Thursday, December 8, 2011

PROVIDENCE, or mere coincidence?

(I.M.O., there's no such thing as luck)
Consider these words of wisdom from Pastor Stephen Davey.
"The timing of a letter; a phone call; a conversation; something that happened; something that worked and something that did not; some interruption – these are God’s hands at work".
Okay, here's another testimony I just have to share.  I made a phone yesterday to an old friend from another State that I haven't seen nor heard from in over 21 years.  I received a call back from him a few hours later, it "just so happens" he's going to be staying in my State, and my City tonight, and we're going to (Lord willing) get together, have dinner and "fellowship" with each other tonight.  Big Deal?  Maybe not to you, but it is to me, and I'm praising God for His Divine Providence even in the little details of our lives.  I have tried unsuccessfully for years to find contact info. on him, and have prayed for the LORD to help me reach him at least once to tell him what an inspiration he was, and how much his friendship meant to me.  "As luck would have it", after years of periodically searching for it, I found a phone number for him yesterday (wait-there's no such thing as luck-must be Providence).  If interested in the details, you're invited to read on...
That's a summary of God's Providential working out the details in this instance , but here's a little background our friendship.

About 21 to 25 years ago, give or take a few,  before God "Providentially" led me (as He always does, we often just can't see it except in hindsight) in a different career path through my wife's encouragement to go to college while she taught school, I drove an 18-wheeler (i.e., I was a commercial truck-driver) for a living.  I traveled across many Southern States delivering groceries here in the U.S.A., and met many people during that time.  One man stood out among the rest.  His name was Gary K..

"Brother Gary", as we called him, was one of the first people we would see as we rolled up to the Piggly Wiggly grocery store out in "Small Town",  U.S.A..  Bro. Gary always had a smile on his face, and was always extra friendly.  At most of our stops, the store personnel would not help us unload the truck, saying it was "our responsibility", but Gary would.  He'd get up in the truck and help us unload that 45,000 pound load of freight, kidding with us, picking with us, and having fun all the while.  From day one, I knew he was different.  

Turns out, Gary was a bi-vocational Baptist Pastor/Preacher, married with children, working at the Piggly Wiggly during the week to provide for his family.  His small town Baptist Church where he pastored, obviously couldn't fully support him financially, thus he "worked with his hands", and fulfilled Paul's Words to the Thessalonians:
1Thessalonians 4:11-12  ...and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. 
In fact, I have used Bro. Gary's life as a modern day example modeling Paul's "tent-making", which is how Paul met Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth.
I remember more than once after unloading the truck, Bro Gary asking me "what ya gonna do for lunch?"  Sometimes I was on a tight schedule and had to roll on out, but one time I accepted, and he called his wife, told her to put on a "pone of cornbread, and warm up the soup", because I'm bringing a truck-driver home for lunch.  That meal at his house had such an impact on me as a young Christian, as they modeled the believers in the Book of Acts.  What hospitality and Christian love!
Acts 2:46 (ESV) ...and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts
Well, this post is getting to long, and I realize that "too long" may lose readers' interest, so just a few more sentences and I'm through.   One more thing that really stood out about Bro. Gary was his enthusiasm about preaching and teaching his congregation at his Church.  As we were unloading that load of freight one Wednesday afternoon, dripping with sweat, he was sharing with me some details about his current series on the Book of Revelation.  He was so excited that it was Wednesday, and he had the privilege of preaching and teaching God's Word to God's people that evening (after he went home to wash-up, eat, and get to the church).  Now I realize that full-time salaried preachers have a heavy load on them preparing and preaching 2 or 3 sermons a week (some more, some less), along with their other responsibilities involving administration, hospital visitations, funerals, etc.,   but Bro. Gary also had those duties at church, and never complained about being overloaded.  He had a joy and a passion for Jesus, his flock, and his ministry that I'll never forget.
2 Timothy 4:2  preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season
Today's post was primarily for me, writing it down while fresh in my memory, as another reminder of how God works "behind the scenes" in our daily lives.  I just had to share how the LORD showed me yet another undeniable, clear act of Providence and answered prayer yesterday.
THAT'S ALL FOR NOW.  I may add more details about our evening of fellowship later, will have to wait and see!

I love to talk and write about the "Providence of God", which is a very awesome and yet comforting teaching of Scripture.  Here's a few links to some (not all) past blogs on the subject.

This one is about Providence in the lives of two "Josephs", in Genesis, and Matthew, as well as in the lives of my family today.
click >  Detoured? Discouraged? God is still Sovereign, and we can trust Him!!

This one quotes the "Prince of Preachers", Charles Spurgeon. 
click >  Just How Sovereign is God? Spurgeon comments.

Here's another one from a few months back.
click >  Luck? Coincidence? Chance?....or PROVIDENCE

And of course, quotes from John Flavel (1627–1691), an English Presbyterian clergyman
click > John Flavel quotes on Providence

As mentioned above, I may add more details later, maybe in the comments on this post, or possibly a new one.

If you'd like to comment, I'd love to hear stories of God's Providence in your life!  If not able to sign in, you can select "anonymous", and put your info. into the comment itself.  Blessings!
“Sometimes Providences, like Hebrew letters, must be read backwards.” 

John Flavel (1627–1691)

Friday, October 28, 2011

"It's far better to be divided by Truth than united in error."-Dr. Adrian Rogers

In our age of relativism, post-modernism, unity and peace at all costs, ecumenicalism, etc., the late Dr. Rogers' statement is much needed among Christians today..  
"It's far better to be divided by Truth than united in error."
-Dr. Adrian Rogers

I'm sure some of the young rock-star pastors (if you can even call them pastors) like Furtick and Noble, as well as older ones like Warren, Osteen, etc... would call Dr. Rogers a "hater" for speaking the Truth.

Your comment/discussion, and/or opinions are welcome.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"If weak in prayer, we are weak everywhere"--Ravenhill

I was continuing to read and study about prayer, and men of prayer this morning.  I came across these excellent quotes by a 20th century English Evangelist/Revivalist that Paul Washer, along with one of my former pastors used to reference frequently, Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994) on prayer.  
"If weak in prayer, we are weak everywhere."
"A sinning man stops praying, a praying man stops sinning."
I also posted them on facebook, and within a few hours, a Christian friend shared with me in a personal conversation  that these quotes from Ravenhill, spoken decades ago, ministered to him in a mighty and relevant way this morning, and he went home on his lunch break to pray about some things he was trying to handle on his own over the last few days. He came back refreshed and renewed.  I was deeply moved. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Piccadilly Religion?

