Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Baptist World Mission

John, my husband, aka the Earnest Contender (where IS the Earnest Contender?) brought a really neat website to my attention last night. Well, it was neat to us. The reason we were looking for it is because John had some booklets written by the late Dr. Earnest Pickering and he was trying to find out where he could order some more. Baptist World Mission is a mission agency that was co-founded by this man, Dr. Earnest Pickering (a fine Calvinist preacher).

Dr. Pickering was a part of John’s life, and was influential in that life, when a young John Cole came onto a personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ in 1983. He was the pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Toledo, Ohio at that time. This same man had helped to form Baptist World Mission some 20 years before John had known him.

I never went to Emmanuel Baptist Church while Dr. Pickering was the pastor there. In fact, I don’t think I was a believer until after he was gone. I was, at that time, headed straight for hell. I did meet Earnest Pickering at a later time, however.

Some five years after the Lord came into my life, I met John and started going to Emmanuel Baptist Church with him. (I won’t talk about the wonderful man of God serving there at that time, I must save that for another post). Soon after John and I began to date, he announced he wanted me to marry him and move to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Much to everyone's surprise, I did this.

Guess who was the pastor at Fourth Baptist Church in Minneapolis? Yes, it was Dr. Earnest Pickering. Guess who had never been baptized as a believer? Indeed, me. What happens when you put a believer in Christ (with a husband like John) who has never been baptized ... together with a great man of God? Voila! ... you get a baptism. I had always wanted to be baptized since I was converted from darkness to light, but I had not been a part of a real church for the first five years of my Christian life. (That is another story, too!) I am so glad to have known Dr. Pickering for our brief stay in Minnesota.

About 5 years later, after having been ravaged by brain cancer, he became blind in both eyes. He came to Emmanuel Baptist Church (where I was now happily a member, John and I having moved back to Toledo) and preached so powerfully at our 100th anniversary celebration. He stood before all those people with absolutely no eyesight, and he still seemed so strong and confident. The impression it left on me is one I will never forget. He died about a year later.

On this website, you can read about the mission agency that Earnest Pickering co-founded: why it started, what they do and what they believe. You can also order some of his books and booklets here. I have read about ¾ of his small booklets. There is one that is especially needful today.

the END

Saturday, January 28, 2006

You Supply the Thoughts

What thoughts does this picture inspire?

the END

Monday, January 23, 2006

What Can Be Done, By Whom?

"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what can you do for your country."

This famous quote is from the inaugural speech delivered by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. I think it is a very good quote. As a citizen of a country, a person should be looking to see what he can contribute, rather than holding his hand out all the time to receive. Actually, I think many of our social ills are because citizens don’t do what President Kennedy suggested. Many have become people who are always looking to government as some sort of parent ... even as they see themselves as a needy child. This is not how one helps to make one’s country strong and robust.

This John F. Kennedy quote occurred to me on my morning walk today. I was thinking about the gospel. I was thinking about this question, “What is the gospel?” The answer to that question has always been somewhat simple for me to answer, but it doesn’t seem like it is all that simple for some. I have always viewed salvation as a sinner receiving the most wonderful gift from the heavenly father. I have always seen it as exactly the opposite of the John F. Kennedy statement. If I could switch his quote around a little it might look something like this: “Sinner, ask not what you can do for God, but what He has done for you.”

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

So what is the following kind of talk? “The gospel is committing your life to God and just laying it at His feet. You have to be willing to let Him have His way with your life and give up all your expectations of what you want out of life, submitting to Him. That is what brought about my being born again.” Is this the gospel? In my understanding, the gospel is about becoming fit for God’s presence. A sinner is not acceptable, he is covered with sin, tainted. Then, when the gospel is received into the heart, sins are cleansed, he is given the eternal right to life with God, and the gift of the Holy Spirit to help him along in the rest of his walk on earth. That is what God wants to do for sinners! Am I not right?

