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2006 Family Christmas Letter

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,

"I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." So proclaimed the angel to the shepherds on the night of the birth of Jesus. As we reflect on this season, we are again thankful for the "good tidings" - the good news of God's gift of Jesus Christ to pay the price of our sins.

2006 has been a busy year for the Sansone family, but we are thankful for what God is doing in and through us and we are thankful to family and friends who support us, pray for us and love us.

On the family front, Josiah turned 10 in November and is in 4th grade, Christina turned 7 in April and is in 2ndgrade, and Rebekah turned two last January and is growing like a weed. (We won't bother to mention how old Missy and Frank are, but will hint that Missy will be having a new first digit next year that many would use to indicate she is no longer young.)

We are thankful for our children and enjoy watching them grow and learn - although we wish there was a way to slow down the process at times. It is hard to believe how quickly the time flies. Josiah and Christina are taking piano lessons - and Chrissy tries to teach Daddy what she has learned. Josiah has been playing soccer this year and Daddy has been his coach. We had a good outdoor season (we finished 8-4 and Josiah led the team in assists) and we are three games into our indoor season.

Missy is still working as a labor and delivery nurse at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury. She has also learned how to quilt and is working on her first quilt. In addition to serving as Pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church, Frank enjoys coaching Josiah and working on things on the computer. He has a personal blog ( that he posts on regularly and a Pastoral blog for our church and a blog called Soccer Scribbles that he maintains for the soccer team. He also wrote an article on The Da Vinci Code that got published as an FFBC Spotlight article and distributed to many churches around the country.

On the ministry front, this has been a very busy year. In the beginning of the year, we were able to purchase a building and move out of our location next to the Red Door Sub Shop. In April, we celebrated God's provision for a new building with our Building Dedication Service. We also changed our name from Messiah Baptist Fellowship to Fellowship Baptist Church and began many new adventures, including our first Father-Son Camp Out, our first Vacation Bible School, Baptisms down at the Nanticoke River, and our first Youth Activities. In October, we began Sunday School and God has been working greatly through the Sunday School ministry.

In November, Frank's Mom was very sick and in ICU in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. God preserved her in a situation where both the heart and lung doctors thought she would not make it. I know that many of you prayed for her during this time, and we greatly appreciate your prayers for Frank's Mom. While the visit to Illinois was not for a fun purpose, Frank did enjoy seeing some family members that he has not seen in a long time.

As we celebrated the birth of our Savior, we rejoice in God's goodness to us for another year and look forward to what God is going to do in and through us in the next year. We pray that this year and this season has been a time of blessing and reflection upon the King of Kings. May God grant you a prosperous new year, as well.

In Christ,

Pastor Frank and Missy Sansone
Josiah, Christina, and Rebekah

Join us at Bible Community Church

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

UPDATE: The College and Career Retreat has been canceled. I will, however, be preaching at Bible Community Church in Painesville, Ohio on Sunday, December 31, although I imagine most of my readers already have a regular church that they attend.

Blogger Andy Rupert from Isle Kerguelen has directed the College and Career Winter Retreat at Peniel Bible Camp for a few years and will be directing the camp again this year.

I have the great privilege of preaching for this retreat and I am looking forward to being with the good folks at Peniel Bible Camp and with the College and Career aged young people that come.

The following quote was stolen from the Retreat Web-Site.

“Where are you going?” is our theme this year. Many young adults are making important decisions but will they be going the way God wants them to? We will consider this important topic as Pastor Frank Sansone speaks to us from God’s Word.

This year’s camp is scheduled for a Friday–Saturday combo, December 29–30, 2006. We will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Friday and will finish up at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.

This retreat is open to any "single adult who has completed high school, has never been married, and is under thirty years of age."

The cost of the retreat is only $45 and it should be a good time of fun and fellowship. I am looking forward to meeting some of you there.

Check out the Winter Retreat Web-site for more information - including some pictures from previous years.

I have heard many good things about Camp Peniel over the years and I am excited to be able to preach there. Even if you can't make the retreat, please pray that God would use His Word and this retreat in the lives of all of us who are there.

Just my thoughts,


2006 Church Christmas Letter

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dear Church Family,

Many years ago, the angel of the Lord told Joseph, "She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). The message of salvation that the angel proclaimed to Joseph is the same message of salvation that we must proclaim today. Jesus has come to save people from their sins. What a glorious truth to proclaim at this Christmas season!

We are excited about what God has been doing at Fellowship Baptist Church this year. When we take some time to look back over the year, it is with great awe that I echo the words of the Psalmist when he said, "O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever" (Psalm 30:12).

While I do not have the space here to highlight many of God's blessings this year, I am reminded of great things He hath done.

* In January, we took a building fund offering and the Lord blessed with $20,000 to help us complete the purchase of our new building.

* In February, we moved into our new facilities at 1308 Robins Avenue, but had to continue praying as there was some complications with the purchase.

* In March, we finally closed on the new building and began to get it ready for the building dedication.

* In April, we had our Building Dedication Sunday and over 100 people visited us for this special day as Pastor Mark Franklin and Pastor Steve Wagner preached the Word.

* In the summer, we had our first Father-Son Camp-out and our first Vacation Bible School.

* In September, we had our church picnic and baptisms in the Nanticoke River at the Insley's.

* In October, we began our Sunday School program with a great percentage of our people - both children and adults - coming out to study God's Word in Sunday School.

* In November, we had our second annual Pie N Praise service on Thanksgiving Eve.

This month, we are anticipating another good month of ministry and fellowship here at FBC and we pray that you will be a part of it.

On Saturday, December 16 at 6:00 p.m., we will meet at the church to go Christmas caroling and have a time of fellowship at our house after the caroling. There is also a ladies cookie exchange at 5:00 p.m. at the church before the caroling begins.

On Sunday, December 24, we will have a children's Christmas program as part of our morning service and a special Candlelight Christmas Communion for our Christmas Eve service.

On Sunday, December 31, Dr. William Woodhall will be our guest speaker during the morning service and we will be using our projector to watch a special film presentation during the evening service.

May Jesus Christ be exalted as we remember His birth.

In Christ,

Pastor Frank Sansone

The Whereabouts of Pastor Jim Schettler

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

During the NBA Playoffs, I made a post entitled, "?Dave Doran to Replace Jim Schettler as the Pastor of the Campus Church?" The point of this post was to highlight what I thought was a humorous conversation going on at Chris Anderson's blog - My Two Cents. In that conversation, Chris (Pastor of Tri-County Baptist Church in the Cleveland area of Ohio and a fellow former team captain for the Minutemen Evangelistic Team) was bragging, er, being happy about the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers were putting up a good fight against the mighty Detroit Pistons. In the comments that followed, Dr. Doran (a Pistons fan) made a joke about submitting his resume to Dr. Horton at PCC to replace Pastor Schettler if Cleveland actually won the series. As the series wore on, Cleveland started to do even better and it looked like they may actually win the series and other comments that I thought were humorous were made on the thread, so I highlighted the thread.

Since then, it has been a very common thing for my sitemeter to register multiple hits to my page each day as a result of people finding my page while searching for information about Jim Schettler and Pensacola Christian College and the Campus Church. The last couple of days, this traffic has increased (I assume because of the fact that PCC has apparently named Lloyd Streeter and Neal Jackson as Pastor and Co-Pastor and people are now wondering again about Pastor Schettler.)

As a service to all of you who happen to find your way to my blog looking for information about Pastor Schettler and PCC/The Campus Church, etc., I have tracked down what I can find out.

Regarding Jim Schettler

My understanding is that Pastor Jim Schettler has accepted a call to become the Pastor of First Baptist Church of Santa Maria, California. I cannot find a church web-site, but I did call the church to confirm that he was coming to be the Pastor. The lady who answered the phone confirmed for me that the rumor I had heard was accurate. (By the way, I used to live "on the mesa" between Santa Maria and Arroyo Grande, California when I was in 10th grade and I am pretty sure that I had at least one camper from this church when I served as a counselor at Ironwood Christian Camp in Newberry Springs, California many years ago.)

UPDATE: The church now has a website: (HT: MGROOP and KellyC from the comments section of my blog.)

Regarding the Pensacola Christian College Campus Church

ShaperIron has posted a letter from PCC to the Alumni that explains that Lloyd Streeter and Neal Jackson will be the Pastor and Co-Pastor. Further details can be found by following this link.

(For the record, I am not commenting one way or the other on either the ministry of Pastor Schettler or of PCC in this post, I am simply trying to help all the people who are looking for this information who keep getting directed to my blog by the various search engines.)

Anyway, I hope this is helpful to those of you who have come here looking for this information.

