Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Man Crisis Within The Church

There is a man crisis within the church. Older men fail to end well. Middle aged men fail to maintain emotional connections with those they love. Younger men are delaying maturity. The family is suffering as is the church.

"Church Planter" by Darrin Patrick from Crossway on Vimeo.

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jesus Wept: When Men Weep

Two words only, a subject and a verb (John 11:35). We like to think of Jesus as our tower of strength. He is our Rock, a strong arm to lift us and carry us in our weakest moments. The shortest verse in the King James Version doesn’t seem to portray a God of strength. In a man’s world where strength and toughness is most important, even if it is occasionally only an illusion, the idea of the greatest man the world has ever known weeping at the tomb of a friend brings great discomfort.

We (men) are so often obsessed in our attempt to portray toughness that we fail to allow our friends and family see the compassionate side of our nature. Don’t deny it, we all have a compassionate side because we have all been created in the image of a compassionate God. Here, at the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus is openly and unabashedly expressing his deepest compassion for Lazarus and his friends.

It is a deception we often embrace that tears indicate a lesser man. My father served as a sergeant in the army. He was deployed to the European sector during WWII. As a medic in a hospital in France he heard men wail as they attempted to endure the unimaginable pain of their wounds. He saw men beg to see their wives and children one last time. He saw men look in horror at missing legs and arms. He witnessed many men breath in their last breath and pass away having made the ultimate sacrifice for their families and their country. It wasn’t a place for the weak kneed or the feeble hearted.

I have known few men who were tougher than my father. As a child he suffered abuse from an alcoholic father, he lost his mother when he was only 17 years of age, he was often fed by the neighbors and he and his brothers occasionally took on all comers in ally fights after school. He lived with relatives until he was old enough to join the army. His first wife abandoned him while he was serving his country overseas. On a surprise visit home he found his two-year old son alone while his mother had gone out. These difficulties in my father’s life created a man who had survived many wounds in his heart. I never knew a man any stronger than my father.

My father wept. He was a hard man whose heart was full of compassion for others. I accompanied him many mornings when we drove along dangerous and icy roads in northern Pennsylvania to bring children who lived in ‘shanty town’ to church. My father wept when he saw children kneel at an altar and confess sins to Christ. The family would occasionally watch a television movie together and when the plot turned sad my father was always the first in the room to feel the warmth of wet tears form rivulets on his cheeks. My father had the unique ability to walk into a room, weep tears of compassion and leave without a single person having the slightest question about his masculinity.

Jesus stood at the tomb of Lazarus and wept. No man need question the masculinity of Christ. He contradicted the fallacy of our modern culture that promotes the idea that a compassionate heart is less manly. Only a man of immense strength and grace could have endured such suffering as Christ endured on the brutal cross that pierced Golgotha. I envision Christ one day splitting the eastern sky riding upon a powerful, white stallion submissive to its rider. The One who wept at Lazarus’ funeral will come with sword in hand. He will come as the greatest conqueror the world has ever known. He will do what Adolf and Alexander and Attila only dreamed of doing. He will conquer the world and his rule will be eternal and uncontested.

This conquering Jesus stood at the tomb of Lazarus and wept. He wept because he felt compassion for those whose hearts were broken. He wept because he understood the effects and consequences of sin. He felt in one moment of time all the pain and heartache and sorrow death would bring to mankind. He saw the orphan child looking into the casket of his mother one last time. He saw the war widow weeping on the grave stone of her newlywed husband. He saw the aged widow quietly say goodbye to her lifelong companion to whom she had been married for 68 years. He saw the broken heart of a young mother as she held her still- born child.

Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus because he was standing at the casket, the graveside, the tombs of millions more who would suffer the pain of death. Jesus wept because he wanted to teach the men of the world that masculinity is never threatened by compassion. He was teaching us that a man never reaches his full masculinity unless he learns to love, not simply with a few sentimental words but with the fullness of all his heart. When a man loves with such fullness it is not uncommon for him to weep.

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Emphasis - Sleeping at Last


Death is promised to the bee whose sting protects the colony.
Was it's life worth nothing more than honey for the queen?
Life is a branch and it is a dove, handcrafted by confusing love.
Sign language is our reply, when church bells make no sound.
In hollow towers and empty hives, we craved sweetness with a fear of heights.
Was it all just a grain of sand in an hourglass?

