Monday, February 18, 2019

Sermon Notes Psalm 21

"The king shall have joy in Your strength, O LORD; And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice! You have given him his heart’s desire, And have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah For You meet him with the blessings of goodness; You set a crown of pure gold upon his head. He asked life from You, and You gave it to him— Length of days forever and ever. His glory is great in Your salvation; Honor and majesty You have placed upon him. For You have made him most blessed forever; You have made him exceedingly glad with Your presence. For the king trusts in the LORD, And through the mercy of the Most High he shall not be moved. Your hand will find all Your enemies; Your right hand will find those who hate You. You shall make them as a fiery oven in the time of Your anger; The LORD shall swallow them up in His wrath, And the fire shall devour them. Their offspring You shall destroy from the earth, And their descendants from among the sons of men. For they intended evil against You; They devised a plot which they are not able to perform. Therefore You will make them turn their back; You will make ready Your arrows on Your string toward their faces. Be exalted, O LORD, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power."
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭21:1-13‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Ps 20 & 21 have themes that go together. 20 is the petition and 21 is the thanksgiving for victory.

1. Remembering God’s Deliverance v1-6

We often forget to give thanks to God for victory over our problems with the same urgency we prayed for help.

Joy in God’s strength...we need to find joy in God’s strength instead of what we have done to fix things.

Crown of pure gold upon his head—-the great victory given to the king in the battle of chapter 21.

V 4. Life was spared in the battle.

How often in trials do we pray foxhole prayers....if You get me out of this I will do x y z.

V 5 ties into the crown of gold. Honor and majesty of the king.

V 6 Your presence in this distress, this valley

Too often our prayers are too particular about our troubles , but our confession and thanksgiving is too general.

2. Immovable Hope v 7

Middle verse that looks back at past victory and forward to a hope for the future.

Key to understanding those who are able to trust in the Lord in the midst of trouble.  Does God answer everything accordingly to our desire? No, He answers according to His plan and purpose, but we can always trust His faithfulness even when we don’t understand.  His faithfulness and goodness will never fail.

3.  Peoples Hope and Joy in the Lord v 8-13

Note the words You and Your.

The enemies of God are our enemies as well. What about the martyrs? God in His sovereignty decides who goes, when and how.

God will bring the wicked to justice.

V 10 God will bring an end to the wicked.

V 11 the wicked seem to be under control right now, but if God says no, they can’t accomplish their deeds. We need to be in prayer instead of getting all hot and bothered on social media. 

The wicked can plot and scheme but if God chooses to confound them He will.

V 13 God wants us to be people of worship!  We are His people and we need to exalt Him when things are done that He obviously has done.

May the Lord be exalted and magnified, when He gives victory, by us.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sermon Notes Psalm 20

1. May the Lord answer you.

"May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble; May the name of the God of Jacob defend you; May He send you help from the sanctuary, And strengthen you out of Zion; May He remember all your offerings, And accept your burnt sacrifice. Selah May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, And fulfill all your purpose. We will rejoice in your salvation, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions."

Psalms 20:1-5 NKJV

Military personnel were to dedicate themselves o the Lord before going into battle. This Psalm is a Psalm of going to battle.

"May" used six times in this passage.  Not a petition of demand but submission. Dependence and reliance on God. 

God does as He pleases. He is sovereign yet He hears our prayers and answers.

Day of trouble—v1 crises or problems Ps 46:1.  God ordains and decree His Plan in our lives. Ps 62:8.

May the name of the God of Jacob defend you—

Gen 28:15-13. 

Gen 35:3 answered me in the day of my distress

V 3 Offers & burnt sacrifice.

Prayer that God would accept the petitioners offerings and sacrifices. 

NT speaks of living sacrifices. 

Rom. 12:1-2

V 4 grant you according to your hearts desire. Not health and wealth gospel!

Ps 37:4 ;145:19 

Truly delight yourself in the Lord, He will grant you the desires of your heart...because your desires will be only good.

V 5 "We will rejoice in your salvation, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions."

Psalms 20:5 NKJV

Banners were like a coat of arms. Their banner was lifted to the Lord to praise Him for what he has done. So should we do when God grants us victory over our troubles.  The Lord is my banner is more the meaning.

2. Confidence in God’s Help 

"Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God. They have bowed down and fallen; But we have risen and stand upright."

