Theology On Tap

It seems like the Catholic Church is coming at me from all directions lately. Today, my father went to lunch at the bar that is four stores down from where I work. He brought a flyer back with him and showed it to me. I tried to save it. I wanted to scan it and post it. When Lindsay, Isaac, Eli, and I ate there for dinner tonight I wanted to pick up another one. They were all out.

So I'm left with just telling you from my memory what was on the flyer. Hopefully, my memory is better than John Kerry's.

The Defiance Area Young Catholics invites you to Theology on Tap. The details were that every Thursday (day might be wrong) a group of people were going to start meeting at the bar for a Bible study to discuss theology from 6:30 - 8:00. I thought it was a great idea. I think if Jesus was around today he would be heading up Bible studies in bars. That's awesome.

But I don't believe drinking is wrong. However, I can't participate in drinking because I am allergic to wheat. Also, the Nazarene church is extremely strict on the no drinking policy. Okay, they're not strict. I don't think our church would discipline anyone for anything. It is in their constitution, but it's like many rules at the Christian college I attended. They are there but nobody is going to enforce them. They are just there to save face.

I wonder how a church can have such a dogmatic stance on something like drinking alcohol when there are verses like the following in Scripture.

(1 Tim 5:23 NASB) "No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments."

(Luke 7:33-34 NASB) ""For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say, 'He has a demon!' {34} "The Son of Man has come eating and drinking; and you say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man, and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!'"

(John 2:7-10 NASB) "Jesus said^ to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." And they filled them up to the brim. {8} And He said^ to them, "Draw some out now, and take it to the headwaiter." And they took it to him. {9} And when the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called^ the bridegroom, {10} and said^ to him, "Every man serves the good wine first, and when men have drunk freely, then that which is poorer; you have kept the good wine until now.""

This is actually the first evangelistic effort I have ever seen a Catholic church active in. I pray that it will be fruitful. I wish I lived in Defiance, so I could attend.


And Alan Keyes remains the only man in politics that will tell it as he sees it. I love the fresh air of honesty albeit sometimes I think it might be a little too harsh. But I'll take a little harshness any day over insincere fluff.

Yesterday, he called Dick Cheney's daughter a "selfish hedonist." However, from reading his other interviews, I think he is the only person out there who actually lays a moral foundation on why the institution of marriage shouldn't include gay marriage.

Here is a website that shows his stances on the issues. Most politicians will ignore the issues and you don't even know what their stances are. Not Mr. Keyes. He lets you know what he believes and tells you why he believes it. I wish there were more politicians like that. They don't even have to agree with me. I would just like the honesty.


Also, in case you are ever planning a political convention, please make the backdrop a solid color and not a flag flapping in the wind. It annoyed me to death seeing the red change to white and back again. Lindsay says she noticed it and didn't mind it. I might be easily distracted.


And I've added another nifty little feature. It allows you to email my post to one of your friends with the click of a button. It's right next to the comments. Like today for instance. You might want to tell someone that Regan is a big drunkard and is heading straight to hell. You can do that easily by clicking that button and sending them this post.

Money Making Scheme

Hi Everyone.

In my attempts to make a little extra cash I have added a google search bar and google ads to the left of my posts. By using this google search bar rather than going to you actually help me make a little money. I hope the ads won't be too much of a distraction, but if you find something you're interested in go ahead and check it out.

So please, make your one-stop internet shop. We provide crazy thoughts and a search engine. Why ever go anywhere else? You could even make this your homepage, so when you get online you see some thoughts and have a convenient search tool right there at your disposal.

Sorry for being a sell-out, but I'm not sorry enough to quit doing it.

Watch out for the google pothole.

Attending a Catholic Funeral

The Church of Christ/Christian Church slogan discussion will continue eventually. Sorry to keep putting you off.

I went to a friend's father's funeral today. I hope, if he reads this, I don't offend. I seem to be Mr. Offensive lately.

It was my first ever encounter with a Catholic service besides a wedding.

I thought it was a beautiful occassion. Very worshipful. Very reverent. A very pleasant good-bye.

Here are some of the things I really liked about the service.

First, it was mainly just a church service with a funeral thrown in. I would love for my funeral to be that way. Let God be glorified for who He is. Anything I have done or will do pales in comparison to His greatness, so let Him be the focus. I hope my life is the same way. I hope people see God through me.

I really enjoyed the songs. I was amazed at how solid the lyrics to the hymns were. They put the depth of the words to the songs I sing in church to shame. All of the hymns except one were Scripture set to music. The other one was a great quote from St. Francis. I wish I had it handy. It was tremendous.

In our efforts to turn our singing time into the most "authentic" worship experience we have the lost the importance of using lyrics to educate. There is nothing significant about our worship through songs to God. It is not superior to us loving the unloved, clothing the naked, visiting prisoners, housing the homeless, or feeding the hungry. It actually might be inferior to real loving actions done to other people. Sometimes the most worshipful things we can do are without the emotional high we expect to come from worshipping God. Our lives need to be a continual act of worship. When we live lives of worship we won't be dependent upon the Sunday mornings to give us that worshipful rush. In that environment it wouldn't seem so wrong to use some of our corporate singing for education rather than direct words to God.

I was also struck by the monotone speech the priest used. I thought he was a terrible speaker. After a while it hit me. Priests are probably trained to use a monotone voice so they do not bring any attention away from the message they are giving. They want the focus to be completely upon God.

Too often I give a sermon or a lesson and I want people to think that it was a great message. I try to be as creative and entertaining as possible. I try to give them something they will remember. That isn't the sense I received from the priest. He was just letting what God said stand out there without trying to draw any attention to himself. I liked that concept.

There was a heavy emphasis on Scripture throughout the whole service. Despite all the rumors, all the Catholic writings I have ever read seem to have a high regard for Scripture. Scripture wasn't just read to springboard onto a topic. Sometimes it was the only thing read. It was left there by itself to speak for itself. I liked that a lot. I think all of our churches could use a lot more Scripture reading and less interpretation of what we read during our services.

Now there were things that seemed strange to me, but I don't want to belittle someone's funeral. It was a beautiful experience. I'm glad I could be part of it. And it would benefit none of us to rip on Catholic teachings because the only Catholic who reads this on occasion is my aunt and possibly two friends. My aunt is a great woman who I feel is focused on doing the will of God. And my friends are two of the more loving people I know.

Maybe someday I will talk about why I am not Catholic, but this is not the occasion.

Watch out for the potholes.

Another Discussion on Where the Bible is silent, let the Spirit lead

Angel wrote the following to me in a reply to the initial post:


If the Bible doesn't say anything about raising a godly family, then explain to me what Deuteronomy chapter six is trying to tell us?

I do not like it how some people single out denominations and make fun of their "slogans", as you say. They are all sincere people trying to do their best to serve God and you run them through the mud!! I thought you were better than that Regan.



My reply was getting too lengthy, so I thought I would make it a post in itself.

Hi Angel.

I'm sorry that you think I am running things through the mud. What I am hoping to do is fix things. I know my impact isn't that great, but through people that read these posts we might be able to revive the churches we are in. That is my prayer.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe things like this slogan don't need fixed. Maybe that is what I am supposed to learn as a result of this discussion. Or maybe those who are so adamant against my revised slogan need to change their mind. I'm sure we all need to grow. I just don't know which of us need to grow in what way. The ironic thing is I expect the Holy Spirit to help all of us come to the right conclusion.

As for Deuteronomy 6, it tells us to teach our children. It is a great and true principle, but people will disagree all over the place when it comes down on how to implement it practically. It is in coming up with those concrete practical actions that I think we need to depend on the Spirit.

The Bible doesn't really go there. It leaves us with "(Deu 6:4-7 NASB) "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! {5} "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. {6} "And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; {7} and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up."

(Deu 6:20-25 NASB) ""When your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the LORD our God commanded you?' {21} then you shall say to your son, 'We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt; and the LORD brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand. {22} 'Moreover, the LORD showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt, Pharaoh and all his household; {23} and He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.' {24} "So the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today. {25} "And it will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us."

