Oct 30, 2006

Glorifying God on Halloween

“I Dream of Jeannie” was my favorite TV show when I was growing up. I was fascinated by how she could just clean the whole house in a wink or make crazy things happen to other people. Not understanding Hollywood at that time, I thought she had real powers and I only had to find the right “magic” combination and I would be able to do them also. I started reading books about “good” witches, dressing like witches at Halloween, and practiced saying all kinds of “abra-ca-dabras,” trying to work my magic.

Some Christians might justify this by saying that I was only a child or I was only trying to be a “good” witch, or that it wasn’t real. But God calls all forms of witchcraft, spells, sorcery, and anything associated with the occult an abomination. There is no “good” witchcraft; it is all evil and dark.

Halloween is dark. Have you ever noticed that trick-or-treating doesn’t start until after dark? Or that the Halloween parties don’t begin until after dark? As Christians, God has called us out of the darkness into His marvelous light. But just how dark is Halloween really?

The history of Halloween begins hundreds of years before Christ’s birth, when the Celts, inhabitants of Britain and Ireland, and their priests, the Druids, celebrated Samhain, a festival that marked the eve of the Celtic New Year, which began on November 1. The fall harvest was complete and winter loomed. The Celts believed the power of the sun was fading. For the next several months, darkness would prevail.

The Celts believed that during Samhain, the veil separating the living from the dead was at its thinnest, that on the evening of October 31, evil spirits and the souls of the dead passed through the barrier and entered the world of the living and departed family members would revisit their earthly homes. They also believed these spirits and dead souls could torment the living. Crops might be destroyed, babies stolen, farm animals killed. But this was also an opportunity to commune with the spirits and divine the future. Satan, the lord of darkness, was ordinarily feared, but during Samhain, his power would be called on to foretell the future.

The Druids were charged with appeasing the goblins and preventing harm to the people. Huge Samhain bonfires were lit to guide the way of the spirits. Various sacrifices, including human, were performed to assure a good year. Ancient authors commented on the gory religious rites of the Druids. It is believed that, like many pagan cultures around the world, the Celts left out food for the spirits, hoping that a "treat" would prevent an evil "trick."

Centuries later, descendants of the Celts continued to observe the Samhain festival by dressing as evil spirits. They roamed from house to house demanding food in exchange for the "spirits" leaving the home. They carved demon faces in hollowed-out turnips and put candles inside.

That night they also practiced many customs designed to divine the future. Young people threw nuts into Samhain fires to see which would crack first and tell them who they would marry. The person who retrieved an apple with his mouth from a tub of water assured himself of a lucky year.

When Christianity began to spread through Europe in the third and fourth centuries, the pagan temples were torn down. But pagan worship never completely disappeared. The festival of Samhain remained a primary pagan festival. Belief in spirits may have waned, but many of the old Samhain traditions continued to be practiced, especially by the children. Primarily in Ireland, children dressed as spirits went from house to house demanding a treat. If they received none, they performed an unwelcomed trick. They were play-acting the part of evil spirits that had to be appeased, just as in the old Samhain festival the people believed they really did have to appease spirits.

In the 700s, the church chose to recognize the saints (hallowed) instead of honoring evil spirits and the souls of the dead. So November 1 came to be called All Saints' Day or All Hallows' Day. The evening before was called All Hallows' Evening. From that we get the modern name of Halloween. But pagan customs continued. And with the growth of witchcraft in the Middle Ages, additional symbols became associated with Halloween - black cats, witches, bats, and skulls.

Irish immigrants in the mid-1800s brought to America the Halloween customs we're familiar with - costumes, trick-or-treat, carved Jack-o-lanterns, bonfires, bobbing for apples, etc. They also brought "tricks" with them, which often involved breaking windows and over-turning outhouses.

Even though the practice of actually performing a trick if no treat is given has changed to egging cars or TPing a yard, the custom of children going "trick-or-treating" has become an established American tradition. But while children and adults "innocently" imitate ancient Celtic customs, darker practices persist. Witches and Satanists still consider Halloween to be one of the strongest times during the year to cast a spell. On Halloween, most practitioners participate in a ritual called "drawing down the moon." In this, the chief witch of the coven becomes, they believe, a channel for the moon goddess. During this ritual the participants are “sky-clad" - that is, naked.

Stonehenge, the mysterious ancient stone formation in England, is often the site for bizarre gatherings of occultists on October 31, some of whom believe they are modern-day Druids. (Many people believe that Stonehenge was a Druid religious site.) And evidence persists that some Satanist and voodoo groups offer sacrifices - usually animals, (check the missing cat count on November 1) but, possibly, human babies.

When your children ask you why they go trick-or-treating, what will you tell them? That it is another opportunity to glorify God, which is why we were created? Halloween is dark, and even though some of the original intents for the customs of Halloween are no longer with us, it is nonetheless not only based upon pagan, evil culture, but it is still FULL of evil. Check out the costumes and tell me they promote godliness. Check out the attitudes and see what fruit of the Spirit you find amongst those buckets of candy.

