Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Importance of Hobby Lobby vs Obama Care

On Friday, Hobby Lobby decided to ignore the US Governments threat of fines for not following the mandate in Obama Care to provide free birth control in their medical insurance for employees:

“They’re not going to comply with the mandate,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the company. “They’re not going to offer coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in the insurance plan.”

Opinions on both sides are all over the internet and in the news shows.  There are even some Christians decrying the decision. 

Is this stand important?  If so, why?

Yes this decision is important!

1.  Free birth control is NOT a medical insurance necessity.  It is a choice made by a person.  Lumping this mandate into the Obama Care package is an attempt to make something necessary that any normal thinking person knows is not. 

2.  Hobby Lobby is defending the rights of the unborn!  While everyone else is so concerned about their own rights and choices, Hobby Lobby has drawn a line in the sand and decided to stand with the unborn when few else are doing so.

3.  Hobby Lobby is NOT denying medical insurance to anyone.  They are simply saying that if you desire to use birth control and chose to do so, then you pay for it.  Why should any person or company be required to fund a choice made by another individual that DOES NOT fit under "medical" necessity.  I understand if it is prescribed for health reasons unrelated to pregnancy and this could be and is covered now.  But to fund birth control because people chose to participate in sex and do not want the consequences is absurd.

4.  Hobby Lobby has a right as a company to chose the medical plan they desire to offer employees.  Period!  The Government does not have the right to tell us what we have to provide. 

5.  Hobby Lobby and any other corporation have the right to NOT fund murder!  The US Government is doing all it can to ignore this and forcing it's beliefs of abortion NOT being murder on those of us who do believe it is!   I understand that we are "funding" abortions with tax money.  It sickens me.  But that funding DOES NOT open the door for nor justify increase funding by individuals when their beliefs/conscious says NO!  If people do not like the coverage Hobby Lobby offers, they can chose to work somewhere else.

6.  The mandate forces corporations, free corporations, to act as religious neutral.  The US Government has NO right to do so.   Free corporations are in fact free.  Free corporations have a right to decide how they will fund and what they will fund.  When the government is allowed to remove this freedom, it has thus opened the door to tell people, businesses, non profits, schools, churches, etc. what they can and cannot do.  This is NOT an American idea and clearly violates the US Constitution First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 Every American today needs to read the above carefully.  The Obama Care mandate clearly violates the First Amendment.  Clearly.  No law can be made that prohibits the free exercise thereof...!

7.  Thank God for David Green and family!  I pray their tribe increase.  I pray that more Christians will awaken to the travesty that is upon us.  We have been lulled to sleep for years hearing preachers telling us this day is coming.  Well, this day has already come.  We are now in over our heads into the attacks on Christianity by the US Government while the same Government guarantees religious liberty to thugs who have sought to kill Americans.  Terrorists have more religious liberty today in America than American Christians have.

 8.  Republicans and Democrats are equally at fault!  This is NOT a slam at just one party.  This is the progressive movement that has entered into the thought lines of both parties.  Politics will not produce a solution.  Politics is the chosen method for implementing the problem!

Even one Hollywood Liberal Film Director acknowledges this fact.  I do not agree with Oliver Stone on much, but the following comment highlights where we are, even to a liberal. I disagree with his blanket assessment of the Bush years!  But for a known and proud liberal to accurately nail the events of the current administration and decry them is fact alone that points to the depth that we as a nation have fallen.

The US is codifying thousands and thousands of new, political laws that compel citizens to live according to the State's desires.  America was established as a Republic by the people and for the people!  We are NOT a state led nation.

 Read the following statement from Oliver Stone:

I think under the disguise of sheep’s clothing President Obama has been a wolf. Because of the nightmare of the Bush presidency that preceded him, people forgave him a lot. He was a great hope for change. The color of his skin, the upbringing, the internationalism, the globalism, seemed all evident. And he is an intelligent man. He has taken all the Bush changes and basically put them into the establishment, he has codified them. That is what is sad. So we are going into the second administration that is living outside the law and does not respect the law and foundations of our system and he is a constitutional lawyer, you know. Without the law, it is the law of the jungle. Nuremburg (sic) existed for a reason and there was a reason to have trials, there is a reason for due process – ‘habeas corpus’ as they call it in the United States.

 Yes, this issue is more than important! 

What will we do about it? 

What will you do?

Remember this:  Every nation that has ever fallen, has fallen from within!

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Silence Is Revealing

We are now just days away from experiencing one of the most damaging changes in America since her creation.  On January 1, 2013 the US Government will begin to fine an American Corporation for not providing a murder pill to employees.  Hobby Lobby ownership will lose their right to practice their held religious beliefs and be forced to pay a fine for such a practice.

Where is the outrage?  Why the silence?

For years America has progressed to this point, to this day.  We have silently allowed many regulations for years to be implemented without seeing the end goal of such.  We have now arrived at the day of reckoning.  America cares more about finances than she does about murdering children.  American Christians are guilty of selling our souls for comfort and future ease of living over the rights of children.  And now, the real truth is shining like black hole of despair that will do even more than murder!

America was established so that people could be free from Government intrusion into our religious lives.  Today, a Muslim terrorist murderer has more freedom and rights than a Christian citizen.  Read that line one more time please!  Think about that statement!  And while you are thinking, ask this question:

Why are we silent?

Have we really fallen this deep into apathy?  Have we really reached a place where our apathy will allow the loss of one of our most cherished American freedoms while killing babies at the same time?

Janaury 1, 2013 is a day that proves just how much America has changed.

Is there any hope?

Yes Jesus is still Lord.  The real question is when will we who claim to live with Him as Lord actually begin to live with Him as Lord.

When will the outrage come?  Have we totally lost our passion?  Are we so apathetic that we no longer even know how to stand up for our own rights?

The silence is revealing!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Emotions and the effects thereof!

Mood swings are bad.  Emotions left unchecked to reality are far worse!  America is in an emotion overload and the effects should they continue, could be America altering for the bad!  Emotions are a God given reality.  They make us human.  They allow us to feel and avoid the horrific state of being a mere robot.  They have there place in our lives and they are needed.  But emotions were never given to lead us!

Right now emotions are ruining more than America may be able to grasp.  Emotions have become the political most favored path to accomplish irrational change.  Get emotions freely running, unchecked by common sense, and you can get people to do and say without thinking and make changes so lacking in logic and rational, that you can change an entire nation before anyone realizes it.

And this is the path America is currently on!

Emotions change priorities.  We feel and thus we act.  We change without ever taking the time to ask questions and evaluate completely what we are changing.  We just desire to do something because the feelings we experience push us for some activity.  But activity does not help our emotions long term.  We hope it will - but it does not.

The emotional issues facing America today are leading us as a nation to a point of total chaos.  And because the emotions are leading, we do not see the dangerous ending point.  I thought I would highlight just a few to bring us back to reality:

1.  An American is being held in Mexico and the American Government is doing literally little to effect his release.  He violated no laws and is a military hero.  Where is the outrage?

