He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

Monday, October 16, 2006 


"The most tremendous judgment of God in this world is the hardening of the hearts of men."

- John Owen

Sunday, October 15, 2006 

"Make Way" - Eat with Ethereal

A good high school friend of mine is playing with his band Ethereal for a wonderful cause this Thursday night, Oct. 19th in Birmingham, Al, at the McAlister's Deli on Lakeshore Drive at 6pm.

They are helping a missions organization called “Make Way Partners
to raise money. “MWP” exists in order to help raise awareness and stop human trafficking, specifically in Sudan and Amsterdam. Come learn more about it.

15% percent of food sales, 100% of waiter/waitress tips, and 100% of their merchandise sales all goes to MWP. If you’re going to eat out Thurs night in B’ham why not send that money to a good cause while hearing some decent music. If you’ve not bought “Tending
Both Sides
” now’s your chance to be sure the money you spend is used for a good

Human trafficking is in my estimation one of the most horrific tragedies facing our society today, & one of the least talked about, discussed, fought against issues in our day as well. Ethereal is one of my favorite bands, so join a good band for a good cause for a good night.


Ergun, My Brother

My friend Aaron posted on Ergun Caner this weekend, quite funny to me, the day after I had watched Ergun's testimony of his conversion from Isalm to Christianity. Even knowing the controversy that surrounds him, I went to bed that evening thankful to God for this man. Imperfect yes, but a brother in Christ.

It was Ergun Caner who sealed my attending Southern Seminary. It wasn't the tour by my uncle & dean at the time, or all the books he bought me while there & sent me home with. It wasn't getting to meet Dr. Mohler in his office and his pet snake. It wasn't getting to meet an array of Christ-like faculty who by now have been my pastors, friends, taught me so much and shared their homes and food with me. It was the chapel service that day. I thought, if I can get under preaching like this 2 times a week on campus, my heart will be a wild-fire of passion for Christ. The speaker that day was a man at the time I had never heard of - Dr. Ergun Caner. You can & should listen to it. I just simply figured, at my first & only chapel as a prospective student, that this is what you got at all times. Caner even makes a light hearted comment about the ongoing debating of calvinism on campus. He speaks highly of 12 point calvinist Tom Nettles.

Fast forward to today & all the controversy surrounding this man. Yes, Dr. Caner goes too far sometimes. He can be atagonistic. He seems like he has a short fuse. But it just so appears to me too that he has a passion for the Lord that gives overwhelming evidence that he is a child of God & bears good fruit to the glory of the Father. In the 2 messages I've ever heard him preach live, he admits what a rotten, no good, doesn't have it together, sinner he is, because he has a strong grasp on grace.

I'm not excusing him. I just think the whole thing is grotesque on both sides. I am a calvinist who believes in evangelism & missions & am pursuing Christ's call to Indonesia. Caner does not clearly understand calvinism, but hyper-calvinism. A house divided does not stand. Like it or not, Caner is under Christs' roof. Satan & his demons are all unified for one common goal, undivided. Too often Christians are slicing each other up over secondary issues, cutting our legs out from underneath ourselves - with nothing left to stand on.

It has cost Caner much to follow Christ. Disowned by his father for admitted Jesus is Lord in his life. He has seen his brothers & mothers & grandmother come to faith in Christ over the years. He has a passion for Christ & His Church as well as for his former Muslim brothers to come to faith in Christ. He has written & published helpful books on Southern Baptists, Islam, & the Church, & he has gone into hostile, secular & Mulsim enviornments to unashamedly proclaim Christ as the only way to God. Knowing I am calvinistic he has addressed me as "Brother" in an email exchange. He is nowhere near man-centered in his theology. Ergun Caner is not the enemy. Pride is. His, ours, James White's, you name it. Satan is loving every second of the tearing down going on.

