Friday, March 1, 2019

Dr.John's Stories and Prayers: Valiant Men

Dr.John's Stories and Prayers: Valiant Men: I Samuel 10: 26 NKJV " And Saul also went home  to Gibeah; and valiant  men  went with him, whose hearts God had touched." Once ...

Valiant Men

I Samuel 10: 26 NKJV "And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and valiant men went with him, whose hearts God had touched."

Once Samuel announced God's appointment of Saul as king of Israel, some dramatic things began to happen, just as Samuel had prophesied. 

In the midst of the opening days and weeks of Saul's kingship. God began to show up. "The Spirit of God came upon Saul" (I Samuel 10:6), and he called the people of Israel to holy warfare.

Saul met up with a group of prophets (I Samuel 10) and was filled with the Spirit of God. The transformation of Saul's being filled with the Spirit was so dramatic, that a man fearful of public speaking became a prophet! 

Valiant men gathered around King Saul, attracted to the charisma of the Spirit of God that was upon him. Saul, along with these courageous warriors, went to war against the godless and idolatrous Ammonites, and were victorious.

A valiant person is brave, courageous, and fearless in the face of danger. When I think of valiant men and women, I think of courageous people of faith who faced the danger of impossible odds with a reckless abandonment of themselves to a mighty God whose purpose seemed to call them to an impossible task.

I think of Dr. Becky Luman. I first met Becky when she was a student at Mount Carmel High School in 1969. My parents were teachers and dorm supervisors at Mount Carmel. Becky was a preacher's kid from Pennsylvania who enrolled as a dorm student. She was appointed to her student work assignment as our family housemaid. I followed her life and career. In 1989 she was employed full-time at Wesley Biblical Seminary. She advanced from secretary to the president to a full-time member of the faculty. 

In 2013, Dr. Luman valiantly accepted a role as a member of a presidential search committee at WBS. I was the candidate. In the midst of organizational chaos and despair, Dr. Luman saw hope for a future. The search committee recommended me to the Board of Trustees and I was hired as the president. This valiant woman led a charge of faith, hope, and victory, and now she is completing her 30th year at WBS. 

In 1998, Rev. Rob Pocai became one of my students and advisees at Kentucky Mountain Bible College. In February 1999, he surrendered his all to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and was dramatically and remarkably filled with the Holy Spirit. In 2013, Rob was pastoring a church in Kentucky. He was living in his dream home. Life was comfortable for Rob, Holly, and their daughter, Isabella. 

I will never forget calling Rob on May 4, 2013. Weeping as I spoke, I said, "Rob, the WBS Board of Trustees has interviewed me for the presidency of WBS. If this happens, I need you on my team."

It did happen, and Rob, called by God, joined the team. This valiant man of courage and faith left everything comfortable behind to become a leader at Wesley Biblical Seminary. 

Valiant people make a mighty difference. Valiant people like Dr. Matt Friedeman, Dr. Steve Blakemore, Dr. Rick Boyd, Dr. Gary Cockerill, Dr. Chris Lohrstorfer, and Peggy Price, filled with the Spirit of God stepped forward at Wesley Biblical Seminary to advance a mission for the authority of Scripture and the call to holiness. 

Today, Wesley Biblical Seminary is impacting students from 18 states and 11 nations. Governance and fiduciary crises are behind us. We are moving into a new campus in Ridgeland, Mississippi. We are approaching record enrollment. And we have had a front row seat to some of the greatest miracles of our lives. 

"Valiant men when with him, whose hearts God had touched." I am thankful for valiant men and women of courage, faith, and resolve who have blessed my life. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Wolf is at the Door

The move to reject truth and embrace tolerance always trends toward a dogma. Nature abhors a vacuum. Rejecting truth creates a vacuum. Relativistic tolerance creates a vacuum. A more decisive dogma must be advanced to fill the space and allow for a perception of order. 

In the midst of such a conflict of worldviews, not everyone has abandoned a quest for truth. So, truth, relativism, and the “new order” stand in stark contrast to one another. Worldviews stand in social and cultural tension, vying for supremacy. 

The progression seems to follow this order. A traditional worldview holds sway. A new worldview is proposed. Tolerance is espoused as the virtue to balance the conflicting positions. Coexistence is the strategy. However, as the new worldview gains acceptance, the tensions inevitably build. Tolerance is no longer an adequate strategy for the proponents of the new worldview. Dogmatic demands for dominance assert themselves. 

In the 1950s and 1960s, social and moral leftists challenged social and moral traditionalists to define reality. The cry was “Down with the system.” Out with the old morality. In with the new morality. And the new morality was simply the old immorality. 

This tension persisted and grew in the United States of America and throughout much of the world. Tolerance was espoused as the new dogma of the moral leftists. 

“No one reality is superior to another.” 

“You have your reality, and I have mine,” quickly became “You have your truth and I have mine.” 

Equal validity of alternative world views became the demand of a narrative-based, emotionally-oriented culture that insisted empathy was the key virtue of a tolerant humanity. 

“All roads lead to the same place” became the theological platitude. 

“Judge not,” became the practical distortion of the church and society. 

However, culture and values continue moving. And Western culture is no longer a culture based in the postmodern religion of tolerance. Nature abhors a vacuum. Relativism creates a vacuum of uncertainty. People don’t know how to act. There is no script, no template, no predictability. The doctrine of relativistic tolerance just does not work. Human nature demands predictability.

Something must change.

Enter, the new dogmatism. 

Actually, the new dogmatism has been around a long time. It is simply the wolf of the new dogmatism shedding the sheepish clothing of tolerance. The new dogma now bares its teeth and arches its back with a menacing snarl of attack.

The new dogmatics attack in Senate chambers, softball fields, streets, yards, airports, homes, families, and restaurants. Public space is fair game. Private space is fair game. Electronic space is an especially acceptable arena. Any space is fair game for the battlefield. 

The new dogmatics utilize strategies of brutality, mockery, name-calling, ridicule, tactical pressure, terrifying action, threats, lies, and incessant focus upon any who stand between the new dogmatics and their quest to define the dominant worldview.

The strategy is not new. 

Initially, a new worldview is introduced as an equally valid alternative. Tolerance is encouraged. But soon, the wolf of revolution rejects the sheepish goal of tolerance and howls its insistence to prevail. 

The wolf is at the door. 

But Jesus, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) remains steadfast. He calls us to truth, justice, love, mercy, and holiness. These immutable standards remain, having stood the test of time.

When the wolf is at the door, send the Lamb to answer.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Further Loss of Civility

Colossians 3:12-17
"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

Our culture suffers from a loss of civility. We speak to each other in rude soundbites. We play a game of "gotcha." We expose one another's weaknesses and failures in a perpetual attempt to scramble to the top of the heap and pronounce ourselves as pre-eminent. All too soon we are knocked from our perch. 

Hour after hour of cable news viewing, social media networking, and much of our interaction will condition us to incivility and unkindness. Our speech deteriorates. Our conduct degenerates. Our lives becomes angry.

Name calling, character assassination, and profanity prevail in public discourse. Politicians, actors, newscasters, and academics participate in plundering civility. The bounty of the culture war seems to be a temporary trifle of power, and a longterm shredding of society. 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: "When we forget what is due to ourselves and to others, when the feeling for human quality and the power to exercise reserve cease to exist, chaos is at the door."

Chaos has knocked and we have granted cultural admittance. 

Bonhoeffer continued: "Unless we have the courage to fight for a revival of wholesome reserve between people, we shall perish in an anarchy of human values."

You are made in the image of God. Everyone else is too. Live like it today, by God's grace. Welcome kindness. Let it flow from a heart of perfect love. Live in peace. Thank God and others. Sing. Rejoice. Live largely in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Alone and Together

I need Christ's church. I need the Body of Christ. While my faith life exists in periods of isolation and separation from the body of believers, God also creates me to partake in the "fellowship of believers."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a book devoted to living together in community. He called it Life Together. In it he said, "We recognize, then that only as we stand within the community can we be alone, and only those who are alone can live in the community. Both belong together. Only in the community do we learn to be properly alone; and only in being alone do we learn to live properly in the community. It is not as if the one preceded the other; rather that both begin at the same time, namely, with the call of Jesus Christ" (Life Together, pp. 82-83).

The Hebrew (10:23-25 NKJV) writer wrote: 'Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."

I travel extensively with my work. Travel often conflicts with Sunday worship in my home church. I love my work, but I miss my home church. Sunday always finds me in worship. But Sundays are most special when Beth and I are home. I usually fill in as Sunday school teacher for our class, giving our regular teacher, Albert, a break. I occasionally fill the pulpit for Pastor Jay. 

I find that I need other believers. I need the Body of Christ. 

Wednesday mornings are spent with a group of Christian men who disciple one another in the faith. A dozen or so of us gather in Bible Study challenging each other to become disciples of Jesus Christ. We read a brief passage of scripture and talk about five discipleship questions. 
  1. What is Jesus saying?
  2. Who is Jesus today?
  3. What has Jesus done for you recently?
  4. How can I feed others?
  5. What am I believing Jesus for this week?
But fellowship and discipleship time with others is not enough. 

I need time alone with the Lord. 

I can only contribute into the spiritual lives of others as I  encounter my living Lord Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. I can only give as I have received. So, early mornings are spent in the quiet place. I read devotional books, the Holy Bible, write devotional thoughts, journal, and pray.  I seek to furnish my soul in isolation with God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit to my heart. 

