Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Apostle Paul, from prison, to the Philippians

"Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again."

- From the Apostle Paul's letter to the Philippians written from a Roman prison (chapter 1, verses 18-26)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Felich Mancaves

My wife recently repainted our basement prompting a re-ordering of this designated "mancave". The above picture is the first taken of the re-modeled mantuary in my home- more to come.

There are several definitions for mancave-

-An area of a house, such as a basement, workshop, or garage, where a man can be alone with his power tools and projects.

-(also sometimes mantuary) is a male sanctuary, such as a specially equipped garage, spare bedroom, media room, den, or basement.

- An area designated and completely designed by a man species for the sole purpose of creating his own Man Cave personal domain within the confines of the family property that is set aside to allow a man to build create and otherwise control the look and feel of his abode.

I confess to having two mancaves- half of the basement in our house and my office at church. Here's a few pictures of the pastor's study at RPC-

Total Inventory for both mancaves (and the mini mancaves starting in my sons' rooms):

3 deer shoulder mounts
3 deer skull mounts
6 deer antler mounts
2 turkey shoulder mounts
1 turkey tail feather mount
5 turkey beard mounts
1 coyote shoulder mount
1 bobcat skull
1 full body bobcat mount
1 picture of John Calvin
1 picture of Sangre De Cristo mountain range
1 deer-antler ink pen
1 ornate buck deer touch-on lamp
1 broadhead target
1 celtic cross
1 deer wildlife scene clock
6 deer/turkey/wildlife scene pictures
1 replica of Indian bow and arrow
1 soccer ball trophy case
5 bobble heads
1 hand-made deer quilt (made by a sweet old lady I know)
1 gas-powered remote control car
1 deer butt mount (yes, a deer's butt, mounted on my office wall)
oh yes...and three pictures of my wife with our various MANCHILDREN when they were babies

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Tomorrow I am doing a training session for our Westminster teachers on the matter of "worldview". At WCA we are trying to be intentional about the formation of a biblical worldview in each student. Such an effort can only be done effectively in partnership with families and churches. When family, church, and school are working in concert to help form a student's worldview, it is a very effective means to seeing strong disciples for Christ turned loose in a world that needs such salt and light.

James Othuis gives a helpful explanation of worldview:

A worldview (or vision of life) is a framework or set of fundamental beliefs through which we view the world and our calling and future in it. This vision may be so internalized that it goes largely unquestioned; it may be greatly refined through cultural-historical development; it may not be explicitly developed into a systematic conception of life; it may not be theoretically deepened into a philosophy; it may not even be codified into credal form. Nevertheless, this vision is a channel for the ultimate beliefs which give direction and meaning to life. It is the integrative and interpretative framework by which order and disorder are judged, the standard by which reality is managed and pursued. It is the set of hinges6 on which all our everyday thinking and doing turns.

Although a vision of life is held only by individuals, it is communal in scope and structure. Since a worldview gives the terms of reference by which the world and our place in it can be structured and illumined, a worldview binds its adherents together into community. Allegiance to a common vision promotes the integration of individuals into a group. Ironically, at times communality of vision not only binds people together, but provides them with the tools and vocabulary to push with more sophistication their own internal differences.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Family Worship

This is a great video helping families understand how to worship together at home.

Family Worship at PCPC from PCPC Video on Vimeo.

It was produced by Park Cities Presbyterian (PCA) in Dallas, Texas.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

MJ's "This Is It"

"This Is It" came out today, so naturally I picked up my copy right away. I just finished watching.

The film is a documentary of MJ's 4 month rehearsal period just before he died on June 25 of last year. The film puts together rehearsal footage attempting to give an idea of what the London concert would have looked like completed. Footage of Michael practicing all his major songs and dance moves are included.

Obviously Michael Jackson was a complex and tragic figure. Many artistic geniuses seem to be tortured souls. I have written about this aspect of Jackson's personage before.

When viewed solely with a focus on his talent and genius, he truly was unparalleled- a "king" of sorts. In addition to the constant barrage of amazing dance moves and tricky vocals, two features struck me as I watched the film-

1. Jackson could still dance and move at an incredible level for someone who was 50 years old. Despite all the footage being from rehearsal, he seemed to out dance professionals half his age. It truly is an amazing thing to behold. Still, you get a sense he was holding back a bit, being practice and all.

2. Jackson was incredibly involved in the overall creative process. The show was going to be the most complex in history. A combination of dozens of dancers, special effects, 3-D interactive movie footage throughout, and all sorts of crazy life-sized props rolling on stage, also making this the most expensive stage show ever produced. Yet, as rehearsal unfolded, amidst the seeming chaos and commotion, there was Jackson tweaking and coaching the dancers, musicians, and sound technicians with exacting detail.

