Thursday, December 17, 2009


As I considered worship lately, I have changed my perspective slightly. What is worship? To find the answer, I started looking in the most honest of places. Kids. Do you ever watch kids worship? Step back, outside of your religious mindset and look at unchurched kids. Look at 3rd-5th grade boys who love sports. They have the purest form of worship, it comes straight from the heart. They worship sports figures. When I was that age, it was Michael Jordan. Everyone had Air Jordans when I was 6th and 7th grade. Kids wore Bulls hats and shirts, and the real die hard fans, they had a jersey. Kids on playgrounds everywhere stuck their tongues out when they shot baskets.

True worship, the most pure form of worship is emulation. It's identification, it's concentrated attention given. Why have we turned it into a form that most people can't identify with? Sure, some will worship in song, but if we are honest with ourselves, if worship is emulation, aren't we worshipping the Worship leader more than God? Who are we mimicking on a Sunday Morning? Just food for thought. I welcome your comments.

Disciple or Convert?

When it comes to your faith, are you a disciple or a convert? You may wonder, “what’s the difference?” There is a difference of night and day. A convert is happy just coming to a Sunday Morning service. A convert may pray before a meal. A convert owns a Bible or two. A convert is someone who has found “religion”. Every religion has converts. You can be converted to and from anything, Muslim, Buddhist, Catholic, Baptist, even Atheists. It simply means you have been converted to an affiliation. You now identify yourself as part of the group.

This is so different from being a disciple. Jesus never called ‘converts’. He never said to go and make converts. He never told anyone to come be His convert. He told them to be His disciples. A disciple is someone who studies under the Master, who learns His trade, His style, learns to be like Him. A convert follows rules and traditions, but a disciple follows the Master.

In your walk, in your life, how are you behaving? Are you following the rules, the traditions, going through the motions? Are you doing the same things you’ve always done, because you have always done it? That is how the Pharisees lived, they valued the tradition and the ritual. They were converted to the Jewish religion, but missed the most important relationship. The promised Messiah came and stood in front of them, but they were so clouded by their tradition, their religion, the missed Him. We see it happen today, in the modern church. Folks come in, sit though a worship service, get in their cars and go home, ever meeting the Master, never becoming a disciple.

So which are you? Who do you follow? Are you following someone who talks about Jesus, or do you follow Jesus? Do you follow tradition, or the teachings of men, or the words of our Lord and Savior? In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus told us: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

The keys to becoming a disciple are all about the Master. Reading the word, spending time in Bible study. Going to Him and seeking Him in prayer and meditation of the Word. It’s being about the business of the Master, sharing the Gospel, helping the hurting, supporting your brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s about Worship, which in its purest form is emulation of your Master. So, when it comes to your faith, are you a convert, or a disciple?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Not blogging, thinking

So I have a lot to blog about, but none of the thoughts complete enough to put down. I want to blog about Woven theology, I am working on the first few weaves, but I don't have then done enough to put down. I have some church-related stuff, organic based ministry thoughts- to put down, but they are not complete enough to write. I have some thoughts on Spirituality to put down, but I am not far enough or convinced enough to put anything down. Basically what I am saying is, I haven't forgotten about my blog, just haven't had a complete thought to blog yet. I'll work on it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dawson's Creek Syndrome

I have had a theory for a number of years, but I don't think I have ever written it down. Today, I am going to explain the phenomenon I call Dawson's Creek Syndrome.

First, I have to admit I have never seen Dawson's Creek, but it sounded like a fitting name, because the show is a teenage drama. There have been plenty of teenage drama shows, and many, many more for adults. Each of these shows (and almost any show, movie or book) have the same basic plot progression. We all learned it in 8th grade, you remember. First, we have a protagonist that meets with some sort of antagonist. There ensues some sort of crisis which hits a climax, and then comes a resolution.

So the question of the ages, does art imitate life or does life imitate art has a limited answer with Dawson's Creek Syndrome, we imitate art. We (as a society) have become so enamoured with these dramas, that we begin to feel like this is what our life needs to reflect to have value. So we begin to mimic this cycle in our lives.

The issue comes in when there is no drama. The only option is to create drama. We get bossy, we become nosey, we get gossipy, we get angry, we become involved in something that isn't any of our buisness, the entire purpose is to create drama. Most of the time (almost all of the time) we are totally unaware that we are doing it. It's just natural, it's a natural response to this need to feel valid. We want to feel important, the people on TV, they are important, so if we can imitate them, we feel important.

I originally came up with this theory when I worked with High School and College students, but adults are just as guilty. It happens most often in relationship with friends, significant others, people you work with, or attend church with. The creation of drama, conflict and things of the like, which create the cycle in order to feel important. Do you have DCS?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why be Woven

As I continue to work on Woven Theology, that is, the process is which Salvation happens though space time and paradoxical reality, the question exists "why does it matter". I hear this question a lot when it comes to understanding God, or understanding the nature of Salvation, or sanctification. After all, if it happens, does it matter how it happens?

There are multiple driving forces, let me start with the weakest. The first force, which provides me with a little motivation is the drive to know where I came from in a spiritual sense. It's the same motivation that causes secular scientists to study evolution, and Christian scientists to study creation. We want to know where it came from, how it started.

My next motivation is trying to bring come unity. I believe that Woven Theology moves beyond the limiting factors of most theological systems. The interpretation of most systems today have created and either-or dichotomy. You either accept this premise, or that premise. Somehow, we have to reconcile what we find in scripture, even though they seem to be conflicting ideas. My analogy is that most present systems exist like Newtonian Physics, they are progressive, straight line, action to reaction type systems. Woven theology is more Astrophysics, where time moving backwards and forwards at the same time, contradictory things being true until an event or observation interacts with them. Things are put together, superimposed to create the reality of Salvation.

My last motivation is to help make ministry practical. A good friend of mine was talking about self-help books. If a self-help booked really worked, why are there so many of them. If one really made you a better person, everyone would buy it. They don't work, which is why there are so many. I fear our process of evangelism is similar. We have so many different tools, outlines, strategies and formulas, but they so often fall short. There is no magic bullet, no one size fits all. I wrote a book in an attempt to pull all these strategies together in an attempt to be able to use multiple outlines and resources for the common purpose of Evangelism.

I think if we better understand Salvation, we are better equipped to be involved in it. We have been too far on extremes, either sitting on the side, waiting for the predestined to just get there, or trying to argue people into the Kingdom, with little success. We need a system to understand how Salvation operates so we see our part in the structure. I really believe we pray too little, stress too much, make things overly complicated and have low expectations. We either give up or become overly confrontational, and in the end, it's been more about our duty and less about presenting the Good News. We need to learn to be the kind of Evangelists that we see in the New Testament (that is another blog).

Those are my reasoning for the creation of Woven Theology. My desire to be more in God's will, to be a good steward with the time and opportunity I have to share my faith with others. During this process, I have been able to witness individuals coming to the Lord in ways that I would not have predicted. Praying for people, and seeing them get saved in ways I wouldn't have imagined, because it's the work of the Lord, and not the effort I put into it. It's been amazing, and my prayer is that as we examine the mystery that is how the Lord moves in the work of Salvation, you will see Him work in mighty ways too.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The intersection of God's plan and our duty

As I thought about how this works, how God's plan intersects man's responsibility, and I thought of a more tangible example.

No one exists apart from the knowledge and will of God. God ordains, knits together, creates and orders the life of each person. Men like Moses and Abraham, John the Baptist, Paul, each of these men where called and used by God. Men like Pharaoh who were created for a purpose. We are each lumps of clay, and God is the potter. See Romans 9:19-24.

