Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Thank God I’m A Country Boy

(With Apologies to the late John Denver)

Only in the country! We had our Christmas Eve service a day early due to weather expectations. It was a wonderful service and we headed out afterward to get gas in my Jeep. Unfortunately, we hit an ice patch and ended up in the woods off the road. Nobody was hurt, and the car didn’t seem damaged, but we couldn’t get it out. So when a friend who had been at the service came by she stopped and called her husband.

These people are farmers. Dwayne came out on his tractor and pulled us out. It’s good to live in the country! And to have friends.

The next morning I discovered a red puddle under the Jeep – transmission fluid. When I told one of the guys in the church, he said, “don’t get anything done yet and don’t try to drive it. I’ll come over and have a look. Maybe it’s something I can fix.” He knows what he’s doing. He’s a mechanic. It’s good to have friends.

When I went to visit my neighbors this morning to exchange some small gifts, I told them the story and that we might not be able to go see the kids and grandkids until the Jeep's fixed. They said, “You can’t miss a trip to see the grandkids. Take Gene’s truck.” It’s good to live in the country. And to have friends.

We know that God kept us safe. We thank Him also for putting us in this place and giving us friends.

Thank God I’m a country boy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thought For The Day

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Pastoral Letter to Fathers of Young Children

My dear brothers,

Greetings in the Name of Jesus Christ, who is God over all the universe. I write this letter as a warning. Please read it as such.

It is my expectation that hard times are coming for Christians in these United States. There is already discrimination against us, of course. There are places we can’t preach and can’t pray. Symbols of our faith are banned from the workplace and the schoolroom. Faith in Christ is regularly ridiculed. Imagine, if you can, a Muslim’s faith being mocked as was Sarah Palin’s Christianity in recent weeks. I suspect it will get much worse in the socialist state which is about to be created here.

What do we do? Just a few quick thoughts.

First, we remember that God is sovereign. It is He who allowed – who gave permission, if you will – for the current climate. It is He who will rescue His people. Way back in Genesis 17, He promised that He would be our God for all the generations to come.

Secondly, we need to remember that nations rise and fall. We should not be shocked to think that the United States may be past its prime. Rome was once great, but it fell under the weight of its own excesses. We may be in the same process. Be ready for hard times. We are no longer a super-power. There are wolves at the door.

Finally, we must stand firm. This is where we come in. This is the level at which fathers must prepare their children. About a dozen times in the New Testament, we are told to “stand firm.” In 1 Corinthians 16:13, it is put this way: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” Notice that standing firm does not imply standing on your “rights,” or protecting capitalism, democracy, or even conservative social and political thinking, It says “stand firm in the faith.”

What faith? In the third verse of the letter of Jude it’s explained this way. “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” This faith entrusted to the saints is not just an amorphous faith in whatever I find to be trustworthy. It is a rock-solid faith in Jesus Christ as the One redeemer of His people. It’s a faith in the God who created the universe and sustains it still. It’s a faith in the Holy Spirit of God who illuminates God’s Holy Word and who calls us to this precious faith. It is upon that which we are to stand firm.

Are your children prepared to do that? Do they have a faith upon which to stand? Are you, Christian father, preparing them to stand? In Deuteronomy 6, we are given this admonition:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (vv.4-7).
The task of the Christian father is to pass on the great truths of the faith which have been entrusted to all the saints. At home, on the road, in the car, at all times and in every place it is our role to be instructing them about God and His goodness. Our children need to know about the provision of the Lord. They need to understand about Israel and the first Passover, and the Exodus. They need to appreciate that their salvation can come from none other than God Almighty. The need a faith upon which to stand. Are you preparing them?

Brothers, we know that faith is a gift of God. Yet, God teaches us that it is our job to pass that faith to the next generation. This is the only way we can help them be prepared for the hard times which may be coming. Are your precious little ones prepared to stand Firm? Are you?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's Over

With a sigh of relief, I thank God that's over. It seems as though that election cycle lasted for several years. I'm not pleased with the results. Frankly, I believe that the President-Elect was elected for one reason only - race. I still believe he is shallow, too liberal for this - or any - nation, and too inexperienced for the task he is undertaking. I also know that there was fraud in the election process.

But, that having been said, or written, in January he will be the elected leader of our nation (and the free world) and I will extend to him the respect that office deserves. 1 Peter 2:13,14 exhorts us to:
Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

The President-Elect represents many positions which are unBiblical. If they are imposed upon the populace as mandates, I will resist. Otherwise I will continue to try to be a good citizen and encourage others to do likewise. I will continue to pray for our leaders as we are commanded to do in God's Word ( 1Timothy 2:1-3).

God is sovereign. The outcome of this election was no accident. Trust God, pray for your leaders, work for the good of the Kingdom of God, and seek the peace and prosperity of the nation to which God has sent you (Jeremiah 29:7).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Here's Your Sign

OK, friends, something new here. I seldom pass on email "fowards." I've never passed on a video. Until today, that is. Someone sent me a YouTube video. I watched it and I passed it on to a lot of folks on my various email lists. It's called "Cardboard Testimonies" and it is worth the time to watch it.
Please let me know what you think.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Christians in Community

At our church, we’ve been looking at the concept of Christian community. I’ve been preaching a brief series on the “one anothers.” You know,
  • Serve one another
  • Bear with one another
  • Accept one another
  • Admonish one another
  • Be devoted to one another
  • Be members of one another.
As family, the Christian community will have disagreements and squabbles. We are to overcome these, however, and accord one another love and honor. Here’s how the Apostle Paul writes it in Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

Devotion, according to Paul is something that we owe one another. Devotion is made up, at least, of brotherly love and honor.

