Nov 1, 2007
my heart may throb and ache.
But in my soul I’m glad I know,
that He makes no mistake.
My cherished plans may go astray,
my hopes may fade away,
but still I’ll trust my Lord to lead,
for He does know the way.
Though night be dark and it may seem
that day will never break;
I’ll pin my faith, my all on Him,
for He makes no mistake.
There is so much I cannot see,
my eyesight’s far too dim;
but come what may, I’ll simply trust
and leave it all to Him.
For by and by the fog will lift
and all things plain He’ll make.
Through all the way, though dark to me,
He made not one mistake.
A.M. Overton (1932)
A retired pastor, who lost his beloved wife, wrote this incredible poem
during her funeral service. Lyrics slightly modernized by: Adrian Vermeulen-Miller.
Oct 28, 2007
We have been taking care of Natasha's bunnies while she's out of town for a while. They are usually kept in this small cage in a small apartment because they don't behave themselves very well. Various methods of behavior modification have been used with them, but they still chew on all the electrical cords, eat the carpet and the moldings, and hide Natasha's jewelry in their cage.
Natasha warned me not to let the bunnies out without direct supervision, but I felt so sorry for them being all cooped up in that tiny cage, so Joshua and I devised a plan to free the bunnies! Our kitchen, breakfast nook, and hallway are all tiled, so we thought they couldn't hurt the floor there much, even if they weren't litter boxed trained. We don't have any electrical cords on the floor in this area, but we do have moldings. There are five doorways or openings to this rather large area, so we had to be very creative in finding things to effectively block the doorways, but still allow us to be able to get in and out. After several tries, we had a built-in, indoor pen for the bunnies.
We couldn't wait to let them go free! We opened the door to their cage and waited for them to go run and hide in a corner somewhere, as animals often do when they are in a strange place. But they didn't budge. They just sat there. And sat there. What was wrong with them? They had their freedom, but they just stayed in their cage.
After a while, the more adventurous spotted bunny came out to explore her new world. She took everything in very slowly, sniffing around here and there, and cautiously proceeding around her new habitat. She climbed into the fruit baskets and sniffed all the fruit. She poked around in the grocery bags in the laundry room. She explored the bottom shelf of the pantry. She checked out all the litter boxes. There was so much to do!
The fuzzy bunny would poke her head out once in a while, and then pull herself quickly back in. She just wouldn't come out of that cage. After about an hour, we finally had to remove the bunny from her cage. She had no desire to go out into the real world. She was perfectly satisfied right where she was. But eventually, she too explored the world around her.
We quickly saw that the bunnies were most interested in finding something to chew on, and they didn't want their wooden carrots! Remembering that I used to solve the chewing problem with puppies by giving them raw turkey necks and raw bones to gnaw on, we decided to give the bunnies carrots -- real ones. They sniffed them for a while, trying to decide if they would like them or not, but it didn't take long before they were devouring them. And we have had no problems with the bunnies chewing on inappropriate things ever since.
But it's been several days now since the bunnies have had their freedom and the spotted bunny decided that she would like much more freedom, so she made her escape from her already enlarged world. In fact, she escaped several times today, so tomorrow we will have to enforce her boundaries a little stronger.
As I observed the bunnies, I couldn't help but think how much they mirrored my own spiritual walk lately. A year ago, I was in a small little cage called Legalism. The walls and doors were locked very tight and I didn't leave that cage for many years. In fact, that cage seemed to grow smaller and smaller throughout the years.
And then one day, a retired pastor named Mike came along and opened the door for me; he taught me from the Scriptures that I was deep in bondage. I couldn't see it though -- not for a long time. But the door was open, waiting for me to step out into freedom. I didn't want that freedom. Even after I understood that I was no longer under the Law, I was afraid to step out into the real world. I would poke my head out once in a while to look at the real world, but it was a scary place.
I remember when I finally took that first step out of legalism. I was so surprised! It wasn't at all what I thought it was going to be like. God didn't strike me dead after all! And after I took one step, it was a little easier to take another and another, exploring my new world around me.
But sometimes that new world gets scary, like when my disabled daughter wants to pick up the bunnies, and they go running back into the safety and security of their cage again. Sometimes freedom from the Law is scary for me and I just want to run back into the safety of my legalism again.
But something prevents me from doing that. Something prevents those bunnies from staying in their old cage very long either anymore -- carrots. Now that the bunnies have the right food, they don't need to go looking for a substitute to chew on. And when I have the right spiritual food -- God's Word in all its truth -- I don't need to look for substitutes to chew on either.
I've tried the substitute of patriarchy. It was hard to swallow. I've tried the substitute of Gothardism. It was a heavy burden. I've tried the substitute of legalism, but that pushed me away from the two Greatest Commandments. I've tried the substitute of theonomy, but that put a veil over my heart and I couldn't find the truth of God's Word. I've tried the substitute of Messianic Judaism, but God called me to be a Christian, not an Israelite.
Along the way, I've tested my wings of freedom and found that I overstepped my boundaries now and then. Others have been kind enough to help show me my biblical boundaries again.
Being in bondage was safe and easy, but God has so much more for us in the freedom of His grace. The bunnies haven't learned any spiritual lessons while they are here, but I'm so glad that God can use the natural things of this world to teach us what He wants us to learn. After a while, the bunnies will both enjoy their freedom and their carrots and be content with their boundaries. I hope I can say the same for myself.
Oct 25, 2007
The second book in the "Journey" series by Richard P. Belcher continued the same fiction story of Rev. Ira Pointer as he pastors a large downtown church, First Baptist. Finding that only about 50 members are active out of a membership roll of 1500 or so, Rev. Pointer is soon forced into dealing with the issue of purity in the church and what the Bible says about church discipline. As a theological novel, this book focuses on teaching theology through the medium of story telling again.
In this sequel, we learned how to outline Scripture, how to deal with false accusations and bullying, when to be quiet and when to speak up for oneself, and how a church should study unfamiliar doctrines. We studied what the Bible says about determining when someone is truly saved and how many in the church are not really regenerate. We discovered that it is much more difficult to try to purify an impure church full of unbelievers than it would be to start a church from a correct, biblically pure foundation to begin with.
But the main thing I learned in this book is that there are five main types of discipline in the church and that not only are these rarely taught, but they are rarely carried out correctly, even in churches that do practice church discipline. I don't usually like to tell the bottom line of a book, but I will break with tradition for this review. This should be only enough to whet your appetite for studying the subject further.
Five Categories of Sin Requiring Discipline
1. Serious sin committed by someone who is still unrepentant -- I Cor. 5:1-5
Most severe. The church is to turn him over to the devil for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. The sin of one brother against another -- Matt. 18:15-18
Excommunication (treat as a heathen or publican) if the sinning brother refuses to listen to the church.
3. Sin which has overtaken a brother and has left him sorrowful and crushed -- Gal. 6:1
Restoration to Christ and the church by the spiritual members of the church in a spirit of meekness and humility.
4. One teaching false doctrine -- I Tim. 6:3-5
Excommunication (withdrawal from him) by the church.
5. One not walking as a Christian should walk in his daily life -- II Thess. 3:6, 14-15
Excommunication (withdrawal of fellowship), but he is not to be treated as a lost man but to be admonished as a brother.
The Discipline Responsibility of the Church
1. The church is the final authority in the matter of discipline.
2. The most spiritual of the membership of the church are to carry out the discipline. That should be the leaders.
3. The Bible is the authority concerning which sins in practice or doctrine one is to be disciplined for.
4. Repentance and restoration are to be hoped for in every case.
Clear Dangers to be Avoided in Discipline
1. Pride -- discipline should be conducted with humility.
2. Legalism -- the work of discipline is not just a set of rules to be followed coldly.
3. Extremism -- the church does not play Holy Spirit in church members' lives and make decisions for them.
4. Undisciplined discipline -- it must be structured and clearly principled, and must be fair and consistent in each case, and from one case to another.
