Sunday, December 30

Perfect Cheaters?

Although several readers continue to grumble over this blog's apparent infatuation with the Perfect Cheaters 2007 season, we refuse to compromise our stand for righteousness and truth.

So as a reminder to our faithful and truth-loving readers, here is the photo asterisk the Patriots have earned this season:


For those who are still a bit perplexed by the Patriots' cameraman on the Jets sideline, here is an enlarged image of the infamous illegal defensive-signal thievery:


To Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and the remainder of the 2007 New England Patriots:

Congratulations, you have earned your place in the history books ... beside Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, and Floyd Landis. The only difference between your success and theirs? You get to keep your record--although you, too, were caught cheating.

Who said cheaters never prosper?

Addendum: If any of our readers are familiar with Ray Comfort's The Way of the Master evangelizing technique ... here's a treat for you: "If you have ever broken the rules governing an athletic contest, what does that make you?! If telling a lie makes someone a liar, then cheating makes someone a cheater."

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Monday, December 24

SBC President on CBS Documentary: "God and Satan constantly battling over the souls of men."

After watching the documentary, it seems there is cause for concern regarding Frank Page's views on tragedy, evil, and spiritual warfare. In case you missed the documentary, here is a Baptist Press article describing the context of Page's words:

The same French brothers who filmed an award-winning documentary about Sept. 11, 2001, have put together a unique documentary with up-close and personal looks at 12 worldwide religious leaders, including Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page.

"In God's Name" will air on CBS Sunday from 9-11 p.m. ET/PT. In addition to Page, it will take a look at Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson and the Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama, as well as Russian Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Sikh leaders.

Filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet were thrust into the national spotlight thanks to a quirk of history on Sept. 11, 2001. They were filming a documentary on firefighters that tragic morning when, only blocks away, the first plane flew into the World Trade Center. They recorded what is believed to be the only film of the first plane hitting the towers and were inside the towers when the first one collapsed. Their film, "9/11," won an Emmy.

"I was running for my life and was quite convinced I was about to die," Jules said in a promotional clip for their new documentary. "These questions popped into my head -- Why am I here? Where am I going? What does it all mean?"

Said Gedeon, "How do you deal with having been confronted with [death] so directly, so violently? How do you make sense of it?"

Many people, Gedeon said, were asking, "Where was God that day?"

Their quest for answers led them to travel to eight countries, in addition to Illinois and South Carolina, to interview a dozen of the world's most influential religious leaders. CBS is calling the documentary the "first time" this group of leaders has "appeared in one broadcast."

The documentary features interviews with the leaders as well as intimate looks at their private lives, from their homes to their places of worship.

A promotional clip shows Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., baptizing a young girl.

"I believe in the reality of spiritual warfare," he says in the documentary. "I believe God and Satan are constantly battling for the hearts and the souls of men and women." (Italics added for emphasis)
Continue reading HERE.

Perhaps I am being a bit too technical--or perhaps Page misrepresents tragedy, evil, and spiritual warfare (and underestimates God's power and authority).

Spiritual warfare is not God and Satan battling it out over the souls of men (as if both were equally powerful and wise and sovereign); spiritual warfare is a defeated adversary's futile attempt at thwarting a sovereign and wise God's eternally perfect and immutable plan.

Apart from a sovereign, wise, omnipotent, and faithful God, there is no hope amid national and natural disasters. As the Psalmist states:
For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.
This understanding of our God's sovereign rule and mercy elicits great hope from Jeremiah the Prophet:
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

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Sunday, December 23

Brett Favre - How Does the Grass at Soldier Field Taste? - Da Bears!!!

In a season filled with disappointment and unmet expectations the Chicago Bears gave a small vindication to their fan base by completely dominating the pathetic Green Bay packers today at Soldier Field in Chicago. No excuses here folks...the packers desperately needed this win in order to secure home field advantage for the playoffs. So, your little excuse of saying that we "went up against your third stringers" simply is not going to fly with this one! Remember, Brett Favre has NEVER won in Dallas and proved earlier this year that he simply cannot get the job done in Dallas.

The Bears dominated EVERY aspect of this game - the trenches, defense, the running game, the passing game, special teams and intimidation. Who would have thought that the Bears THIRD STRING quarterback would show up future hall of famer Brett Favre??? But that is exactly what happened in a game that saw Kyle Orton make a strong case for getting at least a look going into next season. It was sad to see the likes of packer linebacker Nick Barnett resort to unsportsmanlike fighting and brawling near the end of the game in an act of desperation instead of just humbly conceding that the better team had handed it to his team up and down the field!

Watching the Bears play today reminded me a great deal of the team that we saw last year and were expecting to show up this year. Yes, sweeping Green Bay is always sweet. The packers have been nothing more than overrated all year long and I trust that the playoffs will prove that in short time. Favre proved once again that if you get consistent pressure on him he becomes nothing more than an inconsequential participant in a football game. He was throwing from his heels the whole game and became well acquainted with the grass on the field. The Bears vaunted defense shut down the packers' offense in every facet of the game.

Yes, I am aware that the packers are going to the playoffs and the Bears are not. However, I am also aware that the packers will NOT have home field advantage going into the playoffs and were SWEPT by DA BEARS this season in dominant fashion. For the pathetic pack, they have nothing more to look forward to other than an embarrassing showing that is to come in the playoffs.

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Friday, December 21

Church Membership Requirements During the Great Awakening

One thing that always coincides with a growing Christian is one who has a biblical understanding of what it means to be a faithful member of a local church. More times than not, a sporadic church member who refuses to commit to a church body will usually refuse to be an obedient Christian as well. Another characteristic that we find coinciding with a healthy move of God's Spirit among His people is a strong commitment on the part of churches to be sure that those who join their church are actually regenerate, showing fruit of regeneration, are publicly committed to their local church, are serving others in their local church and avoiding the syndrome of hopping from church to church in an effort to find what "they are looking for" instead of what God demands from His people.

We find such a commitment from a group of Presbyterian churches in the 1790's in the midst of the first Great Awakening who drew up seven statements of principles that prospective church members needed to understand before they were united in membership.

  1. A church is a society of Christians, voluntarily associated together, for the worship of God, and spiritual improvement & usefulness.
  2. A visible church consists of visible or apparent Christians.
  3. The children of visible Christians are members of the visible church, though in a state of minority.
  4. A visible Christian is one, who understands the doctrines of the Christian religion, is acquainted with a work of God's Spirit in effectual calling, professes repentance from dead works, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and subjection to him as a king; and whose life and conversation corresponds with his profession.
  5. Sealing ordinances ought not to be administered to such as are not visible Christians.
  6. A charitable allowance ought to be made for such, whose natural abilities are weak, or who have not enjoyed good opportunities of religious instruction, when they appear to be humble and sincere.
  7. Children and youth, descended from church members, though not admitted to all the privileges of the church, are entitled to the instructions of the church, and subjected to its discipline.
--Iain Murray, Revival and Revivalism, Banner of Trust (1994), pp. 106-107

What do we learn from this? That among strong churches there is a strong emphasis on the commitment to the local body - their spiritual and physical needs. We also find a strong emphasis on the fruit of regeneration being manifested out in the believer's life and church discipline being administered for the good of the individual and the church body.

