. The only question is whether in making that representation the Bible is true or false." So declared J. Gresham Machen in his great work, The Virgin Birth of Christ. As Machen went on to argue, "if the Bible is regarded as being wrong in what it says about the birth of Christ, then obviously the authority of the Bible in any high sense, is gone."

The authority of the Bible is almost completely gone where liberal theology holds its sway. The authority of the Bible is replaced with the secular worldview of the modern age and the postmodern denial of truth itself. The true church stands without apology upon the authority of the Bible and declares that Jesus was indeed "born of a virgin." Though the denial of this doctrine is now tragically common, the historical truth of Christ's birth remains inviolate. No true Christian can deny the virgin birth.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Incarnation

This is a post from the great Denny Burk

There is hardly anything more mysterious and wonderful to me than the incarnation of Jesus Christ. God became a man. Jesus Christ is at once fully God and fully man. God took on mortal human flesh and became subject to all the things that every other mortal is subject to. He sneezed. He coughed. He got headaches and an upset stomach. Every morning he got up, shook the dust out of His hair, and served His Father faithfully.
Jesus Christ was not only subject to sickness, but also to death. The eternal Son of God was die-able. In fact, he did die. And three days later, what was mortal became swallowed up by immortality in the resurrection.
Even now, the resurrected Christ sits at the right hand of God in glory. As I type these words, the incarnate God intercedes in the flesh for His people before the Father (Romans 8:34). And it all began in a manger 2,000 years ago. No, actually, we have to go 9 months before that—when Jesus Christ was first conceived in by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary, when the God-Man was an embryo. “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. . . The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:30, 35).
How could any of this be? God is in the flesh now! I cannot get my little pea-brain to comprehend it, yet this is precisely what the Bible teaches. “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).
As we ponder the imponderables of God, let us never cease to be amazed at the manifold mercies of God that have come to us through the incarnation of King Jesus. Let every heart prepare Him room.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Kirk and John talk about the Gospel part 2

TBN must be going crazy by now!
You usually don't here deep Bible preaching and teaching on this channel.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Kirk and John talk about the Gospel

This was aired on TBN. TBN is the capital of the health and wealth Gospel which is no where in the Bible. I wonder if they will be invited back.

Tyler is the Man!

Last night Psycho T became UNC's all time leading scorer. It couldn't happen to a better player. Tyler probably has a better work ethic than just about anyone in the country. He is not the most athletic, he is not the best shooter, he is not the tallest, he is not the best defender, he can't jump but he out hustles and out smarts almost everyone he faces. He is one of my favorite Carolina players ever. You have to love a guy that will stay 4 yrs in school today and forgo millions in the NBA. Great job Tyler I can't wait to watch you dunk on the Dookies!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pray for those with Cancer

This is taken from Justin Taylor's blog. You can read the full message from James McDonal's blog. James is one of my favorite preachers.

James MacDonald: "I Have Cancer"

In a blog announcement about his prostate cancer, Pastor James MacDonald writes:
This of course confirms what I have taught so many times from God’s word . . . the effects of sin visit themselves randomly upon the creation in varying degrees and at various times (John 9:1-3). God promises only that His grace will be sufficient as His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10), and that He has a purpose in the life of His child that will advance our good if we submit to what He has lovingly allowed (Hebrews 12:5-13).

So that’s it! I have cancer and I can diagnose the theology as well as any oncologist can diagnose the pathology. But here’s the great part. I truly believe those things. I am not especially anxious, I am not struggling with God’s goodness or asking a lot of penetrating ‘why’s?’ I am more aware of my pending mortality and the brevity of this life by eternal standards.
Here's the closing:
I have a tenderness to the pain of others and a deeper burden for those closest to me. I am more acutely aware of my sin and much less willing to weigh it or measure it or manage it. I just want to be clean and close and consecrated in my walk with Christ; and I am, more than ever. Truly!!! And for that I am very thankful. I have experienced an outpouring of love from our congregation and beyond that has made me more appreciative than ever to pastor a church and belong to the body of Christ. God is good, I’m gonna get through this in God’s way and in His time and I love Him more than ever. Today is a good day, and because of it, no matter how this ‘day’ ends, tomorrow will be even better. Isn’t it great to know the Lord and love His word and walk in fellowship with His followers? How blessed I am! I will keep you up to date.
Let's remember to lift up our brother in prayer.

Also remember those in our community who are fighting this same disease in other areas of their bodies. Connie Wagner, Cilicia Wicker, Carolyn Gibson, Lucy Byrd, Rod Watts.... etc. I know there are many others maybe you could leave a name in the comment box and we will pray for them as well.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Leave Rudolph Alone

Below is an article about a parent who was upset that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was being sung at the school her child is attending. Her complaint... it has religious overtones.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was almost grounded at Murrayville Elementary School this week after a parent complained about the classic Christmas song’s inclusion in her daughter’s upcoming kindergarten concert.

The objecting parent was upset about the words “Christmas” and “Santa” in the song, feeling that they carried religious overtones.

That prompted the song to be pulled from the upcoming holiday concert, which in turn upset more parents.

But Rudolph will be shining bright next Tuesday after New Hanover County school administrators and lawyers determined the song was just, well, a secular song about a make-believe reindeer.

“They’ve determined that it signifies just a day in time, Dec. 25, not the promotion of a religious symbol,” said Ed Higgins, chairman of the county Board of Education. “So Rudolph is back in.”

School officials also found the use of “Santa” to be okay because he’s considered a nonreligious figure.

The kindergarten chorus’ holiday concert for the school’s PTA will now include Rudolph along with the songs “Winter Wonderland,” a snowman rap and “Jingle Bells.”

“They have clearly decided that any other religion or custom is not important,” the objecting parent said after learning about the reversal on “Rudolph.” She asked that her name not be published, to shield her daughter’s identity.

