Friday, December 26, 2008

Exhaustion: A Christmas Tradition

The Christmas season is a time of tradition for our family. Each Christmas eve we have dinner at my moms house. That dinner consists of Ham, baked beans, rice pudding, lutefisk ,
herring, cheese and cracker tray and glug. We exchange gifts with grandma and grandpa, make plans for a fishing trip to Canada in the spring, and generally laugh and make fools of ourselves. (We are brutal teases in our family so if your thin skinned you might want to stay in the kitchen- of course, if you do we will never let you live it down!)

After Grandmas house we go home to let the dogs out and then head for our Christmas eve service. Some light weights can't handle midnight worship- but this has been a family tradition for so long that my kids are tough and sleep deprived already! Folks arrive at the church they see the luminarias that have been painstakingly set out in front of the sanctuary. I was always told that this illumined the way into the church so that (symbolically) Jesus would know that, though we humans missed his first coming- we are ready for the return ( at least some of us are). I have found that it also points to the way into the church building for those who have had too much glug! (not recommended!)

For decades I would return home to put the kids to sleep and assemble toys that that lazy Santa was too 'busy" to assembly before hand. Part A to part B, this sticker here, that one there, and so on. By now I am usually so exhausted that I am slightly delusional. I lay down for what seems like 10 minutes and suddenly the sun is up and I am busy running around making breakfast.

I make bacon and pancakes- swedish pancakes- you know- REAL pancakes. Made from scratch, these bad boys are filled with fruit and whipped creme and covered with syrup. (I could give you the recipe- but I would have to kill you...) Anywho... about the time the bacon is catching fire- the kids arrive from their various places of sleep. We exchange presents and oooohh and awe at the appropriate moments. About this time the dogs begin to eat the wrapping paper that has completely filled the living room (about waist deep). Wading through this mess I head for the kitchen to find a garbage bag to put this stuff in- after all the dogs can't be expected to eat all of it!

A sweater, a couple ties, etc., and it is now a bit behind schedule for the Sirloin roast or Tenderloin that we through in. Asparagus, mashed potatoes, and cherry pie. MMMmmm. good! That smell is biscuits burning because we always forget them! Cleaning up the mess and it is about 6 pm. I am now exhausted and ready for bed. But instead I put my PJ's back on and eat more. When my arm finally gives out from lifting that beef sandwich I turn off the John Wayne movie I am watching and head for bed. An amazing time! a Great family tradition! A wonderful day!

Or is it punishment for something????????

Fasting -- Back To The Future

The Rediscovery of Water-Only Fasting
by Alan Goldhamer, D.C.

Although the notion of electing to go without food for prolonged periods of time to improve one's health has not been something commonly considered in recent times, fasting has a long and important history. In fact, fasting played a vitally large part in early human survival. Fortunately, this ancient knowledge is making a dramatic comeback and is beginning to transform the way modern healthcare providers view their responsibilities to patients.
Human beings have the capability to survive extended periods of fasting. This was certainly known in our hunter-gatherer days, since many humans were forced to live through periods when little or no food was available to them. However, since the advent of agriculture and increasing technological advancement, modern humans have largely lost their awareness of this powerful, innate capability.

For example, the 1937 edition of The New Standard Encyclopedia stated that for humans, “Generally death occurs after eight days of deprivation of food.” By 1956, this grim pronouncement inched somewhat closer to reality. That year’s edition of the American Peoples Encyclopedia stated that survival time in men during water-only fasting ranged from 17 to 76 days.

In actuality, the “authorities” writing in these encyclopedias had no idea what they were talking about—but their conclusions are consistent with what most people might think. However, if we go back in time to earlier writings, we see that more “primitive” cultures were often more aware of the extent of our fasting capability. In the Bible, for example, Moses, David, Jesus, and Elijah were said to have fasted for up to 40 days.

Physiological Benefits of Fasting

Fasting can be thought of as a period of profound rest, during which time your body is free to rapidly undertake a wide variety of beneficial physiological activities, some of which are described below.

1. Neuroadaptation

Fasting helps your taste sensors adapt to a low salt intake. By allowing your body to “neuroadapt” to low salt food, fasting rapidly facilitates the adoption of a health- promoting diet. This process of neuroadaptation appears to take place more rapidly during fasting than merely eating a low salt diet.

2. Enzymatic Recalibration

During fasting your body induces enzymatic changes that can affect numerous systems ranging from detoxification of endogenous and exogenous substances to the mobilization of fat, glycogen and protein reserves. These changes seem to persist after the fasting process, which may explain some of the dramatic clinical changes seen in patients after fasting.

3. Weight Loss

Although fasting is not generally recommended as a primary weight loss strategy, weight loss is a predictable consequence of fasting. Most people average a loss of approximately one pound per day over the course of a fast. (When weight loss is your primary concern, a health- promoting diet coupled with exercise is usually your best approach.)

4. Detoxification

Fasting is generally thought of as a tool to facilitate detoxification, promoting the mobilization and elimination of endogenous substances such as cholesterol and uric acid and exogenous substances such as dioxin, PCBs, and other toxic chemical residue.

5. Insulin Resistance

Fasting appears to have a profound effect on insulin resistance, which is thought to be intimately involved with diabetes and high blood pressure. When your body produces adequate insulin, but it is ineffective due to resistance at the cells in the liver and elsewhere, your blood sugar levels rise. This can lead to serious clinical consequences. Fortunately, after a period of fasting, this problem is often dramatically improved.

6. Naturesis

Water-only fasting induces a powerful naturetic effect, which allows the body to eliminate excess sodium and water from your body. This process allows for the resolution of chronic problems with edema and helps reduce the increased blood volume associated with high blood pressure.

7. Reducing Gut Leakage

When chronic inflammation involves the intestinal mucosa, a condition arises whereby small particles of incompletely digested foods can be absorbed into the blood stream. This introduction of foreign peptide molecules to the blood stream may stimulate an immunological cascade of effects collectively known as gut leakage. In genetically vulnerable individuals, gut leakage may be associated with the aggravation of numerous clinical entities including arthritis, colitis, asthma, allergies, and fatigue.

8. Sympathectonia

Hypersympathectonia (increased tone of the sympathetic nervous system) is thought to be associated with many problems ranging from digestive disturbances to anxiety disorders. Fasting appears to have a profound normalizing effect on the overall tone of the autonomic nervous system.

In all there are many mechanisms through which fasting may be having its profound effect. Further research into these and other areas should prove illuminating.

A Serendipitous Survival

In light of the clear misunderstanding of fasting by the medical profession, the unexpected, successful fasting experience of Henry Tanner, M.D., is truly remarkable. In 1877, Dr. Tanner was a respected, middle-aged physician living in Duluth, Minnesota. He had suffered for years with rheumatism and had consulted with seven fellow physicians, all of whom considered his case to be “hopeless.” He also suffered from asthma, which chronically disrupted his sleep. He spent his waking hours in constant pain.

Tanner had been taught in medical school that humans could live only ten days without food and in this knowledge he found solace. Not believing in suicide, he determined that he would simply starve himself to death. As he stated later, “Life to me under the circumstances was not worth living... and I had made up my mind to rest from physical suffering in the arms of death.” But fate had an agreeable surprise for Dr. Tanner. By unwittingly invoking a constellation of health-promoting responses associated with water-only fasting, he rapidly recovered.

By the fifth day of his fast, he was able to begin to sleep more peacefully. By the eleventh day, he reported feeling “as well as in my youthful days.” Fully expecting that by this point he should be near death, he asked a fellow physician, Dr. Moyer, to examine him. Not surprisingly, Dr. Moyer was amazed.

According to Tanner’s recollection, Moyer told him, “You ought to be at death's door, but you certainly look better than I ever saw you before.” Henry Tanner continued to fast, under Dr. Moyer’s supervision, for an additional 31 days, a total of 42 days in all.

When fellow physicians heard his story, which was sensationalized in the press, they responded with disbelief and intense criticism. Though widely rebuked as a fraud, Tanner at least had the last laugh. After his fast, Tanner had no symptoms of asthma, rheumatism, or chronic pain and lived a full life until he died at the age of ninety.

Human Fasting Capabilities

Many fasts of longer than 100 days have been documented in recent scientific literature, the longest of which was 368 days. At the TrueNorth Health Center in California, we routinely supervise water-only fasts of up to 40 days — and in certain circumstances, even longer.

In our experience, fasting has never been lethal and is often remarkably helpful. During our 20 years of supervising the care of more than 5,000 patients, fasting has proven to be both safe and effective. It has provided many patients a new lease on life.

