For it is by grace you have been saved...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Persecution By Zoning?

I understand the purpose of zoning laws and all, but this is just scary
(click here for original page at Fox News)

Couple Ordered to Stop Holding Bible Study at Home Without Permit

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pastor David Jones and his wife Mary have been told that they cannot invite friends to their San Diego, Calif. home for a Bible study — unless they are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to San Diego County.

"On Good Friday we had an employee from San Diego County come to our house, and inform us that the Bible study that we were having was a religious assembly, and in violation of the code in the county." David Jones told FOX News.

"We told them this is not really a religious assembly — this is just a Bible study with friends. We have a meal, we pray, that was all," Jones said.

A few days later, the couple received a written warning that cited "unlawful use of land," ordering them to either "stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit," the couple's attorney Dean Broyles told San Diego news station 10News.

But the major use permit could cost the Jones' thousands of dollars just to have a few friends over.

For David and Mary Jones, it's about more than a question of money.

"The government may not prohibit the free exercise of religion," Broyles told FOX News. "I believe that our Founding Fathers would roll over in their grave if they saw that here in the year 2009, a pastor and his wife are being told that they cannot hold a simple Bible study in their own home."

"The implications are great because it’s not only us that’s involved," Mary Jones said. "There are thousands and thousands of Bible studies that are held all across the country. What we’re interested in is setting a precedent here — before it goes any further — and that we have it settled for the future."

The couple is planning to dispute the county's order this week.

If San Diego County refuses to allow the pastor and his wife to continue gathering without acquiring a permit, they will consider a lawsuit in federal court.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Book Review: Higher Hope (a bit late)

My apologies to the folks at Thomas Nelson. I agreed to review the occasional book for them and have been fairly prompt in the past. However, this latest book caught me at a time when reading a novel was pretty low on the priority list. So, even though the book isn’t all that “new”, I’ll offer the review anyway.

I’ve enjoyed Robert Whitlow since I read The List several years ago. (A movie has actually been made from that one, in case you didn’t know). The last couple of his books have been a little less to my personal taste. Higher Hope, book two in the "Tides of Truth" series, picks up the story of a young summer law clerk on the heels of her “adventures” in Deeper Water.

Tami Taylor is the product of a ultra conservative upbringing and the stories hinge mainly on her struggles with remaining faithful to her strong faith while operating in the big world of law in Savannah, GA.

As a conservative homeschool father myself, I’ve appreciated Whitlow’s portrayal of this particular homeschooler in such a positive light, even though I disagree with some of the legalistically fundamental beliefs and practices of her family. The struggle to remain true to your faith in a world that ridicules your beliefs, family, etc. is one that many of us face on a daily basis; and Whitlow’s stories highlight those difficulties in a helpful way.

However, I didn’t enjoy Higher Hope as much as previous works for two main reasons. One, too much time was spent on the inner turmoil of a burgeoning “love triangle” as Tami finds herself being pursued by two young men. I know the market is aimed more at female readers, but for those of us who enjoy the occasional escape by Grisham-esque authors like Whitlow, the dominance of the romance was a little hard to take.

And two, the main plotline (other than romance) in this story centered on a old woman preacher/prophet who was calling out the sins of a particular business developer who is trying to purchase her church property. Without going into detail, there was much in the theology of that story line that I had personal issues with. Others may not find it as bothersome, but Whitlow’s positive portrayal of someone I consider to be on the fringe of biblical orthodoxy and orthopraxy made the story less enjoyable for me.

Again, I’m a fan of Whitlow. And I did enjoy the supportive view of those of us on the more conservative end of things. However, my personal preference would be to return to the “legal thriller” mode and leave the romance to others. Guys need good books, too, right?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Continuing Demise of Parental Rights

While I’ve been watching the national/international issue of parental rights surrounding the UN Charter vs. Parental Rights Amendment, an interesting case has been developing right before our eyes.

Unless you’ve been out of the country the last couple weeks, you’ve no doubt read the story about young Daniel Hauser, a 13 year old Minnesota boy with Hodgkin's lymphoma. The doctors have told the family that this is a treatable cancer, but without chemotherapy, he will likely die. The family has said they would prefer other methods of treatment, apparently involving some mystical and home grown remedies. The issue went to court, and the courts have decided that the family must submit to the chemo.

Again, you’ve probably heard the story. Mom takes the boy and they go on the run for a week or so. The courts issue a warrant for her arrest, etc. Now they’ve returned and the warrant has been dropped and so on. Where it all goes from here remains to be seen.

I don’t know the whole story. I’m sure I would sharply disagree with the parent’s decision on this. It sounds as if they have some pretty confused theology/philosophy going on here. But here is the issue that concerns me: At what point does it become the concern of the “state” in matters such as this? Where do the parents lose the ability to decide which medical treatment is best for their own child?

