Thursday, February 27, 2014


In case you didn't know, David Malki has been doing this, much better, for  quite some time.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

All Theory, No Experience

  I don't know if you have ever thought this, but I have.  While living my life in the local church, i will see a situation that is handled a certain way, and I will wonder 'would I have handled that the same way?'  It's probably just a mental exercise for me, but I  do ponder and think about stuff like that.  I don't anticipate that I will ever be in any sort of pastoral  position, for a variety of reasons, but I do wonder. if I was the guy who had to make the decision, and I couldn't  punt to somebody else, how would I do?  Truth is, though I have been tested in many areas of life, I have never been tested in this area, and so all I have is theory, but not experience.  I've got some Bible verses, but no experience at applying them. Since I have no experience and my track record in my own life is so spotty, chances are good that I have no idea what I'm talking about. Chances are  I am 'all hat, and no cattle', an  American exprssion if there ever was one.I should probably keep that in mind before I criticize somebody else.
  There is some things that I, as a pastor would probably never plan for because I am oblivious to them in my own life.  Fellowship pot-luck dinners, and stuff like that.  Unless somebody suggested it, it would never occur to me to do even though that sort of stuff is apparently really important to ..well, everybody else.   It would never occur to me  to be worried about the  color of the carpet in the auditorium or whether or not we should have crown molding, because frankly I don't care. I say burn the building down and let's meet under a tree for a while. I would like to think that, as a pastor, I would  preach and teach the  Bible and provide every opportunity for people who genuinely wanted to serve Jesus Christ to do so..  Now that all sounds good, but how do you handle the little unexpected curves the ministry throws your way?
  For example, let's say you have a young lady in your church who  has just gotten saved.  it's a glorious thing and she is excited, as she should be.  But she is  still a baby Christian, and she still doesn't understand that there is a biblical definition of 'nakedness' , which is violated on a regular basis by most of the world.  So this fresh-faced eager young lady wants to sing for Jesus in the choir. The Bible commands her to  praise the name of her Saviour, and I have no right to deny her that based off of her ignorance.  I want to give her every opportunity to serve Jesus Christ, and if I  prevented her until she  got everything sorted out, I would also  have to prevent myself because I don't have everything sorted out.  So she wants to sing. Great. Talent is, in my opinion, not a prerequisite to praise. But what she doesn't know is that in her  regular wardrobe the first 4 rows can see all the way to Miami, so to speak.  How do you handle it?
  You don't want to be this guy:

 Equally damaging would be  if you were this guy:

  Standards are important, and I wouldn't even think of treating them lightly. But at the same time, she doesn't know what she doesn't know, and looking down on her ignorance (as opposed to dealing with rebellion) would be as ridiculous as me  chiding my 5 year old for not having a job.  I have been in churches where you couldn't  serve in any sort of ministry capacity unless you jumped through various hoops and met somebody else's criteria. I've seen churches where you couldn't take up the offering without  a suit and tie on.  I personally  think very little of that sort of place.  If there are Bible standards fine, but I could n't care less if you don't like beards and wire-rimmed glasses.

  Now I understand that  eventually she'll figure it out.   There is a process of growth in every Christian life, and  we've all been there.  Given time I could also  cover, in a public setting so that nobody feels pointed out, the importance of modesty, and what the Bible says on the topic. But I'm not talking about  six months from now. I'm talking right now she wants to sing, and you've got to make a judgment call.  What do you do?  If you  play this wrong, you'll crush her and  extinguish her desire to serve God. If you handle this wrong, she'll believe all her friends who tell her that you're just a bunch of 'legalists' and she'll bop on down the road to the rock and roll church that will let her  sing in a  bikini.  So what do you do?
  The clock is ticking, Mr Wanna-Be-Bishop.  Make the call.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Church History: The Heretics-Part 1- The Gnostics

  Even  before the close of the New Testament, heresies began to  crop up in the young church.  Both Paul and  John wrote of the growth of these harmful philosophies and the threat they posed to Biblical  Christianity. Here we will cover, one by one, 5 major heresies that showed up in the first 400 years of Christianity, and how some of these ideas  are still around today.