I am not talking about Christian service and how a child of God learns and grows and works. There is a place for that teaching and it is important. No one is encouraged to receive the gift of salvation and then rest on the laurels, becoming complacent, or worse, abusing the grace of God. As believers, we should be asking, "What can I do to glorify God with my life?" ... not ... "What can God do for me now that I am His child?"

But ... the message of salvation, the gospel is not about what man can do for God. It is just the opposite. An unregenerate sinner has nothing of any value to offer Him, no way to make himself righteous. Christ’s death, burial and resurrection has made it possible for sinners to become justified and declared righteous and alive in Christ.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:8-10)

I have probably quoted this before, but I think it deserves repeating: “Friend, God doesn’t want your old wretched heart, He wants to give you a new heart. He doesn’t want you to give Him your life. He wants to give you His life.” (J. Vernon McGee) Does God require a sinner to commit his life to Him in order to be saved? Is the gospel message like the quote by John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what God can do for you, ask what you can do for God”? I think not.

the END

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Beloved Mother in Law

A man, his wife, and his mother-in-law went on vacation to the Holy Land. While they were there, the mother-in-law passed away.

The undertaker told them, "You can have her shipped home for $5,000, or you can bury her here in the Holy Land for $150.00."

The man thought about it and told him he would just have her shipped home. The undertaker asked, "Why would you spend $5,000 to ship your mother-in-law home, when it would be wonderful to have her buried here and spend only $150.00?"

The man replied, "A man died here 2,000 years ago, was buried here, and three days later he rose from the dead. I just can't take that chance."

Has anyone else received this silly email story?

the END

Friday, January 20, 2006

57 Cents - a Story Received via Email

Does anybody know if this story is true?

A little girl stood near a small church from which she had been turned away because it was too crowded. "I can't go to Sunday School," she sobbed to the pastor as he walked by. Seeing her shabby, unkempt appearance, the pastor guessed the reason and, taking her by the hand, took her inside and found a place for her in the Sunday school class. The child was so happy that they found room for her, and she went to bed that night thinking of the children who have no place to worship JesusSome two years later, this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings. Her parents called for the kindhearted pastor who had befriended their daughter to handle the final arrangements. As her poor little body was being moved, a worn and crumpled red purse was found which seemed to have been rummaged from some trash dump. Inside was found 57 cents and a note, scribbled in childish handwriting, which read: "This is to help build the little church bigger so more children can go to Sunday School." For two years she had saved for this offering of love. When the pastor tearfully read that note, he knew instantly what he would do. Carrying this note and the cracked, red pocketbook to the pulpit, he told the story of her unselfish love and devotion. He challenged his deacons to get busy and raise enough money for the larger building. But the story does not end there ... a newspaper learned of the story and published It. It was read by a wealthy realtor who offered them a parcel of land worth many thousands. When told that the church could not pay so much, he offered to sell it to the little church for 57 cents. Church members made large donations. Checks came from far and wide. Within five years the little girl's gift had increased to $250,000.00--a huge sum for that time (near the turn of the century). Her unselfish love had paid large dividends. When you are in the city of Philadelphia, look up Temple Baptist Church, with a seating capacity of 3,300. And be sure to visit Temple University, where thousands of students are educated. Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital and at a Sunday School building which houses hundreds of beautiful children, built so that no child in the area will ever need to be left outside during Sunday school time.In one of the rooms of this building may be seen the picture of the sweet face of the little girl whose 57 cents, so sacrificially saved, made such remarkable history. Alongside of it is a portrait of her kind pastor, Dr. Russell H. Conwell, author of the book, Acres of Diamonds. This is a true story, which goes to show WHAT GOD CAN DO WITH 57 CENTS.

the END

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Theological Thoughts From My Five Year Old

My five year old is named Simon. He is quite funny and very interesting. One of my favorite things that he says is a word that he made up. Willn’t. That makes sense, doesn’t it? If a contraction is the marrying of two words like do + not = don’t … or … is + not = isn’t, then why is will + not = won’t? "Won't" doesn’t really make sense. Willn’t is really a much more logical contraction of will not. He has been saying this word since he was 3. I think it shows a level of genius. (But then I would think that, wouldn’t I?) I tell you all this by way of introduction to three things he said to me in the last couple of days that really got me thinking and thanking.

