Prepare For God to Use You, To the Max!

“like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,” (1 Peter 2:2).

Our willingness to be equipped today will significantly shape how and how much God uses us in the future.

We begin our Christian lives as babes in Christ (1 Cor 3:1; Heb 5:13). God surely can and does use us even when we are baby Christians, but if we remain babes, fail to grow and mature as followers of Christ, then we limit what God may do with and through us. Just like our children, if they remain infants, they limit themselves. 

This is not to say God will use us all the same, or even as much as another person. Rather that we will either limit or reach our full potential in what God wants to do with us as an individual by how willing we are to be equipped today for His purposes today and tomorrow. The comparison is not between how much God uses one individual compared to another, but how much God uses an individual compared to how much he would have used him if he humbly sought to become all God desires him to be.

“But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:2).

The Scripture is replete with commands, encouragement, and teachings about the need to grow spiritually and that help us grow; there are no scriptures that extol perennial infancy.

We need not concern ourselves so much with how God is going to use us in the future. Instead, we must focus upon availing ourselves to the opportunities for spiritual growth and service that are before us in the present. Then, when God is ready, and we are ready, he will open new areas of influence and ministry; often in ways, we could have never imagined. Do not wait on the magic moment to serve or grow; seize the present moment to grow and serve in whatever way is available.

“but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:15–16).

A Prayer for Facing and not Fearing the Future

“Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it” (Psalm 37:5).

At times Lord, it seems I am overly concerned about the future. You have more than provided for us. Still, I feel that I have failed to plan for the future. But Lord, You know in my deepest being, I desire to follow you; not that I have truly sacrificed, but it seems to be a sacrifice because I am so frail, weak, and sinful.

Lord, you know in my weakness, I seek to make my decisions based upon following you. I have no regrets except that I have not served you in any way like you deserve; for then I would go, stand, speak, and give without ever considering how it might affect me, but instead, I wrestle with fear. Only by your grace am I able to walk away from earthly things and pursue what I cannot see.

You know I desire to know what is coming and to prepare for such, but that is rarely a part of the walk of faith. What if I lose my job, am disabled, must retire, or die and leave my family in want? I have no answer. Not that I believe I would have been a financial success if I had sought something other than the path you have me on, but I know that would have been a priority, whereas, in following you it has not. I pray that today I will not let you down. Please let me not come to the end, which only you know, having let your holy name down.

You have been so gracious to rebuke me about fretting over the future, and I pray that you would remind me again so I will trust only you. I can think of countless things that could happen for which I have not made provisions. May I walk in my faith knowing that you have provided plenty. May I seek to be a good steward of what you have provided today. I am in your hands, and that is what I desire. Let me not make decisions about the future that tempt grace or eschew trust. Let these years honor you more than my earlier years of following you.

Donors Call For An Investigation Into The Firing Of Dr. Paige Patterson

Twenty-six large financial supporters have sent a letter to SWBTS Board Chairman Mr. Ueckert and the Executive Committee. The letter records charges of several errors, including lack of biblical moral dignity, legal infractions, and Bylaw breaches that were made by the Board, particularly Chairman Ueckert and the Executive Committee.  The letter calls for an investigation into the board’s actions regarding Dr. Paige Patterson.

This letter is an important read, which provides an essential perspective regarding the actions of the Trustees under the leadership of Mr. Ueckert. Here is the link to the actual letter.

To see other important actual documents regarding allegations and actions by SWBTS trustees and my perspective regarding Dr. Patterson, see my article, Dr. Paige Patterson: Things you need to Know.

Dr. Patterson’s Counsel to Pray for My Enemies

Jesus said, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matt 5:44). We all know this verse but actually doing this or even knowing someone who regularly prays for their enemies is quite another matter.

Several years ago I was experiencing one of the most difficult times of my ministry. Some people were causing great harm to the church I pastored. As the pastor, my hurt was deep. Most pastors know the pain that comes from watching people we love turn and begin to attack us and do things that harm or even destroy the flock. It can cause anger, bitterness, depression, and even cynicism in the heart of the most dedicated of shepherds.

As I was leaving a meeting during this time, Dr. Patterson approached me. I was not aware he knew of my painful situation. His words helped me immensely. Not by psychologizing my plight or a pep talk of clichés, but rather he spoke directly from the Scripture. How he advised me to handle this situation were some of the most difficult words I could have heard.

He told me to pray for my enemies. He encouraged me to get down on my knees and pray for them before our heavenly Father. He said God might work in their lives and bless them. He told me this was his practice. He said there is a level of intimacy with our Lord Jesus one experiences while on his knees praying for his enemies, persecutors, and those who want to destroy him, an intimacy that cannot be experienced without following Jesus and praying for the very ones who seek our destruction.

