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Random Thoughts On My Twins, Hurricane Harvey, 1st Responders, Gianna Jesson, Providence, And The Value of Life

We were told that we couldn’t have children

My wife was told that, because of a physical defect, she would never be able to have children.

God is sovereign. We have five grown children.

All are college graduates. All make us proud. God did this because of His providence, for His glory.

My twins

My son and his twin sister were born at 7&1/2 months into my wife’s pregnancy. My daughter had under-developed lungs and we were told that my son had fluid on his brain with a large portion of his brain unformed and he may not make it through the night, but definitely wouldn’t live more than a few days. We wept and prayed with our family, pastor & church elders. A day later we were told that his brain was perfectly normal with no satisfactory explanation as to how they could get it so wrong. God did this because of His providence, for His Glory.

Our twins went home after 10 days. He weighed 3 lbs. 12 oz. and she weighed 3 lbs. 8 oz., but they were alive, they were beautiful and they were our first born (technically he was the first born, but his sister claims a virtual tie since she was only 10 minutes behind and was in the breach position). They were so tiny that their heads fit in the palm of my hand and we had to buy Cabbage Patch Kids doll clothes to find anything small enough to fit them.



My twins at 1 year

My daughter

After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Hardin Simmons University with a bachelors’ degree, she then obtained a Masters’ degree from Dallas Baptist. Six years ago, she married a wonderful, Christian man. About three years later, she gave birth to our first grandchild, a healthy 8 &1/2 lb. boy. 2 years later she gave birth to our first granddaughter, a healthy 8 lb. girl. Today, she is a dedicated, amazing wife & mother who also happens to provide nursing services to the elderly and infirm 2-3 nights a week. I call her the real Wonder Woman, but God did this because of His providence, for His glory.


My beautiful daughter and her children

My son

He graduated from the University of Kansas. His college career started out shaky but he matured and finished strong. Four years ago, he graduated from the Houston Fire Department Training Academy. He was number one in his class for the academic portion of the training. The HFD literally forced his entire graduating class to go to paramedic school and become licensed paramedics (they often force them because firefighters usually just want to be firefighters). For those of you who don’t know, all firefighters (at least for Houston) are EMT’s, but paramedic certification is a much more comprehensive course of study and is close to the equivalent of obtaining an RN in an intense, 6-month program instead of 2 years. In his second month as a paramedic, he saved the life of a baby who was choking and had stopped breathing. This morning, he finished his 72 hour shift rescuing victims of Hurricane Harvey (they did make him take a 6-hour break after the first 42 hours to get some rest). During the first 24 hours, he was in a boat on what used to be the Addicks Reservoir (it is now unrecognizable because of the mass flooding) with a crew from the Ohio Task Force and they rescued over 100 people throughout that first night alone. He’s now on his way home for the first time in 3 days. God did this because of His providence, for His Glory.


My son at his HFD graduation

Hurricane Harvey and the value of life

I’m thankful beyond words that my family members residing in Houston are safe after Hurricane Harvey. I’m heartbroken at the devastation of property and the terrible loss of life and I’m reminded of the infinite value of human life.

I was inspired to write this piece after watching the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and the lives that were saved by first responders and ordinary volunteers. I was also inspired after watching YouTube videos and reading about the story of Gianna Jesson, whose mother aborted her at the same point in pregnancy that my twins were born: 7&1/2 months. Miraculously, she survived a saline abortion and travels the world fighting against the evil of abortion. She’s is a beautiful, young woman with what she calls “the gift of cerebral palsy” and her singing voice is beyond beautiful. You can read more about Gianna here. God did this because of His providence, for His Glory.

Like Gianna, the value that my twins bring to this world, is beyond measure. Not because my daughter was a good student and is a wonderful mother. Not because my son is a first responder. Not because they’re awesome (even though I think they’re awesome), but because they are human beings, Imago Dei: in the very Image of God. Every child that has been killed through the evil practice of abortion was Imago Dei.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;”

Genesis 1:26

The three people mentioned in this narrative have lives that are infinitely valuable. Watching the amazing effort of the first responders and volunteers rushing into danger to help complete strangers of every color and creed tells me that human beings are unique and have this same value. No other creature on this planet repeatedly goes into danger to save strangers. They didn’t stop to determine which of the people in danger had more value to society before saving them. In fact, it was always the weakest and the most vulnerable who were rescued first. God did this because of His providence, for His Glory.

