Saturday, April 29, 2006

Piano recitals and honeysuckles

Well, it's the day after my oldest daughter's first piano recital. I can remember those days of taking piano and going to recitals. They weren't particularly as joyful for me as for Tori. She seemed at ease, though she told me she was nervous. I prayed that God would help her just to be able to sit and play for His glory.

During the recital, it was clear who had practiced and who had not. This is Tori's first year. She has been playing about 8 months and she did very well. Her pieces were "Martha" and "Amazing Grace", which she has also played here at home for the family to sing along with. She had only one moment where she paused for a second, but I was incredibly thankful for her playing. It is often that I hear parents say how proud they are. I confess that i have been trained to say the same thing, but for some time now I realize that pride, even in someone else is not the right response, but rather thankfulness to the God who has shaped them into what they are. Therefore, my boasting is in the Lord Jesus Christ, for He has formed Tori from the womb and is raising her up, I pray, to be a godly young lady who will carry on in the next generation and hopefully surpass her mother and father in knowledge and grace.

She is seen here with her music teacher, Mrs. Dixon. Mrs. Dixon has been teaching students for many years and continues to do so, I think, simply out of the joy of doing it and the love of music. Her students range in age from those about 9 or 10 up into their 30's and 40's.

One of the strange settings we had was being in a Presbyterian Church that had the stained glass windows (kind of like the paintings you see in Rome), where the gospel story is supposed to be portrayed in pictures. Also, the pulpit was adorned with one of those little "scarfs" (the name doesn't come to mind right now with the alpha & omega symbol on either side of the Labarum. Not to mention a large wooden cross adorned with a white scarf behind the pulpit and a think gold colored cross on the remembrance table. It appeared that this littel church still had some of Rome in it indeed. On top of that, the Rev. Joan was the pastor. I asked my wife, if she thought that Rev. Joan had read 1 Tim. 3 and actually was the husband of one wife:) Anyway, thankfully we didn't have to meet or hear Rev. Joan. Though ordained, I detest the title reverend. Personally, I believe that title is for God and God alone.

Today, however, after cutting the onions (that's mainly what is growing in our yard right now) and spraying the weeds (yeah, they're also growing), I caught these guys lounging up at their grandparents house, kicked back in their chairs drinking water and sucking on honeysuckles. They had gathered bucket loads of honeysuckles from the woods and were simply enjoying the incredible weather while partaking of one of simple pleasures of life and the country:)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Great image software

I ran across some great image software. I was doing some renovation of my online store and needed some excellent software, so I was looking for a good deal on Adobe photoshop. While doing so, I ran across someone who mentioned and said it was free. This product is put together by a number of people working on it together and then benefitting from one another's work. I am just getting use to it and it is a little difficult at the start, but is most impressive, for free.

Also, in building the site I am also attempting to use some online store software that is similar to the Gimp in that it is built by many people for their mutual benefit. If you are building a web site and desire the php technology, then you might want to check out

Ahhhhhh, between all this taking care of the house, Mommy and the new baby along with the other kids, building the store, studying, name it........when will there be time for anything else? Oh well, SDG!

Introducing Richard Cameron Brown

Well, he finally arrived early this morning (1:50 am). Richard Cameron Brown (named Richard after his grandfather and Richard Cameron after the famous "Lion of the Covenant" of the Scottish Covenanters) took his first breaths of air after his mommy was in labor for around 5 hours. Weighing in at 7 lbs 10 oz and standing at an average height of 20 inches, he seemed to be one of the calmest babies that we have had. It was a most amazing thing, even though I have been through this several times before.

Even more amazing was the fact that this was to be our first "home delivery". The midwife, Damaris, and her assistant, Beverly, were great. They were patient and calm with Denise and encouraged her along the way. Denise was able to use the garden tub to help in labor, as well as, be able to move into whatever position would be help her in labor as she needed to. I am so grateful to God for His mercy in delivering her quickly. She has been extremely tired and her legs have bothered her for most of the pregnancy, but God answered our prayers according to grace. Thank you to all of you who prayed for Denise.

I would like to take a moment and say that if you are in the process of becoming a parent or you are thinking in the future of children I would highly recommend the "home birth" scenario and if you are in South Carolina and very soon in North Carolina, I would recommend you give Damaris Pittman your confidence in helping in the birth process. She is a gentle and quiet woman, just like Denise and is very knowledgable about her profession.