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Thursday, December 20

Rick Warren Giving Counsel to Jewish Leaders on How to Grow Their Congregations

Let's see here what is wrong with this picture. A professing evangelical pastor encouraging Christ-rejecting Jewish leaders on how to grow their congregations! Question - Do we really want those who reject Christ to grow their movements or congregations?

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“There are some principles that apply regardless of our faith, if it’s Jewish or Christian,” he said at the convention.

One of his principles: “Just be nice to people. Smile.”

After Warren spoke a few minutes at the podium, he sat alongside two popular Southern California rabbis for a casual talk about strengthening congregational life.

Other advice given by Warren included looking at everything from an outsider’s viewpoint, such as simplifying worship terms, making strangers feel welcome, and encouraging interaction.

You can read the post in its entirety HERE.

Okay....let's take a look at this for a moment...nothing about building a church on the gospel. Nothing about sin. Nothing about Scripture. Nothing about hell or the punishment of sin being poured out on Christ. Nothing about Christ AT ALL! Oh, but there is plenty about "being nice" and being sure to "smile". Wouldn't you think that this would be a golden opportunity for "America's Pastor" to actually be pastoral and share the Good News to these Jews that the Messiah indeed has come!!!

This is yet another confirmation as to the dangerous direction that Warren has been headed in for quite some time now.

And by the way....Just in case you were wondering what this group of "Reform Jews" believes I will go ahead and post what they have on their own website as to "What is Reform Judaism?"

  • Reform Jews are committed to the principle of inclusion, not exclusion. Since 1978 the Reform Movement has been reaching out to Jews-by-choice and interfaith families, encouraging them to embrace Judaism. Reform Jews consider children to be Jewish if they are the child of a Jewish father or mother, so long as the child is raised as a Jew.
  • Reform Jews are committed to the absolute equality of women in all areas of Jewish life. We were the first movement to ordain women rabbis, invest women cantors, and elect women presidents of our synagogues.
  • Reform Jews are also committed to the full participation of gays and lesbians in synagogue life as well as society at large.

You can read the entire portion of that explanation HERE.

Again, this is an openly professing evangelical pastor who has put the priority of a social gospel ahead of a biblical gospel. Sad...truly sad.

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Wednesday, December 19

Guest Blogger: Will Hatfield Ordination Prep, Part 3

Let me repeat:

You know the purpose of this exercise.

You know the rules of engagement.

You know Will wants your feedback.

So here we go.

Will Hatfield on Revelation and Certainty.
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How do we know God?

In our modern, scientific world claiming truth is often looked on with skepticism. How can anyone claim they know “TRUTH”? After all, we have “known” many things that have been disproven by using the scientific method and getting rid of superstitious ideas. Many people think this should apply to Christianity as well.

Let’s look first of all at where this idea has taken us. If we believe that the story behind Christianity and truths contained in it are merely superstitious, the only place we can start in our attempts at truth is ourselves and our experience. We now live in a post-modern age where men have attempted in many ways to find truth but have only ended up being questioned by someone else and their experience. Who is to say who is right? It seems like “all claims about… ‘the meaning’ are actually covert strategies for pursuing one interest to the exclusion of others.”[1] We end up with a skepticism that declares the death of God, the impossibility of communication, or even the denial of reality. One of the blessings of this type of skepticism is it proves that without God in the picture we have no hope of finding truth with any certainty on our own. This is where we end up in our search for truth.

At the same time we must ask ourselves, “How do I know God is in the picture and not something of my own imagination?” We’ll come back to the idea of certainty. But let’s look at some length at the idea of revelation. Revelation is God making Himself known to us.

Revelation

General revelation is God making Himself known primarily in what can be seen around us (Rom. 1:18-20). God has revealed Himself through His creation so that God can be understood to a certain extent through nature, (Ps. 19; Rom. 1:18-20; Matt. 5:45; Acts 14:17). Through nature man can see God’s eternal power and divinity (Rom. 1:18-20). If there is evidence that man did not make this and yet there is evidence of a designer, one can see certain things about God and His care of creation. This knowledge is suppressed by man through his unrighteous thoughts and deeds (Rom. 1). But this knowledge is still there and enough so that all men are without excuse in their search for reality.

Special Revelation involves a narrower focus than that of general revelation. It involves that information needed by man for a specific knowledge and relationship with the God who is there. Special revelation refers to God’s self-disclosure whereby the specific people at particular times and places gain further understanding of God’s character and how to have a relationship with Him (Exo. 3-4; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

Throughout history people have claimed to have revelation from God. How do we know if this is true? Christianity claims that through signs and miracles, the written words of the prophets and apostles, and the deeds and words of Jesus Christ God has revealed himself in history. This special revelation was done primarily through His Word—the Bible. The Bible reveals a God who knows the world and this revelation is consistent with the world as we experience it. God reveals Himself consistently throughout the history contained in the Bible. God also uses various types of communication in order for us to have quality understanding of the message and provides many witnesses of His revelation. The Bible appears to be consistent with itself, consistent with the world as we experience it, and refers to more than one type of communication – the experiences of real people, the history of Israel, the death and resurrection of Christ, the covenants of the Old Testament, and the apostolic history in the New.

What about other religions that claim revelation from God or gods? As one understands more of what the Bible says and compares reality with the consistency found there, one can see that other claims to revelation fail to consistently explain our experiences, our desires, our history, or our future. There can be value in other religions in better understanding how men think, but the Bible helps us understand how God thinks. The Bible reveals a God who would be very difficult to invent: merciful and yet absolutely holy, totally in control and holding men responsible for their actions. Look at the chapter on God for more thoughts about His revelation of Himself.

God revealed Himself through the Bible in propositional truth, also called divine speech, to explain Who He is. In revealing Himself to man He used human language and therefore special revelation is anthropic, meaning that despite the fact that God is above man yet God used human concepts found in the common human language and human occurrences of that time in history to convey His truth. Because God’s revelation of Himself is propositional it can be recorded and preserved. This is known as inspiration.

Inspiration

Inspiration may be defined as the Holy Spirit’s superintendence of the human authors so that while they were writing according to their own styles and personalities, they composed and recorded without error God’s revelation to man in the words of the original autographs. There are several elements to this definition which should be noted. 1) There is the divine element– The Holy Spirit superintended the human authors so ensuring the accuracy of the recorded revelation. 2) The human element indicates that the authors were not copying dictation but using their own personality and style. 3) The result of the divine-human authorship is God’s truth recorded without error. 4) The character of inspiration, therefore, extends down to even the selection of words by the writers. 5) Inspiration relates to what was originally written.

