Monday, September 7, 2015

I'm back (I think)

Someone asked me the other day why I didn't have a blog.  They said there are some people that want to hear what I have to say.  Maybe it's my way of just saying what I think.  Or maybe it is my weird sense of humor.  After all I have used comic strips in the past to make a spiritual point.  

Whatever the reason, I did have a moderate following on my blog before.  But I haven't posted since 2013.  Why?  One big reason was parenthood.  

I knew having a kid would change my life but there is no way I could have imagined how much so.  But the answer isn't quite that simple.  I quit blogging because life got quite busy.  

Currently, I serve as Associate Pastor for Berea Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Arkansas.  I handle most of the administrative and educations duties. 

I also currently serve as the President of the AT&T Veterans Employee Resource Group, an employee driven 501(3)c volunteer organization.  

And I work full time and keep up with the house my wife and I bought several years ago and spend time caring for, teaching, and playing with 3-year old son.

I know, excuses excuses.  But there are only so many hours in the day for fixing and eating dinner with my son (wife works late evenings), updating websites, answering emails, prepping Bible studies, packing for work and school the next day, etc.  Don't get my started on chores around the house.

But I decided to try taking on a blog again.  I transitioned it from an old email I don't use any longer to the Google account I use for all things Google.

It's almost 9:00 PM now.  Got home not long ago from an evening at my parent's.  Dinner and some family time...just enjoying our day off for Labor Day.  My son is tucked in bed and my wife is curled up reading.  I'm tired so this first "I'm back" blog is gonna be short.

Before I go though, let me say this.  I've changed a lot since the last blog post.  Learned a lot in just the last two years about life, parenting, and more.  I'll try to share a variety of experiences and thoughts that may appeal to a broader audience.

So for tonight, let me give you a quick thought I had after talking to someone at work last week:

Parent's should be coaches, not referees.  Parent's need to stop just blowing a whistle when your child commits a foul and get personally involved in the game.  

You can shape your child a lot more by demonstrating character and morality than by just punishing them when they try to figure it out on their own and fail.

Friday, February 1, 2013

6 Questions Pro-Choicers won't (can't) answer


1.  If you are "pro-choice" then why do you not want the female to view an ultra-sound, hear the heartbeat, or know the "fetus" will likely experience pain during an abortion so she can make an informed choice?

2.  Again if it is all about choice, then why does the father, who was equally involved in the conception, have no choice?

3.  In the case of rape, incest, etc...what was the baby's crime that warrants the death penalty?

4.  In the case of "imminent danger" to the mother's life...doctor's not only recommend abortion as an option but often insist (and sometimes force) abortions...if women are to be expected to abort their unborn babies when their life is at risk, should we not also insist they allow their born children to come to harm and even die when intervening could pose a threat to the mother's life?

5.  If we use the loss of vital signs like brain activity, heart beat, etc to determine death has occurred, why do we not also use these same vital signs to determine life has occurred?

6.  If "pro-choicers" are so concerned about women's health, why do they fight any law that requires abortion clinics to meet the same standards as general doctor's offices, hospitals, etc?

They typically won't answer these questions because they can't.  The pro-death movement is not based on fact or reason and it is driven, among other things, by money and the desire to escape natural consequences for ones reckless actions.  I once had a pro-choicer telling me I was approaching my debate with him "too logically."

My wife tried to share her pro-life views and, more importantly, her faith in Christ with someone who had once been very close to her.  This individual responded with anger and bitterness and spewed hateful word and profanity at my wife for her stance.  I truly believe much of this explosive response comes from a deep rooted guilt....

This individual had chosen to have an abortion because her doctor convinced her without it, she would die.  I am confident inside she knows that it was her job to protect the babies life...not the babies job to protect hers.  Deep inside I am sure she feels guilt and shame.  But her mind has been deluded with the lies and her eyes blinded to her need for forgiveness...and to the reality of just how readily available forgiveness is through Christ.

We need to continue to ask the questions they can't answer...to make people think before they choose a path that is irreversible and has tragic life-long consequences.  In our quest to protect the children, let's not forget we need to protect the mother's too...and to help those who made the wrong choice find peace and forgiveness.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Driving forces behind the abortion epidemic


I have often been asked this question by church members and pro-lifers: “How did abortion get so deeply rooted in our culture?  How did we manage to let it go this far?”  Abortion is not new.  There is evidence that man resorted to this vile act early in his history; however, we've seen this carried to heights that is almost unfathomable.  There are many contributing factors to abortion, but I contend there are three main movements that pushed us to the extremes we see today.

Evolutionary ideas: The very groundwork for the explosion of the abortion industry was laid when Darwin’s ideas of evolution became more widely accepted.  There are several serious implications if we begin to consider evolution as truth.  (1) If evolution is true, the Biblical account of creation is either false or allegorical (2) If the creation story is false, then all of Scripture becomes unreliable and questionable at best and at worst it is all a giant hoax (3) If the creation story is allegorical, then we can start accepting compromises such as gap theories and long-day theories but (4) if we accept these compromises, we still have to accept death came before Adam’s sin and therefore sin did not come into the world by one man and therefore (5) Salvation did not come into the world by one Man.  Now your entire Bible has been shred and the Gospel torn out.  Furthermore, if God did not create man and woman as a special creation in His own image and we are all here by chance or accident, there is no value to life and therefore no reason why we shouldn't be able to end a life as we please.

Free love and the sexual revolution:  Webster’s defines free love as “the doctrine or practice of having sexual relations or living together without legal marriage or continuing obligation.” Marriage was seen as a form of bondage.  Free lovers did not believe there should be laws or absolutes when it came to matters such as marriage, birth control, adultery, etc.  This movement aided in the destruction of the Christian idea of marriage and family.  Marriage between one man and one woman is sacred because it is a depiction of Christ’s union to His bride, the church.  Webster’s defines the sexual revolution as “a drastic relaxation in general standards of sexual behavior.”  Those caught up in the U.S. sexual revolution of the 1960’s lived by the motto “Make love, not war” and “if it feels good, do it.”  There was only one serious problem with this concept….unwanted pregnancy.  This was especially problematic for men of notable positions in society or business and the wealthy men of society – they couldn't have unwanted children, especially from their one-night stands, ruining their reputation or being a burden to their fame and fortune. 

The feminist movement: Evolutionary ideas, the sexual revolution, and the second wave of the feminist movement in the U.S. were the perfect storm for abortionists.  The feminist movement grew from wanting proper treatment of women and equality in human rights to wanting to tear down anything that may distinguish male from female.  A woman had to be able to do anything and everything a man could do.  What is the one thing a man could do in the area of the sexual revolution that a woman couldn't do?  Walk away from an unwanted pregnancy….unless….the woman could “abort” the pregnancy. Abortion became a necessity so that second wave feminists could fully participate in the free love sex revolution and be able to “escape” the consequences just like a man could.  The ideas of free love and feminism are very closed tied together and pour on the de-valuing of human life through the evolutionary idea that we are just an accident, and abortion is not only acceptable but it is desirable. 

How do we combat the vile unrestrained murder of millions (billions?) of babies?  First we affirm the Bible is true, the 6 day creation story of Genesis is literal, that there is a Divine Creator to whom we are accountable, that man and woman are created special and in the image of God, and that all human life is precious and to be protected.  We have to view sex, marriage, and human life the way God views it.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sovereign God, Sweet Salvation


I believe in the total sovereignty of God and believe firmly that salvation comes entirely from God apart from any goodness, righteousness, or action on the part of man.  Many Christians, especially Southern Baptists, would nod their head in agreement.  But the truth is, some of them would have difficulty fully agreeing with that statement if fully examined. 

Let’s dig deeper into my statement so you can see the full weight and magnitude of it: “I believe in the total sovereignty of God and believe firmly that salvation comes entirely from God apart from any goodness, righteousness, or action on the part of man.”  It is broken down into three parts (1) total sovereignty of God (2) salvation totally from God and (3) inability of man to do anything for salvation. 

To break this down further, let me share with you a few sub-statements.  At first, you will be shouting “amen” as you read them but slowly, I may start to lose some of you.

Statement 1: God's sovereignty is absolute, unlimited, and unconditional.  There is no limitation or end to his sovereignty.  He has complete control over time and over his entire creation – including that which is in heaven, on earth, and in hell. 

No problem so far?

Statement 2: Because of the Fall, man is totally depraved and dead in his sin.

Still no argument?   Now let’s put these two truths together. 

Statement 3: Man is totally depraved and dead in sin and therefore unwilling and unable to seek God or respond to God on his own; therefore, before the foundation of the world, God unconditionally chose some to be saved. Election has nothing to do with man's future response.

Problem?  That last part is a problem for some Christians.

Many evangelical believers will agree that salvation is wholly a work of God, until you begin to talk about election.  Then they want to say “but wait, we must make a choice, we must have faith and choose to believe in Him and make a decision to follow Him.” 

Furthermore, according to Romans, we did make a choice and because of our sinfulness and deadness we were only capable of choosing sin.  The Bible repeatedly says apart from Christ we rejected anything holy, anything of God.

So then, what brought us from the point of rejecting God to accepting Christ as Lord and Savior? The answer has to be God.  God has to enlighten our minds, change our hearts, and instill in us the faith necessary to believe.

“For by grace are you saved through faith.  And this (the grace, the faith, and the salvation) is not by your own doing; it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8.  To point it another way: 2 Corinthians 3:5 “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.”

God’s Word says we cannot claim that anything necessary for salvation came from ourselves.  The faith needed to believe didn’t come from us and therefore, the choice wasn’t truly made by us.  If God changes everything about us – our heart, our mind, and our faith – it would seem his gift of grace would be irresistible.  If we have a right heart, a right understanding, and the necessary faith – there is no reason why anyone would reject salvation.  So why do so many continue to reject Christ?

They are not predestined, elected (chosen) or called.

Romans 9:14-24 says “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.  You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?”

It is not my purpose in this writing to fully defend or explain election.  Election is taught in Scripture.  To deny that is to deny large amounts of Scripture.  I leave it to the reader to pick up the Bible and to wrestle with the issue of election.  I will possibly write more in specific defense of it later. 

My purpose for writing this particular entry is to ask you two questions…how sovereign is your sovereign God and how sweet is your salvation?

How sovereign is your God?  Is He truly Creator and Sustainer of all things?  Is he truly the Beginning and the End?  He is truly the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?  Truly all-powerful?  The Supreme One?  The Great “I Am”?  Then why don’t we read our Bible that way?  More importantly, why don’t we live our lives that way?  He is the One who seals us in our salvation until the day of glory.  He is the God of life and death…of health and sickness…of the rich and the poor.  It is He who gives and takes away. 

How sweet is your salvation?  Amazing grace?  A precious gift?  Or something you stumbled over?  Something you figured out and mustered up enough knowledge and faith to believe in?  Did you find Jesus?  Or did he reach down into the depth of the grave and call out His chosen one to life?

Again I ask, how sovereign is your God and how sweet is your salvation?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Isn't There Anyone Who Knows What Christmas is All About?



"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

    “Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them."  (Luke 2:1-20 ESV)

This morning, as we celebrate Christmas, I ask you: are you too busy and self-serving to worship Him?  Are you too proud and self-centered to recognize His great love for you and to give back to Him your full devotion and service?  Have you worshipped Him today as the Ancient of Days, the one that fulfilled all prophecy?  Do you recognize him as the Captain of the Hosts, almighty God?  He is your Lamb, slain to pay the price for your sin?  Is He the Great Shepherd of your life…leading you beside the still waters as well as through the valley of the shadow of death? 

A.W. Tozer is quoted as saying “What is worship? Worship is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of that most ancient Mystery, that Majesty which philosophers call the First Cause, but which we call Our Father Which Are in Heaven.”

