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 he had abused children, but did not report it.  On the witness stand he tried to be evasive but the judge had enough and sent the jury out.  Then he told Don Linblad that if he didn't start answering the questions he would be charged with contempt of court.

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 impossibility 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 accountablity....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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

What Have We Come To? Hebrews 12:22-25



“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven,

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.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:22-25, 28‬ ‭NKJV‬‬


  • Mount Zion
  • The city of the living God
  • The heavenly Jerusalem
  • An innumerable company of angels
  • The general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven
  • To God the Judge of all
  • To the spirits of just men made perfect
  • To Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant 
  • To the blood of sprinkling

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.”

Monday, July 30, 2018

Preaching Right Doctrine Without Teaching Right Living Is UnBiblical



Yesterday at church the pastor made the statement that preaching right doctrine without teaching right living is unBiblical.  That really struck me.

We can be taught all the right doctrine and theology and yet not be living it.  There are some churches that advertise they believe in the primacy of preaching the Word of God.  It sounds good.  But while they teach right doctrine, they do not encourage and teach right living on a regular basis. Somehow they think that if correct doctrine is taught right living will automatically happen in the congregation.  But Scripture is clear, the preacher is not only supposed to teach right doctrine, he is supposed to encourage and teach right living.  

"Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:28‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The point is that pastors are to preach Christ and then teach the people with wisdom so that they may become perfect (mature) in Christ Jesus.  It is pointless to teach correct doctrine without also teaching the application of that doctrine to one's life and right living.  When this happens people become complacent.

How is your church doing in this?  Are you being taught the Word of God...true doctrine?  Great!  Are you also being taught how to LIVE right in light of that true doctrine?  If the preacher is just  doing a Bible survey each week with observations from the current passage, with no exhortation to right living in light of that passage of Scripture then you are not getting good teaching.  Observations do not equal application.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The News From Our Corner of the World & Beyond

It’s been a few weeks since I have written on my blog.  I continue to be amazed at God’s mercy in the Thai Cave Rescue and encouraged by Adul, the boy who spoke English and is a Christian.  While all his teammates are going through the ceremonies to enter the monkhood at the Buddhist Temple, Adul is the only odd boy out.  He is not participating because of his Christian faith.  What an encouragement to stand firm in the faith.  I appreciated his show of respect to the widow of Saman Gunan who died in the effort to save the boys. God bless him.


And now I turn to the trial of Tom Chantry.  I am praying for justice to be done, for the victims to find closure and peace, for all the truth to be revealed and those pastors and leaders in ARBCA who have tried to conceal the extent to which Tom Chantry abused these individuals to be exposed for the evil they allowed to go unchecked all these years.

Sadly, in the church, we had been a member of, all we were told was to pray for Tom Chantry because he had been arrested for something from his past.  We were left to our own imaginations as to what that might be and having been taught to "put the best construction on things" we naturally assumed it was something from before he became a Christian.  The victims of this man need prayer as well.  It is very difficult for them to come forward and talk about this.

Todd Wilhelm is posting a daily blog and twitter posts on the proceedings in the courtroom.  You can follow him on Twitter to get the latest updates.

At the church, we have been attending since leaving our previous one,  we have enjoyed the messages in Hebrews 11 and now starting into chapter 12.  Such good stuff and encouraging to our faith.  The old hymns of the faith that I grew up with are sung with joy and conviction.  The people are filled with joy and we feel very welcome there.

We are in full swing into fire season now.  With hot, hot weather forecasts and new fires starting all around the state every day, our firefighters are being kept very busy.  We normally don't think much about evacuation plans because fire has never gotten much closer than five miles from us.  But since they are telling us this is going to be the worst fire season ever, we are thinking a bit more serious about it.  I do have an evac list made on my phone.

