Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mafia Meeting at Rhett's Place

This coming Saturday, Mafia member Josh Hitchcock (the dude on the right) will be heading to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I'm sad to see him go, but at the same time I am excited that the Reformed Mafia will now be branching out to Louisville, KY.

To celebrate this event, I had Josh over for dinner with my family this evening. We had a great time of fellowship with plenty of food and a good discussion about the things that drive us nuts about "Baptist Life."

Josh has been a great friend to me and I am grateful to have been able to serve with him during the past year. I look forward to seeing what God's going to do through his ministry.

Fan the flames of Reformation my brother!

(picture was taken with my cell phone so the quality is not good -sorry!)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Winner of Church Idol

Many of you have been to TomintheBox News Network to be informed of the latest news in evangelicalism. One of my favorite things was the article about the series that has been going on called Church Idol. After many great performers, the people have selected a winner. His winning performance has been posted to youtube, and you can also view it below.

What is Evangelicalism coming to...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Relating to Jesus

Don't ever tell someone that what they need is "A personal relationship with Jesus Christ."

The Bible never speaks this way.

Plus, when you think about it, every individual on the planet already has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!

He is their Creator, Sustainer, and Judge. That's all very personal stuff.

The problem is not a lack of "relationship." The problem is that most peoples' personal relationship with Jesus is like Absalom's relationship to King David.

That is, they are rebels in the kingdom, in their rebellion scoffing at the rule and authority of the one King. They rage and utter vain things about casting off the rule of God and cutting the cords that bind them to the Christ.

Getting a personal relationship with Jesus is not the answer. The answer is to fix your relationship with Jesus. Repent of your rebellion. Start serving in the right army instead of joining yourselves the seditious band of worthless men who seek to unseat the King. And then put on the correct uniform by being baptized in His righteous Name.

Repent, for the kingdom is right here. Kiss the Son, lest His great patience end, and you find yourself perishing in the way when His wrath is kindled but a little. This is the gospel of your salvation.

A Great Heart Transplant

Many people do not know this, but I was born with a serious heart problem. My condition could have easily cost me my life. The scary thing is, I was not made aware that I had such a condition until my junior year of college. Thankfully, by the time I learned of my original heart condition, I had already been healed. The symptoms should have alarmed me, but they didn't. Many people who should have been aware of my condition growing up, never saw it necessary to inform me how terrible my condition was. It was only in a college classroom did I begin to learn of my serious heart condition. My professor began describing certain symptoms of this condition. These symptoms include, but are not limited to the following.

  • A love for the darkness (John 3:19)
  • Turning away from God as one who is worthless (Romans 3:12)
  • Hostility towards God (Romans 8:7)
  • Inability to please God (Romans 8:8)
  • Inability to understand the things of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14)

As I began to hear of these things, I was alarmed because that was an exact description of the condition I was born with. However, I was also shocked because since the seventh grade those symptoms had gone away. I wanted to learn more about my original condition, and what caused all these symptoms. I soon discovered that all of these symptoms were the result of one problem.

The Lord saw the wickedness of man was great on earth, and that every
intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. ~Genesis

All of these symptoms are rooted in a serious heart problem. I also learned something else about the condition of my heart.

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. ~Matthew 15:19-20a

My heart problem had infected and corrupted every area of my life. My severe condition affected my desires, my relationships, my thoughts, and my actions. In fact, my condition was so bad, it left me in comatose state, as if I were dead, unable to do anything spiritually good.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked,
following the course of this world, following the prince and power of the air,
the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. ~Ephesians

You may ask, since my condition was so serious, how was I healed? Well, I must tell you it was nothing I did. No exercise or any change of my life or habits could get rid of my deadly heart condition.

"And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.
And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of
flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes
and be careful to obey my rules. ~Ezekiel 36:26-27.

In seventh grade, I received a new heart. This new heart was a clean heart that caused me to love God and to obey God. I am so thankful for this great heart transplant, that at the time, I didn't even know I needed.

