This blog is the combined effort of four senior pastors of different churches. Their desire is to point you toward living a God-centered, gospel-focused, Christian life.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wicked Tenants Post-Sunday App

Critical Thinking and the Christian

My friend recently sent me some information on “concept mapping.” For those unfamiliar with the, um, concept, here’s an example from NASA (original image can be found here):

Bryan Bradley at Brigham Young University describes a concept map as “a visual organization and representation of knowledge. It shows concepts and ideas and the relationships among them. You create a concept map by writing key words (sometimes enclosed in shapes such as circles, boxes, triangles, etc.) and then drawing arrows between the ideas that are related. Then you add a short explanation by the arrow to explain how the concepts are related.”

The concept map has many educational benefits. For instance, it allows students studying a specific scientific concept to visualize how that concept relates to other fields and disciplines. It also allows students to group seemingly divergent thoughts as they brainstorm.

Concept maps also assist people as they think through how their opinions have been formed. Check out this example dealing with the Iraq War (original can be found here):

This individual has stated her position in the central circle: "My position on the war is that I am in between." In the next ring of eight circles, she lists reasons for and against the war. Finally, she lists what was the primary influence for that reason (media, religion, etc.).

It is that last step that intrigues me. Training young people—and ourselves—to think critically is an essential task for the mature believer. We must know not only what we believe but why we believe it.

Remember what Paul tells Timothy as he encourages his young friend to remain faithful and not follow the path of self-loving false teachers:
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
The pedagogical goal of the church is not merely to convey information. Paul wants Timothy to recall the sources from which he received his convictions. They were trusted teachers and sacred writings. Timothy would do well to listen to their instruction instead of following the hedonistic lifestyles of the false teachers. 

We also want to equip ourselves and others to think critically about the information we know and how to apply it. Continue to hold fast to what you have known and firmly believed!

By His Grace,


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A New Tool

Pastor Ben Davidson is a great gift to Bethany Community Church. He is constantly thinking of ways to improve existing ministries and help us be more effective in our communication. I'm particularly excited by an idea he's had for awhile but we've just begun to implement this week.

Over the next few weeks, Bethany Community Church is testing out this new tool that is designed to help our church apply the truths of God's Word. It's called the "Post-Sunday App" and it is simply a short video where we talk about Sunday's sermon.

This excites me because I often hear comments after the sermon or questions at care group and think, "Wow, I wish I could address that issue with the whole church!"

We'll be recording these videos on Monday mornings, so for those who attend BCC, feel free to email any questions you may have had about the sermon on Sunday afternoon or evening. We may address them Monday morning.

Also, let us know if you find these helpful.

By His Grace,


P.S. Several people have asked how many takes this video took. My answer is that it took only one take but we did that one take three times due to technical issues!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Responding to Election 2012

I’d like to offer several logical options in responding to the election outcome.   Each of them have been taken before in American history.  The challenge is to find where we are in order to know the proper response.  Here are some previous American responses to political defeat.

--Revolution  Well, now, that’s an incendiary word, isn’t it?  But that is what the people did in 1776.  Consider the words from our Declaration of Independence: When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Those who would advocate revolution would say that the abuses and usurpations have grown so great that it is a duty to throw off such government.  More likely, however, men are willing, in the present situation, to be disposed to suffer, believing that the evils are sufferable.

The Christian, of course, is troubled by the idea of revolution, and he ought to be.  Pastors in the Revolutionary War period struggled with the scriptures on this topic.  John Wingate Thornton noted, “To the Pulpit, the Puritan Pulpit, we owe the moral force which won our independence.”For a good (and free) look at sermons from the period of the American revolution, go to:

My own view is that we are not at the point where revolution is even to be contemplated, but we are at the point where we ought to be students of those who went before us on this matter.

Partition—Hmm, this one is equally painful.  It is the path taken by the southern states in 1861 upon the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency.  There is rarely anything like consensus on the idea of partitioning a nation.  The ones who want to leave are always violently opposed by those who want to preserve a political union.  The present divide in our country, while roughly geographical, is not as precisely geographical as the one which led to the Civil War.  That war was particularly bloody, and the forces working to preserve the Union were every bit as determined as those working to defend their state (I am not saying that I agree with those Southerners in saying that they were working to defend their state.  I myself think that they were doing more than they thought that they were, which is why the Union was so determined.)  No, I see no good coming from a proposal of partition, unless there would be mutual agreement to it, which will never happen.  Still, it’s great idea for a novel, and if I ever write one, I think that I might do it based on such a scenario.  For a small list of the many sermons preached on both sides of the partition divide during the Civil War, see:

Departure—The idea of leaving where one is not welcome is as old as the book of Genesis.   It is what the Pilgrims did which separated and distinguished them from the Puritans.  Rev. John Cotton’s sermon entitled, “The Divine Right to Occupy the Land” is a good example of this view.  Go to:  A key question that all who advocate departure must answer is, “Where?”  Entire life savings were exhausted in the Pilgrim departure.  Freedom was loved more than life itself.  I’m not sure that one can advocate for departure until a place to land is located.  And, as history reminds us, there were displacements of other people groups associated with any group’s arrival.  It’s a messy thing.

