i haven’t written a blog post in over a year, and it has been even longer since i posted anything other than a christmas greeting. when i first started this blog in 2005, no one i knew had ever even heard of facebook and the term “social media” was not yet in the cultural lexicon. but as facebook, twitter, and other sites have caught on and become a part of every day life, and with the radio show i was co-hosting “biblical thinking”, i sort of let the blog go. i was also suffering from a bit of writing burn out.

but, i have been thinking lately that i needed a place to flesh out ideas and thoughts that don’t work well on facebook or twitter, and this seemed to be the best place for that. so here we are.

i wanted to have a place to have a “one stop” access point for articles and opinion pieces on the indiana RFRA bill just signed into law. to say there has been an over-reaction would be an understatement bordering on the absurd. the mainstream media , as well as many outspoken critics on social media have labeled this law as “anti-gay” and “hate-filled discrimination” against the LGBT community. and a casual glance at headlines, social media feeds, and other means appears to show that public opinion has been swayed that direction.

however, facts are notoriously pesky things, and when you look at them, you see that this new law does not single out any group of people for discrimination at all. here are  links to several articles that hash these things out and provide quotable and factual evidence for conversations that may come up in your workplace, school, or facebook wall.

the first four are from papers that no one is going to call “conservative” – notice how often these articles quote from sources who would identify as “liberal”, yet support RFRA

from ross douthat of the ny times

from the wall street journal

from usa today

UVA law professor who supports gay marriage but defends RFRA

the following are from conservative sources, but they quote the actual law and even more sources who are in favor of same sex-marriage, but are nonetheless supportive of RFRA

the american conservative

joe carter

denny burk

regardless, we must remember that we should show love and compassion for all people, and want the best for everyone – even if we disagree with their lifestyle or opinions. we are all people who are fallen and in need of grace, so even while we stand for the truth, we should do so with both conviction and compassion. i close with two relevant quotes:

“The problem is that [the meaning of ‘tolerance’] has changed… It used to mean ‘I may disagree with you completely, but I will treat you with respect. Today, tolerant means – ‘you must approve of everything I do.’ There’s a difference between tolerance & approval. Jesus accepted everyone no matter who they were. But He doesn’t approve of everything I do, or you do, or anybody else does either. You can be accepting without being approving.”- rick warren

we can so easily mistake opposition to an idea with opposition to people. nevertheless, we can oppose a person’s deeply held ideas or beliefs while at the same time wishing only good for the person.” – thabiti anyabwile

i haven’t posted much here in a while, but wanted to get this “christmas card” out,and needed somewhere to put it, so here we are!
feel free to look around the blog while you’re here!

Dear Family & Friends,

Merry Christmas! We hope that you are all doing well and enjoying the Christmas Season and the end of 2013!
As most of you know, 2013 brought with it a *lot* of changes for us. At the end of May we moved to Fulton, KY., where Stephen was called to be the pastor of First Baptist Church. Fulton is located right on the Kentucky/ Tennessee state line – part of our community (Fulton) is in KY., and the other part, South Fulton, is in Tennessee!

Moving meant looking for a house. The Lord was so gracious to provide an amazing house for us that we found after looking for ONE DAY! It is the perfect house for our family and the kids loved it immediately! We have a guest room and plenty of space, so if you are ever in our area, please let us know!(We are only 15 minutes from the brand new Discovery Park of America theme park in Union City, TN.)

Moving also meant new schools for the kids. Charlie is in 1st grade and is doing great! He was recently chosen to be one of only 16 students in all of K-12th grade who, because of their reading skills, get to go to Murray State University to pick out books for their school’s libraries! He has made a lot of friends at school, and his “best friend” from his classroom actually lives right across the street from our house! He is also playing in a basketball fundamentals league at school this winter.

Piper loves preschool! She has made a lot of friends as well and is regularly planning “social events” with them. She is also taking dance (ballet and tap) as well as gymnastics. She had her first recital this past week and did a fantastic job! She really loves it and all of her friends from dance/ gymnastics as well as preschool and church.

