Category Archives: Biblical Thinking

Real Men Don’t Need Safe Spaces, They ARE Safe Spaces

Angry Girl SpaghettiRecently, I have seen a plethora of silly articles about patriarchy, cis-gendered masculinity, oppressive gender identity and the like.  Granted, men can be monsters — just like women.  Biologically, they have a predisposition to violence that is directly related to the presence of testosterone which is what causes dominance and aggressiveness.  But that does not mean that all men or even most men are Neanderthalish barbarians.  It means that we need to recognize the differences in roles between men and women and it also means we Angry Feminist On boardneed to lay off the millennial sport of bashing men and masculinity.

I believe that it is a good thing to be a man. God created men physically, chemically, biologically and spiritually to lead, protect, advance and demonstrate strength. To be otherwise is unnatural.

I believe that the role of “father” is a sacred role. Good dads aren’t insensitive louts, they aren’t lazy couch potatoes, they live passionately for their wife and children and they work hard to take good care of their family.

I believe that men ought to treat ladies with respect. They should honor them as the treasure that they are. They should watch out for them, protect them, make them feel special. Real men don’t need pornography – it is an insult to the wives, mothers and daughters to indulge in it. Real men treat the women in their life the way that they would want their daughters or mothers or sisters treated. It is tragic, to me, that so many women today have bought into a feminist mentality that precludes accepting the courteous behavior of a gentleman for the act of honor that it is.

Angry DadI believe that men can love God without being some sort of limp-wristed mama’s boy. God created man in His image. We can have His qualities as part of our character. We aren’t ashamed of our need for a Savior, our devotion to Christ, our submission to the Word of God and if we are – well, then our faith is as phony as our manhood.

I believe that men can be great husbands. We can have the character to remain faithful. We can have the passion to provide romance. We can make a commitment to stay with one woman for our entire life and keep it. We can take care of our wife, help her with the children, support her in her professional endeavors and love her without end. Real men don’t abandon their wives, they don’t hit on the women at work, they don’t ogle cheap women in real life or in advertisement or on screens and they don’t treat their wife poorly.  Real men never….as in NEVER raise a hand toward a woman, they don’t act threatening toward a woman and they understand the definition of the word “NO.”

I believe that men can keep commitments. I believe that a man will understand that a man’s word is his honor. A man who will not keep his word or who will not go to the offended when he has been unable to do so has a character problem that he needs to consider. I believe a man should consider his handshake as good as a notarized signature.

Angry Working ManI believe that men ought to be hard workers. We sweat, we smell, we work overtime, we have rough hands and we don’t quit until the job is done. Even when we play, we make it like work and usually end up hot, tired, bleeding or dirty. And almost always – hungry.

I believe real men are balanced. We can swing a sledge and cuddle a baby. We can change the oil and put a Band-Aid on a skinned knee. We can fight an enemy and shelter a family with the same arms. We can shout at the stadium or cry before God at the church. We are not one-dimensional.

I believe that men can be great dads. They teach kids how to bait hooks, throw a ball and Angry Daddyhandle the school bully. Real dad’s wrestle their kids in the living room floor until their mother about has a heart attack and when the kids get up, they are going to ask for more. Real dad’s work extra jobs to help their kids have a better life than they had. Real dad’s may gag at dirty diapers and tickle kids until they cry, but have someone threaten to harm their loved ones and you’ll see a toughness you could never imagine.

Angry GuysSo enough of the emphasis on gender fluidity.  Enough whining from triggered radical feminists who see every man as some sort of threat to their identity.  Enough of the feminization of this generations boys.  Embrace your role.  Enjoy your uniqueness.  Respect the differences.  Except your limitations and expand your strengths.  If you are a man, it’s a good thing.  And if you are woman, it is as well.

Women should not need “safe spaces” away from reasonable masculinity.  In fact, masculinity — rightly defined and executed — should BE the Safe Space for those who understand and embrace the reality that equality does not mean uniformity.

“Safe Spaces” in Churches? Say it isn’t so…

Unless you’ve been under a rock lately, you’ve been seeing a lot about leftist college snowflakes demanding “safe spaces” which block them from hearing words or seeing images that cause themSafe Space to be “triggered” into fear, discomfort, offense or a sense of alarm.  For the majority of sane and reasonable people, this phenomenon has been an easy target for snarky diatribes, lectures about narcissism and comparisons between this generation and the one that, say….stormed the beaches of Normandy, at the same age.  Yeah, it’s all a part of the ongoing consequences of the hyper-leftist, post-modern, self-indulgent atmosphere found in the indoctrination centers known as College or University these days.

However, as one who has been in ministry leadership now going into my fourth decade, I would point out something that will make some of my dear readers feel a mite uncomfortable.  It has struck me as no small inconsistency that the majority of those howling about the precious petals of tolerance who demand exclusion from intolerant bullies spouting ideas which they don’t affirm or with which they simply disagree are conservative….wait for it….CHRISTIANS (at least on my social media outlets.)

Now why is that a big deal?  Because for years, I’ve seen whiny church goers react exactly the same in the church du jours with amazing frequency.  “How so”, you might ask.  Let me give you a few examples…

  • I watched a family (of the fundamentalist variety) huff out of a church service never to return when I quoted (in honest context) a person they considered too liberal – John MacArthur (insert absurd laughter here.)
  • A lady once approached me to request that I notify her anytime abortion was going to be discussed at church as it made her feel “uncomfortable.”
  • There was the time someone left the church because we did not make announcements that no one should wear cologne, perfume or scented deodorant in a 2,500 seat auditorium because it made them sneeze.
  • I was once chewed out by a regular attender because he had to walk from the back of the parking lot because we had reserved a row of parking for guests.  (I invited him to find another place to worship and he obliged me…that very morning.)
  • We once had five families with loyalties to a particular conservative fundy institution of higher “learning” leave the church simultaneously when we introduced percussion instruments to the church orchestra.  (Though the same instrument had been featured frequently in pre-recorded music at that church for years.)
  • I’ve known of people who left their church due to Bible version disputes, because someone who spoke was not emphatically “young Earth” and stated that there were other valid interpretations of Genesis 1, when praise team members were allowed to hold microphones (it apparently reminded them of a night club…I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been to a night club), because of the type of tracts made available in the church tract rack, because a politician was allowed to greet the congregation, when a woman was allowed to lead in prayer, because someone raised their hands in worship, because people clapped after a special song, when their child did not win an AWANA award, because they did not get a special number in the annual Christmas production, because they didn’t allow a petition drive about a certain moral issue to be conducted in the lobby, because they didn’t approve of a book that the pastor read, because the pastor cited a Catholic theologian, because a mixed race couple was baptized, due to the discontinuation of a particular ministry (one in which they did not volunteer even), as a result of not receiving a hospital visit (they told no one they were going to be in the hospital), due to a line-item in the budget that they did not like, and honestly….I’m just getting warmed up.

In other words, at the first offense….they would run to their “safe spot” which was anywhere AA025799but at that awful church that had dared do, say, feature, stop, start, highlight, quote or some other action with which they disagreed.  But in those cases, they weren’t being spoiled narcissists with consumer-Christianity mentalities, they were simply showing “discernment” or “taking a stand”.  There’s a theological term of ancient origins that describes those attitudes — Childish.

Are there reasons to be “offended” enough to leave a church.  Yes, but they are not myriad.  In fact, the fast majority should be attached to a major Bible doctrine.  Yeah, deny the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection of Christ, the Blood Atonement, Sola Scriptura/Fide/Gracia/Christos and a handful of others and I’m heading for the exit.  But seriously, the offense meter of too many in the Body of Believers is set way over on the “over-sensitive” side.

Unity, Harmony, Peace — are not natural conditions of a fallen creation.  If they are to exist, it requires effort.  If we put as much effort at fighting for unity as we do in demanding that everything be up to our acceptance levels, we’d have far fewer churches and far healthier ones as well.  Scriptures tells us that we are to live peaceably with each other wherever/whenever possible and that was written to believers.

If you don’t disagree with something your pastor or the elders or your Bible Study leader says or does every so often, you probably aren’t listening closely enough or watching them much.  Shoot, I look back over my decades of ministry and there are multiple things that I’ve said or done that in hindsight I would do differently, better, more carefully or not at all.  Most of the wisdom I currently possess (which isn’t all that much) is primarily due to stupid things I’ve believed or done in the past.  NO one is always right (yes, that includes YOU, Donald Trump.)

Just like it appears that many “Millennials” are looking for reasons to have their feelings hurt on college campuses, many within the church are also creating controversies and offense where none really need to exist.  It’s OK to disagree with others over minor issues, style, non-doctrinal matters of theology, etc…  For pete’s sake, don’t be a child and take your ball (tithe money, attendance, volunteer support or whatever) and bail every time you don’t agree or get your way or the call doesn’t come your direction.  Such an attitude of self-absorption and entitlement corrodes and weakens.  In as much as our families are strengthened by diversity and through difficulties, so would our churches (and our college campuses and country) if we sort through these issues like grown-ups and quit demanding vacuum-sealed bubbles of faux harmony where we experience the echo-chamber of own personal nonsense.  Such actions create intellectually-spindly thinking and a lack of rigorous growth that comes with adversity, dialogue and challenge.

 

Thirteen Stats You Need to Know About Planned Parenthood

Margaret-Sanger
Source: Aaron Earls, Facts and Trends Magazine; www.thewardrobedoor.com

    The latest undercover video shows a Planned Parenthood doctor discussing the ways their lawyers have developed layers to keep them from being caught selling aborted fetal parts. As they pick through remains of an aborted fetus, the doctor says, ‘It’s a baby.’ Later, a medical assistant exclaims, ‘Another boy!’  Those are not problems of ‘tone’ as Cecile Richards, president of the abortion provider stated earlier, those are admissions of truth. They acknowledge the reality that they work so hard to hide.  As pressure continues to mount over the content of undercover videos (not to mention a lawsuit claiming they aided a sexual predator in obtaining an abortion for a 13-year-old girl), Planned Parenthood and abortion proponents have resorted to several tactics to survive.

“They’ve threatened/begged journalists not to show the videos. StemExpress, a company mentioned in the videos as one who buys the aborted fetal parts, has sued to block the release of the videos.  Yesterday, Planned Parenthood took its website down after it claimed to be hacked. Except, their source coding referred to the landing page as a ‘campaign,’ which makes sense since the hackers kindly left their fund-raising page up and operational. While a group of hackers did claim to get into the site earlier this week, they said they were unable to do anything to the site because it was so ‘terribly configured.’ 
    “Regardless of where this leads from here on out, here are 13 facts to keep in mind during the discussion concerning Planned Parenthood and abortion.

1).  More than 57 million — Since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States, there have been almost 60 million human lives intentionally ended in the womb.
2).  $1,303,400,000 — In 2014, Planned Parenthood earned over $1.3 billion in revenue, more than $528 million of that was from taxpayer dollars.
3).  62% — In 2013, around 6 in 10 Americans know that Roe v. Wade dealt with the issue of abortion. However, only 44 percent of 18-29 year olds could correctly say it was the Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion.
4).  Around 9 — David Daleiden, one of individuals behind the videos, says they have around nine more videos to release from the 300 hours of undercover footage they have. He says they heard Planned Parenthood officials repeatedly say “they make money off of selling the parts of aborted babies and have a profit motive in doing so.”
5).  21 seconds — Less than half a minute after releasing the edited version of their initial video, CMP released the full, unedited video on YouTube. Despite many news reports concentrating on the edited videos, CMP has released the full version of all the videos up to this point.
6).  1/174 — For every adoption referral last year, Planned Parenthood performed 174 abortions. Their adoption referrals, contraceptive services, cancer prevention services, and contraceptive services all declined, while abortions rose. In 2013, abortions made up 94 percent of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy services.
7).  0 — Number of mammograms Planned Parenthood does, despite repeated claims by them and their supporters. A Washington Post fact check says, “The problem here is that Planned Parenthood does not perform mammograms or even possess the necessary equipment to do so.”
8).  50% — For the first time since 2008, a full half of Americans self-identify as pro-choice. But more Americans, especially the pro-life, view abortion as non-negotiable item when considering a politician. Now, 21 percent of Americans will not vote for someone who disagrees with them on abortion—the highest number ever. These surveys from Gallup were conducted in May, prior to the release of these videos, so some numbers may have shifted.
9).  8 — In 2009, the most recent year for which data is available, the Center for Disease Control confirmed eight abortion-related deaths. Possible abortion-related deaths that occurred during 2010-2013 are under investigation.
10).  Nearly 3 in 10 — About half of American women will have an unintended pregnancy, and nearly 3 in 10 will have an abortion, according to the Guttmacher institute, a research group that supports abortion.
11).  34% — Prior to the videos being released, 34 percent of Americans said they were satisfied with the current abortion policies—the lowest number since Gallup began asking the question in 2001. The drop has come from Republicans. Only 21 percent are satisfied, the lowest number yet and down 22 points from 2008. In the last two years, satisfaction among independents fell to its lowest—48 to 36 percent. Among those who are dissatisfied, twice as many want stricter abortion laws.
12).  0 — Pew surveyed individuals in 40 nations, in none of them did a majority of people say abortion is morally acceptable. In 26 of the countries, the majority felt the practice was morally unacceptable. Slightly less than half (49 percent) of Americans believe abortion is morally unacceptable, 17 percent say it is acceptable, and 23 percent believe it’s not a moral issue.
13).  7 — Out of 198 countries in the world, only seven allow abortions after 20 weeks: Canada, China, Netherlands, North Korea,  Singapore, Vietnam and the United States.”margaret-sanger-quotes-colored-people-are-like-human-weeds-a-politics-1413320876
Dan back for a word of commentary — I cannot imagine how someone can claim to have any sense of morality, any claim to humanity, any identity with compassion, any semblance of Christianity and support abortion and/or Planned Parenthood once the view the videos being discussed.  If you haven’t viewed them because you are afraid they will change your view of Planned Parenthood or abortion, they you are not only a coward, but a fool.  To willfully remain ignorant of such an atrocity is akin to listening to the screams of the tortured and those being gassed outside of Auschwitz and whistling a cheery tune as you stroll into the distance.  Those who support abortion are on the wrong side of Truth, morality, philosophy, ethics, faith,  humanity and history.  You are no better than slave owners, sex traffickers and ISIS members.  You have no claim to any high ground; particularly moral superiority, regardless of your rationale or justification.  In short, you should be ashamed of your silence.  Those who participate in the industry should be tried and convicted of crimes against humanity.  I pray that someday they will be.

Thinking about Drinking Alcohol — Another Perspective

teetotaler_hdr

Take some time and read THIS interesting essay from the recent issue of Christianity Today.

I think this is a very good and reasoned argument for abstaining from alcohol. Not drinking has never been difficult for me — I didn’t grow up with it around me, I decided early not to imbibe, (once I make a decision on something — I’m completely bull-headed about it), I don’t trust myself and my tendency to get gun-ho about things, I’ve seen the utter destruction it causes in families and individuals, it costs more than I’m willing to pay and I don’t want the potential stumbling stone that it clearly is for some as I perform my responsibilities as a pastor and seminary prof. I’m as unwilling to say every use of it is sinful as I am to say every use of it is permissible. I just think it is mostly unwise — particularly in the life of a spiritual leader.

For my position, I’ve often been misunderstood. I don’t think it makes me morally or spiritually superior. I like carbohydrates way too much to think that of myself. More often than not, my non-teetotaling brethren have accused me of being a “legalist” or some sort of “religious fanatic” when they find that I haven’t/don’t/don’t intend to drink. In something that is a mild irritation to me, I find that my non-Christian friends give me far less of a hard time about not drinking than do most of my Christian friends. It’s like they truly don’t understand (or agree with the idea) that I’m just not going to start drinking at this stage in my life. To some, it would appear that this commitment on my part makes me some sort of circus freak. I’ve rarely had to endure intense questioning, polite “jabs” of “humor” or those smirks exchanged between others who think that I didn’t notice them from my non-believing friends. It’s not really a big deal…I’m well past junior high and peer pressure… but it is an interesting reality. I just truly find no “upside” that is Biblical for me to drink, therefore I don’t.

But I agree with this author that the pendulum has swung too wide on the topic. For all our emphasis on “not drinking to excess” or “avoiding drunkenness”, there are just too many stories of alcohol-fueled excess in the evangelical church today and I personally think it is because we’ve become far too frivolous about it. I just wish I heard anywhere near the amount of warning about it’s dangers as I hear the rationalizations and justifications for Christians to use it.

It’s a decision each of us must make — Christian or not. It should be made thoughtfully and carefully. It should not be made with a group of half-sloshed college freshman chanting “chug, chug, chug.” It should not be made when one is depressed or stressed and looking to escape. It should not be made because we desire to prove we aren’t fundy puritan legalists and want to show we really are enjoying the grace-filled life. Being a non-drinker should not be a commitment that we think will give us special status in the Kingdom, favor with God or immunity to other addictive tendencies. But perhaps we should look at the whole of alcohol’s impact — both potential and present. I think if we did, fewer of us would feel that our freedom in Christ need be demonstrated at the lip of a bottle or can.

So What Is Your Faith Worth These Days?

takeastandIt has been said that “a faith that costs little will accomplish little.”  Considering the trends that are rapidly taking hold in our American culture, we might well find out how much our faith is worth to us individually in the amazingly near future.

Much has been made in recent days of privately-owned Christian businesses which are being targeted by everything from boycotts to lawsuits to legislation for various positions the ownership has taken.  Chick-Fil-A was in the midst of a firestorm last year for comments made by one of the primary owners and officers of this 100% private company regarding the issue of the definition of marriage.  Shortly thereafter, competing “boycotts” and “buy-cotts” and even a totally failed attempt at a gay “kiss-in” were the topic of the month all over the news and internet.  Private evangelical university, Lynchburg, VA’s Liberty University (full disclosure: I am an employee of Liberty University) and craft and home accessory retail chain, “Hobby Lobby” have challenged different aspects of the so-called “Affordable Care Act” (aka “Obamacare”) which would require them to potentially provide abortion coverage in their health plans.  A similar lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the Sisters of Charity — a Catholic association of nuns — which objects to the requirement to provide birth control which violates their Catholic tenants.  In Arizona, Colorado and Washington State, multiple small business owners in the wedding industry have been sued and even run out of business because they want to deny services to homosexual “marriage” ceremonies.  Thus far, the courts have been ruling against them with regularity.  The Obama administration has unconstitutionally stopped defending the Family Protection Act which helped insure discrimination against those who do not want to be forced to violate their religious convictions.

The battles to stop government recognition of homosexual marriages has been lost.  The momentum is too strong.  The media and activists successfully categorized it as an “anti-gay” thing when the debate was really never anti-gay marriage, it was about having the government give legal recognition to a form of marriage unrecognized as legitimate for over 4,000 years of civilization.  There have always been homosexuals and homosexual couples — that wasn’t the issue.  It was about what it meant to define family.  Those who stand for historical and Biblical morality lost.

Today, even some evangelicals have called into question whether or not a private business owner should have freedom to discriminate based on religious convictions.  They are so interested in presenting a social reasonable definition of the Gospel that they are missing a bigger point.  If private businesses are to have any freedoms at all apart from the dictates of the state, then the state needs to stay out of them.  A private business owner who does not want to serve Christians or gays or Muslims because of their religious faith — even if it means they will ultimately not have sufficient income to survive as a business — should be allowed to do so without government prosecution.  Should a Muslim-owned business be required to sell pornography because it is a “first amendment” issue to have freedom of the press?  Should a Christian wedding photographer have to go to a gay strip club to record a homosexual wedding ceremony even if it violates their conscience to enter such an establishment?  Should a gay florist be required to hire a fundamentalist Christian to arrange bouquets even though it might drive away potential customers?  Where does the intrusion end?  With clients and customers?  What about with insurance and benefits?  What about hiring and promotion?  If religious organizations and private businesses aren’t free to live out their values, shouldn’t a private Christian school have to hire a lesbian PE Teacher?  Shouldn’t a church be required to retain a pregnant youth worker?  Would an atheist organization need to have a quote of evangelicals to demonstrate non-descrimination?  These are the very issues at stake right now — both constitutional issues and moral/faith issues and they don’t just affect Christians such as me and many of you who read this blog.

But on to the bigger question…

When the day comes — and the day WILL come as it has come to other generations in other nations before us — will we be willing to take a stand that would require us to pay a price?  Frankly, that might be just what the Lord has in mind for our future and it might not be an altogether bad thing.  Granted, I’m not looking to be some sort of martyr or activist.  My firebrand days are pretty much over.  However, it is a worthy topic for conversation and thought.  Would we, in fact, be willing to suffer loss, discrimination, opposition or worse for the values that come with our faith in Scripture and God.

Dead leaves and dead fish go with the flow.  Taking a stand causes ripples and waves.  Turn on a light and watch the cockroaches run for the shadows.  Put some salt on ice and watch things start changing.  Taking a stand on matters of propriety, morality, philosophy, ethics, values and conduct is going to exact some sort of price at the hands of those whose values are different than yours.

We should expect nothing less.

Years ago, my oldest son (now 26, but around 10-11 at the time) was on a city baseball league that made it to the playoffs.  He was a pitcher and was scheduled to pitch one of the playoff games.  The problem was that the game was scheduled for 10:00 on Sunday morning.  At 10:00 on Sunday mornings, our family is in church.  No exceptions.  Everyone on the team knew that we didn’t miss Wednesday nights or Sunday services for baseball.  Thus, he got there late and was a relief pitcher instead.  Now a decade and a half later, I have no recollection whether or not we won the game, but we do still talk about taking a stand for our priorities as a family.  We had told the coach that the first day of practice.  Sometimes we’d come to a game right after church as it was a few innings old and sometimes we left a game a few innings early to get to church, but it was church first, baseball second.  We didn’t ask for special consideration, we didn’t start a petition drive to change the game times, we didn’t gripe when it meant that he didn’t get to play as much.  It was just the price of having priorities that were important to our family.

(I often wonder if all the professing Christians in the country had a priority scale that placed spiritual matters before athletic events, if sports leagues would not be forced to take that into consideration when scheduling games.  I’m old enough to remember when they didn’t give homework on Wednesday nights so as not to interfere with Wednesday night church services and this was in PUBLIC SCHOOLS.)

Part of bearing the “shame” of the cross is to pay the price with patience that doing right costs us.

Take-A-Stand

For years, I’ve watched Orthodox Jews refuse certain foods and walk rather than drive to places on the Sabbath without complaint because of their beliefs.  I’ve seen Muslims stop and drop on their prayer rugs in the middle of airports during their pre-appointed prayer times.  I recall Jehovah Witnesses not participating in Christmas parties at public schools and Seventh Day Adventists not being able to play ball games on Saturday because of their religion.

So my question for evangelical believers today is “When was the last time you paid a price for taking a stand?”  So many of us seem bent on “blending in” so as not to “turn people off” and as a result — we’ve watered down the change that the Gospel should be having in our lives.  Today, dropping swear words and consuming adult beverages with the boys is considered an act of cultural evangelism as we emphasize relevance over holiness.  Our priorities are such that we adjust our lives around schedules that are filled with vacations, entertainment, recreation, work, athletics, etc… and if it is convenient, we’ll even slip a worship service or a ministry task in there from time to time….but as long as it doesn’t “cost” us too much.  We’ll sit silently while someone defames our Savior’s name with staccato emphasis and yet, some Muslims are quite willing to behead you for drawing a cartoon of Muhammad.    (I’m not suggesting we use violence, but do you think it is wholly inappropriate to request someone to stop staying “Jesus Christ!” as a curse in our presence and then kindly explaining why that name is special to you?  Does the name of “Muhammad” have greater value than “Jesus”?)

If we are to be salt and light in the world, then it might just mean we get turned down for a job (I experienced this a few years ago — passed over for a job at a charter school in favor of someone significantly less qualified because my resume was “too religious” — something that is potentially illegal, but let’s face it….it happens.)  We might have to turn off our cable in order to tithe or give to missions.  We might not be invited out with the important business associates because we’re not going to play drinking games or hit the local strip club and that may effect our job evaluation.  We might pull our kids out of an assembly or request an exemption from a certain course lecture or even not allow them to attend a certain party or school activity (ie…an amusement park’s “Night of Horrors” — something we faced in a Christian school in Miami that my children attended) and get labeled as “one of those” parents.

Right things are seldom easy and easy things are seldom right.

Just some things to ponder as we navigate this interesting culture in which we have called to be ambassadors and in which we are called to be ‘aliens’.

Signs of an Unhealthy Church

1healthyRecently, I’ve been doing some reading regarding unhealthy and even dangerous assemblies which call themselves “churches”, but which possess characteristics that defy the healthy components of a church we see discussed throughout the Book of Acts and many of the Pauline epistles.  Just for the sake of discussion, I offer a few warning signs of what I would call unhealthy churches.  Perhaps after reading these you might want to debate some of my conclusions or add a few warning signs of your own.

1. Does your church leadership tightly control the flow of information within its ranks suggesting that anything that is negative or which questions something is ‘rebellious’ or ‘gossip’?

2. Does the pastor use public shaming as a method to gain the compliance of followers or does he use the pulpit as a place to “call out” individuals who have crossed him?

3. Are all the previous pastors “unwelcome” back to where they once served and is there a rather regular cycle of pastoral resignations or dismissals marked by infrequent long-term pastoral ministries?

4. Is the pastor of the church the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or interpreting Scripture?

5. Does the pastor and leadership foster an attitude that frequently suggests that it is “them/us” against “the world” and that outsiders are constantly “out to get them”.

6. Are you instructed to dis-associate with any former members, being warned that they are “evil” or “back-slidden” and to be avoided and/or shunned?

7. Is leaving your group to join another church equal to leaving God?

8. Is the power of the church held by a single person (usually the pastor) or in a board that is unaccountable or outside of a defined Biblical role or office?  Does the governing board act like a board of directors more than a board of spiritual advisement and leadership or accountability?

9. If the church or leadership is questioned or challenged is it viewed consistently as a “spiritual attack”?1pointer

10. Are there a significant number of related parties that serve on the governing board or on the ministry staff?

11. Do you sense fear of rebuke or retaliation for respectfully voicing a contrary opinion or position?  Is there a freedom to disagree agreeably on non-doctrinal matters of lesser significance?

12. Is there a pattern of an inability to get along with others you would clear identify as members of the body of Christ but who may not hold all of the same position on non-doctrinal issues?

13.  Is there an unusual allegiance to a school/university, association, fellowship, tradition or “camp” which promotes a sense of spiritual superiority for those in the “group” and a disdain or spiritual deficit among those who aren’t?

14. Are the primary sermons more often personal diatribes or topical addresses that reflect the position of the pastor or association rather than expositional studies and explanations that examine the Scripture?

15.  Are there political, financial, educational or other non-Biblical demands made of the membership in order to fit within the fellowship or to be eligible for leadership?

This list is not intended to be exhaustive, but simply to open some discussion.  Feel free to jump in and share your thoughts.  What did I miss and where am I off base.  The lines are open for your calls!

Paul Walker — A Reminder to Those Who Teach in Christian Schools

Paul WalkerLast night, my Facebook feed lit up during the football games — not with crowing by Auburn fans, but in shock from Paul Walker fans.  He was a Hollywood actor tragically killed in a fiery car crash yeasterday afternoon in Santa Clarita, CA.

Frankly, having never seen a single “Fast and Furious” movie, I had never heard of him, but a lot of people really enjoyed his acting apparently.  I wanted to learn a bit more about him, so I did some searching and came across this article.  Walker professed to be a Christian and even shared his testimony.  Apparently, a major factor in his spiritual life was the education that he received at an evangelical Christian school.  As one who has spent over 30 years in Christian education at every level from classroom teaching to administration to graduate school professor, this was an important reminder to me.

Some of the students in our classrooms will grow up to be quite influential people.  Few people know that rocker Marilyn Manson attended a Christian school in Canton, Ohio for a time.  I knew one of his teachers.  Of course, he didn’t go by “Marilyn” at the time.  Shannon Breem from FOXNews fame graduated from North Florida Christian School in Tallahassee which was a prominent school in the association I served as President (FACCS) and she also attended Liberty University where I teach.  For better or worse, many students will pass through the classrooms of Christian schools around the world.  I’m so proud of many of the students who have been in one of my classes or schools in the past as they have become leaders of influence as adults.  I doubt that many thought Paul Walker would grow up to be a celebrity when he was a typical, punky teen in a Christian school — but he left his mark with his career and now with his death.

To all who teach young people in schools, public, private or Christian, I’m reminded of the great privilege it is to do so.  I used to have a speech that I gave to teacher’s conventions years ago entitled, “The Hand that Holds the Chalk, Shapes the Future”.  We may use dry-erase markers in today’s classrooms, but the principle is still the same.

Paul Walker looked back on his education at a Christian school as the base of his spiritual training that moved him away from Mormonism into a real relationship with Christ.  I hope his fans are consoled by that fact and my many friends in Christian education are challenged by it.

 

John MacArthur Answers his Charismatic Critics

Michael Brown, one of the proponents of many of the excesses in the charismatic movement, recently unloaded on Dr. John MacArthur in a couple of articles that were absolutely rife with ridiculous errors and suppositions.  I’m glad to see that John has decided to publicly refute Brown.  Brown became a celebrity during the so-called “Brownsville Revival” which took place in Florida where I lived at the time.  I literally saw pictures of people on all fours barking like dogs claiming that this was a “work of the Holy Spirit.” Balderdash.  This was the work of some amazing hypnotists and they belonged in a cheap off-the-strip Las Vegas show, not in a church.  While I have friends and students who attend charismatic churches and we sincerely disagree on which gifts are active today, Brown is on the far fringes of charismaticism and I’m glad John has called him out and is responding to him.  His response is well worth the time necessary to read it.

You’ll find it HERE.

The Auschwitz in Philadelphia…

abortion.jpgIf there was ever a death penalty case — this is it, right here. (<– Click on the link to read the article.)  How anyone can support abortion, politicians who support abortion, medical practices who recommend abortion, gynecologists who endorse abortion — is just beyond me.  This is intentional, pre-meditated murder and I believe both the medical personnel and the woman carrying the child should be prosecuted.  This “medical assistant” is as guilty as the SS Guard who dropped the acid tablets into the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

And enough of this mamby-pamby attitude toward females who want to get rid of their child — this is cold-blooded murder and they are as culpable as is the doctor.

abortion2.jpgWhiny liberals weeping at abused dogs and clubbed seals while support this genocidal butchery have ZERO credibility.  These are human beings — Defenseless, helpless, innocent babies. — who are being “put down” with less dignity than they’d give an aging Rover.  Anyone who feigns compassion for snail darters and spotted owls and unspayed kitties and doesn’t speak out against abortion is a hypocrite.

Where Do We Find the Faith?

afaith.jpgFaith was never meant for easy times.  It is rarely necessary then.  Faith is reserved instead for the hard times — those times when we are outraged or in agony, when God seem absent or apathetic, when no cliche will encourage and no sacrifice brings real comfort.  We need it in isolation, we need it when we find ourselves lonely in a crowd, we need it when all we really want to do is quit, give in, roll-up in a ball and go to sleep with the hope that we’ll never wake up to this current nightmare.  It is at THOSE times, when we dig deep and find our Faith — our hope, our confidence, our reason for continuing.  And then we blow off the debris of our sin and circumstances, the milieu of a fallen creation and the tsunami of debris that the Fall has created for all who live.  No, Faith is not for the easy times and rarely is it easy to have faith.  Faith is for the hard times.  Sometimes allowing Faith to be “enough” is difficult.  But without faith, it is impossible to really know him and the hope that only He provides.   –DLB