Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Don't Be An April Fool

Last year I spent a cold, rainy day in April on the streets handing out tracts that I had printed in celebration of "National Atheists Day" a.k.a. April Fools Day. Based on Psalm 14:1 which states, "The fool has said in his heart, there is no God," last year's tract presented the proof for God's existence along with the gospel message. It was a humorous attempt to reach the lost during a secular holiday and it worked!

This year I created a new tract titled, "Don't Be An April Fool!" I've reworded the text and used new graphics to present a similar gospel message. April Fool's Day is only a few short days away, but I thought those who read my blog might want to use this evangelism tool. Enjoy!


This is a high quality PDF file that prints to an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of colored or plain paper. The tract is provided free for download, printing, and distribution. You may also distribute by electronic means, email, blog, etc... just please share the gospel any way possible!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Theologically-Fuelled Evangelism

Because of my reformed theological views I often get branded (out of ignorance I might add) a hyper-calvinist. Primitive Baptist theology has a deep heritage here in south Georgia. Many in my hometown view reformed theology as equal to hyper-calvinism. Thus, it very much baffles them when I tell them I am a Reformed Baptist Evangelist.

Much to my dismay, those of us in the reformed faith have been branded hypocrites following an evangelistic message. Many of us spend many hours a week in devoted study of theology and Scripture. Yet when we stand on the soap box in the open air and give a message for the Lord, we often fumble our way through applying our theology in a practical appeal to sinners. Many of us dare to slip into the realm of decisional regeneration and tell men to choose Christ above their alcohol and sexual addictions as if they had the free-will to do so.

I want to offer you the following quote by J.I. Packer and urge you to equip yourselves for the work of soul winning:

Evangelism and theology for the most part go separate ways, and the result is great loss for both. When theology is not held on course by the demands of evangelistic communication, it grows abstract and speculative, wayward in method, theoretical in interest and irresponsible in stance. When evangelism is not fertilized, fed and controlled by theology, it becomes a stylized performance seeking its effect through manipulative skills rather than the power of vision and the force of truth. Both theology and evangelism are then, in one important sense, unreal, false to their own God-given nature; for all true theology has an evangelistic thrust, and all true evangelism is theology in action. - J.I. Packer

Monday, March 20, 2006

Receiving Correction as a Gift

Since beginning to tackle the topic of pride I wanted to offer the following article by worship leader/teacher Bob Kauflin on the subject of receiving correction. This might hurt just a little:

Receiving Correction as a Gift
By Bob Kauflin

This comes from the prayer “Reproofs” in The Valley of Vision:

Teach me how to take reproofs from friends,Even though I think I do not
deserve them;
Use them to make me tenderly afraid of sin,More jealous over
myself, More concerned to keep heart and life unblameable.Cause them to help me
reflect on my want of spirituality,To abhor myself, to look upon myself as
unworthy,And make them beneficial to my soul. May all your people know how
little, mean, and vile I am,That they may see I am nothing, less than nothing,To
be accounted nothing,That so they may pray for me aright,And have not the least
dependence upon me.

In His mercy, God often sends people into our lives who courageously, if not always kindly, give us some form of correction. One of the indicators of maturity is how quickly and joyfully we welcome that kind of input.

I often respond immediately with justifying or blame shifting words, explaining why I took a particular course of action or made a specific comment. I’m quick to speak and very slow to listen. I want this conversation to be finished as soon as possible. In my worst moments, I start to judge the person giving me input, imagining all kinds of reasons why their judgment is faulty. “They don’t even know me…they haven’t seen all the other times I’ve been right…how do they know what’s in my heart?...they’re MUCH more guilty than I am in this area…someone else made me do it…I was tired/hungry/distracted/unaware…” My list of excuses is lengthy, thorough, and compelling. At least in MY eyes.

But in God’s eyes, every person who brings me a rebuke is His messenger, sent to help me conform me to the image of His Son. So why do I despise correction?