Things at FBC have been very busy, but very exciting! In September, and after nearly two years of the church having services in the gym and in the Family Life Center, we moved into the brand new sanctuary! After a couple months of preaching on some fundamental things, Stephen is currently preaching through the Gospel of Mark. In addition to all of the responsibilities that come with being pastor at FBC, he is also still involved withBiblical Thinking, a radio show and podcast with our friend Brandon Porter.

Christi is very active in the church as well, being plugged into the Women’s Ministry (she is currently leading a weekly book study), Choir, and childcare ministries. Our family has been blessed by the church family at FBC, being welcomed and embraced by the people here and are already enjoying so many wonderful relationships within the church and in the community. Please pray that the Lord would use us to do mighty things here for the fame of His name, the salvation of the lost, and the strengthening of His church.

We pray that this Christmas Season finds you reflecting regularly on the great love and grace of our mighty God in sending His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we could have our sins forgiven and our relationship with God restored, so that we could have everlasting peace and joy rooted in Him. We hope and pray that you and your families would join with us as we pray that the Lord would increase our affections for Him and loosen our grip on the things of this world that ultimately will not matter. Being a follower of Christ is more than church attendance, religious deeds and activities, even more than “believing in God” or “being a good person”. It is embracing the truth that the good news of salvation is not what we do for God, but rather it is all about what He has done for us in Christ. Our only hope is Jesus, and we desire, not to simply be with Him when we die, but that we would enjoy Him even now as we live. That is our prayer for you as well! Merry Christmas!!!

love,

stephen,   christi,    charlie,    &   piper

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“This is our first task — caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children — all of them — safe from harm? Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.” – president barak obama

mr. president,
i think you have handled this whole tragedy very well so far. i am thankful for the leadership you have provided during these days. i want to believe you really mean what you say, and i do believe you think you mean it. but until your stance on the legalization and enabling of the murder of over 3,000 children every day changes, your words will ring hollow in my ears.
i pray that when you say “we will have to change”, that you really mean it.

i will continue to pray for you & your family, as well as your role as my president. may the lord grant you wisdom & knowledge as you lead this country. may you embrace your created purpose (which is the same as mine and all of god’s creation),which is to bring him glory in all that you do.

-stephen cavness
pastor, cave city baptist church
cave city, ky.

 

 

stephenleecavness:

it’s the time of year again…

Originally posted on the lowercase:

btlog-3
[it has become a christmas tradition of mine here to urge/beg you to go see live and/or purchase a copy of andrew peterson’s “behold the lamb of god” album. here is the “annual” post . also, a very special thank you to zach may for allowing me to post pictures that he took on thursday]

my wife and i, with a couple of friends, drove down to the historic ryman auditorium in nashville, tn. this past thursday to see andrew peterson & friends present “behold the lamb of god”. this is the 6 or 7th time we have seen it- and each year our reaction is a mix of stunned silence, tears of joy and gratitude, and an intense desire to plead with everyone we know to hear the presentation of “the true tall-tale of christmas” btlogbtlog1 

 the first half of the show is an “artists in the round” setting, where various artists such…

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like imitation cologne & perfume, mormonism is marketed as a brand of christianity… but it isn’t.

one of the  things about being a pastor in the town where i live, is that a lot of people that i don’t know, know or find out quickly who i am and what i do. such was the case today.

i officiated a wedding this past weekend and met several new people.  i ran into one of those people today while in a shop downtown. this person then introduced me as “pastor of cave city baptist church”  to someone else. after a few moments of initial greetings and pleasantries, the  conversation turned a corner and the topic of mormonism came up.
the question was:
“is mormonism a cult or just  another ‘denomination’ of christianity (like baptists, methodists, presbyterians, etc.)”

my answer?  “i have known many mormons and call several “friend”, but no,mormons are not christians”.

this isn’t merely my opinion, it is fact,based on the historic and orthodox meaning of the word “christianity”. i am a christian. i am a christian pastor. i also teach theology at a christian school. i am not claiming  world renown expertise, but i am saying that i know christian doctrine, and mormon doctrine contradicts the very foundation and essence of christianity.

