Apologetics Projects

This year at Sycamore Covenant Academy I have had a great time teaching presuppositional apologetics. In response to a year end assignment that required the student to engage 50 people or more with the apologetics we had learned this year, two of my students, Andrew Swinehart and Trevor York, put the following video together. The amount of time, boldness they demonstrated in meeting with even pastors, and the response to be creative and make their presentations high quality surprised and encouraged me. Though I had hoped to be in this video only by virtue of an “Alfred Hitchcock-like” appearance (the bald-headed guy way in the back in the scene with the pro-choice gal is yours truly), alas, I’m in a full-face clip or two also. I guess their boldness also meant they did not take my threat to lower their grade to heart!

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=4450700&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

SCA Apologetics Project from SycamoreRP Church on Vimeo.


The Exhaustion of Mushgod

Years ago I heard a pastor in Pittsburgh preach about Mushgod. Mushgod is the civic god of our nation, the uniting god of our culture. She/he is the god referenced at the end of every politician’s speech though, as they dutifully quote on cue their statement of faith at the very end, they always use the cute nickname they have for him/her: “god bless America.” Likewise, every service organization from the Rotary Club to Little League Baseball prays to her/him and justifies their existence by him/her. Mushgod thinks nothing of her/his own glory, but rather is here just for you. Like a can of child’s Play-Doh, Mushgod takes the shape of his/her worshiper’s wishes. A while ago, one described the knowledge of her/him in a way we can all understand (or at least I can, seeing that I had this for breakfast this morning): “Cream of Wheat” divinity. For Mushgod is beyond definition, preferring an amorphous, rounded existence to the edges and corners that most theologians employ. If on occasion he/she gets mistaken for Santa Claus or Mother Nature, that does not bother her/him. And according to many of […]


Of Pigs and Pearls

A growing number of debates featuring atheist Christopher “Note-the-Irony-that-My-Name-Means-Christ-Bearer” Hitchens have been popping up all over the internet. Hitchens, a journalist, TV pundit, and author of the book God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, has been debating men such as Douglas Wilson, Dinesh D’Souza, Frank Turek, Al Sharpton (Oh help us!) and even his own brother. Hitchens is professorial, extremely intelligent, humorous, and, I am beginning to believe, more cunning than believers. How so?

When his God is not Great book was published, according to his own words Hitchens told the publishers that he did not want his book tour to take him to the typical liberal bastions on the East Coast or college campuses. Instead, he wanted to go to the Bible Belt, to churches, Bible colleges and seminaries. Consequently, that is where many of these debates have been held. At least to this pastor’s way of thinking, I believe this welcoming of Hitchens is at best an act of incredible naivete and at worse one of gross unfaithfulness to Christ.

For did not our Lord instruct us not to cast our pearls before pigs, unless they trample both the pearls and […]


Church Discipline

As I am planning soon to begin a preaching series on the marks of the church, one of which is church discipline, I have reflected over our experiences here. Over the lifetime of the Sycamore congregation, we sadly have had many cases of church discipline. Below is the body of a letter written by our elders some time ago to a particular individual (the fifth one we had given him), with his name and a few of the details having been changed for this display. I offer this to serve as a reminder of the church’s duty to apply Biblical discipline to wandering sheep, a testimony to the lengths we took to recover this person, and, as you read at the bottom of this post what ultimately resulted, a warning to heed the Word of God and the shepherds He has placed over the church.

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Dear Esau,

The Session of Sycamore Reformed Presbyterian Church has made repeated efforts to restore you to our fellowship, as listed below:

Last […]


Small, Quick & Loving

On Friday I will be travelling with several other pastors to attend an annual dinner hosted by the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The seminary will award a “Faithful Servant Award” to Dr. Roy Blackwood. Many were asked to write a tribute to Roy. Here’s mine.

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After my first year as a student at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, I went to Indianapolis in the summer of 1989 to do an internship under Dr. Roy Blackwood. Following a day of driving with my pregnant wife and young son, and then moving into the third floor apartment of the church building, Roy and Margie came to greet us that first evening. After a few minutes of checking that we had everything we needed, Roy asked me to sit down at the kitchen table because he had something he wanted to show me. Soon, on an unfolded napkin taken from a nearby drawer, circles and Latin words began to form a diagram as Roy explained in earnest a concept to me. I realized I had just been introduced to Roy’s teaching on the Mediatorial Kingship of Christ. How […]


Cuddle Up Like the Moon

Through the window we see the wintry sky,

The curve of the waning moon

Bright against its black cold;

A silent reminder of the One

That governs over the darkness.

 

It casts a warming glow on the bed inside,

The wiggling of a young girl fighting sleep

Brings smiles to a slumbering father lying near,

Thankful for the gift of a daughter’s love

In this dark generation of icy hearts.

Her sudden request opens his tired eyes,

“Da-da, will you cuddle up like the moon with me?”

The meaning remaining a mystery,

Until he sees again from her pillow perspective

The ruler of the nighttime sky.

 

In response the father becomes a crescent

As she snuggles her little body against his,

The chattering fading and sleep triumphing again.

Yet not before she says in faith not yet full,

“It’s hard to say I love God more than you.”

 

So as she closes her eyes to enter sleep’s peace,

He whispers again of One unseen,

The Giver of all love and seasons;

And reminds her that one day she will awake

Beyond the moon in her true Father’s embrace.

 


If Nothing Else, the Picture is Cool

This Saturday, February 7, the First Reformed Presbyterian Church is hosting their Conference on Practical Theology. Entitled The War for Poverty: Reclaiming and Restoring the Ministry of Mercy in the Local Congregation, little ole me will be speaking three times that day, with a question and answer period following each talk. I’m looking forward to the fellowship with the saints at First RPC, one of our newest congregations. I’m also thankful that several of our members, including two of our deacons who practice this subject far more than I do, will be traveling there to support me and help in answering questions that may arise.

As I have not only been buried in my study in preparation for it, but also involved in numerous pastoral situations trying to live it even this week, I have not had much blogging time. But I thought any readers of this blog would enjoy seeing the neat picture some creative person at First RPC came up with to advertise the conference (please click it to see further information), and that I could use this as a last minute plea for you to pray for our time.

The name of […]


My Decision

This blog has purposefully been quiet this past month.
I have spent the time seeking the Lord’s will
about a call from the Second Reformed Presbyterian Church.
Below is the letter I sent to them in answer.

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January 22, 2009

Second Reformed Presbyterian Church

4800. N. Michigan Road

Indianapolis, IN 46228

To the Saints of Second RPC,

Having received the call made out to me on December 14th, 2008 to join the pastoral staff of the Second RPC congregation, please know that I have been in much prayer and deliberation before the Lord regarding it. As you can imagine, having to come to a decision where I know I would have to either leave a congregation that is family to us or decline an offer by one that I also love has not been easy. Yet the Lord has used the means of His Word, counsel, providences and prayers to draw near me and to make His will known to me at this time.

Though it brings me […]


The Snake Hunter

You have to admire the men pictured here. They are returning home from hunting an African Rock Python. Seeing how its jaws can expand wide enough to swallow an antelope, one might consider them brave in just carrying a dead one. In saying they hunt them you probably picture them surrounding one in a tree or on the ground, then using weapons to kill it or clubs to beat it. Remove that picture from your mind and read on. These men are much braver (or crazier, depending on your perspective) than that.

Adult pythons, usually 18-20 feet in length but which can get up to 28 feet and over 250 pounds, use the burrows of other animals to nest. These burrows can go down into the ground nearly 20 feet. The mother python will lay up to 100 eggs in her cache and then spend the next few months in her lair aggressively protecting them. This is where these men hunted. Again, you may imagine they smoked her out then beat her when she emerged from her tunnel. Keep reading.

To hunt this python, one of the men tied a leather coverings […]


A Confession with My Tongue (in My Cheek)

December 10, 2008

President Kenneth A. SmithGeneva CollegeBeaver Falls, PA 15010

Dear Dr. Smith,

Though I know you are a very busy man, I hope you can find just a few moments in your day to hear these confessions from a father of one of your students.

First, I swiped the photograph which you see in this letter, taken at your Family Day back in November, from Geneva’s website. I am ashamed to admit that not only have I posted it here, but also on my computer desktop and my blog where this letter can also be found. (As Augustine in his Confessions shows, identifying particular vices and making them public is good for the soul’s cleansing.) Though I should have asked permission, the beauty of the picture was too great to resist. Certainly you can sympathize with my weakness and find it in your heart to absolve me? Especially when you consider that I had even contemplated – but then strongly resisted the temptation! – asking you for a tuition break for helping advertise your fine institution in such a lovely way?

My second confession is that I grew a bit angry with you, as the […]