Brotherly love is protective and forgiving. It’s recognizing one another’s faults and accepting them. It’s being able to forgive and receive forgiveness.

Honor is a word often used in Scripture to refer to our attitude toward God. Here is one example: "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." (1 Timothy 1:17). That is the same honor that Paul is telling us to extend to one another. We are to honor our brothers and sisters above ourselves.

Now I know that some of us make it hard to honor us. We’re ornery, stubborn, arrogant, inconsiderate – and several other categories of hard-to-put-up-with stuff. That’s why we have the second item on the list above: bear with one another. We need to put up with one another. Jesus once asked the question, "O unbelieving and perverse generation…how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” (Matthew 17:17). He does put up with those of us who are His. And we should do the same.

Honor, respect, love, friendship. Those are the gifts we have for one another.
Let’s lavish one another with them.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Good News Is...

They may be trying to kill me. I’m not paranoid. But sometimes they are out to get you.

Last Friday, my wife and I were out in my car and a strange noise started in one of the wheels. I stopped and took a quick look but saw nothing obvious. I got back in and headed for the garage, which was not too far away. I didn’t get there – at least not driving.

The right front tire just came off as I was driving! It took about a hundred yards to stop the vehicle. We came close to being stopped by a telephone pole. We tore a nice furrow in the soft part of the road and the front fender was destroyed. I had to go back quite a distance to find the tire. Neither of us was injured, however.

Sometime later the tow truck from the auto club came and took the car to the shop (the same one to which we were headed). When the Service Manager looked at the situation, he immediately said that it was strange. It’s not that wheels don’t come off on occasion, even though (thankfully) it’s rare. But, something just wasn’t right.
On Tuesday, the Service Manager called me with the (large) estimate for repairs. First, however, he asked me if the car was left outside at all. I told him that I park it in my driveway. He said, “There’s almost no way that this could have happened, except by vandalism.”

Remember, I’m not paranoid. I didn’t come up with this thought. The Service Manager did. And it wasn’t “kids.” You know how hard it is to loosen lug nuts. He said that these were taken off; they didn’t fall off during the incident. Nobody has taken that tire off lately and put it back without tightening the nuts, either. We had just returned from a very long road trip with no problems. So, it wasn’t negligence on the part of some mechanic.

The last time something like this happened it was a firebombing of the church I pastored. The police caught the individual and he admitted his crime, saying, “Lucifer told me to do it. He doesn’t like what’s preached in there.

So what’s going on? I’ll leave that to your imagination. I do know that this was no accident and that my wife and could easily have been killed.

Praise the LORD!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

So many topics...

My lack of blogging of late has had numerous causes. One of them, however, is NOT a lack of interesting topics. There are simply so many that I’m befuddled by where to start. So let’s try this. I’ll name some of the topics. You fill in your own content. Here’s a starter list.

  1. The Olympics. Didn’t watch a minute.
  2. The Democrat Convention. Ditto.
  3. Foliage. Already beginning to watch that. It seems early.
  4. The Red Sox. Watch them repeat. I am a citizen of Red Sox nation.
  5. The Old Farmer’s Almanac.Watch for colder than average temps, with more snowfall than normal (but, not like last year).
  6. Superpowers. Watch the number shrink to zero. You can’t be one if you don’t have the gumption to use it for good. I expect that vacuum to fill rapidly, however.
  7. Gustav. Watch George Bush get the blame.
  8. McDonald’s. Watch their stock plummet if Pro-family diners boycott.
  9. Microsoft. Watch them release their browser with protection for porn surfers.
  10. Hummingbirds. I’m watching them out my window right now.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Stand Firm; Resist
and That Other Really Hard Stuff

In the July issue of TABLETALK* there is a “pastor’s Perspective” column titled, “Standing Firm.” In the first paragraph the author quotes the great reformer Martin Luther, thusly, “An upright shepherd and minister must improve his flock by edification, and also resist and defend it; otherwise, if resisting be absent, the wolf devours the sheep.” The author of the piece, Bill Haynes, then comments that “Resisting and defending require that the pastor-shepherd stand firm on the truth of the Gospel and lead his congregation to do the same.

Haynes, who happens to be a Baptist pastor in Kentucky, further elucidates the problem this way:
For the past year I have been preaching through the book of Acts, and I have noticed a recurring situation. One evening I told my congregation that one thing was a constant in Acts, especially in the life and ministry of Paul: When the truth of the Gospel is faithfully proclaimed, somebody is going to get beaten up or thrown in prison. It is amazing to me that in the twenty-first century we have developed a mentality that if we are proclaiming the truth, then everybody ought to like us.
Jesus taught that His people should love the truth. He also taught that His people should give to the needy, avoid divorce, pray for one another, and not be judgmental (among other things). He also taught that a tree is known by its fruit. This is really a hard teaching. We’re supposed to look and act like what we claim to be.

