Thursday, December 19, 2013

Al Mohler Is Wrong About Phil Robertson Of Duck Dynasty

I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Mohler.  However, on this critique of Mr. Robertson’s GQ interview, I disagree.

“Robertson ... offered some comments that were rather crude and graphically anatomical in making the ... point.”  (Mohler)

Phil Robertson would have served the cause of Christ more faithfully if some of those comments had not rushed out. This is not because what he said was wrong; he was making the argument that homosexual acts are against nature. The Apostle Paul makes the very same argument in Romans 1:26. The problem is the graphic nature of Robertson’s language and the context of his statements.” (Mohler)
Robertson’s choice of words were neither crude nor inappropriate.  In fact they were surprisingly anatomically correct.  I’m sure there were lots of other colorful and downright crude words that he could have used instead of “vagina,” or “anus.”  Words he probably used many times in his early, wild days - words that might have been much more familiar to the interviewer.  But God changed Phil.  He is  a genuinely godly family man and I doubt that he talks like that anymore.

As for the “context” this was an interview for GQ Magazine; a publication targeted specifically to the metro-sexual community and known for its provocative, sexually oriented, and sometimes soft porn content.  It is highly unlikely that he even had time to “word-craft” a politically correct response nor should he.  The “cause of Christ is well-served when we are direct and strong in the face of sin.  Similarly, Jesus used strong language like when he called people “hypocrites,” “white-washed tombs,” and “serpents.”   GQ asked questions; Phil answered with honesty and transparency.  And he did it in a way that distinguished his personal thoughts from God’s Word.  In other words, his answers followed the format of, “this is what I think but here is what God says.”  In so doing, he upheld the honor of God to a sinful world.

From what I read though, it seems that very few of Phil’s critics have a problem with his preference for a woman over a man. And Phil’s words were not offensive regardless of what they claim. Their problem is that they hate Phil, not for what he says, but for what he believes and they don't want him (or anyone else) to articulate his beliefs.  But more importantly, they hate God.

“The Apostle Paul made the same arguments, but worshipers in the congregations of Rome and Corinth did not have to put hands over the ears of their children when Paul’s letter was read to their church.”  (Mohler)

The Apostle Paul was NOT answering questions for a GQ interview.  He was writing letters to the church which is those whom God has redeemed.  The context is different.  Furthermore, his words were guided by divine inspiration; they were the exact Words that God gave to communicate to His people.  And sometimes those Words were necessarily, very strong rebukes because “whom He loves, He chastens.”

 Incidentally, in our world today, it is unlikely that anyone would need to” put their hands over the ears of their children.”  Any children who have unsupervised access to television, movies, or even attends public schools have already learned the words “vagina” and “anus” as well as ALL the other vulgar substitutions.

In his commentary, Al Mohler warns that Christians should think long and hard about the publicity that comes from these kinds of interviews with the world because they can be devastating.  But we Christians are called by God to be His ambassadors and oracles of His Truth regardless of how the world feels.  And for our obedience, He does not promise us popularity, agreement, or ease.  In fact, to the contrary, His promises are certain:

 “…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”  2 Timothy 3:12

 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”  John 15:18

Phil Robertson demonstrated more dedication, obedience, and courage than most Christians I know.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Fifteen Bucks Is NOT A Living Wage; Why Not Strike For Fifty?

I know, I am not a big, successful business executive so I probably don’t know much.  But I have been a business owner and an employer for nearly 48 years and I do know that staging an organized strike is NOT a smart way to increase your pay nor is it an effective way to improve your life.  At one time, I employed about 78 people in a low-skilled, low-wage, non-profit, service industry.  So when it comes to the effects of a minimum wage hike, I know from personal experience, that the employees are hurt by them much more than business owners.

Several years ago, when the Federal government and the State of California both piled on simultaneous, scheduled minimum wage adjustments before my employees became aware, I jumped the gun and gave everyone a raise equivalent to the coming mandated adjustment.  (That was incidental to the reality; it did not do anything helpful except to give me the personal satisfaction of diverting the warm fuzzy feelings of my employees to me, rather than the Democrat Party or Uncle Sam.  By doing so, I was perceived to be caring and benevolent before the reality set in.) 

