Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Head Coverings and Such

Out of curiosity, I looked up the phrase"Today's Woman" on Google Images. I do NOT suggest doing this because the very first image that appeared was a woman who was missing a few choice pieces of raiment. After this disappointing incident, I did some research on suffrage, the women's liberation movement, etc. I found it interesting (for lack of a better term) that one year after the 19th amendment of the U.S. constitution was ratified, the American Birth Control League (now Planned Parenthood) was formed (by a woman). This really sparked my curiosity so again, I searched the Internet in pursuit of information detailing the differences between the "oppressed," "helpless" woman of the past and the "liberated","empowered" women of today. Little did I know that with every click of the mouse I would remove the facade of "feminism" to reveal the bars of the prison we have built around ourselves.

Nearly every search I conducted on women's rights led me to information about Roe v. Wade(1973) and abortion. I was shocked to find that so many people actually believe that abortion empowers women. We have created a society so individualistic and material-driven that people can only procreate when it is economically and/or socially convenient. It truly frightens me that young Christian girls are subject to this...well, crap. The issue of abortion really points us to the greater problem of sexual purity and young women.

I'm not sure that many young Christians are struggling with abortion specifically, but I know that ALL young Christians struggle with sexual purity. So many problems stem from this issue. One problem in particular that I find unbearably frustrating is the gross misrepresentation of women in the media. Even after "women's lib", we are subject to airbrushed, enhanced, overtly sexual images that are now our standards for "normal." The modern fashions are unabashedly immodest and insanely overpriced. Young (christian) girls and women are starving, plucking, dying, chemical peeling, lazer-ing, manicuring, surgically augmenting, make-over-ing and overspending our way to a life that is totally void of spiritual depth and truth.

Flowing from the image problem is our problem with sexual purity. Young girls simply don't understand that they can say no. They don't know that their importance does not lie in their ability to tempt men and make other women jealous. They don't know that true freedom comes from being recognized for holiness and intelligence.

I would love to point to media. It would be easy say that men, the glass ceiling, industry, etc. are to blame for our woes, but I won't because I know that is a lie. The problem with women is...women. We let ourselves believe the lies. We fought for the right to vote and speak and live, and then we used it to legally to murder babies and exploit ourselves. We talk about stereotypes and impossible expectations with painted lips and giggly voices. We compromise intelligence and strength for recognition and acceptance. We don't stand for mothers and holy single women. We don't praise girls for boldness and confidence. We let Disney tell girls how they should look and act. We call them "Princesses", not Ezers. We must realize and BELIEVE that our worth is found in Christ and that our image bears His image. We cannot allow ourselves to be defined by culture. We cannot allow young women to believe that what we see on television and in magazines is anything less that exploitation and objectification. We must encourage younger generations of women to learn and grow and strive and yearn for truth. We must help Christian men understand how a real woman looks, thinks, and acts. We must come to an understanding of what it means to submit to husbands and find freedom and power in our biblical role of woman. We must stop blaming society for the web we have spun.

Let's get out our Bibles and fix it ourselves.

Manifestations of Woe

Broken families, STD epidemics, school shootings, neighborhoods in which you can not walk down the sidewalk in broad daylight without fearing for your safety; there is no denying that these are a reality of life in the USA today. To some degree we are all numbed to the suffering associated with each of these realities – we see evidences of them nearly daily on the news but until it impacts us personally we do not understand the full weight of the pain associated with these events. It is then that we start to see the realities of “woe.”

What is “woe” and why would I write a blog post about it? defines woe as:
1. grievous distress, affliction, or trouble: His woe was almost beyond description.
2. an affliction: She suffered a fall, among her other woes.
—Synonyms 1. anguish, tribulation, trial, wretchedness, melancholy. See sorrow.
—Antonyms 1. joy.

“Grievous distress, affliction or trouble.” Do we see this in our nation? I would say that we most certainly do. We see radical increases in violent behavior amongst our children. We see a radically sexualized teen population suffering from STDs at unprecedented levels.(1) We hear about senseless murders essentially every day on the local news, and many of us have found ourselves in a neighborhood in our city in which we felt unsafe – I know I have and I am a 6’2” 250lb man in my 30’s. On two occasions in the last five years or so I have personally encountered groups of young men in the Phoenix area who were clearly assessing whether I could be victimized easily. Where do these behaviors come from? Why do we tolerate them? What brings woe to a person, or in this case even a nation? Perhaps we should turn to scripture. Isaiah 5: 20 (ESV) states:

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.

So what is the point? Certainly I can not be proposing that our culture would suggest that random acts of violence and teen sexuality are a good thing? Am I? Actually I am.

I read an article today about a recently released video game titled Grand Theft Auto IV. The review begins:
“Criminal action video game "Grand Theft Auto 4" won near-perfect praise in early reviews on Monday, boosting the shares of publisher Take-Two Interactive Software Inc as much as 3.4 percent ahead of the game's midnight launch.” (2)
An interview of a player buying the game reads:
“At a GameStop store in midtown Manhattan, excited fans like John Alba and Enmanuel Lorenzo had been standing for hours in a line that nearly reached the end of the block to get their hands on the game.
‘It gives you the opportunity to escape reality,’ Alba said. "This game has everything -- sex, drugs, cars, money ... anything you want."
"Grand Theft Auto 4" casts players as an Eastern European immigrant who runs drugs, shoots cops and beats up prostitutes after falling in with a crime syndicate -- stuff that has drawn fire from family groups and politicians.
Avid fans like Lorenzo seemed drawn to the excitement -- but only in game play.
‘Violence is like sex. It sells,’ Alba said outside the GameStop shop. ‘I like violence in games, it's cool. Not in real life.’"

An antagonist of the game, Jack Thompson, points to a video made by a gaming related website ( from content in the game.
“The game's lead character, Niko, drives up to prostitutes, honks the horn, then shoots them. You see a simulated sex act, only to have Niko run the hooker over afterwards with his car. The video shows graphic lap dances featuring one, and then two, girls. The language is even worse, including—and excuse the stars, ’F*** the s*** out of it, you nasty f******.’" (4)

So wait… We have a video game that is based on the premise that entertainment is found in simulating cold blooded murder, sex acts with prostitutes, and many other criminal actions. Response to the game is described on its Wikipedia site like this:
“Grand Theft Auto IV has received ‘universal acclaim’ from video game critics. Ahead of its worldwide release, most publications were not sent copies of the game. Instead, reviewers had to play the game at Rockstar premises or in booked hotel rooms. The May 2008 issue of Official Xbox Magazine (UK) published the first Grand Theft Auto IV review, giving the game the maximum score of 10/10. The magazine also stated that the game has an ‘amazingly realistic world; stunning action set pieces; genuinely engrossing storyline; hugely entertaining multiplayer;’ and that it is ‘vast in every respect.’”(5)

Is the videogame at fault – is it the cause of the “woe” that we are experiencing in this nation in the areas of sexuality and violence. No – it is a reflection of a culture that actively calls evil things good. It is an example of the sinful nature of the American people, no, more even that that, it is an example of the abandonment of our people to their sinful desires.
How should we respond? Certianly standing against the game is a good thing – but more importantly we must explain WHY we stand against the game. We must first call evil out for what it is – we need to confront our moral relativism. Our grevious trouble is rooted in our unwillingness to stand for truth when confronted by the lie that evil things are good – that it is “just entertainment.” Don’t be fooled – the consequences are not trivial.


Monday, April 28, 2008

In Matters of Race, Where Do We Stand - As Christians?

