by David and Tim Bayly on October 5, 2004 - 12:20pm
One of the more critical questions facing Christian parents today is how to go about raising our children so they will be inoculated against the quite-sophisticated wickedness in which they will be immersed for the rest of their lives, instead choosing to live for and please our Lord Jesus Christ. And if sex is one of the areas of our culture most toxic to Christian truth, sodomy (homo-sex) is arguably the most toxic part of this toxic area. It's the PCBs of the super-fund site.
For myself, I'm not in agreement with the Christian-home-as-fortress strategy employed by so many Christians today. The Christian home is to be a center of ministry--not a fortress into which our nuclear families retreat (except for trips to Sam's Club and the BP gas station). If Jesus gave the Apostles the command to "go into all the world" preaching the Gospel and making disciples of all men; and if Scripture promises the gates of hell will not prevail against the Bride of Christ; it's a sad commentary on our faith for us to retreat from the world hiding our children behind our aprons.
The Church is to be militant--not defensive. And I'm convinced that militancy is the fortress God intends to surround and protect our children from rebellion and apostasy. Instead of hiding them from evil, why not teach them to oppose it through a sound mind, the Word of God, and love?
And speaking of a sound mind, as you train and teach your children watch carefully the messages they're getting from the media. The hucksters of Madison Avenue are no fools.
In that connection, read this article about sodomy selling chocolate and chocolate selling sodomy. It could be an excellent talking point for the dinner table tonight.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 16, 2004 - 9:12pm
Sherwood Oaks Christian Church has admitted their ad in the Indiana Daily Student using the hook line, "God is pro-choice," was not appropriate:
Ultimately, through much dialogue with sincere Christian brothers and sisters, we have come to the conclusion that the implementation of the hook-line was not comprehensively thought out.
This apology was what I expected from the beginning.
But let's go further and acknowledge there's a reason reformed churches and pastors so often are content to avoid the work of evangelism. After all, evangelism is risky--think of the risk Jesus took when he sat with the Samaritan woman, alone at the well speaking heart to heart. It was scandalous.
Loving the lost continues to be so today.
So here was an evangelistic ad that tried to bridge the gap between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and cynical postmoderns who are convinced evangelical Christianity is just a cover for Republical political ambitions and the civil religion of America's middle class. While the end doesn't justify the means in methods of evangelism any more than any other area of Christian life, it's certainly commendable to make an error in the same direction as our Lord Who had this to say about the work His Father gave Him (and by extension, us):
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10)
by David and Tim Bayly on October 23, 2004 - 7:50pm
Each year someone asks me whether Church of the Good Shepherd has a policy (or I have an opinion) on Halloween.
I answer that this is an area reserved to the judgements of individual conscience in our church. Some families choose not to give out candy nor to allow their children to trick-or-treat while others choose to participate. But also, we've usually had some sort of Reformation Day party and other alternative (or additional) celebrations for our children and families, as well as observing Reformation Sunday during which our worship focuses on the Protestant Reformation.
This year again, I've been asked this question and I'm sending out this link forwarded by a former member of our congregation, Elizabeth Bortka, for your information. It's a well-done article on Halloween, seeking to put this holiday in accurate perspective for Christians. There are two pages to the article--make sure you don't stop at the bottom of the first page but click the link and continue to the second--and I believe there is real wisdom in this pastor's counsel.
Meanwhile, though, please do not judge one another on this matter...
In our local paper, The Herald-Times, a young woman named Arlyn Keith is a Community Columnist. From her picture Ms. Keith seems to be in her mid-twenties and her piece appearing on yesterday's op-ed page is titled, "Rock'n'roll rejects the Bible."
Keith is responding to what she considers the non-news that Jan Wenner's Rolling Stone magazine has refused to run an ad for Today's New International Version, the new Bible put together under the patronage of Rupert Murdoch's News Corps' subsidiary, Zondervan Publishing Company.
Keith yawns as she wonders why Zondervan ever thought readers of Rolling Stone would be their market segment? Acknowledging that this chic Bible has compromised the original text, the better to reach her generation, Keith writes:
I knew that Christian leaders were concerned about the disinterest my generation and those younger than us seem to have with religion, but I just did not ever expect the mountain to come to Mohammed and plead for attention. This latest edition of the Bible aptly named Today's New International Version even features, according to USA Today, a method of translation which is meant to appeal to the 18-34 age group wherein gender terminology in reference to humans is neutral. The "truth" has been made user-friendly and packaged in a politically-correct manner. I am not an avid church-goer myself and am still struggling with my views, but it does seem that some values have been compromised in the process.
Out of the mouths of babes...
After years of hard work trying to convince my family members (owners of Tyndale House Publishers and its own gender-neutered Bible, The New Living Translation), Zondervan's executives (who are presently issuing this latest gender-neutered version called Today's New International Version), and the corporate leaders of the International Bible Society (holder of the copyright on all versions of The New International Version including Today's New International Version) of the false doctrine that is the heart of this work, I despair over their intransigence. And yes, one does begin to wonder what the application of "the love of money (being) the root of all evil" is to this Bible-selling business; or, for that matter, to Wycliffe Bible Translators, mega-churches, missions agencies, seminaries, and my own church's building program?
How lightly we consider our own motives in the light of Scripture's warning, "All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives" (Proverbs 16:2 NASB95).
No matter how often we explain to them that the secular feminists are correct in their judgment that the Bible is "hopelessly patriarchal," hope springs eternal and these false prophets try once again to clean up God's Word so a modicum of its offense is removed and evangelism moves apace into the twenty-first century.
Over the past couple of years, Christ the Word's Rev. Dr. Andrew Dionne has created a web site called KepttheFaith exposing the assault upon God and His Word these men are carrying out. Church of the Good Shepherd has funded the site and my brother, David, and I have fought this battle arm-in-arm. Go to the site and read and pray. Secularists and seekers such as Keith can treat this matter lightly, easily seeing the charade. But Tyndale House, Zondervan, the International Bible Society, and all the reverend doctors paid to do the bowdlerizing take this matter very seriously seeing their reputations are on the line.