Reawakening to an Ancient Truth

Throughout most of the 20th century, which witnessed a period of remarkable medical innovation in surgical techniques, radiation therapies, and new “miracle” drugs, the self-healing mechanisms that are unleashed during water-only fasting were largely unappreciated. However, as the century drew to a close, something extraordinary began to occur. After decades of collective awe of modern medicine and its purveyors, a strong undercurrent of disillusionment began to appear. There came the beginnings of a philosophical revolution that would lead health science in a promising new direction.

This new direction centers on the realization that health and healing are best supported when the biological roots of our nature are understood and respected. This new philosophical approach is based on the awareness that health and healing are natural processes. As a result, the focus of attention has increasingly shifted away from the traditional medical emphasis on drugs and surgery toward an exploration of the circumstances and requirements necessary to unleash and enhance these natural processes.

Fortunately, unlike health problems in the past—including such phenomena as water-born diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and epidemics of tuberculosis and pneumonia that at one time were confusing puzzles - our present day epidemics of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer are not nearly so mysterious. It is becoming increasingly clear that the majority of present day health problems are the result of modern dietary excesses.

Simply put, most of our health problems are the result of our eating too much of the wrong things. We ingest too much fat and protein (especially animal fat and animal protein); too much refined sugar and other refined carbohydrates; and too many drugs, including tobacco, coffee, tea, alcohol, and soda. It is not surprising that nearly 50% of American teenagers are overweight when you consider that the average teenager consumes 25% of his or her calories from soda pop.

In the face of the current unprecedented epidemics of disease caused by dietary excess, it is understandable that the ancient healing method of water-only fasting is beginning to make intuitive sense to many people. Going without food for a period of time provides the ultimate opportunity for the reversal of the consequences of dietary excess — a chance to let an overfed and overburdened body take steps to restore health.

Rest assured that the appeal of fasting is not based solely on mere intuition. With the recent publication of the first-ever large-scale study conducted on the use of water-only fasting with life-threatening illness, what was previously considered intuitive has become scientifically apparent. Water-only fasting offers extraordinary potential for health and healing, and for some conditions it appears to be the most effective treatment available.

Fasting and High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is the leading contributing cause of morbidity and mortality in industrialized societies, and is the leading reason for visits to doctors and for the use of prescription medication. It is diagnosed when a patient’s pressures exceed 140/90 mm Hg. The human and financial costs of this condition are staggering.

In 1984, doctors at the TrueNorth Health Center began to investigate the use of fasting in the treatment of this devastating condition. Our study involved 174 high blood pressure patients, all of whom were admitted to the Center for treatment involving water-only fasting.

The results of the study were astonishing. Every patient experienced blood pressure reductions sufficient to eliminate the need for medication, and over ninety percent of patients achieved completely normal blood pressure. A stunning reduction of over 60 points in systolic (upper) blood pressure was noted in those patients with highly elevated pressures (known as Stage III Hypertension), where systolic pressures are greater than 180 mm Hg. These results represent the largest effect size ever shown in lowering blood pressure, and they are estimated to be five times the effect expected from medications alone.

With assistance from our colleagues at Cornell University, our study, “Medically Supervised Water-only Fasting in the Treatment of Hypertension” was completed and accepted for publication by the peer-reviewed and indexed Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. It appeared in the June, 2001 issue of JMPT.

A second study, also conducted at the Center, was recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. In this investigation, we evaluated the effect of water-only fasting on 64 patients admitted with so-called “borderline” hypertension. These are individuals who have systolic blood pressures between 120 and 140 mm Hg.

Patients with blood pressures in this range are often led to believe that their blood pressures are “normal.” For example, a patient with a systolic blood pressure of 138/88 would be considered “normal” by conventional medical standards, despite the fact that they are five times more likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than an individual who has a systolic blood pressure of 110 mm Hg. Sixty-eight percent of all deaths attributed to the effects of high blood pressure occur in individuals whose systolic blood pressure is in this range.

The patients in our second study had a mean reduction in systolic blood pressure of 20 mm Hg. The average patient in the study, beginning with a systolic blood pressure of nearly 130 mm Hg, ended his stay with systolic blood pressure of just below 109 mm Hg. This represents a very substantial improvement in health. As just stated, he is now five times less likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than he was before.

Fasting Studies Draw Attention

As a result of the publication of these studies, the fasting program at TrueNorth Health Center attracted the attention of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), a large, national labor union. In March 2001, the Center’s residential health education program, including the supervision of water-only fasting, became a fully covered medical benefit for all union members and spouses who have high blood pressure or diabetes.

In conjunction with this association with IUOE, the doctors at the Center are conducting a third fasting study. It is a prospective study with long-term follow-up to evaluate the use of fasting in the treatment of high blood pressure and diabetes. We are looking not only at the clinical outcomes of the patients (improved health and reduced morbidity), but also the effect on long-term costs of care for the patients who undergo fasting compared to those who choose conventional medical care.

The initial results are outstanding. Based on data from the first group of subjects with one-year follow-ups, the average cost reduction for fasting patients compared to patients receiving conventional medical care appears to be substantial. Once a large enough number of patients have completed the program and the long-term outcomes are calculated, we expect to publish additional papers documenting what appears to be a tremendously cost effective approach to managing these high risk, high medical cost, high blood pressure and diabetes patients.

Hope for the Future

Hopefully, these results of the TrueNorth Health Center’s studies will be a contributing force in both a philosophical and practical revolution in health care. With clear and convincing evidence to guide them, and substantial cost savings to motivate them, other unions and insurance companies may decide to encourage and support the use of fasting for those they serve. In doing so, they could make available to the millions of sick and suffering patients the most profound health rediscovery of our time — the understanding that fasting allows the body to heal itself without the risk and excess cost associated with conventional medical care and drug use.

Alan Goldhamer, D.C., is the director of the TrueNorth Health Center in Penngrove, California. Information on the Center’s Residential Health Education Program can be found at or by calling the Center at (707) 586-5555

Monday, December 15, 2008

Living partially baptized

Widows and widowers in the U.S. who say they give 10 percent or more of their income to the church: 17.6 percent

Non-widowed Americans who say they give 10 percent or more: 8.6 percent

Ted Olsen, "Go Figure," Christianity Today magazine (November 2008), p 18.

Are we really willing to live our life partially baptized? Why do we hold out on our obediences to the Lord? If the soul is so much more important than our wallets, why don't we surrender to a biblical stewardship model? Or is it that we simply don't believe that God intends good for us? That would explain why so many of us live a stilted and stunted Christian life.

The Christian life is about trust. Trusting God for blessing and to handle all the things that we cannot. There is no option.

Hebrews 11.6 And 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 seek Him.

So why do we think there is an option to live a faithless Christian live?

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Hero of the Faith- Victor Plymire

Victor Plymire, was a pioneer missionary to China and Tibet. He went to that part of the world in 1908 and served 16 years before he won his first Tibetan convert. In his 19th year of missionary service, his only son, 6 years of age, and his wife died within one week of each other from smallpox. The local cemetery refused him burial permission, so he bought a small plot of land on a Tibetan hillside overlooking a valley outside of town. It was the middle of winter in that bitter-cold part of the world. He had only enough strength to dig one grave through the frozen ground for the two of them.

What was his and their reward for all of this?

Especially in the West, we live in a period of instant gratification. We expect immediate reward for labor rendered, service given and investment made. But the Bible talks about delayed reward. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:34,35).

There is no ecstasy for the saints in the treatment they receive at the hands of the world. They are not rewarded on earth with wealth and mansions, with luxury and leisure, with titles and accolades. Their reward is one deferred — until the coming of the Lord.

My Uncle Victor died without ever knowing what purpose the death of his wife and son filled in the economy of God. But about 65 years after that desolate moment on the Tibetan mountainside, and some 36 years after his death, God’s long-range purposes began to come into view.

In 1991 the church in Victor Plymire’s adopted town in China wanted to officially reopen. Permission was denied on the grounds the church had no proof the property purchased and buildings erected by my uncle had ever been used as a church. The officials, as did everyone else in the town, knew the true story. But games were being played with the pastor, the son of the martyred leader left in charge of the work when Victor Plymire left in 1949.

In desperation the Chinese pastor asked my missionary cousin, David Plymire, if any written evidence existed which could prove the buildings and property belonged to the church. David came back and searched the file of his father in Springfield, Mo. There he found a deed. But it was not the deed to the church property — no such legal instrument has ever been found. The deed was to the grave on the hillside.

For some reason known only to God, Victor Plymire had deeded that grave not in his own name, but the name of the church. When David Plymire returned to China and gave the deed to that pastor, the local authorities accepted it as incontrovertible evidence that the church had indeed existed. The property was returned, the buildings were repossessed, and the church was officially open again.

Had the town cemetery been available to Plymire, there would have been no deed for proof. In fact, years ago the town cemetery was leveled and apartments were built over it; but the Plymire grave still rests undisturbed on the edge of the sprawling town. God, who had not caused the deaths of Victor Plymire’s first wife and son, nevertheless intended to use that loss to anchor the church in that very town at the close of the century. Plymire died long before this twist in the story; but we now can see an earthly reward for this precious sacrifice.

