The Fast Lane

“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” -Matthew 6:16-18

Though fasting is not widely practiced in affluent American churches, it is a spiritual discipline in which the Christian should regularly be engaged. A quick survey of Scripture will show that such things as times of trouble, urgent desires, and missionary expansion are all perfect opportunities to meet with prayer and fasting. The practice of deliberately withholding from your body normal foods, drinks and pleasures, known as fasting, done correctly, opens up an avenue to the Father’s heart.

I emphasize “done correctly.” I speak not so much of how often or how long or what type of fast, but the audience you seek. Jesus’ words above tells us that if the attitude of our heart […]


Silent Night I Understand, but Silent Morning?

Some Megachurches Close for Christmas – How do you like that for a title? I’m not making it up. Look for yourself at the link. How can it be that some of the super-sized churches in the land are closing their doors on the biggest Christian holiday?

To try and understand a confusing turn of events, I’ve tried to outline the logic for you below:

1) Megachurches have church services for the unchurched. This comes straight from the horse’s mouth, as Cally Parkinson, spokeswoman for the megachurch pace-setting congregation of Willow Creek Community Church, said, “If our target and our mission is to reach the unchurched, basically the people who don’t go to church, how likely is it that they’ll be going to church on Christmas morning?” she said. Did you get that? In case her tongue-twister passed you by, what she is saying is that church services are for the unchurched. If that is still confusing, I’m sorry, but it only gets worse (By the way, notice she is a spokeswoman. Is this a cabinet level position with the Pastor?).

2) The unchurched would not turn out significantly enough on Christmas Sunday to make market resources worth expending. Ms. Parkinson (Blogger’s note: […]


Come As You Are, But Don’t Leave That Way

On Sunday evening, November 20th, our family was heading home after a wonderful Thanksgiving Psalm Sing in Lafayette, our hearts full of the grace and wonder of God. As we drove east on SR 26, I noticed ahead a car off the right side of the road with headlights pointed at us. As we passed by at 45 mph (slowing to try and see in the dark what was going on), we realized this car was down in a ditch about five feet below the road. We stopped, turned around and drove back. Jamey and I hopped out of the van into the cold, dark night to investigate, while Miriam took the wheel to try and position our vehicle more safely on this two-lane road.

We came upon a Chevy Malibu with its tail end wrapped around a telephone pole. In the dark it was at first difficult to see if anyone was in the car, but as we dropped down into the ditch and started yelling the passenger door opened and out stumbled a man about thirty years of age, the door closing behind him. He was dressed in boots, blue jeans and a leather jacket, with five ear rings […]


The Law of Naboth’s Vineyard

The encroachment of government on personal rights and responsibilities is the result of our increasingly godless society. As man trusts the Lord less, he puts his trust in other men, particularly rulers, more. How a few recent examples have made me painfully aware of that lately!

The problem of increasing costs of local government coupled with an accounting error to the tune of $10 million in our city’s budget in a previous year left local leaders with a great shortfall in income. The solution? Our property taxes were increased by 40%.

Our church building sits kiddy corner to the public library in downtown Kokomo. For over a year now the library board has been considering different plans for expansion and renovation. One of the plans we recently discovered on their website, in the area labelled “demolition,” involves the “removal of the Presbyterian church.” That’s us! To this date, no one from the library or city has yet to contact us.

I’ve had to oversee my mom’s healthcare, and she is turning 65 in a few months. So I’ve been trying to figure out Medicare. Despite the claims of the Medicare literature (complete with colorful drawings and tables) that they are making it easy […]


Group Counseling

Having been exposed a great deal recently to psychiatric wards, waiting rooms and mental health counselors (Clarification: Not for myself), I have been amazed at the number of people seeking counseling. The wards and waiting rooms are full. Prescription drug sales for depression are at all-time highs. The patients speak of their psychiatrists and counselors with awe and reverence.

So you can understand why as a preacher I was both amused and encouraged by a recent quote by Jay Adams about preaching:

“Preaching is nothing but group counseling…(and there is) no difference between counseling and preaching except that the latter is louder.”

Few view preaching this way, as large group counseling. Few pastors would think this as they take their place behind the pulpit. Yet preachers are to proclaim the word of God to the congregation as counsel from the Lord. Every time the congregation comes and sits under the preached word they are to be, according to II Timothy 4:2, “reproved, rebuked, exhorted, with great patience and instruction.” Sounds like counseling to me! The preacher is to see himself as a pastor or shepherd (the Greek word translated pastor means “shepherd”) being used by the Lord to guide the entire flock to […]


Two Blogs for the Price of One

Perhaps you have noticed I have not blogged for over a month. Yet today I’m offering two blogs (see below). What’s the deal? Two brief explanations.