Nathaniel is job hunting.  We are hopeful something that matches his skills and needs will turn up soon

Sarah has been hired permanently in North Carolina to work for Classical Conversations.  She is now officially a North Carolina resident.  We have mixed feelings about that.  When she left, I had it in my mind that she would only be gone for six months for the apprenticeship.  Now it all seems so final.  We miss her a lot.  But we would rather she be happy in her job and far away than be at home and unhappy in her work.

Rick has some health challenges we are dealing with and would appreciate prayer for wisdom in that.

I am just plugging away, doing what I always do.  Trying to keep everyone on track and the house in order.

DJ the dog is always up for a walk and keeps us entertained each day.

Well, that pretty well sums up the news from our corner of the world.


Monday, July 16, 2018

Gods of Their Imaginations

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not PERISH but have everlasting life. John 3:16

I followed the rescue of the Thai boys from the cave very closely. I prayed for their safety and the safety of all involved. I was saddened when Saman Gunan died while replacing oxygen tanks along the passage ways, and I was relieved when the last of the boys and recusers were safety out of the cave.

In the aftermath that went on, news bits have been coming out through interviews about the rescue. I heard one of the rescue divers from Belgium say he and the British divers had decided it was madness and they were going to call the rescue attempt off. One of them called his wife to say it was suicide to continue. However, the Thai Navy was ordered to forge ahead anyway. When the professional rescue divers saw these young guys heading into the cave with standard scuba equipment instead of the specialized equipment they needed, they changed their minds. They said they couldn’t let these young guys with their whole lives ahead of them go in there and die trying to rescue the boys (although by that time, they figured the boys might all be dead).

When I posted something on Facebook about this, a number of people were defensive about it, saying, "Those British divers would never give up. They were going to save those boys dead or alive."

They simply did not have the facts and therefore they had made up in their imagination a group of divers who would never give up no matter what.

How often is this the case when people decide who God is and how He should act? I’ve had people unfriend me on Facebook because I dared to say that God will judge sinners and that some people will go to Hell. Their response is, "The God I worship would never send anyone to Hell. My God is a God of love!"

Sadly, these people do not have the facts of what the Bible teaches about God or if they have been given them, they choose to block it out and imagine God the way they want Him to be.

It’s just like with the divers. Those who got upset with what I wrote did not want the squeaky clean heros in shiny scuba gear to have anything negative true about them. And those who get angry about the idea that God would judge sinners and some will go to Hell don’t want to hear it because it is negative. They only want to hear positive things regardless of whether or not it is the truth.

We need to base our reality in truth. John 3:16 talks about those who believe on Jesus not perishing. Why is that important if God doesn’t send anyone to Hell? So we see in this one well known verse, both God’s love and God’s judgement are mentioned. Some are going to perish. Base your reality about God in truth.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Anger: Should Christians Give Vent to It?



"He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, But he who is impulsive exalts folly."
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭14:29‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The verse above was in my Bible reading for this morning.  It got me thinking about a sermon I heard in a previous church where the pastor said that pop psychology tell us we should give vent to our anger. The pastor said that is wrong.  He went on to say that the Bible says to be slow to anger and he added that it could mean that we should be so slow to anger that it never gets to the surface. We should not give vent to our anger.

So what are we to do with anger when it comes up?  Are we to just stuff it down and pretend it is not there?  Is this the healthy way to deal with anger?  

When I read the above verse this morning, I decided to do a search of Scripture and see what it actually says about anger.  Here are a number of verses I found on anger:

"Therefore, putting away lying, " Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another. "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath,"
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:25-26‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

"But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The LORD will hear when I call to Him. Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah"
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭4:3-4‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

"Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools."
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭7:9‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

""You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny."
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:21-26‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

"Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:31-32‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

"So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God."
‭‭James‬ ‭1:19-20‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

I do not see that Scripture agrees with what the pastor preached.  

