Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ministry to the Elderly

I just got back from taking a group from our church Christmas caroling. We went to visit some of the elderly in our church family. We took them cookies and Christmas cards and, of course, sang Christmas carols. Besides enjoying the fellowship, there were several things that made this an amazing event for me personally:

  1. Their neighbors stood outside and listened as we sang. I can only wonder what opportunities that may open up for the people we visited to share the gospel with their neighbors. I can imagine an over-the-fence conversation of, "Who were those people?" blossoming into a wonderful expression of the greatness and goodness of God.
  2. Everyone who went caroling enjoyed it. It's impossible to be grumpy and minister to people at the same time, especially when you're singing.
  3. All of the elderly people we visited expressed great appreciation. This is why I'm writing this post. We have a responsibility to love those who are a part of the family of faith. We have the privilege to reach out and serve people like this who often just need someone to stop by and bring a plate of cookies and chat for a few minutes. One lady said, "I was just lying in bed feeling sorry for myself." Our visit to her changed her whole evening and gave her a fresh glimpse of the compassion and love that a church ought to demonstrate.

So the burning question in my heart now is, What more can we do for the elderly, for the widows, for the men and women in our church who may need little more than a compassionate conversation? How can we help them more often? Will we visit them only at Christmas? What can we do to show the kind of familial love that we ought to be expressing to this precious group of people?

And those are not rhetorical questions.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Check Out The Buzzard Blog

I recently received a comment from Justin Buzzard, a pastor at Central Peninsula Church in Foster City, CA. Justin's responsibilities include ministry to the twenty-somethings. He has a very thoughtful and Christ-filled blog that I think you would enjoy. Check it out here.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Little More "Left Behind" Humor

I don't know why I'm into a humor thing all of a sudden here, but this was too good to pass up:

Yes, you can actually buy those shorts here.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Left Behind

If you were hoping for a serious discussion on the rapture question, you'll have to come back later. At some point I will write about that eschatological concept. For now, though, a little humor is in order.

The Left Behind series has become immensely popular, like it or not. So I couldn't resist linking to this great picture at "The Sacred Sandwich."

Friday, December 01, 2006

You Might Be a Dispensationalist If...

If you don't get it, I can't help you; but it sure is funny: click here.

HT: Russel

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Benny Hinn -- Christianity's Fraud Maker

I have had Benny Hinn on my mind for several weeks now, but I have refrained from writing about him. Here's why I have not written about Hinn so far:

1. I thought there was no way people could actually be fooled by Hinn's claims

2. I could not write in a good attitude; he makes me very angry.

I would strongly encourage you to watch the following video for some brief insights into why Benny Hinn upsets me so much. It's about 10 minutes long.

Watch it here. (I'm working on embedding a YouTube version, but this link will do for now.)

If you have about 45 minutes to invest, check out this special done by a Canadian news agency.

Now for the kicker, here is "Pastor Benny's" latest trick: Let's see if I can raise $6 million for my new private jet that I need to do the ministry. Read his letter here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Humpty Dumpty

Tom Ascol at the Founders Blog writes a good post on Nelson Price's Humpty Dumpty theology. It's amusing...and sad.

The basic idea is that Price turns terminology on its head in order to make his point. This isn't new, but it's time to start calling people out on it.

Calvinism can't be redefined and then refuted. It doesn't work that way.

Read it here.

Monday, November 27, 2006


This past Sunday, November 26, I read the following letter to our church family:

Dear Pastor Don and Church Family,

When you asked me, Pastor Don, to come to Grace Bible Church several years ago, I had no idea of the great things that God would do in my life and in the life of my family as a result. When Carrie and I began our work at Grace as volunteers January 1, 2003, we knew that there were some exciting opportunities ahead of us, but we never could have imagined all the amazing blessings that God would grant us or lessons that He would teach us. As it turns out, He has once again proven to be “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20).

We have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of God’s work here at Grace Bible Church, and so it is, in a way, difficult to acknowledge the leading of God in our lives in a different direction. When we came to Grace we came with a long-term mindset and have been more than willing to grow old here in this ministry. In keeping with God’s leading in our lives, though, we have been praying for about a year now about whether God would have us continue our ministry here. We have come to the conclusion that it is His timing for us to move. So it is our goal to stay at Grace until next summer at which time we will be pursuing some other options that God has directed us towards. In the meantime, it is my desire to begin handing over my responsibilities to volunteers. I think this would be very beneficial for the church on a number of levels. First, this will allow more people to be more actively involved in the ministries of the church rather than paying a staff member to pick up many different ministries. Second, this will help the church’s financial difficulties greatly by giving the church approximately an extra $3,000 per month. I would like to stay on full-time until then in order to train various people to pick up such responsibilities as overseeing the children’s ministries, leading the choir, designing the worship services, leading the teens, etc.