Today's post is by Chermone Bunting, a brother to whom I owe a HUGE (and public) apology. He writes his own blog at and also adds frequent comments to

Back in mid-March, he sent this article to me, offering it for our blog. It was relevant to the current events of the presidential race, and I said I'd be glad to post it. Then I delayed, and delayed some more, and before long, the immediacy of the topic was past, so I thought I'd let it slip quietly away.

I failed, however, to let Chermone know why I had not posted his article after I told him that I would. And now, with Rev. Jeremiah Wright back in the news this past week, the article is alive again. Of course, even without the "reverend" in the news, the topic is relevant.

SO. . . I bring you the musings of brother Chermone.

In Matters of Race, Where Do We Stand-As Christians?

As I watch the latest events unfolding concerning Barack Obama and the effect of “Race,” a few things continue to pop up in my mind. First off, why does there seem to be the effort to put everyone into one group or another when the fact is most people are inclined to stand out? Second, in comparison to the biblical worldview on Christian values, is there really a necessity for a “Black Value System” (BVS)? Lastly, how do we identify with past hurts and overcome them? I am sure the list could be longer, but it will suffice for now in order to address my thoughts.

First, the foolish notion that when one person from a group speaks, for some strange reason that automatically means that they speak for every single person who has anything to do with that group. While in some instances that may actually be true, when it comes to issues of ‘race’ it is simply idiotic. Case in point, I was listening to a few conservative talk radio shows the other day. Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, has caused quite a stir with his appalling remarks about the U.S. and 9/11. Show after show people (Black callers) continued to phone in and say that they spoke in defense of Barack Obama in unison with the rest of the “Blacks” in America. As a Black American, I take exception to that - especially as a Christian. I take offense because Barack does not espouse the Christian values that I cherish and believe that constitute a biblical worldview. Mr. Obama would categorically disagree with me on all this, but it is what it is. He is pro-abortion, yet he says he “values” life. That in the end, it should be left up to the woman and her pastor, priest, rabbi, imam, whatever. No mention of what the father could possibly want, because it is not his body and the child is really just a cell. No concern over whether or not God condones or condemns abortion. Obama talks of moving forward, being unified under the banner of Americans, but jumps on the “beat-down Don Imus” band wagon with fellow “Black Activists” Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Now I for one thought what Imus said was deplorable, stupid and down right ignorant (a far cry from the images of the ladies’ basketball team that were later shown). However, for Obama to cry foul at Imus citing concerns for his own daughters, but refuse to get in depth with Ludacris’ over the degradation of women on his albums is just as wrong. If he believes that the Lord created the woman out of the rib of a man, then Barack should have at least made it a point to reflect that since the woman is the weaker vessel a man should protect her and not assault her with his hands or his words. Let us also not forget to mention the closeness of Barack to Oprah Winfrey (who recently started a series on the ‘Course in Miracles’ book). All matters that I suppose reflect a bit of hypocrisy in Obama. Fortunately for Barack Obama (and Christians), being Black and Christian is not synonymous. As a Black individual I do not recognize a status quo over whom I intend to support politically. (I do however, fall completely in line with the precepts dictated by my Lord to minds of the writers of the Bible.)

Barack Obama’s “Black Value System” that he learned from Jeremiah Wright are not the values that are taught in the Bible that he is so fond of. The Christian value system is built upon the precepts of Christ. We are taught that we are His (Christ’s) if we keep His commandments, namely to love the Lord God with all our soul, all our heart, all of our strength and all of our mind and to love our neighbors as ourselves. How do we say that we love God, but hate those who have persecuted us? How dare we who have sinned so horribly before God- in many cases after we have come to know the truth- show unrighteous favor because of color? Why is it that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about “…little White boys and little White girls holding hands with little Black boys and little Black girls…” while the “Black Value System” teaches us to separate? Where in the BVS does anyone see anything about helping others who are not Black? Did not Christ himself speak about godly love in the story of the “Good Samaritan”? Are we not commanded to go out into the world? How a church organization could get so caught up in itself is frightening. At what point did the church stop looking at the truth in the Bible for “Black” truth (which is really no truth at all)? To me this clearly shows a lack of biblical desire for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the future of our souls. In fact, it shows the heinous roots of the “Social Gospel” which is to be considered anathema because it really is not the Gospel at all!

I have personally gone through the hardship of being discriminated against. I also realize that there are White individuals and groups in America that believe they are superior to Black people. They are there and they will always be, but we must pray for their salvation as well. The Bible says, “Evil men will wax worse and worse…” Yet I also know that there are holy, godly people of all races walking across this great land. I know because I go to church with them, I work with them, I meet them on the streets. As a Black American I understand much of what my African-American forefathers had to endure, I am not ignorant of their sacrifice. Still, the freedoms that they prayed for are realized daily by Blacks around America. They fought and died praying that we (as Black people) would be treated fairly and justly- and we are. Black (and White) people alike need to understand that they are not their parents or grandparents. As Christians, if we are to live holy before God, we must do so with our White, Black, Brown, Red and Yellow brothers and sisters.

I remember going off to college in West Virginia. The school had a population of around 3,000 students (about 90 were of Black descent). One evening as I was walking on campus I passed a sorority house that was having a party. I kept walking. As soon as I passed the ledge and had my back to the party goers- I heard some females yell out the “taboo” word. I kept walking, but inside I was seething. None of them knew me. I was a freshman there and it was only week three. Some years later, I was with my wife, my 8 year old daughter and my year-old son walking to our car in a Wal-Mart parking lot. A brown Ford pickup drives by with a couple of white males in it yelling profanities and the “taboo” word. You never know how those situations will turn out. Thankfully, the young men drove off. Now fast forward to June, 2007. I was riding down the street on my motorcycle when I hit a slick spot and high-ended my bike breaking my ankle. Four cars stopped to help. Every individual there was White. One older man stood over me with a sun shade to block the 115 degree sun/heat out of my face as I lay on the ground. A woman took her minivan and blocked the road with it to make sure no one ran over me or my bike. Another gentleman took my cell phone and called my wife for me. How far have we come as a society to have that random act of kindness happen 15 years after the LA riots?

Two weeks ago I was at Wal-Mart standing behind a Caucasian girl about 15 years old who was trying to get money out of the ATM. She was severely frustrated when she turned to me and asked me to help her with her card. What? Did she feel that safe that she could ask a total stranger (not to mention a ‘Black Man’) to aid her without fear of being robbed (as stereotypes would go)? On four different occasions, there were two differing mindsets. There are far more stories that I could have written if I so chose, but I inscribe these to show that there is a change in our society and no longer can we dwell on the evils of yesterday. Everyday we must move forward, especially as Christians. Can we remember them? Sure, but only to the point that we do not allow them to be repeated.

Today truly is a new day. There are new adventures to be had, new songs to be sung, new friends to be made. Barack Obama is campaigning to become the next president. I cannot in good conscience recommend him. The color of his skin had nothing to do with it, just like it didn’t matter in Iowa. For me it comes to down to what a person says regarding their faith and how they play it out in their everyday lives. Barack’s “Black Value System” seems to be more of a distraction from good works than an encouragement. I truly hope Obama does see that America is not the place that it once was for Blacks. Yes, there is still a long road ahead, but by the grace of God we do see the light at the end of the tunnel and each passing day it grows brighter and brighter. Together, the Christians will see it through, Black and White, and in the resurrection we really will be able to sing to the glory of God, “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last!”

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Free Church

The “call to arms” that religious liberty is being violated in some way or form often fills my e-mail box. “The rights of Christians are under attack again! Our religious freedoms are slowly being taken away, mainly because Christians have not taken a stand! People of faith are being forced to remain silent while other religions are accepted in the name of tolerance”. Read

So I thought I would take pause to ponder about what I believe and to question whether or not religious liberty was being violated.