The smartest thing I've ever learned is that i don't have all the answers,
just a little light to call my own.
Though it pales in comparison to the overarching shadows,
a speck of light can reignite the sun and swallow darkness whole.

Death is a cold, blindfolded kiss.
It is the finger pressed upon our lips.
It puts an unwanted emphasis on how we should have lived.
Life is a gorgeous, broken gift.
Six billion pieces waiting to be fixed.
Love letters that were never signed, sent to where we live.

But the sweetest thing I've ever heard is that I don't have to have the answers,
just a little light to call my own.
Though it pales in comparison to the overarching shadows,
a speck of light can reignite the sun and swallow darkness whole.

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

This is the 30 foot statue of Martin Luther King on the National Mall. It was carved by a Chinese artist Lei Yixin. Wasn't Martin Luther King a kind, gentle man who loved peace. He looks like a dictator! He could be a brother to Mao Zedong. Yixin carved a socialist rather than a Christian activist. An artist must first feel and understand the man he is carving before he can carve a realistic depiction. Folded arms? Shouldn't his arms be outstretched...more Moses-like rather than Mao-like?

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene: Wrath of God?

Hurricane Irene: Wrath of God?

The speculation will begin. Was hurricane Irene another judgment of God upon America? Some will claim that the hurricane is an expression of God’s anger and disappointment in a nation of millions who once sincerely pledged their loyalty as “one nation under God” and claimed indivisibility. The god we serve now is an ecumenical god. It is the god George Bush promoted shortly after the 911 attacks. He declared his god was the same god of the Muslim and the Hindu and the Buddha. Who can know if Irene is a demonstration of God’s judgment? What is known is that Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) It is also known that God made a strong declaration about serving other gods, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)

Does God select natural disasters and throw them at rebellious countries like darts at a dart board? Is he aiming darts at Washington D.C.? Last week the city experienced a ‘once in a hundred years’ earthquake that measured 5.9 on the Richter scale. A week later they are bracing for hurricane winds and possible flooding? It wouldn’t take much to convince many that those natural events are a warning from God?

James Boice tells of an old woman in the bush country of Rhodesia. She spoke to a visiting missionary, “You have brought us the light but we don’t seem to want it. You have brought us the light but we still walk in darkness.” Jesus declared himself to be the “light of the world”. (John 8:12) “In him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (John 14-5) It is a phenomenal thing to observe. The light shines all around us and yet most fail to see the light. They are blinded by their own disbelief. They choose darkness over light and then suffer consequences for their poor choice.

It seems America is being run down by a darkness that will soon overtake us if it hasn’t already. “Walk while you have the light, before the darkness overtakes you.” (John 12:25) Hurricane Irene is but a minor distraction compared to the social hurricane that has twisted and corrupted our morals and seems intent on destroying American culture. The darkness is a result of confusing the true God with the inferior gods of false religions, the growth of atheism, the murder of 50 million unborn babies and the economic confusion and chaos caused by greed and graft. We have forgotten God and his many blessings. “You will suffer the penalty for your lewdness and bear the consequences of your sins of idolatry. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD." (Ezekiel 23:49)

Every unbelieving heart will one day believe. The God who is light will not allow his creatures to continue in darkness. Unfortunately, believing alone does not bring salvation to the soul. Satan and his imps believe strongly in the existence of God. Believing must be accompanied by humble confession in order to receive full salvation from sins and inherit eternal life through the Savior, Christ Jesus.

Is Irene a judgment of God? Perhaps. We are so blinded in our darkness that we fail to see the bigger hurricane that is destroying us. We can’t see the forest for the trees. We are suffering tremendous moral decline, we are politically polarized, we are an economic train wreck and we may well be on the brink of social unrest. We’ve been hit by a hurricane and it most certainly must be the judgment of God upon us.

There is refuge available for this great, destructive hurricane that is ripping our country apart. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Hurricane Irene will slam the east coast of America. It will rain its wrath on the just as well as the unjust. It will affect those who have embraced the light as well as those who have chosen darkness. But for those who are Christ followers they may find comfort in the words of the Psalmist and the Prophet.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. (Psa. 46:1-3)

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 nkjv)

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Webb Simpson Wins Wyndham, Proclaims Christ Lord and Savior



Webb Simpson Wins Wyndham, Proclaims Christ Lord and Savior

You probably don’t know James Frederick Simpson. If you are a fan of the PGA Tour you know him simply as ‘Webb’. Webb Simpson won the Wyndham Championship at the Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina. He lives only an hour and fifteen minutes from the club so he had the advantage of playing before a hometown crowd.