Also, just to let you know, I let several of you in on the fact that I was hoping to "catch" the baby. The funny thing is that we asked God for a quick delivery and boy was it. Denise's water broke, so I figured I better get up and make sure the kid's bedroom doors were closed because her pain would be increasing. I walked down the hall and checked them and as I did I heard Denise give a few of those loud sighs (they weren't screams). I started back down the hall and could see that the babies head had already come out! I ran in and they were motioning me to catch him, but he was already coming out fully by the time I got there. Incredible! She had two contractions after her water broke and didn't even have to push!

We sat and read, as our tradition is when our children are born Psalm 127 & 128:

Psalm 127
Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep.
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth.
5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Psalm 128
Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways.
2 When you eat the labor of your hands, You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine In the very heart of your house, Your children like olive plants All around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the LORD.
5 The LORD bless you out of Zion, And may you see the good of Jerusalem \All the days of your life.
6 Yes, may you see your children's children. Peace be upon Israel!

We thanked our Father for His mercy and for the new arrival in our home and asked that He might see fit to draw him unto Christ and use him for His glory. We then laughed and admired the handiwork of God and went through all the post delivery things (weighing, measuring, and cleaning). All in all, I think Denise and I had a far greater experience at home, than in any hospital. I was even able to wake our oldest, Tori, up around 3 and she got to come in and see Mom and baby brother.

Again, thank you to all who kept us in your prayers. The kids are up as I write this and of course we are tickled at the younger ones' reactions. From the very curious comments about the baby and Mommy to the excited picture taking of our esteemed photographers, Caleb and Tori, These past 12 hours have been wonderful.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Dr. Caner's sermon on Calvinism.........UNbelievable!

I was able to watch Dr. Ergun Caner's sermon the other night via the Thomas Road Baptist Church's website. He previously posted numerous attacks against those who hold to the doctrines of grace on the Founders blogsite. Of course these attacks came when those of us were discussing the issue of John Hunt's being nominated at the SBC president and the concerns many had since he has a head hunting attitude towards Calvinism.

During that time I visited Dr. Caner's website and I must say that it seemed to me that he seems to be obsessed with his own image. Now that is just a simple observance, but check out the site for yourself and tell me that it doesn't strike you just a little bit odd at the amount of "Ergun" that is being promoted. So when he got up to preach, I was not surprised by the "style" which he used to present his message. There was an "air of arrogance" in his speech and presence.

That aside, I tend to follow along with many of the comments made by Tom Ascol and James White in review. Since they are far more gifted than I to write, I would direct anyone who might run across this to their blogs.

However, there are two things I really want to make mention of in what was said. First, it is always amazing to me that those who are opposed to the doctrines of grace always bring in the "little babies" arguments. I recently finished up a baptism debate that my friend Hank sent me with Gene Cook, Jr. and some Church of Christ fellows. The same thing eventually came up there. Adrian Rogers, Paige Patterson and many others have used this argument in their diatribes against the sovereign grace of God in election.

It goes something like this. God doesn't hate sinners from the foundation of the world. He doesn't elect some to be saved and some to pass over, and of course He doesn't do this to "little babies", because they are innocent and have committed no sin. This last part continues to amaze me. Personally, and I believe biblically, if anyone (infant, adult, mentally handicapped, etc.) enters the kingdom of God it is on the basis of the sovereign grace and election of God and not on their innocence. There is no such thing as innocence before the judgment bar of God, for all follow in the footsteps of our father Adam. We all bear the guilt of our federal head. Death came into the world through that one man's sin. However, the only means of escape of the wrath of God is not our age, but is found in the active and passive obedience (life, death and resurrection) of Jesus Christ. This is true for the unborn infant in its mother's womb just as it is true for the 5 year old and for the 16 year old and for the adult. Thus this becomes an emotional issue. This emotion became clear in Dr. Caner's presentation as he spoke of some "reformed man" saying that only elect infants go to heaven, while there was a crowd of people sitting there who had miscarriages and lost children, even he and his wife. While I sympathize with Dr. Caner and his wife and all those who have miscarried and lost children, the truth is the truth. No unelect person will ever enter into heaven, no matter what there age. But they see this as injustice and not a correct view of God.

So much is this an emotional issue that Dr. Caner said that God did not hate Esau from before the foundation of the world, but rather hated what Esau DID. I nearly drove into a parked car when I heard that. That is not a hard issue of interpretation. Notice what the inspired writer says,

10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac
11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls),
12 it was said to her, "The older shall serve the younger."
13 As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated." (Romans 9)

His emotions and apparently the emotions of the congregation get in the way so much that they can't even hear what the text says. Even my little children can understand what is said here. As a matter of fact, I declare that even lost men can understand what is said here. Paul understands that when men understand what he is teaching in Romans 9, they will inevitably respond as he expects them to.

