ESV Bible Nerd.com

Just Blogging Along About Jesus, Life, and Family.

Category: depravity (Page 1 of 2)

It’s To Be Expected, Part 3

As I sit here in my office, I really didn’t think that my blog post “It’s To Be Expected” would end up being more than one post! But, Glory be to God, it has, and I hope that through it, God works in one’s soul.

There are many things that are to be expected in the lives of those with unregenerate hearts as well as those with regenerated hearts. However, what I want to briefly bring to light here is the issue of a false sense of eternal security, or, more plainly put, the problem that is people who think they are saved but aren’t.

Matthew 25:31–46 (ESV)
The Final Judgment
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

This problem is a serious problem, and Jesus Himself even said that the people who go the way of destruction are many, and those who go the way of life are few:

Matthew 7:13–14 (ESV)

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

So, as we share the gospel, we need to focus more on people understanding that Jesus is who He says He is and that Jesus did exactly what He said He would do, and what it was prophesied that He would do throughout the Old Testament. We need to focus on this instead of focusing on getting someone to repeat a prayer, for salvation is not a prayer, it is the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, who He is and what He has done. I can get anyone to say a prayer, but, that prayer doesn’t save anyone.

My Pastor’s wife put together a wonderful composition for our VBS workers(I will get an electronic copy of this and post it here in the comments within the next day or two). This peace she wrote is largely quotations from John Piper and David Platt on ministering to children, addressing this very issue. So many VBS’s share the gospel and then try to get kids to understand the face value, not the true value, and then repeat a prayer. What is needed with children, and adults, is to create an environment of learning who Jesus is and what Jesus did. Then salvation will come to those who’s hearts are changed by this information, which is also called “The Gospel” or “The Good News of Jesus”.

There are so many people out there that have said prayer and been baptized and, as a result, feel that they are saved and they take it for granted. They feel that they are covered by grace and the perseverance of the saints, or, “once saved, always saved.” However, in the dark reality of things, they aren’t saved because they have never known or experienced the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

And, as it is stated in title of this blog post, this is to be expected, and Pastor’s and church leaders all know this of the many members in their churches. There are millions of “Christians” who grace the pews of churches, attending, tithing, and serving faithfully, who, when they die in this life, will end up in hell rather than heaven, where they think they are going. How do I know this? I, for many years, strongly believe that I was among that group of people, having a false sense of security and salvation.

When I was a teenager, I knew what the Gospel was and the basics of what Jesus did, and, making a long story short, after a family tragedy, I was visited by some youth and a leader from my church and they went over a track with me and I prayed a prayer and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. And it was good. And, for all purposes, I felt I was saved. I went on missions trips. I was active within the church ministries. I firmly believe that God may have used me, in His sovereignty, to change lives(not by my doing, though, by Christ’s). However, it hasn’t really been until recently, and when I say “recently” I mean the last few years of my life, that I have grown as a Christian. After hearing a message by Paul Washer than many dub “The Most Shocking Message”(which you can listen to by clicking HERE), God really laid it on my heart that I may not have been a Christian until much more recently, rather than when I said that prayer back in 1996. I don’t know for sure, though, however, I am sure of my salvation now, and that is a wonderful feeling.

Remember, in ministry, it’s to be expected to come across those who firmly believe they are saved who aren’t. We need to pray for wisdom and discernment in this area, especially if we are confronted with having to directly address this issue with a person. It is difficult because those who believe they are saved are usually the most blinded, in my experience, to the very Gospel itself.

Some resources mentioned in this post:
Paul Washer’s Most Shocking Youth Message

David Platt on witnessing to children

John Piper – The Gospel Saves Kids

 And, once again, when I get an electronic copy of what my pastor’s wife wrote, I will post it here.

It’s To Be Expected

As a former foster care group-home parent, I sometimes have a hard time seeing the youth that my wife and I cared for make such stupid decisions. I just want to reach through the phone or over Facebook, grab them by the collar, and just holler at them, or smack them upside the head or something. However, it is God’s Word that keeps me sane, because, as I tell people quite often: It’s to be expected.

When I have told people that stupid choices and sinful desires are to expected of their children(and it’s generally church-going families that I have told this to), I get a good equal mix of responses between “Yea, I guess you’re right” and “What? I should EXPECT this from my children????!??!?!!?!?” And, I tell the latter group of people “Yes.” And then I share with them scripture. If it weren’t for scripture, I would keep my mouth shut on the subject.

