Friday, April 21, 2017


      After a challenging week, I decided to feed my cravings for news by scrolling through some Internet news articles this afternoon before going home. What should I find but an article detailing the Pennsylvania governor’s decision to revoke the state police security protection provided to the lieutenant governor for his repeated verbal abuse of the officers assigned to him. The article, in part, reads 

“But the move follows a state Inspector General's office investigation, requested by [Governor] Wolf, into complaints that Stack and his wife, Tonya, had repeatedly verbally abused members of the State Police detail that protect them, as well as staffers who help maintain their official residence… After news of the probe surfaced, Stack last week apologized and pledged both he and his wife would try harder. Later, sources confirmed that Wolf’s office had repeatedly warned the lieutenant governor and Wolf said he had personally delivered such a warning.”[1]

I already don’t like this guy, even though I have never met him. Who needs this kind of individual in a position of responsibility? This is the same type of verbal abuse that Hillary Clinton is notorious for. Sadly, this is the type of verbal abuse that some pastors are known to display.
Perchance there is a reader of this blog who is unfamiliar with where God sets the bar for kindness for His people, especially His leaders. Following are a few of the passages in the Old and New Testaments where the words kind and kindness are found:
Jonah 4:2:  “And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.”
Luke 6:35: “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.”
Acts 28:2:  “And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.”
1 Corinthians13:4: “Charity [love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity [love] envieth not; charity [love] vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.”
2 Corinthians 6:6:  “By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned.”
Ephesians 2:7:       “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 4:32:     “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Colossians 3:12:    “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.”
2 Peter 1:7:   “And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.”

You have certainly heard or read of the advice given for evaluating the real character of a person you’ve just met, or perhaps are even considering marrying. Because everyone is nice to people they want to impress, the key to evaluating what a person is really like is the individual’s conduct toward those they are not seeking to impress and those who cannot do anything for them. How does he treat a waitress? How does she treat the teller at the bank? How about the ticket agent at the airport? Does he explode to his staff when they disappoint him?
This kind of conduct is very revealing. From Jonah 4.2 we learn that God is of great kindness. In our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, in Luke 6.35 the Savior informs us God is kind to the unthankful and the evil. Luke recorded the kindness of barbarians toward Paul and himself when they were shipwrecked in Acts 28.2. The rest of the verses listed above establish from Paul and Peter that kindness accompanies Christian love, Christian spirituality, and spiritual maturity. Thus, kindness is more revealing than many people recognize.
I know that some people get crabby when they are tired, irritable, and frustrated. At least, they justify their unkindness for those reasons. However, that is as irrational as being cranky when you are sick; it takes more energy to be nasty than it does to be nice just as it takes more muscles in your face to frown than to smile.
Why are people routinely unkind to others, especially those who serve them? Do they imagine themselves to be superior? Or are they the product of poor parenting, with mom’s and dad’s who did not strongly correct their fits of anger when not getting their way? Who knows?
All I know is, if I lived in Pennsylvania I would not vote for the guy. Or if I was a Church member and a man prone to such unkindness were a candidate to become our next pastor; I could not in good conscience vote for him. Kindness is too important to let the absence of it pass by without consequence.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Is Bible College For Every Church Kid?

In volume one (pages 302-303) of his brilliant "The Baptists: Key People Involved In Forming A Baptist Identity," author and noted Baptist historian Tom Nettles addresses the educational philosophy of pioneer missionary William Carey and his colleagues in India.

Those men were committed to providing a general education to Indians that was not limited to Bible instruction only, being convinced their approach was clearly demonstrating a commitment to the entire trustworthiness of Scripture and their belief in the unity of all truth. They were also convinced that a general education would increase one's appreciation of the biblical material they were teaching and that true learning would reveal the perverseness of false religion.

This speaks indirectly, in my opinion, to the general disregard I have observed among many IFBs for education. Where are the doctors, nurses, lawyers, chemists, mathematicians, engineers, developers, and entrepreneurs that could be and should be growing up in our churches? Not that one even has to go to college to be a godly individual. I am thrilled to see a spiritual young person work in a warehouse or framing houses, to see others develop into an office managers or learn trades. My point is that one size does not fit all, yet the thrust of so many youth camps and ministries is to push as many young high school graduates as possible into Bible college, at least for a year. Why? Since it is the pastor's responsibility to equip Christians for service and ministry in the congregation, what is the point of attending Bible college for a year? To find a spouse? That is not a credible reason for funneling impressionable young people who have not been called to the Gospel ministry into a Bible college.

Focusing at present only on those properly bound for academic training, is it at all possible that the spiritual barrenness in many secular colleges and universities in the USA is the result of so many Christian young people being directed by pastors and youth camp speakers to Bible colleges where so many who are not called to the Gospel ministry end up being herded into ministry positions they are not called to, and while in Bible colleges they receive a sub par STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education? I praise God for the Christian law school student who posed a challenge to the founder of Harvard's Law School, the renowned Simon Greenleaf, that he apply the same rules of evidence to the Gospel story that he wrote about in his three-volume work A Treatise on the Law of Evidence. The result was his conversion to Christ. Sadly, such things rarely happen in colleges and universities anymore because so few Christian kids from IFB Churches go to secular schools.

Don't get me wrong. I am not decrying a good Christian education, so long as it is good and not just Christian. A mediocre Christian education is not really Christian, in my opinion, since to be a Christian education it must be an excellent education. That is not often found in today's Bible colleges, as those of us who graduated with STEM degrees from secular schools can attest. A school virtually no one flunks out of is not a legitimate school at all.

My point? If we are really and truly confident that the Bible is true and that the faith once delivered to the saints can withstand even the closest scrutiny, we have nothing to fear from rigorous study, honest research, or academic integrity. Where are the Christians at UCLA, at USC, at Harvard, at Princeton, at UCI, at Columbia, at MIT, and at Cal Tech?

Without naming them, I am so delighted with the young men and women at our Church who are fulfilling their hopes, dreams, and aspirations, be they as tradesmen, as homemakers, as professionals, or as academics. So long as they use what they do as a platform from which to serve and glorify God as a member of Calvary Road Baptist Church I am one very happy pastor.