Ministerial Meanderings

God centered theology in a man centered world.

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Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years then retired. Then God led me to become a pastor. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1966. I enjoy the company of my wife, children and grandchildren. I live with my three cats Taz.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Beware the Magic Word Syndrome

I take it as a given that a thing can be said in two different ways and yet say the same thing.

I also take it as a given that we Christians are humans who are yet to be gloried in heaven and thus, we are still fighting our depravity. See Paul in Romans 7 where he says he finds two laws in his members. One of those laws is always trying to lead us to sin.

One of the results of that is what I call the magic word syndrome. Basically that is when a Christian questions the doctrine or the salvation of another Christian because that second Christian does not explain or articulate his or her doctrine the same way as the first. In other words, if you don't say it the way I like to hear it, I question whether or not you are saved. This syndrome manifests itself in various ways. You need to use the right phrase, or word(s) or quote the right quote or so on. But the result is always the same. If I don't hear it the way I like to hear it, you are on my "suspect list."

Our Lord Jesus prayed for the unity of His people. The very fact that believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit demands the unity of believers. The Holy Spirit living in me calls out to the Holy Spirit living in you and binds us closer together than we are to our blood kin. Also, Christians today have more than enough enemies both inside and outside the Church that we don't need to go looking for friends to ostracize.

Beloved, beware the magic word. There are many who bow the knee to the Lord Jesus just as we do and yet, may explain it differently. We stand shoulder to shoulder with all true believers in the Lord Jesus. As we stand with our brothers and sisters in Jesus there are many things that come against us and against our Lord. Let's not let the magic word be one of them. It is wrong and it is sinful. And that is a place no Christian ought to go.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mixed Emotions

I was home for lunch today and got a phone call from my son Stephen. He was in Fargo, North Dakota where he took the oath of enlistment into the United States Army. His reporting date is January 6th, 2010. Wow.

He will serve three years on active duty then transfer into the Army National Guard.

Pray for Stephen and for all of our servicemen and women. May God keep them all safe until their end of service.


Worth Repeating

"It is not our job to preach Calvinism. We are to preach Scripture. Since Calvinism is the most biblical system of theology we have, people who are biblically taught will taste Calvinism in our preaching ... but not because we preach Calvinism, but because we preach Scripture!"

Pastor John Sneed
July 13th, 2008

Monday, October 19, 2009

Captive to the Word

This is a repost from a year ago. As we approach Reformation Day, I thought this was something that was worth thinking about again.

I was watching the newer version of the movie "Luther" tonight. It is a good movie. Who among us can help but be moved during Luther's great defense of himself at the Diet of Worms? Luther stood against every pressure to recant what he had written and go back to confessing the doctrines of Rome as his accepted truth.

Our time in history, our churches, our souls have turned decadent. Christians, by and large today, look just like the unsaved world around us. Theology used to be the queen of the sciences, because it was once thought that the highest knowledge was the knowledge of God. But no more. Churches were granted tax exempt status in their communities because it was believed that the preaching and teaching of Christ produced better citizens and therefore, benefited the community. Now, local and state governments are wondering if that is true anymore. The gospel preached today is all about me ... man centered ... self glorifying. It is all about what God can do for me or what God owes me. The god most people pray to is a cosmic candy man who grants wishes just like the genie in the story of Aladdin's Lamp. Except among a remnant, the God of scripture seems to be unknown (or certainly unprofessed) among Christians today. Instead of finding men like the prophets of old, today we have preachers who want to be relational, nonconfrontational, happy, and as much like the people they preach to as they can be. Holy living is considered judgmental. Grace is an excuse for lawlessness. It is like seeing the worst traits of all seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 all rolled into one.

But what would a family look like, or a church, or a community, or a denomination, if Christians were to be like Luther, whose conscience was captive to the word of God? How would things in your life be changed if you knew such a person? How about if YOU were such a person?

O Lord, send us Christians whose consciences are captive to the word of God! Send us Christians again like Luther, Knox, Whitefield and Spurgeon. Let the word of God be proclaimed from sea to sea in the United States from the lips and the lives of fearless Christians who are slaves to the Sovereign Lord of Glory! O Lord, show us our sin, individually and collectively, and let us taste the bitter cup of your discipline. But after our brokenness and repentance, let us taste the sweet taste of your grace and mercy once again. And do it all O God, for the glory of Your Holy Name.

Spurgeon once asked, "Here is the day for the man, but where is the man for the day?" Are you one whose "conscience is captive to the word of God"? If not, why not? How much longer will we have to wait until Christians emerge who are hopelessly, fearlessly, faithfully, zealously, passionately sold out to the word of God and to the God of the word? With all my heart, I hope it is not too long.

Friday, October 16, 2009

An Arminian Dilemma

"For who maketh thee to differ [from another]? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive [it], why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received [it]?" (1 Cor. 4:7)

Paul asks the question "For who maketh thee to differ?" The implied answer to Paul is that it was God who made one person to differ one from another. The context of the verse is that what we have we were given by God. Therefore it was God who decided that one person would receive this and another person wouldn't.

In Arminian theology, this passage leads to a problem. One Arminian writer has written that the heart of Arminian belief is the doctrine of prevenient grace. Arminians hold to the Calvinistic doctrine of total depravity. However, they believe that God gives every human a measure of prevenient grace to overcome the effects of man's depravity. Prevenient grace is the "grace that precedes human action." It moves man to a neutral position in regards to the things of God. Now each human has to decide whether or not to cooperate with the grace God has given them and be saved. Of note is that this prevenient grace is given to every human being.

Also, in Arminian theology, Christ died on the cross for each and every human being in exactly the same way. His death on the cross makes salvation possible for every human who wants it (who cooperates with the grace God has given them).

So, that brings us to the Arminian dilemma, if God gives each and every human a measure of grace and Christ died for each and every human in exactly the same way ... who really makes one man to differ from another? It looks to me like God has done everything he could to make it possible for a person to be saved. But the truth of that salvation is in the hands (or decision making ability) of each and every person. So when Paul asks "Who maketh thee to differ?" the Arminian has to answer ... "You do."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's Been A While

It has been a while since I last blogged. It seems like there is never enough time to do all the things I need to get done. The place I work had a walk through by the CEO of the company himself. Our managers were making us all jump through hoops to get ready. It reminded me of my Air Force days. Every time a visiting general would come through, we would be assigned tasks to touch up paint, clean up, redecorate and all kinds of other things to make every thing look good for the general.

In the middle of that very time period, my children decided to drive down from North Dakota for a visit. It was good to see them. My daughter even brought my granddaughter with her. She (my granddaughter) is getting really big! They grow up so fast. My son is just a couple of weeks away from leaving for Army basic training so that he can take his place in the Army National Guard. It was the first time that all my family (me, my wife, the kids and the granddaughter) have been together since I left Minot back in August of 2006. That was a good time.

But on top of that we (my wife and I) have battled a bout of the flu (no not the swine type) and other minor illnesses.

All of this is to say that my time and attention have been everywhere except on this blog. But we are still here. Things seem to be calming down now so I expect to be back making blog posts very soon.

Remember that as you are out and about in your daily lives that God gives us each a day at at time. Take time to savor the day. Carpe Deum as it were! Stop and smell the flowers. Enjoy kissing your spouse. Make some quality time for your kids (I read that parents have less than 30 seconds of meaningful contact with their kids in a days time). If you can, walk instead of drive someplace so you can take in the air. Remember when people used to do that? And thank God for the time He gives you.

I'll see you all in a future post soon.