"If you believe what you like in the Gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself."
Saint Augustine of Hippo 
A former pastor of mine used to call  that "Piccadilly Religion".  Some people think Christianity is like going down a food buffet line at the Piccadilly Cafeteria.  They'll take a little jello, strawberry pie, maybe a piece of chicken, maybe a roll, but they'll leave the liver and onions.  They don't want any spinach, broccoli, etc..They'll pick and choose what they like and leave what they don't like. Everybody's happy.

The problem is, Christianity is not like that at all.  It is either all or none.  Either you believe all Scripture, or you don't really believe any of it. 
2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
 Do you believe the Gospel, or yourself?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Coincidence? Chance? Luck?...or could it be PROVIDENCE!

Coincidence? What's that?
I think of the Book of Ruth, when Ruth met Boaz, who would later become her kinsman Redeemer she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.  Ruth 2:3 (ESV, emphasis added)
I also think of Jesus' divine appointment with the "woman at the well"...remember?  Jews never traveled through Samaria but would go around, they hated each other...Well, Jesus was with his disciples, and
...he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar--John 4:3-5   (KJV says "must needs go")
Chance?  It's nothing...chance doesn't exist if you're referring to some unseen force that can cause something to happen (unless you're simply referring to a "mathematical probability")
I think of Jonah in the ship, as the sailors cast lots to see who's fault the storm was, it fell on Jonah...
And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah--Jonah 1:7 (ESV)
The lot is cast into the lap,but its every decision is from the Lord--Proverbs 16:33 (ESV)
Luck?  Doesn't exist.  My dad taught us since we were children not to say we were "lucky", or "that was luck", or anything like that.  He taught us that God is to be thanked and acknowledged for anything good that comes our way.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights  James 1:17 (ESV)
What we sometimes think is a coincidence is really just an act of God's Providence where he has chosen to remain anonymous!

How many times do we miss recognizing God's hand in what we consider "coincidences" or "chance" or "luck"?

And how many times do we miss giving Him the Glory due His name?  My dad also taught us from a young age that God is Sovereign in All Things, and to give Him Glory due His name for everything!

Consider the following excerpt from one of Pastor Stephen Davey's sermons from "Wisdom for the Heart":
A Widow and a Would-be King
Elisha: Living the Impossible Life – Part VIII
II Kings 8

To those who wait upon the Lord, there is no such thing as a coincidence...
When God does move, there are no coincidences...
Pastor Davey continues...I have read it put this way, “A coincidence is really a small miracle where God prefers to remain anonymous.”
We should be praying for the perception and insight to see God in the small miracles. The timing of a letter; a phone call; a conversation; something that happened; something that worked and something that did not; some interruption – these are God’s hands at work.
AMEN!  Will you recognize God's hand at work in your life, and give Him Glory?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

His Burden fell off his back!

(for more on Pilgrim's Progress, see my blog:
Have you read John Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress"?  I have, more than once, but much less than Spurgeon. 
Charles Spurgeon
is reported to have read it over 100 times. It was his favorite book outside the Bible.
Alistair Begg references it frequently in his sermons, as do many other solid preacher/teachers of today.

Bunyan's book starts out with Christian, a man with a huge burden (sin) on his back, and a book (Bible) in his hand.  Eventually, through many trials and tribulations, he gets to the foot of the Cross, where his burden falls off and rolls down the hill, into an empty tomb.  At this point, his story is really just getting started, as Christian heads toward that "Celestial City".  It's an excellent read for those interested, especially if you're familiar with the Bible, because much detail in the book is allegorical to Scripture, and might not be well understood without a background in Scripture.  Those unfamiliar with Holy Scripture, or those with little time to read would do better to read the Bible Itself, for that's where God truly speaks to us.  

Although my huge burden of sin was lifted at the Cross years ago by His Grace, there have been a few smaller "burdens" that have been weighing me down lately.  With stresses in life which include medical and health problems with my wife and myself, raising three children (two which are teenagers), working, paying bills, meeting deadlines, busy schedules, excessive comittments, etc. etc., (I could list pages of details, but you all have your own, right?) in addition to Scripture passages such as Matthew 6:33, Philippians Chapter 4, 1 Peter 5:7, etc., I was reminded of this great allegory by Bunyan.

His burden was great, but the Cross was greater!  As the old hymn goes,  
"burdens are lifted at Calvary"!

Days are filled with sorrow and care,
Hearts are lonely and drear.
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Jesus is very near.

Burdens are lifted at Calvary, Calvary, Calvary;
Burdens are lifted at Calvary, Jesus is very near.

Cast your care on Jesus today,
Leave your worry and fear.
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Jesus is very near.

Troubled soul, the Savior can feel
Every heartache and tear.
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Jesus is very near.
Burdens are lifted at Calvary, Calvary, Calvary;
Burdens are lifted at Calvary, Jesus is very near.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Detoured? Things not turning out like you planned? God is still Sovereign and You can trust Him!

(Update 3-8-2011, This is a re-post of a blog written in April 2010, as I was about to take my wife to MD Anderson Cancer Center for the second time last spring, a totally unexpected "detour" in our lives. But God is still in control, and is still Sovereign!! He is sustaining her (and our family). We give Worship, Praise, and Glory to Him now and forever, Amen!! )

(Update 7-12-2011, While reading through old posts, I reposted this one AGAIN (and may do so often) for my own encouragement, as I am recovering from shoulder surgery for which I was off work for a month, but seems trivial compared to my wife who continues to be in constant pain.  She just received the worst set of labwork in a year from the Oncologist, who's counsel was not very encouraging to her)

While studying through the gospel narratives of Jesus' birth with my family around Christmas, followed by a study through Daniel, and recently reading/studying through Genesis, I've been pondering how Scripture consistently teaches that God is Sovereign in all things! Not just some things, as you hear all-too-often today. His Sovereignty is never limited by Himself nor any outside source.
Nothing ever takes Him by surprise. He never has to wring His hands and say "uh-oh, I didn't expect that, what do I do now". No, He sits enthroned in the Heavens and "works all things according to the counsel of His Will." (Ephesians 1:11) We can trust Him!