People, in general, don’t want to hear the truth today. We have arrived (I don’t know how long ago) at the time that the Apostle Paul predicted when he wrote to His protégé Timothy,
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myth.
(2 Timothy 4:2-4).
This stuff can be discouraging for the pastor. You work at preaching Biblical sermons preaching God’s truth. Then you try to help people as they (along with you) struggle to live a Christian life in a hostile world. No matter how you approach people when you want to talk about "issues," you become the bad guy – and they shoot the messenger. It hurts a lot. You get so that you don’t trust anyone; don’t want to entrust anyone with your thoughts. Who knows, they may be the next one to turn on you. Then, how will they use the information you’ve shared with them?

Does this sound pessimistic? It really isn’t. It’s realistic. It’s what Paul was teaching about. It’s what seminary students talk about and what pastors discuss when they get together. I’ve heard it from dozens of pastors – and ex-pastors.

So, what does Paul have to say about this? Well, after he gave Timothy the instruction that he would often be preaching what people did not want to hear, and might even get hostile about, he instructed the young shepherd, “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (Verse 5).

Do your job, Paul says, enduring the pain and suffering; keep on preaching, teaching, leading, correcting, rebuking and encouraging (I invite the reader to return to the words of verse 2 above).

Why do I write this little essay? Well, it’s timely, having been brought to the attention of all who read TABLETALK just last month. Also, I’d like to encourage all of my readers to be aware of what your pastor’s job entails. There are times when the most dedicated of saints is not going to like what the pastor says. Instead of taking the worldly route of walking out in a huff and talking to everybody else about how mean he is, why not try the Biblical route? Talk to him. Explain your dilemma. It’s possible you are right. It’s also possible that he is. Either way, that talk is mandated by God.

Much has been written about commitment-phobia in recent decades. Jesus, however, said it best, as recorded in Matthew 5:37, “Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Brothers and sisters, take this as encouragement.

We all get caught up in things that sort of carry us along – and before we know it we are in a place we don’t want to be. Then pride kicks in and we find it difficult to get things right. Resist. As Bill Haynes wrote, reflecting the teaching of God’s Word: “stand firm,” on the foundation of God’s Word and nothing else.

What do you think?

*TABLETALK is a monthly devotional magazine published by Ligonier Ministries.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Massachusetts Leads the Way
- the Wrong Way

According to a story in OneNewsNow, "Massachusetts legislators are considering a change to state law that would allow homosexuals who are not residents of the commonwealth to come there to 'marry.' The potential consequences of the proposal could be chaotic, says one family advocate."

This is nothing new. Massachusetts has been trying to lead the way in liberal, anti-family legislation for years. Even the (very, very few) Republican legislators have tended to go along with this trend. After all, they wouldn't want to bruise anybody's ego, or infringe upon anybody's "rights," - unless those anybodies happen to be Christians.

When I covered news at the State House in Boston I recall several occasions when the Massachusetts legislators worked hard to pass liberal legislation before any other state could. It's a matter of pride. I covered the story when the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth made homosexual marriage legal. They were first, of course.

One of the stories I wrote at that time was titled, "A Nation Divided: How the Church Got Homosexual Marriage Legalized." In part, I wrote,

We can blame the craven and vote-mongering politicians. We can hold accountable the pro-homosexual activists. Certainly both groups deserve some of the blame for the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts. The bulk of the responsibility for the cultural setting that led to such a decision, however, rests squarely upon the church.
The church is supposed to provide a moral compass for the society. Yet, the church's position of moral leadership has been compromised by liberalism, Biblical illiteracy, scandal after scandal, and timidity (read that "fear"). Many churches today have no moral compass themselves. They cannot cry out against the excesses and immorality of a generation when they have no basis upon which to base their complaint.

Until and unless Christians get their act together the losses will continue.
Return to your first love, church, then act upon what you know is right. Micah 6:8 says,
"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

Through it all, God is Sovereign - and He's an on-time God.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Race Card

I heard it yet again this morning from a Barack Obama supporter. He said (on the radio), “I am suspicious of anyone who won’t vote for Barack Obama. He is at best a racist and at worst a Nazi.” So there you have it. I’m a racist (or Nazi). I guess there is no consideration given for viewing candidates on their records and beliefs. Barack Obama is a left-wing liberal. I’m a conservative – too conservative for the Republican Party. I wouldn’t vote for Barack Obama if he was green, white, yellow or a combination thereof. To call me a racist is pretty stupid. Give me a break – I grew up in South Providence!

But then, I’ve been a racist for a long time, according to those who can only see color. In the 1970s, while I was a school teacher, I was against mandated integration of schools via school busing of children out of their own neighborhoods clear across the town or city. I was called a racist. There was no consideration of the fact that I was against busing because I believed in neighborhood schools. No children of any color should get up in the middle of the night so that they can ride a bus to a school in somebody else’s neighborhood.

BTW, I’m still in favor of neighborhood schools, if we have to have schools at all. Mega-schools at least contribute to the Columbine-style shootings. Also, let it be known that I am aware that many people opposed busing because of race. That does not warrant an automatic designation of “racist” to all who disagree with a flawed public policy decision.

Then, of course, I was also a racist when I thought OJ did it. Opinion on that one did seem to come down strictly according to race. I guess I could claim that I had the misfortune of having been born Western European-American Caucasian. I’m a victim. I could also claim that it sure seemed at the time – and seems more abundantly clear as time goes on – that OJ was guilty of murder. Another clarification is in order, though. I did not follow the trial religiously, as much of America seems to have done. I was not a witness to the crime. I don’t have all the facts. I could be wrong about OJ.

