Archive for April, 2010

Proud Calvinists

“And I am afraid there are Calvinists, who, while they account it a proof of their humility that they are willing in words to debase the creature, and to all the glory of salvation to the Lord, yet know not what manner of spirit they are of . . . Self righteousness can feed upon doctrines, as well as upon works; and a man may have the heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature and the riches of free grace.”

~John Newton, “On Controversy,” The Works of John Newton, Vol. 1, p. 272.

A Christian View of Civil Religion with Rich Lusk

April 28, 2010 2 comments

This podcast considers the relationship between the church and the civil religion of our day. The discussion points out the need for the church to untangle itself from the popular civil religion around us and focus on being the church through faithful worship and service.

Rich Lusk is the Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a the author of Paedofaith: A Handbook for Covenant Parents, and also has essays published in various books and publications. Pastor Lusk is married and has four children. More information about his ministry and a selection of his essays can be found at

Enjoy the podcast!

Hearing the right voice

With all the popular media we have today there are so many voices calling for our attention. In the midst of it all, we each must ask ourselves, “Whose voice am I hearing and attending to?”

Answering that question is critical because the voice you hear and attend to will set the course of your life. And, naturally, not every voice has your best interest in mind.

Politicians, spiritual leaders, marketers and others who bring us their messages all have their agendas. The same can be said for every book, movie, or song we expose ourselves to.

Because of it, we need to take care how we listen. We need to be able to cut through the noise and hear the right voice. To hear and follow the wrong voice leads to confusion, disillusionment and death. To hear and follow the right voice leads to understanding, security, hope, and life.

So, how do you know you are hearing the right voice? Here are a few tests to apply to the voices that seek to influence you.

First, there’s the truth test. Is what you are hearing true? Or, is it laced with deception in order to lure you in a direction you really don’t want to go? Listen to what’s true, because it’s the truth that endures and sets free.

Second, there’s the righteousness test. What direction is what you are hearing inclined to take you? A path of moral decline, or a way of increased righteousness? Listen carefully, because even though the former path may appear easier and more attractive, it’s the latter that will keep you secure.
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The Comfort of Predestination

April 26, 2010 4 comments

I’m often asked, “So, what do you think about predestination?”

Although many see the doctrine of predestination as a controversial one, I believe it’s one of the most comforting teachings of the Bible.

People who ask me about predestination generally seem to come from a couple of different directions. The first group appears to sincerely wonder what the Bible really teaches on this subject. The second group seems to know what the Bible teaches, yet suggests that to believe in a God who predestines is to believe in a God who is unfair.

No matter what the reason is a person may ask about my thoughts on predestination, I typically give the same answer.

What the Bible Says
First, I tell them I believe in predestination, because the Bible teaches it. There are numerous places that the Bible tells us that God has chosen (or elected) before the foundation of the world certain ones to come to faith in Jesus Christ and inherit everlasting life.

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

“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of his will. . .” (Eph.1:11).

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom.8:28,29).

Beyond these verses, the Bible speaks of predestination in Acts 13:48, 2 Thess. 2:13-14, and 2 Tim. 1:9 and refers to those who are “elect” in Matthew 24:31, Mark 13:22, Luke 18:7, Romans 8:33, 11:7, Colossians 3:12, 2 Timothy 2:10, Titus 1:1, 1 Peter 1:2, 1 Peter 5:13; 2 John 1:1, 13.

Justice and Mercy
After showing that the Bible teaches predestination, I then go on to explain that God is not unjust in electing some (and not others) to eternal life.

It needs to be remembered that no one deserves to be saved. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom.3:23) and that “no one seeks for God” (Rom.3:11). Not only that, God would be perfectly just to send all humanity to hell because the “wages of sin is death” (Rom.6:23).

But, because God is rich in mercy, He chooses that some will be saved. We know that number is actually quite large because the Bible tells us that the day is coming when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Is.11:9).
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T.S. Eliot on non-Christian civilization

“The World is trying to experiment with attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time: so that the Faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and save the World from suicide.”

~T.S. Eliot 

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Podcast on Masculinity with Bill Mouser

I’m pleased to pass on that our church, Christ Church of Lakeland, has produced its first podcast. Others are in the works.

This podcast is with Bill Mouser. It addresses the current state of manhood in America and looks at the need for cultivating biblical masculinity in men today.

Bill Mouser is a pastor and the founder of the International Council for Gender Studies, which has as its mission to provide biblical materials which engage the gender issues of our day. More information about Bill’s ministry can be found at

Give the podcast a listen.