2.  Benghazi is still in coverup mode with added Tylenol for headaches due to concussion sustained without specifics on the cause of such.  We had military and Government officials killed.  Where is the outrage?

3.  The same Government that now wants to change the 2ND Amendment is the same Government that intentionally ran guns into Mexico in one of the worst debacles of US Government programs.  Many have died as a result.  Where is the outrage?

4.   Our Government has the time to create a new task force to look at changes to gun laws and ownership rights while putting little effort into the real danger to American life, the fiscal cliff.  And there is NO path to avoiding this cliff in sight?  Where is the outrage?

5.  It is beyond horrible to kill!  I cannot fathom the depth of grief that parents and family members are experiencing right now in Connecticut.  We as a nation with one unified voice have declared evil that was committed as such!   And now people are saying get the guns!  We cannot allow children to live in danger of such evil.  And yet, our nation murders millions of babies via abortion and few cry over the evil!  Where is the outrage?

America - we have a problem!  Our emotions are leading us to miss reality!  And the effects of this continuing will be more than I can even think.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Death and Children - Help and comfort in todays storm

I write this with all kinds of thoughts running through my mind.  The events on this day in a Elementary school remind us of the horrors capable without Jesus.   We are reminded and experience  the pain and agony those horrors bring to the innocent, families, and a nation.

But what about the eternal destiny of the children killed?  Is there clarity of their eternal destination?

Jesus instructed his disciples that they should "...Let the children to come to Me; do not forbid them; for such is the Kingdom of heaven.”  What more clear a message is there to reveal the heart of God toward children?  His longing for mankind is seen in His Words.  Paul further states in 2 Corinthians 5: 10 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."(NKJ)  Children are born with a sin nature and at some point in their life will reach a point of maturity where they realize that they need Jesus.  Until that point is reached, Gods grace covers their lives and there is certainty that should death occur, God brings them into His arms through His amazing Grace!  This we know - God is faithful.  He has been and always will be!  He was faithful today!  And for this, we must give thanksgiving.

The children today whose lives were taken were immediately gathered by the arms of God.  They are now in His presence and they are safe.  We left on this earth groan as we must deal with the evil and grief displayed.  We left must live with the horror and find the comfort and peace that can only come from the one true God who is faithful and true.  We must remember that life apart from one's personal acceptance of Jesus Christ is a life controlled by Satan himself - the evil one.  And this we left on earth today must face.

God sent Jesus for each one of us!  Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life.  He was brutally killed on a cross for our sins!  He stood in our place.  Jesus is God's gift to us!  A gift that we are given a choice of accepting or rejecting.  Paul said for "all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God!"  "There is none righteous, no not one."  I can assure you who read this that religion, politics, thought and theory will not get one person into heaven and will not change or control one life from evil!  Only through the person Jesus is this possible!

You have heard these words and you have seen them displayed many times.  But today I pray we will take them heart:

John 3:16
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Each must come to the place of accepting or rejecting.  What have you done?  What decision have you made?

Today we ask many questions.  But we see through a glass that is darkened by the sin and the limits sin brings.  God knows.  The children today received a great reward!  Our pain will only begin to recede when we trust God and seek His perspective.  

Today we see more clearly than ever before in the history of America the failures of our secular society!  We who know Jesus see why we are salt and light, placed here on a mission.  And we see our need to repent from our failure to share Jesus!  Today in all of its horror is not the end of this type of demonic activity.  We must ask, what are we doing to reach more people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Politicians, counselors, laws and iron fences will not and cannot fix our ills.  Only Jesus can.  

So today and I give you Jesus!  He is all we have and He is more than enough!
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give I to you; .... Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." - Jesus (John 14:27)
Should you find that you need to hear more, please contact me via email   I would love to share with you the gift that brings hope, comfort, forgiveness, and peace in the midst of this ugly world!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Christian Right and Evangelism

Opinions are everywhere as to what has happened or is occurring to the Christian Right in America.  A group once viewed by many as strong and needed is now seeing a direct opposite description being given.  Are Evangelicals out of touch?  One newspaper in Tennessee seems to think this last election seals the deal on the current state of the Christian Right.  The Tennessean presents an interesting perspective in an article hear

What keeps missing in the discussion is the fact that America has NOT been a Christian nation for some time.  And even in the areas of high concentration of Christians, the daily living out of values varies dramatically.  No one denomination can even pretend to present all of their affiliates as believing in a similar fashion.  Whether one is Catholic, Baptists, or other, the variance of how one believes and applies those beliefs are no longer singular in approach. 

History reveals that though in pockets maybe similarities did at one time exist, they were the exceptions.  I have known from since I can first remember that even good ol' Southern Baptist were seldom on the same page.  One person questioned this recently and challenged me to prove it.  It was a simple request - just show up at a business meeting in a Southern Baptist Church!  See my point?

Today we see more families with multiple religious backgrounds being the norm; or do we?  Maybe what we are seeing today is that for years America has been a mixed bag, a gumbo of beliefs and practices.   In my own family is a Methodist and Baptist blend from my mothers side.  And it is just one aspect of it.  But something far more important is being missed in all of this discussion!

We are seeing today the effects of not reaching people with the Gospel over the past many years. 

And what will it take to change this?  The world will continue to spin.  People will continue to die without Christ and thus go to Hell.  Churches will keep appeasing the loudest.  Many words will be spoken about the evil of society.  Fingers will be pointed at everything. Politics will not solve the moral decline.  America will continue the change implemented after World War II (yes America has been changing for years). 

And even more...

A new type of Christian social agenda will continue to increase.  Those who love to poke fun at the Christian right and drive from the rear view mirror will increase their nonsense of how wrong many were over the past 30 years and how right they are today.  Social issues will be elevated as this main focus.  Instead of condemning them, we will be told to accept.  Efforts and priorities will continue to guide us towards social missions.

And yet...

The one thing needed today, that has been the one thing needed for years, will seldom be taught or practiced.

Christians must start sharing Jesus and His story while ceasing from sharing their story and their ideas of Jesus.

Only one approach is commanded and backed with a promise and guarantee.  Only one plan for salvation is offered for all who will accept it.

For God so loved the world that He sent Jesus to die for the sins man, you and me!  He was buried.  he was placed in a grave.  He did NOT stay in the grave!  He ascended alive and well and is now seated next to the Father! 

Jesus did this for each of us!  It is the only message that will help us all! 

Will you share it?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Speaking the TRUTH in todays America (Series)

Part 1

Over the past week I have made clear my perception of today's America - it is not pretty.  In noting this, the simple fact that the change we are seeing did not occur overnight was also front and center.  So now we must ask the question as Christians trying to reach people in this new era of "neo-anything can be truth" culture, HOW?

American Christians have perfected the speech approach to teaching.  Even in our social media use can be found the clear and often blunt ugly use of this method in telling people what is wrong with their ideology and where they will go because of it.  We make our points well yet we are failing to impress or influence even a few.  It is time we seek to understand the needed approach required if we are to really make a difference today.