In for a penny, in for a pound. I might as well state that there seem to be quite a few pastors who find it considerably more important to be black than to be Christian. They have thrown in with Barack and are happy to distort God’s Word in whatever manner necessary to get their man elected. Being black, or white, or brown, or yellow will not get us into heaven. Even if Barack Obama wins two terms, his time will pass. Eternity will not. Another clarifying statement: I know that some white people also distort God’s Word to suit their own purpose. It won’t get them into heaven either. Be careful, folks.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"All Roads Lead to Heaven,"
According to "People of Faith'

In a disturbing, but not totally shocking, report out this week, it has been revealed that most people who claim to be "people of faith," believe that there are many possible paths to heaven.
Let me be quick to insert John 14:6 here.
Jesus said,
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

That's an absolute statement. There is no other way to heaven but by Jesus. Period. Full stop. Game over.

Here is a quote from the news coverage about that report:

America remains a nation of believers, but a new survey finds most Americans don't feel their religion is the only way to eternal life — even if their faith tradition teaches otherwise.

The findings, revealed Monday in a survey of 35,000 adults, can either be taken as a positive sign of growing religious tolerance, or disturbing evidence that Americans dismiss or don't know fundamental teachings of their own faiths.

Among the more startling numbers in the survey, conducted last year by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life: 57 percent of evangelical church attenders said they believe many religions can lead to eternal life, in conflict with traditional evangelical teaching.

In all, 70 percent of Americans with a religious affiliation shared that view, and 68 percent said there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their own religion.

You can read the entire story here.

The numbers are startling. The causes are obvious. First is Bible illiteracy. The people simply don't know what the Bible says. The second reason is more offensive, however. The major fault is behind the pulpit (or on the stage or dais, or wherever people allegedly preach these days). The preachers are so enamored with programs and feeling good, and involved in major decisions such as which coffee to serve at the church cafe and the auditions for the band, that they simply have neither the time nor the inclination to search the Scriptures and preach God's Word.

I had a personal brush with this last week. My wife and I were away and looking for a church for Sunday morning. We chose what we thought would be a conservative congregation with a conservative worship style (this conservative worship style, BTW, is not a Biblical requirement, but a personal one). There was 50 minutes of non-worshiping, non-theological music, then a "preacher." It was not the Pastor. This man never opened his Bible, though he had it in his hand. He made a few references to references, even getting one of them wrong. The Pastor could not correct him, though, because he didn't even have a Bible.

So we went looking for a church that might have an evening service. We never found one, although there are many churches in that area. It was sad.

Brothers and sisters our nation needs strong, informed Christians now more than at any other time in its history. Weak-kneed, pusillanimous, people-pleasing, ear-tickling, preaching will not strengthen us nor encourage us.

Men of God stand up. Preach God's Word. It's hard at times. If it's too hard, you're not called. Get out of the way.

People of God stand up. Call for your preachers to preach the whole counsel of God. If they won't, then leave! Find someone who will. They are out there, and they are risking their lives preaching what God wants preached. Stand with them.

Let's turn this nation around. Let's get it facing heavenward - through Jesus, the only way to eternal life.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Couple of Political Notes

Imagine my chagrin when I went to vote yesterday and found myself registered as a Republican. I am not a Republican. I am supposed to be registered as "Unenrolled." The Town Clerk told me that I enrolled as a Republican and went to the file cabinet to find the voter registration card which would prove her right. Surprise. It said "Unenrolled." Clerical error. No wonder I've been getting so much mail from the Rs. We changed it back on the spot.

There is a reason I cannot be enrolled as a Republican - I'm a conservative. The party left me i the dust when it lurched leftward. One need look no further that the two Republican senators from my state of Maine. Neither resembles a conservative. Enough said about that topic.

Next is the topic of change. Every political challenger for just about every office in the land is running on a promise of change. They are all going to go to Washington (or Augusta, or "fill-in-the-blank") and change things. Now I agree that the changes are necessary. Why, though, after they get elected, do things never change? Then, when they run as incumbents, the "change" mantra is long gone.

Just wondering.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Dopes in the Pulpit

Instances of preachers gone mad have abounded in recent months. Dr. Jeremiah Wright certainly needs no introduction at this point. The Catholic priest who made a fool of himself, his church, and the Gospel has gained a good bit of coverage as well. In case you are among the few who haven't seen or heard these rants, the video is here.

Now a Bishop in the Church of England has decided that anyone who doesn't agree with Pope AlGore and his leading scientists like Michael Moore are at least as evil as the Austrian animal who kept his daughter locked up for decades, raping her and fathering numerous children with her. We are, he claims, robbing our children's future, and that makes us no better than Josef Fritzl. Can we talk?

Now preachers being involved in the political process are no new thing. In the history of the US, until Senator Lyndon B. Johnson put a stop to it, there were regular political sermons - even "Election Day Sermons." Not all were were off the ranting and raving variety that we are accustomed to seeing at YouTube recently, but not all have been sane, civil, and Biblically-based, either.

Let me make an appeal to preachers - and those who listen to them and may have some influence over them: Preach the Gospel. Yes, there are many moral issues that are intertwined with politics and we must address those. We should not be afraid of the IRS when we feel we must address social needs. But, we should never be hucksters for a particular candidate or party. Our preaching must be from God's Word, not our own agenda.

