Iowa Trip

As I type this, we are on the road in Illinois, heading home from a short visit with my family in Iowa. My niece and nephew graduated from high school on Sunday, so we drove over last Saturday. The nine hour trip culminated in swimming at the hotel pool for the girls, and the guys went to see Star Trek: Into Darkness. That is an awesome movie, by the way.

On Sunday we worshiped with our friends at Altoona Regular Baptist Church, and ate lunch with Pastor Humburg, his family, and my friend April Tidwell. Pizza Ranch was an excellent choice. For those of you who have never heard of Pizza Ranch, picture a restaurant in western theme that serves both pizza and fried chicken. It’s like someone put a KFC in a Godfather’s pizza, but the food is better. And they do a buffet, so it’s great!

After lunch, we drove to Chariton for the graduation. These were the last two of my sister’s children to graduate from high school, so I guess this means I never have to go to the Chariton High School again, and that’s fine with me. While in Chariton, I was overcome with a sense that the people I kept running into were different than me, which is odd, since I used to work there in high school. These people all seemed to have not enough clothes, too much skin, too many tattoos, not enough teeth and hair, and not enough sense. I overheard one genius ask another one, “Do wisdom teeth grow back?” She looked like she was hopeful, since she only had three or four other ones. Eek.

The graduation reception followed shortly thereafter at my sister’s church. When it looked like she was going to run out of hamburger, I volunteered to go get more. I grabbed my son and put him behind the wheel of our van. He drove across town to Hy-Vee, I bought the meat, and he drove me back to the church. We didn’t die, and he did a great job not wrecking the van. I got some practice not-panicking. The hole in the passenger side floor of our van will have to be fixed though.

After hanging around for several hours, I drove my mom back up to her house in Des Moines. Along the way, we were treated to a display of God’s majesty and power, and we were thankful that the wall clouds only delivered rain.

On Monday we went to Adventureland Park, which is an amusement park in Altoona, Iowa with no connection to the raunchy movie of the same name. We rode several nausea inducing rides, and a few roller coasters (I rode all three of the big ones). The odd thing I noticed was that the size of the seats varied widely. I have a big butt. It’s getting smaller, but it’s still kind of big. It was a tight fit for me in the Tornado, the Dragon was downright roomy, but The Outlaw coaster was almost too small. I had to wedge myself in there and almost couldn’t buckle the belt. I wonder why the seats aren’t all the same width.

It was just about the most perfect day you could hope for at Adventureland because the weather was nice (72 and partly sunny with a light breeze), I was with my family, and the attendance at the park was way down, due to the fact that it was a weekday when school was still in session in most schools in Iowa. Our longest wait for a ride was 5 minutes on the Raging River (although my wife tells me that we waited a little longer for the Sawmill Splash, but I wasn’t counting). A five minute wait for the Raging River is unheard of. We rode almost every ride in the park and it only took us four hours. Normally it takes all day to hit the major ones.
We left the park and I drove my family to my best friend’s house in rural Iowa, where we spent the next 36 hours. We enjoyed our time in Iowa, but it was too short. A few days with my family and a day with my best friend isn’t enough time. It only serves as a reminder of the reality of death. Death is not the end, it is merely “separation.” When someone dies, they are not gone forever, they are merely living someplace you can’t go. Someday we will all be “dead” and that is why the most important decision you make is your destination. You have to choose your destination while you are here on earth, because there is no changing your mind after you die. When you die, your ticket is waiting for you. If you are trusting in the death of Christ to pay the penalty for your inability to keep God’s law, you will pick up your ticket for an eternity of joy with God and all those who also trusted Christ. If you are trusting in anything else (including your own “good deeds”), you will pick up your one-way ticket to an eternity of suffering and agony in the lake of fire.

I planned this Iowa trip for several days, and it was only for five days. I don’t understand why some people refuse to plan for the trip that every single one of us will make at the end of our lives here on earth. That trip never ends. I can’t wait to make the trip, to see my loved ones who have already left, as well as to meet my Lord face to face. But I ache for those of my family and friends who are not trusting in Christ alone for salvation, because they are lost, and if they don’t trust Christ before they die, I may never see them again.


About Steve Picray

I am a conservative Baptist Pastor in the midwestern United States. Every day I commit my life to Jesus Christ. This blog is my view on life. My prayer is that, by reading what I write, you will learn more about me, more about God, and be assisted in becoming the person God means for you to be. If you have a question, just e-mail me at spicray AT gmail DOT com. God Bless!
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29 Responses to Iowa Trip

  1. Mari says:

    Hmmm…I live in Altoona, IA and grew up at Altoona Regular Baptist Church. I live about a mile and a half from Adventureland and went there 2 years ago for the 1st time since 1996. (I don’t blog much anymore, but I did about this day. Here’s the link: ) I thought I was experiencing death on the Sawmill Splash. It was new since I’d been there last, and I had no idea what it was about.