If, and when we make our plans, but our plans seem to get detoured, we can still trust in God's Sovereignty.
Proverbs 16:9 ESV
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

I think of Joseph in Genesis. He had those dreams which he knew God had given him and would fulfill. What he didn't know was how the LORD was going bring it to pass. Hated by his brothers, thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused by Potiphar's wife, thrown into prison, etc...probably not the way he had "planned it". But later, He didn't simply tell his brothers God just turned things around and USED them for good. He told them God MEANT it for good. Big difference there. Some people like to use the Rick Warren approach, and search through 10 or 15 translations or paraphrases till they find a Bible version that says what they want the verse to say (as he did in his book The Purpose Driven Life.) But the NASB and the ESV (2 of today's best translations according to the scholars I respect)say "MEANT" in both places of vs. 20.
Genesis 50:20(ESV)As for you, you MEANT evil against me, but God MEANT it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive...
Genesis 50:20(NASB)As for you, you MEANT evil against me, but God MEANT it for good,in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive...
Genesis 50:20 (NIV)You INTENDED to harm me, but God INTENDED it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Also, the KJV Strong's Hebrew original for both words are the same.
Joseph's brothers were fully responsible before God and Joseph for their sinful actions, and at the same time, God was working all things according to the counsel of His will. How can man be held responsible for his actions if God is Sovereign over all? I can't explain how it all works but God is All-Sovereign-All-The-Time, I'm just simple enough to believe what Scripture teaches. It teaches both man's responsibility, and God's Sovereignty.
Deuteronomy 29:29(ESV)The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law

I also think of Joseph in Matthew. He probably planned to marry Mary and live a quiet, settled, secluded family life in his hometown. No idea what was about to happen. God had plans he didn't know about. He found out that Mary was with child before their wedding was final, and was about to "put her away privately, because he was a just man". Enter Gabriel, sent from God. Things changed in a major way! He was informed that his espoused wife would give birth to the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Wow! What a change of plans! This Son of God whom Joseph was entrusted to raise was heralded by an Angelic Host, laid in a lowly manger, visited by shepherds, and later worshiped by Magi from the East who brought gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. Now things may have looked to Joseph like they would live a "Royal" life. But King Herod sought to kill Jesus. "Enter Gabriel" again. He told him to take Jesus and flee to Egypt. Then "enter Gabriel" again, told him to return home. Then as he returned to Israel, Joseph was told in another dream to "withdraw" to Nazareth of Galilee. Seemed like every time he may have thought things might settle down, God had other plans.

In both of these examples, as well as all throughout Scripture, and all throughout history, God was working out all the details as He revealed HIS GLORY in a mighty way! I know and believe He's doing the same in our lives even now!
I could type for days on this subject, but must wrap up this blog for now.
(I may write more on this later as time permits, and as God continues to work in our lives)

Job 42:2 ESV
"I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.

Psalm 50:15 ESV
and call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me

I also think of Romans 8:28(ESV) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Is the saying "Too Heavenly Minded to be any Earthly Good" Biblical?

C. S. Lewis once said:  "Aim at Heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither"  (This is a Re-post from September 2010, which encouraged and challenged me afresh this morning)  
Isn't it amazing how God often uses others in your life to confirm, expound, and build upon things He's been showing you through Scripture? I was having a phone conversation with Randy, my brother in Christ this morning, as we often do on my way to work, (iron sharpens iron) and he asked me to give him a "good Word". I told him I read in Colossians last night where we are to set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Colossians 3:1-2 (ESV) If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
I told Randy I think the old saying about someone being "too heavenly minded to be any earthly good" is not a Biblical idea, and certainly doesn't line up with this text. I told him things on earth will line up in their proper place if we are focusing on Christ, and things above, keeping an "Eternal Perspective".  
(of course I'm not talking about the extreme cases of date setters, people quitting their jobs, selling everything they have, and climbing trees or mountains waiting on the "Rapture", thinking they know the day and the hour, which even the Son of Man Himself did not know while on earth)
"Aim at Heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither" C.S. Lewis
Randy responded with a quote from Piper about when Christ is the burning blazing center of our universe, everything else will line up in its proper orbit. I liked that, and searched for the exact quote, because I knew I would soon forget it if I didn't. I found it, copied and pasted it below, and it blessed me in a mighty way! It also convicted me in a mighty way, which I needed! Thanks, Randy!
Here's the excerpt from the transcript by John Piper, Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (photo added from wiki commons)
I have a picture in my mind of the majesty of Christ like the sun at the center of the solar system of your life. The massive sun, 333,000 times the mass of the earth, holds all the planets in orbit, even little Pluto, 3.6 billion miles away. So it is with the supremacy of Christ in your life. All the planets of your life—your sexuality and desires, your commitments and beliefs, your aspirations and dreams, your attitudes and convictions, your habits and disciplines, your solitude and relationships, your labor and leisure, your thinking and feeling--all the planets of your life are held in orbit by the greatness and gravity and blazing brightness of the supremacy of Jesus Christ at the center of your life. And if He ceases to be the bright, blazing, satisfying beauty at the center of your life, the planets will fly into confusion, and a hundred things will be out of control, and sooner or later they will crash into destruction.
2004 Desiring God National Conference, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ
After pondering some of my actions, attitudes, behaviors, etc., I've been strongly convicted from this passage in Colossians, as well as this sermon by Piper, that I'm to blame when things "fly into confusion", and "out of control", because I am not at that moment giving Christ His proper place in my life.
Father, help me to keep you "High and Lifted Up" in my life, and to submit to the Lordship and Leadership of Jesus Christ in all things daily, by the Power of Your Holy Spirit! Amen!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

God Predestines. Man is Responsible. Can both be true?

My answer is, ABSOLUTELY!  The Bible consistently teaches both.   Do you have trouble reconciling how these two statements can both be true?  Well, Charles H. Spurgeon believed every Word he read in Scripture, even if it "appeared" to contradict what he read elsewhere in Scripture.  Consider the following from Spurgeon:
"That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other. These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the mind that shall pursue them farthest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring." (Charles H. Spurgeon, New Park Street Pulpit, 4:337)
Well spoken, Pastor Spurgeon!