God ultimately proves this through the fact that we are condemned and owe the penalty for our sin and He paid that penalty through the substitutionary sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, who was executed, who was buried, and raised on the third day that we might have the assurance of life after death, if we repent and believe. God did this because of His providence, for His glory.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

The value of life

Most people don’t realize that a woman can obtain an abortion in all 50 states, for any reason, through the 9th month of pregnancy. In 2015, approximately 908,000 babies were aborted in the United States. 9-11% of those were aborted after the first trimester. Conservatively, that’s 81,720 babies. These are not masses of tissue, they are human life. Unlike Gianna, most of these babies don’t survive. I can’t help but wonder about how many of these human beings would have been mothers, firefighters, singers, Uber drivers, carpenters, landscapers, doctors…every living human being was given life at conception and is the Imago Dei.

All people are the indisputable arguments for the sanctity of life.

That’s the lesson I take away from the lives of the 3 people I’ve written about here, from the countless examples of sacrifice we’re seeing in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, and from the ultimate sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.





Covenants, Contracts, Community, Catholicism, Communism and Extra-biblical Visions (or The Shepherding Movement: Alive and Well in 2014)

Pope-and-Swiss-GuardThere is a growing trend among evangelical churches to require members to sign a church covenant. In most of these churches, there is a legitimate desire to see the regular attenders, or members, engage in meaningful fellowship or community in order to maximize their potential for the greater glory of God. The leaders of these churches see the membership covenant as an effective tool to combat the apathy and narcissism which is so prevalent in Western culture.  They would argue that biblical community is the antithesis of radical individualism and this individualism will continue to dominate the mindset of most churchgoers without a tangible tool like a membership covenant.

Not only does this narcissistic individualism undermine biblical community, advocates of membership covenants would contend that it undermines the vision that is cast by God-appointed leadership in the church. Vision casting is a concept advocated by Peter Drucker, (a noted Harvard business guru), adopted by the prosperity gospel heretics and popularized within mainstream evangelicalism by Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and the modern church pragmatists. This concept, simply stated, is that God gives a “divine” vision or mission to the pastor and it is the pastor’s responsibility to both God and his congregation to develop philosophy, strategy and practice that drives the behavior of the church members in such a way as to be in 100% agreement with this extra-biblical, “God-inspired” vision and to always be functioning in complete submission to the pastor’s ideas & methods in order to accomplish the goals of the vision. While most Christians would agree that radical individualism or narcissism is incompatible with biblical fellowship, I would contend that a membership covenant is a carnal means to overcome a spiritual problem and results in a works oriented approach to sanctification and community which undermines the very end it was designed to achieve. In addition I would contend that extra biblical visions do not come from God and the practice of vision casting is an attempt to manipulate church members to achieve an ideal state of community but in reality creates an illusion of community which will not withstand adversity, nor will it last long past the tenure of existing leadership. When the practice of requiring membership covenants is combined with a manipulative practice of vision casting, the end result is often an authoritarian, controlling and manipulative environment which results in abuses similar to those seen in the shepherding movement of the 70s and 80s. Current examples of this can be seen in the abusive and unethical actions taken by leadership at multisite churches like Mars Hill of Seattle and Sovereign Grace Ministries of Louisville, KY.

The individualism that many of these churches are actually railing against is not the radical, narcissistic individualism of post-modern culture, generation x and beyond, but the individualism that dares to take seriously the responsibility of each Christian to understand the scriptures, theology and the church fathers effectively enough to function as Bereans, holding fast to Sola Scriptura and holding the church and her leaders accountable to the one true standard for faith and practice.  The constant emphasis of this theme, combined with the practice of vision casting and the requirement of covenant membership appears to be used at many of these churches to develop a heavy-handed, controlling, and domineering mode of operation by leadership toward the congregants.  Any questioning or disagreement with the vision that has been cast by the pastor is seen as divisive and an act of rebellion against the leadership and the God-given vision.   Chris Rosebrough has done a thorough and biblical analysis of the manipulative practice of vision casting and its roots, so I will refer you to his radio broadcast for more detail than will be covered in this posting: Vision Casting & Other Unbiblical Practices Employed By Purpose-Driven Leadership. To summarize, anyone, whether in leadership or otherwise, who questions the vision or the methodology employed is an enemy of God’s divine plan for the church and should be dealt with as a sinner in need of church discipline and, if necessary “shot’ or ‘run over” in order to get them out of the way of God’s plan. Be assured that I’m 100 percent a churchman in that I’m a firm believer that Christians should be regularly fellowshipping with a local body with relationships built on worshiping God in spirit and in truth as a congregation.  I’m a solid presbyterian (little p) in that I believe that the local congregation should have elders appointed who will shepherd the flock with loving-kindness; elders who are biblically and theologically astute and who are known and actively involved in the gentle shepherding of the sheep; elders who are equal in respect and authority rather than the idea that the pastor sits on the elder board as the first among equals. I’m fine with church membership as long as its sole requirement is a clear understanding of the Gospel accompanied by a profession of faith in Jesus Christ alone as Lord and Savior, and even when this is accompanied by an acknowledgement of the basic, foundational doctrines of the faith. Where I think I diverge from the idea of community as emphasized at a growing number of churches is that it seems that there is a controlling aspect that tends toward a heavy-handed manipulation or a “lording” over the sheep in order to achieve the extra-biblical vision.  It’s as if they can force the idea of “community” on the flock to the degree that it results in “covenant members” who actively serve, actively give and actively exhort one another to righteousness and good works that align with the vision.  Nowhere is this more evident to me than in the multipage contract that must be signed at many churches in order to wholly fellowship with the body (or engage in community). Many of these churches have even gone so far as to require members to renew their covenant membership on an annual basis. This practice further increases the level of control that leadership lords over the members and takes the manipulation of each individual to a whole new level. As much as these churches attempt to use scripture to justify this practice, the reality is that there is no scriptural, theological or historical basis (unless we want to undo the Reformation) to justify this type of requirement.