I was watching the tournament off and on all day but finally the dreaded chore of mowing the lawn beckoned me. Not a pleasant task in 95 degrees heat that feels like 150 degrees when you’re mowing the lawn and missing an exciting golf tournament. I called a time-out to watch the 18th hole. By that time Webb had the win wrapped up. I watched him pocket $936,000 as he shot a 3 under 67 to win by three strokes. His wife, Dowd, holding his infant son, James, met him in a warm family embrace on the 18th.

I was about to return to my dreadful task when the on-course reporter, David Feherty, interrupted the celebration. When he asked about his win, Webb was quick to give glory to his “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” I was hoping Feherty would ask Webb to expound on his statement about Jesus Christ but that seems to be a topic reporters tend to avoid like the plague. They quickly move on and the mention of his name seems to create an uncomfortable awkwardness for them.

As the sweat and grass clippings dropped from my arms and face I felt a strong sense of pride as a brother in Christ honored our Father. I have no idea how many Christians connected with a him at that moment but I can assure you we are legion.

What kind of man is Webb Simpson? He joins eleven other young players this year with first-time tour victories. He nearly accomplished that in May at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans. Simpson lost a stroke on the 15th hole when he called on a referee to confess that the ball had moved upon his addressing it. I don’t think any other person in the world would have noticed the miniscule movement of that ball but Webb did. His honesty cost him a stroke but secured his integrity. He was tied at the end of regulation and lost in a playoff to Bubba Watson.

What kind of man is Webb Simpson? He is a family man. He loves his family and demonstrates that openly to the whole world. When his son was born earlier this year the new father tweeted: @webbsimpson “ I’m so thankful to God for this day. James is happy and sleeping. I think he likes his Momma more than me” and “Fatherhood so far- truly amazing. Sleep so far- little to none. He’s my little pal already. God is good. Dowd is doing great.” God is central in his life whether he is winning a tournament, hugging his family or looking into the face of his newborn.

Earlier in the week, Mark Stevens asked Webb, who is a graduate and All-American golfer from Wake Forest if his best years were those spent in that school. Webb replied, “, “In terms of the best time of my life, I'm having it right now. I got married and have a baby and playing on the PGA TOUR.”

On Saturday Mark Stevens asked Simpson about his chances of winning the tournament: “You know, the way I look at it, if God wants me to win, then I will. If not, you know, I'll have plenty more opportunities. But I'm just going to rely on my faith and if it's my time, great, we're going to go out there and win my ten shots. If we come up short, then it's just the way it's going to happen.”

Simpson admitted to being nervous in a post-victory interview with John McGinnis. He said he was calmed by the words of the song: “The Lord is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken…”

Some would argue that one’s religion should be a private matter, not something to talk about or mention to others. That is an absurdity to the born-again Christian. We are compelled to “go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere”. When a man marries the love of his life he wants to celebrate and share his joy with family and friends. When a young couple have their first child they want the whole family to share in their joy. When a person experiences forgiveness and genuine relationship with Christ, trying to keep that a secret is like trying to keep a puppy in a shoe box. It’s very difficult if not impossible to do.

I checked Webb’s Facebook page and I found a multitude of comments like these:

“Congratulations, and for giving glory to your Lord as well! May He give you favor while you honor Him!”

“Congratulations!! Not just an amazing game but an amazing testimony to your faith. Well done!!”

“Congratulations on the great win today! Thanks for honoring our great Savior as well. Good luck on the quest for the FedEx cup!”

“I can't tell you how much of an inspiration it was to hear you give God the glory the way you did. That's the way to get others to understand that Jesus is Lord! :)”

“Pure Class! Great win and tribute to our Savior”

“I saw the last 4 holes and told my wife there is something about this guy that i like. As soon as u made that putt and honored our Lord & Savior, we said that he's our new favorite player. May God bless u & your family!”

