Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Very Unique Sunday!

I can’t wait for this Sunday! There are two primary reasons: One is that I get to begin teaching the New Member’s Class! Outside of preaching the Word of God, there is absolutely nothing I would rather do than this. I love meeting the families that God is bringing into Trinity. It is always a new experience, because no two classes ever have the same personality! We will be in a new room, with new people, with the same old truth! How great is that?

The second reason I am so excited, is that Sunday night we will have one of the most unique services we have ever had at Trinity. I will explain more on Sunday morning, but I want to encourage you to be in your seat at 6 pm sharp. There are so many exciting things happening, so many new ministries and mission opportunities that are before us that, as a church family we are going to have a panel discussion that will range from how we plan on equipping parents over the next year, to questions about our “Wonderful Words” series. We will begin right at 6 sharp and have our entire ministerial staff on stage discussing various areas of their ministry, along with theological questions. We will not be taking questions from the floor that night, but we would love for you to write them down, with your name, and turn them in Sunday morning. These can be theological questions, questions about a specific passage of Scripture, or why we do certain things in a particular ministry or in worship.

We have never done anything like this, but I think it will be a great time of teaching and gathering around the Word of God. Certainly, we will not have time to cover every single question that we receive, but we will go through as many as time allows. I hope to see you all day Sunday!

Monday, March 28, 2011


Ever Wonder What Life Would Be Like If Everyone Showed Up To Class - Ready to Learn?
We All Have a LOT to Learn - Are We Ready to Listen? Are We Teachable?

When I posted about the gospel in my last two posts, I got an incredible amount of feedback on Facebook and in personal e-mails… and all of it was so positive and all of them put their name. These blogs also had the highest number of “hits” over a two day period, since I began blogging. From my perspective, it is always good when people are talking about the gospel, whether they agree with you or not, at least they are talking about it. I had received no comments in a negative fashion, until this past Thursday, when I received the comment below. Even though I explicitly stated that you needed to include your first and last name in order to post, when I saw that I had a negative post - I decided to put it up anyway because it was actually questioning and brought out points to think about – not just spewing irrationally. I decided to post it (even without them stating their name) because I thought it would serve as a teaching opportunity as to what our modern day problem is in our watered down gospel society.

 Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "If This Makes You Mad....I'll Be Ok":

Don't take this the wrong way, but I have always held the belief that sowing seeds is a good thing. Who cares if some or even most of the people simply made an emotional response? They heard how Jesus died for our sins and desires a relationship with us, provided we turn from our old ways of living and strive to honor Him. Where's the harm? You might consider getting off your high horse and spending the time it took you to write this post going to the lost and telling them that Jesus died for them.

Okay, let’s take this point by point. In the first sentence he/she states “sowing seeds is a good thing.” I am sure the “sowing” you are speaking of is referring to Luke 8 and the Parable of the Soils. Now, some call this the parable of “The Sower”… but the theme of this parable is not the one who sows the seed, but rather the soil where the seed falls. Can I point out that the “SEED” never changes? In fact, in farming today in order to get something to grow in “bad” soil it takes a synthetic seed. In short, it takes a seed that has been altered for the soil to accept it. This is fantastic for farming and for those of us who enjoy eating, but it is deadly when we try to make the gospel synthetic. When we try to change the “seed” to fit the soil, we move beyond what the “sower” is called to do. We are not called to alter the seed, we are called to distribute – give out - the seed. The great Reformer Martin Luther, when speaking about this parable, said it this way:

Thus all heretics, fanatics and sects belong to this number, who understand the Gospel in a carnal way and explain it as they please, to suit their own ideas, all of whom hear the Gospel and yet they bear no fruit, yea, more, they are governed by Satan and are harder oppressed by human institutions than they were before they heard the Word…. For where this Word is not, there is no salvation, and great works or holy lives avail nothing, for [it is] with this, that he says: "They shall not be saved," since they have not the Word, he shows forcibly enough, that not their works but their faith in the Word alone saves, as Paul says to the Romans: "It is, the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Rom 1:16).

Sowing seed friend, is great as long is the seed is right. If I was told to plant corn in a field and planted soy bean, the owner of the property would not accept my excuse that “I thought sowing seed was a good thing.” It is a good thing only if I am sowing the right seed.

Now the idea of sowing any ole seed will do, is made more apparent in your next statement:

Who cares if some or even most of the people simply made an emotional response? They heard how Jesus died for our sins and desires a relationship with us, provided we turn from our old ways of living and strive to honor Him. Where's the harm?

I am simply hoping you didn’t proof read your comment before you sent it. Really? “Who cares if they made an emotional response?” Seriously, have you read verse 6 of Luke 8? Who cares if they made an emotional decision? Who cares if they didn’t grasp the gospel and we have now twice damned them? Where could this type of thinking come from? How did we get here you ask? Let me help you—there was another man who did incredible damage to the gospel and did it in such a way that we still hold the ashes of what he did today. Does the quote below sound even vaguely familiar to what you are saying?

I was often instrumental in bringing Christians under great conviction, and into a state of temporary repentance and faith . . . . [But] falling short of urging them up to a point, where they would become so acquainted with Christ as to abide in Him, they would of course soon relapse into their former state [cited in B. B. Warfield, Studies in Perfectionism, 2 vols. (New York: Oxford, 1932), 2:24]. By Charles Finney

Who cares? I tell you who cares…God cares how His gospel is presented. When the gospel presentation of our great grandparent’s day is so dramatically different than the one prevalent today, we must ask ourselves where the message, the seed, changed….who has false information? Much, if not all of the training done in the majority of our seminaries in the 1960’s to late 1980’s was done by men who denied the truth of God’s Word. So, while we had great men like Adrian Rogers, W.A Criswell and many others fighting to turn our convention, we had a generations of Southern Baptist who were in line with them fighting for the inerrancy of The Book, but really had no clue what it said. We had few men that really grasped the importance of the true message of the gospel, and a widespread “crop” who had been birthed off a rapidly changing synthetic seed, who never understood the true message…and therefore, never truly understood the importance the inerrancy they were fighting for, the sufficiency of the Scripture they perused, the completeness of a true gospel that they never sowed. So, to answer your question: “Where’s the harm?” the harm is when one changes the message it does violence to the gospel, it damages the truth. Where is the harm? Would you ask the same thing if someone put less than ¼ ounce of poison into a baby’s bottle? After all, most of it is good. No, the ¼ ounce of the foreign substance poisons the entire bottle. Here is the harm - it damns the message - the message that Christ was tortured because God is angry at sin and sinner all day long, that nothing can ever appease Him outside the violent death of the cross. The harm is that it fails to point out to man, than God is terrifying outside of the cross. This “high horse” is not what it appears…it is a high calling, a high view of the cross, a high view of our Lord that will not allow me to make it palatable to the human soil. He is not a cheap used vehicle that I am trying to make a quick sale on – His gospel cannot be changed to fit this man’s view of God over here, and altered to align with her view of God over there. It is the same gospel message for every nation, every race – every sinner. God is God Almighty and it is His message, who are we to believe that we have the right to change it, have discourse on whether it is politically correct or what would make it more palatable. He gave ample examples in Scripture as to what message is given and how it is to be guarded, why do we believe that we are able to see better than He, how it just needs a little tweaking to be more acceptable in our modern day society. I don’t believe that most of these individuals knowingly, willingly, whole-heartedly set out to do harm to the gospel – they have come up through these years of training that have so maligned the message in an effort to make it “relevant”, that we no longer see the need to evaluate what the message is – we are simply pragmatic…if the message that we give gets them to pray a prayer, it must be ok. The Gospel is NOT pragmatic! It is up to us to report a TRUE GOSPEL…it is up to God who will be saved. It is what it is, we don’t write the message we just report it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Give 8 Minutes of Your Life to Watch This...It's Worth It!

I love Paul Washer - I love his passion for getting the Gospel right, I love the way he attacks the modern day “easy-believe-ism” and his passion for people to grasp the gospel and not some prayer!  On the heels of  my last two posts – I thought it best to show an example of someone who “gets it right”.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Just Think This Through....

I ended last post by stating “I’m not done yet…” and I am not. Before you go on with this blog, I want to ask you to read John 3:1-21. Please read this so you are pretty familiar with the discussion that takes place with Nicodemus and Jesus.

Okay, how would this conversation go in our modern day, gospel ignorant churches? Well, for the sake of time we will have our “modern day” version of the story pick up in verse 4.

Nic: What does ‘born again’ mean?

Evangelist: Well, that is an old word - here is the real question Nic - if you were standing before Christ and He asked you why you should go to Heaven, what would you say?

Nic: Well…that I really want to come in.

Evangelist: Well, if you do, let me tell you how you can know that you know. After all 99% sure is 100% lost. So have you ever sinned?

Nic: I guess so…

Evangelist: Come on Nic - have you ever lied? I mean even when you were little, have you ever lied?

Nic: Yes, I have (with a smile)

Evangelist: Well, I have to, and Jesus died for you because we are sinners. He came to earth and died and is offering you salvation today. Don’t you want to go to Heaven?

Nic: I really do

Evangelist: Then I tell you what buddy, if you want to go to Heaven and turn your life over to Jesus, why don’t you just bow your head and repeat this prayer after me -'Dear Jesus, I am sinner and believe you died for me and I want to ask you to come into my heart and save me. (You got to pause here and make sure Jesus has time to move in). Dear Jesus thank you for coming into my heart, amen.' Now Nic did you mean that prayer?

Nic: Yep

Evangelist: Do you believe Jesus came into your heart?

Nic: Well, uhh….

Evangelist: Well of course He did. The Bible says “whosoever calls” and that includes you. So if you prayed that prayer and meant it with all your heart, and Jesus didn’t come in, He lied and we know that Jesus won’t lie. So listen, why don’t you fill out this card and come down the aisle on Sunday, and we will set up a time to baptize you – after all, that is the first step of obedience as you begin this journey. (Actually, in Baptist life it is the fourth step because you first have to walk down the aisle pray an incantation…I mean prayer…and fill out a card). Now, you need to write this date down in your Bible because the enemy will want to make you doubt this day and, when he does it, you just go back and look at this date and remember what you did.

Nic: Okay, thank you.

Many will get furious with this little example because they know it is as real in most of our churches today, as was the meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus. No discussion of the reason for a substitutionary death, the demand of Lordship, repentance, brokenness over sin, hatred for self, a desperation for God…. Just get them to pray the prayer, and dunk’em to show we care about souls.

Bash this scenario all you want, but I defy you to show me one encounter Christ had, that is remotely similar to what you read above. Show me one time that Christ, Paul, Peter, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John or Andrew shared the gospel the way many of our modern day “evangelical” schemes do today. If you want to try to twist some verse to justify a weak gospel, post it on the blog with your FIRST AND LAST NAME (sorry, no cowards allowed) and let’s discuss it. If you sense frustration, it is because it is there. Of all the things we can’t afford to miss in our day - too often we have well intentioned people who are armed with a weak, partial gospel presentation that aids men in achieving a false sense of assurance – with no repentance, no change, no submission to Lordship… all the while we send in our merry statistics, may God help us.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

If This Makes You Mad....I'll Be Ok

Boy, as Southern Baptists we are amazing, aren’t we? I am writing on Thursday, March 10th and I am seeing everything from Facebook posts, to comments on various web-sites of how many people were “saved” during bike week. As of right now, the total is over 300. If I felt this was true, and knew for sure that there was a clear presentation of the true gospel, I would be leading the way in rejoicing! However, I have been raised a Southern Baptist, and in my experience, so many who claim how “Southern Baptist” they are in our churches today, have no clue of the history and legacy of Southern Baptists. All that to say, I have been to the big evangelistic events, crusades, concerts, and strongmen parades, and have seen thousands raise hands, fill out cards, cry - and watched Baptists give incredible reports that rival Pentecost! I have seen the reports of these salvations, but I am wondering where the evidence of salvation is in the days following. Typically the presentation at these events goes something like this:

  • 3:00pm—Show some type of Jesus video
  • 3:05pm---Tell all the people that they can have a personal relationship with Christ today if they pray the following prayer
  • 3:15pm---Ask them to fill out a card that gives “proof” of their commitment
  • 3:18pm---Give them some material in a SBC Bag to show our passion for follow-up.
Churches are contacted and informed that these men or women in the area “accepted Christ” and need follow up. (No sarcasm at all at this point)…But, prayerfully a church that really comprehends the gospel gets the name and goes to share with the individual. If not, someone either mails them something or goes by their house and tells them that they heard the good news and discusses baptism and the importance of walking down the aisle Sunday. Is this how evangelism should be done? Is this how Christ did it? Is this how Paul did it? It is not bad enough we do this all over the country; we take this weak, false gospel elsewhere.

Not too long ago, I spoke with a man who was in India on a mission trip. He said he went in to a village and preached and led over 100 people to Christ during one sermon. Can God save 100 people? Certainly… but, you can also go into a polytheistic culture with no doctrine, no grasp of the gospel, and lead people in a prayer and report 100 saved by a hand raised…and in all probability, they just added Christ to one of their 1000 other gods!

If you are thinking that some of the higher ranks in the convention may not like this…I have had the honor of preaching at some state conferences, but I can live the rest of my life and be fine never doing it again. My calling, and your calling is not to create a message, not to make it more palatable - our job is to share the gospel and get it right! We are neither to add spin nor to talk them into a decision. I can’t save anyone - that is the work of the Spirit of God. We can, and have messed up a lot of things through the years, but we can’t mess up or fail to communicate the gospel correctly – that is our calling! By all means, we must get the message right.
I’m not done yet…

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As of Friday night, the "gospel" has been presented over 2200 times with 348 "salvations."

Monday, March 14, 2011

I Can't Add Anything to This List....It is Excellent!

Above is the link to the article....but below is a summary of the incredible list of points that should be considered when we have a discussion dealing with abortion: 

January 18, 2011

15 excellent points that must be made in the abortion debate
Posted by stephenleecavness under Uncategorized
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from John Piper:

1. Existing fetal homicide laws make a man guilty of manslaughter if he kills the baby in a mother’s womb (except in the case of abortion).

2. Fetal surgery is performed on babies in the womb to save them while another child the same age is being legally destroyed.

3. Babies can sometimes survive on their own at 23 or 24 weeks, but abortion is legal beyond this limit.

4. Living on its own is not the criterion of human personhood, as we know from the use of respirators and dialysis.

5. Size is irrelevant to human personhood, as we know from the difference between a one-week-old and a six-year-old.

6. Developed reasoning powers are not the criterion of personhood, as we know from the capacities of three-month-old babies.

7. Infants in the womb are human beings scientifically by virtue of their genetic make up.

8. Ultrasound has given a stunning window on the womb that shows the unborn at eight weeks sucking his thumb, recoiling from pricking, responding to sound. All the organs are present, the brain is functioning, the heart is pumping, the liver is making blood cells, the kidneys are cleaning fluids, and there is a fingerprint. Virtually all abortions happen later than this date.

9. Justice dictates that when two legitimate rights conflict, the limitation of rights that does the least harm is the most just. Bearing a child for adoption does less harm than killing him.

10. Justice dictates that when either of two people must be inconvenienced or hurt to alleviate their united predicament, the one who bore the greater responsibility for the predicament should bear more of the inconvenience or hurt to alleviate it.

11. Justice dictates that a person may not coerce harm on another person by threatening voluntary harm on themselves.

12. The outcast and the disadvantaged and exploited are to be cared for in a special way, especially those with no voice of their own.

13. What is happening in the womb is the unique person-nurturing work of God, who alone has the right to give and take life.

14. There are countless clinics that offer life and hope to both mother and child (and father and parents), with care of every kind lovingly provided by people who will meet every need they can.

15.Jesus Christ can forgive all sins, and will give all who trusts him the help they need to do everything that life requires.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I don’t know of anyone who longs to be criticized…not because we have all had bad experiences when it comes to being criticized, it is just one of those things that no one really enjoys! No one has to teach us not to like it - is kind of like eating beets - you don’t have to taste them to realize you don’t like them; there is just something in you that thinks, “These can’t taste very good!” This is how it is with criticism - none of us like it and many times it is given in a sinful, flesh driven, or even cowardly way that hurts to the core. Nevertheless, it is a way of life for almost everyone. It comes from the coach who wants the athlete to get better; it comes from the fan who wants his team to win; it comes from the commentator who is paid to nitpick and encourages other guys to call in and voice their opinion. But, it doesn’t start and stop in the sports arena does it? It doesn’t matter if it is an overreaching mother or mother-in-law, or a boss that is difficult… It can come from a loving parent or an abusive parent. It can help you, or hurt you deeply. If you have been a teacher, preacher, nursery worker, usher, piano player, soundman, light man, air condition controller or practically anything else, you have found that the church is certainly not immune to this. However, when the church is healthy and conducts itself the way Matthew 18 tells us to, criticism can be life giving. There is a classic work in the Christian life entitled The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter and, obviously by the title, he is speaking to Pastors…but I think this has application to all of us:

Because there are many eyes upon you, therefore there will be many observers of your falls. If other men may sin without observation, so cannot you. And you should thankfully consider how great a mercy this is, that you have so many eyes to watch over you, and so many ready to tell you of your faults, and so have greater helps than others, at least for the restraining of your sin. Though they may do it with a malicious mind, yet you have the advantage by it.*

Let me tell you…if you name the name of Christ, there are probably people waiting to do the enemy’s bidding and will step in to be your accuser. Need I remind all of us, that it is a good thing to have eyes upon us? Even when the criticism comes with malicious intent, we should thank our Lord that it enables us to stand strong! It reminds us that if we fail, we first and foremost do damage to God being glorified in our lives, but secondly we give the heathen reason to rejoice. So, I encourage you, and I, to be faithful to our Father - use the enemy’s minions to drive you closer to Calvary and not as an excuse to harbor bitterness. Our God truly is greater and truly is stronger! Thank Him for that!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Happy Anniversary to a Dear Friend

Two boys…Zach and Cobb.  Cobb could not even speak clearly, yet. They later had a pretty little red head named Katey Jo - but when I met the Summers family she was not even in their plan. It was my first pastorate and we were seeing a crazy amount of people come to Christ and the people were coming in so fast, I didn’t know what to do. Michele was working at Children’s Home with Bro. Jeff Summers - and Carol Ann’s uncle was on staff with my Dad.   Bro. Jeff was recommended to me through two people that I love dearly…my wife and my Dad.

Well, long story short, Bro. Jeff Summers began serving with me over 13 years ago and I know of no one in the ministry who has been any more faithful to the Lord, or any more passionate about his ministry, than Bro. Jeff. I have watched him pour his life into parents and children alike. I have watched his boys grow up to be great young men, and I have watched Carol Ann do everything from lead a choir, to help clean up when the church needed it, and everything in between. I have watched Bro. Jeff stand on the Word of God when it would have been of great personal convenience for him to compromise... I have even watched staff members through the years live to protect self over truth, and Bro. Jeff has never displayed such a fear of man. He has been a counselor to me, he has been a tennis opponent, he has been a co-worker but most importantly he is an outstanding friend and brother in Christ - and my life and my ministry are better because of the way God has used him. All of this to say, when Bro. Jeff and his family came to serve at Trinity he didn’t know what all it would entail, but when he came, I knew he was “thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  I thank God that the Lord brought him here, and Sunday we will celebrate his two year anniversary!  But in our lives personally -  in my boys life he has been their Children’s Pastor,  and to Michele and me he has served as Pastor to our family in so many ways. All this to say "Happy Two Years Bro. Jeff", but more than that, I am thankful for all the years the Lord has given us to serve together, know that I count it a joy to go through this walk with you.  Thank you for being who God has called you to be!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Oh, Life....

Our deacons are going through a book together and it discusses the importance journaling. Let me be the first to say that for 7 years I have been journaling, but many of my entries through the years begin like this, “I have to be the worse journal writer in the world!” I am so sporadic, and I don’t want to be. It is so easy to forget, but I long to do it not only because it chronicles my spiritual walk and helps me look back at all the things God teaches me, but it also helps me think through things and ask my heart tough questions. I have given instructions to my wife as to where to find my journal entries are so that, when I go home to glory, I want my boys to see my struggles and victories and know my thought process and Biblical thinking. I also journal great memories, below is one such recorded about Caleb when he was 5 years old.

I was taking the boys to school and they were in the garage getting shoes on. I must have rushed out the door, simply because I was in a hurry, as the garage door opened. Caleb thought, at the speed that I rushed out, that it must mean he was in trouble. So he said: “Josh pushed the garage door button” I said: “Let’s just hurry boys.” Well in the mean time Josh made the statement that He didn’t open the garage door, Caleb did. Well, none of this hit me until we all got in the car and I asked Caleb if he lied to me. He paused, and then with frustration, I said: “Did you lie to me Caleb?” (Well as a foot note; he has had an ear infection so I guess he decided now was the time to play that card) and he said: “Well Daddy, I don’t know if I lied because my ear is hurting and I can’t hear myself talk so I don’t know what I said.” How original we can be when it comes to our own sin.

I say all this to show you the things both weighty and light hearted in my journal. But it is still so tough to do this consistently. However, a church member pointed me to this site If you go to this site, you can enter your e-mail and it will e-mail you everyday simply asking “how was your day?” You reply to the e-mail as long, or short, as you desire.  The system then puts it in an electronic account, formats it, and dates it. I would encourage you to try it if you don’t have a consistent way to journal. Everyone has just a moment to respond to email, it does the filing for you, and it prompts you to remember how important this daily reflection is in our lives.