My favorite part of the film was the footage of Michael Jackson practicing "Billie Jean". There's a portion of that song where he breaks out in to a dance solo. He has provided many epic performances of this dance sequence since it's release in 1982, but none in the last 13 years. So here is MJ at age 50 dancing to Billie Jean like it was he was still trying to perfect it. Empty stadium, practice stage, just him and the drummer for the solo spot in the song as he danced. It wasn't the best Billie Jean dance sequence I've seen him do-keeping in mind it was just practice- but when he finished his small audience made up of back-up dancers erupted with applause and didn't stop. He seemed genuinely embarrassed and even a bit confused as to why they thought his practicing was so standing ovation worthy. Only fans from way back will understand what an amazing part of the film this short sequence is. It dawned on me afresh- the guy really didn't understand how good he was.

Simply put, God just gives select people something He doesn't give everyone else. I don't know what it would have been like to be in a private audience while Mozart played or Michelangelo painted, but witnessing Michael Jackson dance a few days before he died has to be on par. To say Jackson was a rare talent seems too trite.

As a Christian I am ultra conflicted when I consider a figure like Michael Jackson. While I would not presume to know the content of the man's faith, most signs pointed starkly to a spiritually confused and personally mis-directed person. There was no explicit fruit of a saving relationship with Christ manifested in his life that I have been able to discern which grieves me greatly. Nevertheless, the talent he possessed was not derived from himself or his DNA. Michael Jackson's ability was a gift from God. Misused talent? At times, for sure. Thus is the dilemma of human fallenness. Still, even in one who appears to be unregenerate and lost, the glorious creative imprint of God could be seen in the moves he improvised and the vocals he mustered.

I do not find it hard when viewing the unique talents and rare abilities of people like Jackson, Presley, Hendrix, Jordan, Gretzky, Woods, etc., to give praise to God, and really, God alone.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What do the Sabres need to lift the Cup?

As a Buffalo Sabres fan I have seen my team accomplish everything short of the greatest feat- winning Lord Stanley's Cup. We have come close on several occasions but have fallen short.

Once again, this 2010 version of the Sabres is a good one. Easily a Top 5 team and possibly the best defensive team in the league, they should make a good run in the playoffs, maybe right to the finals.

Still, most of us who think we know hockey see something lacking with the Sabres again this year. They have a well-rounded, well-coached, highly disciplined club, but still lack that one or two players who gives them heart-driven intensity that is willing to put it all on the line to kiss the Cup. Local Buffalo sports writer Nick Mendola said it perfectly today:

"...let me tell you that I believe the Sabres need -- more than anything else -- another guy in the locker room who is going to put a proverbial knife to the throat of a player who isn't trying hard enough for silverware. I'm talking a guy who's playoff beard is actually made out of tiny piece of barbed-wire, and would block a shot with his actual, exposed beating heart if it meant his name appearing on Lord Stanley's Cup."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I have succumbed

It took me 38 years, but I am now a coffee drinker.

It started so innocently over the past few years. My secretaries and esteemed pastoral colleagues drink coffee at the office. They brew it every day. I was never interested in drinking warm liquid on hot days and six months of the year are warm in Kansas. Further, my prior contact with coffee while growing up was a dark black brew with a shot (or two) of Southern Comfort. I really didn't like the taste of whiskey coffee (no offense Dad!).

My office is a converted garage with poor insulation. In the winter months it gets pretty cold in there even when I crank the heat. So a couple years ago I would grab a cup of coffee from the office maker to stay warm. I'd load it with cream and sweetener as the taste wasn't terribly appealing. I'm also quite a distance from the bathroom so given the effects of coffee, running back and forth to the latrine wasn't pleasant.

But then something happened. This past Fall moving in to winter I began to like the taste a little more. As Gun's and Roses wrote concerning their addiction to alcohol-"I used ta do a little but a little wouldn't do So the little got more and more." Of course, I'm not addicted to coffee, I could quit any time...but I like it enough to have a cup (or three) each day.

I have lots of coffee snob friends (see:Nathan Clark George). My pastor friends and secretaries aren't really in that category, so I don't feel too outclassed in the office environs. My dilemma, however, was at home. We didn't own a coffee maker so it was time to take the plunge. My mother recommended a Keurig one cup at a time maker. With Kohl's coupon in hand I bought our first legitimate coffee maker at age 38 and 5 months. So, I have finally arrived. I must sign off now as I enjoy my cup of Nantucket Blend.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chris Matthews actually plays some hardball

I was amazed by this interchange between Chris Matthews and Howard Dean.