Gnosticism is as old as the Garden of Eden. At its heart is the idea that man learns about life, death, salvation, etc not  from the word of God, but from his own experiences and  education. In Gnosticism, the Bible isn’t the final authority, it’s just one of many sources of information by which a man  learns about reality.  This is of course contrary  to the word of God which points to God himself, and his words as the source of all knowledge, and wisdom and light.

  Gnostic schools, which had their  heyday in the  early Roman Empire, had a structure by which a  student was brought into higher and  higher levels of knowledge.  “Truth” could  only be taught  by a  Gnostic of a higher level who would guide his pupil “into the light”. 
This sort of  thing still shows up in Freemasonry teaching.

  Having rejected God’s light, the Gnostics came up with some  amazingly foolish ideas on their own.
“In the Gnostic view, there is a true, ultimate and transcendent God, who is beyond all created universes and who never created anything …..” 

“One of the beings who bears the name Sophia (“Wisdom”)… came to emanate from her own being a flawed consciousness, a being who became the creator of the material and psychic cosmos, all of which he created in the image of his own flaw. This being, unaware of his origins, imagined himself to be the ultimate and absolute God..“

  Gnostics teach that most  of mankind lives, unaware of their dual nature ( physical and spiritual), and that enlightened people (like themselves) have to teach man so that man can  ascend.  Some Gnostics taught that by denying the physical ( scourging, fasting, etc)  you could make yourself more aware of the spiritual and free yourself. This philosophy survives in Hinduism, and most reincarnation religions as well as in certain parts of Roman Catholicism

“Gnostics do not look to salvation from sin (original or other), but rather from the ignorance of which sin is a consequence. Ignorance -- whereby is meant ignorance of spiritual realities -- is dispelled only by Gnosis, and the decisive revelation of Gnosis is brought by the Messengers of Light, especially by Christ, the Logos of the True God. It is not by His suffering and death but by His life of teaching and His establishing of mysteries that Christ has performed His work of salvation.”

According to Gnosticism, the  real mission of Jesus wasn’t the salvation of men’s souls, but the freeing of men’s minds. The Gnostics claim in “The Gospel of Judas” that the other Gospel writers  were confused on this, and only Judas understood what Jesus’s real mission was.

  Gnostics also  cite a book called “The Secret Book of James” to prove that there was a split in the early church. In Gnostic mythology, the good guys ( like Judas) tried to lead man towards light and freedom while the bad guys ( like Paul)  tried to tie people to  religious bondage with rules and regulations.
 Gnosticism got a foothold in the hearts of some in the early church because they wanted to sound smart to the intellectuals in the Greek and Roman world. This still happens when Christians abandon their Bibles and "the faith once delivered to the saints" so that they can run to  vain philosophies like evolution or multiculturalism in order to  be considered 'smart'. They forget that God chooses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.  They forget that friendship with the world is enmity with God.  They forget that the fear of man brings a snare.
  If you are saved, and you waste your life apologizing for the word of God while  trying to  appear 'relevant' or 'intellectual' to a bunch of unregenerant flops, you will always wind up looking like a chump in the end. They will never think you're cool, they will never think you're smart. They will understand in their heart of hearts that  you are a compromiser, and as a redeemed  child of God you will stand shoulder to shoulder with his enemies before it's all over with if you're not careful.
   Men, according to scripture, do not reject the Bible because it is  unbelievable or because it is a burden that cannot be  borne. They reject the Bible because they love light rather than darkness, and Gnosticism, just like the other beliefs that will be examined, are nothing but an empty philosophical pillow case in which a sinner can  hide his head on his way to the lake of fire.

More Book Covers!!

  Rather than add anything particularly useful to the internet, I have instead opted for the crowd-pleasing fodder of more book covers, including a magazine cover.
  First up, yet another offering from our dear friend "Dr" Jeremy Nascimento, who  lends his voice to the self-help genre.  I honestly don't know where he finds the time to  write all these books.