New favorite player indeed. I trudged back out the door to finish mowing my lawn thinking: “Webb Simpson did something Tiger Woods has never done.”

kevin pic

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Walking with a Dummy - Funny Video

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Monday, August 15, 2011

10,000 Reasons - Matt Redmand (live)

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Laura’s Story


Laura Story’s Blessings

They were high school sweethearts. Usually those relationships fade away as we mature and grow older. Laura and Martin fell deeper and deeper in love and finally married. But marital bliss was interrupted by the terrorizing fear of sudden loss. Martin had developed a brain tumor. A healthy and handsome man in the prime of youth was hospitalized with no assurance of a future with his new bride.

When we arrive at unexpected crossroads, when our own happiness is threatened and we learn that his plan for us includes a direction we did not choose and pain we did not want there are only two directions we can go; we will become embittered and get angry with God and perhaps even hate him or we will discover an enduring and sustaining grace we never thought possible.

Laura Story chose the path that led her nearer to God. When I heard her song and read her story I couldn’t help but think of the verse in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Laura’s unexpected trial took her to a place where she could write the song “Blessings”. It is a song about responding with faith and hope when life takes a bad turn. Laura says, “Life is filled with things you don’t expect, but the Bible tells us to respond by trusting God and continuing to worship him. Martin hasn’t received complete healing—and that can be hard at times when we view God as all-powerful and all-loving. But here we are now saying, ‘Yes, this is how faith works.’ God has proven to be faithful. We have been truly blessed out of a circumstance that at first didn’t seem like much of a blessing at all.”

How many of God’s children have found comfort in his words? “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. I will never fail you. I will never abandon you." (Hebrews 13:5) It is often during the more difficult times that we discover “a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)

God doesn’t promise us a rose garden. Sometimes he sends his “refining fire” to purify us and awaken us so our senses are prepared for a deeper revelation of his glory. The suffering He allows and the subsequent grace has a transforming affect on us. Laura says, “We have a voice that wasn’t there prior to this suffering.”

Recently we saw many of our greatest warriors shot down in Afghanistan. They gave their lives for their country and for a cause they felt was bigger than themselves. I wondered when I read about this tragic loss if they would have signed up had they known the outcome. When we choose Christ’s way our commitment to the journey does not depend on our own contentment or happiness. We press onward for Christ whether the path leads through the valley or to the mountain heights. Laura reinforces this truth when she says, ““Everyone wants to be a mature and equipped follower, but would I have signed up had I known what it would take? God has grown us up, deepened our faith, our awareness of our great need for him as a savior, daily. We knew it before, but we didn’t see it. This is a good place to be.”

Laura writes a wonderful song about the mystery of how God can bring blessings through tragedy.

Nathan Hale was hung as a traitor by the British during the Revolutionary War. His last words mirror the feelings of many Christians, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” We have all been given but one life. We must make the most of it. Laura expresses it well, “The world supports an idea of self-centered living because ‘I just have this one life,’ but we need to look at it the other way. We only have one life to give to God. I don’t want to have held anything back. I don’t want to be a conservative Christian; I want to give with abandon, to be spent, to truly give my life away for the cause of Christ.”

Might we, like the Apostle Paul, learn to “be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11)

“'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears?

And what if a thousand sleepless nights

Are what it takes to know You're near?


kevin pic  Kevin Probst

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Invest In Something That Cannot Fail



Invest In Something That Cannot Fail

My older brothers and I grew up in a small town in northwestern Pennsylvania. The three of us were so different in so many ways. Randy was five years older than I. He was obsessed by his own curiosity. I was always satisfied to believe that if an object worked it was worth keeping, if it didn’t work it should be thrown away. Randy viewed things in an entirely different way. If it worked he wanted to divide it into pieces to determine why it worked and if it didn’t work he would embark on a mission to find reasons for its failure.

That’s why, as a young teenager I remember him spending hour upon hour in our father’s garage. He had attained a go-cart, whether he bought it, found it or it was given to him, I don’t remember. I know it didn’t work and so I quickly categorized it as a piece of junk worthy to be thrown into the deep ravine behind our house. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Randy dedicated many days to the task of fixing that go-cart.

One day, to my astonishment, I saw him putt-putt putting up the hill. He drove it out of sight but I could still hear the engine. And then I couldn’t hear the engine. A short time later I saw Randy pushing the cart back into the garage where he continued to invest in his dream, albeit, without much optimism. No longer an object of his affection, the cart was abused by my angry brother. My curiosity turned to amusement as I heard grunts of despair and an occasion hammer or screw driver come flying out of the garage.

