Friday, November 28, 2008

A call for a new Reformation in the church: Pay the man!

Here is a topic that gets at a cherished institution. Should the church have paid, especially full-time paid, vocational ministers? There are few things more cherished in the institutional church than the pastor. Many churches take on the identity of their pastor, the people pray for their pastor, they encourage people to come to their church to hear their pastor, the pastors name is on the church sign. But is this a healthy, and more importantly Biblical model? Or is it a tradition, a holdover from Rome, a pragmatic manifestation of the change of the church from a fellowship of the saints to a hierarchical, corporate organization. Or something in-between?

I see this as a can and should question. Just because something is permitted doesn't mean that we should or must automatically do it. I can with a clear conscience have a glass of wine with dinner (I don't like wine, but just go with it). Provided I am not getting drunk, I think I am OK within the Biblical mandate. But I don't drink any alcohol out of conviction of the evils of drunkenness and to avoid being a stumbling block to my brother. I can but I don't.

There are two questions here to deal with. First can we Biblically pay a pastor/minister/elder etc. to serve in ministry. The second is the one that gets a little stickier, and what I assume will cause some controversy but also hopefully generate some reasonable, humble discussion: should we have paid ministers?

Before I start, again my intent here is not to slander those who labor in ministry or to start a controversy just for fun. I know a number of men who are full-time, paid pastors and they do a wonderful work, they are godly men and great servants of Christ (Joe and Josh come to mind). I don't think they are lazy men who don't want to work in the private sector. I don't think that they are without any useful skills and cannot get gainful employment (I have a degree in Poli Sci and I have always done very well in the business world). People who accuse pastors of laziness have never been a pastor! I am sure there are men who fit the description of lazy or worthless for work in the ministry just as there are men like that in every field, I just haven't met them. I have struggled over posting these thoughts because I don't want to offend but I think we have to seriously ask these questions.

The focus here is on what is proper for the church. Is it healthy for the church, is it healthy spiritually for the man (or men) called to be pastors, is it healthy for the rest of the men in the church to subcontract out the spiritual leadership of the church to one or a couple of men who are paid full-time to work in ministry.

Can we pay the pastor?

The clearest, in my mind, verses supporting the paying of elders comes in 1 Corinthians 9...

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain." Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:1-23)

I think that Paul establishes that financial support is permitted, indeed can be considered a right. But notice also what he says along with this. Twice in these passages Paul says that while he could get paid, he doesn't that he "may present the gospel free of charge" and "I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision.". So we have two seemingly conflicting statements here. On the one hand, Paul says it is his right as it is the right of others to make their living by preaching the Gospel, but on the other hand he says that he did not make use of this right for the sake of winning men to the Gospel. That is an important distinction.

(Note that not everyone agrees that it is Scriptural to pay men for what could be done free of charge, i.e. preaching the Gospel. See Alan Knox's series on this very issue, it is very insightful even if it probably will offend many with his position drawn from the Word that elders should support themselves by working and not in vocational ministry. The first of his posts is here, as well as a specific post with great discussion on 1 Corinthians 9 in particular. Agree with him or not one should at least give it a read and compare what he says with the Scriptures and compare what the Scriptures say to our modern church institutions. I will say that I am more and more convinced by Mr. Knox and his arguments to the contrary so I am strongly considering changing my view)

Once we have established can, now we look at should. Is it required to have a paid ministry? Clearly not as Paul pointed out he took nothing from the Corinthians. In other places we read of Paul working as a tentmaker, his trade. His rationale is similar to the rationale we might have today. By rejecting pay, he owed no man, he worked for his bread, he could not be accused of using his call and his gifts for gain. He fed himself by the work of his own hands and was therefore free to preach the Gospel. There was no hint of a conflict of interest in his preaching.

What is the role of the single elder in the church?

If there is a single elder, or even one senior elder who carries a disproportionate amount of authority, certainly a disproportionate amount of the responsibility will fall on him. But if you have a true elder ruled church, with a plurality of elders who share responsibilities of teaching, serving, preaching, etc. then there is no reason that a group of elders couldn’t serve the church every bit as well and do so without compensation. But I know that in churches with one elder, i.e. the "senior pastor", the disproportionate amount of the expected ministry work falls on them. After all, he is gettin' paid for this stuff!

(For more on the plurality of elders, see 9 Marks Ministry which has a number of articles about elders or check out Monergism)

The arguments in favor of a paid ministry

But what of the argument that the average church doesn’t have a sufficient number of men who are Biblically qualified to be elders?

That to me is a cop out. We don’t have sufficient numbers of elder qualified men because we have not trained up men to get to that point, we don’t demand more of the Christian man and because we have set up a system of subcontracting out the Gospel ministry. Far easier to throw some money in the plate to support the pastor than to man up and do the work of an elder yourself. It is a vicious circle. We figure since we pay the pastor, he should do all the visiting, teaching, preaching, leading. The more he does, the more people lay on him and the more separation we see between the pastor and the flock. The elders in the church should spend a great deal of time raising up other men in the church to serve as elders if they are not prepared to serve already. The men in the church will never be prepared to serve as elders if preparing them is not a primary mission of the church. Just because there are a lack of men who are ready today is not an excuse to chuck the whole thing and pay one guy to do it.

What about all the time that is required to minister to a congregation? Sermons to prepare, people to visit, meetings to attend?

Again, in a true plural elder church where the men of the church who are Biblically qualified serve as elders, there is no reason that those men cannot share the burden of pastoral care, teaching and preaching. If you have four elders in a church, each man would preach twice a month assuming two Sunday services. You most certainly can work in a regular job and properly prepare two sermons a month. You can certainly serve in a pastoral capacity when the needs of the church are divided among the elders instead of falling on one man. Will it take sacrifice and a supportive wife. Absolutely. Is that a problem? It certainly shouldn't be.

The potential dangers of a paid ministry

As we go further down this road, I see the role of the pastor becoming more professionalized, more specialized, more separate from the laity. The issue of professional education in ministry is one that seems to me to be an extraordinarily modern invention, even though it has been around for centuries. When we look at the New Testament, the calling of apostles, disciples, evangelists we don’t see Christ seeking out the academics and calling people based on their resume, where they got their diploma. Quite the opposite: Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13 ESV) There is nothing wrong with a seminary degree, in fact it is a wonderful quality and can be a great blessing to the church, but it is not a qualification of or a disqualification for the Gospel ministry.

There are many other potential dangers, some I have seen and some I have personally experienced in my "brief" time as a pastor. I would like to bring them up but I know full well that some will read those concerns, decide they refer to themselves and take umbrage. If my point here were to cause a needless controversy or stir up contention, it would be easy to throw a bunch of hypothetical or anecdotal dangers out, some real and some imagined but that isn't going to prove productive.

The subcontracting culture

Why do yourself what you can pay someone else to do? Because it is easier. We are a subcontracting society. We pay people to fix everything under the sun because we never took the time to learn how to fix things ourselves: cars, plumbing, computers. We pay people to teach our children in schools. We farm out the training of our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord to the Sunday school. We pay people we have met once or twice to be missionaries in far away lands because that is easier than witnessing to your neighbor. We pay a man to be the minister in the local church because that means we don't have to. We expect him to do the studying, the thinking, the struggling with the text and then get up on Sunday morning and tell us what the text says. We sit back and listen, because after all he is the professional. It is stunning how ignorant men and women who have spent their entire lives in the church listening to preaching are of the Word. It is stunning how ignorant I am of the Scriptures! Basic theological concepts are completely absent because many in the institutional church never wrestle with the Word themselves. We are fat and lazy spiritually because instead of working for ourselves, we get spoon fed the Word.