“Simon, aren’t my toes ugly looking?”
“Mom, did you know: if I we didn’t have a big toe, our whole body would fall over.” (Romans 12:4)

“Simon, you are the drool king.” (after he deposits a wet spot on his pillow)
“No, I would have to be drool, to be the drool king.”

Wow, think about the biblical accuracy of that in relation to Christ, the King. (Matthew 1)

“Mom, God doesn’t have a dad.”
“You’re right, Simon. God created everything and was alive before everything”
“Mom, I mean, Jesus didn’t have a dad.”
“Well, Simon, God was His Father. You’re right, he didn’t have a dad in the same way that you have a dad. Joseph was like a father to Him, but God was the real Father of Jesus. Isn’t that amazing?”
“Mom, Jesus IS God, so He didn’t really have a dad … because God is His father, and He is God.” (Philippians 2:6)

What a blessing this boy is to me.
the END

Wednesday, January 18, 2006



A good post from a not-so-often posting blogger. Go read this. Comment there. Comment here. We all need the unity and Christ-centeredness in our discussions of theology that he speaks of.
the END

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Balance in the Force?

I just want to tell my readers something that I have figured out about my own position in the discussion of certain doctrines. Then, I want you to tell me what you think about it.

I get into these discussions constantly about Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom. It is, it seems, an ever present struggle for me. Also, as of late, I have found myself drawn into the discussion about what is required for salvation. Is believing in Christ and receiving the free gift of salvation enough? Or … is there a list of things that go along with this that are necessary for rescue from damnation? I don’t really like to argue, and I hope my readers know this. When I blogged about these things, it was not because I was looking for an argument. I am just a person who has been saved and received something wonderful from the Lord and I want to be sure that I know what I can tell others about this. Of course, I read the Bible myself and study and figure much of it out. However, I feel troubled when I talk to another person who is in the same situation as I (born-again believer reads the Bible) and they emphasize a completely different take on something that I think is pretty important. If it were something non-essential, like what version of the Bible I use, or whether or not the church is going through any of the Great Tribulation, then I wouldn’t worry about it so much. These afore mentioned two issues are not of a non-essential nature, though, to my mind. They are important.

TULIP/Sovereignty of God - It is important for me to know whether or not I can say to someone, anyone I meet, “Jesus Christ loves you and died for your sin.”

Repentance/good works salvation connection - Can I tell a potential convert that all he/she can do is cast himself on the mercy of Christ and ask forgiveness for sins which was already obtained by Christ … or … do I need to tell them that they need to forsake sin and submit to the Lord, making a full commitment of their life to Him?

Do you see how it is not just an argument for the sake of argument, but a very important issue for me to make sure I have right? I always thought before that I did “get it.” But, I been challenged by Christians that I respect … and utterly shocked (having been quite naïve) that all evangelicals did not have the same understanding of the availability and simplicity of the gospel message that I cling to and proclaim. So, I have joined in the discussion and have read countless blogs, with comments, while studying my Bible on all the issues brought up.

Something has occurred to me though about why I may fall in the particular spot in the argument that I do, however.

Sovereignty of God – I seem to be emphasizing the responsibility (and thus, the implied ability) of man to respond to the gospel. This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in the Sovereignty of God. I do. Daniel (at Doulogos) encouraged me to look at the conversion of Cornelius. “Salvation is not a willy-nilly affair” … he told me. He is right. His pointing this out to me made me realize that perhaps in my struggle to turn the coin over before his eyes (and other Calvinists), I may be appearing as one who does think salvation is fortuitous. Well, I don’t think it is at all. God has ordered our steps and done everything to bring us the salvation that we all so desperately need. I truly believe this because the Bible teaches it! He is Sovereign. However, I believe the flip side of the coin, too. I believe that a person will perish if he does not respond to the salvation provided by God. We must believe and receive as the Bible teaches. (We’ve been over all of this … see the TULIP series in my sidebar, if you weren’t around here a couple of months ago).

