Okay! Okay! Alright already!

When I read a media interview of an older person, there’s sometimes a question at theDad end asking if the individual has any regrets in their life. I have more than a few things in my own life that I’m regretful about.

Our pastor is currently doing a series on Sundays on proper parenting in the Lord. Ouch! That’s a very tough topic for me. My wife and I married very young and began having children right away. We were basically kids raising kids. My model for fathering was my own Dad. He didn’t have to spank too often because he was pretty strict right from the get-go. We didn’t have much of a relationship. My Dad was a very formal and private person and found it difficult to get down to a child’s level. I found out many years later that his own father had been very tough on him.

When I accepted the Lord I was 26 and our boys were 8 and 5. I was joyful and enthusiastic about the Lord being in my own life, but for some reason I didn’t do a good job of communicating that joy and knowledge to our boys. We all packed into our minivan and went to church on Sunday mornings and Sunday nights and on Wednesday evenings. I thought that was enough. We didn’t read the Bible together as a family. We didn’t pray together. When I counseled them about anything, the Lord rarely entered into it. I guess I was thinking that they were getting enough about God at church and that I didn’t need to bring Him up at home, too. Ach! What a dummy!

I was also very firm with my boys just as my Dad had been with me. The older they got, the more rebellious they became, and the more of a tyrant I became. I was trying to control their behaviors but I had done very little sowing and working in their hearts along the way. My boys and I had a lot of fun together playing outside, watching sports, etc., things my father couldn’t do, but I could turn into a disapproving drill sergeant on a dime.

I had become exasperated with our fundamentalist church and we stopped attending when my boys were 16 and 13. I didn’t mention the Lord at all after that. After some very difficult teenage years, both our boys went into the Air Force. My wife and I actually divorced after our youngest son went into the service as our circumstances were changing so quickly and the Lord was not our foundation.

Praise the Lord, my wife and I got back together the following year, and we remarried! The Lord kept working on my heart and I finally returned to Him two years ago. Our sons are now 41 and 38 and they’ve done “okay” as the world might define it, but neither one knows the Lord and they both have very messy domestic situations. I’ve apologized to both of them for being such an inept father and they’ve both been more gracious than I deserve.

So hearing about the proper way to raise children every Sunday is very hard for me, especially when my wife turns to me occasionally during the sermons with that “look” on her face. Thanks, Dear. The Lord wants us to realize our sins and mistakes and to learn from them but He doesn’t want us to dwell on them either. Great is His mercy and forgiveness! If the apostle Paul had dwelt on his earlier persecutions of the church, he would have been no use to the Lord whatsoever.

So if you’ve wronged someone; children, spouse, family, friends, seek the Lord’s forgiveness, seek their forgiveness, and then move forward with the Lord in your heart. Satan wants to keep you defeated. The Lord wants to use you for His glory! We have children and grandchildren we need to reach for the Lord! And young parents, make Christ the center of your household and everything you do with your children.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” – Psalm 37:23-24

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3

“Thoroughly wash me, inside and out, of all my crooked deeds. Cleanse me from my sins. For I am fully aware of all I have done wrong, and my guilt is there, staring me in the face. It was against You, only You, that I sinned, for I have done what You say is wrong, right before Your eyes. So when You speak, You are in the right. When You judge, Your judgments are pure and true.” – Psalm 51:2-4

“Whoever tries to hide his sins will not succeed, but the one who confesses his sins and leaves them behind will find mercy. Happy is the one who always fears the Lord, but the person who hardens his heart to God falls into misfortune.” – Proverbs 28:13-14

Attention everyone! I’m fasting just so you know!

I’m about 3.5 months behind in listening to the daily podcasts of the “CallingASB All Catholics” radio show on The Station of the Cross (101.7 FM, in Buffalo, NY) so please excuse me for the untimeliness of the subject matter.

This morning, I was listening to the 02/10/16 podcast featuring Catholic priest, Peter Calabrese. February 10th, Ash Wednesday, was the first day of Lent for Catholics this year and there was some discussion on the program about Lenten fasting and what to “give up” for the season.

Lent always begins on Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation so Catholics are only encouraged to attend mass that day and receive ashes, but they are not required to do so. However, Catholics are required to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday. For Catholics, eating meat on Ash Wednesday is a “mortal” sin and will doom them to hell if they don’t confess the sin to a priest. Catholics are also obligated to fast on Ash Wednesday, which the church defines as “eating one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal.”