Just my thoughts,


The Problems with The DaVinci Code (rerun)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Below is the text for an article that I wrote soon before the movie version of The DaVinci Code was released. With the recent release of the DVD/Video of the movie, a couple people have asked me about this subject again. This article is written based upon the book. It is my understanding that the Robert Langdon character in the movie (played by Tom Hanks) is a little more skeptical in the movie than in the book, but other than that, I have not heard of many differences between the movie and the book.

This was originally written for publication in the FFBC Spotlight and designed to fit as a bulletin insert in church bulletins, so the space was necessarily limited. Dr. Kevin Bauder, Dr. Darrell Bock, and Radio Bible Class (in addition to many others) all have good information and more thorough treatmenst of this topic as well. A .pdf version of this article was supposed to have made it for posting on the FFBC Web-site, but I do not think it ever materialized.

THE DAVINCI CODE by Pastor Frank Sansone

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown has become an international phenomenon. As a hardback book, it has been on the famed "Bestseller List" of The New York Times for over 160 weeks and has been declared to be the "all-time best-selling adult novel." Reports indicate that over forty million copies of the book have been sold and it has been translated into over forty languages. With the recent release of the book in paperback and a movie based on the book starring popular actor Tom Hanks, the conversation around The DaVinci Code may get even louder in the coming days.

The popularity of this book has earned the author a place on Time Magazine's list of "The World's 100 Most Influential People." A quick look reveals that this book has been the catalyst behind a whole range of other books, articles, web-sites, and documentaries which trumpet or expand upon many of the ideas promoted in this book. In addition, there have been a number of books and articles written which have sought to correct the "alternative history" that is presented in The DaVinci Code.

Why has The DaVinci Code warranted such attention? Aren't people - especially Christians - just overreacting to a fictional novel? Does Dan Brown actually hit on some deep, dark secrets that strike at the root of Christianity? Was Jesus really married to Mary Magdalene and did He have children that carried on His blood? Did the early church really think that Jesus was merely a mortal prophet until Constantine got them all together and made up the idea that Jesus was God? How should Christians respond to the claims of The DaVinci Code?

While the length of this article does not allow for a full treatment of all of these issues, it is the desire of this article to highlight some of the issues presented by The DaVinci Code and present some suggested responses for believers.


The plot of the book is rather straightforward. The curator of the Louvre in France is murdered by an albino monk and leaves a coded message for his estranged granddaughter, Sophie. Sophie, who is a police cryptologist joins up with Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor in religious symbology, as they seek to find out the meaning of her grandfather's coded message and escape from the police and others. During their escape, they must break a series of codes and follow secret messages throughout France and Britain. Central to these codes is the idea that the grandfather was the Grand Master of a secret society called the Priory of Sion, whose goal has been to protect the Holy Grail and keep its secrets. The twist ensues, however, when it becomes revealed that the Holy Grail, rather than being the legendary "cup of Christ" that supposedly held the blood of Christ and was sought in the Middle Ages, is instead actually Mary Magdalene, who held the blood of Christ by being the mother of His children.

As the book progresses, a wholly different world of alternative histories promotes as fact the idea that Jesus Christ was merely a mortal prophet, that Mary Magdalene was in reality the wife of Jesus Christ and the mother to His child, that Christ believed in a "sacred feminine" and that a sexual rite is needed for man to experience union with the divine, that there has been a vast cover-up by the Catholic Church and Christians about all of these things and that Constantine basically "made up" Christianity for political purposes in the 4th Century A.D.

If many of these ideas were presented in a non-fiction work, the outlandish nature of these claims would be subjected to critique and exposed as the bad and distorted history that they are. Unfortunately, the way things are presented in the book, it is not as easy to understand what is true and what is false. Mr. Brown gives his main characters an outstanding knowledge of art and history and often has those characters display that knowledge while mixing in the "alternative history" as part of the descriptions. This mixing in of the true history with the untrue "alternative history" is what leads to much of the confusion regarding this book. To add to the apparent credibility of his ideas, on the first page of the novel, Mr. Brown presents some "facts" and claims that "all descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate." In doing so, Mr. Brown makes an underlying claim of accuracy and then uses the shield of fiction to present his views, giving these radical view the air of authority by having his "enlightened" characters bring to the forefront his ideas and present those ideas as well-established fact.

For instance, consider these words from Sir Leigh Teabing, a "former British Royal Historian":
"the early Church needed to convince the world that the mortal prophet Jesus was a divine being. Therefore, any gospels that described earthly aspects of Jesus' life had to be omitted from the Bible. Unfortunately for the early editors, one particularly troubling earthly theme kept recurring in the gospels. Mary Magdalene." He paused. "More specifically, her marriage to Jesus Christ."
"I beg your pardon?" Sophie's eyes moved to Langdon and then back to Teabing.
"It's a matter of historical record," Teabing said. (1)

In addition to all the distortions presented as indisputable fact, he also makes a point that "history is written by the ‘winners'" and that therefore we cannot trust the history as recorded because it is biased against the truth that has been covered up and suppressed all these years.


While Mr. Brown likes to claim that this book is based on fact and well-researched, in reality, Mr. Brown presents a work that is a lopsided presentation built upon faulty documents, personal bias, and inaccurate details.

Faulty documents
Much of the undergirding for the claims in this novel are based upon two sets of faulty documents. The first set is the Gnostic Gospels, in particular those found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt. Teabing speaks about these records highly, calling them, "the earliest Christian records" and uses them to support his claim that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married.

The reality is that these documents were not even close to being "the earliest Christian records." In fact, they were written well after the Gospel accounts and other books that make up the New Testament. They were rejected by the early church because of their lack of authenticity (e.g. written by people using fake names long after the named author was dead) and their departure from the Christian message as presented by the Apostles and those that followed them.

Another set of faulty documents at the core of this story is the Les Dossiers Secrets. This is the documents that Brown uses to support his list of the Grand Masters of the Priory of Sion - including Leonardo Da Vinci and Sir Isaac Newton. This list is referred to a number of times to give a picture of importance to this secret organization. The problem, however, is that these documents which are presented as historically reliable were actually a forgery. Pierre Plantard, the man who supposedly found the documents, admitted under oath to a French judge in 1993 that the documents were forged - yet Brown used these documents and presented them as historically authenticated.

Personal Bias

While it is not my intention to belabor this point, Dan Brown has explained in interviews that he actually believes the underlying views that are expressed in his book. The book therefore becomes a way in which he is able to get his bias towards this view into the mainstream.

Consider these statements from an article in The Washington Post.

"I was skeptical, but after a year and a half of research, I became a believer, " says Brown.
"Do you believe that Jesus was actually married to Magdalene?" "I do," he says. (2)

When Sophie declares that she does not know much about the Bible because she was raised by a man who worshiped Leonardo Da Vinci, Teabing responds, "An enlightened soul. Superb!" (3)

Inaccurate Details

Throughout the book, Robert Langdon and Leigh Teabing are presented as "experts", yet, in a number of cases, the information that they declare to the reader is actually inaccurate information - sometimes completely wrong and other times a distortion of the truth.

Robert Langdon describes the etymology of YHWH (the personal name of God) by explaining it being derived from Jehovah, when in fact Jehovah comes from a mixing of the Hebrew consonants YHWH with the Hebrew vowels for the word Adonai (another word for God or Lord).

Teabing mentions over 80 gospels, when, even with counting the very late ones written centuries after Christ, there were not anywhere close to that many.

Langdon describes Shekinah as God's "powerful female equal" rather than the cloud that represented God's glory.

Teabing claims that the idea of Christ being God came about at the Council of Nicea and was the result of a vote that was "a close vote." The reality is that the earliest Christian documents - including the books that make up our New Testament, clearly declared the deity of Jesus Christ more than two hundred years before the Council of Nicea. While it is true that the Council of Nicea affirmed the deity of Christ and stood against the heretic Arius, even that was not a "close vote" as only three of the over 300 bishops refused to sign the document affirming the deity of Christ that came out of the Council.

Many other instances like these could be pointed out in the writings.


There is much that The Da Vinci Code claims that makes for a great conspiracy theory. But, like most conspiracy theories, when confronted with the light of the truth and the facts of history, this great "alternative history" that Dan Brown espouses in the book does not stand up to scrutiny. His personal bias allows him to elevate unreliable documents to a place of primary importance and he weaves many inaccurate details into his writing to try to make his case look much stronger than it is.

As believers, we should be prepared to give an answer of the hope that lies within (I Peter 3:15). The nature of the size of this article does not allow for a full presentation of all the issues contained in The Da Vinci Code to be addressed. For a fuller discussion on these issues and other issues related to The Da Vinci Code, some valuable resources would be the book, Breaking the Da Vinci Code by Darrell L. Bock, a series of articles in the publication Nick of Time written by Dr. Kevin Bauder of Central Baptist Theological Seminary and found online at and a section devoted to this book on the Radio Bible Class web- site at

(1) Brown, Dan, The Da Vinci Code, p. 244.
(2) Roberts, Roxanne, "The Da Vinci Code", The Washington Post, Aug. 2, 2003.
(3) Brown, Dan, The Da Vinci Code, p. 230.