And as Randy Alcorn (who currently holds to 4 points of Calvinism) stated:
"...our theology should be a reflection of Scripture itself, and wherever Scripture teaches apparently contradictory ideas, our theology should embrace those same ideas, rather than resort to a consistency which rejects part of God’s revealed Word."
Alcorn goes on to state:
"My Greek professor liked to say, “I would rather be comfortable with my Bible and uncomfortable with my theology, than comfortable with my theology and uncomfortable with the Bible.”
For Alcorn's excellent webpage where these quotes were taken from, click below.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

..."we’ve learned to deny our bodies where the welfare of our souls is at stake.” -40 Martyrs of Sebaste

My Pastor, while preaching expositionally through 1 Peter on Sunday mornings, gave the "40 Martyrs of Sebaste" illustration during his sermon this week.  He read a lot of it, and I was truly moved by it.  He said he first heard it while listening to a John MacArthur sermon, which prompted him to research it further.  I'm not sure what sources his illustration was from, but it was an excellent illustration of how one mark of Christian Martyrs throughout the ages has been that they "die well"...These 40 Martyrs were part of the 12th Legion of Roman soldiers who refused to offer the sacrifice ordered by Emperor Licinius.  They were reportedly flogged, put in a dungeon, then eventually made to stand naked and cold on a frozen lake till they died, or deserted their fellow 40 to warm themselves in either hot baths, or by a fire (some stories I read said hot bath, or fire).  Here's a sample of their response when offered a way out of persecution for Christ:
Nothing you can offer us would replace what we would lose in the next world. As for your threats, we’ve learned to deny our bodies where the welfare of our souls is at stake.
Here's a link to a site I read about the 40 Martyrs, but am not necessarily endorsing the website, because I haven't had time to look at any other material on their website:

Maybe those more familiar can point me to better web articles about this story.

I also read somewhere recently, I think it was in "The Voice of the Martyrs", that there are about 150,000 Christian Martyrs per year in our modern day.  That's about 400 Christians per day  (TODAY) being killed for the cause of Jesus Christ, and refusing to deny His Lordship in their lives.  Here's part of my Pastor's text from Sunday morning
1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. 
May we learn from those who have gone before us, to "die well" for Christ if we're ever put in that position.  And may we say today, as Joshua said to the Children of Israel,
Joshua 24:14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness...15 ...choose this day whom you will serve...But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Please leave comments, links to website articles, etc. that would point us to more thorough or better historical accounts, or anything else relevant to the topic at hand.   Thanks!     

(If not signed in, you can choose "anonymous", then leave comments, and post your name and info in the comment itself if you like)

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Will Jesus return today?  

What if he doesn't?  

The false prophet Harold Camping is at it again, setting dates, presuming to know things we are told in Scripture that no man knows, not even the Son, but only the Father knows.  We know he's a false prophet from his track record in the 1990's when he predicted one date, missed it, then said he miscalculated and missed it again.  This is all reminiscent of the 1988 Edgar Whisenant books "88 reasons why the Rapture will occur in 1988", or something like that, and I believe he also claimed to have recalculated and tried it again, and still "missed it again".

However, I can remember back in 1988, having conversations and witnessing opportunities with friends and strangers that would never listen to the Gospel prior to that "prediction".  I was driving an 18-wheeler at the time, and had a fellow driver who definitely not a follower of Christ at the time, pull over on the side of the interstate with me and have me pray with him to receive Christ.  I can recall many other witnessing encounters, opportunities and doors opened to share the Gospel with people at that time.  Were the conversions genuine?  Some probably were, some probably weren't, only God knows.  But I recently talked to one of the guys I prayed with who surrendered to Jesus in 1988, and he told he me he is still following Christ.  

I listen to many Christian programs on my MP3, and one of my favorites  is Todd Friel, Ray Comfort, and Kirk Cameron on  "Living Waters-The Way of the Master.
Ray Comfort, of "Living Waters, The Way of the Master" posted on his facebook this morning:
The bad side (rapture coming 2day) is the mockery it'll bring tomorrow, but the good side is that it can open conversations with the lost.
Here's my facebook comment in response to Ray's post:
Amen, Ray! I agree that Camping is a false prophet as are all date setters, but i think we need to be careful to critique them & their false teaching, but not Scripture, and not to become "scoffers and mockers" of Jesus' promised coming, see 2 Peter 3:3-4. Many Amill's and Postmill's are already having a heydey with this, but I would hope that whatever our Eschatology, we will all agree with the plethora of Scripture passages (Acts 1:11 for example) that Jesus will return, perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps many years, decades, centuries, etc. from now, but He will come again, and we should be always looking for "that blessed Hope".
2 Peter 3:3-4  
...knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.  They will say, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 
So let us "occupy" till He come, and always be ready to share our Faith.
1 Peter 3:15 
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the Hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect..

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"I have a Key in my bosom called Promise"

I love the 17th Century classic masterpiece "The Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan who was imprisoned 12 years in England for preaching without a license. It is reportedly second only to the Bible in number of copies sold worldwide. It chronicles the allegorical journey of the main character named "Christian" from this life to the next, on his quest for the "Celestial City", leaving his hometown, the "City of Destruction" behind. Everything and everyone in the book represents symbolically something or someone we encounter in our Christian lives.

I was reading it again the other day and came across this passage, where CHRISTIAN and his friend HOPEFUL have ventured off the "NARROW WAY", and find themselves in "DOUBTING CASTLE", and imprisoned by the "GIANT DESPAIR". How did they get out? They leaned on the Promises of God found in Scripture! Christian could say as David did in Psalms, "Thy Word have I hidden in my heart"...and this ties in with my last blog on Adoniram Judson, who said: "The Future is as bright as the Promises of God". The Bible is full of the Promises of God, and if we would rely more on His Word, we would find the answers (or keys) to getting through life's difficulties.

Here's the passage from Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress:
"I fear," said she (Giant Despair's wife), "that they live in hope that some will come to relieve them; or that they have picklocks about them; by the means of which they hope to escape." "And sayest thou so, my dear?" said the Giant; "I will therefore search them in the morning."
Well, on Saturday, about midnight the pilgrims began to pray; and continued in prayer till almost break of day.
Now a little before it was day, good CHRISTIAN, as one half amazed, break out in this passionate speech: "What a fool," quoth he, "am I, thus to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty! I have a key in my bosom called Promise; that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle." Then said HOPEFUL, "That’s good news; good brother, pluck it out of thy bosom, and try."
Then CHRISTIAN pulled it out of his bosom, and began to try at the dungeon door; whose bolt (as he turned the key) gave back, and the door flew open with ease: and CHRISTIAN and HOPEFUL both came out. Then he went to the outward door that led into the castle yard; and with his key opened that door also. After, he went to the iron gate, for that must be opened too; but that lock went exceedingly hard: yet the key did open it. Then they thrust open the gate to make their escape with speed; but that gate, as it opened, made such a creaking, that it waked Giant DESPAIR: who, hastily rising to pursue his prisoners, felt his limbs to fail, for his fits took him again, so that he could by no means go after them. Then they went on, and came to the king’s highway again; and so were safe, because they were out of his jurisdiction.
My Dad (the man I respect and look to the most for spiritual insight) & I exchange good books all the time, and he gave me "Pilgrim's Progress" for a birthday present years ago and highly recommended I read it. I put it on my shelf, intending to read it when I got around to it.

