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I'm Back - and some questions for Fundamentalists

Friday, December 28, 2007

I know things have been a little quiet here. I am looking forward to the new year.

I had a great Christmas with my in-laws in Ohio, but I found their internet service to be somewhere between unreliable and nonexistant.

We did get a good chance to visit with some relatives and it was nice to see Mom Mom, Grandpa, and Great-Grandma, as well as Missy's Aunt Bev and Uncle Bob and Aunt Rosella and to see Mark and Keith and their families.

Josiah and I took advantage of the trip to Ohio to take a day and visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. It was a good trip and some good father-son time as we drove the 2 1/2 hours from the in-laws and visited the Hall of Fame. I had visited it once before, but my previous visit was with a non-football fan, so it was nice to be able to visit with my son. I will probably post a little more about that visit a little bit later.

I discovered that Fundamentalist uber-blogger Don Johnson has moved migrated over to his own domain (his new blog is called, An Oxgoad, eh? and has made an interesting post in which he asks some questions of Fundamentalists (based on some questions asked of some leaders in Evangelicalism by Touchstone magazine).

I will probably not have time to answer the questions until after the New Year, but I wanted to put these out here for others to think on as well - as Pastor Johnson has done.

How do you define “Fundamentalist” in a way that distinguishes Fundamentalists from other believing Christians? And has this definition changed over the last several years?
Has Fundamentalism matured since the 1950s, and if so in what ways?
Has Fundamentalism lost anything in the process of maturing (if it did)?
Are there any fundamental differences within the Fundamentalist movement today, and do you think they will deepen into permanent divisions, or even have already? How might they be healed?
What does your movement, speaking generally, fail to see that it ought to see?
What would you say to a Fundamentalist tempted to become Catholic or Orthodox?
What has Fundamentalist to offer the wider world that it will find nowhere else?
What else would you like to say?

Take some time and think about how you might answer these questions and then post about it (if you have a blog) and let me know about your post.

Don has already made a post in which he answers the questions - On the State of Fundamentalism .

Super Deacon and occassional blogger Andy Efting over at Unsearchable Riches has also posted his response, entitled, A Fundamentalist Answer the Touchstone Questions

Blogging Comments

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Within the last couple of weeks, I read on someone else's blog regarding an adjustment on their policy regarding comments. (I am sorry I don't remember whose blog at this moment.)

I though the comments that were made made some sense, but I did not adjust my policy at that time for a couple of reasons - 1. I realized I no longer had a policy posted (I am pretty sure I had made a policy and posted it on an earlier template, but apparently I never transferred that policy over onto this template) and 2. I have not really had much reason to be that concerned with comments on the blog. I think I have deleted less than five comments in the entire time I have had this blog (thankfully Blogger does a pretty good job of catching most "spam" comments).

However, some recent comments on this blog and some comments on another blog that I administer have led me to re-think some things regarding comments, although this will not be a problem for most comments and commenters.

In the past, I have kind of viewed this space as an open forum and generally let anything stand unless it was extreme. The blogger I mentioned earlier who got me thinking about this, made an analogy that I kind of think fits. Rather than the blog and comments being an "open forum", it is more like this is my house - or at least a gathering that I am hosting.

As such, a couple of clarifications are made:

I have no problem with disagreement with me or others, as long as it is handled in a civil manner. I appreciate the interraction with those who disagree with my positions on things and believe this can be profitable.

I do have a problem with unacceptable speech - vulgarity, slander, crude, etc.

I do have a problem with running down those I love and refering to them with derisive names - and that includes my God.

I do have a problem with those whose agenda seems to be only to argue without a willingness to listen and interract with those who differ.

I am sure there are more things that will come up, but I recenly had the first three things violated both here and at another blog and thought I would think through this and post it.

Also, please do not assume that any comment that is left to stand has automatically passed through these qualifications. It may be that I have missed it (which is entirely likely - especially when it is comment added after a post has died down) or may be that for some other reason I have let it stand (perhaps as a testimony of its own stupidity in some cases).

Just my thoughts,


A Question for those who record their sermons

Monday, December 10, 2007

I am not having much success getting responses when I ask for ideas from here, but I thought I would try it at least one more time.

This question is regarding the recording of sermons (or other things that you may record).

1. Do you record both a cassette master and a digital master (CD, Mp3, etc.) or do you just make one master?

2. If you only record one master - which type is it?

3. If you record only a digital master - do you (can you) make a cassette copy off of that digital master or are cassettes essentially obsolete?

3b. If you copy from a digital master to a cassette, how do you do that? Is the process complicated?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Just asking for your thoughts,


Article about Blogging and some Blogging questions

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Tim Challies has listed some good suggestions about blogging over at in an article entitled, "Feedback Files: All About Blogging"

Since Tim is one of the heavy hitters in the world of Christian blogging - I think he is billed as something to the effect of "The World's Foremost Christian Blogger", I thought some of my blogging friends may be interested in his insights - and while I am at it, I thought I would ask a couple of questions about some blogging related issues about which I have been wondering.

1. I have noticed that I often tend to get a little lengthy on my posts (sorry). Unlike Wordpress, Blogger does not have a built in "read more" feature that truncates longer posts. In searching for a way to remedy the problem, I noticed that some people really don't like the "read more" type of things on blogs (although it has never bothered me when I read other people's blogs). Do you have any opinions about this? Does a "read more" link usually result in you not bothering to "read more"?

(Part of the reason I would like to add this feature is so that when someone follows a tag - such as books - they can get a quicker overview of what is there without needing to scroll down through each long book review.)

Anyone care to comment on this feature? (Also, if you know a good and effective way to do this in blogger, I would not mind a link for that, as well.)

2. One of Tim's comments about blogging was regarding consistency? I asked him a version of this question, but I thought I would ask my actual reader(s) as well. If a particular time yielded extra posts, would it be better to post them at that time realizing that the pace is not going to last or would it be better to hold extra posts in que until things are busy and put them out during the weeks when I end up having little to no time to blog (so I don't have one week with 5 posts and then the next week with 1 post)?

3. I have been toying with a few ideas over the last year of trying to figure out a way for the computer to pay for itself. While I am not planning on advertising on A Thinking Man's Thoughts, I have worked on a few ideas of some type of blogs or information sites that I could try to direct some traffic towards and see if I could get any advertising revenue going on those sites. Is there anyone out there who reads my blog who has experience with Google adsense (or similar program) that has any comments about whether it is actually feasible to make this profitable? Not looking to get rich, but if I could write some things in an area that interested me and pay for my internet connection or something, it would be awesome. (One of the sites that I have been toying with would be a history blog with a daily Christian history feature that I am calling What Happened On This Date? - I did a couple of practice posts in May and they can be found at )

Anyway, I am just kind of winding down and thought I would throw these things out there.

Just my thoughts - asking for your thoughts,


Amazon Kindle - This is cool!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

I have recently been drooling over the concept of Amazon Kindle.

If you have not heard of or seen this device yet, you should at least stop over at Amazon and check it out.

Amazon describes some of its features as follows:

* Revolutionary electronic-paper display provides a sharp, high-resolution screen that looks and reads like real paper.
* Simple to use: no computer, no cables, no syncing.
* Wireless connectivity enables you to shop the Kindle Store directly from your Kindle—whether you’re in the back of a taxi, at the airport, or in bed.
* Buy a book and it is auto-delivered wirelessly in less than one minute.
* More than 90,000 books available, including more than 95 of 112 current New York Times® Best Sellers.
* Free book samples. Download and read first chapters for free before you decide to buy.
* Top U.S. newspapers including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post; top magazines including TIME, Atlantic Monthly, and Forbes—all auto-delivered wirelessly.
* More than 250 top blogs from the worlds of business, technology, sports, entertainment, and politics, including BoingBoing, Slashdot, TechCrunch, ESPN's Bill Simmons, The Onion, Michelle Malkin, and The Huffington Post—all updated wirelessly throughout the day.
* Lighter and thinner than a typical paperback; weighs only 10.3 ounces.
* Holds over 200 titles.
* Long battery life. Leave wireless on and recharge approximately every other day. Turn wireless off and read for a week or more before recharging. Fully recharges in 2 hours.
* Unlike WiFi, Kindle utilizes the same high-speed data network (EVDO) as advanced cell phones—so you never have to locate a hotspot.
* No monthly wireless bills, service plans, or commitments—we take care of the wireless delivery so you can simply click, buy, and read.
* Includes free wireless access to the planet's most exhaustive and up-to-date encyclopedia—
* Email your Word documents and pictures (.JPG, .GIF, .BMP, .PNG) to Kindle for easy on-the-go viewing.

They even have a video up on the site of how this works and it seems, well, cool.

I doubt I would get one right now, however, for a number of reasons.

1. Economical - well, I have a hard time justifying any book expenses right now (that is one reason why I write reviews for SI - they give me the book I am reviewing.)

2. I don't generally buy new technology until it has been out long enough to work out the bugs that invariably show up.

3. This seems geared presently to popular works, though as the product matures and finds a market, that will hopefully adjust.