First, we’ll take a trip back to before the flood….

Genesis 6:5 (ESV)

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

Yes, man’s thoughts are continually evil. Before I go on with this, I usually have to explain the Biblical definitions of “good” and “evil” or “bad.” First, as we look at the first uses of the word “Good” from Genesis chapter 1 in creation, when God saw that His creation was “Good,” He meant His creation was perfect. And, like R.C. Sproul, Jr. is credited with saying to the affect of, “Why do bad things happen to good people? It only happened once, and He volunteered.” So, with “Good” being defined as perfect, that means anything less than perfect, sinful, as evil, or bad. Paul wrote in Romans 14:23b, “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” In regards to this passage, theologian John Calvin wrote in his commentary on Romans, “The reason for this condemnation is, that every work, however splendid and excellent in appearance, is counted as sin, except it be founded on a right conscience; for God regards not the outward display, but the inward obedience of the heart, by this alone is an estimate made of our works. Besides, how can that be obedience, when any one undertakes what he is not persuaded is approved by God? Where then such a doubt exists, the individual is justly charged with prevarication; for he proceeds in opposition to the testimony of his own conscience.” (Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (p. 512). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.). And James wrote that a friend of the world is an enemy of God(James 4:4).

So, now, getting back to the point, when I talk to the parents or guardians (or former guardians, as it is in  my case) of a teen who has made or is making very outwardly sinful decision, I tell them, and myself, that it is to be expected. The unregenerate heart is like this. Paul, quoting the Old Testament Psalms and Isaiah, explains this in Romans 3:10-18, saying that “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.”(Romans 3:10-11). We cannot seek after God when we are sinful because we are separated from God.

 And, when a person has a heart changed and saved by God, we are still going to make sinful decisions, though, hopefully, not as often nor as many. God has changed our hearts and given us desires to seek Him and strive to do works to Glorify Him(Psalm 37:4; James 2:14-26). However, while we have these desires, we are still of the flesh, sinful by nature. God changes our hearts, however, until we have passed from this life into eternity with Christ, we will still sin. Especially youth that are in Christ. They will make choices and decisions that they think are good and okay to do, however, they will learn that they aren’t. This is called wisdom and gaining insight and maturity, a process that we all go through in our lives, up until the very day we die. I know that I learn and am learning on a regular daily basis.

So, when I check up on some of our girls that we helped care for while we were House Parents with the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, and I get this urge to want to yell at them, I am kept sane because I know that they are young and immature and will (hopefully) learn from their mistakes. That, Lord willing, they come to know Christ and can use the comfort that they received from God to help others later in life who are going through similar situations as they experience in their pasts(2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

Saying “It’s To Be Expected” is a hard pill to swallow, even for me. It truly is MUCH easier said than done. However, being armed with this knowledge has spurned me in one area of my Christian walk all the more: Prayer. It pushes me to pray all the harder to pray for those whom I love and care for. And my prayer is that it will encourage you to do the same.

Soli Deo Gloria.

P.S. A quick disclaimer here: God can save anyone at any age. And, please, I don’t use this as an excuse, because we still need to be training up our children in the way they should go, that is, in a godly manner. And we still need to be disciplining our children to help them learn, which is commanded of us in the Bible. I give this “advice” more for the sanity of the caregivers, because I, myself, almost lost mine before coming to this realization after seeing some of our girls make the same stupid, sinful choices over and over and over again.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly…and Why We Need It All

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:16–26, ESV)

Something that I have noticed while working in the various vocational ministry positions which I have held(House Parents, ministry director at my church) and as just a volunteer and congregant within the churches we have attended, is that too much nice stuff is taught to our children, and not enough of the bad and ugly. We spend so much time teaching the things about God that we deem as lovely, excellent, and necessary, amongst other things, that they should know. However, too often, “we” leave out what the Bible deems as lovely, excellent, and necessary: That is, everything in the Bible, the Word of God. The good, the bad, and the ugly, we need it all, and, to be honest, it’s all good, to our benefit, in the long run. And, this is not just true of youth, but, all people within a church, young and old.