Up until approximately the age of 12, children are very concrete thinkers, which means that they see everything fairly literally. Abstract thinking comes with puberty, so when a young child dresses up as a witch, for instance, they really think they can be one. Pretending to them is very real. Their minds work so different than adults' do, so it may be hard to remember how we thought when we were young, but the pretending of Halloween is very real to them. Watch a young one (it doesn't really even matter what age, if they haven't been before) the first time they go trick-or-treating and see all the other kids, and observe their fright and fear and nightmares. Oh, yes, they can grow accustomed to the evil of Halloween, but is that what we really want for our children? Halloween sparks an interest in the occult, an interest in scary things, an interest in evil. Satan hates Christians, and Satan hates children. What an opportunity Satan has to delude well-meaning Christian parents on Halloween night.

Here are a few Scriptures to meditate on concerning this day:

Abstain from all appearance of evil.

Do not imitate what is evil, but what is good.

Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just. whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

What should Christians do on the eve of October 31? I will give you several ideas, and I'm sure there are many more, but note that one idea I do NOT list is a Christian version of a Halloween party, no matter what you call it. (If celebrating is what you desire, I would suggest looking to the Feasts that God has already so graciously given us as real Holy Days to celebrate!) Here are a few ideas:

Stay home and keep the front of the house dark. Don't answer the door. When God tells us to be holy even as He is holy, He is telling us to separate ourselves from the world. October 31st is a good day to do that.

Have a Bible study that evening with family and/or friends on what God thinks about witchcraft and the occult.

Study the reformation that day, since that date is also Reformation Day and applies to all protestants, not just those who are Reformed. I know one church that is showing a movie about the reformation then.

Have a normal day, as if nothing out of the ordinary were happening.

Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God!

Loving Ligonier

Exposing evil deeds is never an easy decision to make. Sometimes love covers a multitude of sins. Sometimes Matthew 18 is necessary and we follow all 3 steps diligently. Sometimes public exposure is necessary. In all these, and any other biblical confrontation of sin, love must be paramount. I tend to live my life by what the Bible says, so I was interested to know when public exposure was appropriate.

One day in Antioch, Paul saw a bunch of Jews, including Peter and Barnabas, being outright hypocrites, eating with Gentiles as God had previously told Peter, but when certain Jews came to town, Peter and Barnabas and crew would conveniently not know those Gentiles! Paul was none too happy, and if the story were written today, it might say that Paul first went to Peter and Barnabas and their buddies privately, in the spirit of Matthew 18, giving them a chance to repent in private. But that’s not what Paul did. Peter’s sin was a public sin, and it affected many people, so Paul said to Peter, before everybody, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?” He went on to preach a sermon to Peter about justification by faith alone, essentially not even giving Peter a chance to repent first! We live in such a touchy-feely society today that most people would not see this a loving rebuke, but sometimes Christian love demands this.

Paul listed a whole bunch of names in his second letter to Timothy that became a document of public rebuke for all the world to see for the next 2000 years. He denounces Demas for forsaking Paul for the world, and Crescens and Titus also left him in the lurch. At first glance, this may not seem to warrant public exposure, but since these men apparently accompanied Paul on at least some of his journeys, they must have been at least as public as a CEO or senior manager of a big Reformed ministry might be. He also warns Timothy against Alexander the coppersmith and even asked the Lord to repay him (a curse, really).

John wrote in his third letter to Gaius about all the sins of Diotrephes, apparently an elder or in some office in the church, saying that he would take care of it when got there. These were not private letters, as we know because we are still reading them, and they were not private sins, so John felt the need to expose them publicly as well.

Public exposure is not always necessary, but the more public the sinner, and the more public the sin, the more public exposure may be necessary. Ligonier Ministries, and Tim Dick in particular, were given a chance to come clean before Frank Vance began to expose them. Rather than responding with even a “yes” or “no” answer, Tim Dick, on behalf of Ligonier, decided to try to get a judge to put a gag order on Frank so that Frank couldn’t tell the truth about Ligonier. This now made Ligonier’s sins very public and, hence, the need for very public exposure.

Some have questioned my personal involvement in this situation, and I will not go into detail about that, but I want to make it clear that my motivation is rooted in love – a deep love for the ministry that helped ground me in Reformed theology; that taught me deep spiritual truths from God’s Word; and a ministry that seemed to take a firm stand on issues that relate to daily life, not in the extreme as some teach, but built upon a strong biblical foundation. It has been, and still is, my sincere desire to see Ligonier Ministries profess the holiness of God not in their excellent teachings, but also in their daily walk. My first post was about their divorcing their orthodoxy from their orthopraxy. I hope I have continued to stand on that premise and still pray for repentance toward a united doxy and praxy.

