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I thank God for those who have served

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Today is Veteran's Day here in the United States of America. It is a day in which we honor those who have served in defense of our nation.

It seems like Veteran's Day is a holiday that often gets overlooked any more. Other than some government offices, it seems like things just continue as normal. Schools in our area do not take the day off and I don't know of any parades or anything locally that is designed to emphasize this day and I think that this is a shame.

I am thankful for a heritage of men who served, even though I never served myself. I am thankful for my grandfather who served in WWII and my dad who served in Korea and my brother who served in Desert Storm (aka The First Gulf War).

If you are a veteran reading this, thank you for your service. Thank you for your sacrifice.

Following are two tributes that I found online that I thought I would share with you.

Please enjoy and take some time to thank a veteran today and thank God for the freedoms we have here in the good ole U.S.A.

Just my thoughts,


Yeah, for Merchant Circle

A couple of weeks ago, I asked about Blog Readers in light of the fact that announced that it was discontinuing the Bloglines service that I have used for the last few years.

I have looked at a couple of the suggestions and was kind of resigned to using Google Reader, even though I still do not know mark and keep the articles that I wish to keep on Google Reader without keeping all the stuff I do not want to keep.

Anyway, I was pleased to read a few days ago that Bloglines is going to be kept alive after all, thanks to Merchant Circle who is going to take over this service from

Yeah :)

Just my thoughts,


Some Thoughts on Preaching - from Ben Franklin??

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is one of those books that I have read parts of a number of times over the years. It is currently one of the books I have on my Kindle, so at times I find myself reading from this interesting book.

Benjamin Franklin was a moralist, but not a Christian. His book, however, has some interesting comments in various places in his Autobiography about preaching and preachers. Perhaps the most famous of these are the ones where he discusses the preaching of the great evangelist George Whitefield, who Franklin had the privilege of knowing personally.

It is in another spot, however, that I read recently that is the subject of this post, for it serves as a warning to preachers and it also serves as an illustration that some errors are not new.

In discussing his relationship with the "only Presbyterian minister or meeting we had in Philadelphia" he mentions that he once attended five Sundays in a row and follows that comment with the following:

Had he been in my opinion a good preachers, perhaps I might have continued... but his discourses were chiefly either polemic arguments, or explications of the particular doctrines of our sect, and were all to me very dry, uninteresting, and unedifying, since not a single moral principle was inculcated or enforc'd, their aim seeming to be rather to make us Presbyterians than good citizens.

Now, I take his comments with a grain of salt, since what he would have been looking for in a message would be "moral principles" rather than necessarily faithfulness to God's Word, but I do find it interesting that the specific example he gives would indicate that there is good reason for Ben Franklin's concern.

The very next paragraph he mentions a specific sermon that this pastor allegedly preached on Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Here are the points that Dr. Franklin says the preacher got out of that passage:

1. Keeping the Sabbath day holy
2. Being diligent to read the Holy Scriptures
3. Attending duly the publick (sic) worship
4. Partaking of the Sacrament
5. Paying a due respect to God's ministers.

Assuming that Franklin presents this accurately, I agree with his comment after giving this summary of points.

These might all be good things; but, as they were not the kind of good things that I expected from that text, I despaired of ever meeting with them from any other, was disgusted, and attended his preaching no more.

Preachers, we need to be careful that we preach God's Word clearly and carefully. One of the great early leaders of our country was turned away from the hearing of the Word of God because a pastor chose to seemingly ignore the text of Scripture and instead proclaim what seems to have been his personal pet peeves.

It is one thing if it is the faithful preaching of the Word that offends and drives off folks - and the Word, when faithfully preached, will likely do that at times. It is another thing entirely to offend by preaching our opinions.

Let us be careful in the proclamation of God's Word - and pray for me that I would be careful in my proclamation of God's Word.

Just my thoughts,


A New Book by a Favorite Teacher

Saturday, October 02, 2010

When I was in graduate school at BJU, among my favorite classes was Systematic Theology by Robert Bell.

Dr. Bell was an excellent teacher and I enjoyed his class tremendously. He did a great job of bringing the subject to life and for such an important subject, that is vital. I remember him talking about theology being the queen of the sciences and the idea that sciences usually had labs and suggesting that we eat a bunch of lemons to see what it means to have our "teeth set on edge" (see Jer. 31:29-30).

In addition to Systematic Theology, one of the other classes that Dr. Bell taught was Advanced OT Theology.

BJU Press has recently released a new book by Dr. Bell on this subject entitled, "Theological Messages of the Old Testament Books". The book's list price - and Amazon's price is $39.95. It is currently ON SALE at the BJU Campus Store for $23.97. (It is about a 500 page book according to Andy Naselli, which is where I heard about its release - thanks Andy.)

From the blub at, we read the following:

In The Theological Messages of the Old Testament Books, Robert D. Bell suggests strategies for understanding and preaching every book of the Old Testament. Following the method for biblical theology outlined in his introduction, Bell bases each study firmly on the actual text rather than on imposed theological categories. Students will find the tools they need to understand the text of each Old Testament book on its own terms. Pastors will find resources for preaching sermons or series on a book's themes, characters, or overall message. Sample sermons and scores of tables included.

While you are at the BJU Campus bookstore, you can also find some currently good deals on a couple of other books worth picking up if you do not already own them.

Dr. Michael P. V. Barrett's book Complete in Him: A Guide to Understanding and Enjoying the Gospel (recently back in print) is also available for $11.89, Robert Vincent's Gospel Primer is available for $7.67 and Colin Marshall and Tony Payne's book that has gotten considerable attention lately, The Trellis and the Vine is available for $10.49. (I have read some good reviews of some of these and I am looking forward to reading them.)

So, if you have been thinking about picking up some of these, check out this current sale at the BJU Campus Store.

Any Suggestions regarding Blog Readers

Monday, September 13, 2010

For the last couple of years I have been very happily using Bloglines to keep up with a number of RSS feeds from a number of my favorite blogs. It has been a great help to me, as I catch things sometimes through this that I would never see if I needed to check the blogs myself. (For instance, I got a free Kindle download tonight that I found out about via my blogline feed from Theosource).

I have always liked the simplicity of bloglines, but since they will no longer be an option as of October 1, I was wondering what other feed readers my readers (hopefully someone still reads this - I would not blame you if you don't - and I would guess if you do read it, you read it through a feed reader).

Anyway, I would love to hear your suggestions - and why.

Just looking for your thoughts,


Recent Books of Significance or Help

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I am going to be leading a workshop in a couple of weeks at the Annual Conference of the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches. The title for this workshop is "Whatcha' Reading?" (I did not come up with the title :) ).

As part of that workshop I want to discuss/consider some recent books of which pastors (in particular) should be aware - either because of their significance or because of their helpfulness.

I realize that people will have vastly different opinions of what is significant and what is helpful, but the more suggestions I can get on this, the greater help it will be as I seek to lead the discussion.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Just my thoughts,


(P.S. I am aware that Chris Anderson at My Two Cents has asked a somewhat similar question in a recent post. I will also be monitoring those responses, but this question is slightly different and may elicit some different responses.)

Some Timely Words

Friday, May 28, 2010

Things have been pretty busy with work the last couple of weeks and I apologize for not taking the time to finish my series in regards to the reviews of the BJU Pastors/Wives Fellowship and the discussion of the perceived weaknesses of Fundamentalism that spun off of those reviews.

I hope to get back to work on this soon.

I came across the following quote in my reading a little bit ago:

I sometimes have the distinct impression that the most stringent criticism of evangelicals, oddly enough, come from other evangelicals bent on winning the favor of a nonevangelical audience. By this I mean that some young evangelicals feel that they must criticize their own religious tradition in order to gain acceptance in an academic community hostile to that tradition. Evangelicals should by all means be self-critical - but for the right motivations and with a sense of ownership and compassion.

If you changed the word "evangelical" with "Fundamentalist" I would say that I get the same impression at times.

Just my thoughts,


BTW, the quote is from the book "Letters Along the Way: A Novel of the Christian Life" written by D. A. Carson and John Woodbrige. It is said by the fictional "Dr. Woodson" in the book as he writes to his young friend Timothy Journeyman.

PS, I am planning on writing a review on this, as well, but it will have to wait until I finish the book, which I have almost completed and until I finish a much more important review that I am currently working on regarding a very cool Bible study software program.

PPS, you can get a free copy of Letters Along the Way as a PDF file here. (HT on the free PDF: Andy Naselli)

A Memorial Day Message

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Today, in the U.S.A., we celebrate Memorial Day (or Decoration Day, as it used to be called).

The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.