And for many Christians, this is going to be a tough road to travel!

Our learning begins with some simple facts.  People without Jesus, do not have a foundation that we can build upon.  People without Jesus, need Jesus first!  Never should we compromise the truth with anyone.  But understanding that only in a relationship with Jesus is the foundation upon which truth is built can we expect any glimmer of accomplishing lasting life change.  This is Biblical truth.  Hard to realize that we Christians must first accept a truth before we expect others to do the same.  But this is a must.  The journey begins with this hurdle at the starting line.

Many American churches are facilitating this hurdle by abandoning Evangelistic outreach endeavors.  We talk much about reaching the nations.  Preaching to the nations is the new modern day battle cry!  A simple analysis of our current trends in methods and thoughts on evangelism reveal that we are doing little to reach individual people regardless of the intent of the battle cry.  The popular growth of Reformed Theology and the New Calvinism of our day are not helping either.  The more this spreads the fewer people that will be reached.  Sharing Jesus is the beginning.  It is more than preaching/teaching.  Sharing Jesus is more than telling someone to turn or burn.  Sharing Jesus is sharing Jesus story and what He did for all of us.  It is making it clear that Jesus offers a free gift called salvation to all who will receive.  The gift is offered, but we each must chose to accept or reject. 

Rom 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Rom 5:8
8    But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Sharing truth requires each of us who know Christ to begin sharing His truth.  It is not turn or burn.  It is begging and pleading with people to see what God did for them in His Son Jesus.  It is sharing the love of God for all people regardless of where they have been or what they have done!  It is leaving the judging to God while living as one changed so as not to cause anyone to stumble so that the message of Gods love in Christ, can be seen and thus received.
This is the starting point!  No moral or political change is possible of lasting value without Jesus first!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nothing has changed - only more clear!

Tuesday night did not show any kind of a change.  I am sorry for those who have wasted energy and emotions thinking that something changed.  I truly am.  The problem is now more clear than ever - America has been changing for years and we tried to deny it.  In fact, we neglected it!  Tuesdays results are the by product of the already changed America.  And it is NOT a political change that has occurred. 

Now what will we do about it?

Christians must realize quickly that elections ARE NOT our hope.  Never have been and never will be!  My sixteen year old has now seen more anti-God Government in his life time than somewhat pro God Government.  Think about that for a moment.  This is not a new situation - it has been brewing for some time - since the 1940's.  The change has been occurring.  It is now just clearly being seen!

The problem?

American Christianity has been the keeper and builder of the club rather than be on mission doing what God called us here to do.  I looked at the political maps last night and today and I realized something - they mirror the American churches.  We do not reach and have not reached the other people groups that God has sent to us.  And our society is showing this in a clear way!  Angry conservatives who tell people how to live will NOT change lives.  Angry Christians will not open doors for sharing Jesus with self righteous talk and name calling.  Our speech by the way is suppose to draw people to Jesus, NOT "push" them away.  Our cries from fear and frustration are only more signs that we are NOT sold out to the mission that God placed us here for.  We should be salt and light living lives showing agape love to all!  This we have NOT done!

The people of this generation ARE NOT being discipled nor reached!  We as Christians have not sought to love them and to make a difference in their lives.  Even the Bible belt of America is seeing the gap narrow. 

This coming Sunday I will be dealing with this subject in a straight forward way!  The message will be available here for anyone who cares to see what we as American Christians MUST change.

I just pray we do!


Our current generation is living, and thus will die, without Jesus!  Hell will be their eternal place!

And that is breaking my heart!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Brentwood Benson does VBS RIGHT!

It is normal for people in church life and ministry to think about VBS in February or March.  I have done this for most of my life - even as a child attending every summer VBS of childhood.  But what about actually doing VBS in October?  Now that is totally out of the box.  And that is totally just what we did!  This is a short story of our journey into Fall VBS and the results thereof.

To begin with, Lifeway ending it's relationship with Jeff Slaughter played a huge role in what I will share.  There is none better than Slaughter at developing VBS material and music that shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ clearly and effectively with children.  None better anywhere!  And since Slaughter was picked up by Brentwood Benson to put together their first ever VBS material offering, our staff got a little curious.  Our curiosity led us down a new path for VBS.  We decided to go with a Fall VBS and see what would happen.  We contacted Brentwood Benson and asked if we could premier this new offering.  They agreed.  We contacted Slaughter and secured him to be live on stage for two nights of VBS worship and celebration.  He agreed!  Fall VBS would indeed occur.

The following is what we gleaned from this adventure:

1.  Slaughter - still NONE BETTER.  Lifeway really blew it with this one.  His heart for children and the gift and blessing on his writing and arranging cannot be denied.  He is in person as he is on stage - the real deal.  He wants to see people reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And he gives his all to see that this takes place.  The music was beyond good with this material.  Our adults even loved it and get this - it led to a VBS Flash Mob in both morning services this past Sunday.  it was incredible!

2.  The material - what Brentwood Benson has put together is the BEST ever!  My wife who has the same track record as I do in VBS said it this way:  "this material in structure, ideas, how to's, and message was the best ever!"  She loved it.  And so did our other workers.  It was done by people who know VBS and know what is needed.  Often those who write VBS material make the structure difficult and the message seems to get lost in the implementation.  Often the ideas for sharing do not relate to the children of today.  Often, VBS does NOT really get a clear message across.  Not with this one.  The message was clear and powerful!  The children got it!  I have never heard children so get the theme and message of VBS like I did this year! 

Since the theme was a world tour, missions was all over this material.  Our leaders decided to up it even more by Skyping in Missionaries from each of the countries that the tour visited each evening during the group times.  And this was awesome!  The children heard first hand from people doing mission work and prayed for that person and country!  You would not have believed the prayers that went up from these children.

The snacks were even designed to fit the countries each night on the tour and allowed for total theme involvement!  And man were they good!

3.  Evangelistic - everything about this material was evangelistic from start to finish.

4.  Theology - this material is sound and void of the modern hangups found in much material these days.  There are NO worries with theology here!  Straight Jesus and His gift to all who will receive!

5.  Cost - we actually did VBS with less money spent this year than in years past.

If you want a VBS material that your workers will love, that will clearly and easily share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that will have your children engulfed in VBS and actually "getting it", then you need to call up Brentwood Benson and get your order in!  You will love it!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Religion and Politics - At Critical Mass

It has now become clear that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has taken themselves down a dangerous path for political reasons.  The web site for BGEA has made a major change.  It is a sad change and one that we who believe the Bible and understand the true Gospel of Jesus Christ need to note and speak against.

The BGEA has now removed the Mormon church being listed as a cult!

It is a sad day in the waning years of the evangelists life to see such political posturing rise above the life message of the Gospel that has been faithfully preached for many years.  I had so thought that Dr. Billy Graham would finish strong and show the world a strong modern example of such.  I think that day has come to an end.

