Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Poolside Security

We were enjoying the poolside fun at a Lake of the Ozarks resort. David was three years old and he loved the water, the splashing, the pool toys and the people who were having a blast right in front of his eyes. His mother would, occasionally, take him to the shallow end to play. He was enthralled with it all. He couldn’t get enough. This is typical of an active, enthusiastic, reckless three-year-old! He didn’t know at the time there was a major difference between the shallow end with Mom and the deep end without Mom. I sensed his reckless, carefree spirit.

A group of us decided to go water skiing. Mom, who prefers the relaxed atmosphere of the poolside cabana, decided to stay and watch David and enjoy the morning with him. As I was leaving with our daughter, I reminded my wife she needed to keep a close eye on David since he hadn’t yet learned the difference between six feet of water and two feet of water. All he could see was the top and that all looked the same to him. Just as I was giving this sage piece of advice to my wife, David took off full gallop, as a three-year-old does, toward the deep end of the pool and did a full cannonball with his entire 32 pounds of baby fat. He bobbed once to the surface and began to sink. I raced to the edge of the pool, reached down, grabbed his flailing arm and frantically pulled him to the surface. Now here is the amazing part. He wanted none of this saving effort from his dad. He fought me all the way to the surface and continued the struggle even after his head came above the water. Can you imagine that? It’s true!

Now, it really doesn’t take much imagination to realize that I would radically interfere with his childish "free will". After all, he is a member of the family of Mom and Dad Van. Does anyone think for a minute that his will would prevail? Could he have just jumped out of my hand? Not while I was in control! "But, you’ll ruin his little creative spirit", is the modern day rejoinder. As my little granddaughter would say, "Duh,.... I think you just preserved it."

Now, I cannot count the number of times this scene, in varied form, has repeated itself in my own relationship with our Heavenly Father throughout the course of life. I will not go into personal detail but suffice it to say there have been numerous times, I’m sure, all of us have run headlong toward the deep end of the pool not foreseeing the spiritual danger. But God, in his preserving power, draws us back, in His own time, from the edge of destruction. In Calvinism this is known as the "Perseverance of the Saints"....when actually I think all would agree it is more about the Perseverance of God. "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil 1:6) I Thank God for His preserving grace toward each of us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:35-39)

His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
—Annie Johnson Flint

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Food for Thought?

Top Ten Religious Pareidolia (see Fox News below)

1. Virgin Mary on Rye
2. Nun Bun
3. Holy Cow
4. Potato-Salad Jesus
5. Cooking-Pan Jesus
6. Fish-Stick Jesus
7. Fish-Bone Jesus
8. Granite Jesus
9. Miraculous Melon
10. Virgin Mary in a Tree

Should one ask: Is there a need for proper Christian teaching in the world?

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Rom 1:21-23)

WCF XXI:1 I. The light of nature showeth that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and doth good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might.[1] But the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture.[2]

1. Rom. 1:20; Psa. 19:1-4a; 50:6; 86:8-10; 89:5-7; 95:1-6; 97:6; 104:1-35; 145:9-12; Acts 14:17; Deut. 6:4-5
2. Deut. 4:15-20; 12:32; Matt. 4:9-10; 15:9; Acts 17:23-25; Exod. 20:4-6, John 4:23-24; Col. 2:18-23

Click for the full Fox News Story and photos.
Click for Wikipedia Report

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Steamroller Cometh

I can, somehow, hear what people might be thinking after reading some of my blog entries. "Why don’t you just leave that church and that denomination..why are you still hanging around?" That "Ferris Buehler" gem comes during the rolling of the credits... "What are you still doing here? It's over. Go home. I mean it, go home!"...says Ferris.