5. Arbitrariness -- the discipline methods must be based on Scripture and the matters for discipline must be based on Scripture. They cannot be based on one's personal arbitrary choice.
6. Supremacy -- discipline is not the supreme work of the church, but rather is a necessary part of the work of the church.
7. Asceticism -- the work of discipline is not an end unto itself, nor is it a means to produce spirituality and growth by itself. (formative vs. reformative discipline)
I'm really enjoying this series!
Oct 24, 2007
On another note, my husband, Mark, has been called up to help with the wildfires. He is currently spending very long hours coordinating the communications between fifteen or so government agencies. When Katrina went down, probably the number one issue was the lack of communication between government entities. I am glad that Mark has consistently excelled at his work in homeland security so that he now has the opportunity to do something of great importance in real life. With Mark's unusual ability to see the big picture, I'm sure his bird's eye view of these coordinations will help speed up the government's response times in this disaster. I'm very proud of him and know that he will excel in this opportunity to serve his country.
Oct 22, 2007
This is the story of a young man in seminary who lands his first pastoring job. While he begins as any other typical seminary student, Ira Pointer is driven to dig deeper into theology. Throughout the story, we learn some church and denominational history, some denominational differences, and the differences between Arminianism, Calvinism, and hyper-Calvinism. We also get a glimpse into seminary life, both in the classroom and out, in the professors' offices, and in daily interactions with other students. Organization, logic, and expository teaching abound in this story. The author is not afraid to tackle the "hard" verses on the subject of the Doctrines of Grace and he goes to the Greek roots when necessary. We learn about how a pastor is chosen in certain denominations and how and why churches change pastors. Through the power of a story, we learn about conflict resolution, taking the high road, and how to debate theological issues.
Designed for high schoolers and adults, my children and I loved this book! We read it out loud and used it as a daily Bible study. Of all that we have studied so far on the Doctrines of Grace, this was by far the most clearly presented, logical, and understandable. We have a much firmer stance now on many points of theology, all from a good story.
I did buy the rest of the series of fifteen books and will be reviewing them here throughout the coming year. Each book covers a different theological topic. Since I bought a whole set, I have a duplicate of this first book "A Journey in Grace," which I will give away free to the first person to contact me through email. I highly recommend this series.
Oct 21, 2007
Waking up to severe depression today, I was grateful that one of Wintley Phillips' CDs had arrived in the mail yesterday. I knew I needed to immerse myself in singing praise to the Lord, but I just couldn't do it on my own. This song was the first one on his album "Just As I Am and Other Favorites Hymns of Billy Graham." I listened to this over and over again today, until it became a part of me, until I could truly sing along with him these words that it is well with my soul. And as life piled on more and more today, the Lord had prepared me for it by filling my day with these words, over and over and over again.
The healing power of praising the Lord. It is indeed well with my soul!
Aug 6, 2007
2 c. apple, chopped
1 c. shredded carrot
1 c. shredded zucchini
1 ½ c. sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
½ c. oil or yogurt
2 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
1 c. raisins, soaked
Combine first 4 ingredients in large bowl. Add eggs, oil, and vanilla. Add raisins. In separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients and mix in very lightly, until just mixed. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake until lightly brown at 350 for 20 min.
For a healthy version, I use spelt flour and Sucanat for sugar. This is good with coconut oil as well.
Jul 26, 2007
Jun 29, 2007
Because of a regulation change in November 2002, Jo’s original charge of a level 22 violation was downgraded to a level 6. I don’t know the specifics of what that means, but in general, the offenses took place up through August 2002, so the regulations in force at that time were the ones that had to be used for sentencing. Downgrading from a level 22 to a level 6 meant a difference in sentencing guidelines from 41-51 months for a level 22 to 0-6 months for a level 6 offense. This was good news for Jo!
But the prosecuting attorney, Ms. Hildemeier, did not like this news and felt the penalty would not be that of one fitting the crime, so she argued for any amount over and above the sentencing guidelines, stating that they were only guidelines and were not mandatory parameters. Ms. Hildemeier stated that although Jo was not charged with any direct tax crimes, that she was conducting illegal activity related to evading paying employee taxes and therefore her cash withdrawals were for an illegal purpose. Ms. Hildemeier asked the court to consider Jo’s motive of aiding her husband to avoid IRS reporting requirements. She also stressed that while it is not illegal to pay employees in cash, it is illegal not to pay employee withholding taxes. In order to avoid a paper trail that they were not paying these taxes, Kent Hovind said they would use cash, since “cash wasn’t traceable.”
Jo’s defense attorney, Mr. Berenger, on the other hand, stated that when the criminal investigation began, it was only to investigate Kent for income tax evasion and did not include structuring. Jo didn’t know she was even being considered for investigation until April 2004. She did not withdraw sums of $9600 in cash after August 2002, so her attorney argued that she did not stop structuring based upon finding out that she was being criminally investigated, but for another reason, which was not noted. Berenger then stated that while Jo had indeed committed a crime, she had not done anything illegal, launching into a short speech about the IRS being more likely to look into cash paying customers rather than those who paid by check, if the IRS knows about them, and then stated that the Hovinds paid by check for years before they started using cash. Mr. Berenger insisted that Jo did not agree with Kent’s tax positions and that she didn’t do any of the calculations, but she was merely responsible for paying the bills. This was intended to be his defense for staying within the sentencing guidelines of 0-6 months and he requested probation for his client.
Ms. Hildemeier countered this by stating that Jo not only failed to withhold employee taxes, but that she also didn’t file personal income taxes, didn’t keep any records so that the IRS was prevented from calculating what was owed, that Jo herself signed the UCC tax protestor document, and that she revoked her own US citizenship. She believed that although Jo did agree with Kent regarding the tax issues, Jo did state that she thought Kent was hurting his own ministry by focusing so much on the tax issues.
There were several character witnesses after this. Three women who were longtime friends of Jo Hovind stood up and gave glowing testimony to her character as an exemplary Christian wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. She was noted for her compassion for those around her, for her hospitality, for her ministry roles in music and teaching, and they all spoke of how honorable, unselfish, and loving Jo was to everyone she met. Each friend pleaded for mercy.
Eric Hovind, her son, then reminded the judge that it had been his honor to speak on his father’s behalf at his trial, but that he considered this occasion to speak on behalf of his mother to be ten times that honor. “Justice has to be blind,” Eric stated, as he agreed with the judge sentencing his father to a sentence worse than that of a rapist. He said that this whole trial was really meant for Kent to be made an example of and that Jo didn’t need to be used in that same way. Eric expressed their family’s desire of being completely above board legally and said that as soon as they realized what they were doing was illegal that they began using an employee leasing agency instead. Although the structuring had taken place over a period of four years, Jo had been pleading with Kent for far longer not to be involved in these tax issues. Eric prayed for justice, which he deduced to mean probation.
A CSE employee, John, then stood up with his Bible and read Ephesians 5;22 – “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” John explained that this verse was the foundation of a Christian woman’s mind, that this verse determined how Jo made decisions in life because she based her life on the Word of God and the Bible tells her to submit. She didn’t do what she did to break the law; she did it to obey the Lord by obeying her husband.
Then it was Jo’s turn to speak and she started off with a story about a man who left home running, he turned left, then turned left again, and finally ran back home where two masked men were still waiting there for him. She then held up a picture of a baseball diamond and retold her story. Perspective makes all the difference. False assumptions lead to false conclusions and Jo said this especially applied to her own motives.
There were three things Jo wished to convey to the judge. The first area related to who Jo is and what her motives were. She related some inaccuracies from the trial, apparently attempting to show that the truth was not always known. One of the facts she desired to set straight regarded the statement that Kent made to his employees when they switched from paying them in cash to using checks: “It’s become too dangerous to continue getting cash.” Jo explained that it had nothing to do with the IRS but that there were two occasions at the bank when the teller told Jo that she would need to be escorted to her car with all that cash because a certain man was watching her at the bank. She was so frightened, she told Kent she didn’t want to get the cash anymore, so they gradually changed to using checks instead.