They're right. Were one of them a member of Church of the Good Shepherd, the elders would declare him to be in violation of his membership vow to honor and obey the inerrant Word of God, and call him to repent.
Chesterton nailed it almost a century ago:
It is remarked, "We need a restatement of religion"; and though it has been said thirty-thousand times, it is quite true.
It is also true that those who say it often mean the very opposite of what they say. As I have remarked elsewhere, they very often intend not to restate anything, but to state something else, introducing as many of the old words as possible.
(G. K. Chesterton, The Thing, p. 190, "Some of Our Errors".)
by David and Tim Bayly on February 12, 2005 - 7:16pm
The Christian Reformed Church (CRC) celebrates its 100th anniversary in Canada, this year, and they are inviting bicyclists to join them in their celebration by riding "Sea to Sea with the CRC." Church leaders have already signed up 150 cyclists for the ride from Vancouver to Halifax. The largest cross-Canada ride ever, it will start on June 23rd and end on September 4th.
Riders are asked to get sponsors at $1,000 per week with the money being used to plant new churches.
This is the denomination that mandates the ordination of women to the pastoral office and eldership, intentionally placing them in positions where they must exercise authority over men--in direct contradiction to the explicit command of the Holy Spirit:
But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1Timothy 2:12-14)
Here's an idea: some CRC rider with his biblical commitments still intact should get sponsors and promise to use the money to send copies of Doug Wilson's excellent book on patriarchy, Reforming Marriage, to every pastor and elder in Canada.
But seriously, will those brave souls who complete the ride be guaranteed a place in Hebrews 11's great hall of faith, or an exhibit in Wheaton's Billy Graham Museum?
The CRC has been known for her efforts in world missions, but this mission journey lacks gravitas. If the bikers preached in biker bars across Canada, training leaders and planting churches for druggies and drunks, their ministry would be faithful to the foundation laid by Christ and the Apostles. But somehow, that doesn't appear to be the direction they're heading. Instead, their "Sea to Sea with the CRC" has the gravitas of a male cheerleaders' car wash.
Well, I guess the CRC's "riding bikes" is better than the NIVI's "catching people."
by David and Tim Bayly on February 23, 2005 - 6:58am
The New York Times cited World, yesterday, in a piece appearing in the Arts & Leisure section titled, "A Lion King of Kings: Can the Narnia books be turned into a blockbuster without offending one person or another?" Here's the quote:
According to a report in the February 12 issue of the Christian newsweekly World, Mr. Aviv [president of Disney's Buena Vista Pictures marketing arm] assured the gathering (of Christian leaders) that "our goal is to make sure that we make and market the movie so that it has the same significance that the book has had."
The Times piece is about the controversy over whether or not Disney's movie version of Lewis's Narnia Chronicles will, in fact, allow our Lord Jesus Christ and the doctrines of Scripture to have "the same significance" in the movie they have in the books. It's anything but a done deal.
Disney has this dilemma:
...the pros at Disney are wrestling with a special challenge: how to sell a screen hero who was conceived as a forthright symbol of Jesus Christ, a redeemer who is tortured and killed in place of a young human sinner and who returns in a glorious resurrection that transforms the snowy landscape of Narnia into a verdant paradise.
That spirituality sets Aslan apart from most of the Disney pantheon and presents the company with a significant dilemma: whether to acknowledge the Christian symbolism and risk alienating a large part of the potential audience, or to play it down and possibly offend the many Christians who count among the book's fan base. (The New York Times, February 20, 2005, p. AR 11.)
I'm just a humble midwesterner, but I wonder whether there might not be experts ready and willing--in fact, eager--to consult with Disney concerning their dilemma...
by David and Tim Bayly on April 30, 2005 - 10:48am
About twelve years ago, my wife and I were privileged to have Phil and Helen Jensen as guests in our home while Phil preached in the church I served. Since then, we have kept somewhat current with the vital ministry that surrounds St. Matthias within the Anglican communion in Sydney, Australia. For evangelistic materials that demonstrate boldness along with a deep understanding of our culture, but also many other fine publications with evangelical and reformed commitments, I'd direct our good readers to the Sydney Anglicans. Their ministries, institutions, and publications are well worth our attention and I've wished their publications, at least, would be more directly imported into the States.
It's not accidental that, appointed Dean of St. Andrews Cathedral by his brother Peter (Archbishop of Sydney), Phil Jensen has about as many enemies as Doug Wilson. Since making his acquaintance, I've often described Phil as "a fire-breathing iconoclast." Phil's wife, Helen, is an epistolary whirlwind devoted to the church and to her husband--a perfect helpmate.
Here, here, and here are a few other samples of Jensen's prophetic gift. (In the last link, note the similarity with Wilson concerning Scripture's teaching on slavery.) For a fine summary of the vision driving the Brothers Jensen as they lead Sydney Anglicanism, see Peter Jensen's Archbishop's Address given to Sydney Synod 2003.
Like Wilson, not everything Phil Jensen writes and argues is in line with my understanding of Scripture, but how I love his boldness for the Lord and His Word. There's good reason Dick Lucas brought him to London to oppose the movement to ordain women there. As Dick told me, he needed the blood and guts approach of his beloved Aussies.
It's natural, I suppose, for Aussies to have a soft spot in their heart for Canadians, so Don Carson has always been one of the Sydney Anglicans' luminaries. So it came as a pitcher of cold water thrown in their faces to have Carson take aim at them for their expression of concern over the new Bible versions that have been neutered (my word), and their endorsement of those versions' main competitor, the English Standard Version.
Not long after the "Stealth Bible" issue of World went into print, as the conflict over neutered Bible versions grew in intensity across the evangelical world, Don Carson contacted the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and asked that his name be removed from the list of those who endorsed the organization. Having neither met nor corresponded with Dr. Carson, I was uncomfortable hearing of his resignation secondhand and not having a chance to discuss his concerns with him directly. (A couple months earlier in addition to my pastorate here in Bloomington I had agreed to serve as CBMW's first Executive Director.)