Hours turned into days and Randy’s investment turned to futility. But he just couldn’t let it go. He was obsessed. He didn’t want to eat. He isolated himself from the rest of us. He couldn’t let it go because he had invested too much. The go-cart, which had little value from the first moment he pushed it into the garage seemed to increase in value after several days because of the deposits of hard labor and extensive thought Randy had invested. But it was an illusion. The truth is that the go-cart was always a piece of junk unworthy of Randy’s investment.

How common is it to mistakenly measure the value of something by the amount of time or energy we’ve invested in it?

The wealthiest man in the world is not Bill Gates. It is a man from Mexico named Carlos Slim. He made his wealth through the privatization of Mexico’s national telephone company during the 1990’s. In last week’s stock market dip, Carlos lost nearly $7 billion dollars! Even the investments of the richest man in the world can never be entirely safe.

The countries of the world stand like spectators at an air Fair who have just seen a plane crash to earth, motionless, with jaws hanging low as they witness the economic collapse of the greatest, wealthiest country the world has ever known. The world has been green for many decades now. The U.S. has been a like a forest of green money producing trees and the other countries of the world have been green with envy. The trees are bare now. The leaves have fallen and threaten to form a brown blanket of bankruptcy.

Who doesn’t have a story about a failed investment? Isn’t that what life is really all about? Fifty percent of Americans invest in marriage only to see it end. Al and Tipper Gore each invested forty years in their marriage. Cumulatively, they invested eighty years only to see their marriage end in divorce.

I invested several years pastoring a church that no longer exists. I taught five years in a high school that no longer exists. I’ve invested many, many years in friendships that have ended because of relocation or redirection that comes so unexpectedly in life.

Politicians can’t let failed policies go because they’ve made personal deposits that have encouraged them to think they are infallible. Media members hold onto failed politicians because they have honked their horns so loudly for them they cannot face the humility of a failed investment.

Here is some sound investment advice. Why not invest in a relationship that can never fail? Why not develop a relationship with someone who is perfect, someone who will never be dishonest, who will never fail you? The amazing thing is not so much that He is perfect, it is that the Perfect One would provide a way for imperfect beings like you and I to develop a relationship with him.

Why not invest in a relationship that will never end? There will be no divorce. There will be no death. Unlike many marriages and friendships, this relationship lasts forever and ever. It never dies, it never fades away. Leila Morris wrote a song over a hundred years ago that describes this relationship well; “Twas wondrous love which led Him for us to suffer loss, To bear without a murmur the anguish of the cross;” He purchased the right to claim us as sons and daughters, as joint heirs of the kingdom of God and now our relationship with him is “Sweeter as the years go by, Richer, fuller, deeper, Jesus’ love is sweeter, Sweeter as the years go by.”

Why do we spend our entire lives trying to find comfort in a fallen world? We spin our wheels in a manic mission to accumulate as much wealth and influence as possible only to be disappointed when we come to the end of the road and we are faced with the realization that our few moments here are like a drop in the ocean when compare with our eternal future. Why did we invest in something that would perish and fade away? “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20) Why don’t we invest in a kingdom that will never end?

Do you want a safe investment? Invest in the One who will “reign over the House of Jacob forever” and in a “kingdom that shall have no end.” (Luke 1:33)

kevin pic  Kevin Probst

Thursday, August 4, 2011

“The Shepherds Of My People Have Lost Their Senses”


Working Title/Artist: Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington: Goats Fighting<br />Department: Am. Paintings / Sculpture<br />Culture/Period/Location: <br />HB/TOA Date Code: <br />Working Date: <br />photography by mma, Digital File DP227630.tif<br />retouched by film and media (jnc) 5_27_10

We’ve dodged the bullet for the moment. We’ve raised the debt ceiling and there won’t be a run on the dollar yet as that would prove devastating to the world economy. But, we are only delaying the inevitable. A Pew survey was conducted to measure how many of the American people approved of the government’s approach to the budget debate. The results were stunningly troublesome…only 2% approve of their own government. In a government system like ours the consent of the governed is not an option, it’s a requirement.