My education on religious liberty is derived form two sources, the public school and a Baptist church. The tenants taught by both were that there must be “a free state and a free church”.

“God alone is Lord of the conscience and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.” Read
Genesis 1:27; 2:7; Matthew 6:6-7,24; 16:26; 22:21; John 8:36; Acts 4:19-20; Romans 6:1-2; 13:1-7; Galatians 5:1,13; Philippians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:1-2; James 4:12; 1 Peter 2:12-17; 3:11-17; 4:12-19.
Religious liberty says nothing about the truth of positions in God’s sight. As a political provision it is not concerned about the question of religious truth, “it only guarantees the opportunity to every man to seek the truth and to assemble with others in quest of it.” Bruce Shelley

I was taught and believe not to tolerate other faiths or religious differences. Toleration grants to others something that is not rightly due. To tolerate out of a spirit of generosity is to put me in a superior position and grants only inferiority to others. In religious liberty one is neither superior nor inferior. Before the law all are equally free. “A right for a Protestant is a right for an Orthodox is a right for a Catholic is a right for a Jew is a right for a Humanist is a right for a Mormon is a right for a Muslim is a right for a Buddhist--and for the followers of any other faith within the wide bounds of the republic.” Read

The above being my beliefs, where then should be my vigilance? Of course, the church, the church, the church! To make sure that the civil authority does not cross the line and nullify or abridge the church’s freedom, which is to practice faith and worship without any interference.

Now I believe there may be First Amendment violations and some of these violation bear strongly in the area of free speech and expression. When violations of our freedoms occur we are obligated to always confront the offender (peaceably and consistently, but confront). Religious liberty is a two edged sword that we have as a freedom. But civil law is the law, unless overturned by process. Too often civil law is “satanized”. I have never appreciated the act that first allowed the Ten Commandments to be placed in a court room. This situation was an obligation of the state to confront early on and it was neglected by the church.

My vigilance remembers the following which speaks volumes:

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up. Read

I will however use my beliefs on “a free state and a free church” to evaluate and mull over what is taking place in so far as rights are concerned. I do not want to be schmoozed by some ill informed religious group, nor do I want to be duped by the state.

Friday, April 25, 2008

How Do You Get to Tucson from Here?

You probably know by now that in addition to this blog, ACWI also broadcasts a weekly radio show. Saturday mornings at 7:00 AM, we broadcast Every Square Inch - The Arizona Christian Worldview Hour, where we discuss what it means to live all of our lives - every square inch - before the face of God. We help listeners discover a biblical worldview and integrate that view into every square inch of their lives.

I have mentioned before that our desire is to expand the show beyond the metro Phoenix area to Tucson. A Tucson radio station has expressed interest, but before we can "move south," we will need to have a base of advertisers and supporters in the area willing to help keep us on the air.

Please add this matter to your prayer list. The vast majority of our support comes from the listeners and friends of the ministry - people just like you! If you should be led to help support our efforts, please do it only AFTER supporting your local congregation.

How can you help? I'd invite you to click here with a GENEROUS gift! And yes, we are a 501(c)(3) non-profit, so your donation is tax-free!

Many thanks!

Don't forget - you can listen to Every Square Inch at KPXQ 1360 AM - or online. Listen live on Saturday mornings at, or listen to the archives at

Love Your Neighbor And Plant A Tree

(I wrote this article two years ago, but I think there is insight that is applicable for today)

Growing up, there were people I idolized and thought were the best human beings ever to come out of the womb. I admired Kevin Johnson of the Phoenix Suns for his work ethic and Christian faith. I thought the best of Mr. Fred Rodgers because of his integrity and sincerity. And now, when people say that they admire me or think the best of me, I’ve often wondered, why. I’m just like Kevin and Mr. Rodgers and the rest of humanity, born into flesh and bones but prone to sinful tendencies. One of those sinful tendencies that I want to see change in my heart and actions is my attitude towards those whose belief system is different from my own.

At first glance, it doesn't seem like that big of a deal of poking fun at someone else but the root issue is a matter of heart. We are willing to mock and ridicule someone because their ideas are foreign to our own, but what causes us do so? Looking inside my own heart, I know that I can be condescending because I can have the mind set of “I am holier than thou”. But I don’t think that it is my place to say that. What truly bothers me is that those in the name of Christ are at the forefront of this idea. We like to laugh at liberals, poke fun at fanatics, and we enjoy mockery at the expense of others.

However, my old camp of Christian/Conservativism is not only to one to blame for this action but humanity as a whole. I think GK Chesterton is credited with saying, "The test of a good religion is if you can make fun of it or not". When I was growing up, making fun of someone else's belief or conviction was on a strong taboo. We could fun other ways of having laughter or joy without poking fun at their ideals.

This was illustrated on full display a couple of years ago. I was taking a public speaking course. Many of the class times are spent in laughter because of the humorous stories that our teacher told, videos of students attempting to persuade their audience and of course the laughter that is on every man and woman’s voice. The joy got derailed when the topic of teenage driving came up, and I brought up the point that I still have my learner’s permit because I don't see the reason of having a car. A student proceeded to explain to me rather angrily that it is very simple to obtain a license even his sixteen year old sister was able to get hers and why couldn't a twenty year old guy obtain his?

After class my friend Jeff and I were discussing this very topic and we both agreed that the problem doesn't lie inside a building but rather inside the person. If you look at Jeff and I, some might assume that were are complete opposites but in reality we are lot more like than I am with most of my other friends. We both said in varying ways that the problem is that inside each and every person is a sin nature. We are all born with it and the only solution to it is through the blood of Christ. With his act on our behalf, we are able to not be judgmental of other people but do we truly act that way? All of these questions are rhetorical unless someone has an answer for them.

A biblical parable that I enjoyed listening to was the classic tale of the Good Samaritan. We are all familiar with it but now as an adult I’ve started to contemplate the story. How it is truly a shame that the first two men, the priest and Levite ignored him, but the Samaritan (who was despised by the Jewish people) took pity on him and helped him in his time of need. I think the illustration that helped my young mind was the classic McGee and Me video series. When I look out the window of the bus or when I’m riding with someone on to a destination, I’ve started to think, which character can I relate to the most? Could it be the man who was beaten to a bloody pulp, the priest who passed him on the other side of the road?, the Levite who did the same? Or finally the Samaritan who helped him in this crucial moment of life. I always thought that I could be the Samaritan because of the limited goodness that is my being but I think I would be like the first two men. However I know that with time I would become like my hero in the story.

What originally birthed this on my heart and mind was a discussion over the last few weeks with my roommate. I sort of combined my jumbled thoughts on an online discussion board and this is what my entry had said:

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."

As I mentioned last week about loving God with our heart and mind, one area that I need to work on is to love my neighbor. Because lately, I’ve noticed in my own heart that I enjoy making fun of people whose beliefs are different from my own.Ranging from the person who believes in new age things to Muslims etc. it can manifest itself in small things even if I see someone who is overweight, wearing a rainbow bracelet or someone who is on the street pushing a shopping cart.

How often do I neglect these verses: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse--Romans 12:14

You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.--Matthew 5:43-45

I know that I want to experience change in this area of my life, do you? I'm going to start praying for those people. that God opens their eyes to the gospel. this verse gives me comfort: He (The Father) causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

One way I think we can begin to love our neighbor is love those within our community. Aristotle had the perspective that you cannot be fully human if you don't join the community. I’m not saying we should all go down to the town hall of our perspective towns and say “sign me up for the community events”. But look around you, which community are you a member of? For example, me. I am in a community of believers at my church, but my attendance is not enough. I serve when I can and engage many of the people who I interact with. Then I am a member of a community called College, in my classes, the people I talk to in the cafeteria, the people I run into in the breeze ways and in the library. I must say that I don’t interact with many people on the bus but time to time I do talk to the bus driver. Those are just a few of the communities that I am a member of, I’m sure that you can think of more. I am applying this in the area of a friendship I have with a Mormon at school. Even though both of us are good friends, we both know where each other's is coming from. He has invited him to the annual Mormon Easter Pageant and I've accepted this offer. Why? So I can show Christ's love to him.