Then, before anyone really knew what was coming, I immediately sat down to determine how my company was going to pay for the added expenses.  The government was not going to fund their folly; we would need to pass on the increased costs to our clients or decrease our expenditures by cutting operational costs.  Since our clients were elderly and mostly living on low, fixed incomes,  I chose to do the latter.  I conducted formal evaluations of each of my employees, I analyzed their work schedules, and I planned internal adjustments to maximize productivity and minimize paid hours.  When I was certain that I could cut 20% of my staffing time and still function adequately, I began a systematic process to reduce my staff.  Yeah, that’s right.  I fired the non-productive and non-essential personnel (NEP).  After all, a marginally productive employee who may be tolerable at $6.00 is certainly NOT worth 7, 8, or even $15.  I may have been born at night, but it wasn’t LAST night.

By the time the mandated increases became effective, I was able to absorb the additional costs and still realize a satisfactory bottom line.  I would imagine that most businesses must have done similarly.

But the real, negative affect impacted much more than just those few people who were laid off.  Initially, all the employees were riding high on the excitement of their “newly acquired wealth.”  But then they found themselves much worse off in just a few short months. 

Here’s how - Even before any, of them, were laid off, when they first became aware that their benevolent, white-haired and bearded uncle in a funny red, white, and blue suit was giving them a raise, they immediately started making plans for how they would spend the extra buck an hour.  By their calculations, that dollar meant an extra $160-180 per month in disposable income.

And that’s when they got stupid.  They went shopping and most of them obligated themselves for additional interest-bearing payments for a plethora of unnecessary items they really could not afford.  Some even bought cars; most of them just thought they could add frivolous consumable items to their high-interest credit card debt because now they could afford to pay higher minimum monthly payments. And they didn’t stop to think that their gross increase would be subject to income taxes and other deductions.  Even some of those who were terminated spent it before they even knew they were getting pink slips. Surprise, SURPRISE!  I think I recall some proverb about counting chickens.

But the biggest problem for them is the truism that, “a high tide raises all boats.”  For a short time, all minimum wage earners think they are ahead but the reality is that, whenever the government rolls out a minimum wage increase, ALL other wages, and salaries, in the market, are soon, proportionately increased.  And the economic reality of mandated wage increases is that ALL costs of goods and services must be increased to pay for the additional costs to businesses.  Within a very short time, minimum wage earners begin to realize that their own out-of-pocket costs for groceries and other essential goods and services cancel out (and in most cases exceed) the value of their wage increases.  To put it simply, their paychecks don’t quite go as far as they once did.  By the time reality hits them between the eyeballs, their monthly obligations for the stuff they bought buries them in new debt. 

The moral of the story for any unskilled, entry-level, minimum wage earner who might be able to actually read this and think about it is this – If you want a meaningful raise, EARN it.  Show up on time, dressed appropriately, and ready to work. Work hard. Do what you’re told.  Show your boss some respect.  Demonstrate that you are willing and dependable.  Learn your job well.  Acquire new skills.  Trust me, you will become an asset worthy of your hire (That’s not an insulting word.  It means something of value.).   

Once you have established legitimate grounds, ask to speak to your boss in private and respectfully ASK him for a raise.  If he gives it to you, thank him and then KEEP YOUR BIG MOUTH SHUT.  The rest of your idiot compatriots don’t need to know about it.  If he doesn’t give it to you, you still have some options- be thankful for the job you have and continue to do it well OR resign and go find a better one.  That's the Christian way to do it.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

My First Letter To Governor Brown; How To Fix Public Restrooms For The Gender Confused

Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Moonbeam

I knew it; I just knew it.  All that pot you smoked back in the sixties must have really scrambled your brain.  Signing AB1266 was the dumbest one of the dumbest things you have ever done.  What were you thinking?  Just because the circus freak show in Sacramento, otherwise known as the California legislature sends queer, whacked out, drug inspired bills to your desk is no reason for you to check your brains at the door when you go to work in the morning.  You are supposed to be the Governor, for cryin’ out loud.  You're supposed to have more sense.

Anyway, all this gender confusion crap about which restroom to use seems, to me, easy enough to fix.  The problem is with lame new definitions of old words (no doubt a result of too many people wasting too much time under the tutelage of the public education system). 

Enough of all the LGBTTIQQ2SAK PC gendercrap.  Here is my simple solution:

Do not use the words, “MEN” and “WOMEN.”   Those used to be good words.  We used to know what they meant.  Not so much anymore.  Today they are defined by how a person “feels” or wants to be instead of what he is (and I use that gender word generically the way we were taught back when school was the place where children were taught how to read and write and count and think, but I digress).  No person can possibly be confused about the actual physical characteristics of his anatomy.  Even elementary school kids know, "girls have innies and boys have outies."  It’s the same method doctors used, pre-ultra sound, when they proclaim one’s gender on the delivery table.  As soon as the baby’s body became visible, everyone knew what it was.  In fact, that is the same info that is recorded on every person’s birth certificate.  If you doubt that, please look for yourself; nowhere on that certificate does it say, “to be determined in six to ten years when the child can decide for himself.”