Mormonism is NOT Evangelical and it never will be.  The way a Mormon believes they will enter heaven is totally different that what the Bible says - and the Bible is the authority on such!  I realize that politics in America is at a critical point.  I realize that America is being thrown down the tube by the current administration.  I know that this election is the first of many tough ones for Christians in America.  We failed to reach our nation and payment time has arrived.  But politics should never shape Theology!

I have placed my allegiance to and in the person of Jesus Christ - the one and only Savior.  It is only through repentance of sin and acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior that a person can find eternal life with God in heaven.  And Americas need for a political change does not, nor can it change that fact. Mormonism is a cult.  It does not teach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I am called to preach Jesus, and Jesus alone.  My political views do not change my theology.

Christians need to be extremely careful!  When we alter our convictions for our desired political gains, we lose more than a political victory!

I rank Mitt Romney way above President Obama in a political perspective.  I want President Obama defeated in this election.

But I will NOT change nor stray from the Gospel of Jesus Christ nor will I lesson my declaration of the application of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the mere token of political gain!

This I cannot and will NOT do!

Jesus is the Lord and I will NOT sell Him out over anything!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dont Ask, Trust Us! We are in trouble!

In the convention "vetting" of the Presidential pick by the Search Team of MWBTS we have an email sent out in response to a question asking the Theological leanings of the proposed candidate. The response simply says trust us, we got this, wait until the man is voted on to learn his Theology.  Was it not the Democrats in congress who said when asked what was in the health care bill to trust us, let us vote it in and then we will see what we actually have in the bill?  Just a thought!

The heart of my concern over such a response goes to the heart of the SBC - Cooperative Program giving.  We are hearing that giving is down due to the economy.  What we are not hearing is that churches are lowering their percentages due to SBC power plays as the email mentioned above reveals.  The people in the pews are losing faith in the SBC leaders at an alarming rate.


Little occurs from the SBC anymore that really meets the needs of local churches.  The only clear voice I hear week in and out is "send more money to the IMB and forget the rest!"  This voice is from the pews of the our churches.  Even retired missionaries are sounding this call at a shocking level.  Could it be that our institutions have lost the trust and faith of the people in the pew?

When one sits back and simply lists the events, the people placed into lead roles, the sealing of documents, the don't ask - trust us approach, one sees why few care anymore.  And if someone raises a question, that person is labeled as a trouble maker and quickly attacked in an attempt to silence their voice.  Last time I checked the above did not fit the definition of accountability. 

No doubt this type of maneuvering has been around for some time.  It is almost human nature when one looks at large groups that must somehow find a way to work together.  Yet no excuse should be allowed to triumph such a conduct.  The people in the pew are tired of the junk.  The people in the pew are fed up with their churches being forced into battles over theology they do not hold to.  The people in the pew will respond to missions and ministry.  They will reject political plays every time.

It might be a more prudent decision for the search team to answer the questions now, not later.  Dr. Allen and his family deserve better than this.  We live in the age of instant information and communication.  I thought our leaders knew this.  To role this selection out in a manner that does not reinforce the selection is institutional abuse at its finest.  If the search team truly believes this is their man, then they should be out front promoting and highlighting why they believe this.  We have seen and heard little.  Sad!

Instead, we are told NO ANSWERS, TRUST US.

I have one question:  Please tell me how we can trust when you handle the process in this manner.

I think more than MWBTS is at stake in this decision.  We are seeing in a vivid way why CP giving is dropping.  The real clue is not in the total dollars but rather in the percentage that a church gives.  The percentage is the key issue and it is speaking loud and clear!

Will someone wake up and realize the damage being done?  When only Pastors care about this stuff the problem is already bigger than we realize!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Missing from the Calvinism Advisory Team

This post is more about an observation than it is a gripe.  Yes I am going to highlight something I think is missing in the formation of the Advisory Team but not as a fuss to or about Dr. Page.  Rather the reality of what I see missing is due to the current climate in SBC life and Evangelical churches as a whole.

The team that will study the issue of how Traditionalists and Calvinists will move forward together in the SBC may be more challenging than the Name Change or even the GCR report.  The list presented in Baptist Press shows some balance.  There are people representing Educators, Entity Heads, Pastors, Ethnic groups, and Denominational people.  There are mid size church Pastors and Large church Pastors.  Southern Seminary is covered with the largest group (those with close ties to Southern) and representatives from New Orleans and Southwestern.  We have Northern representation and even the East Coast (and Beltway at that).

But who do we NOT have?

As I looked at the list and discussed the breakdown on a call last night while driving, something jumped out at me and screamed loud and clear.  In the whole of the debate/discussion/elephant one group has been missing all along.  This group finds itself on the front lines of this issue right along with the turmoil in churches.  For over ten plus years now this group has been being left out of the Convention conversation on most issues simply because they are being left out of most church life.

In Ephesians we find this group given a clear Biblical role and place in New Testament churches.  Read the following verses:

 Eph 4:11-16
11    And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
12    for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
13    till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
14    that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
15    but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-- Christ--
16    from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
So who is missing?

Where is the voice of the Evangelists?

I think this missing voice speaks volumes to where we are today more than we may be willing to admit.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Is "to the Nations" really missions?

There I was last week on a lake and in a boat listening to my old (according to my two sons) music and driving the family crazy with it while doing some reflection of ministry and missions.  You see, I have this problem of not being able to shut the mind off just because I am on vacation.  I like to use that time to sfocus on key thoughts etc..  And this year it was missions and ministry.

 In particular, what are we really doing and can we do more.

In this thought process the whole terminology thing came kept coming up.  Having been in SBC churches all of my life, missions strategy is all too familiar.  GO, REACH, and now The Nations are terms used to motivate and remind us that there is something BIG we are suppose to be doing.  But lets really look at the current lingo.

Reach the nations!

What does that mean?

Do we know what it really means?

Is the meaning the same from one person to the next?

Tough questions that produce answers describing a major issue in our mission efforts.  Is it possible that the term we are currently hearing over and over again is ushering in an actual opposite effect of little real missions?

Now grant it that I may be accused of being picky or crazy.  But think with me for just a moment. 

What does it mean?  Are we to reach whole countries?  Sure!  But how?  If we do a humanitarian effort in a country, have we taken the Gospel to the Nations?  If we hold a few worship services in this country, does that fulfill the mandate?

What does it really mean?  Have we been told by those who coined the phrase?  Are we told by those who use it in sermons and lectures on missions? 

When I hear the term, I think I know what it means but I am not sure.  Where is this term defined? 

A clear missions strategy must have a clear common understanding.  Every Pastor and staff member must be in sync with every entity leader in knowing what the term means.  But then it dawned on me, we live in a time when taking up an offering for xyz material need in some country is praised as reaching the nations.  Is it?

But today, I will allow for contemplation on this initial post about this subject while praising the members of our church for raising over $3,500 with just two weeks notice to send my traditional worship leader to India for two weeks to train Pastors in evangelism and the teaching of the Word of God so they can reach their home country residents. 

We will continue this thought later this week...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

If we do not fight the culture...?