Why is John Duncan being made public when this seemed to be about Tim Dick at first? First, John made himself public when he wrote a statement from “Senior Management” about this whole situation; “Senior Management” is John Duncan, in case some weren’t sure about that. Second, John Duncan is first in line to take Tim Dick’s place, should Tim ever do the right thing and resign, or be let go. Since part of calling Ligonier to repentance involved asking Tim to resign, John suddenly became a very public part of the picture. Third, John is responsible for the lies which we all now know came from Ligonier in many forms – through the front office staffers or the written statements hidden on Ligonier’s website. Also, since Tim Dick is not able to work full-time due to health issues, John Duncan seems to mostly run Ligonier anyway, making him a very public figure.

I mentioned earlier that I had a long phone conversation with John Duncan. It was a very good conversation as far as being kind on both sides. John was well aware that I would consider posting anything he said; his only request was that I not rehash the whole conversation. I did not see any reason to write about most of our conversation, although I well could have, but there were a few things that really concerned me that I thought important to the public. I was not rash in publishing even those, waiting a full ten days to post about his wanting me to be disciplined for expositing Scripture. I did speak to him about this on the phone first, but he held to his position. If this is what he really thinks, why does Ligonier have a hypocrite as “Senior Management?” Surely they have had women exposit Scripture at Ligonier conferences before.

I also had a lengthy email conversation with Tim Dick, about 40 exchanges in all, of which he asked me not to post anything. Although it could have shed more light on Frank Vance’s accusations, I chose to honor Tim’s request for privacy.

Ecclesiastes has a very interesting list of times, of which we are all so familiar. Some that may apply to this situation are:

A time to break down,
And a time to build up;

A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;

A time to tear,
And a time to sew;

A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak.

This was a time to break down, a time to gather stones, a time to tear, a time to speak. I pray that it was all done in love, all done for the ultimate glory of God, and that repentance will be soon forthcoming. I do not know why God chose me for this task, but I remain his obedient servant ~ loving Ligonier.

Oct 29, 2006

Ligonier Ministries Rappers John and Ligon Duncan

PCA Rap Reps?

Click on the movie above for the latest in Reformed entertainment!

I did not actually attend the Ligonier 2006 National Conference, but I'm told this was one of their top acts! I've never seen these men before, so I need your help in identifying these two ghetto rappers promoting Ligonier's new seeker-sensitive conference. Feel free to examine the following evidence -- comparing the video with these photos I've found on the web:

Ligon Duncan

John Duncan

I'm taking a poll: Are these two rappers the men in the links above? Place your vote in the comments section.

If you can't quite follow these lyrics, you may read them here:

Buh, buh, buh,
A man doin' bad
commit a crime,
Caught him in the act
now he's doin' time
I ask him why
with tears in my eye
He says, "I did it for
the M - O - N - E - Y.
It might sound sad,
it might sound funny,
But that's what people
do for money.
Pft, pft, pft. etc.

Oct 25, 2006

Field Trip Review: Texas Renaissance Festival

We've been wanting to go to the Renaissance Festival for years now, but heard that there's plenty of an undesirable lifestyle associated with it, so we'd never gone. This year, we decided to try it on "School Days," where the focus was on children instead. There was so much to do, though, that we couldn't begin to fit everything in one day! There were plays and soliloquys, dancing and sword classes, demonstrations of everything imaginable to the time period, and more than one hundred shops selling renaissance-type clothing, knick-knacks, weapons, food, hats, jewelry, and many other items.

Everyone who worked there was not only in costume, but played the part of the time period as well, addressing us as "My Lord" or "My Lady." What a shock it was to order a Gyro and the young man behind the counter said, "Good Day. What can I do for you, my lady?"! As we were leaving, another one would say, "I bid thee farewell, my lady."

We don't know exactly what this creature was, but it attracted much attention!
Will Shakespeare at the Globe Theater, explaining his love life. "Where there's a Will, Anne Hath-a-way."

Teaching proper sword etiquette.

The costume rentals were fantastic! Natasha had her picture taken and was asked for her autograph and for directions many times over. The girls did not want to leave the costumes there!

The dance instructor even thought Natasha was her new assistant!
By the end of the day, we were cold, tired, soaked to the bone, and covered with mud (we forgot our umbrellas!), but it was a GREAT day and we plan on going back for all 3 school days next year! Highly recommended for $5.

Field Trip Review: Houston Aquarium

We went to the Houston Aquarium yesterday. Although it was not at all what we expected (we were a bit spoiled by the Monterey Bay Aquarium), it was still a great experience. They couldn't resist starting off the tour with evolution propaganda and it was all decorated with Halloween decorations this time of year, but was still otherwise quite enjoyable.