NOTE: If you are in the area around southern Maine on Sunday evenings in July (13,20,27), stop by to join in the discussion we will be having on "Church and State: Politics and the Pulpit in American Society.
" All are welcome. For info contact me directly.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dog and Sailors Keep off the Grass

That title is from a sign that was often seen (in days gone by, I don't know about today) on lawns in the Norfolk, Virginia area. It made plain who the undesirables were.

By now you may have heard about the essay contest being sponsored by the Subway sandwich shops. A link to the official contest page can be found here. Part of the contest rules read as follows:
Contest is open only to legal US residents, over the age of 18 with children in either elementary, private or parochial schools that serve grades PreK-6. No homeschools will be accepted. (italics mine).
What this says is that there are two groups which need not apply: illegal aliens and homeschool students. We can all draw our own conclusions as to why these two groups are equated as equal and why they are not allowed to be a part of this contest. I have seen no official explanation from Subway. The fact is plain, however. These two groups are to be treated equally - each discriminated against.

How does your sandwich taste now?

The mailing address for Subway is:

Frederick A. DeLuca, President
Subway Restaurant Headquarters
325 Bic Drive
Milford, CT 06461-3059

Email (probably less effective):

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Church - a Covenant Community

The church is a covenant community which is made up of God's hand-picked saints. God promises throughout His Word that He will be our God and we will be His people (see Genesis 17:1-8; Deuteronomy 29:12-15 for a couple of examples). We are a covenant people; a people with a common God (although He is certainly not common in the sense of "ordinary"); saints with a common salvation and destiny. This is what the church is, a worldwide communion of those who have accepted the salvation offered by Jesus Christ and accomplished by His work on the cross.

We are His saints; His holy ones; because He makes us holy. We need to act like it! Read 1 Corinthians 12:24-27. There should be no division in the body of Christ. Disagreement is fine, in brotherly love. If we all treat one another like members of the same body, indispensable to one another, we will be able to disagree without dividing. We will be less afraid of one another! Yes, we are afraid to speak the Truth to one another. We have become like the society around us - so afraid to offend that we can't help one another, won't chide one another, refuse to speak the truth in love.

Brothers and sisters, when we learn to love one another we will change the world. But it starts with us.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Making it Clear

Sandra and I have been in Norway nearly a week now.* We’ve lectured at the University of Oslo; we’ve led several seminars; I preached to a multinational congregation today. But tomorrow, I have a session with just men. This is the only session about which I have any doubts. I thought I knew what I would say to them, but now I’m not sure. So much to say; so little time! The needs here are great; but they are just as great in my own country, my own town, my own home.

God says (in Isaiah 45:19):
I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, “seek me in vain.” I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right.

This is what I need also to proclaim: God’s truth! What does His Word tell us about how to be men; to be leaders; to be witnesses? That’s what needs to be told. In Nehemiah 8, we read that Ezra read the law to the people and they bowed down and worshiped. The Levites went around in the crowd and instructed the people where they stood, “making it clear and giving the meaning so the people could understand what was being read.” (verse 8).

So we can’t go wrong tomorrow if I proclaim God’s Truth – and make it clear.

God, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” (Psalm 119:18). Help me to make them clear to the people – starting with me.

*Interestingly, as I started to post this blog, I had difficulty because I am, of course, using a Norwegian sever at the moment. All the instructions are in Norwegian. It took me ten minutes just to figure out how to log on!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mouthpiece for God

In a blog entry dated April 10, Dr. Albert Moehler wrote this:

I am certainly supposed to be a mouthpiece for Scripture, a human instrument through which the Scripture is heard and received by God's people. But the human preacher's authority only reaches the human ear. It is only God himself who can take his word from the human ear to the human heart.

I stand by this answer, and by the large comments I made in the interview about the fact that the preacher is actually a mouthpiece for God only when the Word of God is rightly preached. As the Reformers made clear, preaching is the means by which God speaks to His people as a gathered community. Through the preached Word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, God actually speaks to His people.

This was in agreement with some things written by Billy Graham in the 1950s.

Just curious; what's your comment on this quote?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

News and Views

OK, it has been a while since I last posted on this blog. Life is exciting - and busy. Easter is a busy time - and a joyous one. After that my wife and I went to a missions conference for four days. Getting back, she had to unpack, do the laundry, and repack for a missions trip to foreign places. You can read about that - and sign up for updates "From the Field" if you wish - by going to our website and at the "Contact Us" page, signing up.

We are also gearing up for the next big set of seminars, talks, teas, and other events, which will take place in May - in Norway.

However, I have not been hiding under a rock. I've kept up on the news. First, I have decided that I will go to the polls. Holding my nose, I will vote for John McCain. This decision is based upon the plans I recently saw for the three candidates regarding health care. McCain's plan calls for no mandates (as do the two Democrats), and seems to allow for freedom of choice. Not a resounding endorsement, I know. Besides, none of the candidates is holding his/her breath waiting for my endorsement. Such as it is, however, there you have it.

Regarding Jeremiah Wright, I have little to say that hasn't already been said, read, and forgotten. I only state that worship services are supposed to be about worshiping God. Sermons are supposed to be expositions of God's Word - with references. I try to do that. I know that sometimes I might get a little caught up in political and cultural issues, but I try to relate them to living in the world as a follower of Jesus Christ.