Though I well knew the Scripture Dr. Patterson was referencing, his admonition helped me see it more practically and personally. For I knew, as leader of the resurgence, Dr. Patterson had many enemies. I knew he personally felt the human emotions that come with even contemplating such an act, and how one must die to self to seriously enter into such communion with our Lord. Knowing he had done this many times helped me have the faith and humility I needed to pray for people who hated me, for those who hurt my family and the church I love.

I am so grateful for his counsel and example of praying for those who seek to destroy us. I have experienced this intimacy with Christ on many occasions, and I have counseled others to handle their detractors in the same manner. I desire to be faithful in praying for loved ones and those with whom I have fellowship, but none so much as those who seek to harm me. Even as I write this article, God has brought some to mind who have done me harm; thankfully, by only his grace, I prayed for them.

Jesus commanded us to pray for them, and he practiced what he taught when he prayed for the lost (John 17:21) and his enemies at the cross. “‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.” (Luke 23:34).

May our Lord give you the strength to do the right thing in the right spirit. May he lead you to your knees to pray for the very ones who seek to hurt you, fire you, or malign your character. May you know Jesus in this dying-to-self-act. May this experience be repeated in your life and leave you forever changed as it has changed me.

Dr. Paige Patterson: Things You Need To Know

Included in this article are some personal thoughts regarding Dr. and Mrs. Patterson, a response by the Patterson’s lawyers to the charges made by the trustees, a link to some enlightening comments and documents provided by Sharayah Colter, links to the three public statements by the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), and articles by Dr. David Allen, Dr. Norman Geisler, and Dr. Patterson’s open letter. The public statements by the SWBTS trustees are helpful if you are not aware of what has transpired recently regarding Dr. Patterson’s presidency at SWBTS. Continue reading →

Calvinists Say Blame and Honor Determined Man

The determinism of Calvinism is best understood as micro-determinism because it is not limited to the area of salvation (including reprobation). Well-known moderate Calvinist Millard Erickson, in contrasting Calvinism and Arminianism, says of Calvinism, “Calvinists believe that God’s plan is logically prior and that human decisions and actions are a consequence. With respect to the particular matter of the acceptance or rejection of salvation, God in his plan has chosen that some shall believe and thus receive the offer of eternal life. He foreknows what will happen because he has decided what is to happen. This is true with respect to all other human decisions and actions as well. God is not dependent on what humans decide. It is not the case, then, that God determines that, at times, what humans will do will happen, nor does he choose to eternal life those who he foresees will believe. Rather, God’s decision has rendered it certain that every individual will act in a particular way.[1] (italics added) Continue reading →

The Dynamic Gospel Encounter: John 12:35–36

This passage gives insight into the very nature of the gospel encounter. We see the genuine offer of the gospel, and the need and urgency to accept it, which the listeners can do; or they can reject it with full knowledge and remain in their sin.

“So Jesus said to them, ‘For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.’ These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them” (John 12:35–36). Continue reading →

Praying for a Heart of Thankfulness

May my day, my thoughts, my words, my plans, and my deepest emotions be enraptured by gratefulness, be enveloped in thankfulness, and may my thankfulness not be in stale sayings as I speak all the while sauntering the walkways of complaining and self-pity.

Oh my Lord Jesus please once again forgive me. May my thankfulness never be followed by “but” since that is the human’s sinful disguise of appearing spiritually thankful all the while lamenting our less than perfect situation. May I be mature in my gratitude and dismissive of the trivial inconveniences of this sinful world and my life so that I may truly “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

May I be thankful that I have a stomach when it hurts. May I be thankful for periods of painlessness when I am in pain. May I focus on what I have rather than what I do not have. May I bless You for the small and great things I have and You have given rather than have roving eyes and discontented heart of the flesh. May thankfully seek your presence in everything. “I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Your name forever” (Psalm 86:12).

Does Calvinism Believe Man is Free, Determined, or Both?

I have a strong desire to enable people to more readily recognize the unmitigated determinism within every aspect of Calvinism.[1] This serves to make dialogue regarding the merits and liabilities of Calvinism clearer as well as enabling everyone a better opportunity to be aware of what they are actually embracing when they don the title Calvinist. In view of that, I frequently speak about the nature of compatibilism, which is Calvinism’s chosen perspective regarding man’s freedom as contrasted with libertarianism, Extensivism’s belief about man’s freedom.[2] If the entailments of these perspectives are misunderstood, the conversation is unproductive. Continue reading →