Those are some great passages. They get me excited about God, His Kingdom, and raising godly children, but they do not tell me what I need to pray with Isaac tonight. They do not tell me whether I should spank him for not picking up his toys. They do not give me guidance on many of the situations I have to make decisions on in my daily life. They give me the general principles and leave me to figure out how to work those principles out in my life. Maybe I'm naive, but I think God, if I'm willing to let him, will guide me to the right decision on these things and not leave me to my own irrational thinking. I think we need to allow the Spirit to speak on issues like these where the Bible is silent.

I don't know if that is a good enough explanation of Deuteronomy 6 and how I understand it. Maybe I believe the Bible doesn't give concrete actions where it does. Maybe I am currently blinded.

Now I'm not saying the Bible doesn't give us principles. I don't think I've been clear enough on that up to this point. The Bible does give us all of the fundamentals we need to know. It is in working out those fundamentals and turning them into concrete actions that the Bible isn't as descriptive in. A book that would do that would be a neverending book. That is what makes God and the Holy Spirit such a genious concept. God saw that the Law didn't work the way He wished it would, so He decided to place the Law in His followers hearts. This was one of the big shifts in the New Covenant. No longer were we given a book of Laws that we could live out and feel we were right with God because we were right with the Book. No, now He expects us to go beyond the minimum detailed in the book. We have been given the Law in our hearts to guide us throughout everyday. We are called to live an all-out Christian life, not a life that just meets minimum standards that are described in the Law. We see that in the story of the Rich Young Ruler. So the Bible gives us principles and minimums. In it we also see some of the total demands of Christ.

(Mat 10:37-39 NASB) ""He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. {38} "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. {39} "He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it."

(Luke 14:33-35 NASB) ""So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. {34} "Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? {35} "It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.""

(Mat 7:18-23 NASB) ""A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. {19} "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. {20} "So then, you will know them by their fruits. {21} "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. {22} "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' {23} "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'"

(Mat 12:50 NASB) ""For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.""

(Mat 26:39-42 NASB) "And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt." {40} And He came^ to the disciples and found^ them sleeping, and said^ to Peter, "So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? {41} "Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." {42} He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done.""

These are just a small glimpse of what it means to be a Christian. I'm sure you already believe that being a Christian is a complete submission of one's will to God's. We can't even keep one ounce of our own will. Every second of our day is God's. Being a Christian is nothing less than a total surrender of our life to God. There is no longer a minimum to being right with God. It is either all or nothing. The covenant has changed and with that change the Spirit arrived to guide us in living out lives of total surrender.

And, not to get ahead of myself, I really do live by and love one of the Church of Christ/Christian Church slogans. I did not mean the word slogan to be derogatory. I couldn't think of what to call them and "creed", which is what they almost are, would've been much more derogatory in my mind. My intention was originally to just write on the slogan I agreed with. But in doing that, I would have had to take tangents and talk about the other slogans and how they don't fit in with that slogan. So I decided to tackle the slogans methodically and deal with them one at a time.

The slogan that this post is dealing with is mainly the non-instrumental Church of Christ slogan. I'm sure the people who came up with it were good intentioned and that some of those who adhere to it today are godly people, but I do believe it leaves out any room for the Holy Spirit to work. Maybe someone out there can right a guest post and explain why we need to be silent where the Bible is silent. That concept seems ludicrous to me. I guess I might be the only one.

If it gets me in trouble with people to say that the Holy Spirit is active and should play a significant role in people's lives, then I guess I need to be in trouble because that seems to be the truth. The Holy Spirit is alive and wants to work in our lives! He wants to form us and shape us together so we will be His Kingdom here on earth.

I am not saying that the Holy Spirit and His promptings should override Scripture. I could understand the backlash if I was. I am just saying that the Holy Spirit should play a central role in bringing the principles we learn from Scripture into concrete actions in our lives.

(John 16:13-16 NASB) "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. {14} "He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you. {15} "All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you. {16} "A little while, and you will no longer behold Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me."

For now I will still stand by my revised slogan.

Where the Bible speaks, we speak. Where the Bible is silent, we let the Spirit lead.

I am open for discussion on why this might be wrong. But remember, you need to tell me the alternative and why it is right. I gave an alternative. Maybe I'm wrong. You can do the same.

Watch out for the potholes.

Discussion on Where the Bible is Silent, Let the Holy Spirit Lead

Two days ago I posted on the Church of Christ/Christian Church slogan "Where the Bible speaks, we speak. Where the Bible is silent, we're silent." It has received some negative feedback on the GLCC Alumni Forum. I have yet to hear one positive feedback in person or from anyone online, so maybe I am a little off on this one.

Here is the discussion that happened on the forum. I tried to get Kevin Greenlee's permission, but he didn't respond to my request. Since his thoughts were posted on a public forum, I doubt it is unethical to transfer them here. FYI, I always ask people if I want to post something I have received in a personal email. An email to me is safe from being posted on this blog.

Kevin Greenlee posted:

I would have to say that on the whole I cannot agree. (although I don't use the slogan cause, well, slogans are lame) I appreciate the thought you are coming from but there are terrible pitfalls when you go down this road. I quote your blog "Our lives are complex and different. The only way to cover how God wants each one of us to live was to remove the law from the books and place the law in our hearts. This does not excuse us from being faithful to the teachings of the Bible, but it does demand more than being faithful to the Bible. " This would seem to be saying that God wasn't bright enough to make a bible that would be applicable to our modern lives. I completely disagree. One does not have to twist the bible in order to make it apply to things not specifically mentioned. e.g. you mentioned abortion. Scripture is actually very articulate on this topic though most are unaware of it, but let us suppose it was not. the basic principle is murder and that is of course mentioned once or twice. When one goes down the road of following the "law of their hearts" (which I do not believe is what Roman's 2:14-16 was reffering to, that was the conscience given all men despite the fact that they may lack the written law) Then each individual gets to be God. It is no different than the examples of Jeremiahs couple that are living together (although that one is pretty well mentioned in scripture) All one has to do is say "Well God laid this on my heart therefore it is right and I don't care what you say". it is the ultimate in cultural relativism, it is individual relativism. "What I beleive is right for me because God told me so." It is a much more clear cut situation to take the core principles of scripture and apply them to modern situations which may not have been specifically mentioned. But I don't mean to be harsh and appologize if I have urinated you off, that's just my thought. If God told someone else different who am I to disagree with that.

I replied:

You haven't offended me in any way whatsover. I enjoy trying to hammer through my ideas and get at the truth.

If only the Bible were so clear on how to apply the principles to modern-day life, we wouldn't have so many divisions in the church.

I am not saying throw out Scripture and its principles. (Mike Fabian and I had a rather lengthy conversation over this post today.) I keep the Scriptures as the first part of the slogan. I just add that we are not limited to only what the Scriptures address.

There are many general abstract concepts laid out in the principles in Scripture. We seem to get fuzzy and disagree a lot when it comes to living those principles out in a concrete way, and many try to use the Scriptures as a weapon to enforce the unwritten concrete ways of living out the principles.

I also would say that the Spirit would work in the body of believers and not just individually. I strongly believe in being involved in a body of believers that helps to keeps one's "leadings" in check. Being Spirit-led should not be done in isolation.

I agree that it is very dangerous. But I also believe that it is what God intended. He intended for us to be led by his Spirit in discerning how to apply the principles we learn in Scripture. Being dangerous doesn't make it wrong.

There are terrible pitfalls when you go down any road. For instance, when you go down the road that this slogan proposes you wind up with non-instrumental churches, one-cup communion, etc. We need to place equal focus on being led by the Spirit and knowing the Truth through Scripture.

And we can throw out the Romans passage. That is fine. We are still left with the Jeremiah passage.

Kevin replied:

That would be where the "In non-essentials, liberty" part comes in. Although I don't use the slogan generally, your discussion is on the slogan. I don't care if people use music or not or if they use one cup or not. They are free to decide on such trivial matters because that is what they are, trivial. On what things are important it would be foolish to try and impose "Well the spirit leads me this way" on other people. As for me, I will stick with scripture and apply the basic principles as best I can and count on the Holy Spirit to slap me up side the head if I am manipulating scripture for my own purpose.

I replied:

I wonder what role the Holy Spirit plays then. Is he only disciplinary and never guiding?