So that should end the confusion and stop the insanity.   Restroom signs should be designated MALE and FEMALE.  For those who can’t read, we could have symbols.  Not the normal symbols illustrating figures with pants and skirts.  Those are too confusing.  Anyone who wants to wear a skirt might think he can use a female restroom.  Instead, the symbols might depict, male and female electrical connections, for example.  Everyone knows what that means because, after all, girls have “innies” and boys have “outies.”

When I was a kid I visited my cousin in Scotland, SD.  A sign on the restroom in the city park said “The Dog House.”  There were two doors; one for “pointers” and one for “setters.”  There was no confusion, even then, for us unsophisticated nine-year-old kids.  We all knew which door to use.

Basically, it comes down to this; if you don’t know what you are, stand in front of the restroom mirror, pull your pants down, and take a close look.   If you see something that none of the others in the restroom have, get out and stay out.  You’re in the WRONG PLACE because, you know, girls have “innies” and boys have “outies.”

I hope you have found these suggestions helpful and I am happy to be of service.

Respectfully yours,

Ralph M. Petersen
(mail posted 11-12-13)

"So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them."  Gen. 1:27  

Enough said!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Is Alice Cooper A Christian?

Here is my analysis of this interview on the Harvest Show

The Interviewer asks Alice,  “Tell us how you came to the faith.”

This is where I get interested.  Alice replies by saying,  “I am the prodigal son. “  He goes on with his credentials.  His Father was a pastor.  His grandfather was an evangelist.  Heck, his father-in-law was even a BAPTIST pastor.    He grew up in the church.  All his friends were in the church.  He was there every Sunday, every Wednesday night, and every Friday night; it was a blast.  His entire social life was in the church.

So, by this time (after over two minutes into his "testimony"), I am still hoping to hear him answer the question.  After all, spending a lot of time in church doesn’t make one a Christian any more than spending time in a donut shop makes one a cop. 

He continues by stating that all of his songs have Christian bywords (his term) in them.  They have warnings about Satan.  The interviewer tries to lead him, “That is kind of the core message in your music, isn’t it?”

And the interviewer was right.  Alice mentioned Satan a lot.  But maybe I will hear something in the messages of his songs that might reveal his beliefs.

Alice Cooper responds,  “It always has been.”   He then expands his comments by asserting that all of his music had a common theme (even when he wasn’t a Christian).   That common theme was, apparently, the antagonism between good and evil or “God and the devil.”  To which he urges, “Don’t pick the devil.”

Once again, the interviewer tries to steer him back on point.   “We’ve all heard of the gospel according to Matt, Mk, Luke, and John.  What is the gospel according to Alice?

That is the right question.  That is what I still want to hear.  

Alice Cooper responds with an anecdote about how he believes in God because he believes the Bible.  From there He wanders by observing that God has put him in the camp of the Philistines (his metaphor for the ungodly world) and he has to live his life in front of them.   “I try to live my faith every day; that’s my testimony.” 

Good, Here is the part where I am hoping to hear his testimony.   But it never happens.  He talks a lot about the dangers of failing to live up to his faith but he never says what his faith is.  He never mentions anything about sin, repentance, salvation, or anything about Jesus’ atoning death on the cross for his sin.  In fact, throughout the entire course of this interview, he never once mentions the name,  Jesus.

The interviewer then gives up and turns the subject to a joint ministry, The Solid Rock Foundation, which Alice started with his pastor friend, Chuck Savelle.  His stated ministry purpose is to give underprivileged and at risk kids a place to go and opportunities to hang out and play in a safe environment under the oversight of Christian businessmen with no apparent, legitimate gospel purpose.  “Give the kids a safe place to go and a creative outlet.  That is the best way for them to see who we are.”

At the end of the interview I still don’t know who he is.  Is Alice Cooper is a Christian.  I believe he is a sincere and honorable man who tries to live a good life and do a lot of social good.  But in this interview, he failed to articulate any convincing understanding of the Gospel, Jesus Christ, or salvation.  In fact, the whole of his interview suggests a good works-based faith wrapped in the hope that he can ride through heavens gate on the coattails of his forefathers.

Actually Mitt Romney, Glenn Beck, and Barack Obama have articulated much more convincing testimonies.  Each of them have clearly stated that Jesus Christ is their Lord and savior yet no Christians, I know, believe that to be true.  There may be other statements made by Alice in other interviews, but in my opinion, the conclusions propagated in this interview call for some cautious spiritual discernment.    I would be anxious to hear some further clarification from Alice Cooper.   

"Let the redeemed of the Lord SAY SO!”  Psalm 107:2

Thursday, October 17, 2013

God Doesn't Like Me

There is so much heretical happy-crap in this HuffPo interview with the master heretical happy-crapper himself, Joel Olsteen, that makes me weary just thinking about it.  Nevertheless, in the context of his drivel about how God loves and accepts those who practice homosexuality because He made them that way, this one short little statement particularly captured my attention:
“It doesn’t matter who likes you or doesn’t like you; all that matters is that God likes you. He accepts you; He approves of you,”  Joel Osteen  

I am quite certain that God doesn’t like me, period.   I know a few people whom I think might like me but if they really knew me like I know me, they wouldn't like me at all.  I think I know myself well enough to know that there is nothing about me that God could like.  In fact, if I thought for a moment, that God really likes me, accepts me, and approves of me, I would think that He either doesn’t know me at all or that He is easily deceived and not a very wise discerner of character.   

I would say that, because God is wise and knows all, He does NOT like me.  It is true that God loves me; that has been demonstrated by His grace in the fact that He sent His Son to suffer, and bleed, and die for the penalty of ALL my sin against Him thereby satisfying His righteous justice.  That is called mercy.

Sure, I am accepted.  But that acceptance is followed by the prepositional phrase, “in the Beloved.”  The basis for His acceptance of me is that I am in Christ and He is in me.  That is the only way the Holy and Righteous God of creation can even stand the sight of me.  Jesus Christ is my righteousness; He is my covering.  If you take away the covering, I am a just another dirty, rotten, putrid, low-life scumbag capable of murder, thievery, homosexuality or any other kind of evil or perversion and worthy of His terrible and righteous wrath.

But when God saves a repentant sinner, He cleans him up, turns him around, changes his behavior, and begins the process of making him fit to live with Him forever.  Furthermore, should any of us, who are saved, ever think too highly of ourselves, we have the constant, eternal reminder that Jesus Christ redeemed us with His own blood.     

This is one of several great hymns I love.  The author, Norman Clayton, very clearly steers us away from the self-esteem heresy of Joel Osteen and points us to the truth that...

My hope is in the Lord Who gave Himself for me,
      And paid the price of all my sin at Calvary.

No merit of my own His anger to suppress.
      My only hope is found in Jesus’ righteousness.

And now for me, He stands Before the Father’s throne.
      He shows His wounded hands and names me as His own.

His grace has planned it all, ‘Tis mine but to believe,
     And recognize His work of love and Christ receive.

For me He died, For me, He lives,
And everlasting life and light He freely gives.

Friday, August 30, 2013

I Am A Free Will Calvinist

I know, I know, some people use the name, Calvinist, in a derogatory way to describe me (as if Calvinism is a dirty word or John Calvin was some kind of heretic).  I’m not ashamed of it.  In fact, one of the graphics on the side panel of my blog site clearly and unabashedly declares, “I am a Calvinist.” 
Why am I a Calvinist?  Because I believe in the biblical doctrines of grace that are summarized in the five points of Calvinism or, to be more accurate, I believe the biblical doctrines of the reformers that are articulated in the Five Solas.
And that really irritates some people because they think I don’t believe in “free will.”  Well, I do believe in free will.  I just don't believe that an unregenerate (dead) soul can, of its own volition, choose to love God.  I believe that we are all born with a free will that is rebellious, self-serving, and at enmity with God.  A free will is one that will always choose to do wrong because we are born with a sin nature that is Hell-bent on doing wrong.  A free will is one that hates God.  
In the last verse of the popular Christian song, “Take My Life And Let It Be Consecrated,” are these words, 
Take my will and make it Thine; 
It shall be no longer mine.”  
Think about that.  That is a prayer that the petitioner’s “free will” should be taken captive by God and that he should become a slave to His will.  And when that happens his free will is no longer free.  A free will is one that is free from God. 
I am thankful that God is strong enough to destroy my will because, left to myself, this dirty low-life scumbag would never have chosen Him.  When I was running away, He sought me; He bought me; He keeps me; He owns me; He cleanses me; and He makes me fit to live eternally in His presence.  It is all His doing.  I had nothing to do with the transaction.  I am saved by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone and not by any effort or merit of my own. 
And that is why I am a Calvinist.  To God alone be the glory.


Friday, August 16, 2013

I Am Unashamedly Baptist

I am unashamedly Baptist.  And I am a member of a Baptist Church.  When my church ceases to be a Baptist church, I will disassociate with it and find another Baptist or “baptistic” church.

It’s not that I believe that Baptists have a corner on truth or that a person must be a Baptist to get to heaven or anything like that.  Nor am I stupid enough to believe that all Baptists believe all the same things; in fact, they don't.  It’s just that I believe the body of doctrines and practices as they pertain to the theology of the church, that are summarized in “The Baptist Distinctives” are biblical. 

I know those “Distinctives” broadly characterize all baptistic churches, but they are not always embraced, taught, or practiced in every Baptist church. However, that is not a problem with Baptist churches in general.  It’s a problem with errant, so-called Baptist churches; churches that subtly abandon those Distinctives and bring shame to the name of the denomination.   They are ashamed to be Baptist and should either change their behavior or change their name.

So whenever any Baptist Church abandons or ignores any of the Baptist Distinctives, it is a church of a different stripe.  It is NO LONGER A BAPTIST CHURCH.

For example, the first distinctive has to do with the Authority of Scripture.  In most Baptist Church, doctrinal statements will be found the phrase, “The Bible is the final authority in all matters of belief and practice.” (that means, not only what we believe but also, what we do.)  Those are great words but do we believe them?  Do we always consult the Bible in all matters of church polity, programs, purposes, and practices?

How about that second distinctive about the Autonomy of the Local Church?  That means that although the local church is accountable to God for everything it does, all human authority for governance lies within the local body; baptist churches are governed by their members.  Whenever that authority is usurped by dictatorial leaders or handed over to a hierarchy, it is no longer autonomous.

Baptist churches are comprised of saved, baptized members.  I know it is increasingly popular with many churches to de-emphasize membership today.  Some have suggested that we need to “tear down the fences” (figuratively speaking) and make our churches more attractive and friendly to the outsiders.   After all, membership is restrictive and controlling, they say, and baptism is too ritualistic and divisive.  What is important is fellowship.  So they let them in, get them connected and involved in hopes that maybe they will somehow get saved by assimilation.  But that is not what God’s Word says (oops, there's that pesky first distinctive) about His Church.

I think there are good reasons for churches to change their names.  Sometimes they are for simple, pragmatic purposes like a change of location.  If the Elm Street Baptist Church moves across town to Shady Lane, they should take a new, locally appropriate name.  But most name changes reflect underlying and subtle philosophical shifts.  When a Baptist Church is no longer identified by the Baptist Distinctives, it is NO LONGER A BAPTIST CHURCH and it should choose a name that better reflects its new philosophy. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I Go To The No Name Church

Everyone needs a name.  Even people with no names need names.  I know a man whose parents never gave him a name.  They just gave him a couple initials but no name.  He calls himself Jack because EVERYONE NEEDS A NAME.  Most people have two or three names.  It’s a matter of identification.  Their first names identify them as individuals.  Their last names (sir name) identify them with their families.

Churches are like that too.  For most of our history churches' names included something that had local or missional significance as well as a name that identified them with an association or denomination.  It’s a matter of identification.  And that’s a good thing.  There are doctrines, purposes, and practices that are often unique to denominations and some of us would prefer to know something about a church before entering. 

In recent years it has become popular to drop their denominational identifiers.  One church in our town dropped the denominational identifier from its name because they ceased being Baptists.  Another one recently dropped it because it didn’t want the community to know it was associated with its denomination.  But then they quickly reassured their members that they were still loyal to the denomination.  I wonder how that would work if a married woman told her husband, “Honey, I am dropping your last name because I don’t want people to know that we are married, but I still love you.”

Sometimes when I ask people, "what is your church’s denomination?" they will answer something like “we are non-denominational.”

So think about that statement.  From the Online Etymology Dictionary, we learn that the word “denomination” stems from the root, "nom" which means NAME.  So then a church that wants to be known as non-denominational is, in fact, a church whose name is No-Name.

Okay, I understand that most of them, for doctrinal or political reasons, do not want to, or can't be easily identified as Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and so on but by declaring themselves to be non-denominational, they have become part of a de facto denomination with NO NAME.  Kinda silly I think because most of them share common doctrines or practices with other no-name churches.  They think that we don't know, but we really do.

Everyone should have a name.  Of course, there are legitimate reasons to change your name (i.e. adoption, marriage, protection from personal danger) but I can’t think of any good reason to just not have one at all. And I can’t imagine a church without one either.  You may be thrilled with your church’s name but WHAT KIND OF A CHURCH IS IT?  For the record, I am a member of a church whose name declares its Baptist beliefs, polity, and practices.  It’s a matter of identification.

Monday, August 12, 2013

What Good Are Denominational Distinctions?

They say that money talks.  I don’t know.  I’ve had a little, but I have never heard it talk.  But let’s imagine that it does. 

Suppose I opened my wallet to pay for something and all my money had somehow been changed and each bill had become indistinguishable from the others.  “Hey, what is this?” I might ask.

“We are your money,” they reply.

I pull one out and ask, “What denomination are you?”

The bill proudly boasts, “I am non-denominational.  After all, we are all money.  I prefer to not be stereotyped by just one denomination.  If I tell you I am a one dollar bill, you might not value me as much as the twenty dollar bill.”

So what’s my point?  All bills are NOT of the same denomination.  They may very well be worthless, but some are more worthless than others.

That’s why most churches are identified by denomination (a name).  When I meet someone who tells me he is a Christian, I might ask him what church he attends.  Why?  Because I know that all denominations are NOT the same.  And some of them are counterfeits.  So it is not good enough when someone tells me he does not want to be identified by any particular denomination because “we are all just Christians.”  And it’s not going to be good enough when my granddaughter decides that she wants to marry a nice Christian boy from Utah who dons a white shirt, a tie, and funny, secret underwear and rides around on a bicycle doing missionary work for two years. 

Seriously, though - I am not suggesting that I can discern a truly, born-again, saved Christian by his church affiliation.  I believe that there may very well be real Christians in all denominations because salvation is a free gift of God’s grace bestowed on undeserving sinners and it is received by faith alone in Christ alone.

But there are some characteristics of each denomination that are helpful in “profiling” those who are members.  When a person identifies with a denomination, he is subjecting himself to the doctrines and practices of that denomination.  He may be ignorant of his church’s teachings but he is never-the-less, sitting under those teachings and that will shape his beliefs.  And, when it comes to the subject of salvation, there are some doctrines that are not negotiable; not everything that claims to be Christian is Christian and false doctrine can have eternal consequences.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Uncertainty and Confusion of Baptist Beliefs (reposted)

Question - What does a Baptist believe?
Answer - Anything he wants.

Some time ago I followed  a blog written by a former faith-pastor from the Word of Faith (WOF) crowd, who has seen the light and repented of the heretical teachings of this man-centered Christian aberration.

In one particular blog post, he revealed that he had returned to his Southern Baptist roots. He did offer at least one good thing that he could say about the WOF crowd “…those guys are all pretty much on the same page. There are extremes, but you can visit most any Word of Faith church in the whole world and hear the same teaching. Faith, confession, healing, prosperity.”

But he also dropped a bomb on the Southern Baptists with this stinging indictment: “The Southern Baptist Church is so splintered up that I don't even know what one Baptist church believes from the next one because they are so different from each other in doctrine and worship style. There are many, many factions and belief systems. I had always thought that Baptist was Baptist, but I found out that that is not the case.”

Well, he was right. I have been a Baptist most of my life; I served in a pastoral capacity for six years and another full-time ministry for seventeen years. And I can attest that it is much worse than my friend thought (or at least worse than he described). He was generally right in his implication that, in most denominations, the name is a fair descriptive of their doctrines or core belief systems.  Not so among Baptists. There are Arminian Baptists, Calvinistic Baptists, liberal Baptists, Free Will Baptists, conservative Baptists, ecumenical Baptists, Primitive Baptists, separatist Baptists, Seventh Day Baptists, charismatic Baptists, Full-gospel (pentecostal) Baptists, Reformed Baptists, homosexually tolerant Baptists, and non-denominational Baptists (those are the ones who are ashamed of the name, “Baptist”).  I heard one young woman describe herself as a Buddhist Baptist. There are even some Snake-handling Baptists. The only visible thing that connects them all together is the single common practice of baptism by immersion.  But the Baptist denomination is defined, not by a uniformity of doctrine or baptism by immersion; it is defined by, what is labeled, "the Baptist Distinctives." 

Having said all that, I want to acknowledge my blogger friend's accurate observation that the SBC is fractured and is being ripped apart from within. A couple decades ago the SBC, under the leadership of Adrian Rogers, avoided a major split over liberalism. But trouble in the SBC remains as is evidenced in this article I posted last year titled Ashamed to be Baptist.

All the different Baptist conventions, conferences, and associations certainly have their varieties of idiosyncrasies, but I think a growing problem that is even more troubling, occurs when pastoral leadership, within a single, local church, cannot agree on doctrine. It is not uncommon in large, multi-staffed Baptist churches to find both Arminian and Calvinistic pastors. And, often in those churches, because of theological or ideological differences and in the name of unity or tolerance, you are likely to find weak doctrinal statements and tacit endorsements of heresies such as contemplative prayer, spiritual formation, mysticism, New Age philosophies, WOF practices, and dominion theology.

Some Baptist churches that have historically declared themselves to be separatist, fundamental, non-charismatic, and Bible-believing Baptist Churches, under the care of infirm pastors, are increasingly enticed and confused by a spiritual smorgasbord of “easy-believism,” “decisional regeneration,” ecumenism, humanism, and the charismatic movement.

Possibly attributed to the wide and rapidly growing influence of church-growth programs and Christian leaders like Rick Warren, there has been a drifting away from orthodox biblical doctrines and practices for a long time. Nevertheless, the responsibility for protecting the flock from doctrinal error is clearly on the shepherds, and the weapon they are to employ is the Word of God. The Apostle Paul gave very succinct instructions to Titus, “Speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). If the shepherds can’t identify the poison, the sheep will get sick or die.

I wish I could say we Baptists are all in doctrinal agreement, but we are not.  As for my former WOF friend, Praise God for his deliverance from heresy and his courage to get out.


Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Enemy Within

Maybe ATF agents should stick to what they do best; shake down toy dealers and confiscate their toy guns. 

Don't worry about Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, or Egypt.  Don't even worry about Muslim terrorists.

The real threat to America is domestic terrorism in our own federal government.  The very agencies that we trust for our protection are either staffed with dangerous imbeciles, incompetent fool, and bungling idiots, or they are tools of an enemy administration that has intentionally declared war on us.   Either way, the results are the same.

Their battle plan - arm the bad guys and disarm the good guys.  

How do you define treason?

The Second Amendment is not in our constitution to protect our rights to shoot at clay pigeons.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

##True Christian Ministries Must Address Real Spiritual Needs

I hear a lot of pious, platitudinal happy-talk these days from well-meaning Christians in ministry about how we need to minister to people’s spiritual needs. Most of that kind of talk seems to come from the "seeker friendly" crowd and when I hear it, I often wonder, “What do they mean by that? Do they know what spiritual needs are? What are the real spiritual needs of people?”

For seventeen years, I managed a non-profit Christian home for the elderly. One of the sentences in our purpose statement said, “Our mission is to minister to their (the residents’) physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.” I thought about that for a long time. After all, if that is our mission, we should know what it means. So, I often quizzed my employees to see if they had any idea what those needs were.

Physical needs are easy to identify. When I asked people to list what they thought those needs are, their lists generally all agreed with mine. Everyone knows that people need food, shelter, clothing, healthy environments, exercise, and stimulation.

When we considered emotional needs, although those are slightly less concrete, most people quickly identified the need for personal contact, sympathy, empathy, acceptance, approval, and love.

However, when I asked about spiritual needs, they usually responded with cricket noise and blank stares. Most people just simply don’t know what to say. This, they think, is too subjective or uncertain or ethereal or mysterious.

I know how most operators of other homes for the elderly approach the subject. They use the phrase for marketing purposes. They will ask a potential client questions like, “Do you have any religious preferences or traditions?” And then, based on the responses, they attempt to show the customer how they can be assimilated into a spiritual community, a special interest group, or a religious activity of their own preferences. They might plan for special services, meditations, readings, or moments of silence.

Basically, the erroneous assumption that most people make is that our spiritual needs are unique to every individual and so they are based upon whatever we want to believe or feel. Sometimes youth workers fall into this same trap of thinking that young people have different spiritual needs than older people. But really, spiritual needs have nothing to do with age, culture, preference, social status, religion, or even our personal beliefs. Our real needs are more about absolute truth and what God says we need.

Everyone has the same spiritual needs. Our supreme need is to know the existence, nature, and character of the One, true, sovereign God. We need to hear a straightforward and complete message of the truth of the Gospel. We need to know that we are sinners and enemies of God deserving of eternal judgment and that salvation is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ alone. We need to repent and trust the Lord Jesus Christ for the saving of our souls and to obey Him as Lord. We need to be discipled and taught about separating ourselves from the world and its system, and how to live a holy, sanctified life of service before God. Those are the real spiritual needs of all people young and old alike.

So all true Christian ministries, (i.e. crisis intervention, Christian education, elder care, pro-life pregnancy counseling, child care, homeless shelter, food distribution, et. al.) must address those spiritual needs. Anything else might make us feel warm and fuzzy all over, and they may even produce some positive, temporal social benefits. But they don't do a bit of eternal good for those whom they serve.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Important Lessons From The Playground

This mother has an amazing understanding of her real responsibilities in raising her children.  They will never learn this stuff at school.

Dear Other Parents At The Park:

Please do not lift my daughters to the top of the ladder, especially after you've just heard me tell them I wasn't going to do it for them and encourage them to try it themselves.

I am not sitting here, 15 whole feet away from my kids, because I am too lazy to get up. I am sitting here because I didn't bring them to the park so they could learn how to manipulate others into doing the hard work for them. I brought them here so they could learn to do it themselves.

They're not here to be at the top of the ladder; they are here to learn to climb. If they can't do it on their own, they will survive the disappointment. What's more, they will have a goal and the incentive to work to achieve it.

In the meantime, they can use the stairs. I want them to tire of their own limitations and decide to push past them and put in the effort to make that happen without any help from me.

It is not my job — and it is certainly not yours — to prevent my children from feeling frustration, fear, or discomfort. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that those things are not the end of the world, and can be overcome or used to their advantage.

If they get stuck, it is not my job to save them immediately. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn to calm themselves, assess their situation, and try to problem solve their own way out of it.

It is not my job to keep them from falling. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that falling is possible but worth the risk, and that they can, in fact, get up again.

I don't want my daughters to learn that they can't overcome obstacles without help. I don't want them to learn that they can reach great heights without effort. I don't want them to learn that they are entitled to the reward without having to push through whatever it is that's holding them back and *earn* it.

Because — and this might come as a surprise to you — none of those things are true. And if I let them think for one moment that they are, I have failed them as a mother.

I want my girls to know the exhilaration of overcoming fear and doubt and achieving a hard-won success.

I want them to believe in their own abilities and be confident and determined in their actions.
I want them to accept their limitations until they can figure out a way past them on their own significant power.

I want them to feel capable of making their own decisions, developing their own skills, taking their own risks, and coping with their own feelings.

I want them to climb that ladder without any help, however well-intentioned, from you.

Because they can. I know it. And if I give them a little space, they will soon know it, too.

So I'll thank you to stand back and let me do my job, here, which consists mostly of resisting the very same impulses you are indulging, and biting my tongue when I want to yell, "BE CAREFUL," and choosing, deliberately, painfully, repeatedly, to stand back instead of rush forward.

Because, as they grow up, the ladders will only get taller, and scarier, and much more difficult to climb. And I don't know about you, but I'd rather help them learn the skills they'll need to navigate them now, while a misstep means a bumped head or scraped knee that can be healed with a kiss, while the most difficult of hills can be conquered by chanting, "I think I can, I think I can", and while those 15 whole feet between us still feels, to them, like I'm much too far away.

  Kate Bassford Baker

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Yes, We Do Too Need Anti-Tank Guns For Skeet Shooting

Those on the left who favor strict gun control really want to take ALL our guns away. But they know they can't succeed (at least not yet) so they disingenuously deflect the conversation by trying to redefine the purpose and intent of the Second Amendment as being about our rights to collect antique firearms and about recreational target practice. Therefore, they argue, no one has a real need for assault rifles, bazookas, or rocket launchers, right? WRONG! Skeet shooting is for sissies. We really do need major fire power for target shooting. This guy shows how it's done.


Cemetery of the Innocents - An American Holocaust Memorial In Hemet

A stunning and shocking visual Sanctity of Life display presented annually by the good people of the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Hemet, California. 

Thousands of crosses memorialize this nation's war on the unborn.  Every day, approximately, 4000 babies are legally killed in the United States. Each cross in this memorial symbolizes approximately 25,000 dead babies.

Even though the majority of Americans are now leaning pro-life and, contrary to His own, phony, baseless pro-life, rhetoric during His first campaign, the Obama administration is accelerating, fast and furiously, HIS OWN WAR by mandating that Christian ministries participate in free abortions for their employees.

The Lord hates hands that shed innocent blood. (Proverbs 6:16-17)
God, have mercy on us.