As you look into the Bible, the Bible teaches that they are the words of the Bible are in fact God’s Words. For instance, in affirming the resurrection for the Sadducees, Jesus quoted Exodus 3:6 and pointed to the “I am” found there as the basis for His argument. If the words were not inspired, His argument would have been useless.

The Bible also teaches that all of Scripture is inspired, not just a part. In Matthew 5:17-18 Christ affirmed that not even the smallest letter would pass from the law till it was fulfilled. In Luke 24:44 He reminded the disciples that all of the Old Testament pointed to Him and must be fulfilled.

Inerrancy of the Bible

Though much debated today, the Bible is free from error. It has the quality of inerrancy. This is because God is true. Since God is true and the Scriptures are breathed out by God (II Tim. 3:16), the Bible must be true. Inerrancy means that when all the facts are known, the Scriptures in their original autographs and properly interpreted will be shown to be wholly true in everything they teach, whether that teaching has to do with doctrine, history, science, geography, geology, or other disciplines or knowledge. Inerrancy does allow for variety in style and for variety in details explaining the same event. It also allows for departure from standard forms of grammar. Inerrancy demands, however, that the account does not teach error or contradiction.

Historicity of the Bible

While recognizing that the Bible is not a textbook of ancient history, the Bible is, however, true when it speaks of historic events. Many of the accounts recorded are eyewitness accounts of what actually happened. The Holy Spirit superintended all accounts so that they were recorded without error and yet conveyed God’s message to the world.

Authority of the Bible

By the authority of the Bible it is meant that the Bible, as the expression of God’s will to man, possesses the right supremely to define what we are to believe and how we are to conduct ourselves. There is a pattern to this authority, though. The written Word of God, correctly interpreted, is the objective basis of authority. It has the power of truth for everyone. The Holy Spirit is needed in His illuminating and persuading work to provide the subjective basis of authority. This provides the power of conviction unto action.

How was the Bible determined to be from God? Canonicity

People who believed in God’s revelation to man found in the Bible used the community of believers to establish accountably what was from God. There was never any private decision in deciding what was the canon of Scripture.

What criteria were used?

The criterion used in acknowledging the Old Testament books include several things. There was a criterion of authorship– the Pentateuch was accepted because it was from God’s servant Moses. Another criterion was if the book indicated Divine authorship. Did it reflect God speaking through a mediator? Another criterion was if the book was historically accurate. A final criterion was how the book was received by the Jews.

The church recognized which books were canonical as a result of persecution and heresy. They applied four tests. The first was if the author was an apostle or was connected with an apostle. The second was if the book was accepted by the church at large. In other words, the book had been recognized as important over a wide geographical area. This actually delayed the recognition of some legitimate books. The third was if the book consistently reflected orthodox doctrine. The fourth was if the book had the quality of inspiration. It reflected itself as a work of the Holy Spirit.

The books of the Bible were inspired and authoritative the moment they were written. There was a human recognition of this– especially as the people recognized the writer as God’s spokesperson. Finally these books were collected into a canon.

How do we still have the Bible today?

Although none of the original autographs have been found today, a reliable biblical text can be established. The Jews developed rather early strict and somewhat tedious rules for the copying of their manuscripts. A spectacular example of this is the scroll of Isaiah. Prior to the discovery at Qumran the oldest known scroll was A.D. 900. Comparing the scroll found at Qumran and dated at 125 B.C. it was concluded that there was no significant difference between the two scrolls. Also the text of the Old Testament was preserved through translation into the Septuagint, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the Aramaic Targums.

The New Testament texts, of course, were written much more recently. There are, therefore, many more extant manuscripts of these books. Over 5,000 portions of manuscripts are extant today in papyrus, uncials, miniscules, and different version or translation of the Greek texts. Through study of these manuscripts, we can see that the text available today is in substance that of the original autographs. It is evident that God has been preserving His Word through the centuries in order that we might have it today.

Back to certainty: But how can we be certain?

Certainty as used in our scientific world is somewhat different than is normally used. If we demand certainty like we can demand repeatability from scientific experiments, then we will never be certain of much of anything. This can be seen in our postmodern, relativistic world. As finite men we will never have absolute certainty because we aren’t unlimited in our abilities to ascertain. But if we understand what the Bible says about God and start with the presupposition that God created this world so that we can know and love Him, then as we look at the world and especially at God’s revelation in the Bible we can be assured of what we believe to be true. We can also see that God provides a variety of types of revelation within the Bible in order to establish the pattern of what He is doing.

Can we understand the Bible?

If we start with the presupposition that God wants us to know Him, then the most normal interpretation of the Bible should be our standard for interpreting it. Literal interpretation has been described as plain, normal interpretation of the Scriptures. It has been called grammatical-historical interpretation. Literal interpretation is defined as interpretation which gives to every word the same meaning it would have in normal usage. It is first of all grammatical. It involves the meanings of words and the relationship of those words to others (grammar and syntax). Literal interpretation also involves interpreting passages contextually in their literary, historical, and theological contexts.

The idea of progressive revelation is important in understanding the message of the whole Bible. The idea is that God has not revealed Himself all at once or in all aspects to man. Instead, He has given revelation parts at a time to different people in different situations in history. The Bible is revelation in progress. Its parts are seen, not as arranged after their development, but as arranging themselves in the course of their development, and growing, in measurable stages, into the perfect form they attain at last. For instance, Paul said, in Acts 17, that in former times God had overlooked Gentile ignorance but now calls everyone to repentance. John 1:17 says, “The Law was given through Moses; but grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”


[1] Vanhoozer, Kevin J. Is there a meaning in this text?. Zondervan, p. 156.

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Tuesday, December 18

If You Read Only One Book on Early Church History ...

Read F. F. Bruce's, The Spreading Flame.

I am currently (but not too quickly) devouring Bruce's words with childlike enthusiasm for a seminary class at Reformed Baptist Seminary. I have never read such a unique (and exciting) history of the early church.

Bruce's approach to history is fascinating. He treats the subject with passion and delight--translating the reader back in time and making him feel as if he were watching history unfold first-hand. Bruce's ability to dramatize (without inserting opinion or conjecture) historical events will keep novice historians (like myself) glued to the page.

Bruce's book is practical, too. Recently I have been embroiled in an ongoing discussion with one of my blogmates (hint: I am not related to him) and a friend over the validity of divorce in cases of adultery and desertion. My blogmate has recently flip-flopped on the issue--adopting John Piper's no-divorce/remarriage view. Understanding a bit of historical theology has enlightened our conversation, especially when addressing the legalistic tendencies of the sadducees and pharisees (note: I am not referring to any of my friends as members of either group!).

