June 27, 2007

Out of the Country

If you dropped by today looking for a new post please come back again after the 4th of July. I am out of the country on mission in Guatemala. Please pray for us as we partner with a church in Guatemala City to plant two new churches in a barrio of over 50,000 people with no identifiable evangelical witness present in the community. I will look forward to sharing stories and maybe a few pictures of what God is doing in Guatemala!

Blessings to you and yours,


June 22, 2007

A Worthy Word about the WORD

"The Bible is the record of those divine breakthroughs into human history. 'God's search for man,' it is described, rather than our search for God. And its accents are considered a key for discerning the continuing divine activity in the present. Unlike most religious literature, it is not chiefly a collection of noble sayings, but a drumroll of events, people, struggles, great and terrible, of frailty, doubts, and heroism, of the ultimate might of right. Scripture isn't meant as scientific exposition or as mere history. It is 'salvation history,' a universal spiritual drama of an overarching compassion and concern for human integrity, of an unwavering love that seeks an answering affirmation, It is a vivid, sometimes parabolic account of God's persistent, unrelenting quest for us and our stumbling, often faithless response." From The Untamed God by George Cornell

June 19, 2007

The Secret's Out and It's No Secret

A confession is in order. I HAVE NOT READ THIS BOOK. With that disclaimer I, with some hesitance, proceed (I'm not one to shoot at books without giving them a fair shake, but I'll make an exception here). This appears to be the same old story in a new dress; namely, people are desperate for something more than life is giving them. I think it's new status as the latest, greatest answer to your ills gives further evidence of the incredible hunger that our society has for meaning.

There is a good article in Christianity Today reviewing this newly Oprah blessed book. I think it is certainly worth your time and certainly worth sharing with others who are looking for the secret. I chuckled upon reading these lines from the review...

"Thoughts are magnetic, and thoughts have a frequency," the book assures us. "As you think, those thoughts are sent out into the universe and they magnetically attract all like things that are on the same frequency. Everything sent out returns to the source. And that source is you."

Now here's the bad news: Whatever happens to you—the good and the bad—was attracted by your thoughts. Appendicitis? Auto accident? Poverty? You brought it on yourself."

All that said, I do intend to visit my local library and read this little tome for myself. Integrity demands that I do so. I will be sure to let you know what I think. Until then, here's a secret that's not a secret anymore, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1).

More on the Separation of Church and State

I received a copy of Dr. William Hull's little book, The Meaning of the Baptist Experience in which, among other things, he comes to grips with the question of religiously inspired terror. The historic and modern illustrations of what occurs when religious fervor is given ready access to the power of the state is an unhappy, even tragic, scene littered with broken lives and broken faith.

Dr. Hull speaks to a growing mood among some Christians to bring about a new theocracy.

"One of the dangers...is that we become like our enemies. Already the lure of theocracy is all about us as various religious groups seek governmental favors in exchange for political support. But what if efforts are made in the name of a militant patriotism to co-opt Christianity as an American or a Western religion so that it no longer functions as a global religion without allegiance to any one country or culture?...Baptists know from experience that when the interests of the church are no broader than the interests of the state, the church loses its leverage to reconcile those divisions that condemn the world to perpetual strife. The distinctive Baptist understanding of religious liberty is not some denominational oddity, a mere hiccup on the side of history. Rather it offers an essential contribution to the development of a post-9/11 geopolitic by enshrining the insight that the awesome spiritual power of religion may not be linked to the equally awesome temporal power of the state if any semblance of freedom is to survive." (Emphasis added, The Meaning of the Baptist Experience, p. 21)

This idea of the state maintaining civil relationships between the citizenry and not dictating what the citizenry will or will not believe about their Creator is a good idea that should be preserved at all costs.

June 18, 2007

Such is the Father's Love...

