Friday, November 30, 2007

How precious

Dogs are such respecters of their masters property. Never mind feeding, sheltering, petting, loving, walking, cleaning up after, and all the various insane services dog owners provide for their does Fido show his thanks? If you're lucky, he'll only tear up your couch (after infesting it with fleas, vomiting on it, and urinating all over it).
Man am I missing out.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Will someone explain this to me?

How messed up are we in this country? This story is warped and disturbing on so many levels.

Man Charged With Murder for Slipping Abortion Drug to Girlfriend to Cause Miscarriages
Thursday, November 29, 2007 /Associated Press

APPLETON, Wis. — A married man has been charged with murder for slipping his girlfriend a drug that authorities say caused her to miscarry twice. Manishkumar M. Patel, 34, of Appleton, was charged Thursday afternoon with first-degree murder of an unborn child, second-degree recklessly endangering safety, placing foreign objects in edibles, possession with intent to deliver prescriptions, stalking, burglary, possession of burglary tools, and two counts of violating a restraining order.

The woman already had a 3-year-old child with Patel, who was married to someone else, Outagamie County sheriff's Capt. Michael Jobe said at a news conference. She became pregnant two more times, but miscarried in December and September, he said.

Apparently suspecting she had been slipped mifespristone, the abortion pill also known as RU-486, the woman had a blood sample sent to a California lab for analysis, Jobe said. When it tested positive for the drug, she approached the sheriff's department Nov. 1. Patel was arrested Wednesday. He had been living in a house owned by the woman, Jobe said. It wasn't clear where his wife was.

Sheriff's investigators said Patel admitted putting the drug in something the woman consumed without her knowledge. Jobe didn't say how she ingested the drug.

Wisconsin is one of 36 states with a "fetal homicide" law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Under the 1998 law, anyone who attacks a pregnant woman and injures or kills her fetus could face life in prison.

The law was passed after Tracy Scheide of Milwaukee accused her husband, Glenndale Black, of beating her in 1992 when she was nine months pregnant. Her baby was stillborn. A jury convicted Black of reckless injury and false imprisonment but acquitted him of violating an old anti-abortion law against causing the death of a fetus. Black was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Scheide divorced him and lobbied to get the bill passed.

I readily admit to not being the sharpest knife in the legal drawer, but something is seriously askew with the law in this situation. A doctor can slaughter a baby in the womb, so long as the mother says it's O.K., but when a person who is not a doctor does the same thing without the woman's consent, he or she can be guilty of murder? So, the only thing that makes the slaughter of a baby murder is the consent of the woman carrying the child? Seriously? I have to be missing something here.

God help us.

The Baptism of Infants and Children

The next two Sundays I have the privilege of baptizing two covenant children recently born to our congregation. Let's face it, baptism is one of the most debated subjects in the Church of Christ. Personally, I have run the gamut of thinking on baptism, arriving at my covenantal position in 1994 or so. I was raised Roman Catholic, I entered "evangelicalism" through the Bible Presbyterian Church, which practically views baptism as baby dedication with water. I then went to Moody Bible Institute where I was thoroughly immersed (no pun intended) in Baptist theology. Frankly, the Baptist-dispensational position never resonated with my understanding of a unified bible (sorry to use the "d" word as I know many of my baptist brothers and sisters would disagree, however, to be baptist means some measure of discontinuity between the testaments, hence, every baptist is at least a little dispensational), but I had great respect for my various mentors in the faith at Moody, and I still do, so I kept trying to adopt their "believer's baptism" position. I wanted to be baptistic- no one wants to diss their mentors, yet, Scripture just wouldn't let me. Toward the end of my time at Moody I came to believe what the Westminster Confession described as the bible's teaching on baptism. I was particularly struck by the shorter catechism questions and answers concerning the sacraments, and baptism specifically:

Q. 92. What is a sacrament?

A. A sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.

Q. 93. Which are the sacraments of the New Testament?

A. The sacraments of the New Testament are, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.

Q. 94. What is baptism?

A. Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.