In response to the accusation that she would sometimes make two cash transactions of $9600 daily, Jo stated that her father was sick and dying in Arkansas during a period of five years and that sometimes she would get a call to come quickly. She wanted to make sure there would be enough money in petty cash for the following week, so she would go and take out more money. Jo said that CSE needed $9000 in petty cash each week.
Jo also spoke to the accusation that she was evading the IRS reporting requirements: “I do not understand how I can be charged with doing something I didn’t know was wrong. I would never do anything illegal.”
Jo told a story about one time when she went to the bank and there was a new teller who asked her to fill out a form. Jo said that the fact that she did indeed fill out the form should have indicated that she was being honest. Structuring is a crime for illegal use, but she stated that she used the money honestly to pay the bills and salaries.
The second thing Jo wished to impress upon the judge was that this judicial process was designed to bring about change in an individual so that they won’t keep repeating their crimes, but that Jo had already learned her lesson and started using checks four years ago, before she realized what she was doing was illegal.
The third area Jo desired to convey was her willingness to fully cooperate with anything the judge wanted her to do. She had come to appreciate the judge’s role in this process and prayed for her nearly every night, that the judge would have wisdom and see the truth. “Whatever you order for me to do, it will first come across my Heavenly Father’s desk: approved.” Jo told the judge that one day we will all stand before the final Judge and she wanted Him to say, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Judge Rogers then said that since Jo did not take the stand during her own trial, she wanted to give her the opportunity to explain her motives for regularly taking out large sums of cash just under the $10,000 cash transaction reporting limit. Jo responded that CSE needed $9500 for weekly expenses and that she doesn’t ever want to be accused of hiding anything.
Ms. Hildemeier responded again by stating that $9600 was taken out on a very irregular basis. It would have been understandable if Jo took the money out every Friday, for instance, but she took the money out sometimes weekly, sometimes several times a week, and sometimes even twice a day, once before the 2 p.m. bank’s end of day and once after. She also noted that after the criminal investigation began, the amounts of cash withdrawn dropped down to about half the amount being withdrawn earlier, however the frequency also doubled, so there was no overall net change in cash withdrawals. As far as needing about $9500 for petty cash, Ms. Hildemeier noted that when the IRS conducted their raid, they found $42,000 in cash that day.
When we came back from a break, the judge was ready to sentence Jo, but had a few things to say first. Jo was not charged with tax evasion or for failing to withhold employee taxes or obstructing the IRS. Kent was charged with those. They were both charged with unlawful structuring, however. Structuring involves taking out large amounts of cash just under the $10,000 Currency Transaction Report requirements which take effect anytime cash is withdrawn in amounts greater than $10,000. Jo was found guilty of 45 counts of unlawful structuring. If the sentences for these 45 counts were to be served consecutively, Jo would be facing up to 220 years in jail, but consecutive terms are extremely rare in these cases, so although the local newspaper had reported such this morning, it would be a totally unrealistic characterization.
The judge related that she had received many letters on Jo’s behalf, and without exception, they all requested mercy. But justice encompasses what is just from a societal standpoint as well. While many writers noted Jo’s strong faith in God, Judge Rodgers said that this case was not about religion, but about violating the law. Although Jo’s character may favor probation, society needs to see her incarcerated. Twelve citizens of Pensacola found Jo guilty, even though she was well respected in the community. The judge felt that this sentence must reflect the seriousness of the offense in order to thwart others who might be tempted to do the same thing.
At level 22, Jo would have faced 41-51 months of incarceration, but since it was downgraded to a level 6 offense, the US Sentencing Commission felt that the downward adjustment should apply to Jo and she should benefit, and that the guidelines are merely guidelines, they are not binding or mandatory. The judge must consider the seriousness of the offense. However, due to ex post facto considerations, since the last structuring offense took place in August 2002 and the regulations for structuring changed on November 1, 2002, there were several other considerations that show that the guidelines for a level 6 offense were insufficient. Before the change, the rules for structuring were such that the bank was required to report all cash transactions of $10,000 or more. After the change, the bank was required to report a total of $100,000 in cash transactions, which would effectively catch those who were constantly taking out just under $10,000 in cash. The Hovinds took out over $1.5 million in structuring offenses.
The judge noted that Jo was in charge of the payroll, not that she just paid the bills. She did not take out $9500 weekly for expenses, her transactions were often more than once per week. On several occasions, there were two withdrawals per day, all of them occurring once before the 2 p.m. bank end of day deadline and one after. It was clear that the Hovinds did this to avoid reporting requirements. This conduct was done clearly to facilitate avoiding paying employee taxes and to “keep the ministry under the radar screen of the IRS.”
Trial evidence showed that [Kent and] Jo committed additional acts of structuring to buy a home earlier, although the statute of limitations has since run out on those acts. Although they used cashier’s checks for this conduct and it did not fall under the same type of structuring laws, the behavior was the same and it showed a pattern.
Jo herself claimed “Sovereign American” status, revoking her US citizenship and attempting to revoke all previous signatures. Kent has a tax protest video of which Jo was well aware. (I’m not sure of the significance of that.)
So, although the sentencing guidelines were for 0-6 months for this level 6 offense, Judge Rodgers found that the seriousness of this crime required a greater punishment after all and Jo was therefore sentenced to one year and one day of incarceration at a local facility, followed by three years probation. She was assessed a $3500 fine, payable at $100 per month starting three months after her release and a $4500 special monetary assessment, $100 per charge, payable immediately. All terms were concurrent. The judge did suspend mandatory drug testing for Jo and allowed her to remain on release until August 31st, unless she chose to report earlier voluntarily.
May 31, 2007
On the way home, we were listening to some of Joe Taylor's music. Joe wrote and recorded, "I'm in Love With My Lord." At the end of the song, I turned to Joshua and asked him, "Do you think Joe and Henry are in love with their Lord?"
With a wide grin spreading across his 14-year-old face, he answered, "Oh, yeah!" What a testimony! If that was the only thing Joshua learned on this trip, it would be time well spent. I thank God for friends who are in love with the Lord and are willing to share that with us.
Henry, Joshua, Joe Taylor
"I'm in Love With My Lord" was written and recorded in 1972 when Joe lived in Hollywood. The girl singing with Joe is Terri Ketchum, now Reiser. They did lots of concerts in LA area Christian coffee houses. Terri has worked for a pro-life group for a long time and she and her medical doctor husband have written books on health.
If anyone is interested in a CD, you can e-mail Joe Taylor at email@example.com. CDs are $9.00 plus $1.00 shipping.
Apr 3, 2007
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
I had previously written an open letter to Kate on my blog. I could not be more pleased to announce that there has been true repentance and the beginning of healing taking place in this relationship. While I am not asking Kate to take sides in the particular issue, the adversarial spirit has now been replaced by the love of the Lord.
Not only has Kate issued me a clear-cut apology, but she has apologized to all those who have interacted with her as well. It is a very difficult thing to admit when you are wrong, but Kate has done a superb job of taking responsibility for her actions.
Not only do I forgive her, but I welcome her with open arms as my sister in the Lord.
Mar 28, 2007
I recently watched the outstanding new movie, "Amazing Grace," which told the story of William Wilberforce. Then at my uncle's memorial service, they played this version of "Amazing Grace." The picture quality is not so great here, but the sound is just fine. Watch this video for a fresh, new perspective on an old-time favorite.
Mar 17, 2007
3 3/4 c. flour (I use spelt. If your flour is not freshly ground, it is best to sift it.)