God has set aside and uses each person according to Romans 9, but with the exception of one person, every person has been conceived by the coming together or a man and a woman in the act of procreation. Aside from Jesus, Adam and Eve, everyone that God used in the scripture was born as a result as human action. . . and interaction.

Each child that is born is an combination of God's will and man's action. God works with the activity and duty of a man and a woman. The result is a miracle, but also a result of a biological action.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
Heb 4:11 (ESV)

Not going to comment, just throwing the verse out there. You really should read it in context, but I find it interesting.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thinking Woven

So I have been reading about astrophysics lately. Why you ask? I think much of our view of God comes from Newtonian Physics. Namely, we think of God as linear. We think that God exists in our dimension, on our plane and in our time line. In thinking about the way that Salvation happens, and putting scripture together, it is clear to me that He does not. What we must do it change our thinking about God.

In regards to salvation, we assume that Salvation happens at the point we accept Christ. This is a man-centered idea, and I believe is in error. The process of Salvation begins after we are saved. We respond to salvation, but we respond because God calls us. God calls us before the beginning of time. God called us before the beginning of time for His purpose and His glory. His glory is most seen in our obedience. Our obedience brings Him glory. We are obedient and glorify Him, which is why he predestined us since the foundation of the world, for His own purpose, without our need to respond. We respond to salvation because we cannot hold ourselves back from grace, but we can't hold ourselves back from grace because we have already accepted it because it was offered.

We must weave together this reality, that two things that must occur happen, which seem to contradict. We must seek after and accept God to be saved. We must repent, confess and believe. We have responsibility. The ability to seek, to confess, repent and believe is not something we are even capable of, so God must cause it to happen before it happens, yet we know it does not happen until we respond, but has been set since time began? How? Simple, God exists out of time.

Let's add one more string to weave in. Let's weave in prayer. Prayer is that area in which we can affect the entire process from the 3rd party. We pray for the salvation of others, because our prayers affect their response, and God's call.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Tim 2:1-4 (ESV)

God wants all people to be saved, so we are commanded to pray for all people. We pray for them to be saved, because God desires for them to be saved. The catalyst that effects the foundation of time is prayer, in addition to faith and belief. As the different parts come together, God's unconditional call, the response, the prayers, belief and faith, grace and mercy, they all come together to create a tapestry that we call Salvation. None of the parts on their own can create it. Each part is vital and need the other, yet there is no time line they can be placed in. They happen before, during and after, over and under, weaving together.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Not sure we look like Christ.

Gandhi once said "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

I have witnessed some conversation, mostly online at one particular location, about the difference in some SBC polity, relating to some of our traditions, and different views. There is a movement called Baptist Identity, (or BI) that has caused some division. Of course, the Calvinist debate continues to rage, as does the worship wars. Seems like Christinas will find anything to fight about.

Gandhi also said "If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today". Wow, this last week, I have seen this lived out (mostly online) with Christians, leaders and people who profess to be mature believers constantly. So often, we (yes, I am including myself) use the Bible to justify our cruelty. Most of the time, it's proof texting, out of context and used as a weapon. The fights are suppose to be for "the good of the SBC", but never seem to be helping anyone.

I wonder if we are more concerned with being right than we are with truth. We are more concerned with the law and the tradition than we are with grace and mercy. We are more concerned with quoting the New Testament, and not concerned enough with living the New Testament. Maybe we should listen to Ghandhi a little more, and work to look a little more like Christ.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quotes you never thought would come from John Calvin

I found these at

“No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men: neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief.”

“Augustine does not disagree with this when he teaches that it is a faculty of the reason and the will to choose good with the assistance of grace; evil, when grace is absent.”

“It behooves us to accomplish what God requires of us, even when we are in the greatest despair respecting the results.”

“God tolerates even our stammering, and pardons our ignorance whenever something inadvertently escapes us – as, indeed, without this mercy there would be no freedom to pray.”

breaking from the UnElect.

I found this from a friend of mine who had a question about it. The church of the Non-Elect, those who have no ability to seek after God and be saved. This is what has caused me to create Woven Theology. The church's doctrine is below, and can be found at

    Welcome to the First Calvinist Church U.S.A.
    of the Non-Elect

    Our Doctrine & Teaching:

    What the Calvinist Church of the Non-Elect in America Teaches:

  1. The Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God, the only infallible source of truth and practice.
  2. There is only one God, eternal and self-existing in three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) who are to be equally loved, honored, and adored.
  3. All mankind participated in Adam's fall from his original sinless state and is thus lost in sin and totally helpless.
  4. The Sovereign God, for no other reason than His own unfathomable love and mercy, has chosen lost sinners from every nation to be redeemed by the quickening power of the Holy Spirit and through the atoning death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
  5. Those sinners whom the Spirit quickens, come to believe in Christ as Savior by the Word of God, are born again, becomes sons of God, and will persevere to the end.
  6. Those sinners whom the Spirit does not quicken, may recognize that Christ is truly the Lord but that knowledge in and of itself does not alter the Sovereignty of God.
  7. God Almighty is "the potter" and has the absolute right to leave some vessels of His creation as objects of His just wrath while demonstrating His amazing and matchless grace and mercy to others of His choosing.
  8. Justification for the Elect is by His choice and through it the undeserving Elected sinner is clothed with the righteousness of God.
  9. The goal of God's salvation in the life of the Christian is holiness, good works, and service for the glory of God.
  10. The goal of God's Non-election of others is to provide a testimony to His Sovereignty, Justice, and to the praise of His glory. Those of us that are Non-Elect seek also to live and die in such a way that God is still glorified.
  11. At death the Christian's soul passes immediately into the presence of God and the unelected soul is eternally separated from God unto condemnation.
  12. At death the Non-Elect soul passes immediately into concious torment away from the presence of God and His holiness demonstrating the just wrath of our Sovereign Righteous God.
  13. Jesus Christ will return to earth, visibly and boldly, at a time when He is not expected, to consummate history and the eternal plan of God.
  14. The Gospel of God's salvation in Jesus Christ must be published to all the world as a witness before Jesus Christ returns.
  15. The publication of this Good News (Gospel) is being accomplished by both the Elect and the Non-Elect as determined and allowed by the absolute sovereign will of our God, Jehovah, the great eternal "I AM".

  16. While those of us who are Non-Elect have little to no hope or confidence of ever entering into the sinless, holy presence of Jehovah God Almighty, that does not prevent us from worshipping Him, glorifying Him, and acknowledging His Infinite Worth and Supreme Sovereignty over all His creation including us.

  17. In conformity, therefore,to Calvin's clear teachings, we assert, that by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once for all determined, both whom He would admit to salvation [the Elect], and whom He would condemn to destruction [those of us who are Non-Elect].

  18. We affirm that this counsel, as far as concerns the Elect, is founded on His gratuitous mercy, totally irrespective of human merit; and...

  19. We affirm that this counsel, as far as concerns those of us that are the Non-Elect, is founded on His Divine Sovereignty and justice, to those of us whom He devotes to condemnation, the gate of life is forever closed by our just and irreprehensible, but incomprehensible, Sovereign God.

  20. In the Elect, we consider His calling as an evidence of election, and justification as another token of its manifestation, till they arrive in glory, which constitutes its completion.

  21. As God seals His Elect by vocation and justification, so by excluding those of us that are Non-Elect from the redemptive value of our Lord's limited sacrifice and the sanctification of His Spirit, He affords us as Non-Elect an indication of the judgement that awaits us, as vessels of wrath, yet even this is to His Glory, for which we are thankful.
Wow, I read this and I was stunned. This is contrary to the heart of God, to reject those who seek after Him. "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." Jer 29:12-13 (ESV). I realize this verse is written for the Jewish people after they were sentenced to exile, but there is a general promise and timeless principle in here, that God can be found when we seek Him.