Each room had a different theme, a different time period, or a different location from around the world. There was a distinct focus in each room, such as nautical history, freshwater fish, the jungles of the Amazon, the Aztec ruins, or reptiles such as the reticulated python.

This eel slithered in and out of his cage - very evil looking!

Rare Arabian White Tigers. We watched them for a long time!

We took a "train" through a tunnel of sharks. It was interesting to be totally surrounded by lots of man-eating sharks.
Across the street was the President Bush (the elder) memorial, where we had a beautiful picnic lunch.
We very much enjoyed the aquarium, although it barely took 2 hours to go through. We were planning on an all day adventure. We wouldn't recommend getting the day pass for rides, which included a carousel and ferris wheel. It wasn't worth the extra money.

Oct 22, 2006

A Whole New "Look"

Most of you who know me have probably never seen me without glasses, since I've worn glasses nearly my whole life. I wore contacts for a few years and I had RK (radial keratatomy surgery - before LASIK) done once, which only served to greatly worsen my vision in the long run. I recently found out about Gentle Eye Molding, though, which gave me new hope!

My daughter and I went in for an exam and although she was found to be an ideal candidate, I was not (due to the surgery). I convinced them to experiment on my eyes, however, and would like to share this (new-to-me) procedure with you.

Gentle Molding is similar to hard contacts, but they actually reshape the eye. Most people wear them only at night, being able to see 20/20 from the first morning. After wearing them every night for a few weeks, most people can taper off to every other night, and so on. Since my eyes were worse than any they had ever done this procedure on, I did not expect that kind of a miracle! However, for someone who couldn't even find the eye chart before, I could see 20/40 the first morning! Reading is all right, but still a little strained. It has been 4 days now, and each day when I remove the molding lenses, they are a little better than the day before. I have chosen to wear the molding lenses during the day for right now, until I can see well enough without them to function, but my daughter just wears hers at night.

For those of my friends in San Antonio, I am going to the only doctor in town that does this: Dr. Gary White at the GMVC. If you go to one of his open houses, you will get a 10% discount, which is quite significant.

This non-invasive procedure is preventative as well, keeping one's eyes from ever getting any worse. If you start when your children are still in school, you can help protect their eyes all their lives.

I can see better now than I have in many years, which means that the dirt stands out just as much as the beautiful grain in the wood! There's a whole new world out there!

Kent Hovind: Sold Out

When we arrived at Dinosaur Adventure Land last summer, there was a big sign that said, "Welcome to My Backyard." Thinking it was a cute advertising gimmick, we went in to check out Kent Hovind's creation-based amusement park and museum, although the government had already closed down the museum.

We enjoyed an incredible day, playing on all kinds of unique contraptions that were a cross between a science experiment and a Bible lesson. Each person who worked there readily shared the gospel at every opportunity, calling themselves missionaries. We could really tell they had hearts for the Lord and spreading the good news to all who would listen. It was never really preachy, just natural and heart-felt.

Around mid-day, we noticed a motorcycle leaving the compound, with the man stopping and greeting everyone in his "backyard" on the way out to run an errand. I thought that was nice. But then he stopped and greeted everyone again, when he came back about half an hour later, even if he had already greeted them before. We were in the bookstore at the time, and I saw Kent Hovind come into the bookstore, talking on his cell phone, waving at everyone as he walked through to his office. I didn't think anything of it, as I had seen "famous" Christians greet everyday Christians like that most of the time. Who has time for the average Joe Christian?

I was then surprised that Kent Hovind indeed had time for the average person. A few minutes later, he came back out into the bookstore, apologizing for being on the phone, and went around the store, greeting everyone. It was not perfunctory, but rather he showed a genuine interest in each person. For instance, my severely disabled 11-year-old daughter was sitting in the corner, crying, while I was rushing to look at his books and videos, so Kent went up to her and started trying to engage her in a conversation. He did not speak down to her at all, but started showing her some science experiments he had set up all around the room. Knowing that my daughter cannot speak, I went over to intercede on her behalf. When I mentioned what her disability was, he asked me if I had ever spoken to a certain Christian nutrition expert whose books he carried and recommended. When I replied that I hadn't, he pulled out his cell phone, called him, and gave it to me. That's real life.

But that wasn't all. Then he went out the back door of the shop and spent about 30 minutes pushing kids on the swings in his backyard which, by now, I realized was literally his backyard! His house had one room for a bookstore, and another for a classroom, and another for his office.

Thinking that must be the end of his PR time, we continued enjoying our day, taking some time to talk with one of his "missionaries." About an hour later, here comes Kent Hovind again, joining us for another long conversation. I left that day with tears in my eyes, realizing that this man had spent more time treating me as a person in that one day, than had my elder in a very small church where we went for years. This man truly cared about people, and I wasn't even there with my husband that day!