Are we left only to be rational beings in trying to decide the best route for our lives and our churches outsides of the essential areas? Because most of my life really does exist outside of the essential areas. I know I am to be loving, but I don't know exactly how I am to love the kid that comes to my store whose father just died. I know I am to be part of a church that is a glorious example of the kingdom of God, but I just don't know exactly how that will look in today's culture. God knows what kind of love that kid needs. I don't. It makes sense that a loving God would share that with me, so that I can love him in the most effective way. God knows what our culture needs in terms of a church. I presume to know, but I probably don't. Doesn't it make sense that God will guide people to bring about His will here on earth?

Am I supposed to just do what my rational mind thinks I should do and then depend upon God for discipline? Or should I depend on the Holy Spirit to guide me when it comes to issues that aren't in Scripture like these?

As I said to Mike in our conversation yesterday. The Bible seems to mainly deal in abstract principles. It's when it comes to making the abstract practical that we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I don't want to just do what I want. I want to do what God wants.

Kevin replied:

first off I believe that you are mistaken when you say that these issues are not in scripture. I can think of biblical situations for all of the above. (give me a day or so to look them up) Purely disciplinary? No, but it would seem to be a role he plays. Primarily though the Holy Spirit would be convicting us of the moral right and wrongs that we already know from scripture. How should you love them? How about the examples laid out by Christ? how should a church be if the world looks at it strangely? I don't really care. I would look at what we see in scriptue and shoot for that. I would argue that most of your life does not fall outside of what we have in scripture, you just think it does. Something may "Make sense" that God would do such and such, but is there anything in scripture that tells us that God will do such and such? I do not believe in further "direct revelation" as many more charismatic churches teach. Please see the following book as I can't spend 300 pages quoting it. "Decision making and the will of God A biblical alternative to the traditional view" by Gary Friesen. PS none of the above is written sarcastically or "in your face" Just from a different perspective (that by the way, I once shared the perspective you seem to be supporting).

I replied:

I tried to phrase the following to not be rude. I hope it doesn't come across that way. This conversation would work much better in real life.

Please tell me the words or loving action I am to say or do for the boy next time I see him. I'm really at a loss on what I should do besides say that I am sorry, which I have already done. If explicit principles that can be translated into explicit concrete actions are in the Scriptures, I would love to see those Scripture verses. I really don't think it is in there, but maybe I am mistaken. Maybe my way of interpreting Scripture is skewed.

Also, please tell me exactly how the church should be structured. Should the congregation elect the leaders? Should we invest all this money into buildings? Should we pay a minister to do what elders in a church should do? I see disagreements in our churches all over the place.

I am a big proponent of house church. I even think it is pretty clear that the early church met in houses and shared meals together. Heck, other churches don't even think you're a legitimate church if you meet in a house and don't ever plan on having a building. I'm not going to make being house churches a law because it is Scirptural and the early church practiced it. I believe the Spirit will lead churches to be the way they should be.

Like you, I could care less if the world looks at us strangely; I want to be what God wants us to be. He knows how a church in Antwerp, Ohio would most effectively reach its community. I do believe that it might be different for a church in Lansing, Michigan.

I guess we might just have to agree to disagree. I do believe in further "direct revelation." I believe God is constantly at work guiding us and making us more of what he intends for us to be. That seems to actually be the root of our disagreement. All of the other stuff is irrelevant next to that.

I will check out the book in the next couple of months.


That is where it stands as of now. I wonder if I am going insane. Maybe it is the illness.

What role does God play in our lives if he isn't guiding us to be who he wants us to be? It seems rather silly to me that God knows the best path for our life, but he wouldn't reveal that path to us. Does He want us to use our rational minds, study his Scriptures, and come up with the best conclusion on our own?

Using our minds in study of the Scriptures and being led by the Spirit are not at odds with one another. They should work together. When we seperate one out of the equation we wind up in big trouble.

Does anyone know of good verses that relate to this subject matter?

Anyway, tomorrow I plan on dealing with more Church of Christ slogans if nothing else comes along.

Watch out for the potholes.

I'm sick

I went to Lansing today and came home not feeling well.

I can't really make posts that require some brainpower until my body is up and running.

Until then, I will be brief.

The Church of Christ slogan posts will continue another day.

Watch out for potholes.

Church of Christ Slogans - Where the Bible Speaks, We Speak. Where the Bible is Silent, We're Silent.

For those of you who don't know, I went to college at Great Lakes Christian College, a Church of Christ/Christian Church college in Lansing, MI. Currently I am attending a Nazarene church. I have no personal attachment to either brotherhood (that's what Churches of Christ like to refer to themselves as) or denomination. I do admire the founders of both tremendously. Both churches, on the whole, have strayed tremendously from what they were intended to be. The writings and lives of most founders of denominations are incredible reads, but the lives of most of those who attend the churches that are offsprings of those Spirit led beginnings pale in comparison to the faith and lives of those founders.

Right now, I can think of three Church of Christ/Christian Church slogans. If you know one that I am forgetting, please post a comment and remind me of it. They are in the order I will be writing about them in.

  1. Where the Bible speaks, we speak. Where the Bible is silent, we're silent.
  2. No creed but Christ.
  3. In essentials unity. In opinions liberty. In all things love.

First we will deal with #1.

Where the Bible speaks, we speak. Where the Bible is silent, we're silent.

This is the slogan I have the most problems with. I agree completely with the first half. Where the Bible speaks we should speak.

"Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb 4:12)"

"All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. (2 Tim 3:16)"

But I have a terrible time accepting the last half. We do not always need to be silent were the Bible is silent. Scriptural silence brings freedom, a freedom to be led by the Spirit. This is not a freedom to try and manipulate the Scriptures into saying things we need it to say in order to speak up on every subject.

The Bible doesn't really deal with abortion. The Bible doesn't really deal with abusing our bodies with fast food all the time. The Bible doesn't deal with a leader in the church being manipulative. The Bible doesn't deal with a lot of things that most believers would say are things that shouldn't be done.

We can look at it the other way too. The Bible doesn't tell us how to be a good Christian in a democracy, although I do think God knows what that would entail. The Bible doesn't tell us how to have a godly family, although I do think God will guide us in how to do that. The Bible doesn't give us explicit directions on how to do many of the things He wants us to do. He gives us His Spirit to teach us and train us day in and day out.

Now before you have a fit and try to convince me that the Bible does address these issues, I ask you to read the verses again with your newfound freedom that the Bible doesn't have to explicitly say something is right or wrong in order for it to be so. Examine whether you are stretching what the author of those verses intended them to say in order to make them address the subject you want them to address. We are free to be led by the Spirit concerning what is right and wrong, which will allow us to be free to allow the Scriptures to say to us what they are meant to say.

"When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all. (Rom 2:14-16)"

"But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, "Know the Lord," for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. (Jer 37:33-34)"

Our lives are complex and different. The only way to cover how God wants each one of us to live was to remove the law from the books and place the law in our hearts. This does not excuse us from being faithful to the teachings of the Bible, but it does demand more than being faithful to the Bible.

"A certain ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: "You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.' " He replied, "I have kept all these since my youth." When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Luke 18:18-25

Jesus' demand on the rich, young ruler was far greater than any command in the Old Testament. What God desires of each of us might vary although it will never contradict Scripture. God might want us to do something that far surpasses any of the demands that He made on us through Scripture. God is free to continue to speak to us through His Spirit.

I know that is a dangerous and scary road to go down. But it is the road laid out in Scripture. It seems like all glorious things given to us by God can be turned into terrible things. The more glorious, the more dangerous.

So I am going to take the liberty and change this slogan.

Where the Bible speaks, we speak. Where the Bible is silent, we let the Spirit lead.

Watch out for the potholes.

A Grace That Changes Us

I ran across some places on the web that talk about what a woman should look for in a man to marry. So if you're single and looking for a man to marry some tips are here. Tip #3 stuck out to me.

"A young lady should seek a young man who…Can admit his faults, his mistakes, and when he's hurt you. Ruth Bell Graham made the statement, "A good marriage is the union of two forgivers." The reason is because you're going to hurt one another over and over again during your lifetime together. If you don't know how to ask for forgiveness and give forgiveness, you're never going to have a great marriage. The growth of your marriage will be stunted early on."