This decision did not come easily. We have many friends here at Grace and consider many of the people here like family. Pastor and Diane, you have been great mentors for Carrie and me. Whether we’re discussing theology or lamenting stolen debit cards; whether we’re going out to eat or going to Patient First…again; whether we’re planning for the future of Grace Bible Church or planning to take time off; Carrie and I have always treasured our relationship with you and Diane. On a personal note, I want to let you know that you have done more than just about any one else to teach me about a compassionate way of guiding people into the truth. For that I, and anyone that I may pastor in the future, will be eternally grateful.

To our church family let me say thank you so much for letting us grow with you. We have developed some wonderful friendships here over the last four years and look forward to continuing to develop those friendships in the months ahead. We trust that we have been a blessing to you as you have been such a blessing to us. You have loved us, trusted us, met our needs and labored together with us.

To the parents of the teens of Grace, I owe you a deep debt of gratitude. Your willingness to let us come along beside you and disciple your teens with you is an opportunity that we have never taken for granted. It is a joyous duty that we trust we have fulfilled in a way that will honor Christ and will leave a lasting impact on your family. We have labored together with you for your joy in the faith, and we will continue to labor with you in prayer long into the future.

Teens, you make this the most difficult decision we have ever made because we love you deeply and our hearts break at the thought of not getting to see you grow up even more. I have tried to teach you week after week over the past four years that there is nothing more exciting and more satisfying than living life passionately for the glory of God. Now Carrie and I have the opportunity to demonstrate that to you as we follow God’s will even when it means leaving behind the teens we have come to love so much. But we are confident that this is God’s plan for us and for you, and we know that that means great glory for His name and great joy for all of us! Keep growing, and keep knowing, enjoying and serving our Lord Jesus. We will pray for you, and you will always be very special to us!

Pastor Don, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your trust and confidence in me. I did not realize 4 years ago what a big deal it was for you to ask me to come have free reign in the leadership of the teens and families of Grace Bible Church. I was only 22 years old! What were you thinking? In all seriousness, I have come to realize that you entrusted me with great responsibilities, and your trust and confidence in me were greatly undeserved but something for which I am immensely thankful. It is my hope and trust that what God has accomplished through us here at this church has been in accordance with His will, for the joy of His people and for His eternal glory.

Grace Bible Church will always hold a very special place in my heart. I hope that Carrie and I will always be able to look back on our time here with joy, and that we will be able to come back in the future and rejoice again with you in what God continues to do in the midst of the people of Grace. We love this church family. We will always pray that God’s hand will be on this ministry, and that this church will be a powerful force for the spreading of the gospel around the world, for the exalting of Christ in this community and for the everlasting joy of His people!

Friday, November 17, 2006

More Osteen Goodies

This is great! You've got to see the new Joel Osteen board game! Tim Challies writes a great review. Check it out:

Theology and Youth Ministry

Two very interesting things have happened recently in youth ministry as it relates to theology. One, Time magazine published an article noting that many youth ministries are now moving away from the pop culture motif to a more theology-centered program. You can read about it here: In Touch With Jesus.

The other thing that has happened ocurred to me this morning when I check my email and received my Youth Specialties Update. These email updates have links to articles, research, websites, etc. that may be of interest to youth pastors. Here's the one that caught my eye:

"The Limits of God's Grace"; By Bart Campolo -- "A few years ago, after being politely asked to depart early from yet another speaking engagement for giving the wrong answer to the question about the limits of God's mercy, I decided it wasn't fair to keep sneaking up on unsuspecting Evangelicals."
I thought to myself, "Huh." I decided not to read it, because I knew it would upset me. Instead I made my way over to a blog that I frequent that is usually very uplifiting. Unfortunately, today the discussion was all about Campolo's article. Read the article here, then read the discussion here.

My conclusion: Time magazine may have it right. Perhaps youth ministry as a whole is moving towards a more theological discussion. My concern now is that we discuss the right theology. God help us!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Exulting in the Saving Work of Christ

Here is more from the statement of faith. This section on the saving work of Christ is thoroughly biblical and reformed as well as evangelistic and compassionate.

7. The Saving Work of Christ

7.1 We believe that by His perfect obedience to God and by His suffering and death as the immaculate Lamb of God, Jesus Christ obtained forgiveness of sins and the gift of perfect righteousness for all who trusted in God prior to the cross and all who would trust in Christ thereafter. Through living a perfect life and dying in our place, the just for the unjust, Christ absorbed our punishment, appeased the wrath of God against us, vindicated the righteousness of God in our justification, and removed the condemnation of the law against us.