I have suspected for some time now that a day would come in the USA when we would see more than rhetorical attacks against Christianity and Biblical principles.  I suspected that these attacks would come in my life time.  I did not suspect that these attacks would come so soon.  But enter the Chick Fil-A saga.  And here we are.

When Dan Cathy acknowledged his beliefs about marriage he ignited a storm that has brought Americans to a crossroads.  As a citizen, Cathy simply simply stated that marriage should be between a man and women.  As a citizen he has every right to say what he believes.  But there are those in America who disagree with that right depending upon the content of what is said.

The crossroads is not tricky.  As a country we will either take a right hand turn and once again be a Republic of freedom and constitutional law or we will turn left, and lose our freedoms while traveling down a road mixed with tyranny and the absence of religious freedom.  Yes, the crossroads is now in front of us.  We are waiting for the moment.  The decisions of which way we turn are upon us.

Why now?

Over the past few years the fight for right and wrong has been hit with apathy and left leaning ideology.  The hits that came were NOT from those outside of Christianity.  Our attacks have come from within Christianity.  Gone are the leaders who rallied us in the past.  Their replacements have presented a different model.  A model that frowns on culture wars and embraces naively the idea that people will accept all the differences and NO one will be harmed.  We have been told by these few that discrimination will not occur.  For once we cease the war, our love will earn the respect of those different from us.

They have been and are WRONG!

We have paved the road that has brought us to this crossroads.  We ceased from fighting.  We compromised our beliefs.  We joined the culture.  And we are paying for all the above dearly.

Men and women died so you and I could be free.  No politician or elected official has the right to tell a business owner or church or group of Christians, what they can and cannot say.  NOT in America. 

Or can they?

This is the crossroads.  If Chick Fil-A is attacked for her owners remarks, then why not go ahead and attack churches of all types?  You think I am crazy?  Think about the following.  In Chicago where the mayor is a former presidential Chief of Staff (who claimed that chick Fil-A was NOT welcome in Chicago) their zoning laws are allowing a strip club to go up next to a catholic home for the elderly run by nuns.  Just a few years ago the outcry over this type of decision would have been more than vocal.  Today, there is silence.

There is something wrong here!  Terribly wrong!

Though I am Baptist, I praise the Catholic church for fighting against many of the provisions in the healthcare reform bill.  Many Baptist have been silent.  Are Catholics now going to be targeted in the manner of Chick Fil-A?  Ask the priests and Bishops of the Catholic churches what they teach about same sex marriage.  Are they no longer welcome in Chicago, Boston, or San Fran?  Are Baptists next?  We see defense of criminal non profit groups like Acorn and yet we see attacks on non profits who support values and Biblical principles. 

If we do not get back into the fight we will lose the right to do what we are doing now as ministers and churches.  If we do not get back into the fight our children will live in a country with freedom only as a history point (if they even mention it at all).  And if we do not get back into the fight, we will have NO ONE to blame but ourselves.  For the weapons used against us were NOT more mighty.  We just ceased from using our weapons and thus allowed strongholds to build up in our lives, communities, and culture.

It is true that Christianity has always been more productive when freedom was lacking.  I do not for one moment think that fighting the culture will solve all the problems.  But I do know that abandon the fight will bring about attacks on Christianity like we in America have never seen nor experienced.  We are forgetting the real issues at stake.  We are forgetting we are salt and light.  We are blowing that which was bought and paid for with blood and ultimate sacrifice.  How dare we.

We cannot afford to sit out the fight any longer!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Double Standards Multiplying

Life is getting more and more complicated.  Calls ring out for inclusion.  Pleas are made for love and mercy, acceptance and equal protection.  Standards once thought to be grounded in cement are now shown to sit atop sinking sand.  What is taking place in America and American Christianity?

The clear visual for us today is seen in the uprising over Chick Fil A.  The owner of the company, a private company, speaks his mind about what he believes to be true, and mainstream media outlets go ballistic.  People who practice the freedom of speech suddenly want to attack the owner of a successful business for doing the same.  A boycott is called for of the chicken serving establishments. City officials are pressured to rule these establishments as unwanted in their cities.

So what has happened to free speech?

I think this is an honest question.  America has been under attack for years from the homosexual community.  No doubt that much has been gained by there attacks.  But how can this community of people use the rail of free speech and equal protection while denying the same to people who speak opposite.  Important in the thought process is understanding that Chick Fil A has never NOT served a homosexual.  They have never been accused of showing bias on any level.

This double standard is the result of compromises made over the years to the homosexual community.  It is a price that we will now have to pay and somehow work through.  We allowed a small group to gain a foothold in our decision process.  Chaos is now an everyday norm.  And there is not found a visible end anywhere down the road.  Honesty is passing from the Christian community.  In some circles today, what was once called homosexual activity is now passed as only battles due to previous life events.  When Christians accept the double standard, the path to deliverance and true freedom are lost.  When we allow this double standard to exist, we join the attack on the Gospel of Jesus and His Word.

How do we move forward?

I serve in a community that has one of the highest homosexual populations in all of Tennessee.  Homosexuals attend our services weekly.  I do not soften the Word of God as to the sin of homosexuality nor do I compromise limits for their involvement.  Yes I have been questioned on this.  Yes I get an occasional letter or email.  Once I even got a visit to the office.  But never have I ever been called unloving or homophobic for my beliefs and how those beliefs are taught and lived out on a daily bases.

People talk of building bridges these days.  We must remember that we cannot build anything of substance on sand.  Sin will not uphold the truth of God's Word.  Sin allowed and justified cannot a bridge of biblical ministry support.  Teaching the truth in love will drive a wedge often between people.  The bible says of itself that the Gospel is an offense.  Rants are not needed.  But neither should compromise be found in this discussion.  Many have come out of the homosexual lifestyle because of the work of God in their lives.  And this will continue to be the case if we keep the Word of God out front in this discussion.  The "if" is the key. 

How long will Chick Fil A hold out?  Will they cave in to the pressure?  I pray NOT!  For more is at stake than one mans right to speak publicly about his beliefs.  The whole foundation of allowing the Word of God to speak and direct on this subject is on the line.  If we lose this fight, we lose the path of sharing the Gospel to the American community as a whole - we lose our own credibility.  And that my friends will be disastrous.

Double standards multiplying are more serious than many think!  And the homosexual community is NOT the only place that this is occurring.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ask, Don't Ask, Accept, Don't Accept, Repent or ?

If the title caught your attention then it will definitely confuse you as it is applied to varying ideas of how one enters into salvation with Jesus.  The increase in articles, books, and sermons covering the whole idea (good and bad) about how a person actually enters into a relationship with Jesus Christ can give one a migraine headache of epic size.

Does a person need to ask Jesus into their life and accept Him as Lord?

There is a big difference between the yes answer and the no answer.  Those who hold to the traditional view of salvation would answer yes.  They would acknowledge that a person must make the decision to turn from their sin (repent) and accept Jesus through faith.  The traditionalist people have believed this for years.  You will find this belief in most Evangelical churches and denominations/Associations/Conventions. 