This idea may be seen as contrary to unconditional election. Some would say that if God elects based on man's response, then man is still chosing God. The dicotimy comes because man's cannot respond on his own, and must be elected by God to respond. It's a contradiction, and inpossibility, and I forsee Woven Theology becoming as complex as String Theory or Quantum Mechanics because of the paradoxical reality that man must respond to God, but is incapable of responding to God without God interveining. Something happens before we make a choice, but the choice has an effect on the action that prompted us to make a choice. Make sense? We will talk more later.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Woven Theology

So I am proposing a new theological system, which really isn't a new theological system, but something must be done to curb the argument. I am not saying I am going to solve the "Calvinist, Non-Calvinist" debate, but for some reason, in the SBC, someone says "Calvinist" the assumption is "that person doesn't believe in Evangelism." I am a Calvinist who wrote a book on Evangelism. Woven theology is an intersection between God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. Notice I didn't say free will, free will is a fallacy. Woven theology simply states that man's response and responsibility has impact on God's ordaining call. Man's response is a requirement, even though the will and call of God are absolute and set since the foundation of the world.

God has predestined, See Romans 8, Romans 9, and 2 Peter 1. God, however, does not hide himself, and He can be found if we seek Him. We see this most powerfully in the act of prayer. Prayer changes things, otherwise we would have no reason to pray.

I have not completed my work on this topic, I have lots of work to do, so don't sit down and try to punch holes in it yet. You'll get your chance. The one thing you can do, if you are going to bash a theological system, like Calvinism, remember that there are as many types of Calvinist as their are Baptists.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Why I Need Jesus

As I think about my life, and the things I have do and have done, I am left with one conclusion. I know I NEED JESUS! Left to my own, I know what kind of person I am. I wish I could say I am a good person, after all, I try to do good things. In a conversation recently, I realized how many good things I do for wrong reasons. Let me make some examples before I share about me.

If a man knows his neighbor has gone oversees with the military, if he goes out of his way to be nice to the wife left at home, we would say that's a good thing. If he helped her with repairs around the house, carried her groceries for her, and was there to listen when she was sad, we would say "what a good guy". How would it change if we knew his motivation was to have an affair with this woman, and he was trying to manipulate her for sex. Is he still a good guy?

A young girl goes over every day to spend time with an elderly lady who is a shut in. They talk and visit, they look at pictures and enjoy tea together. The young girl asks for advice and listens to the wisdom of the older lady. Sounds like a good thing, doesn't it. What if you found out that every time the girl comes over, she is stealing the jewelry from this old woman. Is she still a good person?

I am more subtle than that. I haven't tried to take a man's wife or a woman's belongings, but I have my own selfish reasons. Things like approval, recognition, my own pride and the desire to be better than you. The deeper you go, the more selfish the reasons. I end up being a Pharisee.

The Pharisees were the religious leaders and teachers of the law in Jesus' day. They thought they were good people. They thought they were the best. They didn't think they needed to be forgiven, because they did everything right. The problem was their motivation. They didn't do it because they loved God, they did it to make themselves happy. In the end, they took advantage of people, they hurt people and they killed Jesus.

In Luke 18, Jesus tells the example of a Pharisee and a tax collector. The Pharisee looks toward Heaven and said "God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get". The tax collector simply prays for mercy because he is a sinner.

I need Jesus because I'm a sinner. I have moments where I feel like I should be able to stand proud and say "I am not like all the common sinners to drink, smoke, chew and go with those who do." Then I remember what the book of James says. "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it." James 2:10

Why? Simple, God's standard is to be perfect, and I'm not. I am so far from perfect that I can't even imagine what perfection would be like, expect for one thing. I know that Jesus was perfect. I know that He lived a perfect live, he took the test and passed with the perfect score. I get to claim his test result, I get to live by His score. That is why I need Jesus.

I need Jesus because on my own, I am selfish, cruel, self-seeking and have little to no compassion for anyone unless that compassion would directly benefit me. I would take advantage of people, manipulate people and seek my own agenda, all the while claiming to be a good person.

Here is my admission. I am not a good person, but I trust in Jesus. I trust in Jesus to do in me what I can't do in myself. I trust Jesus to bring life to my dead spirit, to grant me forgiveness of my sins, to restore my relationship to a Holy God. I trust Jesus to do in me what I have failed to do on my own. I trust Jesus to make me into the person He wants me to be. I know that it will only be complete after I leave this life and begin my life in Heaven. I know I fail and I know I am lacking, but I trust Jesus.

I wish I could just end there, but even in trust I struggle. I so bad what to take it back, do it myself, fix it on my own. I can be a better person, a better man, a better husband and father. I can study more, believe and teach the right things, have all the answers and be a better person. If I can just get my sin problem under control, if I can stop being selfish, stop being greedy, some being envious and prideful. The problem is, the more I do, the harder I work, the more pride I take and the farther behind I get. The more I work, the less I trust and the more like the Pharisee I become. I need Jesus, he is the only answer for this cycle of self-destruction I find myself in. So I am learning to trust, and together, He can make me the man I want to be.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lack of Blogging

So I haven't been blogging a lot lately. I have wondered why, and I have come to an epiphany. I am stressed out. Now, being stressed may seem obvious to most of you, but I don't notice. It's not because I'm a well adjusted individual, it's because I am always stressed out. I am a performance type guy, I DO. I do all the time, I try to make people happy and do enough to get things done. I am very task oriented.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)

There I am. I'm Martha. I believe that Martha learned from this example, but again, Jesus comes to Bethany towards the end of His earthly ministry.

they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:2-3 (ESV)

Here we find Mary involved in worship, consumed with the Master. Martha is serving, this time with no complaints. That's me. I am serving, no complaints. That in itself isn't a bad thing, but that I let myself get to the point where I am stressed without knowing it. I am tired and run down, my glands are swollen, my back is hashed. It's not just one thing, it's the business of life, all the issues that one needs to deal with.

So there it is. I am not sure what the incite from this post is. If you are tempted to post a fix for me, I appreciate the thought, but you will be giving a work-a-holic one more task to do. Will be less than helpful. You can pray for me, and I am going to try to take the "trust God" road instead of the "please God" road. I'll explain later.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Loaded question

The loaded question of the day "Is it possible for a Christian to go the rest of their lives without sinning". It's a loaded question, not an application question. I am going to attempt to lay out my theology and thought process as systematically as I can. There has been some spirited discussion happening that I believe is less that fruitful. If you disagree with me, that is fine, I won't call you a heretic, that is between you and God.

The foundational issue comes down to the difference between possible and probable. Let's start with possible. Is it possible to never sin again. If we think about my life, assuming I am going to live to 82, that is 50 years from now. The idea of going 50 years without committing a sin seems overwhelming. Seems impossible, but is it? A lifetime of sin or holiness is made up of hundreds of thousands of individual decisions. In each decision, I have a choice to do what is bad or what is good. Let's talk scripture.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Cor 10:13 (ESV).

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Romans 6:1-2 (ESV)

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:17-18 (ESV)

We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. 1 John 5:18 (ESV)

After we have accepted Christ and are set free from sin, we have the ability through God to say no to each sin. There is no sin that we are forced to commit. That brings me to the nature of what a sin is. Let's start with original sin. Some believe that we have guilt from original sin, and we are condemned because of that sin. In that theology, a baby who dies is guilty of sin, and the wage of sin is death, which means an infant who dies goes to hell. I reject this theory, I believe that we are responsible for our sins and not the sins of others, even our fathers. Here is my scriptural references.

“Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin. Deut 24:16 (ESV). This verse is speaking of Mosaic law, but I believe the principle is the same. God is more just than man.

Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live.
The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. Ezek 18:19-20 (ESV)

Now, you ask what about Psalms 51:5Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me

So doesn't that verse say that we are guilty of sin from birth? In this Psalms, David is lamenting after his sin with Bathseba, and he is reflecting on the sin that he has committed, as well as the reality of sin. We live in a sinful world, we are born into a world full of sin, our parents are sinful, our families are sinners, we are surrounded by sin.

So what about original sin? I believe we are born with the taint of sin, but not born guilty. Let me explain. The first sin committed by Adam and Eve was eating the Fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We are born with the capacity of knowing good and evil, but it's a capacity that is developed. Developmentally, small children are not capable of understanding evil. Kids know they are punished for bad behavior, but are not cognitively developed enough to understand that what they did is evil or sinful. I believe that God did this intentionally, making children innocent by not having the ability to understand good and evil, and a still born baby does not spend eternity in hell. I believe that is why Jesus says:

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matt 18:3 (ESV)

“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 19:14 (ESV)

This is the reason behind many Jewish traditions, the Bar-Mitzvah, the coming of age, when children are old enough to understand the difference between good and evil. Once we understand evil, we commit evil. Once something is said to be wrong, our flesh craves to do that which we shouldn't, bringing sin. Paul explains all this.

Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Romans 7:7-12 (ESV)

Paul states in verse 9 that he was once alive, before his age of accountability, but as he grew and developed to cognitive ability to understand the difference between good and evil, his flesh, which is tainted by the nature of sin, brings him to the point of sin. Paul is going to sin. All those who are capable of sin will sin.

So what do I mean by "capable of sin". As I stated, I don't believe that babies can sin, because they are don't know evil and can't choose to defy the law. They are apart from the law. Some individuals have a developmental disability and never mentally age beyond a very young age. These individuals are apart from the law, and sin lies dead, according to Romans 7. These individuals are unable to comprehend the words of the Gospel, cannot accept Christ and do not understand good or evil. Like the little children Jesus spoke of, the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as they.

They are the exception, if you are reading this, you are capable of knowing Good and Evil, and you have sinned. All of us have sinned. Romans 3:23 says we all have sinned.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10 (ESV)

We have sinned, each one of us, which makes us in need of a Savior. This brings us back to the question at hand. Once we have been convicted of our sin, confessed and repented, Christ has declared us righteous and we are set free from the law, is it possible to live the rest of our lives and never sin again. As we stated at the beginning, it’s possible because there is no sin that we are forced to commit. If we had to sin, then would it be just to punish us for it? So if there is no sin that we MUST commit, then it is POSSIBLE, but is it PROBABLE? This is where the question is loaded.

NO. It’s not gonna happen. There is a doctrine called “sinless perfection” that is attributed to John Wesley, saying that someone can have the taint of original sin removed after salvation, making one free from sin. The doctrine was taken farther than I believe Wesley intended, and has been taken by some in the 70s and 80s to say that if we declare ourselves sinless, then we are through the power of the spirit. The Seventh Day Adventist Church also teaches of The Last Generation, which they believe will be sinless.

Paul teaches us in Romans that while we are set free from bondage to sin, we still have sinful flesh, live in a sinful world and experience temptation. Even Paul stated:

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. Romans 7:14-25 (ESV)

We still have flesh that is fallen and sinful, and even though we been released from bondage to sin, we still struggle, and we will fail. We don’t have too, so it’s not impossible to stop sinning, but it’s so improbable that you can just bank on that fact you will. So why have the conversation? We will sin, but we must continue to work towards being perfect.

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matt 5:48 (ESV)

We never stop trying to be free from sin, and even when we fail, daily, sometimes by the hour or by the minute, we get back up and through the power of the spirit try to do our best to live a righteous life.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Missing the point to make a point

So you have noticed I had a theological throwdown. My facebook page was ripe with conversation, no one commented on my blog, and that's ok. As I was looking at the 'free will' pillar text, I noticed something. Let's put the text up before we examine it.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle ( I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
1 Tim 2:1-7 (ESV)

I have heard one piece of this quoted a lot. "God desires all people to be saved". Let's step back and look at this in context, I think it is a mind blowing statement. First of all, I'll state I believe that Salvation is God's work (and if you have read anything on my blog, you know that). If that is the case, then that verse alone makes little sense. If God wants everyone to be saved, why doesn't He just save everyone?

I believe the key lies in the beginning of the verse. These verses command us to pray for all people. So what does prayer and salvation have to do with one another. Simple, we pray for salvation and God brings them to Salvation. Out prayer affects God in a profound way that it cuts through time and space. We know from scripture that God's will has been predestined since the foundaiton of the world, yet our prayers affect it, so our prayers can actually affect those things being set at the foundation of the world. God exists apart from time, so our prayers reaching Him can have ramificaitons for today, yesterday and tomrrow.

I also don't want you to hear what I'm not saying. I am not saying not to evangelise. In fact, that is the last part of this passage, Paul preaches. He (Paul) wants people to pray, he is going to preach the Gospel. Your job is to 1. pray and 2. preach the gospel.

I am also not saying that everyone you pray for will be saved. There is some responsibiliy, confessing, repenting are both put on us. Believe is a key to salvation. Praying for someone can soften their hearts, open their eyes and release the power of God, but we have no guarentees how it will work out. What I do know is that we have a responsibility to pray, to preach and to trust God.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Theological Throwdown

I am offering you a challenge, a Theological throwdown. Our pastor, Pastor Gene preached a message about Romans 8:28, which sparked some discussion. So here is my throwdown.

There are verses in scripture that SAY we have been predestined.

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.
Romans 8:29-30 (ESV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us [2] for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
Eph 1:3-6 (ESV)

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
Eph 1:11-12 (ESV)

There are also verses that speak about the elect

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior
Titus 1:1-3 (ESV)

To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
1 Peter 1:1-2 (ESV)

and election

Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
2 Peter 1:10 (ESV)

These are stated emphatically in scripture, no inference needed. It says we are predestined. Find me the verse that STATES we have free will. No inference. What I mean is:

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Tim 2:3-4 (ESV)

From this verse, you can make an assumption there is free will, but this verse does not say there is free will. You can argue from this verse that God is letting humans had free will and has a desire that man choose Him. You can also say that from the context, this verse is talking about the responsibility of the believer to be involved in the work of the Gospel, and the focus is not on the lost, but that's another blog.

So, all my theological minds, find me the verses that speak DIRECTLY of free will. No inference. Find a verse that supports free will with the same sort of logic that support predestination. Ready? GO!

Monday, April 27, 2009


Ok, confession time. I have to admit something to you all that I have gone a little extreme. I don't think I have said anything that is heresy, but I think I have pushed a little hard against the modern church. I don't really take back anything, but if I had to do over, I would perhaps soften it a little. There are many good things in the Church. That's not to say that every local expression of the church is doing good things or the right things, many of them are in shambles, but many are doing good things. I can't deny that people in America are getting saved. I realize that some of my stronger posts and language have been more reactionary and less simply speaking what I beleive is true. For those times when I used too strong of language or pushed too hard simply out of rebellion, I am sorry. God is still working on me. I need to wear an orange cone on my head I think.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I want to try to put down my thoughts systematically on what I believe about Evangelism. I know that there is some confusion by some of you about where I stand on outreach, and I want to try to put everything down. Many of you know I take the title Calvinist, and therefore don't think I believe in Evangelism. That is not the case, I do believe in Evangelism, and I believe all Biblical Calvinists believe in Evangelism. I think that if you really wrestle with what seems to be a paradox, you come to come conclusion. It's a paradox. The Bible is full of paradoxical statements. Christ is 100% man and 100% God. One person can't be 100% of two things, yet Christ is. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are 3 people, yet one person. That can't work, yet it does, because it's God. I believe that man cannot come to God on his own, he must be drawn by God, yet is completely and 100% responsible for his actions, including what he does with Jesus.

There you go, it's a paradox. You cannot seek God on your own, yet you are required to place your faith in Christ. Your will, you placing your trust in Jesus is your responsibility, 100%, that is Biblical. Confess, repent, turn from your sins and embrace salvation. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord of your life and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead.

At the same time, you will not seek God on your own. The Bible is clear, no one seeks God, we are totally depraved and incapable of seeking God on our own. Our only hope is that God will have mercy on us and reach down and call us, bring us to Him and send His Holy Spirit to work in our heart. Somehow, our will and the sovereign glory of God work together, in a paradoxical relationship to bring man and God together as work of God and a duty of man.

Are you confused? It's confusing. I think part of the issue is that we put God in our time frame. We view time from past to present and future. God doesn't not exist inside our time frame, and He works out salvation throughout time at the same time. I believe that predestination works partially through foreknowledge. God knows you, know what you will do, what you won't do, and what you need. Some people have been created by God, and God understands that person will spend eternity in Hell, and that person is 100% responsible for their actions, their choice and their decisions. Man is 100% responsible for rejection of Christ. It would make logical sense that man is 100% responsible for accepting Christ, and I would agree . . . sort of.

I don't believe in free-will. Free will would mean that you can use your will to choose God or choose to reject God. The book of Romans is clear that you are slaves to sin, and you are incapable of choosing God, so your will is not free. Once you are saved, you are a slave to Christ, you are then again still not free, you are not your own, you are purchased by the blood of Christ. If this is the case, the will is first in bondage to sin, and then in submission to Christ. The scripture is clear, the will is not free.

When we accept Christ, it is not through a process of will. The acceptance of Christ is not an intellectual decision. When you hear the Gospel preached, then God comes into your heart and convicts you of sin and reveals Grace. This is the part it gets tricky. Can man reject this salvation, this act of God in your heart. I am torn, because I believe that you can, but you won't. God has all knowledge present and future, I don't believe that God calls someone who is going to reject the call. I totally believe that when God opens your eyes and your heart, you accept the gift of salvation with joy and excitement.

Now, what that being said, I believe Salvation is God's work. This works into some of my previous blogs about comments by others about pleading souls into the kingdom. I don't think that is Biblical, I think it's a man-centered approach. I believe we pray people to the kingdom, and we pray that God opens their hearts and then we preach the word. I believe that we are responsible to tell the truth, I believe that God works with us and through us. God moves through His people preaching and teaching the word, Romans 10:14. We partner with God for lack of a better term, and God moves and speaks through His word as it is preached.

I hope it doesn't seem as confusing and convoluted as it feels. I believe that Salvation is God's work alone, but as humans, we are responsible for our actions. My convictions as of late are two fold. First, we have taken God out of the equation too far and put man into the glory too much. I think we have minimized the role of God as Savior and maximized the role of man. I believe in the work of the preacher, but not without the power of God. Preaching and Divine convection brings salvation. Divine conviction can bring salvation. Preaching alone can not. We need to make sure we give God the glory for the work of Salvation. It is His moving, doing His work for His glory for our benefit. Make sense?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Struggle with self

I prayed a few months ago, and pray close to daily that God would change me and make me more life Him. To bring me in line with Him, my thoughts inline with His, my beliefs and theology more in line with His. I don't say that to convince you I am right theologically, because I, in all intellectually honest, have to admit that I am not now nor ever will be God. I do not possess divine intellect and the ability to think of the level of God. I tell you about this prayer because I'm changing.

Change stinks. It was much easier before. I'll admit it, I have struggled a lot with what God is doing. First and foremost is my recognition of the idol of self. I have it bad. The things I do for God, the way I am working, my life, my ministry, me me me, mine mine mine, I I I. It goes on and on. I have realized how much time I spend in my Christian life keeping God at arm's length. I think we all do in our American society. We celebrate the self-made man. There is no room for the God-made man. We work hard, work from sun up to sun down, and no one gives us anything, we work for it. Those are our values and they are all contrary to Christian doctrine.

I am having a hard time de-programing myself. I read and study and write and teach and work and achieve and I naturally want to take the credit. It's not mine, it's not about me. I work hard to find joy in Christ. I study to find joy in Christ. I bring glory to Christ. The only thing that matters in me is Christ. If I do something great, it's not me, it's Christ. Paul said "for I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I love by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me". Galations 2:20. I am dead, and dead men do nothing. Christ lives in me, and He does all things.

So here I am, struggling with my own idol of self, my flesh rejoicing in itself, and Christ being paticent with me. He deserves all the credit, all the glory, all the praise and honor. " Oh wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Romans 7:24-25. Pray for me on this journey, as I pray for you upon yours!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Praying for Revival

I wanted to comment on a posting by Dr. Alvin Reid, but I am going to post it here.

I admire Dr. Reid greatly, but I have a foundational disagreement with the way we think about revival and even salvation. You see, Dr Reid stated that revival happens when we do something. Whitefield preached in fields and they reached out to miners and blue collar people and there was a revival. There is lots of talk about what they did and what we did and what we will need to go and what will happen. God is completely outside of all of this.

The problem is we can't control God. We have no authority, no responsibility and no control. God will do what God will do. That is why we don't like Calvinism. We lack control. We have no ability to shape it, influence and control it, outside of simply prayer and trust. Prayer we like. Trust (or faith) we need to work on. Makes me realize that Jesus meant when He said that if we had the faith of a mustard seed, we could move mountains. Instead of having faith the size of a seed in Jesus, we try to have faith that we have the faith to be able to do it ourselves. We don't trust Jesus to move the mountain, we in essence try to earn the mountain moving through our own efforts.

So you ask "what's wrong with doing good, what's wrong with putting your faith into action". Nothing, that's not the issue. The issue is not who does the work, the issue is who gets the glory. We, probably without thinking, begin to take the glory for God's work. Salvation is God's work, but we give honor to Whitefield, Spurgeon, Edwards, Luther, Graham, Warren and on and on. We say "I" or "we" or "our church" did this or that. We don't do it intentionally, but we end up as prideful and sinful as Satan when he said 'I will ascend above the Most High'. We are prideful and arrogant because we take credit and glory for God's work.

We don't do it on purpose. We have grown up in this American culture, the self made man, and we have learned this behavior. For hundreds of year, we have learned that we need to "do" this or that. The problem is, we still take God's glory for ourselves. We use our programs, our outlines, our strategies, and in the end, we take the credit. It's a subtle thing that has come into our Christian culture. We celebrate those who we see preaching and people coming to Christ. We slowly turn and begin to give them the glory, and God becomes and outsider.

Think about it, in many churches, we give an alter call. The pastor says "if you want to accept Jesus as your savior, come forward". A person comes forward, they say "I want to give my heart to Jesus" so the pastor has them recite a form prayer and then we celebrate the decision this person made, what they did, their decision, their faith. Does God even need to be present for this experience? Where is God? Where is His work? Where is His call?

Here is what I see in Acts. Someone preaches that Christ was crucified for sin. That is all they do. The people respond, asking what to do to be saved. The person preaching says "repent and be baptized". In Acts, chapter 10:44, is seems to be the people were saved without giving an alter call. Peter was preaching, the Holy Spirit fell on these Gentiles. They were saved, the Jews were amazed, they were Baptized. That is God at work. These people that we convince to come forward and say a form prayer, how many of them fall away? That is not true salvation. Those people I know who have been radically changed, it was God moving in their hearts and they were saved. These people were radically saved by God, not by Paul.

Think about it, the 3,000 were moved by God to salvation. The Ethiopian, the Gentiles, the Roman Guard. No one can take credit for any of it. God moved, God did the work. So, in response to Dr Reid, to see revival, we need to give up control and stop relying in ourselves. We need to fall on our face before God, realizing that nothing we can do will bring revival. Nothing. The prayer won't do it, the preaching won't do it, the alter call, the seminary classes, the books and charts and plans and outlines. We can schedule revival, we can will it into existence. We must be dependent and humble before God, and if it give Him glory, then, if He wills, He will bring revival.

Monday, April 6, 2009


So I am blogging to say that I should be blogging, but I am not writing much. Brain is over loaded and on critical info only mode. I don't want to write a bit about revival in response to a blog article by Dr Alvin Reid, but it's going to have to wait. Hope everyone is doing well and reading other interesting things while I recuperate.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Your not alone

I have been tossing around ideas with lots of my friends and partners. Friends here in Iowa and friends back in Arizona, friends around the country and people who I have only known via blog and the internet. I have found that I am very not alone in my newest convictions. It's prevalent among many of my friends and colleague. If you are struggling in the same area I am, namely not letting your cultural identity shape your theological perspective.

If you are on this journey with us, welcome. If you are not, you probably think we are all crazy. You may be right, but it's been enjoyable so far.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Considering the Early Church Fathers.

What was clear to Athanasius was that propositions about Christ carried convictions that could send you to heaven or to hell. There were propositions like: “There was a time when the Son of God was not,” and, “He was not before he was made,” and, “the Son of God is created.” These propositions were strictly damnable. If they were spread and believed they would damn the souls which embraced them. And therefore Athanasius labored with all his might to formulate propositions that would conform to reality and lead the soul to faith and worship and heaven.

I believe Athanasius would have abominated, with tears, the contemporary call for “depropositionalizing” that you hear among many of the so-called “reformists” and “the emerging church,”younger evangelicals,”postfundamentalists,” "postfoundationalists,” postpropositionalists,” and “postevangelicals.” I think he would have said, “Our young people in Alexandria die for the truth of propositions about Christ. What do your young people die for?” And if the answer came back, “We die for Christ, not propositions about Christ,” I think he would have said, “That’s what Arius says. So which Christ will you die for?”

Athanasius would have grieved over sentences like “It is Christ who unites us; it is doctrines that divides.” And sentences like: “We should ask, Whom do you trust? rather than what do you believe?” He would have grieved because he knew this is the very tactic used by the Arian bishops to cover the councils with fog so that the word “Christ” could mean anything. Those who talk like this—“Christ unites, doctrine divides”—have simply replaced propositions with a word. They think they have done something profound and fresh, when in fact they have done something very old and stale and very deadly.

This leads to a related lesson . . .

4. The truth of biblical language must be vigorously protected with non-biblical language.

Athanasius’ experience was critically illuminating to something I have come to see over the years, especially in liberally minded baptistic and pietistic traditions, namely, that the slogan, “the Bible is our only creed” is often used as a cloak to conceal the fact that Bible language is used to affirm falsehood. This is what Athanasius encountered so insidiously at the Council of Nicaea. The Arians affirmed biblical sentences. Listen to this description of the proceedings:

The Alexandrians . . . confronted the Arians with the traditional Scriptural phrases which appeared to leave no doubt as to the eternal Godhead of the Son. But to their surprise they were met with perfect acquiescence. Only as each test was propounded, it was observed that the suspected party whispered and gesticulated to one another, evidently hinting that each could be safely accepted, since it admitted of evasion. If their assent was asked to the formula “like to the Father in all things,” it was given with the reservation that man as such is “the image and glory of God.” The “power of God” elicited the whispered explanation that the host of Israel was spoken of as dunamis kuriou, and that even the locust and caterpillar are called the “power of God.” The “eternity” of the Son was countered by the text, “We that live are alway (2 Corinthians 4:11)!” The fathers were baffled, and the test of homoosion, with which the minority had been ready from the first, was being forced (p. 172) upon the majority by the evasions of the Arians.

R. P. C. Hanson explained the process like this: “Theologians of the Christian Church were slowly driven to a realization that the deepest questions which face Christianity cannot be answered in purely biblical language, because the questions are about the meaning of biblical language itself.” The Arians railed against the unbiblical language being forced on them. They tried to seize the biblical high ground and claim to be the truly biblical people—the pietists, the simple Bible-believers—because they wanted to stay with biblical language only—and by it smuggle in their non-biblical meanings.
But Athanasius saw through this “post-modern,”post-conservative,” “post-propositional” strategy and saved for us not just Bible words, but Bible truth. May God grant us the discernment of Athanasius for our day. Very precious things are at stake.

Contending for Our All: The Life and Ministry of Athanasius
By John Piper February 1, 2005

Yes. I want to call one thing to your attention in this whole thing (and I know it's long). We have traded in the Sovereignty of God, God honoring Theology and understanding for three things.

1. Laziness. It is easier to read the Bible through the lens of our own understanding, our preconceived notions and our cultural comforts. It is easier to let scripture fit our ideas than to make our ideas match scripture, because we think in a self-focused way. We are selfish by nature, and we have read the scripture for us and by us and for us. We think that by us and for us and through us all things are created, yet it's clear that scripture teaches:
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Col 1:16-17 (ESV)
It's easier to read it from our nature.

2. Fear. We are afraid that our beliefs and our way of thinking will be wrong. We are afraid to be wrong. When someone asks you a spiritual question, are you afraid to say "I don't know?" We read the scripture that says "be ready to give an answer" and so we are afraid if we can't give an answer. So we simplify the scripture so we can have an answer. We fit scripture into our world view because we are afraid if we read it for what is really is, we won't be able to justify the syncratism and contextualization of our modern religious idealism. We are terrified to be wrong, and even more terrified that others will think we are wrong.

3. Ignorance. We don't know any better. Someone once told us "it's just about Christ, it's only about the Bible". What we didn't know is what Christ are they talking about? Mormons talk about Christ, Jehovah Witnesses talk about Christ, Emergent Church people talk about Christ. Go back in history, Gnostics, Arians, Modalism. Some spoke of Christ as a spirit possessing the man Jesus, and leaving his body as Crucifixion. Some speak of Christ as God in the mode of man. Arianism speaks of Christ being created. So, modern Christian, which Christ is it about? If we just focus on Christ, but never a theology of who Christ is, we fall into Heresy. We assume we live Orthodoxy, but never take time to examine the presupisitions that exist in the modern Church. We have become a self-worshing idolotrist mass of people, and the church is dying and we wonder why. We don't see greater things (which I believe is tied to the harvest) and we don't see a great harvest? Why? Because we have thrown theology under the bus, and we just want to focus on our culturally understood and modern evangelical representation of Christ.

So here is my point. Stop being lazy, afraid and ignorant. Challenge your ideals. Piper put some things in his message about categories of thought that will mess with your current modern American sensibilities. Like:
God rules the world of bliss and suffering and sin, right down to the roll of the dice and the fall of a bird and the driving of the nail into the hand of his Son, yet, though he will that such sin and suffering be, he does not sin, but is perfectly holy.

God governs all the steps of all people, both good and bad, at all times and in all places, yet such that all are accountable before him and will bear the just consequences of his wrath if they do not believe in Christ.

All are dead in their trespasses and sin and are not morally able to come to Christ because of their rebellion, yet, they are responsible to come and will be justly punished if they don’t.

Jesus Christ is one person with two natures, divine and human, such that he upheld the world by the word of his power while living in his mother’s womb.

sin, though committed by a finite person and in the confines of finite time is nevertheless deserving of an infinitely long punishment because it is a sin against an infinitely worthy God.

The death of the one God-Man, Jesus Christ, so displayed and glorified the righteousness of God that God is not unrighteous to declare righteous ungodly people who simply believe in Christ.


Do those mess with you? I assume that most of you are bothered by the first one, that God will sin and yet is not sinful. We speak so often in our modern sensibilities about knowing and doing God's will, like somehow God's will can be thwarted. Can God's will be thwarted, or does He create, maintain and sustain all things? I know the argument that by His choosing He has stayed His hand, and He allows free will, I understand that, but do you really assume that God had no knowledge that sin would prevail on earth? Do you believe that when God planted the tree of knowledge, He didn't know the outcome? By it's very nature, sin was brought into the world by the will of God, who created mankind with the potential for sin and the opportunity for sin. Why He did it isn't in question, the reality is that God, if the creator, willed sin it existance, yet He Himself did not sin by doing so.

If you have read to this point in the blog, I commend you for sticking with it. This is weighty and probably convoluted diction, I know. It's difficult to begin to think outside of the society norms you have known your entire life. I am currently struggling with the fact that my entire life, Christianity has been foundationally about me, and God has been external to that. I must decrease and He must increase. More over, I am finding that most Christians in our society are at the exact same place, and only by God bringing in a few select few I have even come to the realization myself. I didn't get here on my own, and my blogging is sharing part of this journey. Perhaps you think the entire thing is errornus, then just pray for me. My own prayer is that God will change me in whatever way necessary for me to grow closer and understand more about Him than I have previously. Something is happening.

Friday, March 20, 2009


There is a point that came in my life that I talked with one of my mentor's about. A fundamental shift in the way we perceive, experience and think about God. When I was younger, it was much more formulaic. Like knowing about a character in a book or a movie. Living out what I assumed were the traditional roles and going through the proper motions. Living for the idea and less for the person. My mentor said basically everyone is in this place for much of their Christian walk. It's the reality of serving an unseen God.

Something began to happen to me in 1999 when my parents died. Heaven seemed more tangible. It was less of a nebulous idea. As I began in Seminary, it became evident that I needed to have a different sort of relationship with God. After all, can I really give my life to a nebulous idea, and not to the Living God? What I discovered is that most people do. Pharisees did. They began to live out the principles the best they knew how until it corrupted them.

I think we have done something very similar. My issue is that I feel God moving me out of it, and I see in the lives of others were God moved them out. A very influential, wise woman who is quickly becoming a mom figure in my life has experienced this shift, and I see it in her life, I hear it in the way she talks about God. My mentor and seminary professor experienced this shift. I have some great friends who I see are walking with me, experiencing this transition from Americanized Christian Religion to something else.

Do you experience it? Do you feel weighed down by all the legalism, culteralism, syncratism and idealism that seems to have missed the point? Does anyone else have that itch that doesn't seem to be scratched by our modern religious sensibilites? Do you struggle with the feeling that there is more, deeper in places, less complex or sometimes more complex? Are you concerned by all the modern evangelicals who seem to be able to explain everything in scripture? Nothing comforts me more than when I hear men like John Piper read a passage and exclaim that he doesn't fully grasp it. Many times I have heard him say "I wanna get that". It goes so much deeper than being able to rationally explain it away. Isn't that what we have done so often? We have naturally explained the Glory of God away in our promotion of self? Do you feel like I do?

Maybe I'm crazy, but I think God is going to move a great number of people beyond where we are. I want to be part of it. I pray that by God's glory, I can go deeper, move closer and become more Holy. Pray for me that God will change me, move me, break me and do whatever He wants to do to put me in line.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I am reading a book called Deep Change. I have read most of it in the last year, but haven't finished the last few chapters, so I am bringing closure to it. It's a business book, it's not a Christian book, but was given to me by a very Godly man. The basic truth of the book is solid, and like my Seminary professor always said, "all truth is God's truth". The truth of the book is that for a larger organization to change, we as the members or parts of that organization must change also.

As an Associate Pastor, I find myself in a strange position. I am part of the leadership of this church, yet I don't set the tone. What God has been showing me is that it's not my place to change everything, but just to change me. I need to change the way I see things, the way I operate. I need to focus on giving Him the glory, on doing what I have been convicted is right. He will take care of the rest of it.

I have seen many problems in the Westernized American Church, but God still uses it. I believe that this obsession we have with free will stems mainly from our idolatry of self and the humanization that came forth from the enlightenment. I think we have missed and marginalized the miracle of Salvation due to our formulaic tendencies, and began to take the credit ourselves for "leading people to Christ", instead of giving the glory to God. In spite of all the things we get wrong, God still uses us. In spite of my flaws, God still uses me. I need to change my way of thinking, my way of praying, my way of worship. God will do in others what He wills, just like He is doing in me. I can trust Him in that.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


In an article about Lesslie Newbigin by Tim Safford in Christianity Today, where Newbigin is quoted saying:

"I also saw that quite a lot of evangelical Christianity can easily slip, can become centered in me and my need of salvation, and not . . . in the glory of God".

This self-focus is, in my view, the modern American idol. We look at idolotry as money or power or title, or position, but it ultimatly comes down to self. Safford write about Newbigin:

"As a young missionary, Newbigin regularly visited a Hindu monastery, its great hall "lined with pictures of the great religious figures of history, among them Jesus. Each year, on Christmas Day, worship was offered before the picture of Jesus. It was obvious to me as an English Christian," says Newbigin, "that this was an example of syncretism. Jesus had simply been co-opted into the Hindu world-view; that view was in no way challenged. It was only slowly that I began to see that my own Christianity had this syncretistic character, that I too had to some degree co-opted Jesus into the world-view of my culture." He saw this particularly when he studied the gospel accounts of evil spirits and realized that simple villagers understood them more readily than he."

We in this country have focused so much on self, that we have missed the Glory of God. This idolotry of self has focused on our need, or lacking, our sin, our choice and our free will. We have marginalized God in his glory, focusing on our need, our choice, our work in salvation. Newbigin stays:

"I suddenly saw that . . . someone could use all the language of evangelical Christianity, and yet the center was fundamentally the self, my need of salvation. And God is auxiliary to that."

Does that sound familiar? Newbigin goes on to say that in his missionary work, he stopped talking about sin and need for salvation, but focused primarily on God. I am not sure I am comfortable going to that level, but I do acknowledge that we are focused and concerned primarily about self. Our focus of salvation is for the individual being saved, and not for the Glory of God. Is it any wonder we are not seeing the power of the Spirit poured out? We so often give credit for a program, church, or individual who leads that person to faith. We congratulate the person on making a good choice, but ultimately are worshiping the pagan god of self, and not giving Glory to God.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cultural interpretations

So I was reading a book which stated that we read the scripture through our lens of our cultural identity. I find that an ironic truth. I wonder why there are parts of the scripture we interpret as is, word for word, and some parts we don't. A divorced man can't be a deacon, but we don't require women to cover their heads when they pray. Both of those in context can have cultural ideologies, so why are we so silent about one? When have you heard a message on 1 Corinthians 14:34? Not sure I ever have. I am not saying we need to live by 1 Corinthians 14:34, but maybe if we need to examine one passage and examine cultural context, maybe we should do it with it all. Make sure we don't bias our reading of the scripture. Just a thought.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My rights to be right.

So I have been thinking lately about rights. My rights and your rights. The right to be angry or annoyed or productive. The right to peace or freedom. Life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. As Christians, should we seek the same set of rights as the rest of the country? I found something called "The Christian Bill or Rights" at

The Christian's Bill of Rights
1. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we have only one right: and that is to give up all rights to ourselves (2 Cor. 5:14-16; Romans 14:7-9).
2. We have the right to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him (Mt. 16:24-26).
3. We have the right to esteem others more highly than ourselves; and love our neighbor as ourselves (Mt. 22:39;
Phil. 2:1-5).
4. We have the right to fulfill the law of Christ in bearing one another's burdens of sin (Gal. 6:1-3).
5. We have the right to be wronged and to maintain a faithful testimony (1 Cor. 6:1-8).
6. We have the right to live in unreciprocated self-sacrificial love (Eph. 5:1-2).
7. We have the right to forgive others the smaller debt, as God in Christ has forgiven us the larger debt (Eph. 4:31-32; Matthew 18:12-35).
8. We have the right to suffer for the gospel and to take the blows for the One who took the blows for us (1 Peter 2:21-24)
9. We have the right to be "subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men" (Titus 3:1-2).
10. We have the right to not be political agitators trading the truth of His Word to play politics with men's souls; thinking that true spiritual change occurs through legislation rather than the transforming power of the gospel of grace. (1 Peter 4:10-16).
11. We have the right to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).
12. We have the right to be stripped of all earthly things (Matthew 5:40-42).
13. We have the right to not repay evil for evil and to be at peace with all men as much as it depends on you (Romans 12:17-18).
14. We have the right to love our enemies, do good to them that hate us, bless those who curse us and pray for those that despitefully use us (Matthew 5:44-45).
15. We have the right to pursue holiness-not personal happiness (1 Peter 1:13-16).
16. We have the right not to be ashamed of the gospel (2 Tim. 1:6-18).
17. We have the right not to harbor revenge, anger, bitterness, clamoring, wrath, malice and slander (Ephesians 4:31).
18. We have the right not to quench or grieve the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19).
19. We have the right to repent of and not cherish our sins (Psalm 66:18).
20. We have the right to guard the trust; and to contend for the once for all delivered to the saints faith (1 Timothy 6:20; Jude 1:3).
21. We have the right to train our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-3).
22. We have the right to reflect God's covenantal relationship with us by honoring our vows in the covenant of marriage with our spouse Mt. 19:6).
23. We have the right to worship Christ Jesus as God of very God; Creator; Redeemer; Sovereign Lord and Ruler of all (Col. 1:15-19; Hebrews 1:8; Phil. 2:5-11).
24. We have the right to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable pleasing unto God (Roms. 12:1-2).
25. We have the right to live in the expectancy and hope of the Lord's return by which we purify ourselves (Roms. 12:1-2).
26. We have the right to march daily on our knees in prayer; praying for our leaders in government; our church leaders; our fellow believers; our families; and the lost (1 Timothy 2:1-3; Ephesians 6:18-21).
27. We have the right to praise and glorify God according to how He has revealed Himself through the pages of His Word (Col. 3:16-17).
28. We have the right to the accountability of the local church; to obey our leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over our souls, as those who will give an account (Hebrews 13:17).
29. We have the right to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20).
30. We have the right to have no rights apart from Christ Himself; "for whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it" (Matt. 16:25: John 15:5).

Think of how differently the world would be if we lived out this bill or rights, and not living for our rights.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


So I'm awake at midnight, I have to get up for church in the morning, yet I'm awake blogging. I will admit it's because I am troubled and even grieved over what I see, especially in the last new months. There is a reaction and backlash, at least around me, against theological thought or study. Here is what is disturbing to me. Every Protestant denomination in the US uses approximately the same bible, slight variations due to translations, but everyone accepts the KJV. Catholics use it with the apocrypha. Everyone reads the same Bible. Every Christian denomination prays in the name of Jesus. Most Christian denominations pray for help from the Holy Spirit. Most pastors I know believe they are inspired by the Holy Spirit, yet many of them are preaching contradictory messages.

I think about John Piper, Rick Warren, Joel Olsteen, Benny Hinn, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Erwin McMannis, Bill Hybels, John McArther. All of these men pray, and feel they are inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit. These men have all had success, which could be interpreted blessing, but they cover the spectrum of theology, beliefs, practices and ideals. They read the same passages out of the same bibles. Many of them are educated and study the scriptures regularly.

So back to my troubles. Admits all this turmoil, we need anchors. I believe we need 2 things. First is a strong and solid theology. I say that because this idea of "well let's just read the Bible and let the spirit guide us" has led to the aforementioned situation. Baptists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Reformed, Emergent, Calvary Chapel, 4 Square all just read the Bible and have completely different ideas on many of the foundational tenets like salvation, baptism, communion, ecclesiology, eschatology and the like. It doesn't work, chances are you will read with your sinful nature and ignore the spirit (or are you a more spiritual person than all of these men?)

We need heroes of the faith to cling too, we need to study and read and do hermetical studies. God gave us a brain and the ability to learn and understand, and He expects us to put some effort into it. If you don't like the argument, at some point you will have to get over it, or begin a life of Monasticism, because the argument is all around us. We are battling for the souls of the lost, and if you don't believe me, turn on TBN for a while. Makes you wonder how many will miss Heaven because Joel told them that God just wants them to be empowered, and they believe it. McClaren told them there is no hell, and they believe it. Someone told them they don't need to do anything, God will predestine them to heaven, and they believed it. Someone told them if they make an intellectual and verbal assertion of Christ as real, they will go to Heaven, and they believed it. All of these people will taste Hell because they never submitted to the Lordship of Christ, because they just read the Bible, and they didn't get it. They didn't understand, and WE DIDN'T HELP THEM. Why? Because we didn't know. We told them some passages, led them in a spirited rendition of the "sinners prayer" and assumed it would stick. When they walked away, we questioned eternal security.

So I'm awake at 12:18 a.m. blogging. I don't know how to solve it. When I bring it up, I am shot down. Labeled because I wrestled with and found a theology that was embarrassed by strong and spiritual men, that brought the cannon together and made sense of my trials and sufferings. Somehow it became that I am a monster who doesn't care about people's souls. I have been called a trouble maker and divisive. I have been told that having a theological viewpoint will cause me to read scripture only so I have ammunition for my next onslaught. No one has really stopped to ask me why. Only once, and I was told to stop talking, my post was too long. Is this how we will treat the lost and unsaved when they come with spiritual questions? Will we tell them "just read your Bible"? Have we turned the Great Commission into "go into all the world and make them say the prayer". God save us, because we have tried so long and hard to save ourselves, and it doesn't seem to be working.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Greater Things.

Around our church, we have been talking about the great things that Jesus did,and the promise of greater things.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
John 14:12-14 (ESV)

I heard something that someone said that I am not sure they meant to say, but it got me thinking. I think we often think of these greater things as miracles. We want to see healing and the dead rise and the mountains moved into the sea. Those are great works, but even greater I believe is Salvation. You see, a man being healed of a disease is a great thing, but that man will still someday die. A man being set right with God, being cleansed of sin and being made right with God, that is a greater thing. His body will one day die, but that fellowship with God will never be broken. That person won't spend an eternity separated from God, they will be healed and made whole for eternity. When Jesus spoke of greater works, I believe we see them every time a person accepts Christ as Savior.