Saturday, April 26, 2008

Distributing the Hooch!

It's funny how stuff works out sometimes...

Until a few weeks ago, I really didn't overtly (or covertly) push my theological opinions on anyone. I mainly discussed "the Doctrines" with other Calvinists, on my blogs, and with my immediate family.

By God's providence all that has changed in the past few weeks! After much grief and the loss of my position at church, I've now been afforded the opportunity to openly discuss the Doctrines with people I never would've thought possible before! People are now curious. They have questions. And I want to help them find the answers!

Yesterday I launched a small campaign to get the Amazing Grace DVD into the hands of anyone from church who is interested in finding out more about what we Calvinists believe! Prior to this unpleasant turn of events, I would've never even thought of attempting such a thing. The fact is, through the unpleasantness of recent days, we now have people seriously studying their Bibles and interested in learning more about the Doctrines of Grace.

What at first looked to be the tragic "end" of my ministry, I am now growing more and more optimistic that it could be my greatest opportunity yet. I now have the chance to inspire people to think deeply about theological issues they've probably never considered before.

I covet your prayers as I openly and unashamedly distribute our "prohibition hooch" to all who seek to know the truth about what we believe!

Post Tenebras, Lux!

8 comments:

Strong Tower said...

Prohibition didn't work for alcohol either. It just made people want it all the more.

I was passing the DVD out at my former SBC church before I had to go on the lam. Some were actually warned not to watch it.

It is an intoxicating film, highly inflammatory...

tttt

reformed trucker said...

Hey Rhett,
Funny how our Sovereign God works! I'll be praying that the Lord will use you in a powerful way to spread the Doctrines of Grace!

About 4 years ago, I left the little SBC [arminian] church I attended for 3.5 years because they went "Purpose Driven", and started going to the "mini-mega" non-denom. down the road because they have a good men's ministry.
About 2 years ago, I "accidently"
ran across reformed theology on the
web (Pyromaniacs, Fide-O, and Monergism [yeah, the motherlode]),
and I really started searching! I
had no one to teach me, except for blogs & their book recommendations.
Since then, I've built a library of about 1,000 books trying to figure this out. About 8 months ago
I ran across the Amazing Grace DVD.
They do an OUTSTANDING job of going through church history, and explaining the different theologies
and their implications. I wish I would have found it sooner!

About 19 months ago, the founding pastor of 24 years and the elders
mutually decided he should step down (I think the church outgrew him;800 people). This created a bit of a church split. The highschool/college pastor left and started a new church with him; the
international ministries pastor moved on to something else a month
later, and the worship director left about 2 months ago to take a
position down in TN. 140something
candidates later, they are still searching for a lead pastor.

With my recent "conversion", I kind of felt like the perverbial
"turd in the punchbowl", and was wondering if I should stay, but I wanted to at least finish my 06/07
men's group bible study led by the men's pastor & one of the elders. The first half of the year
we did the pastoral epistles, and
the second half of the year we did
Romans... that's right, Romans! I'm normally kind of reserved, but the Lord gave me the courage to engage the class. Funny part was, the leaders affirmed what I was saying; was I suprised!

That ended last May; in June I thought I was going to start attending a wonderful little Reformed Baptist church plant about
20 minutes away that I visited 3 times. My wife (non-church goer)said it was a waste of gas/too far away, and she had about 3 months worth of outside projects for me to do (+ the village gave me a month to finally get a driveway put in), so I took the summer off from church. By the end of summer,
I realized I needed to be going to church! Centuri0n on Teampyro did a
6 part series on reasons to leave (or not to leave) your church, and I came to the conclusion that I didn't really have a legitimate reason to bail on my mini-mega.
The only things that kept me there that long was the men's ministry, the prayer ministry (or the lack thereof), and my apologetics class.

Since then, the Lord has brought me
opportunities to talk to people about the Doctrines of Grace. For the last 2 months, I've been burdened to pray daily for the elders and the pastor search team
(3 of which are the men's pastor &
elder who led my bible study, & my
apologetics teacher).A few months ago in apologetics, we were finishing up a DVD series I brought in, "A Reason For The Hope:
Basic Training In Apologetics" by
Dr. Greg Bahnsen (reformed), and my
teacher asked the class, "Hey, has anyone ever heard of arminianism?"
Wow! What an opening! I suggested
& brought in the Amazing Grace DVD
& workbook, which he bought from me so he could keep to get an overview for the search team. He looked through the workbook, and thought it would be good to do in class. He has been busy with the search team, so I don't think he had a chance to really watch the DVD. Today will be the 4th lesson;
I kind of had to step up to the plate & answer all the questions everyone has. He has been taking notes like mad for his overview.
I am only a layman, and don't feel qualified. I try and prepare by anticipating the questions people will ask; now we are at the "that's
not fair", & "well, I feel", & "well, I think" point. Today I will try to encourage people to base their soteriology on scripture
and not their feelings.