3/4 c. cornmeal
slightly less than 1/4 c. baking powder (I use aluminum-free)
1 T. ground ginger
1/2 T. ground cinnamon
1/2 T. ground cloves
1/2 T. ground nutmeg
1/2 T. salt
6 large eggs
3/4 c. unsulphured molasses
5 c. milk
3/4 c. oil (I use expeller-pressed canola. You want one with a very light flavor.)
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. In large blender (Vita-Mix is perfect), blend all the wet ingredients. Add wet to dry and very carefully stir together. I use a whisk as a spoon for this, very gently. Alternatively, for lighter waffles, you can separate the yolks and whites and beat the whites and fold them in at the end.
Waffle batter is better if you let it sit for a while, preferably overnight. I used 1/2 c. batter in each waffle square and cooked them 5 - 6 minutes each. Serve with warm applesauce.
To make easy applesauce in a crockpot:
Cut up apples into slices (I use an apple slicer nearly every day, so this is easy for me.) You can peel or not peel; either way is good. My rule of thumb is that I peel if it's not organic, and leave it on if it is. Fill the crockpot as full as possible and still be able to put a lid on. You may add cinnamon or a package of cranberries, if you'd like different flavors, or even some other fruit, such as peaches or berries. Cook all day on low. It will cook WAY down. You can then mash it by hand with a potato masher for a chunkier version, or blend it for a smoother version. It is well worth it to make the applesauce and only takes a few minutes.
Mar 15, 2007
Dr. Al Mohler recently wrote an article on his blog entitled, "Is Your Baby Gay? What If You Could Know? What If You Could Do Something About It?" Dr. Mohler said that he wrote the article merely to start a conversation, but since he doesn't take comments on his blog, I'm wondering where the conversation is taking place. Actually, he started a nationwide fight between conservatives and liberals alike. Here is a summary of his article regarding various current research into the issue of whether or not we are born "gay."
1. We don't currently have any scientific evidence that homosexuality has any biological basis.
2. However, since some sheep are gay, we may have scientific evidence soon that some humans are born that way, too.
3. Because of the Fall, we shouldn't be surprised that there might be a genetic link to homosexuality.
4. Even if we discovered a biological link to homosexuality, that doesn't change what the Bible says about it.
5. If there were a biological link to homosexuality, Christians should be able to have more compassion with them and understand their temptation to sin.
6. We are all made in the image of God -- heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian, transsexual, transgendered, bisexual, or whatever.
7. If we can identify homosexuality in a baby before it is born, we are still pro-life.
8. If we can identify and reverse homosexuality in a baby before it is born, we should do so, enabling that child to have less temptation to commit homosexual acts as an adult.
9. Although we choose whether or not to sin sexually, we may not be able to choose our sexual orientation. Christians sin against homosexuals when we say they can choose. We can't choose our own temptations, but we are responsible for our own sins.
10. Although a scientific finding of this kind would not change the fact that committing homosexual acts is a sin, Christians shouldn't say that there is no scientific basis for such findings. Scientific research shows that there might be. Since we could use this information to help counsel homosexuals, we should embrace it.
Dr. Mohler, I am all for modern science and researching DNA and genes and the like, but do you truly think that God would create someone in His own image who can't help but be attracted to someone of their same sex, but they could never do anything about it without sinning? Are they to burn in lust forever or to commit homosexual acts? This is not at all the same sort of sexual temptation that us normal folks have. God created us in His own image to mirror Christ's relationship with His bride -- to get married to someone of the opposite sex -- so that we don't have to choose between burning in lust forever or committing fornication. Methinks you've been reading too much psychology and too little of what you should be these days.
Now, I am no professional in these matters, nor do I pretend to have all the answers, but there are some basic observations that we would do well to consider here. What happens, for instance, when a boy doesn't get enough attention and the right kind of love from his father? Well, maybe we should start with the girl. When a girl doesn't get the right kind of attention and love from her father, she will go find it in another man. And with all the broken families or all the fathers who don't invest their lives in their children these days, we don't have to look too far to find many girls "looking for love in all the wrong places." What do you think a boy would do without a father's love and attention? Is it possible that he, too, so strongly desires that father figure in his life that he turns to other men? This is merely a personal observation so far.
I have also observed the sissified world we now live in. God created men to work hard physically. Do TVs and computers and video games and other technology help develop a good, strong work ethic in young men? Do teenage boys regularly work hard enough physically until they fall into bed exhausted each night, too tired to even think about sexual sin? Do you think God might have intended them to be able to work off all that energy as a way to divert their temptations as well as accomplish great things during that time of tremendous energy in their lives? What happens when boys never do typical boy things like chopping wood, digging holes, building fences or houses, fixing engines, or a million other boy things? What happens when boys don't develop their physical bodies through hard, physical labor, but rather sit around and become effeminate and weak? Do you think this could be a factor in homosexuality?
I have not observed lesbians as much, but the few that I do know seemed to all have major issues with their mothers as well. I am not going to go so far as to say that all homosexuals had a difficult or non-existent relationship with their parent of their same sex, but I do see somewhat of a pattern here.
I have also seen girls who think that they can't trust men, for various reasons, but usually it comes back to Dad again, and so they turn to other women. Although it is still wrong, it is understandable.
God also created women to work hard physically as well, but not in the same way as men. Even most women are "sissies" nowadays, though.
My observations are purely mine. If you have other ideas, I'm glad to hear them. I'm sure there are many other reasons. However, I just cannot fathom God creating homosexuals in His own image, only to let them live in continual sin for their whole lives because they can't help being born gay. No, Dr. Mohler, your pragmatism in counseling goals just doesn't line up with Scripture this time.
Mar 4, 2007
The beaver's motto in life is "How was it done in the past?"
Again, taken from their book, "The Two Sides of Love," here are some typical traits of a beaver.
Beavers keep a close watch on their emotions. They are very reserved, cautious, and controlled in displaying any affection, and rarely praise others. While beavers may be very committed to relationships in their life, it may not show up much on the outside. They don't wear their heart on their sleeve.
Beavers do read the instruction manual. There is a right way to do things, and beavers will seek out that right way. They will carefully read the entire instruction manual instead of throwing it away. Stress in life is greatly reduced for a beaver when they have instructions to follow. Unfortunately, relationships do not fall into an instructional manual-type category, so flexibility is not their strong point.
Beavers are very careful when making decisions. They do not make too many bad decisions in life because they take the time to carefully weigh everything out before making a decision.
Beavers look at issues critically when it comes to problem solving, taking things apart and going into detail. Often tending to be perfectionistic, this skill in problem solving can also be a great weakness in relationships, as they pick people apart as well. Beavers get their motivation for doing things in an extreme orderly manner from their deep-seated desire to do everything right.
"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right." Doing things right, with precision and accuracy, is extremely important to a beaver. "A place for everything, and everything in its place." This natural strength of spotting things that are wrong is very valuable for many detailed professions and heads off many mistakes.
Beavers tend to turn their anger on themselves, which can often turn into depression, when they should learn to ask for help instead. They get angry when they make mistakes, and are very sensitive to criticism. Clear directions and being able to ask informational questions are as important to beavers as the need to have a strong sense of support and being in a noncritical environment. Beavers will slow down under pressure.
Beavers tend to focus on the past, but having faith in the future can be quite a challenge. Beavers much prefer to plan everything out ahead of time, not trusting tomorrow to take care of itself.
There are certain jobs and professions which only a beaver can do and we should be very thankful for the beavers in our lives. Like all the animals, a beaver who is extreme, though, can push people far away, so a beaver has to work hard on being loving. (This is dealt with extensively in the book; I am really just covering the personality traits here.)
Two of the animals that are often closely related (in this personality quiz) are the lion and the beaver. I have very strong beaver tendencies as well.
Next time, we will check out the ever-playful otter.
Mar 2, 2007
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don't know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you're tired and weary,
because it means you've made a difference.
It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.
Feb 21, 2007
Now if Rick Perry would only take the hint!