    • Steve Picray says:

      Well, I didn’t think I was experiencing death, but I was not aware it spun before I got on it. I assumed it was “get on the giant inner-tube, ride down the slide and get wet.” I didn’t know the nausea-inducing G forces were on the menu.

      I hate nausea inducing rides.

  2. “Regular Baptist Church” – I’ve wondered for some time where the “regular” comes from. Are they all “regular” people in the sense that they’re not oversized or undersized (physically or in terms of intellect)? Do they put somethijng “special” in their communion wafers to keep them all “regular”? They don’t specify – so I guess that’s one of those organizational secrets that you have to join up to learn – kinda like the Mormon’s and their holy underwear, maybe?

    • Mari says:

      Oh – you don’t want to get me started.

    • Steve Picray says: This article gives a good explanation. I found it after a two second Google search. Read the final section for the explanation as it pertains to the GARBC.

      • Thanks for the response.

        Hummm…. interesting. Let me see if I got it right. Originally the “regulars” were Calvinist (principle doctrine = absolute predestination = full 5 points). But they were strongly outnumbered by the other kind of Baptists (the “general” or open communion, universal availabilty of salvation? Irregulars?) until they developed a strong missionary outreach. (Never understood how or why Calvinists had missionaries – which makes absolutely NO sense if you are a full 5 pt Calvinist).

        So now the GARBC is sorta-Calvinist, but sorta not? (A church that supports missionaries cannot be said to be “Calvinist”)

        And the article you posted the link to seems to indicate that in their own opinion, everyone would be a “regular” Baptist, and anyone who wasn’t one of them would be irregular/unacceptable? (ie only THEY have The Truth”?)

        Too may words – too many labels. Seems to me that if it can’t be defined in a single sentence, it’s probably wrong or worthless. (In this instance, I’m referring to the label stuck over the church door, not the beliefs of the adherants – which if each believer were asked would probably differ considerably.)

        My position? “God is, and I am his through the shed blood of Jesus.” Period. All else is supurfluous and harmful to the Body of Christ because it causes division. In the parable of the poll-tax, (Mt 22: 18 – 21) Jesus gave us one of the foundational principles of Christian life.

        • Steve Picray says:

          I don’t know about originally, but I can tell you that back in 1932 when the GARBC was formed, they took on the term “Regular Baptists” to distinguish themselves from the other Baptists (Northern/American Baptists, Southern Baptists, etc). At that time as now, the word “regular” is meant to mean that we hold to the regular, historical beliefs of the Baptist denomination. It was meant as a contrast to the liberalism that was creeping in, where people were denying the authority of Scripture, denying the virgin birth, etc. Like saying, “You might believe these new things, but we’re just regular old Baptists.”

          As far as the Calvinism goes, the GARBC is not Calvinist nor is it Arminian. I know some 5 point Calvinists in the GARBC, but most of the pastors and leaders I know are four point Calvinists like me. You could refer to us as Amyraldists, but that’s harder to say.

          Calvinist missionaries: why would you say that makes no sense? Even if you were a five point Calvinist and you understood that God was going to save whoever He wants whether you help Him or not, why would this invalidate your mission as given by the Lord Jesus to preach the Gospel to every creature? If God tells me he’s going to save people, and then He tells me to warn everybody of their impending doom, who am I to sit back and say, “Well, it doesn’t matter if I say anything or not.”?? If Calvinists don’t send out missionaries then they are in direct disobedience to the last thing Jesus told them to do as He ascended: go and preach the Gospel!

          I hear that comment about “The Truth” all the time as a criticism, and it isn’t logical. If you believe X, and X is true, then why would you NOT believe that you have “The Truth” about X? If someone proves to you that X is not true, then you would change your belief.

          My point is that, whatever YOU believe about X (whatever X may be: proper method of baptism, election and predestination, etc), you absolutely should believe that it is The Truth, because if you don’t believe it’s The Truth, then you don’t really believe it. I believe the things I believe because I believe they are true. One of my beliefs (and this is key) is that I don’t understand everything, and I could be wrong.

          Labels have meaning and purpose. They tell you what’s inside, for the most part. Sometimes the label lies, though. Sometimes it says there’s a church inside, and what you have instead is a rock band and a false teacher, Maybe instead there’s a social club, or a group of people convinced of their own righteousness. In those cases, the labels only serve as a warning to other churches.

          I am a Baptist because I have read and studied the Bible, and as far as God has revealed Himself to me, I believe that fundamental Baptist doctrine is the closest thing I can find to God’s revealed Word. I’m not a Catholic because Catholic doctrine states that man can do things to save himself (the sacraments), when the Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-10 that man cannot. I’m not a Lutheran because Lutheran doctrine states that baptism is a means of grace, and that infants can be baptized into the church. The Bible seems clear to me that people were saved and THEN baptized. Also, baptizo means “to immerse” so any denomination that practices pouring, sprinkling, etc is out. That’s why I’m a Baptist. I agree with your statement that “God is, and I am his through the shed blood of Jesus.” But if that was all that was required of us, the New Testament would be a whole lot shorter.