Q. 95. To whom is Baptism to be administered?

A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized.

I think the Westminster Divines did a good summary job of what Scripture teaches. I don't think the Westminster Confession and Catechisms are comprehensive, however they are very accurate in what they do address. Obviously Scripture must be supreme.

All this to say, and in the midst of never ending debate about baptism among all sorts of professing believers, I really appreciate what my denominations Book of Church Order (BCO) further states about baptism and the administration of such to covenant children. There is a helpful pastoral edge to what is written therein. I have baptized well over 100 people since becoming the senior pastor here in 2001, yet I am constantly searching Scripture and the perspective of godly people attempting to better understand this sacrament. I have spent time reviewing BCO 56 in preparation for the next two baptisms at Redeemer.

56-1. Baptism is not to be unnecessarily delayed; not to be administered, in any case, by any private person; but by a minister of Christ, called to be the steward of the mysteries of God.

56-2. It is not to be privately administered, but in the presence of the congregation under the supervision of the Session.

56-3. After previous notice is given to the minister, the child to be baptized is to be presented, by one or both the parents, or some other responsible person, signifying the desire that the child be baptized.

56-4. Before baptism, the minister is to use some words of instruction, touching the institution, nature, use, and ends of this sacrament, showing:

a. That it is instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ;

b. That it is a seal of the Covenant of Grace, of our ingrafting into Christ, and of our union with Him, of remission of sins, regeneration, adoption, and life eternal;

c. That the water, in baptism, represents and signifies both the blood of Christ, which taketh away all guilt of sin, original and actual; and the sanctifying virtue of the Spirit of Christ against the dominion of sin, and the corruption of our sinful nature;

d. That baptizing, or sprinkling and washing with water, signifies the cleansing from sin by the blood and for the merit of Christ, together with the mortification of sin, and rising from sin to newness of life, by virtue of the death and resurrection of Christ;

e. That the promise is made to believers and their children; and that the children of believers have an interest in the covenant, and right to the seal of it, and to the outward privileges of the Church, under the Gospel, no less than the children of Abraham in the time of the Old Testament; the Covenant of Grace, for substance, being the same; and the grace of God, and the consolation of believers, more plentiful than before;

f. That the Son of God admitted little children into His presence, embracing and blessing them, saying, “For of such is the kingdom of God”;

g. That children by Baptism, are solemnly received into the bosom of the Visible Church, distinguished from the world, and them that are without, and united with believers; and that all who are baptized in the name of Christ, do renounce, and by their Baptism are bound to fight against the devil, the world, and the flesh;

h. That they are federally holy before Baptism, and therefore are they baptized;

i. That the inward grace and virtue of Baptism is not tied to that very moment of time wherein it is administered; and that the fruit and power thereof reaches to the whole course of our life; and that outward baptism is not so necessary, that through the want thereof, the infant is in danger of damnation;

j. By virtue of being children of believing parents they are, because of God’s covenant ordinance, made members of the Church, but this is not sufficient to make them continue members of the Church. When they have reached the age of discretion, they become subject to obligations of the covenant: faith, repentance and obedience. They then make public confession of their faith in Christ, or become covenant breakers, and subject to the discipline of the Church.

In these or the like instructions, the minister is to use his own liberty and godly wisdom, as the ignorance or errors in the doctrine of Baptism, and the edification of the people, shall require.

He is also to admonish all that are present to look back to their Baptism, to repent of their sins against their covenant with God; to stir up their faith; to improve and make right use of their Baptism, and of the covenant sealed between God and their soul.

He is to exhort the parent to consider the great mercy of God to him and his child; to bring up the child in the knowledge of the grounds of the Christian religion, and in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; and to let him know the danger of God’s wrath to himself and child, if he be negligent; requiring his solemn promise for the performance of his duty.

The minister is also to exhort the parents to the careful performance of their duty, requiring:
a. That they teach the child to read the Word of God;
b. that they instruct him in the principles of our holy religion, as contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, an excellent summary of which we have in the Confession of Faith, and in the Larger and Shorter Catechisms of the Westminster Assembly, which are to be recommended to them as adopted by the Church, for their direction and assistance, in the discharge of this important duty;
c. that they pray with and for him;
d. that they set an example of piety and godliness before him; and endeavor, by all the means of God’s appointment, to bring up their child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

56-5. The minister shall then read the covenant promises:

For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee. Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house. (Acts 2:39; Gen. 17:7; Acts 16:31)

There are plenty of theological sites which debate the above, that's not my purpose here. Rather, I wish to relish the rich history of interpretation and explanation I am part of. We do what we do for a reason- a reason we believe is biblical.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Interesting phenomena

Ron Paul won't win the GOP presidential nomination. If he runs as an independent, he'll likely take votes away from the republican candidate as well as bring out young people who wouldn't otherwise show up at the polls.

Still, his rhetoric is very interesting.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Advent 2007

This Sunday begins Advent. Advent simply means the coming or arrival of Christ to Earth. Advent also refers to the liturgical period preceding Christmas, beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and observed by many Christians as a season of prayer, fasting, and penitence. For us at Redeemer, it is chiefly a time of focus on the incarnation of Jesus Christ and the marvel of redemption that came as a result of God becoming man. The mood will be reflective, celebratory, and contemplative.

First, in our times of worship and fellowship together, we’ll reflect upon the amazing act of God the Son to “make Himself nothing” in order to be our Savior. Such reflection is both sobering and exciting. Can you believe God the Son did this for us? Do you realize what this means? We are saved from the just punishment our sin deserves, and we are saved to bring glory to God by our redeemed lives. We’ll reflect on the Incarnation this Advent.

Second, we’ll celebrate the Incarnation. Because God the Son agreed to take on flesh in order to make payment for our sins, we are redeemed! While there is a sense of shame in thinking of Jesus leaving His Father’s presence in heaven in order to stoop to earth, there is also a striking elation that makes us want to sing, worship, and fellowship with friends and family. Advent 2007 will be a celebration of redemption made possible by the willingness of God to give His Son and His Son’s obedience, making Himself nothing.

Third, there should be a sense of contemplation about what the Incarnation practically means for us today. Reflection is essential, but contemplation takes it one step further. Since Jesus has come in such an alarmingly humble way, how shall we then live? More personally- how should I live my life differently because Jesus came as a man to pay for my sins the way He did? Is there any length to which I should not humble myself for my brothers and sisters in light of what Jesus has done? I encourage you to make this Advent a time of seeking God’s transforming ministry in your life, and the life of our/your church.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A new dose of Seinfeld

Postmodern, existential, hedonistic, paganism aside, I really enjoyed the Seinfeld show when it ran for almost ten years. I don't watch T.V. as such, so I have the DVDs of the series and pop them in while on the elliptical. They're only 20 minutes each with no commercials.

This past Friday night my family went to see Jerry Seinfeld's new animated family movie, "Bee Movie". It was pretty funny. Don't get me wrong, it's not the dramatic quality of Nacho Libre, nor does it contain the suspense of Dumb and Dumber, but it did provide a new dose of Seinfeld. If you liked the sit com, the movie will make you smile again. Jerry wrote most of the movie and provides the voice for the main bee character. It's classic Seinfeld humor (family-safe however, no master of any domain or "out there and lovin' it Jerry" from Kramer). Nostalgia-wise, the best part is his relationship with his bee parents- it's identical to the relationship Jerry had with his parents in the sit com. Seinfeld show fans should see this movie.

Friday, November 23, 2007

General rant about blogs

I enjoy skimming various blogs. I don't spend lots of time doing so, but I do keep up with some blogs almost daily. On one hand, surfing blogs can be informative, edifying, and entertaining, on the other hand, it can be a real time sucker. One has to be careful to not get too caught up in checking, reading and responding to blogs for hours a day.

I am asked constantly to blog on this or that issue or debate. People send me links to various blogs, almost daily, asking me to respond to a particular entry.

Here's my thing- if a matter involves my denomination, people I know personally, matters that are in ecclesiastical process, a potentially divisive tension, or the need for me to give very thorough consideration (I'm not always quick to perceive what a given debate is about), I don't think a blog is a good way for me to address it. I'm a talker, not a writer, so I would much rather deal with people, one on one, face to face, than blog back and forth about an issue. I'll always tell you what I think, even if it is "I'm still processing that one". I have no problem carefully stating my position on a matter in writing, but only after extensive consideration and careful crafting- things I can't do on a blog. It's way too easy to spout off on a blog. That's dangerous. Face to face interaction is always better than blogging. Blogging can be like too much booze- it makes people brave when they shouldn't be.

Frankly, some of the debates I have been reading on blogs lately make be very uncomfortable. Us pastor-bloggers must remember the biblical principles that govern our communication with the brethren must govern our blogging also. Generally, heated debates should happen privately between two brothers, not in front of hundreds or even thousands of spectators. Further, with all the blog writing and reading some pastors do, I wonder what time they have left to feed and tend their local flocks? Maybe I'm just a sub-par pastor, but I couldn't possibly keep up with all the matters being debated in the blogosphere and prepare sermons, lessons, run meetings, guide a staff, pick on Brian, regularly guide, comfort, and correct Christ's Sheep, hunt (oops), etc. I just don't know how some guys do it. I never feel like my shepherding task is even close to finished, and that's before thinking to check what's going on in the blogosphere. I get a kick out of the well meaning, one-track person who says to me- "you mean you didn't know about this debate"? Do they have any idea what a week looks like for me and most pastors? As I say to my wife- "bless their hearts".

I blog in order to express and share myself with those who might care. I combine humor, hobbies, and spiritual devotion. I do check the various controversial blog debates from time to time, I just don't choose to join the fray by the blog medium. Don't get me wrong, I love to talk theology, doctrine, and controversial matters, I even spout off from time to time on my blog about such things. But when it comes to matters like I mentioned above, I am not comfortable taking it to the blogosphere by way of my own entry or commenting on someone else's. The last thing I want is for one side of a polarizing debate to use my name to support their position in blogdom.

Sorry for the rant. It's my blog and I'll whine if I want to. I think I'm due for another anti-dog post.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The case for Huckabee grows

First it was Chuck Norris, then "sweaty" Teddy Nugent, now, none other than multiple-time NWA, WWF,WWE champion, "Nature boy" Ric Flair offers his endorsement to presidential candidate Mike Huckabee:

"It's a tremendous honor to offer my support to such an outstanding leader as Mike Huckabee," Flair said in a statement issued by the former Arkansas governor's campaign.

"His authentic conservative qualifications and level of executive leadership experience are unmatched by his opponents."

"And like I always say, to be the man, you've got to beat the man and Mike Huckabee is the man. Whoooooooo!"

Who's next to jump on the Huckabee bandwagon, Mr. T?

Enough already!

What has been known for some time has finally made it's way to the light of the media- we don't need to use human embryos for stem cell harvest! This Frankenstein culture has to stop.

No Embryo Needed: Scientists Say They Turned Skin Cells to Stem Cells
Tuesday, November 20, 2007 (Associated Press)

Scientists have made ordinary human skin cells take on the chameleon-like powers of embryonic stem cells, a startling breakthrough that might someday deliver the medical payoffs of embryo cloning without the controversy.

Laboratory teams on two continents report success in a pair of landmark papers released Tuesday. It's a neck-and-neck finish to a race that made headlines five months ago, when scientists announced that the feat had been accomplished in mice.

The "direct reprogramming" technique avoids the swarm of ethical, political and practical obstacles that have stymied attempts to produce human stem cells by cloning embryos.
Scientists familiar with the work said scientific questions remain and that it's still important to pursue the cloning strategy, but that the new work is a major coup.
"This work represents a tremendous scientific milestone — the biological equivalent of the Wright Brothers' first airplane," said Dr. Robert Lanza, chief science officer of Advanced Cell Technology, which has been trying to extract stem cells from cloned human embryos.
"It's a bit like learning how to turn lead into gold," said Lanza, while cautioning that the work is far from providing medical payoffs.

"It's a huge deal," agreed Rudolf Jaenisch, a prominent stem cell scientist at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass. "You have the proof of principle that you can do it."

The White House lauded the papers, saying such research is what President Bush was advocating when he twice vetoed legislation to pave the way for taxpayer-funded embryo research.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Big Game on Saturday

If you would have told me a college football game between the Missouri Tigers and the Kansas Jayhawks would have national title implications I would have never believed you...ever. Mizzou has been average for the past 10 years. Kansas has been awful until the last couple of years. Now, in this 2007 campaign, Mizzou has just one loss and Kansas has none (granted, their schedule ain't the toughest, I think they played Mohawk Valley Community College twice?). They meet Saturday in the most important game in the history of their rivalry. If Mizzou wins, they have a slight chance at winning the national title. If Kansas wins, they have a better chance of winning the national title. If Kansas goes undefeated, they will certainly be in the championship game.


I grew up in "Big Ten" country. Penn State was my team. When I lived in Chicago I enjoyed the Big Ten focus being in Illinois brought. I thought the Big 12 was basically a country-bumpkin-Texas-football cult conference. I thought it was sheer politics that gave Nebraska the national title over undefeated Penn State in 1994. I've been further down on the Big 12 ever since.

But I have to say, this year, the power is in the the Big 12. Thankfully the balance of power is north and east, not down in Texas. To top it off, the Kansas City area will host the mother of all Midwest college rivalries when Mizzou and KU lock up on Saturday at Arrowhead. Man, this is what competition is about.

Several guys from church will be going to the game. I'll pass, as I don't like to be out late on a Saturday night before preaching (not to mention-alcohol and Mizzou people equals one horrific, drunken, mess)-plus, I'm not that invested emotionally. I went to Moody Bible Institute, not one of these godless institutions (oops...). I will catch it on the tube though. Who am I rooting for? I'd like to see KU win. Why? Because KU Coach Mark Mangino is Italian.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tough Mom

Every parent has their way of training, disciplining, encouraging, and guiding children. Check out this Mom's way of making an impression upon her son.

Friday, November 16, 2007

MLS Goal of the Year- Blanco

Tomorrow is the MLS championship game between Houston and New England (man has Boston had a great year in sports...too bad). More importantly, since my Wizards aren't in the game, is the announcement of the goal of the year. There were some awesome goals nominated, but the winner is Blanco's left footed volley in one of his first games with Chicago. The quality of this clip isn't great, but you'll be able to appreciate the skill. Sweet golazo!

Finally, The (*)Bonds Era is Done

Now that Barry Bonds has been indicted on two counts- perjury and obstruction of justice, no team will sign the circus act to a one year contract for next season. This is good for baseball and anyone who cares that some semblance of honor and integrity be left in the game after the Bonds debacle (I love using one of my "inexplicably interesting" words in such conexts). Sure, there's lots wrong with baseball and every team and player has contributed (I'm as frustrated as the next guy that we- the Yanks- think A-Rod is worth $27 million per year...good night!), but the Barry Bonds mockery of our national game, the MLB authorities, his fellow players, and paying fans has been disgusting. I hope Bonds comes totally clean now. Nevertheless, there should ever be an asterisk near his name, although, FOX Sports Ken Rosenthal pointed out very poignantly in his article yesterday:
"Bonds, thanks to his surly personality, has built no such empire, even though he was the Michael Jordan of his sport. Fans wonder if a conviction would result in Selig placing an asterisk next to his records, but there would be no need. Bonds is a walking asterisk, a constant reminder of an unseemly era."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Happy Birthday to Jordan

My baby son, Jordan Micah, turned 5 today.
Dear Jordan,
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.
Love, Daddy

Monday, November 12, 2007

Who would do such a thing?

'Lucky' Pooch Survives Arrow Attack; Vet Hoping to Perform Complex Surgery

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (Foxnews) — The don't call him "Lucky Jack" for nothing. The courageous canine is still alive after being shot in the head more than two months ago with an arrow that is still lodged in his skull. Dr. Bob Zepecki, the veterinarian caring for "Jack," said thousands of dollars in donations are needed to pay for surgery that could cost more than $5,000. The arrow miraculously missed Jack's brain, eyes, and major nerve endings, and struck the only place that wouldn't leave any permanent damage. “After all of that, somehow he is still alive," Zepecki told FOX16 in Little Rock. "All his sensory nerves are intact and that's the miracle, the miraculous part of all this." The shaft of the arrow has been removed, but can't stay there forever, Zepecki said. The vet said he hoped to raise enough money by Tuesday to perform surgery on Thursday.

I swear... I've never been to Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Augustine Rap

I've been trying to find an abridged version of Augustine's Confessions for my son AJ to read. I stumbled upon this epic rap (have those two words-epic and rap- EVER been used together?)and believe it will wet his appetite to read it.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Family Values- La Cosa Nostra style (don't diss my people!)

Another tragic day for the the motherland no less. Hey, at least they have some quasi-biblical rules. Get a load of the important rule I highlight below...

Mafia '10 Commandments' Found in Italy After Arrests
ROME (Foxnews) — Thou shalt be faithful to the Mafia.
Italian police said Thursday they have found a list of 10 commandments for mobsters in a house near Palermo, where a top Mafia boss was arrested this week.

Salvatore Lo Piccolo, who had been on the run since 1993, was vying to become the next "boss of bosses" of the Sicilian Mafia, according to Italian investigators. He was apprehended Monday by police raiding a house in the countryside outside Palermo, the Sicilian capital.

The list was found among his coded notes about the administration of Cosa Nostra that were delivered by Lo Piccolo's aides. Police in Palermo said that the list opened with a preamble that said: "I swear to be faithful to Cosa Nostra. Should I betray, my flesh will burn." Under the category "Rights and Duty" were the 10 entries, meant to be a sort of users' manual for the good mobster.

The list was typewritten in uppercase letters, police said.
Italian newspaper La Repubblica published a photo of what it said was the list, under the headline: "The Godfather's Ten Commandments."
The list bars mobsters from hanging out in bars, from befriending police and being late for appointments. It also bars them from "taking possession of money that belong to others or other families."
How to treat women also features in the decalogue. "You shall not look at wives of our friends," says one entry. "You shall respect your wife," says another. However, the Mafia comes first, as the fifth "commandment" orders a mobster to "be available for Cosa Nostra at any moment, even if your wife is about to give birth."

The last part of the list sets out application rules, saying that those who have a very bad behavior and no moral values cannot join.
Investigators believe that the 65-year-old Lo Piccolo could have eventually emerged from a power struggle as the Mafia's new top boss following the capture of Bernardo Provenzano, the reputed No. 1 of the Cosa Nostra crime syndicate. Provenzano was arrested on a farm near Corleone, Sicily, in April 2006, after more than 40 years on the run.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fun with Spike Buck

This is the week of my annual hunting trip with Nathan. We are both avid bow hunters and enjoy pursuing the whitetail deer most. We spent the first three days in NE Missouri where we had many nice encounters with deer but had no mature deer come in close enough for a shot. I got sick of not shooting, so when a 2 year old 8 point came in to range, I took a shot...and missed over his back. Oh well...I didn't want to gut it anyway.

Today and tomorrow we are back in Kansas hunting where I'll keep at it off and on until the rifle season comes in at the end of the month (at which time the deer head for the hills and hardly come out during daylight hours). We had cool encounters with young deer this morning and again this evening. We haven't really seen any mature bucks (3 years old or better) yet, the weather is too warm and the rut isn't really kickin' yet.

Here's a funny story from today- Nathan is filming my hunt for a big buck (whoever tags out first films the other, last year I got to film Nathan's buck kill- pretty cool). We were in a ground blind with a buck decoy to our right. We settled in at 1:30 pm just in case some rutting activity began and deer got on their feet earlier than dusk. We figured being alert and ready around 3pm would suffice, so we took a nap in our respective spots. About 2:50 pm I aroused to look up and see a spike buck (like the picture above) coming toward our set up. He was coming right to me when he spotted our decoy. He started posturing and threatening to gore it. He circled it, sniffed it, lunged at it. Pretty funny little guy- all together different from a mature deer. I was concerned another deer would come in so I told Nathan to get ready. Low and behold, he was out like a light. I couldn't wake him by saying his name several times. He just snoozed away. He was about 5 feet behind me so I couldn't poke him. I didn't want to spook the deer as it would make a racket and alert any other deer who might be heading our way to not come. When I turned to look back at the spike with the decoy, he had turned and was walking right at us. He got to 5 feet away before Nathan rustled and scared the daylights out of the deer when he sat up like a groggy, resurrected dead man. The deer jumped backward and ran about 20 yards looking back at the two moving blobs behind the decoy. He promptly trotted off, just a little more educated than before. Encounters like that are part of what makes hunting enjoyable. For the spike buck, encounters like that, assuming he doesn't get shot, will make him all the more difficult to harvest as he gets older.

An old-timer once told me- no person can outsmart a wary, 4 or 5 year old just have to arrange to be around when he runs out of luck.

Hopefully one will run out of luck soon for me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Introducing the almost Reverend Brian Hough

My good friend and esteemed youth pastor of our church, Brian Hough, passed his final ordination trials this past weekend. He will be ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America on January 6 despite the picture above which shows him after being slimed at this year's VBS (it's the only picture I have of Brian on my laptop).

Ordination as an elder in Christ's church ought to be a serious and solemn thing. I appreciate the process the PCA requires for men to be ordained. Brian has been preparing for this since he entered seminary over five years ago. Watching him finish the trials portion of his ordination brought back quite a few memories for me.

To be ordained in the PCA, the normal route includes an M.Div (over 100 graduate hours), one year ministerial internship, Greek and Hebrew, Licensure (which includes a written exam on English Bible, Westminster Confession/theology, and two oral exams on the same plus preaching a sermon to Presbytery), and ordination final exam (which includes a written exam on the Sacraments and Church History and two oral exams on the same). Most importantly, to be ordained you must have a call from a Church Session or congregation to be considered for ordination (that is, the people of God recognize a man as qualified to be an elder). All this to say, ordination is a serious endeavor that requires quite a few years of preparation and trial.

Brian did a great job. I forsee he will become a great mean...I can't wait to see how the Lord uses Brian for His Glory in His Church.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Church Leadership Gone Bad

Faithful, biblical, godly leadership is exemplified by submission to biblical authority and Christlike servant leadership, leadership gone bad is the polar opposite and typified by a man John refers to named Diotrephes-

I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. - 3 John 1:14

Diatrephes thinks of himself as the authority. Furthermore, when the Apostles write or send their messengers, Diotrephes discredits their authority as he doesn’t even acknowledge them. This denotes a rejection of Apostolic authority which, translated to our day, means the rejection of biblical authority. This is the quintessential component of failed spiritual leadership- it fails to acknowledge the authority of the bible. There is no greater destroyer than the one who discredits God’s Word while at the same time claims to be leading the congregation as “God’s Man”. Look how far Diotrephes went in his disrespect for God’s ordained authority-

So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. -3 John 1:10

He not only badmouths the Apostles, but he personally rejects the messengers sent by them! He does so to the point of putting them out of the church. The rejection of biblical authority can take more than one form. On one hand, it could be the outright rejection of the bible as anything more than a human work- the notion that Scripture is merely a human document whose primary validity lies in the fact that it records the experience of persons who are open to God's presence. In this view, the Bible is not a revealed text, nor is it God's exclusive revelation. The ongoing task of theologically liberal "Christians" is to re-interpret the Bible in light of a contemporary worldview. On the other hand, it could be the practice, within churches who proudly declare the Bible to be God’s Word, to add to Scripture human fences or safeguards. Pretty soon, to the onlooker who is unaware of Christianity, this set of extrabiblical rules imposed by well meaning people makes a caricature of Christianity. Basically, this is legalism. Legalism is a form of disrespect to biblical authority and can lead directly to forsaking biblical authority.

Church leadership gone bad is typified by the misuse of Scripture, or even the outright rejection of it. This is usually closely related to a certain leadership style or approach. Diotrephes is a classic example of this- he is not a servant leader focused on Christ, but rather a dictatorial leader focused on self:

I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, -3 John 1:9

What a legacy to leave! Imagine if Diotrephes is an official, ordained elder in the church. The way he is known is as one who “likes to put himself first”. Could there be a greater recipe for disaster than to have a leader or leaders who want themselves to be first. Their opinions need to be first, their “rights” need to be first. Praise the Lord Jesus did not demand His “rights”. None of us would be saved. This selfishness of Diotrephes undoubtedly fueled his wicked actions. Notice verse 10-

...talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church - 3 John 1:10

Who knows if Diotrephes began genuinely. The some total of his presence, however, was to draw attention from Christ and onto himself and his opinions.

"Many spirits are abroad in the world and the church,and the credentials they display are splendid gifts of eloquence and ability. Christian, look carefully. Ask for the print of the nails." -Justin Martyr

Friday, November 2, 2007

Moses, Pharaoh, and Martin Luther

My boys dressed up for our church Reformation party. My middle son, Nico, dressed up as Moses. My youngest boy, Jordan, dressed up as his version of Pharaoh (thankfully, Felich boys are assured of their masculinity, my little Jordy looks more like Cher or Pocahontas than Pharaoh...but don't tell him that!). My oldest Son, AJ, took on the role of Martin Luther, complete with a copy of the 95 theses in his hand.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Greatest and Best Month in the World

November is my favorite month of the year, bar none. Yes, my youngest son Jordan was born in November. My parents celebrate their anniversary in November. Thanksgiving is in November. All of these events make November special, no doubt, however, they are not the reason November is the greatest and best month in the world.

The phenomenon known as "the rut" is the period when deer breed. This primarily occurs in November. This is a magical time for those who pursue the whitetail deer buck, it's your best chance to score on a bruiser. Buck deer, like most male mammals, seem to lose a lot of their natural caution when the scent of a receptive female is in the air. Deer that are usually nocturnal, will show themselves in daylight hours during the rut. It may be the only chance a hunter gets to lay eyes on a 4 or 5 year old buck, let alone shoot one. Bucks during this phase will be on the move all day long, so long as the temperature stays cool, in constant search for hot does. By the first week of November, bucks are getting worked up and will travel throughout their territory to inspect each doe for breeding readiness.

There is little question- November is the month of months.

I have quite a bit of vacation time left, so my plan is to spend as many days in a tree stand as possible. Contrary to some opinions, hunting isn't about killing stuff. It's about the total experience of being outdoors, trying to outsmart an incredibly wary and wise animal, enjoying all the views and experiences, and possibly harvesting a mature animal. Hunting with a bow means you'll be out in the field for many, many days without shooting anything. That's O.K., there's no experience like it.