There is an even greater day of reward coming. Someday the grave itself will open and the dead shall come forth. On that day Victor and Grace Plymire and their son John David are going to receive a reward from the hand of Jesus himself. That reward will eclipse all sorrow.

That hour will be one of vindication for the saints, when the unbelieving world is judged and God’s children receive their rewards.

“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen” (Revelation 1:7).
(Written by George O Wood in the Pentecostal Evangel)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jon Stewart and Mike Huckabee on Gay Marriage

Too bad Jon felt the need to continually talk over his guest. Huckabee had a point to make but Stewart kept moving the goal post. Stewart is obviously is smart enough to locate those answers himself so we are left to assume he is either pandering to his audience or has a driving agenda of his own. If he wanted to know why gay marriage is objectionable to so many then he should take the discussion on the merits of the answers given, rather than interrupt his guest.

Marriage has always (not just within the Judeo-Christian tradition) been between a man and a woman. we are talking about from the moment of creation (or from the first day out of the evolutionary soup- if you are an evolutionist). While the interrelational dynamics have changed (ie., chattel to equal) that doesn't change the foundational elements of marriage (male and female). Marriage was and is primarily for child-rearing- hence, Stewarts argument for polygamy actually re-enforces the argument that homosexual relationships cannot be "marriage" per se. (Polygamy was specifically for the development of offspring in ancicent cultures.) To say that changing the fundamental elements of marriage is "evolution" of marriage is as silly as saying that Sodium Chloride (salt) can have one of the elements changed and still remain the same. It simply cannot.

His diatribe on which is more of a choice religion or homosexuality is cute... but without merit in that there has yet to be any evidence presented that demonstrates conclusively that homosexuality is genetic. But Jon won't be bothered with facts...We are left to Jon's observations from his vast experience with homosexuals in NY. The issue isn't one of choice but biology. I agree with Huckabee that homosexuals who choose to live that lifestyle should be afforded the protections of freedom guaranteed in the constitution. And I think that civil unions may be the best avenue for the homosexuals to achieve their equality. But there needn't be any redefining of the term marriage. After all, what else would we redefine to 'include' gays?

Same sex marriage destroyed the idea of marriage in Scandinavia. I remember reading that a study in Denmark showed that those gays legally married there had an average of 10 partners outside of their marriage each year. This kind of instability is more like Britney and Kevin than Stewart wants to admit.

In the end it is not "semantics" or definitions of marriage but biology that keep homosexuals from procreating. All the side stepping around the issue will not change that. Marriage isn't a right given by the government, it is a recognition of a biological coupling that is the foundation of a family that is determined by nature. A fact that won't be tampered with.

Christ died for all men. Redemption begins with a choice- choose to follow Jesus. For me it meant to stop thieving, sleeping around, and doing drugs and follow Him; for others it involves laying down their sinful life- no matter how 'natural' it feels. may God give you the grace to make the right choice.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Gay Marriage: Why Would It Affect Me?

At the risk of seeming intolerant (the ultimate "sin" in 21 century America) i thought that this synopsis of Dr. Dobson's article deserves a read, and this might provoke some thought.

Ten Arguments Against Same Sex Marriage

(This is a synopsis of the new book by Dr. James Dobson, Marriage Under Fire.)
Argument #1.
The implications for children in a world of decaying families are profound. A recent article in the Weekly Standard described how the advent of legally sanctioned gay unions in Scandinavian countries has already destroyed the institution of marriage, where half of today's children are born out of wedlock.

It is predicted now, based on demographic trends in this country, that more than half of the babies born in the 1990s will spend at least part of their childhood in single-parent homes.

Social scientists have been surprisingly consistent in warning against this fractured family. If it continues, almost every child will have several "moms" and "dads," perhaps six or eight "grandparents," and dozens of half-siblings. It will be a world where little boys and girls are shuffled from pillar to post in an ever-changing pattern of living arrangements-where huge numbers of them will be raised in foster-care homes or living on the street (as millions do in other countries all over the world today). Imagine an environment where nothing is stable and where people think primarily about themselves and their own self-preservation.

The apostle Paul described a similar society in Romans 1, which addressed the epidemic of homosexuality that was rampant in the ancient world and especially in Rome at that time. He wrote, "They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless" (v. 29-31, NIV).

It appears likely now that the demise of families will accelerate this type of decline dramatically, resulting in a chaotic culture that will be devastating to children.

Argument #2
The introduction of legalized gay marriages will lead inexorably to polygamy and other alternatives to one-man, one-woman unions.

In Utah, polygamist Tom Green, who claims five wives, is citing Lawrence v. Texas as the legal authority for his appeal. This past January, a Salt Lake City civil rights attorney filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of another couple wanting to engage in legal polygamy. Their justification? Lawrence v. Texas.

The ACLU of Utah has actually suggested that the state will "have to step up to prove that a polygamous relationship is detrimental to society"-as opposed to the polygamists having to prove that plural marriage is not harmful to the culture. Do you see how the game is played? Despite 5,000 years of history, the burden now rests on you and me to prove that polygamy is unhealthy. The ACLU went on to say that the nuclear family "may not be necessarily the best model." Indeed, Justice Antonin Scalia warned of this likelihood in his statement for the minority in the Lawrence case.10 It took less than six months for his prediction to become reality.

Why will gay marriage set the table for polygamy? Because there is no place to stop once that Rubicon has been crossed. Historically, the definition of marriage has rested on a bedrock of tradition, legal precedent, theology and the overwhelming support of the people.

After the introduction of marriage between homosexuals, however, it will be supported by nothing more substantial than the opinion of a single judge or by a black-robed panel of justices. After they have done their wretched work, the family will consist of little more than someone's interpretation of "rights."

Given that unstable legal climate, it is certain that some self-possessed judge, somewhere, will soon rule that three men and one woman can marry. Or five and two, or four and four. Who will be able to deny them that right? The guarantee is implied, we will be told, by the Constitution. Those who disagree will continue to be seen as hate-mongers and bigots. (Indeed, those charges are already being leveled against those of us who espouse biblical values!) How about group marriage, or marriage between relatives, or marriage between adults and children? How about marriage between a man and his donkey? Anything allegedly linked to "civil rights" will be doable. The legal underpinnings for marriage will have been destroyed.

Argument #3
An even greater objective of the homosexual movement is to end the state's compelling interest in marital relationships altogether. After marriages have been redefined, divorces will be obtained instantly, will not involve a court, and will take on the status of a driver's license or a hunting permit. With the family out of the way, all rights and privileges of marriage will accrue to gay and lesbian partners without the legal entanglements and commitments heretofore associated with it.

Argument #4
With the legalization of homosexual marriage, every public school in the nation will be required to teach that this perversion is the moral equivalent of traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Textbooks, even in conservative states, will have to depict man/man and woman/woman relationships, and stories written for children as young as elementary school, or even kindergarten, will have to give equal space to homosexuals.

Argument #5
From that point forward, courts will not be able to favor a traditional family involving one man and one woman over a homosexual couple in matters of adoption. Children will be placed in homes with parents representing only one sex on an equal basis with those having a mom and a dad. The prospect of fatherless and motherless children will not be considered in the evaluation of eligibility. It will be the law.

Argument #6
Foster-care parents will be required to undergo "sensitivity training" to rid themselves of bias in favor of traditional marriage, and will have to affirm homosexuality in children and teens.

Argument #7
How about the impact on Social Security if there are millions of new dependents that will be entitled to survivor benefits? It will amount to billions of dollars on an already overburdened system. And how about the cost to American businesses? Unproductive costs mean fewer jobs for those who need them. Are state and municipal governments to be required to raise taxes substantially to provide health insurance and other benefits to millions of new "spouses and other dependents"?

Argument #8
Marriage among homosexuals will spread throughout the world, just as pornography did after the Nixon Commission declared obscene material "beneficial" to mankind. Almost instantly, the English-speaking countries liberalized their laws against smut. America continues to be the fountainhead of filth and immorality, and its influence is global.

The point is that numerous leaders in other nations are watching to see how we will handle the issue of homosexuality and marriage. Only two countries in the world have authorized gay marriage to date-the Netherlands and Belgium. Canada is leaning in that direction, as are numerous European countries. Dr. Darrell Reid, president of Focus on the Family Canada, told me two weeks ago that his country is carefully monitoring the United States to see where it is going. If we take this step off a cliff, the family on every continent will splinter at an accelerated rate. Conversely, our U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that it looks to European and Canadian law in the interpretation of our Constitution. What an outrage! That should have been grounds for impeachment, but the Congress, as usual, remained passive and silent.