A good man is one who can admit his faults. I would go further and say a good Christian is one who can admit his faults. Being able to admit our faults comes from a proper understanding of grace. Until we believe God will forgive our faults, we won't bring them out into public. We will never receive healing until we acknowledge and face our faults head on.

And I will go even further and say that a healthy church is one that knows its faults. A church that cannot say what its problems are is a church that is a dangerous place to be in. If I'm interviewing someone for a job and they don't give me any real weaknesses that they have, I'm not going to hire them. The good person, like a healthy church, knows where they need to grow. It's only where you know where you're weak that you can work in such a way that your weakness is minimized.

I once heard an illustration about a lion on the hunt. A lion finds a pack of zebras in a field. In order for the lion to get his food he only needs to be faster than the slowest zebra. Here is a great article that explains the way a Lion hunts. We, as a church, are like the pack of zebras. But we need to stand up and fight against our weaknesses, whatever they may be, and not allow our weakness to spread like cancer throughout the body.

A blind person would be a very stupid person if he tried to live as if he wasn't blind. He would hop in a car and begin driving it down the road until he ran over a few mailboxes and into a house. He would run around a grocery store knocking everything down. A blind person would be very stupid if he acted like he wasn't blind.

If churches don't grasp grace, examine themselves, and consciously and verbally acknowlege their weaknesses, they will never reach the place God intends them to be. The same can be said about our personal lives. We need to know our faults in order to grow. The spiritual growth of our church and our lives will be stunted as soon as we fail to acknowledge our faults.

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking who he may devour. (I Peter 5:8)"

Watch out for the potholes.

The Yearly Flu Scare

The media must get good ratings from this story every year. It's here again. Every year they tell me the flu is going to be a killer. I'm sick of it. I'm sure we'll hear it a lot more before the end of winter. Don't get freaked out. They tell us this every year. I'm running around with my hands over my ears now.

I wish I could come up with some spiritual insight concerning this, but I'm in a drought. If you have a spiritual insight concerning the media trying to scare us every year, then feel free to post it in the comments. My spiritual insight machine is broken. I need to get new batteries.


Speaking of running around with your hands over your ears, I have a story/prayer request to share about a teen who comes in my store.

Last Saturday a kid, Brandon, who is a known shoplifter all around town, came in with some Yu-Gi-Oh! packs that he had shoplifted from other stores around town. I told him that he could do the right thing and I would drive him around town to return them. I've been debating if I should call the cops, but unless someone gets caught in the act of stealing I don't think they can do anything.

I could see him struggling with the idea of returning the packs, so I reminded him that I would drive him around town. He could still make it right. What are a few packs of Yu-Gi-Oh! when it comes to doing what is right? He struggled and struggled. Eventually, he put his hands over his ears, walked out of the store, and opened up the packs. Please pray that I have wisdom in ministering to him and that he receives conviction for what that he needs to be right with God.


Before I point out the stupidity of a comment John Kerry made, I must remind you that I am not a Bush supporter. However, Bush doesn't make comments this stupid. Once you rip on one of these Yale grads people feel they have to rip back on the other. I could care less. I'm not voting for either. So feel free to rip away. Remember, on election day to vote for Larry Carter. "If you don't like it, get the hell out of God's country." A vote for Larry Carter is a vote for your soul. I dare you to rip on Larry Carter. I'll come out punching.

I don't have the exact quote, but the other day John Kerry said he was proud of his service in Vietnam and proud of his protest against it when he came back. He tries so often to have his cake and eat it too. This would be me saying that I'm proud of the sins of my past before I knew Jesus. Now, I'm also proud that I know Jesus. It's absurd. I don't know how anyone can actually be proud of something that they did when they believe what they were doing was wrong. I'm ashamed of the things I did.

But my mind doesn't work like John Kerry's. He also made some comments about a month ago concerning his religious and political life. He said he keeps his religious beliefs out of politics or something along those lines. That's great. You mean to tell me you have religious beliefs that don't actually effect what you do. Those are some great religious beliefs.


Another Alan Keye's quote:

"See, people like to make assertions. He [Obama] makes assertions. We should make arguments for the positions that we take, because otherwise we're just engaging in name-calling. And I say, I make an argument for what I believe. Let him come forward with a valid argument for what he believes, and let's compare the two."

His campaign website is now up.

Watch out for the potholes.

Random Thoughts

I think that they are going to kill more people with the anti-mosquito spray that they spray the whole town of Antwerp with than the West Nile Virus ever would.


I'm sort of depressed after my lesson today although my wife says it went well. I feel like Cassandra in Greek mythology. However, I don't know the future. All I know is church problems that nobody else sees. If they do see them, then they don't want to talk about them. Maybe I'm just crazy and imagine church problems.


I need to exercise more.


I might not post tomorrow. I'm going to head out for Coldwater, MI tomorrow night. I will try to post regularly through the weekend. From there I will travel to Lansing for my fantasy football draft. It will be fun. Then I will head back to Coldwater.


Is anyone interested in planning a trip to go to the US qualifiers for Settlers of Catan next year? This years just ended.


My worker showed me one of the funniest ad clips I have ever seen on the internet today. One thing I wonder is why companies don't have their ads on their websites. If I want to watch their ad, shouldn't they have it at their site. I think Clem's should have a contest for the silliest ad. Have people make submissions, put them all online, and have a voting contest for the winner. The winner would get some cash and have his commercial ran on tv. Imagine if some company did that. That would be the greatest advertising ploy ever. I need to go into marketing.

Well, I must go now.

Watch out for the potholes.

A Church Myth

A few weeks ago I was offered the opportunity to teach the adults at church tonight. My work schedule wouldn't allow us to until a few months ago, but we haven't taken the initiative to start attending. I figure I would force myself to go by taking up the opportunity to teach. I went last week and thoroughly enjoyed it. I wish we had been going longer.

Tonight I'm going to be teaching on a myth that many people have: Church doesn't matter; all that matters is my individual relationship with God.

Ala Leo Tolstoy, I am going to ask them three questions with some Scripture thrown in. My post today will be a mini-lesson of my lesson tonight. I can't pre-package it with all of the discussion I hope happens. If you feel I should add anything, take away something, or you know a great verse for one of the questions, just post a comment. I would love to have some input. Obviously, each question could be a lesson in itself, but I only have one night.

Question #1: What is the church?

We can easily cross some things off intellectually, but it seems like we have a much harder time in crossing them off in practice.

A few say that church is the building we go to on Sunday mornings.

Even more say church is about programs that they have to minister to all the people in it.

And even more would say that church is a place where I can come and be fed by a good preacher.

All these are wrong. Churches might have buildings, programs, or a preacher to preach, but that isn't what church is about.

What do we think church is about? We can figure that out by asking ourselves, "If I was to begin looking for a new church today, what would I look for?" The answers to that question truly exposes what we think church is about.

(1 Cor 12:12-27 NASB) "For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. {13} For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. {14} For the body is not one member, but many. {15} If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. {16} And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. {17} If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? {18} But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. {19} And if they were all one member, where would the body be? {20} But now there are many members, but one body. {21} And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." {22} On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; {23} and those members of the body, which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly members come to have more abundant seemliness, {24} whereas our seemly members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, {25} that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. {26} And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. {27} Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it."

The church is the body of Christ. It is a place of ministering to one another, a place of sharing one another's joys and sorrows, a place where what happens to one person in the body effects the whole body.

Questions #2: Why should we gather together as a church?

If I was an outsider looking in at what we practice as a church, what would I come up with as reasons the church gathers together? Again, our actions truly expose what we genuinely believe.

We value education the most. We have lessons during Sunday school, during our Sunday morning service, and on Wednesday nights. We value singing songs of praise. We value a little bit of prayer. We value giving money to the church. During Christmas we value gift wrapping for the community. We value getting together for fellowship once in a long while outside of our gatherings, but we don't value this one too much because most of the get-togethers have terrible turnout.

I'm going to use my time machine and get a glimpse of what the early church did. Remember, this is the church whose faith is responsible for us being here today.

