What Am I?

I get E-mail and phone calls all the time from people who try to pin me down. It stands to reason. I am on six radio stations every day. I am on a local TV station. I have a web site that receives over 20,000 hits per day. When you have that much exposure, some people are going to hear you say and write some things that they do not agree with or that may cause them to wonder what I believe about certain doctrines.

Just last week, a very dear friend of mine asked me if I was a reformed Baptist. I know he will read this, and that’s OK, because I will tell you like I told him. No, I am not a reformed Baptist. I got a phone call from another Pastor friend just today. He wanted to now if I was a Calvinist. I am sure he will read this post, so I will tell you what I told him, no I am not a Calvinist. (By the way, I have nothing but love and respect for both these men. They are my friends and we are colleagues in the work of the Savior. We may not see eye to eye on every issue, but that is fine with me! I love them and respect them and pray for them as they lead the flocks they have been given. I pray for their ministries and for God to bless them in a great way. Their questions have merely prompted me to articulate some of what I believe. I hope that is all right with you two men!) Others want to know if I am an independent Baptist or a Southern Baptist. Like that issue even matters at all. I just tell them all that I am a “dependent Baptist“.

So, what am I then? Here is a nutshell is what I am:
I am a redeemed sinner who is saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. I am a plain old Baptist who rejects labels. I believe salvation is wholly of grace and is the work of the Holy Spirit in the human heart. I believe that man is a lost sinner, dead in trespasses and sins and that he cannot come to God by himself. He must be drawn to God by the Holy Spirit. I believe that a sinner must repent of sin and embrace Jesus by faith or he will never be saved. I believe Jesus gave His life on the cross for “whosoever will“. Anyone who will come to Him can be saved, if they will believe the Gospel. I believe the Gospel is this: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,1 Cor. 15:3-4. And this: “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,Rom. 4:25. I believe the way of salvation is this: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved,” Rom. 10:9 and this: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” Acts 16:31. I believe in biblical election, predestination and foreknowledge. I believe in the absolute inability of mankind. Man is a dead sinner with no good in him at all. I believe in the preservation and the perseverance of the saints. I believe the redeemed are kept and that they will live like it. I believe that anyone who goes to Heaven goes because of God’s grace, and that is a biblical truth we should all embrace. I embrace, as far as I understand them, the great doctrines of God’s grace.  I reject “easy-believism”. I reject this repeat this prayer after me and if you believe it with all your heart you will be saved/now raise your hand if you prayed this prayer/Amen, now you are saved/ mentality that has overtaken our Baptist churches. I reject the notion that everyone who bows in an altar and makes a profession is saved. In fact, I think the altar call, as it is practiced by many has done more to fill the church with lost people than anything else that could be named. I believe that our pews are filled with people who have never had a personal encounter with the grace of God. All they have is the promise of some preacher who told them they were saved because they recited his formula. I believe that when God convicts a lost sinner, opens his eyes to his condition and draws him to Jesus, he will come to the Lord and he will know what he needs to do and he will do it. I believe a lot more than that, but that is enough for today!

So, would I call myself “reformed“? No! (I realize that some of you would!) Would I call myself a “Calvinist“? No! (I realize that some of you would!) If I had to attach a label to what I am, I would say that I am a “Graceist” I would say that I am a Baptist in the same vein as Charles Spurgeon. I would say, most of all, that I am amazed to be saved! I ought to be in Hell! If I got what I deserved, that is just where I would be today. But, I praise the Lord that I did not receive justice. I praise the Lord that He did not reach down to me in fairness. I thank God that He came to me in grace and saved my soul in spite of what justice and fairness demanded!

I am a lot more than these things, at the end of the day, I am His and that is all that matters! What are you? I would like to know!



Women’s Conference

Our first ever women’s conference is underway now. We have about 250 women in attendance and the Lord has blessed in a special way. In our first session, held last evening, my daughter Nikki Carswell shared her experiences related to the birth and death of her daughter, and my granddaughter, Johanna Raye Carswell. Author and conference speaker Carol Kent spoke to a packed house. Last night, after Carol Kent spoke, several made professions of faith. We praise the Lord for that! The meeting has been well attended, well-organized and well blessed. We are thankful for the Lord’s presence and blessings. I am thankful for the women and men from our church that labored to make the conference a reality. Today, the women have heard from Christine Braidwood, a retired 30 plus year missionary to Haiti. She spoke of her burden for the Haitian people, especially in light of the tragedies they are suffering from this week’s earthquake. A special offering was received to send to our missionaries, Steve and Judy Revis. The women gave $1,700.00 for relief efforts in Haiti. Carol Kent also spoke in the morning session. In a few moments they will begin their final session of the conference. Lori James, a local Pastor’s wife, will speak. Then, Carol Kent will speak for a final time. The music for the conference has been provided by Janet Haas . Janet has travelled with the Hayes Family, which is comprised of her mom, dad, sister and brother, for over 35 years. It is been a tremendous conference! Help us pray about future conferences.


Quick Update

This is a quick update from North Myrtle Beach, SC. I am preaching tonight at Dogwood Hills Baptist Church in Loris, SC for the Carolina Baptist Association’s evangelism conference. I would appreciate your prayers as we gather for the meeting this evening. I trust the Lord will honor is Word and speak to the hearts of those in attendance.

I appreciate all the doors the Lord opens for me to go and preach. I am thankful for the ministry He has given me, which allows me to travel here and there preaching the Gospel of grace. It excites me to see the Lord work. I blesses me to see Him honor His Word. It thrills me to see people place their faith in Jesus. It humbles me when the Lord uses me as His vessel to declare His truth. I praise Him for the opportunities I have enjoyed as a preacher of the Gospel; I look forward to what God has in store for me down the road.

Please pray for the service tonight.


Happy New Year

I really stink at this blogging thing. It seems that life and ministry take up so much time that there is no time left to devote to some of the other things i like to do.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a great Christmas. We did in our family and I am thankful for that. I am also thankful it is behind us for another year. I am not a big fan of all the Christmas hoopla.

The days since Christmas have been a whirlwind of activity for me. Last Monday I preached the funeral of a 13-year-old girl who died as the result of a car wreck. I will not call it an accident because I do not believe in accidents, and because this was a wreck that could have easily been avoided. Be that as it may, this young lady was ejected from the car and died as the result of a closed head injury. I never met her in this life, but I understand that she was a shy, sweet girl who attended church with a friend. She made a profession of faith a while back, so that gave us all hope. Her family needs hope. Most of them are lost. Thus, the services were sad because most of the folk in attendance did not have the hope of a heavenly reunion. I did my best to preach the Gospel to them and tell them the biblical way of salvation. That night I was called to a local elementary school to counsel several children and adults who had known the deceased little girl. It was another wonderful opportunity to offer them the comfort and hope that can only be found in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am confident that God is using this young lady’s death to speak to hearts in our community. Please pray that He will save souls through this tragedy.

Today is the first service of 2010. I am looking forward to going forward for the glory of God. I am still in Ephesians 1 on Sunday mornings, and I am enjoying the journey through this wonderful book.

Wherever you are, I pray that your Lord’s Day services will be filled with His presence, His blessings and His power. Pray for us at Calvary. We would appreciate it!