I did talk to him about the current issue of tax evasion. Kent Hovind believes he and his employees work for God, are paid by God, and therefore aren't subject to taxation. This post will not go into the specifics of his beliefs on that subject and what I believe about them, but what I did leave Kent Hovind with was the knowledge that here was a man who was willing to stand up for his beliefs, no matter who stood with him or who stood against him, and I wish every Christian were that sold out for their faith.

I read a few comments on this subject where people thought it was just all about money with Kent Hovind. I just don't see that at all. He does not live in a fancy house. He shares everything he has. He didn't appear to making much money at Dinosaur Adventure Land. But the one thing that really stands out that tells me that money is not an idol to him is that fact that none of his stuff is copyrighted. In fact, anyone is free to copy his DVDs and pass them on to others who like to see them. He gives away TONS of free stuff to prisons, schools, and other places that might be interested in what he has to say. I have seen many Christian "ministries" where you knew money was really important, but I did not sense that in the least here.

I have written on this blog earlier about Pensacola Christian College and some of the things we were attracted to there, but I will be consistent in my orthopraxy and orthodoxy and I will stand against Beka Horton, PCC's founder's wife and current Senior VP, who has turned Kent Hovind over to the secular courts. She did not sue him, per se, but that is not the word I Corinthians 6 uses anyway. She is still using the world's way to deal with a situation that sounds like it has a lot of personal background between the two families. I guess the $47,000 she stands to gain from turning him in won't hurt.

And then there is the lawyer, David Gibbs, who is another Christian testifying against a Christian brother in a secular court as well. Should Christians really have to worry that what they say in church fellowship times will be brought against them in the form of a prosecuting witness on the stand in the world's courts?

Did Kent Hovind do the right thing? I don't know. But I do know that I met a man who truly loves the Lord, who is willing to pay the price to defend his beliefs in God's Word, and who has not let fame put him on a pedestal. And that speaks VOLUMES to me.

Oct 21, 2006

Weekly Recipe: Colcannon

This is an Irish dish we tried for St. Patrick's Day one year and it became a family favorite. It's also great for potlucks. This is my own version of it.

Boil/ steam potatoes (I cube them at ~1 1/2" to cook faster)
(leave skins on for more nutrition)
I fill a 5-6 qt. pot with the potatoes and add a layer of celery leaves and bay leaves on top for flavor.
Cook until tender. Remove all leaves. Drain.

Meanwhile, chop one head of cabbage (red turns it pink, so we usually use green) ~ 1" pieces.
Steam until tender in a separate pot. Drain.

Put about 1 stick of butter in a big bowl, add potatoes, and mash. Add cabbage, s/p to taste, and as much plain yogurt as you like for a creamy consistency. (I use several cups.)

Easy and delicious!

Oct 15, 2006

Weekly Recipe: San Antonio Kugel

This was a first-place winner in a kugel (noodle casserole) contest, but it is here with my own variation. This particular kugel is slightly sweet, so we serve it for dessert.

1 lb. pkg. egg noodles (I use whole wheat)
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. healthy sugar (Sucanat or raw honey)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 t. cinnamon
4 apples, finely chopped or grated
4 pears, chopped (if you don't like pears, use more apples or substitute pineapple, which is what I use)
1 c. orange juice
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 c. raisins, plumped

Cook and drain noodles. Add butter and mix well. Add sugar, eggs, and cinnamon. Mix in all fruits and juices. Mix gently.

Pour into greased 9x13 pan, covered, and bake at 325 for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Serve warm or cold. May be served with meat, if desired.

Oct 6, 2006

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

We love to celebrate our Lord’s birth, but we celebrate it at a time that is different from most folks, so we thought we would share a little bit of that with you. We have discovered that God was the inventor of holidays (Holy Days), most of which can be found in Leviticus 23. Now we realize that many people think those Feasts were for the Israelites or that they ceased with Jesus’ ascension to heaven or even the destruction of the temple, but we have discovered some interesting things in God’s Word! While our family does celebrate all the biblical feasts, we would like to tell you a little bit about the one when we believe Jesus was born – The Feast of Tabernacles, which begins at sundown tonight, and goes through October 14 this year (exact dates differ from year to year according to the Jewish calendar).

The Feast of Tabernacles has many different aspects to it. It is a time of remembering the booths that the Israelites lived in during their 40 years in the wilderness, so a sukkah (booth) is built for this feast – a temporary dwelling place, usually in the back yard. (There are too many mosquitoes in Texas this time of year, so we set up a sukkah in our living room!) We use sheets to make a temporary room where we eat and sleep and celebrate. Then we decorate with pumpkins and pears and apples and other fall harvest items, since this is also a harvest thanksgiving feast. The sukkahs are supposed to be decorated, so we have Bible pictures all over the sheets. God’s Word also tells us to take the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook to wave before the Lord as we celebrate and rejoice, so since we are blessed here in Texas with lots of palm trees, we also use them in our celebration.