There you have it. Comments welcome.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I love technology. I hate technology. Yes, I know that I do not have to explain my bi-polar feelings on the subject to most of you. Today, despite the many frustrations I have experienced recently in this realm, I love technology.

Here I am typing out my words onto a screen that, when I post them, will have the possibility of being read by millions (probably billions) of people in every corner of our globe. Of course I am very well aware that this is only the potential. The reality is that very few people will actually read these particular words. The potential is there, however.

Yesterday, after several frustrating (there's that word again) attempts, I was able to post a brand new incarnation of Lifework Forum's website. Again, potential and reality won't necessarily match, but....

Last night I began uploading mp3 files of sermons from Covenant Baptist Church to the web. it's a slow process, but I got a few of them up and I will be adding slowly. Amazingly, overnight there were more than 70 downloads from the nine sermons I had been able to post so far. Now that does not match the thousands that are downloaded from a lot of places, but it amazes me. If you're interested those can be found at sermonaudio.

I'm not an IT guy. But, I can do this stuff with technology! This is a tool that God has given us to reach and teach people; to communicate with one another openly (iron does, indeed, sharpen iron); and to read and study more about His Word and His world. I marvel at His goodness in many ways.

Today I am marvelling at His goodness through the internet.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What is this thing called Evangelicalism?

In the 1970s, when I became a Christian, people were already asking the question, “What is an Evangelical?” In the context in which I lived at the time, Europe, the answer was really quite simple. It meant “Protestant.” But that did not solve the matter. I did have to come back to my native land.

Arriving in the USA and heading off to a seminary (known to some as “saint school”), I found the same question being asked. The answers given at the time were historical or theological in nature. They were also inconclusive.

I still ask the question. Why? Because there are so many people who want to crawl under this umbrella with whom I discern very little commonality of belief or practice. Wheaton College defines the modern term this way:

There are three senses in which the term "evangelical" is used today as we enter the 21st-century. The first is to see as "evangelical" all Christians who affirm a few key doctrines and practical emphases. British historian David Bebbington approaches evangelicalism from this direction and notes four specific hallmarks of evangelical religion: conversionism, the belief that lives need to be changed; activism, the expression of the gospel in effort; biblicism, a particular regard for the Bible; and crucicentrism, a stress on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. A second sense is to look at evangelicalism as an organic group of movements and religious tradition. Within this context "evangelical" denotes a style as much as a set of beliefs. As a result, groups as disparate as black Baptists and Dutch Reformed Churches, Mennonites and Pentecostals, Catholic charismatics and Southern Baptists all come under the evangelical umbrella-demonstrating just how diverse the movement really is. A third sense of the term is as the self-ascribed label for a coalition that arose during the Second World War. This group came into being as a reaction against the perceived anti-intellectual, separatist, belligerent nature of the fundamentalist movement in the 1920s and 1930s. Importantly, its core personalities (like Harold John Ockenga and Billy Graham), institutions (for instance, Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College), and organizations (such as the National Association of Evangelicals and Youth for Christ) have played a pivotal role in giving the wider movement a sense of cohesion that extends beyond these "card-carrying" evangelicals.
(To read the entire article, click here).

There really isn’t a lot of help there, is there? Maybe we can understand this a little better if we recognize that the word often has an adverb attached to it. Very often people (in the USA) refer to something they call “broadly evangelical.” Now we’re getting somewhere – I think. Why do I think that? Because I can look at the wide array of theological systems (and non-systems!), and the worship and lifestyle practices of those claiming to be “broadly evangelical” and note that, in fact, very little is meant by the term. Mormons lay claim to the mantle as easily as do Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, various Church or Christ groups, and myriad other groups. The Emerging Church” claims what is left after evangelicalism and mainstream denominationalism finish off our spiritual sensibilities. I have no problem at all confusing broadly evangelical groups with liberals, heretics, and generally mixed-up folk.

So, what to do? You can call me a Christian, or a Protestant, or a Calvinist (that’s a definition waiting for another essay).
Those are just a few of the many names I have been called! I would prefer it, however, if you didn’t refer to me as either evangelical or broadly evangelical.

How about you?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Nuff Said

This came in today. It says heaps. Enjoy!

Louis Farrakhan heaps praise on Barack Obama
Fred Jackson - OneNewsNow - 2/25/2008 8:15:00 AM

Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan says Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is the "hope of the entire world."

Associated Press reports that Farrakhan, addressing some 20,000 people Sunday at the annual "Saviours' Day" celebration in Chicago, never explicitly endorsed Obama but spent most of a nearly two-hour speech praising the Illinois senator. AP says Farrakhan compared Obama to Nation of Islam founder Fard Muhammad, who also had a white mother and black father. He suggested that Obama "could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall."

According to the Chicago Tribune, Farrakhan spoke about the war in Iraq, the nation's economic problems, and the increase in natural disasters, saying the world was in a perilous state and Obama could help it recover. "This young man is the hope of the entire world that America will change and be a better place," he said.

The Tribune reports that Obama's people moved quickly yesterday to try to downplay the praises of Farrakhan, who has a history of controversial remarks -- particularly regarding the Jewish people. The newspaper quotes Obama spokesman, Bill Burton, who said that "Senator Obama has been clear in his objections to Minister Farrakhan's past pronouncements and has not solicited the minister's support."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Non-American by Choice
(I know that the color in my headline is a difficult color to read on a website, but it was chosen for the obvious reason)

In the past two weeks two American cities have told the US Marine Corps that they are not welcome. Read one of the news reports here. Toledo, Ohio has joined Berkley, California (that's shocking, huh?) in making these unAmerican demands. I have solutions, of course.