Feb 20, 2007
Lynn has a short blurb on her blog about secular personality tests and I am NOT a fan of pop psychology, but there is one personality test in particular that I actually enjoy. It is not new, but what attracts me to it is the fact that it encourages me to become more like Jesus and it teaches me how to be a friend. I will explain all that later.
This is Gary Smalley's and John Trent's animal personality test that this particular Bible study was based upon. There are four animals: the lion, beaver, otter, and golden retriever. Being labeled one animal or another does not mean that you have to have all the traits of that animal. You will be the animal that you score the highest for, so keep track of the number of traits you feel describe you for each animal. Each person usually fits into one or possibly two categories and I will cover them one at a time. At the end, I will explain how this test, and Bible study, transformed my life.
In the meantime, I will start with the test and characteristics for the lion. Notice the biblical character traits that are listed for each animal. This is significant. Here are the traits for a lion:
- Takes charge
- Enjoys challenges
- Decision maker
- Goal driven
A lion's motto is "Let's do it now!"
Taken from their book, "The Two Sides of Love," here are some typical traits of a lion.
Lions are born leaders. Although it is true that some leaders are made, not born, it is more often true that they are born that way. God did create some natural leaders and they are called lions.
Lions like to accomplish things with immediate results. They like to take charge and feel very strongly that life is a series of problems they need to solve or challenges they need to meet.
A lion's time frame is now! Lions are not upset, they are just extremely intense. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right now. This one characteristic often causes others to feel afraid of lions, while lions often don't see it themselves.
Lions are decisive. Lions need to lead, take control, and accomplish things; these all involve making decisions quickly. Lions often don't ask for advice when making these decisions and sometimes fail to get the necessary facts.
Lions want the Reader's Digest version of communication. They eschew small talk and are anxious to get right into the meat of the conversation. They want to stick to the subject and are focused on the efficiency aspect of communication so they can get back to work.
Lions often feel challenged by questions. Rather than seeing a question as a reasonable request for information, lions sometimes see them as a personal challenge instead.
Lions are not afraid of pressure or confrontation. Lions thrive on tension. Unless they're careful, this tendency can cause lions to hurt other people's feeling without even realizing it. Lions can be so strong that they win every verbal battle but end up losing the war for their family's hearts.
These are the natural bents of a lion, but not every lion has all these character traits. As you will see throughout the traits of all four animals, each character trait can be used for good or for bad. It is important to recognize which traits apply to you.
As for me, if you haven't figured it out already, I am a full-blown lion, but that was easily explainable when I recently found out that I am directly descended from Attila the Hun!
Come back tomorrow to find about the beaver.
Feb 18, 2007
Was this really the best way to kick off a war against cancer? Or would a little prior communication have helped Perry’s efforts a bit?
Apparently, some key Republican legislators found out about Perry’s mandate from none other than reporters from ABC and CNN seeking comments. (Maybe Perry took his example from Tim Dick, who sued Frank Vance, but Frank didn’t know about it until the local reporter contacted him for comments.)
Making an executive decision like this was not necessary; there was no real emergency. In fact, there is no perceived emergency. This is about Rick Perry getting what Rick Perry wants, without having to go through the traditional lengthy process of communication. There are probably many legislators who would have either backed Perry or at least offered suitable alternatives (as they are being forced to do now), if Perry had just followed protocol. Here a few questions that should have been discussed long before any decisions were made:
Is this the most effective use of Texas health care dollars? How much will it really cost? What does science say about it? What about potential side-effects? Should vaccination be mandatory for students or just encouraged? Does the order trample on parental rights? At what age should the vaccine be administered? What should be done to defray the high cost? Have enough clinical trials and research been done to justify mandating the vaccine at this time? Should this order go into effect now? Is the fact that only one company (Merck) currently makes a Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccine of concern? A competing pharmaceutical company is developing its own vaccine. Should the state wait to see if it gets FDA approval?
It is not known if this vaccine is safe for use in pregnancy. Some 11-12 year old girls are pregnant already. How are they going to determine whether or not each girl is pregnant before they give each of the three shots, or is the State willing to take a risk and just take each girl at her word?
“If Governor Perry believes we should vaccinate these young girls against a disease that occurs as a result of sexual activity then he should also assume that there exists the possibility that some of those same girls might also be pregnant when they receive this mandated vaccine,” Sen. Hegar said.
Although the three-shot series costs $360, most private physicians are charging between $500 and $900. Who is going to pay for this? Some insurance companies will cover it, but not all, or you may have to pay a high deductible. Who pays for it in the first place – the physicians? With a 30-45 day turn around time for insurance payments, how much can a physician afford to keep in stock?
Or maybe you don’t have insurance. While the federal government will chip in $43 million for the uninsured, Rick Perry is seeking another $29 million in state aid to pay for this as well. Such a deal. First, he mandates the vaccine and then he pays for it. We should be so grateful.
Meanwhile, Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins must be reaffirmed in the Senate Nominations Committee, but some of the senators are going to demand that Hawkins be able to answer all these lingering questions, and probably more, before they confirm him. Not very good timing on Rick Perry’s part.
As a first step to combat Perry's order, the House Public Health Committee will hold a public hearing on a bill Monday (February 19) to pre-empt Perry’s order. The hearing is open to the public.
The Center for Public Policy Priorities Executive Director F. Scott McCown has also filed a brief to the Attorney General arguing that the governor has no right to issue executive orders like this.
And then there is Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) who is pushing another bill to require that all 11-12 year old girls receive the vaccine by this August, rather than next year as Perry mandates.
Politics in Texas hasn't been this exciting since all the democrats played hookey a couple years back!
Feb 12, 2007
This letter is my attempt to make peace in a very public situation after considerable thought and prayer.
Whenever I meet someone, I first try to find something we have in common. Although you don’t realize this, it was very easy for me to find something in common with you, from the first day I saw your blog. You see, I grew up in Oregon also, and so seeing that you live in Oregon, my heart was immediately drawn toward you. In second grade, I lived in Sisters; in third through eighth grade, we lived in Bend; in high school, we lived in Salem; then I worked as a tax collector at the Department of Motor Vehicles right there in Portland for a while before joining the Army. My parents are still missionaries for Wycliffe right there at the Milwaukie office. I am relating these things to you, Kate, because you seem to relate best to personal details. So, from one Oregonian to another, this letter is for my sister in Christ.
Kate, I really don’t know how I have offended you, but my desire is to be at peace with all men (and women), so I am writing this in an attempt to reach your heart. If I have truly done something for which I need to apologize, please leave a comment to this letter and I will apologize.
However, from what I can gather, you seem to think that I am multiple people and apparently have multiple personalities. Please believe me that I have all I can possibly handle with everything going in my real life right now so that I have no need of pretending to be to multiple personalities.
I have left a few comments on your blog, all of which I hope were kind and charitable, and all of which were in my name and with my Blogger account.
I have never called you on the phone, nor have I ever called anyone else online on the phone unless they have written me with their phone number and requested that I call.
Although I cannot speak to the current situation, Kate, I can assure you that I have no unforgiveness in my heart toward anyone, no bitterness, and no spirit of revenge. Sometimes we are called to do hard things, Kate, as I know you understand, and this is a very hard thing that the Lord called me to do.
I do not expect everyone to believe everything I say; that is not my job. I am called to be a messenger and it is fully up to the Lord to work in people’s hearts, including my own. I hope to be able to write someday about how the Lord is working in my life in the last few months.
Kate, I know that you are concerned because of something my daughter said. While I will not excuse her behavior, I do hope that you could try to understand her perspective. Sometimes I think my children were hurt in this far more than I was. Although I can’t really speak to this right now, think of my whole story through the eyes of a teenage girl and try to have some compassion for her.
Kate, I really think that you mean well, especially after the comment you left on my blog. I do not want anyone being hurt because of my story and that includes you. May I suggest that we all slow down and carefully consider what we are saying before we write or say anything? A long time ago, I learned that I should always sleep on a letter before sending it. Maybe that principle would be good to apply to the internet as well.