Argument #9
Perhaps most important, the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be severely curtailed. The family has been God's primary vehicle for evangelism since the beginning.

Its most important assignment has been the propagation of the human race and the handing down of the faith to our children. Malachi 2:15 reads, referring to husbands and wives, "Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are His. And why one? Because He was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth" (NIV).

That responsibility to teach the next generation will never recover from the loss of committed, God-fearing families. The younger generation and those yet to come will be deprived of the Good News, as has already occurred in France, Germany and other European countries. Instead of providing for a father and mother, the advent of homosexual marriage will create millions of motherless children and fatherless kids. This is morally wrong, and is condemned in Scripture. Are we now going to join the Netherlands and Belgium to become the third country in the history of the world to "normalize" and legalize behavior that has been prohibited by God himself? Heaven help us if we do!

Argument #10
The culture war will be over, and I fear, the world may soon become "as it was in the days of Noah" (Matthew 24:37, NIV). This is the climactic moment in the battle to preserve the family, and future generations hang in the balance.

This apocalyptic and pessimistic view of the institution of the family and its future will sound alarmist to many, but I think it will prove accurate unless-unless-God's people awaken and begin an even greater vigil of prayer for our nation. That's why Shirley and I are urgently seeking the Lord's favor and asking Him to hear the petitions of His people and heal our land.

As of this time, however, large segments of the church appear to be unaware of the danger; its leaders are surprisingly silent about our peril (although we are tremendously thankful for the efforts of those who have spoken out on this issue). The lawless abandon occurring recently in California, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Washington and elsewhere should have shocked us out of our lethargy. So far, I'm alarmed to say, the concern and outrage of the American people have not translated into action.

This reticence on behalf of Christians is deeply troubling. Marriage is a sacrament designed by God that serves as a metaphor for the relationship between Christ and His Church. Tampering with His plan for the family is immoral and wrong. To violate the Lord's expressed will for humankind, especially in regard to behavior that He has prohibited, is to court disaster.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

ASK THE PASTOR- Assemblies of God History

The beginnings of the Pentecostal Revival at the turn of the last century (1906)can really be attributed to a movement of the Holy Spirit- and not to the work of a founder or president.

Videos can be found here

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fasting- are you up for it?

It seems that God is directing us toward an extended fast. As I have been praying, I hear God saying "21 days". That is a rather extended time of fasting. I am hoping that you will join with me in the fast. I anticipate the first 21 days of 2009 will be the timing of the event. Can you join with me? If you need to think through it keep reading.

When is fasting valuable?
(1) Fasting may be beneficial in times of mourning. David and his men mourned and fasted upon hearing of the death of Saul (2 Samuel 1:12), and Nehemiah did also when he was informed of Jerusalem’s poor condition (Nehemiah 1:4). Fasting and prayer is fitting when a loved one is critically ill (2 Samuel 12:16).

(2) Fasting frequently accompanied repentance as an outward and genuine sign of sorrow for rebellion (1 Samuel 7:6). Even the pagan people of Nineveh proclaimed a fast when face with their sins (Jonah 3:5).

(3) Fasting was practiced in connection with great and important spiritual moments. Moses fasted during that period when he was receiving the Law (Exodus 34:28). Christ fasted prior to his encounter with Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2). The church fasted before sending Barnabas and Saul on that perilous first missionary campaign (Acts 13:2-3). Fasting was certainly a component in the dynamic ministry of Paul (2 Corinthians 6:5; 11:27). It is seemingly preparatory

Fasting can, however, be abused. It is never a replacement for personal godly living. Isaiah rebukes very strongly those who fasted improperly(Isaiah 58). Fsating cannot be an occasion for being proud. The Pharisees were guilty of 'wearing their fast' (Matthew 6:16-18).

Consider these thoughts as you fast;

(1) The Scriptures teach that God honors fasting when performed as a token of deep and sincere dedication.

(2) Doctors tell us that moderate fasting can be a benefit to health, having the effect of allowing our systems to occasionally cleanse themselves.

(3) The mind is more accutely aware during periods of fasting.

(4) Fasting trains us to be self-disciplined.

(5) Fasting also teaches us to be thankful for what we have.

Friday, November 07, 2008

national sins

If we are to begin a time of prayer and repentance for our country (per Joel 2.15) then we must list the sins of our nation.

1. Adultery and fornication: It has been reported that fifty to sixty percent of married couples admit to adultery. The rapid spread of Sexually Transmitted diseases is astonishing and terrifying!(5% of Americans have an STD and 63% are younger than 25)

2. Rape: A Harris poll sets the figure at 380,000 rapes or sexual assaults that took place back in 1993. The Justice Department says that eight percent of all American women will be victims of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime.

3. Pornography: Every second - $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography

4. Abortion: Fifty-two percent of U.S. women obtaining abortions are younger than 25: Women aged 20-24 obtain 33 percent of all abortions, and teenagers obtain 19 percent. 1.29 million abortions were performed last year.

5. Theft: It is estimated theft costs the country $500 billion each year.

6. Greed: Focus on the Family revealed that Americans now visit casinos more often than they attend professional sporting events. Collectively, they lose in excess of $50 billion each year to lotteries, horse and dog tracks, casinos, and the various other gambling venues.

7. Rebellion: against authority- irrespective of its source.

8. Murder: 16,500 murders in 2006 in the US

9. Gluttony: One billion people in the world do not have access to clean water, while the average American uses four hundred to six hundred liters of water a day.
Every seven seconds, somewhere in the world a child under age five dies of hunger, while Americans throw away 14 percent of the food we purchase. Americans spend more annually on trash bags than nearly half of the world does on all goods

10: Drunkenness: Billions are spent on the societal effects of misuse of alcohol.

11. Hypocrisy: The Barna Research Group found that sixty-two percent of Americans profess to be Christians, while the book, The Day America Told the Truth said that ninety-one percent lie regularly.

That is a start anyway!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Prayer for the President Elect

Gracious Father, we thank you for the priviledge to have a voice in the selection of our leaders in this country. We a re truly blessed with freedom. We are confident that, as the Scripture teaches (Rom 13.1-7), you are in the process of "establishing" this government. Teach your church to submit and support to the governing authorities in our land. May we choose your way over and against the ways of this world.

We pray for the transition of President Obama. We pray that you will protect him and his family. We pray that the office of the President of this United States will be graced with dignity and propriety and that you will strengthen the back of our president to handle the weight of the office.

We pray that you will forgive this nation for aborting its young; for cheapening life's value and for sacrificing the next generation on the altar of convenience. We pray that poor will be remembered and that, more than a hand out they will be given opportunities to work and find the dignity again of employment. We pray for our troops, may they be protected and helped in their duties of protecting and establishing democracy.

This prayer is the first of many that we will pray for our new president and the cabinet he chooses; for the congress and the leadership of this state. Give these men and women YOUR divine guidance- interrupt their sleep with your divine voice; speak to the hearts of our leadership- change those hearts as a water course. We recognize that evil doesn't sleep- and is already stirring against your purposes- make us diligent to pray continually.

We ask that the gospel will go forth without threat and will reach many in these coming years. We humbly pray that you will bless this nation with greatness, and your church with the continued favor from heaven. Amen.

Ask the Pastor- Other Preachers?

Someone recently asked...

Question: Is it wrong to listen to other preacher podcasts? TV shows? Attend services that are available during the week?

On the one hand I would say that it is definitely not wrong (ie., sinful) to listen to other preachers via podcasts, radio, TV or other media. There is some good teaching available to us. It is truly one of the blessings of this technical age! This is certainly helpful to those who are working or driving and cannot attend church in the midweek. Also, there are folks that are sick and bedridden or stuck in their house and cannot make it to a service- what a great blessing for them.

On the other hand, discernment is called for in our choice of media. There will always be doctrinal differences between various factions of the church, some of these have caused great confusion in the minds of young believers in the past. I have had puzzled christians come to me to ask about confusing teaching that varied with what Scripture says on issues of spiritual gifts, on the security of the believer, on ehaling and prosperity, etc. The list goes on and on.

Another danger is that often we choose to be entertained by preaching of the Word rather than reading the Word and praying it into our own lives. Listening to a sermon is never a substitute for personal time with God. The podcast of a service was designed for that particular church... and while it may have much that is universally applicable there are some specifics that are divinely inspired for that particular moment. Some ministries are driven to ask for funds and the discerning believer needs to assure himself that the millions that are often spent broadcasting are in line with the believers own sense of propriety.

Midweek services are often the times for discipleship and kids clubs. Often a tired parent would rather sit in his own home and listen to the radio occassionally. As parents we need to be mindful of the strengthed faith for our whole family that comes when we attend midweek services together. Here at CLC Youth and Children have opportunities to worship with their own age levels and receive important and practical teaching in the Word. This is develpmental in the life of a child. I often encourages a parent to attend rather than substitue a real life experience in Church with a podcast.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Spirit Filled Worship

What is Spirit filled worship? I mean I think I have my own definition of what it means to worship in a spirit filled church but... what does it mean to you? what does it mean scripturally?