I agree with this understanding of the Biblical teaching about salvation and hold that this is the Gospel.  I believe that God gives every person the opportunity to make the above choice/decision.  He knows that many will not.  He knows that many will.  My key reason for being convinced in my spirit and mind comes straight from the Word of God.

Notice how clearly salvation is explained in the "how" with the words of Paul in writing to Corinth:

2 Cor 7:10
10    For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

In this passage, Paul is discussing his letter written to them and how it affected them.  He chooses to use the analogy of their sorrow to highlight with the gift of salvation just how a person realizes they are a sinner against God, sees they cannot fix the effect of their sin, and through this Godly sorrow are brought into salvation via the act of repentance.  God's Holy Spirit calls, teaches, and convicts.  Each person must make a choice as to what they will do in response to God and His work offered as a gift.

This process should be taken very seriously.  In fact, the Bible is clear on this when when Paul writes to the people at Philipi and says:

Phil 2:12-13
12    Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
13    for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Clearly Paul acknowledges in this verse that salvation is God's gift.  It is God who works in the calling, conviction, and giving the ability to respond.  Yet Paul also acknowledges that each person must "work out" or make sure they have made the choice and live out the reality of that choice.  One does not realize that they are saved.  One is not born as a chosen one while others are born damned for Hell.  One must respond to the work of God and then allow God to work.  Salvation is all of and about the work of God in and through Jesus.  Yet God does not force Himself on anyone.  It is beyond religion and systems of thoughts.  It requires faith in the Grace of God.  It requires one to repent.  It is more than just a simple mental decision.

I am the first to admit that too many people in all walks of Christianity make salvation more about saying yes to heaven and no to hell.  They want to see their children and grandchildren baptized.  I have seen in over 23 years of ministry that repentance can be somewhat downplayed - which I think is totally wrong.  Without repentance, one cannot be saved.  Salvation is serious.  Salvation is the most important thing in life!  We cannot get this wrong!  Salvation does not precede repentance.  It is impossible with the above verse out of 2 Corinthians.  
And I do not think it is lowering or weakening the sovereignty of God to say and believe what I have written for the process is clearly described in God's Word.  

Have you accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life?  Did you repent and acknowledge that you needed the death of Christ as payment for your sins? 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Learned from my perspective and concerns w/New Calvinism!

Yesterday I wrote a post that was an attempt to get dialogue started on what it is that Calvinists and New Calvinists believe.  The result was much to my surprise.  The folks over at carried the post and the comments can be viewed their also.  Add to the comments the phone calls of yesterday and today and boy did I learn a great deal.  I just finished a phone call with someone who, along with family, have come out of a Calvinist takeover church.  The story is the same and the 9Marks path of reforming a church is being followed to the letter (as with many, it hit major resistance and left a church totally splintered).  Here is more of what I learned from this part of the journey:

1.  The old form of Calvinism is still alive and well and as friendly and cooperative as ever.  I knew it was but was not seeing it much on the internet.  The Soteriology of the old form balances with the Traditional Statement where it counts the most. 

2.  The Founders version grouped with younger learning theologs are not the mainstream but they sure think they are!  I pray these guys learn quickly that God has not taught them so that can call out other Pastors based on their knowledge to enlighten them and clean up other churches.  They will one day soon learn that ministry; real ministry, is more than arguing some point and claiming superiority.

3.  The limit of blogging and the influence there of is growing weaker by the day.  I think I am thankful for this.  Social media may not be as strong as we think in ministry matters other than informing our people of events and ministry needs etc.  We need to acknowledge this and NOT over react.

4.  You can burn an afternoon quickly if one is not careful.  And when the burn is complete, thre is not much to show for it.

5.  I believe there is a way for cooperation in the SBC with the mainstream older Calvinists as there has been for years.  They are not fully aware of the New Calvinists and refute their assertions at every turn.  This is encouraging.  I am not sure how to cooperate with the New Calvinists.  I keep thinking that the way is out there, but I have yet to see it. 

6.  New Calvinism would make a great study of pollsters and PhD students.

7.  How quickly we forget or neglect some of the simple admonitions in scripture when we want to prove our point or set the world straight!

8.  Bearing False Witness is still a sin.  New Calvinists might need remedial training.

9.  I am more convinced than ever that the Calvinists need a mega meeting of their own to figure out how they will deal with this new breed.  Maybe we have approached this wrong.  The old Calvinists need to listen the New Calvinists and seek to learn what makes them tick.  From that learning it may be possible for them to lead them in today's ministry and churches. 

10.  If you do not live within the influence of certain geographic areas, you might not be aware of New Calvinism at all.

11.  I sure do miss Dr. Adrian Rogers.  I wonder if he would have blogged and tweeted?

12.  Leaders in the SBC have their hands full!  Dr. Page and his task force/committee will need our prayers.

13.  We need statesmen in a bad way these days!

14.  There sure seems to be a problem with taking people at their word! 

15.  The elephant in the room is whether or not Founders and New Calvinists will back off their goal of transforming the SBC?  This is the biggie!  I cannot get an answer from anyone on this one.  Why is that?

And there is much more!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My perspective on why todays Calvinism is a concern.

Comments for this post will be allowed @ as they plan on posting it on their site with my permission.

I have debated writing this post for some time.  The reality that anything written can be misconstrued is enough by itself to cause hesitation.  The last thing I want to do is leave the wrong impression with anyone.  I love Calvinists and I love Traditionalists.  I work with both and even some in other groups.  So I write the following to voice concerns that I am seeing and hearing.  I write to add clarification as to why I signed the traditional statement.  I write to reveal why this issue is a growing problem.  And since I write best by making lists, I will list out my concerns while making it clear that NO priority is given other than the first one on the list.

The list will include specifics and generic issues tied to people and promotion.  Again, these are my concerns and are questions that I have yet to get consistent answers from (new)Calvinists of today.  The older SBC Calvinists that I have known and respected were totally different.

My Concerns:

1.  Ask 10 different Calvinists what they believe must occur for a person to be saved and you will get at least 5 different answers.

2.  Do Calvinists really believe that John 3:16 shows that only the elect are the ones God loves.

3.  Do Calvinists believe that some people are born with NO hope of salvation?

4.  At what point do Calvinist believe salvation occurs?

5.  How can Calvinists call Traditionalists divisive when it is the Calvinists that have web sites and blogs that specifically state their desire to change the SBC and beyond?

Here is an example from the Founders blog (knowing their website clearly states their desire to change the SBC):  "It is indisputable that we are in the midst of a reformation and recovery of the doctrines of grace, or what has historically been called, "Calvinism." Both statistical and anecdotal evidence of this fact continues to mount. I believe that this is a movement of God and that it is even more widespread than recent studies indicate. As is true with any of work of God, the devil always keeps pace and seeks to steal, kill and destroy. If he cannot keep us from truth then he will do what he can to cause us to hold the truth in imbalanced and ungodly ways."

