Series on Calvinism

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There is a lot of information online these days against the Doctrines of Grace, also known as Calvinism. Unfortunately, most of it is very complicated, and yes, even inaccurate. If you are interested in knowing more about this important historical Baptist truth, my husband is doing a series on it each Sunday afternoon. You can tune in live to THIS PAGE each Sunday at 2PM or, you can listen to it here:

http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopup.asp?SID=723162057186

Thanks for reading,

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An Interesting Observation

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It’s been almost a year since I wrote THESE posts. I didn’t think they would be earth-shattering or cause any kind of stir, but I was wrong. I received several emails and private messages which corrected my error. I lost some friends on Facebook- some explained why they unfriended me, some didn’t. The original thread on Facebook had over 100 comments, some of them telling me that I really WAS a heretic, and they could fellowship with me no longer. One person told me my dad would be disappointed. My mother is not a confrontational person. I’m sure she wonders how in the world she ever had a child like me – outspoken, opinionated, and obnoxious. She has never mentioned any of the drama to me, but I think she reads my blog so she is aware. She wrote in my birthday card this year that my dad would be proud of me, and that she was proud of me. She underlined “proud”. If that isn’t an example of grace, then I don’t know what is.

The months rolled by. I tried explaining more of my position by writing THIS series. I don’t know if it really helped. In total, I lost about ten Facebook friends, but I gained 30 new ones. And I even got a few comments from people saying things like “I am reading and studying my Bible more since I read your posts.” Or, “Your posts were funny and they helped me.” That is a blessing to hear, and that’s what I was aiming for from the start.

But there was one extremely interesting observation:

In one year, I’ve had lots of negative feedback on my posts through email, Facebook, and comments here. I’ve heard more than one snippy sentence against the Doctrines of Grace made from pulpits, and more than one sermon against this historical Baptist position. I hear through the “grapevine” that other preachers talk about my husband in private, and sometimes in public, and boy, are they angry! But here’s the part worth noting: they don’t care enough to call. They don’t bother to drop by for a face-to-face conversation with us in love, in fear for our souls. This shows me that either they do not genuinely care about us or they don’t think it’s such a big deal after all. Either way, all of that negativity is instantly brought into perspective. If you love someone, you try to protect them, and help them, you don’t just talk about them. It’s easy to stand up and preach to those who agree with you, getting “amens” from the crowd; it’s a lot harder to look into the eyes of someone you care about and listen.

I’m only trying to stand for truth, for the Bible, and most of all, for salvation by grace alone through Christ alone. I trust the Lord to correct my error, not people who hide behind the Internet. I am on the Lord’s side, therefore, they that be with me are more than they that be with them. (2 Kings 6:16) I designed the image in this post as the wallpaper for my laptop when all the comments exploded. It has helped me to be reminded of just Who is with me.

May God show mercy and grace to my critics just as He has shown it to me.

With love,

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Theological Term of the Week: Election

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This week’s term: Election – The activity of God in choosing out of Adam’s fallen and depraved race, certain individuals to eternal salvation and glory. This is absolutely unconditional, in that this choice, as revealed in scripture, is not based upon any seen or foreseen goodness in action or nobility of character, as the reason for those objects of choice to be chosen.

Last week’s term:  Depravity – The inherent condition of all Adam’s fallen race, in which every part and attribute of man’s being is deprived off the glorious state in which Adam was created. This depravity is total, not in its intensity, but in its extent. (Romans 3)

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Now He Is Six

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Matt petting a baby kangaroo at the library.

Today, my youngest child turns six years old! He has brought joy to all of us.

His sixth birthday reminded me of this poem:

Now We Are Six – A.A. Milne

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
Now and forever.

Even though I am a bit sad to see his baby days fading fast into the rear view mirror of life, I am also glad to see him grow. I enjoy hearing him talk, which is something I’m still waiting for someone to say about me. (haha)

Some things he has said:

“Is it illegal for kids to get a tattoo?” He asked me.
“Yes. But even if you could get one, they never come off! So I don’t think it’s a wise idea to get a tattoo.”, I said.
“You mean they use Sharpie?”