Psalms 20:6-8 NKJV

David put his trust in the Lord. Our normal reaction is to run to others instead of God when we have troubles.

God will answer and we can be confident based on how He has helped us in the past.

David’s dependency is on God- the saving strength of His right hand.

May we have this kind of dependence on God when troubles come our way.

V 7 Horses and chariots were the cutting edge of technology in those days. 

Human resource can fail.

We must be careful not to trust in temporal things, but to trust in God. This is not to say we can’t use these things, but we are not to trust them more than we trust God.

Plan all you want, but if it’s not God’s Plan it will not work.

Always be prepared but know that deliverance is from the Lord. Remember the Lord in time of trouble.

Our purpose is to respond to our troubles in such a way that brings honor and glory to God.

3. A sovereign King

"Save, LORD! May the King answer us when we call."

Psalms 20:9 NKJV

The king of the universe is where we are to look in a time of distress!

Run to Him when troubles come!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Depression and Other Mental Health Issues

The above is a quote from a book on Biblical Counseling.  I do not have the actual book, only photocopies, but I believe the book title was Good Mood Bad Mood by Charles D. Hodges, M.D.  I could be wrong on that, however.

The premise of the book is that there are no tests to diagnose mental illnesses such as depression and that all the literature that says it is a result of chemical imbalances use terms such as "believed to be", "may be", "appears to be"  etc.  (Similar to the weasel words you see in fake news!) Therefore, the depressed person really doesn't have a physical issue but behavior and spiritual issues that if taught properly how to apply Biblical principles can be handled without medication.  Now the book is not telling people to go get off their medications, nor is it telling the Biblical counselor to encourage them to drop their meds.  But if the person is making progress with applying Biblical principle to their life, and they feel like they can get off their medications, then they are to do it with the supervision of their medical doctor.

The book does mention that some depression issues can be brought on by medical problems such as thyroid problems for example and once that is corrected the depression is corrected.  So a person suffering from depression not brought on by outside circumstances needs to be evaluated for medical problems that might have brought on the depression.  This is where, in my opinion, things fall apart for many people.  I'll explain below.

The conventional medical practitioners of today seem to be bound by the FDA, insurance companies, the CDC and the drug companies.  If a test is not accepted as common practice, then that test is not done.  If a particular diagnosis is not common practice, then that diagnosis is not given or even considered and may be scorned. If a patient falls into this area, they are told it's all in their head. This is a disservice to many people who are needlessly suffering mental problems and depression for no fault of their own. 

This is where Biblical Counseling, while still appropriate, assumes that because the person has no diagnosed medical problem, then they are failing to apply Biblical principles to their life and thus remain depressed.  It is most frustrating to the Christian person who can not get a correct diagnosis because of the failure of conventional medicine.  They are left with persistent problems of depression or other mental problems and made to feel it is their fault when it is not.

Let me explain what I am talking about.  There is a branch of medicine that is not accepted by conventional medical practice that is called Environmental Medicine.  This branch of medicine deals with environmental causes for physical illness, mental problems, depression etc.  These triggers can be chemicals, molds, foods, food additives etc.  Any of these things can cause persistent depression or mental problems along with a host of physical problems.

There are very few of these doctors around the United States, but Rick and I were able to be patients of one 30 years ago and were treated for a number of food and chemical sensitivities for a period of five years.  Unfortunately, due to the cost of treatment and the fact that our insurance would not pay for it, we had to discontinue treatment. We also ended up moving out of the area where the doctor was located, making it an 8 hr drive if we wanted to go back to him.  It has been detrimental to Rick's mental and physical health that we could not continue treatment.

I will describe some of the testing and how it works.  It is called provocation/neutralization.  A minute amount of a suspected offending agent is injected under the skin.  The wheal is measured and the patient waits ten minutes, writing down any symptoms and how they feel.  Then the dose is neutralized by either injection or sublingual drops until the patient is back to baseline.  Then the neutralizing dose is recorded.

Here is an example of what might happen during this testing.  For myself, when I was tested to chemicals that were common in new building construction and plastics, I immediately dissolved into tears and uncontrollable crying.  There was nothing I could do to stop it.  When the neutralizing dose was given, within ten minutes I was happy as a clam. It explained to me why grocery shopping was so difficult for me.  Not only would I become emotional, but I would have panic attacks in the grocery check out. The plastic produce bags were the offending trigger.  Now if I had gone to a regular doctor and complained about this, I would have been sent to a shrink, convinced it was all in my head and given medication. A Biblical Counselor, bless their hearts, in the absence of definitive tests, (because a conventional doctor wouldn't order this kind of testing) would have made me feel like I was sinning in not using Biblical principles to apply to the "emotional problem".

