Archives For April 2006

Most of my readers are aware of my views on the public schools, especially concerning being “salt and light” as well as missionaries in the public schools. The entire system has a base rotten to the core.

Another fact that some readers may be aware of would be the fact that I am Southern Baptist. I don’t really talk a huge amount about it because that’s just not my focus, but when Southern Baptists are doing something great that I may be a part of, I like to talk about it. And, yes, there are some Southern Baptists doing something extremely interesting this year. At our Convention, held in Greensboro, where I will be live-blogging, some Southern Baptists, including Dr. Bruce Shortt, author of “The Harsh Truth About Public Schools,” will be working to pass a resolution urging Southern Baptists to begin removing their children from the Public Schools.

Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee member Roger Moran stated that the “public schools have had “a major role in infiltrating and destroying the faith of those we have been commanded to train up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Dr. Al Mohler’s call for responsible Southern Baptists to develop an exit strategy from the public schools was not only wise, but courageous, for multitudes of our own people still don’t see the inherent dangers. The time has come for the debate to begin.”

That’s just one resolution I hope to support. Another one would be to clean the rolls of Southern Baptists churches, working to make sure we a properly recording legitimate members, and not inflating the list.

It’s really an exciting time as we near the convention in June, and I hope you will pray for me as well as those voting. It is important to see what groups of Christians are doing when they gather to pass resolutions. There will be more on that later, but for now, please pray.

Flight 93: A Review

April 24, 2006 — Leave a comment

There is an absolutely fantastic review of Flight 93 over at Hugh Hewitt’s site. In light of our previous discussion, I thought you might like to read it.

Like I’ve said before, I was stunned after watching the trailer. It was, well, like I was sitting there just like I did that fateful morning, crying inside, silent on the outside, worrying about relatives in D.C. It was scary.

“So, how can I describe my feelings? Is it even possible to put into words what a 11-year-old kid felt when he heard the news?

This is the first time I’ve ever posted on September 11. It’s blows my mind that I never wrote anything on it…it seems I’ve been blogging for forever.

So, how can I describe my feelings? Is it even possible to put into words what a 11-year-old kid felt when he heard the news? Fear? The feeling in your chest–the constriction–like you’re in shock, and want to cry, but you can’t. Your eyes are wet, but the tears won’t flow. Your in shock, and just don’t know what’s going to happen next.

Go check out the movie review.

Blogging Pastors?

April 22, 2006 — 4 Comments


Just wanted to alert you guys to this really neat post on why pastors should be blogging. How about forwarding it to your pastor or talking to him about it?

I know my pastor has mentioned it, but said he just couldn’t keep up with the news around him. But the fact is, you don’t have to be Albert Mohler, but can rather blog about your sermons, offering extras during the week for members. I think all in all, it’s extremely helpful.

Update: Well, well, well. Lifeway has a post on how to begin your own pastors blog. Good job folks.

I Love Form Letters

April 21, 2006 — 15 Comments


I thought everyone would enjoy a short letter exchange I had with my Senator, Mike Miller. Form letters can be quite hilarious.

February 21, 2006

Senator Mike Miller
110 College Ave.
Annapolis, MD 21401-1991

Dear Senator Miller:

I am a 16-year-old student from your great state of Maryland who is interested in both law and politics. Your service to my state is greatly appreciated, and I respect your time and energy spent to better the good of the state.

As a young citizen, I see a need for bettering our state and country by men such as yourself because the decisions you make will have a lasting impact on young men and women like me. Because I this, I believe that young citizens should be involved in their state legislature in some way, to understand how laws are made and bills are passed. I am taking this step by becoming involved in Teen Pact, which I will be attending March 6-11 at our state capitol.

I urge you to stand for morality in this state. I believe that the family is the core institution of our society, and when it is broken down the rest of our society will break down. Our nation was established by families, made up of one man and one woman. It will fall if this is torn apart, taken away, or redefined. I pray that your decisions will reflect a high standard. I believe that decisions made to protect the institution of the family are great decisions, worthy of great honor and admiration.

Along with this comes the need to hold high ethical standards, especially concerning abortion. We know that each child, even at conception, deserves the same rights and privileges to live as I have. Why take the life of someone who could be the next George Washington, the next Albert Einstein, or the next Mother Teresa? Abortion does not help our society.

Again, I think you for your service to this state, and your dedication to represent me and my family.

Sincerely,
Tim Sweetman

Now the good stuff.