Not long afterward, I heard several preachers on my MP3 itunes sermons referencing it. I started flipping through, and felt drawn to read it, but had other books I was still working on. "As luck would have it...", (just joking, there's no such thing as luck), Collin Wimberly, our Pastor at the time, quoted from it the following Sunday and said
"all Christians should read through "Pilgrim's Progress" at least once a year.

I took that as a "Word from the Lord", and went home that afternoon and started reading it. Man, was I blessed! I gave copies of it to several people, and to my knowledge only 1 person, a friend I work with named Mark actually read it. He, however, was as blessed by it as I was.

If you've never read Bunyan's book, maybe this will whet your appetite. Maybe not.
The choice is yours. You'll miss a huge blessing if you don't.

Charles Spurgeon
is reported to have read it over 100 times. It was his favorite book outside the Bible.
Alistair Begg references it frequently in his sermons, as do many other solid preacher/teachers of today.

Of course, the Bible itself takes priority over any other books written by men, but I think we all could make time to read more than we do. It's how you prioritize your time.
In case you're wondering how I feel about books and the Bible,
click the link below -my older blog entitled Bring Out The Book!
Bring Out The Book!

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Christian perspective on Osama Bin Laden's Death. To celebrate, or not to celebrate?

Without a doubt, as an American citizen, this morning's news headlines of the death of the terrorist mastermind behind the 9-11 Twin Tower attacks incites emotion, and a sense of relief that "justice has been served".  I vividly remember watching and praying, with feelings and emotions I can't begin to describe, as the attacks were happening live, glued to the TV, as the events of the morning unfolded in a downward spiral.

As I learned the news of Bin Laden's death 10 years later this morning, I've seen a variety of responses on facebook, in the news, and other media sources.  Some seemed relieved, vindicated, somber, thankful, patriotic, while others seemed jubilant, arrogant, prideful,  full of gloating and revelry.  The latter being not much different from some (certainly not all) Muslims we see on TV getting worked up into a riotous frenzy against Americans routinely as they burn our flags, Bibles, and images of our leaders, which got me to thinking.

How should we as Christians respond to the news that our enemy, Osama Bin Laden is dead? As always, we need to go to Scripture for our answer.
Proverbs 24:17-18 (ESV)
Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away His anger from him.
Sounds pretty plain to me!

While pondering this news and our proper response, a couple of Biblical examples come to mind.  I think of King David in the Old Testament when he received the news that King Saul, who had hunted David like a dog and attempted to kill David for years, was dead.
2 Samuel 1:11-12 (ESV) Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him.  And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.
Now I certainly realize this passage describes a different event, in a different context, and Saul was much different than Bin Laden, and that there's really little or no comparison between the two.  They definitely are not parallel events, but I think it gives us a glimpse of David's response (or lack of celebration) being in line with the Proverb quoted above, and we can learn from David here.

I was also thinking of King David's response when Absalom, his wayward and rebellious son, who also had David on the run and attempted to kill David and take his kingdom from him, was reported to be dead. 
2 Samuel 18:33 (ESV) And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept...
Again, I admit there's no real comparison with this event and the one at hand, but David's response (and lack of celebration) to the death of another of his "enemies" is the thing that strikes me.  In both of these passages, the messengers of the news of the death of his enemies were expecting him to be jubilant, ecstatic, and ready for a celebration. 

However, David's actual response was drastically different.  Isn't that the way of the Christian life?  On many levels, in various situations, and at different times, our response should be different than that of the world.  God has chosen the foolish things to confound the wise, paraphrasing the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians.

Many Americans were anxious and impatient as they awaited justice to be served to Bin Laden over the last 10 years or so, and understandably so, especially for those more closely affected with family members killed during the attacks, or family and friends killed or injured during and after the events, but we do well to remember the Lord's words:
Deuteronomy 32:35 Vengeance is Mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.’
I believe Scripture teaches consistently  (see Romans Chapter 13, and 1 Peter Chapter 2 for two examples) that Government, Military, etc. are tools used by God to accomplish His purposes many times, and I'm thankful for ours (yes, even under the current administration with which I disagree on many issues), and I commend our U.S. Government and U.S. Military Servicemen, as they carried out their mission, being used by God to accomplish His purposes.
But let us always be careful to remember our Lord Jesus Christ's Words in Luke 13:3 (ESV)
...I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
I invite you to leave comments below for further discussion.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Lamb's Book of Life---Written when?

Can you remember being in church services that closed something like this?

Every head bowed, every eye closed, no one looking around, instruments playing softly, now raise your hand and look up at me if you would like to have your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life tonight.  Is your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life?  Would like you like it to be?  Then as soon as we start singing, if you will walk down this aisle and take me by the hand, pray this prayer, do this and that, jump through this hoop and that hoop, etc.,  your name can be written down in the Lamb's Book of Life tonight in Heaven..........Now, how does it feel to know your name has just been written down in the Book?
Is this correct?  I believe Scripture teaches the Lamb's Book of Life was written before the foundation of the world, not at a moment in time when you make your "decision for Christ".  Agree?  Disagree?  I invite you to read on if interested...

I can remember end-of-church-service invitations very similar to this growing up in a Southern Baptist Church in Louisiana. The Pastors, Preachers, Evangelists, etc. speaking like this were great men of God who loved Jesus, and they were instrumental in bringing many people into the Kingdom of God (both wheat and tares, no doubt, but didn't Jesus say they must both grow together?  see Matthew 13)

Now, is there anything wrong with that type of "invitation" or "invitations" in general?  Glad you asked, but I'm not going there on this blog.  There's much debate over invitations, and people feel strongly on both sides of the debate, but I know God is not hindered and His arm is not shortened that He cannot save, regardless of our "methodology". Countless multitudes of souls have been saved with and without invitations because it is God who does the saving by the power of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel, not us or our invitational methods.

 The reason I was thinking about the Lamb's Book of Life today has to do with a facebook post by R.C. Sproul earlier today, as follows:
 Ligonier Ministries FACEBOOK post:
When God writes our names in the 'Lamb's Book of Life' He doesn't do it with an eraser handy. He does it for eternity. - R.C. Sproul
The comment thread was getting longer and longer, and I noticed no one seemed to mention what Scripture says about this, but only made comments about Revelation 3:5 and whether or not we can be blotted out of the Book.  So I put my two cents worth in (a metaphor for "my opinion", for those International readers  that may not be familiar with American English "figures of speech").  The following is my response on Ligonier's thread:
Actually, our names aren't written in the Lamb's Book of Life when we're saved, they're already there from before the foundation of the world... Rev.13:3 (NASB) speaks of "those whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb", and Rev.17:8 (ESV if you prefer) speaks of those "whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world" the names of the elect are already there, which coincides with Ephesians Chapter 1, Romans Chapter 8, etc., and the promise is that they will never be blotted out in Rev. 3:5, because cities in that day would blot out or purge the names of undesirables from their city register...the promise is that this will not happen to us who are secure in Christ...
Arthur W. Pink's last words before he died in 1952 were:  
So in summary, according to Scripture (and Scripture is our only Authority), the Elect's names are already written in the Lamb's Book of Life before the foundation of the world and will never be blotted out.  