Another example was when Rick was tested for soy sensitivities.  As soon as he was given the provocation dose he became very angry.  The technician suggested he go out and take a walk and come back when it was time for the neutralizing dose.  For a person who has a reaction of anger to something they are eating, yet they don't know that it is something they are eating, this is very puzzling. It's a reaction that seems to come from nowhere and is hard to control because it's happening as a result of, well, a chemical imbalance of sorts due to what they just ate.  The neutralizing dose returned him to his calm self. 

The missionary who referred us to this doctor has a daughter.  This was when their daughter was a young teen.  She would just fly off the handle for no apparent reason sometimes and become so defiant they didn't know what to do with her.  They got a recommendation to see this doctor.  When they started testing her to various foods, one food test, in particular, sent her off the edge.  She was fine, being polite and conversing with her mom and others in the room.  The provocation dose was given and she flew off the handle.  Everyone in the room was shocked at how mouthy she was all the sudden and for no apparent reason except that she had just been given the provocation dose of corn.  They endured ten minutes of her railing at everyone in the room, then gave her the neutralization dose.  Within minutes she was her happy charming self.  Given how quickly she could fly off the handle for no apparent reason, if taken to a psychiatrist, she would have been medicated.  Given the uncontrolled outbursts, she would have most certainly been told by a Christian Counselor that she was sinning because she was not applying Scripture and mortifying her sin.  But how could she when she was being acted upon by something she had eaten.  She could not control her reaction any more than a person who has an allergy to shrimp and breaks out in hives.

In all these cases the treatment was sublingual drops taken once a day, which desensitized the body to the offending substances.  Rick and I were treated for our sensitivities for about five years.  I no longer react to plastics and building codes have required building materials to not be toxic anymore.  Rick does better with soy and some of the other things he reacted to, but he really needs more testing and treatment because he still has a lot of trouble. Sadly, distance and cost without medical insurance has prevented us from being able to get the treatment he needs. 

My purpose in writing this post is to bring awareness, to those who do Biblical Counseling and other Christians, that sometimes people who present with mental health problems that do not get better with counseling and the counselee working to apply Scripture to problems could be actually suffering from reactions to things they eat or chemicals or molds or even dust mites in their environments but they don't know it and no conventional medical doctor will refer them for the proper testing and treatment. 

It makes me sad to think that there are people who truly want to feel better but who never will because they don't know that it is their environment or what they eat that is sabotaging them and those who try to help them unbeknown to themselves inflict more anguish on them while either telling them it's all in their head or they have a spiritual problem.  So sad.  But there are no answers as to how to help these people when the medical establishment has failed them and Biblical Counselors really don't know what is happening to them either. 

I wish there were some good solutions, but until the medical establishment is willing to accept that there are other effective tests and treatment out there and the insurance companies are willing to pay for these things, and the environmental doctors are not ostracized,  there will be a host of people who will not be able to live the happy healthy lives they want to live in spite of applying Scripture to their problems.  It's like trying to apply Biblical principles to a case of the hives and expecting them to go away just like that.

Academy of Environment Medicine

Dr. David Buscher

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Seeing Things With A Different Perspective

Photo Credit: Marcia Darby

When I saw the top picture in my news feed on Facebook I was struck by how beautiful it was.  The bridge is the focal point, but the sunset is what sets it off and makes it a stunning picture of the bridge. 

Take a look at the same bridge from a different angle without the sunset.  It's really nothing to get excited about.  It's rather drab and frankly quite ugly.

Think about your life and the trials you might have.  Those trials are ugly when looked at from the earthly perspective that focuses on self.  But take those same trials and hardships, change the perspective to a heavenly perspective, a perspective that sees that God is in control and He will work it all out, then it's like the top picture.  The ugly bridge is still there, but the perspective has adorned it in such a way that it brings glory to God and encourages all those who you come in contact with.

I don't know about you, but this is a challenge for me.  I tend to have a melancholy outlook when things aren't going well.  I pray that I will do better in this area.  

"And we know that all things work together for good to those that love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."  Romans 8:28

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

What Should a Christian Do When a Rift Sours a Friendship Within the Church?