Something to think about, if you are not a member of a community, you could very well be denying the blessing of the gifts that God has given you to encourage others.

Some of you might be thinking, but why did Paz mention planting a tree? Here’s why. I’ve heard the classic quote of Martin Luther saying that if he found out he was dying the following day, what would he do differently? His reply wasn't like the country song "I Wish You Lived Like You Were Dying" that is currently receiving much airplay over the last couple of weeks. I don't think that song illustrates what should be my perspective when thinking of these things.

Luther replied, I would plant a tree.

How amazing is that answer! He wouldn't go out and change the world, rather he would plant a tree.

I’ve started to think that would be a wonderful opportunity for an activity to do with my wife and when we have children, to plant trees with them as well. Oops I let the cat out of the bag, so if my future wife is reading this blog entry, please act surprised when I suggest we do it, okay?

I was talking to Jacob about this topic of community and he posed to me this question and I want to pose it to everyone:

“If these three remain, faith hope and charity, how do we show charity if we're outside of the community?”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


MySpace.....What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear that name? To my mind, comes an overwhelming amount of negative thoughts, which is unfortunate. MySpace is a place where people can stay connected with friends and family. However, like all good things in our world, MySpace was abused and transformed into a website full of gossip, cursing, false impressions (people pretending to be someone they are not, i.e. men seeking teenage girls), and risqué photos. In addition, any individual, no matter what age, has the ability to obtain a MySpace page if they have access to the Internet. This leads me to comment on the dangers of teenagers and MySpace.

On March 30, 2008, 16 year-old, Victoria Lindsay, was attacked and brutally beaten by six teenage girls, whom are all fellow classmates, in Lakeland, Florida. In addition to the six girls, two 18 year-old males were acting as lookouts outside the house in which the beating took place. This attack was in response to slurs and insults the victim had allegedly posted about them on MySpace. First of all, gossip is a destructive sin in which both parties involved will most likely suffer terrible consequences. “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.” (Proverbs 16:28 NIV) “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks to much.” (Proverbs 20:19 NIV) Unfortunately, we are all aware that teenagers gossip, somewhat of which is due to their level of immaturity. What I find difficult to understand is why teens will post insulting comments on MySpace about others, when they know that there is a definite possibility that those that they comment on will read it! Are they completely oblivious to the consequences of their actions or do they desperately seek a dramatic confrontation? What can be done to prevent events like the attack on Victoria Lindsay from reoccurring?

First and foremost, parents need to take action by being aware of and having access to their child's MySpace page. If your teen is opposed to you invading their privacy, then they simply should not be allowed to have a MySpace account. In other words, rules must be established for your child's protection. Besides having access to your teen's account, you should have a MySpace page. Crazy, right? It is not necessary to communicate with anyone on MySpace, but you will be able to better monitor your child's actions. You will also learn the dangers of MySpace by simply having an account. For example, random people that you do not know will want to add you as a friend and communicate with you. This can obviously become very dangerous, very quickly. Many people give false impressions on the Internet, as we all know. You will also want to make your teen aware that you are watching their MySpace activity frequently. Otherwise, they will be more likely to take part in the negative aspects of MySpace because they believe that you are not viewing their activity daily.

Just to clear the air, I have a MySpace of my own. My sole purpose of having a MySpace is to keep in touch with friends and family, which is exactly what it should be intended for. Parents, please be responsible and don't always trust your teen(s), regardless of how mature you think they might be. They are still at a very influential stage in their life and they are confronted with peer pressure every single day!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

See eXpelled – help truth to “Win” (through) Ben Stein’s Movie

This Friday my wife and I, accompanied by my parents, went to see an extraordinary film. eXpelled was not what you would expect from a successful comedic actor, but then again, if you have followed Ben Stein’s work you know that conventional wisdom does not always apply. The four of us went in with fairly different expectations. I had some sense of what the movie was – my father was under the impression that it was to be a bit more of a comedy than it actually was, and my wife and mother were out for a date with their husbands. Shannon and mom were the only two that got what they expected.

eXpelled is nothing if not radical. It is frankly one of the bravest efforts that I have seen in film in many years. Mr. Stein has taken great personal risk to make this film – I equate it to the risk that Mel Gibson took in producing The Passion of the Christ – but perhaps even more risky in that there will be a predictable and large pool of people who will respond with venom is both known and very large and the pool of strong supporters is uncertain. Regardless of what history says about this work, it will be a pivotal point in Mr. Stein’s career. The movie is nothing less than a thumb in the eye of the politically correct majority in the scientific community.

Militant atheist scientists will probably call it an attack on science in general, some will represent it as a propaganda piece supporting intelligent design (ID) and some will morph that into the assertion that it is a piece supporting creationism. There is some sliver of truth to the middle assertion – the movie does make some attempt to prop up ID, but interestingly enough I do not believe that this is what is at its heart. The film attacks something much deeper than that. I see two issues set squarely in the crosshairs of this film. The first is the loss of the value of truth, and the second is the loss of freedom of thought in academia. The film exposes a militant protectionist culture in academia in which the importance of truth and freedom are subordinated to the prevailing (and politically correct) view. It shines a bright light on the radical actions that those in power will take to protect their ideology from competing ideas. It then challenges us to challenge those in the establishment.

How should we respond to such a film? It is my great hope that we will do these three things:
1) Support the film commercially. Go see the movie – take your friends to it – write about it – talk about it – perform “guerilla marketing of the film at a personal level. I personally plan to see it again this coming weekend.
2) Once you have seen the movie – step up to it’s challenge. Be bold in standing for academic freedom in what ever institution you encounter be it you children’s grade school, the local college, or your doctoral program. Do not be silenced.
3) Challenge yourself to evaluate your sacred cows. What ideas do you carry that you have not critically evaluated. When someone challenges your sacred cow – are you prepared to defend it logically and intellectually? We should be.

Monday, April 21, 2008

How Would Jesus Treat a Mugger?

I read this news story Monday about Julio Diaz, who was mugged in New York in March. But his response was not typical.

As the teen [mugger] began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."

The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, "like what's going on here?" Diaz says. "He asked me, 'Why are you doing this?' . . Diaz replied, "Well, haven't you been taught you should be nice to everybody?"

Yea, but I didn't think people actually behaved that way," the teen said.

Be sure to read (or listen to) the whole article. If you're like me you'll be surprised - maybe even shocked - to see how Diaz treated the teenager.

The friend who originally sent me the article said, "Does this make you think we might change the world if we actually acted the way Jesus taught us to? No mention of the Lord in this story, but certainly His principles."

What do you think? Would Christ-like behavior actually change the world?

To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also,and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.
Luke 6:29

Let the conversation continue.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Christian Atheist

Oriana Fallaci, June 29, 1929 - September 15, 2006

Oriana Fallaci was an eminent Italian journalist and I have read her writings with appreciation for whom and what she was. She represented herself as a Christian Atheist, an anti-jihadist and spoke her mind. I saw her as these representations and also as a patriot and a pagan.

Just what is a “Christian atheist”? Her description from her book, The Force of Reason”, best describes her beliefs.