It’s simple. I don’t believe what God has said about me in the cross. I think there must be some aspect of my life, however small or pitiful, that is praiseworthy, meritorious, and beyond inspection. Alfred Poirier, in his very helpful article, The Cross and Criticism, provides this life-changing perspective:

“In light of God’s judgment and justification of the sinner in the cross of
Christ, we can begin to discover how to deal with any and all criticism. By
agreeing with God’s criticism of me in Christ’s cross, I can face any criticism
man may lay against me. In other words, no one can criticize me more than the
cross has. And the most devastating criticism turns out to be the finest mercy.
If you thus know yourself as having been crucified with Christ, then you can
respond to any criticism, even mistaken or hostile criticism, without
bitterness, defensiveness, or blameshifting. Such responses typically exacerbate
and intensify conflict, and lead to the rupture of relationships. You can learn
to hear criticism as constructive and not condemnatory because God has justified

What a thought. We can receive criticism graciously because God, who knows our wickedness as no one else, has fully forgiven and justified us. We will never be brought into condemnation! (Rom. 8:1) So we can confidently pray with the Puritan in The Valley of Vision:

Give me such vivacity in religion,That I may be able to take all reproofs
from other men as from your hands,And glorify you for them from a sense of your
beneficent loveAnd of my need to have my pride destroyed.

Oh, how we need to have our pride destroyed! What agents of God's care will we encounter this week? Will we recognize them as tools in God's hands, or view them as enemies to resist? How will we respond to input, feedback, and observations? May God help us to see each person who corrects us as a gift from his loving, wise, and sovereign hand, sent to make us more like His precious Son.

Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. (Psa. 141:5)

Source: http://worshipmatters.blogs.com/bobkauflin/2006/03/monday_devotion.html

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Fallibility of Ministers

I have been focused on pride for the past week or so and I notice so much of it in me. Just today in Sunday School I interrupted the teacher with my important comment on the subject we were studying. I felt so terrible that I was so excited about what I wanted to say that I cut someone else off just to get it out. It's little things such as this that break my heart.

Today I am blogging about the Fallibility of Ministers with an excerpt from an article by J.C. Ryle on the subject. This really sheds some light on our own fallibility -- how we all are subject to error and need to keep a close eye on ourselves! The Bible is infallible and without error in any point, making it the perfect rule for measuring our conformity to God's word or our compromise to the world. The former brings us closer to righteousness while the latter influences and reinforces our errors.

Will not rank and dignity confer infallibility? No, they will not! It matters nothing what a man is called. He may be a Czar, an Emperor, a King, a Prince. He may be a Preacher, Minister, or Deacon. He is still a fallible man. Neither the crown, nor the anointing oil, nor the laying on of hands, can prevent a man making mistakes.

Will not numbers confer infallibility? No, they will not! You may gather together princes by the score, and ministers by the hundred; but, when gathered together, they are still liable to err. You may call them a council, or an assembly, or a conference, or what you please. It matters nothing. Their conclusions are still the conclusions of fallible men. Their collective wisdom is still capable of making enormous mistakes.

The example of the Apostle Peter at Antioch is one that does not stand alone. It is only a parallel of many a case that we find written for our learning in Holy Scripture. Do we not remember Abraham, the father of the faithful, following the advice of Sarah, and taking Hagar for a wife? Do we not remember Aaron, the first high priest, listening to the children of Israel, and making a golden calf? Do we not remember Solomon, the wisest of men, allowing his wives to build their high places of false worship? Do we not remember Jehosaphat, the good king, going down to help wicked Ahab? Do we not remember Hezekiah, the good king, receiving the ambassadors of Babylon? Do we not remember Josiah, the last of Judah's good kings, going forth to fight with Pharaoh? Do we not remember James and John, wanting fire to come down from heaven? These things deserve to be remembered. They were not written without cause. They cry aloud, "No infallibility!"

And who does not see, when he reads the history of the Church of Christ, repeated proofs that the best of men can err? The early fathers were zealous according to their knowledge, and ready to die for Christ. But many of them advocated ritualism, and nearly all sowed the seeds of many superstitions. The Reformers were honored instruments in the hand of God for reviving the cause of truth on earth. Yet hardly one of them can be named who did not make some great mistake. Martin Luther held tightly to the doctrine of consubstantiation [believing that during communion the bread and the wine became the actual body and blood of Christ].

