What We Were Really Trying to Accomplish in Men’s Ministries

As sort of a follow-up to my last post, I’d like to defend something else that’s under attack these days: men’s ministries.  I actually worked in this field during my time with Church of God Lay Ministries, from when I started in 1996 until the department was abolished in 2010.  So I can speak with some authority on the subject.  When the department ended, I created a legacy web site from the site we had, so you and everyone else can see what was going on.

So what were we trying to accomplish?  The best way to start is to reproduce our own introduction to the topic and ourselves, from this page:

Sunday after Sunday, pastors and ministers in the Church of God go up to their pulpits and frequently preach to a congregation of mostly…women and children (assuming there’s no children’s church.) This is so common that we take it for granted. It is not something that is restricted to our denomination; it is the rule in many evangelical churches. Beyond the doors of the church—on the golf course, at the football game or bowling alley, or in the backyard—men absent themselves from the house of God. Today in the U.S. men represent the fastest growing portion of the population to abandon meaningful belief in God. They frequently embrace secularism, a “religion” in its own right whose growth threatens both the eternities of those who embrace it and the ability of everyone else to freely live for Christ. Why is this? One reason is that there is no organization in many local churches for men to find fellowship, to learn who God is and how they might live for Him, and how they might then serve Him in a meaningful way. By “organization” we don’t mean a quasi-governmental structure as has been common in churches. Our goal is to facilitate ministry teams, men bonded together in love for Jesus and each other, discipled in the essentials of Christianity, instructed to interact with people around them in a Christian way, and sent forth in service to the lost and hurting world around them. LifeBuilders Men’s Ministries—and the Church of God Men’s Fellowship that preceded it—have been ministering to men before such organizations as Promise Keepers and the National Coalition of Men’s Ministries. We have a long-standing alliance with both. But our world is changing, and we must change with it even as we serve “the Maker of the Lights in the heavens, who is himself never subject to change or to eclipse.” (James 1:17b) Men’s ministries must become more relational if it is to be meaningful both to men newly saved or for those who have walked with the Lord for many years.

To that I’d like to make some comments and explanation:

  1. Our Executive Director, Leonard Albert, is first and foremost a trainer of lay people for soul winning.  The LifeBuilders Men’s Ministries was deeply affected by that.  Our desire was for men to share the good news both in what they said and the way they lived.
  2. The Church of God, unlike some other churches, does not have a socio-economically privileged demographic.  Our men’s interests ran along those lines and we tailored our activity recommendations to that reality.  We had to promote the idea that men should read books.  We are also a multi-ethnic church; our men come from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, something that made working for the Department a real joy.
  3. On the other hand, neither Leonard Albert nor I were into the “he-man” ethic that some find so off-putting with men’s ministries.  When Wild at Heart was released, he was unenthusiastic about it, it took some time before we included it in our book store.  As I mentioned in the last post, the society we live in was militarised by World War II and the Cold War, but we never really pushed that nor pushed for men’s ministries to be organised in that fashion.
  4. In our last years we shifted our emphasis to a more discipleship/relational model for men’s ministries.  This was not only a more Biblical way to do it; it was also driven by the realisation that the “pre-discipleship” the culture may have given in the past was fading away.  To be honest a discipleship model was a hard sell in some places, but we partnered with Patrick Morley and Man in the Mirror Ministries in order to promote it.
  5. We never got pushback from the women of our church about men’s ministries.  To encourage men to be saved and responsible husbands and fathers resonated positively with many women.  The big pushback–and this included our entire agenda–came from some of our pastors, who were content with the model described at the start of the piece above.  They felt the presence of strong men in their congregation was a power challenge to them, so they resisted it.

More about how our idea of men’s ministries worked is here.  The Department came to an end in the wake of the church’s budgetary crisis caused by the cutback in remissions from local churches.  Today the legacy website is most frequently visited by Hispanics from all parts of the hemisphere, so men’s ministries is anything but a “white supremacy” project, at least in a Pentecostal context.

I was blessed to be able to be a part of such a ministry and also to explain and defend what we did.

The Episcopal Snobs and the John Wayne Evangelicals

There’s never a dull moment these days, and to shut off the possibility of one occurring we now have the food fight around Kristin Kobes du Mez’ Jesus and John Wayne.  The most recent volley has been around the illustrious Anglican Anne Carlson Kennedy’s review of same, with the usual suspects saying the usual things.  For du Mez and those of her idea Kennedy poses a special threat since she is a) a woman and b) an Anglican.  The first is obvious; the second will take some explanation.

I started out life as an Episcopalian.  In the Episcopal world we had the classic Episcopal Snob, which I have commented on before.  Such people believed and were convinced that the religion they had was superior to that which those around them practiced, especially those dreadful, hollering, money-grubbing fundamentalists.  A corollary to that belief was that those who gave up their antecedent religion and adopted the colonies’ best substitute for the religion our former dread sovereigns fashioned for us were likewise invested with the same superiority.  It’s not a very Biblical appeal for a church but it worked, and worked very well for the years immediately after World War II.

Such transitions were rougher than they looked.  Shortly after I was inducted in the Acolyte Order of St. Peter, my mother and I were in the narthex after a proper 1928 BCP service. I was wearing the cross keys of St. Peter, similar to those on the Vatican flag.  Our rector, Hunsdon Cary, pointed at each of the keys in succession and said, “This key is for Episcopalian and this one is for Baptist.”  I’m sure that my mother–only confirmed a couple of years earlier–was thrilled at being outed in this way.

On the other side of the lake (and later the tracks) were those impecunious fundies, with their lack of either liturgy or trust funds, believers’ baptism and Bill Clinton’s Eucharistic Theology.  They’re the target of du Mez’s book.  Militarized by World War II (weren’t we all really?) and facing the onslaught of the sexual revolution, they adopted a response that angers people like her.  The old fashioned Episcopal snobs could have predicted this.  But they were unprepared for the onslaught of modern and post-modern theology that took over their church.

I’ve lived long enough and been in enough places and churches to have been on both sides of this divide.  I’ll also mention that I actually worked in men’s ministries for a long time.  Frankly our society was better off when such divides didn’t have much to do with each other; we see the results of when they spend all their time in a state of virtual war.  But I think I can make a reasoned estimate of which of these sides has the better merit.

There’s no doubt that, especially when conflict comes, one would wish that Evangelicals wouldn’t have considered the Sermon on the Mount a practical dead letter.  And it would be nice if they didn’t consider centuries of church history as a void waiting for them to show up.  But on balance the Evangelicals have the better case for being Biblical and having a viable path to eternal life than their counterparts to the left, including current-day Episcopal snobs.  A comparison of core beliefs will show this, but I’m going to concentrate on my favourite topic relating to this: the economic disparity between those of du Mez’ idea and her Evangelical opponents.

Evangelicals (and especially Pentecostals) are in the greater scheme of things an underclass.  That may shock some people but it’s true, not only in comparison to, say, the Episcopalians but also our very secular elites.  Donald Trump’s years didn’t change that, but you’d never know it from the endless howling you hear about him and his supporters.  And no one is more loathe to admit it than the Evangelicals themselves.  But when it comes to to helping others in need, Evangelicals are more sacrificial in their willingness to give of themselves and their substance than their liberal counterparts.  When I was a kid at Bethesda we had “mite boxes” but I’ve seen more “widow’s mite” moments as a Pentecostal than I ever saw as an Episcopalian.

Evangelicals’ biggest problem is their endless attempt to get out of the economic basement and move into the seat of power they think they’re entitled to.  That, I think, motivated them in part to support Donald Trump (his opponents’ obsession with adopting non-Christian and anti-Christian policies also fuelled that.)  It drives a great deal of what they do, even when they’re on shaky Biblical ground, such as the recent conflict I’ve gotten involved with about working in heavenIt hasn’t always been this way, but it is now.

But that leads us to the Anglican part: getting blowback from an Anglican woman is a real slap in the face for left-leaning evangelicals who aspire to move up into the Anglican world.  Even Rachel Held Evans figured that out: she became an Episcopalian.  The ACNA, stupidly I think, facilitated this movement with things like the Diocese of the Churches for the Sake of Others. (If that’s not pretentious, I’m not sure what is.)   To move up and then face opposition from people like Anne Kennedy is hard to take.

But that’s the difference between lay people and clergy.  Clergy–especially left-leaning clergy–expect the church they’re in to change to their idea.  Lay people only get to leave and go somewhere else, and that’s not always easy. People like du Mez would be better off if they spent as much time building the church they want people to be a part of rather than nitpicking the one that’s there, but these days that’s too much to ask.

I’m Featured in the New Humanist About Working in Heaven

It’s the topic that never seems to go away (sorry!) My first post on this topic was in 2012, but just a few weeks ago I wrote this in response–and amplification–to an article which featured my first post in, of all places, MEL Magazine (a secular publication for men.)

Now Ralph Jones has written a piece for the New Humanist which once again examines this question. And once again my pieces and also an email interview we did are featured.

There are two questions which bother me about this whole issue, at least the way I’ve been involved with it.

The first is this: why are secular publications seemingly more interested in this topic than Christians are? I think the answer is that churches and ministers, thinking that people are more interested in the immediate benefits of following Jesus Christ in this life than the reward on the other side, have emphasised the former at the expense of the latter. The interest in this topic by secular publications such as these challenge this assumption.

This isn’t the first time that a topic of interest has had secular people call out those who profess and call themselves Christians; it happened in 2007-8 when Brendan O’Neill called out Rowan Williams on environmentalism, which I documented in my piece Messing in Our Own Box.

The second is this: am I the only Christian to actively oppose the idea of working in heaven? Or are there other closeted saints who read the Scriptures the same way that I do who are afraid to voice their opinion? That, by definition, is a form of cancel culture.

Things Going Your Way? A Holy Week Reflection

Many of you know that I used to work for the Church of God Department of Lay Ministries.  One of my colleagues, who did most of the graphic design work, was a good friend in addition to being a coworker.  Sometimes he’d greet me with the phrase, “Things going your way?”

It’s an easy way to say “how are you” because you just assume that, if things are going your way, they’re good.  But the more I think about it the more I realise that there’s something missing here.  The assumption that, if things are going your way they’re going the way they should, needs some review.  I was raised in an environment where I was told that it really didn’t matter whether things went your way or not; you just dealt with what was thrown at you.  Finding out that much of the world doesn’t see it that way–especially Christians–has been a life long struggle.

No where is this more evident than full gospel Christianity, with prosperity teaching following.  The idea is very current that, if you’re in God’s will, things will be going your way.  If they’re not, something is wrong with you.  Many people who experience adversity decide that it isn’t them, and that’s the unrolling theodicy disaster we’re seeing now.  The practical application of this is that people–Christians and others–are conditioned to go to pieces when things don’t go their way.  We’ve seen this play out in the past year with the COVID pandemic, but it antedates that.  This kind of attitude makes life in the U.S. very difficult to endure.

Such an attitude is profoundly unBiblical, and the whole story of the Passion and what follows shows this.  From Palm Sunday things go downhill for Our Lord.  First Judas sneaks off, first to make the deal with the Jewish leadership and then to make good on that deal.  The other disciples are erratic at best; they can’t stay awake when Our Lord needs them the most and bail on him when the going gets tough.  He endures gruesome torture and ultimately death by crucifixion, taunted by things like this: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! He is the ‘King of Israel’! Let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He has trusted in God; if God wants him, let him deliver him now; for he said ‘I am God’s Son.'” (Matthew 27:42-43 TCNT)

But then things change: he rises from the dead, turns disciples into apostles by commissioning them to take the good news to the world, ascends into heaven, and sends the Holy Spirit to start the church.  (The church, sadly, has tried to do the job without the Paraclete, and has the results to show it.)

The lesson of this is simple: just because things aren’t going your way just now doesn’t mean that they aren’t going God’s way.  Our first objective in our walk with God is to follow him, not to expect him to follow us.  When we do that we can find the happiness he has for us, both here and on the other side.

The Problem With Social Justice is That It Always Involves Changing Someone Else

Anne Kennedy makes an interesting observation in her piece “What is Really the Problem?”:

Second, human people are wicked. All people. ALL have sinned and fallen well and catastrophically short of the glory of God. All of the cries about white supremacy, white evangelicalism, patriarchy, and racism all illumine the very false and foolish idea that if you or I were able to fix “other” people, and the systems they inhabit, that all the bad things would not any longer happen.

I recently illustrated the social justice thread in the 1928 and 2019 Books of Common Prayer.  But the whole idea of “social justice” has bugged me since the 1960’s for various reasons.  I think that Anne has put her finger on the problem: social justice involves changing someone else rather than yourself.  For someone who came to a religion where the change was personal first, that’s never set well.

One of the things that evangelicals have always said about everyone else who claims the name of Christ is that they are basically cultural Christians who have never made a personal commitment to the Lord Jesus.  Although these churches are good at producing people like that, it’s not universally true.  Growing up as an Episcopalian, I internalised many things from the New Testament, especially the Sermon on the Mount, and found that others had done the same.  Evangelicals in this country tend to ignore the Sermon on the Mount and concentrate on things like the Great Commission and the moral requirements of the faith.  The two trade insults along these lines; both are right and wrong at the same time.

With social justice warriors, it’s always the same: someone else is doing wrong, or is just inherently wrong.  Someone else is bigoted, homophobic, transphobic, the wrong race, the wrong religion, whatever, and must be beaten into submission, cancelled, or thrust into the outer void at the first opportunity.  There’s no real requirement for the warriors to be paragons of virtue at all: as long as they shove their righteousness down everyone else’s throat, they’re fine in their own eyes.

Some of the problem is that we have democratic process.  To get anything done, for better or worse, we must create a bandwagon effect, coupled with bribery at the right places, to achieve our purpose.  If our self-righteous elites would be honest with themselves and the rest of us, stop touting democracy as the ideal and rule in their self-righteous confidence by decree, the dynamic would be different.  But things like that are why our society is fundamentally duplicitous.

Evidently we have conveniently forgotten the following:

And why do you look at the straw in your brother’s eye, while you pay no attention at all to the beam in your own? How can you say to your brother ‘Brother, let me take out the straw in your eye,’ while you yourself do not see the beam in your own? Hypocrite! Take out the beam from your own eye first, and then you will see clearly how to take out the straw in your brother’s. (Luke 6:41-42 TCNT)

But in our post-Christian society, self-righteousness is no longer a sin, but a virtue.  Why Christians of all types blindly go along with this is beyond me.

Casting the Seven Mountains Into the Sea

David French’s piece on the “Seven Mountain Movement” is in intriguing look into something that I’ve heard discussed over the years but never really spelled out.  He describes the basics of the movement as follows:

In its distilled essence, the Seven Mountain concept describes seven key cultural/religious institutions that should be influenced and transformed by Christian believers to create “Godly change” in America. The key to transforming the nation rests with reaching the family, the church, education, media, arts, the economy, and the government with the truth of the Gospel.

Although stuff like this has induced panic into the left over the years, even with Trump the left has overestimated the ability of those who espouse this movement to make it a reality.  Looked at from a purely objective standpoint, the whole Evangelical movement to “take America back for God” has floundered along for too long, having its biggest triumph too late in the game for the results to stick.

French himself put his finger on the core problem, but I don’t think he realises its import:

Astute readers will by now have noticed two things…Second, you’ll note how much it emphasizes the importance of placing people in positions of power and control.

The left understands completely the importance of power and control, and has from the start.  They’ve played the long game to get where they’re at, even though many, in typically American fashion, have been impatient about results and frequently have overplayed their hand because of their impatience.  The left’s biggest problem is that, as I noted at the end of my novel, they don’t have a strong leader to really get their agenda over the top, contenting themselves with collectivistic gumming of their opponents.

Evangelicals have up until now lived in a country where you didn’t have to have power to have a good life.  The legal and political system allowed people to live well without having to have some kind of “inside deal” to get along.  They didn’t understand, unlike the left, that you have to “play for keeps” to really get where you want to go, and the game is not won by winning elections or getting many people on your side, but the right people, in which case the other two come eventually.

That’s all changed, and now Evangelicals have woken up to the fact that their opponents have been engaged in asymmetric warfare with a superior strategy.  So now they now try to target the right people, which is a game changer for Evangelicals, usually engaged in an eternal popularity contest.  In the course of this they have set as their objective control of society, because the left has taught them that, to do what you want, you need to have power.

I honestly think that it’s too late in the game for Evangelicals to attempt this.  I also think that Evangelicalism isn’t designed for societal domination in the way that, say, the Main Line churches were.  The latter, descendants for the most part of Old World (and some New World) state churches, lived in a world where the church and state set the agenda (subject to disputes as to what that agenda was) and everyone went along with it.  The Main Line churches dominated the scene in this country, not now the state church but comfortable with bringing people to cultural Christianity.  With the decline of Main Line churches, Evangelicals have tried to fill the void.  But Evangelical churches are, by definition, about a decision.  To be a truly national/societal church isn’t about decisions; it’s about setting the pace in a society.  Those who don’t like the pace they’ve set either must revolt (with the consequences of failure) or leave.

At this point, instead of playing around with “influencer” games, Evangelicals have only two choices.

The first is what I call the “Jehu Option,” i.e. a revolt until their opponents are gone.  Some would like to think that the riot at the Capitol 6 January 2021 was the beginning of such an option, but given the desultory way the rioters assaulted vs. the inadequate response of the Capitol Police, we’re a long way from that happening.  In any case I doubt Evangelicals (or any other dissidents) could pull it together to make it happen.  I’ve always felt that the fall of the Republic will come from outside taking advantage of internal weakness and division; the idea that we can replicate the American Revolution against ourselves is a non-starter.

The second is to recognise that we have lost control of the levers of secular power and plan accordingly.  In reality Evangelicals have not had their hands anywhere near these levers since at least World War I.  The events of the Trump era were an aberration; Evangelicals were forced to go along with someone who was very different from their idea of a good, respectable human being.  The fact that some tried to apply adoration to their icon only shows that it’s easier to try to get away from the apostolic churches than it is to actually do it.

I don’t think that the New Testament supports the “Jehu Option” in any form (the Old Testament wasn’t really happy about the outcome of that bloodbath either.)  Getting Evangelicals past their defective concept of the relationship of the Old and New Testament–which makes options like that and the American Revolution morally plausible–isn’t going to be an easy task.  Getting American Evangelicals past their a)conflation of their faith in God with their love of country and b)their idea that Evangelical Christianity is the “way up” isn’t going to be easy either, although the latter should be obvious in a country where there isn’t much of a way up for most of the population.

What Evangelicals need to do is to is to quit trying to scale/conquer the seven mountains and try to move one:

And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. (Mark 11:22-23 KJV)

To which the great Bossuet commented as follows:

Behold the wonder of wonders: man clothed in the omnipotence of God.

Go, said the Saviour, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, case out devils: freely have you received, freely give.  (Matthew 10:8) Who ever gave such a command?

And he sent them to preach the Kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. (Luke 9:2) Who ever sent his ministers with such commands? Go, He said, into this house and heal those whom you will find there.  All were filled with wonder at such commands. And yet, he proceeded even further: All that you ask in my name, you shall receive. (John 14:14) You will be able to do all that I am able to do. You will do all of the greatest things that you have seen me do, and you will do even greater things. In fact, if one was cured on touching the edge of the robe of Jesus Christ while He was wearing it, weren’t even greater miracles being performed by St. Paul, when there were even brought from his body, to the sick, handkerchiefs and aprons, and the diseases departed from them? (Acts 19:12) And not only the linens which had touched the apostles had that power, but their very shadow: when Peter came, his shadow at the least, might overshadow any of them, and they might be delivered from their infirmities. (Acts 5:15)

Here, therefore, is the greatest miracle of Jesus Christ. Not only is He all-powerful, but here He renders man all-powerful and, if possible, more powerful than He Himself is, performing constantly greater miracles, and all through faith and through prayer: and all things whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive. (Matthew 21:22)  Faith, therefore, and prayer are all-powerful, and they clothe man with the omnipotence of God. If you can believe, said the Saviour, all is possible to him who believes. (Mark 9:22)

The performance of miracles, therefore, is not the difficulty.  Rather, the difficulty is to believe.  If you can believe.  This is the miracle of miracles; to believe absolutely and without hesitation. I believe, Lord, help my unbelief (Mark 9:23), said the man to whom Jesus said: If you can believe.

Work in Heaven? Rubbish!

I got this shout-out from MEL Magazine’s Miles Klee about my 2012 piece on working in heaven:

I was thankful to turn up one guy, Don C. Warrington, who, though a practicing Christian and once employed by the Church of God, wasn’t having this bull****. “The Scriptures are not very detailed on what our life with God on the other side will be like,” he argued in a 2012 blog post. “They speak of rewards, crowns, ruling and the like, but none of this suggests work. The whole idea of ruling is that someone else gets to do the work while you take the credit.” Moreover, he asserts, we won’t have to develop the infrastructure of heaven when we arrive: “Jesus promised that he would go and prepare the place.”

As I did then, I think the whole concept of working in heaven is profoundly unBiblical.  I laid out the case in that post and won’t go through it again.  What I want to concentrate on here is how this kind of belief got into Evangelical Christianity in this country.  Klee leads off with FBC Dallas’ Robert Jeffress pronouncement on the subject, but as he shows this kind of thinking has been embedded amongst our ministers for a long time.  (My original post nine years ago was in response to some pulpit pronouncements.)

I think this is a classic example of Evangelicals “engaging the culture” which ends up becoming “following the culture.”   Traditionally (in the South at least) Evangelical Christianity has always had an escapist streak in it, as anyone who’s experienced a “heaven song” medley will attest.  Americans, however, have a bad habit of defining themselves and their worth by what they do for a living, be that independent business or working for someone else.  Churches have not only picked up and tried to Biblicise that, they’re also playing to a bad dynamic amongst our ministers which makes the congregation essentially employees of the pastor, there to fulfil the pastor’s vision for the church.  This last point is weird considering that the money flow in a church is opposite to that of a workplace.

I think my own pushback to all of this, in addition to reading comprehension of the Bible, is assisted by my own status as a combination of old money snobbery and Scots-Irish laziness, the former of which is virtually unknown in Evangelical circles.  To begin with, I think it’s bad that Americans invest so much of their concept of self worth in their work. It’s bad from a career standpoint, as I point out in Advice to Graduates: The Two Promises I Made to Myself, and it’s also bad from a workplace operation standpoint.  In many workplaces everyone is trying harder to show that they’re up to their inflated publicity rather than doing the task that is in front of them.  Changing that would not only make our workplaces more productive; it would get rid of many of the gender bias issues that we seem to obsess so much about.

It’s also shocking that Christians invest so much of their self-concept in their work and that their ministers aid and abet this mistake.  Isn’t our first identity in Christ?  How can we oppose the critical race theory jockeys and still look to somewhere else other than our creator for our identity and worth?  I discuss this on a elevated social plane in my piece A State of Being.

That being said, I am one of these people who believe that we should come to work and do our best, and apply our mind to effectively do the task that is in front of us, up to and including challenging the concept of “we’ve always done it this way.”  But when it’s time to “lay our burdens down,” it’s time, and heaven ultimately is that time.  Klee laments that one Evangelical says that there will be no orgasms in heaven.  The Evangelical is right, but what we will experience in the presence of God will be far more intense and sustained than any orgasm we experience here.

At that point, the work will cease and the celebration will begin and never end.  Don’t miss it.

The Part of Psalm 91 That No One Likes

A favourite psalm of many is Psalm 91.  Everyone likes this part:

Praise of a Song, by David. He that dwells in the help of the Highest, shall sojourn under the shelter of the God of heaven. He shall say to the Lord, Thou art my helper and my refuge: my God; I will hope in him. For he shall deliver thee from the snare of the hunters, from every troublesome matter. He shall overshadow thee with his shoulders, and thou shalt trust under his wings: his truth shall cover thee with a shield. Thou shalt not be afraid of terror by night; nor of the arrow flying by day; nor of the evil thing that walks in darkness; nor of calamity, and the evil spirit at noon-day. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. (Psalms 91:1-7 Brenton)

It’s a favorite these days, and was one in the wake of 9/11 (and in the military during the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.  But there’s a part that most people are unaware of, and that’s this post’s subject.

Let’s go down towards the end of the psalm:

For he shall give his angels charge concerning thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up on their hands, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. (Psalms 91:11-12 Brenton)

If this looks familiar, it should.  We like to quote this psalm, but during the temptation in the wilderness so did Satan:

Then the Devil took him to the Holy City, and, placing him on the parapet of the temple, said to him: “If you are God’s Son, throw yourself down, for Scripture says- -‘He will give his angels commands about thee, And on their hands they will upbear thee, Lest ever thou shouldst strike thy foot against a stone.'” “Scripture also says,” answered Jesus, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.'” (Matthew 4:5-7 TCNT)

As it turns out this was the beginning of the conflict between Christ and Satan while Our Lord was on this earth.

During the passion, crucifixion and death of Our Lord, it certainly looked like Jesus should have taken Satan up on his bargain.  It’s for sure that Satan thought so.  But Satan’s apparent victory evaporated when Jesus Christ rose from the dead and won for us eternal life.

God has promised to protect us.  Sometimes, however, the road to victory and ultimate protection has some “bumps” in it, but that doesn’t mean that all is lost.  If Our Lord had to go through what he did, what can we expect?

No, the more you share the sufferings of the Christ, the more may you rejoice, that, when the time comes for the manifestation of his Glory, you may rejoice and exult. (1 Peter 4:13 TCNT)

Church of God Chaplains Commission 9/11 Ministry Presentation

As we come up on another anniversary of September 11, we present this, prepared for the Church of God Chaplains Commission:

This is a video version of the PowerPoint presentation first shown at the Church of God Chaplains Commission Honors Dinner and Awards Ceremony, Marriott Ball Room, Indianapolis, Indiana, 10 August 2002. This was in conjunction with the Church of God General Assembly.

In putting this together under the direction of Dr. Robert Crick, the Commission’s Executive Director, it was not the primary intention to put together a patriotic presentation, but to set the scene of 9/11, to show the ministry response of the Church of God, and to honor those affiliated with the Commission for their part of that response.

The Commission certifies chaplains for a wide variety of institutions, including military, prison, hospital and other institutions, and these are featured in the presentation. In parts this is a difficult presentation to watch, even after nearly twenty years. Without the music of the incomparable Adrian Snell it would not have had the impact on its original audience that it did.

This video is dedicated to the memory of Dave Lorency, one of the honorees, who passed away this past spring.

Dr. Alexander Vazakas: Early Greek-American Pentecostal, Philosopher, Linguist

Alexander Vazakas (1873-1965) began life in the Ottoman Empire, where his family suffered persecution on account of their evangelical faith. In 1902 he immigrated to America, where he became a linguist and philosopher. During the last years of his life, he served as a professor at Evangel College (now Evangel University) in Springfield, Missouri, and became well-known for melding his sharp mind with a passion for working with young people…

Dr. Alexander Vazakas: Early Greek-American Pentecostal, Philosopher, Linguist