“I am a Christian atheist. I do not believe in what we imply by the word God. I think that God has been created by men and not vice versa. I think that men have invented Him out of solitude, powerlessness, despair. Meaning, to give an answer to the mystery of existence. To attenuate the insoluble questions that life throws on our faces. Who we are, where do we come from, where we are going. What was here before us and before these worlds billions and billions of worlds spinning in the universe with such a precision, what will come afterwards? In other words, I think that we invented Him out of weakness, namely out of fear of living and dying, Living is very difficult, dying is always a sorrow, and the concept of a God who helps us to face those two challenges can bring infinite relief: I understand it well. In fact I envy those who believe. At times I am even jealous of them. Never though, never, to the point of developing a suspicion and therefore the hope that a God exists.”

Working Theology:
“Nevertheless, I repeat, I am a Christian. I am even though I reject various Christian precepts. Such as the matter of turning the other cheek, of forgiving. (An error which encourages wickedness and that I never commit). Notwithstanding the refusal of various precepts and particularly forgiveness, clemency, I am a Christian because I like the discourse which stays at the roots of Christianity. Because it convinces me, it seduces me to such an extent that in it I do not find any contradiction with my atheism and my secularism.”

“The idea of a God that becomes Man, meaning the idea of Man who becomes God. God of himself. A God with two arms and two legs, a God made of flesh one who goes around making or trying to make the Revolution of the Soul. Who speaking of a Creator seated in Heaven (otherwise who would listen, who would understand?) introduces himself as his Son and explains that all men are brothers of his Son. The tenderness, his let-the-children-come-unto-me, I often wonder if Jesus of Nazareth temperament really was that meek, that sweet, that tender. As a man, not as a God, he stops the cowards who are out to stone the adulteress and thunders: He who is without sin first cast his stone As a man, not as a God, he blasts against slavery, and let’s say loud and clear: who, before Jesus of Nazareth, lad ever blasted against slavery? As a man, in conclusion, he fights. He grieves, he suffers, he certainly sins. As a man he dies. Without dying because Life does not die. Life always resurrects, Life is eternal. And, together with the discourse on Reason, on Freedom, this is the point that mostly convinces me. That mostly seduces me. Because in it I see the rejection of Death, the refusal of Death, the apotheosis of Life which can be evil: yes. Which is also evil, which eats itself. But its alternative is Nothingness. And let’s face it: such is the principle which leads and feeds our civilization. Christianity is the greatest revolution humanity his ever accomplished.”

Is being a Christian atheist an oxymoron? What part of Fallaci’s philosophy can a Christian espouse and still be a Christian and/or an atheist?

As I read from Fallaci’s beliefs, above, her human predicament of “soul sorrow” is obvious. How does she answer the questions, ‘is life worth living, how does the real and ideal come together and what happens when I die?’ It appears that the dilemma of self preservation and death are ever before her. Missing in her philosophy are the three conditions that Christianity makes peace with in soul sorrow, which are ‘hope for personal immortality, a rational view of the universe and knowledge of truth.’

“In sum, without hope, nothing has real meaning. Without a rational view of the universe, hope cannot be secured. But without a knowledge of what truth is, a rational universe cannot be recognized. Christianity alone—can make peace with these three conditions (without which we can not enjoy existence) for human happiness.” Edward John Carnell

Rom 1:20-21 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Expanding Our Reach. . . With Your Help

As much as we enjoy the "conversation" here on the blog, we also maintain a weekly radio show. Saturday mornings at 7:00 AM, we broadcast Every Square Inch - The Arizona Christian Worldview Hour, where we discuss what it means to live all of our lives - every square inch - before the face of God. We help listeners discover a biblical worldview and integrate that view into every square inch of their lives. You can listen at KPXQ 1360 AM - or online. Listen live on Saturday mornings at, or listen to the archives at

I hope you're a regular listener of Every Square Inch. Secondly, we'd like to expand the show to the Tucson area, but that takes more resources than we currently have. Like most radio programs, we have advertisers, but frankly, our advertisers only provide 28% of our broadcast expenses. The rest of our support comes from the listeners and friends of the ministry - people just like you! How can you help? I'd invite you to click here with a GENEROUS gift! And yes, we are a 501(c)(3) non-profit, so your donation is tax-free!
Many thanks!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Loving God

One of the benefits and curses that I currently experience as a bachelor is having cable television. I say it is a benefit because it keeps me informed on today's culture but it can become a curse because with ninety-nine channels there is nothing worth watching. I get either bored or frustrated watching people in the name of our Lord swindle innocent people's money, seeing another author get his five minutes of fame at a book signing, young men and women being immoral for the sake of "reality," another re-run of The Brady Bunch or shows dedicated showing creation without mentioning their Creator.

One evening as I was in search of something to watch until my game had returned from half time, something caught my eye. It was one of those dating shows. There's one guy who is famous and he's looking for love among the ladies the network chose for the show. Apparently, the episode that I was watching was the finale where he chose his lady from the two finalists. I came into the action where he broke the news to the loser; she won't be the "one" for him. After he assures her, she's still a good person; he hugs and kisses her a final time. As the camera lingers on this young lady as she is tearfully walking away, an emotional voice-over comes on and replaces the sappy break up music that is playing in the background. It is our tearful contestant and in front of maybe millions of complete strangers, she boldly declares, "If I knew falling in love was going to be this rough, I would never want to."

As heart wrenching this might be for some people to hear, it provoked my thoughts. Love is seen as something that can be easily obtained and maintained. As Christians, we are to love God, but what does this mean? I think one of the biggest troubles that we encounter in our sphere of Christianity today is that we've lost what it means to love God, which I think has come from letting our world dictate what it means to love Him. I think that in order to reclaim our culture but also our own hearts, we need to go back to the Scriptures to discover what it means to love God. Once we have discovered what it means to love our Lord, we will be able to love our neighbor and the world around us.

When we first go about and think what it means to love God, I think the first verse that comes to many of our minds is Jesus' response to the lawyer in Luke 10:

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live. (Luke 10:25-28)

I think that what has happened is that we have taken each part of Jesus' command and loved Him in that way instead using all the ways He mentions. For example, loving God has become an emotional experience or a passionate love that becomes more mushy than realistic. We then write songs about this experience that could be top forty hits on the pop charts by replacing Jesus with our girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s name. I think this is why most men are not drawn to modern churches in America today, when it comes to expressing love for Jesus, it looks more like a romantic lust. However we must be reminded of Jeremiah's prophetic words, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9). He is to be our groom and we (the church) his bride, but I think that we cannot love him the say way we love our girlfriend or spouse. I think there is an expectation between two people today, be it married or dating, that both people will bring something to the relationship. Both single men and women have a desire to meet the "perfect one" who will sweep them off their feet, a knight in shinning armor or princess in need of rescuing. I think dreams like this can be damaging because we have set the bar too high or too low. One classic example that makes me laugh is young women's fascination with Jane Austen's fictional character, Mr. Darcy. I recently came across an article written by a friend of mine who illustrates this point much better than I, Irony abounds in the fact that in our search for finding the "perfect one", we neglect the fact that the Perfect One loved us even before we could love Him (see 1 John 4:9).

One of the other ways we have separated our love of our Lord is loving Him our intellect or mind. My pastor a couple of weeks ago posed this question to us, "are you striving towards knowing God or knowing about God?" This may not seem like a powerful statement but if we love Him solely with our minds, it becomes knowledge that may become like party trivia that makes us sound intelligent. I think if you're like me, it is hard to determine how this has manifested itself in my life. I found the following list that I think illustrates the point better than I could, Jonathan Leeman's blog,

In their book How People Change, Tim Lane and Paul David Tripp lay out seven counterfeit gospels.