So here's a brief excerpt to whet your appetite. Bruce is addressing Jesus' earthly ministry and how Jesus' view of the law differed from the legalistic coldness of the religious leaders' disdain for compassion (pages 41-42):

As Jesus continued His work, misgivings began to arise. The common people heard Him gladly, but others began to feel uneasy about His failure to conform to the accepted standards of rabbinical practice and precept. The company that He kept at times was particularly shocking; He seemed to have no objection to consorting with outrageous offenders against the current social and moral codes. And there was something about His teaching that was quite disturbing to the exponents of the traditional law. "He taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes"; instead of quoting venerated precedents, He set them aside in favor of His own interpretations: "You have heard that it was said to them of old time ... but I say unto you ..."

The two chief rabbinical schools of the day, we have said, were those of Hillel and Shammai. Many stories were related to illustrate the differing viewpoints of these two great rabbis. The most famous is the story of the would-be proselyte who went to Shammai and invited him to summarize the whole law while the inquirer stood on one leg. The severe Shammai drove the man away indignantly. But when he approached the milder Hillel with the same request, he received the answer: "What is hateful to yourself, do not to your neighbor. That is the whole law; everything else is a commentary on that; go and learn it."


It is natural that the teaching of Jesus should be compared with what has been preserved of the teaching of Shammai and Hillel. Hillel's summary of the law, of course, reminds us at once of the Golden Rule enunciated by Jesus. And in general, as we might expect, Jesus' teaching has more parallels with the teaching of the liberal Hillel than with Shammai's. The school of Shammai was probably dominant among the Pharisees in the days of Jesus, and we think naturally of its adherents when we read Jesus' denunciations of those who laid heavy burdens on men's shoulders without moving a finger themselves to lighten the load.

But we should not press too close a parallel between Jesus and Hillel. In one point, indeed, Jesus agreed with Shammai more than with Hillel. Hillel made divorce easy; Shammai made it difficult; Jesus probably forbade it all together.
But the very reason for which Jesus probably forbade divorce illustrates the basic principle of all His teaching. The law of Moses, admittedly, authorized divorce. This, said Jesus, was a concession to the hardness of men's hearts. He did not blame Moses for making the concession; Moses had to legislate for the situation with which he was faced. But it was not God's ideal, and nothing less than God's ideal was good enough for Jesus' followers, the citizens of the new kingdom. What God's ideal was might be discovered by going back to the first principles and finding out what God intended when He instituted marriage ...

The accumulated interpretation of centuries--the oral law, the "tradition of the elders"--Jesus swept aside as obscuring the original purpose of God in giving instruction to His people. His whole approach was poles apart from the casuistical approach of the rabbis. This was so, pre-eminently, with His attitude to the sabbath law.
Great stuff; and although Bruce and I disagree on the divorce issue, it helps me to understand the religious climate against which Jesus is speaking.

Now ... although this was a post regarding Bruce's outstanding early church history, I am willing to open a proverbial can of worms: if only someone could convince me that the Matthew 19 passage is speaking of a betrothal period. To do so, one must jump through contextual hoops and ignore the parallelism of Jesus' words concerning Moses (i.e., if Moses isn't speaking of betrothal, then Jesus is not speaking of betrothal).
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Although the book is no longer in print, it is available at Amazon.com and Half.com.

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Monday, December 17

Could the Patriots Be Headed For a Late-Season Loss?

Well ... consider this.

While the media continues to laud Tom Brady (the New England quarterback), the stats from the last four games tell a bit of a different story.

It's true; Tom Brady leads the league in nearly every quarterback category. But the league has done some major catching-up over the past four weeks. It appears that teams have picked up on several of Brady's shortcomings--namely consistent pressure, and forcing him to throw on the run.

Here are Brady's collective stats from the last four games.

QB Rating: 90.4
Completion Percentage: 59.4
Yards/Game: 294
TD: 7
Int: 2
Sacks: 7

Now to be honest, many quarterbacks would be satisfied to carry those numbers through an entire season. In fact, Brady would most likely be content to do so.

But we are talking about the league's *best* and only *undefeated* team. They boast a great defense. Their receiving corps is the best in the game. The offensive line has conceded only 17 sacks in 14 games.

But Brady's numbers have been plummeting. And here's indisputable proof:

1) Prior to week twelve, Brady's QB rating was a whopping 129.6. Following the last four games, his QB rating plummeted to 119.7. Still a great rating, but a ten point difference in a four-game span is huge in the NFL.

2) Prior to week twelve, Brady's completion percentage was 74.7%. In the past four games, Brady has completed only 59.4% of his passes.

3) Prior to week twelve, Brady had averaged 9.27 yards per attempt (YPA). In the past four games, he has averaged a mediocre 6.9 yards per attempt.

4) Prior to week twelve, Brady had been sacked only 10 times. In the past four weeks, he has been sacked 7 times.

And here's the kicker. In lopsided wins (11 of New England's wins qualify as lopsided wins), Brady's QB rating is a whopping 130.3. In close games (games decided by seven points or less), his QB rating free-falls to a pedestrian 87.2.

I am not discounting the fact that Brady is having a career season. My point is this: over the past four weeks (which includes one of his best games...Pittsburgh), Brady's numbers have taken a tumble, and the Patriots have looked very beatable.

Unless the highly-lauded quarterback finds his early season form, it appears the Patriots may end the season as second-round playoff losers--a bitter end to an otherwise *successful* season.

Perhaps these next four weeks will show us what the previous four have: Brady is a successful quarterback because he is supported by a great defense, offensive line, and receiving corps.

But great players don't take a ride with their team ... great players take their team for a ride (see Brett Favre for proof)!

The past four weeks have shown Brady to be a passenger on a team bus headed for trouble.
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*We must include an asterisk beside these adjectives. The Patriots were caught cheating while winning their first two games of the 2007 season. Last season's wins should contain the same asterisk. In fact, it appears Belichick has been cheating for years. So we'll place an asterisk beside his entire New England career. Cheaters deserve their own lasting mark!

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What Homeschooling Is All About ... Adams Family Style

For all who've wondered what a homeschooling family and the Adams Family have in common, take a look at THIS.

Thanks to Sue for alerting us to this one!

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Saturday, December 15

Christmas Lights Encore

These amazing Christmas light displays are put on by the Holdman family in Pleasant Grove, Utah. [You can visit their website HERE.] I have all of their 2007 and 2006 videos here. There is also a bonus video not from the the Holdman's that is dedicated to Ken.

Carol of the Bells - 2007


Jingle Bells - 2007


Winter Wonderland - 2007


Overture (34th Street) - 2007


Amazing Grace - 2007


Music Box Dancer - 2007


Angels We Have Heard on High - 2006


Silent Night - 2006


We Wish You a Merry Christmas - 2006


For Ken, by request - I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

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Amazing Christmas Lights

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Thursday, December 13

Move Over Belichick....You've Got Company - The 5% of the Mitchell Report

Saying that only 5% of Major League Baseball players were "juiced" or taking performance enhancing drugs is like saying Pete Rose was honest about his gambling habits, Bill Belichick didn't unlawfully use cameras to gain an unfair advantage and that the NFL referees called a "fair" game on Dec. 3rd 2007.

In one of the saddest days for baseball, the sport that I dearly love yet was never very good at was informed that only 5% of modern day players would make the Mitchell Report's list as being linked to performance enhanced drugs. A couple of factors to keep in mind here about this skewed 5%:

  • Former Senator George Mitchell clearly points out in this report that NO current or former players spoke to him regarding this report. That's right....NONE!
  • Most of the information obtained for this report came from two sources - Kirk Radomski - a former New York Mets clubhouse attendant and Jose Canseco - the disgruntled yet honest former player who was the whistle blower for this whole fiasco.

With only two main sources for this massive investigation I say that we as baseball fans should be concerned about the fact that 80 names appear despite the fact that no current or former players testified!

Where does baseball go from here? For starters it should go without saying that the 5% that the loyalists are referring to should have an asterisk! In fact, I'm not so sure that this whole era (early 1990's to present) shouldn't have an asterisk! Without any sort of integrity for the recent records that have been set it is going to be difficult for any true baseball fan to look at this era with any sort of intellectual honesty. Just imagine how the likes of Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg (I know a lot of Cubs here folks), and Stan Musial feel about this! Watching their records shattered by steroid filled cheaters would put anyone who in an outrage who set their records legitimately and fairly.

Sad...truly sad. Yet, at the same time, this will, I believe bring about honesty, integrity and purity once again to the game that I and millions of other Americans love. Who would have ever thought that America's past-time would eventually become America's great deceit-time!

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Wednesday, December 12

To Tell of Santa or to Not Tell of Santa

ATTENTION: If you are a child under the age of 10 you need to be sure to STOP reading this post right now and to ask for your parent's permission to continue reading.

Now, let us move on. If you are a parent, you know the blessings that come with having small children. Their unending amount of energy and lack of concern and worry about everyday pressures is enviable. Children also possess something that many of us as adults have forgotten about our childhood - an imagination! At any time and at any place children can come up with some of the most unique games and imaginary circumstances. If you are parent, you will inevitably spend time teaching your children the importance of distinguishing between the reality of life and the imaginary things of this world. Such is the case with one of the most controversial subjects for Christian parents - the issue of Santa Clause.

There is no widespread consensus among evangelical parents as to whether or not it is right to tell our children about Santa Clause. To be quite frank with our readers here, I really do not find Santa Clause to be the biggest threat to us as Christians to having a Christ-centered Christmas. I think that the materialism, gluttony, impulsive spending, and a lack of focus on the Incarnation and virgin birth should be enough to keep all of us spiritually concerned in the month of December.

C. Michael Patton has written an excellent piece on practicing discernment with this issue and as to what the real problems are for Christians during the month of December:

"Should Christians play Santa? I have no problem with it. Personally, I can’t bring myself to tell my children that he actually exists, but I have no problem with others who do and I have no problem singing Christmas carols that don’t involve Christ so long as Christ is the focus of our lives, not just our Decembers. If Christ is not the focus of our lives January-November, December is not going to make any difference anyway because, contrary to popular belief, December does not sanctify the rest of the year."

You can read the post in its entirety HERE.

NOTE: Personally, Christina and I do NOT tell our children that there is a Santa Clause. No, we do not believe that there is a biblical mandate for this and we would both say that this is an issue of preference and individual soul liberty rather than conviction. And NO, we will not debate or split hairs over a potential disagreement about this. Calvinism...yes...Santa....NO!!! We feel that it is difficult enough to keep young children God-centered during this time of year and with the inclusion of Santa Clause it just makes it that much more difficult. However, we do respect other Christian parents who decide to tell their children that there is a Santa Clause. I do not have a problem with that and I respect your decision.

With that being said...how many of our readers who have children would like to chime in on this? What do you do about the Santa Clause issue? How do go about explaining this or do you do what we do with the Santa Clause thing?

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Tuesday, December 11

An Objective Critique of Beth Moore

Close your eyes here friends because this one may hurt......I realize that for many of you Beth Moore may be one of your favorite authors and I am aware that much of what she has said and written has encouraged many Christian women...and men for that matter. However, for years I have personally struggled with what I saw as an integrational approach to life's problems (the mixture of Scripture with pop-psychology).

Kim, over at the Upward Call blog has an in depth analysis of one of Moore's Bible studies that I think deserves an honest and humble look on the part of our readers. Again, I ask you to look at this objectively...not emotionally. I believe that an honest look at what Kim says in her post will render at the very least some serious concerns over one of the most popular authors in evangelicalism among women.

Also, if this woman is influencing so many women in our churches who have unlimited access to her materials, it would only be wise and prudent for us to be sure that what they are reading is faithful and accurate as to how God wants His children to live to please Him in all areas of their lives (2 Cor. 5:9).

HT: Sharper Iron

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Monday, December 10

Calvinist Resurgence Continues In Baptist Circles

The AP shares the good news:

Almost 30 percent of recent graduates of Southern Baptist seminaries who became church pastors say they are Calvinists, according to a survey by the denomination.

Among all Southern Baptist pastors, only about 10 percent follow Calvinism, according to studies by the SBC's Lifeway Research and North American Mission Board Center for Missional Research.

"It would be difficult to say that Calvinism is not a growing influence in SBC life," said Ed Stetzer, director of Lifeway Research.

Continue reading HERE.

Thanks to Ed, a friend and reader, for bringing this to our attention!

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Are You Comfortable with the Terms - "Eucharist" and "Sacraments"

Author, speaker, and well known theologian Sam Storms recently gave his "baptistic" persuasion regarding what we as Baptists call the "ordinances". In a defense of his theological positions, which incidentally, I agree with for the most part (with the exception of his strong charismatic and a-mil persuasion) Dr. Storms laid out his doctrinal positions and left no question as to where he stood on doctrinal issues. I was privileged to spend some time with Dr. Storms about two years ago when he was speaking at a local church in our area. He was an incredibly kind and generous man who was extremely hospitable and humble. I would definitely go and hear him again if he was in our area.

As Baptists we usually try to avoid the terms "Eucharist" or "Sacrament" simply due to a mental and theological association that we make with Roman Catholicism. But I would also be the first to admit that we have in many ways erroneously downplayed the importance of the Lord's Supper and failing to understand that it is an essential discipline to our progressive sanctification. While I do not intend on using in the near future the terms "Eucharist" or "Sacraments" I wanted to ask some of our readers what they thought of these terms or if they were comfortable with these terms?

Let me go ahead and post for you what Dr. Storms stated about his personal position on the Lord's Table:

c. I believe that Jesus Christ is spiritually (and therefore, really, but not physically) present in the elements of the Eucharist and that the elements are more than merely a symbol of his body and blood. They are (one of) the sacramental means by which the sanctifying (but not saving) grace of Christ is mediated to the believer. For more on this, check out the two articles titled, “What Happens in the Eucharist?” on my website, Theological Studies, Miscellaneous Topics.

I will go ahead and publicly agree with what Dr. storms says here about his position regarding the Lord's Table while disagreeing with the terminology.

But are we comfortable with the term "Eucharist"? Personally, I am NOT. It is important though to understand that Dr. Storms attributes his usage of this term to his years in an Anglican church. So I understand a bit where he is coming from. But still, due to my Baptist bias I cannot bring myself to use that term.

I will provide a link HERE as to how the Roman Catholic Encyclopedia defines the Eucharist and its spiritual effects and I think you will understand why I am NOT comfortable at all with this terminology.

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Friday, December 7

A Christmas Tree ... In Church?

Well, God made good on the weatherman's promise. The falling snow inspired my Baptist children to break into dance. Finally, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

All of which reminds me of something that's been perplexing me for quite some time: why do some Baptists (and maybe others who aren't Baptists) have a problem with a Christmas tree in church?

I've heard all the gobbledygook about the Christmas tree's supposed pagan origins. I don't buy it. And what about common grace? While we certainly are not of the world, are we not in it? People misuse and abuse all kinds of things--many of which Christians own and use to the glory of God (vehicles, guns, computers, food, etc.).

Yet those same Christians who own vehicles and guns won't allow a Christmas tree in church. What gives? Have pastors and church leaders failed to educate Christians' consciences according to Scripture? Have we overlooked the issue, considering it to be a peripheral thing?

I am not attempting to make a mountain out of a molehill, but I do wonder if pastors are contributing to Christians' uneducated consciences by failing to address issues like the Christmas tree.

Perhaps my seasonal sentimentality is causing me to overreact a bit. Or perhaps pastors have some teaching to do.

And what about your church? Christmas tree or no Christmas tree?

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Thursday, December 6

The Ten Worst Christmas Songs

There isn't much in life I know that much about.

For example, although I am a student of history, I would never refer to myself as a historian. Although I enjoy talking sports, I am no Dan Patrick. And contrary to popular belief, John Piper and John MacArthur do not drop by the blog on a regular basis. Why? Because I lack theological prowess!

But not so fast. I do consider myself somewhat of a Christmas music expert (read: junkie). There are very few Christmas songs I have not heard (of course, if I haven't heard them I don't really know how many there are!). I am especially familiar with the classics often sung by the crooners of yesteryear. Bing, Dean, Frank, Ella, Nat, Rosemary, Burl, Johnny, and the Carpenters are household names in our home.

Yet, along with the Christmas classics, there are several Christmas not-so-classics. While most Christmas classics stir up memories of hearth and home, these not-so-classics stir up feelings of frustration, remorse, and regret. And would somebody please tell the department stores that these songs don't help sales?

So in honor of the season ... and because the weatherman is forecasting 2"-4" of the white stuff today (which means we probably won't get anything), here are the top ten worst Christmas songs of all time:

#10: I'm Gettin' Nuttin For Christmas. I realize this song is theologically correct ("I ain't been nuttin but bad" ... a can't miss Calvinist line!), but the not-so-veiled attempt at accurately representing Arkansas English is unbearable. "Christmas Time Is Here" gave this song a run for the tenth spot, but because I so dearly love poking fun at the Arkansans (and because THIS YouTube version is absolutely hilarious), I'm Gettin' Nuttin won out.

#9: Feliz Navidad. I had four years of Spanish in high school. Still this song holds no sentimental value. Julio's not the problem here; it's the catchy tune I can't get out of my head.

#8: All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth. I've heard this one for years. Still don't get it. Still don't like it.

#7: I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas. This one was first sung way back in 1953. I can't imagine anyone has really enjoyed it all that much in the past 54 years. Again, as is the case with many of the songs which make the list, the English language is butchered here. Yet I will admit it retains a bit of cuteness value; so if you are in the mood, click HERE.

#6: The Twelve Days of Christmas.
Although I'm 36, I still don't get this song. Only Twelve Days of Christmas (I begin celebrating the middle of September)? How many pipers piping and drummers drumming? And how many golden rings? Perhaps I'm not enough of a romantic to enjoy the song; or perhaps it reminds me of how much all this stuff would actually cost ($78,100 in 2007 according to THIS REPORT).

#5: Happy Christmas (War is Over) or So This is Christmas.
Lennon made this one famous with Yoko. And it's too bad he did (click HERE for the YouTube version). Yes, the troops did come home, but Lennon's lame attempt at a Christmas song did not.

#4: Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time.
Terrible tune. Worthless words. This time it's McCartney at his best. He may be having a wonderful Christmas time, but those who are listening to this tune, certainly won't be (click HERE for YouTube proof).

#3: This Christmas. Not the movie, the song. It's not all that popular, but you'll still hear the terribly haunting tune occasionally. And occasionally is still too often. If you aren't familiar with the song, you'll find it 'YouTubed' HERE.

#2: Santa Baby. Any Christmas song that contains the word "baby" in its title shouldn't be about Santa; it should be about the Savior. Add in the fact that Madonna sings the song, and you have a song that's quickly pushing to become the worst Christmas song ever sung (YouTube it HERE).

#1: Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. It's no surprise that this song came out of the decade of musical decadence: the '80's. And it's definitely a song that originated in Arkansas. From the eggnog to the English, this one has hick written all over it. And since Christmas isn't about eggnog, hicks, santas, or grandmas, this sure-wish-I-could-forget-it song tops the "worst of" list. Hold your nose, plug your ears, and click HERE for proof.

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Kent Hughes on Performance Enhanced Worship


In the religion market place it has become increasingly popular to judge a church by such non-essential things as - music, the demographics of the church, order of service, the dress of the congregates, and church decorations. Most in the evangelical world today are looking for a church that meets their needs and is more accustomed to what they want. The problem with this mindset is that it inevitably produces church "goers" and church "hoppers" yet very seldom does it produce church members who are growing in grace and learning how to handle the problems of life biblically.

Kent Hughes hits on this well here in this excerpt from his book Disciplines of a Godly Man -

"The unspoken yet increasingly common assumption of today's Christendom is that worship is primarily for us - to meet our needs. Such worship services are entertainment focused, and the worshipers are uncommitted spectators who are silently grading the performance. From this perspective preaching becomes a homiletics of consensus - preaching to felt needs - man's conscious agenda instead of God's. Such preaching is always topical and never textual. Biblical information is minimized, and the sermons are short and full of stories. Anything and everything that is suspected of making the marginal attender uncomfortable is removed from the service....This philosophy instills a tragic self-centeredness. That is, everything is judged by how it affects man. This terribly corrupts one's theology."