4. While there are already over 90,000 Kindle titles, the titles I would be most interested in are still in short supply. (A search for the words "Bible Commentary" at the Kindle store only showed 127 entries and many of those were not actually Bible commentaries - and some that were I already own in the old fashioned "dead tree" format. Some of the few "commentaries" they actually did have at this point were F.F. Bruce on The Epistles of John and Thru the Bible by J. Vernon Magee and a number of MacArthur Bible Studies - not his commentaries.) By the way, if you like Mac a lot, they have around 20 of his books available for Kindle already.

In light of our current discussion on Fundamentalism and scholarship, I thought it was fitting that they actually had this title available for Kindle - apparently Marsden is as concerned about the charge that Evangelicals were anti-intellectual as I was about the same charge against Fundamentalism.

Anyway, I am not ready for one yet, but it definitely looks like a cool product and if you decide to get one - please use my link :) - $cha ching$. For any family or friends who may be reading this, this is not a Christmas request - wait until next year to see what kind of new titles become available :)

Just my thoughts,


Book Review of When You Pray by Philip Graham Ryken

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

In light of our current discussion that stems from someone else's book review, I remembered that I had never posted my book review of When You Pray over here on A Thinking Man's Thoughts. This version is substantially the same as the one that was published at SharperIron, but there are some things in here that did not make the cut due to space considerations over there.

When You Pray: Making the Lord's Prayer Your Own by Philip Graham Ryken - A Review by Pastor Frank Sansone

When Jesus' disciples recognized their need to pray, they asked Jesus Christ to teach them to pray. The answer that Jesus gave to their request is found for us in Matthew 6 - a prayer commonly called "The Lord's Prayer." In When You Pray: Making the Lord's Prayer Your Own, Dr. Philip Graham Ryken provides a helpful study of that prayer and encourages the reader to not view the Lord's Prayer as something merely to be recited, but something to actually learn from. As Dr. Ryken correctly points out early in the book, "Jesus' teaching about prayer begins with an urgent request: ‘Lord, teach us to pray' (Luke 11:1). Not ‘teach us how to pray,' notice, but ‘teach us to pray.'"(p. 13, emphasis n the original), and it is that desire to teach us to pray that seems to direct Dr. Ryken as he writes this book.

In the introductory chapters, When You Pray starts by discussing "How to Pray Like a Hypocrite" and "How to Pray Like an Orphan." In these chapters, When You Pray deals with verses in Matthew 6 that precede "The Lord's Prayer" and encourages the reader to pray in secret and to avoid the error of praying repetitiously. As Dr. Ryken points out "the prayer babbled more than any other is probably the Lord's Prayer. How ironic!" (P. 36).

After instructing us to avoid the hypocritical and repetitious prayer, chapter three encourages us in "How to Pray Like God's Own Dear Child" with an excellent chapter that deals with the familial aspects of the prayer - that this is a prayer to Our Father, suggesting not only a father- child relationship, but also a reminder that this is not just for us, but rather it is prayed in the plural with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Following the three chapters of introduction, Dr. Ryken then proceeds to spend the rest of the book breaking down the prayer into ten phrases and discussing each of those phrases in detail. Rather than just dealing with the academic details of these phrases, however, Dr. Ryken does a good job of filling the explanations with practical encouragements to not only understand what the passage is teaching, but to actually do what the passage is teaching.

As the subtitle of the book indicates, Dr. Ryken's goal is not merely to explain the passage, but rather to encourage the reader to "Make the Lord's Prayer Your Own". The writing style bears this out, as it is a very readable book. In fact, it comes across as though this material was originally preached and then edited into book form. The book is also filled with personal comments and pastoral insights rather than a mere third-person academic accounting of the Lord's Prayer. At one point, Dr. Ryken comments, "My goal as a minister is to keep the proclamation of God's Word and the prayers of God's people at the center of church life (see Acts 6:4). The great difficulty, however, is that this requires me to be a man of prayer as much as a preacher (p. 13)."

In addition to being a warm-hearted exposition of this passage, the book also manages to bring in a presentation of the Gospel in a number of places. At first, I thought this was odd, considering the fact that this is a book on prayer, but considering the interest in the Lord's Prayer even among those who do not attend Bible-preaching churches, I found this to be a wise thing.

The book is also set up in such a way as to make is useful as a book for a Home Bible Study or an Adult Sunday School class. It has discussion questions at the end of each chapter and is broken down into thirteen lessons (to fit in nicely with the typical thirteen week Sunday School quarter).

The strong dispensationalists needs to be aware that this book is clearly not written from a dispensational stand point. This does not negate the book's value, but it does effect some of the areas of interpretation that are presented in the book - particularly in Chapter 6, which covers the phrase "Your Kingdom Come."

The book also does something interesting in regards to the text of the prayer. Even though the chapter headings reflect a more modern translation, most of Dr. Ryken's exegesis and quotes actually come from the King James Version's rendering of this prayer - the one many have memorized. When it comes to the doxology, Dr. Ryken tries to walk a little bit of a tight-rope. He follows many modern textual critics in stating "on the basis of this somewhat contradictory evidence, it seems best to conclude that the traditional doxology possibly was not part of the original text of Matthew, but certainly was in use from the early days of the church (pp. 174-175)." However, he still provides some good material on the meaning of the doxology and comments that "it hardly seems right to consider the traditional ending of the Lord's Prayer a mere trifle or a matter of taste, for it is a highly appropriate way for the prayer to end (p. 175)."

I would also encourage the publisher to consider handling the notes in the book differently. The book employs the practice of adding end-notes rather than footnotes. I am the kind of reader who likes to see what the author is going to say when he makes a note. Going to the end of the book to find out is annoying. Since almost all of the end-notes in this book were of the merely bibliographic variety, this merely added to the frustration as you get back to the note and find out that you did not need to look up the note after all. It would seem better to provide in-text citations for those notes that were simply bibliographic in nature and then footnotes for the few notes that actually added information.

Despite the formatting issue (which seems to be becoming an industry-wide problem) and the other issues, this book is definitely a book worth adding to your library. For the serious layman, this book provides a lot of good material to help you not only to better understand this important passage of Scripture, but also to help you if you want to know how to pray better. For the Pastor, this book provides some sound exegesis and is packed with enough pastoral insights to make this a very helpful book for the Pastor who is preparing to preach on the Lord's Prayer.

Just my thougths,


Some thoughts on scholarship and presenting of arguments

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I recently read a review written by a Dr. Paul Henebury of Dr. Rolland McCune's book Promised Unfufilled: The Failed Strategy of Modern Evangelicalism. I have not finished reading the book (I admit to my shame), so my comments here are not intended to be a defense of the book, but rather some thoughts about a couple of comments found in the review that I found to be interesting. (Dr. Henebury's review can be found here. For a more detailed review and a response from Dr. McCune, check out the review by Andy Neselli.)

Anyway, my comments are not really about the book, per se, but about something I read in the review.

In the fifth paragraph, Dr. Henebury comments,

"...the most glaring fact about this chapter is McCune’s reliance upon the very people whom he criticizes in his book! The names of Nash, Marsden, Brown, McGrath, Demarest, Davis, and Schaeffer (who is identified as neo-evangelical later on) are appealed to for the substantiation of the writer’s data and critique. And while a writer may legitimately quote an author with which he disagrees, it should be recognized that no fundamentalist is called upon in this chapter - an indication at least that the charge of anti-intellectualism against American fundamentalism does contain enough adhesive power to call any critic of neo-evangelicalism to a little self-examination once in a while."

Now, as far as I know, I have not met or interracted with Dr. Henebury before, so I hope that those reading this do not view this as an attack on him, instead I am using this statement as simply a representation of many similar statements I have heard and read over the years.

When I read a statement like this, two particular questions come to my mind:

1. What is so glaring about quoting from people within a movement to help make a case against the movement?

It seems to me that this is actually a good strategy, rather than a glaring weakness. Calling a proponent of an idea or position or institution as a testimony against that very same idea or position or institution seems even more condemning that merely quoting from opponents or stating your own case. A proponent who admits to a particular problem or error seems to add some credibility to the idea that this is not just an outside observer who recognizes this, but that even some on the side being criticized even recognize this. It is also harder for other proponents of that same issues or institution to argue against or to just dismiss, whereas if the same thing were said by someone who was from the outside or viewed as an opponent, it could more easily viewed as something from someone who just has an "axe to grind" or "has it out for" the particular idea or institution.

Is this not part of what Paul is doing in Titus 1:12?
One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. (Titus 1:12)

2. Why does a lack of writing or a lack of being published equal "anti-intellectualism"?

The charge of anti-intellectualism - or at least of a lack of scholarship - has been leveled against Fundamentalism from many sources. It has gotten so much press, that it has become a "self-evident truth" that does not even seem to need support by the one making the claim - after all, everybody knows that Fundamentalism is anti-intellectual.

One of the "proofs" often thrown up regarding this is the lack of writing by Fundamentalist. In fact, it was a discussion on this topic a couple of years ago that led to my original "The Best and the Brightest" post.

Here's part of the problem with that thinking.

