Friday, September 28, 2007

Eternal Security

Today in my intro to the New Testament class, we discussed eternal security. To begin, I come from a Baptist background, and the school I attend is affiliated with the Church of God denomination. Apparently, they have a totally different view on salvation than that of the Baptist. My professor ask the question, 'Is it possible for one to walk away from or lose their salvation?" Of course, over half the class said that it was, but I had a different opinion. I stated that if a person totally repents and asks Jesus to save us, putting it as elementary as possible, then the blood of Jesus covers our sin, and we are saved by grace through faith. Then I went on to say that if a person chooses to stray in their life into a life of sin, which we are all bound to do at one point in our life, then we step out of fellowship with God, but do not lose our salvation. The reason is because Scripture is very clear that salvation is eternal.

In response my professor read from 1 John 1:6 which says, " If we say that we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth." (ESV). But my thoughts were, that of the definition of fellowship is communion in the original Greek, not salvation. If a person chooses to walk away at some point, if they are truly saved to begin with, they will experience great conviction and will be miserable. I am speaking from experience here. If you lost your salvation, which means that the Spirit no longer resides in your heart, this would not be your experience. I also find it hard to believe that someone would willingly use only one passage of Scripture to justify their stance, and totally ignore the rest.

My professor then went on to say that this was not a huge matter, and that we shouldn't really be worried about it, because we are all going to be in heaven one day anyways. I just find it difficult to accept that this is not major. The fact that their are people out there who believe that Jesus is God enough to save us in the first place, then turn around and pretty much say that he is not God enough to keep us just blows me away. I think that it is a very big deal and shouldn't be taken lightly.

My stance is this, that we are saved by grace through faith and repentance. Jesus died for the sin of all, and all of those who become saved have their sins, past and future, forgiven eternally. Grace does not give us license to sin, but does cover us if we sin and repent. I believe that the journey of a Christ follower is a hard one, and we must try to live in total fellowship with God. But we do not attain salvation on our own. The Bible tells us that it is not by our merit or works that we are saved, but by what Jesus did on the Cross that brings our salvation. All in all, I will have to agree to disagree, but I do welcome your comments.

Great Concert Tonight!

Allyssa and I made the trip tonight to Knoxville, to see Toby Mac, Barlow Girl, and Thousand Foot Crutch. I love Barlow Girl. Their music is actually really good, their musicianship is incredible, and their testimonies are pure and in my opinion holy. When they share their commitment to God during their concerts, which is every time, it brings me to tears. They seem to be so genuine and really seem to love the Lord.

As far as the other two, I wasn't that into Thousand Foot Crutch. I mean they rocked the house, but their wasn't that sense of worship, which is what I intend to feel at any Christian concert, and most of the times I walk away not feeling that at all. Toby Mac just blows me away. Here you have a 44 year old man, who can still do back flips and dance like no other white boy I know. The man is talented in what he does, and I give him props.

All in all it was really just a time for me and my wife to get out and cut loose. I don't listen to any of these groups on a daily basis, I'm more into other styles, but it was good just to go and have fun with Allyssa. I love to see her have a good time and smile, and that she did. She no longer has a voice as a result. I would recommend checking out Barlow Girl, regardless if you care for the whole Christian music world, because they really bring good and real lyrics to the table, with some really awesome musicianship, especially the drummer. For a girl, she can really hold her on up there...just kidding, she really is very talented. Check them out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Conversations with God

"There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God. Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it; yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive. It is not pleasure which we ought to seek in this exercise; but to let us do it from a principle of love, and because God would have us."
-Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presences of God