Are you assembling together with other believers in Christian fellowship, Bible study, prayer, and public worship? Are you tending to your own inner private spiritual life?

Remember the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "Only in the community do we learn to be properly alone; and only in being alone do we learn to live properly in the community."

Friday, September 28, 2018

Anarchy Ascending

Incivility has overtaken public discourse. 

Honorable dialogical processes have been corrupted with innuendo, unsubstantiated accusations, slander, and character assassination. 

Dignity has been assaulted, dragged through the streets in utter shame, and exposed to exploitation in the name of justice. Courageous civil servants have become victims of anarchist flash mobs spewing threats and intimidation.

Revolution has no justice. Revolution is about lynch mobs. Anarchy. Revenge upon the powerful. Insurrection.

The Bolsheviks are on the ascendancy. Riots in the streets. Pursuing public servants to private spaces with accusations of “Bourgeois pigs.” The proletariat seeks to flout all order and revolt against all rules. 

“Power to the people”?

coup d’etatof rebels against civil liberty.

Saul Alinsky was a noted American Marxist and anarchist.  He provided the playbook for insurrection and revolution that included brutality, mockery, ridicule, tactical pressure, terrifying action, threats, lies, and incessant focus upon hated targets. 

Power to no one. Dignity to no one. Worth to no one. Justice for no one. Utter nihilism on parade. 

Dorothy L. Sayers gave an address titled The Other Six Deadly Sins(1941) to the Public Morality Council at Caxton Hall, Westminster. She boldly proclaimed an indictment against the sin of amoral tolerance.

“In the world it calls itself Tolerance; but in hell it is called Despair… It is the sin which believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and only remains alive because there is nothing it would die for.  We have known it far too well for many years.  The only thing perhaps that we have not known about it is that it is mortal sin.”

The political and social deconstruction of order by anarchy’s chaos demands its religious, intellectual, and philosophical twin. In this Bolshevik scheme of anarchy and revolution, there is no sin except to oppose the imposition of the state religion. Anarchy’s social disorder thrives on this truthless doctrine. The state religion, the twin of chaos, is tolerance.

The bourgeois is overthrown. The proletariat is promised power. The once powerful are oppressed, punished, tortured, and even executed. Lawlessness abounds until the revolutionary guard is entrenched in its military enforcement of the oppressive state. 

Groupthink. Thought police. Mind control. Liquidating objectors. Gulags. Work camps. Cultural reprogramming. 

We have seen this all before. 

And what is it about? 

Power. Immorality. Atheism. Abandonment of truth. 

Libertine celebration denies all moral compunction, spiritual value, and divinely created reality. 

But in the face of ascending anarchy, a transcendent God of order, beauty, and love reigns over all. In love, He looks upon his creation, broken and wounded by sin. From ancient times, the Hebrew King David described the glory of the creative Lord of the universe (Psalm 8 NKJV). Creator God establishes His order and beauty in the midst of our sinful anarchy and chaos. 

O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens!

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?

For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,

All sheep and oxen—
Even the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Beyond Redemption?

The morning headlines screamed. The United States Senator from California had some dirt on the 50-something Supreme Court nominee. The dirt dated back to high school.

High school?

Yes. High school.

Television moguls, Hollywood producers, actors, politicians, preachers, and now judges find themselves in the crosshairs of exposure. 

On the one hand, the frequent unmasking of sins from one’s past remind us of the admonition from the Holy Bible, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). What is done in private often becomes fodder for public consumption, especially is the behavior is wrong. 

On the other hand, such allegations and exposure are the norm in the “gotcha” culture of blame and recrimination in postmodern United States of America.

I profess to know no one's guilt or innocence in the current events I have described. The news cycle moves so rapidly that events fly by in a blur. Truth is lost in the blur. Time is lost in the blur. Linearity is lost in the blur. 

But the public perception of Moonves, Hybels, Weinstein, Gothard, or Kavanaugh’s guilt or innocence is not my point. I am addressing a much larger issue. Redemption.

So, what is going on?

Over lunch today, I asked a colleague and friend, “How would you like it if you were held responsible for the stupid and sinful things you did in high school?”

He blanched. He went on to remind me of his teenage shoplifting habit, his speeding, outrunning the law, and the long line of ex-girlfriends from high school. 

“But,” he reminded me, “All that is under the blood of Jesus.”

Why does our culture gasp over a Supreme Court nominees’ high school behavior? How does his youthful sin matter more than your high school transgression, or mine?

All sin matters because sin causes separation from God and other humans. Scripture teaches that sin causes death. Spiritual death. Physical death. Relational death. In the face of death, a Savior must be found. Sin must be atoned. Genuine confession and repentance must take place. Redemption must be sought and found. The reality of redemption is made possible only through God made flesh, Jesus, the “Lamb of God,” who gave his life for the sins of the whole world. Sin matters. Sin cost Jesus Christ His life. 

But our culture seems to believe that sin matters, because, our culture no longer believes in the possibility of redemption. Our culture has abandoned the hope of personal redemption in favor of eternal judgment of the powerful. Political and cultural cynicism leverage power to advance an aggressive agenda of revolution against everything that our culture has historically held as noble and good, including redemption.

Our culture has embraced a neo-Marxist social justice revolution which deconstructs every living obstacle for its agenda of revolution. No member of the bourgeois escapes the postmodern, politically correct sword of judgment and character assassination. The power-wielding are labeled corrupt simply because they wield power, whether elected, conferred, or earned. The powerful are beyond redemption because they are powerful. The proletariat must overthrow them through revolution. 

The neo-Marxist atheism insists, “There is no God. There is no Redeemer. There is no Savior. There is only corrupt bourgeois power, and it must be overthrown. Power to the people.”

And if a judge is a member of the bourgeois power-brokers, he is evil incarnate. Any past sin, moral or otherwise, religious or politically incorrect, incurs unredeemable guilt and condemnation. He must go! Unless, of course, he capitulates to the politically correct, neo-Marxist, social justice warrior endorsed revolution.

How different the situation is with people who possess the hopeful optimism of a living faith in a living Lord. We believe in the potential of God’s grace to transform a person. 

Faith abandons the hopeless edict, “People never change,” in favor of the optimism of transformation through the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ.


Because we have a Redeemer. We have a living Savior. And we believe in the power of His grace to transform humanity from sin to holiness, from wickedness to righteousness, from worthless to worthwhile. And we have witnessed the miraculous transformation in ourselves and in others. 

We testify to believing that no one is beyond redemption because we have a Redeemer who died on a cross and was raised to eternal life on the third day. We affirm that He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of His Father, the Lord of the Universe. His name is Jesus Christ, and He is praying for your transformation and mine. 

We assert faith in the potential of people to change, and the power of God to change people.  

But people of faith are not immune to the insidious pessimism of the revolutionaries. Instead of praying for people in authority, we all too often, view them as beyond redemption. We adopt a Republican fundamentalist religion in which we justify hatred and damnation of political and moral foes. Occasionally, I hear things like, “I don’t think a Democrat can actually be a Christian.”

Rather than praying for an opponent’s salvation, we embrace the immoral pessimism of our age. Rather than believing in God’s power to transform, we surrender the sword of the Spirit for weaponized worldly methods and pronounce damnation upon all who defy our crusade for righteousness. 


Do you believe that God has conferred power upon your Democratic mayor (Romans 13:1-3)?

Do you believe that God can save your Republican governor who is cutting your teacher’s retirement plan? 

Can God save neo-Marxists? Revolutionaries? Social justice warriors? What about political leaders you don’t like?

Sometimes we respond to the accusers, “I’ll just dig up some dirt on you! You won’t hold up to the same standard to which you are holding others!”

Everybody gets dirty in a mud fight.

Our collective default to relativistic terms of "Whose sins are worse?" only compromises our position as Christians to respond to sin, our own and those of others, with a truly redemptive message of hope and transformation. If we Christians respond to the progressives’ game of "gotcha" in kind, we engage a godless response devoid of redeeming grace. 

There is no double-standard in God’s Word. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” We have sinned. The ubiquitous “they” have sinned. You are not beyond redemption. “They” are not beyond redemption. No one is. The optimism of believing in redemption makes us different. 

The voracious and destructive appetite of the neo-Marxist social justice movement will remain unsatisfied until every powerful person is deconstructed, dethroned, and demoted. Public service is deconstructed. Corporations are destroyed. Clergymen and women are defrocked. Families are divorced. Christian marriage is neutered and replaced with sterility.  

But hatred spans the spectrum.  Especially toward people we dislike. Evil resides both in the religious and the revolutionary. The hypocrisy of hate clinging to a professing Christian and the passion for revolution shrouding the neo-Marxist determines a dark pathway devoid of hope or redemption.

Saint John wrote: 

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (I John 1:8-2:2 NKJV).

Are your sins under the blood of Jesus? Childhood sins, high school sins, adult sins… You must confess and repent in faith to our Lord Jesus Christ. He forgives. He redeems. He fills us with perfect love that makes it possible for us to love even the unlovely. He empowers all who believe on His name to walk before Him in holiness and righteousness. 

Believe in redemption. Believe in a Redeemer. His name is Jesus Christ. And He provides equal opportunity redemption for both the religious and the revolutionary. No one is beyond redemption.