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Trial Redundancy by Scott Adams (of Dilbert Fame)

Friday, December 30, 2005

Tomorrow I intend to blog about an issue regarding trials and in particular the way that in our current system the trials occur in the media long before the actual trial takes place. However, to set that up, I want to draw your attention to a post by humorist Scott Adams on the problem of Trial Redundancy.

I know very little about Scott Adams other than that he writes the Dilbert comic strip and that he has a blog. I have been to his blog a few times now and find that it is often humorous and that at least a couple of times he has blogged about ID and the evolutionists stranglehold on the public education system. (Much to the chagrin of the "evolution is a fact, not a theory" crowd.)

Anyway, I read this post by Scott Adams that, while humorous, actually brings up an issue that needs to be considered.

Trial Redundancy

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of celebrities who have two trials for every one alleged homicide or molestation. First there’s the criminal trial, where the jury inevitably acquits him because of the high burden of reasonable doubt. Then there’s the civil trial and its lower burden of proof where the families of the victims try to make some cash out of the deal. Two trials for the same crime.

You and I are paying for this redundancy with our tax dollars! I say we band together as concerned (and cheap) citizens and change the law so that one trial handles the whole shebang. It’s easy, really. All you’d need to change is the verdict options. For example, juries could have the following choices:

Verdict Sentence
100% Guilty Kill him in a highly entertaining fashion and
give all of his stuff to the victim’s family.

Probably Guilty Just give his money to the victim’s family.

Slight Chance Set him free to date women who have inexplicably bad
He's Guilty judgment.

0% Guilty Execute the prosecuting attorney

It’s the last one that’s the real money saver. Before long, you’d weed out the prosecutors who really shouldn’t be in those jobs wasting our tax dollars anyway. It’s not a crime to attempt sending obviously innocent people to jail, but it should be. My plan would right that wrong too.

If my proposal doesn’t convince you to vote for me in the next presidential election, I can only assume you don’t make those decisions based on the issues.

Just his thoughts,


The Fair Tax

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

How much did you pay in taxes last year? If you think you got a rebate, you are way off! One of the premises of The FairTax Book is that the current tax system is so confusing and counterproductive that we don't even know what we pay in taxes and that, frankly, the system is broken.

I recently read The FairTax Book (a New York Times best seller) by Congressman John Linder and Radio personality (that is being generous) Neal Boortz.

I will preface this by saying that I have little like for Neal Boortz. I had not heard of him until I moved down here to Salisbury and found out that he is on the local talk station starting at 3:00 p.m. Since this falls in the time frame when I am in the car picking up my children from school (if I am the one getting them on a particular day), I have heard enough of his rudeness and ignorance to not be too impressed. He is unwilling to discuss issues like Abortion and he wrongly believes that Evolution is a Fact. Besides that, he just comes across like a real jerk to me with the way he treats callers and the purposely rude and obnoxious way he tries to make some of his points.

Having said that, I actually found the concept behind The FairTax Book to be something worth considering. The book is a simple and short read, but it basically boils down to replacing the income tax with a consumption tax. Now, before you think "I have heard that before" or before you jump to conclusions, there are some important things to consider regarding this plan, which I will get to momentarily.

For those of you who haven't read the book, a quick overview may be helpful here. The book consists of 16 small chapters (180 pages) and is written on a very simple level. They have a web-site which pre-dates the book and whose goal it is to get the Fair Tax initiated as law.

The Chapter titles give a good summary of what to expect as you read the book.

1 - The History of Our Income Tax
2 - ... Then Came Withholding
3 - The Myth of Corporate Taxes
4 - Our Current Tax Code - The Cost of Compliance
5 - The Embedded Costs of Our Tax Code
6 - Bringing American Business Back Home
7 - The Birth of the FairTax
8 - The FairTax Explained
9 - The FairTax Prebate: The Key to Fairness
10 - Underground and Offshore Economy ... Taxed at Last
11 - So We've Done It. What Happens to Our Economy?
12 - The Opposition - Where Will It Come From?
13 - Social Security and Medicare Under the FairTax
14 - Income Tax Outrages
15 - Questions and Objections
16 - Okay. Great Idea. So What Do We Do Now?

The first six chapters essentially set the table by discussing the current tax code and the problems of the current system. Particularly significant in this section is 1) a reminder of the subtle effect of withholding - it causes the typical taxpayer to be unaware of how much we are actually being taxed, 2) a reminder of the truth about corporate taxes - corporations don't really pay taxes, they just pass on the cost of the taxes to the consumers and 3) the high cost of compliance with the current system - an estimated $194 Billion in 2002.

The FairTax itself is then introduced, which is basically a straight consumption tax of 23% on all retail goods and services. There are a couple of key things that must be understood about this, however.

1. The book suggests that retail prices would essentially be remaining about the same once the FairTax is instituted since we currently are paying about 22% in embedded taxes for goods and 25% in embedded taxes for services already. In other words, we eliminate all the corporate taxes and taxes along the way to reaching a retail sale and the cost of the product is 22% less. Then we add the 23% onto it with a pretty close to zero-sum difference in cost we are paying.

2. We would have more money to pay with, since none of our earnings is taxed, only our consumption. Buy more things, pay more in taxes.

3. The fact that this tax is applied to retail purchases means that everything is only taxed once. No tax is paid on used items, etc.

4. Without the heavy corporate tax liability, there is no tax-advantage for U.S. companies to move off shore, keeping jobs at home.

5. This is just a change in the tax system, not in the amount of tax revenue. The rate has been determined by calculating in order to recieve the same amount of tax revenue as currently generated. The battle over how much is paid in taxes is a separate battle.

Now, you ask, WHAT ABOUT THE POOR? For any discussion that deals with taxes must come down to that. Well, the FairTax people have actually thought of that issue and have an answer for it - the FairTax Prebate. Essentially they take the figures that the government already figures to determine poverty levels, etc. and give everybody in America a check each month in the amount to cover what they should pay in taxes if they are going to buy enough to live during that month. So, for example, according to 2005 poverty figures, a married couple without children would receive a prebate for 366.83 a month - 1,595 x .23 - that would pay for their taxes on their basic living expenses each month.

Overall, I think the idea is a pretty good idea. While there are some similarities between this idea and the VAT of Europe, they are not the same (the VAT is added at various steps, the FairTax is only added at the retail level). I am not an economist (and I don't even play one on TV), but I think the idea is at least worth pursuing and refining as necessary.

Do I have any concerns? Yes.

1. The book paints a picture of all these American business coming back. Will that really happen? While some may be encouraged to come back, I don't think that taxes are the only thing that is driving business off shore. Eliminating the corporate taxes will place American made products on a better footing for sure, but less regulation, less litigation, and a cheap and eager work force also contribute to companies moving and these are not addressed by the plan.

2. After talking about the way in which we don't realize how much we pay in taxes because of withholding, it seems inconsistent to then place this tax imbedded into the retail price. In other words, if a newspaper actually only cost $0.77, the price would be listed as $1.00 with the 23 cents included before you see the price (state sales tax, etc. would then be added on as done currently in most states). Why not show the price as 77 cents and make people more aware of the 23 cents that represents the tax (and thus, hopefully, encourage fiscal restraint and an eventual lowering of the rate).

I am sure there are more, but those are two of the top of my head.

Just my thoughts,


File under Culture_War

2005 Family Christmas Letter

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Here is a copy of our 2005 Sansone Family Christmas Letter. Merry Christmas to all of those who do me the honor of reading "A Thinking Man's Thoughts."

Dear Family and Friends,

Christmas is a special time of year. We look forward to this time as a time to build special memories with the children and to make contact with families and friends that we sometimes lose contact with during the busyness of the year. We especially look forward to this season for the reminder that it brings us of the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, to the earth to live a sinless life and die a cruel death on the cross of Calvary to take away our sins. As Christina is fond of saying, "The thing I like best about Christmas is that it is Jesus' birthday."

This has been an eventful year in our lives. Starting last December 5, Frank began serving as Pastor of Messiah Baptist Fellowship in Salisbury, Maryland. We are excited to be down here in Salisbury and are excited to see what God is doing in our lives and in the lives of our church, but as in big move, there are a number of transitions that are difficult - not the least of which was leaving so many good friends back in New Jersey.

For the first couple months of 2005 we lived a little bit of a nomadic existence. We were still living in New Jersey and the kids were still enrolled in school up there, yet we were serving the church down here in Salisbury. That made for a lot of traveling as we waited to close on our house - Frank traveled down in the middle of the week for our Wednesday night prayer meeting and we traveled down as a family for the weekend. We appreciate the Insley family hosting Frank on Wednesday and the Berglind family for hosting the whole family on the weekends.

