Helpful things

Psalm 1...

Cheat sheets and powerpoint to use this version of Psalm 1 in your worship are here at Clearnote Songbook. Please click the "Downloads" link.


ObamaCare: What you need to know (Part 7): Samaritan Ministries and accountability...

This comment under a recent post about Christian health sharing ministries raises a very good point which should be addressed in greater detail. Here's the full comment:

The point I would stress here is that there seems to be a strange exception to the normal vetting process that occurs in dealing with these "ministries".

If a member of your church came to you for advice, and said they had been watching a televangelist with big hair at 2 a.m. on cable TV asking for money, and they had decided to send him $300 per month, you would raise an eyebrow, and politely start asking vetting questions about how the oversight board is appointed, actuarial audits, who is being paid how much, etc. These "health-sharing ministries" tend to get a free pass. Try getting real data, not summary un-audited financials--good luck. They shouldn't get less scrutiny than the company that insures your house, for pete's sake. The new law gives a break--finally!--to large families. Go to healthsherpa.org or kaiser subsidy calculator.org, and see for yourself.

"They shouldn't get less scrutiny than the company that insures your house" is right on, and that's why I decided to place a call to Samaritan Ministries...


ObamaCare: What you need to know (Part 6): Evaluating Medi-Share...

Medi-Share, run by an organization called Christian Care Ministry, is a healthcare cost-sharing program. It's like health insurance, but with a twist: it isn't technically insurance. However, becoming a member of this or other similar programs will exempt you from ObamaCare's individual mandate, so apparently such programs are enough like insurance to satisfy the federal government.

Medi-Share in particular seems to be very similar to traditional insurance, much more so than Samaritan Ministries...


ObamaCare: What you need to know (Part 5): Interested in Samaritan Ministries? I am too...

(Many thanks to Joe Helt for contributing to this post.)

Samaritan Ministries (not to be confused with Samaritan's Purse) is not insurance. If you're going to understand Samaritan Ministries, you must simply put the model of "buying health insurance" out of your mind. In fact, the quickest way to understand the ministry is to understand that signing up for it, instead of signing up for a traditional health insurance plan, makes you a "self-pay" patient.

That's right. The bill for your medical expenses is on you.

That sure sounds scary, right? It does to me. But stick with me. There's good news, too...


ObamaCare: What you need to know (Part 4): Christian health sharing ministries...

With all the uncertainty surrounding healthcare plans made available under Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), many Americans are wondering if there are any alternatives out there. Or, more to the point, is there any way to opt out of ObamaCare and not pay the penalty for not having medical insurance?

The short answer is "yes". According to this page on HealthCare.gov, you can avoid paying the penalty if:


ObamaCare: What you need to know... (Part 3)

For the last few days, I have been on a quest to figure out how to calculate the cost of an ObamaCare health plan. Today, I gave up. At the end of the day, the only way to really find out what the cost of an ObamaCare plan will be to your family is to sign up for one, use it for a year, and then pay your taxes... in 2015. Practically speaking, Americans electing to sign up for an ObamaCare plan must simply submit their application to their exchange to see what plans will be available to them and at what cost. It will be an estimated cost, of course, because the total cost won't be settled until they file their 2014 taxes in April of 2015.

If you're interested in the details, keep reading...


ObamaCare: What you need to know... (Part 2)

A recent comment from Denver Todd on this post is very helpful, and so I'm promoting it to a full blog post:

Just some extra information to help people make decisions about signing up for Obamacare. I am numbering them out of convenience, not in order of importance...

  1. All plans in America that are Obamacare compliant, no matter how they come to you, through an exchange or employer, fund abortions and contraceptives for other insurance customers. The only people who can get around this are church workers, and even then, Obama has narrowly defined what a church is, so that fewer and fewer will qualify for this exemption. A Christian ministry probably doesn't qualify, and neither does a Christian school.
  2. There are a number of lawsuits out there, most notably by Hobby Lobby, that are taking up the issue of business owners funding abortions and other contraceptives through employee health plans.

ObamaCare: What you need to know...