Watching the gruesome and heartbreaking pictures coming back from Haiti these last couple of days has been numbing. 10,000 bodies a day are being buried in mass graves. Officials expect the death toll to be near 200,000! Unimaginable.

Today is also the anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision to legalize elective abortions. Over 100,000 babies are aborted each day in this world. The U.S. contributes 3000 to this number daily.

May God continue to be patient and give us mercy to repent.

For the truth about abortion, see Abort 73

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Susan Hunt Wisdom

I'm preparing to teach at a men's conference in California the first weekend in February. It's sponsored by a particular OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian Church) presbytery that has churches around the Sacramento area. The organizers have asked me to speak on the general topic of women in the church, particularly how to encourage them to use their spiritual gifts at home and in the church.
Susan Hunt is a pastor's wife in my denomination (PCA) who is exceptionally wise. We've had her speak at one of our women's conferences recently and found her to be a tremendous blessing. Her comments in "Women's Ministry in the Local Church" co-authored with Pastor Ligon Duncan are very wise and helpful. It celebrates the complimentary design God has given to men and women (opposed to the unbiblical concept of christian 'egalitarianism' which teaches the roles of men and women are undifferentiated). One Susan Hunt tidbit I'll share, while simultaneously recommending this book, is this:

"Our response to faithful biblical proclamation about God's design for male and female role relationships, and to the recognition of differences between men and women and how they work out in God's order for the home and church, should be 'Vive le difference!' It's wonderful! This is not something to apologize for, nor something to be ashamed of in our postmodern culture, but rather this is the way God made us to be and live, and it's better than any other way. It is good. But it is so radically countercultural that it needs to be inculcated, specifically and explicitly, to men and women in the local church."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Wizards Stadium approved!

As a soccer fan and KC Wizards season ticket holder, I'm super pumped final approval for the new soccer-specific stadium was granted today.

Construction literally starts immediately.

The new Wizards stadium (yet to be officially named) will be located in the Legends shopping area out near the KC Speedway. It will be directly across from Nebraska Furniture Mart. I think it's a great location for the stadium. Hats off to Rob Heineman and the rest of the ownership group for making this happen. Their commitment to KC has been steadfast. I hope KC rallies to support the team. A new stadium of this caliber should be a great draw.

It will likely open in the middle of the 2011 season. I can't wait.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Deja Vu all over again?

If one could actually roll over in his grave, I wonder what Ted Kennedy is doing right now?

Massachusetts has just elected a Republican, Scott Brown, to fill Ted Kennedy's senate seat-oh, excuse me, "the People's seat". The Democrats now lose the critical 60th vote to pass things like the monstrous $1 trillion dollar plus health care "reform" bill.

This vote is primarily due to voter rage directed at the actions of President Obama and Congress, only a delusional person would disagree. In Massachusetts no less. What a wake up call.

So I'm watching Scott Brown's acceptance speech, a guy I knew nothing about a month ago, and thinking- this guy could actually win the presidency.

"Whoa Tony, chill dude" you say? Sure, I admit I could be knee jerking a little on this reaction. I know very little about him, so he could turn out to have all sorts of garbage in his past that will torpedo him. I can only tell you I had a similar sense in 2004 when a certain up-and-coming Illinois state senator took the stage at the 2004 Democratic Convention (in Boston, MA, no less!) and took the party by storm with a speech that was better than the presidential nominee. Barack Obama was inaugurated as President less than 4 years after he gave that speech.

Scott Brown appears to have similar charisma and intelligence mixed with a certain regular guy "me and my truck" appeal few lawyers can muster. He was kind of awkward in his speech, but clearly has all the raw materials to be an Obama-like communicator. He'll have plenty of time to develop his political savvy-more time in the Senate than Obama-before the next election. To do what he did in Massachusetts...that's a serious achievement that could give him sway in some previously unwinnable states.

Palin isn't the right candidate for the GOP. Romney's shelf-life is about to expire. Huckabee's a talk show host. Pawlenty's name is too strange. Scott Brown might be it in 2012. Obama was a mistake- Jimmy Carter on steroids. He was a reaction to a poor Bush presidency and a mediocre, uninspiring GOP candidate. With a guy like Brown entering the picture, this could actually start to get interesting.

Monday, January 18, 2010

MLK Wisdom

"Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think"

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Augustine on Prayer

It was your Lord who put an end to longwindedness, so that you would not pray as if you wanted to teach God by your many words.  Piety, not verbosity, is in order when you pray, since He knows your needs.   -Augustine

Helpful interchange for understanding modern theological liberalism

A local pastor friend of mine, Steve Rives, wrote a bold post confronting another local pastor.

Adam Hamilton is the pastor of the Church of the Resurrection (United Methodist) just a few miles away from us (Redeemer). The Church of the Resurrection was the fastest growing church in the U.S. at one point and I believe has a membership roll of well over 10,000 people. Mainline churches are predominantly liberal theologically denying the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, Christ as the only way of salvation, and heterosexual marriage as the biblical mandate, among other erroneous teachings. Adam Hamilton is no different, except he is exceptionally gifted at re-phrasing liberal disbelief in ways that seem so religious. He has found a masterful way of using evangelical-esque language to disarm, all the while cooking his congregation in the slow heating water of liberal theology and disbelief until they are boiling like the proverbial frog.

Pastor Steve Rives has determined the same thing and so wrote the following post. Amazingly, Adam Hamilton got wind of Steve's post and responded to Steve, also posted below. Finally, Steve responds to Adam.

This interchange will teach the reader a bit about modern theological liberalism (Adam Hamilton) and how slippery it is.

Pastor Steve Rives' letter to Adam Hamilton:

Adam Hamilton is the pastor of Church of the Resurrection — one of the largest churches in America and perhaps the largest church in the Kansas City area. He wrote the book, Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White. In 2007 I had to dive into this book, and I want to pull out a representative quote that should cause his supporters and his congregation great alarm.

Adam writes: How could the God of the parable of the Prodigal Son, who cries from the cross, “Father forgive them,” be the same God who says in Deuteronomy 32:41b-42 (NIV), “I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me. I will make my arrows drunk with blood, while my sword devours flesh”? Did God change, or did humanity grow a deeper and clearer understanding of God? The later is possible if we reject the idea that every word of Scripture was chosen by God and is “totally true and trustworthy” — Pastor Adam Hamilton, Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White, page 70-71 footnote 7.

Hamilton pits an Old Testament view of God against a supposedly different New Testament view (i.e., his view of Deuteronomy vs. his view of the Gospel Prodigal). But these two records of God are not two contrary views — where one is to be preferred over the other. Deuteronomy and the Gospels represent the one True God, not two gods. But Adam has it that humanity grew or evolved in an understanding of what God is like, and this development can be traced in scripture. The Bible, in this way of thinking, is not God’s Word to man, but is man’s reflections on who or what God is. And so Adam is able to embrace it is as a growing document that corrects itself and improves with time.

Adam says that we can reconcile what he sees as a problem. Namely, if we jettison the idea that the Bible is “totally true and trustworthy” we can get to the kind of God that fits the right way to think about God. That is, the loving God of the Prodigal Son can be found in the Bible, and the non-loving God can be seen for what he was: the invention of fallible men (so goes Adam’s basic argument).

The true solution lies elsewhere. Instead of pitting the Old Testament against the New Testament, we are better to accept that God’s Word is totally true and trustworthy, and then explore why it is that Adam (and maybe others like him) have a problem with that true and trustworthy revelation. It is okay to struggle with the Bible, and to seek how to work out the meaning of the text, but Adam’s solution is no solution at all. He ends up without a Bible from God, and when he does that, he erases his original problem. By attributing the hard parts of the Bible to human error, he rejects what God has really revealed about himself. It may satisfy him that he
doesn’t have to struggle with what God is like, but it means he chiseled God into a mold that better matches his image and expectations.

Whatever it is that is troubling Adam about Deuteronomy, the problem is not with revelation itself. The problem is the way Adam is coming to it. In his pride, however, he rejects the revelation. That is, he exalts himself above God’s Word and calls it mistaken. Adam must abandon this way of thinking and his own solution. Adam is in the same boat as the rest of us. We all must accept the Bible. Therein we discover from the Word of God itself that God is ultimate — he indeed creates people that are the objects of his wrath (see Romans 9:19-26). This may trouble us, but we can explore the ramifications of this teaching by first accepting it.

Adam will not have a God who says, “I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me. I will make my arrows drunk with blood, while my sword devours flesh.” Why would God do this and be like this? That is the better question. It is better to explore that than to explore the path Adam proposes. Adam is not in charge here. We don’t have to accept his ideas. But he wants us to reject the revelation of God and follow his teaching. But we can’t. We can’t because it is not right for us to assume that the Bible is the creation of mere men. Instead, we should accept the Bible as totally trustworthy. At that point, it may be permissible to humbly ponder, “Why is God like God?”

Adam wants to ask, “How has mankind grown up and bettered their view of God?” But the Bible does not represent mankind’s evolving view of God. That is Adam’s first mistake. The Bible represents God as God (it is totally trustworthy and true)! The Bible is an accurate telling of who God is and why.

Adam has made himself a priest of what is revelation. That is, now that Adam seems to know which parts of the Bible are not representing God, he has exalted himself as the one who can tell the rest of us which parts are about God (accurately) and the other parts which are not trustworthy. Adam is like a new Adam or a new Moses. He makes himself higher than he is.

The reason Adam can’t see through to a better solution is because he has adopted the ideas of so-called “higher criticism” (which he articulates and defends in Chapter 8 of his book). These ideas are nothing more than a renewing of the early heresy of
Marcion. The church identified teachers of this system as Heretics.

Here is what saddens me most: One of the largest churches in the world accepts Adam as their teacher (even after he has clearly published his views). Scores of thoughtful people are supporting Adam and his ministry. When I have brought this to the attention of people who attend his church, they defend him and their church. This is stunning. They have replaced affection for truth with affection for one single instance of an institution. They seem to protect their idea of a particular community and the significance of that organization (a place where they themselves are plugged-in, accepted and loved) more than fundamental convictions about God — convictions which may drive them to strike out and go where the revelation of God is ultimate and not the filtering abilities of the pastors (a place where Christ is worshiped in Spirit and in Truth).

I conclude that some people would rather stay under a false teacher (and promote his work) than to embrace the clear teachings of Scripture. I want to address these very people. To them I say: Look at Jesus. Observe how he left his glorious position from above and came among us to live the life of a slave. If Jesus can divest himself of all his privileges, then we can abandon the meaningful relationships of a group that is under a teacher of heresy.

Dear Church of the Resurrection, I beg of you, reject the heresy of Adam Hamilton and embrace that the Bible is totally true and trustworthy. Call Adam to repent. If he will not correct his writings, and you stay and support him, then you participate in his guilt. You have a holy
responsibility in this. You will be held responsible for enabling the publication of this falsehood. Adam may love you, he may seem so nice, he may be a great teacher, he may speak eloquently about the love of God and he may advance the cause of the poor and needy. Satan (if you believe in him) would have you to support a false teacher exactly for these reasons. False teachers are enabled by you when you overlook their error because of their virtues. You can have an orthodox pastor and continue your ministry. You are not in an either-or position. Call Adam to repentance, or find a repentant pastor. Then call all of your leaders to repentance for overlooking this book. Your church will have a great revival if you do this. And Adam will be blessed if you call him to this repentance. If you love your pastor, then help him! He is worth your effort. It is worth your energy to get this right and to help your leaders and your pastor. If your church will not listen, and if Adam will not repent, then don’t be surprised. Adam rejects the clear teaching of Deuteronomy about God, why would he listen to you? If he is too proud to bend to the Bible, then he will be too proud to bend to you. But the Holy Spirit uses people just like you to help the proud. So mobilize around this, go to him, help him, you can do it. And you all can make it and overcome this.

Sincerely, Steve Rives

Adam Hamilton responds to Steve's post:

Dear Steve,

I would invite your readers to read the entire chapter in Seeing Gray that you are referring to and not simply the quote you’
ve included here.

I stand by what I wrote there – it attempts to capture both God’s inspiration of scripture and the humanity of the authors who heard God’s word and understood God’s purposes in the light of their own times and theological framework. I believe that Jesus is the definitive Word from God – unmitigated – and that all other words about God must be judged in the light of the revelation of God that came to us in Christ. I would reject Marcion’s claims – and find it interesting that you would seek to associate me with his views.

I hope your readers will take the time to read the chapter and come to their own conclusions.

Most mainline pastors and theologians, many moderates in your own denomination, and an increasing number of evangelicals recognize that inspiration does not preclude the human authors of scripture from seeing and understanding the promptings of the Spirit in the light of the prevailing understanding of God in their time.

In Seeing Gray I raised the question many thinking people ask when reading the Bible: How do we reconcile the character of God revealed in Jesus Christ with those handful of pictures of God in the Old Testament in which God appears cruel, unjust and unmerciful?
Your readers might appreciate reading Dennis Bratcher’s article on the inerrancy debate at

A couple of helpful books written by evangelical scholars include The Biblical Canon by Lee Martin McDonald published by
Hendrickson and Craig Allert’s A High View of Scripture? published by Baker Academic. One last word – you noted in your response to Woody that you wrote your column out of love for me. I might suggest that another way of expressing that love might have been to actually seek to share your concerns with me personally, rather than writing an open letter to the church I serve.

Blessings in your work at

Adam Hamilton

A brief note on Hamilton's final statement gently scolding Steve for not speaking privately with him- Hamilton's views are public and published. His book is erroneous and guilty of deep theological error and heresy. Thus, due to the public nature of Hamilton's teaching, it was proper for Steve to address the letter as he did.

Pastor Steve Rives' response to Hamilton:

Dear Adam,

You wrote:
“I believe that Jesus is the definitive Word from God – unmitigated – and that all other words about God must be judged in the light of the revelation of God that came to us in Christ.”

You are mistaken to believe that we must judge the Old Testament (which is included in your phrase, “all other words about God…”) in the light of Jesus. We read the Old Testament in the light of Jesus, we do not judge it. By proposing that we use Jesus to judge the Old Testament, you have it that there are parts of the OT that we can now recognize as not Christ-like. You make Jesus judge over the rest of revelation. You pit text-revelation (the Bible) against Flesh-Revelation (Jesus). But Jesus is not the judge over God’s Word. Jesus is the judge of the world (and he will come in wrath and glory) but he is not our paradigm as judge over the written Word. We are under the Bible, not over it (not even in the name of Christ are we over it).

Contrary to your suggestion, God’s
inscripturated Word is as equally unmitigated as his incarnated Word. That’s why Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matt 5:17). Jesus never reflected your sentiment, but really the opposite. He said, “If you believed Moses you would believe me; for he wrote about me” (John 5:45). Jesus never gave the sense of correcting the Old Testament as one who reveals the standard by which to discover the false parts (as where you said he appears, “cruel, unjust and unmerciful”), but he points to himself as embodying and fulfilling the Old Testament. Jesus is the very God who is exactly like the verse you reject in your book: Deuteronomy 32:41b-42 (see Revelation 14:19-20).

You cannot reject parts of Moses’ books (even if you reject them in the name of Christ) and still have Christ, for Jesus said, “But if you don’t believe his writings, how will you believe my words ?” (John 5:46).

You have not given textual evidence why you reject parts of the Old Testament, just theological argumentation. You have not refuted that you are
Marcion, but only denied it. You did not defend your position, but affirmed it and pointed to others who you claim to be like you (which is not a defense).

Your church has a holy obligation to deal with your persistent lack of repentance. This is not a private matter between you and me, this is a matter of your public writings. May God have mercy on you and bring you to the great joy of seeing that Scripture is “Yes and Amen” in Jesus. As it stands, you are arguing on the side of Satan who is the first to have uttered these words, “Has God Really Said… ?” (Gen 3:1).

You are in a fearful position, you and all those who are afraid to oppose you. But God is good, merciful and ready to forgive. You can repent, and he will enjoy your change of mind! Those around you can be bold and bring this to a good resolution, but do not delay, for we are not to treat God’s patience presumptuously.

I say this even as I find myself repenting of my own sins,

Pastor Steve Rives

Steve Rives is the pastor of Eastside Church of the Cross in Louisburg, Kansas

Thursday, January 14, 2010

NHL road trip today

I miss hockey, especially NHL hockey. Growing up in Buffalo places hockey in the fabric of your life no matter who you are. I loved watching and playing hockey my whole life until I moved to the KC area and could no longer find a convenient place to play or a decent team to root for (at any level).

Despite living in a hockey wasteland, I stay connected to my beloved Buffalo Sabres and listen to many of their games and highlights online. One of my best friends growing up, Mike Schopp, is the most popular sports talk radio figure in Buffalo (Schopp and the Bulldog). I text Mike regularly to tell him what I think of his show on days I can catch some of it. All this to say, I really miss the hockey culture and the luxury of having an NHL team to see regularly.

Enter Brian Hough, my friend and esteemed youth pastor at Redeemer. The poor guy is from Texas. Yes, Dallas bought a franchise a few years back (and a Stanley Cup), but no one seriously considers them a hockey town. Indeed, most Texans don't know a puck from a cow pie. Brian saw a minor league game or two while growing up in Houston (of all places) and witnessed a bit of hockey's awesomeness. Now, as he tends to do, he's picking up a new "hobby"- NHL hockey. He has randomly chosen the Minnesota Wild to be "his" team. I won't mock his random selection and new found devotion, at least he recognizes a great sport when he sees it (but maybe not a great team).