-Benjamin Disraeli

Memorial Day Poem

The following poem was sent out by Mikey's Funnies (although it is not funny).

I thought it was fitting for Memorial Day.

A checklist for Memorial Day

by Greg Asimakoupoulos
May 23, 2008

Go look in on your children still asleep
within their bed.
Remind yourself they're safe and warm
because of some long dead.

Go for a walk through cemeteries
lined with little flags.
Take time to ponder homebound heroes
flown in body bags.

Go stand between those granite stones
engraved with names and dates.
Imagine all who died defending
our United States.

Go on and kneel beside a marker
offering a prayer
with gratitude for those who gave their lives
defeating terror.

Go home and count your blessings
from the hands of those now gone.
Then vow to the Almighty that their
mem'ry will live on.

Also found here.

The following note applies to this poem: Copyright 2008 Greg Asimakoupoulos. Permission is granted to send this to others, with attribution, but not for commercial purposes.

Just someone else's thoughts,


Is it unfair to say Obama and Congress are spending money like a drunken sailor?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Apparently this guy thinks so:

At least to the drunken sailor :)

Just someone else's thoughts,


ht: 22 Words

44 Ways to Ruin Your Financial Life by Age 30

Thursday, May 06, 2010

That is the title of an article of at Frugal Dad.

I am over 30 now and some of this is no longer relevant to me, but I think he has some good thoughts.

And besides, I did not want to leave the blog completely without a post for this long and haven't had time to write my own this week.

The article can be found here: Frugual Dad - 44 Ways to Ruin Your Financial Life by Age 30.

Just someone else's thoughts,


Follow-Up Post 1: Perceived Weaknesses of "Older" Fundamentalism - Preaching Concerns

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In my last post (my review of Nathan Crockett's presentation at a recent BJU Pastors/Wives Fellowship), I mentioned five things that Nathan listed as perceived weaknesses of the older generation of Fundamentalist by some of those in the younger generation of Fundamentalism.

Those five perceived weaknesses were:

1. Lack of mentoring
2. The rut of tradition
3. Unfair evaluation of certain evangelical ministries
4. Preaching concerns
* issue-oriented (rather than theologically-driven) preaching
* lack of expositional preaching
5. Unnecessary divisions

I appreciate the comments of Don Johnson and Andy Efting on that post and I am hoping that we can generate some continued discussion about all five of these areas.

I was originally going to take them in the order they were presented, but with Don's comments (which addressed all five) and with Andy's comments, which focused on the fourth point, I think I will start there and work my way to the other points.

The younger fundies apparently believe that one of the weaknesses of the older fundies is in the preaching of the older generation.

As is the case of most of these things, I believe that there are definitely some for whom the shoe fits and some for whom this accusation is very unfair.

As I would like to do with each one of these points, I wish to consider two things - 1) is the criticism legitimate and 2) what can/should be done in response.

Is this criticism legitimate?

As with most of these criticisms, the reality is that in many cases, the criticism are both true and false. And no, I am not being some type of post-modernist who believes in a lack of absolute truths. What I mean by this is that for some older fundamentalists, surely this is a legitimate criticism - and for some older fundamentalists, this is far from a legitimate criticism.

Have I heard some bad examples of preaching among Fundamentalists? Yes. Even at chapel at BJU - gasp, did I say that? However, I have also heard some pretty bad (even worse) examples of preaching from without the camp, so to speak. Have I heard some very good examples of preaching from Fundamentalists? Yes - and not just in Greenville at some "leading light" churches like Mt. Calvary Baptist Church. I had the privilege of serving at Hardingville Bible Church in New Jersey with one of the men who I feel is one of the best expositors in the country (I have repeatedly tried to encourage him or some folks around him to put his series on 2 Peter into print somewhere.) Are there good examples of preaching from non-Fundamentalists? Yes.

Here are a few things that strike me about this criticism, however.

1. It seems to me that an unfair comparison is being made in this regard between your "average" Fundamentalist pastor and the "leading lights" of the "Contemporary Evangelicalism" movement.

Is Big Mac a better preacher than little ole Frank Sansone? I am sure that he probably is. However, while I don't think we ought to necessarily be picking teams and making comparisons on things like this, I would say that I would put Minnick's series on Philippians up against even Mac's series on the same passage. Or Franklin's series on 2 Peter or Doran's message on 1 Corinthians 15 at the National Leadership Conference a couple of year's ago. It is an unwise and unfair comparison that pits the best of the one side verses the average or (even worse) a bad example of the other side.

I would contend that, on the whole, there is stronger preaching in fundamentalist churches than in non-fundamentalist churches. (Defining fundamentalism as "mainstream" fundamentalism, not IFBx types.)

***IMPORTANT: Having said that does not mean that 1. I think that we don't need to continually work on improving in this area or 2. I think the poor examples of preaching within Fundamentalism are somehow okay because a person is a Fundamentalist or because others do a poor job as well.

2. It seems that much of this criticism are centered in a unbalanced focus on expository preaching.

I will admit it is hard for me to write those words, because I am very partial to expository preaching. In fact, I was recently told by another pastor in town (who I have still not met personally, but hope to do so soon and who I don't believe would consider himself a Fundamentalist) who was at T4G recently that while he was talking to some guys at T4G he made the comment "I (meaning him) must be the only expository preacher in Salisbury" to which one of the persons he was talking to and who has heard me preach on a number of occasions, said, "No. Frank Sansone is down there as well."

I believe that a steady diet of expositional preaching is best for the believer (and the preacher). I would (in general) agree with the comments that Andy made on the previous thread that:

I think one of the most important things that pastoral ministry should do is to help their people think like God. There is no better way to do that, imo, than to work through the logic and progression of a passage within the context of a whole book. Not only do you get the point of the passage, but you get how God thinks about the whole thing and why and how things should fit together in our minds. God doesn't just give us bare lists of things to believe and do – He gives them in the context of logical thought.

And, as Nathan Crockett quoted one of his friends,
It concerns me because people in the pew learn to read and interpret their Bibles by how their preachers preach.

So, as I said, I believe that a steady diet of expositional preaching is best for the believer (and the preacher). However, even among those who agree with that statement, there are differences as to what that actually entails. Some seem to use the term "expository" to simply mean the preaching is faithful to the text and argue that therefore all preaching should be expository. To those, I say "Amen" on the conclusion, but I believe you are misusing the term expository and have simply exchanged "expository" for "Biblical" without really understanding that "expository" preaching is actually a sub-set of Biblical preaching.

Expository preaching is not just preaching that is faithful to the text, but is rather something very specific.

John A. Broadus (whose book On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons used to be the standard textbook for homiletics classes in a number of fundamental and conservative schools - including being used as our textbook for "Pulpit Speech" when I was a Bob Jones University) says this about expository sermons.

An expository sermon is one which is occupied mainly with the exposition of Scripture.

The expository sermon may be defined as a sermon that draws its divisions and the exploration of those divisions from the text.

It seems today that we have seen the pendulum in regards to preaching swing towards expository preaching - and, in doing so, it has (at least in some cases) swung too far. In an attempt to rightfully distance ourselves from a style of preaching that focuses on man's opinions in the name of topical preaching, younger fundamentalists have often embraced a mind-set that expository preaching is the ONLY Biblical preaching.

In doing so, however, they reject much preaching that is both Biblical and, at times, necessary. For instance, while I believe in a steady diet of expository preaching, the best way to faithfully handle most doctrinal matters is in a TOPICAL manner - gasp. For instance, to properly teach on the Trinity would seem to require a topical sermon. The same could be said with the hypostatic union. The reality is that to get a full Biblical picture on almost any topic would seem to require a topical sermon. (Hmm. Maybe there is a reason for the terminology :) )

3. It seems that much of this criticism is often used as an excuse.

Now, younger guys, please don't jump too hard on me because of saying this. However, I have noticed that the crowd who often decries the lack of expository preaching amongst older Fundamentalists usually reveres Charles Spurgeon. Now, I like Spurgeon a lot. One of my most valued possessions is a set of Spurgeon's sermons that I received from my wife's grandfather before he died. (Don Marken was a former church planter and missionary in Ohio with the American Sunday School Union for years.) However, it would not be unfair to say that many (most?) of the sermons from the "Prince of Preachers" would not qualify as expository sermons. In fact, I agree with some comments Nathan Crockett made in this area in his presentation - if an older pastor were to memorize one of Spurgeon's sermons and preach it as his own, many of these critics would likely criticize the sermon - until they found out it was one of Spurgeon's sermons.

I am not finished with my thoughts on this, but this is at least some initial thoughts on this matter and I thought I would at least get these up since I indicated in the comments of the last post that I would be responding today.