Are membership covenants justified by biblical covenants?¹

The idea of the covenants as they relate to the people of God and to individual faith are always in the context of a covenant between God and man, where God actually fulfills both party’s responsibilities within the covenant.  In addition, the Biblical covenants are monopleuric as opposed to dipleuric.  This is critical in the evaluation of both the Biblical covenants and what is passed off as a dipleuric church covenant required for membership.  A monopleuric covenant is a covenant in which the superior party dictates terms to an inferior party. A dipleuric covenant is a covenant in which both parties voluntarily define and agree to terms, but there is no obligation to enter into covenant whatsoever.  From the Biblical perspective, a monopleuric covenant is summed up by the following characteristics:

  1. Covenant is established by God (the superior party) over man (the inferior party); God establishes the terms of the covenant as the condition of relationship with no input from man, whatsoever.
  2. God is under no obligation to provide a covenant for man to obtain a relationship with God, but He does so out of His abundant grace and mercy, and for His glory.
  3. Man is under full obligation to God to abide by the gracious terms of the covenant, whether he agrees with the terms or not.
  4. Man is fully bound by the terms of the covenant, whether he even acknowledges the existence of the covenant, or not.

Each individual is responsible to fulfill his individual terms of the covenant, regardless of his ability to do so, but because God is abundantly merciful and gracious, He fulfills man’s responsibilities for whomever He chooses and it is this work of God that binds these individuals to one another as adopted children of God.  This work of God that fulfills man’s responsibility is the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, and this atonement was agreed upon between the persons of The Trinity before the foundation of the world (Covenant of Redemption). Since each adopted heir is a child of God, each adopted heir is inextricably bound to all other adopted heirs by the very fact that they are siblings within the King’s family.  Their fellowship together is based solely on the fact that they are children of God, fellow heirs to the divine promise, operating in unity to worship and serve God as a people: the church.  Because it is God’s work through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ that binds each individual to the family of God, the requirement of another covenant in order to enter fully into fellowship with local, fellow heirs is a man-made requirement that imposes an additional responsibility not required by God.  The terms of this extra covenant are defined and dictated by the church leaders, even though there is no instruction in scripture to create this extra-biblical requirement as a basis for fellowship. Because the terms of this requirement are dictated by one party to another party, this “covenant” in effect functions as a monopleuric covenant. Not only is this problematic  because it is inferior and incomplete as to what God actually expects of us, but also because these covenants usually add additional requirements that aren’t required by God, i.e. regular, confession of all sin to other individuals. Not only is this concept of “membership covenant” problematic because it is not even implied in Scripture, it is also problematic because it puts a group of fellow heirs in a position of divine sovereignty over another group of fellow heirs, even though they are neither divine nor sovereign.  I would argue that this creates an environment that is a breeding ground for authoritarian abuse by the “superior” party, fostering the lording of authority over the “inferior” party. I’m not aware of a single instance in scripture where there is a covenant between individual men, whether monopleuric or dipleuric, that results in these men uniting and functioning as the people of God, worshiping in spirit and in truth.  The efforts to justify this practice scripturally are so poor in hermeneutical principal that it baffles the mind.  One of the primary justifications for this practice was the appointment of deacons, in Acts, to properly minister to the church’s widows in Jerusalem. The argument is that because they could identify the widows, this implies church membership; therefore membership is biblical and necessarily implies a man-made agreement. Additional arguments of a similar vein will be used (the appointment of elders, the expulsion of the sinner in first Corinthians, etc.). Each of these arguments requires a quantum leap in hermeneutics and exegesis that borders on the ridiculous.  All other attempts that I’ve seen as justifying this practice scripturally are equally unsupportable by any acceptable hermeneutical method.  I firmly believe that this is a fleshly attempt at making “covenant members” fulfill their biblical responsibilities towards one another and towards the lost world in which they live by working towards the pastor’s vision.  It is akin to the Judaizers in Galatians requiring circumcision, with even less justification, because there was at least a way to use the Old Testament scriptures to attempt to justify that practice.    No such scriptures exist that can be misapplied to justify this practice.  The true children of Abraham, the true circumcision, the true Israel, the true children of God will worship in spirit and truth through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, by God’s sovereign design out of a changed and thankful heart.  God has prepared their good works in advance:

Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.  [NASB, emphasis added]

It is abundantly clear that any good works that we perform are done solely on the basis of God’s grace and sovereignty (including biblical community) therefore it must be concluded that no number of pages in a man-made contract will result in true spirituality.  I would argue that in the same way the Pharisees practiced their rituals in order to rack up points for the approval of men, the requirement of a signed contract for full fellowship creates a carnal, works-based community with the following results: a reason for pride, a reason for self-deception, a “paper circumcision” gaining the approval of men and by way of practice, a domineering and controlling environment where people are “purged” or “run over by the bus” (see Chris Rosebrough’s analysis of vision casting) if they dare question any action or decision by leadership (not submitting to the elders).  By contrast, true believers will participate in and experience a new covenant lifestyle in the same way that they participated in and experienced regeneration: by the Grace of God, through faith from God, in the power of the Holy Spirit as their minds are renewed through personal study and consistent, expository preaching of the transforming Word of God. My challenge to the leaders at these churches is this:

Galations 3:2-4

This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? [NASB, emphasis added]

Final Observations

in my research of the current emphasis on the accusation of radical individualism if one dares question leadership’s strategy or disagrees in matters of conscience in the practice of one’s faith and the disturbing trend of many churches to require a membership contract as if somehow this will eradicate the dreaded individualism and enforce community, I’ve found two constants:

  1. Roman Catholic literature is filled with the similar terminology and consistently emphasizes the idea that the Reformation and the Reformers individualized the nature of faith, conscience and practice; it considers this as an attack on the true nature of the church and as detrimental to the true practice of Christianity: a Christianity that they define as a faith that is wholly centered in and subject to the authority of the centralized church and its traditions.
  2. The same ideas and terminology are found throughout Marxist/Communist literature and in this literature, individualism is a detriment to the healthy function of a society and results in capitalism and greed.  Oh, and by the way, anyone who dares question the decisions of leadership in these systems are purged as well (run over by the bus?).

It appears to me that radical individualism/narcissism has been confused with the individualism of the reformers: Christians who dare use their mind, study the scriptures, the church fathers and writings of old, daring to be the Berean, asking questions of authoritarian leadership when they are operating outside of scripture in faith and practice. It’s as if they are undoing the reformation, not by reuniting with Roman Catholicism, but by creating a new centralized, authoritative structure where pastors are “little popes” who speak ex cathedra and establish divine direction and practice for the congregants. I will end with this excerpt from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, Life Together, which is almost prophetic in that it seems to capture the essence of what is happening today in the name of community:

On innumerable occasions a whole Christian community has been shattered because it has lived on the basis of a wishful image. Certainly serious Christians who are put in a community for the first time will often bring with them a very definite image of what Christian communal life [Zusammenleben] should be, and they will be anxious to realize it. But God’s grace quickly frustrates all such dreams. A great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves, is bound to overwhelm us as surely as God desires to lead us to an understanding of genuine Christian community. By sheer grace God will not permit us to live in a dream world even for a few weeks and to abandon ourselves to those blissful experiences and exalted moods that sweep over us like a wave of rapture. For God is not a God of emotionalism, but the God of truth. Only that community which enters into the experience of this great disillusionment with all its unpleasant and evil appearances begins to be what it should be in God’s sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this moment of disillusionment comes over the individual and the community, the better for both. However, a community that cannot bear and cannot survive such disillusionment, clinging instead to its idealized image, when that should be done away with, loses at the same time the promise of a durable Christian community. Sooner or later it is bound to collapse. [24]Every human idealized image that is brought into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be broken up so that genuine community can survive. Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial.