The mormon example

Granted, mormonism is a cult and controls it's membership in subtle ways. It is not a church we should seek to emulate. But something interesting about mormonism is applicable here. Mormonism is a highly demanding religion, very demanding on the personal time of it's membership (especially men). Unlike many Christian churches where women do most of the non-pastoral work, much of the burden in the mormon church falls on the men. There is no paid clergy at the mormon church except at the highest level in leadership (i.e. those responsible for whole regions of mormon churches). Yet mormon men serve many hours on their own, and receive no compensation for it. In fact, it is not only asked but expected that the men in the church will serve in the local body, cheerfully and without compensation, leading and ministering and teaching. Why is it that a false religion can engender such a response from their men and yet the church, which is supposed to be filled with born-again regenerate men, cannot get people to minister unless it pays them to do so?

The answer?

I am not sure what the answer is. We have a deeply entrenched system in the ministry. Man feels called. Man goes to get a seminary education. Man applies for a pastor position at churches. Church has search committee interview the man. Church pays man to preach and provide pastoral care. This goes on until man dies/retires/quits, finds a bigger/better church or church fires man. What is the end result of this? Men that are burned out in ministry from shouldering all of the burden of leading the church. Churches full of lazy Christians or churches that are full of the unregenerate. The local church devolves and loses it's rightful place as the community center for worship by Christians and becomes an entertainment choice.

Should Christians do for pay what could be, should be done for free? Is a gift for preaching and teaching a mandate to get paid? There are a lot of people with wonderful talents for service in the church who ask nothing and receive nothing. Is preaching the Gospel something that only men with a seminary degree can do? I don't think so. On the other hand if someone works at a lower paying job to have more time to minister, is it wrong for the church to support that person from time to time financially?

I welcome discussion and expect disagreement. I would expect that any disagreement be based in the Scriptures, not in pragmatism or church tradition. As I started with, this topic gets at the heart of one of the most cherished institutions in the church and in Americana. I don't pretend to have the answer here, but I do have the question and it is one that for all our traditions must be asked.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Give Thanks

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

A Psalm for giving thanks.

100:1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100 ESV

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why do the institutions in Christianity always collapse?

That is the question asked on the Albert Mohler show last Friday. In the show, Why Christian Institutions Are So Easily Lost, Dr. Mohler laments the loss of so many Christian institutions while in New England, home of so many fine universities that were founded for the propagation of the Gospel and now are Godless, secularized shells of themselves. Dr. Mohler knows this issue from the front lines, being one of the leaders in the "Conservative Resurgence" in the Southern Baptist Convention and a driving force behind removing the heretics from their teaching positions at Southern Seminary. In his accompanying blog post, Echoes of Old Heresies Still Among Us -- A Visit to Divinity Hall, Dr. Mohler makes the following observation...

Standing in the chapel in Divinity Hall last evening, I was struck by how contemporary Emerson's argument sounds. The call he issued 170 years ago is the very message we now hear from others -- Christianity must change or die. We cannot simply preach a book that is two thousand years old. God still speaks, and a slavish dependence on the Bible is both offensive and ineffectual. Doctrines must go -- intuition and sentiment will be enough.

The issues and arguments are the same. Nevertheless, we have all the evidence we need to show us where Emerson's argument leads. It leads to the death of churches, denominations, institutions, and ministries. It leaves sinners dead in their sins and robs them of hearing the Gospel.

The church has never needed "newborn bards of the Holy Ghost." Instead, the need of the church is for preachers who are skilled in the art of preaching the Word of God -- rightly dividing the Word of Truth, while holding without apology to the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

I am glad I visited that historic room in Divinity Hall last night. It served to remind me of what is at stake in our generation -- and for eternity. There are no new heresies, only echoes of the old ones. And yet, the old ones come back again and again.

As I listened to the broadcast on my way to work and back (my new job is measured by podcasts, it is an episode of the White Horse Inn and half of an Albert Mohler show each way!) I was struck by what Dr. Mohler didn't suggest. The thought I had was whether Dr. Mohler was missing the most obvious reason that Christian institutions are lost: Institutions by nature are antithetical to Christianity. Look at the history of the church, and ask what institutions have survived. The church became mainstreamed under Constantine and that eventually led to Roman Catholicism and a thousand years of darkness. The reformation came and the church was on the road to reform, but what came out of that movement was the magisterial reformation in Europe. What are the fruits of those institutions in Western Europe, once the cradle of Christendom? Empty churches. Massive secularization. What about America? Look at the universities and seminaries. The ones that are the oldest have almost all gone secular. Look at Baylor, Dartmouth, Wake Forest, Harvard, Princeton, Yale. All established as Christian institutions, all lost now to the church forever. The great denominations? Other than the Southern Baptist Convention (which has it's own issues) they are all creeping or charging toward heresy. The United Methodist church. The Episcopal church. The Evangelical Lutheran church. The Christian Reformed Church. The Presbyterian Church-USA. Churches throughout New England sit empty in town after town. There are virtually no institutions that have been established as Christian institutions that have survived more than a century unscathed.

Christianity is not an institution. When people try to emulate the secular world by creating institutions, those institution eventually emulate the secular world by becoming secularized. We seek to create new and improved institutions to replace the corrupt institutions without asking if the problem is in institutionalizing the faith in the first place. Yet we lament the loss of one institution after another. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. But that is exactly what we have been doing for centuries.
Am I wrong?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The priesthood of all versus reality

The Assembling of the Church: Priesthood of the Few or Priesthood of All?

Very interesting post on a blog I have come across that really has gotten my attention. Alan Knox is adjunct professor of Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, so he isn't some crazed rube from the backwoods who doesn't know anything. Some of the questions he raises really tips some of the most sacred cows in the church, some sacred cows that need to be tipped and turned into hamburger.

Can we truly believe in a priesthood of all believers when we say that some men are more priestly than others? We all have equal access to God, just some men have more access? Is leadership in the church a position or a function? Mr. Knox suggest that what we have today is not much different than what we had before 1517...

I do not think it is possible to maintain the priesthood of all while requiring a priesthood of the few at the same time. Since the Reformation, it has been clear that the doctrine of the priesthood of the few has worked to maintain the clergy/laity divide with which the magisterial reformers disagreed. According to Scripture, all believers are priests.

Sound words. I encourage you to check out his blog. But be warned, the corpses of sacred cows litter the landscape. Don't trip!

Good enough for the Obama girls

But not an option for many parents

The news came out yesterday, and no surprise here, the Obama girls will be going to a private school in Washington D.C.

Obamas chose private school for daughters

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama and his wife have chosen Sidwell Friends School for their two daughters, opting for a private institution that another White House child, Chelsea Clinton, attended a decade ago.

“A number of great schools were considered. In the end, the Obamas selected the school that was the best fit for what their daughters need right now,” said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama.

That makes all the sense in the world, given the media and security issues that surround the children of Presidents. It would have made no sense at all, even if D.C. schools were decent schools, to send the kids of the President to a public school. I don't criticize or begrudge the Obama's the opportunity to send their kids to a private school, as they did in Chicago before he was elected President.

Where my grumbling comes in is the double standard. The Obama's can afford to send their children to a nice private school instead of the problem riddled D.C. public schools. But most parents in the District cannot, and like the parents of children in most large cities they are faced with a no-win choice of sending their kids to failing schools full of violence or moving to the suburbs where the cost of living goes up. To send your kids to private schools in America means paying double: paying taxes to support public schools whether or not you have kids or if your kids attend that public school plus paying tuition at the private school. If you homeschool your kids, you still pay those taxes and get no real benefit to your own children. Americans are forced to subsidize failure. It is like being made to pay for repairs to a junker car that you don't own and don't drive but you still need to pay to keep it sputtering along on the road for someone else. The public school will never get better when the vast majority of parents have little choice but to send their kids to them (or homeschool them, which is something that many parents have been falsely convinced is beyond them). Like any organization, there is no compelling reason for public schools to improve. Only when we have real choice will the education system in America get better. Money isn't the answer. If you waste a billion dollars, wasting two billion isn't going to make things better, just more expensive. Competition will force schools to improve or to shut down in favor of other options.

It is great that the Obama's had the choice and made the right one for their kids. What would be even better is if he took steps to afford the same choices to regular Americans to determine where their education dollars go: public, private or home school. Unfortunately, with Obama beholden to the unions including the NEA, that sort of politically courageous and costly decision seems pretty unlikely.


This is a little out of the norm, but I made these cranberry scones for my kids (and I ate one or two myself!) and they are great. I am not much for baking but this wasn't too bad and only took about half an hour to prepare.

A call for a new Reformation in the church: What if?

What if?

What if the church structure we have built is not bringing us into closer communion with the body, but is instead making us look less and less like the Bride of Christ. What if the church (going to church, being members of churches) is keeping us from being the church? The church is cherished, and rightly so. But the church has major issues. Not just dying mainline churches. Not just latte serving churches or liberal emerging churches. It is a problem in stoutly Reformed, conservative churches.

What is the church?

Somewhere we go?

Something we do?

Some place we belong to as "members"?

We have developed a very structured, very carefully defined idea of what constitutes "the church". But does what happens on Sunday morning equate to the church we see in the New Testament? We gather at the appointed time. We sing a couple of songs picked out for us, and often listen to someone else singing while we sit there. We sit back and listen to a man we have hired to preach a message to us. Sing and pray, go home. Repeat weekly. Don't stop going, because then you are "forsaking the assembling of the saints". Is that what was intended for us?

I think of our close friends from "up north". We would have the occasional meal together. We would hang out with one another. Our kids would play together. We would help each other out when there was a need. What separated us is where we went to church, we went to church A and they went to church B. But when we get together and break bread together, when we help around the house when one or the other is gone, when we lift each other up in prayer and in helping with the kids when we need it, that is the church. It is not a complete expression of the church, there was not a preaching of the Word, or discipleship or a breaking of bread in communion. But we were His sheep, gathered together in fellowship, lifting one another, encouraging one another. We have by and large lost that sense of true fellowship, true community, true communion of the saints and replaced it with an organization.

How do we seperate the culture and the tradition that clutter things up from the simple expression of the church, the church without committees, without budgets, without ivory tower academics? That is the question, and it is on the minds of many Christians these days, Christians frustrated with the state of the church. We need to follow two steps: First, have the courage to set aside our comfortable assumptions and second, to open up the Word and look at what it says. That is what this series is all about. It is not a vendetta. It is not an attempt to be rebellious. It is not a rejection of authority. It is just a sincere desire to have a conversation, and if Christians cannot talk about the church without getting nasty and personal, what can we talk about?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Yet another reason to dislike Obama

Would-be appointees quizzed on guns

President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team is asking potential appointees detailed questions about gun ownership, and firearms advocates aren’t happy about it.

The National Rifle Association has denounced the move, which has already led one Republican senator to consider legislation aimed at ensuring a president can’t use an applicant’s gun ownership status to deny employment.

It’s just one question on a lengthy personnel form — No. 59 on a 63-question list — but the furor over the query is a vivid reminder of the intensity of support for Second Amendment rights and signals the scrutiny Obama is likely to receive from the ever-vigilant gun lobby.

Obama’s transition team declined to go into detail on why they included the question, suggesting only that it was done to ensure potential appointees were in line with gun laws.

Anyone think that Obama, with a far left agenda and a power hungry liberal majority is not going to go after gun owner rights? Think again. Might be time for me to buy another firearm or three...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Great description of Barack Obama!

From Emmet Tyrrell at

President-elect Barack Obama is a man of many firsts, some of them auspicious. One of his firsts, however, is not so auspicious. Obama is America's first motivational speaker to be elected to the presidency.

That is one of the best comments I have read, it really gets to the heart of the whole Barack Obama experience. All flash, all dazzle. All sizzle and no steak. All hat and no cattle. The problem is that now we are stuck with him for four years. Four years of the liberal establishment pulling his strings and running this country down the path of socialism.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hope? Change? (Liberal) Politics as usual...

Here is yet another sign that Barack Obama is not interested in a new kind of politics. He is no different than every other liberal Democrat that has come down the road, except that he is smooth talking, serious, level headed and looks and sounds great on TV. Now he is surrounding himself with the old guard of the party...

WASHINGTON – Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has accepted President-elect Barack Obama's offer to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, Democratic officials said Wednesday.

The appointment has not been announced, but these officials said the job is Daschle's barring an unforeseen problem as Obama's team reviews the background of the South Dakota Democrat. One area of review will include the lobbying connections of his wife, Linda Hall Daschle, who has done representation mostly on behalf of airline-related companies over the years. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorize to discuss the matter publicly.

Tom Dascle as secretary of HHS. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. What should be apparent to anyone is exactly what I have been saying all along, that Barack Obama is an empty suit that was handpicked and used by the American Left. Now that he is the "President-Elect", the old school liberals are coming out of the woodwork to take the reins of power and push through the agenda that they failed to enact for decades.

I wonder if Obama realizes that he is being played or if he even cares as long as he gets to "make history"?

(By the way, I love the seal with "The Office of the President-Elect" on it. Is it just me or is there no such thing as the office of the President-Elect? He doesn't even hold the office yet but is already having tons of press conferences and they are running approval polls. The people in this country are in for a rude shock when the day after the inauguration, the economy still is in the can and the world is still full of dangerous people and he has no plan to fix it)

More on headcovering

Read an interesting link from Monergism on headcovering by Dr. Robert Spinney. He makes an interesting point on our presuppositions regarding headcovering for women. There are basically two presuppositions we come to 1 Corinthians 11 with. One is that we presuppose (presupposition A) that Paul was writing only to the Corinthian church and the default position should be that headcovering is not normative for today unless proven otherwise.. The other presupposition (presupposition B) is that we should assume that headcovering is normative for today unless proven to not be. From Dr. Spinney's post...

Presupposition B is more sound. This is the assumption we normally use when we interpret the Bible. For example, pastors do not begin sermons on “children obey your parents in the Lord” by proving that such instruction is applicable to Christians today. We all assume (correctly) that such teaching passages are applicable unless we have strong biblical reasons for believing otherwise.

Regarding 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, this means that we must see solid evidence that we are not supposed to do this today before we reject the instruction. The burden of proof rests upon the man who says we do not have to obey this biblical command.

Unfortunately, we don’t treat the issue of head coverings in this manner. We place the burden of proof upon those people who maintain that we should obey the Bible’s instructions in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16. We would never do this with other instructions in the Word of God. Why the double standard? Perhaps because obeying this particular instruction might mark one as peculiar. Our strong desire to fit in with our prevailing culture may well influence how we interpret the Bible. Surely this is a danger that we must guard against. (emphasis added)

The entire article is thought provoking and worthwhile reading. Advocating headcovering is not a knee jerk reaction, a simplistic and overly literal reading of the Bible. Many Christians have studied the issue and come to the conclusion that women should cover their heads. It is at the very least an issue that should be prayerful considered and not dismissed because this person or that person has passed judgment over the issue and that means the matter is closed. If you assume that any command in the Bible must be defended first, you throw every doctrine in the Bible in doubt and insist that the burden of defense falls on the Word to fit into our culture first unless we can prove otherwise.

In fairness, there are several articles linked from Monergism's subsection on headcovering that do not support headcovering. I would invite you to read those articles and consider what they have to say but that you test all things against what the Word says.

Looking for a gift to buy me?

Come on, I know you are. But this is not it...

Be afraid of the contents of your spam folder. Be very afraid.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A sign your school district is in trouble...

When budget cuts may lead to your superintendent of schools having to give up one of her armed guards...

As hundreds of teachers, social workers and support staff are getting layoff notices from the Detroit Public Schools district, some board members are requesting that the superintendent cut her office's budget, starting with the armed police who escort her around Detroit and throughout the state.
The DPS superintendent's security unit was cut from a 24-hour detail after the end of the state takeover in 2005, but it still appears to be the most extensive in the country. It exceeds that of school leaders in districts four to eleven times larger than DPS such as Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, officials in those cities said.

Currently, DPS provides Calloway two officers who -- according to documents obtained by the Free Press -- receive about $95,000 a year combined in base pay. Those officers also incurred more than 400 hours of overtime, totaling $13,803 during a period of about two months, from July 1 to Sept. 5, records show.

The two DPS police officers initially assigned to protect Calloway also protected three previous leaders: interim Superintendent Lamont Satchel, Superintendent William F. Coleman III and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Burnley.

However, those officers were reassigned about two months after Calloway's arrival in July 2007. The transfers were due to personality conflicts and because the cops refused to carry Calloway's handbag, according to district sources who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to talk about her security.

I assume she has armed guards because the schools she visits are so dangerous. Who is guarding the kids who go there once they leave the school grounds?

I love that she wanted the armed guards to carry her purse, after all someone so important that they warrant a $280,000 to oversee a shrinking, violent and failing school system certainly should not be expected to carry her own purse!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hear me sing...for free!

You can listen to samples and three full songs from the upcoming CD of singing at Together for the Gospel 2008. Sure there are 4999 other men singing, but if you listen carefully you can hear me. I am the one singing off-key.

Check it out here!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Think on this....

This from an article on Yahoo! about the protests following the passage of Proposition 8 in California...

BOSTON – Gay rights supporters waving rainbow colors marched, chanted and danced in cities coast to coast Saturday to protest the California vote that banned gay marriage there and urge supporters not to quit the fight for the right to wed.

Many cast it as a civil rights issue.

Crowds gathered near public buildings in small communities and major cities including New York, San Francisco and Chicago to vent their frustrations, celebrate gay relationships and renew calls for change.

"Civil marriages are a civil right, and we're going to keep fighting until we get the rights we deserve as American citizens," Karen Amico said in Philadelphia, holding up a sign reading "Don't Spread H8".

"We are the American family, we live next door to you, we teach your children, we take care of your elderly," said Heather Baker a special education teacher from Boston who addressed the crowd at Boston's City Hall Plaza. "We need equal rights across the country."

Interesting point, one that in my mind not only doesn't serve as a defense of "gay marriage" but also should raise some questions in the minds of parents. What do you really know about those who are teaching your kids if you send them to a public or even a private Christian school? You know that they have a degree, probably in education. You may meet them at the beginning of the school year and a couple of times during the year for a few minutes. Unless your kid is in trouble all the time, you will have very minimal contact with those you have given charge of your children to. What is their worldview? What is their agenda? What values do they hold and what values are they passing on to your kids? You probably don't know much about any of this stuff and that should give you pause.

We were both public school kids and our kids went to public school until a few years ago, so I am not just spouting off about something I know nothing about. Sure, some parents know a few of the teachers of their children pretty well but that is the exception. Do you really want someone you barely know and have met a couple of times teaching your children? Many professional educators are nice people as far as I know, but not knowing much of anything about them and yet entrusting your kids to them all day for a school year? That doesn't strike me as the right model for a Christian parent.

The raising up of the children God has blessed us with and entrusted to us is one of the greatest responsibilities of the Christian, one that simply should not be subcontracted out.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ah tolerance!

The forces of "tolerance" are out in full swing, even in hotbeds of radicalism like...central Michigan? From the Lansing State Journal...

Gay rights protesters disrupt Sunday service

People threw fliers, shouted slogans at Delta Township church

DELTA TWP. - A radical gay rights group is claiming responsibility for a protest Sunday at Mount Hope Church in Delta Township.

Protesters who entered the Creyts Road church along with worshippers surprised the congregation when they stood up during the service, threw fliers at churchgoers and shouted slogans such as "It's OK to be gay," and "Jesus was a homo," according to David Williams, communications director at the church. His father, Dave Williams, is the church's longtime pastor. He was not preaching at the church Sunday.

Another group of protesters demonstrated outside the church at the same time as the indoor protest.

The Eaton County Sheriff's Department responded to the scene Sunday but no arrests were made.

In a released statement, David Williams said churchgoers were unclear as to the purpose of the demonstration.

A Lansing group affiliated with a radical gay organization known as Bash Back, formed to protest the Republican and Democratic national conventions earlier this year, put out a call on the Internet on Oct. 7 for activists to come to a "radical queer convergence" in Lansing on Nov. 7-9.

A posting on its MySpace page declared the convergence a "fierce success."

Now if a bunch of Christian interrupt a "gay marriage" ceremony, you can be sure that the condemnation would be swift and severe. But in 2008 it is perfectly permissible to disrupt religious services, deface religious property and threaten and block entrance to houses of worship as long as you are on the side of "tolerance". Of course the problem is the amorphous nature of that word, which has come down to this: anyone who believes strongly in something that I don't believe in is "intolerant". Makes for a nice way to shut down conversation. I especially like the declaration that it was a "fierce success". In what way? How is a success "fierce"? Do they think that lots of people at that church are suddenly sympathetic to their cause? This was nothing more than a vulgar, narcissistic display glorifying sin.

From RightMichigan...

The lefties were a part of a liberal organization known as Bash Back Lansing and their collection of radical blogs, including one of the state's most widely read "mainstream" progressive blogs (and none which will receive a link on this website) called on "queers and trannies" from across the state and the region to converge on Lansing for what they refer to as an "action." While many of the members claim to be anarchists (they drove on roads, ate non-garden grown foods, printed materials on products created by government protected free markets, wore clothing, talk incessantly about "organization," etc etc etc) their broader goal is stated plainly on one of their lefty blogs.

"I can tell you that we are targeting a well-known anti-queer, anti-choice radical right wing establishment."

Mount Hope, for the record, is an evangelical, bible believing church whose members provide free 24 hour counseling, prayer lines, catastrophic care for families dealing with medical emergencies, support groups for men, women and children dealing with a wide variety of life's troubles, crisis intervention, marriage ministries, regular, organized volunteer work in and around the city, missions in dozens of countries across the globe, a construction ministry that has built over 100 churches, schools, orphanages and other projects all over the world and an in-depth prison ministry that reaches out, touches and helps the men and women the rest of society fears the most. They also teach respect for all human life and the Biblical sanctity of marriage as an institution between one man and one woman.

This is what Michigan liberals label a "radical right wing establishment," and over 30 of them showed up in force yesterday. Wearing secret-service style ear pieces and microphones they received the "go" from their ringleader and off they went.

This is the struggle we are in, and make no mistake the enemy we face is not these poor deluded homosexuals. It is the great Enemy that has been sowing strife and evil since the Garden. These people are lost and dead in their sins, and it is up to Christians to not knuckle under to these sorts of tactics, but instead to all the more boldly declare Christ and Him crucified. There is no hope in the homosexual lifestyle and that needs to be made lovingly but boldly declared to these people.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

They say... takes a big man to admit when he is wrong. Doubly so for me! But I feel compelled to say that my friend James Lee was right about something and I was wrong. The context is irrelevant, but suffice it to say that on this day I publicly admit that James, you were right, and I was wrong.

Mark it down, I may never admit that again!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Grace In Bloom: Growing in the Grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ: Big Step of Obedience

Grace In Bloom: Growing in the Grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ: Big Step of Obedience

Check out this blog, the author has been wrestling with the issue of headcoverings and has come to a point of conviction about the Biblical need for women to cover their heads. Give it a read!

Bye-Bye Banking!

Finally got a new job, out of banking and back in the retirement plan industry. It is a great move for us, and it will get us closer to the middle of Michigan and out of the Detroit metro area. It will initially require a pretty long commute, but with John Piper, Al Mohler and company on my iPod I should be in good hands on the drive!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

There are two kind of companies in America...

There is a great editorial in the Wall Street Journal on how the hated Big Three automakers, creators of evil, gas guzzling, greenhouse gas spewing SUVs, THE symbol of the horrible environmental record of America has become the sweetheart of the Left. From Nationalizing Detroit...

In the Washington mind, there are two kinds of private companies. There are successful if "greedy" corporations, which can always afford to pay more taxes and tolerate more regulation. And then there are the corporate supplicants that need a handout. As the Detroit auto makers are proving, you can go from being the first to the second in the blink of an election.

Truer words have never been spoken! The same D.C. busybodies who have spent countless hours and dollars regulating the auto industry and empowering the labor unions now is turning to the taxpayers and telling us we have to fix a broken industry, an industry broken in large part by the government and the unions who now want us to save the same jobs they have priced out of competitiveness.

For decades, Congress has never had a second thought as it imposed tighter emissions standards on GM, Ford and Chrysler, denouncing them for making evil SUVs. Yet now that the companies are bleeding cash, and may be heading for bankruptcy, suddenly the shrinking Big Three are the latest candidates for a taxpayer bailout. One $25 billion loan facility has already been signed into law, and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) wants another $25 billion, this time with no strings attached.
A bailout might avoid any near-term bankruptcy filing, but it won't address Detroit's fundamental problems of making cars that Americans won't buy and labor contracts that are too rich and inflexible to make them competitive.
As Paul Ingrassia notes nearby, Detroit's costs are far too high for their market share. While GM has spent billions of dollars on labor buyouts in recent years, they are still forced by federal mileage standards to churn out small cars that make little or no profit at plants organized by the United Auto Workers.

We ought to let GM and Ford declare bankruptcy, tear up their union contracts and dealership deals and start over as smaller, leaner and more competitive companies. Instead, under the benevolent leadership of Washington liberals and the capitulation of the now limp-wristed Bush administration the taxpayers will dump untold billions into a failed system, a bailout that will prolong the death throes but cannot fix the problem. Hey, sounds a lot like the way we treat public education!

Happy Veterans Day!

Or if you are a liberal: National Day of Shame and Repentance for America's Acts of Imperial Aggression and War-Mongering against the oppressed.

Good day to be in banking since we are one of the few businesses to be closed today. A good day also to remember those who served our nation honorably and ably over the past century, a number that shrinks daily and along with it shrinks our sense of national duty and pride. Fewer and fewer people around us every day have that sense of shared cause and shared sacrifice, and that directly results in the every increasing sense of entitlement and the culture of narcissism that infects America. This next year is going to be another tough one economically and very likely one or more of the automakers is going to disappear or go bankrupt. Our way of life is changing at lightning speed and I fear that the current population of America is not up to the challenges we face. In the past we always pulled together as a people, but today we seem more likely to point a finger of blame than we are to raise a hand to volunteer to help.

Thanks to those who served our country and I hope we can become a nation once again that is deserving of their sacrifice.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Hope? Change? Politics as usual

In the midst of a financial crisis, Obama is planning on reversing executive orders regarding stem cell research and oil & gas drilling. Wow, that is different from what we normally get from liberals.

WASHINGTON – President-elect Obama's transition chief said Sunday the incoming administration is looking to reverse President Bush's executive orders on stem cell research, oil and gas drilling and other matters.

John Podesta said the president can use such orders to move quickly without waiting for Congress to act, highlighting the extraordinary powers a president can wield beyond signing legislation approved by Congress. Podesta said people should expect Obama to use those powers to reverse many policies of the Bush administration.

"I think across the board, on stem cell research, on a number of areas, you see the Bush administration even today moving aggressively to do things that I think are probably not in the interest of the country," Podesta said in a broadcast interview.

"There's a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action, and I think we'll see the president do that," Podesta said.

President Bush has limited federal spending on stem cell research, a position championed by opponents of abortion rights. Obama has supported the research in an effort to find cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Also, the federal Bureau of Land Management is opening about 360,000 acres of public land in Utah to oil and gas drilling, leading to protests from environmentalists.

"They want to have oil and gas drilling in some of the most sensitive, fragile lands in Utah," Podesta said. "I think that's a mistake."

Brilliant. Since gas prices have dropped down, let's forget about oil drilling until the next time gas hits $4. Far better to tax the heck out of oil companies. I am sure they won't pass the cost onto consumers. The next big oil price spike could finish off the Big Three auto companies, I guess that is what he means by aiding Detroit. Just think of all the vacant office space and factory capacity when they go under.


A call for a new Reformation in the church: Headcoverings?

Let’s start with a pretty obscure question. In most evangelical churches, the notion of women covering their heads is not on the radar, not even really recognized as being an issue at all. I mean it is 2008 and we aren’t Amish, so why in the world would women in Christian churches cover their heads?

Well, because it is an explicit commandment. See 1 Corinthians 11:

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. (1 Corinthians 11:1-15)

But unlike some commandments, this one gets virtually no attention outside of some smaller denominations that many people would see as being on the fringe (Mennonites, Plymouth Brethren, etc.)

Why is there such opposition to this? It is a clear commandment, it meshes with covenant headship and the order of creation, and it isn’t a huge sacrifice for women to wear a headcovering. Let’s look at some of the objections that may come up…

Maybe the argument is that if we set this as an expectation and godly women in the church model it, it will make people uncomfortable and maybe it will be a stumbling block to unbelievers coming to church. I mean what if people come to church and see women covering their heads demurely, who wants to go there? Plus the women already at the church aren't going to want to wear headcoverings! The last thing we should do is make people get out of their comfort zones, don't you know what that does to attendance numbers and the offering!?

But is that a) true and b) a legitimate concern? The most discomforting place an unbeliever should be is in a Bible preaching church, being confronted with their sinful nature and the exclusive hope of Christ. If the Gospel is being preached from the pulpit, women wearing a head covering should be the LAST thing that sinners are discomforted by!

Well, what about arguing that women covering their heads is a cultural issue of that time and no longer relevant in these modern times? Well liberal theologians have made those arguments about all manner of doctrinal issues that most conservative churches takes as settled matters: homosexuality, marriage, divorce, etc. It is amazing how quickly some rise to the defense of prohibitions on homosexuality or cohabitation when told they are merely cultural constructs of that time, but then assume that something like women covering their heads in church is merely a cultural sign of marriage, like a wedding ring.

Or the most compelling argument, that the headcovering was a sign that a woman was married and under the headship of her husband, a symbol which is fulfilled now with a wedding ring?But there is a huge difference between an extra-Biblical tradition like the exchanging and wearing of wedding bands and the covering of a woman's head. The context is not cultural, it is covenantal.

Even after the great battle in the past decades over the inerrancy of the Bible, a battle won in the Southern Baptist Convention and clearly abandoned in more liberal, “mainline” Protestant denominations. I would suspect, and I have tested this theory, that when shown 1 Corinthians 11, many Christians shrug their shoulders, agree that it is a command but then still feel free to ignore it.

What is the point of this? To keep women in their place? Not at all. Women quite simply should wear head coverings in church because it is a commandment and it has a real theological symbolism and purpose. The greater issue and the real reason for this post is that we don’t see women wearing head coverings in church, among other issues, for two reasons: 1) It is never brought up and 2) we have capitulated to the culture.

It is never brought up because we flat out ignore a lot of Scripture because it is easier to skip over the problematic verses. You can’t do that if you preach chapter by chapter, verse by verse through a book. Anyone can preach about David, or John 3:16 or any number of other, straightforward verses. It is harder to preach about God commanding the utter destruction of a pagan people or reading about Lot getting drunk and impregnating his daughters.

We have also capitulated to the culture, to some extent in most churches and almost completely in many others. Not just in the obvious ways like we see in “seeker-sensitive” churches that everyone is always railing against. We have already capitulated to fashion and feminism. We have capitulated to fashion in that women just don’t want to wear what is proper or modest, they want to adorn themselves with what is cute and fashionable. So what if it causes brothers to stumble, makes a mockery of worship and declares God’s Word to be irrelevant in our advanced and enlightened culture. We have capitulated to feminism in that women see Biblical submission as a slight against them. Even in good, conservative, Republican voting churches feminism has a subtle influence over the women of the church. But that is not where it ends, or even the real problem. Much of what we do in a given week is driven by the pressure of tradition. Is VBS really an effective evangelism tool? Probably not, but you better still do it because we have had VBS at this church for fifty years! It is a tradition and by golly we are doing VBS until we run out of cute themes to use!

The real issue is not headcoverings, it is rebelliousness and bowing to Protestant traditions, traditions that have much of the same hold on the Christian church as they do on Papist churches. We have gone so long shuffling along doing the same thing, the same way, it becomes almost impossible to imagine that we need to do something different, especially when it is radically different. We have established some things as tradition for so long that it becomes unthinkable to do things differently and some things despite their explicit commands are ignored for the sake of expediency and a surrender to the culture. As long as we keep doing this, clinging to tradition and ignoring commandment, the local, visible church is doomed to keep muddling along looking less and less like the Bride of Christ and more and more like just another social organization. I am a member of the Rotary Club but I don't expect to find Christ there, because the church and social organizations are not the same thing. Being salt and light, becoming all things to all people is not a white flag of unconditional surrender to the winds of whim and change. If we are going to claim to be a Bible believing people, we had better start checking everything we do against the Word, and if something is contrary to the Word we need to stop and is something is in the Word and we aren't doing it, we better start.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

More on the Proposition 8 protests

This is what happens when you cross the radical homosexual movement....

Certainly the attack on the protestors was unacceptable and no doubt would be denounced by the vast majority of mormons and by their church. But the "protestors" climbing on the walls of private property, hanging up signs, vandalism. That is the mode of this movement, cries of intolerance while blocking entrance to a place of worship, jumping on police cars, graffiti.

This whole debacle should concern everyone in this country. Don't think for a second that this is an isolated incident. This is the future. Today it is the mormon temple in L.A., tomorrow it may be your church building. Today there are arrests for violence, tomorrow it may be YOU in cuffs if you speak out in opposition of the radical homosexual agenda. It is not about equality, it is about submission. Anyone who dares cross the homosexual movement becomes a target and they now have advocates in the most powerful positions in the world: the Presidency and the Speaker of the House. Be watchful Christian. Today it is the mormons in L.A. but have no doubt that the Baptist church in Des Moines and the Presbyterian church in Savannah are next.

(I wonder what would have happened if the building was a mosque instead of a mormon temple?)

(HT: Evidence Ministries)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Irony Alert!

How dare the mormon church have an opinion!

I am clearly no fan or supporter of the mormon church, but the apoplexy of the radical homosexual movement towards the mormon church deserves ridicule. How dare they have a stance on California's Proposition 8! From Fox News...

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's growing tourism industry and the star-studded Sundance Film Festival are being targeted for a boycott by bloggers, gay rights activists and others seeking to punish the Mormon church for its aggressive promotion of California's ban on gay marriage.

It could be a heavy price to pay. Tourism brings in $6 billion a year to Utah, with world-class skiing, a spectacular red rock country and the film festival founded by Robert Redford, among other popular tourist draws.

"At a fundamental level, the Utah Mormons crossed the line on this one," said gay rights activist John Aravosis, an influential blogger in Washington, D.C.

"They just took marriage away from 20,000 couples and made their children bastards," he said. "You don't do that and get away with it."

I hate to state the obvious, but they didn't "take away" anything. There was never a legitimate right in California for homosexuals to hold a ceremony and demand it be recognized as a legal marriage. It was a "right" created out of thin air by the judiciary, a "right" that was rejected by California voters.

"At this point, the Californians are the victims and the Mormons are the persecutors," he said. "We had won this until they swept in ... We need to send a message to Utah that they need to stop trying to inflict their way of life on every other state."

Uh, I hate to point this out, but the vote was held in California, not Utah. Utahans didn't get to vote in the California elections. Since when do people who exercise their democratic right to vote become "victims"? Victims of who? Themselves? I guess it is OK for out of state donations to come in to support gay "marriage" but not advocacy to defend traditional marriage. What is truly frightening is that these people probably don't even realize the extent of their hypocrisy and they will have an enormous, disproportionate voice in the Obama administration and the Democrat controlled congress. And when you start tinkering with marriage laws, you invariably cause a ripple effect that impacts other states. Why should the California judiciary get to make up a right where none exists, and then the same advocates who pushed for it become outraged and riot when the people get to cast their ballot and restore the traditional definition of marriage?

Once again we see the liberal end game, why liberalism leads to socialism which leads totalitarianism. The self-appointed elite few anoint themselves wiser and more progressive than anyone else, and when the majority of people reject their ideology, they resort to legal maneuvering, intimidation, incarceration and violence to inflict their will on others. After all, the unwashed masses can't be trusted to vote for themselves. We will tell them what to think, it is for their own good after all.

Happy Birthday!

Evangelist Billy Graham turns 90 today, and is in pretty poor health by all accounts. Much as I disagree with much of his theology, he has preached the Gospel to millions over his lifetime. He will be sorely missed when he passes. Few people have impacted religion like Billy Graham has.

When Paul Edwards bemoaned the seeming lack of new conservative Christian leaders today on his radio show today, saying that he didn't really see any out there, a caller said that he shouldn't try to see the next generation, but be the next generation. We need to get away from the rock star leader mentality and seek to be faithful wherever God has placed us. That may be in leadership in a church, or on a mission in a far away country or as a parent of little children right here in our community. We certainly need new leaders, but what we need most of all is faithful Christians who will proclaim, live and teach the Gospel.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Does this sound familiar?

When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, "Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations." But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." And Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, "Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them." (1 Samuel 8:1-9)

The people wanted a man to be king over them, a man to rule them rather than God. They wanted someone else to lead them, someone who would appeal to what they thought a ruler should look like and act like and sound like. Not God who would require sacrifice and humility. So who ended up being the king? A man who on the surface really looks like a great candidate to be king, but turns out to be a disaster.

There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people. (1 Samuel 9:1-2)

He was comely, tall and handsome. He stood out in the crowd. People probably naturally liked him. But he was sent to these people not as a blessing, but a reproach to those who sought to throw off the lordship of God for a human leader. Saul turns out to be not so great a king. Just ask David! He became paranoid, crazed, he worshipped God in unauthorized ways and eventually he and his sons died, Saul by suicide.

It is reported that a large percentage of so-called evangelicals rejected their King and voted for a man who suited them better. Could it be that the man elected over us has been sovereignly placed over us as a reproach instead of a blessing?

Very exciting news!

The complete collection of John MacArthur's sermon audio is now available, free of charge, on the Grace To You website. You can check them out here.

Dr. MacArthur is a blessing to the church and his preaching, while not flashy by today's standards, is rock-solid, verse by verse, chapter by chapter exposition.

For shame

Something is going to happen this year that has never happened in my lifetime. For the first time since 1967, the University of Michigan football team will end the season with a losing record. In 1967, Bump Elliot was the coach. Now we have the shady Rich Rodriguez running the show and after one season, not many people are impressed.

I am glad Bo is not around to see this.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Welcome to Obamanation

As expected, Barack Obama has been elected President of the United States. The first black President, indeed the first non-white male president in our nations history. He is also one of the most far left men politically to hold the Presidency. As incompetent as the McCain campaign was, and as complicit in the victory as the mainstream media was, Senator Obama ran a great campaign. Always focused, always seizing the initiative, driving the conversation, staying on message. It was a nearly perfectly run campaign, kudos to Senator Obama and his staff (plus keeping Joe Biden from saying anything stupid!)

The good news? It looks like the GOP will maintain enough seats in the Senate to be able to block and force negotiations on the far left agenda that is coming to America. That may help to blunt some of the "change" Obama is going to inflict on America and damper some of his enthusiasm for nominating far left judges.

More "good news"? As big as Obama's win was, it pales in comparison to Reagan's wins and the map shows that this country is still highly divided. The country is not unified around Obama like it was unified around Reagan.

More good news, this will give conservatives some time to think over what went wrong. In a nutshell, conservatives complained about liberalism for decades and then when the people voted them to in change things, they started acted like big government liberals

Conservatives are back in the political wilderness where we haven't been since the late 70's, but out of that era came Ronald Reagan and a new, resurgent unapologetic conservatism. We have had a GOP president for 20 of the last 28 years. Let's hope that Obama is a one term reminder of why liberalism doesn't work. It will be interesting to see how conservatism reacts, and whether we set aside our minor differences to start working on retaking the Congress and removing Obama from office in four years. That work starts right now.

Unlike liberals, who at their heart hate America and what she stands for, conservatives love this country. We will not threaten to move to Canada like petulant children pouting over a loss. We got what we deserved, and now it is time to start working to win the trust of the American people back and remind them that socialism doesn't work. It didn't work in the Soviet Union, it doesn't work in Cuba, China or North Korea and it will not work here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What we are seeing tonight

Not to take anything away from Obama, who ran a very disciplined campaign and should be commended, but the message tonight in many ways is one of a failure by conservatives to...

a) present a coherent case for conservatism

b) show why conservatives in government govern differently from liberals

The next few days and even months will be a time of introspection, and what comes from that will determine whether Obama '08 is an aberration or a sign of a long-term change.

An encouraging blog

Like most parents, I often despair for the current generation of young people. Especially those growing up in the church, who often seem to be little different from the rest of the world. That is why blogs like A Quill and Inkwell are encouraging. Written by a young woman from a homeschooling family we know from Northern Michigan, the author has a wonderfully refreshing view on being a young woman in a world that sees them as commodities to be used, consumers to be sold. I commend it to anyone, but especially those who have daughters (and sons!) who are ages ten and up and are facing a world where living for God is something to be mocked. I will encourage my daughters to read and perhaps interact, for edification and encouragement.

Go Vote? Stay Home!

We often hear of a civic duty to vote, get out and vote is the mantra. But really, if you haven’t bothered to really figure out why you are voting for the person you are pulling the lever for, I have a counter-culture statement: STAY HOME!

If you are voting for McCain because you can’t stand the thought of a black man being President, stay home!

If you are voting for McCain because James Dobson says so, stay home!

If you are voting for McCain because he was a POW, stay home!

If you are voting for Barack Obama because he is black, stay home!

If you are voting for Obama because your union says so, stay home!

If you are voting for Obama because he has promised hope and change, stay home!

If you are voting for Ralph Nader or, heaven forbid, Cynthia McKinney for any reason, please, please, please stay home!

Voting is indeed a civic duty, but being an informed voter is part of the equation. If you can’t bother to read up on the candidates and the issues, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Good news for my daughters, not so good for my sons

Study: Attractive Dads Make Ugly Sons, Beautiful Daughters

Beautiful women like Jennifer Lopez and Angelina Jolie can thank their fathers for their good looks, according to a study from the University of St. Andrews in England.

The study found that while attractive dads pass on their good looks to daughters, the sons aren’t quite so lucky, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Professors David Perrett and Elisabeth Cornwell, of University of St. Andrews, said a mother’s beauty makes no difference to her adult sons.

For the study, which is published in the journal Animal Behavior, Perrett and Cornwell studied students’ family photo albums and collected more than 100 photos of females and 100 photos of males and their parents over the years.

The photos were judged separately for attractiveness and femininity or masculinity.

Perrett said it has previously been suggested that a woman could increase her reproductive success by choosing a "sexy" mate, but his study contradicts that theory.

"We checked to see if male and female facial traits are inherited,” he said. “For the male line, we find that facial masculinity conforms to the rule 'like father, like son.’ Masculine dads have masculine sons. But we did not find any evidence that facial attractiveness is passed from father to son.”

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A call for a new Reformation in the church


Main Entry: Ka·bu·ki
Pronunciation: \kə-ˈbü-kē, ˈkä-bü-(ˌ)kē\
Function: noun
Etymology: Japanese
Date: 1899

: traditional Japanese popular drama performed with highly stylized singing and dancing

It would seem sadly fitting that 491 years after that day in Wittenberg, Germany we find the church in such dire straits. A lot of what passes for “Christianity” today is gross heresy because the Gospel is watered down to make it less offensive to sinners, and as such it becomes “another gospel” and as such is declared anathema by Paul in his letter to the Galatians. But much of what is declared to be appropriate in “Bible believing”, orthodox churches is little more than a carefully choreographed and stylized dance, with actors who know their roles and carry them out as expected, saying the right thing, looking the right way. Even the churches that are admired as being paragons of "Reformation" thinking are seemingly content to carry on the dance, comfortable that what they are doing is the right thing: Sunday worship=Sunday school+1 hour of singing and preaching+maybe a Sunday evening sermon for an hour.

So what should the church look like? The model now is to dutifully show up on Sunday morning, an hour early for Sunday school if you are especially devout. You sit in your pew, stand up when told to stand up, sit down when told to sit down, drop your check or cash (or pass it on) when the offering plate comes, listen to the announcements, sing a couple of songs when the choir isn’t performing, listening to a sermon for 20-45 minutes and then heading out after the closing prayer. It is highly regulated, the same every week and does very little to foster a “love one another” atmosphere. I have often said in response to the “just love Jesus” crowd, how can you love Him if you don’t have any idea who He is? In the same vein, how can we love one another if we don’t know one another? Church is designed now for us to receive, we listen in Sunday school, we listen to the choir, we listen to the prayer, we listen to the sermon. It is very comfortable and very easy to be anonymous. It is also pretty easy to not get to know anyone, especially as the church gets bigger.

Men like Michael Horton, who is someone who I admire and appreciate for his knowledge and ability to communicate, still buy into the notion that the church is fine in its present form, we just need to modify what is being taught. According to Horton and company on the White Horse Inn, what makes a church a “True Church” is the Word rightly preached and the sacraments rightly administered. Umm, what about Christians? If you have a guy faithfully preaching and passing the wine and bread to a room full of unbelievers, is that a church? Isn’t the church the assembling of the body of Christ under the Word? The focus is not on a faithful preacher, is it? As long as we stay in the church sandbox, we just need the right order of worship, the right exegesis, the right observance of the sacraments. I am a big advocate of deeper study, of expository, verse by verse, chapter by chapter Bible preaching that links one Sunday sermon to the next. But is that all that we need?

As I was watching Luther with my friend James last night, it struck me that when you look at Luther and read his 95 Theses, what Luther was trying to do was reform the church within the framework the church had created. Given the circumstances that is understandable. But we haven't gone much beyond that in the intervening 491 years. We are still content to tinker around in the sandbox, moving the shovel over here and the pail over there.

The need for a fresh reformation is not limited to the egregious false gospel preached in emergent churches or in far left liberal “mainline” Protestantism. It is also found in many of the most “conservative” churches, churches that pride themselves on fidelity to Word and creed and confession, who wear the mantle of “Reformed” like a superhero cape.

This need for reformation goes beyond how we preach, or what music we sing, or the programs we run. It is not about tweaking around the edges, tinkering with the basic model. It goes to how we view the church and how, or if, we get beyond the model of the vast majority of churches. Semper reformanda should not be about returning to the 1950's. Or even the 1600's. Our source should always be the Word of God. Being "Reformed" is not a declaration that we subscribe to this Reformed confession or that creed, but that we seek God's will in the church, in our teaching and preaching, in our prayers, in our worship, in our lives.

So who am I to make such a grandiose, sweeping declaration? What of all the more learned men in the church, shouldn’t they get to decide how the church is run? I should maybe just be quiet and go about my business. Maybe not. I am hardly a modern day Martin Luther, or even a modern day Ulrich Zwingli! I haven’t exactly done a really good job of leading in the church in the past so what business do I have in declaring a need for an overhaul of how we “do church” in America especially but throughout Christendom? I am nobody I guess, but I am one of His sheep and thanks to men like Martin Luther and William Tyndale I can read His Word and because of that and because I love His church, I am concerned. That concern drives me to speak out, not out of anger or out of arrogance but out of fear. Fear that we are worshipping a jealous, holy God in a way that suits us instead of glorifying Him.

I do not have an end-result in mind, a preordained conclusion. I am not calling for the wholesale abandonment of the church, the "steeple house" in favor of so-called "house churches". But I am similarly not content to just muddle through like we are, tinkering around in the sandbox unafraid or unconcerned with why we do what we do because that is just how we have always done it. But I want to think out loud on this public forum, to express what my thoughts are and to encourage constructive conversation and even rebuke if needed. I want to examine every aspect of the church as it exists today, not just in this external or that, but in everything we do, including some of the most cherished traditions we hold.

This is very important to express up front. My intent is not to slander any of the multitude of godly men who lead our churches today, or the people who attend and serve, or the men raised up by God in the past upon whose shoulders we stand. This thought process is NOT an indictment of any church I have, am or will attend or any individual who I have been taught by, sat under the preaching of, or even anyone who has sat under my teaching or preaching. But the human heart, whether mine or Calvin’s or John MacArthur’s, tends to wander like the sheep we are. We need constant reflection in the mirror of Scripture to see if what we are doing is worship authorized by God or if it is strange fire. That is my intent, and that is my only intent. I invite you to think and pray and study along with me, and see where it leads.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

More adventures in public education

How can our poor kids miss out on stuff like this?

School Clams Up on 'Gay' Pledge Cards Given to Kindergartners

A California school system refuses to say what action, if any, it will take after it received complaints about a kindergarten teacher who encouraged her students to sign "pledge cards" in support of gays.

During a celebration of National Ally Week, Tara Miller, a teacher at the Faith Ringgold School of Arts and Science in Hayward, Calif., passed out cards produced by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to her class of kindergartners.

The cards asked signers to be "an ally" and to pledge to "not use anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) language or slurs; intervene, when I feel I can, in situations where others are using anti-LGBT language or harassing other students and actively support safer schools efforts."

The school has acknowledged that the exercise was not appropriate for kindergartners.

Parent Adela Voelker, who declined to be interviewed in depth for this report, said she was furious when she found her child's signature on one of the cards. She said she contacted a non-profit legal defense organization specializing in parents' rights.

It is not about education, it is about indoctrination. It is about separating the child from the parent, so they can be filled with a more "enlightened", "open-minded" worldview and reject the closed minded views of parents. Public education, at it's core, is not about teaching children to think, it is about developing children who think a certain way. If parents won't teach them to think properly, the education establishment will do all it can to get their ideological hooks into kids earlier, deeper and keep those hooks in later. That is what is behind the universal preschool, universal college movement.