Just my (unfinished) thoughts,


Certain Truths in Uncertain Times - A Review of Nathan Crockett's Presentation at the BJU Pastors/Wives Fellowship

Monday, April 26, 2010

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently had the privilege of attending a Pastors/Wives Fellowship in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania sponsored by BJU. In my first post on the conference, I made some general comments and introduced the speakers and topics. In my second post on the conference, I reviewed and commented on the first session by Dr. Bob Jones, III.

In today's post, I will review and comment on the second presentation of the day, "Certain Truths in Uncertain Times: Timothys and Pauls working together for the cause of the Gospel" by Nathan Crockett.

I don't believe I have ever heard or met Nathan before, but I believe one of his brothers came to our church (Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury) a couple of years ago as the leader of a BJU Ministry Team. I also had the privilege of hearing his father, Dr. Leigh Crockett of Grace Baptist Church of Anderson, Indiana, many years ago when I was a ministerial student at BJU. Some of you may remember Dr. Crockett was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer a few years ago and was cured in such a way that it puzzled the doctors and he was interviewed on Good Morning America at the time - one news story on the situation can be found here.

I appreciated Nathan's workshop very much. His task, it seems, was to basically approach the Paul and Timothy scenario from that of a Timothy. (He is a fairly young man - I would guess no more than 30 at this point.) While he made some introductory comments about Understanding the Times in which we are living, the focus of the session was on the Paul and Timothy relationship.

Nathan was kind enough to send a copy of his entire notes - including the quotes he used and all the references, but I want to take most of my comments here from the notes that I took that day on the handout that was given.

As he began the initial part in regards to Understanding the Times, he made a comment that "Scripture gives examples of changing a method without changing the message" and he used the examples of Paul at Mars Hill and Jesus' approach to different people - Nicodemus (John 3) and the Samaritan woman (John 4).

In the area of Understanding the Times, he discussed understanding the world around us and dealt with a number of the characteristics of the day in which we live (such as Technology- driven, Consumed with the present, Pluralistic, Sensual, Fast-paced, etc.) and understanding the church today - including a consumer mentality in which the "church is full of window shoppers and church hoppers." He discussed some of the errors of the day in the church (both old and new errors) and how that we are seeing the same errors spilling over into Fundamental churches.

He then offered some "Biblical Solutions" towards the situation in the world and in the church - nothing ground-breaking, but true, nevertheless. The five things specifically mentioned were as follows:

1. Expect the world to be worldly
2. Offer people something distinctively different
3. Value eternal souls
4. Speak the truth in love
5. Trust God

After dealing with the times, he dealt with Pauls Understanding Timothys and then Timothys Understanding Pauls.

In the Pauls Understanding Timothys, he commented that he asked some of his other young friends training for ministry what they perceived to be the strengths and weakeness of the previous generations. He mentioned appreciation for many things (such as witnessing zeal, faithfulness, strong convictions, etc.) but focused on the perceived weaknesses - of which he listed the following.

1. Lack of mentoring
2. The rut of tradition
3. Unfair evaluation of certain evangelical ministries
4. Preaching concerns
* issue-oriented (rather than theologically-driven) preaching
* lack of expositional preaching
5. Unnecessary divisions

In addressing the Timothys understanding of Pauls, he encouraged the Timothys to understand five things.

1. The need for loyalty
2. The need for humility
3. The need for dialogue
4. A respect for tradition
5. A respect for age.

As I listened to Nathan, I was encouraged to hear his heart in this area and I think that he overall has gotten a lot of things right in his presentation. The nature of a presentation like this limits the ability to have lengthy discussions about each of these areas, however, I do believe that many of these things are worthy of a longer discussion - and the nature of blogging is that we can have that longer discussion - assuming that some of you folks would like to participate in the discussion.

Before anyone jumps on me (or Nathan) about the list of weaknesses, I would like to note three things. 1. This list is given as "perceived" weaknesses. Whether we would agree that these are truly weaknesses of the older generation, we can at least agree that many young men perceive these things in the older generation of Fundamentalism (no matter where we personally fall in that dynamic of old or young). 2. These are necessarily broad-brushed statements. Surely even those who brought them up to Nathan and Nathan would acknowledge that these things are not true of every one in the previous generation. When you paint with a broad-brush, you usually paint a lot of areas that should not be painted. 3. These are the observations of a number of young men - young men Nathan describes as "cream of the crop" type young guys committed to Fundamentalism - and not Nathan's observations alone. (In fact, some of these areas were not on Nathan's radar - for instance, he had the privilege of being mentored by his father, who was also his pastor and feels that he has received a lot of mentoring.)

While I have some quibbles with some of the things in Nathan's presentations (which I plan on bringing out in the follow-up posts), I appreciate Nathan's tack in this area much better than the bombastic and often bloated sounding criticism of the "older generation" of Fundamentalism offered by some of its critics - including some who still claim to love at least the "idea" of Fundamentalism.

Just my thoughts,


Surely THIS is one of those Sacred Sandwich type of sites

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Unfortunately, I don't believe it is.


HT: Scott Aniol

Is this a compliment or an insult?

Over at Biblical Christianity, Dan Phillips (blogger extraordinaire of Pyromaniacs and Biblical Christianity fame), gives a very nice recommendation to Gospel Meditations for Women a new book out by my friend, Pastor Chris Anderson of Tri-County Bible Church in Ohio. In fact, Dan wrote one of the "blurbs" for the back of the book.

His blurb reads in part:

Gospel Meditations for Women is richly Biblical, richly Christ-entranced, and richly Gospel-centered. ...I’m glad to commend it, without reservation, to sisters in Christ—and I’d suggest their husbands sneak a peek whenever they can, too!

However, in Dan's Biblical Christianity post recommending the book, he makes the following comment that I thought was kind of funny:

It's surprisingly deep, thought-provoking, doctrinal and devotional. (emphasis added)

Not sure how I'd take that if I was Chris :).

Just my thoughts,


An Amazing Picture of Lightning and Ash over the Icelandic Volcano

Monday, April 19, 2010

I saw this picture linked from Pastor Gordon Dickson's Facebook. It is breathtaking.

Make sure you visit the Astronomy Picture of the Day site to see it in fuller size. Wow.


Just my speechless thoughts,


Don't Give Too Much For That Whistle

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Don't Give Too Much for that Whistle!

In the writings of the American statesman Benjamin Franklin, there is a little article entitled "The Whistle." In this article, Dr. Franklin tells the story of an incident from his childhood and a lesson that he has learned from it.

"When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children, and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My, brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.

This, however, was afterward of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don't give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.

As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle."

It is a very easy thing to pay too much for a whistle. Many men devote their entire lives seeking the whistles that this world seems to offer.

Some men give their lives in order to try to gain the whistle of prosperity - ever more searching for wealth and the things that wealth might buy. Many men have violated Scriptural principles in such a search. Many have sacrificed their families and their walk with God to pursue the "almighty dollar." Only to find themselves in the end of their lives hearing the words of Luke 12:20 "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?"

Other men give their lives in an effort to attain the whistle of power - lusting for the sense of being in control of others. Politicians and business leaders have often ran over the "little guy" in an effort to "look out for number one." Yet, in reality, the whistle of power is a fleeting toy, for man does not even have power over himself, let alone power over others. Jesus asked in Matthew 6:27 "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?"

Some men give their lives in an effort to gain the whistle of popularity and fame. It is not uncommon for people today to subject themselves to absurdity in order to get a few moments of fleeting fame. People go on reality TV shows and talk shows and make a total fool of themselves because they want to be popular or famous. Many times this whistle of popularity is not sought on a broad scale, but on a small scale, people selling their principles down the river in order to not come across as odd or different among their peers. Teens often sacrifice a right relationship with their parents because they want the whistle of popularity among their friends. Guys and girls often sacrifice their purity or at least their modesty because they want the whistle of popularity with the opposite gender. Rather than fear what men think of us, we need to remember that "The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe." (Proverbs 29:25)

What is the whistle that you are pursuing? Is it a whistle that is really worth all the effort? It is a whistle that is really worth sacrificing that principle or taking that wrong stand?

Perhaps there are some who may read this who are pursuing these whistles of prosperity or power or popularity or something else and think that these pursuits are worth while. If so, you are like the young Benjamin Franklin looking at the whistles and not even realizing the true worth of those items.

Jesus said it best: "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36)

Just my thoughts,


(Note: This is a re-run, it was originally posted in July 2007)

BJU Pastors/Wives Fellowship - Dr. Bob Jones, III Session

Thursday, April 15, 2010

As I mentioned last week, I recently had the privilege of attending a Pastors/Wives Fellowship in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania sponsored by Bob Jones University. I introduced the speakers and made general comments in my last post.

The first session of the day was by Dr. Bob Jones, III, Chancellor of BJU. Dr. Bob spoke on "Turbulence in the Air; Chaos in the Cabin; Confusion in the Cockpit: What a Time to be Flying!"

The text was from 2 Timothy 3 and Dr. Bob used the analogy of an airplane flight throughout - as if you could not have guessed that by the title :) .

In regards to the Turbulence in the Air, he spoke about the "dangerous times" v. 1 and the reality that the prince of the power of the air continues to stir things up and cause many problems.

In regards to the Chaos in the Cabin, he spoke about the fact that church has tares among the wheat and that in these dangerous times there would be persecution from without and corruption from within.

The character of men in general (the world at large) is described (with lovers of self and lovers of pleasure being the bookends of the description given in 2 Timothy 3:2-5) and the reality is that this description is often mirrored within the church.

The description of ministry men is also discussed in this passage with a description given in 2 Timothy 3:6-9 and 2 Timothy 3:13 - reminding us that there are folks in the ministry that sneak into houses, they deceive, and wax worse and worse.

In regards to the Confusion in the Cockpit he dealt with the confusion that sometimes occurs among the older and younger men in ministry and the need for "Pauls" and "Timothys" to work together. In doing so, he focused on 2 Timothy 3:10-17 where Paul writes that Timothy has fully known his doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, etc.

The emphasis was on the relationship between the older and younger men in ministry.

Among other things mentioned, there was a challenge to the older men to admonish the younger as Paul did with Timothy (2 Timothy 2:7, 2:8, 2:14, 3:14; 1 Timothy 4:6, 4:11), there was a challenge to the older men to instruct the Timothys, and an encouragement that God was not looking for another Paul when he chose Timothy and that one day the Timothys will replace the Pauls.

He also encouraged the older men to "train the Timothys, don't try to clone yourself" and "Don't fault them because of questions. There is nothing wrong with asking questions. They need to have freedom to come to Bible convictions themselves. We can't dictate the Timothys conclusions."

To the Timothys he commented on the need to not blame the guy in the pilot's seat for all the turbulence and to have a learning disposition and to recognize that both Pauls and Timothys are needed.

He also commented on a discussion he had with some folks who were from far different theological perspectives (one was Episcopal, I believe) and the concerns that they had going on within their groups. After discussing this conversation, he also made a comment (not as an excuse, but as an observation), that every group (including Fundamentalism) has "foolishness, failures, and fogeys."

In the discussion time, he also commented to the effect that there are people who call themselves Fundamentalists that he would not want to have anything to do with - which led to a private conversation later that will remain private.

I don't know where I am in the Paul/Timothy scale anymore. I tend to think of myself as young still, but now that I am 40, perhaps some would dispute that.

I do know that I have greatly appreciated some of the Pauls in my life.

As a teenager, God brought Pastor Ron Hamilton (no, not THAT Ron Hamilton) into my life as a Youth Pastor at my home church in Phoenix, Arizona and I had the privilege of later serving with him at Heritage Baptist Church in Mt. Laurel, NJ when I was the Youth Pastor and he was (and still is) the Administrator of the Christian school. It was neat being able to work with Pastor Ron and I appreciated the privilege of even having some of his children in my youth group while I was there (as I had been in his youth group when I was younger). Pastor Ron helped me prepare my first "real" sermon, demonstrated for me a steadfastness in his walk with Christ that never seemed to waver even in the midst of difficult times, and showed me how to uncompromisingly stand for the right with a right disposition.

In college, I had a number of godly men that surrounded me - from my society chaplain, Eric Chapman (now a missionary to Lithuania), to teachers, pastors, and work supervisors.

As I got older, I was privileged to serve under Pastor Mark Franklin at Hardingville Bible Church in Monroeville, New Jersey. In Pastor Franklin, I was able to observe up close the kind of Pauline leadership that Dr. Bob was espousing as we had three young men go through the HBC Pastoral Internship program while I was there before I also went through a modified version of the Pastoral Internship program in preparation for my current ministry as "Senior" Pastor.

On the Timothy side of things, I appreciate the fact that God has given me the opportunity to work with a number of young people over the years who are now faithful in serving Christ - including some who are faithful as Godly laymen and deacons, as well as those in ministry as Pastor, Youth Pastor, and Christian School Teachers.

As I thought about the illustration/analogy that Dr. Bob used, I was reminded of a recent plane flight that I was on in which I experienced more turbulence than I have ever experienced before as a passenger. While I would love to do some piloting myself one of these days, I have never actually been a calm passenger (on the inside). I am grateful that the pilot who was flying was experienced with dealing with the turbulence. I appreciated his warning that it was coming and the calm demeanor he projected as he spoke of the upcoming turbulence. I also appreciated the reassuring comment that we were just about through the worst part of the turbulence. A hand of experience at the helm in the midst of turbulence can be a very good thing. Having been through it before will help to avoid the errors of inexperience - whether that is failing to realize how serious it is or overcompensating and making changes so quickly that the cabin is even more chaotic than it was at the beginning.

Anyway, just my thoughts on his thoughts,


Truisms about Men and Women

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I don't do this very often, but ...

A friend sent me this via email. I am not sure of the original source.

TRUISMS about MEN AND WOMEN and our differences to ponder:

A man has six items in his bathroom: a toothbrush, comb, shaving cream,
razor, a bar of soap, and a towel from the Holiday Inn.
The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. A man
would not be able to identify most of these items.

Women love cats.
Men say they love cats, but when women aren't looking, men kick cats.

A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he wants.
A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't want.

A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.
A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change but she does.

A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

Any married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people
remembering the same thing.

Just someone else's thoughts,


An Atheist Goes Undercover

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Time magazine has a very interesting article in which they interview a lady named Gina Welch who claims to be an atheist who attended Thomas Road Baptist Church (Jerry Falwell's church) for two years "undercover."

Often when you read articles like this, they tend to be very critical of the Christians, but this article actually seems to be pretty balanced.

It was definitely not what I was expecting when I saw the headline linked from Nathan Bingham's blog.

One question I would like to ask is what is the membership requirements for Thomas Road (Terry, are you reading this?). It would seem that if she really "joined" TRBC, then either TRBC's requirements of membership are not what you would expect for a Baptist church - e.g. regenerate, baptized membership or she was willing to lie about her conversion and be falsely baptized for this "experiment." Which puts her actions well beyond what is acceptable.

However, if they are using the term "join" in a more loose manner to indicate merely that she started attending and became part of the church, then this is interesting. (It still leads to some questions, however, as the article indicates that she even went on a mission trip with the church.)

Anyway, I thought it was an interesting read if you have a few moments.

Just my thoughts,


Thoughts on a recent BJU Pastors and Wives Fellowship

Monday, April 05, 2010

Last Monday, my wife and I had the opportunity to attend a BJU Pastors/Wives Fellowship Day in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Over the years, we have been able to attend a couple of these, although I am pretty sure this is the first one we have been to since we have been down here in Salisbury. (When I was at Hardingville Bible Church, all of the Pastoral staff - and most of the wives -would often go as a group.)

We had a really enjoyable time at the Fellowship. The sessions were good, although not ground-breaking, there was a decent discussion time in connection with each of the Pastor's sessions, and there was a chance to fellowship with some other Pastors during the lunch time meal.

Added to our enjoyment was the fact that an awesome family in our church (THANK YOU, Bob & Diane) was willing to watch our children overnight and make sure they made it to and from school on Monday. This allowed Missy and I to be able to go up on Sunday after our second service and spend the night at a hotel in the area before going to the Pastors/Wives Fellowship in the morning.

We really enjoyed our time up there for the day. It was great to get to fellowship with some pastor friends and their wives that we don't get to see very often as well as to be able to meet some others that we haven't met before.

In addition to the sessions and the fellowship, I was also able to pick up a few books while I was there - including a couple of Stewart Custer's commentaries that I did not yet have and a book by Will Senn (longtime Pastor of University Baptist Church in Clemson before moving to Colorado a few years ago) on college ministry that I hope may give me some insight in how to make an impact in the colleges in our area - specifically Salisbury University, Wor-Wic Community College, and the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore. (Below is the shameless plugs for those books from my Amazon Associates account:))

The sessions for the day were divided, with the ladies hearing from Mrs. Benneth Jones on "Recognizing the Dangers of Our Times", "Reclaiming God's Territory", and "Rebuilding for God's Glory" as well as a seminar from Mr. Marvin Reem, (Chief Information Officer for Bob Jones University) on the topic of "Casting Down Every Idol - The Case for Controlled Technology." I did not get to any of the ladies sessions (obviously), so unless Missy decides she is interested in being a guest-blogger, I doubt there will be any reports on A Thinking Man's Thoughts in regards to the ladies sessions.

As men, we had three presentations and a time for questions after each. As I have done with a number of other conferences over the years, I would like to do a little review of the conference - not only for my readers, but also so that I have taken the time to adequately reflect on what I have heard.

The Men's Agenda for the Day was "Knowing the Time" and the three speakers were Dr. Bob Jones, III, Chancellor of Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, Nathan Crockett, who teaches some undergraduate Bible classes at BJU and serves as a youth pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Landrum, SC, and Mr. Marvin Reem, Chief Information Officer for BJU - he is in charge of maintaining the technology infrastructure of the campus.

When I originally wrote this post, I had included the above comments and my review of and comments on the session by Dr. Bob Jones, III in this one post. However, after looking at how long that post would have been, I have decided to just mention the conference first and then to add my reviews and comments in subsequent posts.

So, since I cut the whole review out of this post, I will say that I appreciate the administration of BJU putting on these Fellowship Days. I have found them to be encouraging, enjoyable, and (at times) challenging over the years. I look forward to trying to attend the next one (which will probably be in about two years) and urge Pastors out there to take the day to attend one if/when they have them in your area (see upcoming schedule).

Just my thoughts,


A Couple of Sports Thoughts

Sunday, April 04, 2010

First of all, we have reached the championship game of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. This has definitely been a unique tournament and the set-up for the National Championship Game continues to add a little bit of intrique as we get the proverbial "David vs. Goliath" match-up of the perinniel powerhouse Duke Blue Devils vs. the upstart small-school mid-major Butler Bulldogs.

Many people will be playing up the comparison to the movie "Hoosiers" and the 1954 Milan High School basketball team upon which it was (very loosely) based. The connections are definitely interesting and will make for some great copy for those who wish to pursue them. (For instance, the movie's final scene where tiny Hickory High won the championship was filmed at Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse, the real person upon whom the movie's basketball star "Jimmy Chitwood" is based upon was a young man named Bobby Plump, who followed his career at Milan by playing at ... you guessed it - Butler University. The coach of the 1954 Milan team was a graduate of ... Butler University.)

The story line of little Butler vs. mighty Duke will get lots of play this week, although the story is actually a little bit of a stretch.

For instance, while Butler does not have the storied history of Duke, the reality is that seeing them in the Finals this year should not be much more of a suprise than seeing Duke in the Finals. Back at the beginning of the year, the expectations for both teams were actually quite similar. The pre-season AP poll had Duke ranked 9 and Butler ranked 11. The pre-season ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll had them at 8 and 10 respectively. (You can see the polls here.)

Even the size difference is not really that great. Butler enrolls about 4.000 undergraduate students while Duke enrolls about 6,400 undergraduate students.

However, that should not make it any less fun to watch if the realitively unknown Butler can defeat the mighty Duke Blue Devils.

In regards to our Thinking Man's Tourney Time, the final results are now set since no one picked either of the remaining teams.

So... without further ado, the results of the 2010 Thinking Man's Tourney Time are:

1. Sarah Nething with 36 correct picks and 190 points.
2. Andy Rupert jumped into second place with the Duke win and finished with 37 correct picks and 180 points.
3. Don Johnson finished third with 36 correct picks and 179 points.
4. Ron Bean finished with 37 correct picks and 178 points
5. Jon Knisely - 35 correct picks - 169 points
6. Matt Jury - 35 correct - 160 points
7. Frank Sansone - 32 correct - 145 points
8. Andy Efting - 25 correct - 119 points

Congratulations, Sarah on winning the Tourney. Very impressive.

Way to go, Andy R. and Ron for getting the most picks correct, with 37 each.

Andy E. and I will have to say like the old Brooklyn Dodger fans - "Wait until next year." BTW, Andy's "jinx" finally ended in this last round as he mentioned in the comments of the last basketball post that he wanted Butler and Duke with Butler winning it all.

On an unrelated sports note, the Philadelphia Eagles traded away our "franchise" quarterback, Donovan McNabb, to the Washington Redskins today. While no one should be shocked at the Eagles trading McNabb (it has been talked about for the last couple of weeks), I was a little suprised that the Eagles traded him to a division rival whom they will face at least two times every year.

Eagles fans have long had a kind of "love/hate" relationship with Donovan McNabb. From the "booing" at the Eagles' selection of McNabb as the number 2 pick in the 1999 draft (btw, the "booing" was not directed against McNabb, but against the Eagles management as many Eagles fans wanted the Eagles to draft Ricky Williams - or at least get a lot of picks for not drafting RW).

Donovan McNabb has been a very good player for the Eagles and I agree with Andy Reid that his career will likely be considered a Hall of Fame career when it is over. Over the years it has been my opinion that McNabb and Andy Reid's offense were not a good match - I know, considering McNabb's 73-39 win-loss record as an Eagle, that seems kind of a stretch.) My point has been that while McNabb has a fairly high completion rate, he seems to lack one of the most important skills necessary for success in a "West Coast" type of offense - the ability to consistently "lead" your receivers with your passes. If you have watched many Eagles' games over the year, you will notice that McNabb is notorious for throwing behind the receiver. Even though many of those have been caught, the receiver is seldom able to get many "yards after the catch" in that type of play - and the whole point of the West Coast offense is to set up the receivers to get those very yards after the catch.

I have said over the years that the Eagles either need to switch their offense to an offense more suited to McNabb's skills - perhaps a "run and gun" type of offense, or if Andy Reid is so wed to the West Coast offense that he will not do that, he needs to find a quarterback that can run the offense he wants to run. (BTW, I believe this issue of the "leading" the receivers is why you have had a number of Eagles back-ups do well when they replaced McNabb over the years - Koy Detmer, A. J. Feeley, Jeff Garcia, etc. It is not that they are better overall quarterbacks than McNabb, but that they seemed to have been able to make those lead passes that McNabb could not consistently make.

Anyway, a new Eagles era has begun. I hope Andy Reid knows what he is doing.

Just my sports thoughts,


Now THIS is cool

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The price tag is kind of prohibitive for most of us (about $97,500 + the cost of the printer), but the Espresso Book Machine is a pretty cool piece of equipment.

I know that you can get a lot of stuff electronically, but, if cost were no object, wouldn't it be cool to print off whatever old book you wanted to print off that you can only find through Google Books.

Also, wouldn't it be nice to be able to print off any book you happen to write in a matter of minutes.

Oh, well. Not gonna happen.

(BTW, this is the first time I have ever embedded a YouTube video on this site, so I am not sure how it will look. Also, please be aware that when you click on an embedded YouTube video you will be taken to the actual spot at YouTube and that YouTube does not police its comments and the comments are therefore often vulgar and offensive.)

Anyway, just my thoughts.


HT: Lincoln Mullin who also writes (with Paul Matzko) at Religion in America.

Don't you hate it when ...

(Oops, I did not realize that this got buried behind a number of other posts. Also, note it was [mostly] written before the more recent post that I mention.)

Don't you hate it when... you write an anti-Fundy post that seeks to paint a Fundamentalist Bible college as hypocritical only to have commentators show up and point out that in the one small paragraph of your post you have 1) misrepresented the school's involvement in the one conference as well as 2) misrepresented the school's reaction to the other conference.

Then to top it off, you reveal in the comments that you do not even understand why there is and ought to be a different reaction to the two events.

Our internet friend, Ben, over at Paleoevangelical had that happen to him recently (not sure he realizes it, though) :).

Pretty impressive, Ben.

I tend to like Ben. He has some legitimate concerns at times - including some of the questions he raises in his most recent post, but this post is the type of post that HE would attack if a Fundamentalist made such a post regarding one of the current CE "bigwigs."

Notice this post

You Might Be a Fundamentalist If . . .

. . . you think it's a good idea for a fundamentalist college to send students to an Americans for Prosperity "Defending the American Dream Conference" to "share their faith" by singing the "National Anthem" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," but a bad idea for a fundamentalist college to give its students permission to attend Together for the Gospel.

As you read the comments, you find out:

1) He has misrepresented the school's involvement in the first conference.

Thankfully, someone who actually knew the situation being mentioned happened to read Ben's blog as well. Consider these comments from Dave Marriot (who, based on the context of other comments, I assume is the son of the President of Maranatha Baptist Bible College):

Ben, perhaps you have mistakenly twisted what the newsletter says?

I quote:
The Third Annual Defending the American Dream Summit will be March 12-13 at Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells. A men's chorus from Maranatha will open Saturday's session by singing the National Anthem as well as The Battle Hymn of the Republic. This is a unique opportunity for us to share our faith and showcase our college to thousands of politically and economically conservative people who might consider supporting an educational institution that promotes those ideals. Please pray that our men will have a powerful testimony there."

Your article says, "to share their faith by singing the National Anthem..." which makes it sound like the content of the faith is the same as the content of the Anthem or Battle Hymn. The singing of these songs at this event will allow the students an opportunity to be there at all, and thus share their faith with those there and in the organization. I have been to events like this where I was seated next to seemingly powerful people, and have had opportunity to open my mouth boldly and make known the gospel.

As to the charge that Ben misrepresents the school's reaction to the second conference, notice these comments from Jeremy in the same thread.

"It is important to point out that Maranatha has not prohibited attendance at T4G."

As I read through the comments and see Ben's attempt to explain himself, he makes the following statement which seems to be the key to his case:

"Fundamentalists raise the issue of conservative evangelicals and separation and point out that their relationships and alliances can create confusion over the gospel. That knife cuts both ways."

Ben's point is true. Relationship and alliance can create confusion over the gospel - and that applies whether the one with the questionable relationships and alliances is a Fundamentalist or a Conservative Evangelical. All of us ought to be careful in regards to the message that our alliances and relationships. Just having on one label or another does not make us automatically right or automatically wrong in this area.

The problem, however, is that Ben seems to fail to realize that their OUGHT to be a difference in regards to the response to these two types of events. (I am moving out to general principles here rather than necessarily the specific cases.)

The key thing that Ben seems to be missing in this post is that the nature of an alliance makes a huge difference. All of us have various forms of alliances with others - as John Donne wrote, "No man is an island." The issue is not whether every alliance I have is completely void of anyone with whom I have legitimate - and even profound - disagreement with, but what is the nature of that alliance.

If Ben is in a home owner's association with a Catholic Priest and a Muslim Cleric, I don't think anyone would raise an alarm - because the nature of the association is such that it is secular by nature and deals with this specific area of life - their roles as homeowners. The same thing could be said in regards to a membership in AAA, an Eagles Fan Club, or a political party or event - in each case, the area of association is clearly secular in nature. This does not mean that our Christianity is a mute point in those circumstances, but that we are not promoting those things as a Christian or spiritual activity. We are not indicating that the fellow associational members are co-belligerents for the cause of Christ.

However, when one is involved in a conference or activity that is promoted as spiritual or religious in nature, the presence of one who attempts to proclaim the true Gospel alongside of those who reject or twist the true Gospel is a serious concern. In these cases, the one that is right on the Gospel is providing spiritual ground cover for those who corrupt the Gospel. (This is why I have a bigger concern about the more recent conference that Ben has highlighted.)

By the way, this is also why Albert Mohler's recent involvement with the Manhattan Declaration has raised some eyebrows - and not just among Fundamentalists. The religious wording of the Manhattan Declaration makes it clear that this is not just political, but religious.

(BTW, I find it a little odd that apparently Dr. Mohler sometimes "gets it" - at least somewhat - in this area - consider this post, where he states:
I cannot participate in any setting that would confuse the Gospel or the nature of the true Gospel church.

but then he signs The Manhattan Declaration and in doing so violates completely the sentence above.)

Just my thoughts,


The Final Four - but no final scores

This year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament continued its weird ways over the last few days as little Butler has made it to the Final Four and Michigan State defeated Tennessee in an exciting game.

Duke ends up being the only 1 seed remaining and the championship game is guaranteed to feature a 5 seed (as 5 seed Butler plays 5 seed Michigan State for the right to make the championship game). (The last time a 5 seed made the final was in 2000 when Indiana made the Final game.)

If Michigan State or Butler wins it all, they will be the lowest seed to win the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship since 1988 when Kansas (6th seed) beat Oklahoma.

As far as The Thinking Man's Tourney goes, we have a winner who is guaranteed, but some of the other spots are still up in the air.

Sarah Nething will be a winner.

Don Johnson currently sits in 2nd place, but Andy Rupert could move into second place with a Duke win over WV.

So, here are our current standings.

1. Sarah Nething 190 points - 36 correct
2. Don Johnson 179 points - 36 correct
3. Ron Bean 178 points - 37 correct
4. Andy Rupert 174 points - 36 correct
5. Jon Knisely 169 points - 35 correct
6. Matt Jury 160 points - 35 correct
7. Frank Sansone 139 points - 31 correct
8. Andy Efting 119 points - 25 correct

Just my thoughts,


We are down to the Elite Eight

Saturday, March 27, 2010

This has been one of the craziest NCAA Basketball Tournaments that I can ever recall, although some things seem to have returned to normal after this latest round. Depending on how the next round of games turn out, we could have a fairly normal looking Final Four (Kentucky, Duke, Kansas Sate, Michigan State) after a tournament that has been anything but normal.

The game last night between Xavier and Kansas State was incredible. I did not start watching the game until the final quarter of regulation, but it was an incredible ending of regulation and the first overtime. I was rooting for Xavier, but it was a great game anyway. I wonder if Xavier's coach would have been better off not calling the timeout that allowed Kelley to get back on the floor, but it was an exciting game.

I would have loved to see more of the Northern Iowa game, but the local channel only showed the last minute or so of it - by the time it was basically over.

Our Thinking Man's Tournament is nearing the end. Sarah Nething has a pretty decent lead after the first three rounds, although she can mathematically still be caught. If I am accurate in my understanding, Mr. Bean needs Kentucky to win it all and Duke and Kansas State to make it to the Final Four in order to win it all. (Doing so would give him at total of 202 points and Sarah a total of 201, wow!) Other than that scenario, Sarah will win it all.

Here is our standings after the Sweet Sixteen.

1. Sarah Nething (190 points, 36 correct games)
2. Don Johnson (174 points, 35 correct games)
3. Ron Bean (173 points, 36 correct games)
4. Jon Knisely (169 points, 35 correct games)
5. Andy Rupert (163 points, 34 correct games)
6. Matt Jury (155 points, 34 correct games)
7. Frank Sansone (134 points, 30 correct games)
8. Andy Efting (119 points, 25 correct games)

Many of the players have four of the final eight teams - mostly the same four (Kentucky, West Virginia, Duke & Kansas State). Don Johnson (the Canadian non-basketball fan) has five of the final eight including two of the lower seeds still alive (Michigan State, Baylor, Kansas State, Duke, and Kentucky)

Poor Andy E. If you looked at his Elite Eight before the tournament started, you would have expected more of them to have survived (Kansas, Ohio State, Syracuse, Pitt, Villanova, New Mexico, Kentucky). His bracket only includes one long-shot in the elite eight (Texas A&M - a 5 seed), yet he only has 1 of his Elite Eight teams remaining.

Anyway, we'll see tomorrow if we have a final winner or not.

Just my thoughts,


O Love Divine, What Hast Thou Done!

Friday, March 26, 2010

I came across this old hymn by Charles Wesley recently that I don't recall having ever heard or read before. (I found it an online hymn site called and subsequently found it at the cyberhymnal (it would be nice if they ever get the Cyber Hymnal back up to a good and functioning format again.)

Anyway, take a moment to consider the words:

1. O Love divine, what has thou done!
The immortal God hath died for me!
The Father's coeternal Son
bore all my sins upon the tree.
Th' immortal God for me hath died:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

2. Is crucified for me and you,
to bring us rebels back to God.
Believe, believe the record true,
ye all are bought with Jesus' blood.
Pardon for all flows from his side:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

3. Behold him, all ye that pass by,
the bleeding Prince of life and peace!
Come, sinners, see your Savior die,
and say, "Was ever grief like his?"
Come, feel with me his blood applied:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

I found this additional stanza here:
Then let us sit beneath His cross,
And gladly catch the healing stream:
All things for Him account but loss,
And give up all our hearts to Him:
Of nothing think or speak beside,
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

The richness of the text is beautiful to me and some of the thoughts are awesome if explored, especially in the first stanza - "the immortal God hath died for me!" "the Father's coeternal Son bore all my sins upon the tree."

However, I was a little underwhelmed with the associated tune. (Of course the only version I have heard of it is the "tinny" midi version of the tune on the sites mentioned above.) I wondered if anyone knows of an alternate tune for this hymn - either an old tune or one that someone like Pinkston, Habegger, Forrest, or the like has applied to these words.

After I found the old Cyber Hymnal site with the tune meter's (which I am putting here - so that I can at least find it again :) ), I tried a number of the 88.88 tunes listed there but there are over 60 tunes listed for that meter and I wasn't coming close to something that I like with these words as I was searching through them. (ST. PETERSBURG seems the one I like best so far out of that search, but not an exact fit.)

If no one knows of an already done alternative tune, maybe Dan Forest or Greg Habegger or Scott Anoil or someone with talent would take up the task. (And while they are at it, perhaps add a stanza regarding the resurrection - or include it in some type of refrain.)

Anyway, just my thoughts,


I know not the day of my death

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Do you ever have those times when something in the Bible that you have read multiple times strikes you as though you have never seen it before?

I had one of those times yesterday, although I was listening to the Bible rather than reading it. (I was on the road for my job with Peet's Coffee and I have some CDs of the Bible that I received last summer at the FFBC Annual Conference from Pastor Mike Green - thanks, Mike.)

BTW, for a pretty decent audio version of the Bible being read in mp3 format, you can download a free mp3 of the entire Bible from, here. (I don't know anything about this group, but I do know that the download of the mp3 audio version of the Bible is an excellent resources - especially if you do a lot of traveling and have a way to listen to the mp3 while traveling.)

As I listened to Genesis, I came across a saying that I know I have read multiple times - and a statement that gained a little weight as I noticed the details I will mention below.

In Genesis 27, Isaac is about 100 years old and we read a fairly familiar story about Jacob stealing/tricking his father Isaac into giving him the blessing that Isaac was going to give to Esau.
At the beginning of this passage, we read:

Genesis 27:1 And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I.
2 And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:

Isaac makes one of those statements that we all kind of know and which the Bible repeats a number of times. "I know not the day of my death."

The reality is that none of us know the day of our death. (With my father's passing a couple of weeks ago, perhaps I have thought of this topic a little more lately than normal.) The Bible reminds us of this fact with verses such as James 4:13-15 and Proverbs 27:1.

James 4:13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

Provebs 27:1 Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

Usually when I think of that truth, I do so in the context of you could die at anytime, so be prepared to die. Make sure you have repented of your sins and trusted Christ as your Savior and make sure you are living a life that counts for eternity.

However, as I continued to read and then think about this statement in regards to Isaac, I noticed something that was interesting to me in Genesis 35.

Genesis 35:28 And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years.
29 And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

By my short study and calculations (calculations below), I believe that there was about 60 to 80 years between the time when Isaac said "I know not the day of my death" until his actual death.

Two things became completely obvious to me regarding this:

1. We really do not know the time of our death - duh!

2. Not knowing the time of our death not only serves as a warning to us to be prepared to die at any moment, but it also ought to be a challenge to us to be prepared to finish strong - even if the race is longer than we thought.

We don't really know a lot of what Isaac did between these two dates - the focus on the passages is on Jacob/Israel instead - but it does give me pause.

If God should give a much longer life than you expect, will you continue to make your life count for him long after you are limited in the "normal" roles of service? Or will you reach an age of "retirement" and shut things down? I am thankful that there are some in our church who are above 80 years old and still serving the Lord - may we follow that pattern.

Just my thoughts,


Oh, yeah, the calculations:

Isaac is 40 years old when he marries Rebekah (Genesis 25:20)
She is barren for 20 years

Isaac is 60 years old when the twins are born (Genesis 25:26)
The boys grow up, Isaac loves Esau, Rebekah loves Jacob. Esau sells his birthright to Jacob, etc.

Isaac is 100 years old when Esau takes two Hittite women for his wives (Genesis 26:34)

Isaac at birth (60) plus Esau's age at marriage (40) gives us Isaac at 100.

Now the exact time of the incident is not given, but it makes sense that it occurs near the time of Esau's marriage. Notice that there is a concern from both Isaac and Rebekah that Jacob would not do the same thing. Rebekah uses that concern as an excuse to get Jacob out of town before his brother kills him and Esau recognizes that concern and takes different wives (Gen 26:35, 27:41-46, 28:1-9)

Isaac is 180 years old when he dies (Genesis 35:28).

If I am correct that the incident occurs when Isaac is about 100 years old, that gives us 80 years between the events, although the time of the incident is not fixed.

We know that the gap is at least 20 years because of the fact that Jacob served 20 years in Laban's house (7 for each daughter, six for the cattle) (Genesis 31:41) and was a long time back from that before the death of his father.

If we assume a normal amount of time for the other events that are in the narrative, it would make sense if the gap were significantly larger than that due to the fact that a number of other events occur before the death passage is mentioned - the moving back into the land, the raping of Dinah and destruction of the city, the moving away to Bethel, the death of Rachel, etc.

Thank you, Aaron

Monday, March 22, 2010

I know a lot of you have read this already, but in an era where it seems like the only things you hear from "fundamentalists" is how bad "fundamentalists" are, it was nice to read Aaron Blummer's article on SharperIron entitled, "I Learned it from Fundamentalists."

What Aaron describes is very similar in experience to the Fundamentalism that I have known - a Fundamentalism that certain corners within Fundamentalism seem desirous to ignore in their mad rush to rip or ridicule Fundamentalism by highlighting the crazies that use the term.

Among the points Aaron makes, the following stand out in particular in my experience.

1. Fundamentalism taught me expository preaching

No one told me then that the most persuasive and enduringly powerful preaching I was hearing—and had grown to love—was called “exposition” or “expository preaching.” The Fundamentalist college I attended next taught me that this kind of preaching had a name as well as a long and glorious tradition.

Could a young man learn expository preaching outside of Fundamentalism at the time? Absolutely. But I learned it from Fundamentalists.

3. Fundamentalism taught me to be mindful of doctrine

The attitude that doctrine is extremely important and that believers should expect to put their thinking caps on and wade through it somewhat regularly was an attitude I caught from Fundamentalists.


6. Fundamentalism taught me the gospel.

Fundamentalists gave me the gospel in its simplicity, but also later taught me its complexity. Fundamentalists taught me what total depravity meant, what imputation meant, what regeneration meant, even what election meant.

No one is claiming that Fundamentalism is perfect. And surely this Fundamentalist is far from perfect, but it is nice to hear/read something positive for a change.

Thanks, Aaron.

Just my thoughts,


Wow! What a Tournament!

This has been a crazy NCAA Tournament. The number one overall seed, Kansas, went down in the second round to Norther Iowa (who?). Mighty Georgetown falls to Ohio University (not Ohio State - Ohio University is located in little Athens, Ohio - the closest town with a Wal-Mart to where my in-laws live in Ohio). An Ivy League team - Cornell - makes it to the Sweet 16.

I have not been able to watch very much of any game, so far. I was able to listen to the last half of Northern Iowa's shocker over Kansas, however - what a game.

I think my bracket is the worst bracket of my life of picking brackets. I would say it was obvious that I have not seen much college basketball this year, but with the unusual nature of some of these games, I am not sure watching the games would have helped much.

After the first two rounds of The Thinking Man's Tourney Time, we have a new leader and a new person on the bottom - sorry, Andy.

Taking over the lead of The Thinking Man's Tourney is Sarah Nething. Way to go, Sarah. Sarah has Kansas as the winner and has lost another Final Four team, so this is not over yet and Ron Bean (last year's champion) is right behind her. Sarah nailed every one of the 7-10 games in the first round, which is pretty impressive - especially since 3 of them were won by the lower seed. She also nailed Cornell's first round upset of Temple. I figure at least someone else involved knows you, but if you would give us a brief intro in the comments, it would be great to meet you.

Ron Bean is in second place. His most impressive bracket was the West - where he nailed 10 of the 12 games played there over the last four days. He also picked the Cornell upset of Temple.

So, after the first two rounds, here is the standings.

1. Sarah Nething - 170 points, 32 correct
2. Ron Bean - 155 points, 32 correct
3. Jon Knisely - 151 points, 31 correct
4. Don Johnson - 147 points, 30 correct
5. Andy Rupert - 145 points, 30 correct
6. Matt Jury - 137 points, 30 correct
7. Frank Sansone - 121 points, 27 correct
8. Andy Efting - 115 points, 24 correct

I will note that Sarah & Jon (Kansas), Don (Clemson) and myself (Maryland) have all already lost our predicted champions. Randy, Matt, and Andy E. all have Kentucky - who seems to be doing well and Andy Rupert has Ohio State, so there is a chance that someone will still have picked the eventual champion.

Anyway, just an update.


Free Audio Books

Friday, March 19, 2010 is offering two free Audio Book downloads this month. In the past, I have found the materials from Christian Audio to be very well done with high-quality recordings.