* It assumes that the end of scholarship is the production of a book.

While I think it is great to produce a valuable book on an important topic, the assumption that "published" equals scholarly and that "non-published" equals "non-scholarly" is unsupportable. Many pastors and professors have made the conscious choice that the focus of their lives and ministry - and study - is to be the maturing of saints for the work of the ministry. They do not denigrate the value of books - yea, the ones I know love books, but they do make a deliberate choice to directly pour their lives into people, not pages.

* It fails to recognize the reality of unpublished scholarship.

Every published scholar was, at one point, an unpublished scholar. While it is certainly true that the act of refining material to produce a book may enhance a person's understanding and expertise in a subject, the usual reality is that a person who knows his stuff is a "scholar" even if he has not yet - or ever is - a scholar. Dr. Barrett did not suddenly become a "scholar" by the publishing of his first work - the publishing of the first work merely confirmed to a wider audience the nature of Dr. Barrett's scholarship.

Not only do men not become a "scholar" by publishing, some of the wisest and most scholarly men were unpublished.

The obvious example of this, of course, is Jesus Christ. In speaking regarding the judgment due to those of His generation that rejected Him, he commented that, while the queen of Sheba had come "from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon," that He Himself was "greater than Solomon." (see Matthew 12 and Luke 11).

In the secular realm, most people consider Socrates one of the world's greatest philosophers, yet we have nothing written from Socrates.

In more recent days, it was said of Dr. Charles Brokenshire (a former professor at Bob Jones College before it became Bob Jones University) that "on his faculty record (dated 1930), one finds an impressive list of the languages of which he had mastered a reading knowledge or better: French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Norse, Latin, Greek (classical and koine), Hebrew, “Chaldee” (Biblical Aramaic), modern Greek, Yiddish, Arabic, Syriac, Samaritan, Ethiopic, Babylonian, Coptic, Egyptian Hieroglyph, and Esperanto (an artificial “universal language”). By the end of his career he had added Chinese, Japanese, and Russian to this list." Does Dr. Brokenshire's lack of publishing make him less of a scholar?

* It fails to recognize the reality of publishing

While this is beginning to change due to the decreasing cost of some publishing forms, the publishing of a book requires more than just the producing of quality materials. Book publishers are wanting materials that will sell. A scholarly work on "A Study of Greece in the Fourth Century B.C., from the Peloponnesian War to the Reign of Alexander—404 B.C. to 336 B.C" (Brokenshire's Master's Thesis) is not as likely to be put into print as "Five Ways to Grow Your Church" by Mega-church Pastor. The Mega-Church Pastor already has a larger potential audience and is writing on a subject more likely to produce revenue.

* It fails to understand the financial and workload issues at play.

When someone like John MacArthur writes a book, a lot of the work is done by his editor, Phil Johnson (of Pyromaniacs fame). Someone takes what MacArthur has preached and does some of the necessary research leg-work and then they go over the final product and re-write sections, etc. with the main author. Others take writing sabbaticals. That is great, if you have the funds available from your church or institution to hire a guy like Phil Johnson to help with the writing/editing of your material or to pay the Pastor or professor while he is on sabbatical. Most Fundamentalist churches and schools do not have that kind of finances. Not only do they not have the finances to hire someone like Phil Johnson to do a lot of the leg-work, the churches are not generally large enough to have enough Pastors on staff to cover for a Pastor on extended sabbatical. In addition to this, many of the professors at the Fundamentalist schools are teaching a full-load and don't have the kind of extra time needed in order to write a book.

I would love to eventually get to the point where I can actually write a book that others would want to read and I rejoice that we are starting to see more and more books become available that are written by Fundamentalists. I just think that we need to re-think this idea that "scholarship" = "published" and its reciprocal, "unpublished" = "anti-intellectual" (or at least, "unscholarly").

Just my thoughts,


Christmas Letters - Family and Church

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Judging by the number of times people have come to my site lately after searching for things pertaining to "Christmas Letters" in its various forms, I guess it must be getting to be that time of the year again. (I assume that the people who are being directed here are being sent here because of my 2006 family Christmas letter , my 2006 Church Christmas letter, or even my 2005 Family Christmas Letter or my 2005 Church Christmas letter.

What are your views about Christmas letters?

Let me ask a few questions. If you are a regular reader or if you just stopped by
due to a search, I'd appreciate getting to know some people's views on this matter.

1. Do you write Christmas letters yourself?
A. If you do, do you send it in lieu of a Christmas card or with a Christmas card?
B. If you don't, do you think that they are a waste of time?

2. Do you receive many Christmas letters anymore? Is this a dying tradition?

3. Do you read the ones you get?

4. Do you enjoy hearing about what is going on in friends and relatives' lives even if the only time you hear from them is in the annual Christmas letter - or do you view it as an opportunity for people to brag about what is going on and wonder if they would still write if they had a really bad year?

What about those of you who are Pastors?

Do you send out an Christmas letter to your church family or church mailing list? Why or why not?

Would love to hear some thoughts from others on this.

Just me asking for your thoughts,


A Great Thanksgiving Read

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Things are particularly busy right now and I doubt I will have time to do a real Thanksgiving post of my own today, but if you have not yet read Chris Anderson's post entitled, Uncle Michael: A Testimony of Unconditional Praise, I would urge you to do so. It is well worth the read.

On a lighter note, Barbara's excellent blog for Christian ladies has a little bit of humor today with some comments regarding Rednecks and Thanksgiving.

Just other people's thoughts,


Of Monkeys, Men and Atheists

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Many of you have probably heard Dr. Stephen Hawking's famous statement that given enough time, enough monkeys plucking away at typewriters could produce one of Shakespeare's sonnets.

The implication of this statement is that the mutations necessary for macro evolution to occur is simply a matter of time and opportunity.

Dr. Gerald Schroeder has done an excellent job debunking this idea in an article, "When Pigs Fly and Monkeys Type."

In the article, Dr. Schroeder points out that the probability of a monkey hitting a specific key is 1 in 26 (if we posit merely 26 choices, rather than the over 50 keys on most keyboards - my keyboard has 104 keys). The probabality of the monkey hitting the next needed key is also 1 in 26, meaning that the chance of stringing two correct letters together is 1 in 676 (26 x 26). To give you an idea of the enormity of the task of producing the sonnet, I will point out that the probability of a monkey typing something as simple and as short as my name - Frank - is 1 in 11,881,376.

If you continue to figure this out, you will find out that the odds against this are incredible. In an approximately 500 letter sonnet, the number would be more than astronomical. You would have to multiply 26 by itself 500 times. This would come out to a number that would be around 10 to the 700th power (1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

To give that some perspective, Dr. Schroeder points out that "the number of basic particles [protons, neutrons, electrons, mesons] in the known universe is 10 to the power 80."


I don't know if Dr. Schroeder is a Christian or simply a Theist, but this article is a pretty powerful article.

FWIW, Dr. Schroeder was the man who famous Atheist apologist Antony Flew was supposed to debate the night that Mr. Flew declared that he was no longer an Atheist.

Just someone else's thoughts,


Anger Management?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Blogger Andy Rupert has some good comments today regarding anger, wrath and stress in a post entitled, Who's The Dope?.

Just his thoughts,


A Call to Separate from Pastor Chris Anderson

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chris has committed a grevious sin - he is calling into question the legitimacy of one of the famous quotes of Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. In a post entitled, Call it a pet peeve, he is questioning the legitimacy of the quote "There is no difference between the sacred and the secular." How dare he!! I think he should turn in his Fundamentalist card or make a pilgrimage to Greenville as a sign of repentance (maybe stopping by The Wilds to throw a stick in the fire, on the way.)

Surely the questioning of such a statement shows the beginning of a pattern of liberalism and compromise. Surely it is only a matter of time before he is emergent - or even worse, Baptist!

As a member of the Real Fundamentalist Club, I think a resolution is definitely in order. Can I get an witness?

Just my very tongue-in-cheek thoughts,


BTW, Can we also question "Duties never conflict" while we are at it?

I mean, I think I understand what is attempting to be said, but isn't it true that duties often conflict - that is why we have to have priorities!

A Question about Missions Funding

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

This post stems from a discussion on another site, but I would like to ask it here since I know that some missionaries and pastors read here that do not spend much time at the other site.

It is my understanding that the dollar has lost a lot of value in a number of places around the world lately and that this is making things especially tight on some missionaries, whose support comes mostly from U.S. churches.

In order to help in this situation, some comments have been made about raising the support for the missionaries to offset this, but the reality is that a number of churches are already struggling financially and cannot just give an across the board 18% raise to their missionaries - or they likely would have already done it.

Stemming from that concept, however, came this idea that I would like to hear some thoughts on. I am just thinking out loud here, so don't kill me, but I would definitely like some feedback.

As my regular readers are aware, our church is not in this type of situation yet, but I want to think ahead.

Here is the question:

Assuming all other factors are the same (in other words, giving is not changing), would it be better for a church to commit a set amount to a specific number of missionaries or for a church to commit a smaller amount with a flex amount that could be designated to help out special needs each year?