Could we who do not understand other brothers, try & adopt the vantage points of those, like Dr. Caner ? Consider the god of hyper-calvinsim vs. Allah. Very close indeed, and for a former Muslim, perhaps it hits too close to home. Caner used to live his life hoping he would be 51% righteous, just enough good over bad, so that he would have a chance of Allah allowing him into heaven. Can you imagine how sweet that grace appeared to him, when he learned, that he could not earn salvation, but, that it was a free gift by trusting in Jesus as the atoning sacrifice for his sin, & that through Him, he could spend eternity in heaven - that this free gift was offered to all, indeed, even Ergun, a Muslim. Imagine hearing the calvinist then, saying, it is a gift only unto the elect. Certainly, the Bible says this, but the Bible also says "whosoever will" and that God does love the world, & to a former Muslim trying to tell his Muslim family, "if you repent & believe, you too can be saved & secure from the wrath of God!" And yet, it seems as though the calvinist is saying, "you can't say that to your Muslim brother. They have to be elect." Allah & Islam are fatalistic. The hyper-calvinist must also embrace fatalism. Ergun boldly offers salvation to all decieved Muslims he comes in contact with, & perhaps he wrongly assumes that if the calvinist had his way, the mercy & grace of God through Jesus Christ would never be expressed. Caner has even slammed John Piper, a man I respect perhaps more than any non-divine person who has ever lived.

The purpose of this post is not to take sides. It is not to say that Dr. Caner is right, justified, or a model in the current situation. It is a plea to bear patiently in love with one another. I was one who did indeed used to be an angry calvinist. I tend to break the stereotype of calvinists being non-missions minded by missions being my heart. I could even go so far as to say I can go overseas because of my belief in election & the sovereignty of God. And Dr. Caner's opinions should cut me quickly. But I've also learned a major lesson under my current pastor. We teach the Bible, not a system. I don't have to make everything fit & be filtered through calvinism. If the Bible says "as many as were elected unto salvation were saved," I preach election. And when the Bible says, "whosoever will," I preach to all men, "repent & believe & you will be saved." It doesn't take a genious to figure out that these Biblical verses are in no ways at odds with each other.

Anyways - back to the point - I simply think that we should consider our brothers more as brothers. I guess that natural question at this point for the reader is, "what is the irreducible minimum for truth," or at what point do you break fellowship. I do not attempt to answer that today, but feel free to inform me of your opinion. Based on other things I've heard Caner say about other men who are calvinists, I truly don't believe he lumps them all in one hell damned pile. Maybe there's baggage from a father who died lost who never saw him as his son again. Maybe he's a passionate person who sometimes is blazing for God's glory & at other times that passion burns down the filter between his brain & his mouth. Maybe as a Turk that firey-ness is part of his DNA. Leonard Ravenhill once said, "I'd rather have a fool on fire than a scholar on ice." Hopefully this all doesn't get me in trouble - again, there's no excuse for the mean-spiritedness that is at times apparent. It becomes about being right & who was wrong & Christ becomes some foot note, some side street. All the while, the lost world watches, maybe just a few, & finds complete justification as to why the would happily go to Hell than be like one of the hypocrites. More than anything, it sure grieves Christ.

At the latest SBC annual meeting I, again, a calvinist, voted for Frank Page, who even has a book out called The Trouble with TULIP. I couldn't be more pleased as to how this man is seeking God's face as he leads the SBC. We claim a Gospel that is uncompromising, but powerful enough to embrace all who want to glorify God through Jesus Christ, not matter which camp they claim. Ergun may possibly think me an idiot, by undoubtably, Ergun is my brother.

Thursday, October 12, 2006 

Popularity & Comparisons

Popular? To all of us, Mark Dever gives warning.

Not gifted like your heroes? John Piper offers the right words.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 

Discerning Readers Want to Know

Martin Luther & John Calvin & CS Lewis. I would gladly read anything the three men wrote. However, Martin Luther didn't think James belonged in the canon of Scripture and was known pretty much as a Jew hater, and John Calvin was fine with a heretic being burned at the stake, while CS Lewis is a universalist (in that he believes some will go to heaven who never heard of Christ as long as they were genuine. It seems you find a lot of crazy folk discounting all that these men contributed to the Kingdom because of these areas, some of which should not be glanced over.

So, flash forward to our day. In the emergent camp you have men like Rob Bell, Donald Miller, Erwin McManus, and Brian McLaren putting out many books. Just to be fair, I have never read an entire book of any one of these men. And at this point, I don't intend to. However, I wonder, is there somewhat of a double standard going on with folk like me? Seriously, I'm just wondering, because this would be an indictment on myself. Some of these listed authors truly have nothing worthwhile to say, while maybe one or two have some decent insight that we could maybe learn from, but you would have to spill out 95% of the chaff to get to the wheat of it. If I embrace Martin Luther's principles except for his heavy dislike of Jews, transubstantiation, and interesting views on what belongs in the canon of Scripture, then I will grow tremendously & fall more deeply in love with God, without a doubt. If I decide because of the former list of concerns to never read him, then I would miss out on large spoonfuls of spiritual heapings of holy help (sorry, it just came out). Same thing with Calvin & Lewis.