Recently, we have been teaching The Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23 to our young children within the church(mostly my kids and the pastor’s kids, as we have a small young population in our church). We have been going over them one a week on Wednesday nights. And, it’s nice. Now, this particular group is a bit too young to understand some of the sins listed in the preceding verses, Galatians 5:19-21, however, as time progresses and they get a little more mature, it is something that I am going to not skimp on(Right now, I don’t want to have to explain to them what orgies are). However, it is something that they will hear from me sooner than later. With the older youth, however, it is something that I am going to teach upon. Right now, I don’t have any regular preteent/teens that come on Wednesday nights(12 years of age and older), but, when they start coming, I am going to go over the Fruits of the Spirit with them, two a week probably, as I am with the younger kids. But, when we finish with them, I am going to go back and talk about Galatians 5:16-26, the entire passage, including the bad fruits. It is something that I am going to hammer home with them and let them know, that by the litmus test of Jesus, Matthew 12:33-37:

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”” (Matthew 12:33–37, ESV)

That by the litmus test of Jesus’, people will look at them and say “That person CAN’T be a Christian with how they act,” or, conversely, “Wow, look at that person, they have something I want, I mean, they must be Christians” or something like that. I will tell them plainly that, if you live a life that looks more like Galatians 5:19-21, that they are probably not really a Christian, because in a true Christian, there is a heart change, an attitude change, and a complete 180 degree turn in wants and desires. Selfish to selfless. Loathing to loving. Taking to giving. They need to hear it. Badly. Even it it comes to their own detriment.

Some people will read this and think that I am crazy, telling kids that they are sinners and that sin is the root of all the problems and that they cannot do good on their own. To those people, I leave you with this passage of Scripture from Romans, where Paul is quoting much from Psalms and Isaiah:

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”” (Romans 3:10–18, ESV)

And, for everyone, I leave you with this from Isaiah 55:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,” (Isaiah 55:8–10, ESV)

 

Soli Deo Gloria

He Who Dies With The Most Toys…Still Dies

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:6–10, ESV)

HeWhoDies

He who dies with the most toys….still dies. Yup, I had this poster when I was a teenager, hanging up on my wall to the left as you walked into my room. Next to my bed. 

However, recently, being underemployed, I have learned much about b) and various aspects of it.

First, I have realized that I need to be conent with what I have, especially now, as I, and my family, face the blessing of financial hardships. Currently, and take this in no way as a complaint, I have only a part time job at our church, North Fort Myers First Baptist Church. There, I am the Director of Family Ministry and Outreach, a position that I love. I pray that my position will become full time sometimg in the coming years, however, I am seeking a full-time job.

Secondly, I need to make sure I am content with what I have next time I do have money. Thus, I need to remember 1 Timothy 6:7, “…for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anyhting out of the world.”(ESV). When I was born, I was naked and had nothing with me. When I die and arrive in Heaven with my Lord Jesus, I will have nothing. It will be just me. For many, it is a hard pill to swollow and an even harder lesson to teach younger generations. My daughter asks for us to buy her something everywhere we go, eve at places that don’t sell things(like when we are at church or at home). And, we let her know that the more she constantly asks for stuff, the less she is going to get from us. And, albeit slowly, she is learning the lesson. 

I have come to expect materialistic behaviors from unregenerate people, those without Christ.

However, the materialisitc attitudes that I constantly see among professing evangelical Christians is so rampant, that sometimes disgusts me. And I am not even talking about the “Prosperity Gospel” heresy, either. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus spoke about the cost of being a disciple. He said:

“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23–25, ESV)



What does it mean to deny oneself? To deny ones desires and wants and put Jesus and God’s will in front. To follow Jesus is to give everything to Him. For Jesus to be Lord of one’s life means to surrender all of one’s life to Jesus’ control. Not some. Not most. Not almost all. ALL of it. Keeping nothing for oneself. And yet, that is our struggle. We struggle with it every day, with ever decision. I struggle with it. You struggle with it. Your pastor struggles with it. Your spouse struggles with it. Your children struggle with it.

However, what happens, is people put their desire for stuff before God, and it becomes an idol, and they are breaking commandments. They aren’t loving God with all they have. They have an idol, stuff, that is before God. They are(probably) coveting other peoples’ stuff.

Now, in no way am I saying that having stuff is wrong or anything. I have plenty of stuff, and there is plenty of stuff that I wouldn’t mind having. However, I don’t make it my life-long pursuit to get that stuff as so many other people have and continually do.