For instance:

Church A has 100,000 available for missions.

Is it better for Church A to commit $4,000 a year to 25 missionaries


Is it better for Church A to commit $4,000 a year to 20 missionaries
and use the extra $20,000 to help support whichever of those 20 missionaries have special needs during a particular year?

I would love to hear some feedback on this.

Just my question,


Jonathon Edward's Religious Affections now available for FREE

Friday, November 02, 2007

Unlike the disappointment from the recent Reformation Study Bible "dud", the following offer will actually be available to those who are interested in it.

Each month has a free Christian audio book that they make available for free. In the past, they have had some really nice books with this special - including Richard Baxter's Reformed Pastor and The Life and Diary of David Brainerd.

This month, the free offer is for Jonathon Edward's Religious Affections.

Jonathon Edwards is probably the foremost American thinker, theologian and philospher. While his sermon Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God is probably his most well-known work (I remember hearing about it in my public Jr. High School), his book A Treatise on Religious Affections (normally referred to as simply Religious Affections) along with The Life and Diary of David Brainerd (which he compiled and edited) and Freedom of the Will are probably the ones that have had the most lasting influence.

If you have never acquinted yourself with Jonathon Edwards, this audio book would be a great start. (Of course, you will then want to purchase the actual written book so that you can digest it more fully.)

I remember taking a trip up to Princeton around 1997 to see Jonathon Edward's grave site at the historic Princeton cemetary when I still lived in New Jersey. It was net to see.

Here is the link for the Christian Audio promotion: (Don't forget to use the code NOV2007 when you check out.)

Here is an address by Pastor John Piper on Edward's life and ministry that I listened to recently and found informative. It is entitled, The Pastor as Theologian and is your time to read or to listen.

Just my thoughts,


Disappointment on Special Sale of Reformation Study Bible

Many of you surely heard of the "special" sale that Ligonier Ministries was holding on October 31 for their Reformation Study Bible. In honor of Martin Luther's posting of the 95 Theses on October 31, 1517, Ligonier was selling the Reformation Study Bible for $15.17 on October 31. The concept was cute, but the promotion ended up being a "dud."

The advertisement had said "Quantaties not limited" which would imply that they had a pretty decent supply of these Bibles on hand. However, when I tried to order mid-morning, they were already out.

Someone over there needs to re-think the way they promote things. If you don't have the stock on hand - or you are not willing to make good on the offer with rainchecks of some kind that, don't advertise the product. At least when you go to buy a laptop at Wal-Mart on Black Friday, you know that quantities are limited and there is a good chance you will not get one unless you are there the night before.

I have never tried to do business directly with Ligionier before that I can remember (though I do have some materials from R. C. Sproul), but I can tell you that this kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Just my thoughts,


Good week at the American Council of Christian Churches Convention

Friday, October 26, 2007

This past week, I had the priviledge to attend the 66th Annual Convention of the American Council of Christian Churches held at Hardingville Bible Church in Monroeville, New Jersey. (The church where I formerly served as an assistant.)

For those of you unfamiliar with the ACCC, the ACCC is a multi-denominational fundamentalist organization of churches that seeks to "earnestly contend for the faith" (Jude 3). The speakers for the week included Dr. Bruce McAllister (Director of Ministerial Training at Bob Jones University), Dr. Fred Moritz (Executive Director of Baptist World Mission), Dr. John McKnight (President of the ACCC and Pastor of the Evangelical Methodist Church of Darlington, MD and Rev. David McClelland of the Grace Free Presbyterian Church of Litchfield, NH.

It was great to get together with some strong Fundamentalist brethren and to exhort one another to be "Valient for the Truth" (the theme of the convention). It was also great to get a chance to spend some time with some pastor friends that I do not get to see very often. It was also great to be able to see a number of folks from Hardingville. We have only been gone just under three years, but a number of the children and teens have changed dramatically in that amount of time. WOW!

I hope to write more about this ACCC Convention soon, but time will not permit me to do so currently. I will say that if you can get your hands on David McClelland's address on "Incarnate Truth" it will challenge and stir your hearts. (I assume you could order it from either Hardingville or the ACCC at the links given above.)

Just my thoughts,


Did Dr. Bob Jones, III violate Biblical principles in endorsing Mitt Romney

Monday, October 22, 2007

As most of you are surely aware and as I mentioned in my recent post, Thinking About Elections, Dr. Bob Jones, III, the chancellor of Bob Jones University, came out last week and endorsed former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

In doing so, Dr. Bob raised the eyebrows of many and the ire of many others. All one has to do is take a quick look around the blogosphere to find that many have come out and commented on this event.

As I indicated in my post, I am not sure that this endorsement is the wisest move even from a political standpoint. I doubt the legitimacy of Romney's conservatism - especially in light of his campaigns and performance in Massachusetts where he took much more liberal positions. I doubt the ability of Romney to excite the conservative base (in part, because of his flip-flopping), and I think many people (and not just conservative evangelicals) will hold his Mormonism against him politically.

Since that time I have read a number of emails, blog comments and blog posts, and forum discussions in which the claim was made that Dr. Bob Jones III violated Biblical principles in endorsing Mitt Romney. Dr. Chuck Baldwin (a former candidate for Vice President as a nominee of the Constitution Party) has written an article in which he argues that "Bob Jones Dances with the Devil"

So, is it true? Does Dr. Bob Jones' endorsement of Mitt Romney equate to "Dancing with the Devil?" Does this signal an area of disobdience? What does the Bible say about this and what should we think about it?

It will be my attempt to answer that question without going too long. I apologize in advance for the fact that this will almost certainly be longer than a typical blog post and ask your indulgence in hearing this out.

The Relationship of Believers and Government

When we consider the relationship of believers to government, we find that while there is some teaching in this area by direct statements of Scripture, there is a lot of things that God chose to leave unsaid in this area - or to teach by illustration and principle rather than by direct statement.

When we consider the direct statements, some of the following things come immediately to mind.

1. Believers are to "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's." In other words - pay your taxes. (Matthew 22:17-22)

2. Believers are to "obey every ordinance of man." In other words - obey the laws of the land. (1 Peter 2:13)

3. Believers are to "honour the king." In other words - we need to treat those in authority with respect - even if we disagree with them. (1 Peter 2:17)

4. Believers are to offer "supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks" for "kings" and for "all that are in authority." In other words - pray for your government leaders. (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

However, the question that we are faced with in this discussion is not one that fits easily into one of those statements or similar statements. Instead, we are challenged with the question of what is a believers responsibility in regards to the selection of rulers in a secular government. By its very nature, this question is one that leads to difficulty because such a situation did not exist in Bible times.

Israel in Old Testament times was not a secular nation - it was, by its very nature as the chosen people of God, a religious nation with a religious purpose. This truth remained the same whether the country was being governed by religious leaders, judges, or kings. Some have attempted to drag out the qualifications that God gave regarding judges or kings for Israel as qualifications that we insist upon in our candidates for office in the United States. The problem with this is that the United States is a secular government and the situation being discussed today is of such a different nature than what was faced in regards to Israel that the list of O.T. verses that some (such as visionforum) have thrown out regarding the selection of rulers for Israel have to be ripped out of context in order to be made to apply to the situation as we have it in America.

When we come to other nations in the Old Testament - and even in the New Testament - we should remember that even these governments usually had a "religious" element to them. Many of the nations surrounding Israel viewed their ruler as a "god" or at least as a priest or servant of their particular god.

So, barring an exact parallel in the Bible, are there any examples that might educate us as to the nature of the believers relationship to a non-theocratic government ought to be?

I believe there are, but because these thoughts are drawn from historical passages rather than from declarative teachings, we must be careful how strongly we stretch the application of these situations.

I believe an argument can be made for the "support" of a non-believer (even a believer in a false religion) by a believer in a governmental or political situation based on the following:

1. The political roles played by Godly people in ungodly governments in the Old Testament.

While much of the Old Testament records Israel's history, Israel was not always a self-governing nation. There were periods throughout the Old Testament where people of God found themselves under the rule or command of nations that were not only not theologically correct, but were actually antagonistic to God and His people.

One of the examples of this was the situation with Joseph in Egypt. Joseph was a devout believer who God had brought through some extraordinary situations to bring him to a place of being able to preserve Israel by serving as Pharaoh's right hand man in Egypt. God used Joseph greatly and ended up using the wisdom of Joseph to provide food for Israel in Egypt that contributed to the preservation of the line of which the Messiah was to come through. However, as part of his role as vizier in Egypt, Joseph also supported Pharaoh. Genesis 47, for instance, tells us that "Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house" (v. 14) and that "Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh" (v. 20). To use the logic being thrown around by some of Dr. Jones' critics in this regard, Joseph was "dancing with the Devil" since his actions as part of the government were designed to benefit a pagan ruler.

Similar cases could be made from others, such as the godly Daniel in the wicked courts of Babylon and the leader Nehemiah as the cupbearer of Artaxerxes. In each case, you do not find the Bible speaking evil against these men because they assisted pagan, idolatrous men in the realm of politics and government.