Melancthon was often timid and undecided. Calvin permitted Servetus to be burned. Cranmer recanted and fell away for a time from his first faith. Jewell subscribed to Roman Catholic Church doctrines for fear of death. Hooper disturbed the Church of England by demanding the need to wear ceremonial vestments [priestly type garments] when ministering. The Puritans, in later times, denounced Christian liberty and freedoms as doctrines from the pit of Hell. Wesley and Toplady, last century, abused each other in most shameful language. All these things speak with a loud voice. They all lift up a beacon to the Church of Christ. They all say, "Do not trust man; call no man master; call no man father [spiritually] on earth; let no man glory in man; He that glories, let him glory in the Lord." They all cry, "No infallibility!"

The lesson is one that we all need. We are all naturally inclined to lean upon man whom we can see, rather than upon God whom we cannot see. We naturally love to lean upon the ministers of the visible Church, rather than upon the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd and High Priest, who is invisible. We need to be continually warned and set on our guard.

I see this tendency to lean on man everywhere. I know no branch of the Protestant Church of Christ which does not require to be cautioned upon the point. It is a snare to the Scottish Christians to pin their faith on John Knox. It is a snare to the Methodists in our day to worship the memory of John Wesley. All these are snares, and into these snares how many fall!

We all naturally love to have a pope of our own. We are far too ready to think, that because some great minister or some learned man says a thing, or because our own minister, whom we love, says a thing, it must be right, without examining whether it is in Scripture or not. Most men dislike the trouble of thinking for themselves. They like following a leader. They are like sheep, when one goes over the hill all the rest follow. Here at Antioch even Barnabas was carried away. We can well fancy that good man saying, "An old Apostle, like Peter, surely cannot be wrong. Following him, I cannot err."

Source: http://www.biblebb.com/files/ryle/WARN6.TXT

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

50 Fruits of Pride

I was recently listening to an audio message titled "Humility: True Greatness" by C.J. Mahaney. Being such a prideful person, I usually don't like to face that area of weakness. I mean, who really likes to look into the mirror of God's Word and see himself as he really is? I don't find my struggle with humility enjoyable... after all, it's a STRUGGLE!

I cannot ignore the importance of addressing the topic of Humility because it has so much to do with how we rightly view God and ethically handle the sword of His word. If I have not love then I am just a clanging cymbal... if I have not humility perhaps I am not really a true follower of Jesus.

Let's look at 50 fruits of pride:

  1. I tend to be self sufficient in the way I live my life. I don't live with a constant awareness that my every breath is dependent upon the will of God. I tend to think I have enough strength, ability and wisdom to live and manage my life. My practice of the spiritual disciplines is inconsistent and superficial. I don't like to ask others for help.

  2. I am often anxious about my life and the future. I tend not to trust God and rarely experience his abiding and transcendent peace in my soul. I have a hard time sleeping at night because of fearful thoughts and burdens I carry.

  3. I am overly self-conscious. I tend to replay in my mind how I did, what I said, how I came across to others, etc. I am very concerned about what people think of me. I think about these things constantly.

  4. I fear man more than God. I am afraid of others and make decisions about what I will say or do based upon this fear. I am afraid to take a stand for things that are right. I am concerned with how people will react to me or perceive my actions or words. I don't often think about God's opinion in a matter and rarely think there could be consequences for disobeying him. I primarily seek the approval of man and not of God.

  5. I often feel insecure. I don't want to try new things or step out into uncomfortable situations because I'm afraid I'll fail or look foolish. I am easily embarrassed.

  6. I regularly compare myself to others. I am performance oriented. I feel that I have greater worth if I do well.

  7. I am self-critical. I tend to be a perfectionist. I can't stand for little things to be wrong because they reflect poorly on me. I have a hard time putting my mistakes behind me.

  8. I desire to receive credit and recognition for what I do. I like people to see what I do and let me know that they noticed. I feel hurt or offended when they don't. I am overly concerned about my reputation and hate being misunderstood.

  9. I want people to be impressed with me. I like to make my accomplishments known.

  10. I tend to be deceptive about myself. I find myself lying to preserve my reputation. I find myself hiding the truth about myself, especially about sins, weaknesses, etc. I don't want people to know who I really am.

  11. I am selfishly ambitious. I really want to get ahead. I like having a position or title. I far prefer leading to following.

  12. I am overly competitive. I always want to win or come out on top and it bothers me when I don't.

  13. I like to be the center of attention and will say or do things to draw attention to myself.

  14. I like to talk, especially about myself or persons or things I am involved with. I want people to know what I am doing or thinking. I would rather speak than listen.

  15. I am self-serving. When asked to do something, I find myself asking, "How will doing this help me, or will I be inconvenienced?"

  16. I am not very excited about seeing or making others successful. I tend to feel envious, jealous or critical towards those who are doing well or being honored.

  17. I feel special or superior because of what I have or do. For example:
    • my house

    • my neighborhood

    • my physical gifting

    • my spiritual giftings

    • my intellect

    • being a Christian

    • my position

    • my job

    • my education

    • my car

    • my salary

    • my looks

  18. I think highly of myself. In relation to others I typically see myself as more mature and more gifted. In most situations, I have more to offer than others even though I may not say so. I don't consider myself average or ordinary.

  19. I tend to give myself credit for who I am and what I accomplish. I only occasionally think about or recognize that all that I am or have comes from God.

  20. I tend to be self-righteous. I can think that I really have something to offer God. I would never say so, but I think God did well to save me. I seldom think about or recognize my utter depravity and helplessness apart from God. I fail to realize that any goodness I have comes from God alone.

  21. I feel deserving. I think I deserve what I have. In fact, I think I ought to have more considering how well I have lived or in light of all I have done.

  22. I often feel ungrateful. I tend to grumble about what I have or my lot in life.

  23. I find myself wallowing in self-pity. I am consumed with how I am treated by God and others. I tend to feel mistreated or misunderstood. I seldom recognize or sympathize with what's going on with others around me because I feel that I have it worse than they do.

  24. I can be jealous or envious of others abilities, possessions, positions, or accomplishments. I want to be what others are or want to have what others have. I find it hard to rejoice with others when they are blessed by God.

  25. I am pretty insensitive to others. I feel that some people just aren't worth caring about.

  26. I have a know-it-all attitude. I am impressed by my own knowledge. I feel like there isn't much I can learn from other people, especially those less mature than me.

  27. I have a hard time listening to ordinary people. I listen better to those I respect or people I want to leave with a good impression. I don't honestly listen when someone else is speaking because I am usually planning what I am going to say next.

  28. I like to reveal my own mind. I have an answer for practically every situation. I feel compelled to balance everyone else out.

  29. I interrupt people regularly. I don't let people finish what they are saying.

  30. I feel compelled to stop people when they start to share something with me I already know.

  31. I find it hard to admit it when I don't know something. When someone asks me something I don't know, I will make up an answer rather than admit I don't know.

  32. I don't get much out of Bible teaching. I tend to evaluate the speaker rather than my own life. I grumble about hearing something a second time.

  33. I listen to teaching with other people in mind. I constantly think of those folks who need to hear this teaching and wish they were here.

  34. I'm not very open to input. I don't pursue correction for my life. I tend to be unteachable and slow to repent when corrected. I don't really see correction as a positive thing. I am offended when people probe the motivations of my heart or seek to adjust me.

  35. I have a hard time admitting that I am wrong. I find myself covering up or excusing my sins. It is hard for me to confess my sins to others or to ask for forgiveness.

  36. I view correction as an intrusion into my privacy rather than an instrument of God for my welfare. I can't identify anyone who would feel welcome to correct me.

  37. I resent people who attempt to correct me. I don't respond with gratefulness and sincere appreciation for their input. Instead I am tempted to accuse them and dwell on their faults. I get bitter and withdraw.

  38. When corrected, I become contentious and argumentative. I don't take people's observations seriously. I minimize and make excuses or give explanations.

  39. I am easily angered and offended. I don't like being crossed or disagreed with. I find myself thinking, "I can't believe they did that to me." I often feel wronged.

  40. I have "personality conflicts" with others. I have a hard time getting along with certain kinds of people.

  41. I lack respect for other people. I don't think very highly of most people. I have a hard time encouraging and honoring others unless they really do something great.