Several requests for this from my "flock" convinced me that a post was in order. Yesterday I shared the wonderful story of David and Mephibosheth found in 2 Samuel. (For those who are interested you can follow the entire story using these references 2 Sam 4:4, 9:1-13, 16:1-4, & 19:24-30). It is a powerful picture of one man keeping his promise and showing love (Hebrew word chesed- so much bigger than is translated by "love") to one who, by all rights, should have been considered his enemy. Mephibosheth was crippled from childhood and was, for all intents and purposes, a throw away. David, the king, does for this young crippled man what he could never do for himself, restoring him and inviting him to eat at his table. A powerful story.

How about a modern day parable like unto it? Take 10 minutes and watch this incredible story. WARNING: It is highly advised that you have tissue nearby.

Such is our heavenly Father's love for us. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

NOTE: My good friend Paul over at But A Poor Reflection posted the Dick and Rick Hoyt story yesterday. Coincidence? I don't think so...

June 15, 2007

I Shepherd Some of These People

Ran across this great quote over at Give Me a Lion's Heart and had to share it.

"Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty — they merely move it from their faces into their hearts."

— Martin Buxbaum

I shepherd some of these people - they know who they are!

One of the Joys of Summer

One of the quintessential joys of summer has to be Vacation Bible School (VBS). Kids, kool-aid, cheap cookies, and tons of energy all add up to one unforgettable time! I look forward to this annual rite of passage and always come away with memorable moments that confirm this as one of the things that make summer...well, summer. It is as welcome and right as a late afternoon thunderstorm breaking the heat and giving way to a gloriously pleasant evening.

Around my house the inevitable boredom of being out of school with nothing to do but endless chores had settled in like a bad case of poison ivy; everybody itching for something else to do and somewhere else to be. I think a lot of other houses were likewise afflicted. VBS was first dreaded ("Do I haaaave to go?"), then loved ("Can we go early? Pleeeease!), and now longed for (I wish we had VBS tonight.) as the list of chores has been re-instated and the days return to a predictable blur.

VBS is a marvelous time of learning for children. This year our kids, memorized Hebrews 12:1-2 "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us...Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.", learned a song that taught them the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5 - Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, drank gallons of kool-aid, heard stories of missionaries working around the world, and had an all around good time. Our closing celebration was a blast as Moms and Dads and Grandparents showed up to see and hear what the kids had done all week. Smiles were in abundance.

By far my favorite memory this year was watching our kids play in the rain following the closing ceremony. We've not had rain for almost two months and we were blessed with a slow and soft shower as the hot dogs and chips were being served. The gentle rain and resulting puddles were an irresistible invitation to play. And did they play! I can still hear the echoes of their laughter and see the near disbelief in their eyes as moms, dads and adult leaders said, "Yes! Go play in the rain!" Sloppy, soaked, and satisfied they all crawled into cars and went home with a moment they will never forget. A moment when God graced them with people to love them and teach them of His love. A moment when the heavens opened and poured out liquid fun. A moment of unreserved joy. Only a moment, but one to hold for a lifetime.

June 12, 2007

Roger Williams and Room to Grow a Soul

A spare few days after the good ship Lyon dropped anchor in Boston Harbor a delegation from the Church (note the capital 'C') in Boston came searching for one Mr. Roger Williams to offer him the privilege of pastoring their church. Having endured a perilous journey of two months in a winter sea and thanking God for the sight of land Mr. Williams received his visitors. This delegation made their offer to young Roger with a smug assurance that this young man would certainly leap at the opportunity to lead the First Church of the New World, the ecclesiastical plum of all the Americas. They were certainly taken aback as they heard him quietly tell them that he could not accept such a position in Boston, until they became clearly "a separated people" from the despised Church of England, and until they separated Church from State in their colony.

Williams had cultivated a deep hatred for State Churches. This was the very reason he endured 3000 miles of ice filled seas. He was searching for a place where "soul-liberty" could be experienced. He was looking for a place with room to grow a soul, and he had no intention of compromising that search with his first decision in the new world. Choosing principle over prestige he proceeded to pursue his passion.

