Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Always Right; Sometimes Wrong!

If you have spent any time at all, on my blog, you may have noticed my name followed by this tag; "Always Right; Sometimes Wrong."

That descriptor is intended to state my political leanings. I try to be a conservative first and always regardless of any potential personal loss or inconvenience. That puts me on the Right. But the second part is a personal recognition and admission of the fact that I don't know everything.  Sometimes I am wrong.

I was wrong a few years ago when I worked with a church committee to craft a new constitution. When attempting to describe a model for the way a multiple church leadership staff should function, we wrote that the staff would make decisions by "consensus."  That was a mistake!

Now, I know what WE meant when we wrote it. In the first place, it was never our intention to ignore or overlook the authority of God's Word or the fact that Jesus Christ is the Head of His Church. But, in matters of church leadership, where the Word of God was silent, unclear, or vague, it was our intention to attempt to achieve godly unity.

In fact, we even identified how that should happen. For example, if the team was considering a decision regarding a ministry or church action and there was disunity, the team would consider their decision based on known Revelation. If any person could not justify his preference or objection on the basis of a scriptural command or principle, he must concede to the majority. That is what we called consensus.

Unfortunately, that didn't work. Most of the people did not understand the concept nor were they able to differentiate between unity and unanimity. It was confusing and so, many decisions were derived by unanimous affirmations and, in essence, each of the team had affective veto power over the majority.

So, I repeat; I was WRONG.  Like compromise, consensus is a four-letter-word that really has no place in church leadership or polity. In fact, the "Consensus Process" is a modern term for an old concept; "The Hegelian Dialectic."

What is that? Paul Procter describes it as "...a 200-year-old, three-step process of 'thesis, antithesis, and synthesis', developed in the late 1700's by a German named Georg William Friedreich Hegel that resulted in what we now know as 'group-think.' It is a system Dean Gotcher of Authority Research Institute, calls 'Praxis' that Socialists have used for centuries to seduce, seize, and control mass populations without warfare. It is also in full operation here in the United States under such names as: 'Outcome Based Education.' 'Goals 2000.' 'Sustainable Development.' 'School To Work,' 'DARE' and many more. It's all about embracing 'tolerance, diversity, and unity' for The New World Order. To put it in layman's terms, it's brainwashing."

"Here's how it works: A group gathers, and has agreed beforehand that each in attendance will ultimately surrender his or her own personal position on any given issue to the will or 'consensus' of the group after *processing to consensus* through dialog. In a Christian setting, the presupposition is that the group's will determines 'the will of God.' The group's 'facilitator,' whoever that may be, mediates between sides, be they 'good and evil,' 'for and against,' 'republican and democrat,' 'liberal and conservative,' etc., whatever the case may be, often instigating heated confrontations between the opposing sides for the purpose of suggesting compromise as the perfect solution to restore and maintain the peace and the relationships of everyone involved. The resulting outcome or *consensus* is then re-introduced if necessary, at the next meeting for more 'Praxis,' more dialog and more compromise until another 'consensus' is reached. Then the 'process' repeats all over again...and again...and again until the facilitator's desired outcome is achieved. Over time, the convictions and concerns anyone may have had originally, are processed away beyond recognition or relevance leaving one and all to accept the facilitator's pre-determined outcome as the consensus of the group. It's no longer a question of what is right or wrong, good or bad, lawful or unlawful, but rather HOW WE ALL FEEL ABOUT IT...no absolutes, no conscience, no convictions, no laws, no Constitution, no Bible and NO GOD!!!...only consensus....and a contrived consensus at that. Pretty slick huh? That's the Hegelian Dialectic."

The rest of Paul Proctor's article, WILLOW CREEK HEGELIAN DIALECTIC & THE NEW WORLD ORDER can be read here.

Always Right; Sometimes Wrong!

first posted 5/11/09

WHY I DON'T LISTEN TO MAIN-STREAM MEDIA (and why I ignore environmentalist fear mongers).

Recent storms in Southern California have dumped nearly 10 inches of rain in some parts of Southern CA. I measured the rainfall in our area after the first few days and I had six inches.

So what did we hear on the news?   Here is the summary from this morning's broadcast:
We needed the rain but THE DROUGHT IS NOT OVER. This rainstorm DIDN'T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE. In order to be sufficient, we would need non-stop rain for 180 DAYS.

WHAT?  DIDN'T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE?  I don't know about you but, my scorched and dying landscape got plenty of much-needed water, the dust on my roof and my cars was washed off, and my pool was well-filled. All of those represent water that I did not consume through the public utility thereby depleting valuable resources from a short supply. Multiplied by millions of households across the Southland, surely that must have made SOME difference. I'm surprised that the water czars aren't charging me for the rain water I used (but if any of them read this, they might try to figure a way to impose a rainwater tax on all of us).

The obvious truth is that water levels in all our lakes and storage basins were raised, Much of it was absorbed into the ground and groundwater resources were improved.

180 days; 180 DAYS? Are they kidding? It only took God forty days to flood the whole world. Those kinds of inane statements are insulting to the intelligence of NORMAL, thinking people (normal being defined as anyone who has not been subjected to influence of public education or brainwashed by left-leaning politics or bureaucratic propaganda.

Here is a real news flash for the ignorant (a couple generations ago, we learned this stuff in schools where people sent their kids to actually learn stuff); THE WORLD IS NOT RUNNING OUT OF WATER.  Sure, there may be local shortages in readily available resources but we do have water. The oceans are full of it. It evaporates, is distributed over the earth in the forms of clouds, comes down in the form of fog, dew, rain, or snow, absorbs into the ground and flows from streams to rivers back into lakes and oceans. Its called the hydraulic cycle. That is God's design for the care of His creation.

And today, through technology, we have the ability to channel those resources to the entire world. But politics and bureaucratic controls always get in the way. California is deliberately dumping billions of gallons of fresh water into the ocean because of some stupid little worthless fish so the whole, fertile, central valley has been turned from a thriving, bountiful breadbasket capable of producing enough food for the world, into an arid wasteland and the Southland is cut off. With all the coastline we have in California, there is no good reason for not having desalinization plants providing water to our metropolitan areas. Instead, we are about to invest somewhere north of a hundred billion dollars on a senseless, high speed rail system that nobody needs, and that will go from no place to no where, but I digress.