Repentance/good works salvation connection - Anyways, I also think that Christians should live uprightly and repent of sin. When witnessing to an unbeliever, I don’t burden them down with a call to give up this sin and that sin, however. I try to get them to recognize the fact that they are a sinner and tell them that Christ has died for those sins, ALL of their sin, not just premarital sex and drug abuse, but jealousy and laziness etc… sin that we are all guilty of. If they place their trust in Christ, the first thing I encourage them to do is to devour the Word of God, because everything He wants us to know is right there. If I continue to be in contact with them, of course I encourage them to turn from sinful ways, appealing to their new desire to please the Lord, which I would hope they would be developing if they read His Word. However, I do realize that everyone is different and that our walk is different, individual to individual. Our experiences vary, our commitments vary, our “measures of faith” vary, and our zeal varies.

One thing is sure, however. Salvation is by grace through faith and that not of ourselves. It is the gift of God, not by works …

So ... there is what I understand about the two facets of each of those two issues (four facets in all).

Why do I emphasize the Responsibility of Man when it comes to the two-sided coin of Sovereignty of God/Responsibility of Man? Here is what occurred to me. I have been mostly surrounded by Calvinists since I hear of the whole doctrine. The Sovereignty of God is really emphasized in my circles. I believe, if I were surrounded by a bunch of Arminians, I would be striving with them for the Sovereignty of God! If I was in a church that taught Open Theism and that God is just waiting to see what happens, I am sure I would probably seem like a Calvinist ZEALOT to them.

Also, if I was in a group of Christians that were regularly “living it up” and claiming that God doesn’t mind … if my circles were saying, “We’re saved by Grace, after all, we can do whatever we like!” If this were the kind of people that I was exposed to, I think they might mistake me for a legalist, because I would challenge them on their idea. I don’t think we should “live however we like” and abuse the grace that has been given to us. There is a balance in the message of the Bible that I feel is missing in a lot of the Bible believers that I know.

Does anybody understand what I am saying here? Does it make any sense?

Brethren be willing to see both sides of the shield of truth. Rise above the babyhood which cannot believe two doctrines until it sees the connecting link. Have you not two eyes, man? Must you needs put one of them out in order to see clearly? (C. H. Spurgeon)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Sovereignty of God and Human Freedom

This issue seems to be at the heart of so many theological discussions that I find myself in.

My brother is a recent convert. He studies the Bible a lot. We have been talking about the question of “Can a true Christian go into a life of habitual sin?” He says that the answer is no. We talked about this at length today. He brought up this passage:
“For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor…” (1 Thessalonians 4:2-4).
He said if a person is a true Christian, God wills it that they should not do these things on the “red-letter list.” So, if God wills it, then it will be so. A true Christian will never do those things. He asked, “Can we resist God’s will?” So, in his understanding, God does it all in salvation, in sanctification and Christian living. So, if we don’t see Christian living and sanctification, it is because God is not doing it in the person, and therefore, they are not saved.

These are some of the things that I discussed with him today. We talked about this verse too:
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
He stressed the fact that God ordained it that we …. I stressed the part of the verse that says we should walk …

I realized that this is at the heart of a lot of the things that I ponder. This discussion about Christian living and sanctification is not so far from the TULIP discussions I have gotten caught up in. There is a common question: How much is God in control of people and how much are people in control of themselves? Where does one end and the other begin? Does God leave nothing in our hands? Do we really make any choices?

Something then suddenly occurred to me about my struggle and why I wrestle with this issue the way I do …
the END

Thursday, January 12, 2006

God Helps those who Help Themselves?

