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Monday, December 17, 2007

My Kids Learning To Swim

You will notice there are six ducklings!

So Much To Read, So Little Time!

I recently bought several more books. One via ebay two at a thrift store, one my wife bought me at a thrift store, and my daughter gave me $50.00 for Christmas and I managed to spend it all in a half price book store. The sad thing is that I want to read all the book along with the other two shelves of books I want to read. I am presently reading 2 or 3 books with most of my reading being devoted to the biography of John Calhoun.

Here is a list of books recently purchased:

The Cathars by Sean Martin
The Anabaptist Story by W. R. Estep
Lee and Grant by Gene Smith
Backgrounds of Early Christians by Everett Ferguson
The Battle for Truth by David A. Noebel
The Development of Southern Sectionalism 1819-1848 by Sydnor
Lone Star Nation by H. W. Brands
The Fall of the Roman Empire by Michael Grant
Cities of the Biblical World by LaMoine F. DeVries (for reference)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

George Muller And Baptism

In reading the biography about George Muller I came across an interesting story about his views on baptism. Although Muller was not a Baptist it is interesting that he ultimately came to embrace the Baptist (and I might add Scriptural) view of baptism as it relates to the proper subject and mode of baptism. I fully understand that in adopting the positions he does not confirm the truth of the positions. They would have been true whether he adopted them or not. The means by which he came to the conclusions I found interesting and I thought others might find it equally interesting.

"While at Sidmouth, preaching, in April, 1830, three believing sisters held in his presence a conversation about believer's baptism, which proved the suggestion of another important step in his life, which has a wider bearing than at first is apparent.

They naturally asked his opinion on the subject about which they were talking, and he replied that , having been baptized as a child, he saw no need of being baptized again. Being further asked if he had ever yet prayerfully searched the word of God as to its testimony in this matter, he frankly confessed that he had not.

At once, with unmistakable plainness of speech and with true fidelity, one of these sisters in Christ promptly said: "I entreat you, then, never again to speak any more about it till you have done so."

Such a reply George Muller was not the man either to resent or to resist. He was too honest and conscientious to dismiss without due reflection any challenge to search the oracles of God for the witness upon any given question. Moreover, if, at that very time, his preaching was emphatic in any direction, it was in the boldness with which he insisted that all pulpit teaching and Christian practice must be subjected to one great test, namely, the touchstone of the word of God. Already an Elijah in spirit, his great aim was to repair the broken-down altar of the Lord, to expose and rebuke all that hindered a thoroughly scriptural worship and service, and, if possible, to restore apostolic simplicity of doctrine and life.

As he thought and prayed about this matter, he was forced to admit to himself that he had never yet earnestly examined the Scriptures for their teaching as to the position and relation of baptism in the believer's life, nor had he even prayed for light upon it. He had nevertheless repeatedly spoken against believer's baptism, and so he saw it to be possible that he might himself have been opposing the teaching of the Word. He therefore determined to study the subject until he should reach a final, satisfactory, and scriptural conclusion; and thenceforth, whether led to defend infant baptism or believer's baptism, to do it only on Scriptural grounds.

The mode of study which he followed was characteristically simple, thorough, and business-like, and was always pursued afterward. He first sought from God the Spirit's teaching that his eyes might be opened to the Word's witness, and his mind illumined; then he set about a systematic examination of the New testament from beginning to end. So far as possible he sought absolutely to rid himself of all bias of previous opinion or practice, prepossession or prejudice; he prayed and endeavoured to be free from the influence of human tradition, popular custom, and churchly sanction, or that more subtle hindrance, personal pride in his own consistency. He was humble enough to be willing to retract any erroneous teaching and renounce any false position, and to espouse that wise maxim: ' Don't be consistent, but simply be true.' Whatever may have been the case with others who claim to have examined the same question for themselves, the result in his case was that he came to the conclusion, and, as he believed, from the word of God and the Spirit of God, that none but believer's are the proper subject of baptism, and that only immersion is its proper mode."

He was subsequently immersed as a believer.

The account goes on discussing his view of baptism years later:

"Years after, in reviewing his course, he records the solemn conviction that 'of all revealed truths, not one is more clearly revealed in the Scriptures - not even the doctrine of justification by faith - and that the subject has only become obscured by men not having been willing to take the Scriptures alone to decide the point.'"

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Political Convention That Matters??

For all of you political junkies here is an interesting article on the status of the Republican nomination for President.

David Reddoso paints a very interesting picture in relation to the possibility of the Republican National Convention next summer. It is interesting to see how he crunches the numbers in relation to delegates and leaves open the possibility of the Republicans opening their convention without a nominee.

Now that would make for some exciting politics. Imagine multiple floor votes until someone gets a majority. It would be a rousing good time! Of course it also conjures up visions of smoke-filled rooms where political deals are cut and everybody leave the convention owing everybody else.

I especially like his idea that they could nominate someone at the convention who is not even running. And by the way, my Dad has been saying for a couple of months that this might happen.

After all this is the way it use to be done!

The Rapture Of The Saints

Commenting on another posts some one had indicated that they had been raised in a church that taught a pre-tribulation rapture of the saints. It was also indicated that this person had come across an number of websites and such that argue that the teaching of the rapture is false doctrine. The person was wondering what I thought about this and so here is my understanding of that event that is often referred to as the rapture of the saints.

There are some who do not believe in a rapture, they are generally Amillennialist in their eschatology. They see every passage dealing with the coming of Christ as a single event. They do not recognize the appearing of Christ and the coming of Christ as two different phases of the second coming. But.....before I get to bogged down here let me give the basis upon which I believe that there will be a rapture of the saints.

First of all it is important to note that their is a clear distinction made between the appearing of Christ and the coming of Christ.

2 Timothy 4:1 - I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

The Lord is going to judge the living and the dead at both his appearing and his kingdom.

Several verses in the New Testament make reference to the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 3:4 - When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

1Timothy 6:14 - That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Titus 2:13 - Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Hebrews 9:28 - So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

1Peter 1:7 - That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

1Peter 5:4 - And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

1John 2:28 - And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

While there is a sense in which we could call this a coming he does not in fact come all the way back to earth but we will, as the Scripture declares, meet him in the air. This is the reason why the word "appear" is the word of choice because it more accurately describes what will take place.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 - But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

This passage teaches us several things about a future event:

1. Jesus will return with the spirits of the dead saints.
2. The dead in Christ will be resurrected.
3. The living saints "shall be caught up" together with the resurrected saints.
"Shall be caught up" is translated from a Greek word that means to seize, catch away or up.
Thus the term "rapture" is applied.
4. We will meet the Lord in the air. He does not return to earth.
5. We will be with the Lord. Living and resurrected saints both.
6. These are to be comforting words.

What happens to the living saints at the event described above? The Scripture does not leave us to speculate.

1 Corinthians 15:51-53 - Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

Not all of the saints will be deceased when Christ appears. At the last trump the dead shall be raised incorruptible. And we, Paul says shall be changed. Notice the "we", Paul obviously was anticipating a personal experience with this. That he would be among the living and that he would be changed. What is the nature of the change? Our corruptible will put on incorruption. Our mortality will put on immortality. We will be glorified at the appearing of Christ when we are caught up to meet him in the air.

Paul expressed it this way to the Philippians:

Philippians 3:20,21 - For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

We are to be looking for, anticipating, expecting the Saviour from heaven. When he appears he will change our vile bodies. They will be made like his glorious body. Our corruption will be changed to incorruption. Our mortality will put on immortality.

Then will be brought to pass the saying, "that mortality might be swallowed up of life."

John explains it thus:

1John 3:2 - Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

When he appears we shall be like him. Our vile bodies will be fashioned like to his glorious body.

This appearing is referred to as the believer's blessed hope.

Titus 2:13 - Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

The above passages should leave little doubt as to why it is characterized as a glorious appearing!

This is the short answer. If there is any specific questions I would be happy to answer them, if I can? After studying the Bible for 30 years I realize that every short answer also has a very long answer, and every answer provided has the potential to give rise to more questions, leading us to realize that the Bible is one vast series of connections and related parts. As overwhelming as this can seem at times it is for this very reason that we believe that Scripture is the very best interpreter of Scripture!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Thankfully A Good Guy Had A Gun!

The following is a small part of a larger article on two shootings that took place in Colorado over the last couple of days.

"The gunman at the New Life Church was shot and killed by a church security guard after entering the church's main foyer with high-powered rifle shortly before 1 p.m. and opening fire, Colorado Springs Police Chief Richard Myers said. Four others were wounded, Myers said.

The church's 11 a.m. service had recently ended, and hundreds of people were milling about when the gunman opened fire.

Nearby were parents picking up their children from the nursery.

Police arrived to find that the gunman had been killed by a member of the church's armed security staff, Myers said.

'There was a courageous staff member who probably saved many lives here today,' Myers said.'"

With hundreds of people milling around it is fearful to think what may have happened had this armed security guard not stopped the lethal threat being posed by this individual who was seeking to deprive innocent bystanders of their God given rights to life and liberty!

288 Opinions About The Way To Happiness

The following is from another message by Thomas Watson entitled, The Beatitudes preached in 1660.

"In what does happiness consist?

Millions of people mistake both the nature of happiness, and the way there. Some of the learned have noted 288 opinions about the way to happiness—and all have shot wide of the mark!

How do men thirst after the world—as if the pearl of happiness hung upon an earthly crown! "Oh," says one, "if I had but such an estate—then I would be happy! Had I but such a comfort—then I would sit down satisfied!" Well, God gives him that comfort and lets him suck the very juice out of it—but, alas, it falls short of his expectation. It cannot fill the emptiness and longing of his soul!

Happiness does not lie in the acquisition of worldly things. Happiness cannot by any chemistry—be extracted from the world. Christ does not say, 'Happy are the rich,' or 'Happy are the noble.' Yet too many idolize these things. How ready is man to terminate his happiness in external worldly things! If they have but worldly accommodations, they are ready to say with that brutish fool in the gospel, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years, take your ease—eat, drink and be merry!"

But alas! The tree of happiness does not grow in an earthly paradise. Has not God 'cursed the ground' because of sin? Yet many are digging for happiness here—as if they would fetch a blessing out of a curse! A man may as well think to extract oil out of a stone, or fire out of water—as happiness out of earthly things!

King Solomon had more worldly things than any man. His crown was hung full of jewels. He had treasuries of gold. He had the flower and quintessence of all delights—sumptuous fare, stately edifices, vineyards, lands, all sorts of music to enchant and ravish the senses with joy. If there were any rarity—it was present in king Solomon's court. Thus did he bathe in the perfumed waters of pleasure.

Never did the world cast a more smiling aspect upon any man! Yet when he comes to give his impartial verdict, he tells us that the world has 'vanity' written upon its frontispiece; and all those golden delights he enjoyed, were but a painted felicity—a glorious misery! "Behold! All was vanity!" Happiness is too noble and delicate a plant, to grow in this world's soil. Worldly joys are but sugared lies—pleasant deceits—which have not one grain of true happiness! Nothing on earth can satisfy the soul's desires!

"The world passes away!" (1 John 2:17). Worldly delights are winged. They may be compared to a flock of birds in the garden—which stay a little while—but when you come near to them—they take their flight and are gone! Just so, "riches make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven!" They are like a meteor which blazes—but soon burns out. They are like a castle made of snow—lying under the fiery beams of the sun. Worldly comforts are like tennis balls—which are bandied up and down from one to another. They are like a bouquet of flowers—which withers while you are smelling it. They are like ice—which melts away while it is in your hand.

Those things which do more vex than comfort—cannot make a man truly happy. As riches are compared to wind—to show their vanity; so they are compared to thorns—to show their vexation. Thorns are not more apt to tear our garments—than riches to tear our hearts! They are thorns in the gathering—and they prick with anxious care. They pierce the head with care of getting, so they wound the heart with fear of losing. Happiness is not to be fetched out of the earth! Worldly comforts cannot make you happy. You might live rich—and die cursed! You might treasure up an estate—and God might treasure up wrath!"

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Sea Of Sin - And Not A Drop Of Sorrow!

Another quote from Thomas Watson in a message entitled, A Divine Cordial preached in 1663.

"One sign of genuine love to God—is grief for sin. Where there is love to God—there is a grieving for our sins of unkindness against Him. A child who loves his father, cannot but weep for offending him. The heart which burns in love—melts in tears. 'Oh! that I should abuse the love of so dear a Savior! Shall I give Him more gall and vinegar to drink! How disloyal and hypocritical have I been! How have I grieved His Spirit, trampled upon His royal commands, and slighted His blood!'

This opens a vein of godly sorrow, and makes the heart bleed afresh. 'He went out, and wept bitterly!' That Peter should deny Christ after he had received such amazing love from Him—this broke his heart with grief! 'He went out, and wept bitterly!'

By this, let us test our love to God. Do we shed the tears of godly sorrow? Do we grieve for our unkindness against God, our abuse of His mercy, our non-improvement the talents which He has given us?

How far are they from loving God—who sin daily, and their hearts never smite them! They have a sea of sin—and not a drop of sorrow! They are so far from being troubled, that they make merry with their sins. ' . . . . when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest!' (Jer. 11:15). Oh wretch! Did Christ bleed for sin—and do you laugh at it!"

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Snow Geese

On a field trip to the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge today we saw hundreds of snow geese coming in for a landing. There ended up being close to 1,000 there. In January and February there are up to 30,000 snow geese on the refuge. Some of them fly some 5,000 miles from the Artic Circle to visit Freeport every year. It really was a sight to see them landing between 50 and 100 at a time.
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As Proud And Carnal As Ever

The following is from a message by Thomas Watson entitled, A Divine Cordial from 1663:

"Grace changes the heart!

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

The true Christian has a great change wrought. Not a change of the faculties—but of the tendencies. He is altered from what he was before. His body is the same—but not his mind. Oh what a metamorphosis does grace make!

There is a change wrought in the UNDERSTANDING. Before, there was ignorance—but now there is light. The first work of God in the creation of the world was light—likewise it is in the new creation. He now says, 'I once was blind—but now I see!' (John 9:25). He sees such evil in sin, and excellency in the ways of God—as he never saw before! It is a marvelous light, because it is more penetrating. Other light may shine upon the face—but this light shines into the heart, and enlightens the conscience (2 Cor. 4:6).

There is a change wrought in the WILL. The will, which before opposed Christ—now embraces Him. The will, which was an iron sinew against Christ—is now like melting wax, and readily receives the stamp and impression of the Holy Spirit. The will now moves heavenward—and carries all the affections along with it. The will now says, 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?' (Acts 9:6). Before, the will kept Christ out; now, it keeps sin out! Oh what a happy change is wrought here!

There is a change wrought in the CONDUCT. He who is saved, walks directly contrary to what he did before. He once walked in envy and malice—now he walks in love! He once walked in pride—now he walks in humility. In the heart there is a new birth—and in the life there is a new conduct.

Thus we see what a mighty change grace makes.

How far are they from salvation, who never had any change!They are the same today—as they were forty or fifty years ago.They are as proud and carnal as ever! They have had no change in their heart. Let not them think to leap out of the harlot's lap (the world) into Abraham's bosom! They must either have a gracious change while they live—or a cursed change when they die!"

Friday, November 30, 2007

Hurricane Season Ends Today

Too bad hurricane season is not like deer season, or moose season for my Alaskan friends! People rejoice on opening day and mourn its passing. And the season always opens with hunters hoping this will be the year when they get the big one!

On the other hand the opening day of hurricane season (June 1) is dreaded and the close of hurricane season (November 30) is celebrated. The season always opens with coastal dwellers hoping this will not be the year of the big one!

Why can't hurricane season just be open a few weeks like most hunting seasons. In fact during hurricane season it is the hurricane doing the hunting. I am certain the season is open way too long. I think the Federal government should hold hearings on why hurricane season is open so long. I think there must be some undue influence peddling going on at National Hurricane Center. In fact if we cannot get any sense of justice from Congress then we should file a law suit and see it through all the way to the Supreme Court to see if a six month hurricane season is Constitutional. Surely the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment has some application to hurricane season. After all, no one in the plains states have to worry about hurricane season. I think we need equal protection and the season should be shortened. Surely with Alito and Roberts on the court we can have our Constitutional right to privacy (the uninvited visit of a hurricane) and our equal protection (along the lines of what people in Nebraska enjoy) restored by the decision of the High Court. Someone somewhere should give us some relief either legislatively or judicially by shortening the season. I will never believe it is fair that we have just a few weeks to hunt deer or moose (again for my Alaskan friends) and hurricanes have six months to hunt us. Where, my friend, is the justice in that!

I think it should also be noted that since Katrina and Rita two years ago the Bush administration in its war against major hurricanes has had some major success. The threat has been greatly diminished the last two years and one can only imagine what would happen if Mrs. Clinton is elected President. No doubt she would press for legislation to send out the hurricane hunters and then veto the bill when it came to her desk! Then again Giuliani was for Hurricanes when he was mayor of New York and now he is against them running in the Republican primary. Romney may be a good choice. You know he would not want a hurricane force wind blowing through his hair. Then again I am sure that we could count on Tancredo to close the borders to all hurricanes. I don't know, I am not convinced any of then would be good hurricane fighters! Besides we have another six month hurricane season to endure before any of them are elected.

Maybe we will all be blown away before we have to vote. I can live with that but only if it applies to Nebraskans as well.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Misleading and Deceptive Title!

Probably most of you have heard of the toddler who became known as Baby Grace. Her body was found in a plastic container in Galveston Bay about a month ago. Well they have finally identified the little girl and have two suspects in custody, The girls mother and her step-father.

It is a tragic story that is made worse when you see articles like the one found here.

Notice the title: Lawyer: Discipline Lead To Girls Death

When I read that I think to myself how could discipline lead to death??? I have six children and have disciplined all of them including spankings and none of them have ever been close to death. How could this be??

The answer is in the first line of the story, "The stepfather of a 2-year-old girl lost control and beat her to death because she wouldn't say "please" and "yes sir," an attorney for the girl's mother said Wednesday."

It was no discipline that lead to death, but she was beaten to death. Unfortunately too many people want to draw a connection between discipline and beating. They do so in order to undermine the liberty of parents to legitimately discipline their children. This is why the State of Massachusetts is considering legislation banning corporal punishment.

A sentence in the middle of the article gives the actual reason for death. "Trenor said the girl was beaten with leather belts, had her head held underwater in a bathtub and then was thrown across a room, her head slamming into a tile floor."

"Beaten with leather belts", "head held under water in a bathtub", and "thrown across a room, her head slamming into a tile floor" is the cause of death not discipline.

The article goes on to say, "Instead, Zeigler grew increasingly enraged as he spanked Riley and she kept forgetting to do things the way he wanted."

Again the problem is not the disciplining of children but the lack of self-control found in the adults in her life.

Could it be that her step-father was not properly disciplined as a child thus he exhibits no self-control as an adult? Just wondering?

The associated press writer, Liz Austin Peterson begins her article with editorializing in the title and thus creates bias in the minds of her readers in what is supposed to be a news story. Just the fact mam, just the facts!!

I think most of her readers would have been able to discern from the article the cause of death and my guess is that few of them would have concluded it was from discipline.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

If God Left Us?!

The following is from a message by Thomas Watson entitled, "Four Sad Evils" preached in 1663.

It is one of the best things I have read in a while and clearly sets forth the absolute necessity of humility in the believer. While I do not agree with the Calvanistic position of Thomas Watson I certainly agree with the primary thrust of this short quote.

As the Apostle Paul said, "But by the grace of God I am what I am: . . . ." May we always remember this and lift our hearts in praise to his grace, mercy, and goodness revealed in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now for the quote:

"The sins of the ungodly are looking-glasses in which we may see our own hearts. Do we see a heinous, impious wretch? Behold a picture of our own hearts! Such would we be--if God left us! What is in wicked men's practice--is in our nature. Sin in the wicked--is like fire which flames and blazes forth. Sin in the godly--is like fire hid in the embers. Christian, though you do not break forth into a flame of scandalous sin--yet you have no cause to boast, for there is as much sin in the embers of your nature! You have the root of all sin in you, and would bear as hellish fruit as any ungodly wretch--if God did not either curb you by His power, or change you by His grace!

Why might not God have left you--to the same excess of wickedness? Think with yourself, O Christian--why should God be more merciful to you, than to another? Why should He snatch you, as brand plucked out of the fire--and not him? How should this make you to adore free grace! What the Pharisee said boastingly, we may say thankfully--'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers, etc.'

If we are not as wicked as others--we should adore the riches of free-grace! Every time we see men hastening on in sin--we are to thank God that we are not such! If we see a crazy person--we thank God that it is not so with us. When we see another infected with the plague--how thankful are we, that God has preserved us from it! Much more when we see others under the power of Satan--how thankful we should be, that this is no longer our condition!"

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. - Titus 3:3

Monday, November 26, 2007

Our Entertainment: The Cultivating Of Holiness - Part 3


Review of the principles relating to entertainment.

Romans 12:9 – Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
Abhor – Detest utterly, have a horror of.
Psalms 101:3 – I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.
1 Thessalonians 5:21,22 – Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Romans 6:19 – Simple concerning evil.
Simple – Without a mixture of evil, innocent.
Psalms 119:37 – Refrain from beholding vanity.
Job 31:1 – Covenant with my eyes to not look upon a maiden.
Philippians 4:8 – Think on these things.
Proverbs 17:15 – Condemning the just and justifying the wicked.
Romans 1:29-32 – Do these things and have pleasure in them that do them.
Ephesians 5:15,16 – Redeeming the time.
1 Corinthians 15:33 – Evil communications corrupt good manners
Communications – Communion, companionship, intercourse.
Romans 14:23 – Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

The virtue of reading.

1Timothy 4:13 - Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
Paul understood the vaule and virtue of reading and encouraged the young preacher Timothy to that end.

2Timithoy 4:13 - The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.
Paul wanted his cloak, his books and especially the parchments. He wanted that which would compfort him physically, his cloak. He wanted that which would occuply him intellectually, the books. He especially wanted that which would challenge him spiritually, the parchments.

Proverbs 13:20 - He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
You may ask what this has to do with reading. It has everything to do with reading because there is more than one way to walk with wise men. We can walk with wise men through the things they have written. This affords us the added luxury of walking with wise men who lived long ago. I personally love to walk with Spurgeon in his sermons.

Ecclesiasties 12:12 - And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
Fact is there are more books than we can ever read. So we can afford to be "picky". We should only read good books and books that challenge us intellectually and/or spiritually. We should read books that educate us.

Acts 19:19 - Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
Obviously not all books are good books. Once these people were saved that gathered their book dealing with the occult and burnt them. They did not confiscate others book but burned their own. Having determined they were bad they did not sale them or give them away, they desposed of them. In this case fire was the chosen means of disposing of the ungodly books.

Guarding our reading.

Be careful about novels. Be cautions about a diet of reading that consist mainly of fiction. As the years have gone by I have come to realize that nothing is as exciting as a true story. It seems to be more prudent to read about real events and real people rather than fictional chracters and events. With fiction you have been exposed to a good story. With non-fiction you have been exposed to a good story and been educated about real people, places, and events.

Romance books should be avoided. I cannot think of one good reason to read romance books. By their very nature they arouse the passions and make real life seem dull and unattractive. They tend to create a thirst that can only be quenced by stronger material. Even Christian romance books should be avoided.

In our reading we should be concerned about some of the same areas that concerns us with movies and television: language, ungodly behaviour extolled, biblical values trampled, Sexually suggestive or explicit material.

Good reading.

The Bible. This is the one book with which we can never go wrong. It will challenge us intellectually and spiritually. It will give us the story of some of the greatest men and women that ever lived. I will open the mysteries of life to us and lead us to everlasting life in the world to come and abundant life in the world now present.

Sermons. I would admit that this is probably an acquired taste but one that is well worth developing. The thing to do is find an author of sermons that you enjoy and you find challenging and then you can try others once you develop a taste for reading sermon. Some authors that I have found very challenging when it comes to sermons is Spurgeon, F B. Meyer, Tozer, and recently Ryle.

Theology. Again this probably requires an bit of effort to acquire a taste for it but again it is a worthwhile effort. Granted, There are many authors who have doe theology a great diservice in the way they have presented the material, that is in a purely academic tone. Theology should be alive and impact our lives. A good writer on theological topics will capitalize on this reality. There is nothing better than reading a book that causes you to see things in a different way, and make connection you have never made before.

Apologetics. In a world that is quickly becoming increasingly agnostic/atheistic apologietics is an important area to do some reading. Again, some of this reading can be very difficult but then again some of it can be challenging and helpful. I think it is important to have a basic understanding of apologietics of the Christian faith so that we can answer the legitimate questions of those who have been influenced by the anti-christian culture, raise questions in the minds of the true agnostic/atheist, and most important to have our own faith strengthened.

History. Our people are woefully undereducated when it comes to history. There is more that happened in the past than any one person can know, but we should strive to be ever learning. I have generally focused my attention on American history and Religious/Baptist history. These are my two areas of interest. But there is always something exciting to read in the area of history. When we read history we are reading about true things that really happened and people that really lived. My favorite author in this area is David McCullough. Unfortunately he has only written a few books, but the sparsity of material is made up for by the engaging narriative in which it is presented. Who would ever think you could write a book about a bridge and it be interesting. David McCullough did that with the Brooklyn Bridge.

Political/economic philosophy. It is in reading in this area where one begins to understand the difference between a pure Democracy and a Republic. The origin of liberties. The role of government. The right to property and wealth. The concept of legal plunder and many other priciples that have a direct impact on us today.

Educational. I suppose this would include all of the above and is the reason I encourage the reading of non-fiction. We are by nature ignorant creatures, we should not be satisfied with not knowing.

Does my reading material encourage me to abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good?
Does my reading material cause me to set evil things before the eyes of my imagination?
Is my reading material in keeping with abstaining from the appearance of evil?
Does my reading material allow me to remain simple concerning evil?
Does my reading material encourage the beholding of vanity?
Does my reading material incite lust?
Does my reading material encourage thinking upon things that are virtuous?
Does my reading material condemn the just and justify the wicked?
Does my reading material cause me to take pleasure in those things that are against God?
Is my reading material a good use of time?
Does my reading material put me in contact with evil communications that will corrupt good manners?
Can I enjoy my reading material with the certainty that it does not offend God?


Computer/video games are subject to the incremental introduction of worldliness.

Pong. You probably have to be almost 40 years old to remember that. It was just a little ball that was batted back and forth across the screen with two paddles controlled by two knobs that were held by the two players.

Pac Man - Most of us over 25 or 30 remember Pac Man. The little guy that made his way through the maze gobbling up little dots and assorted other things that appeared for points.

Video games that encourage role playing. Anyone that can remember either of those and has any familiarity with the moder video games knows they have come a long way and it has not generally been in a good direction.

Back in the mid 80’s when dungeons and dragons was popular most discerning Christians recognized the dangers of role-playing. With the introduction of video games far too many have compromised their discernment.

Would you let the person, in which your child/adolescent is playing the role, in your home and fellowship with your child for 2, 6, 8, hours a day???
Do we really want our children/adolescents playing a role that by its very nature is contrary to the person of Jesus Christ?
Do you want them playing that role in real life? If not why do you let them do it in make believe?
Children and even adults can lose their grip on reality by playing these kinds of games.

Videos games with increasing sexual exploitation, scantily clad women.
Videos games with an emphasis on violence, killing, blood, gore.
Driving a car is fun and games and not a serious responsibility with lives at stake!

At least it gives the kids something to do??? This is extremely bad reasoning to allow something in the way of entertainment?

We allow characters in our home that we would never allow in person.
We allow language to be used in our home that we have banned under all other circumstances.
We allow immodesty in our homes that in other venues would cause us to blush.
We allow violence in our homes (blood and gore) that would violate our sense of decency in real life.
We allow immorality to be paraded before our children that we say we are against.
We allow the ridicule of the things that we hold dear.
We allow the atrophy of the intellectual powers of our families in contrast to our stated position that we are to be getting wisdom and with all your getting get understanding.

It has been realized that gaming can easily become a form of psychological addiction.

The person needs more and more of a substance or behavior to keep him going.
If the person does not get more of the substance or behavior, he becomes irritable and miserable.

Folks we need to be honest about how connected our children are to these games. We need to be honest about their power to influence. Every video/computer game you allow your children to play is teaching them something.
Is it teaching them what you want them to learn?
Is it molding their character into what you want it to be?

Too many kids spend too much time hitting on a keyboard or a hand held controller! We need to guard our video/computer games.
Honestly examine their content.
Honestly examine the nature of the game (role-playing).
Honestly examine the amount of time spent. Parents control it.

Does my video/computer game encourage me to abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good?
Does my video/computer game cause me to set evil things before the eyes of my imagination?
Is my computer/video game in keeping with abstaining from the appearance of evil?
Does my video/computer game allow me to remain simple concerning evil?
Does my video/computer game encourage the beholding of vanity?
Does my video/computer game incite lust?
Does my video/computer game encourage thinking upon things that are virtuous?
Does my video/computer game condemn the just and justify the wicked?
Does my video/computer game cause me to take pleasure in those things that are against God?
Is my video/computer game a good use of time?
Does my video/computer game put me in contact with evil communications that will corrupt good manners?
Can I enjoy my video/computer game with the certainty that it does not offend God?

You say this is what I do for relaxation and fun. Even what we do for relaxation and fun must be submitted to the scrutiny of God’s word.


The benefit of the Internet.

An unending source of information.
A great source of news that makes having a TV for that purpose unnecessary.
Personally research any topic.
An opportunity for ministry.
A great tool for communication.

The dangers.

Time waster
Surfing the Internet is risky business
Using the internet to compensate for boredom is a recipe for disaster
Pornography is a real problem on the internet
On line relationships can be a real issue and problem
Unless you know the people in real life you do not and cannot know for sure who they are or what they are about.

Guarding our Internet usage.

Does my Internet usage encourage me to abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good?
Does my Internet usage cause me to set evil things before the eyes of my imagination?
Is my Internet usage in keeping with abstaining from the appearance of evil?
Does my Internet usage allow me to remain simple concerning evil?
Does my Internet usage encourage the beholding of vanity?
Does my Internet usage incite lust?
Does my Internet usage encourage thinking upon things that are virtuous?
Does my Internet usage condemn the just and justify the wicked?
Does my Internet usage cause me to take pleasure in those things that are against God?
Is my Internet usage a good use of time?
Does my Internet usage put me in contact with evil communications that will corrupt good manners?
Can I enjoy my Internet usage with the certainty that it does not offend God?

Covenant Eyes is an excellent accountability program for internet usage. A report is sent as often as is designated to as many people as you want. They can see everywhere you have visited and how many times and how long. Questionable sites are highlighted at the top of the list. You can go anywhere but someone will see everywhere you have been. If someone attempts to remove the program the accountability partners are notified. We have the program both of our computers and the cost is $9.00 a month.

These are all important issues to consider.

Entertainment is stimulus. It causes to us to think about things. If our entertainment is causing us to think about things that are contrary to virtue it is the wrong kind of entertainment.

On what does our choices of entertainment cause us to think?

I started with entertainment because it has a direct impact on other areas of separation. Our entertainment influences the way we think and see the world. The way we think determines the way we behave. As I have closely considered the issues of separation I have become convinced that many people cannot or will not grasp the principles that come to bear on separation because of their entertainment choices. They spend hours a week watching worldly TV and movies. They spend hours more listening to the world’s music with its sensual beat and emphasis on rhythm. They spend hours on video/computer games that at bare minimum deprive them of time that could be used to cultivate virtues. And now we have the Internet to round out our diet of worldly carnal appetites. Having a couple of generations that have gorged themselves on the world’s entertainment it is no wonder that separation is becoming a relic of past generations. So, now it is not only the unbeliever who scoffs at a believer’s separation convictions the carnal, worldly believer has also taken up the mantle, belittling and scoffing at any pretense to perfect holiness in the fear of God.

What we expose ourselves to in the name of entertainment and amusement is of no little consequence. It will largely determine the degree to which we are willing to pursue holiness. It will dictate our appetite for righteousness. Jesus said, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Not those who hunger and thirst after the latest movie, CD, or video game. In either case what we hunger and thirst after is what we will be filled with and what we are filled with will be manifested in our lives.

Is there anything you are unwilling to give up that is keeping you from pursuing holiness?

It is blindness of the first degree to think that the Bible has no principles whereby our entertainment choices are to be governed. Most people just do not care. They know what they like and they have no interest in having their choices of entertainment challenged, even on the basis of God’s word.

We have devoted several posts examining the clear principles of Scripture that lend themselves to application in the area of entertainment. Having set forth the Biblical premise for the examination of the options available to us for entertainment the responsibility is now ours to see how our entertainment choices measure up.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Be Acquainted With The Whole Range Of Sensual Desires

The following is from a message by Richard Baxter entitled, "The Sinfulness of Flesh-Pleasing

"Be acquainted with the whole range of sensual desires, and pay attention to them, and watch them in all their extravagances. Otherwise, while you are stopping one gap, they will be running out at many more. I will here briefly set some before your eyes:

1. Watch your appetites as to food and drink--both quantity and quality. Gluttony is a common sin. The flesh enslaves men most--by the appetite; as we see in drunkards and gluttons.

2. Take heed of the lust of uncleanness, and all degrees of it, and approaches to it; especially immodest embraces and behavior.

3. Take heed of ribald, filthy talk, and love songs, and of such sensuous snares.

4. Take heed of too much sleep and idleness.

5. Take heed of taking too much delight in your riches and lands, your buildings, and delectable conveniences.

6. Take heed lest honors, or worldly greatness, or men's applause--become too great a pleasure to you.

7. And take heed lest the success and prosperity of your affairs do too much please you--as the rich fool.

8. Take heed of an inordinate pleasure in your children, relations, or nearest friends.

9. Take heed of a delight in vain, unprofitable, sinful company.

10. Take heed of fineness of apparel--to set you out to the eyes of others.

11. Take heed of a delight in romances, novels, useless news--which corrupt the mind, and waste your time.

12. Take heed of a delight in any recreations which are excessive, needless, devouring time, discomposing the mind, enticing to further sin, hindering any duty--especially our delight in God. They are miserable souls, who delight themselves in such unprofitable things--as cards, and dice, and theaters, and immodest dancing."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Psalms 95:2 - Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

Things For Which I Am Thankful:

Salvation – As of November 5th I have been saved 37 years
Call to the ministry – As of July 3rd I have been called to preach 30 years
I am thankful for the King James Bible
I am thankful for the Baptist church

I am thankful for my wife of 25 years

I am thankful for all of my children, their respect, love, and devotion
Sara who always said she was only going to have two children and is expecting her fourth
John who has proven to be a better husband than what I expected
Caleb who is all you could hope for in a son
Heather who I count as one of my own
Olivia who is deserving of a strong, disciplined, spiritual man
Daniel who has more gusto than just about anyone I know
Kimberly who is our gifted and talented child
Lydia who is my baby and deserves to live on a farm

I am thankful for my grandchildren those living here and in heaven

I am thankful for my parents
I am thankful for my brothers and sister

I am thankful for Bro. Taylor

I am thankful for books
I am thankful for not having delivered my last pizza, Lord willing
I am thankful for the insurance that is provided through my bus driving
I am thankful for computers
I am thankful for the Internet
I am thankful for my study at home
I am thankful for my van
I am thankful for a perfectly good leather recliner that someone had set out and we picked up
I am thankful for a big desk
I am thankful for reasonably good health
I feel good nearly all the time
I am thankful for our church camping trips

I am thankful for the opportunity to pastor one of the Lord’s churches
I am thankful for each member of my church
Their special gifts and talents that keep this ministry growing and functioning
Their commitment to this church
Their faithful attendance
Their vigorous support for and love toward your pastor
Their love for truth
Their love for preaching
Their patience with me

Psalms 26:7 - That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Second Ammendment Case Before The Supreme Court

"Gun-control organizations seem worried that the Supreme Court will agree with the D.C. appellate court that the Second Amendment affirms an individual right to keep and bear arms. Such a ruling would seriously weaken the nationwide web of gun control laws enacted over the last 40 years, and groups like the Brady Campaign (formerly known as Handgun Control, Inc.) know it. Brady spokesman Paul Helmke admitted in an Associated Press article on October 4, that his organization suggested that D.C. not appeal the issue for fear of losing.

As with all matters before a court, the outcome of D.C. v. Heller is not certain. But it seems that the planets are lining up for champions of the Second Amendment. There is no longer any doubt that the founders meant it to affirm an individual right to keep and bear arms, and that the so-called collective right of the states is a fabrication. If the amicus brief of the American Academy of Pediatrics is any indication, the gun ban movement has not only run out of steam, it has run out of credible arguments for denying D.C. residents, and other Americans that most natural of rights — the right to self defense."

The preceding is taken from an article on by Timothy Wheeler.

Just the past week the High Court has agreed to hear arguments in the case District of Columbia vs. Heller. A District Court recently struck down a law banning the ownership of handguns in D.C. The District of Columbia has appealed the decision. I believe the High Court will hear arguments in March with a decision expected in June. This will likely place this issue front and center for the upcoming Presidential election. This will not bode well for Giuliani who has a record of being against handguns. It would be interesting to know if he carries one??

The second amendment states: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

I honestly do not know what makes this so hard to understand especially when you consider that most of the Revolutionary Army was manned by men bringing their weapons from home to fight off British tyranny and oppression.

The amendment acknowledges:

Security is maintained through the bearing of arms.
Freedom is maintained through the bearing of arms.
The people are to be equipped to be called on by the State for its defense.
The right to keep and bear arms is a right of the people.
And what is so hard to understand about, "shall not be infringed."

I am a strong supporter of the right of the people to keep and bear arms for defense. I do not personally own an arsenal. I do own sufficient firepower to provide protection for my life and property. I don't anticipate ever having to use it and would only do so under the most alarming of circumstances. I would never shoot someone to kill them but I would shoot them to stop their aggression and violation against persons or property.

The right to self-defense is a basic human right and I do not want the government stripping me of the tools needed to provide a reasonable defense. I hope the High Court will get this right and come down on the side of personal liberty!

The rest of the article by Timothy Wheeler can be read here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

No Longer A Pizza Packing Preacher

That's right. If you have closely observed my header you will notice that the part about me being a Pizza delivery man is no longer there. It has been there for 17 years........

That's right for 17 years I have delivered pizza for Dominos. "Nobody knows like Dominos how you like pizza at home."

I have delivered Pizza because the church I pastor is small but I might add growing with young couples with children. Praise the Lord.

To be quite honest I started driving a school bus a couple of years ago in order to get out of the pizza business. Several reasons.

1. Reduced delivery area meant fewer deliveries.
2. Increasing fuel cost.

Bottom line: delivering pizza was not as lucrative as it once was.

But I did deliver pizzas for 17 years. Most of the people working there when I quit were in diapers when I started.

When I started there were no computers in the store. I saw it go from writing the order out to punching the order in on a keyboard to touch screen.

When I started I was only a few years older than most people that worked there, some were even older. I was 28. When I quit I was a grandpa, and people were calling me Mr. McEntire!

When I started we did not have conveyor ovens we had two chest ovens stacked one on top of the other. They would hold six large pizzas a piece for a total of twelve in the oven at the same time. You had to spin them around to get them to cook evenly. You had to alternate the placement of the pizzas because when you took a pizza out that spot will be relatively cool. That was called oven tending. Now they go in one end of the conveyor oven and come out the other and they call that oven tending. Their is no tending to be done. Just take it out when it gets to you.

The store I worked out of in Freeport, yes for all 17 years was remodeled twice. Two different owners, although I worked for the same owner for 16 of those years.

I wore four different uniforms.

The small pizza became the large pizza, and a smaller pizza that we did not sell at the time became a medium pizza. The original large pizza came back a few years later as an extra large pizza. There were a few astute customers who realized the pizzas were smaller. Good for them.

I have worked for eight different general managers, more assistant managers that you can shake a stick at, and more mangers in training than the stars in the sky and the sand of the seashore.

I wish I had a nickle for every box I have folded. I surely would be well on my way to being independently wealthy.

I have seen the work ethic of young people deteriorate dramatically in 17 years.

When I went to work there my brother who was an assistant manager at the time trained me. Since I have worked there my father has worked there, and both of my sons, one is there tonight. My sons have been mowing the yard at Dominos since my oldest son was about eleven. He is almost 23.

I was not involved in one accident while driving. I had one citation for speeding in an area where they had put up new signs indicating the speed limit was 20????(not a school zone)

I worked until 4:00 one morning and that was enough!

Yes, I still love pizza and could eat it several times a week! Pepperoni, hamburger, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, extra cheese on original crust, please! (jalapenos sometimes)

I was never robbed. When I delivered to suspect places in the dark I made it a point to walk in such a way to send the message: "Do you really want a pizza that bad!"

I have had naked children come to the door, drunks unable to count money, men in their underwear, women hide behind the door disrobed (one time at a motel room), a bra thrown over the door, people wait for their penny change, a $50.00 tip, children keep the tip money, smell dope ten feet before you get to the door, threatened by dogs several times, people unintentionally give me too much money, several people give me ten or more dollars in change (and not all quarters, not even mostly quarters) and it is not enough (yes I always counted it), and they don't bother to put it in a bag (would they do that at the grocery store?), countless people say, "did you bring me a pizza?" I always wanted to say, "Well, did you order one?"

I brought home lots of pizza!

I have, Lord willing, delivered my last pizza and I am no worse for the wear! Can't say the same for all the cars I have driven.

Old pizza men never die, they just fade away!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Three Hundred Posts

Let me take the occasion of this 300th post to thank those of you who take the time to periodically read what I write here. Some who read here agree, some do not, I am thankful for all who read. I don't even expect everyone to agree with everything they find here. We can't all be right ;-)

I started blogging because I love to write. I like to express opinions. I like to approach controversial issues. I enjoy making an attempt to be thought-provoking. And.....well.....I'm fullypersuaded about a lot of things.

As I look back over my labels I see that most of my posts are under the heading of personal (67)

From their in descending order filling out the top 10 are:

2. Holy Living - 43
3. Christian Living - 42
4. Doctrinal - 25
5. Politics - 24
6. Cultural Issues - 21
7. Book Reviews - 17
8. Spurgeon - 16
9. Evangelism - 14
10. Ministry - 11

This is not counting the miscellaneous category which had 12.

As I consider these different topics I think the emphasis accurately reveals my view of the Bible and its relevance to the believer. I believe the Bible addresses the relevant questions of our day either by precept, principle, or pattern. The Bible is not just a book that is suitable for theological discussion but it is also suitable for real life discussion. There are many who accept the Bible as authoritative in doctrine but not for life. I have never really been able to figure out how we separate what we believe from how we live!

2 Peter 1:2-4 - Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

He has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness. This is where the majority of my posts have been directed; holy living, and Christian living. Why? Because I believe God has an interest in our life and godliness! He has given us all we need to live life as it ought to be lived, that is unto glory and virtue. And all of this is made possible through our knowledge of him. And where might I ask do we get our knowledge of him? If not from the Bible then I would be at a loss as to where. Where are we to find these exceeding great and precious promises? In the Bible! What is the purpose of our growing knowledge of him and these great and precious promises? That we might be partakers of the divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world through lusts.

I don't know about you but I am not enough of a partaker of the divine nature, I am still to bound to my lusts and the corruption it creates. Thank God for a Bible that expresses to me the will of God, promises me the power of God, assures me of victory through God, and warns me of the fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God!

Consequently I make no apology for applying the Scripture to every aspect of daily living. I am not wearied with seeking the mind of God on a matter in the pages of the Holy Oracles. In fact I am delighted to have access to the words of one who knows everything so I am not dependent upon the words of those who know nothing, including myself!

This is the framework from which this blog is presented and that is likely to remain true.

Thanks for reading and for those of you who have commented a double thanks, even those who have disagreed. For those of you who have linked to my blog I am humbled and the traffic it creates is appreciated!

Keep reading even if you never comment. Where you think I got it right be glad. Where you think I am a fringe lunatic be assured the feeling is mutual ;-)

Off to 301........

Directing Traffic

This is Homer playing football with the guys. He and his wife were saved earlier this year and are being discipled by a man who I won to the Lord ten years ago who has since surrendered to preach. Homer and his wife are some of my spiritual grandchildren. It is such a blessing to have them in the services and see them being so attentive and responsive to the Word of God. Their testimony as to what God has done in their lives is as good as it gets. They are already reaching out to family and friends with the gospel.

Here he is directing his receivers but more importantly he is now being equipped to direct his family in the ways of the Lord and direct others to faith in Christ alone for salvation.

1 Thessalonians 2:19 - For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?

I Love Brazos Bend State Park

Saw these two American Alligators on a walk I took Saturday morning. I didn't realize it at the time but I now think they were taking an aggresive stance toward each other. See their mouths open?

Now do you see their mouths open?

How about now?

Well, how about now?

Which would you rather ride? A wild bull or a wild alligator???

I told you. They were not too happy with each other for some reason. I watched them fight in the water for about three to four minutes. Numerous pictures of which this is one. I almost took my video camera but decided not to lug it along. I should know better than to leave it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Has Not The Spirit Of Obedience

"Whether men understand us or not, we are bound to obey God in everything. No command which He has given can be so unimportant that we are at liberty to disobey it at our pleasure. When the finger of God points out the way, no place is left to us for human preference. And when we know the will of God, we are not only bound to obey for ourselves, but also to teach others to obey, so far as they are brought under the influence of our instruction . . . .The man who can disobey God, because the thing commanded is of minor importance, has not the spirit of obedience in his heart; and the man who, knowing the will of God, forbears to declare it, because the weight of human authority is against him, fears men more than God."

JOHN L. DAGG Pages 299-300 A Treatise on Church Order

(Charleston, SC: S.B.P.S., 1858).

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

So You Want Smaller Government??

"Committed conservatives, meanwhile, find themselves at a disadvantage: They advocate smaller government for everybody — when Americans generally (including most Republicans) want smaller government for everybody but themselves."

The above quote is from Jonah Goldberg editor at large for National Review Online. This quote largely explains the problem. Everyone wants a government to do their "bidding" instead of a government that insists that everyone do their own "bidding".

Cut the ethanol subsidies but leave my government funded child health care alone. Subsidize the steel industry but not the tobacco industry. Tax big business but pay farmers to leave the land uncultivated. People generally want government to shrink in relation to other people's interest but never their own. This is the natural tension created by a government that has embraced responsibility for many things for which there is no constitutional authority. And as Mr. Goldberg points out this is even true of Republicans.

You can see the rest of Mr. Goldberg's editorial here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Our Entertainment: The Cultivating Of Holiness - Part 2


A review of the principles:
Romans 12:9 – Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
Psalms 101:3 – I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.
1 Thessalonians 5:21,22 – Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Romans 6:19 – Simple concerning evil.
Psalms 119:37 – Refrain from beholding vanity.
Job 31:1 – Covenant with my eyes to not look upon a maiden.
Philippians 4:8 – Think on these things.
Proverbs 17:15 – Condemning the just and justifying the wicked.
Romans 1:29-32 – Do these things and have pleasure in them that do them.
Ephesians 5:15,16 – Redeeming the time.
1 Corinthians 15:33 – Evil communications corrupt good manners
Romans 14:23 – Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Scriptural considerations concerning music.
Does the Bible speak about music?
Song – 74
Songs – 20
Sing – 102
Sang – 12
Singing – 25
Singer – 2
Singers – 36
Music – 16
Musical – 3
Sung – 5
Psalms – 9
Psalmist – 1
Hymn – 2
Hymns – 2
Spiritual songs – 2
Instrument – 8
Instruments – 45
Trumpet – 60
Trumpets – 44
Timbrel – 5
Timbrels – 5
Harp – 29
Harps – 20
Organ – 3
Organs – 1
Stringed Instruments – 3
Psaltery – 13
Cymbals – 15
Cymbal – 1
Total 563 times.

This is not counting the other common phrases that have reference to music like “joyful noise” etc. . . .

Also this is not considering the fact that the longest book in the Bible is Psalms, which is nothing less than the Hebrew songbook.

It is difficult to make an argument that the Bible does not address the issue of music. The problem is that most people determine music choices based on what they like. Music choices should be determined based upon what God likes. As believers we should certainly have an interest in God’s view of music. We should develop our taste around things that please him.

When it comes to music tastes are developed. People have their likes and dislikes. I like hard rock, I like rap, I like country, I like classic rock, I like soft rock, I like blues, I like jazz, I like blue grass, I like hymns, I like southern gospel, I like praise music, I like some Christian adaptation of one of the above. . . . Most people never stop to ask themselves what does God like.

1Corinthians 10:31 - Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Can we listen to the music we like to the glory of God?

Colossians 3:17 - And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Can we listen to the music we like in the name of the Lord Jesus?

Colossians 3:23 - And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

Can we listen to the music we like heartily, as to the Lord?

These are important question that should be approached with courage and honesty before the Word of God!

The spiritual nature of music.
Singing in heaven.

Revelation 5:9-14 – And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
Revelation 14:3 - And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
Luke 2:13,14 – And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Job 38:7 - When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Revelation 15:1-4 – And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.

The devil is musically inclined. It could even be said a master of music.

Ezekiel 28:13 – Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.

We should not doubt that the devil is a musical creature. We should not be surprised and in fact should expect that he would use music to fulfill his own sinister objectives. Pagans have used music since the beginning of time.

Music is powerful.

1 Samuel 16:23 – And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.

If music can be used to drive a spirit away it is at least plausible that it could be used to call forth a spirit. Music has an impact in the spiritual world.

There is an abundance of material available discussing the impact that music has on behaviour. This is why it is used in retail establishments, restaurants, waiting rooms, and commercials. For the most part the only thing being studied is how and why music impacts behaviour.

We all know this instinctively. Do you not feel different listening to a light classical piece, or a John Philip Sousa march, or country and western, or rock, or hymns, or rap?

Classical music has the ability to create anxiety, peace, excitement, suspense, reflection, happiness, sadness, etc. . . .

An examination of secular music.
Rock music (hard rock, soft rock, punk rock)

The lyrics
It is a medium of music that extols immorality and drug use. It is often blatantly occultist in its themes. It is often anti-God.

The music
With its emphasis on beat and rhythm it is derived from African and Asian pagan sources. In other words from parts of the world that have historically been untouched by the gospel. Parts of the world where witchcraft, sorcery, and occult practices are and have been common practice. Where music has been the medium of conjuring up spirits and inducing mind-altered states, i.e. demon possession. I do not wish to take the time or space to validate these claims. Much has been written about this issue.

The musicians themselves have been very honest and up front about the nature, origin, and purpose of their music. It is meant to foster rebellion, loose morals, and be anti-establishment. Rock music has sought to capitalize on “shock value”. This is why every generation of music becomes more shocking.

The artist
They are typically immoral, rebellious, drug using, men and women who are encouraging that kind of lifestyle through their music.

How does rock music measure up to our Biblical principles for entertainment?
Would rock music be more honestly characterized as evil or good?
Would rock music put us in a place of hearing wicked things?
Can we listen to rock music and abstain from all appearance of evil?
Does rock music leave us simple concerning evil?
Does rock music cause us to behold vanity?
Does rock music cause us to have sensual, lustful thoughts?
Does rock music encourage us to think on the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, things of good report, virtue, and praise worthy ideas?
Does the music condemn the just and/or justify the wicked?
Does it cause us to take pleasure in those that live after the flesh?
Is it a good use of time?
Is my life being impacted in a negative way from listening to the music?
Can I listen to rock music with absolute assurance that God is not displeased with it?


The music
I, for one, am hard pressed to say that Rap is music. It is nearly all beat and rhythm. Melody is all but absent. It is basically a musical chant. With its roots in rock music the origin is ultimately much the same.

It is unquestionably vile. It is street talk formed into illicit poetry presented in hard beats and driving rhythm. It degrades women; it incites disrespect for authority (law enforcement). It is the music of gangsters.

They are largely gun toting, law breaking gangsters. They are involved in and encourage drug abuse and immoral living. Often times the low hanging pants and twisted ball cap accompany the persona that is created by rap music.

How does rap measure up to our Biblical principles for entertainment?
Would rap music be more honestly characterized as evil of good?
Would rap music put us in a place of hearing wicked things?
Can we listen to rap music and abstain from the very appearance of evil?
Does rap music leave us simple concerning evil?
Does rap music cause us to behold vanity?
Does rap music cause us to have sensual, lustful thoughts?
Does rap music encourage us to think on the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, things of good report, virtue, and praise worthy ideas?
Does rap music cause us to take pleasure in those that live after the flesh?
Is listening to rap music a good use of time?
Is my life being impacted in a negative way from listening to rap music?
Can I listen to rap music with absolute certainty that God is not displeased with it?

Country and Western (country music)

The music
Much of country music has embraced the more sinister elements of rock music. Why because it is powerful and addictive. Thus a more devoted fan base. The music is not the same as when the old cowboys were strumming a guitar. In fact Hank Williams junior was instrumental in popularizing the rock beat in country music. Also the Charlie Daniel's band too has been very influential in this area.

The music appeals to the flesh. There is a reason they call it “boot scootin’” music. It makes you want to hit the dance floor and do the “cotton eyed Joe”. Country music is utilized in many bars where “red necks” gather to pick fights and pick up women. Much of the music encourages this kind of behaviour. It is beer-drinking music. Creates a sad, depressed spirit that encourages one to drawn their sorrow with a twelve pack of “miller high life”.

The lyrics
Filled with themes about cheatin’ hearts, terrible jobs, heavy drinking, carousing, dancing, pride, sensual women, good-looking men, and “nobody tells me what to do attitude”. I spent a few years listening to country music during my adolescent years. I know first hand the kind of attitudes it encourages.

With country music someone always comes forward and says, “Well, preacher there is this one song that talks about family or country, or some other wholesome, worthwhile issue.” The problem is, even if that is true, and I’m not convinced, but even if it is, these people don’t just listen to that one or two songs. They are hooked on their country music.

The artist
Drugs and alcohol abuse are rampant. Immorality, adultery, fornication, adultery, etc characterize the industry. Immodest dress is the norm.

How does country music measure up to our Biblical principles for entertainment?
Would country music be more honestly characterized as evil of good?
Would country music put us in a place of hearing wicked things?
Can we listen to country music and abstain from the very appearance of evil?
Does country music leave us simple concerning evil?
Does country music cause us to behold vanity?
Does country music cause us to have sensual, lustful thoughts?
Does country music encourage us to think on the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, things of good report, virtue, and praise worthy ideas?
Does country music cause us to take pleasure in those that live after the flesh?
Is listening to country music a good use of time?
Is my life being impacted in a negative way from listening to country music?
Can I listen to country music with absolute certainty that God is not displeased with it?
An examination of sacred music.

The purpose of sacred music.
Psalms 13:6 – Sacred music is an expression of the Lord having dealt bountifully with us.
Psalms 21:13 – Sacred music extols the power of God.
Psalms 30:4 – Sacred music is rooted in an awareness of his holiness.
Psalms 40:2,3 – Sacred music is a reflection of a new song.
Psalms 47:7 – Sacred music expresses an understanding of sacred things.
Psalms 51:14 – Sacred music exalts the righteousness of God.
Psalms 57:7 – Sacred music originates in a fixed heart.
Psalms 59:16 – Sacred music extols the mercy of God.
Psalms 61:8 – Sacred music motivates to spiritual duty.
Psalms 69:30 – Sacred music is an appropriate channel for praise.
Psalms 77:6 – Sacred music is an opportunity for reflection.
Psalms 95:1 – Sacred music is an expression of joy.
Psalms 101:1 – Sacred music magnifies the whole of God’s character.
Psalms 105:2 – Sacred music tells the story of God’s wondrous works.
Psalms 137:3,4 – Sacred music is incompatible with certain environments.
Psalms 138:5 – Sacred music is characterized by the ways of God.
Psalms 147:7 – Sacred music is an expression of thanksgiving.

The expressions of sacred music.

Ephesians 5:19 - Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Psalms – A set piece of music, a spiritual ode. Striking the chords of a musical instrument.
Hymns – A song of praise to God.
Spiritual songs – Songs that deal with spiritual truth.

Singing and making melody. Not making beat. Not enjoying the rhythm. Good music has the emphasis on melody. All music has all three elements; beat, rhythm, and melody. In sacred music the emphasis should be on melody. When the emphasis slips into beat or rhythm then the music loses its ability to be a proper conduit for spiritual truth.

Colossians 3:16 - Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Music is to spring from a heart that has the word of Christ richly dwelling in it. How do we know if the heart has the word of Christ richly dwelling in it? People are quick to point out that we can't see the heart and thus have no valid basis for judging. They conviently over look the fact that the Scripture says, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh", and "out of the heart are the issues of life".

Spiritual music is not simply entertainment but to teach and admonish. The music we listen to does it teach and admonish us.

Singing is to be to the Lord. It is not to be seen of men. It again is not about entertaining. It is about spiritual ministry rooted in Biblical truth.

A graceless heart is not an appropriate channel for spiritual songs. It matters who is doing the singing.

The instrument employed.
Psalms 33:3 – Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.
Psalms 98:6 - With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.
Psalms 81:2 - Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.
Psalms 150:4 - Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Psalms 150:5 - Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Psalms 144:9 – I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee.

Stringed instruments.
Guitar, mandolin, Banjo, piano, etc. . .

Wind instruments.
Brass and woodwinds. Every thing from a Piccolo to a Tuba.

Bass drum, kettledrum, snare drum, bells, triangle, timbrel, chimes, cymbals and a host of other things that people can knock together.

This is where people often have trouble. Nothing is inherently wrong with percussion. The abuse of these things most often occurs in the form of a trap drum set!

Contemporary Christian music.
The term “contemporary” is another clear example of where the use of terms immediately places us at a disadvantage when discussing an issue. If one says contemporary Christian music is wrong then they are already at a disadvantage by the terminology used. The complaint can easily be made that, "You are just against anything new". We should not be against anything new, music or otherwise.

The proper term to use is not “contemporary” but “worldly”. The use of this term is validated by the testimony of those who promote CCM. They contend that their purpose is to give the world Christian lyrics presented in the kind of music they like. So they have opted to use the world’s music to transmit the Christian message. Thus the appropriate term is “worldly” music.

CCM itself is a broad term that involves many different types of music. A quick look in most Christian bookstores and you will soon get an idea of the kinds of music available under the “Christian” label.
Christian rock
Christian rap
Christian hip-hop
Christian punk rock
Christian jazz
Christian country
Christian blues

Some of the more subtle venues are:
Southern gospel

Succinctly put CCM is the blending of “Christian” lyrics with worldly music. The question becomes is such a blending appropriate. Where is the principle of separation that is so evidently set forth in the Scripture. Many believers listen to this kind of music because they are afforded the opportunity to listen to the kind of music they “like” while having their conscience soothed that it is Christian! Where is the obedience to the command to “ . . . .come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; . . . .” CCM producers, artist, and promoters will tell us that instead of not touching the unclean thing we should use the unclean thing to attract the world.

The music
Christian rock, rap, hip-hop, punk rock, jazz, and blues.

We still have before us the same problems as before. Inserting a few religious terms or themes cannot sanctify the music. The origins of the music is not altered simply because the word Christian is attached. The confusion of the antithesis in music does not elevate the nature of the music it lowers the use of the term “Christian”. Just because the music is bought under a Christian label does not justify the emphasis on the beat and rhythm while minimizing the melody. We are to be making melody to the Lord!

The lyrics
Rarely do these songs have any genuine theological content. In this respect the lyrics match the music. The lyrics are often sensual in nature. Is the person singing about their boyfriend/girlfriend or Jesus? If someone is singing something about Jesus or to Jesus that could be sung to their boyfriend/girlfriend then they are not duly worshipping the Lord. The singing is not spiritual enough in content! I have heard some of the songs that actually sound like a romantic relationship was in mind???

The lyrics are often universal. They could sing them to a thoroughly secular crowd and they would enjoy the lyrics just as much. Try singing Amazing Grace, All Hail The Power of Jesus Name, Redeeming Love, or The Old Rugged Cross to a thoroughly secular crowd and see how much they enjoy it. The enjoyment is diminished because the message is clear, and the cross once again becomes an offence!

The artist
The artists are at times as licentious as their counterparts in the secular industry. I just read a story in Reader's Digest about how Amy Grant and her present husband found themselves in love while they were married to other people?? Often times the only difference is that they don’t usually have the resources to exploit themselves like their counterparts in the secular industry.

Bob Larson in his book The Day Music Died, “Even if the lyrics of a religious rock hit might be non-objectionable to a Christian it should be remembered that anyone singing in pretense of glorifying Christ, without knowing him personally, is committing an act of blasphemous sacrilege . . . . There has undeniably been a trend in rock music to capitalize upon the name of Jesus for commercial gain.”

Southern gospel
Much of this music, I might say virtually all, has embraced the style of music that could be considered rock/jazz/blues.

There is nothing wrong with quartet music. The southern gospel music genre sprang from quartets that would gather in churches and sing for the edification of God’s people. As the music became increasingly commercialized it has become increasingly worldly. Now the emphasis is putting on a good show! It has become raw entertainment. Consequently most of the groups have at least one comedian in their midst. We should be careful about to whom we commit sacred music.

It is, as is all of CMM, heavily influenced by the ecumenical/charismatic influences of the day. They preach through their singing unity at the expense of truth. Their music is designed to elicit an emotional response. Emotion is not wrong. But religiously emotion should flow from truth and not artificially manufactured through the manipulative powers of music. Our music should stir our spiritual man, not our emotions. If our spiritual man is sufficiently stirred then the emotions will be stirred.

The cold/lifeless spirit in most churches has people craving for an artificial high that can be produced through music. Southern gospel is often guilt of targeting the emotions of a man while bypassing the spiritual man. It takes honestly and discernment to tell the difference!

Heavy on beat and rhythm. Melody is often nothing more than in the background providing the tune. The slow transitions of music over the years in this area have led many people to embrace a genre of music that they would have rejected at the outset.

Often times this genre of music plays loose and fancy with the truth. They are more concerned with telling a good story than singing the truth. This goes back to the problem of eliciting an emotional response. At times it can border on the sacrilegious. Making light of Bible stories.

This is the problem I have with Veggie tales! If you want to simply teach a lesson on morality do not lower a Bible story to your own taste. Make up a story. Find a story in secular history.

They are for the most part entertainers. If I want to be entertained by music I believe there are some choices outside the context of sacred music that would be an acceptable alternative.

Praise/worship music.

Once again, the rock beat is heavily utilized. The music is usually very loud. The music is extremely useful in charismatic churches. Why? Because it creates a certain atmosphere that is conducive to the “spirit” induced frenzy that they attempt to work people into. CCM and Charismatic movement are strong partners. Much of the use of this kind of music originated in charismatic churches. Many of the artists are charismatic.

Repetition is used with great impact. It is the heathen that use vain repetition in their prayers and their chants. It is often shallow beyond belief. There is little teaching and admonishing one another with these kinds of songs.

The Gaithers have been a major influence in this area. The charismatic movement has been fraught with highly publicized moral indiscretions.

A source for good music is

Music for entertainment.
There are some choices available. When I mention them you may say, “I don’t like that!” Well remember it is not about what we like it is about what we should like. More to the point it is about what pleases God. It will take a little bit of effort to find it. It will be worth it once you have altered your musical taste to things that are not an affront to your spiritual man.

Classical music
Some of this has probably been infected by the permeation of rock music in our culture, but it is still very easy to find classical music. Classical music offers a wide variety.

I think of the western ballads. Bury me not on the lone prairie. Git along little doge. Actually songs that were sung on the cattle drives in the old west.

John Philip Sousa
Patriotic, cution must be exercised here when choosing an arrangement. The point is there are many choices if a person is willing to look for them and is dedicated to making a change.