I have read this quote many of times, but I think for the first time I am beginning to understand it. What is my motivation for prayer? Should it be a time where I am asking God for all the things I want and think I need, or should it be a time where I just communicate my appreciation and love for him? I think that most of the time we get it wrong. There are so many people who try and put prayer inside a box, like they do with all things spiritual. In my opinion that takes away the true essence of the act of prayer. I have always wondered why we are taught at an early age to pray before we eat, before we go to bed, and pray before any big event comes up. I am struggling with this whole concept right now, mainly because my prayer life sucks. After reading this quote, I am humbled and in awe of what prayer really is. It is a gift, not a right. If you have read any of his work, you will notice that Brother Lawrence didn't just pray at certain times, when he was supposed to, instead he was in a continual conversation with God. It is my desire to have this type of relationship with God, where I am talking with him throughout my day, not just when I think I need him. God is not something that we put on a shelf and only pick up when we are in need. If truth be told, we are, at least I am, in constant need of God. I wonder just how our perspective on our faith journey would change if we would posture ourselves in prayer at all times. Again, thinking outside the box here, I am not speaking about being on your knees, with your head bowed, and your eyes closed posture, I am simply suggesting that we make it our goal to be in continual communication with our Lord.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Today, I was listening to a local Christian radio station, and
they were asking listeners to call in and give them things
that they are thankful for. The whole idea was, to get these
things that people are thankful for to fill the entire
alphabet. I listened to it for about a half an hour, and there
were numerous callers, saying they were thankful for anything from their spouses to their churches. I began to get a little bothered, because no one was thankful for the one person that means the most to all that follow him. The person I am referring to is Jesus. I got so frustrated that I actually called in, which I usually leave up to my wife, and said that I am thankful for Jesus. Remember, this is a 'Christian' radio station, and no one is thankful for Jesus.

So who is this man-God that we claim to follow. Before I give a Biblical illustration of Jesus, I would like to comment on something. Have you noticed that more and more people are fleeing from the Christian faith? I begin to wonder why this is happening. I believe the fundamental reason is the absence of Jesus in our 'Christian' culture. For the first time in history, one can visit a church service, any church service across the country, and never hear the name of Jesus even mentioned. How can this be? Have we 'emerged' so far in our faith, that we no longer need Jesus? We wonder why so many churches are lacking strong, masculine, and Godly men. The reason for this, in my opinion, is that men need a hero, a strong leader to follow. As in the words of Mark Driscoll, "men can't follow someone they can beat up, they need someone who they can follow".

The following description of Jesus, gives us hope. It gives us someone who is strong and mighty that we can actually look up to and follow. "Then I saw Heaven open wide—and oh! a white horse and its Rider. The Rider, named Faithful and True, judges and makes war in pure righteousness. His eyes are a blaze of fire, on his head many crowns. He has a Name inscribed that's known only to himself. He is dressed in a robe soaked with blood, and he is addressed as "Word of God." The armies of Heaven, mounted on white horses and dressed in dazzling white linen, follow him. A sharp sword comes out of his mouth so he can subdue the nations, then rule them with a rod of iron. He treads the wine-press of the raging wrath of God, the Sovereign-Strong. On his robe and thigh is written, King of kings, Lord of lords."
(Revelation 19:11-16)

Jesus. If we view Jesus in this light, he is no longer in the words of Derek Webb, "some white middle class Republican. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. We have no other option than to desire to follow this man-God. If you notice, he is not wearing a label with a certain denomination or creed, but a crown, a robe soaked in blood, and he is addressed by the title "Word of God". This is the Jesus I want to follow, and represent with my life. How about you?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Awesome Night!

As I said in my last post, God provided me with a great opportunity tonight. Allyssa and I got invited to the local high school, McMinn Co High School, to watch their football game, and then we were invited to go hang out with the students after the game.
The game was awesome. It went into double overtime, with McMinn getting the win, but it was what happened afterward that made the night incredible. I tell you it was the first time that I have ever gotten the chance to talk (preach) at 10:30 at night, and to be honest I was a little anxious about it. I am glad that God is always faithful, because although I was tired, he gave me the strength and the message that I needed to get through the night.
Knowing that a lot of the kids that were there, probably had never set foot into a church, I had to figure out a way to convey the gospel to them that they would be able to understand. I spoke to them about being on Jesus' team. According to the response, by means of raised hands, there were at least five out of fifty that said that they needed to commit their lives to Christ for the first time and about 15 that needed to recommit their lives to Christ. It was amazing.
I know that the seed has been planted, and now these kids are without excuse. Now it is up to God to work in the lives of these kids. I am just honored that God allowed me to be the voice that planted those seeds. Overall, I couldn't have asked for a better night. It was worth the wait, and to God be the glory. He is just awesome, and He continues to amaze me at how he can use someone like me to do His work.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Running In Place