  • First, strip them of all Federal aid including tuition assistance for college students; funding for road projects; WIC; and Aid for Dependent Children. Keep the money coming in for all veteran-related expenses, like the GI Bill and GI Loan mortgages.
  • Next, deny them access to any of the functions of the National Guard. And do not allow any of their citizens to join any branch of our military.
  • Finally, allow them to create their own militia for protection of their fair cities, since we should offer no protection for them in the event of an invasion (anybody remember Red Dawn?).
This is America. Disagreeing with its policies, its treaties and its general direction is fine. It is, in fact, the very reason for which our military stands up for this country. They protect our freedom to voice our opinions; never more than now, when the enemy is an aggressor which attacked us on our own soil.

Telling the people who stand between you and chaos; who defend you from the imposition of Sharia Law (see entry of February 7) is neither wise nor moral. As I have suggested before, especially in the case of denizens of Hollywierd who so often proclaim they're moving to another country (Michael Moore, can I help you pack?) - GO, please. We do not need you. You are welcome to stay, but please shut up.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Convert or Die!

I read an article this morning which doesn't surprise me; but does shock me. The Archbishop of Canterbury (no friend to Christianity as far as I can tell) wants to complete the Islamicization of Great Britain. The long and the short of it is that the Archbishop not only believes it inevitable that Sharia Law will become the law of the land in England - he believes it should!

This has been predicted by many Christians for years. When Muslim populations grow in Western nations, they will seek the implementation of this Islamic system of law. It will become the vehicle for the persecution of all who refuse to submit to Islam. It will be the manner by which religious leaders continue to abuse women and minorities. It will not allow Muslims to co-exist peacefully with their non-Muslim neighbors.

What can you do about it? Let me suggest three manners of response:
  1. PRAY. Pray for England. Pray for the Archbishop. Pray for the Christians of England to be able to resist.
  2. READ. Read your Bible. Read about Islam (try to understand something of Christianity first!). Educate yourself regarding the evils of this system of belief that wants to overcome the world - and either subjugate or kill all who resist.
  3. EVANGELIZE. "I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation," the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:2. Your friends and neighbors need to be told.

Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).
"So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:6).

Late breaking addition. Here's how this Sharia Law works out in practice.

What say you, my brothers and sisters?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Joe McCarthy was Right (So was Dan Quayle!)


I just thought I'd let you know about a piece that was published today and to acquaint those of you who may not be aware of it with the Pearcey Report. Comments still welcome!

Blacklisted by History
Jeopardizes Standard Liberal Storyline
Wild-Eyed Myth Encounters the Real Joe McCarthy

By Curt Lovelace

At Friendship Street School in the early 1950s, we were taught that hiding under our school desks would save us from nuclear attack –- which, in the lingua franca of the day, the Satan-loving Commies in the Kremlin were poised to rain down upon us at any moment. These exercises were the famous “duck and cover” drills.

Yet, while we feared Communist-initiated death from the skies, as a nation we tolerated -– even fostered -– Soviet activity within our own government. While trying to find a place to hide from nuclear destruction, we somehow felt safe enough to vilify Joseph McCarthy, a U.S. senator from America’s heartland who tried to root out the Reds from service in our federal apparatus. So successful were efforts against the senator that the term McCarthyism has become synonymous with wild-eyed fanaticism.

To read the rest of this article, at the Pearcey Report, click here.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

While We're on the Topic...

Puritans, that is. Let me inform you about a wonderful resource for those who would rather listen that read. iTunes now has a section called iTunesU. If you have an MP3 player you can download lectures from many colleges and universities (You will need to download iTunes. You can do that by clicking here.) One of the schools is Reformed Theological Seminary. You can access and listen to lots of good lectures, including Theology and Church History - even chapel sermons.

Back to the Puritans... One of the series available for download is a series on the Puritans given by Dr. J. I. Packer.
(Did I mention that these are all FREE?!)

In more than 11 hours of lectures, Packer covers …

1. The Puritan Identity – pt. 1 (45:14)
2. The Puritan Identity – pt. 2 (33:10)
3. Puritan Theological Concerns – pt. 1 (45:54)
4. Puritan Theological Concerns – pt. 2 (45:03)
5. The Bible in Puritan Theology – pt. 1 (46:53)
6. The Bible in Puritan Theology – pt. 2 (46:01)
7. Salvation by Grace – pt. 1 (46:41)
8. Salvation by Grace – pt. 2 (46:37)
9. Faith and Assurance – pt. 1 (46:32)
10. Faith and Assurance – pt. 2 (46:16)
11. The Good Fight – pt. 1 (46:22)
12. The Good Fight – pt. 2 (31:45)
13. Conscience (44:06)
14. Reformed Monasticism (43:01)
15. The Christian Minister (44:22)
16. Worship, Fellowship, and Discipline in the Church (27:40)

I have listened to several of these lectures and they are great. Don't miss out on this great opportunity.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Read the Puritans???? Me?

In 21st century America - and probably in most places - the word Puritan has negative connotations. It symbolized the sexually repressed and the laughless. Neither of these characterizations is true, but perceptions are reality to most people. Well, here's a challenge for those of you who would like some good (though not easy) reading in 2008.
Join the Puritan Reading Challenge.