Whenever there are imperfect people in an organization, be it the church or some other organization, there is always going to be some sort of friction pop up from time to time.  Sadly, once in a while the rift will sour a good friendship and depending on the dynamics,  there is no way the friendship can be returned to its original state.  Usually, one person is hurt far more than the other and the other seems oblivious to the injury.

So, let's say the one person apologizes for the fact that the relationship can't be like it was before, but they do not acknowledge the hurt and apologize for deeply hurting the other person and the other person has tried to follow the Matthew 18 prescription for ironing out offenses.  They tried to talk it out (over email because the other person refuses to meet in person).  They suggested having a mediated meeting with the pastor, but the other person refuses to do that.  

""Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’"
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:15-16‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

So, now there is this stressful feeling, for the person who was hurt, whenever they go to church because there is the awkward feeling of not belonging and a dark cloud hanging over everything.  They find they are not sleeping well at night due to the unresolved nature of the issue, and their whole life is being impacted by it, including that of the other household members who know things are not well. What are the options for this person?  How should they handle the situation?

There are a number of options that can be put on the table, some of them better than others.

1. The person can contact the other person and explain the issue of the incomplete apology and how it is affecting them and seek to get a resolution.  If this is an understanding person they may quickly understand the situation and seek to make amends, not necessarily putting the relationship back the way it was, but at least making a good faith effort to admit having hurt the other person and asking forgiveness.

This would be ideal if the other person responds favorably, but since we can not control the actions of other people, it might just be a point of contention and they might feel like the other person is trying to control them.

2. The person could choose to leave the church and go in search of a new one where new friends can be made.  There are several possible problems with this idea.  a.) the grass may not always be greener on the other side of the fence b.) the grass may be greener for a time but what happens the next time an offense happens and the person doesn't want to follow the Biblical model for making things right? Do you leave in search of a new place of worship? 

3. Quit going to church.  This is a bad idea as it violates God's Word where it says we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.  The body of Christ is community by definition.  "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:24-25‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

4. Let the other person go (as hard as that may be), continue to treat them kindly, but begin to make your own space in the church.  Focus on what you can learn, how you can change and grow in your faith.  Focus on other people, how you can be of help, what you can learn from them.

As hard as it is to learn, you can not change other people.  You can not control what they do or say.  You can not make them apologize for something they don't see the need to apologize for.  Plainly put, there comes a time when you have to decide to let go of them and whatever the issue is and live your life the way God wants you to.  Hanging on to the hurt, trying to make them acknowledge their wrongdoing and allowing it to drag you down, making you lose sleep and wrecking your life just isn't worth it.  That only perpetuates the awkwardness in attending church with them and ruins worship for you.  There comes a time when you have to consciously give that person over to God and let go of them.  It goes like this:

Lord Jesus, You know I have been hurt by this person and you know I have tried everything according to Scripture to resolve this, but it doesn't seem to be resolvable.  Lord, I'm going to give this person and the relationship over to You and I'm going to leave it in Your hands to do with as You see fit.  Help me to be content in Your will.  Help me to always remember that you suffered a far worse injustice when you took our sins on the cross.  Let me be thankful for the church family I have here. There are others here that love me and are encouraged by my faithfulness, please help me to continue to be faithful here if for no other reason than to be an encouragement to these others.  Please take my disappointment and help me learn contentment in You and You alone, so that in the future, I won't be knocked of my morings when someone else disappoints me.  Thank You, Lord for loving me. Amen.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Doubting God

When trusted friendships go awry, people you trusted turn out to be untrustworthy, marriage partners can no longer carry their share of the marriage due to illness, or other issues, what is the Christian person to do?

Some turn away from God and blame Him for not keeping the situation under control.  After all, He is all knowing and all powerful. He could have prevented the situation and He did not.

Some don’t turn away from God, but they become doubtful and depressed because He did not prevent the problems that arose.  They stall in their Christian faith, not losing it, but just not growing in their faith.

Others run to God for comfort and wisdom.  They find solace in His Word and realize that only in God can they find their strength and meaning.  

In my experience and observations, I find that people in the first two categories often are in this state because they have come to depend too heavily on the good gift of the relationship and on the other person, instead of on the Giver of those good gifts.  