The closest NHL city to us is St. Louis. Being a tremendous (and humble) friend, I thought I'd take Brian to his first NHL game. So, in an hour we leave for St. Louis to watch the NHL's #18 (Minnesota) team take on the #25 (St. Louis) team at the Scottrade Center in downtown St. Louis. No, it's not the Buffalo Sabres (#4) taking on New Jersey (#1), but it's the best we can do with our schedules and geography. Brian's happy. I can't wait to hear and feel the crunch of a solid check in to the boards again. It will be cool.

P.S. Ironically, the Sabres top rookie (and candidate for NHL rookie of the year) is Tyler Myers...from Houston,Texas! I cannot believe the stats/trivia hound addict Brian hasn't figured this out and taunted me yet!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pray for Haiti

The news from Haiti is staggering, almost unbelievable. As you probably know, a devastating 7.0 earthquake hit concrete-house laden Port-au-Prince yesterday and estimates range between 100,000 and half a million dead- unfathomable numbers.

I grew up hearing quite a bit about Haiti as one of my best friends is Haitian and his father, the son of a political refugee from Haiti, was my soccer coach and elder at the Bible Presbyterian church I was discipled at during my teen years.

I've not been to Haiti, but I feel like I know the place through my friend nevertheless.

Let us join in praying for Haiti, her people, and Christ's Church there.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More McGwire...disappointing

So I make the mistake of watching Mark McGwire's entire interview with Bob Costas. You can watch it here, if you care:

Yes he admits taking steroids. He wants to coach hitters in St. Louis so that's why he's fessin' up now. What is terribly disappointing isn't really the steroids admission, it's his unbelievable delusion that he could have racked up the numbers he built without steroids!

He basically blames the "steroids era" for tainting him. He absolutely believes "The Man Upstairs" gifted him so greatly that he could have hit 583 home runs without the aid of performance enhancing drugs. Costas does a great job pressing him on his insistence that roids didn't give him better numbers, but he stays firm- he could have done it all without them. It's just plain ridiculous.
I do commend McGwire for confessing but ultimately it does seem like a simple case of highly rationalized CYA.

Update: Read excellent analysis from Ken Rosenthal here

Monday, January 11, 2010

McGwire Shocker!!

The AP is reporting that Mark McGwire has finally admitted the obvious:

He says: "I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era."

He followed with this interesting statement: "I'm sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs had I never taken steroids...I had good years when I didn't take any, and I had bad years when I didn't take any. I had good years when I took steroids, and I had bad years when I took steroids. But no matter what, I shouldn't have done it and for that I'm truly sorry."

Further-"I remember trying steroids very briefly in the 1989/1990 offseason and then after I was injured in 1993, I used steroids again...I used them on occasion throughout the '90s, including during the 1998 season."

1998 was the year McGwire supposedly broke Roger Maris' single season home run record.

The shock isn't that he used them, that much is obvious. The shock is he finally admitted it. Is this a move to avoid questions when he starts coaching for St. Louis soon? Perhaps he thinks he'll get in to the Hall of Fame now?

There's no way he should go to the Hall. The only basis for his entrance would be his hitting stats which are totally and utterly juiced by steroids.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Reasoning for switching from Grape Juice to Wine in Communion at Redeemer

Like many churches here in the Midwest, Redeemer has always used grape juice for communion. Over the last 10 years the elders, have discussed the matter and studied it independently basically hesitating to make a change. Over a year ago the issue was brought up again and we collectively agreed to study the matter more formally and began praying, searching Scripture, and reading various positions on the Bible's teaching about communion as a whole.

In the end, we unanimously agreed that Jesus prescribed wine to be used for communion, not grape juice. Essentially there was no such thing as grape juice before 1869 (when Welch invented pasteurization for grape juice) so there can be little question (despite some creative attempts to prove otherwise) the 271 references to wine in the bible could refer to anything other than alcoholic wine. A study of wine in Scripture actually shows it's rich symbolic meaning for the people of God, so it makes sense that Jesus would use it for the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. The temperance movement of the mid 1800's had a profound impact on the church and unfortunately influenced the use of biblically prescribed wine for communion.

With much prayer, discussion, study, and consideration, we (the pastors and elders) decided unanimously to use wine for communion starting in February. This decision is based solely on one thing- to be as biblical as possible. There is no other reason for the switch.

Now, so as not to cause a stumbling block to those who are not quite ready for such a change or perhaps there is some other personal reason a member doesn't want to drink wine- we’ll still offer grape juice in the outer ring of the communion trays. We want to be caring and respectful, at the same time we desire to act upon a biblically based conviction the Lord has been working in us as a Session.

Very frankly, I am so blessed to be part of a Session like this. We have eleven elders on our Session (two pastors and nine ruling elders) who are as independently minded as they come, yet submissive and captive to the Word of God. They are willing to make choices they feel are biblical without being held hostage by what might be considered expedient or popular.

Some might be interested in our line of thinking. There are several resources that capture the basic biblical reasoning we found compelling. I will post some links for you to check out if you are interested. Posting these links doesn't amount to a full endorsement of these pastors and churches, but rather an appreciation for the biblical thought they embody concerning the issue of communion. We may have some slight differences with these resources but they are nevertheless very helpful.

Finally, unlike my usual posts, this one isn't open for debate or comment publicly. If you have reservations, concerns, or comments, feel free to email me or talk to me personally (or any other RPC Elder) to discuss the matter more fully. I won't be posting comments to this post, it's meant for information only.

Helpful Resources on the use of wine in communion:

Why Did We Change the Grape Juice to Wine in the Communion Cup? By Pastor Marion Lovett

Pastoral Letter from Session of Grace OPC

Wine in Communion by Pastor Brian Abshire

A Sermon explaining the use of Wine in communion by Pastor Robert Rayburn (PCA)

A Sermon Responding to John MacArthur's denial of wine for communion by Pastor Robert Rayburn: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Michiana Covenant Church (PCA)- looks like they just went through same study as us.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Provocative but probably not too effective

I confess to getting a kick out of these kinds of things- check it out:

I mean, it's not like people who voted for Obama produced this video, as it seems to imply.

I'm all for the basic sentiment, however I have little hope a Republican weighted congress and oval office would make a radical difference. It would be better, but not incredibly so.

Our country's problems are ultimately moral. This is lost on many if not most of our current elected officials, no matter what party they align with.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Lure of Everest

I have long been a closet Mt. Everest buff. There are several reasons for this, but suffice to say, I know I'll never have an opportunity to climb it, so I have read all sorts of stories about those who have.

In the last couple of days I have re-read "In to Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer. It is his firsthand account of the ill-fated 1996 climb on May 10 that caused the death of 12 climbers in one 24 hour period. 1996 was the deadliest year on record for Everest attempts, 15 climbers died trying to conquer the world's tallest mountain.

I will share a few quotes from Krakauer's book from time to time. Here are a couple that describe the irrationality of trying to summit such a behemoth of a mountain given all the obstacles that promise to take you down. The first is from Krakauer himself, the second is a quote from Walt Unsworth who climbed the mountain many years ago.

"There were many, many fine reasons not to go (to attempt a summit of Everest), but attempting to climb Everest is an intrinsically irrational act- a triumph of desire over sensibility. Any person who would seriously consider it is almost by definition beyond the sway of reasoned argument." - Jon Krakauer

"But there are men for whom the unattainable has a special attraction. Usually they are not experts: their ambitions and fantasies are strong enough to brush aside the doubts which more cautious men might have. Determination and faith are their strongest weapons. At best such men are regarded as eccentric; at worst mad…Everest has attracted its share of men like these. Their mountaineering experience varied from none at all to very slight - certainly none of them had the kind of experience which would make an ascent of Everest a reasonable goal. Three things they all had in common: faith in themselves, great determination, and endurance." - Walt Unsworth

Monday, January 4, 2010


A fellow pastor shared this quote with me. It resonates in a way I can't explain.

“There is no special honor in preaching, there is only special pain. The pulpit calls those anointed to it as the sea calls its sailors. And like the sea, it batters and bruises and does not rest. To preach, to really preach is to die naked a little at a time and to know each time you do it that you must do it again.”

- Bruce Theilman

Brit says it even better on O'Reilly

The various news outlets had a hay day ripping Brit Hume for his sound advice to Tiger Woods shown in the clip below.

Despite the widespread ridicule, Hume reiterated his thoughts about what Tiger Woods needs with even more clarity.

Brit Hume's message to Tiger Woods

I was blown away by these comments by Brit Hume concerning Tiger Woods. Amazing.

Here's what I posted previously concerning the Tiger Woods scandal.

Common sense from Newt

This is a month old, so maybe you've seen it. Newt has some good points.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bringing in the New Year with the family

It was pretty cold today- I think it got up to 15 degrees. Looks like a similar week of weather ahead. Nevertheless, we decided to get out and do some sledding as a family. We went over to the church and sledded down from the church sign. Cold, but fun way to start 2010 together.

You'll notice my camo attire, or maybe you won't, I blend in so well you might not see me.

Reepicheep turns 3!

Today marks Reepicheep's third year of existence. Some 863 posts later, thanks for reading!

May God bless you in 2010.