On January 1, 2014, all Americans will be required to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. With the deadline less than a month away, it's natural that ObamaCare (officially known as the Affordable Care Act) has been much in the news. On top of the many questions that are to be expected with rolling out such a program, the nation has lived through a government shutdown and the train wreck known as HealthCare.gov.

Despite all the hullabaloo, and at the end of the day, Americans are still left with the task of figuring out what to do. As I began my journey to figure out what to do about ObamaCare, I first wanted to see what the ObamaCare plans entailed. How much did they cost? What did they cover? How did they work?

Answering those questions is not necessarily straight-forward...


Recommending the work of E. Michael Jones...

Just now I added links for a number of periodicals David and I suscribe to. One is Fidelity/Culture Wars, a magazine edited by E. Michael Jones whom I met about thirty years ago at an Allies for Faith and Renewal conference in Ann Arbor. For years the magazine was called Fidelity, but it's been renamed Culture Wars. Mike's published a number of books out of the articles he first wrote for the magazine and I recommend most of them to you.

You should know that Mike is an orthodox Roman Catholic of a rather unique stripe. He believes that Biblical doctrine and faith in Jesus Christ often suffer at the hands of false apparitions like Medjugorje and false shepherds like any number of Roman Catholic hiercharchy including bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and...

Mike is no Protestant and denies the five solas of the Reformation as well as that doctrine by which the church stands or falls, justification by faith alone. Sad it is.

Yet Mike has taught me (and friends like the Liverpudlian Peter Jones and Muscovite Doug Wilson) very much about the culture and politics of our age we would never have learned had we made the mistake of so many Reformed men today who...


T&T Repairables: Clearnote's car dealer...

2004 Honda Civic LX with hail damage. Just dings and broken glass, so it comes with a clean title. Low mileage and good price—get it while you can.


Reading, writing, and E. Michael Jones...

All the time I remind people that I have nothing original to say or write. I'm a hack who reads and quotes others—especially my Dad. When I read his books, particularly the compilation of his monthly columns from Eternity titled Out of My Mind: The Best of Joe Bayly, I realize they are the footers and foundation and framing and drywall and flooring and windows and trim and shingles and paint of my thoughts—understanding, of course, that God's Word is our air and bread and water.

Whom/who do I copy? Mostly dead men. I've read little Lewis, but I've devoured Chesterton and do still. Also Luther and Calvin. Augustine. When talking with younger men and women, I try to get them to have a few great influences and be jealous for their sake. Don't go for breadth. Go for depth. Pick a couple church fathers everyone agrees on and devour them. Don't stop until you're in the grave. Give yourself to them completely so you know their errors, too. Then I always recommend they take Calvin as one of their men. You can't go wrong, particularly if you're a pastor and preaching and teaching is your calling. There's no one close to Calvin as an exegete and expositor, all in one. Buy everything of his in print, including his sermons. But hey, I've got to rein in this post.

All this as prelude to saying my friend E. Michael Jones has just reprinted several of his books and I encourage you to...


Will malaria follow smallpox...

Very hopeful article on a possible solution to that great killer, malaria.

(w/thanks to Lucas)


Wise counsel for this week...

Brother David responds to a comment with this pastoral wisdom I wanted all to read:

Dear (Brother),

Thank you for writing. May I urge you not to make promises to God, but to act? Combine steps of obedience with prayers of repentance. Throw out the television set. Give up the magazines. Put down the tablet or laptop...


Why Sexual by Design?

About this time last year, the women of our church invited Nancy Wilson to speak at their annual Spring Retreat. Like many godly couples in ministry, Doug and Nancy never travel separately, so that meant her husband was part of the deal. That worked out great for us, because we're friends with Doug and we had been hoping to invite him to Bloomington at some point, anyway. The ladies of our church just helped us pull the trigger.

Needless to say, having Doug in town was an opportunity that we wanted to take advantage of. And having him speak on campus was an obvious decision. Initially, we wanted to have a debate of some kind—something similar to what Doug had already done with Christopher Hitchens and others. It would have been familiar territory for him, and we would’ve known what to expect. But we couldn’t find anyone willing or able to partner with us to pull it off. That put us in a bit of a spot and required a bit more creativity.