In the case of someone who puts a pastor up on a pedestal and then the pastor commits some heinous sin, people who loved and trusted him have two choices.  They can either become cynical about Christianity and leave the church in disgust or they can let the situation drive them closer to God as they realize people will fail them, but God will not.

It’s the same dynamic in personal relationships.  When a person becomes too attached and dependent on another person and then that person betrays them or somehow makes a detrimental change to the relationship, it is easy to look at that circumstance and feel that God has failed you, when in reality God did not fail you, that other person failed you.

God did not create His people to be robots.  He created us with the ability to choose and the ability to grieve His Holy Spirit.  Otherwise the Bible would not tell us to not grieve the Holy Spirit. So God gives people the freedom to make choices and He weaves His sovereignty in and around the choices that He knows we are going to make.  He can and does take the bad things others do that upset our applecarts and He turns those things around and uses them for our spiritual good and His glory if we cooperate with Him.

When a friendship goes sour, or when unexpected circumstances strain a relationship, one way we can measure where our stability is anchored is by our reaction to the upset.  If we are completely knocked off our moorings, plunged into depression and doubting God, then our meaning and stability was anchored in that relationship instead of God.

This is the time to step back, take some time to get alone with God and re-anchor yourself to the Rock.  People will fail you. God will not. Trust Him to use your problems for your spiritual good. Use this time to dig into His word and learn that He will always be there for you.

There is the old joke about the man and woman in the car (back when cars had bench seats).  She was sitting over by the passenger door. She says to her husband, "Why don’t we sit close anymore?"  Her husband looks at her and says, "I ain’t moved." So often this is true for us. We have some difficulty come up in life that sends us for a tailspin and we begin to lose our joy in the Lord and we ask, "where is God now that I need Him?" God never moved.  He has always been there. We just need to change our perspective and look to Him instead of focusing on our circumstances.

One of the best places to see this put in practice is in the Psalms.  Time and time again David is in troubled circumstances.  He starts the Psalm out complaining and by the end of the Psalm his perspective has changed and he is focusing not on his troubles but on God.  David allows his troubles to drive him closer to God.  We need to be anchored to the Rock, not other people or circumstances.

"From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭61:2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Greetings this 2018 Thanksgiving and Christmas Season!

Greetings this 2018 Thanksgiving and Christmas Season!

This has been a very eventful year for us. The picture above was taken when Sarah came out to
visit for a couple weeks the end of October.  More about that later.

This year began with Sarah and I leaving the day after Christmas for a road trip across the United
States to Pinehurst, NC where she had an apprenticeship waiting for her. It was an 8-day road trip.  
What an adventure that was! We had perfect weather the whole way once we left Idaho and entered
Nevada. The only bad weather (blizzard) happened the day after we arrived at her condo she
had rented. God was so good.

Sarah is now a permanent employee and resident of NC.  We miss her a lot. She loves her social marketing job with Classical Conversations.  It’s a homeschool curriculum company.

So Nathaniel turned another year older in March as did Sarah in January right after we arrived in
Pinehurst.  So they are 25 and 22 years old. Hard to believe. Where has the time gone?! He is now working at a grocery store and so far likes it.

Rick and I celebrated 35 years of marriage this summer.  We went to Kennewick and had a motel night.
It wasn’t exactly as I had hoped.  I was hoping we could go walk in the park and maybe have
a picnic, but the wildfire smoke was so bad we had to stay inside.  Driving over we couldn’t see a lot
except for a wall of smoke ahead of us. Oh well. We made the best of it and we enjoyed the time
away in spite of the smoke.

Sarah came out to visit end of October for a whirlwind two weeks.  She had many friends she wanted to see and spend time with, so we shared her and enjoyed the time we had. We had a combined
Christmas/Thanksgiving dinner and gift exchange while she was here since she won’t be coming out for the holidays..

Sarah and I went on a 10-mile hike in the Wallowa mountains one day while she was here. I am not in
shape for hiking, so I paid for that for almost a week after, but it was still satisfying to know I still have
it in me.

We also took a day to go see Mom, Blayne, Becky and Dan in Walla Walla.  That was fun. Lots of
laughs there.

This year has been a busy crazy year, that is for sure.  In other news, we changed churches. God has blessed us and it has been good.

We have learned this year to trust God with our lives and the details of our lives.  It has been encouraging looking back over the year and seeing how God orchestrated all the details, even using what looked like bad circumstances for our good. And letting our child take off and fly away
from the nest is a real exercise in faith. He truly is faithful!

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is,
and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” ‭‭Heb, ‭11:6‬
Do you believe Him?

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Abuse in Churches Becoming Rampant

My heart is heavy as I have been reading the comments below the court reports of the Chantry Trial on the "Thou Art the Man" blog.

I can not remain silent on this issue.

I'm seeing a pattern of people who have been abused spiritually through the years in Reformed Baptist churches, many of them from the ARBCA association.  

We fled an ARBCA church due to psychological abuse of our son by a church member and a church leadership that defended the actions because of the supposed good motives of the abuser.  They tried to turn the table and make the abuser the victim and our son the problem.  This is typical in abuse cases of all types and while I did not expect that to happen to us, we were not surprised when it did.

At the time we were angry and upset that we had to flee what we thought was a good church.  We had been taught by implication that there were no other churches as good as this one and the deacon's wife tried to reinforce that when she asked where we would go.  At the time I was not sure and she made me feel like there was no other church good enough, but we could probably attend a particular one, however, we would have to avoid certain people over there that had left the church because they were bad people and they were attending that other church. 

After the dust settled, we learned that Tom Chantry, whom the pastor had told us needed prayer because he had been arrested for something from his past, actually had been arrested because victims of physical and sexual abuse had come forward to accuse him and bring him to justice.  But that is not the impression we were left with by the pastor.  We were never told anything about victims or the horrific crimes that were committed against them.  One boy was beaten so badly that he had deep bruising from buttocks down his thighs and his mother said he could barely walk to the car when she picked him up from tutoring with Chantry. There are five victims who have testified and it's horrific what they endured.

So I have been following this trial closely and reading the comments at the end of the blog posts for each trial day.  I have discovered that ARBCA pastors have indeed been trying to cover this diabolical up among the churches.  I have learned there were two reports drawn up by the three man ARBCA committee that investigated it. One that said he spanked the children for his own pleasure and that recommended he not pastor another church.  They did not report this abuse to the police and instead hid this report from the parents.  He was taken into Providence Reformed Baptist Church in Tacoma for counseling, but the people there were not told why he was there and told not to ask questions.  There was no care for the safety of the children in that church!

Don Linblad knew there were abuses, as can be seen in the

Motion in Limine Don Linblad.

On the witness stand Linblad tried to be evasive.

The Judge then admonished Pastor Lindblad saying he was intentionally evasive and non-responsive to Eazer’s questions. He told him if he did not understand a question he should state that, otherwise he needed to answer her questions. He then asked Lindblad to step down and leave the courtroom.
Judge Astrowsky then admonished Eazer for her question, “why, as a Christian…” He said bringing anyone’s religion into a question was inappropriate and he would be referring her conduct to the State Bar. He was also clearly upset with Pastor Lindblad’s conduct on the stand. He stated that if his evasive and non-responsive answers continue he would admonish him again and perhaps cite him for contempt of court and strike him as a witness! He said he would make this clear to Lindblad when he came back into the courtroom and John Sears said he would also speak to him.
Eazer told the Judge that her line of questioning was intended to impeach Lindblad for giving damaging, untruthful testimony.
Once court resumed Lindblad did marginally better answering Eazer’s questions. It was evident he was still not being truthful on several subjects, other times he grudgingly answered.
Eazer got him to admit that he knew the 2000 ARBCA investigation was about more than reconciling the two parties for some light spankings Chantry had administered during catechism class. He admitted that the ARBCA was investigating bare-bottom beatings administered to three boys with hand-crafted paddles, a boat oar and other instruments and Chantry then rubbing their bare butts.
Eazer stated to Lindblad that you were very well aware of what Victim 2 had said. Lindblad said “yes.” And you were aware that the allegations against Chantry were a bit more serious than administering a spanking during a catechism class. Lindblad said “correct.”

Here are some patterns I have observed that have been seen in Reformed Baptist churches, mostly ARBCA but also others:

1). Total control of the church by the pastor/elders.  The people have no say.

2.) Evasive answers by pastor/elders to direct questions asked by people of the congregations

3.) Blaming the people if they come and bring concerns about how the church is run...saying things like "What wrong with you?  Noboy else is complaining!"

4.) Many have said that they dealt with depression and hopelessness while attending their Reformed Baptist church and it did not lift until they left the church

5.) Some have said that when they left the church they felt free and cried tears of happiness every week in their new congregation

6.) Business meetings in an envelope (in other words no opportunity for the congregation to ask questions or have a real business meeting).