File under Culture_War, Christianity_, Book_Reviews

My Case for Michigan

Sunday, December 03, 2006

College Football is a unique sport in that the champion is not determined by a play-off system or by direct competition, but by a voting system instead. In recent years, there has been a half- hearted attempt to adjust this with what is known as the BCS (Bowl Championship Series). I am not a big fan of the BCS. I would have preferred to have kept the original conference tie-ins with the traditional bowls (e.g. Big Ten vs. Pac-10 in Rose Bowl) or to have went directly to a play-off system (although my idea for a playoff system is slightly different from the one that most people propose - something for an upcoming post).

This year, we find ourselves in an interesting position in regards to who will get to play in the Championship Game. The universally recognized number 1 ranked team is unbeaten Ohio State. The only other unbeaten team is Boise State - a school that plays in the very inferior WAC conference and who is generally discounted because they have not had to play very many good teams (in a relatively speaking sort of way).

Anyway, the current debate on this topic is whether Michigan or Florida should play Ohio State in Arizona for this year's College Football National Championship. My vote (if I had one) would be that Michigan has earned the right to have a second shot at Ohio State (sorry Gator and Buckeye fans).

Now, before you get too excited or concerned, I have to make three important notes and then give my reasoning.

3 Important Notes

1. I am not a Michigan fan. I am not a Michigan-hater like my OSU friends, but I am not a UM fan. I am an Arizona State University fan when it comes to college football and have a general Pac-10 bias from my years of growing up out west. My second favorite college football team is probably the University of Illinois, due to the fact that some of my earliest days were spent in Champaign, Illinois and much of my family still live in Illini territory - also, the first college football game I ever attended was a U of I football game.

2. I do not like the current system. I have what I believe to be a much better way, but don't have time to post that tonight.

3. I would not really be opposed to Boise State playing in this game, since they would still have to beat OSU to actually become the National Champions - unlike when BYU was wrongly awarded the National Championship in 1984 just because they were the last undefeated team standing - even though their bowl victory was only a 24-17 win over a 6-5 Michigan team in the Holiday Bowl.

My Case for Michigan

1. Michigan's loss is more forgivable.

Michigan has only lost one game this entire season. So has Florida. However, the loss that Michigan experienced is a more forgivable loss than the loss that Florida experienced. I view Michigan's loss as more forgivable for the following reasons.

a. Michigan's loss was to the better team (OSU is ranked number 1, Auburn is ranked number 11)
b. Michigan's loss was by fewer points (Michigan lost to Ohio State by the score of 42-39, while Florida lost to Auburn by the score of 27-17)
c. It is generally acknowledge that home field advantage is worth approximately 3 points, which means that Michigan's loss to Ohio State would have been a tie on a neutral field, while Florida's loss to Auburn would have still been a 7 point loss.

2. Michigan's wins are more impressive
Michigan beat every opponent but Ohio State by seven points or more, with the only seven point win a road win of 17- 10 over Penn State

Florida has five games that they won by 7 or less points. They only beat Tennessee and South Carolina by one point each (and SC was a home game), beat a pretty weak (4-8) Vanderbilt team by only 6 points and only beat Georgia and Florida State by seven points each (and again,
Georgia was a home game).

3. Michigan did better against the only common opponent.

The two teams only played one common opponent (the aforementioned Vanderbilt). When Florida played Vanderbilt, Florida beat Vanderbilt 25-19. When Michigan played Vanderbilt, Michigan beat Vanderbilt 27-7.

4. The strength of schedule is not that big of a difference.

The main argument that seems to be offered for Florida is that they had the nation's toughest schedule. While it is true that Florida is considered to have the toughest schedule, Michigan had the third toughest schedule according to the same criteria.

Also, I am not as impressed as some regarding Florida's strength of schedule when I consider the fact that two of their twelve wins were against University of Central Florida (4-8 as part of the mighty Conference USA) and Western Carolina (which won only two games playing against the likes of Wofford and The Citadel - and whose losses included a 42-7 loss against Furman and a 21-0 loss against Liberty).

Not that anybody in the sports world actually reads this, but I believe that these facts provide a compelling case that Michigan should get a chance at a re-match with Ohio State on a neutral field for the National Championship rather than Florida receiving that chance.

Just my thoughts,


Update on my mom's health

Thursday, November 23, 2006

As many of you are aware, my mom is currently in critical condition at St. Mary's Good Samaritan Hospital in Mount Vernon, Illionis. I am in Illinois with her and do not have good internet access. Below is the latest update in a series of updates that we (as a family) have been sending out to other family and friends.

Hello friends and family,

This is Frank Sansone. My brother Mike has been sending out the email updates regarding the medical situation of my mom, Sharon Kay Cheek, but Mike and Sue had to leave to get back to Colorado where he is undergoing a test for some heart problems he is having, so I will now be providing the updates.

We appreciate all your prayers as Mom has been making good progress today. She was able to get off of the ventilator (which Mike mentioned in a previous post) and is breathing well without the ventilator. She is still mostly sleeping, but we have seen some responses.

Just before Mike left, when he went in for one last time before leaving for Colorado, it looked as though she looked at him and smiled. This was soon after his last update that he sent out.

At about 2100 CST (9:00 p.m.), Aunt Linda came into the ICU waiting room and said that mom was starting to wake up some more.

Kelly, Rhonda and I hustled into the room to see her. She was moving around a little and we started to talk to her. She opened her eyes while we were talking to her. After that, she did something awesome. For years, we as a family have had a code - an unspoken way to say "I love you". It is not much of a code, but for years, we would squeeze each others hand or arm three times to say "I love you." I told my mom if she understood me to blink her eyes three times to say "I love you" knowing she would understand the significance of that in our family if she could understand. Then, as Kelly, Rhonda, and I watched, she blinked her eyes three times!!! We were ecstatic.

She still is not responding much, but this was a major encouragement. She still needs to rest more and we are hoping that in the morning, more of the sedative will have worn off and she will be able to respond more consistently.

In Christ,

Frank Sansone

P.S. Please pray for Mike and Sue as they travel most of the night and as he gets his heart tested tomorrow. Also, pray for Linda as she flies back out to Virginia tomorrow.

We appreciate all you prayers and ask you to continue to pray.

(I posted some additional information on this thread on Sharper Iron, for those who want to catch up a little regarding this request.)

On My Son's Tenth Birthday

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Yesterday, we celebrated my son's 10th birthday (his birthday is today). It seems hard to believe that Josiah is 10 years old already. We had pizza and a birthday cake that mommy made to look like a soccer ball. Josiah got a lot of nice cards - including one from Mom Mom with a sweet poem about Josiah (I would post it if I were home and had the poem with me - maybe Missy can post it for me sometime this week).

For presents, Josiah got a desk for him to be able to study in his room (instead of trying to study at the kitchen table while there are all kinds of distractions around him). Missy picked up the desk at Goodwill and stripped it and painted. It looks really nice. She did a great job on the desk and he jumped up and down when he saw it. We also got him a number of things to go with the desk (desk lamp, pencils, pens, etc.) and a gift card to Staples so that he could pick out other desk supplies that he wanted. The other major gift that we got him was a Philadelphia Eagles Replica Helmet. He loved it.

As I am on a plane this morning on my way to Illinois to see my mom in the hospital, I have to be away from Josiah on his birthday. The following part is for him.

Dear Josiah,

I love you, bud. I am sorry that I have to be away on your birthday. Please continue to pray for Gramma Big Hug. I will see you soon.

It is hard to imagine that you are already 10 years old. That is a decade! You have been growing up soo nicely. You have outgrown "lizards and sharks" and while it makes me sad to think that you are getting older, I also realize that it is a good thing that you are growing and it is neat to see that growth in your life. You are a good boy and it is good to see you grow up in your maturity and physically, but it is even better to see you grow spiritually. This has been a big year. I love to see your sermon notes after a sermon at church. You usually do such a good job of paying attention. It is neat that Mrs. Tarr is going to let you take notes in chapel now, as well.

It was a blessing for me to be able to Baptize you this year. It was appropriate to me that you were the first one for me to Baptize as Pastor before baptizing the others. I love your zeal for God and your desire to see your friends come.

It has been a lot of fun coaching you and your team in soccer. You have turned into a really good soccer player. I appreciate the fact that you look for your teammates and pass the ball well. You led our team in assissts this year and probably could have scored more goals yourself if you had wanted to be selfish. I am gladfor what that shows about your understanding of the game, but I am even more glad for what that shows about your understnading of life. Life is not about what we can do or the glory we can get for ourselves. It is about loving and serving God first, and loving and serving others.