al mohler writes(in this article that i highly recommend):

It is neither slander nor condescension to state clearly that Mormonism is not Christianity. Taking Mormonism on its own terms, one finds a comprehensive set of teachings and doctrines that are self-consciously set against historic Christianity. The larger world may be confused about this, but biblical Christians cannot make this error, for we are certain that the consequences are eternal.

they have “feel good” commercials.

they have nice looking buildings

they are exemplary citizens

but are mormons christians?

this has been a hot topic of conversation since former massachusetts governor mitt romney announced that he was running for presidency of the united states.

in an effort to comfort those who may have been afraid of his mormonism, romney has declared his belief in the bible, saying:

 “I believe it’s the Word of God…I mean,  I might interpret the Word differently than you interpret the Word, but I read the Bible and I believe the Bible is the Word of God. I don’t disagree with the Bible. I try and live by it.”

again, this sounds like a safe christian answer.

but what is it that mormons believe?

here are some examples of the teachings and beliefs of the church of jesus christ of latter days saints, the mormons:

  •  there are many gods, and the head of them rules the universe along with his council (joseph smith teachings of the prophet joseph smith pp.348-49)
  • god has wives (“a mother in heaven,”) and they live on a planet near a star named kolab.
  • through endless sexual encounters, “elohim” and his wives produce billions of spirit children
  • god has and is limited by a physical body. he is not omnipresent, in fact, it is impossible for him to be in more than one place at once
  • adam is identified as michael the archangel
  • jesus and satan are brothers
  • jesus was given savior status of earth, enraging lucifer, who revolted.
  • jesus was not born of a virgin, because god had sex with mary, which produced jesus
  • jesus was married
  • humans can achieve god status
  • the bible (unless it is the mormon approved version) is incomplete and contains errors, and is only one of four holy books
  • all churches except LDS (mormon) churches are false churches
  • the final judgment is in the presence of jospeh smith, the mormon jesus, and “elohim”.
    [sources: book of mormon; mormonism: what you need to know by ed decker; fast facts on false teachings by ron carlson and ed decker; mormonism unmasked by r. phillip roberts, and mormons answered verse by verse by david a. reed and john r. farkas]

at the bare minimum, to be a christian one has to confess that:

  • there is but one god, who exists in three persons (father, son, and holy spirit)
  • jesus was/is god incarnate-born of a virgin
  • there is no salvation outside of faith in jesus christ- and only those who repent of their sin & place their faith in him will be saved

mormonism denies all three of these.  there is obviously much more to the mormon faith than outlined above, but just from scratching the surface we can see that mormonism is not a part, branch, or denomination of christianity.

does that mean we cant be friends with mormons? of course not. i have had and currently do have mormon friends who are genuinely nice, caring, and wonderful friends. i hope that they are always treated with love and respect by everyone.

does that mean christians cannot vote for mitt romney for president? i dont think so. [*however, this post or its content should not be viewed as an endorsement for or against voting for romney]

what it does mean is that when we have conversations with people who are discussing mr. romney or any mormon, that we do not let it slide when people equate mormonism with christianity. we should do so in love and with gentleness, but we should make sure that there is no confusion:

mormons-the church of jesus christ of latter day saints are no more christian than muslims, buddhists, or jehovah’s witnesses. so let us be compelled to love them- indeed, everyone- by sharing the true gospel with them.

what is the true gospel? i’m glad you asked!

the gospel is good news that because of the great mercy & love of god, we- a sinful people who have made ourselves enemies of god, & because of our sin deserve his wrath- we can be made right with god by turning away from a life of following our own sinful desires (even if the world/culture around us finds them acceptable)& instead turn to jesus christ, trusting in him alone- that his perfect life, substitutionary death, & literal, bodily resurrection was sufficient to pay the penalty for our sin & makes us righteous before god so that we can rejoice in him & enjoy him forever! (romans 5:1-2, 6-11; 1 corinthians 15:3-8)

for further reading see sources cited above as well as:

the faq – are mormons christian?