I have never seen so much ideological polarization in our society. The fact that our leadership seems incompetent only exacerbates the problem. We seem to be swirling down a vortex of ideological chaos and a society in chaos is a society on the verge of civil unrest.

This ideological confrontation involves those who want to experiment with or mimic the political ideologies of others, notably socialist Europe and even communist countries. Only the totally blind would embrace ideas that have been tried by other countries and have failed, in some instants they have failed miserably. The arrogance of the liberal mindset is that somehow we are smarter and more advanced so we will make a failed system successful.

At the other end of the pole are those who believe we should follow the advice of those who have gone before. We should choose policies that have been proven to work in civilizations and ages past. The conservative mindset says, “Take what works and improve upon it.” The liberal mindset seems to say, “Take what hasn’t worked and tweak it and hope it will work.”

The Christian conservative takes it a step further. Choose the policies that God has appointed and are revealed to us in scripture. The fact that these policies have been successfully employed in previous societies coupled with the fact that they were formed in the mind of the living God is a sure formula for success. God always gives good advice. For instance, Joseph tapped into the wisdom of God when he saved silos full of grain for a rainy day. The Israelites ignored God’s advice about choosing a king. They wanted desperately to be like the pagan nations and they paid dearly for wanting to be like others rather than wanting to obey God.

Many American politicians seem intent on following the way of the Europeans. American spiritual leaders seem intent on following the teaching of Eastern mystics rather than the foundational teachings of the word of God. The result: the church and the government are disintegrating before our very eyes.

The philosopher, Russell Kirk, declares that “the conservative believes there exists an enduring order. That order was made for man and man is made for it: human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent.” (Ten Conservative Principles by Russell Kirk) Historically, those societies that lose sight of the existence of absolute truth and the dire need of depraved men to be governed by a truth that originates in a Source other than their own limited minds will all eventually fail, everyone, without exception.

When men depend on their own “coffee house” philosophies to try to run government the result is what you see in Washington today. Our two major political parties are like to Billy Goats butting heads. We need more money to run our country. The solution of one group (liberals) is to raise taxes, the solution of the other (conservatives) is to cut spending. The deadlock has stalled the government, compromise is illusive, chaos seems imminent and those looking for true leadership are severely disappointed by the misty shadows pretending to be true statesmen lurking around in the halls of Congress and in the office of the White House.

This idea may sound far-fetched to some but to fellow Christians it makes perfect sense. Why not turn to the source of true, unchanging wisdom for solutions. The answer to every individual, societal and governmental problem is found in the owner’s guide provided by the Creator. Our failure is certain if we stubbornly cling to the philosophies of men rather than embrace the truth of One who is superior. We display phenomenal foolishness when we refuse to consult He who is omniscient, all wise.

The recent agreement in Washington shouts to the American republic that our leaders are no longer motivated by patriotic and unadulterated love for their country. They take great pleasure in spending the money of others for their own political benefit. There is no hesitance to spend what belongs to future generations to ensure their own selfish comforts and ambitions. This is immoral behavior and Americans are disgusted by it.

Not only is their behavior selfish and immoral, it is foolish to the point of insanity. The common definition of insanity seems applicable: “Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.” When approval ratings for the president and the Congress level off somewhere below basement level you would think they would stop kicking the can down the road and try something different.

Obviously there is a phenomenal lack of wisdom among our political leaders. The solution is not simple but the first step is: seek wisdom from the One who is all wise. Sadly, the words of Jeremiah seem to be an accurate description of our dilemma: “The shepherds of my people have lost their senses. They no longer seek wisdom from the LORD. Therefore, they fail completely, and their flocks are scattered.” (Jeremiah 10:21)

Kevin and Shannon Probst 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Once Saved Always Saved–Can We ‘Lose’ Our Salvation?


One of the most difficult questions to answer in apologetics and Christian theology is, “Can a person lose his salvation?” For some it’s an issue of semantics. The word ‘lose’ indicates having misplaced something. It is not unusual for me to misplace my keys or the remote control but it is utterly ridiculous to entertain the idea that one might lose (misplace) their salvation. Can you imagine going into work one day and hearing a colleague say, “I’ve misplace my salvation, will you help me find it.” In that sense, of course, salvation cannot be ‘lost’.