I wish I was there today so that I could sit next to you with your new Eagles helmet and your Eagles shirt and we could watch the Eagles cream the Tennesse Titans and yell E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles. (Much to Mommy's chagrin :) ). I wish I could be there tonight and pray with you and kiss you "North, South, East & West."

You be good for Mommy this week and grow up to love and honor God with all of your life.



Missy, Chrissy, and Beka, I love you, too and miss you already. Please keep praying for Gramma Big Hug. I'll talk to you after I can get my phone charged again.

Just my thougthts,


My Analysis of Dr. Joel Tetreau's Three Lines in the Sand article on SharperIron

Friday, November 17, 2006

Over at SharperIron, Dr. Joel Tetreau, Senior Pastor at Southwest Valley Baptist Church in Gilbert, Arizona and an Adjunct Professor at International Baptist College in Tempe, Arizona has posted an article entitled, Three Lines in the Sand (this article has been broken into several parts and can be found here, here, here, and here). This article is an extension and revision of an article that he published in May of 2005 entitled, A Line in the Sand. The gist of these articles is the establishment of a taxonomy in which various "types" or "moods" of Fundamentalism (or fundamentalism, if you prefer) are described.

I have basically been waiting until the posting of the entire article was completed before making comments. (I did ask one question about Dr. Singleton after the first post, but I have not posted on any of the threads other than that question, I believe.) I wanted to hear Dr. Tetreau out and see what it was he was advocating. At this point, all but the final section has been posted and it my understanding that the last section is going to discuss his "Type C fundamentalism." I admit that I am making these comments without having had an opportunity to view this last section, but based upon reading and interacting with Dr. Tetreau (or Joel, as he would prefer), I am pretty sure I know where he is going with the last section. (I reserve the right to advise and amend my comments if he comes out with something radically different in the last section than what I have been led to believe.)

These articles have been the source of much discussion in the Fundamental blogosphere - at the time of this writing, the three posts written by Joel have generated over 16,000 views and 400 comments alone at SharperIron. In addition to Joel's post at SharperIron, there have at least two "Filings" threads on SI regarding this topic and one other thread - generating another 3,500 views between them. Away from SharperIron, Dr. Dave Doran has given an assessment of the presentation on Pastor Chris Anderson's Blog at My Two Cents and Dr. (almost) Mike Riley, who serves with Joel at IBC has written an evaluation of Joel's presentation as well at his blog (I have not yet had a chance to read Mike's comments, yet, but expect to do so when I get the chance).

As I read the articles, there is a sense in which part of me thinks that this whole discussion is "much ado about nothing." However, when I consider the fact that this has generated so much discussion, I am inclined to think that there may indeed be value in taking the time to consider what it is that Joel has written. Further, as the terms have been thrown around now for over a year and we now finally have an explanation of the terms, it makes sense at this time to evaluate what Joel has written. Finally, even though the articles are very recent, I have already had one person use Joel's Types to ask me about a church that I had recommended to them, so people are already trying to use the Types for labeling churches and I feel that fact alone warrants a response.

Joel seems to be really good guy. As I told the lady who asked me about the church, Joel "is a good old Arizona boy and us guys from Arizona have to stick together - even if I have not been back "home" to Arizona in over 15 years." I genuinely like Joel from what I know of him. He has a good spirit, can be very humorous at times and has even commented on my blog. Please do not take any disagreement that I may indicate in this argument as a personal attack on Joel. It is not intended to be so.

When Joel first posted his presentation last year, I believe I was probably the first one to take objection to what he had written about Types - albeit there were only two types back then. Many of my same concerns from that original discussion are still unanswered in this more lengthy revision. (My post in this regard can be found here.)

My comments here are not being made because Joel has offended me with his post or that he has struck some kind of nerve. (I find it funny that some of the "Type Bs" on SI - to use Joel's Types - have repeatedly tried to use the liberal methodology of claiming that disagreement with something equals fearing that thing. It has been interesting to see them attack Greg as though he is a "Typophobe" because he has had some legitimate questions about the whole taxonomy.)

So, below, for my two or three readers who are still reading, is my assessment and comments about Dr. Joel Tetreau's Three Lines in the Sand.

1. The Types as presented to Dr. Tetreau are too broad

By this, I am not referring to the fact that there are too many people in each group, but rather, that Joel has joined too many unrelated things together into his taxonomy.

If Joel had limited his discussion to an examination of three different views of separation, I believe that this could have been helpful. If he had wanted to address leadership styles or standards or demeanor or any number of things, this presentation may have been more valuable.

A. This broadness results in inaccurate characterizations

As it is presented, the categories include so many different things that it is hard to imagine that very many people completely fit into any one type and this makes the type system more than just unwieldy, it makes it inaccurate.

For instance, Joel has linked a leadership style of "dictatorship in decision making" to his Type A.

I had seen in Type A Fundamentalism a high degree of "dictatorship in decision making." I had been convinced that in the early New Testament church there was mutual submission and consideration in the decision-making process. I saw almost none of that with most Type A ministries. What I did see were pastors who believed they had a right to make the final call on all decisions. I saw (and continue to see with many of the A guys, ministers who believe they are answerable to no one except God). They might take items to the congregation but only if they absolutely have to. I believe that elders (a plurality of them) should oversee the spiritual sphere of decision making, and the deacons should oversee the physical minutiae of decision making.

Included in this view is the idea that Type A's are opposed to shared leadership and that shared leadership (read: multiple elder rule) is something that is connected to Type B. Notice the following statement by Joel:
Type A's typically hate the concept of a plurality of leadership

(See his comments on Chris' blog for more examples of this view.)

Now, regardless of my position on multiple elder rule, the reality is that this issue is not related to a view of separation. The Free Presbyterians and Bible Presbyterians have been known as holding to a view of separation that Joel would characterize as Type A, yet have a Presbyterian form of government. The Ohio Bible Fellowship - again, a group that Joel has characterized as Type A - also have many churches that hold to a multiple-elder rule type of polity. If Joel's connecting these two issues were a legitimate connection, it would seem that one of the most outspoken groups of Type As (the OBF) should at least fit into his taxonomy.

For what its worth, I doubt that you would find anyone in my church who would claim that I am anywhere close to a "dictator in decision making" - if anything, I tend to wait too long in decisions because I want to have a consensus before we move on just about everything.

B. This broadness results in a limited usefulness

By creating categories that are so broad, he has limited the usefulness of his categories. For instance, when the lady asked me whether the church I had recommended to her was a Type A, B, or C church, I could not answer that question without saying things to the effect - they would probably be described as Type A in regard to this issue, Type B in regards to this issue, etc.

Now, I recognize that there are time when it is helpful to be able to say that a golden retriever is a mammal, but generally it much more helpful for someone to be able to at least say that the golden retriever is a dog.

C. This broadness results in unfair "lumping"
One of the consequences of having such broad categories is that people have to be "lumped together" to fit into the broad categories. Doing so results in characterizing people with vastly different personalities, views and ministry styles in a way that makes others think they are the same thing.

Now, to be fair, I have done this myself. In fact, one of the results of this discussion is that I have seen this error in my own approach to others. I have been the type of person who has held on to the designation of "New Evangelical" to describe men like Dever, etc. I have been wrong to do this . I still do not believe it is accurate to refer to them as Fundamentalists, but I do agree that they do not fit into the mold of what Ockenga described when he coined the term. For example, the conservative evangelicals do not question the legitimacy of separation (although they apply it or fail to apply it in a way that I believe is accurate), they do not focus on social concerns, or achieving intellectual respect, etc. I have not changed my position on my issues with this position, but I do see that I have unfairly labeled them by using too broad of a category.

When I look at Joel's taxonomy, I find the same problem. He lumps fine and reasonable men like Dr. Dave Doran with men and ministries who are dictatorial and abusive. The basis for that lumping? Not because there is really that much of a similarity between these ministries, but because they have similar views when it comes to separation from disobedient brethren.

Another example of this comes in the third part of the article, where Joel comments,
Because of their understanding of separation passages, they have developed their own forms of music, literature, even Bible versions.

Here Joel indicates that Type As have developed their own forms of Bible versions. The only thing I can imagine he would mean by this is something to do with the King James Version. The problem of lumping is again seen here, as two of the people he is currently discussing this with - including one he has essentially accused of being the prototypical flagship producer of A clones (Dr. Dave Doran) - uses the NASB. Furthermore, many of the A schools that were listed by Joel were in the Coalition that produced the video in response to PCC's attacks about Bible versions. Again, this is an example of the unfair and inaccurate lumping produced by the taxonomy and explanation that Joel has produced.