Continued effort in the system—This has been the typical response of Americans, both Christian and otherwise, to political defeat.  We take our lumps and live to fight another day.  This means engagement in communication of our political message in new and creative ways.  It means crossing boundaries of traditional political segregation to persuade.  It is hard work, requires patience, and has no guarantee of success.  In fact, demographics and the increasing dependency of all citizens upon government largesse in one way or another seems to indicate that small government with little regulation is an idea which will never again dominate the American scene.  John Adams, our second President, predicted as much when he wrote, “To expect self-denial from men, when they have a majority in their favor and consequently power to gratify themselves is to disbelieve all history and universal experience;  it is to disbelieve Revelation and the Word of God, which informs us the heart is deceitful in all things and desperately wicked.”  I am not sure that the principles of freedom can be sufficiently communicated to the present generation in a persuasive enough manner.  This election saw three states embrace homosexual marriage, an open lesbian was elected to the US Senate, two senate candidates lost their races because they clumsily advocated for the right to life for those conceived via rape or incest, two states legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and on and on it goes.  How does one persuade against such world view dominance?  (One is tempted to quote Theoden here, "What can men do against such reckless hate?")

Acquiescence—This is the view which most people end up taking after all elections.  They simply say, “Ok, that’s over.  What’s for supper?”  Largely, a modified version is the main Christian response that I am reading this morning.  We acknowledge the election result; we stay kind; we pray for the elected leaders.  For an excellent example of this, see Russell Moore’s article:
There is biblical merit in such an approach, as Moore wisely points out.  However, as a few of the comments to Moore’s article point out, it seems unbiblical to stay silent and “supportive” in the face of pure evil.  If one believes that the present administration exhibits evidences of pure evil, it would not be charitable to the larger society to acquiesce.

Embrace a different world view—Evangelicals often face the temptation to be trendy or accepted by the culture at large.  In the face of serious and dominant cultural disagreements with the clear teaching of the Word of God, large numbers of evangelicals will be tempted to surrender biblical values and embrace the culture’s values.  My prediction is that this will be a response embraced by many, many evangelicals in the next two years.  As they say, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”  This is what happened to Congregationalism in the early 19th century and to the mainline denominations in the early 20th century.  Evangelicals seem to be next in line, and some have already crossed that line.

Preach the Word—In this response, the church holds up the authority of scripture, engages the culture, politely but relentlessly, and preaches the whole council of God.  This will make people angry, not the least of which are some folks within the church.  There are times where the preaching of the Word brings societal transformation (see the First Great Awakening or, to a lesser degree, the preaching of Billy Sunday).  But there are also times like Jeremiah’s where the preaching of the Word was met with little positive response, much resistance, and great opposition.  In any event, there is little fanfare, and most people do not even notice the effect of the Gospel.  When the government demands that the preacher’s message be changed, the preacher preaches that message all the more and willingly accepts the persecution that comes as a result.  This effort to “preach” is not borne only by the preachers, but by all who call themselves Christians, for the “preaching” is not only what is done in the pulpits but what is done in the neighborhood, in the workplace, and on the recreation field.  And true believers are willing to lose their jobs, their homes, their status, and even their lives to make Jesus Christ known.  The challenge with this position is to avoid developing one’s own spiritual ghetto.  The Essenes of old prided themselves on this position.  However, all they did was to create their little world and kept themselves as far from the larger world as they possibly could. A key distinction to avoid that is the importance of prayer and fasting in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.  I don't think it is possible to draw near to God in that way and not also be drawn to engage the world.

I’d be curious.  Which of the above resonate with you?  Why?  I confess that I find something attractive in all of them.  As a preacher, I am drawn to the last position, but the challenging question of how to engage the culture bothers me quite a bit.  In future posts, I hope to flesh out a bit more what my approach is and why.  The very fact that I am alive in this world means that I must make some further choices on these matters. 

And so must you.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Some Election Day Reading Material

After today, it will all be over. Or, at the least, this phase of the 2012 election will be over.

Here are some links to some articles you might find interesting today (HT: John Piper, for many of them):

1. I remain saddened by what seems to me to be a shift in our culture on life. Here are some strong, good words from John Knight that should motivate you  to keep up the good fight:

2. Am I willing to vote for a Mormon? Without a doubt. Am I saddened by the Mormon faith? Without a doubt.

3. Why Pastor Sam Crabtree is voting in favor of Minnesota's marriage ammendment:

See also this interview with Robert Gagnon:

4. Four years ago, Mr. Obama made a push for Evangelical votes. His rhetoric four years ago is in stark contrast to what the Democratic party is proclaiming today about morality and those who hold to a Biblical worldview.

Anthony Esolen rightly observes:
He [President Obama] could have reached out to evangelicals, of whatever race, to promote the virtue of chastity.  He could have roused the sluggardly mass media from its stupor and forced them to acknowledge how children suffer when they do not grow up with a married mother and father.  He could have visited prisons and interviewed the men about the homes where they grew up.  He did none of these things.  Instead he acted so as to inscribe the sexual revolution in granite, as a new Ten Commandments from on high.  In generations to come, this colossal cultural failure, this tremendous opportunity squandered, may loom larger than his economic failure. 
See the full article here:

5. According to this survey, most pastors have mentioned the need to vote, but not endorsed a particular candidate. That's probably wise. I feel very confident warning us against a candidate, but wary of endorsing the other.

Monday, November 5, 2012

You Insult My Intelligence Boss (Bruce Springsteen)

I have not blogged for some time.  I haven’t the time to blog today, with too many things to do in so short a time (sorry to my fellow bloggers for not carrying my share of this ministry).  But I was stirred to write by the sense of disgust that I have when Hollywood and Music Industry artists and legends attempt to sway me toward absolute insanity in my political decisions.  Remember the cliché-ish definition of insanity: repeating something over and over, and expecting different results - although I have found that insanity sometimes works with computers …

I suppose to be totally fair, I am not impressed when the candidate I support enlists some Rock n Roll legend, even actor, to increase my esteem of said candidate.  It insults my intelligence.  Or, perhaps, it tells me what these candidates feel about the intelligence of the electorate.  Although I do take solace today when some artists from the entertainment industry indicate that they, unlike their artistic colleagues, have not drank the Kool-Aid.

When I appreciated the Boss the most was during my college days, when I was least informed politically, also dead in my sins and transgressions.  As a long-distance runner, I loved the song Born to Run, sang it with all the angst and passion that the Boss sang with, but sensed that he was reflecting anxieties that I wasn’t relating to.  But it was a cool tune.  I loved the album The River, would sing long parts of it to my bride as we would drive long distances in the car, giving her the permission to sleep as long as she was an audience for me.  I have to admit, Boss, I sort of checked out from your music after that point, because you seemed to stray from your pure musical story-telling in order to crank out the more formulaic popular music that took you to mainstream stardom.  I liked your real life storytelling best.

But Boss, I care deeply about my country.  So much so, that I read publications that are far from popular and mainstream to inform my mind about foreign policy and other national and international interests.  Sometimes when I run I listen to books on economics, on Islamic history, on social behavior.  I have begun to read more widely on the history of our nation’s founding, and the moral, ethical and political concerns that shaped us. 

Boss, I’m deeply concerned about the fiscal policies and philosophies of any who govern our nation.  I’m deeply concerned that we take seriously the mantle that God has granted to us as a nation who would champion the individual freedom of peoples everywhere.  More than these concerns Boss, I’m deeply concerned about a government who begins to believe that it has the mandate to restrain religious freedoms of individuals and organizations in order to impose its own policies and agendas, and notably those that sanction murder of the unborn under the guise of women’s rights.  Boss, I don’t know if you remember, but in The River, when you got Mary pregnant, you didn’t abort, you did the honorable thing and married her.    

Boss, why would I possibly believe that you, or others who have made lots of money by entertaining, even entertaining me, have anything to say to me that would sway me to vote according to your own convictions.  You may possibly know as much as me in all these important areas, possibly more.  Yet I have no reason to suspect you do.  And I cannot, nor should I, simply assume that because you have tapped into a vein of common, shared experience with your music, that it logically follows that you know enough to be credible in speaking into the governance of my nation. 

Boss you tell me that I should hold out for hope and change with the current administration.  But I remember you reminding me that ‘everybody has a hungry heart’, and the reality is that they’ve gotten hungrier in many respect due to the last four years.  You want me to vote to protect women’s rights and health concerns, but you said it yourself that ‘two hearts are better than one’, so why should we so easily eliminate one of them through abortion?  Boss, you sang about that girl who gave up on all her dreams, simply to wait on a welfare check, and yet you seem to advocate an administration whose policies have actually made welfare more extensive and necessary.

So Boss, stop insulting my intelligence, and stick to entertaining.  I find you more credible in the latter.


Art Georges