mormonism 101

the differences between mormonism & biblical christianity

OUT!!!! - i mean... safe???

full disclosure: i am a *huge* st. louis cardinals fan. i always have been. i (as a grown man) shamelessly cried tears of joy when they won it all in 2006 and after last years epic championship run i was still buzzing all winter!

sports can be a very enjoyable activity (to participate in or to follow as a fan) but they can also become an idol. when we get to the point that we get more excited, spend more emotional energy, spend more time and money on playing, watching,or following athletes or teams, or get more vocal about our appreciation and zeal for grown men playing with a ball than we do for the one who made us, sustains us, and saved us…something is wrong. it has become a vehicle for our sinful hearts to make another idol.

but this is not an “anti-sports” post.actually, it is about how sports can point us to the gospel.

i didn’t catch monday night football last night, but it didn’t take long for me to find out that a blown call had decided the game. as a sports fan, i know the frustration that comes from that.

blown calls that cost your team a game (last night’s packer’s game), a world series (’85 cardinals/”denkinger!!!”), or even a perfect game (jim joyce/ galarraga in ’10) are incredibly frustrating because we want what is “fair”.

when something happens that is “unfair”, we we cry out for justice. it’s innate in us.

that is why it is so perplexing that we don’t want what is “fair” from god.

justice demands that we, who rebel against god daily, get we deserve- which is his wrath against us. it is what we have earned because of our rebellion against him. justice demands that evil, wicked, & sinful rebels who have made themselves enemies of the perfect holy god get what they deserve.

yet we don’t beg for justice when it comes to us and god. instead we expect that god be unjust, unfair, looking past our sin and to *not* give us what we deserve- to be shown *mercy*, to not be given what we have earned.

and then in an arrogance of cosmic proportions, we *demand* that he give us what we *don’t* deserve… grace. and we can even be so bold at times to say or think that if he isn’t constantly and consistently benevolent toward us, then he is *unfair*.

how sinful & corrupt our hearts are… demanding justice when it benefits us, and demanding mercy where justice would give us what we deserve.

all of this amplifies the mercy & grace offered by the lord through the gospel- that god made jesus, who knew no sin, to become our sin (who did this willingly & with joy!) so that whoever puts their trust in christ, his life,death, & resurrection, can have their sins forgiven and receive grace & mercy, love & joy from god instead of the wrath we all deserve.

how “fair” is that?

how glorious is that?

have you thanked god today that sports (and replacement refs) can point us to the gospel?

 

this blog was started in 2005 during what seemed to be an unending bout with insomnia. i began writing just to try and empty my mind of the thoughts that kept me awake all of the time. the only people i knew of that were reading at that time were some family members and a handful of friends. as time went by i found out through various means that my readership was much larger than i thought (that is not to say it was enormous, just a lot more than i realized).

it was at this point that i started writing  about or linking to various topics that i thought would help the typical “person in the pew” navigate through this world with a gospel centered world view.

when i started this blog, i was in seminary working a 2nd shift job that afforded me a lot of time on line and to write. i was also married, but with no kids. over 7 yrs. later, i am a full time pastor with 2 children, and i also teach a systematic theology class at a local christian school. my time is limited and i just don’t have the opportunity to post regularly anymore.

i have also recently began co-hosting a radio broadcast called”biblical thinking”. after its weekly broadcast, it is made available on the website, biblical thinking.org ,and also on itunes as a podcast.  in a lot of ways, the radio show has become a continuation of the purposes i had in mind for this blog. so please feel free to check out biblical thinking for new and previous episodes!

that said, i didnt want to take down this blog, because from time to time i hear that people still use some of the resources on it. and i may come across a topic that i really want to address from time to time. so i will keep the blog online and may even write new posts from time to time,but it certainly won’t be with any kind of “regularity”.

so for you long time readers – thanks for hanging in there with me for all of these years… keep the lowercase bookmarked and check back every now and again for something new.

if you are new here, there are nearly 350 posts and resources for you to look through and interact with (i am still notified of any comments – even on very old posts).

thanks again for stopping by…

-stephen

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