This challenge, started by a fellow named Timmy Brister, whom I have never met, involves a list of 12 books. Actually, hundreds (literally) of people have already signed up and committed to read one of these books per month during this year. Before you panic, let me point out that most of these books are paperbacks under 200 pages long. The first ,
The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbe, is only 128 pages long.

Now, why would you want to get involved in such an endeavor, especially with books that are all more than 300 years old?

I'm glad you asked. These are books which have impacted countless lives. They are not the kind of fluff and warm fuzzies we are accustomed to reading today. They contain theological truth - and application. They are even written in complete sentences! I have already read some of these and parts of others, but I am signing on and will make every effort to read through this list this year. In fact, I just ordered the whole set. Let me tell you about that.

Reformation Heritage Books has bundled the set and made the whole list available for the incredible price of $65. I know I don't need to say this for most of you, but, I am not in any way affiliated with Reformation Heritage Books or any subsidiary. I gain nothing from their books sales. In fact, I just laid out my $65 for this set!

I want to encourage each of you (both of you?) who read this blog to join the challenge. It's worthwhile reading, even if you can only do it when the kids are down and you're already exhausted or you just finished working a double shift. You can only read these books in short snippets at any one sitting anyway!

When you sign, let Timmy Brister know. He's keeping an informal count and will be involving people in discussions if they wish to join in. Let's do this together.

And let me know if you join in, too.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

You Are Somebody

We’ve been in a presidential campaign cycle for a long time. Now we are finally getting to the home stretch. Yet, we hardly know anything about most of the candidates. They all say that they want to let us know who they are so that we can make our electoral decisions. None of them is letting too much info slip, however. Their real identities are still a mystery to me. I would like to be able to vote for Fred Thompson. He seems to be conservative – and several commentators have told me that he is. But, Fred Thompson has told us next to nothing about who he is and what he believes.

This is not a political blog entry! I only use that introduction on identity to get to my real topic; my “thought for the day.”

Identity truly is the great quest of mankind. From the philosophers asking “who am I”, to the passion since the 1960s for going off somewhere to “find ourselves,” and even including our everyday questions about what life is all about; we all want to know who we are – and whose we are. In our social climate, which includes a massive divorce rate; domestic partnership; same sex pseudo-marriages; blended families; dysfunctional families; drug and alcohol ravaged families; knowing who we are and where we fit in is difficult; especially for the children in these situations. This makes individual identity even more important. Please read these two brief portions of Scripture (God’s Word, the Bible).
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:18-20)

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)
If you are a follower of Christ, sister; if you believe that He is your Lord, brother; then you are not only a member of the family – you’re an important partner in the family. You have identity in Christ. You’re somebody. At the end of the day, you can count on still being in Christ and in Christ’s family. Take that to work with you today; or to the grocery store; or to court; or wherever you have to be. If you are a Christian you don’t have to search for identity. You are somebody.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Iranians Should Need to Worry; Probably Don’t

Once again, US ships have been threatened by those of a foreign nation. My readers need only look down a few inches to the entry of December 22, 2007, to be reminded of another such incident which didn’t turn out so well. Here’s a snippet from the report from FoxNews:

WASHINGTON — The United States issued a stern warning to Iran Monday following an incident near the Strait of Hormuz in which Iranian speedboats veered dangerously close to three U.S. Navy ships and intercepted radio signals said U.S. "ships would explode."

U.S. ships blew whistles, issued radio warnings and took evasive maneuvers to avoid striking the Iranian boats, which motored as close as 200 yards from the American ships by one account. The naval ships armed their weapons, and the five unmarked Iranian boats — believed to belong to the Iran Revolutionary Guard — sped away.

My question: what good is it being the world’s only remaining superpower if punk non-super powers can push us around like this? They got a stern warning. President Bush did say that this was a “provocative act.” Iranians should have to worry about us. They should not have the national temerity to tweak us. But this is what happens when “girly-men” (and sometimes not-so-girly women) run our government; train our would-be “intellectuals”; inhabit our halls of justice and our pulpits.

Jeremiah 29:7 says this: Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." Neither peace nor prosperity will result from a weak, insipid response to bullies. Not only will this weakness negatively affect the United States of America, but it will harm all nations and peoples who seek peace.

America: get a spine.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Art Historians To Save Us From Global Warming

You may have seen mention of this in The Limbaugh Letter. I found it hard to accept, even from the pen of El Rushbo, so I went and looked it up. The gist of the article is that from artwork of the 19th century, artist/scientists can tell us how badly we have wrecked our environment. Among other things, the AP report, states:

A group of scientists has studied the colors in more than 500 paintings of sunsets, including many of Turner's 19th-century watercolors and oils, in hopes of gaining insights into the cooling effects caused by major volcanic eruptions.

By better understanding past changes in climate, they hope to improve computer models for future climate change.

Obviously, these graduates of Art History 100, are also cross-credentialed as Environmental Scientists. Funny (ha, ha) that when some (real) scientists question man-made global warming, they are scoffed at as unqualified if they are mere climatologists or earth scientists. Al Gore has no credentials in any scientific filed – he’s not even an art history scholar – yet his word is gospel. Gee, I wonder why.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

I'm Still Wondering

Why, when oil prices hit $100 we are still not drilling in ANWR.