I have been struggling lately seeing through the fog of life. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in all that is happening around us, that we miss what is actually taking place. There are times, more than I wish, that I get caught up in the negative things taking place around me, and instead of actually getting involved in making changes, I sit idly by complaining.
As I was driving back from school today, I began to look at people as they were driving, and began to wonder just how many people were running in place. What I mean is, how many people are actually taking advantage of the life they have been given? I see these peoples faces, and they look a lot like those faces of people running on a treadmill. You know the look, worn out, drained, frustrated because they seem to feel like they are running so hard but not getting anywhere. I have been feeling like this lately. I feel like I am missing out on so much, not due to the lack of opportunity, but because I can't seem to see pass the fog that is in front of me.
I see this a lot in the church as well. You see so many people involved in so many activities and ministries, but they don't seem like they are advancing. It's like they have lost focus on the real reasons they chose to do these things in the first place. They have gotten stuck on the treadmill, and aren't really making the impact that they could.
Tonight I have been given an awesome opportunity. I get to speak to a group of local high school kids, most of whom are involved in FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). It is my prayer that God would use me, not to give them another talk about the same old stuff they hear all the time, but that He would allow me to bring a new refreshing outlook on what it really means to be a Christian. It is my goal to show these kids that life shouldn't be lived on the treadmill, but out in the race of life.
I pray that we would all take a step back and look at our lives, to see if we are running in place, or if we are actually making an impact on those around us. If you look at the lives of Jesus and Paul, neither one could stay in one place for any length of time. They were always on the move, seeking opportunities where they could make a difference. And they did. I challenge myself, along with whomever stumbles across this post, to seek God with all that you have, and ask Him to help you get off the treadmill and get back in the race.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Evangelicals and Politics

I know, I probably should try to stay away from the whole politics theme, but it is difficult when you hear about it constantly. I am amazed at how much time and energy many evangelicals spend on backing or bashing political candidates. As I was browsing the news headlines online today, I came across several articles talking about who the evangelical right is saying that Christians shouldn't vote for. The first to get a bashing was Fred Thompson. Apparently, well according to Dobson, Thompson can't figure out what denomination he is, but claims to be an 'unbaptized' Baptist. The next person they are not promoting on the Republican side of the aisle is Rudy G. The reasons of course are his stands on, you guess it, homosexual marriage and abortion.

I had to sit back and just ask, why? Why should a predominate figure like Dobson, who has done 'some' good, be involved in this type of bashing. I am really very surprised that the Religious Right aren't promoting Gov. Huckibee, because he is a baptist minister. But then again, he is pushing issues such as global warming, poverty, and those 'less' important issues.

What really bothers me the most about all this, is that these are the Christians that the entire American public gets to see. There is no wonder why no one likes Christians these days. It's mainly because no one knows any real ones. We all, in the eyes of the public, fall in the same category as these public Christian figures. We really need to do something about it. There is no wonder prayer is not in schools and abortion is legalized. I wouldn't blame the world for being worldly, I would go as far to say that is the fault of the same people who is supposedly trying to stop it.

I guess I should stop, but this really bothers me at my core. I think we need to stop worrying about getting a Christian that fits our criteria in the Oval Office, and begin to worry and think about how we can change these things ourselves. Because apparently we can't rely on those Christians in the public eye to do it for us. We really need to just adopt the ideology of Jesus, and follow his example, "Love God and Love People", period.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Church: Community or Business?(Part 2)

I may have came across a little pessimistic and maybe a little upset in the first post. I am not, and I apologize if it came across that way. The point of the post was to just pose the question, should we be using Jesus and the Christian life as marketable items. There are many studies that have come out recently, that try to teach people how to share their faith with others, and in my opinion the strategy and training seems kind of like that of a car salesman. Then there are those books out there that aim to teach pastors how to market their churches. I believe that people have good intentions with these materials, but again are we trying to run the church as a business or a community?

I understand that we should try to place our church on the map, and make people aware of our community. I also understand that people have difficulty when it comes to sharing their faith. Let me address the first issue at this time and then I will get to the second. I feel as though that the best way of putting our church on the map is as follows:

-By the members of our church getting out in the community, and being the salt and light that Jesus talks about.
-Members need to be allowed the time to begin to build relationships with people outside our the four walls of our church, and sometimes that is difficult if they are serving at the church most of the week.
-When the relationships begin to build, members are then able to invite those whom they have gotten to know to the church.