2. The Types wrongly connect positions with dispositions.

A second significant issue that I have with Joel's Three Lines in the Sand (by the way, would not there only be two lines in order to produce three groups) is that he wrongly connects a position with a disposition.

While Dr. Tetreau repeatedly comments that being an A is not a bad thing, his words belie the fact that it is indeed a bad thing.

Notice some of the language and descriptions used by Dr. Tetreau concerning Type As.

"The pyramid" refers to the strict and often abusive approach to a centralized and dictatorial approach to decision making found with (IMO) an usually high percentage of Type A senior pastors.

Friends, I am saying that Type A's do have more of these unpleasant distinctives....and in part because of the way your sub-culture has engendered militancy. (ellipses in the original)

Now we disagree with the Type A and Type A+ regular practice of internal strife over ecclesiastical politics (see the history of the MBA from the 60's and 70's).

But I have become very choosy as to which Type A's I will work with. The list grows smaller with each passing year

He will be loyal to "it" and only "it. ("It" being Fundamentalism.)

Type B fundamentalists are almost to the man, painfully aware of the rude image many of their Type A mentors demonstrated throughout years of leadership

The overall picture of Type A that has been painted is abusive, unpleasant, dictatorial, loyal to Fundamentalism instead of loyal to Christ, rude and ungentlemanly.

Now, I will grant you that Joel does make qualifications - it is not ALL Type A, but it is "most", "many", and an "unusually high percentage." Clearly the understanding is that something about the position of Type A (assumed to be their view of separation) leads them to this disposition of being abusive and rude. It may be that it is not the position that leads them to this disposition, but their disposition that leads them to this position. Either way, it is clear that the two things are connected in Joel's taxonomy.

In making this connection, Joel discredits his taxonomy in two ways.

A. This connection is inaccurate.

When I look at the men who are currently living and ministering that have been referred to as Type A, I fail to see how a charge of abuse and rudeness can be made fairly as a general charge against those who hold to a strict view of separation.

For instance, in this very discussion one only needs to look at some of the principals to see that gentlemanly behavior is the norm, not the exception for those labeled Type A. Dr. Dave Doran has been blasted as a Type A in this discussion, yet his responses on this issue (as on all other issues that I have seen) has been very gracious and respectful. Pastor Chris Anderson, Matt Herbster, Pastor Mike Harding, Dr. Rolland McCune and Pastor Greg Linscott have all responded kindly and appropriately - even when being accused of responding out of fear that Joel's taxonomy has hit them where it hurts. Even if I give you that Don Johnson (who seems to be a favorite whipping boy of the Type B guys) may have responded too strongly (a charge I am not sure I agree with - at least not in the initial response by Don that was jumped on), you still have the vast majority of the men who would be labeled Type A by Joel's taxonomy who do not even come close to fulfilling the disposition that Joel applies to them.

When you go beyond this discussion and consider some of the other most frequent posters on SI who are probably labeled "A", you will find the same thing to be true. Christian Markle and Pastor Scott Markle are exemplary gentlemen in everything that I have read from them at SI. Mr. Andy Efting is always gracious and reasonable. Missionary JGleason is a kind gentleman. I am not picking out random people here to prove my point. I went through the top posters at SI and chose out the 10 posters who were most clearly identifiable as or accused of being Type A. Of those top posters, (which also includes Greg Linscott, Chris Anderson, Julie Herbster and Matt Herbster who I have already mentioned) I cannot see anyone legitimately laying the charge of rudeness on any of these men except for possibly me and Don Johnson (and I think that most of Don's curmudgeon reputation is not really deserved).

I would further add to this by pointing out the fact that many of the "Type B" individuals are just as forceful and rude as the "Type A" are accused of being when it comes to the issues about which they are passionate. See the responses on some of the threads where people's salvation was questioned and consider the response to some of the Type Bs on some of the KJVO threads where Type A+s and Type Bs exchanged barbs going in both directions. (I am not excusing the Type A+s that were involved in those threads, I am only pointing out that the supposedly "kinder, gentler" Fundamentalism - oops, fundamentalism with a small f :) - can be "not so kind or gentle" themselves.

The problem with the rudeness or the abuse or the dictatorial leadership, etc. is not a Type problem, but a people problem. All men are sinners and even saved sinners still have a sin nature that can rear its ugly head. It is patently unfair to ascribe the sinfulness of some individuals as a characteristic of a whole group of individuals.

B. This connection builds onto itself.

Not only is the connection inaccurate, but by placing this description as part of his taxonomy, Joel is actually encouraging the idea that this describes these individuals and is causing the perception to be built up even further.

In other words, if something is said by a Type A that could be viewed as mean or insensitive, it is assumed that it was meant as mean and insensitive and is just part of his "A" ness. So, when Don commented about "lengthy meanderings" it was jumped on as "meanspirited" and "small" and a call was made for a moderator. When the moderator did not find anything wrong with the statement, even he got questioned about it. Now, I know a little about "lengthy meanderings" - this post is proof of that. - and while I may not have used the same expression, I don't think it was intended as "meanspirited." I would also venture that if the same kind of comment were made about a post like the post I am currently writing no one would jump at the Type B person who made such a comment to me.

By including the disposition as part of the Type, Joel is encouraging people to think of Type As in this way.

In a post on Bob's blog about two months ago, Bob Bixby (surely one of the prototypical Type B leaders) said rather boldly to Don, "You are not my friend." Can you imagine the reaction if Don had said this to Bob instead of the other way around? It would have been seen as characteristic of his being a "Type A" and his rudeness would have been brought up as another example of Type A.

There are other additional comments that could be made on this. I think Chris Anderson and Dave Doran have both done a good job of addressing some of the things. It is getting late and I have a busy day tomorrow, so I will close this down for now.

Just my thoughts,


Standards and Fences - Rerun

Saturday, November 11, 2006

There has been a lot of discussion lately about Fences again on one of the blogs that are popular in Fundamentalism. I have not had the time to read all of those posts, yet, so please do not interpret this post as an answer to Tom's posts. (I may have a desire to answer Tom's posts once he has completed all of them - including his explanation - but, this is not it).

Standards and Fences (Originally posted - August 5, 2006)

There are many today who like to equate having standards and guidelines as a form of legalism or Phariseeism and as contrary to the grace of God working in a person's life. The end of this equation is that anyone who advocates that others adopt standards in their lives to help keep themselves from falling into a particular sin is "adding to the Scripture" and is teaching for doctrine the commandments of men.

It seems interesting to me that the ones who I most often interact with on this type of conversation are people who have previously been in Fundamentalism, usually of the more extreme variety. It seems to me that there must be something in leaving the extremes that tends to move you towards the opposite extreme.

In one recent conversation on this topic, one individual commented (not to me) that "You don't have a supernatural religion, therefore you can't keep your thoughts pure without ‘going beyond what is written.'" Another an individual commented that "standards are a human-based solution to a deadness so profound that only God can change it" and "Standards promoters feel it is important to have faith, the correct doctrine, and the Triune Deity, but instead of actually having these things, they may only image (sic - I assume he meant imagine) that they do. The commands and wisdom of the Scriptures must be shored up where necessary by fences and rules. The Pharisees believed in this way..."

So, if I follow this reasoning, the following things are true about those who believe that having and maintaining standards can be a good thing.

1. They do not have a supernatural religion, but a fake religion.
2. Standards are "going beyond what is written" because you can't keep yourself pure with that fake religion.
3. Standards are the result of a profound deadness.
4. Standards promoters do not have faith, correct doctrine or the Triune Deity, just think they do.
5. Standards promoters do not believe in the sufficiency of Scripture.
6. Standards promoters are following the path of the Pharisees.

The reality, of course, is that numbers 1, 3, & 4 (at least) are all the same thing - those who believe in having, keeping, and encouraging others in the area of standards are lost.

I recognize that there are many groups out there who believe that keeping their standards are what makes or keeps them holy. Sadly, those individuals are severely mistaken. We do not merit grace, it is the gift of God. However, there is a large difference between having, keeping and encouraging standards and believing that it is those standards that make me right with God.

I am married. As a result of being married, there are some things that I will not do because I love my wife. There are some guidelines that I have set up so that I will not displease her (even though I am sure that there are plenty of other areas where I do displease her). I follow these things because I love Missy and I do not want to displease her, not because I believe that keeping those guidelines is all I need in order to keep my relationship with Missy what it should be.

Not only are having appropriate guidelines and standards helpful from a practical standpoint, they are also consistent with Biblical teaching about these things.

For instance, the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 13:14,

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

It seems to me that in order to fulfill that admonition, one must have an understanding of what types of things provide for our flesh so that we can avoid making provision for it.

Even more pointedly, Jesus Christ Himself seems to give a radical view of the seriousness of setting up fences so that we do not fall.