  "Dr" Nascimento (who holds an esteemed laureate chair at Wassamata University in Moosylvania) continued his servitude to the general public with his  next tome, in which he compiles and distills  all of his  homesteading wisdom into an easy-to-read guide for anyone who 's not afraid to take the very real risk they will starve to death.

Soon afterwards,  yours truly found himself the subject of much scorn following a real 'hit job' expose in a once prestigious magazine that arose over what was really a very innocent misunderstanding. The bottom-feeding paparazzi will never rest until they get the incriminating , out-of-context photo that  is a  key feature in their livelihood. It is included here not to give any free press to my critics, but rather to give you, my loyal readers, some idea of the muckraking that passes for serious journalism these days.

   As they say though, there is no such thing as bad publicity, and I'm sure my  opponents were astonished  when all the  brouhaha  catapulted my latest work  to the bestseller list.

  Just a few days  later though, I found myself being misquoted in a popular  entertainment  magazine. These chuckleheads can't even properly spell cannibalism!!

  Fortunately, being the unflappable work-aholic that I am, I  pressed on with some ghost-writing, dipping into the biography realm with a man that is  practically a household name.

Let this be a lesson to you young writers out there. work is always the solution.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mostly Imaginary Books and Other Diversions

  Now these may be a lot less funny to the public at large since you don't know the players involved, but I thought it turned out pretty well, all things considered. You see, my friend Jeremy Nascimento has been working on a book for quite some time now, and I was bored, so I decided what he needed was a cover for his book. I made one, on a lark.

  I am pretty sure you can  put "Dr" in front of your name as long as it's in quotations.
  I then got creative and decided to do some covers for books that Jeremy MIGHT write in the future.

  Now Jeremy and I disagree on some key tenets in his  book, so I felt  that after it was all over he might write a book about how to deal with disagreements among the brethren.

  I emailed  Jeremy and he thought they were hilarious. He sent them to his wife and I can  just picture her eyes rolling.   His wife and my wife are  cut from the same strip of cloth. About that time I decided I needed to prove I wasn't above poking fun at myself.

  By now Jeremy was having lunch with his brother in law David and I was beseeched to make a book for  David.

  Now I was on a roll, so it was obviously time to take myself down a notch or two, lest I get the 'big head'.

     It's all a matter of perspective, right?  Oddly enough, I would sit down and read any of these books! Wouldn't you?

 By the way, there is a Part 2 to this.

Monday, February 17, 2014

All Aflush

  As I've mentioned previously, I  love old books.   I love the pictures in old books.  A few years back I had what I thought was a pretty solid business idea that never took off.  My wife and I  took  images from  some of the old books in  my collection, and created a line of  stationary items using the images. Some of the images were tweaked a bit by yours truly, and I saw it as a way to pay homage to the great , mostly forgotten artists that had originally created them while   producing some  quality stationary.  The result was Old Paths Press.
  Though the  idea never achieved the success we had hoped, I still love the idea, and so I  am  all a-ga-ga over the  fact that the British Library has  released a seemingly endless number of  scanned images from their book collection.  It is beautiful in a way that only something old can be beautiful.I have been wasting valuable time sitting here gawking at the pictures.  I'm probably going to  fill up a back up hard drive hoarding the pictures because honestly, that's sort of what I do.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

How To Write A Best-Selling Blog (Not Really)