We tend to emphasize salvation, or being born again, as a one time, crisis event. There is a sort of “cheap grace” idea that all that is necessary to assure eternity with God is to mentally assent to the idea that Christ is the Messiah and he did die on the cross and was resurrected for the salvation of mankind. If you ‘believe’ this you are in. Those who promote this shallow idea seem to be ignorant of the fact that how one behaves is determined by what one believes. Cheap grace is mental assent without any radical change in behavior. Genuine belief would change behavior. Those who follow this deception love to say, “Christ saved me for all the sins I committed, am committing and will commit. Therefore, it doesn’t really matter what I do, I’m saved.” The Apostle Paul condemned such heresy with strong words, “Shall we continue to sin that grace may abound? God forbid!” (Romans 6:1-2)

Most Christians would agree that God has given man a gift of free will. Our salvation is determined by what God wills (sovereignty) and what man chooses (free will). God’s plan is simple to understand: He wants to save sinners, make them into saints and then populate a new world. It is a sort of reverse creation. The first time he made the world and populated it with people. This time he is making the people to populate a new world. God doesn’t make a saint instantaneously, it is a process. A person can step on the road to salvation in an instant but then he is granted many opportunities to progress along the way.

Many look at salvation as an arbitrary experience God forces upon certain pre-destined souls. Others believe men cooperate with God for salvation by choosing to answer his call. If we are free to enter into salvation why are we not free to leave? This isn’t like Hotel California:

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
’relax,’ said the night man,
We are programmed to receive.
You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave!

It seems contrary to the nature of God to slam and lock the door once we enter. It may be possible for man to retain the ability to leave but it doesn’t seem probable. Why would anyone choose to leave heaven to live in hell? Why would anyone choose death rather than life, misery rather than serenity?

There are three stages of salvation: Justification is when the soul is set free from the penalty of sin. Sanctification is when the soul is set free from the power of sin and glorification is when the soul is set free from the possibility of sin. Justification is available to any who will confess their sins and abandon a sinful lifestyle. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) We enter the door of sanctification the moment we willingly consecrate our lives to Christ and we submit ourselves to a long, and sometimes tedious, process of becoming more and more like Jesus. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.” (John 17:17) Justification and sanctification are pre-requisites for the final stage of salvation called glorification when our salvation is finally complete. This stage comes after the death of the body when the soul is transported beyond the reach of temptation and sin for all of eternity. “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him…” (1 John 1:3)

Salvation is not complete until we have been glorified. When one boldly declares he cannot lose his salvation must we not ask, “How can you declare you cannot lose something you have not yet attained?” I am not yet ready to declare “Once saved, always saved” but when I cross the bar or when Christ appears to whisk away his own, in that day I will shout it to from the mountain at the top of my lungs, “I am once saved, always saved.”

I believe that “he who has started a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6) But God, through an act of love, seems to have tempered his own sovereignty by gifting man with free will. Christians are certainly eternally secure but this security is conditional. It could be disrupted by the sovereignty of God or the free will God has given man. Can a man lose his salvation? I don’t think so “for I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love.” (Romans 8:38) Paul goes on to list all the things that are incapable of separating us from God’s love. But, Paul does not include ourselves in that list. Can a man choose to become an apostate? The Bible seems to indicate that a man can choose to walk away from God. There are at least 80 passages of scripture in the New Testament that teach that the process of salvation can be interrupted, delayed or stopped altogether.

Jude 21 says, “Keep yourselves in God’s love” and verse 24 says, “He is able to keep you”. Doesn’t this indicate a conditional relationship? He will keep us if we will determine to be kept.

Jesus declared himself to be the true vine. The dead (unfruitful) branches are cut away and destroyed. The fruitful branches are pruned so they will produce even more fruit. “Remain in me and I will remain in you.” (John 15:4)

Christ warns against the prevalent teaching of ‘cheap grace’. “If we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. But a fearful expectation of judgment.” (Hebrews 10:26-17) There is a terrifying judgment for those who received knowledge of the way but broke away and chose to live in continuous, deliberate sin.

Peter says, “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them” (1 Peter 2:20) He is saying that they are worse off who have entered the way and then departed from it. This is contradictory for those who argue that we might continue to live a sinful lifestyle and still be rewarded eternal life. If they received eternal life how are they worse off?