I called Dr. Carson, introduced myself, and said I'd heard he wanted to remove his endorsement of CBMW. Would he please reconsider his decision?
by David and Tim Bayly on October 4, 2005 - 12:44pm
My dear friend, Kevin Offner, turned me on to this gem and I pass it along to our good readers for the strengthening of our faith. I've taken the liberty of putting the text here on our blog because I'm confident Mr. Riner would want his speech to have the broadest circulation possible. And I don't trust Dartmouth to keep it available for too long.
The Apostle Paul was in the habit of asking his fellow believers to pray that he would be given the gift of boldness as he preached. Well, dear brother Riner received a double portion when he gave this sermon. Praise God for a man who, within the stultifying world of the Academy, is not afraid to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Here's the context: Noah Riner is the student body president at Dartmouth and he was asked to speak to the incoming freshman at a convocation at the beginning of the school year. This, then, is the speech he gave September 20, 2005. Since giving the speech, there has been a great hue and cry at Darmouth, including the resignation in protest of the student body vice president and raging debates across campus. Here though is one essay defending Mr. Riner that appeared in The Dartmouth, "the nation's oldest campus newspaper."
by David and Tim Bayly on February 6, 2006 - 9:38pm
As I mentioned before, we're studying Jonathan Edward's life in the Reformed Evangelical Pastors College right now, using Iain Murray's biography. (Last month the men read Edwards' Charity and Its Fruits with my brother, David.)
On pages 35-37, Murray deals with Edwards' conversion quoting a fair amount of the text below, but leaving out (I'm sure for the sake of brevity) much of the best stuff--particularly the beginning paragraphs explaining how central for his conversion was the resolution of his questions and doubts concerning predestination as he came finally to love God's sovereignty. So here is the section almost in its entirety. It's the most memorable Edwards I've ever read, even though Edwards never meant for it to be published.
Speaking of publishing, Cumberland Valley Bible Bookstore is offering the two-volume set of Edwards' works right now for the lowest price I've ever seen, $40. Why not pick up a copy today for each of your children so when they graduate from high school you'll have a set on hand for each of them?
From Jonathan Edwards' Personal Narrative:
From my childhood up, my mind had been full of objections against the doctrine of God's sovereignty, in choosing whom he would to eternal life; and rejecting whom he pleased; leaving them eternally to perish, and be everlastingly tormented in hell. It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me...
One pastor comments concerning my post, What Do Ted Haggard and N. T. Wright Have in Common:
Tim, do you think Paul advocated anti-sodomy or anti-fornication legislation for the Roman Empire? Probably not, since it was a pagan empire (consider 1 Corinthians 5:9-13). I think ours is also a pagan society. It's not the abstract question of whether laws can be used for such purposes. I believe you are right in saying that they can and even that they should. If we can persuade our society on grounds it will accept to enact such laws, well and good. But to make this the cutting edge of our encounter with an unbelieving society conveys the notion that we are legalists and undercuts the preaching of grace--and all without achieving the enactment of the laws we seek.
This question is often brought up by men (other than the author of this comment) who have anabaptist leanings and think the lack of involvement of Christians in the politics of the ancient world is a slam-dunk condemnation of political involvement by Christians today. But I'm not convinced. The entire civil realm was so radically different than what we live in here in the U.S., for instance. Ours is a constitutional and representative democracy. This is hardly the position the Apostle Paul was in as a citizen of the Roman Empire. So my reader asks whether Paul advocated anti-sodomy legislation and I respond, due to the difference in the form of government we live under Paul had different duties as a citizen than Christians have in the U.S. today.
The question is not whether we live in a pagan (or Christian?) society, but what our duties are as Christians in any society? And that question must be answered looking at the form of government those Christians live under. In other words, if we today live under the same Constitution that John Adams lived under, despite (arguably) our culture growing more pagan, our duties today are no different than Adams' several centuries back. The only thing that changes as paganism grows is the difficulty of those duties, and therefore our temptation to withdraw into a comfortable subculture.
But there's something else going on here that it appears my reader is missing: notice that Ted Haggard (and David Jones) are actively seeking to do the very thing my reader is accusing me of doing--they are public advocates of a particular moral position being carried out by our national laws. They are seeking to change our national laws so that sodomy is legal...
A couple years ago I was in London and went to Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park to listen. (Speaker's Corner is the place where, for generations, men have taken a milk crate or stepladder and preached to anyone listening.)
On a Sunday afternoon a year earlier, I'd spent several hours there. That day, the subjects were overwhelmingly religious. A Messianic Jew proclaimed Jesus' Messianic fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies to the most hateful audience of Jews imaginable. I admired his courage and wondered whether the bobbies (London policemen) standing guard might not arrest him for inciting a riot. Afterwards I thanked him for his boldness. A year later we renewed our acquaintance.
This time, though, there was a pronounced change. It had all gone over to politics--specifically, hatred for the United States and anger over our war in Iraq. At some point I spoke up and was immediately surrounded by a small group of Muslims spewing venom: "You're an American, aren't you?"
"Yes," I responded, "but more importantly, I'm a Christian--and that comes far before my citizenship."
"So then you worship a god who couldn't keep himself from being murdered on a cross!" they announced gleefully. As they saw it, their victory was complete. The simple fact of our Lord's death on the Cross showed me for a fool.
Such an earthly and logical view of Jesus' death caught me off guard. I'd spent my life in a Christianized country where the cross is just one more piece of jewelry. Madonna just staged the opening concert of her comeback tour and this time her central drama involves mounting and hanging on a large crucifix. Here we have the cross as stage prop.
"You think God coming down to earth and being crucified on a cross is a sign of weakness?" I asked the Muslims. "Then you worship strength and power. And if power's what it's all about, the United States is your god--not mine, but yours."
by David and Tim Bayly on August 16, 2006 - 2:04pm
But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you. (1 Corinthians 14:24, 25)
Driving west out of Nashville, recently, I saw a billboard that read, "A non-religious path to God." At first, it's hard to see any other text so we're left in doubt what path they're selling. Maybe a new diet or exercise regimen?
Then you notice a church name down in the bottom corner. Apparently, the billboard's an ad for a church that holds to some form of Christian faith. But what form? I'm guessing it's not the Christian faith of the church described in the book of Acts.