Not all change is bad; the former lead pastor wasn't that good from the pulpit (more of a shepherd type), the college pastor started to introduce some things that scared me before he left (Rob Bell/
Nooma),there is more focus on prayer (the other pastor that's still here & a few of the other elders have been coming to Thurs. night prayer...& listening), & the worship isn't so "happy-clappy" or
"rockin' old hippies" trying to relive their youth, but a little more reverent.

Rhett, God may use you where He has
you now in a more powerful way than where He had you before!
I'll be praying for you, bro!

Soli Deo Gloria,
Michael (reformed trucker)

Gordan Runyan said...

Michael,

That's a great story of God's grace working in your life, and, let's pray, in the life of your church. I pray that the man of God that is supposed to be there will be found shortly.

Let me encourage you to be the most winsome, most friendly, most charitable teacher/leader that anyone in your class has ever seen.

Resist the urge to have to slam-dunk and crush every argument that is raised. God is sovereign even over those arguments. When you can, ask questions rather than make pronouncements. "I understand how you feel about this. Is there a place in Scripture that expresses what you're saying?"

"Can you think of a place where the bible itself talks about what you just said? Because I was thinking Paul anticipated that very question and answered it in Romans 9. Maybe we could turn there and see if you'd agree..."

Give them an "out," rather than simply pounce and destroy.

I say all this, because many of us have been there before, as new Calvinists in the midst of people who have never heard these things. We get zealous to communicate what we've learned, and tend to want to do it very quickly, all at once. We wind up coming across as arrogant and inflexible, more concerning about winning arguments than winning people for whom Christ died.

I'm not saying, Michael, that you have exhibited any of this. You certainly have NOT in your comment. But I know I have in real life, and many of us would have to make the same confession; so, I would spare you if possible of the common pitfall.

The Doulos said...

I just sort of stumbled onto this blog the other day. And while I'm not Baptist, I've been doing some reading recently that has been giving me inights into the resurgence of the doctrines of grace within the SBC and the battle lines that it is causing. Rhett, I am assuming your loss of ministry position is a casualty of this battle?

I'm convinced that the church will continue her slide into mediocrity until the Biblical truths of sovereign grace are reclaimed by a significant portion of the churches, regardless of denomination. And I am encouraged when I see God working, especially among younger Christians, to prepare the way for this. Soli Deo Gloria!

rhettsrants said...

Rhett, I am assuming your loss of ministry position is a casualty of this battle?

That's right. I used to be the Youth Director.

reformed trucker said...

Gordon,

Thanks for the good advice. I wish I could say things went smoothly in class yesterday. I think it was
"Beat Up the Rank Heretic Calvinist" day, and someone forgot to tell me! There was three fellows
who seemed to be a bit arguementative, but one more so in particular. I tried to encourage them by saying that I know where they are coming from, and yes, these are hard doctrines and you will have to wrestle with them. Been there myself.

On the Amazing Grace DVD, we made it a little past the part where Dr.
Kennedy was showing that all doesn't mean "all" every time it is used, and "world" doesn't mean every single person in the world every time it is used. This fellow
made the accusation that Dr. Kennedy was just "wordsmithing"(not giving any reasoning for his view),and then mounted an unprovoked attack on me.
The teacher quickly stepped in and
"nipped it in the bud", as Barney Fife would say. He said he didn't want it to resort to this, and he just thought it would be a good idea to examine doctrine (the dvd)
as a class. I think he was having second thoughts. I know I was! I should have stayed a "closet calvinist"; I walked out at the end of class totally discouraged.
Walking down the hall, my close friend that leads Thurs. night prayer could tell something was wrong. I told him I should have stayed in the closet, I didn't know if there was a place for me at this church, and that I was second-guessing my decission not to go to that Reformed Baptist church. With compassion, he said,
"I would miss you!" The full weight of those 4 words, spoken in love, didn't hit me until late in the day. That's when I realized that it was a classic case of "kill the messenger because you dont like the message". I like and get along with everyone in class; that's why it threw me for a loop.
I was in a funk all day, until those 4 words came back to me.

I don't know, maybe I'll just keep my mouth shut, and fly under the radar.

Michael

Gordan Runyan said...

Michael,

I'm sorry to hear that's how it went, although (honestly) that's hardly a unique experience you've just had.

I remember my Navy chaplain all red-faced and sputtering, blowing spit all over me with his finger in my face, for asking some pretty simple questions during Bible study that he didn't like having to try and answer.

Persevere, brother. And do it gently.

Christian Brother said...

Rhett, my prayers are with you. It is truly amazing how God can take something disappointing like losing a position in ministry, and use it to be the greatest opportunity yet.