One plants, another waters, God gives the increase

The year was 1962. 34 people met in a tent near what is now I-35 in Lewisville, Texas. The Lakeland Baptist church was born. The church was named for the housing development nearby. Little did those few people know that the town would grow so that their pie shaped lot would eventually have them land locked and unable to do much expansion.

The church did grow, for many years they had baptisms every Sunday (and still might..). They couldn’t build a larger building so what did they do? They planted 14 start up churches in nearby North Texas communities. Today they have two foreign language congregations using their building each week, one of which is at near 400 in attendance. Unselfish people!

Oh, by the way. One of those 14 church plants was what is now The Village Church. The Village Church, with Pastor Matt Chandler,  just recently opened it’s fourth campus. They are reaching thousands of people for Christ on the north side of Dallas Ft. Worth.

The tiny church you help to plant might just someday be a mega-church. I know, some people frown on mega-churches. But good ones have mega-love and are mega-gospel and reach mega-people with the very good news about Jesus!

Lakeland Baptist has baptized many thousands of people at the original location and only the Lord knows how many in those church plants and their other mission outreaches. My hat is off to this gospel centered people.

Trust and Obey

I started studying the Bible when I was in my early twenties. I had been in Sunday school classes, Vacation Bible school, and  church services but had never had an appetite for learning about God and the Bible. My interest peaked when I started growing up and realizing the responsibilities of being an adult. I was married, struggling financially much of the time, the few prayers I prayed were seemingly not being answered, and I was searching for truth.

As I began to read long passages of Scripture, (even whole books of the Bible), and tried to understand what they really meant to me, I was shocked that at least some of what I had been taught was in my view not biblical. Later, after I entered Bible school for ministry training, I was also shocked that there were so many different views of what I considered to be important doctrines among the staff. It was there that I first was convinced that people of good will can have differing views of many things in the Bible and still work together for the greater good of Christ and the gospel. I learned that the gospel of Christ is truly of first importance, it is the watershed of Bible doctrine and everything else is somewhat less important.

So it was that my training was a mixture of ideas, opinions, and traditions all of which were supported by the Bible according to those who taught them. We were Southern Baptists, we were “free will” people, with many of us coming from the Free Will Baptist perspective. My parents fit that description. Both of my parents were shaped by Free Will Baptist preachers from the hills of Western North Carolina. In their understanding of God and salvation there we many, many more ways to lose your salvation than to find it.

By the time I was in my late 30’s my mother (who was blind) had been exposed to many, many hours of Bible teaching by a variety of teachers by way of radio. She was greatly influenced by J. Vernon McGee, and by her fairly new pastor, Rev. Kenneth Ridings, a great Bible man. My dad had been saved and was on fire for Jesus, and he too, had left some of the old teachings that he had learned in his earlier years. He had been baptized in his 20’s but it was pretty obvious to my mom and everyone who knew him that he really was born again much later in life. His passion was Jesus and telling others about him until he went to meet him in the late spring of 1993.

I was in my late 50’s when I first started to grapple with what some refer to as “the doctrines of grace”, known more widely as Calvinsim, and more narrowly as “monergism”. It was not that I was reading writers who embraced the TULIP of Calvin, it was quite the opposite. I was reading my Bible and started to see dozens of texts that I usually either ignored or believed as I had been covertly taught, “they don’t mean what they say”. The more I studied and read the Bible the more I saw! I came to the place where I had to deal with those obvious truths, many of which were the opposite of what I had believed for decades and taught myself.

It became clear to me that I was in a theological pickle, so to speak. I could not embrace the 5 points of Calvinism, at least the way I understood them. Neither could I any longer believe as some of my friends that election and predestination are “not true”. I was and am a member of great Church of Christ and trust me, “Reformed” or “Calvin” are ugly words in the minds of most Restoration people.