--R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Man (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1991), 106.
And so it goes with the evangelical church today. Think objectively for a second about the last complaint, gripe, grudge, or "problem" that you had with your local church. Was it about doctrine? Was it about the glory of Christ not being manifested out in the life of the congregation? Was it about the fact that you wanted more textual preaching instead of topical or "felt needs" preaching? Or, was it about a particular music style, the church being too cold or too warm during a service, the sermon being too long, or you just not "fitting in" with others.

The real problem with the latter arguments is that they are all centered on you and not on God. Last time I checked, the church was not about us, you or the person next to you...it is all about God and His glory!

Some good thoughts here that we all need to be reminded of. I pray that we do not fall into the trap of thinking that the church is there to somehow entertain us.

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Wednesday, December 5

The Rebuilding of Community: The Solution of Permanence

The Loss of Community: The Problem of Impermanence

Does the Church have any lasting solutions to the problem of impermanence? Do I have any suggestions to offer? What I will seek to do in this post is to provide some solutions to the epidemic of impermanence that I talked about in this post. [Since it has been so long since I posted it, you might find it helpful to go back and review it before continuing.]

Solution #1: Long-Term Pastorates


"Everything rises and falls on leadership" and therefore any significant change towards permanence must begin with leadership. Pastors must shift from professionalism to servanthood. We must rid ourselves of a career and success mindset and buy into a long-term philosophy. Pastors must go into a new ministry believing that this is their last ministry, not a stepping stone to a bigger church or a larger salary.

Having a long-term philosophy means you put down roots in a community by buying a home if possible. You have ten, twenty and thirty year goals. You don't leave at the first sign of trouble. You are invested in the church, its people and the community it resides in. When a pastor is committed to a long-term ministry it naturally leads to honesty and integrity in asking others for a sacrificial, long-term commitment. People will realize that you are planning and building for the future.

I am not suggesting that God calls all men to long-term or life-long pastorates. God does lead pastors to change ministries and sometimes to pastor a church for only a short time. But when these situations become the norm instead of the exception we must recognize the dire situation we are in.

Solution #1a: Fewer Paid Staff, More Lay Leadership, Plurality of Elders

Not only are senior pastors changing ministries every five years, but other pastors on staff usually change ministries more often. (Youth pastors change ministries every eighteen months on average.) What this results in is local churches constantly in a state of flux. When leadership is changing every other year, how can there been any hope for stability and permanence?

One of the outcomes of professionalizing pastoral ministry is the desire for marketability and one of the best ways to market yourself and ensure a job is to specialize. So now we have youth ministry degrees, music ministry degrees, counseling ministry degrees, children ministry degrees, etc. Coming out of Bible College or Seminary it is very difficult for a young man in his mid-twenties to get a job as a senior pastor, so to improve marketability it is imperative that you specialize. Although many churches don't need a senior pastor (especially a young one without any great amount of experience) most churches are looking for paid staff in the above mentioned areas. What this does is replaces lay leadership with paid staff, a staff that is shuffled every couple of years. Is this right? Is this necessary?

To have any hope at permanence we must have stability in leadership. One of the best ways to ensure that is to have a plurality of pastors that includes unpaid leadership. We need to raise up and train leadership from within the church. Men who have grown up in this community. Men who have ties to this community. Men who have put down roots in this community. Men who are in it for the long haul.

Solution #2: Sacrificial Living

We've all heard of sacrificial giving, but this is sacrificial living. Sacrificial giving has to do with more, sacrificial living has to do with less--less salary, less house, less toys, less of everything. But with having less of those things you will receive more--more permanence, more friends, more honesty, more transparency, much more true community. While there is much talk about wanting community, what are we willing to give up to get it? The great things in life don't come cheap and in this case you do get what you pay for.

Do I want true community enough to give up the promotion and the mandatory move that comes with it? Do I value friendship more than I value a larger home? I can't tell you how many times I heard people say that they are selling their home and moving elsewhere because they can get "more house for the money." How much house do you need? For most of us--just a little bit more. So we get the larger salary, the larger home filled with more stuff and in the end we end up empty and bankrupt. Lives empty of permanence and any lasting foundation. Lives that are spiritually and relationally bankrupt. We have sold our souls for a mess of materialistic porridge.

Again, let me reiterate that not everyone who moves does so for materialistic reasons. Moving can be God's leading in our life. But if we were to be honest most of us are motivated by the "grass is greener on the other side of the fence" mentality.

Solution #3: Selflessness


Are you willing to take a pay cut so that the company you work for doesn't go under? Or do you think it isn't your problem since you can always find a job somewhere else?

Are you willing to give of your time, energy, and resources to make your community a better place to live? Or do you just lock your doors, bar your windows and consider "every man for himself?"

Are you willing to confess sin, ask forgiveness, confront problems, resolve conflicts, serve faithfully and put others preferences before your own so that your church will have an eternal impact? Or do you demand that things go your way and people meet your needs or else you will pack up and go to the church down the street?

Self-centeredness destroys every effort at true community. Do we love God and others enough to change?

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Tuesday, December 4

Is the NFL Pandering to the Patriots?

I'm no conspiracy theorist.

I don't doubt that the NFL is a real league, and that its outcomes are undetermined in advance (no professional wrestling here).

BUT ...

This is becoming ridiculous.

Phantom defensive holds. An no-call on an obvious clip on a fourth quarter catch and run. A missed call on a juggling catch in the corner of the end zone--and the league's most often replay-challenged referee decides he won't be embarrassed again on national TV. Rather than overturning the obvious missed call, he appears to have made up his mind before entering the famed hood.

My eight-year-old son refers to the Patriots as cheaters. He's right. But perhaps they not only cheated; perhaps they are getting a bit of help from upstairs. And that's not a veiled reference to the God of this Universe (I would never use such demeaning terminology); it's a not-so-veiled reference to the NFL commissioner and league office.

While many New Englanders (and Bostonians in particular) will cry foul to the previous pandering accusation, consider this: as long as the Patriots remain undefeated, the NFL makes money. It's not that they don't make money if the Patriots lose, but they won't make as much money if the perfect season comes to a screeching halt.

In college, wins gained by cheating are forfeited. In baseball, cheaters are suspended and then banned. In the NFL, cheating franchises and coaches are fined. They keep their scouting reports, their wins, and their dignity. Although years of ill-gained video and notes are confiscated, the commissioner has yet to convince most NFL fans that the Patriots are worthy of a place in the record books without an asterisk (many former NFL players and coaches feel the same). Why would we believe the commissioner? After all, he simply accepted the word of a dishonest, irreverent, and win-at-any-cost coach who assured the league days before that he had broken no rules, and had not gained an advantage from any illegal sideline video surveillance.

Yeah, right.

Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us.

We're being duped. And some of the NFL's own players are finally beginning to admit it [click HERE for proof].

And if you can't see what everyone else sees, remember "The Emporer's New Clothes."

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The TOP TEN Reasons I Thank God For My Parents

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated the one year anniversary of Tylar's adoption. We went to a very special Fondue restaurant, thanks to a pastor appreciation gift, and enjoyed a long dinner together as a family. Fondue and a six-year-old aren't the best mix, but we had a lot of fun nonetheless. Looking back over the last year I see a lot of changes in Tylar, but more than that I see a lot of changes in Traci and I and in our parenting. In the last twelve months as we have faced the trials and tribulations of parenting I have found myself reflecting on my childhood and the two wonderful parents that God gave me.

Some of you know my parents personally and some of you know of them through this blog. My father is a pastor and has been in full-time, vocational, Christian ministry for around 37 years; thirty of them as senior pastor. My mom is a full-time wife and homemaker, and a part-time church secretary. By God's grace and to God's glory they raised three boys who are now serving the Lord as pastors. So without further ado this is why I thank God for my parents.

10. They didn't allow us to own video games, and we even went without a TV for eight years! (Thanks, Mom!)


Mom actually won a Nintendo 64 in a school raffle (gasp!), but after a month dad made us sell it to our good friends and neighbors. This meant if we wanted to play video games or watch TV we had to go to a friends house. What this resulted in was a childhood filled with sports, reading and a liberal dose of imagination.

9. They played with us.

I have so many memories of having fun with my parents. As soon as dinner was over you could find us outside playing until dark--basketball, football, baseball and whiffle ball. Dad likes cards and mom likes word games. We would wrestle and play nerf basketball in the living room. And on really special occasions we would turn off all the lights and play hide and seek throughout the pitch black house. You can't imagine the places a 6' 3", 250 lb. man can hide!

8. They supported, encouraged and attended our extra-curricular activities.

They served as teacher, coach and mentor in a wide variety of endeavors. Mom was the musical one helping us with piano and band.Dad was the athletic one, founding our towns little league basketball program and coaching for ten years. Although mom wasn't athletically inclined she faithfully attended every game. To this day were still not sure how much she understood, but she was there nonetheless! Dad was also in attendance taking every opportunity to give unsolicited advice to us and to the referees. The car ride home was always an interesting time as we replayed the game, play by play.

They sat through countless school plays, recitals, concerts and programs. Though they wanted us to do our best I never felt pressured to do or be anything other than what God made me to be.

7. They taught us how to work and worked with us.


My dad and mom are two of the hardest workers I've ever known. Mom truly spoiled her four boys! She did almost all of the cooking, cleaning and laundry. She faithfully served us without complaint, while receiving precious few words of thanks. She sacrificed in ways I hardly noticed at the time.

Dad was on a mission to teach us what it meant to work hard. He started early. Ken was in sixth grade and I was in fourth when he started "My Three Sons Lawn Mowing Service." He bought and serviced all the equipment, paid for all the gas, and split the money equally four ways. He would pick us up after school and we would mow until dark, and on Saturday's we might go all day--all this while pastoring full time. He knew all to well that many pastors have a reputation for being lazy (earned or not) and he didn't want anyone to have any doubts about him or his three boys.

6. They practiced what they preached at church and at home.

They were the same people at all times. What dad preached, dad and mom lived. I never once thought my parents were hypocrites.

5. They consistently demonstrated love.

Love for each other and love for us. They told us they loved us frequently and they demonstrated love by consistently instructing us and disciplining us. They believed the Bible when it says, "Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him" (Proverbs 13:24). In light of this verse I could never doubt my parents love!

4. They had their priorities in place--God, spouse, children, ministry.

This order could never be questioned. It was clearly lived out.

3. They never talked negatively about people or the ministry.

I don't remember hearing them ever complain or gossip about people. They didn't treat the ministry as a burden, nor did they talk or act like they were underappreciated or mistreated in any way. In fact it was obvious that they loved, and still love, doing what God called them to do. I believe this fact alone is one of the necessary means God used to call their three boys into the ministry.

2. They admitted being wrong.

My dad, like most men, hates to admit when he is wrong. In many cases he won't admit his error, but when it came to errors in the ministry it was a different story. I particularly remember dad's public confession of sin and asking of forgiveness in front of the entire congregation. He had publicly made an off-the-cuff, sarcastic comment to a woman in our church and had hurt her deeply. Because the sin was public, he humbled himself and made a tearful public confession. That evening service is forever burned in my memory.

1. They lived out the spiritual disciplines in front of us.

Bible reading, prayer, Scripture memory, and family devotions were regular activities in our home. Every weekday at 6:45 AM you would find mom sitting in her favorite chair in the living room reading her Bible and praying. This one thing alone has impacted my walk with God more than any other!

I believe that every year for the past 30 years both mom and dad have read through the entire Bible. The first time you hear dad preach you are amazed at the number of Scripture verses he has memorized (in the thousands) and if he ever struggles with recall mom is always ready to help him out from the second row. [If you would like to hear the original Pastor Fields preach you can click HERE.] Yet, the greatest sermon ever preached was the sermon of their daily lives. We heard it loud and clear and it has had an eternal impact.

Mom and Dad, words cannot express how much I love you and how thankful I am to be your son!

Shortly after Tylar's adoption was finalized I received an email from dad. I've held on to it and in light of this post I thought it would be appropriate to share most of it with you because in it you will see the very heart of what I've written about.

Donald & Traci,

I trust you know how happy your mother and I am for the both of you in the official "adoption" of Tylar Fields. We are thankful to God for His leading and direction in your lives. Psalm 127:3 says, "Children are an heritage of the Lord and the fruit of the womb is His reward."

I want to remind the both of you of truths and principles that you already know. Parenthood is an awesome responsibility! Just think that God has counted the both of you worthy of this responsibility. And although there will be plenty of times that you will feel that you have "blown it," God will help you do what He has called you to do -- raise Tylar for Him!!! There will be times now that you can no longer just think about the two of you, because now there are three! I can only encourage you to be consistent! Lead and teach your son the truths of God's Word. Have your personal and family devotions! Let him hear you pray for him that he will always have the desire to please God with his life. Let him see you reading your Bible, let him see you opening your home to others, let him see you making personal sacrifice as you serve the Lord, let him see you broken, let him see you compassionate, let him see you loving each other, let him see you happy in God's service, let him see you saying "I'm sorry" when it is necessary, let him never see you talking wrongly or badly about others and those in your church!

Tylar will battle you to see who is in charge of your home! Let him know early that Dad is in control! After Dad it is Mom! And someday he will be in control of the things that you allow him to control. Use "tough love!" It works!

Play with him! Pray with him! Hold him! Love him! Teach him! Train him! Do your dead level best not to mess up what God wants to do in that little guy's life!

I pray that God will bless you and your family! Family is a wonderful blessing from God! I still remember many of the wonderful times we had together as a family. And although me and your mother made many mistakes in raising three sons, we are so thankful that the grace of God was evident throughout the long, long process. You will discover that it may seem like it is taking Tylar forever to grow up, and then one day he has and it just seems like yesterday that you were in court to hear the judge say, "he is all yours."

Love,

Dad

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