Yesterday at the library, he observed a tiny girl wearing a backpack that had a leash. Her grandmother was holding the leash. “That’s just cold.” He said. “She should be holding her hand.”

At lunch the other day, the girls were asking me if Matthew would get regular chores when he turned six. Matthew piped up and said, “Seriously, I need to start doing some work around here!” Of course, we all chuckled at his honesty.

He is known for saying, “On it!” when asked to do a job. He often says, “How’s my best mom?” when he sees me in the morning.

Yes, I do miss being able to rock him on my shoulder, but I also love feeling his arms around me.

Happy birthday to our sweet Matthew Ron!

With love,

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Theological Term of the Week: Depravity

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This week’s term: Depravity – The inherent condition of all Adam’s fallen race, in which every part and attribute of man’s being is deprived off the glorious state in which Adam was created. This depravity is total, not in its intensity, but in its extent. (Romans 3)

Last week’s term: Monergism – From Greek Mono (one or alone). Theologically, it is the philosophy or faith that God saves alone and completely apart from any cooperative human effort, not denying human submission or obedience, but asserting that those functions are effects of grace, not its causes.

Thanks for reading,

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The King Would Be Proud

Queen Elizabeth and father.

Queen Elizabeth and her father.

I’ve mentioned my friend, Elna, recently, as well as her blog. Several months ago, Elna shared a documentary about Queen Elizabeth that was quite fascinating. My entire family has a great admiration for all things British, and this piece on the Queen at 90 did not disappoint. I wish I could link to it, but unfortunately, it seems to have been removed since I viewed it in April.

The documentary included some never-before-seen footage of the Queen as a baby, a young woman, and then as Queen – both public and private moments. At first glance, being the queen appears wonderful. But, as we are all aware, drama knows no boundary- just look at the Prince of Wales and Princess Diana. I do admire the Queen. She has been strong and stable, and has tried to lead by example.

Two things leaped out at me when I watched this. The first was a comment that Queen Elizabeth’s becoming the longest reigning monarch meant more to the world than it did to her. She became Queen in 1952 at age 21, following her father’s death. Her sudden ascendancy to the throne was because of sudden loss. I believe she would trade her history-making status to have had her father longer.

The second thing that struck me was a statement made at the end of the documentary. At the conclusion, Her Majesty’s loved ones are asked to say happy birthday. Each person says loving things, but my favorite one was made by an elderly cousin of the Queen who had grown up with Her Majesty. She wished her a very happy birthday and wanted her to know that “the king would be proud.” The words got my attention. Of course, this lady was speaking of King George VI. What kind words to give to woman who has been without her father for 64 years! This sentiment made me think of my own father, and then of my King, the King of Kings.

If you want to hurt a person deeply, tell them a deceased, or living, parent would be disappointed in them. If you want to sincerely honor a person’s accomplishments, tell them those parents would be proud. As a rowdy child and somewhat of a trouble-maker, I brought my parents much grief. As a born-again adult, I see the debt that I owe. Nothing would give me greater joy on this Earth than bringing honor to the lovely names of Ron and Carolyn Courtney; nothing means more than making all of their heartache worth something.

Likewise, I have a tender and loving Savior, a Good Shepherd who searched for me in the rain and fog, Who found me sunk in the miry clay of sin, and Who lifted me out of it. (Psalm 40:2) He called me to Himself, He washed me of my sin, and He gently guides me today.

I know that in my own merit I could never make my father or my King proud. But through Christ, I can do both.

 I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. ~ Psalm 86:12

With love,

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The Comfort of God’s Sovereignty

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The auditorium of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, was filled with over 5,000 cheering teenagers as the annual Youth Conference began. I was thrilled to among them! I had gotten the opportunity to go by winning the first prize in a Sunday school campaign. At age 17, I had hopes of attending Hyles-Anderson College, based out of this famous Independent Fundamental Baptist Church (IFB). After all, being a student there was the epitome of spiritual-life achievement. To be accepted, to win “Miss Hylander” my senior year, to marry a preacher-in-training (handsome of course, with a perfect part in his hair, looking sharp in his suit and tie), these were my ambitions.