What I do see is that we are to be:

Slow to anger
We can be angry and not sin
We are not to be angry without a cause
We are to put away anger, bitterness, wrath, clamor and speak evil with malice toward others
We are to listen, think before we speak and be slow to wrath

These verses show us that there is a proper way to handle anger.  The idea that we are to not give vent to it at all is not Biblical.  This same pastor also says that we are to give others a wide berth, and put the best construction on things when dealing with others (give the benefit of the doubt?).  That all sounds good and pious, but what that does is create an environment where the people in the congregation are just tolerating each other when there is disagreement and/or offense instead of stirring each other up unto love and good works.

Let me give an example from my own life.  There was a time when I wrote a letter to a friend that was not needed, judgmental, and damaging.  Unbeknown to me, it arrived on her birthday and she thinking it was a birthday card opened it with all her family around her.  It was very offensive.  The next time I saw her mother she was obviously very angry about what I had done.  She was angry with a cause and it was a righteous anger because what I had done was very stupid. She controlled herself, but she confronted me.  It was needed.  I learned from the rebuke and have never forgotten it.  Had this lady been taught to not give vent to her anger, I would have never known the damage I caused by my letter and I would never have had the opportunity to learn from it.

She was doing the Biblical thing:
Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Bring this down to an era where predators and other wickedness are in abundance and infiltrating the church and workplace.  You have a Christian that is accosted by one of these wicked people, but he/she has been taught to not give vent to their anger, to put the best construction on the other person’s actions etc.  What happens is that the wickedness continues against them, but they are afraid to bring it to their boss or the church leaders because having been told to not give vent to their anger and to put the best construction on the other person’s behavior, they are afraid that they will only be told they are being silly, judgmental, unreasonable, or worse, lying about the situation.  So they are faced with a choice, either put up and shut up and the wickedness against them escalates or leave the environment to get away from it, in which they lose friends, job, or church or all of it and the offender is never held accountable.  Such are the consequences of bad, even false doctrine.

I have a lot to learn in the realm of controlling anger.  Who doesn’t?  It’s one of the toughest things to learn.  But with God’s help, we can control our anger and express it appropriately without sinning in the process.  It’s a balancing act and I pray that God would help me to improve in this area.



Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Don’t Follow Your Heart

"Hear, my son, and be wise; And guide your heart in the way."

Proverbs 23:19 NKJV



How many times have we heard the saying, "Follow your heart!"?


This verse says the opposite.  Rather than follow our hearts we are to guide our hearts in the way.  Jeremiah said the heart is deceitful and wicked.


The whole book of Proverbs teaches us how to guide our hearts in the right way.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Some Advice for Detecting Abusers



"Good understanding gains favor, but the way of the unfaithful is hard.

Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool lays open his folly.

A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a faithful ambassador brings health."
 ~Proverbs 13:15-17

There is one line out of each of these proverbs that are helpful when it comes to figuring out if you are dealing with a good person or a wicked person.  We have learned these things recently by experience.

1. V15 Good understanding gains favor with those who are honest and trustworthy.  If you ask lots of questions so you can understand better what you are getting into and it nets you ridicule and disfavor, then think twice about the person you are dealing with.  They should welcome questions.

2. V16 Every prudent man acts with knowledge.  Don't go into anything with another person without the knowledge of what exactly you are getting into.  If the person you are dealing with won't answer questions so you can have all the knowledge you need to be comfortable with the situation then back out. Don't go there.

3. V17 A faithful ambassador brings health.  If the person you are dealing with shows true care and concern for you and your well-being then they may be trustworthy.  But if they advocate things that could be bad for you physically, spiritually or mentally, think twice!  Run the other way!

Those who would take advantage of you typically don't want you to know all the details and they will belittle you if you ask too many questions or try to pressure you to make a decision without having all the information you really need to make an informed decision.

Abusers also do not care about your well-being.  Their bottom line is what you will do for them.  They might be after your money; they might be trying to get you to join a cult or cult-like group, or they may just want the thrill of power over you.  