2. The implication of the statements in support of government.

In an earlier section of this post, I gave a few of the clear statements of Scripture regarding the relationship of the believer to secular government. We must remember that this statements by Christ and Paul and Peter were not made in a vacuum. They were made in the midst of being ruled by oppressive and wicked governmental rulers.

If Christ can say that we should give our taxes to Caesar (even though Caesar was a wicked man) and if Paul can say we should pray for and give thanks for those in authority (even though those in authority were often seeking his own harm) and if Peter can say that we are to honor the king (even though the king leaves much to be desired in regards to honor), then surely you or I can say that it is not wrong to give support to a person to whom we may not agree in every area - or even with whom we disagree to a large degree.

3. The responsibilities and realities of the American system of government.

Unlike Paul, Peter, Daniel, and the rest, those of us who are citizens of the United States of America are in a country where we are given the opportunity to participate in the process of selecting and electing our own leaders. I believe this gives us a responsibility to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16). I believe that part of this responsibility includes supporting politically the individuals who we would like to see elected as President (or other office).

The realities of our system indicate a few things.

* The first reality of our system is that there is no perfect candidate. There never has been and there never will be. Every person for whom we vote or publicly endorse is going to have flaws. The reality of this truth needs to hit home to those who are making this criticism. No matter who your candidate is, they have problems. The choice regarding candidates are not simply "yes/no" but are instead choices of degrees.

For instance, one of the big concerns in this particular endorsement is the religion of Governor Romney. In case someone who reads this has been hiding under a rock, Governor Romney is a Mormon - a member of the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." Is Romney's Mormonism a false religion? Absolutely. Among other things, Mormonism teaches that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that man can become gods. (In fact, Dr. Bob Jones made it abundantly clear that he is not in favor of Governor Romney's Mormonism. In fact, the Greenville News article that announces the endorsement quotes Dr. Jones as stating, "As a Christian I am completely opposed to the doctrines of Mormonism" and "I'd be very concerned if he tried to make it appear in any of his statements that Mormonism is a Christian denomination of some sort. It isn't. There's a theological gulf that can't be bridged." Some of the left-leaning blogs out there have even made it a point that to complain that Dr. Jones had to show his "intolerance" by speaking negatively of Governor Romney's Mormonism in the same interview in which he endorsed him for President.) However, if politics and government is about supporting someone's religious belief, then I think that we must admit that there are some serious problems for conservative Christians - especially for Fundamentalist Christians. I don't believe that there is anyone running that I could, in clear conscience and in obedience to Biblical principals, have preach in my church - and I don't think there has been in my lifetime. Is Romney's Mormonism worse than the false teaching that President Bush sometimes spouts (such as in his recent comments that "I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, prays to the same God") or worse than the false Roman Catholicism of Clarence Thomas or the theologically liberal Episcopalian George H. W. Bush? In each of these cases, the religion of these men has significant errors and is far from what the Bible teaches. If we take the position that Governor Romney's religion automatically disqualifies him, are we, by default, saying that these other serious religious errors are somehow less egregious?

* The second reality of our system is that all of us support these flawed candidates if we vote at all. Not only do we understand that no candidate is perfect, but we all also find ourselves in some degree supporting a flawed candidate. Even if we never speak up and endorse someone publically, the very fact that we cast a vote for them indicates that there is at least some sense in which we have supported that candidate. The question, again, then becomes a question of degrees. Do I support this person who I vote for by campaigning for him, contributing to him, or merely voting for him? If I say that it is wrong to support the candidate by endorsing him, how do I justify my vote for a flawed candidate when it comes to election day?

* The third reality of our system is that Presidential politics is essentially a "winner takes all" contest. There is no run-off among the top vote getters. There is no ability to form a coalition after the fact of the candidates who received the second, third and fourth highest vote totals in order to overthrow the election of the candidate with the highest electoral vote total. The 1992 and 1996 election should be recent enough reminders regarding the fact splitting the vote of your opposition is as effective in winning and election as actually getting the majority of people to support you. This is, in part, the logic behind what Dr. Jones was trying to do politically. If those who hold to socially conservative values in areas such as abortion and homosexual marriage split their loyalty among a bung of different candidates in the primary, it will assure a choice between two "pro-choice" candidates in the general election. I agree with this argument, I am just not sure that Governor Romney is the one I would have encouraged the social conservatives to support.

* The fourth reality of our system is that sometimes the wisest move is to prevent something more evil from happening. Proverbs warns us that we have a responsibility to deliver those that are drawn unto death. Many believers and politician could rightfully argue that the election of Senator Hillary Clinton to the office of President would spell a significant setback in the chance of getting the heinous Roe v. Wade decision overturned. Electing a pro-life President could have the opposite effect, as there are already four of the needed five votes to overturn R v. W already sitting on the Supreme Court. Perhaps taking Proverbs 24:11-12 seriously would include trying to do what you can to make sure that someone who is pro-life gets elected.

Proverbs 24:11-12 If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?

So, am I following Dr. Bob Jones, III's endorsement of Governor Mitt Romney for President? Not at this time. But, is that endorsement by Dr. Jones the hypocritical comprise of Biblical principles that some have claimed? No.

Just my thoughts,


Washington Post picks up Clinton-Chinatown Story

I noticed in my Sitemeter this afternoon that I briefly had been linked by The Washington Post regarding the Clinton-Chinatown story that I mentioned in my recent post entitled, "There's Something Rotten in the State of ... The Clinton Campaign Contributions".

While the linkage (however brief) was flattering, the good news in this is that at least some of the bigger media are beginning to pick up this story. The Washington Post has an editorial in today's print edition entitled, Dishwashers for Clinton. The subtitle for the editorial is "Once again, a zeal for campaign cash trumps common sense."

I am surprised that Hugh Hewitt has not written something more substantial about this. So far, all I can find at his blog is a little blurb entitled: Fueling the Clinton Machine: Chinatown. Having just finished reading Blog by Hugh Hewitt, I would have expected that he would be doing more to try to move this story along.

Here's hoping someone with the time, money and ability begins to take a real serious look at this issue.

Just my thoughts,


The Preacher's Daughter

The preacher's 5-year-old daughter noticed that her father always paused and bowed his head, for a moment, before starting his sermon.

One day, she asked him why.

"Well, honey," he began, proud that his daughter was so observant of his messages, "I'm asking the Lord to help me preach a good sermon."

"How come He doesn't do it?" she asked.

-- Sorry, I couldn't resist.

I have a much more substantial post in the process, but looking for time to actually finish writing it. (I have finished the first page, but the nature of the topic that it will be a fuller treatment than that.)

Just my thoughts,


P.S. No, this IS NOT a personal story!

There's Something Rotten in the state of .. The Clinton Campaign Contributions

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I want to get back out of the political sphere here soon, but I found this information and the relative quietness of it in the MSM to be quite interesting.

It appears that somebody (or somebodies) is channeling money to Hillary Clinton's campaign through dishwashers, waiters and other workers at Chinese restuarants in New York's Chinatown district. The L.A. Times Reports on "An Unlikely Treasure-Trove of Donors for Clinton" and comments that:

The candidate's unparalleled fundraising success relies largely on the least-affluent residents of New York's Chinatown -- some of whom can't be tracked down.

While The L.A. Times does not come out and say it, this sure smells like something fishy is going on. How do dishwashers and other similar workers find the kind of funds to give $2,000 to a political campaign - in an area where the median family income was $21,000 according to the 2000 Census? My guess is that someone - or more than one someone - is feeding them the money for the contributions

The Times comments that:
At least one reported donor denies making a contribution. Another admitted to lacking the legal-resident status required for giving campaign money.

Why is this not getting more play in the MSM? Especially in light of the ongoing Clinton-China issues from previous days? I cannot help but imagine that similar questionable contributions to a conservative would have received much greater play in the MSM.

Just my thoughts,


True Love

Friday, October 19, 2007

I ran across this story recently:

In an effort to crack down on shoplifting at their store, a store recently declared that it would prosecute fully anyone who got caught shoplifting from their store.

Soon, an elderly woman who had been married for 40 years was discovered to be shoplifting. Not wanting to go against their newly stated policy, the store decided to go after this elderly woman and to make sure she went to trial and jail for her crimes.

The day of the trial came and the elderly lady went before the judge. The judge look at the elderly lady and felt compassion on her, but knew he must do his job. He asked her,"What did you steal?"

She replied: "A can of peaches".

The judge asked her why she had stolen them and she replied that she was hungry.

The judge then asked her how many peaches were in the can.

She replied, "6".

The judge then said, "I will give you 6 days in jail."

As the judge began to formally render his sentencing, the woman's husband of 40 years stood up and asked the judge if he could say something.

The crowd in the courtroom all stopped what they were doing to listen intently to what this man was going to say.

The judge asked, "What is it that you want to say?"

The husband then replied "She also stole a can of peas."

Just someone else's thoughts.


Thinking about elections

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

As the presidential primaries rapidly approach, the discussion regarding the candidates for President of the United States is starting to really take off.