7.2 We believe that the atonement of Christ for sin warrants and impels a universal offering of the gospel to all persons, so that to every person it may be truly said, “God gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life.”120 Whosoever will may come121 for cleansing at this fountain, and whoever does come, Jesus will not cast out.122

7.3 We believe, moreover, that the death of Christ did obtain more than the bona fide offer of the gospel for all; it also obtained the omnipotent New Covenant123 mercy of repentance124 and faith125 for God’s elect. Christ died for all, but not forall in the same way. In His death, Christ expressed a special covenant love to His friends,126 His sheep,127 His bride.128 For them He obtained the infallible and effectual working of the Spirit to triumph over their resistance and bring them to saving faith.129

109 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous (Romans 5:18-19).

110 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3). And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed (1 Peter 2:24). For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit (1 Peter 3:18). They are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins (Romans 3:24-25). For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died (2 Corinthians 5:14). For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died (Romans 8:34). For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living (Romans 14:9). I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly (Galatians 2:21).

111 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

112 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7). In [him] we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:14). Let it be known to you therefore, brethren, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you (Acts 13:38).

113 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). [May I] be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith Philippians 3:9). But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction (Romans 3:21-22).

114 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3). . . .whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:25-26).

115 He justifies him who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26). For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law (Romans 3:28). [We] know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified (Galatians 2:16).

116 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. . . . For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8:1, 3). Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree” (Galatians 3:13).

117Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:3-6). [We] wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him (Romans 5:9). For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

118 . . .whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:25-26).

119 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross (Colossians 2:13-14). Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree” (Galatians 3:13).

120 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19). [Christ will present you blameless to God if] you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister (Colossians 1:23). You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

121 And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17, KJV). Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst (John 4:14).

122 Him who comes to me I will not cast out (John 6:37).

123 [He took] the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). In the same way [he took] also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:25). But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises (Hebrews 8:6). For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15; see also 12:24). Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:20-21).

124 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:24-25). When they heard this they were silenced. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18).

125 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:44). For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father (John 6:65). For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29). For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him (Matthew 11:27). And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul (Acts 16:14).

Friday, October 27, 2006

Statement of Faith on the Bible

The following comes from a church's statement of faith. It is a section about the Bible. They acknowledge the infallibility and inspiration of Scripture, and then give the following thoughts. I have inserted the Scripture texts cited in smaller print. The reason I am posting this is that I think it gives a much better idea of a Christian hermeneutic. This is truly a grammatical-historical hermeneutic. This is unlike the so-called "literal" hermeneutic of dispensationalism, which though it claims the "grammatical-historical" label, it is not such. So here is a statement on the Bible that I am very comfortable with, and I would love to hear some feedback about it:

1.2 We believe that God’s intentions, revealed in the Bible, are the supreme and final authority in testing all claims about what is true and what is right. In matters not addressed by the Bible, what is true and right is assessed by criteria consistent with the teachings of Scripture.

1.3 We believe God’s intentions are revealed through the intentions of inspired human authors, even when the authors’ intention was to express divine meaning of which they were not fully aware, as, for example, in the case of some Old Testament

The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired about this salvation; they inquired what person or time was indicated by the Spirit of Christ within them when predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory (1 Peter 1:10-11). He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation (John 11:51).

Thus the meaning of Biblical texts is a fixed historical reality, rooted in the historical, unchangeable intentions of its divine and human authors. However, while meaning does not change, the application of that meaning may change in various situations. Nevertheless it is not legitimate to infer a meaning from a Biblical text that is not demonstrably carried by the words which God inspired.

There are some things in [Paul’s epistles] hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures (2 Peter 3:16). [Satan said to Jesus] “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give his angels charge of you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God’” (Matthew 4:6-7).

1.4 Therefore, the process of discovering the intention of God in the Bible (which is its fullest meaning) is a humble and careful effort to find in the language of Scripture what the human authors intended to communicate. One’s limited abilities, traditional biases, personal sin, and cultural assumptions often obscure the understanding of Biblical texts. Therefore the work of the Holy Spirit is essential for right understanding of the Bible,

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For "who has known the mind of the LORD, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:12-16).

and prayer for His assistance belongs to a proper effort to understand and apply God’s Word.

Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law (Psalm 119:18). Blessed are You, O LORD; Teach me Your statutes (Psalm 119:12). I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might (Ephesians 1:18).

Friday, October 13, 2006

River North Baptist Church

Bill and Tamra Branks are good friends of ours who have been in Chicago for over 2 years now. They have planted River North Baptist Church in downtown Chicago and have a wonderful new work there. Please stop by and visit their blog on a regular basis and pray for them as God continues to use the Branks and RNBC in amazing ways!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Separated at Birth?

Okay, to put this at rest once and for all, I'm asking you, do I really look like this guy?

Anwoth is not Heaven

Samuel Rutherford ministered in a town in Scotland called Anwoth. This blog is so named because it was in Anwoth that Rutherford sought to have Christ exalted for all of Scotland to see.

Anwoth was a beautiful place. Rutherford once wrote in a letter that "Anwoth is not heaven." But as this picture of a portion of the landscape shows, Anwoth may not be heaven, but it must be close:

Friday, September 29, 2006


If anyone knows anything about HTML and would be willing to help me make just a couple of graphical changes to the blog, please let me know.

New Blog

Good news. Carrie and I have a family blog now. You can find it at We will use that blog for all of our family updates so that I can devote the Anwoth blog to theological discussions and other musings that I find interesting.

That being said, I will no longer be sending out update emails when I make new posts. Check back as often as you like, as I will try to be posting more frequently. Feel free to comment as often as you like.

Also, in case you didn't know, this blog has a new address: I sincerely hope to do much more posting on Samuel Rutherford as I have the opportunity.

Happy reading!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Most Dangerous Man in the World

The most dangerous man in the world may not be who you think it is. It's not Usama bin Laden. It's not the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq...whatever his name is. It's not George Bush either, just in case there happen to be any politically liberal readers on this blog (which I doubt). No, in my opinion, the most dangerous man in the world today is the smiling preacher, Joel Osteen.

Joel pastors the Lakewood Church in Houston Texas which boasts a staggering 35,000 in attendance each week, not to mention the millions of viewers of his weekly television program. So why do I consider Joel Osteen to be the most dangerous man in the world? Isn't that something of an overstatement, a hyperbole perhaps? Absolutely not!

At the risk of sounding like a political radio program, let me begin with a couple of quotes--sound bites, if you will--from Osteen himself:

  • "You can cancel out God's best plan by speaking negative words." (“Speaking Faith Filled Words," Tape # 223. Daystar Television, May 2, 2004)
  • "Many of you today know this, you believe it down here in your heart. But the reason that your not experiencing as much as you should is because your not declaring it. You've got to give life to your faith by speaking it out. Your words have creative power. When you go around saying, 'I have favor, people want to be good to me and supernatural doors are opening.' When you make those declarations of faith, you are charging the atmosphere. And your own words can help to bring it to pass. That is why we should get into the habit of every day consistently speaking God's favor over our lives." ("Experiencing More Of God's Favor," Tape # 212, Daystar, July 10, 2004)

I would include more, but they’re all very similar. Now, just to put Osteen in perspective, he has not come up with something novel or something that no one else claiming to be Christian is saying. In fact, Joyce Meyer is the female counterpart who travels the country writing books and lecturing, giving the same message. Joel and Joyce are both representative of a bigger Pentecostal movement known as the Word Faith movement which has one central, core doctrine. No, that doctrine is not the substitutionary atonement of Christ. No, that doctrine is not sola fide. In fact, the core belief of the Word Faith movement has no parallel in Scripture, the early church or the Reformation. It’s core doctrine is that health and prosperity are promised to all believers, and are available through faith, specifically, faith spoken in words.

Again, the question is, why do I consider Joel Osteen the most dangerous man in the world. So he’s a little too happy. So he thinks God wants to give him a good parking space. So he thinks God wants him to be healthy and happy. What’s the big deal?

Here’s the big deal. Someone has rightly said that the most dangerous errors are those that sound the most like the truth. In other words, it’s not very dangerous to be told, “Drink this Kool-Aid that has poison in it and we can all travel on this comet to a better life.” Any sane person will gladly trade in his Kool-Aid for Diet Coke. However, the man who tells 35,000 people (plus the 7 million TV viewers) each week that God wants them to be as happy as possible has used a truth to pave the way for error. (By the way, for a defense of the idea that God wants me to be as happy as possible, check out the works of John Piper, Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Rutherford, or any other Puritan for that matter.)

Every chance I get I tell the people at my church, teens and adults, that God wants them to be as happy as possible. In fact, after one such message, a lady shook my hand and told me that I reminded her of Joel Osteen. I knew she meant it as a compliment, so I resisted the urge to slap her. However, at least at that propositional level, Joel and I agree. God wants me to be happy! The difference is in how that happiness is achieved, what it looks like in reality and what it's goal is. For Osteen, prosperity or happiness is “having a happy family, having good friends and having good health.” (That quote comes straight from the horse’s mouth in an interview at For me—and for God, I might add—happiness comes from being satisfied with all that God is for me in Christ. That is, real happiness is found not in myself but in God. The goal of Osteen's happiness is entirely self-centered. The goal of God's desire for my happiness is His glory. As John Piper has so memorably stated it, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him."

So here is, in a nutshell, why I am calling Joel Osteen the most dangerous man in the world. Osteen starts with a truth that is the deepest longing of all humans: happiness. Osteen insists that God wants us to be happy—something I agree with. However, Osteen’s non-gospel message finds the source of our happiness within ourselves rather than in God Himself. Joel Osteen glorifies and exalts man rather than God. When God is the source of my happiness, He receives all the glory for being my sole Supplier of joy. When I am the source of my happiness, God is not necessary. For Osteen, God is nothing more than the tool through which I find happiness in myself.

Terrorists may blow up a hundred or a thousand—or even 3,000—people at a time. Joel Osteen will send millions of people smiling their way to hell. Osteen’s “gospel” contains no sin, no cross, no Savior. Osteen’s solutions contain no God, no Christ, and in reality, no hope.

(For a good review of Osteen’s best-selling book, Your Best Life Now, click here.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

An Absolute Must-Read!

I don't post to other blogs much. Well, I haven't really posted much at all recently! Sorry about that. But I had to post this link to Mark Driscoll's blog. This is what the PCUSA is up to these days.

Speaking of not posting recently. I fully intend to give an update soon. We are moved into our new home and have lots of things to write about. But it will have to wait for now.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Our Trip to the Beach

We took our first trip to the beach as a family yesterday. Daniel loved it! He is definitely a beach boy. We went in the evening when it wasn't so hot and there weren't very many people out. It couldn't have been more ideal. Daniel liked to squish his feet in the sand, and he was fascinated by the water. The only time he was a little scared was when three fighter jets flew overhead, but that was a great opportunity for us to learn a new word: "jet." He worked on "beach," "ocean," and "sand" also. (No, he isn't really talking yet, but I'm sure he's thinking it!) Here are a few of our favorite pics:

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

My One and Only Political Post

This nugget is from class today: What political party did Adam and Eve belong to?

They were communists: they had no house and no clothes and called it Paradise!

I thought that was funny.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Setting the Bounds of the "Local" Church

What exactly is a "local" church? Do we have a tendency to read "local" in the NT when we should be seeing universal? More importantly, perhaps, what constitutes a local church? Organization? Membership? Covenant?

The question has many implications. There are implications for the legitimacy of the emergent church movement. There are further implications for the administering of baptism and the Lord's Table.

I know this is a HUGE question to ask (much less answer) in a blog post. So let me narrow it down a bit for now. In what sense can 5 guys who love God passionately get together at McDonald's and be called a church? We certainly don't doubt that they are members of the Church (capital "C"), but do they now constitute a "local" church? More specifically, could they break out their "grape product" (Dr. Windsor's term) and bread and have communion?

I think the ramifications of this discussion are even more enormous than I understand at this point, but I would love some input anyway.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Summer's Halfway Over Already

Can you believe it's already the middle of July?! So much has happened already that it seems as if this summer has flown by. We've had some very difficult and trying times recently, but we are rejoicing in God's goodness and faithfulness through it all.

Carrie is doing much better. She hasn't had any more vertigo for a while now. Kathy Erickson has a been a huge blessing helping us out through this. Thanks, Kathy! And we certainly could not have made it through without Bob and Janelle. They have come over any time we called and taken care of Daniel and Carrie. My parents came up and stayed with Carrie and Daniel while I was gone on a retreat. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Daniel is doing well. He went to the doctor today for his four month check up. They gave him 4 more shots...and he did not like that at all. He is rolling all around the floor and exhibiting his stubborn nature more frequently now.

I just got back on Saturday from a retreat with some of our teens. We had a great time at Alpine Bible Camp. I'll put pics up at the teen website sometime this week, Lord willing:

I've probably posted this before, but it's worth repeating. Rutherford wrote to a friend who was suffering that when she came to glory she would be forced to say, "If God had done otherwise with me than he hath done, I had never come to the enjoying of this crown of glory." How true it is! Our God is all wise and sovereign over our lives. We trust him completely that he is leading us on in the best possible way to the enjoying of a crown of glory! May he be praised and may we continue to be transformed into the image of Christ!

Here are some recent pics:

Fourth of July Party at the Barker's

Happy Baby!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

House Update

Well we think this is good news: We've decided not to buy the house. We have been given the option of renting it instead and have decided that that is a better way to go for now. We are looking forward to moving in at the end of August. It will be so nice to be in a house instead of an apartment. I can play the piano whenever I want and turn the subwoofer on to my surround sound! Finally! :) Thanks for praying for us about this.

Monday, June 26, 2006

"Consider It Great Joy"

My goal this morning is to write this post in a way that displays joy in the midst of frustration, thankfulness in the midst of loss, confidence in the midst of confusion and faith in the midst of disappointment.

When James said, "Consider it great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials," he said a mouthful! We've all been through our share of trials and difficulties. We've all quoted James 1:2-4 while enduring those trials. And, chances are, we've all had the same reaction: Through clenched teeth and a forced smile we say, "I consider this joy." Right. And more often than not, we don't even believe ourselves. So how can I possibly be joyful in the midst of frustration and thankful when I lose things or people that I love? How can I be confident when I'm confused? And how can I have faith when everyone and everything seems to disappoint so often? From a biographical standpoint, how can Samuel Rutherford be forcibly removed from his parish, sent over 100 miles away, receive few letters from his people, be kept from preaching the gospel, and yet say, "I would not exchange the joy of my bonds and imprisonment for Christ with all the joy of this dirty and foul-skinned world; I am filled with Christ’s love"?

Carrie and I have experienced some very difficult circumstances over the past several weeks. At least, from our perspective they are very difficult. We have yet to close on our new home. The closing has been pushed back at least half a dozen times, if not more. We have had ministry disappointments, discouragments and challenges on a very big scale. And now for the last 2 weeks, Carrie has been suffering from very severe vertigo. Yet it is my goal to demostrate through this post and through our response to these situations that God is our God. We will not idolize comfort, people or things.

The House.
We are planning to close tomorrow (Tuesday) on the house. I find myself complaining too often about the bumps in the road to home ownership. How silly! God has provided us with an amazing opportunity to own this home. It's more home than we ever imagined we could have in a first home, and it's located wonderfully for our needs. We have been seeking above all else the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and here he provides us with "all these things" and we complain about the process of receiving them?! We most certainly can rejoice even in this trial. However, we do ask you to pray for us. Pray that we would close this week. Pray that we would rejoice no matter when we close. Pray that our faith would be strengthened and we would mature.

The Ministry.
I'm told that disappointments and discouragement are a normal part of ministry life. Hmmm. Can I be a plumber instead? Just kidding. I was reminded yesterday as I was listening to John Piper's biography of John Newton that God didn't bring me to where I am spiritually overnight. It's taken 26 years for me to get this far--wherever "this far" is. I cannot expect the people I minister to to be mature and complete in three years. I still struggle and get discouraged when people do bad things and when people don't believe right things. I'm learning that God is doing 1,000 things in their lives as well as in mine. I do not want to short-circuit the growing process by having the hurt taken away. God is still good...all the time.

Carrie's Health.
Please pray for Carrie. As of this morning (Monday), she has been experiencing severe vertigo for about 2 weeks now. I rushed her to the ER on the 13th. We went to the doctor at the end of that week. We now have an apointment with a specialist this afternoon. Janelle has been a huge help! She has come over and taken care of Daniel late at night and at a moment's notice. Thanks, Janelle! We love you and Bob! Carrie's sister, Charla, is here now helping out. She leaves today. People from the church have been bringing meals over. We are so grateful for all the help.

I must conclude by saying that God is God. God is wise. God loves his children very deeply. We do not doubt any of those things, even when we are confused, discouraged and tested. We ask for your prayers that we will glorify the great name of our great and worthy Savior as he continues to mold us into his image. May he always freely carve away at our lives until we look increasingly like Jesus!

“I would fain learn not to idolize comfort, sense, joy, and sweet felt presence. All these are but creatures and nothing but the kingly robe, the gold ring, and the bracelets of the Bridegroom. The Bridegroom himself is better than all the ornaments that are about him.” (Rutherford, 1637)

“It is your part now to believe, and suffer, and hope, and wait on: for I protest in the presence of that all-discerning eye who knoweth what I write and what I think, that I would not want the sweet experience of the consolations of God for all the bitterness of affliction; nay, whether God come to his children with a rod or a crown, if he come himself with it, it is well. Welcome, welcome Jesus, what way soever thou come, if we can get a sight of thee. And sure I am, it is better to be sick, providing Christ come to the bed-side, and draw aside the curtains, and say ‘Courage, I am thy salvation,’ than to enjoy health, being lusty and strong, and never to be visited of God.” (Rutherford, 1630)

Monday, May 29, 2006

On Vacation

Carrie and Daniel and I are on vacation. We came down to Georgia for Carrie's dad's wedding last Saturday and will be here all week. Next Saturday is Nathan Glasser's wedding. We'll be getting home Sunday, June 4.