Your health and well-being mean nothing to them. They may twist Scripture to ruin you spiritually.  

They may try to separate you from those you love by turning you against them or they against you.

They may try to get you to stop your medications, especially if you are on mental health meds because this makes you easier to control because then you won't be thinking straight and will need them to think for you. 

They are cunning and deceptive.  This is why we need to measure the people we are dealing with by Scripture.  If they get angry because you ask questions, or try to get you to make a decision without full knowledge of what you are getting into or they don't care about your health and well-being, physically, spiritually or mentally then RUN, RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Whirlwind Trip to See Sarah and the Counts Boys

It was a whirlwind trip to the West Side.  Sarah was scheduled for a homeschool conference this past Friday-Saturday in Auburn, WA.  Rick had a meeting scheduled for Thursday in Kennewick, or so we thought.

I had lists of my lists and everything was packed, or so I thought. We left home around 7:15am Thursday morning to head for Kennewick where Rick’s meeting was to be.  Nathaniel and I had made plans to meet Rod Garretson, an old friend we knew from our previous church for a short time.  

We were a halfway up Alpowa pass when the phone rang.  Rick’s boss wanted to know where Rick was. He informed us that the meeting had been canceled.  So Rick asked if he could have the day off.  

We arrived in Kennewick around 10 am and went to the public library where we met Rod.  We had a wonderful visit, and Sarah called and FaceTimed with Rod for a few minutes.  

I asked Rod if he would like to have egg salad sandwiches with us...a picnic.  When I went out to the car I discovered I had left our lunches all at home.  That was sad.  We ended up going to Subway instead.  After lunch, we headed out on our way to Sunnyside where we planned to spend the night.

It was nice Rick’s meeting got canceled and he got the rest of the day off.  That meant we could arrive at the hotel a little early and enjoy some time resting before the hectic part of the trip set in.

The hotel was one of the best Best Western’s we have ever stayed in.  It was located next to a vineyard and everything was themed around the vineyard including Bible verses in the lobby about vines and vineyards. They even served a light dinner here.  It was cream of broccoli soup.  A shame neither Rick or I could eat it...dairy and gluten ingredients.  But it was a nice offering. At breakfast, they served made to order omelets plus a variety of other items.  Nathaniel and I enjoyed the pool and hot tub.  We had two queen size beds and queen sized hide a bed that Nathaniel said was comfortable.  I enjoyed photographing the big barn out front and the vineyards out back.







Friday we left around 11 am and headed for Auburn, WA.  We used WAZE to navigate.  That proved very useful.  There was a gigantic traffic jam just before the exit to Wenatchee that WAZE rerouted us around without me even having to ask it to.  It just detected there was a mess ahead and said it was rerouting us.  We had a very nice scenic drive on Hwy 97 that took us all the way around the traffic jam and put us back on the freeway a long ways ahead of where it was. Another time WAZE detected a bypass to skirt around road construction.  Everyone was coming to a complete stop and we whizzed off to the left onto a single lane in the East Bound traffic side that took us around the construction. Only one time WAZE blew it for us when it routed us two miles back the way we came after a gas stop and landed us in a terrible traffic jam waiting to get off the freeway at Auburn.  I have a feeling it didn’t matter what exit we used they were probably all jammed up.  It’s just the way they roll over there.

Sarah flew in around 10am to Sea-Tac.  Our dear friend Wes Sorstokke picked her up and brought her to the hotel.  Thanks, Wes!  We love you!

As we got closer to Seattle and crossed Snoqualmie Pass traffic got really ugly.  I don’t do ugly traffic well.  We almost got rear-ended twice and nearly got our front bumper taken off once.  The drivers drive like idiots over there!  I’m thanking God for keeping us safe!   

So we got to the hotel around 3:45 or so and rested until around 5:40.  Then we started out to find Green River College and to find Sarah and her coworker.  After some texting and calling, we finally found them in parking lot 8.  We had parked in lot 7.  It was so good to see her again!

I navigated Rick back to the hotel with the help of WAZE and we dropped Chris off and then we went to Las Margaritas across the street to meet Jon and Paul Counts for dinner.


We had an absolute blast visiting with those two guys!  They are so fun!  Jon had asked Sarah, "When do you go back?"  Sarah misunderstood and said, "Chicken Mole!"  She thought he said, "What’s that?"

Sarah was telling us about how her company is developing an art book (art appreciation).  Paul thought they were developing a coloring book! LOL!

Later Rick described how his boss never uses a calculator but does all his math by hand and Paul asked, "What does he do, pull out a hibiscus?"  He meant abacus.  We all laughed really hard about that.

When we were outside taking pictures, Paul went over to the window and took a photo.  Jon asked, "What are you doing, taking photos of the people eating inside?"  Paul said, "No, I wanted to get a picture of the penguin for the kids."  We all burst out laughing because it was a flamingo!  

It was fun to listen to Sarah and the boys talk because they all do or have done marketing, but each one has done different aspects of it, so they each had something new the others haven’t done before.  

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and Sarah came to our room and hung out until around 10:30pm.  We had such a good visit with her.  She and I slept in the same room since she had an extra bed and Rick and Nathaniel slept in the other room.  That worked out well.

I got up earlier than her on Saturday, so I went to the other room and packed our things up and then met Rick and Nathaniel in the dining room.  Sarah joined us later.  Her coworker showed up a bit later.  After he ate we packed up the car and took them back to the college for their conference day.

There was a funny sign on the building of the college.


Saying goodbye was a hurried bittersweet affair.  It happened fast because Sarah and Chris were late to their venue.  My voice caught as I said good-bye and I was fighting back tears.  It was all so short and surreal.  I didn't even get one last picture in. At least we have the one from the restaurant. 

From there we headed for home.  Rick drove for about an hour, then got too tired to drive further, so we traded and I drove the last four hours home.  I was so exhausted it was all I could do to keep my eyes open.

Home never looked so good.  DJ was happy to see us and everything was in order.  The lunches I had forgotten on Thursday had been put back in the fridge by our next door neighbor, so dinner was all ready.  It was nice we didn’t have to spend any more money eating out or me spend energy making a meal after that long drive.

Last night I sat down and made up my menu plan from a template that was saved.  Went on the Walmart Grocery app and ordered what I needed.  This afternoon I will go pick up my groceries that someone else has shopped and bagged for me.  That is so nice!  What a time and energy saver it is after a long trip home and too many nights of little sleep!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Reclaiming Jesus Mess



Below you will find the entire text of the "Reclaiming Jesus" statement.  In red I have written my comments about this document.  Please take the time to look up the Scriptures they reference and read them in the context in the Bible.  I did not comment on everything here I probably could have, I just don't have time.  If you find other errors that I did not point out feel free to leave a comment about it.


We are living through perilous and polarizing times as a nation, with a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest levels of our government and in our churches.  We believe the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are now at stake.

It is time to be followers of Jesus before anything else—nationality, political party, race, ethnicity, gender, geography—our identity in Christ precedes every other identity. We pray that our nation will see Jesus’ words in us. "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).

When politics undermines our theology, (What is their theology?) we must examine that politics. The church’s role is to change the world through the life and love of Jesus Christ. (What about John 14:6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.) The government’s role is to serve the common good by protecting justice and peace, rewarding good behavior while restraining bad behavior (Romans 13). When that role is undermined by political leadership,  faith leaders must stand up and speak out. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state."
It is often the duty of Christian leaders, especially elders, to speak the truth in love to our churches and to name and warn against temptations, racial and cultural captivities, false doctrines, and political idolatries—and even our complicity in them. We do so here with humility, prayer, and a deep dependency on the grace and Holy Spirit of God. (False doctrine, what is their doctrine?)
This letter comes from a retreat on Ash Wednesday, 2018. In this season of Lent, we feel deep lamentations for the state of our nation, and our own hearts are filled with confession for the sins we feel called to address. The true meaning of the word repentance is to turn around. It is time to lament, confess, repent, and turn. In times of crisis, the church has historically learned to return to Jesus Christ.