Your Sister in Christ,
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Eph. 4:29
Feb 7, 2007
I use the following for a 6-quart crockpot. You can adapt as necessary.
Fill the crockpot with peeled, sliced sweet potatoes and apples. I generally use about twice as many sweet potatoes as apples.
1 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 c. raisins (optional)
On the stove, heat up the following:
1/2 c. butter
1/2 - 1 c. (raw) honey or pure maple syrup
1 T. grated orange peel
2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
Pour evenly over the sweet potatoes and cook on low all day or high 4-6 hours. Alternately, you could bake at 350 deg. for one hour.
We, the undersigned members of the Texas Senate, respectfully request that you withdraw Executive Order RP65 requiring girls to receive the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine prior to entering the sixth grade and allow this issue to proceed through the full legislative process.
Although 26 of the 31 Texas state senators signed this letter to Gov. Perry, he did not respond favorably, preferring to include this "accomplishment" in a speech he gave yesterday. He could have quietly left it out of his speech, allowing for continued communication with his legislature, but by choosing to promote his executive order instead, he is alienating not only 26 out of the 31 state senators, and probably most of the representatives as well, but nearly all the conservative citizens are up in arms about Gov. Perry's decision to act alone even though there were already several bills before the legislature regarding this issue.
Generally, executive orders are reserved only for emergency issues. How does mandating an unproven vaccine for experimentation on our little girls in order to stop a sexually transmitted disease that is not contagious other than through sex qualify as an emergency? If this is an emergency, then what legislation is not an emergency?
Since Gov. Perry has refused the senate's reasonable request to take this through the proper legislative channels, Senators Dan Patrick and Glen Hegar have now introduced SB438, a resolution to nullify this outrageous executive order. So far, 14 senators have agreed to this bill. If passed, however, Gov. Perry has the right to veto this bill. At that point, it would take a 2/3 majority to override the veto, which the legislature fully expects to have.
What are they offering instead? Instead of the opt-out option that Gov. Perry has ordered, the senators are offering an opt-in option instead, making this vaccine available to all girls, but mandatory to none. Now that is an option I can live with.
"Easy" Opt-Out Option
Sarah told me to check out the opt-out option, so I looked into it a little bit. It seems that first you fill out a form requesting not to have certain vaccinations. This form includes all kinds of personal information that could potentially lead to further government intrusion down the road. Then you wait for several weeks for approval. In the meantime, if your daughter attends school or sports or some activity where vaccinations are required, this could lead to quite a bit of harassment during the waiting period. Upon approval from the government, you may take this form to school, but the school is not obligated to accept it. You may take this form to your doctor, but he is not obligated to accept it either. In fact, he may no longer take you as a patient if you insist on your right not to vaccinate your children. And if your doctor decides to report you to your insurance company, they may drop your insurance for non-compliance with mandatory vaccines. And if none of these scenarios happen, and you are allowed to go to school, belong to certain sports activities, and your doctor or insurance company doesn't balk, you can look forward to going through the whole process again every two years with each child. You're right, Sarah, it's not as easy as it sounds.
The Numbers: 2 in a Million
Gardasil, the HPV vaccine manufactured by Merck to supposedly keep HPV from causing cervical cancer, had a very short research life and is totally unproven. Since its introduction last June, there have already been 82 serious adverse reactions reported from this vaccine. No long terms are yet known. The validity of the claims that it stops 100% of the HPV which causes cervical cancer has not been proven in any way whatsoever and, in fact, it would take vaccination of a million girls to prevent cancer in 4 to 5 girls. About 37% die from cervical cancer, so that would prevent 1 to 2 deaths. So $360 million in vaccine would prevent 1 to 2 deaths.
Every state will have to decide this issue soon. It is best to be prepared with facts. Here is a blog with lots of facts about both the Texas issue and the vaccine issue.
To help Gov. Perry get off his high horse, you may call him at 1-800-252-9600 and express your grave concern of his rash actions in taking away parental rights and using our daughters as human guinea pigs. Say no to Big Brother.
I can't help but think of the four Reformed elders that were defrocked barely a year ago, but then were voted back in as elders almost immediately, although there was no true repentance forthcoming and although they clearly no longer meet the biblical requirements for being elders. I can understand how emotionally attached Christians can be to their elders, but that is why God gave us clear requirements in His Word, for the times when we are too fervently involved to think straight.
The elders at New Life Christian Church must have been extremely emotionally attached to Ted Haggard as well, but they sought the Lord instead, and did the right thing, the hard thing. And in the end, that church will be blessed and will grow spiritually.
It still floors me that a charismatic mega-church is doing all the right things in this scandal with Ted Haggard, and not only that, but Ted Haggard seems to be responding in an attitude of repentance so far as well.
Having just finished three weeks of intensive counseling, Ted Haggard said, “I have spent so much time in repentance, brokenness, hurt and sorrow for the things I’ve done and the negative impact my actions have had on others ... Jesus is starting to put me back together.” Oh, that all sinners expressed this kind of attitude!
Ted and his wife are taking online courses together to get master's degrees in psychology. Since Ted no longer meets the biblical requirements for being an elder, the other elders at New Life have encouraged him to seek employment outside the church. I'm not a big fan of pop psychology, but I will say that I see that this would only be a natural area of interest for a former pastor, and I pray that the Lord brings healing to both him and his wife as they study this subject together.
What a great example for the rest of the Christian world. Christians, let each of us have such hearts that are quick to repent when we sin and be willing to bear the consequences for our own actions. To God be the glory.
Feb 4, 2007
Kent Hovind has been heavy on my mind lately and is in my daily prayers. When I wrote my first article about him, I was determined not to get into the “issues,” but I wanted to just relate our personal experiences with him, since he had such an impact on my children and me. However, my readers seemed determined to get into the tax issues, so I’ve been seemingly dragged along to explore these issues as well.
Unfortunately, this is one of those subjects that seems to be the more I study, the less I really know. I am sure that some of my readers will know far more about this subject than I do, so feel free to present (or correct) facts here. My purpose in today’s post, though, is to warn others to do your homework before you make a major financial decision.
As I was speaking to Jo Hovind before we left Pensacola recently, she observed, “Maybe we didn’t get the right advice.” Jo, I think you’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head.
I could not understand why even the mention of the name, Glen Stoll, was such a hot button for the judge in Kent Hovind’s case, so I decided to check him out a bit. This information should put this case in a new light for some of us. Glen Stoll is the man that Kent Hovind has put in charge of his whole ministry.
The first thing I noticed about Glen Stoll is how he reaches out to Christians. Look at this initial application for his services and see how enticed you might be:
1) Who am I, with respect to my position and function in life? I am:
2) With whom or what are my loyalties aligned? I pledge allegiance to:
3) Under that pledge, what is the purpose of my mission? My duties and responsibilities are:
4) Therefore, what jurisdictional authority am I under? My commission comes from:
5) How are decisions made that direct the course of my life? I trust in:
After you make this Declaration of Status, which Glen Stoll calls a Profession of Faith expressed in a political sense, you have now identified your personal ministry. So far, so good. How many Christians truly desire to have a personal ministry? But now, Glen Stoll has made it possible for any person who claims Christ and owns any business to label their business as a ministry. How convenient. We will see that Glen Stoll’s definitions of words are often of a non-standard usage, even though he will use the dictionary to define them. Now all you need is one or more people (your spouse will do) to form a “lawfully established unincorporated association of pure trust,” and when put in writing, this trust agreement becomes “evidence of a Ministerial Trust under which you may manage your personal ministry for the church.” In fact, this written declaration now makes you a church! Did you know that it was this easy to become a church, with all the tax-exempt privileges bequeathed to a church as well? That is, as soon as you meet all the other requirements that Glen Stoll will be glad to handle for you for a princely sum of money.