6.  Young Pastors and staff members are speaking and writing articles that it is dangerous to lead a child to pray to accept Christ?  If this is true, what then should a child do and how should a child be lead by their parents and other influences?

7.   Why is Lifeway sponsoring The Gospel Coalition conferences?

8.  Why is Lifeway promoting more Calvinists and their material?

9.  Why are Calvinists leaders NOT doing more to instill that Pastors must be upfront with their Soteriology?  There are even manuals on how to transition a church from Traditional to Calvinist doctrine.  If there is no move to change the SBC, why are there manuals by 9Marks and others?

10.  Why the aggression from Calvinists because many in the SBC do NOT agree with them?

11.  If the BF&M is enough, why do we have two Seminaries requiring faculty to sign other statements that are Calvinists/Reformed documents?

12.  Since when did Baptist and Reform go together?  The day to day operations of the church do not even match!

13.  If there is no takeover plan, why was there a SBC Professor giving the benefits of the takover (even using a racial slur) at one of the meetings during the SBC?

14.  Why did Lifeway do a survey that gave the participants no option other than saying they were either Calvinists or Arminion?

15.  With the exception of Infant Baptism, since when were Baptist and Presbyterians so much alike?  Dr. James Kennedy was my kind of Presbyterian but today's New Calvinists are nothing close in belief and practice.  Just think back to Evangelism Explosion materials (I was certified as a trainer in an SBC church).  Today's New Calvinists would reject Dr. Kennedy's material.  How and why?

These are the questions I have.  They are simple and I think need to be answered.  We are told that we need to cooperate.  I am fine with that.  I am concerned though that the answers to the above may highlight the difficult journey that cooperation will reveal.  Some Traditionalists are even saying they will sit this discussion out.  I wonder if they would maintain that position when the real truth of the answers are shown. 

I find this issue extremely important simply by the answers to point number one.  If we cannot agree on that one, then we have two different Gospels.  Cooperation will not occur at that point.

And speaking of the Gospel, is it not odd that Calvinists/Reformed call their Soteriology the true Gospel and thus label much of their work and conferences with the word Gospel in it?

These are my concerns.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Parents - Beware!

The past few posts have dealt with an article written by Family Pastor Jarred Kennedy of Sojourn Church in Lousiville, KY.  This article highlights to me the pressing need for churches to make sure they are teaching the Gospel as the Bible teaches it in light of what I call the Gumbo of Theology that is coming out from all corners of theological life today.  Our younger couples in America do not have the background that I was blessed with - many do not come from families with steady spiritual emphasis in the younger years.  There lives have not been filled with Biblical teaching and preaching.  At best, we often see a mix of theological thought when we do see it.

The article appears at a time when several popular speakers and writers launched similar attacks on the "asking Jesus" or "praying the prayer" events that are found common in millions of Christians salvation experience over the years.  These attacks are rooted in the Calvinist approach to Theology and are Reformed in their nature.  They stem from a Protestant background with a disdain for the revival movements of years gone by.  They make huge generic assumptions which seemingly reinforce their idea of how salvation works and the method of.

Young couples void of much background are quick to grasp at this different approach for several reasons.  They have heard of abuse in the past when people were coerced into emotional responses to a sermon or event that said "if you want to go to heaven, do xyz".  I understand that past and have fought to change the damage that a few have done.  I also know first hand that this damage is NOT widespread.  Evangelists have been men of honor and servants of the Lord for years.  Though you can always find a bad one, the good ones far out number the bad!  I personally detest the lumping of all evangelists into a bad category and find the generalizations that do appalling and arrogant; and lacking in Biblical conduct.

Parents who God has blessed with children have a huge spiritual responsibility.  This begins with the sharing of God's plan for the world and the gift of Jesus.  Teaching the Biblical truths of sin and the effects of.  Clearly acknowledging that Hell is a real place and the place where sinners who have NOT experienced God's Salvation in Jesus spend eternity must be taught and reinforced.  In this, parents beg for God to save their children.  We pray and talk.  We place them in vibrant ministry environments so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is heard over and over again.  We desire with all our being for our children to experience salvation in Jesus Christ.  And this we should do!

Enter time warp to NOW.  Suddenly people in popular positions and influence are teaching that which is different than what we have been taught or are currently hearing.  We read articles such as this that without a deep background in the Word of God would make us cringe and fearful.  No where in the article is the "how to" told.  No where is hope given that Salvation will come.  I find this frightening.  With all the complaints of the past ideas and approaches, with all the glory of the so called re-captured Gospel, there is NO plan.  Tell the history.  Just tell the history.

The reason for this is that the author, and those who think like him, actually believe that you are either born being saved or you are born with NO hope of ever being saved.  No decision is required.  It is a settled thing with God and Jesus only died for the elect.  So you are either elect at birth or lost, damned to Hell for eternity.

Parents beware!  The Bible does NOT teach this. 

Jesus repeatedly offers salvation to all who will receive.  John 3:16 is right the way you have heard it; "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that who so ever believes on Him shall NOT perish, but have everlasting life!" The Bible goes on to say in Philippians 2:12;  that we should "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling". 

Salvation is too serious an issue to be tossed around with ideas that lead people down paths of NOT calling others to repentance; especially their own children.  I know without a doubt that God knows who will be saved and who will not.  He desires all.  Yet He knows some will NOT respond to His Holy Spirit and accept His gift.  But it is offered to ALL!

Our church has overhauled our ministry to children for this very reason.  We do not coerce children into emotional decisions.  We do however teach what the Bible says about sin, Hell, and Heaven.  We teach that without repentance, their is NO remission of sin.  That only Jesus can save you.  We teach that when the Holy Spirit convicts, one needs to respond.  We teach the Gospel from the Gospel perspective and NOT from a Reformed Protestant view.  We give children and all people Jesus and call them  to respond as God leads.  We have two and often three staff members deal with children to make sure to the best of our human ability that the child is responding to the call of God and NOT making a decision out of fear of Hell or "wanting" to go to Heaven.

I cannot imagine the idea of a parent doing anything but the above.  Nor can I grasp a church that would NOT do the same.  I respectfully and emphatically deny that the article critiqued has any validity and I firmly believe it leads parents down a dangerous path, thus their children.  

Parents beware!  Your children's eternal destination is at stake.  Don't put another stumbling block in front them.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Entering into a relationship with Jesus - Part 3

And so we continue:

The author states:

Point 6 - The phrase "ask Jesus into your heart" is neither commanded in scripture nor found as a description of conversion.

Question:  Is the author desiring/communicating that only an acknowledgement of the work is needed?

My thoughts:  This point gets to the core of a major issue with this line of reasoning.  I find it odd that no mention is made of the "what" that is to take place?  As with many today, it appears that the author is leading parents down a path that would have them lead their children to REALIZE they are in the elect.  And thus if no realization occurs, they were then NOT part of the elect.

Point 7 - God only saves those who repent of their sin and delight in His Son.

Question:  Does God save others who are NOT repentant and DO NOT delight in Jesus?

