Do humans have free will? And can we choose God and salvation on our own? What is the biblical understanding of the concept of free will?
Friday, May 08, 2009
My current read is John Calvin Man of the Millennium by Phillip Vollmer. This is a Great read! It is very refreshing to read a treatment of Calvin's life that arises from an author who found such value in Calvin. Vollmer's book, written 100 years ago and updated for this edition, is easy to read and aims to deal with the broad outlines of Calvin's life and to survey his abiding influence in many areas of Western culture and civilization. I never heard this in History class, but the thesis that Calvin's ideas of individual liberty lie at the foundation of the democratic republic that is the United States of America is worthy of consideration at a time when there is such a dramatic shift toward the collectivism that has marked so many of the failed regimes in European history. John Calvin was easily the most influential man of the second millennium of the Christian era. July 10, 2009, marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin. Over time, this Genevan’s life and labors shook the West and blazed a trail for liberty around the globe, making him arguably the most important man of the last millennium. Calvin’s worldview spurred Huguenot freedom-fighters to resist tyranny in France; fueled evangelistic efforts to pagan tribes; and, with Knox’s aid, rekindled freedom’s fire among the sturdy Scots. Moreover, his influence compelled a hardy group of Pilgrims to settle at Plymouth Rock and later drove a rag-tag band of patriots to fight for American independence.
Monday, May 04, 2009
I have been feeling particularly reflective these past few months. As I reflect on circumstances over the past few years, it brings a lot of things into perspective. I have acquiesced to the fact that I am no longer as limber as I used to be and even my looks are changing. Here is what I've heard about life at 40, they say you’re at the peak – you can see the other side and you are going. But you can also see and vividly remember where you’ve come from. There will be no other time in our lives quite like this one.
I can remember childhood and teenage things like it was yesterday. Here I am turning 40, my daughter Cierra who is 18, will be graduating from high school in a few weeks. I remember the day I graduated. Time flies. I know this you cannot buy time. so one of the most valuable resources to me today is my time. God has blessed us with such a gift. Paul said to redeem the time.
This is quite a memorable birthday because I have had to spend it in Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital with my daughter Emily who is recovering from surgery. I envisioned a big surprise birthday party when I turned 40, but not happening this year. And that is ok, because what really matters in my life is the legacy that leave. That legacy is my relationship with God and my relationship with my family, and the impact that I have to help people for the rest of my life.
I am no longer concerned about achieving "success". Some would say I pastor a great successful church in the south, live in a beautiful home, get to travel the world speaking, authored a book, etc..... but what matters to me is the the success and significance that my children will make in life and eternity. I think different than I did 10 years ago. Life is no about ME.
My Priorities have changed.
1. More than ever, I cherish my relationship with God. Spiritual things matter. God matters. Eternity matters. What we do in this life will echo in eternity.
2. My family. They are everything to me. They are not a part of my life, they are my life. They are my calling, my ministry, my purpose in life. Tricia, Cierra, Christian, Grayson, Emily and Evan.
a. My parents - they raised me right, The coolest thing is hanging out and spending time with my parents, drinking a cup of coffee with dad, and talking on the phone to my mom. I don't necessarily like the idea that we live 12 hours from them, but anytime we have an opportunity to be with them, we do.
b. My siblings - I try to talk to them everyday. I don't understand these families that are torn a part. I could not imagine my life with out them. I love Rusty (Amy, Dylan, Blake, & Ava), Ryan (Lindsay, Rylan, & Braydon), and Amy (Isaac, Sofia). The Yanok family is growing.
c. My wife's family - 20 years ago this year they became my family. I love them. Doug, Arlene, Michele, Josh & Allison, Greg & Leslie, and my nephew Alex.
d. My grandma june, Gosh I love her so much and miss being with her. Grandma is grandma. And we must value and honor that generation. She tells things like it is, she speaks her mind, but she is still my Grandma.
3. The Church - I love the Church. I am more passionate today than I was before about teaching, preaching, and praying for people. Whether it is serving in my local church, or speaking in another church in another town or city, or being a blessing to the church in asia, romania, or europe. I love building the Kingdom of God. I am 40 and I figured out what I want to be when I grow up, I want to spend the rest of my life, propagating the Gospel of Jesus Christ, week in and week out.
a. My staff. It is a rewarding journey serving in a local church and the people God puts on your team determines the longevity of that journey. All I can say is wow to the team i have, Scott and Jennifer, Steven and Jennifer, Cathy, Jennifer, Don, Bama, John, and all the wonderful volunteers at FaithPointe Church. you mean so much!
4. My friends. What can I say. Scripture says if you show yourself friendly you will have friends. I have many friends. I was thinking about this the other day and thanking God for all of them. there is not a major or minor city in America that i have someone to call my friend. I got stuck in St. Louis one time, made one phone call, and a friend was there to help me. I value conversations, coffee, cell phoning them, having lunch and dinner, emails, and facebooking. You who are my friends. Thank you for being my friend.
5. Reading. I am addicted to books and bookstores. I have an intoxication for reading. I have built an impressive library that I want to pass along to my kids. Man cannot live by bread alone but every WORD....that proceeds....
6. Music. It is a wellspring of refreshment and relaxation. My taste in music is diverse, it all depends upon the mood. No matter if I am listening to Bocelli, Sinatra, Bach, or Hillsongs, it is always right for that moment. "Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world". - Martin Luther
7. My mentors: they are a prophetic picture of our future. They see beyond where I am. I thank God for my Pastor J. Hugh Rose, My uncle Mick Friend, and Ps Les Bowling. Their wise counsel, caring direction, firm correction, and love for my family.
Well, I am 40, I don't feel too bad. They say it is the new 20. Scott Melson passed this wisdom along to me: I have accomplished what the children of Israel did.... 40 Years to get to the Promise Land.
I am now most definitely in the Promise Land of Life. It's only taken me 14,600 days to get here but I can say with joy... I'll enjoy the milk and honey a lot more than I use to. It helps the digestion process much better. So at this point in my life, I am just beginning!
Friday, May 01, 2009
This video reminds me how the church is to appear in this world with a surprising joy that the Gospel brings to us.
"The exuberant joy of the early Christians was one of the most potent factors in the spread of Christianity."
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression
Psalm 126:1-2) “When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’”