Later on, Jesus spoke again of the cost of discpleship:

“Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25–33, ESV)

This is really summed up in the last verse of this passage, Luke 14:33, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” This means so much to the life of a true Christian. We must give everything to Jesus and be willing to sacrifice everything. We aren’t supposed to hate our families, our spouses, our children. However, compared to our love of Christ and our desire to follow Him, our love for our families would not, no…COULD NOT compare. Ever. Not. Even. Close.

So, when Jesus gave us The Great Commission, it was a command, not a suggestion. Not a passing thought. Not an idea. A command. Something we must do. We shall do. There are many ways in which people can and do participate in this(which we won’t be discussing here).

Now, let me leave you with this:

“And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”” (Luke 18:18–27, ESV)



Now, remember, it is not a sin to have stuff. It is not a sin to want more stuff. It’s not even a sin to have enough money to buy the stuff you want. It becomes a sin when your desire for your stuff takes front seat in the car. It becomes a sin when you aren’t willing to give up your stuff for God and His calling on your life. Remember that. Remember that well.

 

Soli Deo Gloria

Have We Forgotten About The Sick?

Seriously, have we? The answer to that question is obviously “No,” however, sometimes, it sure does seem that way. Lets take a look at some words Jesus had as recorded in Luke chapter 5:

After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”” (Luke 5:27–32, ESV)

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Those words hound me each time I read them when reading through the Gospels. Very few churches that I have attended in my almost 18 years of being a Christian have, from my point of view, taken this to heart. And, from all the reading and things that I have seen as of late, it seems that the seeming majority of churches have moved away from this. How so? By turning from outward evangelism of the lost to the inward caring of the already-saved, church members.

Ok, let us take a look at the text and ask those simple questions that we have learned to ask in school when writing a paper: Who? What? Where? When? Why?

Who? Okay, this is a fairly simple question to answer. It’s Jesus, God the Son, the Son of God, who is talking here. He is addressing a group of Pharisees and thier scribes(vs. 30-31) .
What? Jesus is addressing the Pharisee’s questioning why Jesus and His disciples are eating with tax collectors and sinners(v.30).
Where? Jesus and His disciples are at the home of Levi, a tax collecor(former at this point, as he was now one of the apostles), who was having a feast for Jesus, and he invited also the tax collectors and others(v.29).
When? Though no exact date is given, some timelines put this event happening in 29AD, most likely in the summer(an Aritcle from BibleTimes.net has a timeline, click HERE)
Why?- Well, this is pretty well explained out in the passage. Jesus was calling Levi(Matthew) to be one of His 12, and, to honor the Lord, Levi held a feast for Jesus, and Levi invited all his friends, who, as logic plays out, happened to also be Tax Collectors and other people of ill repute. And, knowing that many considered Jesus to be a great teacher, or Rabbi, the Pharisees were very critical of Him.

Now, I know that there is a lot more to this scene, however, we have hit the major points here. Now, the vast majority of the people in this feast were probably tax collectors, as that is what Levi was. Levi, who is Matthew, is called Matthew more often then not throughout the Gospels presumable because the writers wanted to disconnect his past, as a tax collector, with his present as one of Jesus’ 12 disciples. Why? Because tax collectors were the lowest of the low. No one really liked tax collectors, except maybe other tax collectors. Heck, I don’t like tax collectors to be quite honest. They take my money for things that I have already paid taxes on…more than once most likely.

So, as Jesus exemplified the idea that the church needs to to outward evangelism to the lost, unregenerate souls while He was walking this earth, shouldn’t we be fit to model His behavior? Nevermind being fit to do so, should we just do it?

Now, I don’t mean we need to invite more people to church. To be honest, I would rather people invite the lost to their homes to model and show and share the love of Christ with them. Going to church on Sunday monrings is a time of corporate Christian worship for the family, the body, of Christ. Do I not want unsaved people to come to church? NO! I want them to come to church. However, I have noticed through observation and personal experience, that not all unsaved people will understand what is going on in a good, reformed, expositional church service. I saw somewhere on the internet recently a thing saying something to the affect of  “All Christians are missionaries. All non-Christians are the mission field.” And, it’s true. Jesus commanded us to “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”(Matthew 28:18–20, ESV). We are commanded to go out and evangelize the lost.