1. Formalism. "I participate in the regular meetings and ministries of the
church, so I feel like my life is under control. I'm always in church, but it
really has little impact on my heart or on how I live. I may become judgmental
and impatient with those who do not have the same commitment as I do."

2. Legalism. "I live by the rules—rules I create for myself and rules I
create for others. I feel good if I can keep my own rules, and I become arrogant
and full of contempt when others don't meet the standards I set for them. There
is no joy in my life because there is no grace to be celebrated."

Mysticism. "I am engaged in the incessant pursuit of an emotional experience
with God. I live for the moments when I feel close to him, and I often struggle
with discouragement when I don't feel that way. I may change churches often,
too, looking for one that will give me what I'm looking for."

Activism. "I recognize the missional nature of Christianity and am passionately
involved in fixing this broken world. But at the end of the day, my life is more
of a defense of what's right than a joyful pursuit of Christ."

Biblicism. "I know my Bible inside and out, but I do not let it master me. I
have reduced the gospel to a mastery of biblical content and theology, so I am
intolerant and critical of those with lesser knowledge."

6. Therapism.
"I talk a lot about the hurting people in our congregation, and how Christ is
the only answer for their hurt. Yet even without realizing it, I have made
Christ more Therapist than Savior. I view hurt as a greater problem than sin—and
I subtly shift my greatest need from my moral failure to my unmet needs."

7. "Social-ism." "The deep fellowship and friendships I find at church
have become their own idol. The body of Christ has replaced Christ himself, and
the gospel is reduced to a network of fulfilling Christian

I have only shared two of the ways that I struggle in loving God, I'm sure that there is many more ways that this looks in the lives of believers. However, I think a good reminder we must speak to ourselves before saying we love God, is remembering at what cost are we allowed to love God. It did not come from loving ourselves more, putting together all of the systematic formulas in the world, but it came through God's one and only Son, coming to earth to be the sacrifice for all of our sin.

"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8)

One of the most powerful images in the Easter story is the curtain in the Temple that separated God and man was torn in two. No longer is God's presence seen in a building but in the hearts and minds of His people. Now anyone can come and speak with Him, not just the priests of old. We can come boldy into His throneroom because of Jesus has bridged the gap between His Father and His creation by His death. Not only His death but Him conquering the grave for sinners who would become His new chosen race. This has allowed us to love Him because of His great love for us. Keep in mind; what we love will be what we speak about the most.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Widows and Orphans?

First, allow me to say thanks for giving me a "voice" on this blog. Now:

"Then the King will say to those on his right, ’Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ’Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’And the King will answer them,’Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ "Then he will say to those on his left, ’Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ’Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ’Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Matthew 25:34-46

1. Two Sundays ago, I was sitting at my computer desk doing homework when I glanced out the office window and saw a woman and a young girl, probably 3-5 years old. They were sorting through the garbage bins in our townhouse parking-lot. I thought, "That's sad. I wish I could help." I then turned around and started typing away on my laptop. I sat and allowed myself to do nothing as people got thier dinner FROM MY TRASH.

2. Last Wednesday, I was riding my bike to work when a lady (probably in her 60s-70s) stopped me. She explained that she had accidently locked herself out of her house. She said that she would be able to go in through the back door if only she could get over the wall surrouding her yard. I got on my hands and knees in order for her to use by my back as a step to climb over the wall. She couldn't get over. I told her I was sorry, but that I wasn’t going to leave my stuff (bookbag) unattended to climb over her wall and that I wasn't comfortable with going through her house to unlock the door. I got on my bike and rode away. Why did I leave her? I was scared. I didn’t want to be assaulted or robbed if the whole ordeal was a scam. The worst part is that I was acctually annoyed that the incident had made me late for work.

3. Last week on the way to the doctor, I watched a man (whom I'm assuming was homeless) walk... no, limp across the street in thread-bare socks. No shoes-socks. Dirty socks with holes. On the corner at that street-crossing was a Walgreens. I know Walgrees sells at least flip-flops and things of that nature. Did I stop and buy that man some shoes? No. As much as I hate to admit it, I drove away and arrived at my appointment 30 minutes early. I sat in a comfortable chair, saw the doctor and then drove home. Before leaving for work later that day, I changed into one of at least 8 pairs of shoes.

My question/statement/plea is this: What Would Jesus Do?
In my Bible I find passages like those in Matthew. I also see James 1:27, 1 Corinthians 13, etc. I read accounts of Jesus healing leapers, being gracious to sinners and associating with tax collectors. There are myriad examples of how Jesus dealt with people in ways that were totally counter-cultural. This brings us back to WWJD. How far do we (Christians) go to help? Should I have given the woman who was digging in my trash a box of mac-and-cheese, said "God Bless"and let her continue dumpster diving? Should I have invited her into my home for a meal, or maybe to stay? Should I have taken her to the grocery store? Should I have given her money, or commited to helping her find a "better" way to feed her family? Some of these options seem strange within the context of American (even Christian) culture. What if this woman was...shall I dare? illegal immigrant? Homosexual? On drugs? What if she had a Satanic tatoo? Would the options change? How much are Christians "required" to do before we are supposed to "shake the dust from our feet?" Should we get involved if a situation is potentially dangerous? Most importantly, how can we ensure that we are not just seeking to fulfill a mandate, but that we are striving to serve God and make him look beautiful?

Let the Conversation Continue!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Just Goes to Show You. . .

…that you can fool some of the people, but whatever God created you as, that’s what you are!

You probably saw the
news item last week about the “pregnant man.”

Thomas and Nancy Beatie aren’t your typical couple. Once Thomas became pregnant, they publicized the news though People magazine and on Oprah Winfrey’s show, where “he” said,

“Different is normal and love makes a family. And that’s all that matters.”

. . . He described pregnancy as a “human desire”, not limited to women.

Beatie was born female and called Tracy Lagondino before undergoing gender reassignment surgery. He is legally married and has been married for five years.

He was a Miss Teen Hawaii finalist but described himself as a tomboy growing up. Beatie told Winfrey he “found himself” at college after a boyfriend told him he was not feminine enough.

“I feel like I was meant to be exactly who I am today,” he said. “I’m a person and I have the right to have my own biological child,” he added.

Winfrey called the development “a new definition of what diversity means for everybody.”

Dr Kimberley James, the couple’s doctor in Bend, Oregon, told the show the pregnancy was "normal." "This baby’s totally healthy and this is, I consider, an average pregnancy," she said.

So what part of “pregnant man” is normal or average??

For a less-flattering report – one which exposes the deception more fully – see where we read:

Before People and Oprah,

"he first claimed he was pregnant in an article headlined “Labour of Love” in a gay magazine, The Advocate, last month."

He told Winfrey he had had a sex change but had not altered his reproductive organs because he wanted to have a child. . .I opted not to do anything with my reproductive organs because I wanted to have a child one day."

Not a man - a female living disguised as a man! The court that ruled to legally change Thomas’ status to a man failed. As long as she has her female reproductive system, then she remains female; and proved that she is female by getting pregnant!

Thomas, still a female legally, hormonally, and plumbing-wise, proves that it is God's design for women—not men—to bear children.

As my friend Andrew Tallman often asks on his radio show when reviewing current events, "Is this news?"

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
As P.T. Barnum said famously, "There's a sucker born every minute." Seems that Oprah, People and many others were suckered into believing this foolishness. Or more likely, they assumed their viewers and readers were stupid enough that this story would help their ratings and sales. Betcha they were right!

On a side note, according to one report I read, "Beatie’s wife Nancy said she inseminated him with a syringe using sperm purchased from a bank."

I wonder – is that a new service from Bank of America?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Drop Out Track

"This is the most insensitive church I've ever been in."