I think sometimes we get it backwards. We expect those outside of our church to, first come to the church and then we will accept them. This may work at times, but overall it is not a very affective strategy. We need to get out there where the lost are, and meet them on their turf. We need to stop making it all about our churches, and start making our goal that of furthering the kingdom of God.

In respects to sharing one's faith, I feel that we are simply making it more difficult than it has to be. I mean if I won the lottery, and by winning this money it has changed my life drastically, I would not have to be motivated to share it with others. So, if someone has truly accepted this free gift of grace that God offers, and they understand what all of this means, I just can't believe that it would be difficult to share it with others. I mean, we have the key to living a fulfilling life and the key to changing our world, why would we want to keep that to ourselves.

In conclusion, we must stop approaching how we do church and how we live out our Christian lives in such a systematic manner. We must simply start living out our faith in our everyday lives. Before we can share Christ and what he has done for us through words, we must start living it out in how we live our lives. We must do as Jesus taught, 'Love God and Love People', period. We have to start first preaching it from the pulpit, then encourage the people in the congregation to start living it out. It is at this time we will not only changes in the church, but even more importantly, changes in our communities.

The Church: Community or Business?

One of the major questions I have at this time is, 'Should the Church be conducted as a business or as a community?' I am not sure if there is a right or wrong answer to this question, but I have noticed that when I go to church, sometimes it feels no different than going to work. Here's what I mean:

-When you get to the service, you are handed the weekly agenda as well as, what we hope to accomplish in todays services. With that we get the weekly budget updates, and a list of meetings that will be taking place during the week. We call this the bulletin.
-The service has already been organized to the 'T'. We know that we will sing this many songs, pray at these specific times, and the message will last no longer than 30 minutes, and at the end we will be asked to respond. All I must not forget, halfway through the service we are then asked to give money.
-At the end of the service, we are given a list of 'service opportunities' that we can get involved in. These are 'ministries', that seem to be focused on current churchgoers or visitors. You are not told you have to get involved, but it is insinuated that it would be non-Christian of you not to do so.
-After the service, we then go either teach a SS class, work in the nursery, help in aftercare (because the kids need to be separate from the parents, just in case they would disrupt the flow of the scheduled events), or you go and take part in SS or simply go home.
-Throughout the week, there are many things taking place 'at the church' for church members. There's always some kind of service opportunity going on.

You get the gist. Let me point this out at this time, I am not against any of these things, well not totally, I am more concerned about the why. What is the motivation? Why do we work so hard during the week at work, and then feel compelled to work so hard at the church? It would seem that eventually everyone would suffer some sort of burnout, right?

As I read through Scripture and look at the early church, I find it hard to believe that today's structure of the church is really what Peter, and the other founders of the church had in mind. Pastors don't know half the congregations, they are so busy working on the next program or series, that they miss out on the blessings happening all around them. I just feel like we need to take a step back and decide if Jesus and the Church is a marketable product, or is it a way of life meant to be lived among all people?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Faith and Politics

In this upcoming election year, there seems to be something in the water all around the country, especially in Washington. It would seem that everyone in this election seems to have all of a sudden found religion or faith. This has been a huge topic on both sides of isle in all of the debates thus far. CNN has also had several different specials along with organizations such as Sojouners on the topic. It seems to be the new accessory for presidential candidates. My primary question is, WHY?

Don't get me wrong, I am not against politicians or anyone for that matter, who claim a specific faith. But what seems troubling to me, is this sense of claiming faith only when it will benefit you. Consistency and motive is what is in question here. I have issue with those who try to use religion or a specific faith to benefit a particular goal they are trying to achieve. This goes not only for politicians, but for pastors, lay people, and Christians also.

Jesus was pretty specific in his teaching about what our motivation should be, and that is loving God and loving people. If you take a look at those Christians that are getting wrapped up in politics, there seems to be a lack of love in their motives and actions. My next question would be, why does it seem that Christians seem to identify with a particular political party? The next question would be, why are the only issues that Christians seem to promote abortion and marriage between homosexuals? What about other important issues such as poverty, healthcare, taking care of God's creation, and things along this line? In reading the Bible, all these issues seem to hold the same importance to God. So why do we choose only a couple to highlight?