 

I have seen so many churches, no, perhaps, too many churches that just want to take care of their own. I have heard stories about a church calling a pastor to basically shepherd the flock into the grave. I have been guilty of this very same thing, working towards being comfortable with my fellow Christians and not evangelizing. However, recently, God has put it on my heart to help His church grow. I have recently been called to a church as the Director of Family Ministries and Outreach, a position in which I am at a small church, First Baptist Church in Noth Fort Myers, Florida, that is nowhere near being a dying church. However, the church recognizes the state it is in: That if WILL be a dying church if they don’t reach out to the families within the surrounding communities. While the average age is much older, and the majority of the children in the church are currently from the Pastor’s family and mine, we are beginning to make changes and reach out more to the families. And it’s a blessing to me and my family to be a part of how God is working within our Church.

 

There is another church of which my family used to be members at, FaithBridge Church in Jacksonville, Florida, that does a great job at outward evangelism. They have a great focus on missions, sending many, many church members on short term trips to places like Haiti, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Also, my favorite outreach they do, is what they do in place of a traditional Vacation Bible School(VBS). They call it Rock The Block(RTB). Instead of having a VBS at a centralized location, i.e., the church building, they have a multitude of Rock the Blocks all around Jacksonville at members’ homes. They train up the leaders and volunteers, work cooperatively to get everything for all the RTB’s ready(crafts, games, etc.), and then they do it. Several times prior to the RTB week, they go out in groups and canvas each surrounding neighborhood, inviting all the kids to come. And the time I was able to help, it was a true blessing. So much fun. And, I think that the way they do their RTB instead of a traditional VBS is great, reaching far more people than a regular VBS.(And, by the way, from my experience, traditional VBS’s have seemed to be used by too many members of the church as a free day care service or something like that).

 

Leaving the building and reaching the lost and hurting is what we need more of. We need to evangelize, tell people about Jesus and His Good News. Let that do it’s work in a persons heart, and then bring them into the church to teach them and disciple them and encourage them and equip them. Remember:

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10–11, ESV)

So, let me leave you with Jesus’ words in closing:

“And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”(Luke 5:31-32, ESV). 

 

Soli Deo Gloria

Who’s The Hypocrite?

So, recently, there was this little thing called the NFL draft that went on, not something anyone has really heard of, that is, if you live under a rock. So, there has been this controversy over a kiss that occurred(If you haven’t read about it or seen it, you can click HERE to read and/or see it). An openly homosexual player, Michael Sam, was drafted in the 7th and final round of the draft by the St. Louis Rams. Some teams have stated it was because he didn’t perform well in the NFL Combine. Some people say it’s because he’s openly homosexual. Personally, I don’t really care all that much because I’m not all that into pro football.

But, there is another story revolving around this and a player from the Miami Dolphins, Don Jones. Don Jones, like many people, didn’t find the live, on-the-air kiss between Michael Sam and his boyfriend. And, Don Jones tweeted about it, exercising his first amendment right to say what he wants. But, then come in the Political Correct Patrol in the form of the Miami Dolphins(and probably much supported by the various LGBTQ groups). Now, Don Jones has been fined, suspended, and being forced to go to “educational training”(whatever that may be) as a result. (You can read some articles by clicking HERE, HERE and HERE).

Ok, first, just from being an American, I think that we should allow Don Jones to say what he wants and not have to be so uptight about it. Sure, the Dolphins just had a high-profile workplace harassment/bullying issue within their team and they don’t want to have something like that happen again, but severely punishing someone for exercising their Constitutionally guaranteed rights? Come on, I think that’s going a little too far.

And, now for something more personal about this situation…

According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, the definitions of Tolerance, and a couple variations, are as follows:

tolerance
noun
1the ability, willingness, or capacity to tolerate something.
2an allowable amount of variation of a specified quantity, especially in the dimensions of a machine or participle
—origin Middle English: via Old French from Latin tolerantia, from tolerare (see tolerate).

tolerant
adjective (often tolerant of) showing tolerance. (of a plant, animal, or machine) able to endure specified conditions or treatment.
—derivatives tolerantly adverb

tolerate
verb
1allow the existence or occurrence of (something that one dislikes or disagrees with) without interference.
2endure (someone or something unpleasant) with forbearance.
3be capable of continued exposure to (a drug, toxin, etc.) without adverse reaction.