The following steps were not as easy to determine, since they are not directly listed on Remedies at Law, Glen Stoll’s website. However, the United States District Court has done their best in laying out their case against Glen Stoll and his “ministry” in their Order for Default Judgment and Permanent Injunction against Glen Stoll, dated June 27, 2005. Much of the following information is taken from the official injunction order against him. (Glen Stoll was sued by the United States of America for his fraudulent business practices and since he refused to show up in court, a default judgment against him was handed down, along with a permanent injunction to stop his illegal activities. I am still trying to figure out why he has not been stopped yet.)
Glen Stoll strongly tends to take Scripture out of context in order to justify his positions. For instance, in stating that we are not citizens of this world, but citizens of heaven, he advocates that the government should have no control over us, especially regarding documents such as passports; driver’s license; vehicle license plate, title, or registration; birth certificates and marriage registration; a business license; or a student body card; all of which can be handled through a sister site, Embassy of Heaven and through their other site which teach you how to be a citizen of heaven rather than of the United States. These two sites alone should provide plenty of controversial topics to keep us going for weeks, but we won’t cover them here. They are important to understanding both Glen Stoll’s and, subsequently, Kent Hovind’s, intentions, though. After severing all ties to the government, which includes being up to date with what you owe the IRS, and getting your “Citizen of Heaven” identification card, you are now ready to go on to the next step.
Glen Stoll helps “churches” (see his definition above) to become a corporation sole, which is usually a church that has one single (sole) officer and can be used to allow a church to hold title to property, but in these cases, the corporation sole is essentially designed to hide income and/or assets and designed to evade income taxes. Glen Stoll teaches that as a corporation sole, they don’t have to file or pay taxes, citing a mandatory exception to the IRC 508(c)(1)(A) for churches, even going so far as to claim that they are not even required to notify the IRS of their existence, nor are they authorized to collect or pay taxes to the government. However, like real churches, Glen Stoll advises his customers that all donations to their “church” is tax deductible.
Next, Glen Stoll helps people set up “Ministerial Trusts” in conjunction with their corporation sole. Because the two are connected, Glen Stoll teaches his clients that they are now exempt from the IRS laws, helping them to stop paying income and employment taxes. Each different “missionary” activity needs to have a separate ministerial trust set up, for which Glen Stoll charges $4000 - $4500 for the first trust and $2000 for each subsequent trust, and each of which is to be managed by the corporation sole. Customers of these former businesses (pest control, carpet cleaning, computer technology, and multi-level marketing, etc.), which are now called churches, are asked to make checks out to the ministerial trust rather than to the individual so that they don’t have to report it as income.
Workshops ($120 each?) are also required in order to be one of Glen Stoll’s clients and he then charges $120 per hour for his services. These are reasonable prices for the services offered, but you ought to beware that you are paying him to learn how to break the law.
Part of this scheme involves concealing property, income and profits. By placing both business and personal property in the name of the ministerial trust rather than an individual’s name, Glen Stoll tells his clients that the IRS cannot touch their assets. Unfortunately, that is simply not true, as Kent Hovind has since found out, but still refuses to acknowledge. Glen Stoll encourages people to transfer all their assets, including personal property and furniture and cash into these ministerial accounts, thereby allowing them to claim that they themselves own nothing, but that they live in a parsonage (their former personal home) and use the “church’s” furniture (their former personal furniture) and equipment and vehicles (their former personal car). Nothing really changes in their lifestyle, however, except that they probably have more disposable income now that they don’t pay taxes on everything. I wondered how Kent Hovind could take a vow of poverty and yet have so many belongings. He doesn’t consider himself to own anything, per se, but everything belongs to the “church.” Unfortunately, Glen Stoll’s definition of church is not God’s definition, nor is it our government’s definition.
Another aspect of Glen Stoll’s scheme is to call all employees independent contractors and telling clients that they now no longer have to file W-2s or 1099s since they are not authorized to withhold taxes for the government anyway since they are now citizens of heaven. This is one of the biggies for Kent Hovind.
Glen Stoll even goes so far as to teach his clients how to use IRS forms that are designed for non-US citizens in order to receive income not subject to tax withholding, stating that a church ministry is a “non-U.S. person based on its
foreign Federal political status,” and as such, is exempt from banking regulations. Even so, Glen Stoll requires that his customers contact him if they need to make a withdrawal of $10,000 or more in cash.
If I didn’t read the name of the actual bank, I would have a really hard time believing this, but Glen Stoll also recommends that his customers put their cash into offshore bank accounts located at Liberty International Bank & Trust, Caribbean Processing Center, essentially hiding the money from the US government. They are then set up with Visa cards to be able to access the funds. I do not know if Kent Hovind did this or not.
Glen Stoll claims that he is qualified to do what he is doing because he is a lawyer. Since he considers himself a citizen of heaven, however, his definition of “lawyer” is also a bit odd: one who practices law. Never mind that he doesn’t actually have any degrees or a license to practice law. Glen Stoll takes great liberty with his definitions, most of which come from England several hundred years ago. I’m all for self-study, but it is quite deceptive to use a term that the average person would understand to mean fully licensed.
While some of Glen Stoll’s clients have legitimate ministries, such as Kent Hovind’s, many of these people had regular for-profit businesses to begin with, but now they just don’t have to pay taxes – at least until the IRS catches up with them. The amount of taxes lost to the US government because of these scams is quite substantial and Glen Stoll should be held directly accountable, along with all his “clients.” It is quite sad for me to admit that Kent Hovind falls in this category.
Glen Stoll was issued a default judgment (guilty by reason of not showing up for the trial) and was permanently enjoined from continuing this illegal business, this exact kind of business in which he continues with Kent Hovind. He was also given 11 days from June 27, 2005 to provide the court with a complete list of clients, corporations sole, and ministerial trusts, and a list of all employees and associates. He was also required to post a complete copy of the injunction order against him on his website for one year and to give a copy to each former, current, and prospective client. He was required to file a sworn certificate of compliance with these measures within 12 days, including printed pages of his complete website.
It appears that since this injunction is still up on his website, that Glen Stoll has at least complied with one aspect. As for the others, you can read all his excuses for why he could not comply with the requirements of the US government. What I don’t understand is why Glen Stoll is still continuing in his illegal schemes he perpetrates upon gullible but well-meaning Christians.
What I really don’t understand is how Kent Hovind, a highly intelligent man, fell for this, and apparently, still entrusts his life’s work to this man. Kent, your wife was right: you did get some wrong advice, and that’s putting it mildly. This was a really big mistake. Please learn from it.
The Bible tells us to avoid all appearances of evil. This scam has every appearance of evil to me. Run, Kent! Flee from this man!
Did Kent have any other choices that would still allow him to stand on his convictions? I think so. Maybe I’ll cover that next time.
For a good summary of this scam: IRS Warns of “Corporation Sole” Tax Scam
For Christians: Corporation Sole Problems
More info on Glen Stoll:
Feb 2, 2007
But we weren't even given that opportunity. Governor Rick Perry, who dreams of being a VP candidate in 2008, simply signed an executive order today requiring that all girls around age 11 or 12 and older be vaccinated against HPV. Since this is a sexually transmitted virus, Governor Perry has just made a very loaded statement about the morality of Texas teenage girls, and by implication, the boys as well.
Fortunately, for parents like myself who have an 11-year-old daughter but don't wish to have their parental rights taken away, there is an opt-out available for religious reasons, but that still doesn't excuse the fact that Rick Perry has made a unilateral decision making it mandatory for all young girls, most of whose parents don't even know about their rights to opt-out.
Rick Perry is essentially saying that we should take away any consequences to sin. If teenagers have sex outside of marriage and there's a possibility that they may contract a venereal disease because of their sin, then let's help make it easier for them to sin by removing one more consequence.
Standing in the way of God's judgment is a very serious move, and one that I would not want on my record.