Nevertheless, thank God for the rain because, "He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; Who makes lightnings for the rain, Who brings forth the wind from His treasuries." Psalm 135:7

We deserve nothing from Him yet He is merciful and He answered our prayers by providing for our needs.
And He didn't get any help from Jerry (Moonbeam) Brown and Obama is too busy reigning over riots and screwing up our healthcare system.

If, after it is all settled, the water districts' resources have been increased by just ONE STINKIN' GALLON more than their demands, THAT IS A POSITIVE NET GAIN.  The pundits should do the math and stop insulting us.


Monday, December 29, 2014

***Another great memory from my Summer in South Dakota

In 1956 when I was a young boy, I spent a whole summer vacation with my cousins on my Uncle Adolph's farm in South Dakota. That was an adventure I will never forget.

One of our favorite hot summer afternoon pastimes was to cool off in the stock tank. One day, while we were taking a dip, a lone calf came in from the pasture to get a drink. Like most boys, we had some mean streaks in us and decided not to share our water tank with him.

But it was hot and he was thirsty and persistent. In spite of his every effort to get near enough for a quick drink, we were determined not to let him; we kept him at bay by yelling and throwing dirt clods. Pretty soon he started lowing and so we began to mimic him. He got louder and we got louder. Then his mooing turned to a sound like I had not heard before. It was almost as if he were wailing but we just kept on tormenting the crying calf.

We were having great fun until, suddenly, I looked up and there, on the crest of the hill above us, stood every bull, steer, and male yearling in my uncle's herd. They were lined up like Indians in an old western movie. All at once, they started charging down the hill toward us.

We grabbed up our clothing and scrambled for the fence. I just barely made it over. All of them were snorting and pacing along the fence line almost as if to dare us to come back over. I think back at that event and realize that although that little calf was intimidated, he was never really in danger. Why? Because he was just one cry away from help and resources.

If God's creatures are that responsive to the cries of their own, how much more responsive must God be to the cries of His own? Just one cry away we have unlimited resources.

“The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their cry”
Ps. 34:15

The Health of Our Church Is More Important Than Our Size and Comfort

I found this interesting and insightful perspective on worship written by Pastor Jason Robertson who was pastor at Murrieta Valley Church, Murrieta, CA. and posted on his blog, Fide-o.

Jason is now pastoring at Milldale Baptist Church and Conference Center in Louisiana.  


Blessed with One Worship Service

"About a year ago our church decided that we would no longer have two worship services on Sunday mornings. We made this decision based on our ecclesiology. We knew that having two worship services had caused a division in our church body and had robbed the body from enjoying the gifts and blessings of all of the members. Furthermore, we worship with the Lord’s Supper every Sunday and it was important for us to do so as one congregation.

So we did away with both our 8:00 am service and our 10:45 am service. We now only have one which starts at 10:15 am. In this one service our congregation is united in worship, Scripture reading, the ordinances, preaching, prayer, giving, and fellowship.

We knew this would cause seating issues and parking issues for us, but the health of our church was more important to us than our size and comfort. Six months later God blessed us with a move to a larger facility so that we could continue to meet as one body. The health and unity of our congregation has increased in ways that only can be understood by those who are in attendance.

I will write more on this subject in the future. But for now, I hope to at least draw the attention of pastors to this important issue of single vs. multiple worship services."
Go here for a little further reading from "The Deliberate Church" by Mark Dever.

Imagine that - a church that determines its practices based on biblical doctrines.  I found Pastor Robertson's second paragraph especially gripping.  You might have noticed; there is no drama, no dancing, no entertainment, no light shows, and no Starbucks coffee.  Those very things that congregations are supposed to do when they come together, (worshiping, Scripture reading, baptisms, believer's communion, preaching, prayer, giving, fellowshiping) are universal and those are the things that unite the body.  None of those activities require a church to offer different styles of services to engage and hold the attention of different demographic groups.  In fact, dividing a congregation by age or interest would be inimical to biblical worship.     



I thought I was having a cordial conversation with a young man I had recently met.  During our exchange, he revealed to me, that he was a Christian.  Out of curiosity, I asked where he attended church.
His boastful response was, “I’m into Jesus; I’m just not into church. I worship God all day long, every day; I am constantly praising God and talking to Jesus. I don't have to go to church to worship God.” 
This kind of mindless drivel is akin to another hackneyed phrase that I have often heard -  "I don't have to go to church to be a Christian."
I don’t generally go out looking for a doctrinal fight on purpose.  And it has been a long time since I engaged in an intellectual debate with an unarmed man. BUT I just couldn’t help myself on this one. I jumped headlong into it.
The actual content of the conversation is irrelevant here, except to make this general observation -- His entire attitude and his arguments clearly demonstrated a rejection of the sovereign authority of the Word of God.
When I answered one of his objections with scripture, his response was, “I disagree.”
So I reminded him that my arguments were not my own inventions, ideas, or opinions but they were, in fact, scriptural and that his disagreement was not with me but with God’s Word.
That’s when he employed the classic, inane, non-argument. He said, “SHOW ME IN THE BIBLE WHERE IT SAYS I HAVE TO…………..” .
You can fill in the blank on this one; it doesn’t really matter what you insert there.) I have noticed that whenever a person has a problem with the authority of God in his life, he often deflects to this kind of stupid demand.
Needless to say, I lost the debate. Not because my arguments lacked substance, principle, or even Truth. I lost because, in his final effort to outdo me, he stripped me of nearly 70% of my ammunition in one statement. He said, “…and don’t give me any of that Old Testament stuff either; we are in New Testament times.”
That’s when I knew the debate was over. Without God’s Word, any supporting arguments we may have, on any subject, are reduced to our own opinions. And that’s where he wanted me; on an equal playing field in the emotional arena of subjectivity and personal preferences.
“O.K!” I ended the argument and I turned to walk away. And that really made him mad.
I learned, a long time ago, the futility of trying to argue against stupid or emotional beliefs. Introducing facts into a debate with a fool makes very little difference; people will believe what they want to believe regardless of evidence or truth.

“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him.”
Proverbs 26:4

****The Foolishness of Ignorant Arrogance

I have an unusual tool that I bought over 60 years ago and it has NEVER been used. When I was in junior high school, I enrolled in a mechanical drawing class and so I needed to buy some drafting tools. The sales clerk helped me assemble everything I would need; the drawing board, T-square, triangles, mechanical pencils and, finally, one of those three-sided, twelve-inch rulers - the architectural scale. Most of them that he showed me were made of white plastic but I picked out a nice-looking wooden one from the display cabinet and said, “I’ll take that one.”