Jesus is Lord. That is our foundational confession. It was central for the early church and needs to again become central to us. If Jesus is Lord, then Caesar was not—nor any other political ruler since. If Jesus is Lord, no other authority is absolute. Jesus Christ, and the kingdom of God he announced, is the Christian’s first loyalty, above all others. We pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). Our faith is personal but never private, meant not only for heaven but for this earth.

The question we face is this: Who is Jesus Christ for us today? (The question should be how has God defined Jesus Christ in Scripture?  You get that wrong and you have just created a god of your own imagination.) What does our loyalty to Christ, as disciples, require at this moment in our history? We believe it is time to renew our theology of public discipleship and witness. Applying what "Jesus is Lord" means today is the message we commend as elders to our churches.
What we believe leads us to what we must reject. Our "Yes" is the foundation for our "No." What we confess as our faith leads to what we confront. Therefore, we offer the following six affirmations of what we believe, and the resulting rejections of practices and policies by political leaders which dangerously corrode the soul of the nation and deeply threaten the public integrity of our faith. We pray that we, as followers of Jesus, will find the depth of faith to match the danger of our political crisis.

I. WE BELIEVE each human being is made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). That image and likeness confers a divinely decreed dignity, worth, and God-given equality to all of us as children of the one God (What makes a person a child of God?  Does simply being made in His image qualify us to be called a child of God? What does the Bible say? John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the [e]right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. ) who is the Creator of all things. Racial bigotry is a brutal denial of the image of God (the imago dei) in some of the children of God. Our participation in the global community of Christ absolutely prevents any toleration of racial bigotry. Racial justice and healing are biblical and theological issues for us, and are central to the mission of the body of Christ in the world. We give thanks for the prophetic role of the historic black churches in America when they have called for a more faithful gospel.

THEREFORE, WE REJECT the resurgence of white nationalism and racism in our nation on many fronts, including the highest levels of political leadership. We, as followers of Jesus, must clearly reject the use of racial bigotry for political gain that we have seen. In the face of such bigotry, silence is complicity. In particular, we reject white supremacy and commit ourselves to help dismantle the systems and structures that perpetuate white preference and advantage. Further, any doctrines or political strategies that use racist resentments, fears, or language must be named as public sin—one that goes back to the foundation of our nation and lingers on. Racial bigotry must be antithetical for those belonging to the body of Christ, because it denies the truth of the gospel we profess.

II. WE BELIEVE we are one body. In Christ, there is to be no oppression based on race, gender, identity, or class (Galatians 3:28). The body of Christ, where those great human divisions are to be overcome, is meant to be an example for the rest of society. When we fail to overcome these oppressive obstacles, and even perpetuate them, we have failed in our vocation to the world—to proclaim and live the reconciling gospel of Christ.

THEREFORE, WE REJECT misogyny, the mistreatment, violent abuse, sexual harassment, and assault of women that has been further revealed in our culture and politics, including our churches, and the oppression of any other child of God. We lament when such practices seem publicly ignored, and thus privately condoned, by those in high positions of leadership. We stand for the respect, protection, and affirmation of women in our families, communities, workplaces, politics, and churches. We support the courageous truth-telling voices of women, who have helped the nation recognize these abuses. We confess sexism as a sin, requiring our repentance and resistance.