When anyone in my life ever tells me their reading books by the emergent authors listed above, I tend to just close my ears to the rest of the conversation & begin silently praying for their salvation. Am I being a hypocrite? Could it be possible they are not throwing the baby out with the bath water and that they are sifting through the material and judging it according to the Word, taking the fruitful sentences and burning the misleading/heretical ones? Perhaps I should ask them, & not my own blog.

I remember once someone gave me a Henri Nouwen & Thomas Merton book. I don't put these men in as dangerous a category as emergents, but that said, they do have their issues in their own right. The first book I read by Nouwen was incredible, I truly loved it. Merton was okay, with plenty of concerns though. The second book by Nouwen, I had to throw away, it was so upsetting. I haven't even entertained him or Merton since.

In a whole other category would be Watchman Nee. Not Witness Lee, Watchman Nee. His treatments on some topics have been amazingly insightful. His insight into Romans, the Holy Spirit, & other areas is simply tremedous. However, he would get kicked out of all the camps I run in label wise since he believes in a second baptism and other issues like that which I disagree on. And for whatever reason that I couldn't do with Merton & Nouwen, I can continue to read Nee and take all the good & leave all the bad, no problem - the same as I do with Calvin, Luther, & Lewis. For some of my friends who may be reading this, don't freak out - my main authors are Puritans, pastors like Piper, Mahaney, Sproul, and others like Carson, MacArthur, & Schreiner. And yet, there's other controversial ones in a different way such as Douglas Wilson, Peter Leithart whom I enjoy.

So my reason for writing, my question is, do we too often throw the baby out with the bathwater & dismiss those writers who don't talk & look like us out too quickly, or is it dangerous to read men with overt shortcomings (I know all have flaws). My personal opinion is that we should have a steady diet of those who are consistently and Biblically solid. When we read those who we know are not, we should be discerning according to Scripture, & sometimes I think it is best & safe to not even waste your time with some (like some on the emergent list).

Monday, October 09, 2006 

Life Together

Over the past 6 years as a Christian, one of the largest groanings & desires in my life has been to be discipled by an older, Godly man. As I talk to other Christians and get to know friends better, it almost always seems to be a common desire in them as well. When I first got saved, I was taken under the wings of a pastor & youth pastor who were both very young to be in ministry, yet both extremely wise for their age, deep in their faith, wide in their love, and exceptional in their grasp of God's word.

All good things come to an end (not really, but that's what 'they' say) so none of us are in the same city now where I got saved. I enjoy the occasional email & phone call, but discipling has been hard to come by. I have been hungry to find a Paul since, & have enjoyed deep relationships with men older than me & am learning much from them. There is still a craving for more that schedules won't allow. I think if it were up to me, I'd just spend 3 years under someone's tutledge, shadowing them except while they sleep and occupy the bathroom. That's just how I learn the best.

But I also realize that as I have hoped & waited & yearned for Paul, I have at times pouted & kicked because self-centeredly, I wasn't getting poured into like I wished. However, it also occurred to me that my faith become stagnant as I wait, & to that I naturally attribute that I am not being taught as I hoped & thus faith becomes stagnant.

However, I think this is a misinterpretation. In 15 minutes I am going to meet with a precious child of God in the 7th grade, who some how, some way (the grace of God) is truly on fire for the Lord at an age when most could care less. We meet weekly and are praying for how to structure things (go through a book of the Bible, read a book together, cover a topic such as prayer, go through a catechism) for the long term. And all the sudden, as I find myself pouring into him & 2 other college students weekly, faith becomes more relevant, growing, and transforming in my own life. So I appeal to any of you like me, if life and faith seem stagnant, you're hungry for someone wiser and more godly to pour into your life, realize that there are others just like you - several of which are younger and hungry for the same thing, & for them, you can make your wish come true. Don't focus on what you're not getting & become bitter - focus on how you can make it better for someone else. Give your faith away. As Dr. Mohler told us over lunch the other day, (a paraphrase) "You have no ministry without a Timothy."