“No, you need one of these,” he said as he kept pushing a white plastic one into my hand.  But I liked the one I picked and I was going to buy it.  He tried several times to tell me that what I had was an engineer's scale.

Engineer; architect, “Yeah, whatever!” I replied sarcastically.  I didn’t know why he was arguing with me over semantics.  After all, he was just a dumb sales clerk but I was the drafting student and I knew that those three-sided rulers were architectural scales. He finally let me have it my way and he rang up my order.

When I got home and laid out my tools, I mounted some drafting paper to my new drawing board and began to draw. That's when I discovered that an engineering scale is NOT an architectural scale. Nothing on that scale was useable to me. It cost me several dollars to learn, the hard way, that I don’t know everything.

Sometimes mature who have been “around the block’ a few times, try to warn younger know-it-alls, to save them some grief. But youth is arrogant and often think it knows better so they don’t listen. And when that happens, those older and wiser people will often just quietly back off and let them suffer the consequences of their foolishness.

I have kept that scale around to remind me to listen to the voices of reason, wisdom, and experience instead of just assuming I know it all.

“Any man who understands his own foolishness is already a little wise.” Jewish Proverb

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Everything Changed When The Baby Arrived

In Bret Harte’s story, “The Luck of Roaring Camp,” he describes the camp as one of the meanest and most wicked mining town in the entire West. No other town could come close to matching Roaring Camp’s reputation for murders or thefts. It was a terrible place and it was inhabited entirely by men with the exception of only one vile woman named Cherokee Sal who died while giving birth to a baby.

The men of the town didn’t know what to do with the baby. They found an old box, stuffed it full of rags and nestled the baby in the crude, makeshift crib. But they decided that the box wasn’t suitable for the newborn so they sent one of the men on an eighty-mile trip to purchase a new rosewood cradle. When he brought it back, they arranged the rags in the cradle and placed the baby in her new bed. But then the old rags just didn't seem right in the new cradle so another miner made a trip to Sacramento to buy some beautiful silk and lace baby blankets.

Finally they had a bed fit for the baby and they thought everything looked fine until someone happened to notice how filthy the floor was. Soon, some of the tough, hardened men got down on their hands and knees, and began scrubbing the floor. The clean floor stood in stark contrast to the dingy walls and the smoke-stained ceiling. And the dirty, bare windows looked awful. So they cleaned and polished and painted and they hung curtains in the windows. At last, things were beginning to look appropriate for the home of a newborn baby.

It wasn’t very long before the men began making some other concessions. Their language changed and the atmosphere in Roaring Camp turned noticeably more civil and serene. They had to give up their fighting (the baby needed lots of sleep and babies can't sleep very well during brawls and gunfights). Sometimes, when the weather was nice, the men would take him out and set him in his cradle by the entrance to the mine so they could see him when they came up. Then somebody noticed how dirty the mine entrance was so they planted a nice flower garden there. It was quite a beautiful place for the baby. All the men gave him lots of attention and they brought him shiny little stones and hand made toys. But when they saw their own hands next to his, they realized just how dirty they were. Pretty soon the general store was all sold out of soap, shaving gear and perfumes. Everything about Roaring Camp changed when that baby arrived.

The incarnation was like that. The coming of Christ to a dirty feeding trough in a smelly stable seems strange but when the Almighty God came down into this wicked world in the form of a helpless little baby, everything changed.

There is a place that is even dirtier than that stable and more wicked than Roaring Camp. It is the human heart. But when Jesus Christ enters into our lives, things begin to happen. He slips into every crevice of our thoughts and experiences. He gently makes us aware of all the things that aren’t right in our lives and He begins to clean us up and make us fit for Him to live in us. Everything changes when He is born in our Hearts.

“Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Cor. 5:17

Four of My Favorite, Very Funny Christmas Video Clips

Santa and his reindeer sing "White Christmas."

Mr. Bean Directs The Salvation Army Band

"Deck The Halls With Boughs of Horry" From A Christmas Story

And a special Merry Christmas greeting to all my hunter friends.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

****I Want To Wish All My Christian Friends A Happy Holiday!

Once again, as happens every year, Christians are engaged in a nonsensical culture war over the way people greet each other around this season, and I REALLY DON'T CARE.  Too many Christians, get all militant in their insisting that people should “keep Christ in Christmas.” 

But why should they?  Most people don't really want Christ in any part of their lives; they don’t even know Him.  In fact, God’s Word tells us that they hate Him. Why would we even want them to fake honor or even pretend to acknowledge Him on Christmas Day?  Besides, God would not be pleased with or honored by their phony lip service anyway. 

 And to what end do Christians keep beating that drum?  Is it for the purpose of our "witness?”  Do we really think that people might get saved if they would just recognize that “Jesus is the reason for the season?”   That doesn’t work.  That is not evangelism.  The Gospel is not about a baby in a manger surrounded by shepherds, wise men, and a little drummer boy.  

Biblical evangelism must go beyond the manger where “Mary had a little Lamb.”  Legitimate evangelism must point to the second line of the nursery rhyme – “Its fleece was white as snow.”  That’s the reason He came.  That’s the true Gospel that has the power to change lives.  The birth of Jesus is meaningless, powerless, and irrelevant without a perfect, spotless sacrificial Lamb.  It was His sinless life and His death on the cross that paid the penalty for our sin. 

We get our feathers all ruffled when someone wishes us a “happy holiday.”  We even tend to get a little testier when someone writes the dirty little four-letter word, “Xmas.” 

We Christians should be careful with the words we use, especially around this season, because “words mean things.”  Do we even know what ‘Merry Christmas’ means?  Or more importantly, Do we even care?

What does Merry Christmas really mean?  The word “Christmas” is literally the Christ Mass or the annual, unbiblical and unholy Roman Catholic celebration of the death of Christ over and over again.  In it, participants partake of two elements (bread and wine) which they believe mystically turns into the literal flesh and blood of Jesus.  Parenthetically, Catholics believe that every time they partake of the elements, they are “receiving Christ” but I digress.

In contrast, biblical communion observations are periodic reminders that Jesus gave Himself, as a sacrifice.  He shed His blood for the remission of our sin.   And there was nothing merry about Christ’s sacrifice.  In fact, it was awful, brutal, horrific, and sad (Isaiah 53).   

Furthermore, it was “once for all” and never to be repeated again (Hebrews 10:11-14).  So, I have to ask, do you really want to wish someone to have a merry time by recreating the crucifixion of Christ on the day we celebrate His birth?

What about that substitute word, “Xmas?”   The symbol X is the Greek letter “chi” which is the first letter in the word, Christos.  And it has been used without objection, throughout most of church history, for the word “Christ,”  In fact, the symbol of the fish was adopted by the early church to identify Christians because they used the Greek word for fish as an acronym for the name, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”   The symbol X in that acronym represented the word, “Christ.”   So, as I have said before, any Christians who object to the use of X in Xmas, should remove all the fish symbols from their bumpers and business cards just to avoid hypocrisy.  Christians should be happy when unbelievers use the term Xmas because it, in a literal sense, really does keep Christ in Christmas.

Do you resent when people wish you “Happy Holidays?”   The word holiday is contracted from the words “holy day” and the biblical meaning of “holy” is akin to the word, “sanctified,” which means to separate from the profane (ordinary) or set apart for special use.  Certainly most thinking Christians would agree that we “set apart” a day to observe the birth of our Savior and treat it as special or holy.  

And it really is a happy (joyous) time for Christians to enjoy the fellowship of family, friends, and believers as we remember that He came to us wrapped in human flesh.  So I can’t imagine why any Christian would object to the use of the phrase, “Happy Holiday.”  In fact, given all the options, Happy Holiday seems to be the most accurate, appropriate, and God-honoring greeting for Christians during this holiday season. 

So, for all my Christian friends, I want to take this opportunity to wish you a HAPPY HOLIDAY.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Special Christmas Greeting

To My Liberal Friends:
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the Winter Solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2013, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wish.

To All My Conservative Friends:
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ 2018.

written by Ted Nugent

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Santa Claus is Not the First Person of the Trinity

A few years ago a friend told me about an incident that occurred in his church. His wife was the church organist and one Sunday morning, while she was softly playing underneath the prayer of the pastor, she smoothly transitioned into a very slow, soothing rendition of “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” Because the tempo was so slow, no one even noticed.

We laughed about that at the time, but I was puzzled about how that could even happen without notice. I was convinced that something like that would not happen in most churches and could never happen in my church. However, secular music is not unusual in a lot of churches today.

From start to finish, usually, every element of a church’s worship service is carefully planned to accomplish a purpose. But the important question is, “What is the purpose?” The answer to that question determines what a congregation will or will not tolerate.

There are two opposing ideologies about the purpose of corporate worship services. One idea is to market the event to be attractive to a broad spectrum of unchurched and unregenerated “seekers” in hopes of engaging their emotions and tastes with the goal of eventually exposing them to the personal benefits of Christianity. In that model, entertainment and familiarity are key environmental factors to entice them in and much of the content is focused on the participants.

On the other hand, biblical worship is intended to make God the center of all attention. All worship is to Him and for Him. Any element that could detract attention from God to anyone else is avoided. Anything designed for the entertainment of the congregation is inappropriate.

You can tell a lot about a church’s philosophy and purpose by observing what they do in their “worship services.”

During one Christmas season, I attended a church service where the opening music, the Call To Worship, was a Christmas medley. The titles of the songs in the medley included “Jolly Old St. Nicholas,” “Deck the Halls,” “Up On The Housetop,” “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Jingle Bells” and others.  I'm not kidding!  This was in a (self-proclaimed) conservative Baptist church.  I don't go there anymore.

It was very clear that the music in that church that morning was intended for entertainment; not for worship. It focused everyone’s attention on a mythical, fat old elf in a red suit instead of the birth of the Son of God who was born to die so that He could save His people.

We should remember that, as much as some people would like to think that God should give us lots of good stuff just for being good, Santa Clause is NOT the first person of the


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hooking Up For Jesus

The museum of Idolatry once posted several examples of some new, evangelistic outreach ministry ideas at Flirt To Convert at A Little Leaven. Think about it; Christian young people can fulfill the Great Commission by "hooking up" with unbelievers in order to share the Gospel. Hot looking young Christian women have an advantage in the work of evangelism because of their looks.   

Really?  An advantage?  Where does it say that in the Bible? 
Actually this isn't new new at all.   I have a relative who often bragged to me about his many sexual conquests. He boasted about how his favorites were the single “Christian” women who really believed that they could be a “witness” and “minister” to him until, in the height of emotion and the heat of passion, their “testimonies” were destroyed and their professions were mocked.

This is “Relational Ministry” run amok. This is the inevitable end of “Friendship Evangelism.” This is the result of well-meaning but disobedient Christians who think they know better than God and ignore His command to be separate from the world.
Look, I know some are going to be really angry with me for what I am about to say BUT there are always inevitable consequences of every action. They may be good, OR NOT, but there are always consequences. When you drive down a road you will end up “down the road.” When you dive into a pool you will come up wet. And when you sleep with pigs you will wake up stinking.

"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." James 4:4-5

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing"
II Cor. 6:14-17

first published 8/14/08

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Why Public Education In America Is In The Tank.

Some of you might be old enough to remember, a long time ago, when we had something called teachers.

Do you wonder why kids today graduate from high school and can’t add simple numbers or write a complete sentence?

Well take some time to listen to the kind of blather that flows out of the mouths of the elitist, pin-headed "educators" who are responsible for filling your child’s head with oatmeal?

I’m sorry but I regretfully admit that, whenever they get together and begin to try to impress each other with their eduspeak, I have no idea what they are saying.

It seems to me, educators waste too much time evolving developmentally appropriate technologies and targeting developmentally appropriate learning styles. They insult regular people with their boring, non-stop iterations of multidisciplinary alignments, their visions of child-centered curriculum integration, and their shameless exploitations of holistic methodologies.

Rather than further extending constructivist action-items, transitioning into real-time learning, reinventing site-based instruction, and plotting benchmarks for learning-intensive goals, it seems to me that they would all do a much better job of facilitating efficient infrastructures if they would just teach these kids how to read and write and count and think.

Now that was fun! I composed this using a handy little gizmo called an educational jargon generator. If you are a teacher, try it; you’ll like it. And then you'll be able to impress all your other educator friends.

Friday, December 12, 2014

How Is Your Church At Scratching Itches?

I heard a story about a man rescued from a small, uninhabited island after being all alone for eight years. When the rescue crew landed they saw three little grass shacks on the beach.

“Who else is here with you?” asked the Captain.

“No one, I'm all alone.” replied the castaway.

The captain was puzzled. “Well I see that you live in this one but what are those other huts for?”

The man pointed up the beach and explained that he built that one to use for his church.

“Oh,” said the Captain, “what is that other one for?”

The castaway explained, “That’s where I use to go to church but I didn’t like it there.”

There is a lot of pressure today to make our churches more felt needs-oriented. Somehow, we think we need to respond to whatever people think they want. We design programs to present religion in neat little packages for every separate segment of contemporary society. We even have organized churches for special interest subcultures. I once read about a church that was designed just for surfers.

Although the church today has become increasingly willing to respond to the buttons that people push in their pews, there now seems to be a growing movement back to a more traditional, historical faith. Many people are finding that having their needs met is not nearly as important to them as just meeting God, and frankly, I doubt that He is really all that interested in the noise of our contemporary clamoring anyway.  Like a dog that can't seem to get anywhere because he keeps stopping to scratch his fleas, I wonder if we are so busy scratching where everybody itches that we aren't taking anybody anywhere significant.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

***A Clear Trumpet Sound

In the past two decades there has developed an increasing interest in the subject of aging and spirituality. That topic has emerged to the center of attention by elder specific service providers and publications and in the field of academic gerontology. It is appropriately recognized that people are multi-faceted in essence; beyond the physiological, there is the emotional, the psychological, and the spiritual.

The stated mission in our residential facility for the elderly is to minister to the entire person. We recognize that people have spiritual needs as well as physical and emotional needs. So I am especially interested in the concentrated attention this subject is receiving. As good as that sounds though, it raises some concerns.

In most disciplines of human study, there are certain bodies of truth that are generally accepted by mainstream scientists and practitioners. We know what is healthy and what is not, and we know what is normal and what is problematic.

So it seems reasonable to assume that there must be some truth or absolutes in spiritual matters also. The questions must be answered, “Does God exist?” and if so, “Has He absolutely and authoritatively revealed truth?”

Answers to those questions would certainly impact the way we address spiritual needs. Apart from God, treatment of the spiritual being remains very subjective and experiential. There is no foundation in truth. We are left to flounder within ourselves in search of personal truth that can only be validated by our feelings. That results in all sorts of subconscious, unconscious, and intuitive activity. The goal becomes self-realization or self-actualization (whatever that means). Meditation is focused on inner voices (the spirit within). Faith is thought to be virtuous or even therapeutic but it has no real object. Each individual’s personal experience is legitimized. Everybody is right; nobody is wrong. No wonder people are confused.

The Apostle Paul warns us in I Corinthians chapter 14. When it comes to spiritual matters, we are to speak in words that make sense. What value is there in words that no one understands? In verse 8 he asks, If a trumpet call isn’t clear, how would you know to get ready for battle? He concludes by challenging God’s people to be clear in speaking forth God’s Word so that when others hear, they will know that they are sinners and will bow down to God with understanding.

One of our desires when dealing with our elderly residents is that we give a clear sound in matters of spirituality. Do you ever question the meaning of life or wonder how to get to heaven? Do you get confused by many voices, philosophies, and ideologies? Do you want to have the assurance of eternal life in God’s favor? Most people do.

Well there really is a God and He has spoken. And because He has spoken, we understand that we are all sinners in need of a savior. And we can also know that God has provided a savior for us in His Son, Jesus Christ. In John 14:6 Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes unto the Father, but by me. God’s good news is clear and simple; “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” He is God’s only provision for our salvation. There is no other way.

first published in May 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rick Warren's "Relationships" Will Not Hold A Church Together

According to Rick Warren, “Relationships are the glue that holds a church together.”

If they believe that to be true, your church leaders will not hesitate to resort to his methods and “use all kinds of events to build relationships within our church family (supper clubs, sports, game nights, picnics, etc.)” to ensure the cohesion of the church body by creating false unity, artificial love, and superficial relationships around special interests.

But where in the Bible do we see that? The true church is the body of Christ and has no need of gimmicks, activities and programs to keep it together. Our relationship with one another is not dependent on us; it is a fact as a result of our being placed and kept in the body by Christ.

So what is it that holds the body together? The answer is found, not in Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox, but in God’s Word.

And He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; Colossians 1:15-20

If Rick Warren will not be convinced by God’s Word, maybe he can learn something from the science of molecular biology. The real glue that holds the body together is not relationships – it is laminin.

Check this out! This is a truly amazing illustration of God’s intricate design in creation and salvation.

first posted 6/25/08

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


In July of 2008, my family got some really good news. Our then seven year old granddaughter had grown ¾ inch and gained about 6 pounds over the previous 60 days.

So what? you might ask. What made that good news? All kids grow; that’s just what they do.

Well, her growth was only good news when one fully understands the bad news. At age 3, Madi nearly died of a cancerous brain tumor. Over the next year, she had several operations, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. It had been about two years since the cessation of treatments but since then, Madi had not grown at all. The treatments to save her life came with their own risks, new concerns, and possible consequences.

There was the likelihood of permanent damage to the pituitary gland which is responsible for the manufacture of growth hormones. And simultaneously there was some concern of accelerated growth of cancer cells if growth hormone therapy was employed.

On the other hand, there was the probability of a permanent cessation of growth without hormone therapy. And the consequences of that would mean the early onset of puberty.

That really was BAD NEWS. So then the growth and weight gain was GOOD NEWS.

So, it is bad news that gives good news meaning.

Good News really doesn’t mean anything until we are faced with bad news. And the Good News of the Gospel doesn’t make sense either, apart from the Bad New.

Some well-meaning Christians are very quick to try to give people the Good News; “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” And then they wrap it all up in an attractive little package with some kind of easy little “repeat after me, this simple little phrase that will change your life and get you a free ticket to heaven,” prayer.

Rick Warren's version of the good news goes like this:

First, believe that God loves you and has a purpose for your life.
Second, receive Jesus into your life as your savior.

Where, in that, is there any understanding of BAD NEWS?

By contrast, a more responsible proclamation of the Good News can be read here. In it, John MacArthur is careful to explain the facts of God’s requirement for absolute perfection; our sinful condition and total inability to merit His mercy; His righteous judgment against us and the prospect of eternal torment and punishment in hell. That really is Bad News. And then he presents the Good News of Salvation; Jesus suffered the wrath of God and died a horrible death for us that, according to Scripture, whoever trusts in Him shall be saved.

That really is GOOD NEWS when we know the BAD NEWS.

first published 7/20/2008

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christless Evangelical Christianity

"Judging by its commercial, political and media success, the Evangelical movement seems to be booming, but is it still Christian?

The Bible is mined for quotes but largely irrelevant.

God is used as a personal resource rather than known, worshiped, and trusted.

Jesus Christ is a coach with a good game plan for our victory rather than a Savior who already achieved it for us.

Salvation is more a matter of having our best life now than being saved from God’s judgment by God Himself.

The Holy Spirit is an electrical outlet we can plug into for the power we need to be all we can be."

Dr. Mike Horton, Westminster Seminary California

From “Christless Christianity And the American Captivity of the Church” at WhitehorseInn.Org

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Feel-good Religion

"I would like to see a re-emphasis of awe and reverence in worship and a disappearance of "feel good religion." People who arrive in heaven in their blue jeans and short shorts are going to be struck suddenly by the necessity to fall down prostrate before the throne. We dress up for our employers from Monday to Friday, but come Sunday morning, it's only the Lord of the Universe, so anything goes. It's not so much formality, but a recognition of our place before God. I recognize that the prodigal son didn't put on a tuxedo to come back home. But once back, he bathed, shaved, and shed his "pig sty" appearance. It seems to me that meshing rigorous, biblical exposition is increasingly hard with a "feel good" mood in the congregation. The preacher is at a disadvantage when everything else, including the nature of the music and the frivolity, connotes a club meeting rather than entering into the sacred presence of a thrice-holy God who is a consuming fire."

Bruce Lockerbie

Dr. Bruce Lockerbie is Chairman and CEO of PAIDEIA, Inc. (pie-day-ah), a team of consultants working with schools, colleges, seminaries, churches, and other public interest institutions. He is also Chairman of the Olympus Group, which offers counsel on sports-entertainment events and programming. He holds two degrees from New York University and for thirty-four years served on the faculty of The Stony Brook School in Long Island, New York. Upon leaving the school, he was the Thomas F. Staley Foundation Scholar-in-Residence.

Lockerbie is author, co-author, or editor of more than three dozen books whose topics range from aesthetics and biography to family living and popular theology. His most recent volume is Dismissing God: Modern Writers' Struggle Against Religion. A frequent lecturer, he has also contributed hundreds of articles and essays to various publications.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Lip Service" Worship

When my father told me, before he left for work, “Son, today I want you to take out the trash,” I understood two things about that imperative.

First, I knew exactly what he meant. There was no language barrier or misunderstanding about the precise definitions of the words he used when he gave the command. This is a very important point - WORDS MEAN THINGS. It would not have been acceptable for me to go out to the garbage can, reached inside, remove all the trash, and spread it around on the driveway even though, to do so, some might argue, would have been a technically accurate interpretation of the directive, “take out the trash.” He knew that I knew exactly what he required. He expected me to place all the weekly household refuse at the street for pickup. There was no problem with his communication.

Second, I knew exactly what he expected. I knew how he wanted it done because he had given me detailed instructions in the past so that I was without excuse. He expected me to systematically empty every wastebasket in the house. He wanted the contents of those baskets placed in the large outdoor trash containers and he wanted those containers placed in the proper position at the curbside before the garbage truck arrived. I did not have the freedom to reinterpret his directive or exercise my ingenuity, variety, cleverness, or creativity. It was not my prerogative to decide to burn the trash, bury the trash, or recycle the trash. I could not decide to defer the chore for another week because the cans were not filled.  I could not delegate the responsibility to my younger siblings or pay one of the neighbor kids to do it for me. I was not at liberty to put our refuse into a neighbor’s can. My father gave me explicit instructions on what he wanted me to do and how he wanted it done. I understood that anything more than that or less than that, even if my intentions had been good or sincere, would not have been acceptable; it would have been disobedience.

So what, you might be asking, does taking out the trash have to do with worship?

Worship is something that God has commanded and, therefore, it is incumbent on us to understand the command. We are not at liberty to invent our own ideas of what worship should look like or sound like.  It is not for us to decide what God should be pleased with. That is what Cain did and regardless how sincere Cain was, God was angry at him because he didn't bring an offering according to God's instruction. 

Worship is not about our emotions, or feeling the warm fuzzies. And it is not about our music or our entertainment. In fact, the worship wars in most churches, over styles of music would end if we understood that God is the audience and the object of our worship. It is not about our personal preferences or tastes. It is not about entertaining unchurched and unregenerate "seekers." It is not for our edification or for providing a venue for us to showcase our talents. It is for God's glory. He has given us plenty of instruction regarding the elements and content of our collective worship and He expects us to do it His way.

It was Thomas Watson who penned, “This Divine worship God is very jealous of; Divine worship must be such as God Himself has appointed, else it is offering strange fire" (Lev 10).

In its most common usage in Scripture, the definition of worship is to “bow down and obey.” Real worship has little to do with "experiencing" God. Real worship occurs when we humbly recognize and submit to God’s authority and lordship, and then obey His commands. Cain should have just brought the sacrifice God required rather than disobey the command and bring the best of his own works. It seems ludicrous that we think we can “go to worship” on Sunday mornings with our sincere offerings of euphoric music and "feel good about me" happy-talk and then return home to spend the rest of the week unrepentantly continuing in our sinful habits and activities. It would be far better to skip the “worship services” and just recognize God's lordship and live in obedience to His commands.

"Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD," 1 Samuel 15:22-23


first published in May, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2014

?Who Am I To Judge?

I was called up for jury service a few years ago but I really didn’t expect to be selected. I had been there before and every other time I was dismissed when the attorneys asked me where I worked. “Christian” was part of the organization's name and that is an automatic trigger that usually results in my dismissal. This time was different. Somehow I managed to make the cut.

The defendant was charged with two misdemeanors and one felony. The judge estimated the trial would take one day and that the jury deliberations would also take only one day. This was going to be easy, I thought.

After all the evidence was introduced and the defense was through, we were ushered into the jury deliberation room. The jurors selected me to act as foreman and, again, I thought we could wrap this up in about an hour.

We started with the two misdemeanor counts. Both verdicts were “no brainers.” The Deputy D.A. presented overwhelming, indisputable evidence for which the defendant’s attorney had no reasonable arguments. I called for a show of hands on count one and all twelve jurors voted guilty. That was done. Then I called for a vote on count two. “Guilty,” they all agreed. Things were going great. We had selected a foreman and decided two of the three charges in the first ten minutes. By my calculation, I figured I would be back to work in time for lunch.

I was wrong; it took us two full agonizing days to finally reach an agreement on the last charge. Our job was to consider only the evidence and testimonies presented and then come to an objective conclusion about the facts. We deliberated the first two charges quickly because there were no real or meaningful consequences for the perpetrator’s actions. But because a guilty verdict on a felony charge would result in a stiff penalty, the jury fell apart.

Some of the jurors became too emotional. They started wondering about the defendant’s family. They empathized with her and imagined how she must feel. The idea that someone might have to suffer some harsh consequences for her own illegal actions was more than they could bear. The material facts of the case were eclipsed and became irrelevant in their arguments.

Other jurors seemed to have no fundamental understanding of their responsibility to decide “beyond a reasonable doubt.” They insisted on being utterly convinced beyond a “shadow” of a doubt or beyond “any” doubt at all. So we suffered through hours of incredible and inane hypothetical speculations about how anything beyond reason might have been possible. No amount of evidence could be sufficient enough to convince them so they concluded that we just cannot know for sure.

And then there were some who, citing Matt. 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged,” actually raised moral questions about our right to sit in judgement of others.

I often find myself in situations where I am called on to hear conflicting stories, attempt to sort out truth from deception, and then draw reasonable conclusions. So how should we determine whom and what to believe?

First, we need to understand that Christians do have a real responsibility to discern truth from error. Refusing to judge based on Matt. 7:1 out of its proper context is a gross misunderstanding and misapplication of Jesus’ instruction. The passage, along with others in the New Testament, instructs and compels us to make righteous judgments.

Second, we should evaluate all the objective evidence on both sides. I have found that it is easy to get all fired up after hearing one side of an argument and discovering, later, that the other side of the story is also compelling. I recall a parent once, who said, when considering a dispute between his child and a teacher, “Well, I have to believe my kid.” That parent just simply refused to hear any other testimony because to do so, in her mind, was tantamount to betraying her child. That is insane.  A proverb tells us, “it is a fool who decides a matter before he hears it.”

Sometimes after hearing both sides, we are still confused. While arbitrating a difficult issue recently, I was asked why I chose to believe one person over another. This is where the reputation, character, and credibility of both parties must be considered. On the one hand, I had an employee whose reputation for honesty was impeccable. The other often lacked credibility.

In the end, reasonable evidence is usually sufficient evidence. We are not God and we cannot know everything but He does require us to exercise discernment with wisdom and then trust in His providence.

And finally, we should understand that there are and must be legitimate consequences for wrong actions. That is not my idea; it is God's decree. When I became a father, I began to understand what my dad meant when he used to preface my spankings with the statement, “Son, this is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you.” We may not feel good about necessary discipline but, real love does what is right and not just what feels good. Any attempt on our part to protect people from those consequences is to interfere with God’s process to bring people to repentance and obedience.

"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." John 7:24

first posted in May 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2014

***Going Home

The year was 1956 and I spent the summer on my uncle Anton's farm in South Dakota. My cousin, Lloyd, hitched the horses to the wagon early one morning and we headed to the hay fields. The horses must have sensed, probably from past experience, the hard day that was in front of them because, no matter how hard Lloyd tried to drive them, they only had one pace; SLOW.  We probably only drove two or three miles but it seemed to take forever.

Once we arrived, he hitched the horses to the hay rake. The team sluggishly dragged the rake over several acres gathering the freshly mowed hay and we pitched it into huge haystacks. It was a long, hot, summer day and the work was hard for all of us, especially the horses. By the end of the day we were all weary but our work was done and we were going home. We hitched the horses to the wagon, loaded our gear, and headed for the barn. But the return trip was different.

Lloyd didn’t have to drive them home. Instead, he wrapped the reins tightly around his powerful hands and stood with both feet firmly braced against the wagon’s bulkhead. With all his massive weight and strength he struggled to maintain some control over the powerful force of those horses thundering down the road at breakneck speeds. But as hard as he pulled, he could not slow them down. We all hung on tightly as the wagon jumped and bounced over the rutted dirt road. It was a short but thrilling ride. Those horses always knew when they were going home.  They knew the way and they were anxious to get there.

Life is often tough; the labor is hard and sometimes the difficulty seems unbearable. But, as Christians, we labor and suffer more joyously knowing that our way lies toward heaven. We are on the trip home and anxiously anticipating our final rest in our Father's house.

“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.” Matt. 5:12

Friday, November 28, 2014

My Post-Thankgiving Letter To Our New King

Date:    November 28, 2012

To:    His Majesty, Barack Obama
         The White House
         1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
         Washington DC

Your Majesty

I trust Your Highness had a wonderful Thanksgiving Turkey Day with the Royal Family. 
Congratulations on Your recent successful conquest of the Constitutional republic formerly known as the United States of America.  I know that archaic and bothersome constitution and those pesky, high-minded idiots in Congress stood in the way of progress but now that You have successfully rendered them impotent, You are free to act unhindered to "fundamentally change" the country. 
It is my humble desire to bring to Your attention, the state of affairs in my part of Your kingdom.  Please forgive me but I believe there is an invasion occurring here, that may pose a serious threat to your Sovereignty.  I reside in the southern portion of the state known as the People’s Republik of Kalfornia.  I don’t know how things are in the rest of Your realm but, with all due respect, Your Majesty, things aren’t going very well here.
If I may be so bold, Sir, please indulge me as I list the following observations that have been reported in the L.A. Times.
1.     40% of all workers in L A. County ( L. A. County has 10.2 million people subjects) are working for cash and NOT PAYING TAXES. This is because they are predominantly illegal immigrants working without a green card.  (I’m sure You will want to dispatch Your IRS thugs on this because, after all, the sovereign state needs our money more than we do.)
2.     95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.
3.     75% of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.
4.     Over 2/3 of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal, whose births were paid for by taxpayers.
5.     Nearly 35% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally.
6.     Over 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles County are living in garages.
7.     The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most likely illegal aliens from south of the border.
8.     Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties are illegal.
9.     21 radio stations in L. A. are Spanish speaking.
10.     In L.A. County,  5.1 million people speak English, 3.9 million speak Spanish. (There are 10.2 million people in L. A. County .)
In addition, fewer than 2% of illegal aliens are picking our crops, but 29% subsist on public welfare benefits.  Over 70% of the United States' annual population growth (and over 90% of California, Florida, and New York ) is attributed to immigration.  29% of all inmates in federal prisons are illegal aliens.
Please pardon me, Your Highness, I don't want to upset you with bad news, but I wanted You to know these things because it would be foolish (not that I am suggesting You are a fool) for any king to allow this kind of threat to His Kingdom to continue unchecked.
Respectfully, your humble servant,

Ralph M. Petersen

P. S.  I hope you don't mind; I took the liberty to post this photo of You because I know how much You enjoy having Your image posted in front of the world. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NOW THANK WE ALL OUR GOD (Thanksgiving Fare, regurgitated)

For Thanksgiving, I am reposting this from a few years ago.

One of the most painful aspects of ministry to the elderly residents of our Christian assisted living facility was the inevitability of death. And it was on those occasions that my staff often participated in sharing their feelings of loss and their fond memories. I had come to realize that, for my employees, it was a ministry of love. And their ministry was reciprocal; many of the folks we served had made immeasurable impacts on the lives of those who were serving them.

Over the course of my seventeen years serving the residents, there were many times when the holidays had been especially hard; those seemed to be the times when we lost an unusual number of long-time residents.

In my fifteenth year, we lost one of our residents on Thanksgiving Day. She had gone out with her daughters for a family Thanksgiving dinner. Late in the afternoon she began to feel nauseous and complained of stomach and back pains. They took her to the emergency room at the hospital where she was diagnosed with flu symptoms and discharged back to our care by early evening. My staff monitored her every thirty minutes through the evening.

About 12:45 AM they found her unresponsive and called 911.  By the time I arrived the paramedics had already pronounced her "dead on arrival." I called her pastor and the two of us spent the next few hours comforting and praying with her daughter until the funeral home reps arrived to remove her mother.

Through the years, our resident pastor kept very busy conducting about 30-40 funerals a year. One year, he had seven services in one week. That certainly takes an emotional toll on residents and staff alike. Those are always hard days for caretakers as, typically, the death rate rises significantly following Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

As emotionally difficult as those times were, I am aware that others have experienced far more in terms of loss.  In 1636 there was a pastor who buried 5,000 of his parishioners in a single year. That averaged about fifteen a day and it happened during the Thirty Years War, one of history’s costliest in terms of casualties, epidemics, and economic devastation. He endured some of the worst conditions and experiences that life could dish out.

His name was Martin Rinkert and in the middle of that terrible time of incredible loss, he wrote a table grace, for his children, that has come to be one of our most loved thanksgiving hymns:

Now thank we all our God With hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, In whom His world rejoices;
Who from our mothers' arms Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, And still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts And blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, And guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills In this world and the next.
All praise and thanks to God The Father now be given,
The Son, and Him who reigns With them in highest Heaven,
The One eternal God, Whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, And shall be evermore.

One contemporary pastor, Joel Gregory, referring to Martin Rinkert as "The Unlikely Thanker" asked, “If I'd spent the year holding 5,000 funerals for the people I served, could I write a song of thanksgiving for my children?”

It is interesting to note that many people who, seemingly, have the least to thank God for are the very ones who thank Him the most.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

****Good Character Is An Archaic and Unappreciated Virtue

If you are a business owner or manager, chances are, you have had to recruit new employees. When you do, you hope to find good ones. So it is frustrating that labor laws actually make the process very difficult if not impossible. The legal system would have us believe that experience and education are the only relevant qualifiers and standards by which we may evaluate an applicant. I think that’s insane. Most employers prefer to hire people of good character. For Christian ministries, it is more than just a preference; it is a crucial necessity. But it is nearly impossible, if not illegal to attempt to obtain insightful information regarding the backgrounds, private lives, or morals of potential employees.

It wasn’t always like that. In the past our examination and evaluation of a person’s character for the work place was expected because good character was a valued virtue. How did we get to the place, in this nation, where character no longer matters? We have amoral (and sometimes even downright immoral) lawmakers and political leaders that we have elected and learned to tolerate. So it is no wonder we now have laws to protect people’s personal lives from public scrutiny.

When our founding fathers set about to create constitutions for the colonies, two conflicting fundamental approaches to civil government emerged for public debate. One approach assumed that by passing good laws, we would fix civil problems. The other approach suggested that if we elected the right kinds of people, they would do the right things.  

John Locke was a proponent of the first approach. He proposed that good, sound laws must be written. He believed that if laws are good, it really doesn’t matter who is elected to office. They will be bound by the good laws.

In contrast, William Penn believed that good men should be elected. He said that good laws may lack good men but good men will never lack good laws and will never allow bad laws. If the elected men are good, the government cannot be bad. If the men are bad, their government will never be good. So it really doesn’t matter how good the laws are, it matters how good the leaders are.

William Penn’s approach was founded in the biblical Proverb, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.”

One of the most popular textbooks in America’s history was written in 1812. It was a favorite of Abraham Lincoln and was used in public education for many years. This is what it taught about character; “Public character is no evidence of true greatness, for a public character is often an artificial character. If you want to know what a man is really like, you should watch him when he thinks no one is looking.”

Throughout the years, others have expressed that in similar ways. You may have heard some of these:
  • “The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.” - Lord Macaulay

  • “Character is what a man is in the dark.” - D.L. Moody

  • “Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” - John Wooden former UCLA basketball coach

  • And here’s an amusing old English one-liner: "A gentleman is one who uses the butter knife when he is alone." In other words, it's what someone does when no one's watching that indicates the true person. - J. I. Packer
The textbook goes on to illustrate the point by using a real-life example. The man was a Brigadier General in the Continental Army and a patriot leader in the American Revolution. He was a war hero of the battle of Saratoga, the battle that turned the war. Those were his public credentials and they were quite impressive.

But he also had a private life. He was the General who was responsible for dispatching food and supplies to General Washington’s troops at Valley Forge. He sold wagonloads of supplies on the black market while Washington’s men were freezing, starving, and dying. Later, he sold out West Point to the British for money.

His name was Benedict Arnold and he was tried and convicted for treason. His private life was a better indicator of his true character than his public life. The textbook closed with this statement: “…it is in the private life that we are to look for the man. Private life is always real life; that’s where a man is always sure to act himself.”

It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that our nation started entertaining the notion that a man’s private life is irrelevant in the political or public arena. Robert Ingersol espoused that, when selecting leaders, they should be elected on their public competence alone and their private lives should be disregarded. And we have bought it. We accept immoral behavior from our leaders and we have allowed our lawmakers to hinder our ability to discover good people of moral character for the workplace. If Benedict Arnold lived in contemporary America, he would not only be employable, he might be a very electable candidate for public office.
(some of this historic information was derived from David Barton)