Leviticus 23 tells us that this 8-day Feast of Tabernacles shall be a statute forever. Now, although this verse pertains to the Israelites, it is interesting to note in Zechariah 14, that all nations shall go to Jerusalem from year to year (during the millenial reign) to keep the Feast of Tabernacles and there will be a curse of no rain if they do not come up for the Feast. (The curse does not apply to today – this is a future prophecy, future curse.) Now, we just happen to believe that if God told the Jews (His chosen people) to celebrate this Holy Day FOREVER, and all nations of the earth will celebrate it when Jesus reigns for 1000 years, then we would like to practice now, especially since God has chosen us as well!

The word “tabernacle” literally means “God dwelling with man.” This gives us a huge clue as to what this feast means (all the feasts were a shadow of what was to come). We know that God tabernacled with the Israelites for 40 years in the wilderness, and that is part of this Holy Day. We also know that God, in the form of Jesus, tabernacled with man 2000 years ago. We also have the hope that God, in the form of Jesus, will tabernacle with men again for 1000 years in the future.

So, why do we celebrate Jesus’ birth during the Feast of Tabernacles? We know that shepherds were keeping their flocks in the field at night, but this would not be possible in the winter time because of night time temperatures and December being their rainy season. There is no way shepherds would be out in the fields at night during December.

We also know that Jesus was conceived six months after John the Baptist was conceived. Zacharias received word during Sivan 12-18, (June/July) the eighth course of Abia, which was his time to serve in the temple (undisputed Jewish dates of temple service) that he would have a son. It took about three to four days to get home. John would have been conceived on or about Sivan 23. Six months later (Jesus’ conception) would be around the 25th of Kislev (December - also Chanakuh). John the Baptist would have been born around Passover time, Nissan 14, (March/April), and if Jesus was conceived six months after John was conceived, he would have been born six months later, about Tishri 15 (September/October), or the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. At age 30, Jesus started his ministry, which lasted 3½ years. He was crucified at Passover (March/April) when He was 33½ years old. Count backwards from Passover ½ year and you come to the 15th day of the 7th Jewish month (Tishri), which is the first day of Sukkoth, the Feast of Tabernacles.

The eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles is also called the day of circumcision. Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day. Important events surrounding Jesus’ life are all marked by God’s festivals: Passover foretold Jesus’ sacrifice; the Feast of First Fruits is Jesus’ resurrection; Pentecost was the birthday of the church - the giving of the Holy Spirit; and Rosh Hashanah (the Feast of Trumpets) points to His second coming. Why would Jesus’ birth be any different?

Oct 5, 2006

Ligonier's New Progressive Views?

Senior Management Rebukes Me for Expositing Scripture on My Own Blog

Children should be seen and not heard” is an expression I am very grateful was not adhered to by my own grandparents, although it was somewhat in vogue in those days. Although some people take such a demeaning attitude toward little ones, I was blessed to have never received such treatment from anyone.

Imagine my shock, then, when I began attending a church that believed that “women should be seen and not heard!” Oh, surely, I thought, this just applies to the sermon; women shouldn’t teach men during the worship service. But, no! I remember my utter frustration when my mother came with me to visit our church once, and my husband was away on business. Who was to introduce her? I couldn’t speak, for I was a woman. My mother couldn’t introduce herself, for she was a woman. It was actually quite comical watching one of the men in the congregation, who hadn’t even taken the time to find out her name yet, try to introduce this stranger in the midst, as none other than “Jennifer’s mother.”

I thought that particular church was a little on the extreme side, but I’ve met some other men who seem to dislike women “speaking” as well. I recently had a conversation with a man who wanted to know if I was in the same denomination as he was, so that he could speak to my elders about disciplining me for – expositing Scripture!

Did you know that it is a sin for a woman to exposit Scripture? I had never heard this one before, so I asked John Duncan which verse he used to support such a hypothesis. He led me to “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak.” I tried to explain that the context of that chapter is orderliness in a church service and had nothing to do with whether or not I exposited Scripture on my blog. He didn’t want to hear me exposit that passage, I guess, and insisted that I was sinning by expositing Scripture.

From the first day of this blog, I have had one purpose, which has been stated at the top: “In the spirit of Titus 2, what I wish an older woman would have shared with me when I was younger.” Just in case you are not a Titus 2 extremist like I often find in the patriarchy movement, this means that as an older woman, I am teaching younger women on this blog. I do NOT prohibit anyone from reading my blog. If men choose to read a woman’s blog, that is up to them. It is interesting to note that one of the qualifications of being a Titus 2 woman is to be a “teacher of good things.” Now, if expositing Scripture is not being a “teacher of good things,” I guess I don’t know what is!

Does the Bible prohibit men from listening to women, other than women preaching in a church service? I’ve always wondered what it meant in Acts 2 when Peter was preaching and he said that “your daughters will prophesy.” I wonder when and to whom are those ladies to prophesy? Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines prophesy in Scripture as “to instruct in religious doctrines; to interpret or explain Scripture or religious subjects; to exhort.”