Aaron Menikoff gives some helpful insight of how to disciple someone one on one here.

Sunday, October 08, 2006 

Pureness even in Privacy

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. - Ephesians 5:3-5
"Clearly Paul does not mean that such sins should not be mentioned or described - he mentions them here. He is saying that such things ought not to be named in our presence in any way which tolerates or gives countenance to them. We live at a time when the world does not hesitate to teach on sexual behavior. Broad evangelical churches usually mimic the world's teaching with a thin Christian gloss, and the more conservative churches hesitate to teach on this subject at all. The result is that such things are done among us, but in a false application of Paul's words, we still won't name them.

We laugh at dirty jokes on the television shows we watch, but woe betide the poor idiot who tries to tell the same joke in the church foyer the next morning. His sin is not the joke, which half the church enjoyed in the privacy of their own homes, but rather his unwitting exposure of their dishonesty. And that "sin" is never tolerated, not even in times of spiritual decelnsion."

- Douglas Wilson, Fidelity -

Thursday, October 05, 2006 

Still Southern Baptist After All These Years

Nathan Finn earns my vote for SBC President after Frank Page is through! Over at his blog, The Fullness of Time, he posts after a sleepless night Why I Don't Want to be a Southern Baptist Sometimes. I started shouting Amen outloud starting with number 11 & on through the list! Along with his lists of negatives he asserts his desire to stay & gives us some reasons for doing so. Thanks for this, Nathan!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006 

If I Perish, I Perish

"Esther is about 40 years old but looks much older. Both of her parents died of starvation in North Korea. Esther left North Korea for China...She worked on a fish farm & found out that some of the workers there wanted to sell her. She met a man at the fish farm who was a believer & told him about the plan to sell her, so they ran away together.

They had no money, no food & it was very cold in the Chinese winter. Hiding out in a run-down old house, she began to seek the Lord. They asked the man's older sister to bring a Bible. Esther came to know the Lord...

One day, Esther was returning on a bus from an errand, she came upon a roadblock...& she was repatriated to North Korea. There, she was beaten & tortured almost to the point of death. After she recovered, she escaped again to China.

Whenever she prayed about North Korea, she received a vision that...showed she was to return to North Korea & share the Gospel...Her heart was very heavy but she was going to share the Gospel with her nation, & like Esther from the Bible said, 'If I perish, I perish.' Though afraid, Esther was returning out of obedience.

After 3 months...Esther was doing well, but traveling so much that all 10 of her toenails had fallen off. Like the Apostle Paul, she bore the marks of Christ for her nation. She is grateful to be in North Korea, but said she is in a difficult place. Please pray for Esther."
-from The Voice of the Martyrs, October 2006-

It has never cost me to follow Jesus. Not here. Some temporary scorn, some alienation from those who I was once close to, some relationships permanately ended, but never suffering, & I have all 10 toenails.

I wonder, perhaps the reason we have to have conversations and conferences on relevance is because the Bible of Jesus and Paul and Joseph and Moses and Jeremiah and Job (the list goes on and on) is written from the pen of persecuted Christians. They could truly say the call to follow the Lord was a call to die. How relevant are the Words of a suffering Savior to a culture that simply wants comfort and coolness - to claim Christ on the one hand while living as much like the world as possible on the other so that you "don't miss out." If we are to "enter the Kingdom through many tribulations," then why I am so healthy, wealthy (relatively), and safe? It isn't God's Word that is irrelevant for our lives, but rather our lives that are irrelevant to God's Word - we can't identify with His suffering saints & so we point the blame at the Book. God, forgive us for using our love of self to cloak our lack of faith and our fear of being obedient to You, & dying to self, while claiming to be "not called" to take Your Gospel to the hard places when we are already either defiant to You or perhaps have never sincerely asked Your will on the matter.

Lord, may we be able to identify with Your Word soon - make our lives relevant to Your Word: Matthew 5:10-12, John 15:18-20, Acts 14:21-22, Romans 8:35-39, 2 Corinthians 4:8-11, 2 Corinthians 12:10, 2 Timothy 3:12, 1 Peter 4:12-16, 1 Thessalonians 1:6, Romans 5:3-4, Isaiah 53, Job, Psalm 119:50

May we be able to say with Esther, "If I perish, I perish," because we have already counted the cost and already died His death.

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