Since my current second job as a Route Sales Representative for Peet's Coffee and Tea requires that I spend a large amount of time in the car each week, I have been encouraged with the availability of materials like this to listen to while I am on the road. (I may make another post soon with a lot of other similar resources - we'll see.)

This months free books are Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die by John Piper and The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoffer.

I have never read either one of these books, but I thought they might be interesting - and you can't beat the price. Theopedia's entry on Bonhoeffer may provide some insight that will prove useful and reading/hearing his work - here.

As always, please understand that my link to these materials is not meant to be a blanket endorsement of the materials (which I still have not read or listened to) or of the authors - or of other materials on the site. (In fact, I have found that the site is pretty broad in the works it includes - merging good conservative materials with materials that are from guys like McLaren and Wright.)

The code for the Bonhoeffer book is MAR2010 and for the Piper book is MAR2010B.

Anyway and as always, when reading or listening to stuff like this, treat it like watermelon - eat the good stuff and spit out the seeds. (Unfortunately, sometimes the watermelon is so full of seeds that it may not be worth it to try to dig around the seed to get to the good stuff in the watermelon - since I have not read these before, I do not know if that is the case with these books.)

Just my thoughts,


Standings after the first night of the NCAA Tournament

Well, that was a rough first day of NCAA Basketball action for my bracket. I am currently in LAST PLACE - UGH!

It was kind of funny as I checked the standing three times during the day. When I checked it the first time, I was in last. When I checked it the second time I had moved up into like third and then when I checked it this morning, I was back in last.

A couple of our returning players have the top two spots - Andy Rupert and Jon Knisely, with Andy having a one-point lead. The next two players are new players this year, Don Johnson and Sarah Nething. Welcome to the tournament! Don is from the land where basketball is just a game for kids who can't skate or handle a hockey stick, but he is doing pretty well, so far. He needs Clemson to make a DEEP Run (he has picked them for the champion) to continue to do well, but he is off to a good start so far - picking a couple of nice upsets with ODU over ND and Washington over Marquette. I don't believe I have met Sarah before, but she has started off well and the only team she has lost going into the next round is Marquette.

The top five after the first day of the tournament:

1. Andy Rupert - 60 points / 11 correct
2. Jon Knisely - 59 points / 11 correct
3. Don Johnson - 55 points / 10 correct
4. Sarah Nething - 50 points / 10 correct
5. Andy Efting - 48 points / 9 correct

Matt Jury and Ron Bean (last year's champion) are just one point ahead of me near the bottom!

Biggest upset correctly picked: I correctly picked 13 seed Murray State over 4 seed Vanderbilt. (None of us picked the University of Ohio over Georgetown - in fact, a number of folks have Georgetown moving on beyond this round.)

Anyway, just a quick update.


It's Tourney Time

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

* Updated - fixed link and added some instructions!

If anyone reading this is interested in being part of our annual March Madness Bracket Challenge - for fun only, please join us.

You can join us by following this link:
The pool password is "tourney"

To those who participated last year, in my attempt to send you all an invitation to join this year, I accidently selected "Remove Selected Players" thinking that the button was for "Invite Selected Players", so most of you have accidently been removed. I am very sorry. To participate again, you will have to go through the above way - unless you are still able to get in via the email link that Andy R. sent out yesterday.

If you have participated before and already have a CBS Sports ID, all you need to do is
1. Follow the link above
2. Login
3. Enter the Pool Password: tourney
4. Make your picks

If you have never participated before and would like to do so, follow these steps:

1. Follow the link above
2. Register for a CBS Sports ID (it's free)
3. After registering, it should ask you for the pool password - enter "tourney"
4. Make your picks

(Note: If you end up somewhere else after registering, just return to this page and follow the link and the instructions above :) ).

If you did not participate last year, we would love for you to join us this year.


1. You are allowed to make up two brackets - one for your head and one for your "gut" if you wish.
2. Scoring is a Weight + Seed method of scoring

*In other words, points are awarded based on what round the game is in, plus the seed of the team. If you pick Morgan State to defeat W.V.U. in the first round and get it correct, you will get 16 points for that pick - 1 point for getting it correct in the first round PLUS 15 points for correctly picking that 15th seed to win. So, correctly picking an upset can help you out a lot, but it also means that if the team you pick to lose that game goes deep (and you picked them to go deep), you could be leaving a lot of points on the table. For example, in the previous example, if you chose WVU to beat Morgan State and to make the Final Four - and you are correct - the choice of WVU in that scenariou would actually be worth more than the upset pcik because WVU would earn you ultimately 18 points during the tournament (1st round - 3 [1+2], 2nd round - 4 [2+2], 3rd round - 5 [3+2], and 4th round - 6 [4+2]) (CONFUSED, YET?)

Just my thoughts,


Classic Commentaries Online

Saturday, March 13, 2010

One of the great features of the internet is the resources that become available.

I recently came across some sites that includes a number of Classic Commentaries that can be used online. Among the commentaries that are available are such classics as Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible (in both Complete and Concise forms), John Gill, Jamieson, Faussett, Brown, John Wesley, John Darby, and the Geneva Study Bible notes. Some of the individual books have additional commentators (such as Lightfoot on Matthew and Charles Spurgeon's classic commentary, The Treasury of David, on the Psalms.)

Now, to be honest, I am the type of person who likes to have my resources on my own computer, rather than out in cyberspace. I know the trend is to keep putting things online and off of your personal computer, however, I am just enough of a curmudgeon to reject that trend. (This is one reason why I may hold on to my Palm Centro well after I qualify for an upgrade. I like my Palm Desktop too much to surrender it to an internet only based system.)

So, because of my desire to have things actually on my computer, I will gladly continue to use PowerBible and E-Sword (until someone gives me a copy of BibleWorks or some similar program), which have many of these same titles. However, having these resources available online is also nice to know. Especially when you are not at your own computer where you have the aformentioned programs installed - or if you are one of these tech gadget guys who have one of the really cool smartphones and want to look up something on one of these passages with your phone.

So, here are some of the sites. (Part of the reason I am making this post is so that I can quicly find these sites myself in the future.)


A listing of some other online commentaries

An additional listing of available commentaries

I know there are a ton more, but this is a good list with which to start.

Just my thoughts,


Friday, March 12, 2010

After about a year-long hiatus, I have decided to tentatively return to the blogosphere. I am not promising much, but the itch has been here to write, my 13-year old son has started a blog himself (and posted more times in the two weeks that he has had his blog than I think I have posted in the last year), and my wife keeps encouraging me to start writing again. (Who'd a thunk it? - just kidding, dear.)

While I don't generally do a lot of "What I am doing now" type of posts, I can imagine that the huge following that I have are probably wondering what has been going on (oh, wait, I don't have a following for my blog anymore, let alone a huge following).

Actually, as many of you know, last year I returned to the world of being a "bi-vocational pastor." In doing so, I began working two additional part-time jobs in addition to serving as Pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury, Maryland.

One of those jobs involved serving as a driver for a company that transported patients to their physical therapy and doctor appointments. This was/is an interesting job with a chance to meet some folks and initially paid pretty well. Unfortunately, the opportunities between runs with this job have been so scarce that it became clear early on that this was not the solution to our need for a second job.

In March, through the wonderful tool of craigslist, I got an interview for and received a job working as an Independent Route Sales Representative for Peet's Coffee and Tea serving the majority of the Delmarva Penninsula - with stops in places such as Smyrna, Dover, and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware and Ocean City, Salisbury, Chester and Chestertown, Maryland and points in between. Peet's is a good place to work and they make great coffee - and their famous 90-day freshness guarantee makes sure that when you buy a bag of Peet's Coffee, you are getting the best and freshest coffee available. My job includes making sure the coffee on the shelves in my area meets that exacting standard.

Things have also been pretty busy from a church and ministry stand-point. The Lord has seen fit recently to bless our church with a good influx of some solid families, of which we are glad It has been a blessing getting to know some of these folks over the last few months and I look forward to the opportunity of getting to know them better and being able to serve the Lord with them at Fellowship Baptist Church in the days ahead.

I was also privileged to preach three times for a Junior age (grades 4-8) Winter Weekend at Tri- State Bible Camp in Montague, New Jersey in January. I have had the privilege of preaching some teen weeks and teen weekends at Tri-State in the past and I count it a blessing to be a part of the ministry there at Tri-State. Director Chris Jenkins and his staff are doing a great job with this smaller camp and it is neat to see and hear what God is doing up there. I hope the Lord continues to give me opportunities to serve up there.

Anyway, I just wanted to say "Hi" and dip my toes back in the blogging waters.

Just my thoughts,