  I was on the verge of pulling a  really mean trick on my readers, almost by accident. The original  title of this post was going to be 'How to Write A Best-Selling Blog', but that wasn't going to be  the real  subject. It occurred to me that  my attempt at ironic humor might not go over as well as I'd hoped, so I modified the title. Let me explain.
  In this  new electronic world we  live in, everybody is an expert, which is another way of saying that nobody is.  Any semi-literate monkey can, and does have a blog or webpage or youtube channel or whatever.  I am proof positive that  literally anybody can do this. Everybody wants to be  heard, but nobody is  really that certain as to how. So in come the experts to rescue you, hapless blogger guy. If you run  a search on 'how to  drive blog traffic' or 'how to sell e-books', you'll see what I mean.  There is an  entire industry out there writing what everybody already knows. By this I mean  stuff you would have learned in the  first 5 minutes of  your 6th grade creative writing class.
 A lot of the people that  read my stuff also write their own stuff  (and usually do a better job of it), so you  probably know exactly what I mean. If you peruse the  'experts' who write  very generic 'how-to' articles for  this website or that one, you'll find real pearls of wisdom like 'write things that are interesting to your readers'. Really? How profound!  I thought the  idea was to write stuff everybody hated! Wow, thank you, Mr. Expert!
  The experts also give you very vague information that is of no use whatsoever to you  because of its vagueness.  For example they will say "Use social media to its fullest." Ah yes, social media. Hmm...This advice is akin to  writing a gardening article and  proclaiming that 'plants grow better outside'.  Some of us have gone the social media route, and  it has not been the bonanza gold mine that  it's peddlers would tell you.  It's better than nothing, but anybody that says throw a web site up and tomorrow you'll be famous has no idea what they are talking about. If  the viral-ness ( maybe not a word)  of a video was predictable or controllable, everybody would do it.  So that video of your chihuahua yelping the Star Spangled Banner might be a big hit, or it might not.
  Of course there is an angle to all this that falls under the 'mean trick' category of irony.  If you write an article  about how to become a big hit , people desperate to learn something might flock to that  article, and the  article then becomes a big hit.  Despite having added nothing of any real substance to the discussion, you are now a high-traffic  internet writer guy.  You  might sell a lot of books telling people how to sell more books.  I'm sure there's a business school term for that besides 'crazy'.
  It's sort of like the televangelist who says "if you send me 100 dollars, God will give you 1000" when the truth is that if "you send me 20 dollars , I'll be at least 20 dollars richer". If it really worked that way,  it seems to be that Benny Hinn would be  sending out 100 dollar bills as fast as he could so that HE could get the  $1000 from God. But what do I know? I'm just a street preacher.
  My solution to all this is  just to write what I want.I can't tell what you're interested in, so I write about what I'm interested in. I write in spurts, something else the experts  speak against. I write compulsively. I write about Bible stuff, and family stuff, and economic stuff, and art and  church history and science and politics. I write about weird people that I bring  home and issues with  my kids. In all of it, despite being a solitary individual, I try to be very genuine, just like when I preach. Some stuff gets a lot of attention, some  gets absolutely ignored. I  have found I cannot even predict which  category anything will fall into.  Therefore, I don't try.
  Somehow, that works. Lots of people read this. Good thing I'm not an expert.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Real Saint Patrick

(Note: While writing an as yet-unfinished book on the history of publick ministry, I came across some  discrepancies in the accounts of  Patrick of Ireland.   What I eventually discovered is almost  everything that everybody thinks they know about Patrick is wrong, and is the result of  marketing and propaganda on behalf of the Church of Rome.  I also  found this person who is pretty upset about something.  This short dash of prose is taken from the manuscript of that book, with sources cited.  And in case you were curious, this is how we celebrate St. Patrick's day)