The mother, who is Jewish, said she was trying to have a Hanukkah song added to the musical lineup but had not received a return phone call about it from school officials by mid-afternoon Friday.

Sean Dwyer, whose daughter is also in the kindergarten class, had complained Friday morning about Rudolph getting muzzled.

Friday afternoon he said he thought school officials had made the right call by reinstating the popular Christmas song.

“It wasn’t my point in the beginning whether it was about religion or not,” Dwyer said. “The children have been learning this for weeks, and some person was trying to push their own personal feeling and agenda for this for their own child alone, and you just don’t do that.”

But until late Friday morning, Rudolph wasn’t going anywhere.

Murrayville Principal Julie Duclos said the school decided to pull the song after the parent complained “to make sure that we were actually paying attention to everybody’s interest, that we were not choosing somebody’s interest over another.”

“If we had enough time in the PTA program to sing a song for every single interest and value system, then we could do it,” she said. “But when you can’t do that, you go to universal values that are agreed on by every faith, every denomination. We wouldn’t want to leave anybody out.”

Though concert participation is not mandatory, students had been practicing the songs during school hours in their music class.

The objecting parent said that she spoke to Duclos about keeping the program about education and having fun, without any religious references. She sees the beauty in the Christmas celebration, she said, but believes religious holidays have no place in a secular public school setting.

“I don’t mind Christmas or anything Christmas-related at all, so long as you’re not imposing it on my child,” the objecting parent said Friday morning.
(end Story)

Here are the lyrics to the song the woman said had religious overtones...
I always feel like gettin' "saved" when I hear this song about Rudolph don't you.
What is happening in America?

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.

All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph
join in any reindeer games.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say:
“Rudolph with your nose so bright,
won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

Then all the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,
you’ll go down in history!

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Word of Thanks From Jeff Looper

Below is a word of thanks from Jeff Looper. Those of you who know Jeff and his family understand where he is coming from. Jeff Looper is a very good friend and a wonderful person. He is married to Lynn Looper, she is a teacher at Wittenburg Elementary School and a Sunday School teacher here at ETBC. I had the great privilege of baptizing Lynn several years ago. His two daughters are Lyndsey and Alexa.
Jeff thanks for the kind words and I love you and your family.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Worst Song Ever?

You will not see this song on many "Worst Song Ever" countdowns but "Just a Swingin" was a bad song. It was a hit in T'ville for years. If you listen in Wal-Mart today you can hear some older man or woman softly singing it to themselves as they try to find a bargin.
I couldn't find this classic on You Tube so I will just give the lyrics. Sing it with me. (you know you know the words)

There's a little girl in our neighborhood
Her name is Charlette Johnson and she's really lookin good
I had to go and see her, so I called her on the phone
I walked over to her house, and this was goin' on
Her brother was on the sofa eatin chocolate cake
Her momma was in the kitchen cuttin' chicken up to fry
Her daddy was in the backyard rollin' up a garden hose
I was on the porch with Charlotte feelin love down to my toes


And we were swingin'
Yes we were swingin'
Little Charlotte she's as pretty
As the angels when they sing
I can't believe I'm out here

On the front porch in this swing
Just a-swingin'



Now Charlotte's she's a darlin', she's the apple of my eye
And when I'm on the swing with her it makes me almost high
And Charlotte is my lover and she has been since the spring
I just can't believe it started on her front porch
in this swing

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Worst Song Ever?

Do you remember where you were when you first heard this song? I think WTLK played it 100 times the first day. I will never forgive Pete Ray for this. I still can't get it out of my head. It is like a bad virus that will not go away. What can you say? Really bad lyrics, really bad singing, really bad hair. I think Julie Oram listens to this when she runs.

Achy Breaky Heart is so bad I will just give you a picture and the lyrics, not the song.

You can tell the world you never was my girl
You can burn my clothes when I'm gone
Or you can tell your friends just what a fool I've been
And laugh and joke about me on the phone

You can tell my arms to go back onto the phone
You can tell my feet to hit the floor
Or you can tell my lilps to tell my fingertips
They won't be reaching out for you no more

But don't tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
I just don't think it'd understand
And if you tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
He might blow up and kill this man

You can tell your ma I moved to Arkansas
Or you can tell your dog to bite my leg
Or tell your brother Cliff who's fist can tell my lips
He never really liked me anyway

Oh tell your Aunt Louise, tell anything you please
Myself already knows that I'm okay
Oh you can tell my eyes to watch out for my mind
It might be walking out on me today

But don't tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
I just don't think it'd understand
And if you tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
He might blow up and kill this man

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Theology of George W. Bush

Below is an article from the Christian Post. In this article Our President gives his odd views on the Bible, salvation and God's sovereignty. How can grown educated men be so ignorant of basic Bible truths. His views almost make him a heretic. What do you think?

In an interview with ABC's "Nightline" on Monday, the president also said he probably is not a literalist when reading the Bible although an individual can learn a great deal from it, including the New Testament teaching that God sent his only son.

Asked about creation and evolution, Bush said: "I think you can have both. I think evolution can — you're getting me way out of my lane here. I'm just a simple president. But it's, I think that God created the earth, created the world; I think the creation of the world is so mysterious it requires something as large as an almighty and I don't think it's incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution."

He added, "I happen to believe that evolution doesn't fully explain the mystery of life."

Interviewer Cynthia McFadden asked Bush if the Bible was literally true.

"You know. Probably not. ... No, I'm not a literalist, but I think you can learn a lot from it, but I do think that the New Testament for example is ... has got ... You know, the important lesson is 'God sent a son,'" Bush said.

"It is hard for me to justify or prove the mystery of the Almighty in my life," he said. "All I can just tell you is that I got back into religion and I quit drinking shortly thereafter and I asked for help. ... I was a one-step program guy."

The president also said that he prays to the same God as those with different religious beliefs.
"I do believe there is an almighty that is broad and big enough and loving enough that can encompass a lot of people," Bush said.

Worst Song Ever?

I will let the song speak for itself.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Worst Song Ever?

Remember this song. It is amazing to think how long it has been since this masterpiece was put together. I wonder how much hairspray was spent making this song. Willie Nelson, Cyndi Lauper and Michael Jackson on the same song. But is this the worst song ever? This week is dedicated to finding the worst song ever. Stay tuned.

Steve Perry was the best singer of the bunch. What do you think?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

How to Talk to Girls

How to Talk to Girls, a book written by a 9-year-old named Alec Greven.
His best tip, in my opinion, is "Life is hard, move on."
I know some guys that could use this book right now!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Should Christians Play Santa?

This is taken from my "Parchment and Pen" widget on the side.
C. Michael Patton gives his ideas on the subject. What do you think?
We always play Santa at my House.

Tonight we went to see my mother with my children and the subject of Christmas was naturally brought up being so close. We sang some Christmas carols to prepare for the season. While others were singing Santa and North Pole songs, I took it upon myself (playing the role of the faithful pastor) to balance our excitement with the good Christian Christmas songs. (Waiting for applause to slow down). My daughters were just wanting to sing the Santa songs. My wife asked my oldest daughter Katelynn (9yrs old now) before I started the balancing act, “What is Christmas all about”? To which she responded “Presents, candy, Christmas tree, presents [again], and Santa.” My wife looked at me with the I-am-about-to-laugh-because-I-know-how-much-trouble-she-is-going-to-be-in-from-daddy look. Then she said, “Katelynn, Christmas is about Jesus, not Santa.”

I know you THINK you know where this is going, but you don’t. At first, my reaction was the typical OK, this confirms it. We are not watching anymore Santa movies, cutting way back on the Santa fun, and not going to talk about getting presents anymore. But that never feels right. I quickly turned away from that and started singing the Santa songs with them. Why?

Well, everyone is going to hate me, but why not? I will just dive right in. I don’t have that much trouble with Santa, sleigh bells, Frosty, and presents being emphasized at Christmas. I won’t even get too uptight with situations where Santa becomes the priority. (Waiting now for boos and hissing to cease). Santa is fun. Frosty is silly. And presents give us a chance to teach to give and exercise the gift of giving (since it is more blessed to give than receive). My daughter did forget the true meaning of the Christmas and I could have gotten very angry. But here is the thing: generally speaking, she hardly ever forgets about Christ. Christ is part of her life everyday. She talks to her friends about Him, she reads her Bible, she asks great questions, prays with me, she often voluntarily gives her allowance for others, and she honors her mother and I. Heck, she is even having me teach her Greek (no, I did not force this!). Who am I to step in when she is singing Christmas carols that don’t mention Christ and say in a rather legalistic fashion that she can’t sing those because it dishonors Christ? I have looked through my Bible and I cannot find where Christ gave a command to celebrate His birth on a particular day of the year. Yet He did say to celebrate the meaning of his birth everyday of the year. Isn’t it the incarnational life that matters?

This Katelynn is doing. What message am I sending by mandatorily sanctifying a particular day or season when every day is sanctified? I know that there are some days that we set aside in special way, and I have no problem with that. Neither do I have a problem when we set aside particular times of the year to focus on God and what He has done. But if Katelynn is doing everything else right and not forgetting about God throughout the year, I should not get upset if she forgets about what the meaning of Christmas is. I should not demonize Santa and other “secular” Christmas cheer when it is the life throughout the year that is important. I would rather my daughter tell one of her friends about what Christ means to her in July than to have her focus on the manger in December. Telling others about Christ all year round is commanded in Scripture and is the true meaning of Christmas.

As well, [stepping higher on my box] it would seem that there are so many people who choose to set aside all their secularism in December and require that there be a moratorium called on all things not pertaining to Christ, but forget the rest of the year. This seems to evidence a loss of priorities. I have often heard it said by Christians that Santa has taken over Christ in December, but I would argue that December has taken over Christ for Christians.

Should Christians play Santa? I have no problem with it. Personally, I can’t bring myself to tell my children that he actually exists, but I have no problem with others who do and I have no problem singing Christmas carols that don’t involve Christ so long as Christ is the focus of our lives, not just our Decembers. If Christ is not the focus of our lives January-November, December is not going to make any difference anyway because, contrary to popular belief, December does not sanctify the rest of the year.

Moral of the story: To truly celebrate Christmas presupposes that we are living an incarnational life 365 days a year. Don’t be so hard on poor Santa.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It was a muggin'

The UNC Basketball team should have been arrested last night. What for? Lets say: a home invasion, abuse and an old fashion muggin'. The Spartans were completely out coached, out played and out hustled all night. This Carolina team is not like Carolina teams of the past. The rest of the nation better watch out because here we come.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

What Is Hyper-Calvinism?

What is "Hyper-Calvinism"? Phil Johnson has a good primer on the subject:
A fivefold definition: The definition I am proposing outlines five varieties of hyper-Calvinism, listed here in a declining order, from the worst kind to a less extreme variety (which some might prefer to class as "ultra-high Calvinism"):

A hyper-Calvinist is someone who either:
1.Denies that the gospel call applies to all who hear,
2.OR Denies that faith is the duty of every sinner,
3.OR Denies that the gospel makes any "offer" of Christ, salvation, or mercy to the non-elect (or denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal),
4.OR Denies that there is such a thing as "common grace,"
5.OR Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect.

All five varieties of hyper-Calvinism undermine evangelism or twist the gospel message.