I understand the concern for his well being, etc., but where do we draw the line? As a homeschooling parent, I see the writing on the wall with this. If it’s up to the state to decide what’s best for the welfare of this boy, it won’t be long until the same reasoning will be applied to public education. If the state feels it’s in the best interest of the child, for his health and well being, to be in government schools, then they will step in and force the issue through the courts (which has been tried by the way). This is a very disturbing issue. (for more “threats” to parental rights, read here)

Again, I don’t know all the facts here. And again, I would probably choose a different course of action. But this family should have the right to make these decision on their own.

We know a family who had a cancer diagnosis a couple years back. They purposely didn’t tell anyone at first because they chose to deal with it through “non-traditional” means at first, and they knew that others would judge them and try to “force” them into chemo, etc. Regardless of what I would have done in their situation, it’s not my choice; it’s theirs.

For a culture that is so focused on the issue of “choice” when it comes to slaughtering innocent children in the womb, we become strangely anti-choice when it comes to issues like this one. Why can a parent kill their unborn child, but when it comes to questions of health care, their "right to choose" is suddenly removed.

I’ll be praying for Daniel and his family. I’ll be praying for his health as well as his parents. Ultimately I pray God will send people into their life to share the Gospel of Christ with them, but I will also be praying that they have the wisdom to do what’s best for their family. I also will pray that the government will allow them to do what they feel is best, even if we don’t agree with it.

I’ll be very interested to see how this all plays out, and what precedents will be set by this case. This issue should concern us all. Where are the lines drawn? Where does the “state’s interest” come in? Where do parental rights end? How far will “Big Brother” go? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Addendum: After posting this, I found that Al Mohler has also posted on this subject. He takes a slightly different approach, but voices someo the same concerns. Read his entry here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Parental Rights/Homeschooling Notes

Here is a good news/bad news post. Actually, the bad news is a really a potentially bad news issue that we need to be watching closely. Let me start with that.

BAD NEWS – Parental Rights and Gun Control

I’ve been trying to let everyone I know about and the fight to introduce a Parental Rights Amendment. The issue has to do with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which may sound nice and noble, but essentially will rob parents of having any say in the raising of their own children. It will submit American parents to a global tribunal who will decide what best for our children. Check out for more info.

What I didn’t realize was the effect this UN “treaty” would have on gun ownership. You can read the whole article here, but the issue boils down to the fact that the leftist UN is very anti-gun, and sees gun ownership as a detriment to children in any and every home.

That’s right, you are harming your children simply by exercising your Constitutional right to bear arms. According to the article: “UNICEF, the official UN agency charged with the worldwide advancement of children’s rights, has published a four-color brochure entitled: ‘No Guns Please, We Are Children.’” Inside that brochure is the assertion that “Small arms and light weapons cause profound physical and emotional damage, particularly to children, and affect their welfare.”

The Parental Rights Amendment has been introduced into Congress, but there is also a push by many legislators to officially ratify the UN treaty. Make sure you contact your legislators regarding this threat to our parental rights and 2nd Amendment rights.

And now the GOOD NEWS from a note from Missouri Family Policy Council

Legislators Vote to Protect Homeschooling

“Members of the Missouri House voted overwhelmingly this past week to preserve the rights of home educators across the state. Legislators voted to eliminate language in an education bill viewed as a threat to the homeschool community. Advocates of home education argued that the language would require that high school-age home school students prove that they had sixteen credits toward high school graduation. Home school proponents claimed this could enpower the state education department to require compulsory school attendance for high school-age children. Representative Rodney Schad of Versailles sponsored the successful amendment to remove the objectionable language. Hundreds of homeschool parents and children converged on the Capitol last Thursday to voice their concerns about the language. While efforts were already underway to correct what was was generally viewed as an inadvertent impact on homeschooling, the home educators' rally certainly bolstered the efforts to rectify the issue. Kerry Messer, the lobbyist for Families for Home Education, played a leading role in preserving the independence of home school families.”

Thanks to Kerry, to Rep. Schad, and to those 2,000 homeschoolers who descended on the capital last week to voice their concern over this issue.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Free DVD from Vision Forum: Winner Update

(Winner Update at end)
Vision Forum has recently released several new titles in their "Reclaiming the Culture" series. And in their generosity, they are allowing those of us in the "affiliate program" to give away one title here in the blogospere.

I thought I would combine this with my passion for the Parental Rights issue (see the link for on the left of this page), and offer this DVD: "The State of Parental Rights in America."

Here is the description for the Vision Forum site:

Parental rights are under assault like never before in the history of this country. Consider the recent assault on parental rights by the state of Texas in taking 465 children in El Dorado, Texas in the Summer of 2008 (The largest seizure of children in American history) or the serious possibility of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child being ratified by the current administration. What does the Bible say about the jurisdiction of the parent vis a vis the state? In this lecture, attorney Don Hart addresses the Biblical and Constitutional issues every parent needs to understand in light of the perilous state of parental rights in our time.

Now the contest: Just give me a name in the comment section (first with last initial should be good) by May 12th and let me know you're interested. I'll have the kids randomly select a name and then we'll arrange contact information. Check back here on the 13th for the winner.

With the UN stuff going on in addition to things right here in the US, this is going to be a major issue in the next few years. I would urge folks to pick up a copy of this product, or go to to get informed.
WINNER UPDATE: I was somewhat surprised/disappointed that more folks aren't interested in this issue. Trust me; you'll be hearing more about it in the days to come.
Congrats to Frances. Just email me your contact info at

Voddie Baucham "Sermon Jam"

This is well worth your time. I think this is my favorite conemporary preacher. Enjoy

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How Far For a Good Cause?

Recently I was asked to participate in a fundraiser for Relay for Life. I’m all for the cause. I would love to do my part. In fact, last year when I was asked to do this same event, I was all ready to sign on. Until they got to the “kicker.”

You see, they were recruiting area pastors to participate in a little softball game. Now, I’ve never been all that athletic, but I’ve played my share of church softball games. So I was ready and willing, even if I am less than completely able.

But just as I was about to agree, the “recruiter” for this event said, “Oh, and by the way, the catch is that all you pastors will be wearing dresses and catching with purses. We’re calling it ‘Dude Looks Like a Lady.’” That’s where I said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Of course, the event went on without me (a reminder to self: you’re not that important!), and the event was all the rage in the local paper. Now we’re doing it again. And again I declined, in spite of the fact that I was told “all the other pastors are doing it.” (Enter my children repeating what they’ve heard: So, Dad, just because all the other pastors were jumping off a cliff…) Just love being the odd guy out.

My beef is three fold. Number one, I’m not sure if the event organizers know (or care) that the song they are taking their title from is an extremely vulgar one by Aerosmith. I know, I shouldn’t even know that. But I do. And it’s a repugnant song, with highly suggestive lyrics based on a theme that should be obvious (if you doubt, read about it here). So strike one, I don’t think I want to be associated with that.

Number two, the whole cross-dressing thing. I know it’s all in “good fun” and maybe years ago we could have seen it all as a big joke. But this is a different day and time. The culture around us is pushing heavy for acceptance of the whole gay/lesbian/transgendered lifestyle. Gay marriage is a huge issue right now. Cross dressing just isn’t funny. How can the church take a stand for holiness, for biblical marriage, and against sexual perversion when preachers are making light of the whole thing in this way. That for me is strike two.

And finally, there is the whole issue of respect. I’m willing to, and have done, some strange things. Having been involved in drama in high school and college, I’ve done my share of “funny” roles, etc. But in a day and time where there is already a huge decline for the respect and authority of the pastoral office, it seems to me that this kind of stunt does nothing to help. Not to mention the respect of my children in my own home.

Let me say again, I support the Relay for Life cause. We lost my mother-in-law to cancer over 16 years ago after a struggle of over a dozen years. So count me in as a general rule. But playing fast and lose with sexual identity in this culture, coupled with the images brought on by the title song, and I’m just not sure this pastor is “with it” enough to participate.

Anyone out there: let me know what you think…

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sound Theology – same title; different post

How important is truth? And how concerned should we be about those who are either missing it or opposing it?

With The Shack still topping the Christian best seller list, one has to really question the level of discernment within the church these days. Folks seem willing, almost eager, to get their theology more from so-called novels than from the Word of God.

Add to that the popularity of man-centered, self-pleasing teaching from one end, and the “post-modern” gurus on the other, and one has to wonder where the truth is even being taught.

Likewise, more and more churches seem to be setting aside truth for whatever the latest pragmatic crowd pleaser might be. Think that’s overstating it? Check out the entries over at The Museum of Idolatry. It will turn your stomach.

The question is, how much time should we spend on these heretical teachings and those who propagate them? Should we, as some say, just leave them alone? Just focus on our “own thing” and let the others go? Maybe that seems like the “noble” thing to do, but is it the Scriptural thing? I think not.

We are told to “contend for the faith” (Jude 3). The word there means to struggle, to fight for something. We are to fight for the true faith delivered in Scripture. Paul tells Timothy that the Word is useful for correcting and rebuking. How can we do that if we are ignoring those teaching false doctrine.

Furthermore, the simple truth is this: Do we not love one another enough to keep our brothers from error. If one of my brothers is following after a false teaching, do I not have enough concern and compassion for him to warn him of the dangers? We don’t need to spend all of our time chasing after every heretic out there, but at the very least we ought to be vocal about those most well known who continue to creep into our churches through popular novels and TV teachers.

Phil Johnson over at the Pyromaniacs site has offered a wonderful, succinct, post on this subject. I encourage you to read it. And let us commit ourselves to the admonition given to Titus to “teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). Sound theology does matter, folks. And we need to fight for it.