 

Now, the LGBTQ groups want everyone to be tolerant and tolerate their lifestyle and everything, correct? Then why is it when someone, anyone, disagrees with them, they can’t show any level of decorum or tolerance towards them? They expect it from everyone else, but are given a free pass to be intolerant when it suits them. I am a Christian in vocational ministry at my church. I strongly feel that homosexuality is a sin(Romans 1:26-27). Now, before you assume anything(and make a donkey out of you and me), let me state that I have NOTHING against homosexuals. They are humans whom I love and pray for, just like heterosexuals. God calls me to love my neighbor as myself, and that I do. What I, and Christianity in general, has a problem with is the act of homosexuality. It is a sin. According to the Bible, the sexual orientation of a homosexual is sinful. A homosexual isn’t any more or less sinful than I am. I am a heterosexual male, married to my beautiful wife with two children and a third on the way. I am a sinner saved by God’s wonderful Grace. And I am sinful. I sin every day in various ways. I know that I am a sinner. I know that, to some extent, every person alive is a sinner. I know that, according to God’s word, everyone is a sinner and needs the transforming power of Jesus. However sinful I am and however sinful you are, I still love you.

So, here is the thing, and I am preaching to the choir, as the saying goes. Christians are called to examine themselves before they go around trying to deal with someone else’s sin(Matthew 7:1-5). Now, we don’t always do that. A matter of fact, I think that we don’t do this most of the time(I know I struggle with it). However, that peace of advice goes both ways. If you want people to be tolerant of you, you need to be tolerant of them. You need to learn to “agree to disagree.”

If someone comes on here and calls me a hypocrite for being a right-wing, Christian, homosexual-bashing, intolerant, person, then you can just scroll up and read this: You(person who calls me that) are the hypocrite. Calling for tolerance for your lifestyle, however, hating upon those who disagree with you makes you the hypocritical one. Remember, just because someone doesn’t agree with you or like what you do, it doesn’t mean they hate you and want you to die.

Am I surprised that this type of “intolerance of tolerance” is happening in our country? Not really. Am I surprised of all the overall evil and wickedness that has become so prevalent in our lives and new cycles? Not at all. Look at how society has been going(shootings, suicides, etc). As the Bible and Jesus has been (forcibly)decreasing from our lives(any, unfortunately, willingly taken out of our churches), evil and wickedness and the such have increased.

Just something to think about…

I Am A Horrible Husband…

 

….And father, and leader.

 

There are so many things that which I fail at, that, in the eyes of the world, one would think that I am a failure. Sure, I have my successes, like a family that loves me and that I love. But, on that same note, I am a horrible leader of my family. So many decision that I make are irrational and/or illogical. We have been married over six years, and our oldest child is five-and-a-half years old this month, and we are just starting to do family devotions, something I’ve always wanted to do and was reinforced about doing last year when I read a book on family worship.

 

Right now, I am struggling with my failures to of not being able to get a job. Obviously, I am somewhat desirable in the workplace, or my resumé wouldn’t garner the amount of interviews I have gotten. But, I haven’t got a full-time job. I’ve gotten more turn down emails and letters in the past two months than jobs I’ve applied to up to this point in my life. It’s disheartening for me, very stressful. And I feel like I’m constantly doing something wrong, like it’s my fault that I keep messing everything up. This very morning, I had what seems like a very promising interview, however, it may be a couple weeks before I hear anything back about that. All the while, we are living with my parents, and we are ready to have our own place. That is just frustrating as can be(sorry mom and dad, I love you, but, the 4, almost 5, of us need our own space). It’s truly been a struggle for me in so many way.

 

My wife is also very stressed out and struggling with everything. She’s 20-something weeks pregnant with our third child(A girl!), and plans on being a stay-at-home mom and home school teacher to our children, and she’s ready to have our own space. The four of us sleeping in a single 11ft x 11ft room is very difficult, and most of the time quite uncomfortable. And for her, being pregnant, I think she’s getting less and less sleep each night.

 

Oh how I miss the time at the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes when we had a steady income, free housing, no utilities we had to pay, and a vast majority of our food provided for us. It having been a month this coming weekend that we have been living with my parents, and we are still there. Our plan was to move, me get a job and we be out before the month of May began. And here we are, May 14th, still in that tiny room. I suck. I feel like I’m a failure of a father. A failure of a husband. I failure of a man.