Jim Berkley made a comment, which I posted below on the "Dilemma" entry. I quote it again here: "We would all like ease and peace. But this is a fallen world, and we have another task: withstanding evil. We ignore and neglect that responsibility to our own peril, and especially to the peril of the most vulnerable." (Jim Berkley) You may not have gotten the full meaning of that quote if you didn’t click and follow the links to where it was discussed. But, here is my understanding: For those who are mature in the faith...,at least relatively so, if you up and jump ship...what about those as depicted in the cartoon below...."the most vulnerable". Who will be left to warn..that the "steamroller cometh", that is, when the "steamroller cometh"? When the laws and rules of the larger body..effect the smaller body..that is, the local congregation...,who would be left to point out to the less mature brothers and sisters the folly of bad decisions? Can a throne of destruction be allied with You, One which devises mischief by decree? Ps 94:20 NASB If this were to happen...who would sound the alarm?

"Do you, the members of this congregation, as those who are already under the obligation of this covenant, welcome into your fellowship these who have now professed their faith in Christ and their purpose as His disciples, and do you promise to encourage and help them in the Christian life?" As members of our local congregation we make this vow (or something similar) upon reception of new members and those baptized.
These are the ones Jim Berkley, I believe, see as the most vulnerable and if we abandon...would be neglecting our responsibility. Just thinking out loud......!

(click to enlarge)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Per Capita

"In essence Per capita is a set amount of money (apportionment) per member that congregations pay to the larger Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Said another way, it is a Presbyterian Covenant Community Fund — part of the glue that holds Presbyterians together. Because every Presbyterian shares in the benefit of the PC(USA)’s system of government, the expenses associated with coordinating and performing the functions of that system should be shared by everyone as well." (

“...........per capita came before the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission 1986 in the case of Buonaiuto v. First Presbyterian Church. In that case, an individual member had sought to prevent his session from remitting his share of its per capita apportionment. The commission ruled:
[P]reventing one governing body of the church from carrying out its rightful responsibilities to another governing body lies outside the rights of an individual member." (

Aha....but it doesn’t prevent him from creating a CARTOON, when he feels funds are being misspent:
(The Layman Online)

(click to enlarge)

Monday, July 14, 2008


(click to enlarge)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Dilemma

My daughter & her husband were carefully screened when they adopted their daughter. The adoption agencies had guidelines to detect possible familial dysfunction. Dysfunction constituted an immediate deal breaker. No child would be placed in a dysfunctional family and ignoring dysfunction was not an option. The 218th General Assembly of the PC(USA) and the decisions that have come from it have effectively rendered our Church a dysfunctional family. Our local conservative congregation is attempting to move in one direction and the denomination is moving in an opposite direction. In my position, that is, from the pew, the congregation and the denomination are a package, a family deal... so:

Here are my choices in dealing with a dysfunctional church family: Should I......
  1. stay and work to bring the denomination back to its roots and eliminate the dysfunction.
  2. stay and work to get the local congregation to accept dysfunction as normal.
  3. stay and work to get the local congregation to leave the denomination.
  4. leave the local congregation and the denomination and find a new fellowship.
  5. stay and live with it, informing converts and new members of the dysfunction.
  6. stay and ignore or hide the dysfunction from others.

These are the choices and the struggles I’m personally facing and I suspect thousands of informed others in the PCUSA are also. Here is some advice that I have been able to glean from other bloggers (Pastors and Laymen) as they ponder many of the same questions:

On option 1 above: (Efforts at the denominational level).. hasn't done a thing in renewing the denomination into a more effective Gospel preaching, Truth teaching, Christ witnessing, Cross bearing, World caring, God fearing, Scripture loving, Servant leading, Church planting organization. (Dave Moody)

On option 1 above: Right now we're all family, and even though we think our brothers and sisters on the other side have gone bonkers, we need to figure out ways to make this family work and to reintroduce a little order and morality back into the family system. (Jim Berkley)

On option 4 above: We would all like ease and peace. But this is a fallen world, and we have another task: withstanding evil. We ignore and neglect that responsibility to our own peril, and especially to the peril of the most vulnerable. (Jim Berkley)

On option 3 above: So you "simply" split. You walk away. Now, if you think you have been preoccupied with peripheral activities, you haven't seen anything yet! You need to reorganize. You must fight your way out. You must deal with families split right down the middle over staying or going. You must reinvent several wheels. You must deal with placing significant new resources directly in the hands of the old denomination, now in the hands of people who would be unfettered to use the resources for destructive purposes contrary to the gospel. And the list goes on. Things just got harder and more complicated, rather than simpler and clearer. (Jim Berkley)