Have you ever heard this saying before? Could it mean that God will “help” my stomach ache if I “help myself” to more sweets than I should? . . . I realize it doesn't mean that! It is a saying used by well-meaning people, I'm sure, to try to promote others to put some effort into something that they are struggling with.

God helps those who help themselves …

I have heard this saying since I was a young girl from my dear mother. When I was very frustrated … or at my wits end … and I would cry out, “Why doesn’t God help me?” She would comfort (?) me with, “God helps those who help themselves.” I remember as a girl felling so let-down by that thought. At that time, I wasn’t mature enough to give verbal form to the REASON that it was so disappointing … but when I first read through the Bible after salvation at the age of 20, I could: if we can really help ourselves … “then why do we need God?” If we can do it ourselves, why do we need help from a Supreme being? (More importantly, if we can be good enough to find approval with God, then why do we need a savior?)

God helps those who help themselves …

I wish my mother would have been able to tell me,
“He is a very present help in time of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
“If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” (John 7:37)
“I called out to the Lord in my distress and He heard my cry.”
(Psalm 120:1) etc…

Nowhere in the Bible are we told that “God helps those who help themselves.” (If you see it so, please correct me.)

In our attempts to spur our children on toward independence from us, may we never imply that they cannot cast themselves on the Lord when they realize they need HELP.

I thank the Lord, the supreme parent, my heavenly Father, that He has now given me these calming words through Peter, “Cast your cares on Him … for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

May God show His abounding grace to people that think such thoughts as “God helps those who help themselves.”
the END

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Employee Evaluations

I am currently a little uninspired, so I thought I would post something that made me LOL. My husband is a Federal Employee (USPS). No, none of these are from his evaluations. Enjoy!

These are actual quotes taken from United States Federal Government employee performance evaluations.

1. "Since my last report, this employee has reached rock-bottom and has started to dig."

2. "I would not allow this employee to breed."

3. "This employee is really not so much of a has-been, but more of a definite won't be."

4. "Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap."

5. "When she opens her mouth, it seems that it is only to change feet."

6. "This young lady has delusions of adequacy."

7. "He sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them."

8. "This employee is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot."

9. "This employee should go far, and the sooner he starts the better."

10. "Got a full 6-pack, but lacks the plastic thingy to hold it all together."

11. "A gross ignoramus -- 144 times worse than an ordinary ignoramus."

12. "He doesn't have ulcers, but he's a carrier."

13. "He's been working with glue too much."

14. "He would argue with a signpost."

15. "He brings a lot of joy whenever he leaves the room."

16. "When his IQ reaches 50, he should sell."

17. "If you see two people talking and one looks bored, he's the other one."

18. "A photographic memory but with the lens cover glued on."

19. "A prime candidate for natural de-selection."

20. "Donated his brain to science before he was done using it."

21. "Gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn't coming."

22. "He's got two brain cells, one is lost and the other is out looking for it."

23. "If he were any more stupid, he'd have to be watered twice a week."

24. "If you give him a penny for his thoughts, you'd get change."

25. "If you stand close enough to him, you can hear the ocean."

26. "It's hard to believe he beat out 1,000,000 other sperm."

27. "One neuron short of a synapse."

28. "Some drink from the fountain of knowledge; he only gargled."

29. "Takes him 2 hours to watch '60-minutes'."

30. "The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead.
the END

Friday, January 06, 2006

How has God been Faithful in your Life?

Below is a favorite song of mine. When I hear this song in our church, (which I haven't for awhile, I have to fight back tears).

To all my blog readers: Please leave a comment that tells of a specific time when the Lord proved faithful in your life and it really was so clear to you at that time how faithful He is. Tell as much as you want about the situation. Long stories are welcome (short ones, too). (Suggested inclusion: what promise from His Word did He prove faithful to?)

He’s Been Faithful
Words and Music by Carol Cybala

In my moments of fear,
Through every pain, every tear,
There’s a God who’s been faithful to me.

When my strength was all gone,
When my heart had no song,
Still in love, He’s proved faithful to me.