Somewhere around my yearly 60’s, (I’ll be 68 this month) it all started to come together. My mountain of a problem had been that I was trying to find out which doctrine was right. I thought I must believe either the doctrines of grace, or be a full blown Armenian. I knew for sure I was not a true blue “free will” guy and I couldn’t buy all that the Reformed guys were saying, so I was “between a rock and a hard place’, as the saying goes”.

I have said this many times before but I don’t believe people get it. My options as a Christian, as to the written revelation of God is not “either, or“! Christians are not given the liberty to pick and choose what parts of the Bible they will believe and live by. Our’s is to try, the very best we can, with God’s help, to believe and live by ALL of the scriptures. Of course we must use the wisdom God gives to understand it in context, we can’t ignore the widely accepted methods of biblical interpretation.

When dealing with complex and difficult differences in the Bible there is a better option than “either, or”. The far better option is “both, and“. If it is in the Bible it is true! I now have peace about what I was finding in Scripture because I just believe it! Does God bring men to himself and open their understanding and cause them to repent and trust Jesus? Yes! Is man required to repent, and does he have the freedom to say yes or to reject? Yes! The Bible emphatically teaches both, and both are true. So let’s just believe what God says and let him be God!

Today I stumbled across something that perhaps makes much more sense of this idea than I can convey myself. I quote from Justin Taylor’s blog…

What is compatibilistm?

D. A. Carson provides a good introduction when he argues that the following two propositions are both taught and exemplified in the Bible:

  1. God is absolutely sovereign, but his sovereignty never functions in Scripture to reduce human responsibility.
  2. Human beings are responsible creatures—that is, they choose, they believe, they disobey, they respond, and there is moral significance in their choices; but human responsibility never functions in Scripture to diminish God’s sovereignty or to make God absolutely contingent.

Carson right argues that “We tend to use one to diminish the other; we tend to emphasize one at the expense of the other. But responsible reading of the Scripture prohibits such reductionism.”

“Hundreds of passages,” he suggests, “could be explored to demonstrate that the Bible assumes both that God is sovereign and that people are responsible for their actions. As hard as it is for many people in the Western world to come to terms with both truths at the same time, it takes a great deal of interpretative ingenuity to argue that the Bible does not support them.”

I agree! I was mowing my lawn today as I thought about these things and it dawned on me that most of us believe as Carson does to some degree. We hold that a sinner is required to repent and that he has the God given free will to choose to follow Jesus, to come to faith and be baptized. All very true. But, why do we pray for him to come to God? If we don’t on some level believe that God can move a man toward repentance and faith, why pray? If we ask God to change the person’s will are we not admitting that God can change it?

I believe that almost all of us who are Christians would agree that we would not be believers today except for the work of God in our lives. When Jesus said to those rough cut fishermen and others who would be his inner circle, “Follow me”, could they have refused? Yes. But it’s a big deal to me that they didn’t.

Royce Ogle


It’s not about me.

Carved on the back of the pulpit at our church, facing the speaker, are these words. “It’s not about me.” Guess what? It’s not about you either! God lavishes his grace on you and me for the praise of his own glorious grace, a grace fully and finally expressed in God being pleased to crush Jesus (Isaiah 53:19), the righteous for the unrighteous (1 Peter 3:18) as planned by God before the world was created. (Acts 2:23, Ephesians 1:3-10)

God did not create us, or save us, because he was lonely, or needed a friend. The divine purpose of the holy scheme of redemption is stated clearly many times throughout the Bible but three times in the first chapter of Paul’s letter to Ephesus. “ the praise of His glorious grace (vs 6), “ the praise of His glory (vs 12), and “ the praise of His glory” (vs 15).

Much of the confessing world makes the mistake of believing, and living as though, God’s plan is “all about me”. Far too often you and I focus on what’s in it for us rather than giving God praise and glory by obedient living, jubilant worship, and telling about what God has accomplished in the life and work of Jesus the Lamb of God with every means possible.

Nuggets of Fudge – Reflections on Temptation, A Wrap Up.