I have enjoyed the moving of the Spirit of God in uptempo songs and celebratory dances at times. But I have also seen the Spirit of God move with candles and responsive reading. There have been moments of dramatic silence in our worship that seem to be spirit driven; and moments where silence was the sign of death.

I know that the song service (yuk - hate that term!) has to be participatory. I remember I was at an E. Free church on vacation one year and they sang a song that we do at CLC- but there was little participation by the congregation- AND it seemed like it was tolerated, not enjoyed.

If your reading this, I'd be interested in hearing your take on the question of what spirit filled worship is- or maybe a story of how it ministered to you at one time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Too Sour to be a Saint?

Every one of us wants to have joy. In 25 years of ministry I haven't run into a person who desires to be joy-less. Such a grouch would be too sour to be a saint!
"That's easy for you to say, Pastor, 'cause everything is so perfect in your life!"

Well, I am blessed. But blessing is a spiritual thing- not a physical thing. In other words, just because I am "blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus..." (Eph 1.3) doesn't mean that my boat doesn't get rocked by the waves of life. In fact, the mere fact that I have those spiritual blessings is cause for demonic attack! My adversary doesn't want me to translate the spiritual blessing into trust , contentment, and joy.

James 1.2 tells me to think of my trials and temptations as causes of celebratory joy. The only way I can think of doing that is by focusing my mind on the eternal strengths that I am gaining during this difficult time of temptation and trial. He guarantees in the following verses that perseverance, maturity, and wisdom are developing in me during the tough times. Shouldn't we be acting out our joy?

I recall a person signing on for a position as an usher in the church. When I refused his service in this capacity he came to me quite angry. I explained to him that the ushers face is the first that most people see in the church and that I hadn't seen a smile on his face for many months. "Really? he asked," ... I guess your right." Once I pointed out to him that his lack of a smile was a sign that he had no inner joy he was brought to the point of repentance. Yes, repentance. When we allow our joy to be stolen by the adversary of our souls we have ignored the counsel of scripture (rejoice, again I say...) and have determined to live in our own way.

I am glad to report his service was "with a smile" for many years after that. So how about you... are you too sour to be a saint? Have you learned to experience joy inspite of the many obstacles to it? Have you lifted up your countenance by lifting up your eyes and fixing them on the joys of salvation? Or is your joy dependant upon earthly circumstances?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Shotgun - sighting in the the Beast


Okay so I bought a new scope. I want to site this bad boy in but the task is daunting. The idea of shooting a dozen or so shots throught that 870 Remington 12 gauge while trying to find the paper makes me want to cry. I bore sighted the beast. (I call it that because it kicks like a horse- pushing out those 1 1/4 ounce slugs!) Still couldn't get it on paper at 50 yards. It took me 25 shots to hit the 10 on the target. Tonight my shoulder is hurting pretty badly.

I think of the spiritual lesson here. We often put off doing the necessary thing because it will blow back on us and bring us personal pain. Our integrity has to drive us to the point of obedience- facing the confrontation, taking the hit, making the hard decision. There is a demand to follow through with our prayers of devotion.

Colin, Colin, Colin- what were you thinking?

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell announced Sunday that he will break with his party and vote for Sen. Barack Obama. "He has both style and substance. I think he is a transformational figure," Powell said on NBC's Meet the Press.

"I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities -- and you have to take that into account -- as well as his substance -- he has both style and substance," Powell said. "He has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president."

So let's take a look at the specifics that Powell mentions.
1) Transformational Figure- Of course, Sen Obama is a fabulous speaker. Frontline has done a wonderful job of showing the 12 year planned ascent of Sen Obama. His lack of a voting record specifically crafted to give him almost no voting record to run against- that certainly isn't transformational. Did he transform the community he organized? No- by all accounts the specific programs he ran were less than transformational- some have called them abject failures.

2) The Inclusive Nature- Really? When has Sen Obama reached across the aisle to build bridges to bring a government together. There is little evidence that he is more conclusive than say, the Bush administration- which put women and blacks and hispanics in the cabinet. In fact, Gen Powell is important because of his connection to the Bush administration!

3) Met the Standard- Hmmm, in what way? He raised money? The Obama campaign sites his running of the campaign. Is that like running a successful small business? Or governing a state? Get real.

4) Colin Powell also cited the "narrowing of the party" - I assume that this means that he dislikes the parties stance on abortion.

These reasons stink! I am left to think that Powell has made this decision for some other emotional reason.(perhaps his distain for the Bush White House that he might feel embarrassed him).

What a massive disappointment! Gen Powell - How can you vote against the unborn? How can you disregard the future appointments of the Supreme Court? How can you ignore the direct ties to socialism? How can you disregard distain for the military? How can you put all your hope in an untested and untried politician? How can you embrace a tax war on success and the redistribution of wealth?

I just need to say that there are so many unanswered questions- that Powell is completely a disappointment.

Whoever you vote for- at least have the decency to have a reason that will stand some scutiny. Do your homework- and go vote!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Which are the important moments?


People often misjudge hunting. What is often celebrated is the few moments of the kill. When you watch those hunting shows they show you these "highlights". We are a society of people who like to relish these kinds of moments- the successful hunt; the catch of a lifetime; the victory of the kill. What many of us fail to recognize is that life is really much more about the obscured moments that never make it to the highlight reel.

For every moment of successfully harvesting a deer, there are hours of studying maps, looking for funnels, walking through the woods before the season looking for sign and trails, much time invested in trying to understand what would provoke this or that kind of behavior from the quarry; the physical work of selecting a place and installing a stand; the missed shots and blown opportunities that presented themselves. If you are successful you will recount those stories of the moment that the buck walked in and you perfectly placed your shot and shot your prey. But the stories of the failures and learning times, the work and the study all are left out.

Life is like that. We may be known for a moments success but it is really what we have done in the obscured times that determine the measure of that success. Spiritually speaking, we can never rise above the level of our prayer life- those hidden moments that create depth. The obscure times are the private prayer times that build the foundations for the successes in our ministry and life. Few recount these moments out of the spot light when reflecting on their life's work. I think of Jesus who "often withdrew to the lonely places and prayed". If not for this short verse we would be left to think that Jesus lived in the moment of the miraculous. But greatness often has its hidden points. The large oak tree in front of me is more than meets the eye, it has a complex 'unseen' root system that holds the 'seen' in place. So too, my life must have a complexity in its hidden and obscure moments to give me the success that I need.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Why Christians need to vote

I happen to be a sort of political junkie. But I am surprised by the number of chrisitans who are frustrated with empty promises of the candidates this year and are planning on staying home from the polls.

The way I read the scripture- Christians really are required to vote. It is a part of their stewardship of the earth. Of course, we don't just pull a partisan lever. We are supposed to be engaged and informed and base our vote upon the Scriptures.
Since the governments job is to bring justice and protection (Rom 13) we ought to try to elect those that will do that kind of a job AND dump those that aren't doing that before they do more damage.

I think it is a bad idea to vote for somebody just because they are a christian too. Politicians can be pretty flippant with religion at the time of election. Martin Luther famously said he would rather be ruled by a competent Turk—that is, a Muslim—than an incompetent Christian.

God has his own agenda. It includes the poor and the unborn but it also is concerned with the excesses of greed and corruption. Our national security is crucial to the missionary efforts- Paul told us to pray that we might live in peace with all men so that the gospel woudl go forth. obviously, we are more than automotons that are programed to vote a certain way. I think that there are moral issues at stake in this election and they need to be weighed against the other issues. Good christians will disagree on who to vote for but we need to be the city set on the hill. President Reagan quoted that regarding the US- but it is the church that must have the influence and preservative affects on our government. We must be "salt" and "light" if we are to fulfill the call of God for us.

When your deciding who to vote for- ask yourself who this man or woman serves? Are they bought and paid for by special interest groups, or are they seeking the best for all americans? Are they spouting rhetoric or are their plans practical? Will they enable a strong nation? Will they enable the nation to rebuild it's economy so that we have a strong nation? What role do they feel that government has- are they the fixers or the facilitaters?

Whoever wins- you will be required to pray for for the next 4 years. The scripture asks that men everywhere lift up holy hands and pray for those in authority. So make your choice well. But make a choice.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Excellence in Earnestness

If there is anything that this call from 2 Cor 8.7 means it is a call to total and complete frankness. As a Christian we should be absolutely "WYSIWYG" as they say in web design. What you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) is the removal of hidden agendas and hypocrisies. This, of course, does not mean that follower of Jesus is perfect in any way- only that he is a person of integrity. Saying what he means, and not denying what is obvious to others. This sense of integrity or "wholeness" is the recognition that the standards and commands of Christ that we know we are not INTENTIONALLY ignoring.