You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?"

Yet this is NOT how the Calvinist responds. This is how EVERY OTHER RELIGION RESPONDS. Only those who udnerstand the gospel of grace will not respond in this fashion. Dr. Caner is simply in error and it is not a small error, for this error colors everything he will say in regards to the nature of man, the nature and sovereignty of God, the atonement, and the nature of true saving faith. He is thus treading upon the true gospel and indeed the very need for the work of Christ in what he declares.

Second, and there is nothing new here, I grant, he is continually setting up straw men and knocking them over. He cites the passages that all Arminians cite, though they are completely devoid of context, and then uses them as the sledghammer to destroy the strawman. His text was 1 Timothy 2:1-8 and he attempted to demonstrate why he was not predentined to be a Calvinist.......uh hyper-Calvinst. Whichever one he meant, he wasn't predestined to be either one, I guess, since he cannot tell you the difference between the two (sort of like Dr. Geisler). These are the reasons why he is not a Calvinist, hyper-Calvinist, extreme Calvinist, mucho Calvinisto, grande Calvinista......oh you get the idea.

1. He says that the Calvinist cannot trust in the love of God.

2. He says they cannot believe that God wants all me to be saved.

3. He says they don't believe Christ died for the whole world.

4. He says they do not see missions as an obsession.

Now each of these have been fully addressed by reputable men who hold to the doctrines of grace. They have been addressed down through history, and yes even Baptist history. So since Dr. Caner has been involved in the production of two Southern Baptist history books, he should know the response and actually respond to them. However, he doesn't. Not only that but he misrepresents several faithful men of God who were Calvinists (John Gill and William Carey).

Point number one is truly an incredible slander. Of course we trust in the love of God. The apostle John said that the reason we love God is BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US (1 Jn. 4:19). John said just before that in 3:1, " Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him." There are passages too numerous to cite to show that we can trust in the love of God, but the love of God is really not the issue here. Again, it is an emotional kind of love that Dr. Caner is speaking about.

The kind of love Dr. Caner is speaking about is the kind of affection that just gets spread around and "feels" real good, and in the case of God, he sees Him trying really hard, but unfortunately the sinner has all the real power and that is to get himself into a position to be born again or reject Christ, not knowing that he is already in the state of the latter. This undiscriminating love definitely takes a shot at the character of God, not the Calvinist position. It sees God's love as syrupy, milk toast love that cannot accomplish anything, but is powerless against the strength of the sinner's will.

Second, Dr. Caner says that Calvinists do not believe that God wants all men to be saved. There are some Calvinists who take this passage to reference every single individual. The great English preacher Charles Spurgeon said in a sermon on 1 Timothy 2:3-4:

What then? Shall we try to put another meaning into the text than that which it fairly bears? I trow not. You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text. "All men," say they,—"that is, some men": as if the Holy Ghost could not have said "some men" if he had meant some men. "All men," say they; "that is, some of all sorts of men": as if the Lord could not have said "all sorts of men" if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written "all men," and unquestionably he means all men. I know how to get rid of the force of the "alls" according to that critical method which some time ago was very current, but I do not see how it can be applied here with due regard to truth. I was reading just now the exposition of a very able doctor who explains the text so as to explain it away; he applies grammatical gunpowder to it, and explodes it by way of expounding it. I thought when I read his exposition that it would have been a very capital comment upon the text if it had read, "Who will not have all men to be saved, nor come to a knowledge of the truth." Had such been the inspired language every remark of the learned doctor would have been exactly in keeping, but as it happens to say, "Who will have all men to be saved," his observations are more than a little out of place. My love of consistency with my own doctrinal views is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture. I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater. I would sooner a hundred times over appear to be inconsistent with myself than be inconsistent with the word of God. I never thought it to be any very great crime to seem to be inconsistent with myself; for who am I that I should everlastingly be consistent? But I do think it a great crime to be so inconsistent with the word of God that I should want to lop away a bough or even a twig from so much as a single tree of the forest of Scripture. God forbid that I should cut or shape, even in the least degree, any divine expression. So runs the text, and so we must read it, "God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
    Does not the text mean that it is the wish of God that men should be saved? The word "wish" gives as much force to the original as it really requires, and the passage should run thus—"whose wish it is that all men should be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth." As it is my wish that it should be so, as it is your wish that it might be so, so it is God's wish that all men should be saved; for, assuredly, he is not less benevolent than we are. Then comes the question, "But if he wishes it to be so, why does he not make it so? " Beloved friend, have you never heard that a fool may ask a question which a wise man cannot answer, and, if that be so, I am sure a wise person, like yourself, can ask me a great many questions which, fool as I am, I am yet not foolish enough to try to answer. Your question is only one form of the great debate of all the ages,—"If God be infinitely good and powerful, why does not his power carry out to the full all his beneficence?" It is God's wish that the oppressed should go free, yet there are many oppressed who are not free. It is God's wish that the sick should not suffer. Do you doubt it? Is it not your own wish? And yet the Lord does not work a miracle to heal every sick person. It is God's wish that his creatures should be happy. Do you deny that? He does not interpose by any miraculous agency to make us all happy, and yet it would be wicked to suppose that he does not wish the happiness of all the creatures that he has made. He has an infinite benevolence which, nevertheless, is not in all points worked out by his infinite omnipotence; and if anybody asked me why it is not, I cannot tell. I have never set up to be an explainer of all difficulties, and I have no desire to do so. It is the same old question as that of the negro who said, "Sare, you say the devil makes sin in the world." "Yes, the devil makes a deal of sin." "And you say that God hates sin." "Yes." "Then why does not he kill the devil and put an end to it?" Just so. Why does he not? Ah, my black friend, you will grow white before that question is answered. I cannot tell you why God permits moral evil, neither can the ablest philosopher on earth, nor the highest angel in heaven. from

Now, I believe Spurgeon was wrong in his assesment. I do hold to what the "older Calvinists" hold, but not because of verses 3 and 4, but because of the context.

1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,
2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,
6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,
7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle----I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying----a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

The whole idea that what Paul is stating is that all men is meant to be every single person is just ridiculous considering the elements of the passage. First we have a clear distinction of kings and those in authority. This becomes clearer as the passage goes on and incorporates Jesus as Mediator and the fact that He gave Himself as a ransom for all. When a ransom is paid, does the payer not get what He paid for? If so, why are some of those whom Dr. Caner would refer to as being purchased, in fact, not purchased? Is Christ mediating for them before the Father? Was His death on their behalf? And by the way, where in the Scripture are we told to tell men that Christ died for them specifically? We are told to speak of what He did, according to the Scriptures, for the forgiveness of sin and we are told to preach to men that God has commanded them to repent since He has demonstrated His faithfulness to His Word and His holiness in judging sin upon His own Son and in fact receiving His Son’s atoning work by raising Him from the dead. I say that Christ receives ALL that He purchased, not some.

Third, Jesus did die for the whole world. What is the context of those kind of verses? Again, does this mean every individual who ever lived? Of course not. Some men had died and entered into judgment centuries before Christ came, while others did not enter judgment at their death because they believed the gospel preached to them concerning Christ. Yes, the gospel was preached in the Old Testament (ex. Cf. Gen. 3:15; Gen. 15:4-6; Gal. 3:8). This is such a simple thing by logic and Scripture to prove that frankly I am amazed that many more don’t understand the teaching. When John says that Jesus is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world, we must understand what propitiation is. The term hilasmos speaks of an appeasing. The idea is that Christ is an appeasement for the wrath of God. Now if Christ, in fact, has appeased the wrath of God, then why is the wrath of God upon sinners in Hell? The answer always comes back, “Unbelief”. Is unbelief a sin? Did Christ die to appease the wrath of God against sin? Then why is there a problem? I could go on and ask doesn’t that make God unjust if Christ indeed appeased the wrath of God for every individual and then took it back for those in unbelief and punished them for their own sins? Of course it would make Him unjust, but the Scripture declares that there is not injustice with God.

The final point is simply ridiculous. I am familiar with several organizations who are reformed who are very interested in missions. Our small fellowship is helping a Reformed Baptist missionary in South Korea who ministers to Chinese migrant workers in hopes of preparing them to go back to China to start home churches and take the gospel there. We support a young man and his wife who are sovereign grace missionaries who will be leaving next month for the jungles of Iran Jaya to take the gospel there. That claim has no merit towards the like of godly men of the past who instituted many of the missions organizations, such as William Carey, John G. Paton, David Brainerd and many others. Shame on Dr. Caner and others who clearly malign men of God and the truth concerning this issue. We, ourselves share the gospel in all types of settings as we are given opportunity. We do not have to wait to get people into church (see my friend Nathan White’s blog on this) in order to present them with the message of the gospel. No, we take the gospel as we are going teaching them to observe ALL that Christ commanded.