(Acts 2:42-47 NASB) "And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. {43} And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. {44} And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; {45} and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. {46} And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, {47} praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved."

We see that they gathered together to share all things in common, to meet anyone's needs, to share meals, to learn together, to have fellowship, and to pray.

Question #3:

Is there anything we can change to make us a better church?

(This will be where we have a few minutes of ackward silence or really come up with some great ideas.)


People believe the myth (church doesn't matter; all that matters is my individual relationship with God) because most churches validate that statement by the way they live, or don't live, together.

The book The Open Church by James Rutz begins with this quote:

"If you've ever felt lonely and unimportant in church, there's a good reason: You are alone and unimportant. From 11 to 12 Sunday, you're just another pretty face in the crowd. Though surrounded by others, you're cut off. Custom wall you off in your own space and silences your voice - except for song or responsive reading. Surrounded by an audience of trainee mutes, you can find it lonely as a solo trek across Antarctica. After you've eaten all the sled dogs. The service would be exactly the same without you. You know that. Your impact on it is like an extra gallon of water going over Niagara falls."

Our churches have a choice. We can either be places that bring glory to God or places that bring Him shame.

One of my favorite passages in Scripture is the passage of God and the vineyards.

(Isa 5:1-7 NASB) "Let me sing now for my well-beloved A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. {2} And He dug it all around, removed its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it, And hewed out a wine vat in it; Then He expected it to produce good grapes, But it produced only worthless ones. {3} "And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge between Me and My vineyard. {4} "What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? {5} "So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. {6} "And I will lay it waste; It will not be pruned or hoed, But briars and thorns will come up. I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it." {7} For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, And the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress."

Just like he did for Israel, God is doing everything in his power to make His church what he intended for it to be. It's not His fault if people think the church is worthless; it's ours. We can sit around and be focused on our individual relationship with God, or we can impact our community and be the church God intends us to be.

Watch out for the potholes.

Our Temporary Blessing

In a previous post I shared how Reggie and Brandi found a dog. They named him Jeter.

My mom and dad went to our family reunion on Saturday. They sat around, jabbered, and shared stories. One of the stories my mom shared was how Reggie and Brandi had found a new dog. My aunt informed my mom that her nephew (no relation to us) lost a dog that sounds a lot like Jeter. The nephew lives right down the road from us.

It winds up that Jeter's name isn't Jeter; it's Max. Max is now back with his 10 year old owner. I'm sure the boys heart was broken after going two weeks without his dog, but now Max is back.

God seems to use silly events like this to teach me knew lessons about him.

Yesterday, I was doing something totally unrelated to the subject of Max; I was reading short stories by Leo Tolstoi. I enjoyed the children's book The Three Questions (now linked to in ads on the left) so much that I had to check out the original story. The story that I'll be quoting from is entitled Love. I can't even find a link to a book that contains it on the internet. Mine is an old copy of the complete works of Tolstoi that I inherited when my grandmother passed away.

Anyway, the story is about an angel named Michael who doesn't want to obey God and receives discipline. God is trying to teach him three lessons: To learn what dwells in man, what is not given to man, and what men live by.

Michael was sent to take the soul of a dying lady who had just given birth to twins.

The dying lady told this to Michael upon his arrival, "Angel of God! My husband has just been buried, killed by a falling tree. I have neither sister, nor aunt, nor mother: no one to care for my orphans. Do not take my soul! Let me nurse my babes, feed them, and set them on their feet before I die. Children cannot live without father or mother."

"Children cannot live without father or mother." At first glance it seems to be a true statement. I can't imagine Isaac and Eli going on without me and Lindsay. Tolstoi explains through his story of the angel Michael how this isn't true. It's a long story that I can't do justice to, but the two girls whose mother Michael was asked to take the soul from arrived with a loving guardian at Michael's shoemaking shop. Through this experience Michael learns all the lessons God made him human to learn. He learned that God dwells in man, that men's days are not known to them, and that humans live by love. He realizes the truth in the following: "The porverb is true that says, 'One may live without father or mother, but one cannot live without God.'"

We are to our children what Reggie and Brandi were to Max, just temporary guardians. God is our children's true Father and He will see to it that they are taken care if we happen to die. The great thing is that He will take care of them now even as they are under our care. We are blessed with the opportunity to be parents, but our involvment isn't necessary for our children to be raised into who God wants them to be. It is our blessing to be involved and used by God.

We need to never think more highly of ourselves than we ought. The only greatness about us is the greatness given to us by God. We can be removed from all of our earthly tasks and God will still be able to get the things that matter done. It is our greatest blessing to be used by Him. We should never take pride in what He uses us to do. The roles we are called to fill in this life are just our temporary blessings.

Watch out for the potholes.

Random Thoughts

The assistant superintendent from the Northwest Ohio Nazarene district came down to our church and preached yesterday. One of the interesting things was that he talked about how they have had it laid on their hearts to start praying for God to call 8 people out of our church for the full-time ministry. I wonder if my feeling last week had anything to do with that. Now, I just have to be patient for the next step.


John Kerry and his campaign are morons. They hyped up his military record at the Democratic National Convention. Then when his military record gets brought into question they say, "You can't talk about things that happened in Vietnam. That was too long ago." Just just up! That's what I say. I hate political morons that think the American people are morons.

While we're on the subject, keep your conscience clean and vote Larry Carter for President.


Alan Keyes had this great quote last week. I loved it.

"Do you know what politics has become these days? It's become an effort to figure out just what you need to say to manipulate enought people into voting for you. The notion that you actually think through things based on what you really believe and stand forward to present that clearly so people have a real choice - that seems to be something so few politicians understand. And yet, if you don't do it, you are destroying the reality of democratic life. Because if you do that, then people don't have a real choice. If you're manipulating me, I'm not really making the choice, am I?


Last night, as the pictures below show, we went to the Defiance County Fair. If you buy the unlimited ride option, they give you a bracelet. We tried to place the bracelet on Isaac, but he just flipped out. He went hysterical for about five minutes. We tried to distract him by getting him on one of the rides. He refused. One of the carnival workers told us we could take it off and the other workers would understand if we just explained to them why we took it off. They did - all except for the merry-go-round worker who could barely speak English. So Isaac never got to ride the merry-go-round because some foreigner who can't speak English didn't understand why Isaac wasn't wearing the bracelet. To all those foreign carnival workers out there reading my blog, I say, "To the moon with you."


That's it for today. Tomorrow I will probably get back to normal.

Watch out for the potholes.

At my mom's house are some toys that I would never put to my mouth. This blue saxophone happens to be one of them. It is always outdoors. There are spider webs in it. It is disgusting. Okay, I lied. The things I do to be a loving dad. I do put it to my mouth. Isaac hands it to me and asks me to play it. He gets out a drum and plays it. We're a great band. Maybe some day I'll learn how to audio blog and you can hear a clip, a clip of me and the spider-web saxaphone and Isaac with a annoying toy drum. Posted by Hello

See the cake smeared on his face? He could care less. That's the way you are when you're high on sugar.  Posted by Hello

We went to the Defiance County Fair tonight. Isaac had a great time riding the rides and playing games. We had a great time watching him. Posted by Hello

See that guy in the orange shirt in the background. He's snorting cocaine. You don't believe me? Prove it. I was there.  Posted by Hello

This is Eli's first high chair experience. He won't eat solid foods, but he sure has a good time spitting them out.  Posted by Hello

Isaac is trying to become a budding photographer. This was his first photo. He has taken about 10 other amazing photos. I thought I would show his first.  Posted by Hello

Isaac went on his first date tonight. He rode alongside of some stranger. They had a good time together. After this, Isaac refused to ride any ride alone. He always wanted to ride with another stranger.  Posted by Hello

This is a picture of Eli and his lovely mama at a wedding. I'm having a tough time thinking of captions for Eli's photos. Posted by Hello

This is a picture of my parents, who are holding Eli, watching Isaac go around in a rocket ship. The scary thing about the rocket ship ride is that Isaac decided halfway through to undo his buckle. They need to make those things childproof. After the carnival worker noticed that he had undone his seatbelt he tried to stop the ride. He had trouble doing that. He told me he was just learning how to operate the machine. Now I feel safe. Posted by Hello

I am a baby of the mob. You better not stick around here too long. I repeat that not all of this captions are worth the price of admission.  Posted by Hello

This is a picture of a butterfly. Pretty, isn't it? Posted by Hello

Combine Demolition Derby

What do you do on Sunday nights at the Defiance County Fair? Well, you get that old combine out of the barn and drive it on down for the combine demolition derby. We didn't stick around for it. It doesn't really sound all that exciting. How fast do combines go anyway? 10 mph. The only thing that would make this thing exciting would be things I wouldn't want to happen - a combine blowing up or someone getting caught in the combine blades. I was once in a farmer's bowling league and we called ourselves the Killer Combines. Looking back, I hope none of the farmer's knew someone who had died in a combine. How insensitive of us.