Every word He’s promised is true;
What I though was impossible,
I see my God do.

He’s been faithful, faithful to me.
Looking back, His love and mercy I see.
Though in my heart I have questioned,
Even failed to believe …
Yet, He’s been faithful, faithful to me.

When my heart looked away,
The many times I could not pray,
Still my God, He was faithful to me.

The days I spent so selfishly,
Reaching out for what pleased me,
Even then, God was faithful to me.

Every time I come back to Him
He is waiting with open arms, and
I see once again …

the END

Thursday, January 05, 2006

contemplative Rose

alien in this world

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Monday, January 02, 2006

The "Gift" that Requires Work

A current discussion over at the Moor entitled "Quote of the Week" got me to thinking.

A woman recieved a birthday gift from her mother one year. The mother handed her daughter an envelope. On the outside of the envelope it said "The Gift of Physical Fitness - for you!"

In scepticism, (understandably) the daughter opened the envelope to find a certificate for a life-long Deluxe Membership to a very exclusive health spa.

"Mom, I think you have misrepresented your gift." said the daughter. "You really aren't giving me the gift of physical fitness at all. You are giving me the opportunity to go to a health spa and spend hours of my life (that I don't have) panting and sweating so I can (maybe) come close to reaching that ever-changing, ambiguous definition of what a physically fit person is. Without my time, commitment and effort, your gift is not worth the paper it is printed on."

"Yes, honey, that is how physical fitness is, you must do it yourself. No one can do it for you. This gift cost me my entire savings, but it will cost you your time, energy, and your suurender to a whole new way of life ... but ... the rewards will be great!"

"Thanks, mom, but haven't you noticed? ... I have no time to go to a health spa because I'm working three jobs to pay off an enormous credit card debt. Why didn't you just take the money and pay off my credit cards instead? Now, that would have been a great gift ... "
the END

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Created By One God

I am too busy to write a post, so I am posting an article by one of my very favorite Bible teachers, Dr. J. Vernon McGee.

Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? (Malachi 2:10)

There are some expositors who say that the "father" refers to Abraham since both Israel and Judah are mentioned in the verse that follows. However, I think that the next question makes it clear that Malachi is speaking about God as the Father: "Hath not one God created us?" He also makes it clear in what way God is the Father.

He is the Father by creation, but man lost that relationship. Adam was called the son of God, but after the Fall, he begat a son in his own likeness–not in the likeness of God, but in the likeness of his own fallen nature. Therefore, when the nation Israel comes into view, we do not find God speaking specifically of any individual Israelite as His son. Rather, He speaks of the corporate body of the nation as a son.

Never in the Old Testament does God refer to an individual as His son. Even of two men who were outstanding, Moses and David, it was "Moses my servant" and "David my servant." Never does God say, "Moses my son" or "David my son." Individuals become sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

God is the Father of mankind in the sense that He is the Creator. This is something that has been greatly emphasized in our contemporary society, and I think properly so. On a telecast I heard a man, who was definitely an unsaved man, play up the fact that we are all human beings and that we ought to show respect and consideration for one another. Well, that is true. As far as he went, he was entirely accurate. You are a human being and I am a human being, and I should accord to you the same rights and privileges and respect that I would like to have for myself.

"Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?" We all are the creation of God. "Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?" Now here they were, a chosen people, yet breaking God's covenant and dealing treacherously one with the other. They were not right with God, and so they were not right with each other. This is certainly true of man in our day.

I personally have to say that there are a great many unsaved people that I wouldn't trust. And, unfortunately, having been in the church most of my life, I have to say that there are a lot in the church whom I would not trust either. I have no confidence in them at all. Why? They deal treacherously. There is nothing that hurts the cause of Christ more than a church fight, conflicts in the church, and leaders who are at each other's throats. Regardless of how evangelistic a church may be, its witness is nil when those conditions exist.
From Edited Messages on Malachi by J. Vernon McGee

the END


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