God hates this wishful dreaming because it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. Those who dream of this idealized community demand that it be fulfilled by God, by others, and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands, set up their own law, and judge one another and even God accordingly. They stand adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of the community. They act as if they have to create the Christian community, as if their visionary ideal binds the people together. Whatever does not go their way, they call a failure. When their idealized image is shattered, they see the community breaking into pieces. So they first become accusers of other Christians in the community, then accusers of God, and finally the desperate accusers of themselves. Because God already has laid the only foundation of our community, because God has united us in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that life together with other Christians, not as those who make demands, but as those who thankfully receive. We thank God for what God has done for us. We thank God for giving us other Christians who live by God’s call, forgiveness, and promise. We do not complain about what God does not give us; rather we are thankful for what God does give us daily. And is not what has been given us enough: other believers who will go on living with us through sin and need under the blessing of God’s grace? Is the gift of God any less immeasurably great than this on any given day, even on the most difficult and distressing days of a Christian community? Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the common life, is not the one who sins still a person with whom I too stand under the word of Christ? [25]Will not another Christian’s sin be an occasion for me ever anew to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ? Therefore, will not the very moment of great disillusionment with my brother or sister be incomparably wholesome for me because it so thoroughly teaches me that both of us can never live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and deed that really binds us together, the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ? The bright day of Christian community dawns wherever the early morning mists of dreamy visions are lifting.

[excerpt from Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pp 34-35, Kindle Edition, emphasis added]

¹See Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology for more on covenants.

My Favorite Guns: Christmas of ’75

My Marlin Golden 39M Scout, with added scope. My favorite gun to this day.

Just for a change of pace, I thought I would write a series about guns. I’m an enthusiast, no where close to being an expert, but I get a tremendous amount of enjoyment appreciating a good quality firearm and some of the great times that I often associate with shooting. Whether it’s plinking at tin cans, hunting or going out to the gun range and shooting a couple of rounds of skeet, some of the best times I’ve had have been while participating in these activities, especially with my sons. How does this relate to my faith? God is the creator of all things and creating is one of His primary activities:

Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (NASB)

Genesis 1:26 – “…Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” (NASB)

John 1:3 – All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (NASB)

Out of all of God’s creations, only man was created in the image or “likeness” of God, and even in our fallen state, the ability to imagine, design and build a complex piece of machinery is a testament to this fact and it brings glory to The Creator, even if the image bearer never intended for God to receive glory through his effort.

In the same way that God enjoyed His creation (Genesis 1:31), we can enjoy the things built as a result of man’s God-given abilities and give glory to God and enjoy the fruits of God’s creation. In the same way God has given us these good gifts for us to enjoy in a way that gives God glory, we can use these things to bless others in ways that we might never fully understand.

Christmas Morning, 1975

December 25, 1975 was a fairly typical Christmas day with my family. Even though I was 14 years old, Christmas still held a special mystery for me. Maybe because I was the youngest of 4 siblings, it always seemed like something extra special would happen that justified the waiting and the wondering. My oldest brother was still single and he was there early that morning. He may have spent the night but I can’t be certain. As was typical in our household, there were unwrapped presents under the tree that morning marked “From Santa” even though it had been several years since anyone believed in Santa Claus. Once we worked through the unwrapped gifts and everyone had opened the wrapped gifts, we would usually go around and admire the other items that family members had received. My mom and dad would usually refill their coffee and someone would tell a harrowing shopping story about how they stood in line for a long period of time and the item they wanted to buy was sold out right as they were approaching the front of the line, or some other typical, urban “adventure.” At some point there would be a lull in the conversation and then everyone would spring into action, putting up their gifts or gathering up wrapping paper. My mom would usually go back in the kitchen to work on the Christmas feast. On this particular Christmas, that lull had arrived and I thought my dad was going to instruct us to start the clean up process. Instead, he looked at me with no expression on his face and said: “I think you might have one more present, why don’t you go look in my closet.” I leapt up with nervous excitement and ran back to my mom & dad’s bedroom and opened the door to my dad’s perfectly organized closet. There was never anything out of place in my dad’s closet. It was a picture of precision with everything always in its place and every inch of space utilized perfectly. This made it quite easy to spot the one item that was out of place: a short, army-green, rifle case. I couldn’t believe my eyes and I grabbed the heavy, canvas case and ran back into the den where my dad and the rest of the family was waiting. My dad was grinning from ear to ear and my mom looked as surprised as I was when she saw what I had retrieved from dad’s closet. I was so excited that I unzipped the case while holding it upside down and out slid the most beautiful gift I had ever received: A Marlin, Golden 39M Scout, lever action, .22LR, rimfire rifle.  I was joyously stunned and my mom was slightly dismayed that my dad had given me a gun. I think my dad enjoyed the consternation of my mom almost as much as he enjoyed my rapturous delight. My oldest brother then gave me a 500 round brick of Winchester, Super-X .22LR ammunition. My dad helped my oldest brother do his shopping that Christmas Eve and they had stopped in at a Service Merchandise. My dad had seen me ogle the .22 rifles there on more than one occasion and they just happened to have the Marlin 39M on sale. This was the rifle I had admired above all the others and never thought I would actually own one. Especially not in 1975!

An Act of Grace, Borne from Love

1975 was the culmination of a series of 4 or 5 rough years in a row for me. My dad and I had a rocky relationship at the time, primarily because of my rebellion. I was especially surprised by my dad’s kindness given this dynamic in our home. My dad demonstrated grace to me. I didn’t deserve it and actually deserved just the opposite. My dad, while I was yet in rebellion to him, showed his love for me by this simple act of grace: he gave me a material possession that I wanted, probably more than any other, and showed me that he was going to love me even through my acts of rebellion. I professed faith in Christ a few months later and my life changed dramatically because of the transforming power of the Gospel. I can’t help but think that God used this act of love to prepare my heart for the truth of the Gospel.

How much more has God demonstrated His love for His children;

Mathew 7:11

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! (NASB)

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (NASB)

Work and Wealth: A Biblical Paradigm


Hard at Work
© 2014,, this image cannot be used without express written consent

I was at a home Bible study a few days ago and the topic of socialism, capitalism, and consumption came up. The person who mentioned the subject was sincerely expressing his viewpoint which was the idea that socialism is more in line with Christian living. Being my usual self, I responded like a bull in a china closet and was completely dismissive in my attitude and with my words. Thankfully the leader wisely moved us back to the topic at hand. After I repented, I decided that it would be appropriate to find resources that I could share with my brother which would effectively communicate a biblical perspective of work and wealth. one of the better resources that I found was an article written by Darrow Miller of World Evangelical Alliance. The article is titled Great Commission Utilitarianism. The article is intended to provide a biblical critique  of Christian utilitarianism and in so doing, also does an excellent job of comparing and contrasting four economic philosophies from a biblical perspective:

1. Okonomia: Stewardship of Creation

2. Idealistic Socialism

3. Chrematistics or Predatory Capitalism

4. Classic Communism

In the article, Miller concludes “…[this] dualistic paradigm has caused the Church to separate work from worship and wealth from the building of communities and nations. We need to return to the richness of the biblical paradigm and leave behind the anemic vision of Great Commission Utilitarianism…”

I believe that this article is a must read for Christians who wish to develop a Biblical worldview of economics, wealth, and work. Read the entire article here.

A Sound Analysis of Mark Driscoll’s Boorish Behavior and the Problem with Celebrity Pastors


Photo courtesy of Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

I know that I’m about 4 months late in commenting on Driscoll’s plagiarism, but hey, I was sick most of the winter.  If Driscoll can use sickness as an excuse during an interview, I can use it as an excuse for being a little behind the times.  What’s more interesting is that the the follow up documents after the interview proved unequivocally that Mark Driscoll committed overt plagiarism of D. A. Carson.  If a pastor/elder is to be above reproach, and blatant lying, or in this case, plagiarism, would disqualify that pastor/elder, shouldn’t Mark step down?  D. A. Carson has said as much about pastors who plagiarize ([5 Pt. Salt: Pulpit Plagiarism…] as noted by the folks at The Wartburg Watch).  Well, Mark?  I think it’s telling that half of Driscoll’s time seems to be performing damage control because of his actions and yet, as in this case, no appropriate action is ever taken to solve this embarrassment to Reformed theology and the church as a whole.  I never knew that “worm” theology referred to the spineless nature of many of my fellow Calvinists when one of their own needs discipline.

Carl Trueman get’s it right in the article published in Reformation 21:

If the Top Men take over, who will ask the hard questions?


The controversy surrounding Janet Mefferd’s interview of Mark Driscoll is interesting for a variety of reasons.  There is one aspect of it which has yet to attract comment as far as I can tell.  That is the way it brings out another aspect of the celebrity culture which has so corrupted the young, restless and reformed movement.

My interest here is not who was right and who was wrong.  That will no doubt be fairly easy to establish as the claims which Janet Mefferd made should be empirically verifiable.    I would only comment that, in my own interactions with Janet Mefferd, I have always found her forthright but fair.  I am concerned in this post only with what the reactions to the interview tell us about the culture of celebrity in the subculture that is evangelicalism.

I have tried a number of times to make the point that being a celebrity is not the same as being a public figure.   Anyone who acts in public is, to a greater or lesser degree, a public figure.  Celebrity brings with it such matters as a culture of false intimacy with complete strangers and a charismatic authority rooted in the person not in an institution.  Thus, influence is often predicated on personality, not on the intrinsic merits of arguments etc.

The Mefferd-Driscoll controversy points to another aspect of celebrity culture: celebrities are routinely allowed to behave in ways which would not be tolerated in ordinary mortals. (read the rest of this post here)

The Sisters Said it Well: Lost People Will Act Like Lost People, Our Job is Salt & Light!

When trying to determine the right course of action in response to blatantly, anti-Biblical cultural swings, the tendency for many Christians (me included) is to respond with shock & to take offense, as if we’re here to promote political agendas rather than eternal truth.  We then swing into what I call the “Don Wildmon” mode with the knee-jerk calls to boycott, protest or both.  Is that the reason God has us here on this earth?  To boycott the world when the world acts like the world?

To Starbucks or Not to Starbucks, That Is The Questionstarbucks

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was recently challenged by a shareholder in the company who questioned the company’s endorsement of a state bill to legalize same-sex marriage. Schultz reportedly told the shareholder that he was free to sell his Starbucks shares…

Should we as Christians expect lost people to act in any other way than lost people generally do? (continue reading)

A Culture of Death: Planned Parenthood in Florida Openly Endorses Infanticide

When Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, pro-life activists argued that this was just the beginning of the slippery slope to worldwide  infanticide and genocide.  Their arguments were dismissed as ridiculous overreaction and nothing more that sensationalism and fear mongering.  When Dr. Kevorkian was assisting suicide in Michigan in the 90’s and pro-life activists pointed to euthanasia as evidence of how we had slipped down the slope, they were again dismissed as sensationalists.  After all, how could anyone with compassion force a person to continue to suffer in the midst of a terminal illness?

Fast forward to 2013 and read the headlines:

Belgium Euthanizes Deaf Twins Going Blind


Euthanized Twins

Kermit Gosnell Drugged Women…Left Them for Hours

Defense blames patient for her own death


Dr. Kermit Gosnell, abortionist, murdered babies & mothers

If the two headlines above aren’t enough, last week, while being interviewed by the Civil Justice Subcommittee of the Florida House of Representatives, Alisa Lapolt Snow, a lobbyist representing Planned Parenthood, clearly endorsed the practice of infanticide.  When Florida Representative Jim Boyd asked Mrs. Snow

 “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?”

Her answer:

“We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician…”

I’m sad to say that the pro-lifers were prophetic.  Still say we’re sensationalistic?

Sad Irony

I researched Mrs. Snow and found the website of her company, Snow Strategies.  How ironic that the most prominent link on her company’s website was this:


“The Child Development Screening Initiative is a three-year endeavor by the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC) to convene stakeholders and develop a comprehensive statewide system of developmental screenings for children ages birth to five [emphasis added]. FDDC has contracted with Snow Strategies Inc. to carry out the goals as we enter Year 2 of the project.”

Here’s the question I have for Mrs Snow: does that include screenings for the birth of children as a result of botched abortions as they are lying on the table, waiting for the doctor and the parents to determine if they are going to kill that child?

Lenten Song (to the tune of My Favorite Things)

favorite thingsLENTEN SONG

(to the tune of
My Favorite Things)

Sackcloth and ashes, and
days without eating,
Mortification and wailing
and weeping,
A hair shirt that scratches,
a nettle that stings,
These are a few of my favorite

Penitence, flagellants, memento
Spending nights sleeping on
rocks in a quarry,
The sound of a cloak’d solemn
cantor who sings,
These are still more of my
favorite things.

Tossing and turning and
yearning I’m spurning,
Passions aflame like an
ember-day burning,
Corpus and carnis and
wild drunken flings,
Forsaken are they for
my favorite things!

When it’s Christmas,
When the tree’s lit,
When the cards are sent,
I simply remember my
favorite things,
And then I can’t wa-a-a-a-it
till Lent.

Author Anonymous

Rosario Champagne Butterfield’s Testimony: “My Train Wreck Conversion”

I clicked over to Facebook today, just to quickly peruse the latest trivia of the various postings, most of which make me ask questions like this one: “Why do you think I’m interested in knowing how long the line was at Starbucks in the Philadelphia airport?”  I’m usually hoping for something truly profound, but am usually disappointed.  Of course, I think anything that I post on Facebook is important and is usually quite profound, but I suspect that others look at my postings with a yawn and the same questions that I ask of their trivia.  Occasionally, I’m pleasantly surprised as I was today, when my old friend and Arminian brother in Christ, Eric Hulet, posted the article below about Rosario Champagne Butterfield and her conversion.  I was stunned after reading this wonderful testimony and of the gentle witness of a gentle pastor and his wife, going to “dine with sinners”, just as our Lord.  Dear Father, thank you for the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, and that you saved me from my depravity and forgive me for how often I have a sense of disdain for other sinners, rather than a heart centered on the Gospel and filled with the irresistible, gentle, kind love that you used to draw me to the flame.  Thank you for that forgiveness!

From Christianity Today:

My Train Wreck Conversion

As a leftist lesbian professor, I despised Christians. Then I somehow became one.

rbutterfieldThe word Jesus stuck in my throat like an elephant tusk; no matter how hard I choked, I couldn’t hack it out. Those who professed the name commanded my pity and wrath. As a university professor, I tired of students who seemed to believe that “knowing Jesus” meant knowing little else. Christians in particular were bad readers, always seizing opportunities to insert a Bible verse into a conversation with the same point as a punctuation mark: to end it rather than deepen it.

Stupid. Pointless. Menacing. That’s what I thought of Christians and their god Jesus…(read more)

I Gave Up Ammo Hording for the Last Week of Lent

Dr_EvilAmmoAs we approach Easter during the last week of Lent, or as some would say, Holy Week, I was seriously pondering what I could give up in order to deny myself worldly pleasures so that I can be more in tune spiritually and be able to hear God more acutely in order to be a much more holy, spiritual Christian who is much closer to God than you, has much more wisdom than you, have my prayers heard more readily than yours, understand the scripture better than you and be much more mature in my faith than you.  You see, unlike most Christians, I’m quite serious about my spirituality and I am making sure that I achieve the highest level of maturity and sanctification that I can possibly achieve in order to make sure that I am the best witness that I can be so that others will see Jesus in me.  Because of this, I take Lent quite seriously and am always looking for new ways to deny my flesh in order to profit my soul.

As I was going through this exercise of analyzing my life to look for stuff I really like that I could give up for Holy Week, I was also multitasking by scouring the internet looking for ammunition.  You see, I take my responsibility to be prepared for the coming collapse of our Christian nation almost as seriously as denying my flesh for my continued growth and sanctification.  After all, we are told clearly in James that pure religion is looking out for widows and orphans in their distress and, we all would agree, that the most vulnerable people on the planet after the collapse of the U.S. of A. will be, who else, widows and orphans!  How would I be able to protect the widows & orphans (or my own family for that matter) if I didn’t have 30 or 40 thousand rounds of ammo to fight off the atheist-commie-Muslim-Democrat-leftist-fascists-post modern-new age-“R” rated movie going- HBO watching-medical marijuana smoking, food stamp using, unemployed, dread locked, tattooed hordes who will try to break into my house in order to eat all my food, wear my clothes and (worst of all) use my fishing gear?

Of course, we all know that the reason for the coming collapse is all the fault of the Democrat controlled Senate &  none other than President Obama! (it hurts, but I must use his proper title out of respect for our leaders)  Where’s that good Mormon, Mitt Romney, when you need him? We all know that President Obama is a closet Muslim, hell-bent on forcing trips to Mecca, redistributing the wealth, blowing up evangelical churches with drone strikes, taxing our swimming pools AND our pickup trucks, forcing us to recycle, banning hair spray in Texas, Tennessee and Georgia to prevent global warming (if he would just ban Rick Perry from using hair spray it might have the desired effect), taking away ALL our guns & ammo, making us listen to NPR and watch Celtic Women on PBS, making Ebonics the official language of the U.S. of A…….but I digress.

Yes, I’m giving up hording ammo for Lent, even though it’s a righteous, pleasurable and necessary pursuit (just like food) so that I can have my ammo-deprived senses more acute in order to more effectively hear from God during my 4 A.M. daily quiet time & devotional (with at least 30 minutes a week dedicated to memorizing the book of Numbers).  Amen & Hallelujah!  I think I’ll raise my hands & maybe even do a little jig in the aisle at church this week because of my heightened spirituality!

PS: somebody please remind me to post this on Facebook and send it out in a tweet, not so that I can call attention to myself, but so that I can be a good and righteous example to new Christians who might be wondering about the observance of Lent.

Matthew 6:1, 16-18, Galatians 4:10-11, Colossians 2:16-22, Romans 14:5-8, 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

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