As God communicates divine truth to us we immediately begin to digest that truth (be it revealed in scripture or through a friend, etc.) The goal of that digesting process is to so internalize that word that we adapt all of our actions to its demands. Though the process is an arduous and difficult one- it has the highest value in that it forms us into the character of God. The shaping and formative character of our response to the Word is often ignored by people in the church who expect that God is going to change them by some mysterious and miraculous feat. We seek in all earnestness, to shape our hearts after the God who revealed himself in scripture and in the cross.

When the church becomes absolutely earnest and puts away its phony and self protecting walls then the rest of the world will look upon us with respect. While not all will come to Christ- many in this world hunger for a real and integral spirituality. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Excellence in Knowledge

There is a God given responsibility for all of us with an ounce of sense. We are required to invest in the development of our mind. Mark Noll, Harvard Professor, wrote several years back that "the scandal of the evangelical mind is that there isn't much of an evangelical mind." By this he means that there is an undercurrent within the church that is prejudiced against the intellect. Certainly, we in charismatic/pentecostal circles see the evidence of the subjective over the objective; the spiritual over the intellectual; and the preference to take things by faith rather than trust science. But God calls us to develp our minds. If we are to be excellent in knowledge then shouldn't there be some ways to insure our grwoth toward excellence. Here are some suggestions.

Find out why. Too many of us shrug our shoulders content to let some other guy tell us what to do. Even if that guy (or gal) is a spiritually lead pastor- there should be an innate hunger to understand better. Frankly, in my days in the past I sued to love to discuss (not argue) the whys about certain questions. People use to ask me about things much more than they do now. I think it is an intellectual laziness.

Read a minimum of one good book that stimulates your mind every 8 weeks. This may mean that you have to read secular books that come highly recommended; or Christian books outside your normal scope of reference. In my early years of ministry I read on psychology (a topic that I was largely ignorant of) every thursday to insure that I would grow in my knowledge of the subject.

Discuss what you are learning with others. This will stimulate them and forces you to have enough complete knowledge of the subject to explain it to another. Watch out for the tendency to show off that you are now an intellectual! Better to always be a student than to presume yoruself ready to teach prematurely.

Develop a steady routine of studying the Word. Nothing compares to the scripture. I have over 4000 titles in my library and the ancient text is the greatest and best stimulation to my mind (and soul!).

Take a class. It puts you in contact with fellow learners and people with whom you can share your insights (incase they bore your spouse!)

There is something powerful in having a ready answer for those questions stimulated by your lifestyle of faith. As we develop ourselves, we become more and more effective in making a forceful case for Christ in the lives of others. And winning the hearts of men often starts in the mind.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sarah Palin and the Assemblies of God

All You Need to Know About the Assemblies of God
A primer for Palin watchers and others.
Rich Tatum | posted (Christianity today)9/16/2008 02:14PM

"She is a longtime member of the Assemblies of God. That's all you need to know."

That's how political blogger Andrew Sullivan recently summarized Governor Sarah Palin's faith background.

But entertain the crazy thought that some people might want to know more. What would we learn from the media about the Assemblies of God?

It's "the evangelical experience on steroids," "where sitting is an option but clapping is not," where beliefs "stray a bit from the mainstream" and which "mainstream Christians don't understand." There's the usual report of tongues, faith-healing, and "end times" — threateningly caricaturized as "a violent upheaval that … will deliver Jesus Christ's second coming." Combine "holy laughter, divine dancing, silver tooth fillings turning into gold, [and] the regeneration of a large intestine," and you see why Palin's childhood faith has been "deemed irrelevant by the liberal intelligentsia because it is regarded as fundamentalist and … irrational."

Then again, news accounts of "rational faith" have been rather scarce.

About one in four Christian believers worldwide are Pentecostal or charismatic, and the percentage is increasing daily. The World Christian Database says 8.7 percent of the world's population is part of this "renewalist" group. The AG is one of the most prominent Pentecostal groups, it's only a part of the movement. An AG study from 2006 found 60 million adherents in more than 300,000 churches worldwide. About 2.8 million of these are in the U.S.

The renewalist movement in the U.S. is often divided into three historical "waves." The first wave began in 1901, resulting in the "classical" Pentecostal denominations, including the Assemblies of God. The second ("charismatic") wave began around 1960, and the third ("neocharismatic") wave around 1980. While there are doctrinal and practical differences between the various Pentecostal and charismatic believers, what is common to all is the conviction that the Holy Spirit is personally active, immanent, and works through believers by giving gifts (charisms) for ministry, evangelism, and holiness.

While some scholars have traced a thread of Pentecostal and charismatic expressions throughout church history, the modern renewal began with the "touch felt around the world" on January 1, 1901, when students of Charles Fox Parham were "baptized in the Spirit" and spoke in tongues after studying the Bible to prove or deny the validity of such an experience. The fledgling movement found its tipping point at the Azusa Street Revival, led by a former student of Parham's, William Joseph Seymour. This California revival, from 1906 to 1909, is widely considered the true genesis of Pentecostalism and has been called " America 's most successful spiritual export."

The first Pentecostal denomination to form (in 1907) was the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), led by Charles H. Mason. The body that became the AG formed in 1914.

What do they believe?

Today, the Assemblies of God is generally considered orthodox with beliefs common to many denominations — excepting mainstream cessationist groups. George Barna reports that among the 12 largest denominations, Assemblies of God adherents tend to have the highest "overall purity of … biblical perspectives." They are more likely to be born again, to be "absolutely committed" to faith, to hold a high view of Scripture, to believe in a literal heaven and hell, to believe that Jesus was sinless, to believe that God created the universe, are more likely to pray, and are more likely to share the gospel with unbelievers.

Assemblies of God adherents are evangelical, believing in the need for personal salvation and the call to evangelize. They have a high view of biblical authority and believe in the literal death and resurrection of Jesus. They are Arminian, believing that God-given free will is compatible with divine sovereignty. They believe that salvation is by grace and unmerited but is conditional on faith and on accepting the sacrifice and lordship of Jesus — and therefore, one can willfully fall from grace. They are thoroughly Trinitarian, rejecting the modalism as expressed in the Oneness or "Jesus' Name"-only Pentecostal movement (e.g., the United Pentecostal Church).

Their essential doctrines are expressed in creedal form in their "Sixteen Fundamental Truths," and expanded on in a variety of position papers available online. Their four core doctrines are a belief in salvation, divine healing, Jesus' imminent "second coming" (along with the rapture, tribulation, and the millennial reign of Christ), and that the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" is a divine gift freely available to all believers.

This baptism is the core "distinctive doctrine" of the Assemblies of God, defined as a work of grace and an experience subsequent to and distinct from conversion (and not required for salvation), accompanied by the "initial physical evidence" of speaking in other tongues. This experience empowers believers for Christian witness, service, and holiness. Distinct from water-immersion baptism, Pentecostals see Spirit baptism as an immersion in the power, person, and experience of the Holy Spirit, and locate it biblically as promised in Joel 2:28-29, Mark 1:8, and John 16:5-16; made normative in Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4-5; modeled in Acts 2:1-4; and universally extended as a gift to all believers in Acts 2:38-39.

Not just TV preachers

In addition to media-whipped anomalies such as Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and Benny Hinn (all former Assemblies of God ministers), other AG churchgoers have gained national attention, including singer-songwriter Sara Groves, former U.S. Representatives Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.) and Linda Smith (R-Wash.), and former Attorney General John Ashcroft.

And, of course, Sarah Palin.

But while Palin may well have been "a longtime member of the Assemblies of God," she has not regularly attended an AG church since 2002. And a lot can change in six years.

Rich Tatum is a freelance writer who attends an AG church and blogs at

See article in entirety

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Excellence: In Speech

What makes a believers speech excellent? Certainly, there is a need for Christians to honor God with their speech. That is, not just clean words (Read Eph 4) but words that reflect the heart of God. I don't think that there is a purpose in swearing from the pulpit, certainly there is a decorum that is demanded in public speech. But I have to be honest and tell you that from the time my boys were little we spoke very frankly about our bodies and bodily functions in what, for those little boys, was "bathroom talk". I always made sure that they understood that we were allowed to speak frankly in private. For some reason, christians feel free to say 'crap' but shrink from saying "Sh**". I am not really sure what the difference is- except that decorum demands that we avoid the use of them.

But surely our words must be more than clean. They must be reflective of the faith that resides in our hearts and the love that we have for our Father God. This is more than saying "Praise God" all the time. What seems most important is what we talk about with freinds and strangers. Are we moving people with our speech toward our God? Maybe we should demand some sense of kindness and gentleness in our words as well.