Getting back to faith, how are people going to choose a candidate in this election, when all the the candidates seem to claim to believe and follow God? So what are we to do? Should Christians really focus so much attention on politics and disregard our primary reason for being on this earth? I don't think so. I believe the Church should start taking care of all the issues at hand on their level, and vote for those politicians that will help them do so, whether they are on the right or left. I feel as though we should stop worrying so much about Washington DC, and start taking care of those around us and pray for those in DC. We need to stop backing a particular party, and begin living out the great commission. This is why we were created and why we became Christians. I would love to hear some feedback, and get others opinions on this topic.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lifting The Veil: CNN Special

My wife and I watched the new CNN special entitled, 'Lifting the Veil' last night. It is a short documentary on how the Afghan women are being treated since the Taliban were forced out of power in Afghanistan. I was impressed at how the documentary was not just one sided, but revealed to the audience both sides of the issue. There is still a lot of mistreatment of the women in this country, but there are signs of improvement, especially with the next generation of girls.

I was personally touched mostly, at how many of these younger girls seem to look past all the hostility and see some form of future for themselves. There have been schools formed specifically for the girls, but in some cases there have been schools started that both male and females can attend. To us Westerners, this may seem normal, but to the people of Afghanistan is a sign of progress. They interviewed a few of the teachers and administrators at these schools, and the biggest hurdle they now face is funding. Apparently, they were promised funding after the Taliban were removed, but they haven't seen it thus far. I am curious to see how we can help. I plan to begin to do some research on this issue, to see if there are any organizations already set in place to help this cause. If anyone has any information I would appreciate the help.

I feel that as Christians we are instructed by Jesus to love our neighbors, and I think that means not only our direct neighbors but those abroad as well. I know that we can't change the world altogether, but I am convinced more and more that it is our duty to try. Let's at least be in prayer for those who are struggling worldwide, and ask God to reveal to us what we can do to help.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tennessee 20, Florida 59

Ok, so I took a leap of faith in predicting a victory for the Vols, but faithfulness to your team can sometimes cause you to make rash predictions. It would seem that neither our offense nor our defense made a good showing today. Our offense gave up almost as many points as did our defense. It looks like it is going to be another one of those years for Fulmer and the Vols. I think that a lot of people are underestimating the defending champs. Although, Tebow is young, he is quite impressive carrying his team with almost 300 total yards, by himself. Along with Tebow, Harvin is very strong as well. The only flaw I see in their system is the fact that Meyer seems to think that his young quarterback is invincible. This could come back to bite the Gators deeper into the season.

In the end, I hope Tennessee will keep there heads up, make some changes, and show some improvement next week against Arkansas St. And to the rest of college football, don't over look those Gators.

The Swamp!

Today, two of the best teams in college football meet up to battle in one of the toughest stadiums in football, The Swamp. Tennessee versus Florida, is one of the greatest rivals in college football, and this will be an all out brawl this afternoon. If Tennessee's defense will just show up to play, unlike when we played Cal, we stand a great chance. Our offense has proven itself this year, but our defense really needs to step up and have a good game, if they plan to beat the Gators. Kickoff is at 3:30, so we shall see how things turn out, but I'll go ahead and say that Tennessee wins by a field goal.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Have you ever considered why you do the things you do? I have really been examining my life lately, and what I have seen has troubled me somewhat. I started out by asking myself this simple question, 'What is your motivation?'. I know it sounds kind of typical of a 'Christian' to ask a question like this, but humor me. I have been shocked at how self-consumed I am. I mean, I seem to always worry about what so and so is going to think about me if I do this or don't do that. I also seem to look at things from the perspective of, 'how is this going to effect me?'. So this seems to answer my question of what my motivation is, ME.

This morning I came across this verse in Psalms 63, that really put my life in perspective: "O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water." I have been focusing way to much energy on myself, and looking to God only when I need him.

How I long to thirst after God in the way that the Psalmist does in this passage. What would life look like if my only motivation was to grow closer to God and bring glory to His name?