But you might say "then what's the use for me, if I'm not elect, I don't have a chance. "
Well, I'm glad you asked!
John 1:12-13 (ESV) says

But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
and Revelation 22:17 says  The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
So if you're not sure of your salvation, or if you know you're not saved, and if you are being convicted and drawn by His Spirit, if you will humble yourself, cry out to Him and sincerely surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in repentance and faith, you will find that your name has already been written in the Lamb's Book of Life.  
But if you continue to reject the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, you will one day (perhaps judgement day) see that your sins remain on yourself, and that your name is not in the Book.  How tragic that would be...

Friday, April 8, 2011

ANGOLA, the ALCATRAZ of the South, Transformed by the Power of the Gospel

Why is this a topic for my blog today?  I'm glad you asked!

I was talking to my friend Randy this morning, and he was sharing with me how our friend Barry's brother, a Pastor who routinely preaches at Angola State Penitentiary met Dr. John MacArthur while MacArthur was preaching there on Tuesday of this week.  He said MacArthur was so down-to-earth, and mingled with and talked with them in a most humble manner, unlike some of the well-known preachers of our day.  John Piper has also preached there, and held question and answer sessions at Angola in recent years which I have listened to on MP3 that can be found online. The level of spiritual maturity and theological understanding in the inmates' questions was nothing less than amazing. I googled MacArthur and Angola, and didn't find anything on it, but came across these videos.  I was so moved by what I saw and heard, I wanted to share it with my friends on this blog. 
"ANGOLA", aka The Louisiana State Penitentiary (LSP), has been nicknamed "ALCATRAZ OF THE SOUTH". If you are viewing this blog from outside the U.S.A., you may not be familiar with either of these two prisons where the worst of the worst, most violent of the violent, and the baddest of the bad have been sent for life sentences, as well as executions.  Men on Death Row, and the Exection Chamber are housed at Angola.  For decades, in fact since the 1800's ANGOLA has been a word that strikes fear in the heart of criminals, as well as average citizens.  It is the largest maximum security prison in the United States of America.  For those of us who live in Louisiana, we are very familiar with its reputation for violence, murder, riots, etc..  As Louisiana teenagers we were occasionally warned that we might end up in Angola if we broke the law, which seemed to be just about as scary as telling us we would wind up in hell.  As a truckdriver in the 1980's, as I would drive by the signs pointing to Angola near St. Francisville on the way to Baton Rouge, I used to get an eerie feeling, and would be looking all around for escaped prisoners.

Angola is surrounded on 3 sides by the mighty Mississippi River, and consists of  18,000 acres of what was once plantation land.  Wardens have been historically fired every 4 or 5 years due to their inability to keep the violence down.  But that was until Burl Cain became Warden in 1995, answering a call from God!  He is still there, and is the longest standing Warden in LSP history.  Cain is a Christian, started Bible studies with the prisoners and guards shortly after arriving as Warden, and offers Seminary training through New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for the inmates. 

I invite you to watch both of these videos, and prepare to be amazed by the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

You may be tempted to think "How could those murderers, rapists, thieves, etc. be truly converted, changed, saved, etc..  However, for those of us who have been Redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb, we need to be reminded of who we once were as enemies of God, until we were saved by His Glorious Grace through Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  We also need to realize that except for the Grace of God, we could have and should have all been in there serving time with them.  Furthermore, we all could have been and should have been sent straight to Hell, but for His Grace and Mercy.  As that old hymn says:

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, 

And in the words of another old Southern Gospel Song entitled "Yes I Know":

Come ye sinners, lost and lonely;
Jesus' blood can make you free!
For He saved the worst among you,
When He saved a wretch like ME.

And I know, yes I know;
Jesus' blood can make the vilest sinner clean!

And I know, yes I know;
Jesus' blood can make the vilest sinner clean!

Maybe you're not sure about your own salvation, or maybe you're wondering if God could save someone as bad as you.  Or perhaps you're thinking since you don't see yourself as bad as those guys in Angola that you are alright with God.  Either way, I'd love to discuss it with you.

Please leave comments or questions below.  You can use the "anonymous" label while commenting and either leave your name or remain anonymous if you don't want to log in.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

William Carey's "business" was to proclaim the Gospel!

William Carey, often called the "Founder of Modern Missions" was a minister, school-master, and a cobbler or shoe maker by trade before he left England to begin mission work in India. While still in England, he used to go about from village to village proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people.
One day a friend reportedly came to him and said,
"I want to speak to you very seriously."

"Well," said Carey, "What is it?"
His friend said, "By your going about talking to people as you do you're neglecting your business. If you only attended to making shoes more than you do, you would have a better business and could prosper far better than you are. But as it is you are simply neglecting your business."
To which Carey replied, "Neglecting my business? My business is to extend the Kingdom of God. I only cobble shoes to pay expenses!"
or as "Wholesome Words" website puts it, (click here)

"My real business is to preach the gospel and win lost souls. I cobble shoes to pay expenses."
Romans 10:13-15 (ESV)
13 For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Good News!"

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Our Needs and God's Mercy

John Flavel (1627-1691), an English Presbyterian clergyman said "When our needs are permitted to grow to an extremity, and all visible hopes fail, then to have relief given wonderfully enhances the price of such a mercy" (Isaiah 41:17-18)

Isaiah 41:17-20 (ESV)

17When the poor and needy seek water,
and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the LORD will answer them;
I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
18 I will open rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the midst of the valleys.
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water.
19 I will put in the wilderness the cedar,
the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive.
I will set in the desert the cypress,
the plane and the pine together,
20that they may see and know,
may consider and understand together,
that the hand of the LORD has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.

I am reminded of a song Everett Geis Jr., our former music minister used to sing periodically while he led music at Calvary Baptist Church. He shared how the words ministered to him in a mighty way, due to his own personal testimony, and as we grow older and go through more in this life, I think we can all be ministered to by the lyrics in the same way. My wife and I often talk about how Everett blessed us many times with this song (as well as many other specials he would sing right before the sermon), and we wish we could hear him sing again sometime. No one could sing (and put their heart into it) like Everett. He's gone on to become a Preacher of the Word since then.