"We are looking for a church closer to our home.'

“Getting into your church is like going through a brick wall."

"Nothing ever happens at any of the meetings I go to."

'The praise team does all contemporary music."

"My children do not learn enough Bible in church school."

“'I'm really tired of not having small groups."

"I'm not sure I can do this job anymore.”

“The church is too concerned about program and not enough about spiritual growth."

"The leaders of this church never speak to me."

When I hear these statements I have a good idea that I am listening to “cries for help” from church members, church attendees, or frequent church visitors that are on the church “drop out track”. The cries are their pain and they want to express the pain by letting someone know that they are giving up and letting go.

These folks generally fall into two groups: the hopeless and the helpless. The hopeless say, “I am feeling no inner resources or strength to deal with the situation at this church, there is noting I can do.” The Helpless say, “I feel there are no external resources for help at this church, there is nothing anyone can do.” Generally, these cries are precipitated by a cluster of events or anxieties, which may not always happen in the church. The bottom line is these church members are in pain and seeking help.

What happens if they are not heard? Their cries for help will be at first verbal and indirect and then later behavioral. Their attendance will drop, participation will be discontinued, offering decreased and little or no prayer behavior. They will find a way to seal off their pain and anger about self and their environment.

Those church members who are observing or caught up in a person’s dropping out of church are confused and take a number of positions from, “fish or cut bait, get out or stay”, “give them some time”, “every church has its problems, get a life”, “what is wrong with the church”, “let us examine the situation, maybe they were never saved”, or “don’t shoot our wounded, love them and restore them”.

Every church has a ministry to “drop outs”, right? Wrong, usually the response is token or not at all. So, what should be done? If you ask “them” too many questions you might hear what you do not want to hear. What are the biblical images that come to mind, “withered branch”, “barren fruit tree”, “a weed”, “lost sheep”, or “fallen away”. Have you thought about these folks before today? How precious are these “drop outs” to you? If they are precious, what is your plan? If you deny the pain of the “drop out”, what will happen?

The heart in wonder, like a lonely wren,
Will sing a while, and then be still as long-
He waits an answer ere he sings again,
Who sings for love, and not alone for song-
The bird’s shy pipe will falter in the end,
The heart’s voice sicken if it be not heard.
They seek the absent, the beloved friend;
Song is for lovers, whether heart or bird.
So, if you hear me, tell me that you hear,
Lest I grow weary and forget to sing;
As in the sweet green season of the year
The bird that hears no answer lifts his wing
And far away, dejected and remote,
Tries other woodlands with his lonely note.
Robert Nathan

John 15:12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

(The above is commentary is on the design and works of the Reverend Dr. John Savage)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It's All About Supporting One Another!

As you probably know, this blog is part of Arizona Christian Worldview Institute (ACWI), a discipleship and training ministry whose primary means of ministry is through the media, mainly radio & publishing.

Saturday mornings at 7:00 AM, we broadcast Every Square Inch - The Arizona Christian Worldview Hour, where we discuss what it means to live all of our lives - every square inch - before the face of God. We help listeners discover a biblical worldview and integrate that view into every square inch of their lives. You can listen at KPXQ 1360 AM - or online. Listen live on Saturday mornings at, or listen to the archives at

Like most radio programs, we have advertisers, but to be honest, our advertisers only provide 28% of our broadcast expenses. The rest of our support comes from the listeners and friends of the ministry. I'd encourage you to become one of our supporters - just click here with a GENEROUS gift! And yes, we are a 501(c)(3) non-profit, so your donation is tax-free!
Many thanks!

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Separation

A couple of days ago, I received an email from a long-time friend of my family. My mother had shown him a couple of the blog entries from this site written by her favorite (and only) son. He commented that he enjoyed reading them but wanted to know if I wrote on "non-moral or secular" issues. This is a recurring theme that I have encountered in America today with many people saying it's okay to be religious or spiritual but leave all religion at the church pew on Sundays. We might get discouraged if we hear this from an unbeliever, this has been said by Christians too. This lie has been fed to believers by the spoon full for many years inside the church. Being a follower of Christ in this world is subject to ridicule, scorn and hatred. The words of Jesus are still true even in our day when He said; Don't be surprised if the world hates you, they hated me first. Since we are followers of Christ and our identity is found in him now, the way we look at life is different than our neighbor.

Former Dutch Prime Minister Abraham Kuyper, who was also an influential figure in our modern day apologetic movement, said the following, "In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, "That is Mine'

In our modern day America, we've replaced the image of the Holy, Gracious and loving God with a golden calf of our own man-made design. Promoting "Purpose Driven" lives while saying "Becoming A Better You" loudly and boldly or turning our faith into a hip new trend that is called "emergent." It may look like these new developments in the name of Christ should alarm us but I believe there is a stronger issue at hand. The bigger issue is the fact that we are all sinners who are in need of a savior, but even more foundational, we also lack an understanding of the doctrine of God. People today are quick to acknowledge God's existence or that He is loving or filled with wrath. The trouble arises when we scale down the mighty Alpha and Omega who created the world by His powerful word to a Santa Claus figure who rewards those who help themselves. Without a proper understanding of the doctrine of God, we can be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Christians. In the sense we can separate our “church” self from our “cul-de-sac” self. The call to follow Jesus does not mean also creating our own "elite" community or creating a distant city on a hill. Rather, we must remember how change happens. Change comes first and foremost inside our own hearts through the work of the Holy Spirit; then we can help others. He will help us remove the log in our eye sockets before talking with our fellow man about the speck in their eyes.

Lest we forget that the story of Jesus dying and crushing the tomb speaks to us when we are driving in rush hour traffic, when we meet our in-laws for the first time, when the Lord gives us power to flee temptation at the workplace, or the music we listen to. Once we take our eyes off our sinless Lord and onto our sinful selves, we begin to lose perspective. Isn't it ironic that we admit God being powerful on Sundays but when we get a flat tire on Monday, we forget?

I realized that after I wrote this that I used the word "we" very much. I am not placing myself on a higher level of thought or think that God thinks of me greater than those I previously mentioned. I must remind myself of everything that I have written above, because I am not free from Adam's curse and God still chose to send His son for all of my sins. These are all words that need of being impressed upon my heart and mind for all of my days.. . lest I become a hypocrite and forget who is controlling the course of history.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Welcome to the Conversation!

If you're an astute observer of this blog, you may have noticed by reading our bloggers' profiles that all of our authors are male, and three out of four are over 30 years of age (some are WELL over 30 ;~)

But not for long!

We are pleased to announce that beginning next week, we will be adding a 20-something female voice . . . actually, two! They will be tag-teaming their blogging responsibilities, so we're getting two for the price of one!

Watch for their entries to begin next Thursday, April 17!

Welcome to the conversation!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Purpose of Science Education

My teenage nephew has said that he's not certain about the existence of God, but has"lots of faith in modern science.” What do many modern scientists claim is the main purpose of science education? According to this article, the purpose is less than scientific:

It seems atheists have developed a comprehensive strategy to win the minds of
the next generation. The strategy can be described simply: let the religious
people breed them, and we will educate them to despise their parents’
beliefs. Many people think that the secularization of the minds of our
young people is the inevitable consequence of learning and maturing. In fact, it
is to a large degree orchestrated by teachers and professors to promote
anti-religious agendas.

Why the hostility to religion? “Faith is one of the world’s great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate,” writes Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion. “Religion is capable of driving people to such dangerous folly that faith seems to me to qualify as a kind of mental illness.”

Christopher Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great, writes, “How can we ever know how many children had their psychological and physical lives irreparably maimed by the compulsory inculcation of faith?”