7.) Sermons that are intellectual and academic, but without real application or power.

8.) Sermons that are devoid of passion, emotionless.  (Read the impassibility doctrine on ARBCA website. Their view of God might explain this)

9.) No outreach programs or opportunities for ministry, such as VBS, nursing home ministries, etc.  Very ingrown. In fact churches that have ministries outside the preaching are disparaged and the impression is given that people who want to be involved with a ministry are just proud and want recognition.

10.) Focus on how depraved man is, much focus on mortifying sin, but no real focus on the fruit of the spirit and spiritual gifts.

11.) Teaching that we need to tolerate each other, give a wide berth, put the best construction on things etc, but no real focus on how to love one another and what that looks like.

12.) Teaching by example that Christian liberty can excuse all kinds of aberrant behaviors and excuse the pastor from responsibilities to protect the flock

12.) Teaching by example and word that deception is okay if your motives are good.

13.) Saying things from the pulpit about people that have left to put fear in people that their reason for leaving is not valid and if they dare leave for that reason they too will be talked about from the pulpit

14.) Preaching from the pulpit about things shared with the pastor in private, meant to humiliate the person.

15.) Gossiping about those who have left the church so others will shun them in public or cut off communications with them.

16.) Bullying

17.) So far, three ARBCA churches have had members or pastors with abuse cases come before the courts now.  I have to wonder if this is just the tip of the iceberg.

18.) One way accountability....the people to the leaders but never the leaders to the people

Why am I writing this?  I'm writing this because I am heartsick to see the widespread damage that has been caused by these churches and their leaders.  There are many good people in these churches but they are being spiritually abused and in some cases there is physical/psychological/sexual abuse going on and it is being hidden.

Many parents have reported that because of their time in these churches their children no longer have a desire for the things of God.  Many have reported that they have lingering problems of depression due to the abuses they endured in these churches. It breaks my heart. 

If you are a member or attender of one of these churches, I beg you, please take a close look at what you are in.  Are there things that are being done that make you feel uncomfortable, but you put it on the back burner because you don't want to rock the boat?  Are there things that don't seem right, but you do not say anything to anybody because you are fearful of how it will be taken?  If either of these questions is true of you, then you are in a bad place.  

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Learning to Be

We are about to head into some of the hottest weather of the year.  My weather apps have been blowing up on my phone.  Thursday is supposed to be 108 degrees.  When it was about 100 degrees a week or so ago, I put my thermometer outside on the front porch in the sun.  See above what it registered.  It’s always hotter out front of our house because we have lava rock instead of grass out there.  That’s nice if we don’t want to mow, but not so nice when it’s hot out.  It was that way when we moved here. I think my front porch will hit at least 120 degrees on Thursday.  I have seen it go up to 130 in the past on a really hot day.  Oh joy!

I had a great weekend visiting my mom and Blayne.  We had a lot of fun.  We laughed a lot.

Sunday I attended church with my mom in Walla Walla.  The take home message to me was that it is more important to "be" than to "do".  Be in a relationship with God first, then "do".  In 2 Cor. 8:5 the Macedonian believers first gave themselves to the Lord and then gave themselves to the service of God by giving themselves to the apostles for God’s service.  Since I have been meditating on that wonderful verse in Psalms that says, "Be still and know that I am God...". The concept of  "be" really hits home with me.  Be in relationship with God means to be still and know that He is God.

Relationships take time.  To cultivate a relationship with God is no different.  We need to take the time to "be" with God and "be" still and know He is God.  When things get rough, just stop and "be".  Be with it.  Be still.  Be with God.  Know that He is God.  Take a deep breath. God will get you through it if He has brought you to it.

I often think of those boys that were trapped in that cave in Thailand and the divers who rescued them.  The divers marveled at how calm the boys were.  They were told what they would have to go through to get out of the cave.  It included shots, and being put to sleep.  Not one boy whimpered or complained.  They were just calm and accepted the conditions to get out. This is the kind of calm I wish to cultivate.  Be still and know that He is God calm.

I think of the divers.  When asked about the idea that they were heros, one of them said, "No we aren’t heros.  What we do is just very calm and calculating. We do this all the time as a hobby and we were just able to use the skills to help rescue the boys."  Calm and calculating.  Can you imagine how stressful it was to swim in unknown territory blind, not knowing when you might bash your head against the rocks and then having this sleeping child with you that you had to guide out of the cave, not knowing if they would be alive at the next check point or not?  Yet they were very calm about their work.  There lives depended on that calmness.  Panic in those conditions would mean certain death.  Again, this is the kind of calm I want to cultivate.  Be still and know that He is God.  Just "be".

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Abuse Under the Front of Religion

Recently I have been following the #metoo and #churchtoo hashtags.  It is disheartening and appalling to say the least. Evil done under the front of being a Pastor or church leader is the worst kind of evil there is.

I’m not just referring to those who abuse children physically/sexually or have illicit sexual affairs or other aberrant behavior. I’m also including those who cover up these deviant acts for those who have committed them. They are just as evil as the person who does these things.

We have seen a number of religious leaders/organizations that are now being called to account for sexual abuses against children, women and even men!  To name a few, there is Sovereign Grace Ministries, Southern Baptists, Association of Reformed Baptists of America, Willow Creek and Roman Catholic Church to name a few. I know there are many more, but these are the few I can remember off the top of my head.

In almost every case where someone comes forward with a credible story, the abuser either flat out denies it, calling the victim a liar, or the abuser minimizes what happened, stating the victim is taking a simple misunderstanding and blowing it out of proportion.  

The leaders in the organization will usually circle the wagons and do damage control.  A favorite tactic is to bully the victim into silence by gaslighting them. They twist the narrative to make the abuser look like the victim of an unwarranted attack. They may force the victim into silence or out of the church. In the case of a high profile Pastor or leader in an association, they tell a half truth to the churches in the association and the Pastors do damage control by impugning the integrity of those who would search out and report the truth. Those who persist in digging up the truth get kicked out of the church for insubordination and get called gossips and slanderers.

All the while the victims of these monster suffer continued abuse as they are called liars and worse. Many of these victims suffer in silence for years because they are afraid to come forward for fear no one will believe them or worse, their abuser may retaliate.

God has some things to say about abusers and those who protect them.

""Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
"He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD."
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭17:15‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
How can you tell if a church might be an environment that would be an unsafe environment?  Here are some tells you might look out for:

  1. A Pastor & leadership that expects trust without question
  2. Questions are not welcomed
  3. Accountability of Pastor and leadership to congregation is non-existent
  4. Church business meetings cover very little and opportunity for questions or discussion during the business meeting is not allowed
  5. No written policy for how allegations of abuse will be handled...they say Matt. 18 covers it all. One of their phrases is " We will cooperate with the authorities." This really means that they will cooperate only if the crime is reported to police and they will not do that or encourage the abused to report it either.
  6. Congregation has no say in who their pastor will be should the current one vacate the position
  7. A pastor that justifies deception by saying it’s not the same as lying when it’s done without malicious intent
  8. People who leave the church and write an exit letter for the congregation are then alluded to in negative terms during the sermon to discredit why they left
   9. Look for the use of Christian Liberty to justify whatever they want to do or to get out of being 
        accountable for what they should do.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Thankfulness, Reverence and Godly Fear~Hebrews 12:28

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:28-29‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

According to Erich Sauer in his book, “In the Arena of Faith”, grace in this verse means thankfulness. He says,
Since we have received a kingdom which cannot be shaken, we desire to prove ourselves thankful and to serve Him in sincerity and reverence who has given us His gifts and who is still blessing us so abundantly. Therefore, “Let us have thankfulness!” (R.V. Footnote), And:
Since we have  received such a kingdom, we long to live wholly for Him and to glorify His name, but we know that we can do this only in His own strength, in the power which His grace bestows upon us.  Therefore: “Let us have grace!” (A. and R.V.)
Thus joyful sanctification results....
So we are to serve God and worship Him with thankfulness, reverence and godly fear.  This is the essence of sanctification.  If I do not serve God in my daily activities with all three of these, then something is wrong.  Being thankful brings joy.  Being reverent shows a respect for God’s dealing in my life and godly fear is what should motivate me to live my life to His glory, being mindful of my actions and how they reflect on the cause of Christ to the world around me.  I will be the first to admit that my actions don’t always bring glory to God.  Perhaps my actions would bring glory to God if I were first thankful, for then I would realize the great cost that He paid to save me and my petty grievances would shrink in light of it.