   Turning our attention to the Emerald Isle, we find ourselves  vexed with one of the most complicated histories of one of the most famous men in church history; Patrick of Ireland. Often  confused even by historians with Palladius (whom he predated by almost two hundred years), most of what the average person knows about Patrick is legends and fanciful tales that have been embellished over the centuries by various interested parties. Rome has a cottage industry of painting Patrick as one of her own, and crediting him with introducing Rome’s flavor of Christianity to the natives.  However, not only is there a Christian presence in Ireland that predates Patrick, but Patrick was hardly a ‘good little Catholic’.
  In fact, the writings of antiquity documented quite plainly  that not only was there a thriving evangelistic work  in Ireland  less than 100 years after Christ’s birth, but that  this work consisted of publick ministry as a means of propagation. For example, Eusebius writes in his church history that the apostles crossed over the sea to visit the British Isles.  Gildas, a British historian writing in the  6th century, records that  Christianity was  introduced to Ireland prior to A.D. 61, while Cardinal Baronius  records that the Gospel was first preached in Britain in the year A.D. 35.  H.J. Mason in his work, Religion of the Ancient Irish Saints claims that the Bible was available in Ireland in the common tongue as early as 400 and that Christianity was introduced to  Ireland  by Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons in France. Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John, which plainly places a Christian presence in Ireland within less than 2 generations of the completion of the New Testament.  In addition, Tertullian wrote in  200 A.D.,  “Those parts of the British Isles, which were unapproached by the Romans, were yet subject to Christ.”, and  Chrystom, the Greek historian  wrote in 388 A.D. “Although thou shouldest go to the ocean, and those British Isles, thou shouldst  hear all men everywhere discoursing matters out of Scripture with another voice indeed, but not another faith.”
Patrick was the son of a Roman magistrate living in Briton, and his family despite their social standing, fared poorly in one of the raids conducted against north Briton (then called Cedona) by King Colmac Ulfada.  During this raid in 240 A.D., many of Patrick’s family were killed, and he, as a sixteen year old boy, was carried off as a slave to the shores of broad Killala Bay in County Mayo, in the bleak northwest of Ireland. There he was put to work tending sheep—far from home, alone in an utterly alien land. Then, as he tells us:

    After I came to Ireland—every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed—the love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was moved so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many in the night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountain, and I used to get up for prayer before daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain, and I felt no harm, and there was no sloth in me—as I now see, because the spirit within me was then fervent.

  Six years later he escaped, and, going through Scotland, eventually made his way back to Briton.  He was  discipled under the work of Greek missionaries  and after a few years with his family, was ordained in Gaul and announced that it was God’s will that he return to Ireland to preach, which he did in approximately 252.1
When he  announced his intention of going to Ireland to preach the Christian religion, he was first met with all sorts of tears, entreaties and expostulations  and offers of wealth and place..and when these failed..he himself was abused and upbraided…and…finally..placed in confinement

  Despite Roman historians best efforts to superimpose Patrick’s ministry over the papist Palladius it is noteworthy in Patrick’s writings that there are no mention of Romish ways. Nowhere do you see references to mass, purgatory, Mary worship, or even of any allegiance to the See. Instead his writings abound with Scriptural references and explanations of  justification entirely by faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. His Confession abounds with statements such as2
I was as a stone which lies in the deep mire; and he who is mighty came, and took me out of it in his mercy; and he indeed raised me up and placed me on the top of the wall
  Another element of the ‘St. Patrick ‘ myth is his purported supremacy over all other ministers  in Ireland. As we have shown, Patrick did not introduce the Gospel to the island, and so in addition to his writings, we have  the record of his contemporaries regarding his ministry.  Secundinus , a disciple of Patrick  and possibly his nephew writes “he was a true and eminent cultivator of the evangelical field whose seeds appear to be the Gospel of Christ.”   Jocelyn, writing in the twelfth century, says “he read and interpreted the four Gospels at certain seasons, for three days and three nights continually among the people.”
  Patrick died in approximately 310 A.D. , after  60 years of ministry , and by the  ninth century, over sixty-six biographies of him were in existence which, according to the historian Gibbon “ must contained as many thousand lies”.  Incursions and occupations by the Norwegians and the Danes later on destroyed many of the original records and by the twelfth century, the Catholic Church had enjoyed almost 4 centuries of supremacy over Ireland, with plenty of time to rewrite history and obscure so much of the truth about this  soldier of the cross and publick preacher.

Sources :

1  1.        St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland in the Third Century by R. Steele Nicholson

1   2. Religion of the Ancient Irish Saints  Before  A.D. 600  by H.J. Mason
     3. Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbon