Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Christian Response to Holidays

He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. (Rom 14:6)

Those who read my blog back in October will remember my sentiments concerning the unholy “holiday” of halloween. When speaking of this day, there is no doubt in my mind that it has no redeeming qualities and should not be practiced by anyone who names the name of Christ.

To the other extreme is the holiday of Thanksgiving. I can think of no better example of a Godly holiday than a special time of giving thanks to God for the blessings He has bestowed upon us as a family, a church, and a nation.

Yet, this year I have been in turmoil with what to do over the holiday of Christmas. The church we have covenanted with this year does not acknowledge it. Historically, the Christian Reformers did not acknowledge it. In fact, it has very pagan roots and its Christian ties link directly back most strongly to the Roman Catholic church (of which organization I have very little regard – see my previous blog entries on that subject).

Some esteemed authors that I admire, such as A.W. Pink have written against the pagan and papal influences over this particular day. In searching out the scriptures and praying on the subject, I had just about come to the point where I wanted to scrap it altogether. However, there have been three things that have caused me to pause and consider. Two of these three things are pretty much scriptural in their approach. The third is admittedly pragmatic, but once I explain, I think you’ll understand.

First, I listened to a message by Pastor Stephen Gambill of the Reformed Baptist Church of Nashville. During our brief time at that church before leaving Nashville I got to know Stephen and found him to be a very good student of the Bible. He has a heart for serving the Lord and a determination to seek out the scriptures for the things that he believes. I downloaded Pastor Stephen’s message on this from I did not hear him speak on the topic in person. After hearing his message, the bottom line came to be that because of Romans 14, the issue of whether or not to celebrate Christmas individually should be a matter of Christian liberty. He gave plenty of other examples as to why this holiday should not be acknowledged or celebrated by the Church. Yet, on a personal basis, Christians are at liberty to either celebrate it or not.

Not wanting to hear only a single point of view on the subject, I further explored Anyone who is familiar with this resource knows that there are many excellent Reformed speakers here. I typed in a search for “Christmas” and found Albert Martin’s four part series on the subject. I actually assumed that he would make a case completely against it. I have heard him speak before and have been pleased with his handling of the scriptures on other topics. I was ready to hear basically his “counter-points” against what I had heard Pastor Stephen teach. To my surprise, he wound up saying essentially the same thing. Pastor Martin’s message came down to four statements of facts. These are:

1) There is no biblical warrant for esteeming any particular day to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2) The celebration of Christmas on December 25 has its roots in paganism and in diluted Christianity.

3) Christmas as it is celebrated in America today is a prime example of humanism and materialism.

4) God in His “common grace” has used Christmas to accomplish much good in the world.

After expounding intensely on these four points, Pastor Martin’s final analysis is that…surprise, surprise…Christians are at liberty to celebrate or not based on Romans 14. However, he does make some good points that in this celebration we are not given license to violate scriptural commands. For instance, it is a breaking of the ninth commandment to lie to children concerning “Santa Claus.” “Santa” himself is a violation of the first commandment because he is described as one having divine qualities such as omnipotence and omnipresence. In our celebrations we are not to be guilty of drunkenness or gluttony. Finally, when Pastor Martin gave this message (in 1994 I believe), Christmas day fell on the Lord’s Day, so it was his conviction that it would be a violation of the fourth commandment to use the Lord’s Day for this celebration.

Finally, my pragmatic reason is that out of love for my wife and children, I want to be able to provide them with the memories that they have grown used to, and to give them similar experiences that my wife and I experienced as children. I have wonderful memories of Christmas at my grandparents’ house. I will be the first to admit that pragmatism should never dictate our actions. Only the Word of God can do that. If I have to withhold something from my family because it is prohibited in the Word of God, I will do it gladly. However, in my opinion, the Lord has shown me that this particular holiday has not been authorized nor prohibited in His Word. Therefore, the Regulative Principle of Worship prevents it from being incorporated in the church. However, individual acknowledgement of the day is left to Christian liberty.

In that vein...Merry Christmas to you. May you shine forth the love of Christ in this season, and bring the truth of the gospel to those who may not listen to you the rest of the year.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Christian Patriarchy

Today I formed a new yahoo group entitled Christian Patriarchy. If you are a Christian man who either is or aspires to be a husband and father, I would love to have you join our group. This group exists to encourage men to lead their families in the way God intends for them to.

Please visit to check it out.

Monday, November 27, 2006

So Many Books, So Little Time

And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
(Ecc 12:12)

When it comes to reading, why is it that you never really appreciate the time you have to read as a child until you grow up? As a “grown-up” husband, father of six, and computer professional, I have an enormous desire to read all I can of excellent literature and spiritual subjects. Yet, now I have to choose carefully on what I spend my time reading. I have practically given up all fiction, unless it can be shown that it is very historically accurate. I’ve found that fiction works that are based on true history can be a very entertaining way to learn about the past. However, I have to be careful that the history is accurate. My recent blog entry on the Crown and Covenant series showcases my positive impression with them. I’ve also heard very good things about G.A. Henty novels, of which I hope to read someday! This standard is what has kept me from spending the necessary time to read “Christian” fiction such as the “Chronicles of Narnia” or “Lord of the Rings.”

It seems that at any given time I am in the middle of about 4-5 books. Some are read much faster than others depending upon other things that are going on in my life. Currently, I have just finished up reading (previewing actually) Harvey Newcomb’s book, How to Be a Man. This is a good book describing expectations of a man in society and Christendom. It is targeted more toward very young men (most likely “teenagers” before they were ever called this). It was written in the 1850’s, so a couple of notes of advice are a little outdated, such as the admonishment to always “leave the door open when it is hot outside” for the comfort of your family. However, in spite of some of the antiquated advice (like not allowing your servants/slaves to do all your work, noting that Southern young men routinely have this temptation in front of them), I have found it to be a good resource, and I will be having my sons read it.

I am currently in the middle of “The Confessions of St. Augustine.” I strongly desire to read Augustine’s “City of God.” However, I think I should read his Confessions first. In my opinion, Augustine is an author that every Christian should read, and I feel a sense of embarrassment that I have not yet completed his works.

For my study of the War of Northern Aggression, I am somewhere in the middle of Dabney’s biography of Stonewall Jackson. I am also in the middle of Volume 1 of Jefferson Davis’ “The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.”

I have read several essays, but would like to complete reading the entire book known as “The Church Effeminate” by John Robbins. This book is about 3-4 inches thick, and I’m about ½ inch into it.

I’ve found a terrific resource known as the “Chapel Library.” It is a ministry of Mt. Zion School of Ministry, managed by Jeff Pollard. I get their “Free Grace Broadcaster” on a quarterly basis, as well as A.W. Pink’s “Studies in the Scriptures.” All of the information there is so good, I can’t pass it up.

Speaking of A.W. Pink I recently reached for his book, “Sovereignty of God” to see his opinion on a particular scripture related to the age old Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate. I’ve listened to this book in its entirety from, but I’d like to read the text as well, so I begin reading on it last night from the beginning.

Also, as I’ve explained in another blog entry, I’ve been wrapped up in the Jamestown 400 Vision Forum contest. Because of this, I’ve taken quite a bit of interest in reading history from the late 1500’s through the late 1700’s. I’ve currently began reading Captain John Smith’s 2 volume set, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England & The Summer Isles Together with The True Travels, Adventures and Observations, and A Sea Grammar. I found this wonderful work available for free from the National Archives. I downloaded the text page by page, and printed it out very small in order to save paper.

In addition to reading, I listen to audio messages while driving. One of my favorite speakers is Joe Morecraft. The only problem I have with him is that oftentimes when expounding on his subject he’ll say something like this, “Let me recommend a book to you…” Of course, I always desire to look up those books.

One idea that popped into my mind one day when reading John G. Paton’s autobiography was that if an author I enjoy mentions a book that he enjoys, then I want to read that book as well. John G. Paton’s book mentions that his father met his wife while reading Ralph Erskine’s “Gospel Sonnets” aloud in a garden. This set me on a quest to find my own copy. Though out of print, I did procure one on Ebay. I have read it, and I’m now in the middle of recording it in audio book format.

Finally, I never want my “extra” reading to supplant my study of the scriptures. So, each day I follow my plan to read the Bible through in one year. Additionally, as a family, we read two to three chapters of the Bible each night in our family worship time. Also, if it is my turn to teach during our Lord’s Day service at church, I will spend extra time in the Word in preparation for that.

What amazes me is that never before in the history of the world has so much information been so readily available if one simply has the desire to read it. Yet, in general, people today seem to be so ignorant compared with Christians of old. I feel so ignorant in spite of having all these resources. If I would only expend the effort, I could learn Hebrew and Greek with the aid of software packages, and computerized Bible programs. Yet, I can’t seem to squeeze it into my busy schedule. Our forefathers, though, managed to learn these languages well using only their books as their aid. I rarely even use a Bible concordance anymore, because it’s easier just to “search” for the phrase in my Bible software. I sometimes think that for all our technology, we have just become lazier and lazier.

May we all learn to be diligent in applying ourselves to learning everything we can about the scriptures. Let us constantly renew our minds by the washing of the water of the Word. Let the things we read be doctrinally sound and/or historically accurate. Reject the temptation to seek worldly “entertainment.” There simply is just not enough time for it. Redeem the time. Carpe Diem!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Moving Violation?

Last night driving home after making a late night grocery run, something very strange happened to me. Those who know me know that one of the “sins” I struggle with is exceeding the speed limit. Even so, I’ve only received one speeding ticket in my life and I took defensive driving to remove it from my record. As I exited the interstate and began to drive down the dark winding road to my home, I noticed a sheriff’s truck pull in behind me. I suppose he saw my red Mustang and thought he’d do his part to boost the economy of Logan County, Oklahoma.

Another consideration going through my mind was that just last week my mother-in-law hit a deer on this very same road. The posted speed limit is 45 mph, until you get to the “S-curve” at which time the speed limit drops to 20 mph. During daylight hours, I never observe that sign. But on this particular night with a Sheriff’s truck tailgating me, I dutifully drove 20 mph around the curve. I should also mention that I was doing about 35 mph in the 45 zone previous to the curve. In my thinking, only an idiot would exceed the speed limit under these conditions, and prudence would dictate caution even if I weren’t being followed by my friendly neighborhood law enforcement officer. As I turned off this road onto my home street, he turned his lights on and pulled up behind me. It seems as though driving slow is an indication of drunk driving. I think it may also be an indication of obeying an unreasonable speed zone erected by your county.

I sat there in my car while he ran my license check, hoping that he would write me up for this. Alcohol has not entered my mouth in over five years when I gave it up in order to work for LifeWay. Previous to that, I did not overindulge. To this day, I’m a bit uncertain on whether it is proper for Christians to partake in moderation. But if there is any doubt, I’d rather err on the side of caution. So, I have followed the example set by such Christian missionaries as John G. Paton and opted for temperance.

If I had received a ticket for “driving slow” when I was doing 35 in a 45, and then driving 20 in a 20, I would have had a fun day in court.

Anyway, I decided to blog about this, because it may be the last time I’m ever pulled over for going too slow. {grin}

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Journey Home

Franklin Springs Family Media ( has produced an excellent video showing a family dedicated to the glory of God and the “re-integration” of their family. They start out as a typical American family with the father employed by a large corporation. Yet, by the end of the movie, they have eleven children, and they are missionaries in Israel. Along the way they spend several years on a farm in Leipers Fork, TN where they are self sufficient. They establish a rapport in the community and sell these produce to their neighbors. While this life would certainly be quite a change from what I’m used to, I look at videos like this and dream. There would be tremendous challenges, but I believe there would also be tremendous blessings. The simple fact of being able to spend every waking hour with my children is enough to inspire me to dream of one day doing something similar.

For hundreds and thousands of years our ancestors lived off the land and supported their large families. Then suddenly in the 20th and 21st centuries we all believe that everyone has to have a college degree, a professional job, and no more than three children. Everyone needs at least two cars, four TVs, a boat, a vacation home, etc., etc., etc.

I long for the simpler life where families get up before sunrise, have a family worship time, eat breakfast, work the land, break for midday dinner together, work the land again until sundown, eat supper, conclude the day with family worship once more, and go to bed early, ready to do it all again the next day. Each of these days would see the children getting their studies in while they alternate helping dad in the field, or helping mom watch the babies in the house. The pattern breaks every Lord’s Day, when they meet together with the rest of the congregation of their church for the corporation worship of the Lord. Of course, the chores will vary. Sometimes neighbors will join for supper and evening worship. But by and large, this pattern would continue day by day, year by year, decade by decade until very strong ties are formed with children and parents.

May it please the Lord to move us in this direction in His timing…if not in my generation, then in that of my children.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Why Did the Pilgrims Come to America?

The answer to this question is generally accepted to be “For Religious Freedom.” Yet, that’s not entirety of the reasons given by William Bradford in his book, Plymouth Plantation. After escaping the religious persecution in England, they first landed in Holland. Here, they were able to worship freely. Yet, Holland gave them something they didn’t expect. Their children were being influenced by entertainment and a secular culture that was working against the godly training given by their parents. Thus, they were starting to lose their children to the world. With this major consideration, the Pilgrims loaded up the Mayflower and set sail for a new world where there would be opposition from cannibalistic savages and unexpected challenges of living in a foreign land. Their trip would take them across the Atlantic crammed tightly into a tiny vessel. Yet, it was all worth it in their eyes in order to preserve their multi-generational heritage.

What are you willing to do to save the souls of your children? To what lengths are you willing to go to make sure that modern, pagan society doesn’t influence your children adversely? Do we really think that our modern American society is less obtrusive than 17th century Holland? If they were willing to set sail across the ocean in a tiny wooden boat to escape the cultural evil influences of their day, shouldn’t we at least do the minimum of ditching our televisions and bringing our children home to educate them? Sometimes I wonder if those efforts are truly enough. You can’t go anywhere in public without exposing your children to harmful influences. Billboards line the freeways promoting promiscuity, drunkenness, and materialism. Televisions broadcast their propaganda when you are simply trying to dine out as a family.

There has to be a solution to this mess. There’s no undiscovered land available to go colonize now. Yet, we must be willing to do what’s necessary to preserve a multi-generational heritage for our own children. We must persevere. Failure is not an option.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Universal Healthcare

On the evening of March 23, 2006 my wife was involved in a major auto accident. She was driving our van with all five of our children riding with her. Our sixth was still in her womb. She was following me, and I saw most of it happen. I, of course, was the first one on the scene. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to erase those images out of my memory.

My children were rushed by ambulance to the local county hospital, but my wife was transported via helicopter to OU Medical Center downtown. All of my family received very good care, and I’m happy to report that they are all doing well today, including my precious baby girl who was born via emergency c-section just after midnight on March 24.

We were blessed to have medical insurance when this happened. Even so, the deductibles, and percentages for which we were responsible quickly grew. So that today, I am still working on paying down these debts.

Now, if the same thing had happened in England the universal healthcare in place would have covered it all. Am I envious of our friends across the pond? NO WAY! I am a firm believer in the free enterprise system. My family received top notch care that night because the doctors involved made good money in providing it. The lives of my family are worth much more than every cent I am having to pay currently.

My two year old son recently had to have hernia surgery. This was only a few months after the accident. We had it scheduled and taken care of. I added that bill to the end of the ones I’m already paying. Surely I would wish that the government would pay that cost for me? Again…NO WAY! What if the government determined that he wasn’t “deserving” of that surgery since he is not a wage earner? Far-fetched, you ask? Well, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecology in the U.K. has called for the mercy killing of disabled infants. Shockingly the Church of England supports this. Click here for the article.

Now, Paton is not disabled, so he would probably pass their litmus test. Or would he? Paton is our fifth child. If the government begins paying for births, how long will it be before they say, “You’ve had enough children. We’re not going to allow him to be born.”

The fact remains that it is not the jurisdiction of the government to provide health care. Firstly, a father should provide care for his own family. If he is missing or unable to provide this, then the responsibility should fall to relatives. If there are none, or they are unable, then the responsibility should fall on the church. Now, admittedly, most churches are so involved in their building programs, etc. that they may claim they don’t have the funds to help in this capacity, but this should be the mechanism none-the-less.

Beware! With the Democratic rise to power, universal health care is just over the horizon. For some idea on how this will work, take a look at Europe. If you can’t make it over there to observe them, take a look at other government run institutions. Consider your local post office or driver’s license office. Or how about the jury system? Is anyone truly pleased with the quality of service they get there? Have any of you ever had to request a permit to build a structure on your own property? Did you enjoy the red tape you had to go through? Hang on, similar bureaucracy is coming to a hospital near you.

Hillary Clinton is inspired after this last election. During her "first term" she championed universal healthcare. She is gearing up for a 2008 presidential run. While the issue of a woman president is a topic for a future blog, we must agree that a Hillary administration would be devastating to this country. Combine it with a Democratic House and Senate, and we may as well sign up as a member of the European Union. (I hope this remains a joke.)

Universal healthcare is a bad idea any way you look at it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Discouragement of the Enemy

Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel; Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia. And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
(Ezr 4:1-6)

In this story, the children of Israel had been commissioned under Cyrus to rebuild the temple. Of course, their enemies did not like this. Their plan to stop the building finally succeeded. Here’s what they did.

1. They first tried to “join with them.”

Be wary when others who do not share your convictions offer to walk alongside you and “help” you to accomplish your goals. There should be no compromise in carrying out the Lord’s commands. When we ally ourselves with unbelievers, or even other proclaiming Christians who hold to heretical doctrine, we weaken ourselves and open ourselves up to failure.

2. They next tried to discourage them.

The scripture says that these enemies of God tried to discourage His believers from accomplishing their purpose. How often we hear this constant discouraging message today! The world will tell you that you can’t expect to raise your children with Godly expectations. The world tells you to “just wait, your teenager will rebel like all the rest.” The world, and sadly many proclaiming Christians, will constantly discourage you from living out the commands He has given us. Yet, we must be faithful to ignore these pests, and continue on building His purpose in our lives.

3. They hired counselors to frustrate their purpose.

We see here that lawyers were hired to fight against these believers’ Godly pursuits. How relevant is this for today! On every front you see the world and the compromising church trying to press legal charges against God’s elect. Yet, we see that even through this bombardment with trouble, they persevered until the reign of Darius.

4. They succeeded in getting a man in power who agreed with their point of view.

Verse 6 records that in the beginning of the reign of Ahasuerus the adversaries finally had a leader who agreed with their point of view. They worked through this administration on into the reign of Artaxerxes. They convinced Artaxerxes that if the children of Israel were allowed to continue, it would affect revenues. This is what finally accomplished their purposes. Verse 24 records that the work of the house of God ceased after Artaxerxes forced them to stop.

Today, in America, a Democratic party has stepped into power. Whereas the enemies of God have previously taunted, discouraged, and hired counsel against us, they are now positioned to bring the force of law down on God’s people for simply following His commands. Yet, if you continue reading in Ezra, you will read that the people did not give up, and in Ezra 6:15 we read:

And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.
(Ezr 6:15)

We must persevere. We must be willing to continue to build Christian principles into the lives of our children. We must stand firm on our rights to homeschool our children. We must not let our defenses down in standing up for the unborn. There may be some hard days ahead. But be encouraged, and trust that the Lord is faithful to complete the good work He began in you.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Jamestown 400 Contest

Every since we received the 2007 Vision Forum Catalog in the mail, all the children have been poring over it. There are clues found throughout the catalog that eventually lead to the discovery of buried treasure in Jamestown, VA.

It has turned out to be much more serious than just a simple children’s game. I am currently trying to put together many letters to try and find a clue to a “secret website” that will further the quest.

This contest is certain to teach us a lot of history along the way. It is my goal, whether we are winners or not, to try and attend the Jamestown 400 celebration in June 2007. The Jamestown colony was founded in 1607 and really represents the true “founding” of our country. I think this contest, as well as the anticipation of this “homeschool field trip” will help us to learn a lot about John Smith, Pocahontas, John Rolfe, and others.

If you haven’t heard of Vision Forum, check it out at From there, you can request the catalog and start your quest on the Jamestown 400 contest. Vision Forum offers a lot of excellent material for the family, including books, CDs, DVDs, and toys. Their ministry is to strengthen the Christian family.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Daddy, I Love You

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
(Mat 18:4)

I believe the Lord teaches us volumes through the lives of our children. Not only are we taught patience (perhaps the greatest thing we are taught!), but along the way, we are also taught responsibility, leadership, and self denying love. Yet what I find most amazing are the emotions I have when my children speak to me. I like them to ask me for things, though I have to teach them not to be greedy. I really like it when they are asking for me to spend time with them, for it shows that they treasure that time. But, probably the most touching thing they can do is simply walk up, give me a hug, and tell me, “Daddy, I love you.” It is in these times, when I know they aren’t seeking any benefit of their own, except a reciprocating hug, that it just feels great to be a father. I know our Heavenly Father looks at us in the same way. Yes, He loves to meet our needs and for us to show our dependence upon Him, but oh, how it must touch His heart when we simply pray, “Father, I love you!” To spend time in His presence praising His name is time well spent indeed. Yes, ask your Father if you have need. Yet, don’t forget to approach His throne sometimes without your wish list in hand. Simply crawl up in His lap and tell Him, “Daddy, I love you.” You’ll find that your relationship with Him will strengthen as you approach Him as a little child.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Soli Deo Gloria

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
(1Co 10:31)

Soli Deo Gloria is the last sola of the Reformation which wraps up the purpose for which we do all things. Meaning “For the Glory of God Alone,” it adequately describes the reason for living. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” This sola answers the eternal question of “What is the meaning of life?” Contrary to our popular culture it is not “all about me.” The only reason we were created was to bring glory to our creator. Only by fulfilling this purpose can we have meaning in our lives.

Brothers and sisters, if we would make this principle effective in our lives, it would bring great peace. If we are living to the glory of God, it does not matter if we suffer persecution. We can take comfort that we are pleasing our Lord. It is possible to find peace in the midst of the whirlwind when we are resting in the sovereign will of our God.

How can we glorify God? Again, the catechism answers this question. We glorify God by loving Him and doing what He commands. Is the thing you are contemplating doing forbidden in scripture? If so, then participating in that action can not and will not be done to the glory of God. If it is not expressly forbidden, does it line up with the “Spirit of the Word?” For instance, though the Bible does not speak to the recreational use of drugs, it does prohibit being “drunk with wine.” Therefore, we know that to use drugs in such a manner would also violate scripture. If the Bible appears silent on an issue, pray for wisdom, be open to what the scripture tells you, be open to what others are able to show you from scripture, but in the end if you can do it “for the Glory of God,” enjoy your liberty and glorify him in such manner.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sola Fide

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
(Rom 1:17)

Just as grace is the reason for our justification, faith is the means by which that grace is applied to our lives. Sola Fide means, “Faith Alone.” As Martin Luther was climbing up “Pilate’s Staircase” on his knees, he heard a voice from Heaven in his soul declaring “the just shall live by faith.”

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
(Heb 11:1)

Faith is trusting that God will deliver on His promises. Only by faith, can we receive those gifts that God gives us. No works of our own can merit salvation. It is by “faith alone” that we inherit eternal life. This faith itself is the gift of God. He has granted it, thereby giving us all we need for salvation. The object of our faith is Christ Himself. Place your faith in Him, and He will save. Faith alone in Christ Jesus is all we need to gain His salvation. The works will be performed, but these are not the means by which our justification is “won.” Christ Jesus did our works on our behalf. It is our faith in Him that grants us this justification. One test to see if your faith is “living” is to see if works are accompanying them.

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
(Jam 2:17-18)

So, we see that faith is the means that we apply the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Both faith and grace are the gifts of God. This faith will show itself with works, though these works are never the reason for our salvation. They are a response to our salvation.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day

I have decided to take a one day break from expounding on the Five Solas of the Reformation in order to make a few comments on the election. I am living in Oklahoma now, and voted early this morning. However, there are some other interesting things on the ballot around the country that I will be interested to see how it plays out.

First of all, there is a bit of controversy surrounding Texas Governor Rick Perry. I was born and raised in Texas and lived there until moving to Nashville in 2001. Gov. Perry replaced Gov. Bush when Bush was elected President of the United States. This past Lord’s Day, Gov. Perry attended John Hagee’s church in San Antonio, Texas. During the service, Hagee proclaimed that Christ is the only way to Heaven, and that those who place their trust in other gods will spend eternity in Hell. Gov. Perry was asked if he agreed with that message. He said that he did indeed. This set off an explosion of controversy. In this compromising age in which we live, I can understand why this is controversial. Yet, I ask any of you that call yourself a Christian if you would have answered any differently? One of the basic tenants of true Christianity is its exclusiveness.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
(John 14:6)

Why would anyone be surprised to see that a Christian would answer this question in this particular way? I for one, would be extremely disappointed if Gov. Perry had answered that he did not believe that. For that would have proven that he was not a real Christian at all. I wish I could have cast my vote for Gov. Perry this morning. As it turns out, I’ll have to see if my candidate, Earnest Istook, can unseat Democrat Brad Henry.

The next issue I will be watching closely is the issue in South Dakota. Pro-lifers there have boldly gotten a proposition on the ballot that will ban most abortions. It is high time that someone take the lead on this crucial issue. Since 1973, over 47 million children have been killed through legal abortion. Unbelievably, there are some “pro-life” groups who do not support this ban. It is utterly detestable that any group would take contributions from donors and purport to be “pro-life” and yet stand in opposition to such a watershed proposition. I stand behind Life Dynamics ( as an organization that is committed to “Pro-Life: Without Compromise, Without Exception, Without Apology.” The pro-life issue is a litmus test to tell who are the “true conservatives.” “Spaghetti-spined” Republicans who claim they are “pro-life with exceptions” are really “pro-abortion with exceptions.” This is an issue for which there can be no exceptions. To see the fallacy in the exception clause, ask yourself this question: If a baby were already born, would there ever be a valid reason to kill him? If not, then there should be no exceptions to the rule before birth. If a mother’s life is at risk, a doctor should do all he can to save both patients. If one life is lost, then it is regrettable, but just a consequence of medical practice. However, in no case should the goal ever be to kill a child. Period.

Lastly, there will be many initiatives across the country whereby voters will vote to define marriage to be between one man and one woman. Unfortunately, I will not be able to vote in the Tennessee election on this issue, as I have now moved out of state. This is not on the ballot in Oklahoma. There is a brutal attack on marriage in this day and age. (See my recent blog entry on this topic.) It is actually a sad commentary on our society when this issue even needs to be on the ballot. How could we, as a country formed on Biblical principles, descend so far down into the cess pool that we are now faced with perverts trying to force our children to recognize their deviant behavior as legitimate? It starts with a turning away from God’s law. There’s no end to the amount of filthiness we face as we have left behind God’s precepts. May God help us to restore this country back to its 18th century greatness.