          • “But if that was all that was required of us, the New Testament would be a whole lot shorter.”

            Actually ALL that is required of us is that we believe in Jesus. Period.

            • Steve Picray says:

              If believing in Jesus were all that were required of us we would go instantly to heaven when we get saved.

              • nofluer says:

                If more is required, then you are partly responsible for your salvation. I met a guy once who said there were 12 things that had to be done for you to get saved – and 8 of them were things that you had to do, only 4 of them done by God… which made YOU more responsible for your salvation than God. Once you start adding works to faith there is no end of it. And once you add anything to faith, then you are partly responsible for your salvation. And baptism (among other things) is a work – no matter how wet you get.
                Eph 2: 8 – 9.

                • Steve Picray says:

                  I apologize. I should have been more specific. When I said, “all that were required of us…” I was referring back to your post regarding general Christian living, not to salvation specifically. So yes, I agree that faith in Christ is the only requirement for salvation. What I was saying was that salvation is not the end of the story. There is more that needs to be discussed regarding how we ought to live out our faith AFTER salvation, which was the point of the discussion about what constitutes a “Regular Baptist.”

  3. Calvinist missionaries: why would you say that makes no sense?

    As I understand full 5 pt Calvinism, one of the points is absolute predestination – which is to say that God has decided who will be “saved” (“the elect”?) and who will not. Since God has already decided who will and who will not be “saved” what difference would it make to evangelize someone or not? God will not change his status as one who is pre-destined whether that one is evangelized or not. The issue is settled.

    If one thinks that a human must be preached to, to be “saved” so they will know that they must do stuff (like repent, ask for forgivness, etc), then they are not absolutely predestined by God (who can “save” someone whether they are/have been preached to or not.) We are “… predestined according to the foreknowledge of God…” (Rom 10:14) (Personally, I call “hogwash” on the Calvinist absolute predestination doctrine, BTW.)

    • Steve Picray says:

      Yes, according to Calvinistic thought, God has already decided who will be saved and who will not. But my answer had nothing to do with the efficacy of the actions of these missionaries. My answer dealt with the OBEDIENCE of the missionaries in carrying out Christ’s great commission. As Charles Spurgeon has been quoted to say, “If God painted a yellow stripe down the back of the elect, I would run down the street pulling out shirt-tails.”

      I understand your point that if God has already decided who will be saved, it doesn’t seem to make sense to go forth and proclaim the gospel. However, I view the Christian life as a “done deal” in that, from God’s eternal, “outside-of-time” perspective, the people who will be saved are already saved. We are on the winning team. That doesn’t mean we get to sit on the bench and bask in all the good things God is doing for our team. He wants us out there playing alongside Him (to continue the sports analogy). It doesn’t matter that we have already won, we still should desire to play.

  4. Steve Picray says:

    The doctrine of salvation is not easy to understand. If it were, people wouldn’t have been arguing about it for the past 2000 years. What it comes down to,basically, is the seeming paradox between the “free will of man” and the “total sovereignty of God.” God is totally sovereign and the Bible is clear that no man can resist His will. I can produce verse after verse showing this. But the Bible is also clear that man has free will, and if we reject the Gospel, it is because of our own decision and the choice rests on our heads. One pastor said it like this: As you walk toward the pearly gates, on the outside it says, “Whosoever Will May Come.” As you walk through, you look back at the gate, and it says, “Chosen Before the Foundation of the World.”

    If one thinks that a human must be preached to, to be “saved” so they will know that they must do stuff (like repent, ask for forgivness, etc), then they are not absolutely predestined by God (who can “save” someone whether they are/have been preached to or not.)
    Who says humans must be preached to to be saved? I submit that all you need is the Bible. Let’s say you had absolutely no knowledge of the God of the Bible, and you lived alone on an island. If a Bible washed ashore (in a waterproof box, obviously), you could learn enough from simply reading the Bible in order to be saved.

    We are “… predestined according to the foreknowledge of God…” (Rom 10:14) (Personally, I call “hogwash” on the Calvinist absolute predestination doctrine, BTW.)
    I have known many people who reject the doctrine of predestination, and I don’t understand how you and others can blithely reject a doctrine that is clearly taught in Scripture. Romans 8:29-30 :For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” If you state that we Calvinistic people have this wrong, then how do you interpret these verses?

    • You and lots of others seem to miss the KEY part of that verse… “ACCORDING TO THE FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD” Which means that he doesn’t DECIDE that you will be saved (that would be your decision according to your free will decision and submission )- He has already seen it happen. I’ve heardd so many people quote tthe first part of that verse and just not bother to include the rest…

      • Steve Picray says:

        In reading your post, it seems to me that you are defining “foreknowledge” as “…He has already seen it happen.” The problem here is that you are basing your interpretation of this verse on your understanding of the meaning of the English word “foreknowledge.” The problem arises in that the Bible was not written in 17th century English.

        First of all, I’m not sure what verse you are talking about, but the phrase “according to the foreknowledge of God” is only found in I Peter 1:2, so I’ll look there. The word translated “foreknowledge” is proginosko which is where we get our word “prognosis.” The word doesn’t mean “knowledge before the fact” but rather “determining beforehand,” as in “God determined beforehand who would be saved.”

        In the Bible, the word “know” has several meanings, only one of which refers to the English meaning of “knowledge of something.” In the Old Testament, Jer 1:5 and Amos 3:2 show that the “knowing” that God does is a relationship, not just knowledge of. In Amos 3:2 God isn’t saying, “Your nation is the only nation on earth of which I have any knowledge.” He was saying, “Your nation is the only nation on earth with which I have a relationship. The KJV translators said it like this, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.”

        Matthew 7:23: When Jesus said, “Depart from me, I never knew you,” He wasn’t saying He didn’t have knowledge of them, He was saying, “I never had a relationship with you.”

        So the foreknowledge of God has to do with the fact that He had a relationship with us in eternity past, not simply that He knew we would one day exist.

        • nofluer says:

          Too much education, not enough “knowledge”. What was the first thing God created? (“In the beginning,”) “Beginning” is a function of time. The rest of creation could not have happened unless time already existed. So the first thing God created was time. As the creator of time, God is OUTSIDE of time, which gels nicely with His “omnipresence” – in that God is not only wholly present in all places but is also wholly and from our perspective, simultaneously present in all times. Thus, before you do something God has already seen you do it. He is not a gypsy fortune teller – he is actually there when you do it – and he’s there seeing you do it before you even know what you’re going to do.

          This attribute is also backed up by the Q & A between God and Moses when Moses asked God “whom shall I say sent me?” and God replied “tell them “I AM” (“I am that I am”?) sent you. ie God is the ONLY being who exists in the eternal PRESENT – He is present in all times at the same time.

          Thus before you even hear the word Jesus, He has seen you get “saved”.

          • Steve Picray says:

            Too much education, not enough “knowledge”.

            Now THERE’s a personal attack. Your comment has absolutely nothing to do with the discussion at hand, but is simply a commentary on my personal background and current level of knowledge.

            What was the first thing God created? (“In the beginning,”) “Beginning” is a function of time…..”

            Yes, God is omnipresent in all times and all places simultaneously. I totally agree with you that God exists in the eternal present, and sees all events of history, past, present, and future simultaneously. I am not talking about observation, I’m talking about CAUSATION. What I am saying is that, according to my interpretation of the Bible:
            1. God chooses who will be saved. John 6:44, 65; Ephesians 2:8
            2. His choice has nothing to do with our choice. Romans 9:15-16, Ephesians 1:4, 5, 11

            You seem to be indicating the opposite: We choose to be saved or not, and our choice has nothing to do with God’s choice. All I am saying is that, according to my interpretation of the Bible, I disagree.

  5. Steve Picray says:

    I came across a relevant quote (I wasn’t looking for it), and thought it would help explain my position:
    “To the finite mind it is impossible to harmonize the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. But in the infinite mind of God there is no conflict. Finite minds can only accept both as facts in experience. The sovvereignty of God never violates man’s freedom. But it does require responsibility in man’s choices.”

    “What Baptists Believe” by Herschel Hobbs.

    • I have absolutely no difficulty in “harmonizing” the two – (free will of man and the soveriegnty of God). We decide, he “rewards” appropriately according to our decision. (Heaven or Hell.)

      • Steve Picray says:

        You have no difficulty in harmonizing them because you are completely discounting the sovereignty of God. You are saying it is all up to us, and He just reacts to our decision. Unbiblical.

        • nofluer says:

          So now we go from a discussion of God and the Word to a personal attack and you would tell me what I believe. That’s one of the things I like best about GARBC people. They know it ALL and everyone else is wrong, but they are at least consistent!!!

          • Steve Picray says:

            Personal attack? Where was the personal attack? I made the observation that, in stating “We decide, he ‘rewards’ appropriately according to our decision.” you are saying God has no say in the matter. I understand you to be saying that it’s 100% our choice, that God has nothing to do with it. I then stated that this position is unbiblical since the Bible says in many places that God is in charge, that He calls certain people to salvation, and that certain people are predestined (Romans 8:29 for one).

            I see no personal attack.

  6. nofluer says:

    End of discussion.

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