The chorus was as follows:

There's light at the end of the darkness,

So look up when you are down and try to believe.

Sometimes we have to be knocked down to make us look upward.

I was looking up through the bottom when it finally shined on me.

The song in its entirety is as follows:


There's a light at the end of the darkness,

And it shines for all the world to see.

It will shine on your life if you will let it.

I was blind when it finally shined on me


There is hope in that land for the hopeless,

And there's soothing balm for pain and misery.

It's as near as your faith, but sometimes seems fleeting.

I was blind when it finally shined on me.


There's light at the end of the darkness,

So look up when you are down and try to believe.

Sometimes we have to be knocked down to make us look upward.

I was looking up through the bottom when it finally shined on me.


I was looking up through the bottom when it finally shined on me.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Spurgeon quotes on the Doctrines of Grace

I came across this excellent selection of Charles Spurgeon's quotes on the Biblical Doctrines of Grace.  The author of the website graciously agreed to allow me to reproduce it here if linked to his website.

I believe nothing merely because Calvin taught it, but because I have found his teaching in the Word of God. 2584.402

The doctrines of original sin, election, effectual calling, final perseverance, and all those great truths which are called Calvinism—though Calvin was not the author of them, but simply an able writer and preacher upon the subject—are, I believe, the essential doctrines of the Gospel that is in Jesus Christ. Now, I do not ask you whether you believe all this—it is possible you may not; but I believe you will before you enter heaven. I am persuaded, that as God may have washed your hearts, he will wash your brains before you enter heaven. 12.92

I believe the man who is not willing to submit to the electing love and sovereign grace of God, has great reason to question whether he is a Christian at all, for the spirit that kicks against that is the spirit of the devil, and the spirit of the unhumbled, unrenewed heart. 277.424

“But,” say others, “God elected them on the foresight of their faith.” Now, God gives faith, therefore he could not have elected them on account of faith, which he foresaw. There shall be twenty beggars in the street, and I determine to give one of them a shilling; but will any one say that I determined to give that one a shilling, that I elected him to have the shilling, because I foresaw that he would have it? That would be talking nonsense. In like manner to say that God elected men because he foresaw they would have faith, which is salvation in the germ, would be too absurd for us to listen to for a moment. 41,42.317

Our Arminian antagonists always leave the fallen angels out of the question: for it is not convenient to them to recollect this ancient instance of Election. They call it unjust, that God should choose one man and not another. By what reasoning can this be unjust when they will admit that it was righteous enough in God to choose one race—the race of men, and leave another race—the race of angels, to be sunk into misery on account of sin. 303.134

Some, who know no better, harp upon the foreknowledge of our repentance and faith, and say that, “Election is according to the foreknowledge of God;” a very scriptural statement, but they make a very unscriptural interpretation of it. Advancing by slow degrees, they next assert that God foreknew the faith and the good works of his people. Undoubtedly true, since he foreknew everything; but then comes their groundless inference, namely, that therefore the Lord chose his people because he foreknew them to be believers. It is undoubtedly true that foreknown excellencies are not the causes of election, since I have shown you that the Lord foreknew all our sin: and surely if there were enough virtue in our faith and goodness to constrain him to choose us, there would have been enough demerit in our bad works to have constrained him to reject us; so that if you make foreknowledge to operate in one way, you must also take it in the other, and you will soon perceive that it could not have been from anything good or bad in us that we were chosen, but according to the purpose of his own will, as it is written, “I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 779.621

Recollect also that God himself did not foresee that there would be any love to him in us arising out of ourselves, for there never has been any, and there never will be; he only foresaw that we should believe because he gave us faith, he foresaw that we should repent because his Spirit would work repentance in us, he foresaw that we should love, because he wrought that love within us; and is there anything in the foresight that he means to give us such things that can account for his giving us such things? The case is self-evident—his foresight of what he means to do cannot be his reason for doing it. 1299.341
There was nothing more in Abraham than in any one of us why God should have selected him, for whatever good was in Abraham God put it there. Now, if God put it there, the motive for his putting it there could not be the fact of his putting it there. 303.135
A controversialist once said, “If I thought God had a chosen people, I should not preach.” That is the very reason why I do preach. What would make him inactive is the mainspring of my earnestness. If the Lord had not a people to be saved, I should have little to cheer me in the ministry. 2167.551

I believe that God will save his own elect, and I also believe that, if I do not preach the gospel, the blood of men will be laid at my door. 2303.171

Our Saviour has bidden us to preach the gospel to every creature; he has not said, “Preach it only to the elect;” and though that might seem to be the most logical thing for us to do, yet, since he has not been pleased to stamp the elect in their foreheads, or to put any distinctive mark upon them, it would be an impossible task for us to perform; whereas, when we preach the gospel to every creature, the gospel makes its own division, and Christ’s sheep hear his voice, and follow him. 2937.262

God neither chose them nor called them because they were holy, but He called them that they might be holy, and holiness is the beauty produced by His workmanship in them. ME329

Grace does not choose a man and leave him as he is. 801.162

Reproduced and used with permission from the following website:

For more Spurgeon quotes (including an alphabetical listing) click on the link here.
Posted by John Samson on February 7, 2006 11:14 AM

The basis and groundwork of Arminian theology lies in attaching undue importance
to man, and giving God rather the second place than the first. 406.465

I believe that very much of current Arminianism is simply ignorance of Gospel
doctrine; and if people began to study their Bibles, and to take the Word of God as
they find it, they must inevitably, if believers, rise up to rejoice in the Doctrines of
Grace. 60

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The "Village" of "Radical" "Crazy Love"

Thoughts on David Platt , Frances Chan, and Matt Chandler.  
(I came up with this blog title by combining Chandler's church's name-"The Village Church", Platt's book "Radical", and Chan's book "Crazy Love"...I know, kind of cheesy, but its the best I could come up with-lol).  For those unaware of who they are, these 3 young pastors are currently taking the younger generation of American Christians by storm, including protestants, evangelicals, and reformed believers, and they have a passion and zeal for the Glory of Christ that has been lacking among our young people in recent years.