There is a short but interesting story in the book of Acts about a fervent young man who spoke about the Lord in the synagogue, but he only knew the baptism of John. So Aquila and Priscilla took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. Maybe it should have said that Aquila explained to him the way of God, while Priscilla sat by like a doormat.

Do you ever wonder why God gave women a brain?

My husband could have married a dumb-blonde, doormat type, but he was really in the mood for a wife who could think and carry on an intelligent conversation. We have many deep, politically-incorrect, theological and current events debates. He doesn’t want a “yes” wife; he wants someone to challenge him to go farther, to go deeper. At one of our previous churches, I asked the elder’s wife a question about a verse in Scripture. This lady is well educated and very intelligent, but her answer to me was, “I will have to ask my husband his opinion on that verse and get back to you.” I KNOW she had an opinion. Why does she allow herself to be so demeaned?

I am glad that God does not look down on women. He says, “There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This does not in any way negate the different roles in which God has placed men and women, nor does it supercede what God says about women not teaching men IN CHURCH, but the greatest liberator of women who ever lived was Jesus, making men and women of equal standing in the Lord. (Here I go expositing again, John!)

I love teaching Bible studies. I teach women, but if a man desires to come to my Bible study, I will not turn him away. I have had my husband voluntarily come to my Bible studies several times, along with many other men. I was not the only teacher available; they could have sat under a male teacher. I’ve had the same thing happen when I teach classes on how to homeschool or nutrition. Should I just turn men away as if they were dirt? I will not treat anyone that way.

There are definitely no “negative” commands in Scripture for either women expositing Scripture or teaching men outside of a church service. (A “negative” command is a “Thou shalt not…” and is a far more serious offense if broken than any other type of command.) John, I really searched, but I cannot find any biblical support for your disdain of my expositing Scripture. Maybe what you really don’t like is my telling the truth of how Scripture relates to the current Ligonier situation. I could understand that. But rather than attacking the messenger, John, please let the Word of God bring conviction to your soul and repent from this current pattern of sin.

I have been studying God’s Word for many years now and I am so filled with His Word that it just spills out of me! I don’t think I could stop expositing Scripture if I tried. Anyone who chooses to read this blog is also free to comment and challenge my exposition of Scripture. I do not claim to “know it all” – far from it - but I do keep Scripture in context, so if you reply, please keep it in context for a fair debate.

John, is this the new direction Ligonier is taking under “Senior Management?” When Ligonier has board meetings, I wonder if Vesta Sproul and Pat Dizney have to keep their views of Scripture quiet while listening blindly to the men’s? Or do Chairman’s wives and wealthy donors get an exception to this rule?

Thanks, Mark, for your stamp of approval on this post!

Oct 2, 2006

The Honor of Shame

In biblical reckoning, today is the Day of Atonement. While we no longer need to offer up sacrifices, holding our breath as to whether the Lord will accept them or not, this is certainly an opportunity to reflect on God’s grace toward us. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain and has redeemed us to God by His blood. How seriously do we consider our redemption? Do we repent wholeheartedly at the time of salvation, only to refuse to repent when sin eventually creeps back into our lives? This is the time of year that our family takes additional time to pray and ask our Heavenly Father to reveal any sin in our lives, any relationships that we need to mend. Today is a day for us of focusing on full repentance for anything that may have been overlooked at times of communion, or if there is some nagging sin we have held onto, refusing to deal with it outright. Although every day should be a day of repentance for Christians, it is good to spend this extra time every year searching our own hearts.

On this Day of Atonement, I would like to call RC, Tim Dick, John Duncan, the Ligonier board members, and any others, to consider searching their hearts for true repentance. I have read the statements by Tim Dick and Senior Management and do not find any evidence of repentance for suing a fellow believer in a secular court or covering up afterwards.

Let us examine the biblical qualifications of true repentance. We are not talking about the repentance that leads to salvation, since we are dealing with professing Christians. But true repentance is necessary for believers who have sinned as well.

If we don’t start by admitting that something is a sin, there will never be any true repentance. What “sin” has Ligonier confessed to so far? Tim says, “I regret any confusion this may have caused” and “I accept full responsibility for the decision.” “Senior Management” said, “The decision was reached not to pursue a conclusion to this matter through the legal system.” This is the closest thing to confessing sin in these statements, which are the only public statements so far released by the ministry. That is NOT confession.