On this night in the summer of 1995, the preacher on the platform was the famous Dr. Jack Hyles, founder of the “World’s Largest Sunday School” and Hyles-Anderson College. He preached from Judges 11, the story of Jephthah, who promised God that he would sacrifice the first thing that came through his gate upon his return home from battle, if God would give him the victory. The first thing to come out upon his arrival home was his only child, a daughter. Jephthah said in verse 35, “For I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back”.  He then solemnly sacrificed his daughter to Jehovah. Dr. Hyles had us chant Jephthah’s words over and over, to promise God that we would be faithful to Him for the rest of our lives. And, like Jephthah’s, our vows were to be taken seriously, we could not go back. There I sat, wide-eyed and trusting, chanting with thousands of others, “I have opened my mouth unto the Lord and I cannot go back…”

A few weeks later, I felt burdened for a former “boyfriend” (pen pal) from whom I had parted ways. I had heard he was going away from the Lord. In a moment of emotional zeal for God in the privacy of my own room, I told God that if taking my life would lead this young man back to Himself, then I was making myself available. My pastor had had a brother who had done the same thing and his brother had indeed died. Many souls came to Christ at his funeral. I suppose you think this was quite arrogant of me. And as I type it out now, these 21 years later, I see that it might sound that way. But this was not something I took pride in; it was very serious. After all, I had opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I could not go back. I was as good as dead.

Panic gripped me a few days after my vow. What had I done? Who was I to think my death would bring about anyone’s salvation, especially that of a young man who lived in another state? My panic drove me to confess this most embarrassing pledge to my mother. And through her words, I found the comfort and peace that I had longed for. She said, “Valerie, God is sovereign.” She went on to explain what this meant. God is in control. We don’t just pray for something and it happens, unless it is God’s will that it should happen. Her theological guidance in those few private moments in my bedroom offered more direction, hope, and peace than all the sermons I’d heard at the youth conference in Hammond, Indiana.

It would be years before I realized how necessary a strong foundation of theology is to a Christian. As a faithful church member and pastor’s wife, I’ve had scores of conversations with other faithful Christians who have problems that can easily be solved by a few lessons in theology. So much peace of mind comes from knowing about God’s sovereignty, about prayer, about sanctification, grace, election, sin, legalism, and the list goes on. This can only come by careful study of God’s Word.

I had never understood the sovereignty of God until my mother explained it to me. Since then, I have studied more about it, and have been able to comfort others with that blessed truth. I’ve heard more than one person bewail that fact that they are out of God’s will. But, as a believer, if you are doing all you know to do for God, you cannot be out of His will. Why? He is sovereign! If you are acting sinfully, then you should repent and get up and go forward. Because God is sovereign, He even uses our mistakes as part of His plan. Isn’t that a blessing?

As I look back on the other false teaching I heard that week, like the sermon Bro. Hyles preached about the Prodigal son, saying that all of us should be like the older brother in that parable, the one who never left, I marvel at the grace of God in leading me. It would be many years before I understood that parable correctly: the older brother was the Pharisee, the un-regenerate one, while the prodigal was the repentant true-believer. Bro. Hyles was telling all of us to be Pharisees! But when you have an auditorium full of novice (or un-regenerate) teenagers and leaders who are merely “yes” men, this is the kind of teaching you get.

I suppose you could accuse me of trying to smear the leaders of First Baptist Church. That is not my intention. However, I am also not afraid to proclaim the truth, even if it does offend someone out there. I do not harbor any ill feelings about this experience. Why, had it not been for this time in my life, I would never have understood that God is in control. He was in control long before I ever heard about His Sovereignty. But knowing about it makes it that much sweeter. This was all part of His plan for my life, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share it with you.

I am thankful that the Lord does not operate based upon our whims and wishes. If I had died when I was 17, I would be with the Lord, which would be wonderful. But His plan for me was to live, to learn, and to try to help others along the way.

With love,

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