On February 28, we were finally able to close on our new house in Salisbury. We love the new house that God has provided. We have a nice big backyard with an above ground swimming pool (it got a lot of use this summer!) and the house is a three-bedroom house with a nice sunk-in living room. Lord willing and finances willing, one day we hope to convert the garage into a play room and a guest room.

Josiah (now age 9) began school at Faith Baptist School here in Salisbury as soon as we got down here and really liked school. He received an award at the end of the school year for the way in which he came and just "fit right in" with his class. Christina (now age 6) stayed out for the rest of the year and then began this year fresh in 1st grade. She is doing well in school, as well. Rebekah (now 22 months) has grown by leaps and bounds this year. She walks all over the place and gets into everything. We are thankful to the Lord for the children that He gave to us.

It has been neat to see the Lord working in our little church. We currently meet in two rented suites next to the Red Door Sub Shop in Salisbury. This location has limited us in our visibility, in our ability to have Sunday School and children's ministries, and in providing a sense that our church is here to stay, among other things. Despite that, however, God has been bringing new families out to the church and we are pleased with the progress. We are especially pleased that as of December 9, we have an agreement to purchase a church building that is not too far from where we currently meet. Lord willing, we will be closing on the purchase of our new church building at 1308 Robins Avenue in Salisbury.

One of the new attractions for us this year, has been visiting Assateague Island, about 45 minutes from our house. The island has a herd of wild horses that go throughout the island. While you are not allowed to touch the horses, they come up to you so that you easily could touch them if you were allowed. The island also has a nice beach area and other wild animals.

We are thankful to God for our family and friends and you are often in our thoughts, even if we do not communicate as much as we would like. We would love to hear from you and even have some of you come by for a visit. Drop us an e-mail or a letter some time, if you get the opportunity. We miss you and love you all.

In Christ,

Frank. Missy, Josiah, Christina, and Rebekah

File under Family_, Personal_

2005 Church Christmas Letter

Friday, December 23, 2005

The following is a copy of our 2005 Church Christmas Letter:

The Christmas season is upon us. A season in which there is much thought and concern put into the concept of gifts. Many children (and not a few adults) focus upon and delight in the anticipation of what gifts they may get during this season. Many adults run around from store to store consumed with getting the "right" gifts for all of those on their lists.

Too often in the hustle and bustle of what is going on at this season, we forget the most important gift of all - Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us in John 3:16 that "God so loved the world that He gaveHis only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The Bible relates to us the wonderful truth that Jesus Christ came to save us from our sin and that he lived a perfect, sinless life and died a cruel death on the cross of Calvary to be our Substitute and our Savior.

This is an exciting time at Messiah Baptist Fellowship. It is exciting to see new families coming out to church. It is also exciting because of the Lord's answer to prayer regarding a building. As of December 9, we have entered into an agreement to buy a new building. We are thankful to God for this answer to prayer and are looking forward to moving into the new building after the beginning of the year.

This is also a time of opportunities. It is a time for us to use the opportunities of this season to share with others the true meaning of Christmas. It is a time for us to use the opportunities of this season to gather together and worship "the new born King."

Whether you are a regular attender or whether you have not been out for awhile, we also have some specific opportunities and events at Messiah that we would like to encourage you to attend during this season.

Christmas Caroling and Fellowship. We will be going Christmas Caroling starting at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17. We will meet at the club house of the Greens at Schumaker Pond - just off Beaglin Park Drive on College Lane. If you can't make the caroling, but would like to still come to the Fellowship, you can meet at the clubhouse at around 5:30 p.m. Call if you need directions.

Special Christmas Morning Service. We will be having our Christmas morning service at 10:45 a.m. and are looking forward to a blessed time as we enjoy a children's program and celebrate with a special Christmas Candlelight Communion as part of our service.

Special Building Fund Offering. On January 8, we will be having a special offering to help pay for the new building. Please prayerfully consider what you could give on that date. Also, if you would like to give toward the building before the end of the year (for tax purposes, etc.), you can mark it "Building Fund" and we will count it as part of the Special Offering.

May God give you a Blessed Christmas in which the Gift of Christ remains foremost in your mind.

In Christ,

Pastor Frank Sansone

This was originally posted on my Pastoral Blog - The Pastor's Pen.

File under Church_, Personal_


Sunday, December 18, 2005

On Dec. 7, I posted about a great online Bible resource that I had discovered called The site had a lot of neat resources that I had not seen online before and I was looking forward to using the site.

Unfortunately, there is a new message at the site, which reads:

Will are looking to Reopen in January 2006

To be able to continue with our services, we are looking to charge a monthly fee of $2.

To make matters worse, as you read further down the page, you find this comment:

It is true that we do carry some works that are still in "copyright". BUT, we simply do not agree that these laws are pleasing to the Lord, as they clearly hinder His work.

While I may wish that Christian authors would willingly surrender their "copyright" rights in some cases so as to make the material available for those who could use the material, I do not agree with this site's decision to ignore and openly violate the law.

Sorry, Andy and others who had viewed the site and had as much hope for it as I did.

BTW, Andy, if you have not yet gotten E-Sword or PowerBible, one or both of these should prove helpful.

Just my thoughts,


She stands by her Man-nequin

Friday, December 16, 2005

For the "Too Strange for Fiction" category:

I came across this news clip today about a woman trying to cope with her husband being away for a Navy stint in a submarine.

A Woman and Her Mannequin

Please note: This is a video clip from ABC News and a high-speed connection is recommended.

I appreciate her husband's service to this country, but I would not want to be him once my crew mates saw this!

Just my thoughts,


The Best and The Brightest - The Idea of Fundamentalism and the Movement of Fundamentalism

Monday, December 12, 2005

File under Popular_, Fundamentalism_, Christianity_, Hot_Issues

I don't like having something in an incomplete state hanging over my head, so I am going to go ahead and post my final(?) installment of the The Best and The Brightest discussion that we have been having. I hope that I am not taking a bat to Man-O-War here (i.e. beating a dead horse).

For those just joining us, the articles in this series are given here:
The Best and the Brightest
The Best and the Brightest - Redux
The Best and the Brightest - Criteria for Evaluation
The Best and the Brightest - Handling Questions
The Best and the Brightest - The Idea of Fundamentalism and the Movement of Fundamentalism

As I mentioned in my post, The Best and the Brightest - Redux, there were essentially three areas that were brought up in the comments by Michael regarding the article entitled The Best and the Brightest.

My response to the first area is in the article entitled, The Best and The Brightest - Criteria for Evaluation.

My response to the second area is in the article entitled, The Best and The Brightest - Handling Questions.

This final post in this series deals with the third area that was brought up in the comments, namely, - what Fundamentalism are the young guys supposedly leaving?

In Michael's comments, he addresses the view that the young guys do not have a problem with the idea of Fundamentalism, just the movement of Fundamentalism.

Specifically, Michael made the following comments:

The second answer lies in our semantics. How do you walk away from fundamentalism? Most of the best and brightest who have left the movement still subscribe to the idea of fundamentalism. What does that make them? Traditional reasoning says if you are not a fundamentalist you must be a new evangelical or a liberal. This may have been true in the '60s and '70s, but I find fewer people and churches today define themselves according to a movement.

The issue that comes up from this comment is the question of the "idea" of Fundamentalism as distinct from the "movement" of Fundamentalism. I believe that this is an important issue, but an issue that is not quite so "cut and dried." I will also admit that I am still developing my thinking in this area, so don't take this as my final word on the matter as I think through it and be gentle as you rip me.

When we speak of Fundamentalism as a movement, of what do we speak? Is it the FBF? Is it the "Bob Jones Denominational Network" (to quote some of the anti-BJU propaganda)? Is it the Free Presbyterians or the FFBC? Is it the OBF? Is it all those who have been to The Wilds and thrown their stick in the fire? The reality seems to me that when you speak of Fundamentalism, there is a degree in which to speak of it as a "movement" is impossible if the concept of movement is monolithic. Even the bigger umbrella groups like the ACCC can't and don't claim to speak for the whole "movement" as the authoritative voice of Fundamentalism.

When I am defending Fundamentalism, I am not ultimately defending some movement that can be tangibly held to and supported - as such. The nature of Fundamentalism does not lend itself to being controlled and organized by some leader or group of leaders. Instead, when we speak of the "movement" of Fundamentalism, it seems to me that we are actually talking about a wide variety of groups who, while differing in many ways, are unified in that they agree in the importance of standing firmly upon the issues of the Fundamentals and the militant defense of those Fundamentals (including the practicing of separation from apostasy and from disobedient brothers).