The Acts church wouldn't have needed a billboard to advertise herself. She had supernatural advertising consisting of miracles of faith and judgment that were known far and wide, attracting men by the thousands. Some were healed and could see and walk again. Others were killed. Ananias and Saphira played their part when the Holy Spirit struck them dead for coming into the church with their lies, thinking they could pull one over on the Holy Spirit. Then, after their bodies were carried out of the church, droves of people poured in. That's one sort of publicity.
It seems unlikely the Nashville church advertising "a non-religious path to God" is a place people are attracted to because the Holy Spirit has demonstrated His authority there. Would anyone think "non-religious" gets at the nub of the issue describing a church where people who lie in public worship are struck dead?
Holiness doesn't seem to figure too prominently in our church growth methods. Try to imagine a Willow Creek seminar on lessons for multiplication from Ananias and Saphira and you'll get the point...
Just now, the dear sister who defends all things Bayly passed along a link to an article from the First Things site that I just finished reading and commend to our good readers. It's a talk given by the Roman Catholic archbishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput, at the John Cardinal Krol Conference in Philadelphia on April 21, 2007. Yes, I acknowledge the piece contains things contrary to Scripture, but Chaput's talk is food for the soul. Just to whet your appetite, Chaput has a good joke about academic
philosophers, he mentions iPods, he has an excerpt from one of Flannery
O'Connor's short stories, he exposes the deterministic underpinnings of
the "pro-choice" movement, he talks much about free will (yes, I am a
Calvinist), and he quotes Frank Sheed:
It’s incredible how long science has succeeded in keeping men’s minds
off their fundamental unhappiness and its own very limited power to
remedy their fundamental unhappiness. One marvel follows
another—electric light, phonograph, motor car, telephone, radio,
airplane, television. It’s a curious list, and very pathetic. The soul
of man is crying for hope of purpose or meaning; and the scientist
says, “Here is a telephone” or “Look, television!”—exactly as one tries
to distract a baby crying for its mother by offering it sugar-sticks
and making funny faces.
Finishing the article, I find myself wondering whether Rick Warren's masses might not get a better dose of
seeker-sensitive pre-evangelism at Archbishop Chaput's masses than at
by David and Tim Bayly on September 21, 2007 - 8:33am
(Tim; on the occasion of the death of an evangelist) On a flight some years back, I had a seat mate who was the leader of a well-known jazz band tracing its origins back to the big band era. It happened I knew of this man through a bari sax player who was a member of Church of the Good Shepherd. My friend played with this band and served as this man's right hand man in organizational matters. So after telling him of our mutual acquaintance, we got into a discussion of Christian faith.
Not far into the discussion, he told me someone else had talked to him about spiritual matters and called him to put his faith in Jesus--some pastor in Florida. He'd had a gig at this guy's church and the man had taken him aside to speak to him about his soul. He'd been a real gentleman about it, but persistent and sincere. Let's see, what was his name?
"Kennedy, Jim Kennedy" I asked?
"Yeah! That's the guy," he exclaimed. "He was a real gentleman. And he said he wanted to hear back from me what I did with Jesus."
Praise God for Jim Kennedy. May God make me such a lover of lost souls, a shepherd who is bold in speaking of sin and righteousness and judgment.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 31, 2007 - 7:24pm
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect... (1Peter 3:15)
(Tim) Kevin Bacon and Nicole Kidman star in The Golden Compass due to be released in December. The movie is based on a trilogy by atheist Philip Pullman who, in an interview he gave in 2003, was forthright about the plot at the center of his own story: "My books are about killing God."
My dear brothers and sisters, are we telling the True Story that the Apostle Paul told to the Areopagus? And if we are, is it only being told within the safe confines of our comfy church buildings where no eggs or tomatoes will splatter in our faces? Please pray for me and the souls of our church, that we will tell the Gospel story.
Here's a good take on The Golden Compass, evangelism, and storytelling. (It's the entry titled "Duh.")
by David and Tim Bayly on November 20, 2007 - 6:03pm
(Tim)This from Jack's Pipe in tribute to his late sister-in-law:
My sister-in-law prayed with many people: People at her church, people
she met at the park, etc. When you tell someone you’ll pray for them,
or that you have been praying for them, you’ll almost invariably see
gratitude in their eyes. Offer to pray for them then and there, and
does this not open up opportunities? A life of prayer, shared with
others, is powerful evangelism.
In my lifetime, only once or twice have I had anyone refuse when I asked if I could pray for them. In fact, my experience is usually that people are visibly moved with gratitude when I ask if I can pray for them and to it right then and there. It all goes back to when I first entered the pastorate and my Dad advised me to always pray a blessing on whatever home I was visiting. He added that, often, I would be the first pastor who'd ever been in their home and likely no one had ever asked for God's blessing on them before. He's been proven right, again and again. And hospital rooms the same; at times on my way out, I stop at the bed of the person sharing the room with the person I'm visiting and ask if they'd like me to pray for them. It's always a quick and grateful "Yes!"
by David and Tim Bayly on December 20, 2007 - 5:23pm
(Tim, with thanks to David T.) If you've missed it, urban church planting is cool again, particularly in the PCA. Hearing the self-congratulatory hype that emanates from urban church plants reminds me of the couples who moved from Wheaton to the inner city of Chicago to be a part of David Main's Circle Church and Bill Leslie's LaSalle Street Church forty plus years ago, now. Looking back and allowing for a few notable exceptions like Chuck Hogren's Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic (now called Chicago Center for Law & Justice), the fruit of these inner city ministries hasn't been stellar, biblically.
One young woman who's a part of one of these plants in Manhattan has some humility and writes wise words on being faithful to the Lord in the city and in the suburbs. Here's a teaser from her post:
(Tim, w/thanks to Heidi) According to an article in the LA Times, Americans are "switching religious affiliation in ever-greater numbers or abandoning ties to organized denominations altogether (and) Protestants are on the cusp of becoming a minority..."