My thoughts:  This is were we see the breakdown in this theology.  The author opens the door for people being in God's family without repenting.  No where in the Bible is this allowed nor shown.  The author uses a verse out of Revelation and the Laodicia church to highlight this.  I honestly do NOT see the connection with the point and the reference.  He also makes a distinction between the church and people.  Yet we know that individuals make up the local churches and all saved are in the body of Christ.  

Point 8 - Leading a child in a "sinners prayer" may give the child false assurance.

Question:  Has anyone, anywhere, even hinted at this idea?

My thoughts:  Assurance only comes via the Spirit of God.  As the Spirit of God relates to the truth of God's Word lived out in our life, assurance flows.  Without the Truth of God's Word lived out in our life, the Spirit has nothing to assure us of.  The real need is for repentance which comes from Godly sorrow over our sin.  And in that sorrow, we call out to God accepting His gift of Jesus in payment for our sins and acknowledging Him as Lord of our life.  This may be the first time I have heard of "false assurance" from praying.  

Point 9 - This presentation robs God of His sovereignty.

Question:  How?

My thoughts:  In this final point we see the real goal motivating the article.  The author is convinced that some are born elect while others are born with NO hope of salvation.  Read that again.  This is what this article is all about.  And the article has as it's goal a two fold outcome:  teach this thought to parents and teach this thought to children.

One is left with a simple understanding from this article.  All we need to do is just realize that we are elect.  In this realization, repentance will come, and faith will be exercised.  But I will leave you with this thought and why this is an issue with me:

2 Cor 7:10
10    For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Entering into a relationship with Jesus - Part 2

As we continue this series on the "how" a person enters into a relationship with Jesus, we will pick up with the real reason this article was written and the 9 points the author of the article makes pertaining to sharing the Gospel with children and why another way is bad/wrong.

The author states:

I have come to believe that the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart” can be a dangerous way of calling someone to faith.

Point 1 - This type of figurative language is NOT appropriate for children.

Question:  Since when?  The Bible uses this same type of language.  Are we really at a point where we are going to question the very Words of Jesus?

My thoughts:  This is a straw man if ever there was one.  David Platt has made the same statement.  The real motivation of this statement is to attack the idea that the Gospel/Salvation is available for all/who so ever.  If a person is born elect and has no choice, then their will not be a decision nor a asking into the heart moment in their life.  There will be a moment of "realization".

Point 2 - Salvation does not come from our asking, but from what Jesus has done.

Question:  Do we have to accept it or is it automatic?

My thoughts:  I will add to what I stated above in Point 1 this:  The Reformed/Calvinist thought actually believes that the Gospel is limited and thus some people are born with NO hope of salvation.  People do not need to ask Jesus into their hearts for they were elect from the beginning.  They just need to realize it.  Those who do NOT realize, were not elect, and thus destined for hell with NO hope ever.

Point 3 - The gospel is NOT primarily about Jesus’ work in our hearts, but about Jesus’ work in history.

Question:  Does our heart matter?

My thoughts:  I fully grasp the statement if it were to stand alone, absent an agenda.  However, this statement is another way of restating Point 2.

Point 4 - The Gospel Appeals to more than emotion.

Question:  Who said that emotion is all that the Gospel appeals to?

My thoughts:  The attack here is on Revivalism.  Simply put, Reformed/Calvinist actually think that people over the years who accepted Christ during revival meetings or during an invitation call made a preacher to accept Christ, really did not have it right.  Again, the assumptions made are startling.  Yes there were those who used emotion to get people to walk the isles.  Yes it was wrong.  But the majority did not rely on emotions and to make such an implication is absurd.  The author then states in this point that accepting Christ is "finally resting in Christ".  Again, accept that it is a reality of the elect and NOT a decision that needs to be made.

Point 5 - Over emphasizing a change of heart can actually discourage a child.

Question:  Do you realize that this appears to negate the role of brokenness?

My thoughts:  A heart change is what is needed!  Brokenness allows one to see this need and leads to confession and repentance.  The thought expressed by the author is one derived from the secular counseling side of theological thought.  It is bad theology and the fear does not exist.  It preys on the parents sensitivity which when applied, would lead parents down a path of NOT calling their own children to repent.  This is SAD!

The next post will continue with points 6 - 9.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Entering into a relationship with Jesus - Part 1

While reading articles on ministry and practice in our current day, my Children's Pastor walked into my office and referred me to an article that dealt specifically with the subject of what NOT to do when sharing the Gospel with a child.  The article is written by a Family Pastor at a church that is quite large in attendance.  I was curious to see what his take was on just how a person "gets saved", or accepts Christ, or...?  The article had my blood boiling quickly.  The article highlighted the confusion being created by those of the Reformed ideas of Soteriology and the deep depths of their intentions to take this poor theological system to the world. 

In the beginning, The Editors of the site that published the article had the following disclaimer/embrace:

Sharing the gospel with our children is an extremely critical task and the language we us to communicate the good news to them is also vitally important. This article offers an alternative view to a very traditional method of evangelism.

From this beginning, it is clear that the information to be shared is against what the author and editors know to be "traditional" in relation to how one accepts Christ or becomes a Christian.  I admit that this statement alone had me boiling.  But the reality that someone has now figured out that we have been doing the command of disciple making wrong and that millions who have accepted Christ over the years have also done it wrong leaves one with no other alternative than to boil - a lot!  The arrogance of the mere thought is typical in the modern day Reformed movement known as New Calvinist.  It is this arrogance that is leading to charges of arrogance, and rightly so.

The author seems to somewhat flip/flop on the subject in his opening by stating:

Your child lies in her snugly, warm bed and says, “Yes, Daddy.  I want to ask Jesus into my heart.”  You lead her in “the prayer” and hope that it sticks.  You spend the next ten years questioning if she really, really meant it.  Puberty hits, and you only have more questions.  She turns away from faith.  You spend the next ten years praying that she will come to her senses.  What went wrong?

 And then the author says the following:

Of course, there is no way to guarantee that an early acceptance of the gospel will stick, and parents should not feel defeated when their adolescents question or even rebel against what they have been taught from a young age.  

Is the author saying that the child accepted Christ, became a child of God, and then lost Jesus or left Him?  True there is NO way as a human being to know for certain that anyone other than self has entered into a relationship with Jesus.  I do not question this at all.  What I do raise as a point of theological fact is that the Gospel is NOT a thing that sticks or does not.  Either a person accepts Christ and becomes a Christian, secured by Jesus for all eternity, or they do not, and remain lost needing to accept Christ.

As a parent of two teenage boys, I never once questioned my sons salvation.  I heard from them of their decision to accept Christ and witnessed the brokenness over sin and the effects of it, in their lives.  Maybe some parents do question this, but to present an article on a subject that is as important as salvation, presuming to know something that is NOT general in terms by any means, presents more of the arrogance of this movement and highlights a great problem - what is the Gospel and how does one enter into a relationship with Jesus and know that it is sealed for all eternity?

My next post will deal with the specifics of this article.  At the end of the review, I will share the article and author information.