I agree perhaps part of the problem lies in the semantics regarding fundamentalism. I am not arguing for the movement, so much as the idea, as properly understood. I would say, however, and this is important, that those who genuinely subscribe to the idea of Fundamentalism will not find themselves without some fellowship within the "movement" of Fundamentalism (as broadly understood). I would also say that often (not necessarily always) those guys who claim to be retaining the "idea" of Fundamentalism while shedding the "movement" tend to reveal that they have abandoned more than the "movement" when one examines their ministries and considers the associations that they do make.

I might not go quite as far as Dr. Dave Doran on this topic, but I believe he is close with his assessment of this concept.
In terms of the "movement" ... in other forums I have stated that I don't believe there is a "movement" any longer. So, please don't take anything that I have written as being aimed at preserving some movement. I do believe that likeminded churches and ministries will align with each other when they deem it appropriate and helpful.

Just my thoughts,


File under Popular_, Fundamentalism_, Christianity_, Hot_Issues

A Statement of Praise

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Praise the Lord!

As many of you probably know (especially if you look at my profile above), I serve as Pastor of Messiah Baptist Fellowship - An Independent Fundamental Baptist Church in Salisbury, Maryland. The church celebrated its seventh anniversary in October. For the majority of those seven years, the church has been meeting next to the Red Door Sub Shop in the South Salisbury Plaza in Salisbury and we have been praying for God to provide us with a building or some property that we could use for His glory.

For the last few months we have been praying for a specific church building here in Salisbury that was/is occupied by a church that is moving to a different location. This building has a good location that is easily accessible and not too far from our current location. The building itself is in pretty good shape and has room for us to grow as well as rooms for us to have Sunday School, fellowships, children's ministries, and offices. It even has a kitchen and our own bathrooms (that will make more sense to our own people than to most others who may read this).

Anyway, during the last month in particular, we have been in negotiations in an attempt to secure this building. Rather than being standard negotiations through a real estate agent, this was direct negotiations with the selling church. The matter was complicated by the fact that there was another church interested in the property as well and the selling church did not want to have the interested churches get into a bidding war, so they were dealing with two churches that both wanted the building and were offering the same thing and they were needing to decide between the two identical offers. (I would not have wanted to be in their place.) We have been praying that God's will would be done and that God would give them wisdom in making their selection.

To continue my long story, the Pastor called me and told me that they had decided to sign our contract!! Praise the Lord!!! Our people are excited. I am excited. I know some of you have been praying with us and I imagine you will be excited for us, as well.

We still have the normal aspects to deal with regarding the buying of the property (e.g. the seller has a contingency regarding the building they are buying, financing needs to be finalized, etc.), but at this point it is a go and I praise the Lord for His working in this situation.

Thank you to all of you who have been praying with us for this building.

Just my thoughts,


A Bible Study Aid Online

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I recently ran across a nice Bible reference site online that I had not seen before. It has a number of things that are helpful. Some of them are part of other resources that I have highlighted in my Sansone Family Annotated Links, but there are a few things on here that I think are great to have quick access to (assuming you have high-speed internet).

In particular, I found it was great to be able to look through the 10 Volume TDNT (Kittel) on the computer and to be able to do some quick checking that would have taken me longer using my hardback version.

The Web-Site lists the following in its description of what is available on the site.

F C Keil & F Delitzsch - Commentary on the Old Testament (10 volumes)
Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich - The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (10 volumes)
Colin Brown - New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology
Brown, Driver, & Briggs - Complete Hebrew-English Lexicon
J H Thayer - Greek-English Lexicon (unabridged)
Albert Barnes - Notes on the New Testament
R A Torrey - The Fundamentals (4 volumes)
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Walter Elwell - Evangelical Commentary on the Bible
Walter Elwell - Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
Walter Martin - Kingdom of the Cults
Josh Mcdowell - Answers to Tough Questions
Philip Schaff - History of the Christian Church (8 volumes)
Charles G Finney - Lectures on Theology
Jacob Arminus - Complete Works
John Calvin - The Institutes
Flavius Josephus - Complete Works
Andrew R Fausset - Bible Dictionary
Robert Dabney - Systematic Theology

and much more!

AS ALWAYS, A DISCLAIMER: The fact that the following sites are linked, does not indicate endorsement from Pastor Frank Sansone, the Sansone family, Messiah Baptist Fellowship, or anyone associated with this site. Sites are included here with the hope that you may find the information useful. We are not responsible for the positions, associations, or content of the sites that are listed. The sites are responsible for their own content.

Just my thoughts,


Beautiful Snow

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

We had snowfall yesterday here in Salisbury - and it is pretty.

Now for my readers in Canada and Minneapolis, snow may not be a big deal, but one of my wife's big joys of life is playing in the snow and when we in the process of moving down here to Salisbury it was made pretty clear that with the way Salisbury is located on the Eastern Shore, we would not see much (if any) snow.

Of course, my wife is out of town in Ohio and not able to join us in the snow (I love you dear if you are reading this), but it is nice to have some snow here in Salisbury, and to me it bodes well for the rest of the winter.

Snow has some qualities about it that make it different from just about anything else. Snow is white and gives the appearances of being pure (at least until the cars and kids track in it). It is light and it covers everything. I am sure most of you know snow and have your own view of snow.

Repeatedly in the Bible we have allusions to snow. A few favorites of mine for you to ponder on this snow day are below:

Snow reminds us of the cleansing that we have through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Psalm 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Snow reminds us of the value of being a faithful messenger.
Proverbs 25:13 As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.

Snow reminds us of the promise that God's Word will accomplish the purpose for which it is sent.
Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Snow reminds us of the message of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Mt 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Just my thoughts on this snowy day,


File under Bible_, Devotional_

Teen Dies After Kissing Boyfriend

Monday, December 05, 2005

I am sure this is tragic to all those involved, so I am trying not to make fun of the situation itself. I did shake my head and read this twice when I saw it, however.

Teen Dies After Kissing Boyfriend
November 29, 2005 8:00 a.m. EST
Christina Ficara - All Headline News Staff Reporter

Saguenay, Quebec (AHN) - A 15-year-old girl is dead after kissing her boyfriend. The teen, who is allergic to peanuts, unknowingly kissed her boyfriend who had just eaten a peanut butter snack.

Full article:

While this whole story is begging for comments, the more refined part of me will refrain from most of the comments that I want to make.

I did want you to notice that she unknowingly kissed her boyfriend - bet that was tough!

Just my thoughts,


Sansone Family Annotated Links

Sunday, December 04, 2005

For those of you who have not made it over to my family sight (I am guessing that would be most of you), on that site I have my Sansone Family Annotated Links, which has some resources that you may find helpful.

This is a work in progress, but I think it is off to a good start, at least.

As always, notice the disclaimer that I have on the top of the page.

Just my thoughts,


Doran and Bauder on Principles regarding Separation

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I interrupt (briefly) my current series on "The Best and the Brightest" 1, 2, 3, & 4 (so far) to encourage you to take the time to read Evan Collier's 15 page summary of some comments made by Dr. Dave Doran (President of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary) and Dr. Kevin Bauder (President of Central Baptist Theological Seminary) regarding the God-Focused Youth Conference. Many of the comments deal with the principles involved rather than just the specific people in that case.

I know this is OLD - as in March 2005, but I did not discover it until tonight (I was looking for something else that Dr. Bauder had written/said).

Hat Tip - Greg Linscott at Sharper Iron.

P.S. Michael C. (from Jacksonville?), if you are reading this, I think you will find these comments an example of Fundamentalists seeking to answer the questions that we are often accused on not being willing to answer.

P.P.S. If anyone knows how I can get access to the rest of the discussion, I would love to know. (I can't get anything from Bails' site but some type of error message.)

File under Fundamentalism_, Hot_Issues

The Best and the Brightest - Handling Questions

As I mentioned in my post, The Best and the Brightest - Redux, there were essentially three areas that were brought up in the comments by Michael regarding the article entitled The Best and the Brightest.

My response to the first area is on the article entitled, The Best and The Brightest - Criteria for Evaluation.

This post is concerned with the second point that was addressed in the comments, namely, the idea that it is not so much that the sharp young guys are leaving as much as it is they are being pushed out, written off and told to "walk the plank." The heart of this aspect of the issue, in my opinion, is the question - how are we to deal with those who are questioning?

Specifically, Michael C. makes the following comments:

Finally, there is the question of how they could be the best and brightest if they are leaving fundamentalism. I think there are several possible answers. One is that many of our best and brightest don't leave, they are told to walk the plank (to use a popular phrase right now).

I believe that there is a legitimate concern here, although I am not sure that the perception matches the reality. The perception that Michael has indicated is that The Best and the Brightest are being "pushed out" from Fundamentalism or told to "walk the plank."