Rest assured-I admire, respect, and recommend reading and listening to each of these young men of God.  The questions and topics of discussion put forth in this blog are meant to be constructive and in no way disrespectful to these guys, who are part of the next generation of Godly men who will hopefully be leading people in this country and people from all parts of the world to saving faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
One thing I want to commend them for is that they all, for the most part, preach the Sovereignty of God in a mighty way.  Platt, Chan, and Chandler lift Jesus higher, and put man lower, (like John the Baptist said-He must increase and I must decrease) more so than many of the authors and preachers that are so popular today.  They are, in my opinion, worlds ahead of pastors like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Osteen, etc., and authors like John Eldredge, Philip Yancey, etc., some of whom like to lift man higher and bring God lower, just the opposite John the Baptist's statement.

That being said, many of my younger Christian friends, some of whom are not (although a few are) as fond of reading or listening to the older/wiser/more mature Pastor/Theologians of our day as I am, such as John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, Alistair Begg, R.C. Sproul, John Piper, etc., (just to name a few) have been highly recommending that I read and listen to some younger preachers like Platt, Chan, and Chandler.  I love to read and listen to good theology, sermons, books, etc., so in order to see what they're seeing, and hear what they're hearing, I've read Chan's book "Crazy Love", and listened to well over 100 sermons combined from all three of these guys, especially Platt and Chandler on MP3 over the last year or two.  So I'm not writing from a non-informed perspective.  I really like all three of them, have learned from and been blessed and challenged by them, and think God is greatly using them.  They are greatly glorifying Jesus, but I can see a few areas in each of them that needs some maturing. I hope as they continue to grow, they will look to the older men of God of our day for wisdom, and read, study, listen to their sermons, read their books, commentaries, etc., as well as the "dead theologians" such as the Reformers like Luther, Calvin, John Knox, etc., the later Puritans like Charnock, Baxter, Flavel, Owen, Henry, etc., and later men like Whitfield, Edwards, Spurgeon, missionaries like William Carey, Adoniram Judson, etc.,  and more recently deceased preachers and authors like D.Martyn Lloyd-Jones, James Montgomery Boice, Donald G. Barnhouse, A.W. Pink, etc., just to name a few.

Another young minister, who I think is somewhat more mature and discerning at this stage in his walk than these other 3 guys, Kevin DeYoung- Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan wrote an excellent review on David Platt's new book, "Radical".  He and Platt are friends, and Platt was given an invitation to write a response after his review.
I started to write a comment on his blog, but it quickly became too long. I decided to post my comment here, where I had more room. Please read Kevin DeYoung's gracious review, and David Platt's gracious response first.
Here's the link.

Now, here's what my comment was going to be before deciding to just post it here:

Thanks for the excellent review, Kevin.

I'm in full agreement with you, and have the highest respect for Dr. David Platt. I've not read his book in it's entirety, but I've skimmed it, and have listened to all of Platt's sermons on MP3 that the book was taken from, plus dozens more, after a few younger guys at church recommended him. I, like you, think the Lord has and will continue to use him in a mighty way for His Glory. He has a great passion and zeal for Jesus Christ that many of us would do well to learn from and emulate.

However, I feel he, Frances Chan, and a few others of the younger generation have some maturing to do. My pastor addressed this topic a few weeks ago in the morning sermon, and said he sees a "pride of poverty" in their message. My pastor wisely said (paraphrasing) "if these guys down-size and give everything away, they've only shifted the burden to someone else to take care of their needs." I agree, and also get the sense they think "one size fits all" in how each of our lives lived for Christ should look. I got the sense from David Platt's sermons that if you were in Platt's church, and didn't down-size and sell your house, AND move into the "housing project" so you could evangelize the poor people from the inside-out, like many of the members were already doing, and encouraging the rest to do, AND adopt at least one child from a 3rd world country, AND get rid of every non-essential you owned, would have tremendous peer pressure from within his church making you feel spiritually inferior, guilty, and less than "radical".

I also recently listened to several dozen MP3 sermons of another big name with the younger generation, Matt Chandler. He's a great young man of God, with a passion and zeal for Christ like the other guys mentioned. My prayers are with him with his cancer, and his faith exhibited through this time is truly inspiring. But one thing I noticed in his sermons seemed to go along with that mentioned above. He seemed to be overly bragging on the "modesty" of his small house, and seemed almost prideful in bragging on himself for driving an older worn out vehicle. And he seems to encourage "tatooes", saying "Jesus has a "cool-tatt", then uses Revelation's passage of Jesus coming on the white horse for his proof-text. He did this in not one, not two, but in multiple sermons which I listened to on MP3.  I thought "this is very strange, what's his infatuation with defending tattoes so often"?  He seems to be really stuck on promoting/endorsing/condoning tattoes, probably because most of the people he deals with has them, and he feels the need to be "relevant" (although I'm not really sure why, just a guess). I realize a lot of people make or have made stupid mistakes pertaining to tattoes which they can't erase later when they surrender to Christ, but that's a lot different than promoting it to Christians as an acceptable Christ-like practice after salvation.  Again, I've heard him do this several times in different podcast sermons, not just once. Chandler also arrogantly brags repeatedly on their church meeting in an old Albertson's grocery store/warehouse instead of a traditional church building, like that makes them more spiritual and in more favor with God or something.   He seems to have a major problem with church buildings. I've heard Chandler, Chan, and Platt speak negatively repeatedly about churches who meet in buildings on numerous occasions. I"ve heard Chandler (or Platt, can't remember which) preach a passage on Solomon's temple, and totally miss the whole point of the passage, and instead tried to use it as a way to bash modern church buildings while patting themselves on the back for meeting in a warehouse.  Quite a stretch of the text.  Didn't use exegesis at all, but complete eisogesis.
As to Frances Chan, I bought the book "Crazy Love", because it was being promoted by people in my church, and the book itself was later taught in a classroom setting.  I read it, underlined many things that I questioned, but didn't mention them to anyone, trying not to be devisive.  Then one evening my wife and I sat down to discuss it, and guess what?  She had marked the same things that I had.  Without going into much detail, the first thing we both had marked was where Frances Chan said (paraphrasing) that if we as the Church will do our job, we can literally wipe out poverty worldwide. I understand and appreciate his concern for the poor, and I'm aware that we as individuals as well as the Church as a whole could do better in this area, but, I also read in Scripture where Jesus said "the poor you will have with you always".  I'd like to ask Frances what does "always" mean?  I think it's another example of their immaturity, and how naive they are.  

Hopefully, if they will keep the humble perspective as David did in his response to your review, the Lord will continue to mature them to be used for His Glory in a mighty way.
ClJ. Mahaney's website had these good quotes by Kevin DeYoung.
• Our generation in particular is prone to radicalism without follow-through. We want to change the world and we have never changed a diaper.
• Can we be the young generation that loves and respects and looks up to the older generation?