If you've ever wondered if there's something besides simple obedience of the Great Commission in all the buzz about being "missional," this is it. As Heidi put it, "(This article is) helping me realize that the U.S. Needs 'missionaries' as much as people overseas, and that the next generation will pretty much be completely unchurched unless we do something." Here's one good quote:
John Green, a senior research fellow and a principal author, attributed (the Protestant decline) to the decline in birthrates, the inability to retain people born into the churches and people raised mainline Protestant moving to the ranks of the unaffiliated. "You might sort of think of this as family problems -- both at the level of having children, and raising children," Green said.
(Tim: I first met Paul Cote walking down the hall of our dorm at Northern Illinois University. Wearing a tall leather Lincoln hat, Paul mentioned he liked Dylan. We became friends. Since then, we've roomed together, gotten our M.Divs. together, and we continue to visit and correspond. Through the years, I've occasionally asked Paul to retell the story of his friend, Gary Gygax, and the beginnings of Dungeons and Dragons. What did he think about all the Christians who were convinced that D&D was something close to necromancy or child-murder?
Here on the occasion of the death of Gary Gygax is Paul's personal account of the origins of D&D in the Gygax's merry home, a home large and generous enough to take Paul and many other teenage boys in and to give them fun. As you read this eulogy, stop and think: What if our Christian homes were as stable, joyful, and generous to the waifs all around us?)
When I was a 13 year old boy living in Chicago, a friend's father
introduced his son, my friend, and me to military board games published
by the Avalon Hill Company of Baltimore: Gettysburg and The Battle of the Bulge.
As boys we had enjoyed listening to our fathers telling stories about
World War II, and watching old war movies with John Wayne, and
especially Errol Flynn. And on rainy days when you couldn’t play
outside, these games were more fun than abstract games like cards and
chess. Historian John Keegan states in the introduction to The Face of Battle,
“for a young man training to be a professional soldier, the central
question is: what is it like to be in a battle?” Knowing that our
fathers had gone to war, and that it was a formative moment in their
lives, in becoming men, our imaginations were fired by the same
question, and war games, like reading military history, were a way of
thinking about these things.
Here's a picture of Gary Gygax at the podium, addressing the opening of the first
wargaming convention, the Geneva Convention (Gen Con.) held in Lake
Geneva, Wisconsin. Standing next to Gygax is Bill Hoyer, president of the
International Federation of Wargaming (IFW). This and the other photo below may be the only pictures taken at this first wargaming convention in 1968.
Avalon Hill published a magazine for its customers called The General, and through an ad in the back I began corresponding with a “war gaming club” in the Chicago land area, with the grandiose name, "The International Federation of War Gaming" (IFW). The IFW consisted of a couple of dozen gamers, most of whom had never met one another, but who played games by mail, wrote articles about games etc. That’s when I began corresponding with Gary Gygax, who worked in downtown Chicago but commuted by rail to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Gary lived in a small, comfortably run down house on a main street in the Town. He had 5 children, all close in age, and all having bright red hair just like his wife, Mary...
(Tim) An excellent post on Gary Gygax and D&D by Pastor Travis Hutchinson. The post makes good applications to the copy-cat nature of what passes today for Christian imagination; also to the inhospitality of our church youth groups.
by David and Tim Bayly on March 25, 2008 - 11:45am
(Tim, w/thanks to Jake) Last week, a young man training for pastoral ministry passed on a link to this article from USA Today. And next to the link, he wrote: "quoted: pope benedict, mohler, keller, driscoll, osteen, etc."
Not to destroy "peace ...in the world," or to "tear... the net of [PCA] interwovenness, the fabric of humanity," but really, men. Can anyone fail to see the stark contrast presented in the final paragraphs of this article between Pastors Keller and Driscoll? Sin is man-centered with Pastor Keller, but very God-centered with Pastor Driscoll.
Note the article's author says, "Driscoll is sharply clear."
Thus says the LORD, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the
midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth,
and the mountain of the LORD of hosts will be called the Holy
Mountain.’ Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Old men and old women will
again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his
hand because of age.
And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.’ (Zechariah 8:3-5)
(Tim) When David and I speak privately, it's a rare conversation we don't speak of our gratitude to the Lord for the wonderful churches He has blessed us with. And this isn't the one-upmanship of two brothers who are both pastors. Trust us, we know about that. Rather, it's the true joy of men for whom the lines have fallen in pleasant places recognizing it's all of God.
My Scripture reading today reminds me of one of our principal joys--our congregations' great fruitfulness physically and spiritually. Physically?
Well, between Christ the Word in Toledo and Church of the Good Shephed here in Bloomington, Indiana, I'd estimate between thirty and forty children will be born or adopted by a Covenant family this year. And this happens year after year--fruit, fruit, and more fruit! Our aisles and nurseries and gym and hallways and cars and homes and fellowship halls are filled with boys and girls playing together...
(Tim) Within the church today, why are we so reticent to recognize sexual distinctions that go beyond God's command or certain "roles" the result of His command? Pastors and elders can bring ourselves to swallow the very specific biblical prohibitions against women serving as elders, and the equally specific commands for wives to submit to their husbands--even going so far as to defend those prohibitions with some small talk of the nature of sexuality (although we always call it "gender" rather than "sex" because gender is a social construct while sex is a hard biological reality); but still, despite this supposed submission to the biblical command, we show a complete absence of any biblical theology of sexuality.
Why? Why are we so chip-on-the-shoulderish when it comes to a discussion of the nature of man and woman beyond the obvious body parts (which are undeniable and very useful for advertising), and certain small aspects of authority in the church and home? Why do we read sexuality in such a mind-bogglingly narrow way? We claim to love diversity, right? So why such a penurious, such a tight-waddish reading of this one so basic to our lives?
A central part of understanding our culture is seeing the hatred for distinctions at its core, and few distinctions are more despised than this one present in the womb from our earliest days--male and female.
Typical believers in Jesus Christ will think we've seen the goodness of sex when we've decided to marry a woman rather than a man...
When Inter-Varsity came to these United States, Dad was appointed the first staff worker for New England and lived with his young bride, Mary Lou, in Cambridge, MA. Later, we moved to Philadelphia where Dad was appointed IV's eastern regional director. Wearing multiple hats, one week a month he flew out to Chicago to edit IV's magazine, His. My memory of our childhood is Dad away fulfilling endless speaking engagements on college and university campuses. Then, summertime came and we traveled to IV's Bear Trap Ranch or Cedar Campus where we took family vacations while Dad, again, spoke to college and university students.