Too old to be used by God?

April 20, 2010 2 comments

Do you think you are too old to be used by God to do any good? Read Exodus 7:7.

Moses and Aaron were just beginning to fulfill God’s call on their lives when they were eighty and eighty-three, respectively.

As long as you have breath and a desire to serve, you’re never too old to be used by God for good. In fact, it could be that it’s just your experience and wisdom that someone around you is in need of.

Is God calling you off the sidelines?

The place for prayer

What is God’s design for the human race? His design is to bring about of a new humanity in Jesus Christ.

What’s this new humanity to be like? It’s to be comprised of those who dwell in peace, unity, righteousness, and faith as it is given by the Lord.

Why does the realization of this new humanity seem so difficult? Because there is resistance to it from spiritual forces of wickedness.

How is this resistance to be overcome so God’s design can be brought to fulfillment? By prayer.

This is the message that the Bible gives us about God’s purpose in this world, and how that purpose is to be worked out in reality.

Through Jesus Christ, God the Father has secured the redemption of the human race and the bringing about of a new humanity. As a result, all who belong to this new humanity through faith in Christ are equipped to live differently. They are able to put off the old man and put on the new, and live in peace and righteousness. Through history, God’s Spirit works to cause this new humanity to grow and grow.

What a glorious picture! But it’s a picture not easily realized. It’s much like the promised land of old. Canaan was a place of great blessing, but there were enemies to contend with. The same thing is true regarding our own redemption. All who are in Christ are given hope and promise – but there is resistance that must be dealt with if we are to realize the blessings of redemption.

Because of this, we need God’s ongoing grace — and we need to pray.

Prayer is a general term for various kinds of communication with God. Prayers of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication are all to be a balanced part of our lives as we seek to have God’s best realized in this world.

Most common is to raise up prayers of petition because we face so many needs and obstacles. And this is something we should do because the Lord tells us that we should ask in order to receive (Jn.16:24).
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What are you called to do?

April 19, 2010 1 comment

People often struggle with what they are to do with their lives – especially in the area of their vocation.

Is there a way to figure out what you are best suited to do, and what direction you should take with your life? I think there is.

In 1 Timothy 3 the Apostle Paul explains that there are two major requirements to be an elder in Christ’s church. First, he who would be in this position must have the desire to be there. Second, he must be qualified.

There’s a principle here that goes beyond elders in the church.

Those who are trying to ascertain whether they are suited for a particular position or line of work should look at a couple of areas: what they want to do, and what they are good at.

What do you want to do with your life? What is it that get’s you excited, and you can see yourself doing on a daily basis? Answering this question is the first step toward knowing what you’re cut out for.

Also, what are you able to do well? What do you know you are capable of? What do others say you are good at? This second step can help give you the confirmation you need to find your direction in life.

You see, the concept of “calling” doesn’t just apply to those who are called to the ministry. It applies to all walks of life. That’s why we call what people do with their lives their “vocation,” because a vocation literally has to do with one’s calling.

Wondering what you’re called to do? What do you want to do? What are you good at (or could become good at with some effort)? Answering these questions may be just what you need to come to terms with God’s will and get your life headed in the right direction.

Single-Minded Service

One of Jesus’ more familiar statements is, “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Mt.6:24).  When most people hear these words, they think something like, “Whoa, I need to make sure my interest in money doesn’t get too great a hold on my heart.”

But there’s something else these words of Christ should get us to consider.  We need to make a choice about whom (or what) it is we serve in this life.  For no one can serve two masters.

God doesn’t want us in some middle, uncommitted ground.  He calls us to make a clear decision as to who our master really is, and have our lives follow through by faith.

Christ’s words about God and mammon are not the only ones in the Bible that confront us with the need to choose our object of devotion decisively and wisely.

When God called Abraham to follow Him into a new land, Abraham had to make decision to actually leave behind his old life and go.  When the Lord told Noah to make an ark, Noah had to choose to ignore the ridicule of the masses and find himself some gopher wood.  When the prophet Elijah addressed the people of his day, he said to them, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions?  If the Lord is God, follow Him.”  And, when Jesus said to Peter, “Come!” while he was in the boat, Peter had to actually get out of the boat, get his feet wet, and walk on the water.

Something all of these examples have in common is that they tell us about the nature of biblical faith.

Biblical faith is more than just believing certain facts are true or giving mental assent to certain doctrines – even demons can do that much!  Biblical faith is about being willing to head in the direction that the Lord lays before you, and trusting Him along the way. Anything short of this is to live in a double-minded way, something the Lord despises.