Just today, the Greenville News is reporting that Dr. Bob Jones, III has endorsed Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential primary in South Carolina (story here). Earlier this week, Hugh Hewitt psted a memo from Mark DeMoss who made also tried to make the case for Romney (story here).

I know that I am a nobody, but I wonder if we are jumping the gun and I also wander if we are backing the wrong guy.

The comment from Dr. Bob that was immediately under the headline in The Greenville News was "This is all about beating Hillary." Mark DeMoss's post indicates that one of his three requirements was that the person must be "someone who can actually win the nomination."

Here is where I think we are coming close to making the same mistake the Democrats made in 2004. If you step into your time machine a minute, you will recall that up until Iowa, Governor Dean was the one with all of the excitement and momentum among the radical leftist base. However, the establishment Dems feared that Dean would be unelectable to the majority of Americans and were pushing for John Kerry instead. The argument was essentially - "This is all about beating George Bush" and the thought was that the base was so infumed in their hatred for Bush that the base was covered so they needed to find someone who could appeal to the uncommitted without bringing too much offense. John Kerry got pushed because he was viewed as the "safe condidate" and those pushing Kerry won the day with their argument.

Unfortunately for the Dems (but fortunately for thinking Americans), this stategy failed. I think that part of the reason this strategy failed was that a winning candidate needs to be someone that the people feel that they can support - and that they are willing to work for and to tell their friends about, etc. I actually think that Dean may have been able to do a better job against Bush because he was clear on his opposition to the War, he was clear on the other issues. Bush's team managed to successfully go after the fact that Kerry was just playing politics with so many issues and "flip flopping."

It looks to me that this same type of thing is what is happening at this time in the Republican primaries. The social conservatives are trying to find a way to beat Guiliani, who has staked out some pretty liberal social views on abortion, gay marriate, etc. In order to do so, the thinking seems to be that they need to all become unified around one of the socially conservative candidates so that this turns into a two man race - Guiliani vs. Romney -with the idea that if all the social conservatives eggs are in one basket, the basket will be heavy enough to tip the scale.

The problem with this is that I do not believe that Romney has the ability to rally the rank and file social conservatives - especially the socially conservative evangelical voters - to his side.

Here are some reasons why I question the ability of Mitt Romney to excite the socially conservative rank and file are as follows.

1. His record and rhetoric as a social conservative is wishy-washy at best. If you take the time to watch the videos at YouTube of Romney's debates in Massachusetts, you will find that repeatedly he trumpets his views as pro-choice. "I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose." (Here is one of many videos that the left will use against him on this - and that causes the little guys like me to wonder where the guy really stands on this issue). I recognize that he is claiming to be pro-life now, but this debate was in 2002 - we are not talking that long ago and the switch in positions at this venture (especially when he talks in other debates about how long his family has stood on this issue - since his mother ran for Senate) will seem too convenient and politically motivated for the average Joe.

2. He has not galvinized the base already with all the money he has on his side. Romney has spent a whole lot more money than Brownback, Huckabee, etc., but he still has not managed to stir up the excitement. The pundits out there keep talking about how great it is that he has raised a lot of money (although a lot of it seems to be money he has loaned to himself). That is true, but what kind of return is he getting for that money? In the August Iowa straw poll, Huckabee came in second with 18.1% and Brownback came in third with 15.3%.

3. Like it or not, the reality is that the Mormonism of Romney will cause many to be cautious about voting for him. Not just among conservative evangelical voters, but in the general election as well. I understand that "we are voting for a President, not a Pastor" has a nice ring to it, but that line did not work when people wanted to dismiss the character issue in regards to Clinton. The reality is that many Americans vote on how they percieve a guy as much as they do on the person's policies. This is especially true of the folks in the "undecided land" who wait until the last month to make their decisions. For many of these people, the election all comes down to their impression of a person - and for many, that impression of Romney as the great Mormon leader will be the one that holds them back.

Imagine if the guys who seem to be trying to get the bandwagon going for Romney would put their efforts behind someone who evangelical Christians could support, rather than a man whose pro-life creditials are shaky at best?

Just my thoughts,


My Book Review of When You Pray has been published at SI

Friday, October 12, 2007

I mentioned awhile ago that I was in the process of writing a book review of Philip Graham Ryken's book, When You Pray: Making the Lord's Prayer Your Own.

I just wanted to alert my readers to the fact that it has now been posted at SharperIron - article is here. Since SI provides the book for the purpose of review, it is released there first. I will post it here at A Thinking Man's Thoughts and at The FFBC Blog shortly. I know some of my readers do not post on SI, so if you want to make a comment, feel free to do so in the comments of this post - or wait about a week and the whole review will be posted here.

Just my thoughts,


A Question regarding UNO

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

After the very profitable discussion on Missions Funding, I am going to ask for much more trivial help in this post.

Does anyone know how many cards there are of each number and color in UNO?

The official site says there are 108 cards and that there are 19 cards of 0-9 of each color.

Unfortunately 0-9 gives me 10 number cards and that means that there must be only one of something in 0-9 for their to only be 19 number cards per color per deck.

If anyone has a full deck out there (or knows this info in some other way), could you check and let me know?

Looking for your thoughts (and help),


There's Something Rotten in the State of ... New Jersey - Part 2

Friday, October 05, 2007

As I mentioned in my last post, there were two recent situations in New Jersey that could have national implications and ought to be of concern to believers.

The last one - which dealt with the attempt to coerce a Methodist Camp Association to allow homosexual civil unions in their chapel/pavillion - I entitled, "There's Something Rotten in the State of ... New Jersey, part 1".

This article is the "Part 2" to the first article and relates to a different moral issue.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that doctors "have no duty to tell a woman seeking an abortion that the procedure would kill a human being." (NJ.Com article is located : here)

The New Jersey Supreme Court is not famous for reasoned and rational decisions and leans heavily Democrat. (Although they have a mostly new set of justices now, they still are 5-2 appointed by Democrats and the 2 appointed by Republicans were appointed by liberal Republican Christine Whitman.)

Notice the following quote:

Acuna said she asked the doctor "if it was the baby in there?" She claimed he told her: "Don't be stupid, it's just some blood."

The doctor testified that he did not recall Acuna asking such a question but would have told her that a "seven-week pregnancy is not a living human being."

If this was the early 1970s, I could understand a doctor not being sure that a seven-week pregnancy is a living human being. But with the advances in technology that allow us to look into the womb and all the things we now know about the process of pregnancy and the development of children in the womb, to make such a claim should cause this guy to lose his license.

If he wanted to make the case that this life was not worth saving or something along those lines, I would still disagree, but at least he could still claim some intellectual honesty. Instead, he is hiding his head in the sand to support the prevailing liberal agenda of the day.


One day, I hope that we will look back at the genocide of the pro-abortion agenda the way that many of us view the 3/5ths compromise in the Constitution - how could such otherwise wise men have been so stupid?

Just my thoughts,


(For a related article on this subject from my archives, see this post.)

There's Something Rotten in the State of ... New Jersey - Part 1

Monday, October 01, 2007

Two recent news stories regarding New Jersey should serve as a warning about what things are like when the corrupt Democratic machine gets complete control of something - especially in regards to issues that are important to believers.

Corruption in New Jersey politics is nothing new - see former Senator Bob Torricelli (D) or former Governor James McGreevey (D) as two recent prominent New Jersey Democrats that resigned amid accusations of corruption. Having lived in New Jersey for 10 years, not much would surprise me with regards to New Jersey politics.

Recently, however, there were two issues that showed up in New Jersey that ought to cause the rest of us to take notice. Since they are different issues, I will address each one with a separate post.

The first issue is regarding homosexual activism and the believer's rights to stand up for the truth from the Bible.

In the continued efforts of the homosexual activitists to silence and intimidate any voices that do not agree with their desire to have their sin viewed as acceptable and moral, a recent attack was made upon the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Associaton for their refusal to allow civil unions in an oceanside Pavillion/Chapel that the Methodist Camp Association owns.

You can read the article in the New Jersey Ledger here.

If you notice in the article, there are a series of cases pending on the groups refusal - on religious grounds - to allow the civil unions on the site. The cost of this stand (in the terms of uthe nexpected tax bill) could reach $378,000. The cost for the other cases pending (including a civil rights descrimination case) could end up being even greater - depending on decisions in the cases.

If you do not think that believers need to stand up and take a position against this promotion of this radical agenda now, imagine the implications down the road for Christian schools, churches, and camp grounds. All that the homosexual activitists need to do is ask for permission to be married on your grounds and if you refuse to allow it, you could be in for some serious trouble.

I am not sure what those of us outside of New Jersey can or should do in this matter, but one thing is certain. We ought to be preparing our ministries for the day when this same attack is made in our individual locations. I am hesitant to name some ministries that I can think of that may soon be facing the same type of attacks (I don't want my including their names in this post to be something that the left uses to find new targets.)

Just my thoughts,


Maggie Gallagher has a more detailed discussion on this over at Yahoo! News.

Bahnsen - Stein Debate available for a penny

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

In 1985, atheist promoter Dr. Gordon Stein and Christian apologist Dr. Greg Bahnsen met for a formal debate at the University of California - Irvine campus. This debate is one of the most famous Christian vs. Atheist debates that there are out there. I was first exposed to this debate in college and it is a classic. Every believer should listen to this debate.

Dr. Bahnsen was a pupil of Cornelius Van Til and promoted the concept of presuppositional apologetics. This debate is a great example of presuppositional apologetics and lets you get a better feel for the nature of presuppositional apologetics.

Covenant Media Foundation is currently offering CDs or Mp3s of the debate for $.01 - that's right - one penny. (They would like to offer it for free, but their "checkout" software will not allow it)

Order or download a copy of the debate here.

HT: Michael Riley

Just my thoughts,


Tony Snow on Lessons from Cancer

Monday, September 17, 2007

Most of us are familiar with Press Secretary Tony Snow. He has served as President Bush's Press Secretary for the last couple of years and has been a radio and television personality for long before that. Most of us are also probably aware that Tony Snow stepped down from being President Bush's press secretary last week as he continues to wage a battle against cancer.

Tony Snow has always come across to me as though he is a really nice guy who would I would probably enjoy being around on a personal level, but it also hard to tell how those perceptions match to reality. I have seen Mr. Snow on TV and listened to him on the radio, but I don't really know much about him. I do know that he claims to be a Christian and speaks of his faith openly. (Although, in this day and age where "Christianity" can mean almost anything and where public personalities often claim "Christianity" despite living lives that clearly contradict that claim, I don't tend to put a lot of weight behind the "Christianity" claims of public personalities.)

Anyway, I said all of that to say that Mr. Snow has written an article for Christianity Today entitled Cancer's Unexpected Blessings that is thought-provoking. I am not a fan of CT - in fact, I think that have generally betrayed the cause of Christ with their promotion of ecumenism and other things, and I think that Tony Snow has left out some things that would be helpful to clarify his actual beliefs in the article, but I found the article to be a good read.

Some excerpts that I thought were particularly good:

Those of us with potentially fatal diseases—and there are millions in America today—find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God's will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence What It All Means, Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.

We don't know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.

He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension—and yet don't. By his love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.

What is man that Thou art mindful of him? We don't know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us, each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place—in the hollow of God's hand

When people are faced with the reality of the shortness of life, it often seems as though they begin to look at life differently - and, for believers, it often seems that it ends up in a more serious walk with Christ.

Would to God that we could realize that life is short for all us - not just those that have been officially diagnosed. James comments "For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away.

For some additional thoughts about death and cancer, read this thoughtful post by Pastor Chris Anderson about a friend who died of cancer and a discussion with his five year old daughter - "Why would Jesus let us die?"

Just other people's thoughts,


Some Greek and Hebrew Humor

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Sorry I haven't put up anything substantial lately. I will try to get back to some real posting next week.

In the meantime, I found a couple links for those of us nerds who actually have taken some time to study Hebrew and Greek - and perhaps others of you will find funny as well.

I don't know much about the site over all, but I thought these were funny (and brought back some memories).

Abbot and Costello Learn Hebrew


Dr. Seusss Learns Greek

HT: Joe Fleener

Just my thoughts,


If Women Ruled the World

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mr. Rob Loach teaches French at Bob Jones University and maintains a blog called "ivmans blaque". The name involves two items of "inside information" - "iv" stands for "instant vacation" and "blague" is apparently a French word for "joke." As you can imagine, this blog is generally a humor blog, but he does occassionally post some serious things. I am not sure if I have ever met Mr. Loach, but he often manages to post things tickle my funny bone.

His post today, If Women Ruled the World, is one of those posts.

Just my thoughts,


Quality Sunday School Material - I think not!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

We are in the process of adjusting our Primary Church program and I have been looking for some better curriculum that more directly deals with text of Scripture and that is preferably self-contained lessons (in other words, one lesson is not necessarily dependent upon another lesson) and preferably chronological in its approach to the lessons.

I have looked at the places I would normally look for curriculum and have been, um, underwhelmed. So, I decided tonight to give the internet a try. Wow. My second site I came to was this site which claimed that you could prepare your Sunday School lesson in 5 minutes - and it showed.

From the "Sample Lesson" on Noah's ark:

"use the bible but translate the bible story into a simple language that the little ones can understand - dwelling more on the ark and rainbow rather than the reasons for the flood and the fact that no-one else was saved."

In the two prayers in the lesson, both of them omit the name of Christ.

When you look at all of the other age groups for this same sample lesson, you will find the same glaring omissions - no mention of the reason for the flood and no mention of Christ. (In fact, in the older ages, the curriculum goes out of its way to avoid the sinfulness that led to the flood by having the children read Genesis 6:13-6:22, but skipping over the entire section that explains WHY God sent judgment.

May God save His church from such Sunday School lessons.

Just my thoughts,


A Tribute to Pastor Mark Franklin

Monday, September 10, 2007

On Sunday (September 9), Pastor Mark Franklin of Hardingville Bible Church in Monroeville, New Jersey celebrated his 25th year as the Pastor of the church. In recognition of this special anniversary, the church had a special dinner on Saturday night and some special speakers came in for the services on Sunday - including Dr. Dave Burgraff (from Clearwater Christian College and Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary) and Dr. Tony Fox (formerly on staff at Northland Baptist Bible College).

I served as an Assistant at Hardingville Bible Church from August 1999 to November 2004, including spending the last year or so going through the Church Internship Program that Pastor Franklin has established at the church. There are a number of men in the ministry who previously served as Assistants at Hardingville Bible Church in the Church Internship Program of HBC. While most of us could not make it up to the services, many of us (and many others) sent up greetings to Pastor Franklin and the church on this special occassion. Below is a copy of the greeting that I sent up to Hardingville for Pastor Franklin on this special occassion.


Dear Pastor Franklin,

I regret that we are unable to be there for this special celebration of your 25th anniversary as pastor of Hardingville Bible Church. It is truly an honor to count you as a friend and a mentor in ministry and I rejoice with you and the church on this special occasion.

When Paul addressed the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28, he told them that they were to "feed the church of God" When Peter chose to address the elders throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, in 1 Peter 5, he also told them that they were to "feed the flock of God." In both cases, the words chosen by for describing this task was the word that has the idea of "to tend as a shepherd." When I think of men I have known who set an example for me in this regard, my thinking process starts with you and the way in which you been so careful to heed the admonition of tending for the flock like a shepherd.

One of the ways in which we tend for the flock is to make sure that the flock is well-nourished. A steady diet of Biblical truth is a key in providing nourishment to a congregation - and as anyone who has sat under your pulpit ministry can tell you, God has gifted you in a unique way in providing for that nourishment. I have had the privilege to hear the preaching of some of the most well-known and well-respected preachers in our country, yet I have none that have provided the consistent nourishment that flows from the pulpit at Hardingville on a regular basis.

Another way in which we tend for the flock is to make sure that the flock is well-protected. At Hardingville, this is accomplished by the grace of God and your watchful eye. You keep yourself aware of the dangers that are around so that you can send out a warning to the flock. You recognize that an educated flock is a safer flock, so you have taken the time to teach people about the errors that abound, so they might recognize those errors when you are not around.

A third way in which we tend for the flock is to make sure that the flock is well-led. Sheep have a tendency to wander and get lost or be aimless in their approach to life. Pastor, God has given you a great ability to get the sheep moving and lead the sheep where they should be. Whether this is individual sheep or the whole flock, you have exemplified leadership for me in a way in which I can only hope to emulate in some degree.

Pastor, I could go on (and did in earlier drafts), but I want you to know that I appreciate you as a Pastor. Not only are you a friend and a former boss, but when I think through my role as a Pastor, I often think about the lessons that I learned from watching and working with you. You have raised the bar for a number of us in the way that we look at serving as Pastor and I pray that you may continue to do so for another twenty-five years.

Thank you for your faithful example and your friendship.

In Christ,

Pastor Frank Sansone
Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury, Maryland
Hardingville Assistant (Aug 1999 - November 2004)

Dr. D. James Kennedy on Lay Evangelism and Church Growth

Thursday, September 06, 2007

In light of the recent passing of Dr. D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Christianity Today has re-posted an article (originally two-parts) written by Dr. Kennedy entitled, "The Coral Ridge Strategy".

The emphasis on the article is on lay evangelism - in particular, how God used the concept of lay evangelism (and the Evangelism Explosion method) to help grow Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.

There are some interesting insights in the article about recruiting people for evangelism and the effect it has on the church.

I have a number of copies of Evangelism Explosion in my office, although I have never actually went through the program (although when I was a freshman at Bob Jones University, we did go through a similar course in Personal Evangelism class).

Anyway, I just thought I would highlight this article by Dr. Kennedy.

Just my thoughts,


Hey, it's worth a try

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

If you have not yet signed up for Tim Challies' give away, click the link below for more details.

sept Giveaway

Review of Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger

It recently came to my attention that I never posted my book review of the book Simple Church over here at A Thinking Man's Thoughts. I realize that many of you may have already read this review, but at least some of my readers have not read it - or, if they have, they were not able to comment on it at SI due to the fact that they are not members at SI, so I am posting it here as well. (By the way, my review of When You Pray: Making the Lord's Prayer Your Own by Philip Ryken has already been submitted to SI and should be coming up at SI shortly.)