This was only the first step among many that would lead him down a road filled with disagreement with those in authority. This road finally led him to the purchase of some land from the indians and the founding of Providence, Rhode Island. This was the first city of its kind in the New World. A city in which no discipline was dispensed in the interest of spiritual conformity. A city in which the Quaker (whom Williams never liked but never persecuted) and the Puritan could walk side by side.

This principle of religious liberty, which so possessed the soul of Roger Williams, would find it's full expression in the words found in the Constitution of the United States of America:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."


"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

It was not always so in the New World. After Roger Williams it was and it remains so to this day. He is truly the father of the American dream of a genuinely free nation in which all are on an equal footing before God and the law without regard for their religious views. I am grateful to stand in the tradition of such an outstanding Christian.

June 11, 2007

A View to a Kill

This isn't James Bond. It's a heart wrenching view on the war in Iraq. Sobering. Whether you or I agree with everything Omar says in this post it reminded me that behind all of the rhetoric there are people. Let's never forget that.

Read it here.

The Bloody Tenet

This little stick of dynamite, written by Roger Williams in 1644, set off shock waves that are still being felt today.


Roger Williams


Roger Williams, born in London in 1604 and educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, emigrated as a Puritan to Massachusetts in 1630. In 1635, he was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony due to his Baptist views and advocacy of the rights of Indians. He moved south, where he purchased land from the Indians and founded the town of Providence. He was president of Rhode Island from 1654 to 1658. Williams’s belief in religious tolerance led Rhode Island to become the first colony to offer religious freedom. Understanding that religious "persecution for the cause of conscience" was counterproductive, Williams called for liberty not only for Christians but also for Jews, Turks, "anti-Christians," and pagans.

RJ&L Religious Institutions Group

FIRST, that the blood of so many hundred thousand souls of Protestants and Papists, spilt in the wars of present and former ages, for their respective consciences, is not required nor accepted by Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace.

Secondly, pregnant scriptures and arguments are throughout the work proposed against the doctrine of persecution for causes of conscience.

Thirdly, satisfactory answers are given to scriptures, and objections produced by Mr. Calvin, Beza, Mr. Cotton, and the ministers of the New English churches and others former and later, tending to prove the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience.

Fourthly, the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience is proved guilty of all the blood of the souls crying for vengeance under the altar.

Fifthly, all civil states with their officers of justice in their respective constitutions and administrations are proved essentially civil, and therefore not judges, governors, or defenders of the spiritual or Christian state and worship.

Sixthly, it is the will and command of God that (since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus) a permission of the most paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or antichristian consciences and worships, be granted to all men in all nations and countries and they are only to be fought against with that sword which is only (in soul matters) able to conquer, to wit the sword of God s Spirit the Word of God.

Seventhly, the state of the Land of Israel, the kings and people thereof in peace and war, is proved figurative and ceremonial, and no pattern nor president for any kingdom or civil state in the world to follow.

Eighthly, God requireth not a uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state; which enforced uniformity (sooner or later) is the greatest occasion of civil war, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Christ Jesus in his servants, and of the hypocrisy and destruction of millions of souls.

Ninthly, in holding an enforced uniformity of religion in a civil state, we must necessarily disclaim our desires and hopes of the Jew's conversion to Christ.

Tenthly, an enforced uniformity of religion throughout a nation or civil state, confounds the civil and religious, denies the principles of Christianity and civility, and that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.

Eleventhly, the permission of other consciences and worships than a state professeth only can (according to God) procure a firm and lasting peace (good assurance being taken according to the wisdom of the civil state for uniformity of civil obedience from all sorts).

Twelfthly, lastly, true civility and Christianity may both flourish in a state or kingdom, notwithstanding the permission of divers and contrary consciences, either of Jew or Gentile.

Source: Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New-York (E.B. O'Callaghan ed., 1853-57).