If you look carefully, you will see a terrified little boy. He is in the third car. He held on for his dear life the whole time. I almost forgot to take pictures of it. It was so funny. I guess you can include fairs into the category of zoos - it's a place where your child's life is threatened but everyone thinks it is socially acceptable. Posted by Hello

This is Eli getting a bath. I'm pretty sure that if giants would put me in a bath tub, scrub me down, and splash water that is just the right temperature, I would have the same happy look. Posted by Hello

A dialog about suffering

Shannon wrote me the following after reading my post on the tragedy of our twins. I didn't notice it until it was too late to respond before his sermon. I responded yesterday. What he responded back was very comforting in a way. Here was our brief dialog, on exhibit for the whole world to see. It's also evidence, in case you were beginning to believe this, that I don't have all the right answers. Most times all you will receive in reading this blog is the view of a man struggling through the issues rather than a man that has an answer to all of the issues. Hopefully, in some way, this dialog helps someone else going through the same struggle.


Shannon's first email:

It has been very providential for me to finally start

reading your blogs this week. The sermon I'm
preparing is about trials. Reading both (Regan and
Brandon) of your accounts have helped me reconnect
with the reality of it. Hopefully, this will help me
not be trite.

Here's the thing though. The text is from James 1.
He says to consider it pure joy whenever you face
trials of many kinds. Frankly, I don't know what to
do with that after reading your blogs. It seems like
nonsense even more now than it ever has.

I hope that I'm not being insensitive. But there are
people here who are going through trials, and I don't
want my naivete to come off as insulting. I want to
be able to help them.



My reply:

Hi Shannon.

Sorry I didn't catch this email earlier in the week.
For some reason my eyes skipped over it. I never even
opened it. Maybe that will work out for the better.
I don't know.

As for finding joy in your trials, I am lost. I tried
and tried to convince myself of this message when
going through it. I need to be joyful. I need to
find the joy. I couldn't find it. Sitting in a
basket at the end of our bed was two dead babies.
They were small. They weren't too appealing to the
eye, but they were still precious. In the background
were the cries of other babies, of families in real
joy. Where was my joy?

I wish I could answer that. I really wish I could
make sense of the passage of finding joy in all
things. I really tried during that situation. It was
terrible. I received love through our friends. I
received comfort through those who trod that terrible
path before us. But is that joy?

Did we grow closer to God as a result of the
experience? I'm sure we did. Did Isaac arriving at
the hospital to run around the room give us joy? It
sure did. We found things to find joy in, but we
couldn't find the joy in not having our babies to do
all of the things we dreamed of doing with them.

A sad memory just came to my mind, so I will share it.
I remember when we got home from the hospital. Every
night I read a book to Isaac. That night I sat down
on the couch. Isaac was on my lap. We were ready to
read. I started reading, but I couldn't continue. I
just started to weep. One of the things I enjoy most
in the world is reading a good night story to Isaac.
It was something I would never be able to do for Luke
and Logan.

Am I selfish in all of this. Sure I am. Do I want my
children to be with me down here for a time rather
than waiting to see them in the afterlife? Sure I
do. Do I want them to experience the pains and suffering
of life in order for me to receive the joy they
would've given? You can bet your life on it. I'm
selfish. I would still love to have Luke and Logan.
Where is my joy in that situation? Maybe my
selfishness doesn't allow me to attain it. They were
a gift from God. The little time we had to dream
about our lives with them were a tremendous blessing.
The fact that we never lived out any of those dreams,
a tremendous chasm of sorrow.

I doubt that is any help. I have been struggling with
that passage ever since I saw their lifeless bodies on
the ultrasound. Still no answer.

Do you mind if I post your email question on my blog
along with my reply?

In Christ,


Shannon's reply to my reply:

Sure you can post this question along with the response. Anything to get you off the topic of paid ministers (he he).

I don't count you selfish. I certainly don't think that it was your selfishness that kept you from the joy that this passage talks about, or this passage would be for that one in a million saint who has completely cleansed himself from every last trace of selfishness. That doesn't make sense to me.

It seems to me (and this is what I preached) that the joy is not FOR the trials, but during the trials (whenever you face trails). The joy is not for the trials, but for the blessings which accompany them. That passage is all about what trials can bring: perseverence (3), maturity, completion, lacklessness (my word, but concept comes from v.4), and the crown of life (12).

James here reflects many other NT passages that talk about the blessings that accompany pain. This not to say that we would voluntarily make that trade. I would never expect that you would desire maturity over your twins. That would not be maturity. That would not reflect the character of the Father. But at the end of the day, it is good to know that some measure of blessing accompanies even the darkest tragedies... that you aren't left in the end with nothing.

Rick Warren says that God never wastes a pain. He uses every one. I believe that's true, and I'm glad he does. It dosn't make everything that happens to us okay, but I think it does make it at least a little better.

I talked about 2 Corinthians 4:17 where Paul says that our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us a glory that far outweighs them all. Though, you may have some sorrow about this until you die, it is momentary. It will not last past the day enter heaven. I would never call your suffering light, but by comparison to the glory (bright heaviness) that is achieves for us, Paul says it is light. I ended the sermon by reading Jesus' promises to those who overcome from Revelation. Perhaps they will be an encouragement to you.

Remember, that the love you have for your children comes directly from God. Do not shame yourself for it. I don't think that wishing they had lived is selfish. I think it is a natural outflow of the love God has poured into your life.

To think that I could solve your questions in this e-mail would be very arrogant on my part, and would be to underestimate the depth of your sorrow. But I hope this was a little bit of what you were looking for.



Watch out for the potholes.

Homeschooling and the Church

Everything comes back to the church for me. I believe so strongly in the church and it's role in us having healthy lives. That's why I talk about it so much. Unfortunately, the church around us is in such disarray that many people, even those who go regularly to it, have written it off. If Christians really believed in church and the power it has to change lives, they would not continue to allow it to be in such a sad state. They would change it. However, many think their personal spiritual life is the only important issue and refuse to get dirty in fixing the church. How selfish.

Now onto the topic at hand. As always, I could be wrong. Feel free to let me know. And I could be right. If so, feel free to change your church.

One cannot have a healthy, spiritual homeschool experience without a healthy, God-directed church. If you're just doing homeschool for intellectual reasons, then you can be successful without a good church. If you're just doing homeschool for moral reasons, then you can be successful without a good church. By moral reasons, I mean keeping your child away from the "big" sins like swearing, drinking, sexual promiscuity, and the like. We can homeschool for many reasons and be successful. But if we want to create children of God, we need a healthy church to work alongside of us in doing that. Being a Christian is not just about being intellectual or moral; it's mainly about loving those around us in the world.

Although I lean toward homeschooling, my biggest fear is creating insular children. I do not see how I can avoid that unless I am in a healthy church. A healthy church would constantly be involved in letting those in the community know that God loves them. They can do in a multitude of ways. Our imaginations are our only limit. We could be simple and visit the elderly, fix houses and tend yards of those who can't, feed those who can't feed themselves, clothe those who can't afford to, buy cars for those who need them to get a job they currently don't have, give people housing that can't afford it. Or we could be more imaginative and go around and clean public stores bathrooms, hold a big feast for the carnival workers in town, provide a free transportation service. Our imaginations are our only limit when it comes to expressing God's love to the world. But we always need to make sure that we are allowing our imagination to be directed by God.