On Ash Wednesday, faithful Catholics line up during mass and the priest makes the sign of the cross on their foreheads with ashes from the previous year’s Palm Sunday palm fronds. The ashes symbolize “mourning and penance” for sin and also mark the receiver as “belonging to Christ.” Catholics usually keep the ashes on their forehead for the remainder of the day for all others to see. As a Catholic youngster, my parochial schoolmates and I were very proud of our ashes and we were scandalized whenever we a saw someone that day who we knew to be a Catholic without ashes.

Yet the Bible says something very different about fasting and our relationship with God:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:1

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” – Matthew 6:16-18

Walking around in public all day with ashes as a sign of fasting and penance doesn’t agree with God’s Word.

However, no amount of fasting and religious ritual can make us right with a Holy God. We break God’s laws every day in thought, word, deed, or by omission. But God the Son, Jesus Christ, came to Earth, lived a perfect life, and died for your sins. He paid the penalty that you owe. But He rose from the grave, defeating sin and death, and He offers you the gift of eternal salvation and fellowship with God if you’ll only repent of your sins and accept Him as your Savior. What are you waiting for?

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” – Ephesians 1:7


News and Views


It’s time to empty my in-basket of news that caught my attention this past week:

Peter Kreeft is one of Roman Catholicism’s most popular apologists. In his many books, he promotes the Catholic gospel of sacramental grace and merit. In his most recent book, “How to be Holy: First Steps in Becoming a Saint,” Kreeft advises the reader on the progressive steps that must be taken to achieve sanctification and merit Heaven. In contrast, the Bible says we have absolutely no merit in and of ourselves, but the “Good News” is the perfect Savior paid the entire penalty for our sins. All we must do is repent of our sins and accept the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus Christ. After we accept Jesus as Savior, we should follow and obey Him as Lord. Sanctification comes AFTER justification through Christ, not the other way around, as Catholicism teaches.

An interesting, short article from European-based Evangelical Focus about the various Reformation movements. Why don’t we see these kinds of articles from American-based evangelical sources?

I’m certainly not a fan of the prosperity preachers that broadcast on TBN. I actually think I need to write a post about those guys in the near future. But given the history of the Roman Catholic church, does it strike anyone else as over-the-top ironic that the pope would criticize others for being greedy and materialistic? That’s like Ronald MacDonald condemning the greasy spoon Greek diner down the road for serving unhealthy food.

Catholic traditionalists and conservatives are fit to be tied regarding their reform pope and the frustration is boiling over. How far can one go in opposition to the pope and still be Catholic?

In Southern Mexico, evangelicals continue to be harassed and persecuted by the Catholic majority, but no one seems to get too upset about it. Evangelicals need to continue to keep our brothers and sisters south of the border in our prayers as they suffer in the name of Christ.

Download ESV Bible for free

I really like to get good things for free so I’m happy as I write this post.ESV

As I related in my last message, I do my daily Bible reading out of the New American Standard Bible (NASB). The NASB is known to be one of the most literal, word-for-word translations of all the modern Bible translations. Some critics say the NASB is a bit stilted and does not flow easily because of its literal approach but I personally don’t have enough experience with other translations to make a comparison and I’ve always enjoyed using the NASB.

I’m nearing the end of my current read-through of the Bible and thought I might use the English Standard Version (ESV) when I start at Genesis 1:1 again. I see this version is also noted for taking a word-for-word approach, but in more fluent and colloquial English than the NASB.

“Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” – Revelation 20:4, NASB

“Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” – Revelation 20:4, ESV

Actually, not too much difference.

Anyway, I searched on Amazon.com for an ESV to download to my Kindle, and found that Crossway offered one for free! See here. Yes, I always like to get good stuff (and nothing is better than God’s Word) for free!

What are the different English Bible versions?

KJV 1611 Only?

The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust Modern Translations?KJV
By James R. White
Bethany House, 2009, 364 pages

I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior way back in 1983. There were many people and things that pointed me to the Savior along the way, including a couple of guys at work. Jose and Ray knew I was interested in God and spiritual matters and would eagerly stop me in the hallway to strike up a conversation. I must admit, sometimes when I saw them coming from a distance, I turned and walked the other way. Can anyone else relate? But the Lord had been drawing me to Him for quite a while, and I eventually accepted Christ as my Savior.

Jose and Ray were thrilled that I had accepted Christ but cautioned me that I needed to immediately plug into a good, Bible-believing church that only used the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. They advised me that all of the modern Bible versions were corrupt. Although I had just received Christ, I was no stranger to Christianity. I had done much reading and was already aware of the claims of the KJV 1611-only advocates.