April 18, 2006

Tim Sweetman
—————
—————

Dear Tim,

Thank you for your correspondence regarding teacher’s pensions. I have long believed that investment in Education is the foundation for building productive communities, that’s why despite Governor Ehrlich’s failure to include money for teacher’s pensions in the Fiscal Year 2007 budget, the General Assembly made it a top priority. Prioritizing education means that we keep the best, most highly-qualified teachers in Maryland classrooms, and allows us to recruit new teachers in our communities.

By passing a meaningful enhancement to teacher’s pensions, Maryland will continue to attract and retain the best teachers and reward them for a job well done. My colleagues and I fought for legislation – soon to be signed into law – that raises the multiplier from 1.4 to 1.8 percent, with a 5 percent member contribution. Perhaps most importantly to our teachers, our bill is retroactive to 1998. This legislation will go a long way towards ensuring a brighter future for those who give so much to our classrooms.

Attached please find a letter from the Maryland State Teacher’s Association regarding the push for pensions. Like you, I believe that we must continue to strengthen the current pension system so that the benefits owed to our teachers serving in today’s classrooms are guaranteed for generations to come. I will continue work to make our children, and the investment in the future of those who educate them, a top priority. Please contact me if I may offer any further assistance regarding this important matter.

Sincerely,

Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr.

Can anyone explain that to me?


If there is one thing I’ve learned through blogging and writing for magazines it is certainly context. Whenever someone sends me a quote from an article, I always work to go to the source. What did they really say? What do they really mean? What is the whole story? Whenever I decide to put these questions aside, I always end up in hot water.

If the context of the Total Truth is examined, we quickly come to the conclusion that, within its context, Nancy Pearcey is right on (See Part I including comments).

I think what is happening here is simply this: an excellent discussion was started, but the catalyst for the discussion was taken out of context. I don’t believe we’re looking at a book that teaches embracing the secular culture because it has some good things, but rather it is teaching that we must have a “blueprint,” a Biblical worldview, in order to create a Christian culture.

This may be a new concept to you, or something you may have not thought much about. In Genesis, God tells man to multiply and increase in number, as well as to subdue the earth. When you increase in number, you create culture.

“The first phrase ‘be fruitful and multiply.’ Means to develop the social world: build families, churches, schools, cities, government, laws,” says Nancy Pearcey, “The second phrase ‘subdue the earth,’ means to harness the natural world: plant crops, build bridges, design computers, compose music. This passage is sometimes called the Cultural Mandate because it tells us that our original purpose was to create cultures, build civilizations—nothing less.”

In this way, we glorify God.

Nancy Pearcey then continues to explain that the fall did not destroy our original calling, but rather made it much harder.

“Yet when God redeems us,” she says, “He releases us from the guilt and power of sin and restores us to our full humanity, so that we can once again carry out the tasks for which we were created.” Our work also “becomes a means of sharing in His redemptive purposes…to reverse the evil and corruption introduced by the Fall.”

One concept we can all understand is that God is working in salvation (special grace), as well as “preserving and developing His creation,” which is known as common grace. When we are obedient to the Cultural Mandate, we become agents of God’s common grace.

Our work here on earth “is a preparation” for living in the new heaven and the new earth. “Being a Christian means embarking on a lifelong process of growth in grace, both in our personal lives (sanctification),” says Pearcey, “and in our vocations (cultural renewal.).”

(Part 1 Can be found here)


If you want to talk about a struggle with issues thrown at you, just look at the last few days of my life. It’s a struggle in understanding some views thrown at me out of nowhere, as if God has suddenly said, “Well, you’ve been preaching and teaching about examining differing worldviews. Are you ready to walk the walk?”

Then suddenly, it hit.

One of the issues that was brought up by Kristin Braun, in her post critiquing well-known writer Nancy Pearcey for some statements made in her book, Total Truth:

Artists are often the barometers of society, and by analyzing the world-views embedded in their works we can learn a great deal about how to address the modern mind more effectively. Yet many Christians critique culture one-dimensionally, from a moral perspective alone, and as a result they come across as negative and condemning. At a Christian college, I once took an English course from a professor whose idea of critiquing classic works of literature was to tabulate how many times the characters used bad language or engaged in illicit sexual relations. He seemed blind to the books’ literary quality – whether or not they were good as literature. Nor did he teach us how to detect the worldviews expressed there. Similarly, a Christian radio personality recently wagged a stern finger at Elvis Presley for the immoral content of his songs, without ever asking whether his songs were good as music (which they certainly were), or raising other worldview questions, such as why popular culture has a powerful impact. When the only form of cultural commentary Christians offer is moral condemnation, no wonder we come across to non-believers as angry and scolding.
Our first response to the great works of human culture-whether in art or technology or economic productivity—should be to celebrate them as reflections of God’s own creativity.