If religion is so bad, what should be done about it? It should be eradicated. . . . But how should religion be eliminated? Our atheist educators have a short answer: through the power of science. “I personally feel that the teaching of modern science is corrosive of religious belief, and I’m all for that,” says physicist Steven Weinberg. If scientists can destroy the influence of religion on young people, “then I think it may be the most
important contribution that we can make.”

One way in which science can undermine the plausibility of religion, according to biologist E.O. Wilson, is by showing that the mind itself is the product of evolution and that free moral choice is an illusion. “If religion…can be systematically analyzed and explained
as a product of the brain’s evolution, its power as an external source of morality will be gone forever.”

By abolishing all transcendent or supernatural truths, science can establish itself as the only source of truth, our only access to reality. The objective of science education, according to biologist Richard Lewontin, “is not to provide the public with knowledge of how far it is to the nearest star and what genes are made of.” Rather, “the problem
is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world,
the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and
intellectual apparatus, science, as the only begetter of truth.”

Psychologist Nicholas Humphrey argued in a recent lecture that just as
Amnesty International works to liberate political prisoners around the world,
secular teachers and professors should work to free children from the damaging
influence of their parents’ religious instruction. . .
. . . parents who send their children to college should recognize that as professors “we are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children, trying to
strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable.”

This is how many secular teachers treat the traditional beliefs of students. The strategy is not to argue with religious views or to prove them wrong. Rather, it is to subject them to such scorn that they are pushed outside the bounds of acceptable debate. This
strategy is effective because young people who go to good colleges are extremely
eager to learn what it means to be an educated Harvard man or Stanford woman.

A couple of questions, however. . .

  • If religion is so bad, why are the atheistic countries of the world (especially
    Cuba, North Korea, China, and the Soviet Union before its collapse) such shining
    examples of human rights and freedom? ;~)

  • If religion is so bad, how do they explain the fact that universities and hospitals were both originally developed by Christians as an extension of their religious beliefs, a desire to serve the community, to educate the young and heal the sick?

  • Why were the early
    scientists, who were mostly religious people, interested in doing science in the
    first place? According to their own writings, they believed that "The heavens
    declare the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1). They believed that creation was God's
    handiwork, an extension of His own character and creativity. They
    wanted to know more about God, so studied His creations. "As two historians of
    science put it: 'The order of the reasoning here is important. The early
    scientists did not argue that the world was lawfully ordered, and therefore
    there must be a rational God. Instead, they argued that there was a rational
    God, and therefore the world must be lawfully ordered.' In other words, it was
    their profound faith in a good and rational God that made the early Christian
    scientists seek out a rational order before they even knew what it was.
    Christian theology taught the early scientists the principle of heuristics: that
    there is a "known unknown" that can be searched for, described and ultimately
    discovered." Quoted from here.

  • Why was it the religious folks (especially but not exclusively) who worked for the
    abolition of slavery - including William Wilberforce in England and the Quakers
    in the US?

As I told my nephew, Dawkins, Hitchens, Lewontin, and the others can't be ignored
simply because they are currently the loudest voices in the "science vs.
religion" and "evolution vs. creation" debates. And unfortunately, many other
scientists will listen to them just because of their reputations.

Like my nephew, I, too "have faith in what modern science has proven" but not as much in and where we are going. Where he & I might disagree would be on what's actually proven vs. what's still a theory - specifically evolution. As for the future, I see science at a fork in the road, ethically speaking. A few scientists are urging caution, saying "just because we can do something doesn't mean we should do it."

But their voices are being drowned out by others who are charging down the road doing anything
and everything they can. Genetic intervention, managed care, abortion, end-of-life care, assisted procreation, stem cell research, cloning, and "transhumanism" are all areas of concern - not because all of them are inherently evil, but because of the ethics involved - and not everyone agrees on what is ethical in certain situations.

Let the conversation continue.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Fair Minded

A cousin from Canada asked me this question, “Are the States ready for a black president?” I did not give a definitive answer as I really had not thought of the question.

To answer the question I focused on the idea of being “fair minded”. Will the voters be “fair minded”? Rather, will the political party of the black candidate be fair minded?

In 1955 I boarded a bus in El Paso, Texas. I was in my Army uniform. I headed for the back of the bus and sat down. I heard a voice say, “Solder boy”. I look forward to see the bus driver now standing looking at me. “Soldier boy, you sit up front.” I said, “Why?” and just then saw the sign, “Blacks to the back.” The driver said, “Soldier boy, up front or I call a cop to put you off this bus.”

Now in this political party having the minority candidate is a group of people called “superdelegates”. (Please be aware that the other party has superdelegates also.) Now if I understand the role of these folks it would seem to me that delegates from all over this nation could support a candidate, but the superdelegates could negate their wishes.

So my scenario, superdelegate, James Crow will say to the candidate of color, “To the back of the bus. You’re not going to be president.” But, the delegates some how prevail over the superdelegates and the black candidate will be the party standard bearer. Then, the party does what it did in 1948, it forms another party. Then it was the Dixiecrat Party, formed because President Truman racially integrated the armed forces.

Is it absurd? Or will you say, God takes care of all, His will be done, why be concerned?

How fair minded am I or how fair-minded should I be or should you be concerning candidates and issues?

“I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat." - Will Rogers

Friday, April 4, 2008

Speaking Loudly and Truthfully to..Ourselves

I'm not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination. Over the course of my limited life, I've worked shifts starting at 4am and had classes beginning at 7am. A running gag in my family is that I should not be allowed to speak until 11am due to my mumbling and inability to make any coherent sense. I've many different methods of trying to get out of bed and stay awake for the remainder of the day, but I have only found one method that wakes me up from slumber. I have started to get into the habit of praying out-loud on my morning commute to school. I am not advocating this practice to everyone but for some, it might work. Please understand I don't see this as a way of earning more brownie points with our Heavenly Father, Jesus gave me all the brownie points I'll ever need/want/have on this earth. However, this practice of speaking truth to ourselves is something that I think we all can benefit from.

Without going completely theological or analytical, I think that the words that we speak influence our actions in a stronger way than most of the situmli that surrounds us. The following hypothetical situations are situations that I think illustrate the point. If someone tells us that a certain shirt looks good on us, we will wear it again. If we're told to avoid watching a certain movie, we decide on watching something else. If as children, we are told to look both ways before crossing the street, we do so. All these situations come from the mouths of other people whom we love and respect. However there is one voice that we listen to more than any other. We all have this voice and ultimately this voice trumps the other voices that go into inside our mind. I'm talking about our own voice. We as human beings are endowed with this voice from our birth to until our death. This is the voice that tells us to take an extra cookie from the cookie jar, it tells us to speed up at the light, it tells us that an extra ten minutes of reading blogs won't hurt us, or it tells us (or me in particular) to hit the snooze button again.

Since we have a strong voice inside of us, but an even greater God who transcends all time and space, why not seize this little creature by the throat and use it for the glory of our God? I know that this might not seem like a radical idea but I think that speaking truth to ourselves can be one of the biggest ways God brings us closer to His side. One of my biggest heroes of the faith was a man by the name of Martin Lloyd Jones and the following quote has brought encouragement to me in many different seasons of life. It is my hope that it does the same to you today:

"The main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self. Am I just trying to be deliberately paradoxical? Far from it. This is the very essence of wisdom in this matter. Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problem of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man's treatment [in Psalm 42] was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself, 'Why art thou cast down, O my soul?' he asks. His soul had been repressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: 'Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you'. Do you know what I mean? If you do not, you have but little experience.

The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: 'Why art thou cast down'--what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: 'Hope thou in God'--instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: 'I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God'. --- From Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures, pp. 20-21