Jose and Ray invited me to their church, First Bible Baptist* in Rochester, NY, and I visited a couple of times, but the church’s strong stance on the KJV bothered me. I asked Ray, “If the KJV is the only legitimate translation, then what about all the other people in the world who can’t read English? What do they do?” Ray answered that if modern translators used the KJV as their source-text for non-English Bibles then everything would be fine. Well, no translator is going to translate a translation when the ancient manuscripts are available. I also knew enough about translating to know that no two individuals would translate the KJV’s 17th-century English into another language using the EXACT same wording. Who then would judge which of the translations would be the “authorized” one? If the KJV 1611-only view was correct, then it appeared that God preferred English-speaking Christians over non-English-speaking Christians. We Americans often have a myopic view when it comes to the rest of the world and I saw the KJV 1611-only mindset as another example of that.

Not wanting to attend a KJV 1611-only church, I looked through the yellow pages and chose another independent Baptist church close to our home. The pastor there used the King James Version but he wasn’t dogmatic about it. Not once in the 8 years we attended did he preach about the sole legitimacy of the KJV. I used the KJV at church like most everyone else in the congregation but I read from my New American Standard Bible (NASB) at home. The archaic 17th-century English of the KJV seemed to me to be unnecessary baggage to have to carry while reading the Bible.

I observed the KJV 1611-only controversy from a distance. Peter Ruckman spoke at week-long services at First Bible Baptist a couple of times. Anyone else remember him? Pastor Ruckman was based down in Florida and was one of the standard bearers of the KJV 1611-only movement. Ruckman’s weekly church services were televised in our area and his sermons always seemed to bring up the inerrancy of the KJV and the corruption of the modern translations. His messages usually included ad hominem attacks on anyone who didn’t agree with his KJV 1611-only viewpoint. Ruckman even went so far as to claim that if a particular text was found in the KJV but not in the Byzantine manuscripts (and there are examples), then the additions to the KJV were divinely inspired!

So, I’ve been aware of the KJV 1611-only controversy for quite some time but never gave it too much attention. After having walked away from the Lord for a very long “season,” I returned to Him two years ago. I continue to use the NASB in my daily Bible reading but also have a New International Version (NIV) since that is the translation used by our pastor. I began this blog last July and I’ve noticed from reading other blogs that there are still very strong advocates of the KJV 1611-only viewpoint. To educate myself a bit better, I recently read “The King James Only Controversy” by apologist, James R. White. I was already familiar with White because of his outstanding work defending the Gospel against the errors of Rome.

I enjoyed “The King James Only Controversy” and found it to be very informative. I sincerely doubt those who hold to the KJV 1611-only viewpoint would consider it, but the reader who is curious about the controversy might find White’s book as helpful as I did.

Some thoughts from the book:

  • The English language Bible has a long history. The KJV translators relied heavily on the previous work of earlier translators such as Erasmus, Stephanus, and Beza. The KJV translators never considered their work to be inerrant and inspired but only the best possible translation at the time. Early KJV Bibles referenced textual variations in the margins.
  • KJV 1611-only advocates are actually using a revision published in 1769.
  • Several passages in the KJV are shown to be errors or extremely poor translations.
  • Variations in the ancient manuscripts can and should be examined objectively.
  • Modern translations (NASB, NIV, ESV, NKJV) are dependable. There are good reasons for the differences between the KJV and modern translations but no translation is perfect including the KJV.

Emotions run high on this issue. This post will surely offend some. Because KJV 1611-only advocates see the KJV as the inerrant, inspired translation of the Bible, they see any disagreement with their view as a direct attack on God’s Word and an attack on God Himself. There are actually many in the KJV 1611-only camp who go so far as to claim that anyone who does not use the KJV exclusively is not a genuine Christian. I’m not a Bible manuscript scholar, far from it, but I offer White’s book as a thoughtful rebuttal to the KJV 1611-only argument. This post is NOT an attack on God’s Word or an attack on God although, if you’re a KJV 1611-only advocate, I’m sure you’ll see it that way.

I’m not claiming that all translations are equal. Christians need to be discerning and must do a little homework. I would never recommend that anyone use a paraphrase Bible as their primary Bible but I occasionally check a paraphrase Bible as a resource.

The Pilgrims and Puritan Protestants came to America with the Geneva Bible, not the KJV. The translators of the KJV were high-church Anglicans and the Puritans viewed the KJV with great suspicion. The article below gives an interesting history of the English Bible for those who don’t want to go to all the trouble of buying and reading White’s book.

* The pastor of First Bible Baptist church at the time was James Modlish, a key figure in the KJV 1611-only movement.

What’s the difference between Evangelical Christianity and Roman Catholicism?