He states Paul’s claim that is “for this reason that I was appointed a preacher of the gospel”. Yes, but Paul also said, “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Paul took the gospel to the world. Calvinists take the gospel to the world. If they don’t they are not worth the paper their confession is on. They are a very denial of the doctrines they profess and let me be clear………..they are not Calvinists, they are hyper-Calvinists.

Lastly, as for his whole example of “age of accountability”, let me say that he didn’t derive that from Romans 2:15. Children do not learn like animals. They are created in the image of God. They very thing he is doing will produce a Pharisee, not a disciple of Christ. That is humanistic psychology that he just purported. It is not a biblical view of man. The fact that he does not see that all men are brought into sin by their father Adam and that death is judgment for that sin and since there are babies that die, that is a part of the judgment of sin, is a huge theological issue. As a matter of fact, it is down right Pelagian.

If we want to help our children we bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Nurture is what you do (not punishment, but discipline), and admonition is what you say (instruction from the Scriptures, which are able to make them wise unto salvation). Our children are sinners by nature. They later evidence it by choice. We must be diligent in training them and if we believe the doctrines we claim we will do this knowing that if they are saved it is because of God's amazing grace.

Dr. Caner would do well to repent of such views. He should know better. There is no excuse for his error and he certainly will give an account before the God he is openly sinning against by bearing false witness, by presenting an unbiblical view of man, and distorting the holiness of God and by dishonoring the gospel of Jesus Christ. May God turn him from his ways that he may truly bring honor and glory to Him.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Clock is ticking....

No, not that clock. Though Jack Bauer is up to his eyes in some deep stuff that reaches all the way up to the President this season, I am not referring to 24. I am referring to our newest arrival. My wife was up all night Monday night with contractions but they never seemed to get consistent. She lost sleep the entire night and so I quickly did what I had to do Tuesday morning after everything seemed to subside and returned home so she would be able to rest. Though she was tired, she was unable to get any real sleep even with all of us out of the house.

However, thankfully Tuesday night she did sleep well. She is very tired and expectant of being delivered. Please pray that God would show mercy and deliver her soon.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Her worth is far above rubies

Pr 18:22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the LORD.

I cannot tell you what a joy it is to be married to a wonderful helpmate such as I have. The truth contained in the passage above from Proverbs is beyond my ability to express. The joy of having one that you are intimate with in every way and you are of one mind in all that you do trully is a wonderful blessing of the Lord. I hear many people say, and sadly many in the church, that marriage and love are things you "have to work hard at." Huh? Marriage and love are not things that are hard to work at. Selfishness is something difficult to abandon, but not those things. Love flows out of a heart of gratitude to God that He has so blessed me with a helpmate that is an encourager and a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus.

I am writing because she has just finished up her cake decorating classes (at least the first 2) and brought home a beautiful cake for us to enjoy. She has been bringing home several of these little goodies and this last one, in my opinion, takes the cake (pun intended:). The girls have just been oooing and ahhhing over her skills and I am hopeful that they will be passed on to them over the next few years, that they may use them in their own homes one day for the glory of God.

We are also just days away (hopefully) from the birth of our seventh child (Richard Cameron Brown). Everyone in the family is eagerly awaiting hearing his first cries and seeing him. What an amazing thing God does as He forms babies in their mother's womb. How all of the "stuff" of the human body comes together is simply amazing to me, and yet the Psalmist wrote that he was "fearfully and wonderfully made". Though conceived in sin, he still bears the imprint of the Creator.

I pray God will give Denise strength in these coming days, for she is very tired and busy. She teaches the children each day, does the duties of the home and incorporates all of this among 6 littles ones and 1 big one (yours truly). I believe that her children will rise up and call her blessed (they are already beginning to do so). The men and women from our area also know her well and always extol her qualities.

There are many things I could say regarding Denise. She continues to receive grace from God each day, enough for the tasks she has to do. If people knew just half of those things they would be blown away. I recall when we were expecting Hannah and she wondered how she would ever make do with 3 children. I have seen her grow in the Lord and with our last two heard her say that God is sovereign and that if He gives children, then He will provide the grace and necessities to provided for them. What a blessing for me to hear!

For now, I'll close with this:
"Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies."

Praise God! I have found such a woman!