Why the church? Why not just do these things out of my household? Because the opportunities for being loving are multiplied tremendously when more people are involved. It can become a weekly habit rather than a once in a long while opportunity. We have more ears and eyes to see the needs in the world around us. We have more resources to meet those needs. Personally, I would be lucky to be able to afford to provide a car to someone who needs one more than once a year. A healthy church would be able to do it on a regular basis if they were so led. Same thing with housing.

The reason we don't see churches tackling these great needs/opportunities around us is because we have wasted the resources God has given us. The church has not made love the most important expression of our life together. I'm not going to get into all the things that we place above it. That won't help. We need to care enough about the church and about what people think about God because of our churches so that we will help it become the center of love in our society. When the church is loving, the fear of a homeschooled child being insular is non-existent if they are involved in that healthy, God-directed church.

Watch out for the potholes.

To Homeschool or not to Homeschool

As today's earlier post proves, I am susceptible to change. What you have seen in my blogs is actually how I work through thoughts. I love blogging, and I appreciate all of your input. You help make me better. I don't know if I will blog forever. If I had some humans to talk to daily about the things on my mind, I doubt I would exert the effort to blog here. Us bloggers seem to be a lonely crowd.

I guess I'm feeling sort of sentimental today. The change to the idea of possibly being a paid minister is like the carpet being pulled out from under me. So I'm going to distract myself with another topic. It kind of started all by itself in a post the other day. I didn't mention anything about it, yet it kind of grew on its own. Some of my posts seem to do that.

Maybe it's just the fact that I am in the midst of working a twelve hour shift and have an even longer one tomorrow. My helper is out of town attending a convention.

Today the inner workings of my mind again will be on exhibit again. Feel free to help guide me if you feel led.

I'm torn on whether we are going to homeschool our children when they are of age. Isaac is almost three, so the day of decision is coming on us much faster than we thought. It used to seem like I had forever to decide. Now, I just have around a year and a half. These are my thoughts on the matter.

Pros of homeschooling:

Many teachers, a role that children inevitably look up to, are immoral. I would prefer my children to not look up to people who aren't deserving of it.

My children would be more challenged intellectually.

I would have control in insuring that my children wouldn't fall into the wrong crowd.

I would be able to teach my children from the beginning to not fragment their life but to look at it holistically.

I want my children to value education for knowledge rather than to pass a test.

God would not be seperated from my children's education.

My children would be able to seek knowledge in areas that they are interested in along with learning the essentials.

We can, as parents, be the most influential people in our children's lives.

Cons of homeschooling:

It seems like it would be more difficult for my children to be a witness for Christ to the lost.

My children wouldn't be exposed to as many people who hold different opinions. I think it is important for my children to know how to relate to people with different world views.

My children would be destined to be radicals because I am a radical, but maybe it is already too late for that.

Many homeschooled children don't know how to interact with people different than them. I do think there are ways around this, but it won't be easy.

It seems to cost a lot of money.

Many homeschoolers seem to view themselves as superior because they are homeschooled and might have the tendency to be more self-centered.

I fear that I would be robbing my children of becoming productive and successful members of society.

I really value sports and learning to work as a team. Most community sports don't go past middle school.

They might not learn how to network with others, an ability that helps one achieve the goals he is called to in life.

I could probably go on and on. I'll stop now. One thing that struck me in writing this is that all of the negatives of homeschooling can be dealt with. We can do things to help prevent them from happening. I can be involved in a church that is out in the community and teach my children to love those that aren't like them. Many of the positives of homeschooling cannot be adapted to the public school environment. I cannot control how much of God is in my child's education.

I still haven't decided. I lean strongly toward homeschooling. Some days I waver. Lindsay has already decided she wants to homeschool, but I'm sure we could reconsider if we felt led. Decisions like this seem so important, yet many people seem to completely blow off considering the options.

Maybe tomorrow I'll talk about elements in the church that successful homeschooling depends on.

An unexpected calling?

Well, I got home late last night. It was like college all over again. After the Wednesday night service I began talking to one of the guys from the church that I have a good enough relationship to talk to in some depth. It seems the list of people who are in this category are growing. Church ended at 8:00, and I didn't leave his house until 12:15.

During the conversation, I was struck with the conviction that I might be wrong concerning the paid ministry and that God is calling me to it. Crazy, I know. Maybe my ramblings about in the last few weeks were a self-induced building up of my defenses against God and His will for my life. Maybe God had me go on this journey in order to learn something that will prove beneficial down the road. Or maybe it wasn't even for me.

One might wonder how I can come to this conclusion after talking against it here for two weeks. My wife wonders that same thing after listening to me talk about it for years. Maybe some of you have been secretly praying for me. Maybe it is all made up in my mind. I would like something more concrete.

Maybe God has been ingraining in me the ideal of what his church should be, so that when I get a paid ministry I can truly strive for the ideal. I hope I would not be too lazy that I try to shove off jobs without adequately equipping those that are getting them piled on to them. Nor do I want to be too controlling and do all the jobs myself or pass on jobs yet keep all the decision-making to myself.

I still firmly believe in the goal of lay-ministry and the paid staffless church. But we also live in a cultural setting where many might not be reached except through the church structured like the world's businesses. It isn't a sin to not have the ideal format if we are still focusing on the most important thing a body of believers should be doing, loving those they run across in their lives. It only becomes a sin when our structure prohibits us from doing the things God is calling us to do.

So here I am. I would like some confirmation. My wife would too. The next step is confusing. The only hesitation is my concern over what happens with the store I am currently managing? I don't want to leave my family out to dry.

Your prayers would be appreciated.

Clifford, the Big Red Dog, and the Will of God

Yesterday, Isaac and I sat down and watched Clifford.

Clifford, his family, and all of the neighborhood kids went camping. One of the children, Jetta, brought all of the modern amenities and play items from home along with her. She even brought a generator to provide electricity. When they walked to the waterfall, she rode a scooter past the group. Her amenity caused her to miss out on all the little animals they saw and the fun time they had bonding with one another on the journey. At the waterfall, she brought an inflatable heated swimming pool. They sat around staring at the clouds in the sky and saw a bunch of butterflies. Jetta was busy playing her Gameboy. They sat around a campfire, cooked smores and hot dogs. Jetta sat inside her luxurious tent eating a microwave meal. I didn't stick around to see if she learned the point. I had to get ready for work. I'm sure she did.

Too often we are like Jetta when it comes to God. We clutter up our lives with so much meaningless, and sometimes meaningful in our eyes, stuff that we miss seeing all of the great opportunities, or just great moments, he has made for us. Often, we live our lives as if God is dead. In effect, many of us are mild, if not complete, Deists.

Deism - "The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation."

I need to make sure that I live my life as if God is alive and trying to tell me what to do with it. I need to be completely open to his will at all times. He isn't going to guide my every step. But if I'm not trained to listen when he decides to guide a step, I might not hear where he wants me to go. I might need to get rid of some of the distractions of this life. We serve an amazing God that is constantly at work in us and around us, at least that is what hindsight has shown me. He has an amazing purpose for each of us.

If we get too caught up in our distractions, we will miss God moving and possibly miss where he wants us to move. God is patient. If we don’t respond, he will wait until another person does. His will will be done. The question is whether we are going to be the ones used by Him to do the work that will bring about His will or not. He will be patient and wait for another. God isn't set back by our distractions. The only people missing out are those of us who miss another opportunity to serve God in a way he has planned for us.

(1 Ki 19:11-13 NASB) "So He said, "Go forth, and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. {12} And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. {13} And it came about when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

God doesn't always speak in the way we expect him to. We need to always be listening.

Watch out for the potholes.


And I had someone from my current church on the blog. I didn't know if anyone from there read this. Now, I have to be careful of what I say.

Anyway, they had a great section in their reply. It was inspiring to me. I will copy it here, so it isn't missed. It was in the context of being against homeschooling, but I will leave that there if you want to go read it. For me, it grasped what it was like growing up in a small town and learning from the people around us.

"Wanda P. -The kids called her "Pop Tart" becuase of her size. She had not a single friend. I was at least six years younger than her. I called her "Pop Tart" too. Oh, Lord how sorry I am. I pray for her now. What she taught me is difficult to put in to words.