Now let’s go to II Corinthians 7:8-12 and see what Paul thinks should be included in repentance. First, Paul talks about the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Worldly sorrow is being sorry that you got caught. “I’m sorry someone figured out what we were up to.” Worldly sorrow involves defensive anger, as evidenced here by Tim: “Each time I refuted the accusations, he refused to listen. My denials were then used by the accuser to perpetuate his blog commentary. At that point, I stopped interacting with the accuser, who again escalated his attack, continuing to exhibit, by his public and private conduct, a testimony inconsistent with that of a Christian.
And here by Senior Management: “The accuser's malicious attacks culminated with the accusation that Ligonier defrauded Soli Deo Gloria, in our recent acquisition of it. This has been categorically refuted by Don Kistler, SDG's founder. Threats to Ligonier and its leadership have continued to escalate, with the accuser issuing deadlines for Ligonier to answer his non-credible charges. At one point our president was told he had “put a knife to his own throat,” by ignoring the accuser. Throughout this entire ordeal, numerous emails and posts refuting the accuser were ignored by him. Mediation through ecclesiastical means is always preferred. On at least six occasions, we have sought information from the accuser as to how we might contact his pastor or session. The accuser has refused all requests, publicly scoffing at the notion.

Worldly sorrow also includes pride. Notice that the whole content of each statement is focused on how they were hurt, how they were attacked, how they were accused, all the bad things that happened to them. The focus is on them. And that leads us to the next aspect of worldly sorrow – self-pity. Don’t you feel sorry for Ligonier when you read those public statements? Have they drawn out your sympathies in showing how hurt they’ve been? Worldly sorrow does not produce a change in behavior. Ligonier certainly appears to be hanging on to their right to file suit against Frank Vance once they have another opportunity. Worldly sorrow covers up what was done. Saying that they take full responsibility is a totally meaningless statement without the necessary accompanying confession and admittance of sins. Defensive anger, pride and self-pity are not the marks of true, godly repentance, but rather that of the world’s way.

Worldly sorrow wonders what other people are thinking. Godly sorrow wonders what God thinks. Godly sorrow is primarily directed toward God. David said, when he had committed great sins, “Against Thee, and Thee only, have I sinned.” Although other people are certainly affected, we need to remember that all sin is rebellion against God.

Paul goes on to make a list of what godly repentance should entail:

Clearing of yourselves
Vehement desire

This is a difficult passage to understand, so let’s look at them one by one.

Diligence here is in the same sense as in dealing in business: being earnest in dealing with the issue, to be very careful and diligent in accomplishing what needs to be done, not being flippant, but having a serious attitude toward right and wrong.

Clearing of yourselves is the Greek word apologia, which is used in a different manner in this verse than the normal meaning. Here it refers to a clear explanation of what was done wrong to all those who were affected or who have a need to know. It involves clearly stating the details of the sin(s) to the appropriate parties.

Indignation means to be irritated or vexed, but not in a spirit of anger or self-justification; rather, to be so displeased with your own self for having committed such a grievous sin.

Fear here has nothing to do with being afraid. Rather it is a godly dread or terror of that particular sin you have committed, to the point that you now take a very strong stance against that particular sin, and have a heightened hatred of sin in general.

Vehement desire is that burning desire to live your life fully sold out to God now that you are turning from your sins.

Zeal involves having a fervent mind, one that is determined to do what needs to be done for the Lord now.

And vindication involves godly sorrow working in your heart to make you ready to take a stand on the right side of truth, God’s truth, and to stand up for right against wrong.

We all know that repentance means a complete turn in the opposite direction of where we were heading, but this verse above clearly lays out the specifics of that.

Let’s see what Ligonier should have done, if they wanted their donors and supporters to believe they truly repented.

First, RC Sproul, Tim Dick, John Duncan, each board member, and possibly other senior management need to put their names out there. Thank you, Tim, for at least having the guts to use your own name.

Diligence: We need to see that you each are serious about dealing with sin, especially in this situation.

Clearing of yourselves: There needs to be specific confession. What did you do wrong? How did you sin? Who did you sin against? Why was this wrong?

Indignation: There should be absolutely no self-justification in those statements. You should take full responsibility by using statements such as “I was wrong when I …” or “I am so sorry that I did…”. If there is even a hint of blaming others, God will not consider that true repentance.

Fear: We would like to see you each make a public statement about how wrong it is to do what you have done. Show us your hatred of your sins.

Vehement desire: Dismissing a lawsuit without prejudice so that you can resurrect it again later is NOT turning away from your sins. Now is the time to take a stand AGAINST Christians suing one another and for you to call other Christians to hold to God’s Word on this, and other, issues related to your sins.

Zeal: Determine what needs to be done for Lord now, what needs to be done to clean up His testimony that you have tarnished here.

Vindication: Show us your sorrow; show us your shame. Where is your shame? Worldly sorrow won’t work here. We are calling you to a godly sorrow, a godly repentance.

RC, Tim, John, board members, and others: Do us the honor of showing your shame. Search your hearts today and see if there is anything wicked there. Godly repentance works righteousness. We so desire to see this once-righteous ministry glorify God in everything. We are praying for your repentance.