III. WE BELIEVE how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner is how we treat Christ himself. (Matthew 25: 31-46) "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." God calls us to protect and seek justice for those who are poor and vulnerable, and our treatment of people who are "oppressed," "strangers," "outsiders," or otherwise considered "marginal" is a test of our relationship to God, who made us all equal in divine dignity and love. Our proclamation of the lordship of Jesus Christ is at stake in our solidarity with the most vulnerable. If our gospel is not "good news to the poor," it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ (Luke 4:18). (The verse referenced is a prophecy about Jesus. Look it up. Jesus claims in the next few verses that He has fulfilled this prophecy.  If it was referring just to physical needs, then Jesus would have given us all the ability to carry on the work of relieving the poor, broken-hearted, healing the blind, liberating the captives and the oppressed.  But He didn't do that and we are not all equipped to relieve these physical/mental ailments. However, this is referring to spiritual needs. Our gospel needs to be "good news" to the spiritually poor, spiritually broken-hearted,spiritually blind, the spiritually captive and oppressed because it’s only in and through the shed blood of Jesus that these can have forgiveness of sins and new life in Him. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy by His coming and left us the Gospel to continuing the work. There is nothing wrong with charitable acts of kindness toward those less fortunate and Christ’s followers should engage in these. I just take issue with taking Scripture out of context to push an agenda.)

THEREFORE, WE REJECT the language and policies of political leaders who would debase and abandon the most vulnerable children of God. We strongly deplore the growing attacks on immigrants and refugees, who are being made into cultural and political targets, and we need to remind our churches that God makes the treatment of the "strangers" among us a test of faith (Leviticus 19:33-34). We won’t accept the neglect of the well-being of low-income families and children, and we will resist repeated attempts to deny health care to those who most need it. We confess our growing national sin of putting the rich over the poor. We reject the immoral logic of cutting services and programs for the poor while cutting taxes for the rich. Budgets are moral documents. We commit ourselves to opposing and reversing those policies and finding solutions that reflect the wisdom of people from different political parties and philosophies to seek the common good. Protecting the poor is a central commitment of Christian discipleship, to which 2,000 verses in the Bible attest.

IV. WE BELIEVE that truth is morally central to our personal and public lives. Truth-telling is central to the prophetic biblical tradition, whose vocation includes speaking the Word of God into their societies and speaking the truth to power. A commitment to speaking truth, the ninth commandment of the Decalogue, "You shall not bear false witness" (Exodus 20:16), is foundational to shared trust in society. Falsehood can enslave us, but Jesus promises, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32). The search and respect for truth is crucial to anyone who follows Christ. (The question becomes this: what truth will these speak?  Will they speak the whole counsel of God or will they cherry pick the truth they like from Scripture and discard the rest?  Will they only speak the truth that God is love while ignoring the truth that God is also Judge and not all will be allowed into heaven? )

THEREFORE, WE REJECT the practice and pattern of lying that is invading our political and civil life. Politicians, like the rest of us, are human, fallible, sinful, and mortal. But when public lying becomes so persistent that it deliberately tries to change facts for ideological, political, or personal gain, the public accountability to truth is undermined. The regular purveying of falsehoods and consistent lying by the nation’s highest leaders can change the moral expectations within a culture, the accountability for a civil society, and even the behavior of families and children. The normalization of lying presents a profound moral danger to the fabric of society. In the face of lies that bring darkness, Jesus is our truth and our light. (How is Jesus their truth and light?  This needs to be explained.  It’s easy to say this, but if their meaning isn’t the Biblical meaning then they have a different Jesus,)

V. WE BELIEVE that Christ’s way of leadership is servanthood, not domination. Jesus said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles (the world) lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant" (Matthew 20:25-26). We believe our elected officials are called to public service, not public tyranny, so we must protect the limits, checks, and balances of democracy and encourage humility and civility on the part of elected officials. We support democracy, not because we believe in human perfection, but because we do not. The authority of government is instituted by God to order an unredeemed society for the sake of justice and peace, but ultimate authority belongs only to God.