On option 6 above: If we don't make a big deal, on the congregational level, of divisions/splits/etc, then nobody in our neighborhood knows about them! (Drew)

You can click on the names to see the various quotes in their entirety and for the original context. These statements are put here only for the purpose of giving the flavor of the discussions as they are taking place in the blogosphere and to help in making decisions that must be made. Originally this entry was intended to be another comment on one of the blogs that are discussing the subject...but as you can see it ballooned into its own blog entry.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

What's it all about, Alfie?

The song goes on to say, "Is it just for the moment we live? What's it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?"

Fort Leonard Wood, Mo is affectionately called "Little Korea" by those who have spent time there based upon a comparison of climates. It is a place where soldiers train in sweltering humid heat in the summer and endure freezing meat-locker temperatures in the winter. My experience was during the "meat-locker" season. Our Company was trucked out to the "obstacle course" for infiltration and attack training while under fire through various obstacles and always under, around and through carefully laid barbed wire. Just after sunset the icing had begun in the low spots from a recent typical Missouri rain, sleet, snow, hail storm. The temperature was hovering just below freezing. Machine gun fire was constant as we crawled through the icy water always aware of the live tracer fire just above our heads. Emerging from the end of the course we were drenched from head to foot from slithering through low spots that had collected all the frosty, ice-laden waters.

Stand at ease, in formation, were our instructions, as the rest of the company finished the course. Temperatures were now beginning to drop and the water-drenched clothing began to freeze in place as it draped each part of our body. It is not for naught that the US Army is known for their "hurry up and wait" policies. It seemed an eternity before the rest of the Company finished the course, and then to put more icing on a frost-laden cake the trucks that were ordered by staff to return us to the warmth of our barracks were nowhere in site. "Stand fast", were the orders of the moment. When the canvass covered deuce and a half troop carrying trucks finally arrived and we were permitted to move toward boarding, ice particles literally broke free from our clothing and the sound was of a bucket of ice being thrown onto an asphalt parking lot.

It was times like these that caused the reflection, "What’s it all about, Alfie?" We were not given the the tools nor the equipment to endure for long the conditions described above and many were wondering whether or not to continue on. Some didn’t! As I was reflecting upon the events of the past two weeks and especially our Church’s historic departure from orthodoxy during their 218th General Assembly, once again the words of the song came back to me, "What’s it all about, Alfie? Is it just for the moment we live? What’s it all about when you sort it out?" As Christians we have the armour, the tools, the equipment and we are simply told to take it, use it! "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." Eph 6:13 In reflection, I think of all those faithful Christians who, like good soldiers, have gone on before, who have withstood any and all obstacles that were put before them, who have fought the good fight of faith and like Paul, finished the course. Now, I’m not sure what the future holds, but this one thing I do know, our orders are clear; "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." 2Th 2:15 God help us to "stand fast, and hold the traditions which we have been taught".

Barbara C. Ryberg says it well in this poem:

He does not lead me year by year
Nor even day by day,
But step-by-step my path unfolds;
My Lord directs the way.
Tomorrow's plans I do not know,
I only know this minute;
But He will say, "This is the way,
By faith now walk in it."
And I am glad that this is so,
Today's enough to bear;
And when tomorrow comes,
His grace Shall far exceed its care.
What need to worry then, or fret?
The God who gave His Son
Holds all my moments in His hand
And gives them, one by one.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Are Your Ears Burning?

Look who's talking about us:

A Date With Disaster
(Al Mohler, President Southern Baptist Seminary)

Panel Approves Ordaining Active Gays (Courier Journal)

Reshaping the PCUSA (Presbyterians for Renewal)

PCUSA is Un-Hinged (New Wineskins Association)

Presbyterians Plant Seeds of Self-Destruction
(Institute on Religion & Democracy)

Presbyterians Gay Clergy Ban Overturned (Huffington Post)

Presbyterians Advance Gay Clergy Proposal (Christian Post)