Finally, exaggeration and half truths have no place in our lives. We must be straight talkers and deal in truth. If we endeavor to honor God with our speaking truth, we have the assurance of the Spirit of Truth walking with us.

The Planet vs. the Poor

by chuck colson

To drill or not to drill may be the hottest issue in Congress this month and this fall’s political campaign. Drilling supporters argue it will lower gas prices. Opponents claim it poses too many environmental risks—and besides, they say, paying $4 per gallon for gas is good for us because it will force us to develop alternative energy sources.

So what’s the answer?

Christians need to weigh the arguments—and find a balanced approach. Of course, we care for the creation; we are stewards, as the Bible commands. But our highest priority should be looking out, not for the planet, but for people, and especially the poor.

Nobody feels the pain of high gas prices more than working-class and poor Americans. High gas prices are also driving higher food prices, which really pinch poor families. America’s environmentally correct elites may be able to afford $4 a gallon for gas and $4.50 per gallon for milk—the poor and working folks cannot.

Sure, we must conserve, and develop alternatives to oil. But in the meantime, the costly “lessons” the elites want to teach us are being borne on the backs of the poor, and are shaking the world’s economy. All the while we have ample oil reserves offshore and in Alaska which would enable us not to be held hostage by Middle East tyrants.

Why do radical environmentalists seem so indifferent to the poor? It is a matter of worldview. If you deify nature instead of God, if you believe humans are just another species of animal with no greater moral status than a kangaroo rat—well, you don’t have to worry much about the poor or marginalized. But if you believe God created humans in His image, and gave each one of us a unique and privileged place within His creation, then your concern for the poor far outweighs concerns for nature—especially speculative concerns like global warming.

If you are a Christian, you also see humans as producers and stewards, not as consumers and polluters. And while secular environmentalists fear that too much economic freedom will damage the Earth, the reality is the opposite: Countries with the greatest economic freedom eliminate pollution much more quickly than less free countries. That’s because economic freedom lifts people out of poverty, and once out of poverty, they begin taking better care of their surroundings.

Whether we drill need not be an either/or choice between people and the planet: In an excellent book titled Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition, published by the Acton Institute, 25 Jewish, Protestant, and Catholic thinkers argue that sound environmental stewardship “must attend both to the demands of human well-being and to a divine call for human beings to exercise caring dominion over the earth.” But we are to be good stewards of the environment first and foremost because it is good for human flourishing—not as an end in itself. Human well-being and the integrity of creation, they write, “are not only compatible but also dynamically interdependent realities.”

Throughout Scripture, God repeatedly condemned His people, not for despoiling the pristine wilderness, but for forsaking the poor and needy. Is this not His same message to us today?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Excellence: In Faith

In 2 Cor 8.7 the Apostle to the Gentiles asks his Corinthian audience to excel in a number of things. The first in the list of areas that the dutiful follower of Jesus is supposed to excel in is faith. Of course, this is because everything in the Christian life is by faith. Faith is the currency of the Kingdom of God. It is what God responds to. We see this in the life of Jesus- he is rarely amazed or astounded by things- except faith, or the lack of faith in his disciples. He is amazed and encouraged when he finds it in the Centurion, and the Syrophonecian woman; and he is equally disturbed when the disciples cannot seem to find enough of their own to cast out demons, heal the sick , comprehend deep spiritual truths, or go and preach the gospel.

Faith is, of course, so important to God that we followers are known as "beleivers". We trust in the saving work of Jesus on the cross, we trust that the presence of Christ is with us, and we trust God to work out his plan in our lives for the amazing future that he promises to us. When faith is lacking or deficient, we are out of communication with God.

Promises come to us by faith- the scripture tells us that faithful adherence to the "faith' passed on to us (ie., those corporate teachings of the Apostles who walked literally with Jesus), is guarranteed to bring salvation to us. That faith is a collection of understandings formed out of the teachings of Scripture that create a faith world view. Real followers of the Lord must learn what he says about the various teachings. (One of the tragic circumstances that exists today is that we have 'born again' believers who are ignorant of what the teaching of the Word is on important subjects- an in the vacuum of that knowledge they live spiritually weak, duplicitous, even sinful lifestyles. This shames the King and his Cross.

The life of faith is not soley preoccupied with dogma and doctrine. It is optimistic in that it sees the "God quotient" in every equation. It demonstrates the existence of faith by refusing to limit its vision to the mundane circumstances or even the hostile climate that it exists in. The Christian ought to see the future positively. Not out of some form of weak inability to handle the true curcumstances, but out of an inner strength that refuses to see the glass half empty. Think for a moment about your outlook. do you approach life with a tragic and scarred psyche that is afraid to believe God for the best today? God says... excel in faith!

And, of course, the world view of the people of faith is defined by the God of their faith. That is why the closer we get to Jesus- the more infectious our faith. We can say to the lost "God has better than this for you"; and to the hurting "God will heal you"; and to the lonely " God will comfort you". What will make the church more effective? Better preaching? More programs? Slicker Media ads? No- What the world needs to see is exactly what they lack- an infectious faith in the living God.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Saving Our Daughters from the Hook up Culture

I am increasingly concerned about our college aged young people. On one hand they are increasingly more astute, savy, and mature with regard to many issues. Yet they may still be more likely to sleep in til 11 after a night of hard gaming. They are a mixed bag. Purposefully more mature in some areas and resistant to stepping into the responsibilities of adulthood as quickly as their parents. And they will live longer so they can put off child rearing and building a family and getting serious about living. What they aren't doing en masse is abstaining from adult sexuality. In fact the articles about the hook up culture are frightening for those of us who are serious about the teachings of Jesus on sexuality. This can be blamed partly on those services that are supposed to help them make those decisions. Dr. Miriam Grossman recentl wrote in an article of her expereince as a Campus physician.

She writes, " I was a campus physician for years, and know firsthand how students suffer from the toxic Sex in the City lifestyle on our campuses. College health and counseling services are packed with casualties of the anything-goes sexual mentality; many are girls who practiced “safer sex.” They did as they were told and used “protection,” but still paid a hefty price: genital warts and blisters, pre-cancerous conditions, worries about slipped condoms and HIV—to say nothing of chaotic, empty relationships and broken hearts.

These young women had been misled, and had a false sense of security. They were led to believe—not only by Hollywood, but by the nation’s leading sex ed organizations and popular health education sites like Columbia University’s—that they are just like men, that sex is easily separated from emotions and procreation, and that with “protection,” casual liaisons can be a natural, positive part of growing up.

That philosophy is a result of social activists of the last century: Alfred Kinsey, Hugh Hefner, Gloria Steinem—figures that Bristol’s generation study in history class. Even the HIV-era notion of “safer sex” was developed years before they were born. While you’d hardly know it from the advice these kids get from sex educators or Columbia’s Alice, the world has changed. In this century, we’re fighting a horde of bugs, and the bugs are winning.

Canonized by the sex ed industry and considered transparent truths, “safer sex” guidelines are out of date. In 2008, it’s not enough to communicate with “partners,” get tested for STI’s, and use condoms. These days, young people—especially girls—who wish to avoid sexually transmitted infections need a different plan.

If we are serious about protecting our daughters, we must spell out a clear, no-nonsense message: the ideal is to delay sexual activity, and eventually commit to someone who also waited. The closer she can get to that, the better. Then provide her with some critical facts she’s unlikely to hear elsewhere:

A young woman has unique biological sensitivities that increase her vulnerability to the consequences of sexual activity. For example, intimacy releases oxytocin, a primarily female hormone that fuels feelings of attachment and trust. This chemical turns red lights green. It alters brain chemistry, so she’s more likely to overlook a guy’s faults, and to take risks she otherwise wouldn’t. A girl surely doesn’t want her brain drenched with oxytocin when making critical decisions like: What do I think of him? How far do I want this to go? This might explain the recent unpublished data from Princeton University indicating that for 80 percent of female students on that campus, hook-ups were followed by regret.
A young cervix has a delicate area only one cell thick, placing teens at risk for HPV. This is the case even if she’s been vaccinated. With time, the cervix grows a thicker, tougher surface, making infection less likely. A guy’s genital system doesn’t have a vulnerable area like that.
Most guys who have an STI don’t know it, even after they’ve been tested. While it’s easiest to share viruses when warts or sores are present, transmission can also occur at other times, when everything looks OK. So a woman could get an incurable genital infection from someone who doesn’t know he has it. Condoms reduce the risk by only 60 to 70 percent.
Other activities, such as oral or anal sex, can also be hazardous. Having more than five oral sex “partners” has been associated with throat cancer. As for anal penetration, the Food and Drug Administration—the agency responsible for promoting and protecting the public health—puts it well: “Condoms provide some protection, but anal intercourse is simply too dangerous to practice.”
As millions of American parents send their daughters off to college this week, many have a silent prayer on their lips. For good reason: sexual behavior is a serious matter, and a single encounter can have life-long consequences, especially for a woman.

Listen up, Planned Parenthood, SIECUS, and Columbia University: That’s not sexist—it’s biology. And ignorance or denial of this fact only increases a girl’s vulnerability.

We need to remind girls that the characters on Grey’s Anatomy are not real. In real life, Meredith would have herpes or warts. In real life, she’d be paying a price for her choices. Young women must know that now more than ever, it’s wise to follow the lesson of hard science: be very, very careful about who you allow close to you."

hmmm- perhaps the wisdom of Scripture isn't that strange and foriegn to healthy sexuality. Maybe the Father really does know best ;-)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

If there is no God

by Dennis Prager

We are constantly reminded about the destructive consequences of religion -- intolerance, hatred, division, inquisitions, persecutions of "heretics," holy wars. Though far from the whole story, they are, nevertheless, true. There have been many awful consequences of religion.

What one almost never hears described are the deleterious consequences of secularism -- the terrible developments that have accompanied the breakdown of traditional religion and belief in God. For every thousand students who learn about the Spanish Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials, maybe two learn to associate Gulag, Auschwitz, The Cultural Revolution and the Cambodian genocide with secular regimes and ideologies.

For all the problems associated with belief in God, the death of God leads to far more of them.

So, while it is not possible to prove (or disprove) God's existence, what is provable is what happens when people stop believing in God.

1. Without God there is no good and evil; there are only subjective opinions that we then label "good" and "evil." This does not mean that an atheist cannot be a good person. Nor does it mean that all those who believe in God are good; there are good atheists and there are bad believers in God. It simply means that unless there is a moral authority that transcends humans from which emanates an objective right and wrong, "right" and "wrong" no more objectively exist than do "beautiful" and "ugly."

2. Without God, there is no objective meaning to life. We are all merely random creations of natural selection whose existence has no more intrinsic purpose or meaning than that of a pebble equally randomly produced.

3. Life is ultimately a tragic fare if there is no God. We live, we suffer, we die -- some horrifically, many prematurely -- and there is only oblivion afterward.

4. Human beings need instruction manuals. This is as true for acting morally and wisely as it is for properly flying an airplane. One's heart is often no better a guide to what is right and wrong than it is to the right and wrong way to fly an airplane. The post-religious secular world claims to need no manual; the heart and reason are sufficient guides to leading a good life and to making a good world.

5. If there is no God, the kindest and most innocent victims of torture and murder have no better a fate after death than do the most cruel torturers and mass murderers. Only if there is a good God do Mother Teresa and Adolf Hitler have different fates.

6. With the death of Judeo-Christian values in the West, many Westerners believe in little. That is why secular Western Europe has been unwilling and therefore unable to confront evil, whether it was Communism during the Cold War or Islamic totalitarians in its midst today.

7. Without God, people in the West often become less, not more, rational. It was largely the secular, not the religious, who believed in the utterly irrational doctrine of Marxism. It was largely the secular, not the religious, who believed that men's and women's natures are basically the same, that perceived differences between the sexes are all socially induced. Religious people in Judeo-Christian countries largely confine their irrational beliefs to religious beliefs (theology), while the secular, without religion to enable the non-rational to express itself, end up applying their irrational beliefs to society, where such irrationalities do immense harm.

8. If there is no God, the human being has no free will. He is a robot, whose every action is dictated by genes and environment. Only if one posits human creation by a Creator that transcends genes and environment who implanted the ability to transcend genes and environment can humans have free will.

9. If there is no God, humans and "other" animals are of equal value. Only if one posits that humans, not animals, are created in the image of God do humans have any greater intrinsic sanctity than baboons. This explains the movement among the secularized elite to equate humans and animals.

10. Without God, there is little to inspire people to create inspiring art. That is why contemporary art galleries and museums are filled with "art" that celebrates the scatological, the ugly and the shocking. Compare this art to Michelangelo's art in the Sistine chapel. The latter elevates the viewer -- because Michelangelo believed in something higher than himself and higher than all men.

11. Without God nothing is holy. This is definitional. Holiness emanates from a belief in the holy. This explains, for example, the far more widespread acceptance of public cursing in secular society than in religious society. To the religious, there is holy speech and profane speech. In much of secular society the very notion of profane speech is mocked.

12. Without God, humanist hubris is almost inevitable. If there is nothing higher than man, no Supreme Being, man becomes the supreme being.

13. Without God, there are no inalienable human rights. Evolution confers no rights. Molecules confer no rights. Energy has no moral concerns. That is why America's Founders wrote in the Declaration of Independence that we are endowed "by our Creator" with certain inalienable rights. Rights depend upon a moral source, a rights giver.

14. "Without God," Dostoevsky famously wrote, "all is permitted." There has been plenty of evil committed by believers in God, but the widespread cruelties and the sheer number of innocents murdered by secular regimes -- specifically Nazi, Fascist and Communist regimes -- dwarfs the evil done in the name of religion.

As noted at the beginning, none of this proves, or even necessarily argues for, God's existence. It makes the case for the necessity, not the existence, of God. "Which God?" the secularist will ask. The God of Israel, the God of America's founders, "the Holy God who is made holy by justice" (Isaiah), the God of the Ten Commandments, the God who demands love of neighbor, the God who endows all human beings with certain inalienable rights, the God who is cited on the Liberty Bell because he is the author of liberty. That is the God being referred to here, without whom we will be vanquished by those who believe in less noble gods, both secular and divine.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Challenge of Change

I don't like change- unless you are the one changing! Change produces anxiety, uncertainty, frustration, and even sadness and depression. Yet we want people to promise us change. Don't believe me? When was the last time you heard a politician say " Vote for me- I'll keep things status quo". Not exactly bumper sticker stuff. If the truth be told, we like it when things are a little stirred up so that it defeats the boredom of life with no change. Irrespective of whether you love change or hate change- it comes.

At my house, change is coming. My youngest is taking off to college. I am excited that he has some things figured out and is looking forward to his future. But it is going to throw my house off. Who will slam the door beneath my bedroom at 2 am? What voices will my wife and I hear in the house except each others? (and the ones in our heads!) Thousands of dollars will go out the door to that collegiate institution (that's no chump change!) And I am going to have to lift all that heavy stuff that I used to ask him to lift for me. That will be a change!

But with God, change is a promise of a different future. And as much as I am comfortable in my present- blessed, happy, productive, and settled- I am going to have to accept the changes. When everything is different, and all things seem unsettled and in the process of flux; when all the world is talking at the same time, and the rug under my proverbial feet is being tugged by change- then it is incumbant upon me to really know God. He says in the scripture- "I am the Lord and I change not". I guess that is because he is God and perfect and any change for him would be a step backwards away from perfection. So for me- change is working something better- Something truly good; not comfortable, not beautiful, not even acceptable- just good. You see, I am not good enough.

So it is with my hand in the hand of the unchanging one that I reluctantly accept change. His steady hand guides me through the stormy seas and uncertain times.

Oh, Unchanging One, perfection -moral and otherwise, grant me the firm faith to face the challenge of change; let there not be a retreat to fear but only an increased and confirmed belief that change is your way of bettering me. I yield to your disruptive grace. Amen.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

What to do with the Chinese Olympics

Well are you going to watch them? Some aren't because China has such a record of human rights abuses and persecution of Christians. As China has approached the games they have increased the persecution of our brothers in faith. The chinese government leads persecuting countries in executions. Of course, they have given lip service for decades to religious freedom, but history has shown these words to be hollow. Life for members of the chinese church is not easy(see article). Recently the New York Times told the story of a brave chinese christian woman. "She never broke when she was tortured with beatings and electrical shocks, and even when she was close to death she refused to disclose the names of members of her congregation or sign a statement renouncing her Christian faith.

But now, months later, Ma Yuqin abruptly chokes and her eyes well with tears as she recounts her worst memory: As she was being battered in one room, her son was tortured in the next so that each could hear the other's screams, as encouragement to betray their church.

''They wanted me to hear his cries,'' she said, sobbing. ''It broke my heart.''

Ms. Ma, a steel-willed woman of 54, was brave enough to tell her story of the persecution that Christians sometimes still face in China. Dozens of members of her church are still imprisoned, and those free are under tight scrutiny, but several church members dared to meet me for a tense interview after we all sneaked one by one into an unwatched farmhouse near Zhongxiang, a city in central China, 650 miles south of Beijing."

The dilemma of conscience for me has to be decided before the 8th. I will not knowingly buy Chinese goods, especially Olympic goods. I certainly question the wisdom of our President in going to China for the Olympics. Didn't we learn this lesson in Berlin under Hitler? Are we giving China a stage to legitimize it's brutal regime? What do you think?