So, I encourage you to get out and vote. Make a positive difference for this country. You can bet the “bad guys” will be out in force. As Christians, we must not sit back and do nothing.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sola Gratia

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(Eph 2:8-9)

Sola Gratia – By Grace Alone – was proclaimed by the Reformers as the answer to the Romanist claim that penance somehow could atone for your sins. God’s elect are chosen by God’s Grace alone, through no works of our own, to enter into His Kingdom. Whether the issue is the paying of indulgences, as Martin Luther spoke out against so vehemently, or whether the issue is a priest telling someone to say 15 “Hail Marys” in order to pay for their sin, the fact remains that scripture nowhere ascribes our justification or our forgiveness of sins to our own works. By grace, Christ died for His own, paying the entire penalty of sin on our own behalf. This is a glorious truth! The scripture tells us that our own righteousness is as filthy rags.

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
(Isa 64:6)

How miserable we would be if we were counting on our own righteousness to provide our justification. The old hymn is correct, Jesus paid it all! All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Solus Christus

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
(1Ti 2:5)

Solus Christus means Christ Alone. This great truth of the Reformation came as a result of the Roman church’s teaching that other dead saints or even Mary herself could be an intermediary between God and man. Solus Christus also affirms that Christ alone has provided our salvation, and that salvation is by no other.

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
(Act 4:10-12)

How important it is to broadcast this message to the ends of the earth in this day and age of multiculturalism! Mohammad can not save you. Mary can’t save you. Buddha can’t save you. Only through the blood of Jesus Christ can we obtain remission of our sins. Heaven and Hell are real, and Christ alone has provided the way to Heaven.

In the day and age in which we live, the name of Jesus is very offensive. I once gave an Ice Breaker speech at a Toastmasters Club in Dallas, Texas. An “Ice Breaker” speech is supposed to be a speech about ones self as an introduction to the club. Well, anyone who knows me knows that Jesus Christ is my life. As stated in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Well, because in this speech I gave my testimony as to how the Lord Jesus Christ saved me, I received the wrath of the club from the majority of the members. There were one or two Christian brothers or sisters who were silently supportive, but even they advised me that I may need to be mindful of those who disagree. I am so tired of even Christians watering down their message so as not to offend! This world is dying and going to hell and all we seem to care about is not offending them as they travel that path. On the day of judgment, it is my goal to have either converted them to Christianity (which will happen if they are part of God’s elect), or to remove all excuse from them as they try to avoid gazing into the eyes of their Judge. They will not be able to claim, “Mike Southerland never told us about You!” No, if they burn in Hell, it will be because they hated the name of Jesus, and they would not want to spend eternity with Him anyway. The Lord will ask them why they did not heed the warnings of His servants that He sent along their paths. Their honest answer would be that they were too busy trying to convince those servants not to use such an offensive name in their message.

The fact remains that JESUS CHRIST alone is the way of salvation! I thank our Reformation Fathers for proclaiming this truth loudly even in the midst of persecution over it. If they can be burned at the stake for such a message, surely I can endure some negative comments or a bit of gossip behind my back.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Sola Scriptura

Someone recently commented on my Reformation Day article that I was speaking hatefully of the Roman church. After a few private emails, I would hope that she would realize that although I have very few positive things to say of the Roman church (their advocacy for the rights of the unborn being about it), my grievance is not with individuals in that corrupt institution, but the institution itself, and that any “hatred” exhibited is directed solely against the hatred of evil and deception inherent in it.

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
(Rom 12:9)

There are five statements that summarize the grievances that the Reformers had with the Roman Church. These are known as the Five Solas of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Solus Christus (Christ Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (For the Glory of God Alone).

I will purpose to speak of each of these over the course of the next five days (excluding the Lord’s Day on which day I do not intend to blog).

Sola Scriptura means “Scripture Alone.” This stance was taken in response to the Roman doctrine of the Bible plus “sacred tradition” in determining doctrine and practice (orthodoxy and orthopraxy). If tradition has equal say in determining doctrine, then how can there be any stability? It reminds me of the argument on those who would claim, “There are no absolutes!” (Is this statement absolutely true?) My point is that scripture alone is the sole authority in determining our doctrine as well as how we live our lives.