First has been that the trial with my mom has taken time away for extras. The past two months have been filled with multiple moves, hospital admittances and visitations, appointments for legal, financial and medical counsel, etc. Recently Mom has been showing some signs of stabilizing, though we continue to be greatly concerned for her spiritual state. Last night we moved her into a studio apartment at the assisted living place. Though she still has a long road to go for true recovery, we hope this place will be long-term for her and the dealing with emergency-like situations will cease. In the midst of the struggle and pain, it helps to keep a sense of humor. Celia asked last night, “Why did we put Nanny into a little compartment?” Unlike what this suggests, she has very comfortable surroundings, Christian care, and many people showing her God’s love. Please pray she could receive it.

Another reason I’m writing today is that I’m changing somewhat the nature of […]


Amongst the Lambs

My wife and I decided to teach the primary class in our Sabbath School program at the church this fall quarter. As the pastor, I must confess I have thought on more than one occasion that “I am too busy with more important things” at the church than to teach 3-7 year-olds. Yet in the few weeks we’ve been in there, I have been reminded how important time with the lambs can be.

For consider some of the lessons the Lord is teaching not them but me:

Explain the Scriptures simply – Our church is memorizing Psalm 40 this quarter, and I have been singing it (poor kids!) and then having the children fill in words when I pause. As the psalmist speaks of God bringing him out of the pit, one line says the Lord brought me “out of the dungeon mire.” When I asked what “mire” was, one girl said, “That’s the store where Mommy shops.” We laugh at these things, but I have had adults who have had no Scripture training make similar comments. Pastors and teachers need to work hard to explain the Scriptures simply. When I asked them if they would like to be down in a […]


The Thoughts of God

“For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” -I Corinthians 2:11

Lately I have been going through a trial like I have never experienced with my mother. Having remarried following my father’s death, these last few years have seen the marriage turn bitter, Mom fall into deep depression to the point she no longer wants to live, and divorce papers served. I will avoid speaking of the myriad of details and struggles we have gone through this summer trying to minister to her, but to give you an idea of how deep the waters have become: Just this week I had to seek court-appointed guardianship over my mom as she has quit eating and drinking. The doctors are contemplating inserting a feeding tube so that she will not take her life through self-starvation. Since mom would resist this, I needed the authority to keep her from committing what I’m calling “passive suicide.”

My next blogs were going to be on doctrinal matters, but I felt the need to write about this real life issue this time. […]


Why I’m a Freewill Presbyterian

I know only Baptists and a cute boy in a politically correct movie are supposed to be the “free willy” types. Far be it from a Presbyterian to be labelled such. But I have become utterly convinced that the Will is free and not corrupted by sin, perfectly capable of making choices that will affect all eternity. The Will makes decisions, and because of the freedom of the Will some go to heaven and some go to hell.

Oh, by the way, did I mention the particular Will that I am speaking of is the Will of God? I’m a “God’s Will is Free” Presbyterian.

Please forgive me if I’m being too “in-your-face” with this pronouncement. But if churches can put their love for man’s freewill on their signs and in the names of their associations, then do I not have the same right to proclaim my love for the free will of God?

Freewill teaching, the belief that fallen man has the freedom of will to believe upon Christ or not, is historically known as Arminianism. This doctrine is named after the Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius who died in the seventeenth century. Arminians believe that though man has been affected by […]


An Unapologetic Apologetic

Among all the threats and attacks on the gospel currently in the world, is there any more formidable than that posed by Islam? Whole nations lay under Islam’s sway. Christians in lands such as Indonesia and Sudan are regularly persecuted and driven from their homes, while Muslims freely migrate and populate Western nations. Given that the birthrate among Muslim women tends to be double and triple that of those in the Western nations where Christianity has historically been strong, one wonders how these nations will look in the next few decades? Since the London bombings, Muslim clerics have become further emboldened to declare that the fault for these crimes lies not at the feet of the ones setting off the bombs or those who inspired their hatred, but the British government for supporting the war in Iraq. They are predicting more acts of this nature. If you are in the U.S. or Britain, you should feel a sense of a looming crisis coming our way.

George Grant believes the conflict of Islam is the greatest of the church’s battles. The author of the book Blood of the Moon (Understanding The Historic Struggle Between Islam And Western Civilization), Grant posted this on […]