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Visit from the Jehovah's Witnesses

I was sitting in my home office working on some church "stuff" when my wife, who was resting downstairs, hollered and said someone knocked on the door.  I was a bit annoyed being bothered on a Saturday by what I presumed to be a salesman of some sort, and not a very observant one as he knocked instead of ringing the doorbell.  I took a peak through the peep hole and saw two somewhat older ladies standing at my front door with a little black book and some larger colorful magazines.  

I couldn't help but smile and knew I was about to get "witnessed" to by the Jehovah's Witnesses.  I was quite certain that colorful magazine was their precious Watchtower.  I kinda chuckled, knowing that while they were confident in their ability to argue their viewpoints with most anyone, they hated running into guys like me...guys that are every bit as grounded in Biblical doctrine and could and would challenge their every erroneous statement.  

The first thing she asked me was if I knew who the "god" of this world was.  I smiled sweetly and said I sure do, how about you.  She then proceeded to tell me that of course she did, and explained to me that the Bible said that Satan was the "god" of this world and she offered to leave me with the Watchtower so I could see why.  I told her that was quite ok; that as an ordained Baptist minister I felt I had all the resources I need to answer that question.  Her expression quickly changed and off she went.  

Interestingly enough, the Watchtower website does not use the phrase "god of this world" as the Witness at my door had, but rather "ruler" of the world.  So who really does control the world?

The Witnesses quote 1 John 5:19 which says "We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one."  The term world here refers to those outside of the first part of that verse, that is, those that are not from God; therefore, the lost.  Satan has power of the lost and the world in general, but to what extent?  1 John 5:18 says God protects those born of God and the evil one does not touch him.  

All throughout Scripture we see God using both the Elect and the lost to carry out His will.  Scripture also tells us that if we resist he devil, he will flee from us.  So while Satan may be allowed to rule the world in a general sense, the ultimate Master of this world with the final authority over what does and doesn't happen is God himself.  

It is important to understand that only God is sovereign and that Satan can do no more than what God allows.  I challenge true Christians (I may discuss later why Jehovah's Witness are not Christians) to be less concerned about Satan's temporary title of ruler of the world and worry more about introducing others to the Everlasting Ruler of All.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

An ancient book in a modern world


An ancient book in a modern world:
How the Bible Should Influence our lives today


The Bible was written by approximately 40 different men over a period of 1500 years, ranging from around 1450 B.C. to about 100 A.D. The most recent writings are quite aged at at nearly 2000 years old, and much of the Old Testament by our standards would be considered ancient.

How should we read the Bible today, and what influence should it have on our lives? There many schools of thought regarding the Bible's significance today, and how it should be interpreted. Some say it is merely a good book of fables and life lessons, to be considered on the same level as Aesop's fables. Others say it is good for historical or literary study but nothing more.

Even among those professing to be believers in the Bible, there are disagreements about the interpretation and influence of God's Word. Some believe every word must be taken completely literal with no regard to whether the passage might have been written in a poetic or symbolic fashion. Others look for symbolism in every single passage regardless of how literal the context may seem.

There are those that say the Bible is the true Word of God and that we learn from it the path of salvation and some good life lessons, but that we must adapt it to fit our current culture and therefore many of the teachings of the Bible are outdated and no longer apply to our lives today. Others say we must follow every letter of the Bible, including the dietary and ritualistic laws of Israel from their days worshiping at the tabernacle and temple.

There is no way I could ever write enough to completely clear up this matter, for there is far too much content in Scripture and too many issues to tackle. Someone somewhere would have a question that I failed to cover. It is not my intention to give you a list of what to believe and not to believe. This is not a “Dummy's Guide to what the Bible really means.” What I hope to do is to give you some keys to help you begin to understand and properly apply the Bible to your life.

First of all, to truly understand what the Bible says and means, we have to know the Author. Before I start any new book of the Bible in our Adult Sunday School class, I always ask some keys questions about that particular book: who wrote it, who did he write it to, why did he write it, and what did he write about? In discussing the Bible in general, we need to ask these same questions.

Who wrote it? God did, of course. But wait, I said earlier it was written by approximately 40 different men. I could say God wrote it, those men just “penned” it. But that would not be an accurate description either, for it is quite clear they didn't just transcribe it. Paul writes very long run-on sentences. Often times you may read 5 or 6 verses before you hit a period. Paul often times emphasizes grace, James our works in response to grace. The four Gospel writers key on different details as they recount the life of Christ.

So what does the Bible say about itself? 1 Timothy 3:14 - 17 says “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

The fact that Scripture is breathed out by God means the Bible is God's infallible, inerrant word. At times, God gave the writers the exact words to write. When searching the ESV online Bible, I found the phrase “God spoke” 35 times. The phrase “God said” occurred 548 times. “Jesus spoke” occurs 9 times and “Jesus said” occurs 281 times. This doesn't include other variations such as “He commanded them” and the other instances in which the words of God is directly quoted.

While the Bible is full of direct words from God, particularly in the Old Testament and the Gospels, much of the Bible is not a direct quote. Paul was not a prophet nor a follower of the earthly ministry of Jesus; therefore, he does not heavily quote direct words from God. The book of Ester, while clearly speaking of God's sovereignty in all things, never even directly speaks of God.

The largest part of the Bible is not direct quotes from God but rather God using the writer's own vocabulary, background, experiences, and mind to produce His word. Make no mistake, this wonderful act of God using men to write His word in ways unique to each writer does not take away from the divinity of the writing. God ensured the final product was inerrant and infallible and perfectly spoke His holy Word.

There are some very serious ramifications that we have to understand once we come to realize the Bible was written by God. It is not just enough to know there is a God and that he wrote the Bible, we have to know something about Him. I obviously cannot go into everything there is to know about God, nor do I (or anyone on this side of Heaven) know everything about Him (His ways are greater than our ways). But there are some foundational truths that we must understand about God before we can hope to understand His Word.

Here is a rundown of some of those foundational truths:

  • God is the Creator (Genesis 1)
  • God is the sustainer (Hebrews 1:3 and Colossians 1:7)
  • He is sovereign (1 Timothy 6:15)
  • He is holy and exalted (Hebrews 7:26)

Before we can truly understand how to properly apply the Bible to our lives today, we first have to understand the most foundational truths: All have sinned. I have personally sinned and offended the holiness of God. The wages of sin is death. I deserve to die. Jesus Christ died to pay the price for the sin of those who will accepted Him as Lord and Savior. If you have not accepted these truths and Jesus Christ is not Lord of your life, your best application of Scripture will fall short.

You see, the key to each doctrinal discussion and debate hinges on understanding that the issues that we are trying to hammer out at their deepest core are not a matter of doctrine but of relationship. When we begin to understand that doctrine doesn't exist merely to give us something to argue over but that our doctrine should be the system of beliefs and practices that we follow because of our relationship with God, we can begin to interpret Scripture through the proper perspective.

When we come to this understanding, then we can begin to understand that we cannot interpret Scripture based on our culture. We cannot view God's Word through modern cultural ideas and perspectives, we must view God's Word through God's eyes.

This is sometimes a bit more difficult when there isn't a clear commandment to practice or abstain from something specific, or when it comes to practices of worship, dietary laws, etc. These issues become more clear when we view these passages in their context and understand their roots. For example, a study of the temple worship will reveal that each piece of the ceremonial laws were a foreshadowing of the Messiah to come, and no longer are we bound by these ceremonial laws but by the principles of proper, reverent worship of the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is imperative; however, to understand that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever more. Therefore what God called sin three or four thousand years ago is still sin today. Homosexuality is still just as much of a sin today as it ever has been. We must call it what it is, a perversion of God's plan for marriage and sexuality. The same holds true for all of the standards God has laid out for holy living. Some may call the Bible an antiquated Book full of good stories, but the Bible is in fact God's holy, infallible authoritative, and powerful Word. In the end, the Word (the Bible) reveals the True Word of God (our Lord Jesus Christ).