Many modern hyper-Calvinists salve themselves by thinking their view cannot really be hyper-Calvinism because, after all, they believe in proclaiming the gospel to all. However, the "gospel" they proclaim is a truncated soteriology with an undue emphasis on God's decree as it pertains to the reprobate. One hyper-Calvinist, reacting to my comments about this subject on an e-mail list, declared, "The message of the Gospel is that God saves those who are His own and damns those who are not." Thus the good news about Christ's death and resurrection is supplanted by a message about election and reprobation—usually with an inordinate stress on reprobation. In practical terms, the hyper-Calvinist "gospel" often reduces to the message that God simply and single-mindedly hates those whom He has chosen to damn, and there is nothing whatsoever they can do about it.
Deliberately excluded from hyper-Calvinist "evangelism" is any pleading with the sinner to be reconciled with God. Sinners are not told that God offers them forgiveness or salvation. In fact, most hyper-Calvinists categorically deny that God makes any offer in the gospel whatsoever.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Obama's Economic Dream Team

During this time of year we enjoy watching some of the best teams in America. This includes NFL, NBA, College Football and Basketball. It is a great time to be a sports fan. But the team American needs the most is not in sports, it is in the area of economics. President elect Obama has the task of helping America get out of an economic meltdown. And according to Karl Rove, and yes I said Karl Rove, Obama is doing a good job of drafting a great economic team. Lets all pray for our future President-- this is a team we all need to win!

THis article was written by Karl Rove and is taken from the Wall Street Journal

Thanksgiving Cheer From Obama
He's assembled a first-rate economic team.

When President-elect Barack Obama's economic transition team met this month, everyone was there -- inflation fighters, business leaders, union firebrands and leftist economists -- creating confusion about where the new administration was headed.

Mr. Obama's announcement of his economic team on Monday provided surprisingly positive clarity. He picked as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the respected, soft-spoken New York Fed president. Mr. Geithner has been a key player with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in confronting the financial crisis. Every major decision in the rescue effort came only after the three agreed.

The National Economic Council director-designee, Larry Summers, is another solid pick. Mr. Summers has been an advocate for trade liberalization, he was the Clinton administration's negotiator for the financial deregulation known as Gramm-Leach-Bliley, and he even attempted to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the 1990s.

Mr. Obama also named a respected monetary expert -- Christina Romer -- to head up his Council of Economic Advisors. On Tuesday he selected a first-rate thinker, Peter Orszag, to be director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget.

The only troubling personnel note was Melody Barnes as Domestic Policy Council director. Putting a former aide to Ted Kennedy in charge of health policy after tapping universal health-care advocate Tom Daschle to be Health and Human Services secretary sends a clear signal that Mr. Obama didn't mean it when his campaign ads said he wouldn't run to the "extremes" with government-run health care.

He did not reduce confusion on a Detroit bailout by saying he supported a "sustainable auto industry." America already has that in 69 foreign-owned auto plants that employ 92,700 Americans. The question is this: Does Mr. Obama want a sustainable U.S.-owned auto industry? If so, will he require changes in the Big Three's management, labor agreements and cost structure in return for aid? All he'd say Monday was that the industry needed to develop a plan.

And despite the president-elect's declaration Monday that "we have a consensus, which is pretty rare, between conservative and liberal economists," there is no agreement about the elements of a stimulus package.

Stanford economist Michael Boskin reminds us that conservatives favor permanent, or long-lived, measures to revive the economy -- incentives like lower income-tax rates, actions to speed recovery of capital costs like bonus depreciation, and steps with an immediate effect on job creation such as cuts in corporate tax rates.

So far, Mr. Obama has only offered unspecified subsidies for "green jobs" and infrastructure spending. Politicians like infrastructure spending because it gives them something concrete to point to. But though Japan spent $516 billion on infrastructure in the 1990s, it didn't stimulate their economy. What makes Mr. Obama think it will work in America? The reason infrastructure is a poor stimulant is that there is a long lag time between project approval and when dollars actually get spent, even for projects on the drawing board.

Mr. Obama suggests that giving consumers up to $500 (his "tax cut for 95% of Americans") will stimulate consumption. Congressional Democrats have demanded rebates like this for people who don't pay income taxes in every stimulus package -- with negligible results. As Harvard economist Martin Feldstein pointed out in these pages in August, a mere 10% to 20% of this year's rebate was spent.

During the campaign, Mr. Obama defined madness as "doing the same things over and over again and expecting something different." He should take those words to heart in preparing his stimulus package

Mr. Obama has less than a month to work out the dimensions of the stimulus and auto legislation he wants passed before his Jan. 20 inauguration. If he continues to hesitate, Congress will give him a mish-mash of spending, rebates, subsidies and pork that won't create the 2.5 million jobs in two years he promises. Congress is hard to stop from budgetary excesses in ordinary times. And these are not ordinary times.

After hearing Mr. Obama's campaign attacks on "the swelling budget deficit," it is jarring to hear him now suggest the deficit will need to be larger to accommodate more spending. He has to be mindful that voters have not been prepared for the numbers now being thrown around.

But, overall, Monday's announcement of Mr. Obama's economic team was reassuring. He's generally surrounded himself with intelligent, mainstream advisers. Investors, workers and business owners can only hope that, over time, this new administration's economic policies bear more of their market-oriented imprint.

Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Heels Dominate in Maui

Another Championship for Tyler and company.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Few Prayer Requests

1. Connie Wagner- pray her liver regenerates and her cancer goes away. Connie is at UNC Hospital room #5234.

2. Jatana Elder- Jatana had surgery yesterday and is in ICU at Duke Hospital. Pray for her recovery. Also pray for Gary and Kathy, Jatana's parents.

3. Tom Broughton- I meet Tom yesterday when I went to visit Connie. He is a nice man and I would love for you to add he and his wife to your prayer list. Tom is facing the same problems Connie is facing.

4. Martha Warren- I will not go into detail about Martha's situation because I haven't asked the family. She is a strong woman and very faithful Christian.

5. Your ONE- please remember to pray for your ONE. People need Jesus so lets pray God moves on the heart of the lost and draws them through our prayers..

"The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer."
Psalm 6:9

I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2
Psalm 17:6

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Gospel

"Avoid a sugared gospel as you would shun sugar of lead. Seek the gospel which rips up and tears and cuts and wounds and hacks and even kills, for that is the gospel that makes alive again. And when you have found it, give good heed to it. Let it enter into your inmost being. As the rain soaks into the ground, so pray the Lord to let his gospel soak into your soul."

"Let this be to you the mark of true gospel preaching - where Christ is everything, and the creature is nothing; where it is salvation all of grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit applying to the soul the precious blood of Jesus."

"On Christ, and what he has done, my soul hangs for time and eternity. And if your soul also hangs there, it will be saved as surely as mine shall be. And if you are lost trusting in Christ, I will be lost with you and will go to hell with you. I must do so, for I have nothing else to rely upon but the fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived, died, was buried, rose again, went to heaven, and still lives and pleads for sinners at the right hand of God."
Charles Spurgeon

It's About Time

Statement about Race at Bob Jones University

At Bob Jones University, Scripture is our final authority for faith and practice and it is our intent to have it govern all of our policies. It teaches that God created the human race as one race. History, reality and Scripture affirm that in that act of creation was the potential for great diversity, manifested today by the remarkable racial and cultural diversity of humanity. Scripture also teaches that this beautiful, God-caused and sustained diversity is divinely intended to incline mankind to seek the Lord and depend on Him for salvation from sin (Acts 17:24–28).
The true unity of humanity is found only through faith in Christ alone for salvation from sin—in contrast to the superficial unity found in humanistic philosophies or political points of view. For those made new in Christ, all sinful social, cultural and racial barriers are erased (Colossians 3:11), allowing the beauty of redeemed human unity in diversity to be demonstrated through the Church.
The Christian is set free by Christ’s redeeming grace to love God fully and to love his neighbor as himself, regardless of his neighbor’s race or culture. As believers, we demonstrate our love for others first by presenting Christ our Great Savior to every person, irrespective of race, culture, or national origin. This we do in obedience to Christ’s final command to proclaim the Gospel to all men (Matthew 28:19–20). As believers we are also committed to demonstrating the love of Christ daily in our relationships with others, disregarding the economic, cultural and racial divisions invented by sinful humanity (Luke 10:25–37; James 2:1–13).
Bob Jones University has existed since 1927 as a private Christian institution of higher learning for the purpose of helping young men and women cultivate a biblical worldview, represent Christ and His Gospel to others, and glorify God in every dimension of life.
BJU’s history has been chiefly characterized by striving to achieve those goals; but like any human institution, we have failures as well. For almost two centuries American Christianity, including BJU in its early stages, was characterized by the segregationist ethos of American culture. Consequently, for far too long, we allowed institutional policies regarding race to be shaped more directly by that ethos than by the principles and precepts of the Scriptures. We conformed to the culture rather than provide a clear Christian counterpoint to it.
In so doing, we failed to accurately represent the Lord and to fulfill the commandment to love others as ourselves. For these failures we are profoundly sorry. Though no known antagonism toward minorities or expressions of racism on a personal level have ever been tolerated on our campus, we allowed institutional policies to remain in place that were racially hurtful.
On national television in March 2000, Bob Jones III, who was the university’s president until 2005, stated that BJU was wrong in not admitting African-American students before 1971, which sadly was a common practice of both public and private universities in the years prior to that time. On the same program, he announced the lifting of the University’s policy against interracial dating.
Our sincere desire is to exhibit a truly Christlike spirit and biblical position in these areas. Today, Bob Jones University enrolls students from all 50 states and nearly 50 countries, representing various ethnicities and cultures. The University solicits financial support for two scholarship funds for minority applicants, and the administration is committed to maintaining on the campus the racial and cultural diversity and harmony characteristic of the true Church of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

You know it is Basketball Season When...

You know it is basketball season when...

1. The UNC Football team starts to choke and lose to teams they should beat like Moo U or as we call them State.

2. Dook shoots free throws -- as in 47 in one game. They flop, they fall down to get phantom charge calls, they double dribble, they shoot free throws. But 47! That has to be a record.

3. Coach K uses bad language. Need I say more.

4. UNC is winning the right way and Tyler is dunking on people and taking names.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Spend Time with your Wife

Ht: John Piper

The apostle Peter writes,

Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

This is strange at first glance. How does caring for your wife connect to having unhindered prayers?

Here’s Wayne Grudem’s challenging commentary:

So concerned is God that Christian husbands live in an understanding and loving way with their wives, that he “interrupts” his relationship with them when they are not doing so. No Christian husband should presume to think that any spiritual good will be accomplished by his life without an effective ministry of prayer. And no husband may expect an effective prayer life unless he lives with his wife “in an understanding way, bestowing honour” on her. To take the time to develop and maintain a good marriage is God’s will; it is serving God; it is a spiritual activity pleasing in his sight.” (1 Peter, 146)

Christian husbands shouldn’t feel that time given to their wives is “time away from the real ministry.” Time invested with our wives is time well spent. It’s God’s will—“a spiritual activity pleasing in his sight.”

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tony Romo treats homeless man to afternoon at the movies

From Dallas News:
A homeless man who goes by Doc was cashing in change at a Cinemark Theatre in Dallas when a guy walked up and offered to pay his way into the movie. He planned to spend his day passing out fliers and accepted a rain check before realizing that he recognized the generous gentleman.
"Was that Tony Romo?" Doc asked the worker behind the counter.
It sure was. Doc, who requested that his real name not be used, hustled across the street to the consignment store that paid him to occasionally pass out fliers and requested the day off. By the time he got back to the theater, Role Model had already started.
Romo, who confirmed the story but didn't want to elaborate, waved Doc over to sit by him and his friend. Doc sheepishly mentioned that he hadn't showered in a few days.
"Don't worry about that," Romo said. "I'm used to locker rooms."
And so the $67 million quarterback and a man who doesn't have $6.70 to his name sat next to each other and shared laughs for 90 minutes or so.
For Romo – who made news by changing a couple's tire on a roadside on the way home the night of the season opener – it was just another kind gesture to a random stranger. It meant the world to Doc.
"For me, it was a blessing," Doc said. "It came at just the right time. It gave me some encouragement and faith in mankind. I just wanted to say thank you."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Where's the Wolf?

Where's the wolf? Right there, indistinguishable. Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves" (Matthew 7:15).

HT: David Roper blog.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How I Approach God When Feeling Rotten

this is by John Piper.

A vague bad feeling that you are a crummy person is not the same as conviction for sin. Feeling rotten is not the same as repentance.

This morning I began to pray, and felt unworthy to be talking to the Creator of the universe. It was a vague sense of unworthiness. So I told him so. Now what?

Nothing changed until I began to get specific about my sins. Crummy feelings can be useful if they lead to conviction for sins. Vague feelings of being a bad person are not very helpful. The fog of unworthiness needs to take shape into clear dark pillars of disobedience. Then you can point to them and repent and ask for forgiveness and take aim to blow them up.

So I began to call to mind the commands I frequently break. These are the ones that came to mind.

Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Not 95%, 100%. (Matthew 22:37)
Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Be as eager for things to go well for him as you are for things to go well for you. (Matthew 22:39)
Do all things without grumbling. No grumbling—inside or outside. (Philippians 2:14)
Cast all your anxieties on him—so you are not being weighed down by it anymore. (1 Peter 5:7)
Only say things that give grace to others—especially those closest to you. (Ephesians 4:29)
Redeem the time. Don’t fritter or dawdle. (Ephesians 5:16)
Set your mind on things that are above. Connect all your thoughts to Christ. (Colossians 3:2)
Do not return evil for evil—like when your wife or daughter says something you don’t like. (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
Rejoice always, and again I say rejoice. Always. If sorrowful, keep rejoicing. (Philippians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 6:10)
Give thanks in all circumstances. All. All. All. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
So much for any pretensions to great holiness! I’m undone.

But now it is specific. I look it in the eye. I’m not whining about feeling crummy. I’m apologizing to Christ for not keeping all that he commanded. I’m broken and I’m angry at my sin. I want to kill it, not me. I’m not suicidal. I’m a sin hater and a sin murderer (“Put to death what is earthly in you” Colossians 3:5. “Put to death the deeds of the body” Romans 3:18.)

In this conflict, I hear the promise, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9). Peace rises. Prayer feels possible and right and powerful again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Calvinism in the SBC

This is taken from Voddie Baucham's blog. For years Voddie has been a sought out Student and Pastor Conference speaker. He is now a very outspoken Calvinist. I wonder how his peers view him now. I wonder if they will ask him to speak at Conferences. I would love for he and Ergun Caner to speak at the same Conference it would be great!

By Voddie:
Those who know me have probably asked me at one time or another why I am part of the Southern Baptist Convention. To tell you the truth, I’ve been thinking that a lot myself lately. I am especially disturbed by events at the recent John 3:16 conference sponsored by Jerry Vines Ministries, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, Luther Rice Seminary and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The conference represents a growing antagonism in Southern Baptist life toward those who embrace the Doctrines of Grace. Unfortunately, this conference lacked some of the the balance and tact of the Building Bridges Conference. See critiques here, here, and here. The last link is especially revealing since James White was labeled a hyper-Calvinist while he was in London pressing the claims of Christ among Muslims! Hyper-Calvinist? “You keep using that word... I do not think it means what you think it means.” (Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride)

For a ‘lighter’ take on things look here. I only post this because I have been bombarded with questions as to where I am in this ‘fight’. Of course, it is not much of a fight. The SBC establishment is firmly and openly anti-Calvinist. There is no question about that. There is but one question. How long before the SBC realizes that defeating Calvinism would represent a Phyrric victory at best. Anyone paying attention sees the stark contrast between ministries like T4G, 9Marks, Desiring God, and the SBC Annual meeting. One of these groups is known for being 1) anti-Calvinistic, 2) highly politicized, and 3) void of the youth and vitality needed to sustain it in the future (hence, that ubiquitous question, “Exactly why are you in the SBC?”).

As for me, the SBC is still home. I am still a Baptist by confession and conviction. However, the is not the welcoming place it was for me earlier in this decade. In 2001 I had the privilege of being appointed Chair of the ‘Teller’s Committee’ at the Annual Convention in New Orleans (unfortunately, flooding in Houston prevented me from attending what would have been my first Convention). In late 2002 I got a call out of the blue from LifeWay/Broadman & Holman (the Southern Baptist publishing arm) offering me --an unpublished, unproven author-- a three-book publishing deal, which I accepted. I wrote The Ever Loving Truth (B&H, 2004), and The Ever Loving Truth Bible Study (LifeWay, 2004), before parting ways. During the same period, I received three invitations to preach at the SBC Pastor’s Conference (the event that kicks off the Southern Baptist Convention) in 2002, 2004 and 2005 (a family commitment prevented my participation the first year). This was, as we say here in the South, high cotton! Not many guys in their early thirties who have never pastored a church get a shot at preaching in the Pastor’s Conference. As my dear friend and brother, Derry Hodge said at the time, my “star was on the rise.”

However, things have changed drastically since then. That change is due in large part to three main issues that left me on the outside looking in. First, many of my brethren and I do not agree on the urgency of Christian parents giving their children a Christian Education. Though the Baptist Faith and Message seems to state the matter plainly (See Baptist Faith & Message, 2000, section XII: Education), my view is deemed extremist, un-evangelistic, and unwarranted. My partner in crime Bruce Shortt and I discovered that government education was a sacred cow not to be messed with in the SBC. In 2004, our education resolution created a firestorm, but fell to defeat. In 2005, we rang the bell again and gained a victory. However, while the Associated Press, and thousands of other publications (including Ethics Daily) covered the 2005 story incessantly, there was a virtual blackout over at Baptist Press. A look at the stories they wrote about ‘yours truly’ before vs. after 2005 makes for an interesting search to say the least. Not to mention the fact that we were taking on the homosexual agenda and received international coverage, but the BP blackout concerning my part in the resolution persisted.

My second SBC faux pas was going public with my position on Youth Ministry/Family Discipleship. While I voiced concerns for years, these were not “public” until I began to blog about them, then preach about them on the SBC stage. In February of 2006, I preached the message, The Centrality of the Home in the Evangelism and Discipleship of the Next Generation at the SBTC Evangelism Conference. I began to call Youth Ministry into question, not just for its shallowness, or ineffective track record (as did Christian Smith, George Barna, Mike Yakonelli, Alvin Reid, Allen Jackson, Richard Rossand scores of others); I had the audacity to point out the fact that it wasn’t even biblical in the first place. This, coupled with the release of Family Driven Faith, and planting Grace Family Baptist Church, set off a chain of SBC events that would culminate in the SBTC Youth Ministry Forum, and (some would argue) the recent “Patriarchy” rant at Midwestern Seminary by Cynthia Kunsman.

However, neither of these constituted fatal infractions. I co-sponsored an education in 2004, but preached at the SBC in 2005. I stood against YM for years and while many were uncomfortable, I was still part of the gang. That is, until I came out of the closet. No... I’m not gay. It’s far worse than that. I’m a Calvinist! That’s right, I’m a fire-breathing, TULIP believing, five-point Calvinist. That, my friends, is the unpardonable sin in contemporary Southern Baptist life (unless your name is Al Mohler and you’ve been President of the flagship Southern Baptist Theological Seminary since you were in your early thirties and happen to be the most intelligent, articulate, winsome public face the Convention has).

I was ‘outed’ in 2006 when I preached at the Desiring God National Conference. Prior to that I had preached at Alistair Begg’s conferences, but Desiring God was the fatal blow. After that the questions began to swirl. After preaching a message in a Pastor’s conference in 2006 a dear friend approached me (he is a well-known Calvinist whose name I won’t mention... TOM ASCOL ...and I was going to be preaching in his church the next day). He was laughing about a debate he overheard between two pastors. The issue? Whether or not I believed regeneration precedes faith! These brothers had begun to put two and two together but they just knew it couldn’t be four. It was as though I had contracted AIDS. These guys were actually mourning! “I had him in my church!” one of them lamented. I could have done a lot of things and been just fine. However, the dreaded “C” word has become a death sentence in “mainstream”

Southern Baptist life. Some may say that’s not it at all. Perhaps I’m simply too controversial, or vitriolic. Really? Then explain Ergun Caner (whom, by the way, I consider a friend even though we differ on this issue). Caner has been on of the most vitriolic voices in recent SBC history. However, his vitriol has been pointed at the enemy, Calvinism. Jerry Vines called the Prophet Mohammad a “Demon-possessed pedophile” and brought scorn on the entire Convention, but he hosts conferences with some of the top names and institutions in the SBC. Jerry Fallwell made a career out of vitriol and controversy and the SBC gave him the Keys to the Kingdom when he joined. No, I don’t think vitriol is my crime. My crime is being a part of a movement the SBC sees as a threat to evangelism, and our already declining baptismal numbers.

Calvinists can be an easy target when it comes to evangelism and baptism. Never mind names like Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Adonirum Judson, William Carey, Charles Spurgeon, Richard Baxter, Matthew Henry, John Bunyan, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Arthur Pink, Boyce, Andrew Fuller, Luther Rice, J.L. Dagg, Daniel & Abraham Marshall, D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, J.I. Packer, Ian Murray, D.A. Carson, John Piper, James White, Tom Nettles, Tom Schriner, Tom Ascol, Timothy George, Mark Dever, and Al Mohler. The strawman (who doesn’t believe in evangelism because he believes in election) that was beaten about the head and shoulders at the John 3:16 Conference is a much easier target. Can you imagine that conference with the living members of the aforementioned list sitting there defending themselves? I’d pay a pretty penny to see that!

Instead, guys like White get hammered for not believing in evangelism while out doing evangelism! Good thing we’re protecting the Convention from the likes of him. If not we might start having bus tours with slogans like “Everyone Can”. Convention leaders with churches that boast memberships of 10,000 when their actual attendance (resident, participating, regenerate, ‘real’ members) is well under 2,000. Or fire engine baptistries to coax children into the sacred waters (Paige Patterson called this “blasphemy” right before calling Southern Baptists “some of the worst paedo-baptizers there are”). If we don’t rid ourselves of guys like White, we may end up adding a category in our baptismal reports for “Under Age 6,” or have a pastor join the Youth Ministry at the beach and have himself and staff ‘re-baptized’ in an effort to ‘prime-the-pump’ and get the baptismal numbers up for the annual beach retreat (true story!). Or who knows, if the likes of James White are not stopped, we may have non-Trinitarians like T.D. Jakes come and teach at our conferences.

Of course anyone paying attention knows these atrocities are actual occurrences in our beloved Convention and they are the types of things Calvinists (like White) bemoan. Moreover, our Arminian and Amyraldian brethren also despise these things (funny how people berate Calvinists for “following doctrine named for a man” when the various other positions are named for men as well). Unfortunately, they don’t despise these atrocities quite as much as they despise Calvinism. So where does that leave me? Still here. Sill lovin’ the brethren. Still holding to the Doctrines of Grace. Still in the SBC. No longer considering a future of any significance in the Convention. Praying for reconciliation, revival and reformation. Grieving over the status quo. Still holding to the Fives!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Abortion Dr. who turned Pro Life

Serbian Abortionist Who Aborted 48,000 Babies Becomes Pro-Life Activist

MADRID, November 13, 2008 (CNA) - The Spanish daily "La Razon" has published an article on the pro-life conversion of a former "champion of abortion." Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia, after spending 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country.

"The medical textbooks of the Communist regime said abortion was simply the removal of a blob of tissue," the newspaper reported. "Ultrasounds allowing the fetus to be seen did not arrive until the 80s, but they did not change his opinion. Nevertheless, he began to have nightmares."

In describing his conversion, Adasevic said he "dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from 4 to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat. One night he asked the man in black and white who he was. 'My name is Thomas Aquinas,' the man in his dream responded. Adasevic, educated in communist schools, had never heard of the Dominican genius saint. He didn't recognize the name."

"Why don't you ask me who these children are?" St. Thomas asked Adasevic in his dream.

"They are the ones you killed with your abortions,” the Dominican saint told him.

"Adasevic awoke in amazement and decided not to perform any more abortions," the article stated.

"That same day a cousin came to the hospital with his four months-pregnant girlfriend, who wanted to get her ninth abortion - something quite frequent in the countries of the Soviet bloc. The doctor agreed. Instead of removing the fetus piece by piece, he decided to chop it up and remove it as a mass. However, the baby's heart came out still beating. Adasevic realized then that he had killed a human being,"

After this experience, Adasevic "told the hospital he would no longer perform abortions. Never before had a doctor in Communist Yugoslavia refused to do so. They cut his salary in half, fired his daughter from her job, and did not allow his son to enter the university."

(Reprinted with permission from the Catholic News Agency)

Can I marry the wrong person?

This is from Parchment and Pen and it should generate some discussion and thought. Tell me what you think.

by C. Michael Patton

While I was a singles’ pastor for six years, I often dealt with issues from those whom I had married. I had these issue in both premarital counseling and post-marital counseling. In post-marital counseling things got interesting. I would often sit in the presence of a discouraged wife or husband whose marriage was less than happy. For some, things just weren’t clicking. For others, the problems were more serious. Much of the time people would suggest that they had made a mistake. In their mind, they simply married the wrong person and their “soul-mate” was still out there waiting.

These type of things quickly become a matter of theology—very practical theology. The question is this: Is it possible to have married the “wrong” person?

No matter how difficult things were I would always discourage such a direction in thinking. I don’t think that it is ever possible to have married the “wrong” person. I know that this sounds strange to some, but it is simply a natural outcome of my belief in God’s sovereignty. Just as the presidency is ultimately in God’s hands, even if and when people make evil choices, God’s will is ultimately being accomplished.

Getting personal: My wife and I met in a bar. Yes, that is right. Fifteen years ago, I was out, drunk and picking up on women. In a drunken stupor, I stopped my wife (my waitress at the time) and said “Before I get drunk, I want to say ‘I love you’” (sweet pick-up line, huh?) We hit it off, and to make a long story short, we got hitched. As I grew in the Lord, I questioned my motivations for marrying her. If you have seen her, you know she is very beautiful. This is not to brag, but to give you a sense of conflict that I have had (and, I am sure, Kristie has had as well). We have had our share of difficulties. I would like to say that things have been great with me and Kristie, but we have some very serious personality conflicts. Sometimes these are so severe, so discouraging, so long-lasting, so unforgiving, that the terrible question pop’s in my head, “Did I marry the wrong person?” It is in these times that my theology begins to lock certain doors.

Are you supposed to meet your wife in a bar? No, not ideal. Are you supposed to love her primarily because of looks? No, not ideal. Can you make wrong decisions that lead to an important decision such as marriage? Absolutely. So, was it God’s will that I marry Kristie. You bet.

You see, I believe that God works with us in our sin. Does he have any other choice? If he did not work through our sin, what does the world “grace” mean and, frankly, when would he work? God brought Kristie and I together and our togetherness has been hard. Yes, it could have been easier had we married someone else. We could have smiled more. We could have been more relaxed. Things could have more “click” to them. We could be setting an example of a “Christian marriage” for all to see. Although I hate to say this, the grass sometimes really is greener on the other side.

But my shade of green is not necessarily God’s.

Is it God’s will for Kristie and I to be together? You bet. Could there have been better choices made? “Better” is rather relative and can get you into trouble. From a human perspective which does not see all ends and is foolishly self-serving, yes. From a divine perspective, no.

God has a purpose for Kristie and I to be together. We did not marry the wrong person. Sometimes we cannot see what is really going on and our passions are clouded by the pain, but we must keep our eyes on the sovereignty of God and find a much deeper level of satisfaction in each other knowing that God—the all-knowing God—has put us together for a reason. In this we swallow our thoughts of mistake and we let go of the humanistic “soul-mate” theory. Once this is done, we find a new fairy-tale marriage that is better than any we could have chosen. Why? Because God knows best. Because God works through sin. Settled, satisfied, and in constant delight describes my marriage when I take this perspective. Don’t catch me on one of those other days.