 

It was one night, sitting at the dining room table that has been in my family for as long as I remember(at least 26 years, as that’s as far back as I remember having it before my family moved to south Florida), feeling like this, like a failure, that God spoke to me through His Word. I kept remembering “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” That kept going through my head all that night and into the next day, and the day after that. After three or four days, I finally opened up my Bible and looked for that text. I know it was Paul who wrote it, so, then, naturally, I Googled it:

2 Corinthians 12:1–10 (ESV, emphasis added by me)

1 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

There is it. All through my life, things have come with relative ease to me, a true blessing from God to me, a depraved, wretched, unworthy servant of God. I had come from a relatively well-to-do family, who lost most everything financially when I was a teenager. Up until a certain point in life(I don’t remember when, but it was after I married Roni) that I had gotten an offer from every job I applied for. I got accepted to all the colleges and universities I applied for out of high school. I was well liked within my youth group, with many expecting me to be a missionary, living overseas by now in some remote village winning souls for Christ(which, I might add, I am not doing..yet). I’ve bee groomed for success in some way or another throughout much of my life. And yet, there is one thing that I keep on forgetting with my endeavors, especially as of late. Well, two things really…

 

The first thing would be my sin of self. Not selfishness, but self. Self-reliance. I can do it on my own. I’ve done it on my own. Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians,4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”( Philippians 3:4–6, ESV). Now, I am not of the tribe of Benjamin or a Pharisee, or a Hebrew of Hebrews, but I am, and have been, an overly confident man, confident of my abilities to get things done with little or no effort involved from my part. However, that is not the case. God has provided for me, even when I haven’t had any idea that he has been helping me. And, there have been many a time when I have known it was entirely from God that my good was coming. But, overall, I have been overconfident in myself and haven’t been relying on God as I should.

 

Right now, as we, my family and I, face these times of uncertainty with employment and everything, I strongly believe that God is humbling me and teaching me to be more reliant on Him. And, this leads to the second thing that I keep on forgetting: God’s complete and total sovereignty. “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3, ESV). There is nothing that I do or that happens that isn’t part of God’s plan. Our God is sovereign in all that he does, and we need to recognize that. He has a plan and is going to use everything that happens for good(Romans 8:28).

 

So, during this time, I am going to live by the words from James 1: 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4, ESV). And I am going to 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV). And, I am going to let God us me: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (2 Corinthians 1:3–5, ESV). And, while doing all of this, I am going to trust in God’s sovereignty, knowing that His plan for our time of difficulty is perfect and perfect for us. I know that we are going to come out on the other side of this as better people, a stronger family, and with a great testimony to God’s greatness and provision.

 

So, I guess I am not really a horrible husband or father or leader. I guess I am not a total and complete failure, at least, no more than the next Christian man. What I am is a depraves sinner saved by God’s grace, God’s saving grace which He extended to me all those years ago. And, as long as I strive to Glorify God in all that I say and do, I am being the husband and father and man that I am needed to be. While there is always room for improvement, I know that God will be glorified in what I do.

 

Soli Deo Gloria!

*EDIT* I didn’t mean to publish this when I did, I meant to save it. One thing that makes me the successful man that I am is Christ, and that I am in Christ. Without Christ, I have nothing. I am nothing. Without Christ, I would be dead in sin. Being that I am in Christ, Christ is my strength. Christ makes it possible for me to be successful, because Christ is my success for me. And that is what I boast in. That is what makes me not a failure. And to that, To God Alone Be The Glory! Soli Deo Gloria!

False Conversion

Many people talk about false converts. Many preachers preach have preached about conversion and the dangers of false converts/conversions. I have blogged about and done devotions with my family about false conversions and converts. Now, let me tell you a story about someone whom, for over a decade, lived the life of a false convert: Me.

I was 15 years old when I first heard the gospel presented to me in a simple fashion. It was after a great personal tragedy, and I always felt that God used that experience to help bring me to Him. And, after that point, I lived a life, believing I was a true Christian. I had been on several missions trips all over the globe. I was a leader in my youth group for a time. There are things in my life that have happened to me that by all means could be considered a miracle that I lived through. And, in 2007, I married my wife, before God. All this(and much, much more) while thinking I was a true Christian.