In conclusion, I would question the idea that we cannot walk away from God because it seems to make God inconsistent. Either he has gifted us with free will or he has not. But I would argue strongly that it is very unlikely that a man would choose to walk away from God if he were truly, genuinely saved. Maybe a more accurate statement would be not so much, “Once Saved Always Saved” but “If Saved Always Saved.”

kevin pic  Kevin Probst

Monday, August 1, 2011

Saving Grace - How A Biblical Bully Was Born Again


When I say the word ‘grace’, what do you think of? There are a multitude of meanings for this lovely word. You may think of movement, ballet, elegance or charm.

I saw a bumper sticker once that said, “American by birth, southern by the grace of God.” Having grown up about 50 miles south of the Canadian border I’m not so sure I’m connecting with this particular aspect of God’s grace.

I saw a deer loping across a field not long ago and where the field meets the road there was a high fence, much taller than the deer. She didn’t even hesitate. It was a thing of beauty. With unbelievable grace she left her feet and sore through the air over that fence and land effortlessly on the other side.

I see grace in the Olympic event, synchronized swimming. I saw a beautiful bride take a long walk recently toward her groom. It was a true picture of grace. That bride is now my daughter-in-law.

For some of you, grace is a name. It might be your name or you may know someone named Grace. We have friends living in Atlanta who have a three year old daughter named “Gracie” and a little boy the age of our son, Kameron. I asked my six year old the other day had he decided who to marry yet and he surprised me by saying, “Yes, I have.” Well, I had to know so I asked him whom he had decided on. He said in a matter-of-fact way, “Gracie”. So I just had to know why and he said, “Because if I marry Gracie I’ll always be able to play with Hayden’s toys.

Try to wipe your mind clear of all these ideas of grace and let’s go to the biblical idea of grace. It comes from the Greek word, Charis. Its English sister is charity which means love. When we speak of grace we are inferring love. Grace doesn’t exist alone. It only exists in the hearts of people or a person. It is like hatred, or evil or goodness. It is not a thing, it is an expression.

Grace is the unmerited mercy given to us by God the Father and made available only through his son, Jesus Christ. Grace is God’s Redemption At Christ’s Expense. It is forgiveness when forgiveness is undeserved.

When I was growing up in the northwestern town of Meadville, Pennsylvania, we had a bully living in our neighborhood. He was a 15 year old who loved to terrorize those of us who were still in Junior High School. We never walked anywhere alone for fear we would run in to him.

Let’s consider another neighborhood bully.

His name was Saul and he was on the road to Damascus. He was an ornery fellow if there ever was one. He had a deep seeded hatred for Christians. He persecuted Christians and assisted in the murder of Christians until he experienced a miraculous event in his life. This is how he described it in his own words: “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked. ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me. ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked.” (Acts 22:6-10)

Saul experienced a wonderful conversion that day. He experienced Saving Grace. His name was changed to Paul and he became the greatest missionary who ever lived. He is probably responsible for more souls finding Christ than any other man in history.

Later on in his life he is telling his Christian brothers about this event. “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” – (1 Cor. 15:9-10)

1. Saving Grace is generous. We may or may not receive forgiveness from men but God is generous in his grace. He wants more than anything to forgive you. Our God loves to give and he gives mercy and forgiveness freely to those who will seek it.

2. Saving Grace is undeserved. If you have experienced his saving grace, you received something you didn’t deserve. It is the unmerited favor of God. You can do nothing to earn this grace. It is available not only to those who don’t deserve it but it is available to the very enemies of God. It is for those who despise God and who are ungrateful and entirely undeserving.

3. Saving Grace is available. There are those who teach that this grace is limited to only a select few. This smacks of a sort of Christian elitism, our four and no more. Christ does not limit his atonement for a select few. He is not willing that any should perish. “For God so loved the world that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

One can experience saving grace in a moment of time. He then claims that he is saved. But salvation is more than an instantaneous experience, it is a life-long process. Isn’t it more accurate to say, “I am being saved” rather than “I have been saved?” Salvation is not just an event, it is a journey. It is the long process of becoming more and more like Jesus.

Paul said, "Now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed." (Romans 13:11) Full salvation doesn’t happen in a moment, it happens over a lifetime. We are not yet perfect but we hope for perfection: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (1 John 3:2-3).

One man humbly prayed to God, “Lord, I’m not what I ought to be, I’m not what I’m going to be, but praise God, I’m not what I used to be.”

kevin picKevin Probst