The greatness of loyalty is most clear in the storms of disloyalty.

Quotidian loyalty is characteristic of many good times, but great loyalty alone survives and shines during the dark tempest of disloyalty. For it is in the gales of disloyalty by those in whom you placed your trust that the genuine loyalty of nobles rescues you from the avalanche of despair resulting from  isolation, loss of camaraderie and support that is unleashed by the disloyalist.

“And He answered, ‘He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me’” (Matthew 26:23).

Loyalty that runs deep in our soul, so that we are not just a friend to others but rather a treasured friend indeed, will be tried in the fires of disloyalty.

Disloyalty is suffered most often and most heartbreakingly by loyalists. Deep anguish is the sometimes lot of the loyal friend. To be sure, the path of a loyal friend is, at times, paved with wounds of the heart and disappointment; may God grant that we will bear whatever pain betrayals bring rather than abandon loyalty.

Only by the loyalist’s willingness to bear the pain of disloyalty, without succumbing to the same, can there be grand role models for the rest to follow. Oh how we long for loyalty in this day of disloyalty; we need loyalists all the more. Without loyalty there would be no missionaries, no founding of America, no children who grow up secure, no enduring friendships, and no Bible.

“At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them” (2 Timothy 4:16).

John Leland, a Baptist preacher, “emerged a leader among the Commonwealth’s Baptists. He was instrumental in allying the Baptists with Jefferson and Madison in the bitter Virginia struggle to disestablish the Anglican Church and to secure freedom for religious dissenters.”[1] (italics added) According to L.H. Butterfield, Leland “was as courageous and resourceful a champion of the rights of conscience as America has produced.”[2] (italics added) Leland, who allied with the Baptists, supported Jefferson because of his commitment to “the rights of conscience.”[3] (italics added) This did not refer to separating religious beliefs from politics, but rather allowed one to believe according to his own conscience without government interference. For example, Leland celebrated Jefferson’s election from his pulpit.[4] By conscience, they referred to the first table of the Ten Commandments as Roger Williams did. Conscience refers to ‘opinions’ so referred to by both Jefferson and the Danbury Baptists in their correspondence. Read the rest of this entry »

Since writing Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist: The Disquieting Realities of Calvinism, I have been unexpectedly involved in engaging Calvinists through writing and speaking. I must admit that, at times, I have found my interactions with some Calvinists quite frustrating because of the great difficulty that I have often experienced when trying to discuss a particular point without being misread, when I am given a standard response (one that as a Calvinist I used to give) that is the very response I am trying to move beyond, or when they simply will not engage my point and scurry to something that I am not even addressing.

For instance, I have given precise examples of various disquieting realities of Calvinism to only, at times, have them either distortedly generalized, which, ipso facto, moves the discussion off topic, or summarily dismissed as “emotional arguments.” This is unfruitful for the Calvinist and those who do not understand the seriousness of the entailment mentioned because, while these disquieting realities do affect us emotionally, they are not merely jejune emotional arguments to be dismissed by such paplike indictments. They actually have for their substance the very nature and plan of God and the nature of man as portrayed in explicit Scripture. Consequently, I thought I would share three distinct levels of consideration that I find helpful in properly evaluating Calvinism. These distinctive levels do operate as a unit, but considering them separately seems to be helpful in the process of consideration. Read the rest of this entry »

How we desire to be thought of is a good guide for how to view other people. Eagerness to quickly think the worst of others is more often than not symptomatic of one’s indifference to his own weaknesses.

Impatience with the frailty of others, their inability to measure up, and/or leaping to attribute the worst of motives reflects a troubling sense of one’s imperceptiveness of his own failings. We are seldom as quick to welcome the eagerness of others to think the worst of us, so why should we be so inclined?

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

The future belongs to God, and we are not God.

Yet how quick we are to guarantee the future.

People frequently speak about the future with certainty, but God rarely discloses our personal future. When we speak about the future with phrases like “I will never” or “This will never” or other such phrases of future certainty, we are pridefully blind to the actual uncertainty of our future and our limited ability to change it. Speaking with certainty about the future seeks to elevate us to godhood and eliminate the walk of faith, neither of which is possible.

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’ But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16).

A biblical attitude is crucial to the whole process of church discipline. If the attitude of those implementing discipline is not right, then what God designed to be a beautiful act of selfless love is transformed into an ugly act of power, even if all the other instructions are followed to the letter. The offspring of that evil may shortly surface as a disuniting and judgmental spirit in the fellowship, or it may lay dormant until the next attempt to lead the church in discipline and then surface with a vengeance.[1] Read the rest of this entry »

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”’ (Matthew 28:18-20). (underline and embolden added)

Most often, this passage is referenced in order to emphasize missions and evangelism, and those are indeed vital components; however, the teaching task is often, albeit unwittingly, reduced to a secondary or tertiary status. Additionally, the essentialness of the breadth and depth of the teaching component is often obscured by our words and practice. Read the rest of this entry »

Sincere requests for forgiveness, which is evidenced in words and actions, is all that is needed to be saved and forgiven by God.

Christians should require nothing more to forgive their offenders, for to do so is to dishonor grace.

“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit” (1 Peter 3:8).

Following are responses to comments posted by a blogger on the SBCToday blog in response to my comments about his first responses regarding an article entitled A Better Gospel. The two previous articles include my original article, A Better Gospel and the first response to that article. The words “You said” refer to the comments of the blogger, and this is followed by my response.

Here are my thoughts regarding your thoughts about my thoughts.

You said, “Are you dealing with what Calvinists have claimed or with implications you see coming out of Calvinism? I believe that clearly you are dealing with the implications you see and not what Calvinists have actually said….Without a doubt you are dealing with the implications you see of Calvinism and not what Calvinists actually say. Do you agree?” Read the rest of this entry »