It hasn’t really been until the past 2-3 years or so that I really have taken a proactive role in studying theology and doctrine, really seeking after God and His will for my life and for the life of my family. And in this past year, being super interested in digging after God in all that I do. And, it wasn’t until just a weeks ago, after listening to the most shocking sermon by Paul Washer that I realized I had lived the life of a false convert for so many years. (I highly recommend everyone listening to that sermon by Washer). I am sure of my salvation now, however, not sure of when, exactly. The grace and wisdom and discernment that I have gained over the past few years far outweighs everything else that I learned in the 12+ years prior. I have had such a desire to read my Bible that I have never had before. I’ve enjoy reading about and discussing theological matters and doctrine more than almost anything else. I also brought this up with my wife, and she agrees with me, that God saving me didn’t finally occur until well after we were married. Until well after our daughter and son were born.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”(Matthew 7:13-14, ESV).

Looking back at my time living as a false convert, I lived a very fleshly life. Drunkenness, sexual immorality, debauchery, drugs, massively high levels of immaturity. They way that I acted were not showing any good fruit at all(Galatians 5:22-23), however, the fruit I was showing was ugly and bad(Galatians 5:19-21). And, I was a false teacher on top of that. Being that I had never really studied theology and the various doctrines(such as salvation!), I had no clue what salvation was really about. And, unfortunately, I have probably contributed to many people having a false sense of eternal security, something I am deeply troubled about, and ask for forgiveness for from God.

Now that God has opened my eyes and given my wisdom and discretion, I thank God greatly for my salvation, and I know that I will never be able to thank Him enough for it.

*update*
Now don’t get me wrong, in no way do I feel that people who were involved in my life when I thought I was a Christian are any less important. I know that in God’s ways, they were a part of His sovereign plan for my life.

The Shocking Sermon…

Here is a sermon that I recently listened to by Paul Washer, given to a Youth Evangelism Conference:

Click HERE for the link to it on SermonAudio.com

Click HERE for the Youtube video.

This is a great sermon. Right on target, and very much so straight forward.

Something I have noticed…..

…..About opposing theological views and their Facebook groups…..

I am a member of two different groups on Facebook, each of which have opposing theological views when it comes to reformed theology, or, more specifically, Calvinism. One group is Calvinism Fellowship Debate and Discussion(CFDD for short). The other is Christians AGAINST the Heresy of Calvinism and TULIP(Against for short for this post). And, before I go ANY further, if the name of my blog did not clue you in, I am reformed in my theology and I think that Arminianism is heretical. This is post isn’t a review of the two groups, it is more of an observation that I have had over time, both online with these groups and with interactions I have had with Calvinists and Arminians in real life.

With that aside, my first observation is that too many people on both sides of  the argument spend too much time damning the opposing side of the argument. Secondly, most of the them when I have brought up Calvinism around arminian friends/acquaintances/people, I get a nasty response and a lecture on why I am a heretic. It’s not a discussion, it’s been a one-sided verbal belittling. Now, it’s not all the time. There are many do like to have a good discussion about the topic. Something else I have noticed is that so many Arminians refuse to listen to exactly what Calvinism, or Reformed Theology, really is. They’ve probably never taken the time to really research it, scripturally.
On the flip side, when Arminians bring up Arminianism around many, not all, Calvinists, they, too, get not the nicest reception. However, I have observed that Calvinists are more up to a good scripture-based, theological discussion about the subjects. In CFDD, they like to talk about a range of topics and discussions, from debating Paedo and Credo baptism to heresies and heretics. And people are passionate about their positions on every subject that is discussed there. And I love it. In Against, the first thing that I noticed is that it’s really that: A group devoted to bashing the crud out of Calvinism and Reformed Theology as much as they possibly can. Click HERE for a wonderful illustration to illustrate my example.
Now, once again, may I remind you, this is NOT an unbiased review(see the URL at the top of the page for proof). My prayer is, however, that people can get off their trash cans and stop hurling mud at each other and can come together to preach Christ Crucified. And, remember, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”(Ephesians 4:29, ESV). 

Now, while I view that Arminianism is, in itself, a heresy, I’m sure there are many arminians that have been saved by our gracious Creator, and I hope that and pray that He reveals Himself to them through His ultimate Truth, the Word of God.

 

PS there are other groups about Arminianism and Calvinism, however, these are the two most active that I have found.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén