Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Favorite Poem

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

On Blogging, On Again--Off Again, and 2008

I am returning to the classroom fulltime, teaching Religion, History, Theology and Bible courses this semester. I'm looking forward to it in a variety of ways. I know I'll be busy, but at least I won't be busy with 3 and 4 jobs -- just with two!

I know my efforts have been on-again off-again, but I hope to post a bit more consistently in the coming new year. As far as plans about coming posts, I can't say I have a bunch set in stone -- but I can pretty much gaurantee you'll see several historic commentaries on the documents which I treasure the most in declaring and explaining my own theology and doctrinal foundation. I am also certain that, with the quickly approaching Presidential Primary in South Carolina in this national election year, I'll have plenty to say rather soon on politics.

In case anyone reading this doesn't know -- Jesus loves you. Jesus died for you. Jesus was raised from the dead, and through faith you may receive the gift of eternal life in Him. Nothing that I am, have been, or will be, would matter apart from that truth. Whether or not you acknowledge this reality, it is no less as true for you. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the fullness of the Godhead veiled in flesh, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.... And apart from Him, no one is justified, and no trespass is forgiven.

In the new year, I hope, trust and pray that His light will shine through me -- that others may see Him, and that they may come to the truth of salvation.

Blessings for this coming New Year -- and I will post more soon!


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Calvary Chapel and Rick Warren -- "Parting Ways"

I was unaware that Calvary Chapel had recently stopped distributing Rick Warren's written materials through their churches, and Chuck Smith has recalled one of his books that cited Warren favorably in the past. You can read about it from the perspective of an "apologist" within the Calvary Chapel movement here:

I find this disheartening. While I certainly don't agree with all that Warren has done in recent years, I don't believe ecclesiatical separation is warranted in this case. Who does Chuck Smith think he is. Bob Jones III? Is the Calvary Chapel movement becoming a fighting "Fundamentalist" fellowship?

Was there no way for Warren and Smith to meet together behind closed doors and iron out their differences or find a way to agree to disagree agreeably?

Or, is it the fact that Warren's Purpose Driven Life has outsold all of Chuck's books put together that is motivating this?

It's another sad -- and unnecessary -- fracture in the Body....

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Did You Wonder Where North Korea's Nukes Went?


Latest Update 09.12.07, 14:21

Report: Israel spots nuclear installations in Syria

Washington official says Israeli surveillance shows possible Syrian nuclear installation stocked by North Korea, Israeli Arab newspaper claims target of alleged raid last week was Syrian missile base financed by Iran.

Israel believes that North Korea has been supplying Syria and Iran with nuclear materials, a Washington defense official told the New York Times. “The Israelis think North Korea is selling to Iran and Syria what little they have left,” he said.

The official added that recent Israeli reconnaissance flights over Syria revealed possible nuclear installations that Israeli officials estimate might have been supplied with material from North Korea.

Meanwhile on Wednesday the Nazareth-based Israeli Arab newspaper The Assennara cited anonymous Israeli sources as saying that Israeli jets "bombed a Syrian-Iranian missile base in northern Syria that was financed by Iran... It appears that the base was completely destroyed."

According to the Times, American officials confirmed Tuesday that Israeli jets launched an airstrike inside Syria. Sources said that Israel struck at least one target in northeastern Syria, but could not provide more details.

The most likely target was, according to some administration officials, weapon caches sent by Iran to Hizbullah through Syria.

North Korea commented on the incident Tuesday, calling it a "dangerous provocation", Chinese News Agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday

"This is a very dangerous provocation little short of wantonly violating the sovereignty of Syria and seriously harassing the regional peace and security," a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

"The Democratic People's Republic of Korea strongly denounces the above-said intrusion and extends full support and solidarity to the Syrian people in their just cause to defend the national security and the regional peace."

Perhaps it's my cynical nature, developed over long years of naive optimism and hoping against hope, only to witness the continual failures and perpetual depravity of human beings.

Still, when I heard the Bush Administration announce that the North Koreans were, out of the blue, surrendering their nuclear weapons, I thought they might have really found a way to gain leverage over the insane clown and his posse that run the Communist utopia we call "North Korea." Or, I thought, maybe the Communist Chinese, who hold their leash, had yanked it for some kind of sweet American economic deal. Wrong. Now the end of the NK nukes makes perfect sense -- the pieces have all fallen into place.

The insane clown leader of NK is quite brilliant. He can run circles around American Presidents evidently. Look at what he managed to do. First, he couldn't maintain a nuclear weapons facility nor build more weapons -- his people are starving by the hundred's of thousands, and the nation is so broke that declaring bankruptcy would be an improvment. Second, they are under horrendous diplomatic pressure -- even by their leash-holders the ChiComs -- to stop their rebellious and irritating role as troublemakers. Third, the resulting economic sanctions only multiplied their suffering.

So, what's the solution? Here's the neat plan Pot-bellied dictator Kim Jong-Il cooked up.

(1) Sell all nuclear secrets and supplies to oil rich Iran and their allies (Syria) -- make lots of money. (2) Declare to the gullible Western powers that you are destroying said weapons -- thus alleviating or ending economic sanctions and boycotts -- makes a lot MORE money. (3) Get the Masters in China off your back so they will send more aid. (4) Reconnect Kim to his Western suppliers of porn and liquor.

This plan is genius -- really. Kim makes tons of cash coming and going -- selling to our enemies and selling us on the "I'm going straight" lie. China is happy because NK isn't being a pain and crimping their style. The West gets snookered -- again. All is right with the Red world -- And with the Islamofascist world. The Jewish and Christian West, however, might be facing the end of their world. So much the better for Kim. So Much the better.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Response to Leonard Pitts' Column "Six Years to Here"

Leonard Pitts column “Six Years to Here” (September 10, 2007) demonstrates clearly that there is no resolve six years after the 9/11 attacks. But he tries to make the case that the resolve, once strong, has disappeared. Many of us have too late realized that the “resolve” Pitts speaks of never really existed.

The “telling difference” Pitts refers to between 9/11/01 and 12/7/41 does in fact have to do with a “political machine” that has “duped the nation,” but it isn’t the Bush Administration. Consider that:

Six years ago, Democrats voted to empower President Bush to prosecute the War on Terrorism “anywhere the terrorists were;”

Six years ago, Democrats recognized the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, even insisting on a Congressional vote to authorize military action in 2003 though it was legally unnecessary;

Six years ago, Democrats voted overwhelmingly with Republicans to authorize the Patriot Act to help our intelligence services be able to detect enemy threats before they produced more 9/11’s;

Six years ago, Democrats joined hands with Republicans and sang “God Bless America” on the Capitol steps;


In the last five years, the chief aim of Democrats has been to win back their power, not to win the War on Terrorism;

In the last five years, Democrats have revised history, claiming “there is no war on terrorism;” or that there “is no connection between Iraq and the War on Terrorism,” though they originally made the connection themselves;

In the last five years, Democrats have attempted to give constitutional rights to enemy combatants, while attempting to prosecute our military personnel in the execution of their duties to wage war;

In the last five years, Democrats have tried to undermine every step to secure our homeland from our enemies, chipping away at top secret programs or divulging them publicly to our enemies through the media;

In the last five years, one party is winning elections, while attempting to assure that our nation is losing the war, never missing a chance to undercut the War Effort for political gain and claiming to “support the troops” but not “the mission.”

Yes indeed, some of us Americans were duped. We believed that Liberals would finally recognize that there were evil people in the world who wanted to kill us, and they wanted to fight them. We believed that our survival as a nation was now more important to them than the next election. We believed we could count on their standing beside us in the fight. We believed the illusion. We bought the act.

My Dad, in the aftermath of Vietnam, once said, “Pray the Democrats aren’t on your side in the next real war.” His words were prophetic.

J. Dale Weaver, M. Div.

Friday, September 07, 2007

On Mutants, Medical Ethics and Reality

September 6, 2007 -- BRITAIN'S fertility regulator decided in principle today to allow scientists to create human-animal hybrid embryos for research.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) gave the go-ahead to controversial plans to create “cytoplasmic” embryos, which merge human cells with eggs from animals such as cattle.

Applications to proceed from researchers at Newcastle University in northeast England and King's College London can now be appraised by a licence committee in November.

Scientists argue such research could pave the way for therapies for diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

An HFEA consultation found that people were “at ease” with the proposals once the possible implications had been explained.....

The...embryos are therefore mostly human, with a small animal component.

Stem cells, which can grow into different kinds of tissue, are then formed.

The embryos could give researchers a large supply of stem cells to work with.

Scientists have had to rely on human eggs left over from fertility treatment, which are in short supply and often poor quality.

When I first heard this story, I asked myself the question, 'are they talking about England, or the Island of Dr. Moreau?'

That was a great -- and horrifying -- movie of my childhood starting Burt Lancaster as the "evil Doctor" who spliced the genes -- or genetically engineered -- crosses between men and animals. Without giving the end away, lets just say his experiments went awry as men became more like animals, and the poor animals became more like men. It was not only a movie nightmare, it was a moral nightmare.

So to will be these experiments approved by the British "fertility regulator" -- as if having a government office by that title isn't already sinister enough. Ostensibly, these "scientists" are hoping to "create" just enough life in these embryo's to engineer cures for diseases, the long promised miracle cures that they can never quite seem to perfect.

Of course, medical science and technology have made great strides in curing diseases and aiding those who suffer from various illnesses. Until recent decades, however, Medicine had a longstanding tradition all the way back to the Hippocratic Oath to "first, do no harm." Now, in the name of progress, with a promise of cures to the desparate and the frightened, they have jettisoned such moral notions. What could be more noble than surrendering your morality on your way to becoming a god?

The implications of these "experiments" go far deeper than the arrogance of "scientists" or the devaluing of human life. How long before human embryos become valuable commodities for sale to the highest bidder, and abortion becomes the means by which these "embryo's" are harvested for "special research?" Oops, some of that is already happening. How long before some "Dr. Moreau" decides that a Man-Cow hybrid, or Man-Dog, or Woman-Cat, or another cross-species amalgamation could prove lucrative as his own creation, or perhaps helpful as a servant in various mundane chores and tasks which other "full breed" humans just won't do?

These scientists are about to open a pandora's box as did Dr. Moreau on his fictional island. The results at the very least will further muddle the unique role of humans in the Creation, as well as cheapen the value of human lives. And perhaps worst of all, from the perspective of an animal lover, it would infuse those poor instictually driven beasts with something that to now has only belonged to humanity -- a fallen nature, a soul bent toward evil. If such a creature could have a soul at all.

The dangers are immense in this kind of foolish pursuit. It will become another "Tower of Babel" which must be struck down, for the sake of the very men who build it. For if it is not, our very noble "creations" could become the instruments of our destruction.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

On Gandalf, God's Word and Reality

"British Actor Ian McKellen who has used the mega-stardom he achieved playing Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings films to promote homosexuality, has admitted to ripping out pages of hotel bibles that refer to homosexuality.

In an August 10 interview on New Zealand's TV1 Close Up program McKellen was confronted by the interviewer questioning the truth of the rumour "He's the one, that when he stays in hotels rips the part of the bible out that criticizes homosexuality."

"Yes it is true," responded McKellen it's even tones. "Its Leviticus 18:22 that I object to, or is it 22:18, I've always got to look it up. Thou shalt not lie with a man as with a woman, it is an abomination. And they, I think the punishment for an abomination was being stoned to death," he said.

McKellen added, "I think it's rather obscene and pornographic, and shouldn't be there, so I remove it."

Asked how many bibles he has vandalized, McKellen replied, "I have no idea, but other people do it as well, people send me evidence that they have been removing that."

McKellen has been vandalizing bibles in the same fashion for at least a few years...."

(c) Copyright: Permission to republish is granted (with limitation*) but acknowledgement of source is *REQUIRED* (use

Gandalf has spoken. I've never been a Tolkein fan, and I didn't see any of the Lord of the Rings movies. C.S. Lewis and Narnia are more my speed. I'd heard before the movies were released, however, that Ian McKellan was homosexual, and it struck me as fascinating and quite ironic that so outspoken an individual about his "alternative" sexual proclivities could play such a moral and prominent character in a movie by a man who clearly saw his lifestyle as aberrant and unnatural. Tolkein would not have been pleased.

That's neither here nor there though. That McKellan has destroyed multiple copies of the Scriptures -- probably placed there by good people through the ministry of the Gideons -- is important though. That he defaces something not belonging to him, and in which he doesn't even believe, is telling. What has he to fear from it? It's not like a bunch of Bible-toters are coming to lynch him or burn him at the stake. It's just words on a page -- if his view of the world is right.

This story brought to mind an interesting Old Testament story, found in Jeremiah 36:14-16;20-21;23-24;27,28,30,31. I commend it to your reading -- and to Mr. McKellan's:

"Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, unto Baruch, saying, Take in thine hand the roll wherein thou hast read in the ears of the people, and come. So Baruch the son of Neriah took the roll in his hand, and came unto them.

And they said unto him, Sit down now, and read it in our ears. So Baruch read [it] in their ears.

Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words, they were afraid both one and other, and said unto Baruch, We will surely tell the king of all these words....

And they went in to the king into the court, but they laid up the roll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the ears of the king.

So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe's chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king.

And it came to pass, [that] when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast [it] into the fire that [was] on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that [was] on the hearth.

Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, [neither] the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words....

Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying,

Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned....

Therefore thus saith the LORD of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost.

And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not."

Ian McKellan should know that Voltaire declared during his lifetime the Bible would cease to be of interest and Christianity would die out. One hundred years later, Voltaire was in the ground and Bibles were being printed on his presses, in his former home. Talented people, brilliant minds, have come and gone, but the Bible continues on.

King Jehoiakim took an penknife and cut out the parts of the Bible he didn't like, just as did Mr. McKellan. He burned it. Thought it was "obsence" and "pornographic" I imagine. Jehoakim was killed by the Babylonians a few years later. But the Words of God were fulfilled.

You may cut up the words on the page, Mr. McKellan, but that doesn't negate their truth, nor will it keep them from coming to pass.

Monday, September 03, 2007

On Mother Teresa, Doubts and Reality

I'm not the judge of any man -- or woman. That's not my job. I also never met Mother Teresa, nor did I know much more than the of basics of her story -- just like everyone else that watched the news while she was alive, or just following her death.

That little nun, from my perspective, however, lived a more truly Christian life than many leaders in large churches and denominations that I DO know. Yet, recently, the news media has trumpeted the fact that Mother Teresa, great and faithful Christian humanitarian, struggled with doubt and despair much of her life as a devout nun. The agenda of the media, of course, is to discredit faith -- the Christian faith in particular. For such a perceived champion of that faith to suffer doubt, to them, accomplishes their [evil] mission.

Maybe believers should "reframe" this issue, though. A proper understanding of Mother Teresa's context might help. This woman who had dedicated her entire life to the aid and help of the poorest and most disenfranchised in Hindu India, saw thousands, perhaps millions over her lifetime, of suffering, sick, starving outcasts. She nursed them to health in some cases, and watched them die in many others. She often held their hands, or hugged them to her, as they drew their last breaths. Her world was filled with hard realities: with filth, anguish, failure, demonism and inhumanity.

So, why shouldn't she see God in all that, right? God must have been all over that place! He hangs around in the presence of the poor and suffering, after all.....right?

You know, Mother Teresa may not have truly been a believer. I (nor anyone else) knows the heart of another at its core. And, obviously, there are always issues of the nature of Catholic doctrine and dogma. Catholic tradition can obscure Biblical truth from many Catholics. No doubt about that (I know, spoken like a true Protestant).

But I lean toward another idea of why Mother Teresa was plagued by doubts and despair. Remember all the suffering and death Mother Teresa saw? All the horrendous and deplorable conditions she ministered in? All the hordes of pitiful humanity for whom she attempted to care? Mother Teresa seemed never to see Jesus there, in her words. "Where is He," she would ask.

He was there. All the time, and Mother Teresa was either blinded to His presence -- or too humble to be aware of it. Jesus was there...In Mother Teresa. Even when she felt the most despair, as though Jesus had deserted her -- to the point that she cried out, "if there be a God forgive me!" -- Mother Teresa never quit. She kept ministering, giving, loving, feeding... That was not the weak, poor nun wandering the streets of Calcutta. It was Jesus -- in her. Through her? It was Jesus.

I don't pretend to know Mother Teresa's spiritual condition. I do know a picture of what it means to suffer for Christ. Mother Teresa is such a picture. She suffered for others. She was in anguish spiritually as she interceded on behalf of those souls in the gutters of Calcutta. Her spirit was impoverished that those she touched might have a chance to experience God's riches in Christ Jesus.

No, I don't know Mother Teresa's eternity, but I hope and pray that I can go to my eternity and face God having been a fraction of the example of Christian virtue that she was. Doubt like hers doesn't prove lack of faith -- persistence in the face of such doubt in fact proves the truth of faith. And in light of that, Mother Teresa may just be the "patron saint" of the doubting and despairing.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

On Prayer, John Edwards, and Reality

JOHN EDWARDS: "I have prayed most of my life; pray daily now. He's (God) enormously important to me.

But the answer to the question is: No, I don't – I prayed before my 16-year-old son died; I prayed before Elizabeth was diagnosed with cancer. I think there are some things that are beyond our control.

And I think it is enormously important to look to God — and, in my case, Christ — for guidance and for wisdom. But I don't think you can prevent bad things from happening through prayer."

In a recent Democrat Party debate, the question was asked “Do you believe in a personal God?” and “Do you believe that prayer changes things?”

I have no problem disagreeing with John Edwards on any number of levels. And at first blush, it might seem there are plenty of things to criticize in his statement that prayer can’t “prevent bad things from happening.” Isn’t God able to do anything? Isn’t God all powerful? Doesn’t Scripture say if we ask anything in Jesus’ name, that it will be done? How could Edwards have said that?

It’s true, all that is in the Bible – though it’s often misunderstood or misapplied. And I really hate this, but I generally find myself agreeing with John Edwards on this one.

We live in a society of instant gratification today. We live in a culture of materialism, pleasure, self-centeredness and a delusional belief that we can somehow avoid life’s hardships. This has certainly bled over into our religious thinking. The clearest avenue of this thinking is the “Word of Faith” movement, a strain of Charismatic (Neo-Pentecostalism) Protestantism that teaches “name it and claim it.” You know the examples – “In the name of Jesus, I claim a new Mercedes Benz!” “In the name of Jesus, I believe God for a million dollars.” The mere fact that not everyone who makes these “claims” at some point becomes disillusioned is the most benign result of this error.

What if you’ve got a parent whose child in dying of cancer, and on the deathbed they cry out to God, “In the name of Jesus, my child is healed!”

Let me hasten to add that I believe God can and DOES intervene in miraculous ways at times. I’ve seen diseases healed, the sick made whole. That God CAN do it is not the issue. That we can demand God do it – THAT is the issue. In this age of “have it now the way I want it” faith consigns God to the status of Cosmic Bellhop. God is our gopher, He is our errand-boy, our lives are about our joy, our satisfaction, our comfort….

But sometimes, God in His Sovereign knowledge and will knows more than we do, sees more than we can comprehend, and allows things that we would consider cruel, evil, painful, and at odds with His very nature of Love.

Even Jesus Himself said, “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45b). Are we so righteous that we can somehow avoid the rain that falls on everyone else? Are we so exalted above other men that we cannot be touched by the pain of real human life? And if we do suffer tragedies, losses, grief and other trials, does that mean somehow that we haven’t the faith that would move God to “spring us?”

The Apostle Paul wrote in Hebrews about many of the faithful saints who had followed God in prior ages. Many were miraculously delivered, empowered and emboldened to achieve victory, to conquer, to stand against all the fury of Satan and his minions. But many others fell to the swords, lived miserably, and died horribly. Were those who were victorious in the world any more deserving or faithful than those who suffered so greatly? Read this passage:

And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and [of] Barak, and [of] Samson, and [of] Jephthae; [of] David also, and Samuel, and [of] the prophets:

Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:

They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth.

And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect (Hebrews 11:32-40).

SOME “through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises stopped the mouths of lions…OTHERS had trial of [cruel] mocking and scourging…Bonds of imprisonment…were stoned…sawn asunder, tempted, slain…. And these ALL, having obtained a GOOD REPORT through FAITH…

Suffering doesn’t necessarily imply failure or lack of faith. Sometimes, it’s quite the contrary.

Several years ago I went through the toughest period of my life. During that time, I thought about changing my name to Murphy because I was living by his law every day. I prayed more than I ever had before. I pleaded with God to rectify the situation, to intercede on my behalf, to rescue me, to protect me, to deliver me from my enemies… From my perspective then, He did not.

A year or so ago, God revealed to me that during that time, what I could do in those circumstances was not important to Him – but that what He could do IN ME through those circumstances WAS important to Him. I wasn’t God’s gift to anything – those circumstances were His gift to me, to make me what He wants, to conform me to His image.

I’ve never quite been able to thank God for those problems, but I know now that they had a purpose in His plan. John Edwards has a point on this score – prayer CAN bring miracles, but most often it doesn’t. Instead, it serves to prepare us for the consequences of tragedies and failures, and becomes the base for the recovery that we can enjoy in Him. In short, prayer is more about changing ME than about changing my circumstances.

Pray. Believe. Then accept that God knows best, because He knows all – and move on from there in His strength. After all, His strength is ALL we really have.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Visit To Mepkin Abbey

On Tuesday, August 14th, while I was on vacation in Charleston, SC, I rode out to Mepkin Abbey in the coutryside along the Cooper River near Moncks Corner. And, when I say "countryside," I MEAN countryside. If the Trappist Brothers had wanted to find a more remote place on the Eastern Seaboard, they would have been hard pressed.

I went to Mepkin for a number of reasons. First, as a teacher of religion, I wanted to acquaint myself with the monastic life of Catholic monks. Second, the monastic life of solitude has always had an appeal to me. Third, I'd never been there in the more than 12 years I've lived in SC.

When I initially drove in, down a long lane under a canopy of moss covered, 250 year old Oak trees, I saw a little fawn off to my left, loping slowly into the nearby woods. Wow. Not that I think that was a sign from God, but the natural beauty and peace of the landscape certainly brought me a feeling of comfort and rest.

I had the opportunity to tour some of the 3,200 acres that has belonged to the Cistertian order since it was given to them by Henry and Clare Booth Luce in 1949. Of course, much of the property is reserved for the Monks only and is off limits. But the Docent was very open and answered a plethora of questions from the dozen or so of us in the tour party. The tour lasted about an hour, and we had the opportunity to attend the noon prayer service in the Abbey Church -- one of the seven times of prayer the monks observe daily between their 3 AM rising and their 8 PM bedtime. Of course, we were seated in a small gallery to observe, not participate. There were, however, both male and female "retreatants" there who did participate. They stay from a few days to a period of months in some cases, and they don't have to be Catholics -- though to be a monk, of course, one DOES have to be Catholic.

I picked up some great books and CD's at the small Abbey bookstore. A couple of small books by the late Thomas Merton, one of my favorite devotional writers. I also picked up an official copy of The Rule of St. Benedict. Good stuff, and the basis upon which these monks base almost every practice of their lifestyle. I also picked up a CD of Gregorian Chants and a couple of CD's of Russian Orthodox choirs doing the traditional deep, rich acapella vocals they are so well known for. I don't understand a word. I do sense the power.

Which brings me to the questions that my time at Mepkin Abbey left me with. The most personal question that occurred to me was, though I would love the solitude of a life in Mepkin, could I deal with the relative isolation from the outside world? And, with all the silence and solitude, would the absence of the busyness of my life drive me insane in about 10 minutes? And here's a big issue for me -- could I stand the daily grind -- rising at 3 AM, praying at the same time, reciting the same prayers and chants seven times a day, to bed before dark in the summer at 8 PM...? Could I be that disciplined?

I suppose those who feel called to that lifestyle are enabled to live that life. I can't imagine myself being able to do it. Still, there is that lure, that appeal that such a peaceful and prayerful unhindered communion with God offers....

I'm not a Catholic. I haven't converted. I am still as Protestant as I ever was. Sometimes though, I think Protestants "threw out the baby with the bathwater." Protestants have largely forgotten much of the history of the church -- especially prior to the Reformation. We've also thrown out much of the devotional character and practice that eventually gave birth to Protestantism -- or at least provided the groundwork. I got in touch with some of that Spirit at Mepkin Abbey -- and for that I am thankful and much better off -- at least for a time.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Visit To Seacoast Church

This past Sunday, August 12, I had the opportunity to attend Seacoast Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC.

Seacoast is a multi-campus Evangelical Church, affiliated with the Association of Related Churches [ARC]. They are generally "non-denominational," though ARC looks more and more like a denomination if you read their literature. One can say, however, that ARC is making an impact -- a nice change compared to the vast majority of churches these days.

I didn't know it, but Greg Surratt, founder of Seacoast Church some 20 years ago, and still the presiding "Pastor" of the multiple campuses in three states (SC, NC, GA) was speaking that morning. He preached a very good message in "Noah's Ark," from the first verses of Genesis 6.

I was pleasantly surprised by his direct teaching of the Scripture as truth, and his willingness to explore different interpretations of the text while upholding its inspiration and accuracy. With the so-called "generous orthodoxy" of our days in the "emerging church," and the compromise from many quarters in what still passes for "evangelicalism," Surratt's dedication to orthodoxy was refreshing and reassuring.

I went to the 8 AM service, which was well attended -- over 200 maybe? I'm not a good judge of crowd size... There were two more services - one at 9:30 and another at 11 AM. The early service was contemporary, but stripped down, held in the chapel, acoustic music. At the end of the message, there was a time of "invitation" or dedication, followed by a somewhat "casual" observance of Communion. I didn't get to ask questions, but I wonder if they observe Communion after every service...? NOT that there's anything wrong with that!

When I got back to my vacation condo and was reading the Sunday paper, lo and behold, an article about Seacoast Church. Last week, it was named among the top 10 most effective/influential churches in America. From my visit to their service, and the message of Greg Surratt, I can see why.

My prayer is that they stay founded on the truth and focused of the mission. I wish them blessings and success.


Monday, July 16, 2007

An All Too Familiar SAD Story...

Eddie* is a friend of mine. I met him in Seminary in 1991. We had a lot in common. He had been in ministry just one year longer than me, and he'd married about a year before my wife and I as well.

Eddie had been in Youth Ministry for two years after completing college in NC in 1986. He'd taken his first church -- SBC -- as Pastor just six weeks before he married Tanya* in 1988. His first Pastoral experience was, like mine, rather negative. He and I compared notes, comiserated, attempted to heal.

During their time at his first church, Tanya miscarried their first child. She had two jobs, hated her bosses, and became a target for those in the church who wished to snipe at her husband using her as a tool to inflict pain. Considering that she had a past history of clinical depression, this drove her further into a shell of isolation and pessimism.

Eddie graduated in 1995 with his M.Div., a year before I did. He returned to the Pastorate, this time in SC, where he and Tanya stayed for only two years. They then took a church in east Tennessee, where they stayed for about three-and-a-half years. Then it was off to Virginia, where he served as a Senior Pastor in a nice, suburban SB Church, and he had the opportunity to teach as an adjunct professor at a local college. He took a couple of classes at Liberty University toward a potential doctorate. Things seemed "good" on the outside.

But things were not "good." Even during his time in Seminary from 1991 to 1995, his relationship with Tanya was strained. After their negative experiences at their first church, Tanya had no interest in church. She had once loved to play the piano and sing in the choir. Now, that desire was gone. Due to medical problems that she faced, Eddie and Tanya agreed it was too dangerous to try and have a family.

They sought counseling -- first Tanya alone, then Eddie and Tanya together. Not just one counselor, but at least half a dozen ove the years. The result was generally the same. No real change. Tanya was put on several different antidepressants over the years. None made a major positive difference. Even if they did, Tanya would find a reason not to continue taking them, and would then rip the Doctor as "incompetent" or "impersonal" or "unconcerned" and go to another Doctor. Tanya changed Jobs almost yearly, becoming disgruntled and bitter no matter where she went, disgusted with every change, disappointed with each manager or supervisor whom she perceived (rightly or wrongly) to have harmed her.

Needless to say, and I am being delicate, their "intimate life" began suffering within the first two years of the marriage. It only got worse. Before they left Tennessee, Eddie confided in me that Tanya had moved into the guest room, and never slept in the same bed with him anymore. If proximately gives opportunities for intimacy, obviously it became a rare event.

Still, Eddie persevered. His ministry was relatively successful, despite Tanya's disinterest. He remained faithful to his wife, though he suffered personally from the rejection and constant negativity. Yet, he took it. He was longsuffering. He tried to help. He tried to be there for Tanya -- imperfectly it is certain, but there, nevertheless.

June 23, 2007. Eddie came hope from his church office a little early, about 3pm. To his surprise, there was a yellow moving van backed up to the door of his home. When he demanded to know what was going on, the movers told him they were taking the last of Tanya's possessions and moving them to another location. They would not say where. Tanya was nowhere to be found.

Eddie hasn't seen Tanya since that morning. He now remembers every time she made off the cuff remarks about "one day you won't have me to..." and "I'm not gonna live like this forever..." Despite the fact that she has called him twice, she will not discuss any of their past problems. And she said she was not coming back.

WHen I suggested counseling again, Eddie told me that it hadn't helped before. Tanya would never accept any counseling advice, never follow through on agreements and instructions...Always criticize the counselors if they suggested she change her actions.

"I'm tired," Eddie told me when we last talked a bit over a week ago. "The Church knows something is wrong. I've got to tell them something this week." Eddie is struggling. He literally did nothing wrong. Tanya left him. He was faithful, he was longsuffering, he did the best he could.

"Why should I be held accountable for Tanya's leaving?"

Why indeed, I had to ask myself. Eddie is just the latest in a long line of friend's and acquaintances I know or am familiar with that, due to people and circumstances beyond their control, are facing a crisis in their lives, not to mention their ministries. Should Eddie resign? Should he turn Tanya over to the church for church discipline -- and would they even know HOW to discipline her? Should he attempt to have her committed as mentally ill? Should he just give up -- on the marriage? On the ministry?

Eddie received the legal separation papers from Tanya last Thursday. He is writing his letter of resignation, to be delivered at the close of next Sunday morning's services. It's all he has left. Now, Eddie asked me, "What do I do next?"

*Names and certain minor details changed to protect the innocent -- and the guilty.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Day I Changed My Mind...

I was 16, I believe. It was the summer of 1981, and I was a rising Junior in High School. I had been saved for not quite a year, and as a teenager, influenced by the pop culture of that time and the [already liberal] public education system, I thought I knew "TV Preachers" like Jerry Falwell.

I thought I understood issues like abortion, School prayer and the like. Still, as I was visiting my Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Kenneth's house, I was flipping through the 5 or 6 channels on the dial (no remotes for the Middle Class "regular folks" back then) to see what was on.

I came across the Reverend Jerry Falwell, preaching, according to the screen, at some church out in Dallas, Texas I believe. He stood at the podium, emphasizing his point, quoting his text, passionately calling for his large crowd of hearers to consider, to ponder the subject at hand.

I'm sure a smirk crossed my face. It was the kind of smirk a teenager gets when he [or she] already knows it all, and is looking forward to a good laugh.

I don't remember Dr. Falwell's subject, or the Scripture he was quoting. I DO remember that he was saying something about Jesus Christ, and that in Him God showed His love, and offered His salvation. Just then, the shadow of a man obscured the view of the camera, and he yelled something -- perhaps obscenities, perhaps protests -- I couldn't tell what. At the same moment, the intruder threw something at Falwell. Even I was shocked.

Falwell stepped back surprised as the object hit him, as I recall, in the left chest and shoulder. It was a pie. A cream pie. As security gaurds tackled the protester and led him away, Dr. Falwell stepped back up to the pulpit, removed his jacket, smiled, and said "that's okay folks. It needed to be cleaned anyway." To thunderous applause, Dr. Falwell continued on, preaching the Gospel without missing a beat.

I thought I had Falwell pegged. I thought this guy was the stereotypical, holier-than-thou preacher I heard about in my school, in the media, even in my church. But Falwell's reaction -- Christlike in attitude and disposition -- made an impression on me that I couldn't forget.

I started listening to Dr. Falwell. I started praying for Dr. Falwell. Soon, I was agreeing with Dr. Falwell. I became a member of Moral Majority and supported it for almost a decade. I listened to his "Old Time Gospel Hour." I grew to respect Jerry Falwell, and a minister, and as a man.

In January, 1985, at the Students For America national convention meeting during the second Reagan Inauguration, I had the pleasure of sitting at the head table for a banquet, with Dr. Falwell, and my Senator at the time, Jesse Helms. I had the opportunity to share the previous story with Dr. Falwell. I remember his smile, and what I perceived to be humility. His acknowledgement was a simple, "thank you." Someone later that evening -- I think it was Ralph Reed, who at that time was the National Chairman of SFA -- told me that Dr. Falwell had really been touched by my story. But I was the better for it.

Now, I didn't agree with him on every issue. Most of the time I got frustrated that he was too quick to apologize when he was right about something he commented on. Once in a while, I asked, "Dr. Falwell, did you have to talk about THAT?"

My respect for Dr. Falwell, however, never waned. He was one of the most stalwart evangelists I've ever known. I don't ever recall a time that he compromised the Gospel message even a little bit. And he always shared the love of Christ, even while telling the truth of God's Word about the critical issues of our day.

From that day, as a teenager and a young believer and American, I found a respect for Jerry Falwell that grew over the years -- and an appreciation for his prophetic and evangelistic zeal that has never wavered.

I'm profoundly glad that my respect and appreciation for Dr. Falwell -- like his soul, now present with His Lord -- will not end in his death, nor lessen in eternity.

J. Dale Weaver, M. Div.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Who Will Get the 2008 GOP Nod -- and Why Do We Care NOW?!

I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I left the Republican Party in 1996 after the party refused to stand up to Comrade Clinton in the budget battle (and just about everything else).

I vote for the person -- usually A Republican, sometimes third party or write-in, RARELY a Democrat (and only in a local race so far).

Frankly, it's too early to even consider who I'll definitely be supporting for President in November 2008. When I was a kid, campaigning for President didn't begin until the YEAR OF the election. Now, the 24/7 drive-by media have made elections a 24/7/365 thing. It's awful and doesn't serve our national interest.

I can say that there are some I would NEVER vote for. Examples: ANY DEMOCRAT. The Democrats are the allies of Al-Queda, the enemies of the Constitution, the party of death, and they are all around bad guys (and gals).

I COULD NOT vote for Guliani -- though I respect his leadership ability, I simply will not pull the lever for someone who is pro-homosexual unions/marriage, and who has said he'd write a check for his own daughter's abortion. Additionally, he carries far too much personal baggage like 3 marriages, 2 divorces, infidelity, etc.

Same for Newt. If he were to run, I don't mind most of his views -- He's a conservative. But his morals are atrocious. 3 marriages, 2 divorces, infidelity, etc. And I think that was used by the Clintonistas to blackmail him and keep him quiet while he was speaker of the House...

McCain...I respect his service to the country -- but I just don't LIKE the guy. AND, I don't TRUST him. He'll compromise with the Kennedy's in a heartbeat to make himself look good. He has generally been conservative (with NOTABLE exceptions such as McCain-Feingold), and I won't say NO NEVER...But, not so much....

Romney...At least his personal life is "clean." Of course, He's a Mormon. Not that there's anything wrong with that.... Seriously, I find his sudden "change of heart" on abortion too convenient to believed, at least at this point. And, he raised taxes and grew Government in Mass while Governor. Again, I won't say NO NEVER...But, no, not so much here either...

Tancredo...I LOVE his stance on the border issue. Other than that I see him as a grandstander out to promote himself -- even at the expense of the war effort and our CURRENT CIC. He might do as Secy of Interior or even Homeland Security, but President...? Not NO NEVER, but not likely either.

Hunter...LOVE the guy. Been a faithful and strong conservative for a lot of years. Right on life, the border issue, supporting the war, etc. He's from California -- which is an automatic strike against him LOL Too close to Hollywood! I would vote for him and feel comfortable in doing so.

Brownback...generally Conservative -- but dead wrong on the border issue. His home state Kansas is set to benefit big time by buildning that "Trans-American Corridor" which will flood our nation with illegals, terrorists and heaven knows what else. I just don't think I could punch his chad on the election ticket...

Huckabee...Again, I like the guy. Conservative -- right on life and moral issues, ran Arkansas well -- that's saying something after Herr Clinton and his Jezebel left for Washington. On the same token, he raised taxes in the state in compromise with Democrats. That makes me consider putting him in the "Republicans who never learn" category...Still, I might be able to support him.

Fred Thompson is an unknown factor right now. Will he or won't he run? Though he has been divorced and Remarried (as was Reagan) there is no egregious or scandalous history morally. He is generally conservative. He was my Senator when I lived in Tennessee, and the biggest disappointment I had with him was in his failure to vote to convict Herr Clinton on the strongest charge of perjury in the impeachment hearings. I wrote him then and said he needed to return to acting, because I wouldn't vote for him again.... Well, he did return to acting, he didn't run for Senate again. Is he too close to Hollywood? Would he be too quick to compromise with the Democrats?... I MIGHT consider voting for him -- he looks better all around than most other candidates...

I guess we'll see. But, it's STILL too early for all this! I wish they wouldn't bother me til NEXT YEAR!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Short Takes on Recent News

I found out what my life is worth today. Mary Wnkler, the "wife" of COC minister Henry Winkler, the mother of his children and the one who shot him in the back with a shotgun while he slept, Was Found guilty.

She was found guilty of VOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER. Her sentence will be 3-6 years. For Murder. Oh, wait, for murdering a PREACHER. That doesn't count as much as, say, killing a businessman, or a minority (which can get you a hate crimes charge too).

I guess I should be thankful that my life is still worth more than say, the inconvenient fling of Massachusetts Democrat Senators, or maybe ex-wives of rich football players and their Jewish friends....


Did you hear that Harry Reid, Majority Leader in the Senate, says "the war is lost"? Uh-huh. He certainly hopes so. After all, it's not about freedom, or Islamofascism -- it's all about power -- Democrat party power. Nothing else matters as long as the Democrats maintain their power -- and grow and insure it. Viva la Revolucion! Right Harry?


Hats off -- and lots of prayers for -- Va. Tech University today. Blessings and healing to you all...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

On Total Depravity: Clarifications of the Arminian Position in Response to a Calvinist

Recently, I've been debating the issue of "Total Depravity" with a number of Calvinists on A charge often made by Calvinists against Arminians is that we (Arminians in general) "invent" ways to take credit for our own salvation. It's a spurious charge that is borne out of either ignorance or malice. I've edited several of these posts to attempt to counter a number of the myths and fallacies perpetuated by Calvinists against the Scriptural integrity of the Arminian view of Total Depravity. What's interesting is that this is one area in which Reformed Arminians and Reformed Calvinists are in agreement!...


I am what has come to be called a "Reformed" (or Reformation) Arminian. Some refer to it as "classical Arminian." Titles aren't important, what we affirm about TD is.

Reformed Arminians have NO disagreement with Reformed Calvinists in saying that man is "Totally Depraved." No area of a human's life is not affected by -- corrupted by -- sin. Man is fallen, and completely and wholly unable to affect, evoke or otherwise contribute to his/her own salvation.

Thus, God indeed MUST intervene. HOW God intervenes then becomes the main issue on this point. Calvinists believe God intervenes via predestination, causing regeneration which produces faith. Thus, man does not freely choose, but is chosen by God already, and is irreversably "elect." This state of being chosen and elect is "irresistible."

Reformed Arminians believe that God intervenes via "Prevenient Grace" -- that grace by which He enables man to believe -- but does not force man to do so. Thus, man is graciously enabled to accept the salvation of God by faith (also a gift of God inherent within humans), though he may chose NOT to accept God's gift of salvation. In this case, the "Elect" are those whom God foreknows will believe.

There is NO difference between Reformed Believers -- Arminian OR Calvinist -- with regard to TD (Genesis 6:5; John 3:16-18; Romans 3:10-18, 23).


The concept of "Total Depravity" does not necessitate that man is totally uninfluenced by God, nor that man does not in some way do "good" things. Cyprian, a Bishop in the Early Church, made the statement that "all man's abilities to do good are derived from God."

There are two elements that render this possible -- (1) ALL humans, though fallen, STILL bear the Image of God within them. Certainly it is marred, scarred and distorted, but it still may, in some circumstances, reflect the nature of God in some small way, much like a broken mirror may still reflect a true visage of one who looks into it. (2) Common Grace is still abundant to the world, and may still in some sense draw those who don't know Christ to "do good" or "glorify God" in their works.

This by no means suggests they are saved, but it DOES demonstrate God's sovereignty and grace to the WHOLE of the world -- not merely to the "elect."


I don't disagree that it is the "faith of Christ" that saves -- if we understand that God has given us (humans) that faith and made us the custodians of that faith.

To conclude that it is the "faith of Christ" that saves in the sense that Jesus believes FOR US, that our "belief means nothing," would then imply several problematic conclusions:

(1) Universalism. Scripture clearly teaches that "whosoever believeth in Him," (John 3:16), and that "God is not willing that any should perish..." (II Peter 3:9). If Jesus believes FOR US, then He believes FOR ALL. Of cours, this gets into the pet doctrine of Calvinists regarding limited atonement...

(2) No need for repentance. Everywhere, Scripture tells us that coming to Christ begins with repentance. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. That's why Jesus and John began their messages in the Gospels at the very beginning of their ministries with, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Hevaen is at hand!" That's why the writer of Hebrews (Paul, BTW :-D ) tells us that among the "elementary principles of the Gospel" are "repentance from dead works, and faith toward God (Hebrews 6:1).

(3) No personal responsibility. If Christ believes for us, then we have no responsibility to live as Christ desires. If following this train of thought to a logical conclusion, Jesus believes for us, so it's up to Him to produce a holy life in us -- but, what if we don't WANT to live a holy life? What if we WANT to sin? What if we RESIST His will? Or, is this where "irresistible grace" kicks in?

To insist on this tortured interpretation of so many Scriptures renders them meaningless -- unless you are one of the "elect" god has chosen and you are thereby smarter than the rest of the pathetic losers God has predestined for hell. To me, this denies logic, defies Scripture and de-emphasizes God's love for ALL mankind, whom He desires to save -- IF they believe -- which He has graciously given them the abiltiy to do.

And in advance, forgive the hyperbole -- I am making a point, not being hostile in ANY way! :-)

* * * * * * * * * * *

If we speak of faith coming from God, or from Christ, then in that sense we have all been given the ability to believe -- in the salvific sense, we are enabled by God to exercise faith unto salvation, or to resist and perish. As I said before, though faith is a "gift of God," He has in His Sovereignty made us custodians of that gift, and charged us to do so responsibly. Then, via prevenient grace He enables us to do so.

If we speak of "the faith of Christ" as something Jesus has to do in order for us to be saved, that becomes more problematic. Jesus' work was done on the cross -- "It is finished." In that sense, then, the role Jesus (or should I say the Person of the Holy Spirit) plays is granting us the ability to respond positively to our conviction of sin and His drawing through the work of the Holy Spirit.

In no way does the idea of "the faith of Christ" mean that somehow He must do something more for us to be saved -- for He has already DONE it.

Incidentally, I hear something similar to this coming from the Charismatic segments of Christianity quite often. Kenneth Copeland talks about "the faith of Christ" as though it is somehow separate from the "gift of faith" which God grants to all men. Something to consider...


Salvation is ALL of God. That does not absolve US from the responsibility of being obedient and doing as He instructed us in order to gain salvation and entrance into His Kingdom!

Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent (John 6:28, 29).


(To a particular Calvinist) You've certainly made your case forcefully. As with most Calvinists, you seem to have taken the position that, since salvation is "all of God," that axiomatically removes any role of man in any shape, form, or fashion from the equation.

Man is "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1) you say. And I agree. "Christ, by His right acts makes men free and gives them life" (Romans 5:18) you say. And I, again, agree.

I suppose that which is most problematic in this discussion is the Calvinist tendency (fallacy?) to deny the necessity of faith for salvation.

Oh, I know Calvinists believe faith is there -- AFTER regeneration. But, of course, that presupposes that God neither desires nor requires the assent -- whether intellectual agreement or spiritual surrender -- of a human in order to experience salvation. They are either "predestined" to be saved, and are thereby irresistibly "elect," or God created them with the sole purpose of sending them to the eternal damnation of hell-fire.

Calvinists may certainly "interpret" scripture in this manner. I think, however, that other passages have relevance to this issue. Other scriptures -- many already mentioned here -- but all too often dismissed, explained away or just ignored by Calvinists.

I could remind you that "God so loved the world" (John 3:16) or that "God is not willing that any should perish" (II Peter 3:9), or maybe even that "it is through faith that you are all sons of God in union with Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26) and "faith in Jesus Christ is the ground on which the promised blessing is given to those who believe" (Galatians 3:22).

There are many others... Maybe though, this simple phrase might clarify my understanding of Scripture -- and the very heart of God.

"Whosoever will."

In the final chapter of revealed scripture, John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes, "Whosoever will let him take of the water of life freely" (Revelation 22:17). This is a -- THE -- Divine invitation. This invitation echoes across the entire expanse of Holy Writ. Consider for example:

"Whosoever believeth on Him..." (John 3:16); "Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13). These and countless other passages obviate an invitation -- an invitation which is offered to someone who can accept, or reject it. An invitation that cannot be rejected is not an invitation, but a command, (a "decree" in Calvinist terms). A "command" or "decree" can neither be accepted "freely" nor can it produce "freedom" in that life.

This invitation is offered to "whosoever will," which applies potentially to every human being and indicates the engagement of the will -- the HUMAN WILL. Thus, a choice.

This is a choice we cannot make if left to ourselves. Our fallen nature precludes human ability to choose the right and the good. That is why the Holy Spirit came -- to "convict the world of sin" (John 16:8), and that is why Jesus was "lifted up," to "draw all men" to Himself (John 12:32).

In that conviction, in that drawing, the Holy SPirit works on the heart of everyone to enable them to believe (prevenient grace) -- but not the ensure or guarantee that they will or must believe.

God's offer of salvation to every human is real, and He does everything to enable humans to receive it -- except force them.

If God's offer to "whosoever" does not mean "whosover," and if He does not require the engagement of human "will," what a cruel, cosmic joke to pull on the very creatures God has created.

As certainly as God is sovereign, He is loving. To abandon all but an "elect" few and leave them without hope or opportunity defies God's revealed nature, and the very witness of Scripture itself.


(originally posted on "Total Depravity" thread,

Fewer Pledge Allegiance to Republicans

This article appeared on March 23, 2007, and it really didn't come as a big surprise. I've included the first couple of paragraphs, and then included my comments...

Fewer Pledge Allegiance to GOP
Posted on 03/23/2007 7:27:42 AM PDT

WASHINGTON — Public allegiance to the Republican Party has plunged during George W. Bush's presidency, as attitudes have edged away from some of the conservative values that fueled GOP political victories, a major survey has found.
The survey, by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, found a "dramatic shift" in political party identification since 2002, when Republicans and Democrats were at rough parity. Now, 50% of those surveyed identified with or leaned toward Democrats, whereas 35% aligned with Republicans.....

Simple reason for this: Republicans haven't stood for anything, and accomplished relatively little while they were in power in Congress and the White House. They were capable of far more, but were too weak, too worried about the MSM, and too lacking in conviction and dedication to principle to achieve anything. Now, the Republicans are for the most part acting as though they are comfortable in the minority again. Why support the party? I'll support those (Republican or not) that are committed to Conservative Principles. The party can take a flying leap.

(Originally published on 3/23/2007)

On Imus, Idiocy, and the End of Free Speech

Welcome to the witch hunt.

Imus was stupid. What he said was offensive. His advertisers have every right to end their contracts. His networks can even cut him, if they like.
When it becomes something driven by an agenda — political correctness, government control, etc — it takes on a dark, McCarthy-esque quality.

No, that’s not fair. McCarthy was actually investigating a REAL threat — Communist subversion in government and culture. The Imus thing — and the “lists” being drawn up now entitled “who’s next?” are over PERCEPTION — WORDS.

The cornerstone of our Constitution is FREE SPEECH. Of course their are limits, when words DIRECTLY endager lives. But when we are told to “shut up” or MADE to “shut up” because we hurt someone’s feelings, offend their sensibilities.... That’s a violation of our first amendment rights.

Imus is an idiot — but he is just a pawn in the hands of the “politically correct” thought — and speech police. And it’s getting dangerous — not only to our freedoms, but to the eventual survival of our nation as we know it.

(Originally published on thread at 4/12/2007)

Well it's about TIME!

Forgive my failure to post in the last couple of months. I've had "issues" with Blogspot -- My computer and the host here weren't "talking to each other." The result? I couldn't access my blog! It was a pain, but I think it's straight now.

I'll be posting some of the things I've written on several forums while I was unable to contribute here. Hopefully, I'll get back into more regular blogging in the next week or two -- barring further problems with Blogspot....


Monday, January 08, 2007

The Next Nuclear War

Many have been sounding the alarm in recent years that radical Islamofascists are close to obtaining nuclear weapons. Of course, the fear is that they would them use them – most probably against their most hated enemies, Israel or America.

There are any number of scenarios that could potentially set this chain of events off. For instance, a coup d’etat in Pakistan could remove the current regime and restore those elements who helped put the Taliban in power in neighboring Afghanistan. This is hardly far-fetched, as there have been numerous attempts on the life of Pakistani President Musharif. Should it occur, not only would India have reason to fear its ancient enemies, but Israel would also have reason for trepidation. Pakistan has dozens of nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them to India and Israel.

Another scenario, even more likely in the current climate, is that North Korea launches a desperate invasion into South Korea – a last ditch effort to secure its survival. This would inevitably lead to, or begin with, nuclear strikes against Japan, or the Philippines, or other areas of United States military interests. Perhaps even Hawaii is vulnerable now, and the West Coast will be in short order.

A bit less likely is the possibility that the remnants of Saddam’s research and arsenal – which many believe to have been secreted away to Syria – will be used in Lebanon, or perhaps against Israel in renewed conflict with Hezbollah. That could easily draw Iran into direct war with Israel. That is decidedly NOT unlikely.

The most plausible and unfortunately likely scenario is that Iran succeeds in developing its own nuclear arsenal. At most, that’s only 2-3 years away. It could happen by spring. The United Nations is impotent (and unwilling) to prevent it. The United States, with its newly minted Democratic Congressional majority has no stomach for military adventures, instead choosing preemptive surrender and ignominious defeat. All in the name of diplomacy and peace, of course.

I wouldn’t expect, however, that Iran will be the first to actually launch a nuclear strike on its enemies. Oh, it’s certainly possible. They would if they got half a chance. But I’m willing to bet it won’t come to that. Not to begin with anyway.

My bet? Israel takes out Iran’s nuke program before they have a chance to use their weapons. The only way they could do that would be to use tactical nukes of their own. And the nature of that kind of an attack would be extensive. And it would take help. Help that only the United States could offer.

Reports from Israel, denied by officials of course, have already said that the IDF Air Force is practicing such an attack. United States officials deny aiding them, but they cannot deny sharing important and sensitive intelligence that would be imperative to such a mission. And in this case, the Congress could not stop the President from helping our allies in Israel. At least, not BEFORE such a mission is launched. They might find reasons to impeach him following such a mission.

Still, Israel isn’t worried about the politics of the situation. They don’t care about the ramifications as much as they do about doing nothing. Should Iran develop nukes, their fate is sealed. Should Israel preemptively knock out Iran’s nukes, at least they stand a fighting chance against the combined armies of the Islamofascist states. They’ve defeated those armies and air forces four or five times before. Times may have changed, but Israel’s resolve to survive, when their backs are literally up against a wall, should not be shrugged off.

The most dangerous result of this next nuclear war scenario is that, as a result of Israel’s “aggression,” the powers that be in the United States, will seek to cut ties. Perhaps the President is impeached, or in 2008 the Democrats capture the White House. Maybe a coalition forms that disowns the ‘troublesome ally’ and deems them a nuisance. It certainly is possible. Anti-Semitism is growing not only around the world or in Europe, but right here in America.

In that case, I don’t fear so much for Israel as I do for America. Those who oppose and seek the destruction of Israel will not face just political consequences. There are profound, spiritual and eternal consequences. Those who bless you I will bless; Those who curse you I will curse…(Genesis 12:1-3).

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Let's Bash Other Believers! An Example...

I Saw this posted on a forum I frequent. See my comments below the article....

But Southern Baptists Say Ok To “Bishop” T.D. Jakes

By Ken Silva

Apprising Ministries

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? [1]

The Youngs Father And Son Share A Podium

Those who have been following recent events here at Apprising Ministries will know that I have been led of the Lord to begin exposing contemplative mysticism and the deep penetration of the neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church into the Southern Baptist Convention. As I have been researching I found myself uncovering a little event put on by Ed Young, Jr. of Creative Pastors: Life & Leadership Resources With Ed Young.

I must admit that even I was shocked to see who would be sharing the platform for this upcoming “Christian” conference. So get ready and hold on tight because here comes Creative Church Conference 2007 [2] aka C3 2007. O yeah, now we can wipe out all doctrinal distinctives! C3 2007 we’re told is all about “turning WHAT IF into WHAT IS”...well, actually an abomination in the Lord’s sight.

Even so, we’re told at the website, “Each year, thousands of pastors and leaders from across the country and around the world converge on Fellowship Church for the Creative Church Conference – a conference that promises to challenge your imagination, encourage your heart and stretch your leadership in ways you never dreamed possible.” You bet it will. Just look who’s sharing the platform here with Ed Young, Jr.

First there’s his dad Dr. Ed Young [3] former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. His Mega Second Baptist Church also happens to be having a big Grand Opening of their West Campus [4] in January of 2007. In her recent post Circus Maximus: More Mega-Madness on Slice of Laodicea Ingrid Schlueter correctly points out:

At the core of the megachurch foolishness is, of course, a wrong view of God and the Gospel. Big churches need big buildings, so these people take their wrong view of God and the Gospel and work it into every aspect of church life. In short, like the ancient Roman government, the church becomes the purveyor of “bread and circuses” to keep the restless masses happy.

If you have huge buildings and lavish facilities, it is only natural that you are going to want to use them. Second Baptist Church in Houston has five "campuses". They are just holding a “Grand Opening” of 200,000 square feet of new building space. [5]

So after all of the festivities Dr. Ed Young should be plenty revved up for C3 2007. But wait, it gets even better…or worse…depending on whether or not you’re a Christian who loves our Lord’s Church. There’s “ex”-Emergent–maybe I am, or maybe I’m not– Mark Driscoll [6] who’s slated among the stellar “special guests” as well.

The Ecumenical Church Of Deceit Grows A Little Closer

And in addition there happens to be one other rather interesting, “Ministerial and business visionary, entrepreneurial trailblazer, altruistic philanthropist, and spiritual shepherd to millions around the globe” who is going to be on that same platform. At C3 2007 we also see a certain Word Faith Oneness Pentecostal heretic by the name of “Bishop” T.D. Jakes. [7] That’s right. Dr. Ed Young, twice president of the SBC is currently billed right below a man who actually denies the very nature of the God he says he serves.

So now what do you think about that? As I showed in my article Faith Forward Straight Into the Worship of Man the lines are rapidly blurring in the Ecumenical Church of Deceit. And in this case we have T.D. Jakes who denies the Holy Trinity accepted as a brother in Christ by a former two time president of the SBC. Y’know just maybe Steve Camp is onto something with his Reclaiming a Reverence for God in Ministry – a clarion call for reformation when he says:

It is no secret, the current state of evangelicalism moving away from biblical truth is eroding dramatically almost monthly with no corrective in sight. There needs to be a clarion call for action in evangelicalism today that I am now reoffering
The 107 THESES as one such call.

No one today, and I mean no one of any evangelical note of leadership, is willing to risk their current book deals, contracts, public standing in the marketplace, or radio positioning to confront the theological/biblical corrosion of modern day evangelicalism head on. [8]

Is the SBC finally going to draw a line somewhere in all of this? But as the C3 2007 website says: “After experiencing these two days, you and your team will walk away with a new sense of what church is and should be.” Indeed you will, apparently now it’s a free for all with absolutely no spiritual backbone whatsoever. I’m certainly not Christ but this even makes me want to spew.


2 Corinthians 6:14-15, ESV.

[2], 12/29/06.

[3], 12/29/06.

[4], 12/29/06.

[5], 12/29/06.

[6], 12/29/06.

[7], 12/29/06.

[8] ... 06/12/reclaiming_a_re.php, 12/29/06.

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My Turn:
I have followed the ministries of Ed Young Sr. -- and Ed Young Jr. -- for a long time. I've read about T.D. Jakes, and I teach adjunct at a predominately African-American Bible College where most hold Jakes in high regard, though he is not in their denomination.

Now, certainly, I don't agree with these men on every issue which they speak, nor every doctrine which they hold. However, after reading the article posted above, my observations aren't so much about the subjects addressed, as about the "writer" and "ministry" that addresses them.

First, WHO is Ken Silva and WHAT is Apprising Ministries?

Second, WHY does he believe God has called him "to begin exposing contemplative mysticism and the deep penetration of the neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church into the Southern Baptist Convention"?

Third, just what IS "contemplative mysticism" and "the neo-liberal cult" according to Silva -- other than a club with which to publicly flog Southern Baptists and other Christians? (If they ARE Christians of course -- which Silva concludes they are not...)

Fourth, why does he have a problem with Ed Young Sr. pastoring a MegaChurch? I mean, why is the MegaChurch "evil," as he claims? Is it wrong for the Church to provide entertainment and recreation for its members -- or is that a sin too? And would Silva feel better if 2nd Baptist Church Houston only ran 200 or so? WOuld he feel better if HE pastored 2nd Baptist? WOuld the numbers be alright then? Would he have condemned the Jerusalem Church in 30 AD for being a MegaChurch too? After all, they had a membership of over 3,000 in their FIRST DAY! And within a few years, they'd added at least 5,000 more men, not counting women and children! (those Apostles...they should have read Silva's newsletter).

But my final observation is the one that bothers me the most. Among Fundamentalists and some Conservative Evangelicals, it is better to separate than to unify. It is better to condemn than to commend. It is better to trash people than to talk to them. Silva, apparently, fits into this category.

Responsible Disciples seek a Biblical balance that brings about TRUE UNITY. This unity allows us to "speak the truth in love." It does NOT bring about uniformity. It brings FREEDOM, not fear. Dr. Robertson McQuilkin rightly says, "It is easier to go to a consistent extreme than to stay at the center of Biblical tension." Silva has found the ditch. Hopefully most of us won't blindly follow him there.