Jan 26, 2007
I used to think that meeting someone online was the equivalent of outright evil, but I've since changed my tune. While there certainly are plenty of nefarious reasons for meeting someone online, I've found that the internet can certainly be used for the glory of God as well.
In a time when God saw fit to remove nearly all my real-life friends from my daily life, He also was so gracious to provide internet friends shortly thereafter. There is a verse that says that man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. I think I am finally starting to understand a bit of what it means for the Lord to look at the heart.
When I meet people in real life, my eyes are immediately drawn to their clothing, their facial features, their hair, and various other aspects of their physical appearance. I am checking them out. And whether we want to admit it or not, we all do that. I really do try not to judge a person by their outward appearance, but that is simply human nature, after all.
So what I have found so interesting is "meeting" people online when I really have no clue what they look like. For myself, I have noticed that I am drawn to others who have a deep love for the truth of God's Word. First, I notice comments, or possibly blog posts, by others, and I consider whether I agree with their content, whether I like their attitude, and whether they have something stimulating to say. I do not have to agree with them at all to enter into a dialogue with them, but for me, the attitude is key. What good does it do to have a friendly debate with someone who has a chip on their shoulder or who is always right?
After a while, I notice that patterns start to develop with certain online personalities and some of those patterns are attractive to me. Perhaps I will read their blogs more often or be more inclined to comment. Sometimes I may even email them privately and often I have received private emails as well. This seems to move the relationship into a bit more personal stage and we are able to discuss matters that we may not say in front of the whole world wide web.
A few of these relationships have developed into phone relationships as well. I cherish these. I will admit that I am often surprised when I hear the voice of a "friend" for the first time. Sometimes the words that I read from them take on a whole new meaning, just because I hear in their voice what was really in their heart. I have developed some very meaningful relationships with my now-phone friends, often deeper than any real life friendships I have. I often wonder if I will ever meet them this side of heaven.
It was our great privilege, then, to finally meet some internet friends in real life last week. Mark had a class not too far from Brandon and Elizabeth and they had given us an open invitation to come visit them any time we were in the area, so we made all the arrangements. At the last minute, an ice storm was coming to San Antonio on the day we were to leave, so they invited us to come up a day early, which I know meant that they had to scramble to get things ready for us (thanks, guys!).
Although they had seen our pictures on the internet, I had no clue what they would look like. I had some sort of vague picture in my mind, but it didn't match at all. What was so odd to me was that I was looking at what seemed to be apparent strangers, yet we had talked so much that I felt like we were long-lost friends. We just naturally fell into conversation and had a wonderful three days together.
You know what really surprised me, though? We had previously only talked about a few areas of life on the phone and through email, so I really didn't know much about their values, their lifestyle, their convictions, their beliefs. I had decided ahead of time that I would just enjoy whatever things we had in common, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that nearly every topic of conversation that came up was something that we had in common. In fact, we found that we are more like them than just about anybody we know.
I was pondering this and considering some of my other internet friends, as I like to call them, who also seem to have more in common with us than I would have initially guessed, and I came to the conclusion that birds of a feather flock together. I know that's not real profound or original, but even through the internet it appears that like attracts like.
It is interesting to realize that if I were to have met certain people first, I may never have developed a relationship with them at all, or maybe not to the degree that I have now that I have been able to look at their hearts (on the internet, at least) without looking at the outward appearance first. I wonder if that is why our relationships seem to deepen so quickly. There are no outward distractions. We don't have to go through all the small talk first. We just start right off discussing deep issues. I can't imagine meeting someone in real life for the first time and immediately getting into a debate on Christians suing one another or whether or not slavery is biblical. It is just inconceivable.
Can't you just picture this scene taking place at church on Sunday morning?
"Hi, I'm Jen," I greet a new visitor.
"Hello, I'm Judy," she replies politely, '"Nice to meet you."
"What is your position on slavery, and can you support it from Scripture? My position is ..."
I sure do thank God for all my internet friends!
Jan 24, 2007
It's the thought that counts.
She really meant well.
Do the ends justify the means? Is being sincere more important than doing the right thing? Let's examine three stories of people whose hearts were in the right place.
Or were they?
A couple years ago, a group of people (it's probably best not to identify them) decided that I should not have the right to be a mother to my own children. Apparently, these people did not approve of some of the rules of our family, such as homeschooling, modesty, the role of women (after all I've written about this, I guess I can't please anyone in this area!), higher education, getting to the marriage altar, and probably countless other areas, including which church we attended. This group of people took it upon themselves to "rescue" my children from the horrible lifestyle and abuse they thought we must be inflicting upon them. Not once did any of these people come visit our home. Not once did any of these people ask me any questions to find out the validity of their concerns. There was absolutely no attempt made at finding out the truth of the situation, but there was a grand conspiracy to relieve me of my right to parent my own beloved children. As the first part of this plan unfolded and I lost one child, I was absolutely devastated. I thank the Lord that He intervened when the State attempted to remove the other two as well. Imagine my shock and my horror when I eventually found out about this grand scheme by those I thought I could trust, only to hear them justify themselves, "Our hearts were in the right place."
One of my favorite Bible stories is not a very enjoyable story, but one that directs much of my life. The Ark of the Covenant was not in Jerusalem, where it should have been, so King David set out to retrieve it from the house of Abinadab. David's heart was in the right place. They put the Ark on a cart pulled by oxen and then they had a fantastic praise and worship service. Wow! The Spirit of the Lord must truly be in that place with that kind of praise and worship going on! And then the oxen tripped. As the Ark began to tumble, Uzzah lovingly put up his hand to steady it. Surely his heart was in the right place. But God struck him dead! Didn't God see that David's heart was in the right place, that he only wanted to get the Ark to its rightful place? Didn't God see that Uzzah's heart was in the right place, that he only wanted to protect the precious Ark of God? Wasn't it the thought that counts? Did it really matter that God had previously told them how to transport the Ark, that God's ways were better than man's ways, that if they had followed God's method they would not have to be concerned about the safety of the Ark?
Fast forward to Kent Hovind. I truly believe that his heart is in the right place, that he is very sincere in what he believes, that he means well. But just because his heart is in the "right" place, does it follow that he did the right thing? If you do something for the right reason, but it is not the right thing to do, is it just the thought that counts? I will continue to support Kent Hovind, but I believe it is time for him to search his heart and see if it is really in the "right" place. Right now, that "right" place is in jail. In this case, are the means truly worthwhile? Is it worth it to be so right in your beliefs that you lose your freedom, your family, your ministry? If those beliefs stand and fall on the infallibility of God's Word, on preaching the gospel, on the reputation of our Lord, then we should we willing to give up everything for the sake of Christ. But is it really worth it to stake our whole life on whether or not we agree with the interpretations of the tax laws? Kent may be 100% right in his stand; I'm sure his heart was in the right place. But do his current ends justify his means? I pray that he reconsiders what is truly important in life.
If you want to really get my dander up, just excuse someone's actions by telling me that their heart was really in the right place. If the people who planned on taking my children away truly had their heart in the right place, they would not have sinned by plotting kidnappings and false abuse reports to the State. If their hearts were truly in the right place, they would have used Matthew 18 or possibly even just attempted a conversation with me.
If King David's and Uzzah's hearts were in the right place, they would not have disobeyed a direct command from the Lord on how spiritual duties were to be accomplished. Having a great praise and worship service does not impress the Lord when there is sin in the camp. Obedience is always better than sacrifice.
If Kent Hovind were to realize that not all taxes in life are fair, that all laws are not even adequate, that if he is called by God to preach the gospel through his creation seminars and debates, that his family needs him more than the prisoners do, that this issue is not a "do-or-die" issue, Kent may still have a chance for freedom after all. I know he thinks his heart is in the right place, but if it were truly in the "right" place, Kent would be in the "right" place as well -- at home where he belongs.
Our hearts cannot be in the right place if it leads to sin or grave consequences that do not ultimately glorify God. Let us say instead, "Thy will be done."