Have the pressures Christians face in the academy changed in the intervening half-century?
Read this column Dad wrote for the June 1963 issue of Eternity magazine and it's apparent that back then Christian scholars, parachurch workers, and preachers believed it best to keep away from the nasty work of proclaiming the Law of God and repentance, justifying their evasions as we justify ours: "I just preach the Gospel. I don't try to convict people--that's the Holy Spirit's job."
Faithful men will work to bring the lost under conviction concerning greed and feminism and sodomy and child-murder, trusting the promise of our Lord is true: “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment..." (John 16:7, 8).
* * *
Hush, Hush about Morality: The Salt Losing Its Savor
by Joe Bayly
This year, speaking to college students—especially in dormitory and fraternity discussions—I’ve been asked one question again and again. It almost always takes this form: “Why is premarital intercourse wrong?"
(David) This is Shelly, a nineteen-year-old University of Toledo student from Asia. She's been attending Christ the Word since Christmas. Sunday we rejoiced to welcome her into our midst as a new sister in Christ.
For many weeks now Shelly has prayed that God would give her the courage to accept His Son. In her country, she says, being a Christian can cost your life. So she prayed for strength to accept Jesus. Last week, however, Shelly realized it was wrong to pray for strength to accept God. Instead she prayed that God would accept her.
This is the second young woman we have seen come to Christ as a result of international student Bible studies in the last four months. What joy. It seemed like half the church was crying for happiness last Sunday morning.
(Tim, w/thanks to Taylor) Gator sophomore quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow, is making news witnessing to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His coach, Urban Meyer, isn't cringing about this player: "If anybody ever knew the complete story about Tim Tebow, most
people wouldn't believe it.... Nothing surprises me about Tim. There's a
skeptical side to all of us. We think, 'They talk the talk, but do they
really walk the walk?' I can't say I've met many people that do, but
Tim is definitely one of them."
Inside Gainesville Correctional Institute, Tebow told the inmates:
Everybody is telling me I've made it. They
tell me, "Tim, you have success and you've made it." I've won the
Heisman Trophy, so I've got it made, right? One day, people are going
to forget about me. One day, people are going to forget about the
Heisman Trophy, the jump pass and the national championship. One day,
this [championship] ring is going to rust. There are only four things
that are going to last forever: God, his word, people and rewards.
May God use this young man mightily for the salvation of many.
It's long been dangerous for followers of Jesus Christ to speak publicly of Scripture's teaching on fornication, child-murder, divorce, adultery, father-rule, sodomy, and a whole host of other subjects our culture opposes God in. And although we don't like bad news, here's a case we should all be following and exerting our influence in.
Editor in Chief of the Toledo Free Press, Michael Miller, wrote an editorial advocating sodomy and smearing those who oppose sodomy as resembling racists. This prompted University of Toledo Associate Vice President for Human Resources Crystal Dixon to submit an op-ed opposing Miller's editorial. Dixon wrote: "As a Black woman who happens to be an alumnus of the University of
Toledo's Graduate School, an employee and business owner, I take great
umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are 'civil rights victims.' Here's why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not
be a Black woman. I am genetically and biologically a Black woman and
very pleased to be so as my Creator intended. Daily, thousands of
homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle...
(Tim, w/thanks to Kevin) Here's a helpful op-ed piece from the New York Times detailing the challenges we'll face in our preaching in the coming decades. It's written by David Brooks who's frequently good.
(Tim) From the Pulpit of Church of the Good Shepherd Wedding of Lucas Weeks and Hannah Bayly May 17, 2008
That He Might Sanctify Her
Ephesians 5: 21-33
Lucas and Hannah, it’s a curious thing that the God Who made us, the One who is our Creator and therefore knows us best, has not left us free to develop according to our own inclinations. He does not abandon us to our own sentiments and passions...
Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)
(Tim) It may be dispositional with me, but I have an intense dislike for packaging. Those clear plastic frames around little electronic components and almost everything else small and easily pilfered drive me crazy when I get home. They never surrender their product easily, and more often than not, my hand's cut before the extrication's complete.
If our president must use each State of the Union Address to pander to us, I have a suggestion. Next year, instead of a new promise to throw our great, great, great grandchildren's money at our present health care crisis, why not a simple promise that would cost us nothing? The POTUS could promise a consumer protection law requiring stores to hire big strong union men holding box cutters to stand next to cashiers, ready to disengage products from their packaging. Maybe union women could do it too, but the essential law would be that no consumer is allowed to take a product home with its packaging intact. The danger is simply too great. Are you with me?
Speaking of packaging, it helps to think of packaging when it comes to the church today--not simply the evangelical subculture, but the church as she does evangelism...
(Tim, w/thanks to Carol) The international Synod of (Roman) Catholic Bishops will meet this coming October around the theme, "The Word of God." In preparation, an international survey on biblical literacy was taken in the United States, the United Kingdom, Holland, Germany, Spain, France,
Italy, Poland and Russia. (Soon, other countries in the Southern Hemisphere will be added, including Argentina, South
Africa, the Philippines, and Australia.)
Italian sociologist Luca Diotallevi says the study is “the most systematic scientific undertaking yet attempted to
compare, on an international scale, levels and forms of familiarity
with the Scriptures.”
The survey's findings indicate even secularized nations and people are quite interested in the Bible, but find it very hard to understand. This is a wonderful opening for the people of God--evangelistic Bible studies continue to be one of the most effective tools we have for bringing men and women to the preaching of the Word and faith.
Other survey results show the decline of Bible knowledge among American Protestants as it grows among Roman Catholics...
"The fact that you and I are in
the twentieth century is utterly irrelevant. It doesn’t make any
difference at all. And all this talk about the need of a new message, some relevant word, is a denial of the Gospel." -D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
(Tim, w/thanks to Heidi) A number of months ago, Martyn Lloyd Jones' biographer, Ian Murray, wrote...
(Tim, w/thanks to David) The International Foundation (akaThe Family, The Fellowship, The Fellowship Foundation, and Jesus Plus Nothing), is the sponsor of the National Prayer Breakfast, long seen as ground zero of evangelical influence in Washington D.C. More recently, though, The International Foundation has become better known for promoting syncretism with its rabbis and imams at the podium. In keeping with its promotion of Muslim-Christian rapprochement, The International Foundation has become much-enamored with Mark Siljander and his approach to Islam.
Mr. Siljander, a former high-profile evangelical congressman from Michigan recently indicted for money laundering, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice, just published a book opposing the historic Christian position on Islam (that it's simply another Christian heresy). Mr. Siljander is touring the country with his revisionist gospel of misunderstood Islam and its Quran, and in this he's typical of a host of former-evangelical (my label) missionaries who say 'God' and 'Allah' are both names for the True God, that there's no reason for Muslim converts to Christianity to stop going to the mosque for daily prayers, and that baptism of these converts and membership in a Christian church is unnecessary given the dire consequences of conversion in an Islamic nation...
by David and Tim Bayly on October 7, 2008 - 8:43am
(Tim) Speaking of what words to use to refer to a certain type of sexual immorality, I don't remember leaving a comment on this blog where someone used the word David Lehr mentions in one of his recent comments, but I don't question David's accuracy. For myself, I prefer the word 'sodomy' and would be pleased for those who comment to avoid other terms, whether 'bugger' or 'gay.'
'Gay' because it's a word expressing solidarity with an oppressed people group and there's no hint of shame or condemnation. Souls who believe in the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture--that it's every word of Scripture that's inspired, not simply the concepts those words convey--should desire to speak as Scripture does.
Those complaining here about a lack of love and gentleness in the comments and citing Scripture to make their point are, by their arguments, agreeing that Scripture is the standard for our words. Would they, though, take a confessing Christian to task for using the word 'gay?'
They ought to. 'Gay' says all the wrong things and none of the right ones...
by David and Tim Bayly on October 15, 2008 - 1:30am
"...even from the relative
safety of an in-house discussion among fellow believers and men
ordained to the ministry of
the Word and Sacrament, his language seems to deny our sister's moral
agency and the utter depravity of what she did to her own little ones."
(Tim, w/thanks to Joel) For quite a while, now, conservative reformed pulpits have been quiet about subjects that are controversial in our political context--particularly abortion. Here is a short article written by the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian (PCA) in New York City giving Pastor Tim Keller's explanation of this silence. The subject goes much deeper than the politics of abortion, to the very heart of our understanding of the Gospel and the place of the Law in Gospel proclamation and Lord's Day worship. First, this excerpt from Pastor Keller's article, followed by a response.
“Religion-less Spirituality” by Tim Keller
We will be careful with the order in which we communicate the parts of the faith. Pushing moral behaviors before we lift up Christ is religion. The church today is calling people to God with a tone of voice that seems to confirm their worst fears. Religion has always been outside-in-"if I behave out here in all these ways, then I will have God's blessing and love inside." But the gospel is inside-out-"if I know the blessing and grace of God inside, then I can behave out here in all these ways." A woman who had been attending our church for several months came to see me. "Do you think abortion is wrong?" she asked...
by David and Tim Bayly on October 27, 2008 - 4:15pm
(Tim) It's hard reading the old guys. Think about Jonathan Edwards preaching any of his sermons to his flock in Northampton--any sermon at all, just pick one. In those days, the church wasn't a thinly sliced part of the town's demographic. Being reformed didn't mean smoking cigars, drinking single malts, keeping one eye on the Dow Jones and the other on the R. C. Sproul video. Rich and poor, young and old alike sat under Edwards' preaching and understood him.
Today, even pastors who spend our lives working with words are challenged just trying to read Edwards. If we'd been there to listen to him, the sermon's length, vocabulary, logic, and the prominence of biblical terrors would have left us stupefied. We would have left the church-house shaking our heads and clucking our disapproval.
The old guys require the reader to be literate and to have a heart knowledge of the Word of God. But who has the patience for such work today? And what congregation would put up with it?
by David and Tim Bayly on January 31, 2009 - 8:22am
(Tim) Here's a report from a missionary couple I've had the pleasure of getting to know recently. I was so encouraged by their report that I thought I'd pass it on to our readers. The names of the couple and their cities have been removed to protect them, their brothers and sisters in Christ, and their Gospel work.
* * *
Although we're learning Hebrew, (my husband and I) are able to minister in Russian here, too. There are an estimated one million Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel. They're coming to Christ in unprecedented numbers...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 17, 2009 - 5:49am
(Tim)Food. People today can't make up their minds whether it's erotica or The Meaning of Life. For men whose god is their belly, lust and appetite feed off each other and produce similar neuroses. Computer pornography. Obesity. Hooking up. Anorexia. Abortion. Veganism. Birth control.
Enslaved to our appetites, we'd do well to learn a word almost never heard outside Roman Catholicism: concupiscence.
Here's something true: Christians today turn the marriage bed over to a mutual concupiscence we refer to as "making love." But there's little love, and no making of anyone at all.
True love can't possibly be self-gratification by other means...
(Tim) "iChristian" is an app offered to iPod Touch and iPhone users in Apple's iTunes store. Here's its description:
Now your iPhone / iPod Touch is a missionary, preacher and the evangelist!!! The iPhone / iPod Touch application "iChristian" ("Become a Christian") contains the minimum of required information to become a Christian. Alter the prayer of salvation. you may register as a Christian. If you would like, you may request a certificate of a Christian.
If Jesus warned those wanting to become His disciples that they must count the cost of following Him, then for us to offer salvation to unbelievers through such a come-on line as "contains the minimum of required information to become a Christian" is to mislead them. It's spiritual bait-and-switch...
(Tim) Steve McCoy does a great blog titled Reformissionary. Here's his latest post listing things we can do to connect with others in our cities/towns this summer.
On vacation last week, I regularly offered to take pics for the person holding the camera who was obviously the only family member who wouldn't be in the picture. I like Steve's idea, offering to take the pic on his own camera and e-mail it to them. As I said, Steve's suggestions are good.
(Tim) Our spam filter has been acting up again causing legitimate comments to be thrown into a spam bin where, in thirty days, they die if David or I don't go in and browse the smut to see if there's some treasure. You can imagine that browsing the smut is, for us, not something we want to do. So that, combined with time constraints, means we are late to find those treasures. And that means when we do find the treasures and post them, often they're so late to the queue that they don't show up on the "Recent Comments" column of the blog's main page. So, you'd have to be reading old comments for the fun of it to find them.
Sad state of affairs, isn't it?
All this to point your attention to a couple comments you don't want to miss, both toward the bottom of the page. One is by Eric Rasmusen who, grieving the loss of his parents and nine-year-old daughter, Lizzie, last month, wrestles with the question of Scripture's teaching on the eternal destiny of children of believers...
by David and Tim Bayly on August 13, 2009 - 7:30am
(Tim) This is a sermon manuscript--not a transcript--and thus differs substantially from the sermon itself.
From the Pulpit of Church of the Good Shepherd (Service held at Sherwood Oaks Christian Church)
Funeral Service for Elizabeth Rasmusen held July 24, 2009 at 10:00 AM
My Little Daughter Is Dying Mark 5:21-24; 35-43
(Preliminary comments on the frequency of death of children in Colonial America, followed by excerpts from prayer requests taken from the flip sides of Jonathan Edwards’ sermon manuscripts.)
Professor Stephen Stein, a retired faculty member here at Indiana University, read the flip sides of hundreds of the scraps of paper on which Jonathan Edwards wrote his sermons. At the time, paper was a valuable commodity and Edwards recycled the pieces of paper given him by his parishioners containing their prayer requests each Lord’s Day, later writing his sermons on them. Professor Stein published an article outlining the content of those requests and they're instructive for us today, on this occasion of the death of little Lizzie Rasmusen. Listen as I read you a few excerpts of these requests and see if there is anything for us to learn from souls who have gone before us...
by David and Tim Bayly on August 18, 2009 - 8:38am
(Tim) Searching for information about the women who teach and exercise authority over men at the church Tim Keller serves, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, I found this video clip selling people on getting involved in Redeemer's Fellowship Groups. Two comments:
First, note Redeemer's target audience--the demographic their appeal is aimed at. The married? Nope. Dweebs? Nope. Husbands? Nope. Families? Nope. Mothers? Nope. Children? Nope. Babies? Heavens no.
The clip's come-on is "family." Listen to it again.
The closest we come to family is the man on the park bench surrounded by his dogs.
Second, note carefully the cool hip Rob Bell factor.
Think about what this clip says about church growth, today... The way we attract people to the Body of Christ, the Household of Faith, the "family" that membership in constitutes being a Christian, is to sell that family as hipsters.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 22, 2009 - 10:20am
(Tim, w/thanks to David L.) What if a pastor were to take seriously the Apostle Paul's warning to the Ephesian elders:
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood?
What if he were to read the Apostle Paul's prediction concerning what was about to happen in the church of Ephesus and assume this is also happening in his church right now?
I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. (Acts 20:28-31)
Would he test himself? Would he ask the Holy Spirit to reveal whether he himself is a hireling, or a good shepherd? Would he be on the alert? Would he look around for savage wolves? For false shepherds speaking perverse things in order to draw away disciples for themselves?
Would he wonder whether anyone in his own congregation could fairly describe his ministry as a "night and day" work of ceaselessly admonishing each of his sheep with tears?
Brothers, the church has always been under attack from both savage wolves and hirelings. And it's the failure of hirelings not to think about who the savage wolves are...
by David and Tim Bayly on October 28, 2009 - 1:23pm
(Tim, w/thanks to Mike, Jake, Jody, and Phil) If you want to see one fulfillment in our own time of Jesus' promise that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church, listen to this proclamation of the Gospel. Makes my heart sing for joy.
by David and Tim Bayly on November 9, 2009 - 7:54am
Lots of Berliners talked of Ronald Reagan’s speech, delivered in
Berlin, almost two years earlier, when he demanded:”Mr. Gorbachev, Tear
Down this Wall!” Was President Reagan’s dramatic call about to happen?
Some Berliners worried the soldiers would take charge. No one knew.
Ironically, the worst source of information was the media, perhaps
because in 1987 so many had underestimated the importance of Reagan’s
speech. The New York Times declared that Reagan had “lost the air of
authority” and suggested that Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech was “surreal”
and indicated that the “presidency had ceased to function.” The
Washington Post, and U.S. News & World Report has also been highly
But, in November 1989, Berliners remembered the power of a U.S.
president calling for the hateful wall to be torn down. Each person to
whom I spoke, seemed to know someone, a family member or friend, who
had been trapped on the other side of the wall. Hope was alive,
powerful and focused on tearing down the Wall. -"I Helped Tear Down the Wall"
(Tim) Grant Olson, the producer of the video at the bottom of this post, was an elder at our church some years back. Since then, he's gone on to serve in Campus Crusade's work in Eastern Europe. Although I'm in strong disagreement with Crusade's relegation of the Church to the sideline of evangelism and discipleship, since the fall of communism twenty years ago, it's been a great joy to see how Crusade has poured men into Eastern Europe where they've boldly proclaimed Jesus Christ.
There was some glamor in the early years, but that glamor has long since departed. The callouses Marxism left on men's hearts are real. Also, the systemic poverty and corruption that is Communism's legacy remains intractable in many of the Eastern European countries. The glory days of the first opening of Eastern Europe are long gone and what's left for those giving themselves to the people of countries such as Albania, Hungary, and Romania is very tough slogging.
So God bless Campus Crusade and her men and women who have loved Eastern Europeans with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
All this on the occasion of our arrival, today, at the Twentieth Anniversary of the act of God pulling down the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989. Men of towering courage and strength like Lech Walesa, John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn were putty in God's hands to bring down the bloodiest ideology and greatest oppression man had known up until that time. (It's since been dwarfed by feminism's victims, one billion and counting.)
In my office is a picture Dad had been given by the artist who drew it. He had the drawing on the wall of his study and loved it...