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
(2Ti 3:15-17)

Nowhere do we see in scripture to do things in worship or living simply out of tradition. From Sola Scriptura we get the doctrine of the regulative principal of worship. This Reformation doctrine says that God ordains how He is to be worshiped according to scripture. Anything that is not explicitly commanded in scripture is not allowed in worship. God has ordained the means in which He is to be worshiped, and when we presume to add to, delete from, or generally change things up, we are in error. Consider the following scriptural examples of these sins. In these passages, the Lord is angry not because they did something they were commanded not to do, but rather they did something they were not commanded to do. In a sense, they “added to” the commandments of scripture.

And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.
(Lev 10:1)

And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded;
(Deu 17:3)

And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.
(Jer 7:31)

There are numerous cases where people directly violated the commands of scripture, and were punished. Yet, we do not see a single instance where God disciplined His people because they failed to uphold the “sacred tradition” which had never been written in His Word. Yet the Roman church holds this tradition to be on equal footing to the scripture! All of this tradition is man-made and subject to the total depravity in us all, including the Roman pope.

When we take the Bible as the sole authority for how we live our lives, it helps clear up so many practical “orthopraxy” issues, as well as all the orthodoxy issues we face. My Roman Catholic friend who took issue with my comments noted that the Catholic church has consistently stood for life and against contraception, whereas many modern Protestant churches have abandoned their stances in this area. While I would agree with my friend that the Catholic church has done a much better job in maintaining their stance on the life of the unborn that most modern churches, I would point out that the Reformation fathers were all very much opposed to contraception and abortion. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura does indeed show that many modern Protestant churches are apostate in this area. For if they used only the Bible as their guide, they would read that children are a blessing of the Lord, and that barrenness is a curse for which no one should desire. However, just because the Catholic church is right on this issue, this does not make up for the lack of foundation for which they build their doctrine. After all, a broken clock is right twice a day. Romanists would make a much better argument not in saying their position is right, but rather than modern Protestants are hypocritical in applying the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. At which accusation, I would have to bow my head and agree with them.

So, the answer, then, is not in abandoning Sola Scriptura, but rather to reform, once again, a church universal that has abandoned its commitment to this teaching.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Attack Upon Marriage

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
(Mat 19:4-6)

Yesterday, I sat in a Toastmasters meeting and listened to a speaker advocate the legalization of homosexual “marriage.” I put quotes around the word marriage, for the very definition of marriage confines this covenant to be between a man and a woman. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it as such:

, n. [L.mas, maris.] The act of uniting a man and woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and woman for life. Marriage is a contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity, till death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God himself for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity,and for securing the maintenance and education of children.

Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled. Heb 13

1. A feast made on the occasion of a marriage.

The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king, who made a marriage for his son. Mat 22.

2. In a scriptural sense, the union between Christ and his church by the covenant of grace. Rev 19.

Homosexual “marriage” makes about as much sense as a “canine cat” or a “feline dog.”

One honorable gentleman stood up to oppose the young woman speaker during the question and answer portion of the meeting. He rightly pointed out the destruction carried out upon Sodom and Gomorrah when they engaged in this perversity. He also rightly acknowledged that in I Corinthians, the scripture says that those who engage in such practices shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. Of course, she was quick to dismiss his comments with a reply about not being able to respond to biblical objections. Yet, the older gentleman was quite correct in his analysis of the situation. Do we, as a nation, want to test God even further by presuming to redefine the definition of marriage that He gave us? What’s even more disappointing is that I was quite certain that this particular woman had identified herself in the past as a believer in Jesus Christ. Yet, this speech reveals her lack of commitment to His cause, as well as her biblical ignorance. Unfortunately, her example is not all that uncommon.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
(2Ti 4:3-4)

I believe we are seeing this verse applied in full force today.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Be Instant In Season and Out of Season

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
(2Ti 4:2)

Mike, what have you been studying lately? What has the Lord been showing you? What’s God been doing in your life? I have a good friend in Nashville that used to ask me these types of questions frequently. This type of accountability was very beneficial to me. Sometimes these questions were hard to answer. Yet, they just provided more reasons to concentrate on the things of the Lord. I miss David’s encouragement and admiration. David’s eyes are growing dim. While many would take this as an opportunity to stop reading, this has had the opposite effect on David. Knowing that his eyesight is quickly deteriorating, his has committed himself to memorizing as much scripture as he possibly can while he still has his sight. David and I were in the same Toastmasters club in Nashville. I remember distinctly his reciting of several chapters of I Corinthians. He rarely used notes, and most all his speeches were substantive, meaning that they brought some sort of scriptural admonition to his hearers. David knew how to take what he read and apply it to real life.

David lives out the command in 2 Timothy 4:2. By his lifestyle, he encourages others to do the same. So, reader, tell me about what you’ve been studying lately in the Bible. Do you have an answer?