Notice these words of Jesus Christ,
Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

It seems strange to me that when someone argues, "If having unfiltered internet access causes thee to look after a woman to lust, thou shouldest get a filter on your internet rather than persist in that sin" they are viewed as being legalistic and having a false religion, when Christ says "pluck out the eye" if it causes you to stumble or "cut off that hand" if doing so will keep you from going down this pathway to sin.

Now, I recognize that the "non-standards" people will argue that "well, you are not Christ", but it seems to me that the principle from Christ is still applicable - if there is something we can do that keeps us away from those temptations (e.g. erecting a standard or a practice to avoid the problem - or "cutting off our hand"), then surely this is a wise and prudent thing to do.

Just my thoughts,


File under - Christianity, Fundamentalism

An Interview of Evangelist Mark Kittrell

Friday, November 10, 2006

Bible Community Church in Mentor, Ohio has been hosting Evangelist Mark Kittrell for a week of meetings at the church this past week. Soon after I began this blog, we had Evangelist Kittrell at our church - Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury, Maryland - and I posted a series of reports about those excellent meetings at our church. (Those reports can be found here, here, here, and here.) Pastor Andy Rupert (who is the Assistant Pastor at Bible Community Church in Mentor, Ohio)over at Isle Kerguelen has posted an article and an mp3 of an interview with Evangelist Mark Kittrell - here.

In the interview, Mr. Kittrell discusses some aspects of his personal testimony, some practical questions about life on the road and its effect on the family, the concept of "evangelist" and some questions about Fundamentalism - both its definition and some current issues regarding Fundamentalism.

Some isolated quotes from the interview (of course, listen to the full interview to understand the context):

Regarding the ministry of the Evangelist:
When God's people are perfectly equipped, then God's people will become busy about true ministry and then the entire body will be built up.

It does entail a particular passion and burden for the "good news", the Gospel, seeing people saved.

Regarding Fundamentalism

I think that separation is inherent, almost, with a definition of Fundamentalism.

A fundamentalist, though, is not just a fundamentalist based on his stand on the doctrines, he is also a fundamentalist based on his spirit of holding those doctrines.

Your spirit and your stand must agree.

I can take a strong stand, but I can be very gracious in that stand. I can be firm in believing and adhering to the doctrines of Scripture, but I can do it with the right spirit.

Regarding "Conservative Evangelicalism"
I think we can emulate their desire for exegeting and expositing the Word of God and having a real love for the truth, because we have a real passion for God. But, I should be able to do that as a Fundamentalist.

Regarding the "infamous Frank Sansone"
Frank traveled one summer with our team and did an excellent job.

I noticed that he wanted to move on pretty quickly beyond this question when it was asked :). He failed to mention that once I had traveled with them, they never again took out another team of guys - we were too much of a hassle. (In truth, they never did take out another team, but I think - hope - there were other reasons for that decision - such as the birth of their first child, etc.)

As I think I mentioned on one of those other posts that I referenced at the beginning of this post, Mr. Kittrell is not only a good preacher, but a Godly man who humbly walks with God. Mark and Tammisue Kittrell both had a great influence on the lives of me and my wife and we are thankful for their ministry. (I am hoping one of these days to actually do a web-site for their ministry, but I have not done so yet.)

Anyway, head on over to Isle Kerguelen for the interview.

Just my thoughts,


Very funny cartoon

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I know nothing about the comic strip Foxtrot, but the one from yesterday (Tuesday, Nov. 7) is very funny. The author manages to combine a few of my favorite things in a short comic strip - theology, football, and alternative word meanings.

You can find the strip at this location.

Just someone else's thoughts,


How Should A Person Respond to False Accusations?

Friday, November 03, 2006

(In a way, this reminds me of some things that were raised on a previous post about The Rights of the Victims and the Accused that I wrote back in January.)

Most of us have heard about the accusations that have been made against Ted Haggard. I imagine that, in time, we will know the truth regarding these accusations and I tend to think the best way for those not involved in a situation to respond is with a "wait and see" attitude. Over the years, there have been plenty of times in which false accusations have been made. And, over the years, there have been plenty of times when true accusations have been made - including accusations that shocked people.

Now, I am not a fan of Mr. Haggard or of the NAE (I think the inclusivism of the NAE waters down the Gospel, among other things), but I don't think this is the time to deal with those issues - especially if one wants to use this still unproven accusation as a club.

My question, however, stems from the response to this situation.

Well-known blogger Phil Johnson has written an article entitled, "Thoughts on Today's Scandal".

While I actually agree with Phil on much of what he says in this article, I do have a question - not necessarily even a disagreement - about his first point.

Phil states,

If he really didn't do it, he should not have resigned. If the accusations against him were totally false, there was no reason whatsoever to resign—in fact, that would be a totally wrongheaded and completely counterproductive thing to do

The question that has been bugging me is "How do we respond to something like this?"

Let me lay out a couple of parameters and then I would love to have some input on this.

1. Assume this accusation is againts you or against your Pastor.
2. Assume this accusation is totally baseless and untrue.
3. Assume that there is some type of constituency involved that is also being harmed by the mere accusation (e.g. a church, Christian college, etc.)

On the one hand, there is definitely a view out there that to resign or step down is essentially an admittance of guilt. This seems to be the view that Phil is taking here. When I watched Countdown with Keith Olberman (sp?) this morning, (something I have seen maybe three times in my life), he seemed to taking the same view - as have many of the headlines I have seen online.

On the other hand, if you do not resign, the organization you are part of generally gets accused of being involved in a cover-up, etc. It seems that, in general, when there are accusations against police for false shootings, etc., the general policy is usually that the officers in question are placed on some type of "administrative leave" while the investigation is ongoing. If I understand what happened here, it seems like the person in question did not actually resign his church, but temporarily stepped down while the allegations could be investigated.

So, what is the right response? Is there a third response? How would you recommend handling something like this? Assuming (for the sake of discussion) that an accusation like this was made purely for political motives or due to some personal animosity (it would not be the first time), how does this affect the concept of "blameless" and "of good report of them which are without"? (I am not saying it should affect this, I am just asking the questions).

I would love to hear the thoughts of those who are wiser than I on this topic.

Just my questions,


Don't get an education - get stuck in Iraq

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Caution: The following post is political in nature.

By now, almost everyone has heard the comments by Sen. John Kerry in which he stated that if you don't make the most of your education, you get "stuck in Iraq."

Mr. Kerry now says that this was a "botched joke" that was aimed at President Bush.

Assuming that he is being honest on this, that it really was not meant to be an insult to the troops like it appeared, what about what he is claiming that he was trying to say? It seems that he is saying that President Bush did not "try to be smart" and that this is why we are involved in what he views is a wrong war in Iraq.

For most of my life, I have heard repeated attempts by the liberal elites to paint all conservatives as uneducated and stupid. During my teen years, I repeatedly heard that President Reagan was a populist hack who was only successful because he could speak well from having been an actor.

During the last six or so years, it has often been portrayed as though President Bush is dumb. In 2000, it was Bush is dumb and Gore is really smart. In 2004, it was Bush is dumb and Kerry is really smart.

I will grant you that President Bush probably brings some of this on himself due to time when he messes up what he is trying to say.

However, for Kerry to indicate that Bush is dumb is an example of the pot calling the kettle black and the fact that the media generally aides in this portrayal is preposterous.

When Kerry was in Yale, he received 4 D's in his freshman year out of 10 classes. He had a cumultive 76 for his four years. (By comparison, the man who he is claiming he was trying to say was dumb had a cumultive 77.) So, by Kerry's own claim, he was saying that Bush is "stuck in Iraq" because of a lack of success in his educational experience when Bush actually did better at the same school (Yale). It would seem to me that he, for one, should at least keep his mouth shut before calling other people dumb.

Just my thoughts,


Reformation Sunday

Sunday, October 29, 2006

On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany. While the 95 Theses were originally written in Latin and designed as a challenge to debate, they were soon translated into the common German tongue and the flames of the Reformation had begun.

Surely, Martin Luther never expected the results that came from his simple act, but God chose to use it and a great work of God was done throughout the continent as people were called back to a more Biblical view of Christianity.

Reformation Sunday is a great opportunity to teach important truths. Unfortunately, many in Fundamental circles fail to use this opportunity and for many this day goes right on by without so much as a thought about what God began in Germany in 1517.

Last year for Reformation Sunday, I preached a message that dealt with the Five Solas of the Reformation. Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Sola Christos (Christ Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) and Sola Dei Gloria (Glory to God Alone). The message was very well received as we looked at these important truths - examining the historical context as well as the Biblical support.

This morning, I went a little different direction for Reformation Sunday. Rather than focusing on the specifics of the Reformation, I instead used the backdrop of the Reformation to urge us to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3 or Jude 1:3 depending upon your preference and the preference of your computer Bible program).

As Luther stood up and contended for the faith and against the error of his day, we are called to do the same today. It is not enough to rejoice and admire those who have fought before, we must ourselves take a stand and be willing to fight for the faith.

I dealt with the charge to contend for the faith - that it was needful and an exhortation (and that similar charges repeatedly appear throughout Scripture). I wonder if sometimes the reason we need such strong words about contending for the faith is because it is to easy to "go along to get along" and we live in a Rodney King "Why Can't We All Just Get Along World" that values tolerance as THE Supreme Virtue (unless, of course, the toleration is being asked for Biblical Christianity).

I also dealt with the characteristics of our contention for the faith - primarily focusing on the word "epiagonizomai" and its roots - "agonizomai" and "agon". It is a great study some time to think about how God tells us to contend. (It is also a challenging thought to think through the Paul's use of this concept to describe the prayer life of Epaphras for his people - see Colossians 4:12).

Lastly, we considered the content of our contention - it is to be for "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." It is important that when we are contending, we are contending for the faith, not just that we have a contentious personality or that we are always fighting over our pet peaves or hobby horses. It is also important that we are willing to fight in the arena that is currently under attack. The sale of indulgences is an issue that doesn't really affect anyone that I personally know right now, but Luther contended against that error of his day and God used that to bring about much greater Biblical change. We need to be willing to contend for the faith in the areas that are under attack today - whether that is Boyd's Open Theism, a seeker-sensitive mentality that designs church services to please the lost rathrer than to please God, or an 1-2-3 pray after me mentality that teaches a false and cheap repentance-free Gospel.

Anyway, we enjoyed our Reformation Sunday. I pray that yours went well, as well.

Just my thoughts,


I am thankful for my team and parents

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Many of my readers are aware that I am coaching my son's Youth Soccer (U-10) team (I have even been trying to maintaining a blog about the team (

I recently came across this article on ESPNabout a parent who pulled a gun on his son's youth football coach because the son was not getting enough playing time.

I have always been a big sports fan. When I was in 6th grade, my older brother made a plaque for me for my birthday that included a walnut shell and a miniature sports ball and said "Sports Nut."

When I read things like this, however, where a man pulls a gun on a coach over the playing time of a 6-7 year old football player, I am thankful that God has allowed me to understand a better priority in regards to sports.

I am also thankful, that, as a coach, the players and parents of the Green Machine have been a good and supportive group of folks. The players have listened well and the parents have been very supportive - in fact, I have been asked to keep the team together and coach an indoor soccer team this winter.

Folks, if you have children in sports, please think strongly about what you are teaching your children as you watch or coach a team.

Just my thoughts,


Great Time at Hardingville Bible Conference

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What a blessing we had at the Hardingville Bible Church Bible Conference on Wednesday. It was great to be able to get up to New Jersey and to see some old friends and have a little time of fellowship with the good folks up there at Hardingville. I only wish that our schedule would have worked out so that we could have spent more time with our friends and so that we could have heard the other men preach.

In previous years, Hardingville has had a number of great men preach in their Bible Conferences. Speakers in the past have included men like Pastor John Ashbrook (long-time Pastor of Bible Community Church in Mentor, Ohio), Dr. Bob Jones, III (former President of Bob Jones University), Dr. Dave Burgraff (former Dean of Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary), Dr. Sam Horn (Vice President at Northland Baptist Bible College), Dr. Stephen Hankins (Dean of the Bob Jones Seminary), and others.

This year, Hardingville did something a little bit different with their Bible Conference. Rather than bringing in one of the more well-known preachers, Hardingville brought back six men (and their families) who have served at Hardingville Bible Church in the Church Internship Program. In addition to each man preaching, the wives were to give a testimony about life in the ministry and the men were to give an update on their current ministries and relate some things from their training at Hardingville that has impacted their current ministry.

I think the concept was a great concept for a change of pace. The Church Internship Program is a vital part of the ministry at Hardingville and, through this program, God has worked through Hardingville in the preparation of a number of men for ministry. While my situation was unique (I originally came to HBC as an Assistant with Youth Emphasis with the plans of remaining in such a capacity for as long as God allowed me and eventually went through an abbreviated form of the Church Internship Program due to the experience that God had already given me in ministry), I believe that this program - or something like it - should become a part of many more Fundamental churches. Men need to be trained for ministry and a solid, Fundamental, local church is the best place for the practical "hands-on" aspects of that training. It is my desire that one day we would be able to incorporate a similar program here at Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury for young men who have finished their academic schooling (probably having at least an M.A. before starting here) and are in need of further training for ministry.

As my part of the Bible Conference, I did a PowerPoint presentation to update the folks on what God is doing in our lives and ministry and I preached from Romans 12:11 on Serving the Lord - in keeping with the Conference theme.

Missy did a great job with her testimony. She is not really used to speaking before people and it makes her very nervous, but she did great. She was clear, articulate, funny, and practical - maybe we should change rolls :).

Anyway, it was good to see a lot of friends and to be able to preach God's Word as part of the conference.

Just my thoughts,


You are INVITED!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

This coming Wednesday - October 11, 2005, I will be preaching on Wednesday night at a Bible Conference at Hardingville Bible Church in Monroeville, New Jersey. The theme for the conference is "Serving the Lord" with a theme verse of Romans 12:11.

Hardingville Bible Church is the church where I had the privilege of serving as an Assistant from 1999-2004 - first with a youth emphasis, and then in an internship role. The Pastor, Pastor Mark Franklin, is one of the best expository preachers that I have ever heard - and I have been privileged to have heard a number of good preachers through my years.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Pastor Franklin and Hardingville Bible Church have had an internship program for a number of years in which Pastor Franklin and the folks at the church have helped to prepare young men for ministry. Rather than a short three-month program that many churches have, HBC's internship program usually lasts about 2 1/2 to 3 years before the gentleman moves on into his own ministry.

For this year's Bible Conference, Hardingville is bringing back six men who have been through the HBC Internship Program and who are now pastoring churches. Each of us gets one service, and I have the last service, which is Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m.

Looking forward to seeing some of you there.

Just my thoughts,


Patience and Ministry

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I recently came across these words from Dr. John Dreisbach, a long-time missionary, in an open letter to GFA missionaries. Dr. Dreisbach is a senior statesman in the area of missions and has given his life in the cause of Christ.

In the following "open letter" he reminds the younger missionaries who he has the opportunity of encouraging about the need for patience and hard work in ministry. I have thought much about similar thoughts in recent days and thought I would pass on these thoughts. (Italics are in the original - this is borrowed from a booklet on family devotions for February 1995 from Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, SC)

How many of us have used or heard used the following familiar passages? The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few (Matthew 9:37). Behold, I say unto you, Life up your eyes, and look on the fields: for they are white already to harvest (John 4:35).

We are often led to believe that we will find people out on the mission fields of the world with open arms to receive us, eager to respond to the Gospel messages we have come to preach. Most of the time this will not be the case. As we lift up our eyes, we will see fallow, untilled fields full of rocks and choked with weeds.

Our first task - and often a lengthy one - will be to remove the rocks, pull up the weeds, and break up the fallow ground. I quote from an old book "addressed to missionaries only" in reference to new missionaries: "There they are with a scythe in their hand, when it ought to have been a plow. A basket for their fruits instead of a bag of seed." We should remember that it was seven years before Carey baptized his first convert in India: it was seven years before Judson won his first disciple in Burma: Morrison toiled seven years before the first Chinaman was brought to Christ: and Moffat declares that he waited seven years to see the first evident moving of the Holy Spirit upon the Bechuanas of Africa. Many other missionaries have toiled for many years without evident fruit at all, and yet they faithfully carried out their ministries. There needs to be that breaking up of your fallow ground (Jeremiah 4:3).

Then follow the words of the Psalmist, They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. The lord concludes his parable of the sower and the soil with the words, bring forth fruit with patience. James instructs us to be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and the latter rain. Be ye also patient.

Patience does not mean inactivity, but rather it is the faithful planting and nurturing of the seed of the Word of God and allowing the lord of the harvest to, in His time, bring the increase. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (Galatians 6:9).

As a young man in ministry (I still consider myself a young man - although, now that I am over 35 some may start to dispute that), I find that this area of patience is one that is often a struggle.

The eagerness that is in me can get discouraged that I can't just look at the lives of everyone at our church and see that not all of us are spiritual giants (myself included). The eagerness in me can get discouraged when I look out before me on Sunday morning and see many chairs that are not filled. Even though we are growing (numerically and hopefully, spiritually) as a church, the eagerness in me wants to see much more growth and can easity get discouraged when that growth is not at a level which I would desire. God, however, does not promise a time table on when fruit will be ready for harvest. Instead he instructs us to plant the seed and to water that seed with our tears.

So, if you happen to be struggling with not seeing the progress you have wanted to see, remember that God's time table is not ours and that God's requirement is faithfulness not numbers.

Just my thoughts,


Bauder Linscott?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Pastor Greg Linscott of Faith Baptist Church (and SharperIron) recently announced that he and his wife are expecting a son.

In the comment thread of that post, he makes reference to naming the son "Bauder Linscott."

Based on that comment and considering an earlier post of Greg's , I thought I would update a shirt he is offering on his web-site.

What do you think, Greg?

Just my thoughts,



Tuesday, September 26, 2006

On Sunday, we finished our series on Elijah that we have been studying at the church. When we started this series before Mother's Day, I did not expect that we would still be on Elijah in September.

After studying the life of Elijah for the last few months, part of me feels like I just said "good- bye" to an old friend in Sunday's sermon. It has been encouraging and challenging to read and study the life of this man who James tells us "was subject to like passions as we are (James 5:17)." It is challenging to see this man of God rise up out of obscurity and boldly proclaim God's message to a king, queen, and nation that had rejected God's ways. It is encouraging to see God's provision for this man and remember that God will take care of His children. It is challenging to see this man of God standing against the prophets of Baal and praying earnestly for the rain that God brings. It is encouraging to remember that the same God who sent the rain in answer to Elijah's prayer desires that we bring our prayers to Him, as well.

One of the most encouraging things that showed up in the study for Sunday's message was thinking through the ramifications of Elisha's actions after Elijah was taken to heaven. When Elisha asks "Where is the God of Elijah?" and then God parts the Jordan, the simple, but very important truth rings out - the God of Elijah is still in control and the God of Elijah will continue to "shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him (2 Chronicles 16:9)."

We plan on adding the last sermon of this series on the church web-site this week and then have plans on making the entire series available soon (except for the one week when we were without electricity and could not record). I'll let you know when those plans are completed.

Just my thoughts,


Numbers and Verses

Friday, September 15, 2006

One of the areas of study that has intriqued students of the Bible throughout the ages has been the study of Biblical numerology. Books have been written upon the subject and some individuals tend to make this a major theme in their preaching - being certain to point out any time significant numbers are used and reminding their listeners with certainty of what those numbers mean.

I will readily admit that there does seem to be a significance to some of the numbers that are in the Bible. For example, the numbers 3, 7, 12, 40, 666, etc. all seem to have a significance behind their use. Many people will state that 3 is perfection (because of the Trinity, etc.), seven is completion, etc. To a degree, I would think that there may even be some merit in some of those ideas, as well, but would caution about using these numbers to make any kind of point, since God does not give us the meaning of any of the numbers.

What I have found a couple of times,recently, however, is that not only the numbers in the TEXT of Scripture are being used as a basis of interpretation, but even the numbers that are in the DIVISIONS of Scripture are being used as part of the interpreation.

A while ago, someone game me a book entitled, What Hath God Wraught by William Grady. This book is subtitled A Biblical Interpretation of American History. Being an amateur historian, I thought it might be an interesting read. In chapter three, where he argues for the idea that America is mentioned in the Bible, I came across this interesting paragraph.

To find our nation in Scripture, one must tun from Revelation to Genesis, the book of beginnings, for it is not America's ignominious demise but rather her glorious conception that is magnified by the Holy Spirit. And as the number nine in Bible numerology just happens to be God's number for fruit bearing, we know where to find the birth announcement. In Genesis chapter 9, verse 27 (2+7=9), we read: "God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant." (italics his)

Recently, I also came across a post on SharperIron (in the forums) that used similar reasoning.

Please note first of all that there are 13 verses to this parable. This alone should send up a red warning flag. If the number 13 is involved, more than likely, a misunderstanding is forthcoming or, there is evil lurking.

Later in that same post, the auther commented:

12. National rejection, Kingdom takes on a mysterious form, Watch out for # 13. Mat. 13:11, 13:24, 13:31. 13:33, 13:44, 13:45, 13:47,

Now, despite the fact that I am not sure that 13 is unlucky for the people of God in the Bible (did not the walls of Jericho come down on the 13th time around the city?), there seems to be another more obvious problem with this thinking to me - we are talking about VERSE numbers and CHAPTER numbers here!

Our Bibles were not written in Hebrew and Greek with chapter and verse divisions already there. While there was some divisions in the Hebrew (O.T.) from around 200 A.D., the chapter divisions as we have them were created by Steven Langton in the 1200s A.D., and the verse divisions within the chapters were done in 1488 (O.T.) and 1551 (N.T.).

It seems incredible to me that someone could think that they are making a valid point regarding the significance of a verse or the interpretation of a verse based upon anything to do with chapter and verse numbers that did not exist for well over one thousand years after the verses were written.

Just my thoughts,


Special Day at Fellowship Baptist Church

I wanted to post this earlier this week, but do to some difficulty with the networking aspect of the computer that I use for pictures, it has been delayed until today.

Sunday was a special day for us at Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury.

In addition to our regular Sunday Morning Worship Service (in which we are still looking at the life of Elijah), we had a fellowship lunch and Baptismal service down at the Nanticoke River. This was the first Baptisms that we have had since our arrival down here in Salisbury and the first Baptisms that I have ever done as Sr. Pastor. (I had the privilege of Baptizing one other person when I was a Youth Pastor at Heritage Baptist Church in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey.)

The time of fellowship was great before the Baptismal service and the Baptisms went well. It was neat for me to help these three individuals take this step of obedience to the Lord. A special treat for me was the privilege of baptizing my own son, Josiah. As a father, it is a blessing to me to see the growth in his life. I also had the privilege of baptizing Victoria, who came to know Christ on our last Sunday in the old building, and Dave, who has been saved for a number of years, but had never before been baptized.

Having the baptisms at the river was a really nice touch. We do not have a baptismal at the church building (yet), so the location on the Nanticoke River seemed like an ideal spot. (Another church in the area had hosted a previous baptism in the winter by Pastor Wagner.) The Lord gave us good weather for the baptisms and the water was not too cold.

Below are some pictures of the baptisms that my wife took.

Praise the Lord for His working in these lives and in our church.

Just my thoughts,


Cross posted at The Pastor's Pen

A. W. Pink quote

Friday, September 08, 2006

I would have loved to have heard A. W. Pink preach, at least judging by the way that he writes.

I have been preaching through the life of Elijah on Sunday mornings in our church for the last couple of months. (The first of those sermons is available here and here.) It has been an exciting and challenging study as we have examined the life of this man so greatly used of God and so repeatedly emphasized in the New Testament. It has been encouraging to me that Elijah is a man subject to like passions as we are (James 5:17), for it reminds me that service to God is not limited to those who are on some type of special plane, but that God can use me as well.

Anyway, in preparation for Sunday's message, I came across this excerpt from A.W. Pink in his book, Elijah.

‘And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick.' Here was where mercy was mingled with justice: here was where ‘space for repentance' was granted the idolatrous king. O how long-suffering is God! Ahaziah's fall did not prove immediately fatal, though it placed him on a bed of sickness, where he had opportunity to ‘consider his ways.' And how often the Lord deals thus, both with nations and with individuals. The Roman empire was not built in a day, nor was it destroyed in a day. Many a blatant rebel against Heaven has been pulled up suddenly in his evil career. An ‘accident' overtook him, and though it may have deprived him of a limb, yet not of his life. Such may have been the experience of someone who reads these lines. If so, we would say to him with all earnestness, Redeem the time that is now left you. You might now be in hell, but God has given you a further season (brief at the most) to think of eternity and prepare for it. O that His goodness may lead you to repentance! Today, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart. Throw down the weapons of your warfare against Him and be reconciled to Him, for how shall you escape the everlasting burnings if you neglect His so-great salvation?

Just my thoughts (and A.W. Pink's thoughts),


I have been a baaaaaddd blogger

Saturday, September 02, 2006

To the few of you who remain loyal readers, I am sorry that I have not posted anything lately.

I am coaching my son's U-10 soccer team this fall and we had our first game a week ago (we won 3-1) and my blogging time this week has been used to set up a web-site for our team. The site is called "Soccer Scribbles with Coach Sansone" and can be found at If you have any suggestions for the Soccer site, I would love to hear them.

I have also been in the process the last couple of weeks of preparing for the launch of another blog and trying to figure out a way to make some significant changes to the FFBC Forums. Hopefully this will be completed shortly and I can announce the launch of the blog and the improvements to the FFBC Forums.

In my real life, we are preparing as a church for a Baptismal service and picnic next Sunday (see my article on The Pastor's Pen for more details) and we are preparing as a family for school to start on Tuesday.

Just my thoughts,