Williams was the first champion of religious liberty and the separation of church and state. His memorable expression of this separation is the idea of the two tables of the Ten Commandments. Williams affirmed the right and responsibility of the civil government to enforce the public offenses against the second table, those commandments dealing with one's fellowman, but not the first table, those commandments having to do with one's relationship to God. In other words, the civil government should maintain relational civility between its citizens but not dictate a relationship with the creator for its citizens.

I am not willing to silence those who may disagree with me. Neither am I willing to be silenced by those who would disagree with me. Let freedom continue to ring! And let all who would declaim Christianity remember that Christians secured your right to believe as you will.

June 8, 2007


In some of my browsing this week I encountered this article. Looking through some of the other material on the site I found little that gave me pause. However, this article got my attention. She nails the point that somewhere Jesus got hijacked. Who's responsible for this outrage! Sadly, it's us. You know, the ones who are supposed to be following Him.

June 5, 2007

Faith and the Political Process

I was amused to read the headline, "Sen. Clinton: Faith Got Me Through Marital Strife." It is so interesting to watch the national media attempt to get a handle on this religion thing. It is really a simple matter. It is an unavoidable fact that faith and belief inform one's decisions. Therefore it is an important matter for people like me (who, according to most surveys, make up the vast majority of Americans) to know from what foundation my leaders will make decisions. Faith is important. Our founding fathers are noted for their strong sense of belief and were unapologetic in their pronouncements concerning the role of faith in the public life. Note the following quotes.

John Adams stated, "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

George Washington stated,
"It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible."

“The Law given from Sinai [The Ten Commandments] was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code.” John Quincy Adams. Letters to his son.

“ God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel." Benjamin Franklin, Constitutional Convention of 1787

“It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” Patrick Henry, May 1765 Speech to the House of Burgesses

Let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers just men who will rule in the fear of God [Exodus 18:21]. . . . If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted . . . If our government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the Divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws." Noah Webster, The History of the United States

It would seem that not much has changed in over 200 years. We may bicker over whether or not the 10 commandments should be displayed publicly, but to deny that the foundations of our nation are laid on biblical bedrock is to have one's head in the sand. The very reason that people of differing belief systems are able to co-exist in this nation is because the founders believed so strongly that God has given every individual the right to believe as they will. We deny this truth at our own peril, the peril of someone arising and insisting that all believe and behave as they say. So, I say hooray for John Edwards speaking openly and frankly about his faith. Hooray for Hillary stating that her faith helped her through a difficult time. Hooray for all who will stand and say, "This is what I believe." It helps me to know who they are.

Likewise I say boo to those who would hijack any faith for the purposes of political gain. Boo to those who will simply use the words of faith without living the life dictated by that faith. Boo to those who utilize faith as a whip to enforce their pet point of view. Boo to those who have utilized faith as a means to financial gain.

Our nation is a nation of faith and I say that faith has a powerful role in the political process of our nation. What do you say?

June 1, 2007

Does God Have Feelings?

In my preparations for Sunday (gotta' preach!) I have been awed/humbled/overwhelmed by the clear truth that God has feelings. It's pretty easy to write Him off when He is perceived as being disinterested, detached, or distant, but bring Him up close and see Him as one who aches and laughs and dances, it is a different thing. Hosea does just that. If you've not read this heart broken prophet's story for a while, or perhaps ever, take a few moments to read it.

"It is the people you love who can hurt you most. One can almost trace the degree of potential pain along a scale - from the rebuff which you hardly notice from a stranger, to the rather upsetting clash you may have with a friend, right on to the stinging hurt of a jilting, the ache of a parent-child estrangement, or, most wounding of all the betrayal of a marriage.

Nothing short of the last two of these could really have conveyed to Hosea or to us how deeply God cares about us. Even then, words alone might have failed to bring home the sharpness of it. It needed acting out, and in real life at that." Derrik Kidner, The Message of Hosea

In Hosea this very pain is acted out for all to see. Can you see it? More on this later.....