These days, many people lump evangelicals and Roman Catholics together under theBBB “Christian” label. But there are many distinct and vitally important differences between evangelicals and Catholics. Take a listen to this sermon from the pastor of the evangelical church I attend:

What’s the Difference? The Roman Catholic Church
Pastor David Whiting
Northridge Church, Rochester, NY
June 15,2008

More good tools for the Bible reader

Being able to read God’s Word every day is SUCH a joy, privilege, and a blessing! Butrose there are many people, places, things, customs, and events mentioned in the Bible that are unfamiliar to the 21st-century reader. Many readers of Scripture quickly gloss over the unfamiliar in their goal to get through their three chapters or however many they read per day. “There! I read my chapters. I didn’t really understand what I just read but at least I was able to check off my daily Bible reading on my to-do list.” Reading God’s Word then becomes just another part of our daily routine; often a perfunctory, shallow exercise. Or we purposely avoid certain sections of the Bible that seem intimidating when there are actually rich veins of God’s wisdom to be mined there.

Fortunately, the believer has many tools today to help them comprehend the unfamiliar people, places, things, customs, and events named in the Bible. I mentioned in a previous post that a good Bible dictionary, a one-volume commentary, and a concordance are very helpful tools. See here.

In addition, the reader of the Old Testament would be blessed by a good, illustrated book that explains the Tabernacle. I know from personal experience that my eyes used to glaze over whenever I read God’s instructions regarding the Tabernacle in Exodus 25-30 and the actual building and equipping of the Tabernacle in Exodus 36-39. I highly recommend the “Rose Guide to the Tabernacle” (Rose Publishing, 2008, 128 pages). It has bountiful illustrations and VERY clear, non-academic text. The reading level is probably around 8th grade. My understanding and appreciation of the Tabernacle increased 10-fold after reading this book. The “Rose Guide to the Tabernacle” is readily available from Amazon. See here.

Also, I just finished reading “The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times” by Ralph Gower (Moody Publishers, 2005, 352 pages). This is an updated version of the popular, non-academic classic. There are numerous illustrations and the reading level is suitable for high-schoolers.

Part 1 – Family Life

  • Clothing
  • Dwellings
  • Domestic Activities
  • Food and Meals
  • The Family
  • Education
  • Agriculture
  • Collecting Food
  • Shepherding
  • Craftsmen and Traders

Part 2 – Institutions and Customs

  • Towns and Villages
  • Journeys and Travel
  • Hospitality
  • Social and Political Groupings
  • Government and Society
  • Warfare
  • Leisure
  • Religion

I enjoyed this book very much. It’s difficult for 21st-century readers to relate to the nomadic and agrarian people of ancient Bible times. You’ll definitely feel more comfortable with their daily routines and customs after reading this book. Grower does a good job of relating the material directly to Scripture references. “The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times” is also available from Amazon. See here.

Both “Rose Guide to the Tabernacle” and “The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times” are faithful to orthodox evangelical doctrine and point to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

But MOST importantly, it is the Holy Spirit who illuminates the truths of God’s Word to our hearts and minds. There are MANY people who study the Bible for an entire lifetime but never grasp the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

“But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9-14

News about pope, Mary, ecumenism, and 5 Reformers

It’s time to clean out my inbox. Below are some interesting news reports I’ve collectedNB over the past week that deal with Roman Catholicism and the Gospel.

It’s amazing what the Lord can use!

Following their fifth album, “The Notorious Byrd Brothers” (1968), the Byrds were at a crossroads. Members David Crosby (rhythm guitar) and Michael Clarke (drums) had been fired during the recording sessions leaving Roger McGuinn (lead guitar) and Chris Hillman (bass) to complete the project. Gram Parsons was subsequently hired to fill Crosby’s spot. McGuinn had wanted the next Byrds LP to be a double-album of songs representing the entire history of the American music catalog – from Appalachian jug tunes to electronic synthesizer progressive rock. But country music fans, Parsons and Hillman, had other ideas.

The band traveled to Nashville in the Spring of 1968 to record what would become their next album, “Sweetheart of the Rodeo.” The 11 songs were straight-ahead country with hardly a trace of rock and roll. When the band returned to LA, the record execs decided newcomer Parsons had too large of a presence on the studio tapes. A few of his lead vocals were replaced with McGuinn’s. One of the songs, “The Christian Life,” had first been released by the Louvin Brothers in 1959. McGuinn attempted an imitation of Parson’s Southern drawl on the song which bordered on the criminal.

“Sweetheart of the Rodeo” only reached #77 on the Billboard charts. At the time, the pioneering album was way too red-neck for the Byrds’ hippie fans while no self-respecting country fan was going to buy anything from a hippie band like the Byrds. It took a few years, but rock and roll audiences eventually embraced country-rock.

I became a Byrds fan shortly after the band stopped recording in 1971 and began buying up their 11-album catalog. When I listened to “Sweetheart” for the first time, I was like, “Yech! What’s with this country stuff?” And I wasn’t at all pleased with “The Christian Life” or Hillman’s cover of  “I Am a Pilgrim.” I was a Roman Catholic and like any self-respecting cultural Catholic, I didn’t go for all that Jesus stuff.

Parsons, McGuinn, and Hillman sang those Christian songs as a kind of a lark but former-Catholic, Roger McGuinn, ended up accepting Jesus Christ as his Savior in 1977. I know the Holy Spirit used those two songs in my own journey to Christ.


The Christian Life

My buddies tell me that I should’ve waited
They say I’m missing a whole world of fun
But I still love them and I sing with pride
I like the Christian life

I won’t lose a friend by heeding God’s call
For what is a friend who’d want you to fall
Others find pleasure in things I despise
I like the Christian life

My buddies shun me since I turned to Jesus
They say I’m missing a whole world of fun
I live without them and walk in the light
I like the Christian life

I won’t lose a friend by heeding God’s call
For what is a friend who’d want you to fall
Others find pleasure in things I despise

I like the Christian life
I like the Christian life

I Am A Pilgrim

I am a pilgrim and a stranger
Traveling through this wearisome land
I’ve got a home in that yonder city, good Lord
And it’s not, not made by hand

I’ve got a mother, sister and a brother
Who have gone this way before
I am determined to go and see them, good Lord
For they’re on that other shore

I’m goin’ down to the river of Jordan
Just to bathe my wearisome soul
If I can just touch the hem of his garment, good Lord
Then I know he’d take me home

I am a pilgrim and a stranger
Traveling through this wearisome land
I’ve got a home in that yonder city, good Lord
And it’s not, not made by hand

Additional Gospel songs recorded by the Byrds include “Oil In My Lamp” and “Jesus Is Just Alright” from Ballad of Easy Rider (1969), “Glory, Glory” from Byrdmaniax (1971), and “Farther Along” from Farther Along (1971).

IFB Memories #4: “I don’t drink, cuss, smoke or chew, and I don’t go with girls who do.”

“I don’t drink, cuss, smoke or chew, and I don’t go with girls who do.” – an old, BaptistDug adage

My wife and I were members of an independent fundamental Baptist church in the 1980s. There was a definite culture at that church, which came down VERY hard on some sins and behaviors but winked at others.

Our pastor often railed against the following:

  • Drinking alcoholic beverages
  • Smoking (cigarettes were much more popular in the 1980s compared to today)
  • Dancing
  • Playing cards and gambling
  • Listening to any rock and roll music, whether secular or Christian contemporary (see my earlier post here)
  • Premarital sex and homosexuality (see my earlier post here)
  • Voting for a Democrat

Those “don’ts” were mentioned often from the pulpit. The preaching was very heavy on God’s judgment against sin, but very light on God’s grace. It felt like God was beating me up four times a week (Sunday AM Sunday school, Sunday AM service, Sunday PM service, and Wednesday PM service) for my failings. There’s a real danger in churches like that to make it ALL about rules and guilt rather than about a relationship with the Lord. The pastor at the non-denominational church we now attend also preaches about sin, but he also emphasizes the grace, forgiveness, and the loving shepherding of our Lord. If you’re in a church where you’re being brow beaten every service, ask the Lord to find you a new fellowship.

I’m all for preaching against sin. It’s not done enough in evangelical churches today (see America’s favorite “preacher,” Joel Osteen). But it was out of hand at our old IFB church. However, the congregation was VERY cliquey and gossip was rampant but there were no sermons about those things. Many of the congregants were obese, including the pastor, but there were no sermons on gluttony.

I’ll revisit a few more of the pastor’s “pet” sins in the future.

Unlike some of the other IFB churches in the area, our pastor was okay with the following, which made him somewhat of a moderate IFBer:

  • Women wearing pants and modest shorts
  • Men with hair over their ears (the pastor had a puffy Billy Crystal perm to camouflage his thining locks)
  • Women with short hair
  • Going to movie theaters or renting VHS movies as long as the film was edifying (the pastor was a karate enthusiast so action movies with lots of violence were fine)
  • Interracial dating and marriage (remember, this was the 1980s when such relationships were much less commonplace)
  • Public schools (the pastor’s three children attended public school)
  • Non-abortive contraceptives

There’s still many fundamentalists who are firmly against the items on the above list. The former cable television reality series, “19 Kids and Counting,” followed just such a hard-nosed IFB family, the Duggars (see photo).