This post is the conclusion of a series of posts by my friend Edward Fudge. There is far more to be learned from these posts than about the subject of temptation in the Christian’s life. As usual, great biblical truths are a part of everything Edward writes. This series is no exception. They are jam packed with great doctrinal truths that we all need to know and appropriate.

The previous posts can be found here. Temptation (1), Temptation (2), Temptation (3), Temptation (4), and in this issue parts 5 and 6. I hope these lessons will bless you as they have me.

To subscribe to Edward’s gracEmail click here and you will blessed with Edward’s wisdom, scriptural insight, and news about what is going on in his life and other things he finds interesting.

Now, Edward writes:



As these mortal bodies remind us, we have a fallen nature, and “natural” for us now includes a tendency to sin. As explained in Romans 6, the only way we can beat temptation is to die. People might sin in a cemetery, but the people who do so are not the folks who belong there. Whoever dies is liberated from sin and its appeal. Expect the devil to claim otherwise, but the truth is that sin’s power ends at the grave. But how does this help us, since we are still alive?

The answer is all about Jesus who rescues us from sin. Not only from its penalty, but also from its practice, and finally from its presence as well. He rescues us by becoming our high priest, standing in for us, taking our place, acting as our formal, official representative before God. But let us be specific: Jesus died–I died. Jesus was buried–I was buried. Jesus arose from the dead–I arose from the dead. These things really happened to Jesus, and because he is our representative, they also happened to us.

Fast forward now to the present. Satan comes tempting, reminding us that we humans, when left to our own power and to no other, cannot consistently resist sin. But Romans 6 interrupts. You died with Jesus, it says, and you moved past the jurisdiction of sin’s power over you. You were raised with Jesus, and you now live in righteousness–from a new power source that also empowers Jesus himself.

We can consider or reckon, calculate and conclude, that these things are really true–they truly describe the new reality in God’s new creation. In this new creation, whenever sin comes calling, we can say “no” to sin and present ourselves to God to do through us what he wishes. Sin’s power is broken–a new creation has begun and we are God’s righteous handiwork as he gradually makes us more and more like Jesus Christ himself.


The devil’s constant message and greatest lie is an attack on the very character of God. “God cannot be trusted,” Satan whispers. “You best keep an eye open if you really expect to be safe.” If we look closely, we see that all temptation to sin finally involves distrusting God. Not surprising, in the Gospels, Jesus’ saving ministry on earth begins and ends with the spotlight on this core issue. Can God be trusted to keep his promises?

“Since you are God’s son,” Satan literally begins in the wilderness (Luke 4:3). He dares not contradict the heavenly voice (Luke 3:22). Jesus would never fall for that. The issue is not Jesus’ divine sonship. The issue is the Father’s faithfulness. Can we trust God–and therefore obey him without fear or reservation–or must we look out for our own interests when dealing with the Father? Once, twice, then three times, Jesus deflects diabolical doubt. God’s word gives life, he affirms. Only God is worthy of our worship. Do not put him to the test (Luke 4:4, 8, 10). Jesus passes this test and Satan leaves him “until a more opportune time” (Luke 4:13).

The devil returns in Gethsemane, unseen and unnamed, but he brings the same haunting question as before: can Jesus really afford to trust God? The Father has said that Jesus is about to be slaughtered, then rise again on the third day. But can the Father be trusted to do that? Jesus’ prayer is not to avoid the cross, but rather to be rescued out of death. “Take this cup away from me,” Jesus prays; “yet not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:39-46). To drink God’s cup of wrath is to undergo divine judgment. For God to take away the cup is to be restored again to life in God’s favor (Isaiah 51:17, 21-22).

Jesus faces the same temptation to doubt the Father’s character when from the cross he cries out words from Psalm 22:1–“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Psalm 22 closes with the godforsaken one alive and praising God with his brothers and sisters. Can Jesus trust that to be the case? In the end, faith triumphs over distrust, and Jesus dies with the words: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” God is faithful to anyone who trusts in him. How do we know? We know because God raised Jesus from the dead.