THEREFORE, WE REJECT any moves toward autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule. We believe authoritarian political leadership is a theological danger that threatens democracy and the common good—and we will resist it. Disrespect for the rule of law, not recognizing the equal importance of our three branches of government, and replacing civility with dehumanizing hostility toward opponents are of great concern to us. Neglecting the ethic of public service and accountability, in favor of personal recognition and gain often characterized by offensive arrogance, are not just political issues for us. They raise deeper concerns about political idolatry, accompanied by false and unconstitutional notions of authority.

VI. WE BELIEVE Jesus when he tells us to go into all nations making disciples (Matthew 28:18). Our churches and our nations are part of an international community whose interests always surpass national boundaries. The most well-known verse in the New Testament starts with "For God so loved the world" (John 3:16). We, in turn, should love and serve the world and all its inhabitants, rather than seek first narrow, nationalistic prerogatives. (This is Scripture twisting.  They are taking a short phrase out of context to refute  "America first" agenda. The verse says, "For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  This verse has to do with why God gave His Son to die on the cross and take the punishment for our sins. To use it the way they do here is to diminish what God did for us by leaving it out and ignoring it in favor of cherry picking one phrase to bolster their agenda.)

THEREFORE, WE REJECT "America first" as a theological heresy for followers of Christ. While we share a patriotic love for our country, we reject xenophobic or ethnic nationalism that places one nation over others as a political goal. We reject domination rather than stewardship of the earth’s resources, toward genuine global development that brings human flourishing for all of God’s children. ("All of God’s children" Are they subscribing to the heresy of universalism? Or are they only interested in the flourishing of those who are God’s children as defined by Scripture? My guess is they are subscribing to the heresy of universalism because they obviously are being inclusive of all humans in their statements.  So that presents a problem.  They condemn heresy in their statements earlier in the document, but now they are embracing the heresy of universalism.  That’s what happens when you cherry pick Scripture and ignore what you don’t like.) Serving our own communities is essential, but the global connections between us are undeniable. Global poverty, environmental damage, violent conflict, weapons of mass destruction, and deadly diseases in some places ultimately affect all places, and we need wise political leadership to deal with each of these.

WE ARE DEEPLY CONCERNED for the soul of our nation, but also for our churches and the integrity of our faith. The present crisis calls us to go deeper—deeper into our relationship to God; deeper into our relationships with each other, especially across racial, ethnic, and national lines; deeper into our relationships with the most vulnerable, who are at greatest risk.
The church is always subject to temptations to power, to cultural conformity, and to racial, class, and gender divides, as Galatians 3:28 teaches us. But our answer is to be "in Christ," and to "not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable, and perfect." (Romans 12:1-2)
The best response to our political, material, cultural, racial, or national idolatries is the First Commandment: "You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3). Jesus summarizes the Greatest Commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. This is the first commandment. And the second is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:38). As to loving our neighbors, we would add "no exceptions."

We commend this letter to pastors, local churches, and young people who are watching and waiting to see what the churches will say and do at such a time as this.

Our urgent need, in a time of moral and political crisis, is to recover the power of confessing our faith. Lament, repent, and then repair. If Jesus is Lord, there is always space for grace. We believe it is time to speak and to act in faith and conscience, not because of politics, but because we are disciples of Jesus Christ—to whom be all authority, honor, and glory. It is time for a fresh confession of faith. Jesus is Lord. He is the light in our darkness. "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). 

(This "fresh confession of faith" sounds good. It sounds pious. But it pulls Scripture out of context, it rips Scripture apart and it subscribes to heretical doctrine that isn’t taught in the Bible. At best these are well-meaning but Biblically ignorant church leaders, the blind leading the blind, and at worst they are wolves in shepherd’s clothing.  Either way, they misuse Scripture.  What makes them dangerous is that they throw just enough truth out there to look good, but they mix it with error.  They would be better to leave Jesus and the Bible out of their statement than to twist them to promote their agenda. It’s deceiving.)