Jean Detmon- She was an awesome example of a lady, teacher, and a mom one could ask for. She had a way of looking into your eyes when you were talking. You just knew how important you were to her.

David H.- Retarded by abuse as a three day old infant, he taught me about sticking up for what you believed. The kids called him "Retard!" I scolded them in private. Some stopped, some didn't.

Kelly C.- She was a classmate who I envied, and was unbelievably rich. She had everything under the sun, except a relationship with her parents. She taught me about being thankful for what I have.

Jim T. - He was a rough guy who thought it was fun to drop cigarettes on his forearms and to hold still while the butts burned through his fragile skin. He taught me that all I could do was to pray for him. I felt so sorry for a guy that held scarring as his claim to fame. I bet he still has those wounds. I wonder what scars are on his inside. Sometimes all you can do is pray.

David M.- Heavyset and unattractive to most girls, this guy was so funny. He used to participate in the school plays. He always stole the show! He taught me that it was what is on the inside is what makes you appealing. He asked me to prom my freshman year. My mom wouldn't let me go. It's okay he easily found another date. Everyone really loved Dave.

Tim B.- Also an agemate and occasional boyfriend, Tim was a star quarterback, tall, dark and handsome. He never had trouble finding a girl to hook on his arm. Tim was killed one year after we graduated in a drunk driving accident. Yes, Tim was drunk and he was driving. He killed another of his friends as well. A sad day. Tim taught me that life is very fragile and you should live in a way that it could all end in a heart beat.

Mr. Jones- This was a band director that taught me you could throw yourself into your work and be as happy as a clam. Mr. Jones man took the band everywhere. If it was fun, we went there. He wanted our musicians to connect learning, discipline, and pleasure. And we sure did. By the way, our high school band hasn't been the same since he left.

Wendy B.- This girl was unpopular, loud, outspoken, and not very well liked. As far as I can remember, I never said or did anything to offend her. She used black spray paint and wrote on the town elevator, "***** ***** has aids!" In the ***'s you can fill in my name. I was so sad, shocked, embarrassed. My mom, brother and I tried to clean it with bleach. I wouldn't budge. After a few days they covered it with fresh cement. (You can still see today the patchwork.) Ugh. Wendy taught me that you will come into contact with people in your life that will simply hate and despise you. That was a hard pill to swallow as I was pretty well liked. But again, I learned. I learned so much through her.

All of these people have helped me form who I am today. When someone is put in your path you take something from that person."

More on the paid ministry. Part 2.

More than three posts in 24 hours. I hope to not post again until Wednesday, but you never know. When I feel the need to express myself I seem to just sit down here and type away.

This is in response to Brandon Caroland’s reply to my post today. Check it out here.

I would agree that there are churches doing paid ministry in a successful way for the Kingdom. But citing a successful church doesn't mean that it is God's optimal plan. The Kingdom of Israel had a king (not God's optimal plan), but God still used them when they were faithful. This also applies to house church. Just because they are successful doesn't make them right. I am in search for doing church in the right way, the way God intends it to be done for our age. It might be different in different locales. But the principles will always be the same.

Since you brought numbers into the equation, I would argue also that the growth of the house churches is a much higher percentage of growth than even the healthy megachurch you wrote about. They have had phenomenal numeric, and I would say spiritual, growth since their birth. They expect maturity in Christians and because they expect they eventually get it. And they keep growing. And they will as long as they continue to branch off more and more when the sense of community dwindles within the groups.

God is looking for healthy churches with genuine disciples to plug true seekers into. I firmly believe that what Jesus said, “Seek, and you shall find (Matt. 7:7).” Why would he place someone who is seeking him into a church that isn’t filled with people totally committed to Him? The most effective evangelism tool a church can have is to be the church God wants them to be. Evangelism will happen naturally and won’t have to be a program if the church is what God designed it to be. The seekers will be saved.

If someone is genuinely seeking God, they will find him because God is continually seeking them. If someone is not seeking God, he can be comfortable attending most churches in America; however, that does not mean he is a Christian. “Seek, and you shall find.” I live and die by that thought in my relationships with those who don’t know God.

Greg Laurie, the head of a mega-church, wrote in The Upside-Down Church (now replacing the Alan Keyes book in the icons to the right) the following:

"In a recent article entitled 'The Myth of Church Growth,' published in Current Thoughts and Trends, David Dunlap cites some troubling statistics. For example, at the very time megachurches have sprouted across the landscape, the proportion of Americans who claim to be 'born again' has remained a constant 32 percent.

According to Dunlap, growth isn't coming from conversions but from transfers; they account for up to 80 percent of all growth taking place today. He goes on to quote C. Peter Wagner, one of the leading spokesmen for the movement, who admits, 'I don't think there is anything intrinsically wrong wit the church growth principles we've developed...yet somehow they don't seem to work.'

I would suggest that one reason they don't work is that they tend to approach church as if it were a business. but a business-driven response may only make things worse. In the long run, if we train people to be consumers instead of communers, we'll end up with customers instead of disciples. It might fill up an auditorium, but it'll never turn the world upside down for Christ."

Brandon wrote:

"Everything I hear about this house church concept sounds great. Philosophically, Biblically, and in its effectiveness sounds great. But everything I've heard, read, studied makes it sound remarkably like a small group within my church."

Why do we do all of the other stuff if what the kingdom of God is expresses itself in small groups? Why do we waste all of the time and resources that could be used directly furthering the Kingdom? For controlling doctrine? For keeping focused on some unified goal that normal Christians don't need to have? I don’t know any committed Christian that has wayward doctrine or isn’t focused on the things God is focused on. I’m sure there are some out there, but I have no idea where they are. These fictitious Christians that have wrong doctrine and just sit around in their social clubs sound a lot like many churches that have paid ministers. Paid ministry allows for a church to continue to continue operating when they are not being directed by the Holy Spirit. Sound doctrine and being focused on the things of God are natural things that happen when inhabited by the Holy Spirit. I think we really don’t believe that the Holy Spirit will teach and guide believers anymore. Unless there is a newer new covenant, then we are still under the radical covenant Jeremiah wrote was coming.

(Jer 31:31-34 NASB) ""Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, {32} not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. {33} "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. {34} "And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.""

I think we believe that paid ministers are closer to God and more adequate to handle doctrinal issues. I think we believe that paid ministers will guide us in the right direction. We have yet to throw away the clergy mentality of the Catholic Church. History has shown us that these beliefs are not always true. They also aren’t always wrong. There are some great paid ministers, but that doesn’t make the system right. If I had a computer that only worked 3-5% of the time, I would junk the thing after having the same results of failures after switching all of the pieces out. When that rate of failure is applied to paid ministers, we say the system is right we just need a new minister. The next minister has the same failures, yet we continue to try to fix the same problems with what might be the source of many of the problems in the first place. A great paid minister can overcome many of the flaws in the system. Let’s be honest. The great paid ministers would be successful in any pursuits they desired to chase after. I want to be in a church that doesn’t depend upon one individual’s greatness, but upon the Spirit inhabiting us all.

(Acts 2:42 NASB) "And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."

Why do we make three of the four elements (fellowship, prayer, apostle's teaching, and breaking of bread) that the early church in Acts practiced optional for believers? "You only have to do these things if you want to be a Christian in a small group. They aren't necessary to have a healthy spiritual life." Nope. Our relationship with God is dependent upon our involvment with a body of believers. There are no lone-ranger Christians. The case to prove fellowship, sharing meals, prayer, and the apostle’s teaching as irrelevant is on the hands of those who don’t practice them as a body.

And I am not proposing getting rid of all paid ministers. I keep getting pigeonholed into saying I am. I propose that we get rid of paid ministry as the default. Just as I propose we get rid of buildings as a default. If people are called to them, then they should do it. But we make it automatic and hire ministers where there is no need that couldn't be filled by an active church. When it is not something scripturally mandated nor pragmatically beneficial (we could disagree on that) then it should be a specific calling that spurs us to do them.

And by the way, every paid minister blogs in a way. They just save their blogging throughout the week to give during the allotted time on Sunday morning. Unless they are using curriculum. As if blogging is inferior.

Now I'm officially a radical.

Watch out for the potholes.