Daniel continues to grow up quickly. He loves to laugh and smile! And I've got him playing the piano already. Check him out:

I have an update on the con artist situation from early April. The Norfolk Police Department has decided that this is not a big enough case to worry about. The MacArthur Mall Security workers have decided that they are too busy to review security tapes. And Bank of America just notified me last week that they don't bear any responsibility to return my stolen money to me. So, just for the record, I will be switching to another banking institution as soon as we finish closing on our house. Bank of America has been very unhelpful and difficult to deal with throughout this entire situation.

Carrie and I have been reminded, however, that when we suffer for the sake of Christ we have a great reward in heaven! I know that my intentions were absolutely pure as I spent hours sharing the gospel with this man who eventually took advantage of my kindness. I know, then, that my heavenly Father will watch over me!

Speaking of the house, our closing was pushed back to mid-June. Please pray that we will close soon without any glitches in the process.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Reflecting on the "Moveables"

Wow. It's been a long time since the last post! Things have been kind of crazy around here. Let me share some of the events that have taken place over the last month or so:

1. Daniel is very healthy and growing well. He loves to smile and laugh, and we love to play with him. It's amazing how fast he's growing up! Yikes! We have lots of new pics here:

2. Carrie is starting to feel better. After some complications following delivery that left her very run down and a little discouraged, she is beginning to progress and regain some strength and energy. She has had such a wonderful attitude through it all; I'm very thankful for my wife!

3. Okay, this one wins the award for the most outrageous event of my life. On Tuesday, April 4, I was out at the church working at my office. I received a phone call from a man who called himself Josh. The short version of the story is that I spent several hours on the phone and in person with this man that day. He turned out to be a con artist who preyed on my compassion and relative innocence. He stole property from me and a lot of money. Unfortunately, that "short version" leaves more questions than answers, but the "long version" is much too long and very disturbing for me still. To be taken advantage of emotionally is a very difficult thing. God has been good through it all, and I have learned a lot. The police and other security personnell have not been very helpful, and we're still waiting to hear back from the bank's investigative department about whether they will give us our money back. Please pray about this situation.

4. The semester is pretty much over...sort of. I have quizzes and a Hebrew exam to take on Wednesday. Then I have to finish a correspondence course by the end of May.

5. Carrie's dad is getting married on May 27 and Nathan Glasser is getting married the next Saturday. Carrie and Daniel and I will be in GA from May 26 through June 4 for those weddings.

6. Now, the "moveables." I titled this post, "Reflecting on the Moveables" because of a line from one of Rutherford's letters to Lady Kenmure when her husband, Lord Kenmure, passed away. He wrote,

"Your Lord never thought this world's vain painted glory a gift worthy of you; and therefore would not bestow it on you, because he is to provide you with a better portion. Let the moveables go, the inheritance is yours. You are a child of the house, and joy is laid up for you."
Rutherford was so focussed on heavenly realities that he could view every earthly treasure a "moveable." My son is a "moveable." My wife and our health are "moveables." My money is a "moveable." I dare not hold so tightly to those transient pleasures that I forsake the eternal rewards that are laid up for me. I must learn to "let the moveables go."
I hope to get back to blogging a little more regularly. I trust you all are doing well. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, March 13, 2006


Daniel Martin Lee was born on Thursday, March 9, 2006 at 2:32 a.m. He weighed 8 lbs., 11 oz. and was 21 inches long. Feel free to look through pics here:

Saturday, February 25, 2006


It's 7:30 Saturday morning. I've gotten about 5 hours of sleep in the last 2 days. This may not be the most exciting read in the world, but maybe it will at least garner a few sympathetic (and perhaps pathetic) comments like, "oh you poor thing!" Well, here's what's been going on...the good and the bad:

First the good news. It looks like Carrie and I will be buying a house this summer. We have a family in our church that is moving at the end of the summer and they want to sell their house to us. They are being very generous to us, and it looks like it's all going to work out. We'll only be 2 miles from the church and on an acre of land. It's a three bedroom, 2 1/2 bath with a bonus room, large living room, kitchen, dining room, etc. Oh, and there's a really cool tree house in the backyard. I'll be sure to keep you updated on the progress of the house buying. Unbelievable.

Now for the not-so-good news. It seems that I end up having some sort of crisis about every six months or so. The last one was in September with the broken finger. Well, now it's about time for another one. And sure enough, it hit this week. I started feeling achy all over on Tuesday and ended up staying in bed all day Wednesday. Thankfully that was all better by Thursday, but Wednesday afternoon I started having a lot of pressure behind my right ear. I saw the doctor on Thursday and he told me I had an ear infection. (If you want some medical details check out this good article, with pictures from WebMD.) I went back to the doctor on Friday and he said my ear drum had sprung a leak! That's not really a good thing. Now I'm temporarily deaf in my right ear and can't sleep at night. Theoretically, ear drums heal up on their own pretty well. And if not, surgery usually can repair a messed up ear drum. Unbelievable. There's actually a little more crisis to the story, but I'll spare you all the gory details. You're welcome.

Okay, I can't end like that, so here's some more good news. Carrie and Daniel are both doing well. Carrie has one week left before her due date and Daniel is still pretty active. Carrie had her last day at work yesterday! That was very exciting. Now once I'm back in one piece, we'll be ready for this new adventure.

In all seriousness, please continue to pray for us during this exciting and challenging time. We are confident that God is more than able to meet all of our needs, both physically and spiritually. He can heal broken ear drums and can deliver healthy babies. And as my friend Cristy has so lovingly expressed, he can even do miracles on babies! Please read her blog at for a very encouraging account of their new son, Isaiah. Read from the bottom up to get the story in chronological order and to see the magnificent things God is doing!

Thanks again for all your prayers.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Solicited Advice

Carrie and I have finished about 7 or so childbirth classes. From Daddy Boot Camp to our 8-hour Saturday Childbirth Education class last weekend, we have been thoroughly prepped for this upcoming event. Why do I still feel like I don't know what's going on then?

Actually we both feel very much more prepared than we did, but we are still a little nervous. Since this is the first time we've ever done this, it's quite a challenging experience to face.

Carrie has started having some minor contractions now! Things are moving along quickly.

Now, a strange phenomenon happens when a young couple announces that they are expecting their first child. Everyone...and I do mean everyone...begins giving advice. That advice ranges from how to handle the pregnancy to how to give birth to how to raise the kid. Usually we can accept that advice; sometimes we laugh at the advice; and sometimes we ignore the adivce or forget it altogether. However, I'm soliciting your advice here! If you have parenting tips, feel free to post them here. Can you spoil an infant? How do you discipline your 3-month old? Do you put your kids on a schedule? Have at it. This is your chance to sound off...and we welcome it!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Daniel Update and a Rutherford Gem

Carrie is now just over 3 weeks away from her due date. Daniel seems to be doing well. He is a very active young man, keeping Carrie pretty uncomfortable most of the time. Carrie said he kicks so much that the first thing she's going to do when he comes out is kick him back! She was just kidding of course. :)


At the age of 37, Samuel Rutherford wrote to one of the men in his parish the following exhortation:

"Fy, fy upon us! that we have love lying rusting beside us or, which is worse, wasting upon some loathsome objects, and that Christ should lie his lone. Woe, woe is me! that sin hath made so many madmen, seeking the fool's paradise, fire under ice, and some good and desirable things, without and apart from Christ. Christ, Christ, nothing but Christ can cool our love's burning languor. O thirsty love! wilt thou set Christ, the well of life, to thy head, and drink thy fill? Drink and spare not; drink love and be drunken with Christ! Nay, alas! the distance betwixt us and Christ is a death. O, if we were clasped in other's arms! We should never [be separated] again, except heaven separated and sundered us; and that cannot be."

Oh, that we would not waste our love on "loathsome objects"!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Six More Weeks and Other Stuff

Six More Weeks:

Wow, I haven't been blogging here for quite a while. Now that the holidays are over and I'm back in a routine, it's time to get back into the blogosphere.

Carrie and I are only about six weeks away from having our son enter the world. We are very excited! I think we don't know enough to be really scared, although I'm sure that will come in time.

For those of you who haven't heard, our son has a name. His name is Daniel Martin. We named him Daniel after one of my best friends, Daniel Fetterolf. Daniel and I grew up together, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. If my son turns out to be a man of character, integrity and godliness like Daniel Fetterolf, then I will be very happy. We named him Martin after my dad. My dad has been one of the most powerful examples of love, dedication and selflessness. I have never known anyone who is so honest, transparent and willing to put himself last. I hope that my son has the Christ-like character that my dad demonstrates.

Daniel Martin...we're really looking forward to getting to hold him and train him and love him and eventually send him out to be a lifelong disciple maker for the Kingdom of God!

Other stuff:

I started school today. I'm taking a Preaching class, Hebrew narrative (my last Hebrew class!) and History of Israel. In addition, I'm taking English Puritan Theology with J.I. Packer from Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington D.C. through their Virtual Campus. I'm enjoying the semester so whole week into it.

The church voted in December to take me on full time officially. That means that Carrie will be quitting her job soon. We're excited about her being able to stay home.

I'm going to try to get back to blogging regularly. If you haven't checked it out yet, hop on over to Colaborers (, a community blog that David Morris and I are working on.