  42. I am a slanderer. I find myself either giving or receiving evil reports about others. I justify this by thinking the things I say or hear are simply true about them. I deceive myself by a lack of concern about the effect of slander on me because of my supposed maturity level. I think I can handle it. I convince myself I only share with others the things I really think they legitimately need to know. I don't tell all.

  43. I am divisive. I tend to resist or resent authority. I don't like other people giving me orders or directions or even guidance and advise.

  44. I like to demean or put others down. At times I think people need to be adjusted and put in their place. This includes leaders. I focus on the need for others to be humble and have a "sober" assessment of themselves.

  45. I tend to be critical of others. I find myself feeling or talking negatively about people. I subtlety feel better about myself when I see how bad someone else is.

  46. I am self-willed and stubborn. I have a hard time cooperating with others. I really prefer my own way and often insist on getting it.

  47. I am independent and uncommitted. I don't really see why I need other people. I can easily separate myself from others. I don't get much out of the small group meetings in the church.

  48. I am unaccountable. I don't ask others to hold me responsible to follow through on my commitments. I don't really need accountability for my words and actions.

  49. I am unsubmissive. I don't like being under the authority of another person. I don't see submission as a good and necessary provision from God for my life. I have a hard time supporting and serving those over me. I don't "look up" to people and I like to be in charge. Other people may need leaders but I don't. It is important that my voice is heard.

  50. I really appreciate somebody taking the time to put this paper together. It will really be a big help to my friends and family. However, I don't really need this because I think I'm pretty humble already.

By Grace Rid Yourself of Pride

  • Ask God to illuminate your heart so you can begin to see the fruits of pride in your life. Ask friends to point out the fruits of pride in your life realizing your heart is exceedingly deceitful.

    • You must meet the qualifications if you are to go on in God. Humility is the attitude upon which everything else is built.

  • Ask God to convict you point by point (Psalm 139:23-24) and trust that he will. You don't want or need general condemnation, only specific, godly conviction.

  • Confess your pride to God point by point and ask for his forgiveness. Just as importantly, ask him to cleanse you of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

  • Don't ask God to humble you -- the Scriptures say to humble yourself (1 Peter 5:6). Humility isn't an emotion; it's a decision of the will to think and act differently. Vine's Expository Dictionary defines humble as "low lying." Ask yourself how you could be low lying or put others before yourself in various situations, and then do it.

    • Respond to opportunities God gives you to humble yourself or honor others.

  • Confess your sins of pride to those you have effected and to your friends. They can help to hold you accountable and bring the on-going correction you will need.

  • Be open, honest and transparent about your life and sins.

  • Ask God to give you a holy hatred for pride and its fruits in your life. Be continually on the alert. Don't allow pride to grow in your heart. Sow to the Spirit, not to the flesh.

  • Remember your war against pride is life-long. It is not a battle won in a day. Yet, as you faithfully put to death, pride, and put on, humility, you will experience greater freedom and more importantly greater conformity to image and likeness of Christ. In so doing, God will be glorified in your life!

You can list to the audio message that I mentioned above at: http://www.bclr.org/audio/sermons/2005-09-11_AM2.mp3

This list is available as part of a larger document about pride from: http://www.pcop.org/OtherDownloads.html

Monday, March 06, 2006

What Did Jesus Do?

The best way to answer the question, "How should we evangelize?" is to find the answer to another question... "What Did Jesus Do?"

Living Waters Publications wants to offer church Pastors a FREE DOWNLOAD* of the book entitled What Did Jesus Do? (It is close to 1 MB in size, so please be patient with the download.) However, you are equally welcome to purchase a copy from their online store. Either way, this book will answer many of the questions you may have regarding the use of the Law in evangelism.

Three chapters of this book are devoted to Jesus and His use of the Ten Commandments to reach the lost. Two chapters are devoted to Paul's evangelistic use of the Law. Paul imitated Jesus. So did Stephen, James, Peter, John the Baptist, and Jude. So did Spurgeon, Wesley, Whitefield, and others down through the ages. Each of these men of God did what Jesus did: they used the Law to reach the lost.


*The book download is provided in Acrobat (pdf) format. If you have trouble opening it, you may need to download and install a fresh copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader which is a free program you can download at this location: http://www.adobe.com/