After corresponding with Doug, we decided to have him do a series of lectures entitled Sexual by Design. The idea was simple. Doug would come and address God’s design for our sexuality—why did God make us male and female? And what then?

The reason for this is simple. If we were going to have Doug Wilson speak on IU’s campus, we wanted it to matter. And if sexuality is a hot-button issue in our culture, it’s a panic-button issue in Bloomington...


Clearnote Fellowship Conference 2013: She Is Our Mother...

Thank you to our conference chairman, Jared Cochran, and all the brothers and sisters who did the work of Clearnote Fellowship's 2012 Conference, "I Believe in God, the Father Almighty," which concluded yesterday afternoon. The preaching and teaching strengthened me, personally, and it was a great joy to meet new brothers and sisters, as well as to renew bonds of love with those who have been here before.

In our world bound in chains of the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life, we must take time apart to sit under the preaching of the Word of God, to pray, to worship, and to share in Christian fellowship. This was our work this weekend and it was food for our souls. Time apart for God and His beloved.

Make plans now to join us next year for Clearnote Conference 2013 titled "She Is Our Mother."

It has been the testimony of church fathers from the time of Jesus Christ that you cannot have God for your Father if you refuse to...


Wolfe wore the whole Scottish fig: cassock, gown, and bands...

This from a godly pastor in his seventies who spent his life ministering in Presbyterian churches. I respect him greatly and wish he were in our congregation. He didn't think this was worth a comment under this post, but I thought it worth its own post. Maybe we think alike because we both ministered in rural parishes, and in Wisconsin no less.

* * *

1. I thought when I was in seminary that I would wear a gown & bands--probably without a clerical collar, using a system that one of our professors used.

Then I became pastor of two rural churches in N.E. Wisconsin & immediately realized how ridiculous this would seem. Oh, maybe I could have explained it all to folks. But was that my job--to talk about my clothes? Our churches had used a retired Presbyterian preacher for a while, who wore a robe. It was OK because they all understood that it was to conceal his fishing waders so he could get out on the trout stream right after church.

2. All the churches I served regularly were in small places or the open country. I did supply a pulpit in the Bronx over one winter...


Books for little men...

A brother in Christ sent this e-mail and I wonder if you dear brothers and sisters of Baylyblog might have a few suggestions? Would you please make comments with your suggestions?

Friends, ...I wonder if you could give me some book suggestions for my son? (He) is seven years old and just starting to read with abandon. He's actually a fairly good reader for his age and is reading at nearly a third grade level (he's finishing up first grade next week).

I'm especially interested in story books that get the male imagination in gear.


Clearnote Church, Bloomington's statement on the meaning and obligations of sexuality in congregational life...

(Note from TB: Often I've had calls from pastors and elders asking for help working through the issue of what is and isn't appropriate for men and women to do in their congregation. Some years ago Clearnote Church, Bloomington adopted such a statement drafted for us by one of our pastors at the time, Rev. David Wegener.

It's clear from a recent comment that readers of Baylyblog don't know Clearnote Bloomington's practice on these matters, so I'm taking this opportunity to post the statement here for the good of the church at large. It it would be helpful, please do circulate this statement--or even adopt it as your own.

Clearnote Church, Bloomington's Understanding of the Biblical Responsibilities of Men and Woman in Congregational Life

Adopted by Clearnote Church, Bloomington Board of Elders in November, 1999

1. All men and women are equally created in the image of God and therefore are equally worthy of our honor and respect...


Coming up Wednesday...

This Wednesday Baylyblog's new design will go live. To help with the transfer we'll be shutting down comments for a day or so, likely starting Tuesday evening. So if you run into problems commenting Tuesday night or Wednesday, please be patient.

The work that's gone into the new design has been heavy since we're not simply switching from one blogging software to another--TypePad to WordPress, for instance. Baylyblog is being transformed into a site running on the open source content management platform, Drupal.

There are a number of features this will allow, but search is the big winner...