Some of the latest punching bags for this perception have been Dr. Rolland McCune of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary and Pastor Don Johnson, BWM Missionary in Canada. For Dr. McCune, the attacks were directed at some comments that he had made at the American Council of Christian Churches Convention in October in Ohio. Pastor Johnson's claim to fame in this regard is his now famous statement (made in the Sharper Iron discussion of McCune's comments) that certain individuals should be made to "walk the plank."

I am not here to defend either of these men. On the one hand, I am sure they can defend themselves much better than I ever could (see further comments by Dr. McCune on this over at Every Thought, Every Word) and on the other hand, I am not sure they need to be defended when understood in context.

The bigger question at stake, however, is not the nature of these men's comments, but how are we to deal with the questions of the younger guys - are they really being "pushed out" for asking questions?

I believe that those of us who are "strict separationists" (I can't bring myself to call me an "old fundamentalist" yet) need to be careful to answer the legitimate questions of those who are sincerely searching and trying to figure out a Biblical response to the situations that face Fundamentalism. I believe that there is an ongoing attempt to do this - as evidenced by those very conferences and meetings that were mentioned by Michael in his comments.

I have personally taken time to answer questions in this area, as have other men of much greater stature (such as Dr. Minnick). When the questions are asked properly and with a desire to learn, I have found most of the Fundamentalists that I know are more than willing to sit down and have the discussions in these areas. I will gladly sit down and walk with someone through the Biblical reasons we need to separate from X or why we should do this or that. I know that I am not alone on this. Even though I am a nobody and I don't have the type of bold personality of someone like David DiCanio, I have found many of the men whom I view as leaders of Fundamentalism are very approachable and willing to answer questions - even if I have at times not liked the answers I received.

The problem that sometimes comes up, however, is that some who are asking the questions are not interested in the answers unless the answers are what they want to hear. If, for instance, they are wanting justification for having fellowship with MacArthur (since he seems to come up often in these discussions) and they ask and the principles are laid out, this type of questioner typically falls back to a "well, that Fundamentalist did X" as though that counters the argument. The reality is that it does not counter the argument any more than my 9-year old's claim that his little sister stuck her tongue out at him counters the reality that hitting his sister is a legitimate cause for punishment. The fact is that this person's questions were addressed, just not with the answer that the person wanted to hear.

This, by the way, is part of the problem that both Dr. McCune and Pastor Johnson were addressing in their comments that got so much heat. There are a number of guys who have already decided that they want nothing to do with Fundamentalism except for the name. (Why they would want the name without holding to the principles is beyond me.) The comment to "walk the plank" was directed towards those types of individuals - and while I may not have worded it the same way, I would agree with that concept - if a person has determined that some of the key principles of Fundamentalism (usually the concept of "separation from disobedient brothers" in most instances that I have seen) are not in line with what he believes, then the honest thing for that person to do is to indeed leave and leave the name "Fundamentalism" when he leaves. A failure to do so is on par with the Mormons who try to pass themselves off as "Christians."

Michael goes on to comment:
If a student graduates from a fundamentalist institution then chooses to go to a conservative evangelical seminary, he will likely be written off (assuming he is preparing to be pastor, not a professor at a fundamentalist seminary).

Regarding the situation with guys being "written off" for going to non-Fundamentalist seminaries, maybe it is just the circles that I have been involved with, but I don't agree that a person is generally "written off" in this situation, but I do agree that this person is usually (at least in the minds of many) moved into a "watch and see" category. Why is that? Perhaps because years of experience have revealed that most of the guys who come out of those seminaries adopt the philosophy of those seminaries. Another reason why guys that like are placed in a "watch and see" category probably deals with motivation - why did that future Pastor think it necessary to go to the new evangelical seminary rather than going to a fundamental seminary? Is this choice indicative of his belief that the philosophy of that seminary (including its lack of Biblical separation) is somehow to be preferred to what one would receive in a Fundamental seminary?

Just my thoughts,


File under Popular_, Fundamentalism_, Christianity_, Hot_Issues

The Best and the Brightest - Criteria for Evaluation

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

As I said in my last post, the first point that was addressed was the idea that the meetings geared toward the younger generations by some of the established Fundamental institutions indicate that there is indeed an exodus of the best and brightest of Fundamentalism and that this is worrisome.

Specifically, Michael makes the following comments:

I think that there may be some truth to the claim that we are losing some of our best and brightest.
You cited examples of bright lights in fundamentalism. This tells us that some sharp guys are staying in the movement, but it does not tell us anything about who is leaving. Surely the people who are worried about a exodus from fundamentalism would not say that they think all the sharp guys are leaving, just a high enough percentage to be worrisome.
I think the fact that Calvary Lansdale, BJU, and the FBF have all held meetings geared toward the younger generation indicates that this is a real concern.

I understand the mentality that says that Fundamentalism is losing its best and its brightest. I even mentioned in my earlier post that this comment is sometimes made by older leaders in Fundamentalism. I also recognize that there have been attempts to deal with this, the Conference on Biblical Belief and Balance: in Pursuit of a Balanced Ministry this last summer at Colonial Hills in Indianapolis being one of those attempts.

The heart of this aspect of the issue, in my opinion, is the question - what constitutes "The Best and The Brightest"?

Before I specifically deal with the question, I would like to make a few important points.

1. I have a heart for the younger generation. I still consider myself a member of the "younger generation" - although at 36, I may be starting to stretch a little. I gave my first 9 years of full-time ministry and additional years before that as one whose responsibilities specifically dealt with the next generation.

2. Because I have such a heart for the next generation, I am concerned when any believer (especially young men with a heart for the ministry) abandons Fundamentalism for New Evangelicalism (and yes, I still use that term on purpose, but that is for another discussion). I believe that part of the point of the conferences that have been mentioned is to seek to help those young men to recognize the error in abandoning Fundamentalism for the siren's song of New Evangelicalism.

3. I would argue, however, that the problem of young men leaving Fundamentalism (at least the idea of Fundamentalism - more on that later), is not Fundamentalism's problem, but the problem of the young men in question. I do not mean by that that Fundamentalism does not have any problems, but that my concern in this scenario is not "ooh, poor Fundamentalism, that guy just left it", but rather, I am saddened, disappointed, and grieving for that young man and what I believe to be a wrong choice that he is making.

Having said that, I believe that if we are going to examine the issue of whether (at least some, as Michael pointed out) the Best and the Brightest are leaving Fundamentalism, we must first consider what constitutes those who are "The Best and the Brightest." In other words, we need to define our terms and establish some criteria. This is part of what I was alluding to in my original post on this topic when I used expressions such as "they are doing what really matters - serving Christ without compromise and making a difference for Him."

I believe that a big part of the problem of much of the hand-wringing over losing The Best and the Brightest is that many have taken the world's criteria and used that in evaluating who is The Best and the Brightest. I believe that even some of the "older" men who are in the leadership at these institutions that were previously mentioned have fallen into this trap. We jump up and down about the false view that numbers = blessing when we are denouncing "leaders" in New Evangelicalism (and rightly so), yet, we often find ourselves making the same type of errors.

For many, The Best and the Brightest are those guys who have the following traits:
1. Popularity - were they a "big man on campus"?
2. Positions - did they have the "important" positions as a student?
3. Personality - do they draw people to themselves with their winsome ways?
4. Preaching - do they have an exciting style that grabs an audience?
5. Academic Prowess - are they at the top of their class?

Now, I am not discounting the idea that there may be some value in some of those things (after all, I hope it counts for something that I had a 4.0 in my M.A. program), but I am stating that those things ought not to be the primary areas that we look to in order to evaluate "The Best and the Brightest".

Biblically, I believe there are at least a couple of higher ranking criteria that we ought to be using for evaluation of who are indeed "The Best and the Brightest". Including the following:

1. Obedience

High on a Biblical list for what constitutes "The Best and the Brightest" would seem to be obedience.

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

If the Bible teaches separation from disobedient brothers (and it does), then those who might look like they are the best and the brightest in the world's eyes but who are in fellowship with disobedient brothers are revealing that they are not "The Best and the Brightest" because they are not Obedient.

2. Faithfulness

Also, high on a Biblical list regarding "The Best and the Brightest" would seem to be faithfulness.

1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
Matthew 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Repeatedly, Paul spoke of the minister's that he honored as being faithful.

Colossians 1:7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;
Colossians 4:7 All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:
1 Corinthians 4:17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

It was also expected of the men that Timothy was to choose for ministry.
2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

If these men that are being viewed as "The Best and the Brightest" are walking away from the truth rather than remaining faithful, they are revealing that they are not "The Best and the Brightest" by their failure to fulfill this criteria.