Book Review of Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger - review written by Pastor Frank Sansone

About the Authors
Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources, a frequent speaker and church consultant and author of sixteen previous books, including The Unchurched Next Door, Eating the Elephant, and Breakout Churches.

Eric Geiger is the executive pastor of Christ Fellowship (formerly First Baptist Church of Perrine), a large, multi-cultural church in the Miami area.

Review of Simple Church
Simple Church is one more in a myriad of books that deal with the issues of church growth and effective ministry in churches. In Simple Church, authors Rainer and Geiger attempt to show that the key to vibrant churches is to do away with the complexity of multiple programs adapted for various purposes and instead to redesign the church around a single, simplified process. While Rainer and Geiger seem to overstate some of their research to make their point, Simple Churchhas some materials and insights that can be a help to pastors and leaders who feel like they have become managers of programs rather than ministers to people.

"Out of complexity, find simplicity." With this quote by Albert Einstein, Simple Church begins its push to encourage church leaders to simplify. In fact, on the first page, it promises, "This book will help you design a simple process of discipleship in your church. It will help you implement the model you have chosen. It will help you simplify."

The authors begin with the fictional story of "Pastor Rush" to exemplify a typical, harassed pastor struggling with too much to do and not enough time to do it. They then argue that "simple is in" (p. 8 ), using Google, Apple, Papa John's, and others as testimonies to the importance of simplicity and stating that while these organizations understand the value of simplicity, growing and vibrant churches know this as well. In other words, if you want to be a "growing and vibrant church," you will need to know this truth as well.

After arguing for simplicity in general, the authors then look at two specific churches—one that is "simple" and one that is not. After setting up the picture of what a simple church looks like in contrast to a non-simple church, they argue that "simple church leaders are designers, not programmers" (p. 59) and indicate that many churches need an "extreme makeover" in order to become "simple." They define a "simple church" as "a congregation designed around a straight-forward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth" (p. 60).

Following their "hunch" (p. 63) that "vibrant and growing churches" are streamlined and simple and that struggling churches are complex and cluttered with programs, they present research to test their theory.

After evaluating several churches they identified as vibrant churches with a simple process, they conclude that the four key elements in a simple church are "clarity," "movement," "alignment," and "focus." They used that information to develop a survey they referred to as the "Process Design Survey." The survey consisted of 20 statements to which the respondents had to indicate their level of agreement (from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree"). Their research then consisted of disseminating that survey to 407 churches—210 churches that had grown five percent a year for three consecutive years (the "vibrant churches") and 197 churches that had not grown or had declined over the same three-year period (the "comparison churches"). Using the results of this survey, the authors provide examples of simple churches, detail the four key elements of simple churches, and relate those elements back to the research, making application
to the readers.

Clarity, Alignment, Movement, and FocusClarity—They define clarity as "the ability of the process to be communicated and understood by the people" (p. 111). They challenge church leaders to consider the fact that "if the process is not clearly defined so that everyone is speaking the same language, there is confusion and frustration."

Movement—They define movement as "the sequential steps in the process that causes people to move to greater areas of commitment" (p. 139). They argue that "stagnant believers and congested churches go hand in hand" (p. 136).

Alignment—They define alignment as "the arrangement of all ministries and staff around the same simple process" (p. 168). They explain that "it is not enough to unite the church around the same what (purpose), but they also must be aligned on the same how (process)" (p. 168).

Focus—They define focus as "the commitment to abandon everything that falls outside of the simple ministry process" (p. 203). They exhort church leaders to focus on one thing. Also, they add that "while clarity, movement, and alignment are essential, they are meaningless without focus" (p. 203).

In the concluding chapter, the authors use Malachi 1 and examples from the medical field to urge church leaders to "Change or Die" (p. 229). They outline a four-step process (connected to the four key aspects of a simple church) for becoming a "simple church." They conclude by declaring that "the simple church revolution has begun" and by asking, "Are you in?"

Rainer and Geiger succeed in producing a readable book that deals with an important topic. The need for various aspects of ministry to function together should be evident to most pastors, but it is easy to hold onto specific programs long after they fit their main purpose due to traditional or pragmatic reasons. This book does a good job of challenging that paradigm and encouraging the reader to consider the "how" aspects of what is going on in the church. Church leaders are exhorted to refocus and pursue a unified process in which discipleship and spiritual growth are intentional rather than accidental.

The concepts about hiring staff with the "process" in mind are also interesting. I would hope that churches and pastors would understand the need to bring on staff that are a fit in ministry philosophy, but based on some of the examples given, I wonder how often hiring is the result of a person's talent or reputation instead of how he fits into the overall picture of what the church is trying to accomplish.

When it comes to areas of research, I have some concerns about statements regarding some of the conclusions of that research. For instance, several times the authors state that something is "vital" though even when the majority of "vibrant" churches have not indicated they "agree or strongly agree" (the standard the authors use throughout the book) with the statement the authors use to prove their point. While it would be accurate to indicate that there is a correlation in this area or that "vibrant churches" are more likely than "comparison churches" to do X or state X, to call something "vital" seems to raise it to a higher standard. For example, on page 148, the authors claim that "moving people through your ministry process is vital," and they give the statement they used to test that statement—"we are intentional about moving people from one program to another." The survey results to that question (on the next page) indicated that 37 percent of thevibrant churches "strongly agreed" or "agreed" with that statement compared to only 15 percent of the comparison churches. I wonder, "How can something be ‘vital' if even the majority of the churches the authors are promoting as ‘vibrant and growing' churches do not agree or strongly agree with the statement?"

When the reader looks at the survey results, he sees that there are some areas the survey does point out as being very important (such as having a class for new attenders), but in many areas the connections are not as strong as the authors try to indicate. The most blatant example of using statistics to make a point they do not make is found in regard to the statement "We limit the number of conferences and special events that we do as a church" on pages 216-217. Instead of following the pattern throughout the book of emphasizing the percentages that "agree" or "strongly agree" with this statement, the authors first point out that the "strongly agree" is 25 percent to 6 percent (vibrant versus comparison churches). If the reader looks at the actual data, he discovers that if he considers all three levels of "agree" with that statement, they are almost in a statistical dead heat (78 to 76 percent). (Due to the presentation of the data using bar graphs without corresponding numbers, it is difficult to be exact on any numbers except those
specifically mentioned in the book.)

Also helpful would have been to have the questions and resulting answers compiled together in an appendix. While the survey results are given, they are spread throughout the four chapters on clarity, movement, alignment, and focus. Placing the survey results together would have made it easier to evaluate the survey and its results and to consider other implications of the survey.

The book also seems to downplay the importance of Bible preaching and right doctrine. I recognize that early in the book the authors touch on this topic by saying, "Thom has written several books on the primacy of sound, biblical, and orthodox doctrine in growing churches" (pp. 14-15). As one reads through the book, he discovers that the focus is process-oriented and could conceivably work regardless of what a church preaches or teaches.

I found another feature to be disconcerting. As demonstrated through the churches highlighted throughout the book, there seems to be a general assumption that the main service(s) of the church are to be viewed as the way to attract visitors rather than to prepare saints. I realize that even fundamental churches disagree as to the nature of the Sunday morning service; but in every case, the process moved from the main service as a gateway to small groups or to ministry/service groups without asking whether the worship service should be the gateway for visitors to begin the process of spiritual maturity.

Simple Church is targeted at evangelical churches and pastors who are overwhelmed with the busyness of church and are looking for a way out. For this audience, the message of the book offers hope—hope that everything will get better if they become a simple church. While the authors agree in the second appendix that "ultimately it is God who brings growth and vitality to a local church" and "it is against the laws of research to assert causation" (p. 249), the book promotes the idea that if readers follow the authors' advice, their church can move from being a dying church to a vibrant and growing church.

If you are a fundamentalist pastor who has found himself more involved in managing programs than in ministering to people, the message in this book may be helpful to you. Consider the nature of the various programs in your church. Make sure they not only fit the purpose of your church but also contribute to the process of moving folks towards greater spiritual maturity.

I found the book to be readable, but the book's message could have been said in half as many pages. The authors clearly believe in the case they are making and make a strong case against the ministry schizophrenia that comes from incorporating fad programs from the latest conference. I found the material on "movement" to be particularly challenging since I've had to think through how to encourage people to move from being attenders to becoming more mature in Christ and eventually serving. I was also encouraged to implement a more detailed approach to dealing with new members or prospective members.

If you struggle with being overwhelmed in ministry, this book provides helpful suggestions for refocusing the ministry of your church and is worth getting a copy.

If you're not quite at that stage, the book provides a read that may help you to clarify how your church does ministry or to think through that process in your church and how you articulate that process.

Just my thoughts,



Colin Adams has posted another good review of this book at Unashamed Workman for those of you who are interested.