Now, I understand where Kristin is coming from, and, in fact, do agree with her. But if we only read that statement, we don’t fully understand the context of what Pearcey is working to say. The context is speaking of Francis Schaeffer, who was a huge influence in Pearcey’s life.

“Even when raising serious criticisms,” says Nancy Pearcey, “He expressed a deep compassion for people caught in the trap of false and harmful worldviews.”

Previously, she stated that “even when we analyze where they [human culture] go wrong, it should be in a spirit of love.”

When I, as a Christian, confront non-believers, especially those involved in the arts, I must realize two things. First, I must understand that the talents they have are given to them by God, but they are using those gifts incorrectly. Secondly, these men and women are the same as I am–the worst sinner there ever was. They’re just as deep into sin as I am, or, I should say, was. And that is a huge reason we must confront them in love. Not a love that says “God will fill that hole in your heart” but rather a love that says “I care for you. You’re sinning and you’re going to hell. I don’t want you there!” And, as I said, we must realize that the gifts given to these men and women are given to them from God. But, unfortunately, they are using them for the world.

“How many [Christians] reach out to the artists with compassion?” asks Nancy Pearcey, “How many do the hard work of crafting real answers to the questions they are raising? How many cry out to God on behalf of people struggling in the coils of false world-views?”

I think the statement made by Pearcey following this is profound:

“The best way to drive out a bad world-view is by offering a good one, and Christians need to move beyond criticizing the culture to creating culture.”

This is something we are called to do, and all of us have fallen short. Unfortunately, many of us get caught up in speaking out against things, but never take action against that which we criticize. We talk, but we never walk. Laziness reigns as we criticize, but never take action. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for critics of the culture–I am one! But this criticism must be done in the right manner, and must offer answers with compassion for the lost and a desire to see them in heaven, not dying in their sins any longer. We don’t want them wrapped up in a false world-view, slowly being choked and pulled down into eternal damnation.

“Love your fellowman, and cry about them if you cannot bring them to Christ,” says Spurgeon. “If you cannot save them, you can weep over them. If you cannot give them a drop of water in Hell, you can give them your heart’s tears while they are still in this body.”

Another great quote from Spurgeon:

As the fisherman longs to take fish in his net, as the hunter pants to bear home his spoil, as the mother pines to clasp her lost child to her bosom, so do we faint for the salvation of souls.

We must feel such a compassion for the lost that we do not despise them, but rather long for their day of the salvation. How can we sleep at night knowing that thousands are dying without Christ? What are we doing now to save them? Are we offering more than criticism?

Continue To Part II


Square Talk Radio is now dedicated to quality. It’s dedicated to the best that it can be. And when we’re not fully prepared, we want you to know. And this week we just weren’t prepared. But our time was not wasted during the past week. In fact, it has been spent preparing for the next edition of the show, as well as lining up some guests for you to hear from (including “Operation Impact” whose interesting phone conference can be heard here).

When Square Talk lined up with Regenerate Our Culture, we decided not to worry about quantity, but fully on quality, as hard as that struggle might be. So, in an effort to be the best that we can be, we need not only hard work on our part, but your participation. The next show is going to be about Prayer, and we’ve decided to do something special. What we need you to do is to call in and share your prayer requests that will be prayed for over the air. If you just want us to pray and would rather not mention the specific prayer request, just call in and say “unspoken” (or email us). Feel free to tell us your first name, but if you’d rather remain anonymous or want to make up a name, God knows who you are. So, call 206-888-4STR and leave your prayer request.

Rated R

April 17, 2006 — 44 Comments

I’ve been thinking about the movie Flight 93 lately, musing a little on it, and checking out the comments on the site about it. Then yesterday, I was watching the Military Channel, and saw a preview for the movie.

“Cool,” I thought as I watched the preview. Then it happened. The voiceover saying “Rated R.” I stopped dead in my tracks. I immedietly thought of everyone who said they wanted to see it on my blog, and thought “should Christians be watching this movie with this rating?” Is there ever a time, other than perhaps the Passion, where Christians should be watching R rated movies?

Welcome to the third issue of Regenerate Our Culture Magazine, all about government. In this slightly-smaller-than-normal edition, we take a closely focused look at our theme.

Jake Smith talks about leaders – ranging from Bible characters to Lord of the Rings characters – taking a look at the basic qualities that makes a leader a leader.Once you’ve got those down, David Ketter brings you an in-depth look at whether leaders like you should be involved in government in the first place. Finally (if you decide that it’s okay to be involved), Brian Whalen shows you how to make the best impact possible in such a position…read the rest!

Contemplative What?

April 13, 2006 — 11 Comments


You thought the Gospel of Judas was heretical? It is, but there’s much more subliminal ways to destroy Christianity by making it into just another cult. These ways have tricked the likes of Beth Moore and Max Lucado, well-meaning people with no knowledge of the heresy. The subtlety is frightening.

Recently, 20th Century Fox released a movie called Be Still and Know That I am God, with a cover boasting names of “contemplatives” such as Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Calvin Miller and Priscilla Shirer, as well as Beth Moore and Max Lucado. Brennan Manning and Dr. Charles Stanley are referenced in the acknowledgement list at the end.

Here’s the advertisement for the video:

Eight hundred people gathered at Mariner’s church in Newport Beach, California for this amazing event that was broadcast live to over 2000 churches nationwide. Richard Foster and Priscilla Shirer shared passionately about the vital need to spend time listening to God and Dr. Henry Cloud challenged everyone with practical steps to help incorporate this type of prayer into busy, everyday life. Kendall Payne’s soulful ‘Be Thou My Vision’ set apart the close of the evening with Richard Foster leading the group in a time of silent, listening prayer based on a scripture reading from Luke. As one woman shared afterward, ‘I loved learning about this new kind of prayer that is actually so old from so many different views. There really was something for everyone…’

The biggest, scariest word in there: contemplative prayer.

“Contemplative prayer is ‘listening prayer,’” says Richard Foster, “It is attentiveness … It is being ‘all ears’ to what the Father has to say to us.”

The DVD shows people reading their Bibles, while similar descriptions progress. Okay, so I am to listen to God while reading the Bible?” asks writer and former new-ager Brian Flynn. “I do that already. God informs me through His word. What’s new about that?”

The thing about this DVD is that it mixes “contemplating” on Scriptures with “contemplative” prayer. The spiritual discipline of silence and solitude is not new, but emptying ones mind certainly is.

“…the first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer,” says Brannon Manning describing contemplative prayer method in his book Signature of Jesus, ” The second step, ”without moving your lips, repeat the sacred word [or phrase] inwardly, slowly, and often.”

Finally “The third step concerns what to do when inevitable distractions come. The answer is to simply return to listening to your sacred word. Gently return your mind to your sacred word.”

I’m not sure about you, but personally, I’m not about to “repeat the sacred word” over and over until my mind is emptied and God can “speak.” That’s Hinduism and New Age, not Christian. The true spiritual discipline of silence is solitude is “the voluntary and temporary abstention from speaking so that certain spiritual goals might be sought.” (Donald Whitney) These goals include reading, writing, praying, and studying. It is having outward silence, yet inwardly having a “conversation” with God.

We can follow Christ’s example of silence and solitude. He went to the desert to pray (Matthew 4:1), He woke up early in the early morning and prayed in solitude (Mark 1:35), and He repeatedly left the multitudes to pray in solitude and silence. But he did not “empty his mind” by repeating “the sacred word.” If we are quiet, we can hear the whisper. If we are alert, we can hear Him. Of course, it’s not essential to be able to hear God to be in quiet and solitude, but it is much easier to hear “undistracted the voice of God.” (Donald Whitney)

Once again, we must understand the occultic nature of contemplative prayer, seen in the “warning” given by Richard Foster in his book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home:

I also want to give a word of precaution. In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as a supernatural guidance…. While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on that, there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way! … But for now I want to encourage you to learn and practice prayers of protection.

I really don’t want to have a demon come into my mind and I’m sure you would like to avoid that as well.

I believe we as Christians need to understand the implications of contemplative prayer, and to examine it fully. We need to go to the core of the issue, looking to find out what it truly is. We need to ask ourselves why Christ did not tell us to pray like this, and why these men and women are promoting this practice of making Christianity just another cult.

Statement From Beth Moore:

Recently I was interviewed for a program on prayer in which I was asked certain questions without any knowledge of what other participants would say or share. Since its release, I’ve been baffled by some inquiries into whether or not I am a proponent of approaches to prayer with overtones of Eastern meditation. Not only is my answer no, the thought never even occurred to me. I’m a Southern Baptist, for crying out loud!…read the rest!