So, I again return to my original point that started this whole mess. I believe that the idea that "Fundamentalism is losing its best and its brightest" is flawed at its root - those who are leaving the Biblical principles that Fundamentalism is based upon are revealing that they never were "The Best and the Brightest" in the first place.

Just my thoughts,


File under Popular_, Fundamentalism_, Christianity_, Hot_Issues

The Best and the Brightest - Redux

I know a number of you have been on pins and needles waiting for these posts :), so here they are. I would recommend that they be read in the order they are being posted.

In a previous post, entitled The Best and the Brightest, I discussed the idea that some have been promoting that "The Best and the Brightest" of Fundamentalism are leaving Fundamentalism. In that post, I alluded to the fact that one of the problems I have with that statement is tautological - to wit,

if Fundamentalism is the truly Biblical position (and I believe it is), then clearly those who are leaving it are not "the best and the brightest" by virtue of the fact that they are leaving what is right.
I did not, however, at the time expand on that statement more than that.

When I noticed that Greg Linscott over at Sharper Iron had highlighted my "The Best and the Brightest" article, I made a comment on a previous post that if I had know that was coming I would have taken a little more time to develop this point further.

Thanks to some comments from a young man (I assume from the context) named Michael C. that showed up in response to my earlier post, I can see that the need for me to develop this point further is at hand. As far as I know, I do not know Michael and I appreciate the manner in which he has made his comments, but I would like to address the questions and comments that he raised and rather than just do it in the comments section, I thought I would turn it into a post. However, after taking some time to work on this, it has actually turned itself into multiple posts.

Essentially, as I read Michael's comments, I believe that they address three general areas and it is those three areas that I will be addressing in my responses. I will deal with some of the specific statements in each of the successive posts.

The first point that Michael addresses is the idea that the meetings geared toward the younger generations by some of the established Fundamental institutions indicate that there is indeed an exodus of the best and brightest of Fundamentalism and that this is worrisome. The heart of this aspect of the issue, in my opinion, is the question - what constitutes "The Best and The Brightest"? I have addressed this question in my post entitled "The Best and the Brightest - Criteria for Evaluation"

The second point that Michael addresses is the idea that it is not so much that the sharp young guys are leaving as much as it is they are being written off and told to "walk the plank." The heart of this aspect of the issue, in my opinion, is the question - how are we to deal with those who are questioning? I have addressed this question in my post entitled, "The Best and the Brightest - Handling Questions."

The third point that Michael addresses is the idea that the young guys do not have a problem with the idea of Fundamentalism, just the movement of Fundamentalism. The heart of this aspect of the issues, in my opinion, is the question - what Fundamentalism are the young guys supposedly leaving?

I hope that by dividing up this discussion, I can avoid posting one long post that nobody is going to read anyway, as well as give an opportunity for feedback and sharpening on the individual sections.

Michael, if I say anything that you feel does not accurately represent what you have said, either here or in the posts to follow, please do not hesitate to contact me so that I can clear it up.

Just my thoughts,


File under Popular_, Fundamentalism_, Christianity_, Hot_Issues

Black Friday

Friday, November 25, 2005

Wow! On Friday I decided to venture out and be a part of "Black Friday." In particular, I was interested in the under $400 laptop that was advertised at Wal-Mart.

Now, I don't think I have ever done this before, but with Best Buy, Circuit City, and Wal-Mart all being about one mile apart here in Salisbury, I thought that perhaps I would get fortunate and perhaps come away with a laptop.

Now, the local Wal-Mart here in Salisbury is open 24 hours, which made for this particular Black Friday experience to be a little more interesting. (Although not as interesting as some of the other experiences, like the altercations at the Orlando Wal-Mart. Upon arriving, the Wal-Mart had all the DVD Recorders and some TV special in the main area between the groceries and the department store section of the Wal-Mart (this is a "Super Wal-Mart"). They were covered with black plastic, but you could easily tell what the items were and there was a mob around them waiting for it to turn 5:00 a.m. so they could grab the items.

The problem, however, was the way in which they did the laptops. Being a person who likes logic and order, it made sense to me that Wal-Mart would have the laptops in the computers and electronics area (they were not). It also made sense to me that there would be some type of orderly distribution planned for something as delicate and expensive as a laptop computer (there was not). It also made sense to me that Wal-Mart would want to make the experience such that the people who did not get the laptops would want to stay around and get other items by leaving them with a good taste in their mouth (they did not).

At about 4:40 a.m. they announced that the laptops would be distributed in the food display isle and would come out at 5:00 a.m. This made for a mad dash for a bunch of people from the electronics area to the place where they bring out the crates for the food display area. (I happened to not be at electronics because I had overheard that the computers were not going to be in electronics, so I actually had gotten a decent spot by the place where about 200 people gathered).

Then at 5:00 a.m. they announced that it was 5:00 a.m. and people started tearing into all of the other goodies that were already out and just waiting to be grabbed when the time was announced.

About five minutes later, there was a rumbling that the laptops had come out by the seafood area instead and that they were all gone already.

Now, I don't really care that I did not get one. I really kind of doubted that I would come out with one, but I thought it would be worth a try - and besides, I wanted to see what all this "Black Friday" stuff was all about.

I would recommend, however, that Wal-Mart handle things a little differently in the future. For one thing, imagine how upset people would be if they had been there all night and still did not get one - not because others beat you there and deserved it, but because they decided to get "cute" with how they distributed them.

Why not just have people line up in order at a place where they would distribute the item in question? Then, at least, if you realize that there is no way you are getting the item you want, you may still hang around the store and look for some of the other bargains that do not have as long lines. Also, then you are not annoyed at Wal-Mart if you don't get what you were trying to get, you are annoyed at yourself for not getting there earlier. (By the way, they did this with the Gameboys, don't know why they did not do it with the laptops.)

Anyway, just my thoughts,


Frank needs

Okay, so this post is frivilous and a bad example of following the crowd.

I have noticed on a few blogs the idea of googling "YOUR NAME needs" and then reporting back the results. I was curious and thought I would try it. Some of the results are probably a little too close to home!!

* Frank needs Sensitivity Training

* Frank needs To Grow a Spine

* Frank needs You! And Three frineds ...

* Frank needs to put a limit on his work hours

* Dr. Frank needs information

* Dr. Frank needs our help!

* Frank needs neck messages

* Frank needs good food and comfortable furniture

That is just on the first page.

Anyway, just thought I would provide a little mindless dribble. Not like there is not enough of that already on the internet.

Just my thoughts,



More Tweaks to the Blog

Well, the changes I made initially did not seem to work well.

I changed things to another template that Greg Linscott mentioned, but I could not figure out how to personalize it the way that I wanted. (I am sure the problem is with me not the template.)

Finally, I am back to basically the same thing, with an expanded area for the main part of the blog. Hopefully this works better.

Greg (or someone else with Firefox), if it still does not look right in Firefox, please let me know.

Michael C., I am working on a response to your comment, but it will probably not be until after Sunday that I get the time to actually write it and post it.

I am putting up a "junk post" after this so that there is at least something else posted, but I thought it was kind of an intersting concept.

Just my thoughts,



Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tomorrow we celebrate a day of Thanksgiving here in the United States of America. While we ought to give thanks in everything, I appreciate the yearly special emphasis that our country puts on Thanksgiving. The following is some of my reflections at this time of thanksgiving.

1. I am thankful to God for the gift of salvation that comes from faith in Jesus Christ. Apart from Christ, I am a miserable, guilty sinner destined for an eternity in Hell and separated from God forever. In Christ, I am still a sinner, but one whose sins are forgiven and washed in the blood of the Lamb of God, a sinner, but one who is saved by grace and who has been given all that pertains to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him.

2. I am thankful to God for the gift of my wife. In the Garden of Eden, God declared that it was not good that man should be alone. I am thankful that God has given me my wife, Missy, who has a desire to serve Christ and to live for Him. I am thankful that she stands by me and supports me and is eager to see God work in our lives, in the lives of our family and church, and in the lives of those with whom we have contact.

3. I am thankful to God for the gift of my family. God has given to me three precious children whom I love dearly. Each one is unique and precious. Each one is a reflection of the image of God. Each one is a soul for whom Christ died. Through them God has taught me much about the love of a father and helped me to reflect in a greater way upon His love for me.

4. I am thankful to God for the gift of our church. In a few days it will be one year since God officially brought us to Messiah Baptist Fellowship in Salisbury, Maryland. In that time, God has knit my heart to these people. I have had the opportunity to mourn with those that mourn, as well as to rejoice with those that rejoice. I have been challenged, encouraged, and, most of all, blessed to be the Pastor to these fine people. I look forward to what God is going to do in and through us in the coming days.

5. I am thankful to God for the gift of friends and acquaintances, both near and far. God, in His providence, started my life with much moving. Now, in ministry, He has also given me the opportunity and challenge of knowing many for short periods of time - whether from traveling on Minutemen, preaching at camps and churches, or from just meeting and having fellowship with some at various meetings and conferences. I fondly hold to friendships with some who have influenced me for years, as well as some who I have not seen in years, as well as (thanks to the online world) some whom I have only met via typed words read from a computer monitor

6. I am thankful to God for this country that he has allowed me to call my earthly home. While I recognize and rejoice that I have a "heavenly country" in which my citizenship ultimately lies, I am glad that God has given me a country where I have the freedom to worship without fear of persecution (yet).

7. I am thankful to God for a myriad of other blessings which I have not the time to delineate in this space. I am thankful for blessings both large and general and blessings small and private. I am thankful for blessings that have brought the appropriate response of praise and thankfulness and blessings that I have neglectfully allowed to pass without a word of recognition. I am thankful for blessings that have even come disguised as difficulties and trials over the years.

Just my thoughts,


File under Church_, Family_, Personal_, Devotional_Thoughts

Blog Comments

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I have been trying to make some adjustments to A Thinking Man's Thoughts today, so if the site was down when you tried to visit it, sorry. Some comments about blogging and Some of the adjustments and comments are below.

Linked from Sharper Iron
Wow. When Greg Linscott over at Sharper Iron highlights an article, it gets attention. He linked to the article on The Best and The Brightest and I have had almost 70 visitors to the site in 14 hours since he posted it. Kind of makes me wish I had spent more time to develop the first (tautological) point of the article. Maybe later. Thanks, Greg.

Wider Article Area
I have made the main area wider so that articles can be read with less scrolling. The problem with this is that I cannot figure out how to adjust the template so that the background image comes out right. If anyone knows how to do this, I would love your help.

Blog Roll
I have started a small "Blog Roll" on the side. It is in the very early stages (and, of course, I have my all important disclaimer posted).

I don't want to spend too much time in the formatting of things, but I am open to suggestions for areas of improvements if you have any.

Just my thoughts,


A good read and a new blog?

Monday, November 21, 2005

I have not started to do any blog recommendations yet. Partly because I still cannot figure out how to add a blog roll to the side of this template.

I will say, howver, that Mark Perry seems to have consistently good stuff that is worth reading over at Every Thought, Every Word.

On a more tangential note, Pastor Don Johnson's last post in the comments section of the Due Process discussion mentions the possibility of his starting a blog.

Pastor Johsnon, if you are reading this (is that you who visits from British Columbia?), I say come aboard, Pastor Johnson. Anybody can do it (considering the fact that I have one now).

From various conversations around the blogosphere, do I get a prize if I recommend the winning title for your blog? If so, I would respectfully recommend "The Canadian Curmudgeon's Cogitations"? (But maybe that is too long?)

Just my thoughts,


Happy Birthday to my best bud!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Saturday is the 9th birthday of my eldest and only son, Josiah Steven.

It is hard to believe that it has already been nine years since the Lord brought this precious child into our lives. Looking at some old pictures earlier this week brought me to tears as I thought of how quickly time is passing. My precious little baby boy is growing up into a nice young man. We don't play "lizards and sharks" anymore and it has been a long time since I rocked you to sleep or played "yes, no" as we drove down the road. It won't be too long before my little boy is a man and I wonder where all the time has went.

It seems like only yesterday that we were waiting for you to be born - briefly thinking we had lost you. Watching with prayer and fear as they cut mommy open so you could be born. It seems like only yesterday that we lived in that little upstairs apartment in Moorestown and worried about your heavy little footsteps disturbing our not-so-friendly downstairs neighbors. It seems like only yesterday that you used to stand at the fence and yell across the street to "D.J." wanting him to come over and play when we lived in Mt. Holly. It seems like only yesteday we were headed to VBS at Heritage and you surprised me by being able to spell B-I-B-L-E as a not-quite three year old.

The time has flown over these last few years. You have started school and done well - making your daddy proud of your behavior as well as your academics. You have done your best as you played soccer, and basketball, and baseball. I remember riding in Grandma Big Truck's semi from Illinois so that I could be there to coach your first intramural soccer game and watching as you saw me show up when we weren't sure we were going to make it.

The thing that I have enjoyed probably most of all the last couple of years is seeing you mature in your walk with Christ. Sitting in the living room in Hardingville as your responded to the Gospel. Praying with you at bedtime and seeing you burdened for your friends and others. Having conversations about what you want to do when you grow up and hearing you answer our neighbor boy's questions about God by quoting a catechism that was the exact answer to the question he had asked. Even having conversations like tonight about the sin that your daddy was involved in at your age and how God has spared you from experiencing the same things in your life.

I love you, Josiah. You are my best bud. I pray that you will continue to live up to your names. Josiah - the boy king who served God from a youth and Steven - the man of God who served God unto death.

Happy Birthday, son, I love you.


The Best and the Brightest

Thursday, November 17, 2005

One of the frequent assertions and laments that I have heard over the last year is a concern that Fundamentalism is losing "the best and the brightest" of the young guys. Sometimes this comment is made by older leaders in Fundamentalism, but most often when I have heard it, it is being made as part of an accusation - as in, "that is why Fundamentalism is losing its best and brighest."

When I look at the scene, however, I see a vastly different picture. I see a number of younger men who are indeed what I consider the best and the brightest and these men are not fleeing Fundamentalism, but are staying by the stuff.

One of the reason that I am not falling for this line of Fundamentalism loosing its best and its brightest is tautological - if Fundamentalism is the truly Biblical position (and I believe it is), then clearly those who are leaving it are not "the best and the brightest" by virtue of the fact that they are leaving what is right - not a very "bright" move to make, imo.

A second reason that I am not falling for this line of Fundamentalism loosing its best and its brigthest is because of personal observation. I have been privileged over the last couple of years to interact with a number of young men who are the type of men that I think of when I consider "the best and the brightest."

When I think of "the best and the brightest," I think of some young pastors that I recently had the privilege of spending time with in Ohio, men such as Pastor Chris Anderson, Andy Rupert, and Mark Perry and others who are pastoring and planting churches and standing for the truth. Their names are not on everyone's lips (okay, Chris' name has been on a number of guys' fingertips over the summer), but they are among the best and the brightest in my book because they are doing what really matters - serving Christ without compromise and making a difference for Him.

When I think of "the best and the brightest," I think of another young Pastor who fits that description in my book - Jonathon Smith. Jonathon pastors a Fundamental church in Tipton, Iowa (how many of you know where that is?) where he has taken over the role of Sr. Pastor from his father. While I have not had the privilege of hearing him preach in his church, I know from my conversations with him that he is a young man who studies the Word and faithfully proclaims it.

When I think of "the best and the brightest," I think of men like Evangelist Mark Kittrell, who was here preaching at Messiah Baptist Fellowship a couple of weeks ago. While he is a little older than me, he is still fairly young and he continues to stand for the truth and make a difference for Christ.

When I think of "the best and the brightest," I think of men like Missionary Ken Smith in Papua New Guinea. A young man with whom I had the privilege of serving beside when I was at Hardingville Bible Church in New Jersey. A young man who has left the comforts of American Christianity and taken his wife and two kids to the other side of the world to reach souls for Christ. A young man who was willing to take a stand regarding his choice of mission boards, despite the fact that it turned his alma mater against him and it avoided the easy path of following in family footsteps. A young man who prays and is even now dealing with a national pastor whose son has been murdered and whose other son has been "marked" for murder.

Maybe I am a "rose-colored glasses" type of person, but this is what I see when I look at the young men in Fundamentalism. I see "the best and the brightest" and they are still here, and they are making a difference for Christ.

Just my thoughts,


File under Popular_, Fundamentalism_, Christianity_, Hot_Issues

The Clock of Life

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I recently heard this poem and was struck by the message of the poem and thought I would pass it on to my readers.

The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.

To lose one's wealth is sad indeed,
To lose one's health is more,
To lose one's soul is such a loss
That no man can restore.

The present only is our own,
So Live, Love, toil with a will --
Place no faith in 'Tomorrow' --
For the clock may then be still.

I have found this attributed both to Robert H. Smith and to Etta Johnson, so I am not sure of who actually wrote these words, but the message of this little poem is indeed powerful.

Friend, are you using the ticking down seconds of your Clock of Life in a way that will matter for eternity?

Just my thoughts,


Did Tuesday's election results REALLY say anything about Bush?

I know this is now one week late, but ...

ABC News Headline - Bush Effort to Aid Republican Falls Short - President Bush's Political Standing Hurt After Effort to Aid Va. Republican Falls Short - Virginia's Election of Kaine Lets Democrats Stand Up to Bush

Sydney, Australia - Democrat victories give Bush black eye

While some are trying to take the results of Tuesday's elections as a Referendum on Bush, I doubt that you can really take much out of these elections that matter, for at least the following reasons.

The Virginia election of Kaine seems to have been much more related to the fact that the current Virginia Governer, Mark Warner, seems to be a popular governor and Kaine's election seems to be a carryover effect from Warner's administration. I live in Maryland now and we get the D.C. stations and there seemed to be very little in the way of news or advertising that dealt with Bush in this campaign.

The fact that the current Democtratic Governor was elected in November 2001 when Bush's approval rating were through the roof should indicate that Bush's standing is not really a deciding factor in the race for the Virginia governorship.

Regarding the New Jersey governor's race ... well, it's New Jersey. I lived in NJ from 1995 to 2005. The state is a pretty liberal state. While Whitman won as a Republican, she was a RINO who was very liberal on the social issues (she even vetoed a ban against partial-birth abortions and had that veto overturned). If I were a betting man (which I am not), I would not have bet on Forrester to win. When I saw some polls that looked close, I felt about them the same as I did the polls that had Bush pulling close to Kerry in NJ in 2004 - it ain't gonna happen, don't waste your money or time here, use it in Ohio or Florida where it might actually make a difference.

Anyway, to take these two losses as somehow a referrendum on Bush or a reflection of the strength of the Republican party is an unwise move, in my opinion.

Just my thoughts,


Personalized Google

Monday, November 14, 2005

I realize that most of you who zoom around cyberspace and stop here to read are probably much more computer savy than I, but here is a neat little feature that I discovered awhile ago that some of you may be interested in using. (Of course, those of you who are more computer savy than I have probably figured this out a long time ago and have probably moved beyond this to something even better - in which case use the comments section to let me know.)

Google (the well-known search engine) has a feature called "Personalize Google."

With Personalized Google, you can set it so that when you go to Google, it gives you information you want, rather than just a place for you to enter your search terms.

For instance, you can set up your Personalized Google to do the following:

1. Check your local weather.
Simply enter in your zip code in the weather section and bam! there it is. You can also add other places you may be interested in knowing what the weather is like for some reason.

2. Bookmark your favorite spots.
Add your bookmarks of places you like to visit and they will be right there for you whenever you go to your personalized google place. If you make your personalized google your home page, they will available as you click the "e" (unless you are a Firefox user or something else). And since when you personalize google, it can be reached with any computer with an internet connections, you can still check out your bookmarks or other information when you are away from your main computer.

3. Read top news headlines
Have the top headlines from Google News or other source right on your personalized google. You can select from a number of sources such as New York Times, Reuters, Washington Post, CNN, etc. - helps you know what the MSM is talking about today. You can also get the headlines from sites not listed (such as Fox News) by entering their RSS feed addresses in the "Create A Section" area.

4. View Feeds of Your Favorite Blogs.
Use the "Add Content" and "Create a Section" link to have the most recent entries on your favorite blogs show up right on your personalized google. Of course, you will want to use this so that you can see when I have updated information on this blog - just type in in the "Create a Section" block!

5. Keep track of the topic of your choice.
If you want to see new news items that come up regarding any particular topic of interest to you, you can set it up so that Google News will do a search for you on your given terms and everytime you go to your personalized google page, it will show you if there is anything new posted about your topic. For instance, since I am a graduate of Bob Jones University, I set up one of Google News searches to look for "Bob Jones University." Because of that, I have found out some interesting tid-bits in the last month, for instance, there is a BJU grad running for D.A. of Centre County, PA (Michael Mediera), that a former BJU student named U.S. Army Spc. Tim Watkins was killed in Iraq on October 15, that Evangelist Steve Petit got a nice little write-up in the local paper when he spoke at Ken Endeen's church in October, and that The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) named Iris Aschenbrand, a BJU grad, as "Outstanding Elementary Social Studies Teacher of the Year"

6. Provide you with trivial information. Things such as a "Word for the Day", "How to of the Day", "Quote of the Day", etc., are available.

Anyway, it seemed like a nice feature to me and I thought some of you may be intested in this as well.

Just my thoughts,


Say not ye ...

"Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." (John 4:35)

I have been thinking a lot about this verse the last few days (probably because it was used in part of Mark Kittrell's sermon on Tuesday).

How easy it seems to plan on getting busy about something "later." It seems so convenient to say, "In four months, I will sit down with my loved ones and really make sure they are saved." or "When the New Year comes, I will really get serious about reading through my Bible." I wonder if perhaps this leads to us becoming "four month Christians" (to borrow a term from Mark Kittrell), always planning on getting active for Christ, but never quite actually doing it. Always waiting for a more convenient time.

Our church, Messiah Baptist Fellowship, is in the process of looking for property. Sometimes it seems like the easy way out for us as a church is to just say, "When we get a building, we will ..." We need to be careful that we do not become a "When we get a building" church - thinking that "When we get a building, I will invite this family out to church" or "When we get a building, I will start helping in this aspect of the ministry."

The fields around us are already white to harvest. I am not a farming expert (to say the least), but I do know that when the harvest is ready, we cannot sit on the sidelines and just plan on getting around to it later. We need to get active in brining in the harvest now.

Just my thoughts,


Smartest and Dumbest States?

Friday, November 11, 2005

I recently noticed a story that claimed to be report on the smartest and dumbest states. Below is the first paragraph from this page.

LAWRENCE, KS. The Green Mountain State of Vermont today was named winner of the 2005 Smartest State Award. This annual honor was announced in Education State Rankings 2005-2006, a new reference book from Morgan Quitno Press, a Lawrence, Kansas-based independent research and publishing company. At the opposite end of the scale, Arizona reported in as the lowest ranking state in the annual survey.

However, upon further review, this report does not remotely report what it claims to report. In the methodology section, the site lists 21 factors that make up the rankings. While there are some legitimate factors involved, there are also a number of factors that simply are not directly tied to determining the "smartness" or "dumbness" of any state.

For instance, the first two factors that were listed are:
1. Public Elementary and Secondary School Revenue per $1,000 Personal Income
2. Per Pupil Public Elementary and Secondary School Current Expenditures

This correlates "smartness" with spending, not with results. Frankly, this is troubling, for it continues to perpetuate the liberal philosophy that the answer to any problem is simply to throw more money at it.

When I was at Heritage Christian Academy in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, our students consistently scored at least two grades levels above the National Averages in EVERY grade level. (This was true in spite of me, not because of me, in case you were wondering.) This was done despite that fact that we were doing it at about 1/3 the cost per student of the NJ Public Schools and despite the fact that our lower grades had combined classes (e.g. 1st & 2nd Grade in one class with one teacher) and the combined class enrollment would not (usually) be considered a "small" class.

Other questionable "factors" that were weighed included things such as:
*Percent of 4th Graders Whose Parents Have Strict Rules about Getting Homework Done
*Average Teacher Salary as a Percent of Average Annual Pay of All Workers
*Percent of School-Age Population in Public Schools (viewing a low percentage as a negative factor)

The last one in particular interested me. If this was attempting to represent students not being educated, I could at least understand the inclusion of this factor. HOWEVER, since one of the factors already dealt with drop outs, it seems this is a measurement that is being used to bias the standings against states that have higher private schooled (Christian, parochial, etc.) or home schooled students. This seems to be odd to be counted as a negative measure, when the reports that I have seen on this would indicated that both groups score BETTER than the public schools, not worse.

Just my thoughts,


A Tribute to a Dear Man

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Today this blog space is honored with a guest blog by my dear wife, Missy Sansone. As a young nurse, Missy worked at Barge Memorial Hospital on the campus of Bob Jones University and worked with Dr. Ted Harris during that time. The following is her tribute to Dr. Harris.

This week I received sad news that Dr. Ted Harris went to be with our Lord on Sunday, November 6, 2005. I have been musing over the past days about the years when I knew and worked with him and find I am ever grateful for things taught to a novice nurse.

Dr. Harris was ever patient. Delivering babies demands a patient spirit and he could out wait any baby!

Dr. Harris was ever kind. The smile on his face was perpetual. If tired, you did not know it. If angry, it was not displayed.

Dr. Harris required precision. I remember being on duty on Friday nights for triage at Barge. Friday nights were game nights and joint injuries were sure to come in. I remember reviewing the ankle and knee chart numerous times prior to calling him for an injury so that I could speak intelligently.

Dr. Harris was a wise man. Wisdom was not only displayed with medical issues. Spiritual advice and daily living advice were offered to patients and co-workers alike.

The best thing I remember of all are the prayers offered to our Lord after he delivered a baby. When all was said and done after a delivery and if "dad" was too emotional to pray, Dr. Harris would thank the Lord for the delivery and ask God's blessing on the new family. As a nurse in a secular labor and delivery unit, I miss this.

I am sad for our loss in Dr. Harris' gain to Heaven. My prayers are with his family and may they always be aware of the lives he touched. They were many.

He lived his life for the glory of the Lord whom he served.

It can easily be said of his life ... "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." (I Corinthians 10:31 KJV).

You can read Dr. Harris' obituary in the Greenville News here.

Memorial donations may be made to Hidden Treasure Christian School in Taylors, South Carolina by following this link to Hidden Treasure Christian School.

UPDATE: I just found this on the web-site of Faith Baptist Church of Taylors, SC (the church where Dr. Harris served for years) - A Tribute from a Grateful Pastor

A Welcome and a Good-Bye

First, I would like to welcome all of you who have made your way over here from Greg's listing of this blog in his recent "Weblog Watch" over at SharperIron. You have come in during a time of special meetings at Messiah Baptist Fellowship in Salisbury, Maryland, which has been the focus of the "Thoughts" for the last few days. I am still new at writing my own "blog" (I am much more accustomed to commenting on SI, etc.), but feel free to look around and comment.

Tonight marked the end of our special meetings with Evangelist J. Mark Kittrell at Messiah Baptist Fellowship. We had another good turn-out tonight and it was good to see some visitors come out again. I believe that God used the preaching again and I think it has been good for our church to have these meetings. Since this is the first time of hosting meetings for me as Pastor, I was not really sure what to expect when I started planning things. A big part of me wishes I would have went ahead and scheduled the meetings for the whole week, instead of just until Wednesday.

Tonight's meesage was on I Thessalonians 5:1-11. Mr. Kittrell dealt with the Characteristics of the Day of the Lord, the Character we have in light of the Day of the Lord, and the Comforting of each other in regards to the Day of the Lord. (Sorry for the very short synopsis, I am writing this without my Bible and notes handy at 4 something in the morning after a storm woke me up and the dog needed out). It has been good to hear Mr. Kittrell preach again this week. I always enjoyed the seriousness and the thoroughness with which he preached the Word when I traveled with him on the Minutemen Evangelistic Team back in 1991.

Tonight in particular was a little bittersweet. Saying "Good-bye" is such a hard thing for Missy and I and after finally re-acquainting ourselves with some "old" friends, it is hard to imagine that the week is already over. God speed to you, Kittrell family, may God continue to show Himself strong to you and through you.

Just my thoughts (and prayers),


Tuesday night's meeting

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

We had a lower turn-out tonight at the meeting with Evangelist Mark Kittrell than we had on Sunday or Monday, but the message tonight was another great message and was particularly relevant for our little congregation.

Mr. Kittrell preached tonight on John Chapter 4:31-38. Most of the time when people are addressing those verses, the emphasis is on the need to get out into the harvest, etc. Obviously that is a legitimate concept to take out of this passage, especially in light of v. 35. Tonight, however, Mark (it feels weird for me to call him "Mark" since it was always "Mr. Kittrell" when we traveled)went a little further than what I was expecting when he asked us to turn to this passage. His topic was on "Our Motivations in Being Missionaries for Christ."

The first point that Mark developed was the fact that we must maintain a Spiritual Focus in everything we do. In particular on this point he dealt with the immediate context of the disciples going to get meat and Jesus' own thirst. Even though there are legitimate physical needs, it must not interfere with the spiritual focus we are to have. The reality is that while living on this earth requires us to be involved in the day to day things of life, we must keep spiritual things as our priorities even in the midst of the "busyness" of life.

The second point focused on the need to maintain a Spiritual Readiness. This is where he dealt with v. 35 - "Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." (KJV). Part of the challenge here was to not be a "four month" Christian, thinking constantly that "in four months down the road, I will do this or that, etc." Too many times we tend to put off our service or our obedience and many times never get to it at all. He also dealt with the need that is pressing - the fields are already white to harvest.

The third point dealt with the Spiritual Reward. The key to the spiritual reward is not not about "what have I accomplished" but rather about "teamwork" - one sows, one reaps, etc. If we all do our responsibilities, we can leave the results to God.

Anyway, I felt it was an excellent message with particular relevance to our church.

Just my thoughts,


Note: As per all week, this post is being cross-posted to my Pastoral Blog over at "The Pastor's Pen"

Another Great Message by Evangelist Mark Kittrell

I have needed this week. It seems that it is so easy as a Pastor to spend my time and focus on ministering to others, that the concept of being ministered to never even comes up, but this week has been a good week for me to be recharged as well.

Last night, Mr. Kittrell preached another great message, this time on "Passing the Test of Obedience." The text from which he preached was Genesis 22 - the passage that tells of Abraham's obedience in offering Isaac.

Focusing on Abraham's obedient faith, Mr. Kittrell reminded us that obedience demands Attentiveness, Promptness, Work, Faith, and Sacrifice. I am always struck by Abraham's complete trust and consideration of God's Words when I think of this story. Abraham knew that God would not deny Himself and that gave him the confidence that he would return with his son - even after going to sacrifice his son.

I also found it interesting that my eight-year old son took some unexpected applications out of the sermon. In the process of putting him down for bed last night and praying with him and tucking him in, I asked him to do something and he responded by mentioning his need to obey with promptness.

Looking forward to two more nights.

Just my thoughts,


Excellent Messages by Evangelist Mark Kittrell

Monday, November 07, 2005

Wow! We had a really good first day of special meetings with Evangelist J. Mark Kittrell. It was good to see Mark and Tammisue Kittrell again after a number of years. It was also good to meet their three boys, Kaleb, Zachary, and Micah.

On Sunday morning, Evangelist Kittrell preached a very good message on Ephesians 2:1-10 on The Walk of the Past vs. The Walk of the Future and What Makes the Difference. He very clearly laid out the difference between the life without Christ and the life in Christ.

On Sunday evening, he preached one of the best messages I have heard in a very long time. (Granted, as one who usually hears himself preach three times a week, that may not be saying much, but since I have had opportunities to hear some other very good messages at places like the ACCC Convention, etc., I will keep my comment as originally made.) He preached from Hosea 14 and he dealt with the concept of "Returning to the Lord." I was greatly blessed and challenged by this message and I plan on listening to it again on tape.

I greatly appreciate a number of things regarding Mark Kittrell's ministry. One of those things is that when he preaches, he does not fall into the trap of some evangelists of simply telling a lot of stories around a Biblical truth, but rather he takes the time to develop and explain THE SCRIPTURE PASSAGE. To me, that is one of the keys to proper preaching and I greatly appreciate this aspect of his ministry. A second thing that I particularly appreciate is his way of dealing with invitations. Mark makes it a point to give an opportunity for people to respond, but he does not do any type of high-pressure tactics or drag out the invitation.

On a side note (if anyone is still reading), I plan on keeping the posts these next few days focused on the special meetings and things of that nature. I do have a few broader posts in the Save as Draft mode that I will put up after the meetings are over, but I wanted to keep the thoughts focused on the meetings and the messages these next few days.

(Note the posts about the Special Meetings are being cross-posted on The Pastor's Pen this week as well.)

Just my thoughts,


Special Meetings at Messiah Baptist Fellowship in Salisbury, Maryland

Sunday, November 06, 2005

We are having Special Meetings this week at Messiah Baptist Fellowship with Evangelist J. Mark Kittrell. If you happen to live in the area and are reading this, please come on over for a visit during these meetings.

We had very good services today and I am looking forward to the services on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights at 7:00 p.m.

For more details about the meetings, visit our church website at and click on the "EVENTS" link. You can also find directions to the church and other information at the church website.

If you live to far to come and you are a Christian, why don't you take a couple of moments and pray that God would use these meetings for His glory this week.

Just my thoughts,


Now I really have to write something

Saturday, November 05, 2005

My time of this blog being totally private is now officially over. I do not know how many people will actually visit here, but now that I am actually listed on Andy Efting's Blogroll over at Unsearchable Riches and I have added this site to my sig over at Sharper Iron and at the FFBC Forums I guess I need to learn to actually start writing something that is worthwhile on occassion. (I guess I should also learn how to add a blog roll to this site when I figure it out so that I can reciprocate Andy's listing as well as some other blogs that I find intersting or helpful.)

I put a sitemeter on this blog yesterday afternoon and discovered that I had already had 33 page views (UPDATED 11/6/05 - I wanted to clarify that it was 33 page views, not 33 unique visits) by this afternoon. Wow. That is much more traffic than our church website over at gets.

Just my thoughts,