I wish someone would have informed me of my condition earlier. I was told about every week that I needed to "accept Jesus" because he could make my life better, but nobody ever told me that my original condition was deadly. As I began to do more research on this severe heart condition, I discovered that I was not the only one who is born with it, nor was I the only one who was not aware of it. It turns out, they 100% of all of humanity is born with this severe heart condition, and is unaware of the seriousness of their inherent condition.

Please help get the word out to everyone about their severe heart condition before it is to late. They too can receive the great heart transplant that I also had graciously received!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

God, the Unjust Debt Collector

Highly, highly recommend this piece from Tom in the Box.

Sometimes...often-times?...satire has a unique ability to "touch the thing with a needle" as the old Greeks used to say about good debating skills.

This is about the absurdity and irrationality of believing that Christ has fully paid the debt for sins even for people who will suffer in hell eternally.

If Christ has fully satisfied God's justice in your case, then how can God's justice demand your additional punishment? Christ suffered for your sins once for all...but, wait, you will suffer for them, too. Thus we see that in this scheme, God actually demands double payment for sins.

Another ramification is this: If Christ has equally died for all people, and some people wind up in hell anyway, we are forced to conclude that the precious blood of the Son of God is not adequate of itself to save anyone. If all you've got to your account is Christ's death on your behalf, you're still in danger of flaming forever, according to this view. His sacrifice is not enough. You must add to it. In fact, the only difference between those who are saved and those who are lost is the work of the individuals in question.

Anyway, read the Tom in the Box piece. It's better than this one by far.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Bus Stop Illustration Revisited

(This is a re-publishing of a post made on Incrediblog several months ago...)

A high-profile Southern Baptist preacher recently gave a rant at a high-profile Southern Baptist church, in which he demonstrated (primarily) that he is woefully ignorant of the theology known as Calvinism. That's believing the best about him, too. If it's not woeful ignorance, it is purposeful misrepresentation. As part of his attack on Calvinism, he offered the following illustration, seriously suggesting that this is a fair representation of what Reformed Christians believe:

"A graphic understood by many Baptists regarding predestination is illustrated by this. A mass of people are gathered at a bus stop marked 'Planet Earth.' Along comes the Celestial Bus marked 'Destination Heaven.' It pulls up and stops. The driver, who is God, opens the door, and says, 'All destined for heaven get on board.'

A number do. A missionary couple who with zeal have served Christ all their lives start on and God says, 'Step aside. You haven't been chosen to ride this bus.'

A couple of infants start on and God tells them to step aside.

Persons who from youth have loved and ministered in Christ's name are told to step aside.

As the bus is about to depart and the door is closing God says to those not on board, 'Catch the next bus.'

'No,' they plead, 'here comes the next bus and it is driven by Satan and marked 'Destination Hell.'"

A number of things strike me about this:

1. IF this is a fair representation of Calvinism, then I am not one. Further, none of the Calvinists I have ever read are either. I've never heard a Calvinist preach. I've never met one. In fact, I think it's safe to say that Calvinists do not actually exist at all, if this is how one thinks.

2. This is slander, intentional or not. This preacher has sinned greatly and publically by saying these things about Christian men when they are patently untrue. NO CALVINIST HAS EVER BELIEVED ANYTHING LIKE THIS.

3. The great prevelance in our day of solid Calvinist literature makes this doubly despicable. It's not as if this preacher would have had to travel over land and sea in order to find out what Calvinism actually means. You can even find theological works written by non-Calvinists who have a good grasp of what Calvinism is: he could've accessed those very easily. The fact that he has made a decision not to find out anything truthful about this subject may mean:

a. He thinks he already knows. Which is then delusional, considering his gross ignorance.

b. He thinks it's not important to know. Which is fraudulent, as he is then unconcerned about whether or not he preaches what is true.

4. A couple of the more gross errors that infect his illustration: He has predestination separated from faith in Christ (as with the zealous missionary couple.) Every Calvinist you will ever find has these two things inseparably linked. That is: if you have faith, it's because God has elected you to it. There is no such animal in the Calvinistic world as a person who believes and yet is not chosen for salvation. In fact, God's gracious election is the only well-spring of saving faith. The latter results directly from the former. There is thus no such thing as someone who believes, or wants to, and yet will be damned because of God's choice not to elect them. Belief comes from election, and from nowhere else.

His illustration also trots out the old canard that Calvinism means that babies dying in infancy are damned to hell. On the contrary, many in Calvinism's history have theorized that death in infancy may well be an indication of God's prior election. It's true that there have always been some Calvinists who have held to the damnation of infants, but this has not been the majority position. Certainly, there is nothing at all in the classic TULIP, the five points of Calvinism, that demands the damnation of all infants dying in infancy. This is a well-worn and oft-used emotional appeal that semi-Pelagians have always made in order to muddy the theological waters with heart-felt indignation.

5. In part, it is the status of the preacher in question within the SBC that makes this so distressing. No one is going to take him to task, except for us pesky bloggers. I fear he represents a concerted effort on the part of many denomination leaders to get rid of the SBC's historic theology, even if they have to resort to gross distortions and mischaracterizations and whipped-up emotional rants to make it happen.

They are what C.S. Lewis called "men without chests." They are pastors in skirts. I am convinced that some (not all) are wolves in sheeps' clothing, and most of the rest are merely spiritual geldings, spreading nothing but impotence as they replicate themselves.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Born to Be Wild!

I've often heard preachers proclaim that the reason why children lie, and act like little heathens, is because they learn the behavior from their parents. While this observation might be true to some degree, it misses the fact that even children who are born to the most saintly parents will inevitably lie, steal, pout, lust, hate, and be disobedient to their parents.

Reformed Christians understand that this problem is due to the fact that children are born sinners. We teach the doctrine of Original Sin. We believe that children are born with a fallen and sinful nature inherited from Adam. The Scripture confirms this, Psalm 58:3 tells us: "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies." In Psalm 51:5, David wrote, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."

Despite what experience has shown and what Scripture teaches, not everyone agrees that children are born sinners. I once had a heated discussion about this topic with a preacher who subscribes to Church of Christ (Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement) theology. He contended that children are "born innocent and they chose to become sinners." He was very insistent that in everything "life is choices" and to him the idea that a child was a natural born sinner was untenable.

In our local newspaper, another Church of Christ preacher recently published a diatribe against the doctrine of Original Sin. He too proclaimed that children are born innocent and later choose to be sinners. Such theology is not exclusive to the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement alone, it prevails in some form or fashion in much of modern evangelicalism.

Unlike the modern evangelical world, that is apparently suffering from what R.C. Sproul has called a "Pelagian Captivity", the Anglican Bishop J.C. Ryle understood the true nature of children; in a sermon entitled "A Right Understanding of Sin," Bishop Ryle states:

"The fairest child, who has entered life this year and become the sunbeam of a family, is not, as his mother perhaps fondly calls him, a little "angel" or a little "innocent," but a little "sinner." Alas! As that little infant boy or girl lies smiling and crowing in its cradle, that little creature carries in its heart the seeds of every kind of wickedness! Only watch it carefully, as it grows in stature and its mind develops, and you will soon detect in it an incessant tendency to that which is bad, and a backwardness to that which is good. You will see in it the buds and germs of deceit, evil temper, selfishness, self-will, obstinacy, greediness, envy, jealousy, passion, which, if indulged and let alone, will shoot up with painful rapidity."

In light of these things, it is vital that we evangelize and disciple our children! The Lord's disciples were rebuked for not allowing the children to come to Him. Let us not make a similar mistake in our day by failing to evangelize them (even from the cradle) due to a theological error that teaches that they are born free from the guilt of Adam's Sin and/or that sinning is a learned behavior! Though children are born sinners, there is hope for them through our Lord Jesus Christ!

"Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." --The Lord Jesus Christ

(As a side note: Tomorrow my son Cordell will be Baptized. I praise the Lord for what He has done in his young heart!)

Monday, May 7, 2007

Havin' a Blast

[Re-reading this post, I realize that I may come across as cranky and irritated. Good.]

A lot of pastors have trademark phrases, things they say often enough from the pulpit that their congregations begin to notice them and keep track of them. I just heard about one local pastor's most-often repeated trademark phrase:

"I'm glad worship is so much fun. If worship wasn't fun, I wouldn't do it."

Apparently, this is a common saying at the end of their "praise and worship" session, after the final, rousing song has gotten everybody all riled-up. I get the impression the phrase may often be prefaced by a "Whooo!" a la Nature Boy Ric Flair.

Consider that for a moment. If worship wasn't fun, I wouldn't do it.

Is that why we worship, because it's just so darn much fun?

I want to propose an idea that I think is slightly more biblical. Maybe we ought to worship the Almighty God because He deserves to be worshipped. Maybe we should worship the Lord because the chief end of man is to glorify Him, and so to do less than that is to fall short of our calling...? Hello? Tap, this thing on?

You want fun, buy an X-box and entertain yourself on your own time. Call upon your iPod in the day of trouble. Petition your Wii wand to save you from hell.

But when you're ready to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, find a Reformed church that is focused on the reading and declaration of the Word, not because of how fun it is (although I personally enjoy few things more) but because of how right it is, and because of the depth of your need.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

John Farese on The Sovereignty of God

The man in this video is John Farese. He is a man who truly knows what it means to suffer. But his understanding of God's sovereignty is such that it enables him to praise God for his condition. This video is very convicting when we consider how we are often tempted to complain about situations in life that are trivial in comparison...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Do you have Free Will if God has Foreknowledge?

Arminians believe in Free Will, yet they also affirm that God has foreknowledge. If God has an infinitely perfect knowledge of all events, past, present, and future, do humans still have Free Will? Well, Open Theists say no, and they reject the idea that God knows future events. I believe the Open Theists are right when they say no, but they get rid of the wrong thing. The Bible is clear that God is infinitely wise, and is outside of time, thus he knows what will happen even in future time, because to God, it is not the future. So, are the Arminians correct? Can you retain the doctrine of free will alongside the doctrine of God's foreknowledge. Well, ask yourself this: IF God perfectly knows that I will choose A over B, am I free to choose something contrary to that which God already perfectly knows I will choose? If you answer yes, then you would have to admit that God's knowledge isn't perfect, because your choice was contrary to what his "perfect" knowledge "knew" you would choose. God would be wrong, and thus, God would not be God, and the world would be consumed, and we would all instantly be in hell. If God perfectly knows that you are going to choose A, you may choose A freely, but you cannot choose anything other than A and still hold to Free Will AND Foreknowledge. You have to choose one or the other to be consistent. If you are going to be consistent in your theology, you either need to become a Calvinist, or become an Open-Theist. I think I will go with Calvinism.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Pondering Where to Draw the Line...

Today I received an email from one of my best friends. He's pastor of Southern Baptist Church here in Georgia and was instrumental in helping to Reform my soteriology. He is very conservative and has been questioning certain methodologies that are being used today. In his email he asked me to ponder this:

Where the line is concerning to what lengths we should go to to get people to come to the church and be biblical? Concerning: music, special events, facilities, diversity of ministry. I want biblical, scriptural principles that I can use as a measuring stick to govern what I allow and employ in God's church."

Seeing as though I've never been a pastor, I thought I would pose the question here to get some feedback from some other Reformed thinkers who may have grappled with this subject. Feel free to email your reply or leave it in the comment box. My email address is