Nov 30, 2006

Ligonier Lynches Loyal Lecturer

Being loyal to Ligonier is becoming rather costly these days.

In all my own coverage of Ligonier’s deeds of darkness, I have chosen to focus on only those areas in which I have knowledge and documentation, purposely staying away from the Don Kistler aspect of Frank Vance’s original accusations until I knew more than just “Frank said.” As time has progressed, Frank Vance has provided more and more evidence that all his original accusations seem to be valid. Today is no different.

On November 28, RC Sproul and the board of directors fired Don Kistler, releasing this statement: "In November 2006, the Board of Directors for Ligonier Ministries voted unanimously to dissolve our employment relationship with Don Kistler, Managing Editor of Soli Deo Gloria Publications." We don’t know all the details yet, but what we do know sounds quite fishy, including the fact that Ligonier Ministries still retains ownership of Don Kistler's life work, Soli Deo Gloria. They didn’t like his website? And did they ever talk to him about it? Was it in the original contract that he couldn’t have his own website? Is his website really in competition with Ligonier? I’ve been there several times over the last couple months, and Mark and I considered buying a couple of his excellent books, but since they were only available through Ligonier, as was posted on his website at that time, we decided to wait, since we are not financially supporting Ligonier in any way at this time. So, if Don was selling his books on his website THROUGH Ligonier, that just sounds like free advertising for Ligonier to me. That really cannot be the reason.

Check out Frank’s new article for his ideas, but I think it’s time to call for the resignation of the Ligonier Board of Directors. The purpose of a board, as far as I know, is not only to help guide and direct an organization, but to hold them accountable when need be. I realize that many ministry boards are actually made up of “yes” men, as this one appears to be, but that is truly not in their own best interests. A board should desire to see a ministry be fully biblical in all areas of life, first of all, and should do all that would be in the best interests of furthering that ministry – not just bow down to the ministry leader’s every wish and whim. I am very disappointed in this decision by Ligonier’s Board of Directors. If Don Kistler has truly done something worthy of being fired, and that'd better be something FAR worse than Tim Dick representing a Christian ministry to sue another Christian, then Ligonier Ministries should be bold enough to name the offense directly and tell why it was something that could not be corrected (websites are rather easy to change, I would think), and even show that when confronted with his “sin,” Don Kistler refused to repent.

The last I heard, Don Kistler wasn’t even back to work full time since his stroke in August. They aren't paying him now, so he wasn't a financial strain to Ligonier. Besides, I think he works about as many hours as Tim Dick does, so that couldn’t really be it.

Although Tim Dick and John Duncan are not on the board, from Frank Vance’s account, it appears that they were the impetus behind finding a reason to fire Don Kistler. So, I will reiterate my call for a complete management/board turnover at Ligonier Ministries. Whether directly or indirectly involved in all these recent deeds of darkness, the board of directors and all management should be held directly responsible for the wickedness of these last few months, or in all probability, much longer. Change happens one person at a time, one step at a time. It may not seem like much for one person to make a phone call, but each one adds up. I am asking each person reading this to call Ligonier Ministries at 1-800-435-4343 and ask them for more information about why Don Kistler was fired. Ligonier's donors especially deserve the truth.

Please continue to pray for repentance for the board of directors and management of Ligonier Ministries. RC Sproul is leading this, so pray for his repentance as well. Ligonier's website asks us to partner with them as they proclaim the holiness of God to a world lost and dead in its sin. Now it is time to proclaim the holiness of God to a ministry losing its way in deed after deed of darkness.

Nov 26, 2006

Field Trip Review: Homestead Heritage

Thanksgiving weekend is my very favorite time of the whole year! It actually has very little to do with Thanksgiving itself, although I enjoy Thanksgiving. It is the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving that I love! For seven years now, we have gone up to Waco to visit Homestead Heritage, a Christian, homeschool, agrarian community that opens its doors to anyone who wishes to come visit for this weekend. This festival is called their Craft and Children's Fair, but it is far from child's play.

This community of believers leads simple lives, although they work very hard at everything they do. Quality is far more important than quantity. They have a strong emphasis on craftsmanship, of which they give numerous demonstrations during the weekend. One year, we watched them shear the sheep, card and wash the wool, dye the wool, spin it into yarn, weave the yarn into material, and sew the material into usable items such as clothes and blankets. The annual barn raising seems to really attract the men. They give demonstrations on making pottery (plates, serving dishes, cups, everything imaginable - almost perfect quality), candlemaking, soap making, basket weaving, broom making, quilting, all kinds of homesteading and homemaking skills. One year, we went to the cheese making demonstration. They had made a large demonstration board with a picture and instructions for each step of the process. Step #1 was "Milk the cow." There is beekeeping, herb and vegetable gardening, boat building, the grist mill run by a water wheel, hay rides through the community, many historic buildings, rope making, bread baking, goat milking, horse farming, and lots of homeschool work displayed as well. Here are a few demonstrations we saw this year.


Mike showed us how to use a lathe to make a wooden bowl.

Paul demonstrating woodworking with hand tools, some of which were 150 years old.

Last year, we commissioned them to make this solid-wood cherry bed for us, all with hand tools.

Here is the headboard detail, the Texas symbol. Each half-point of the star was inlaid separately, and the wreath is hand carved.

Pounding in the sand for the mold for metal casting to make tools.

Rip, the border collie herding goats.


The quality of their two daily musical performances is outstanding. Writing their own compositions or making changes to familiar ones, Homestead Heritage's concerts are an incredible delight. Using a wide variety of style, from bluegrass to gospel to folk (but all in a manner that glorifies God), they are unashamedly Christian in all their music and quite talented. I figure I go to the symphony or some other musical venture about once per month, but this latest adult concert by Homestead Heritage was probably the best I've ever heard. Their "Dueling Banjos" piece, which is normally a guitar being copied by a banjo, was greatly expanded to include each section of the orchestra as well. As one section would begin to imitate first the guitar and then the banjo, each section in turn would begin to imitate as well. The trick was that the guitar would then begin on a new segment, or maybe the banjo would take the lead. By the time they were in full gear, each section was playing a different segment, yet they all complemented one another. I'd never seen a symphony do something that difficult - and pull it off!

With about 75 in the adult choir, there were always great accompanists, many of which made their own instruments.

Six years old is when each child in the community joins the choir. The 6-9 year olds learn to sing solos, hit the right notes and stay on the beat. What great training at a young age.

The 10-13 year olds sing two-part harmony and rounds.

The 14-17 year olds sing 4-6 part harmony and are quite professional by this stage. If my children could have the opportunity to participate in praising the Lord this way, I'm sure it would fulfill that inborn need each of us has for music - music that glorifies God. The cows mooing in the meadow next door really added to the ambiance.


I won't normally buy fast food or fair food, but we make an exception here. Although they sell "typical" fair food, such as pizza and hamburgers and ice cream, there is a slight difference - it is all grown right there and home made. So, a cheeseburger, for instance, would be organic, free-range beef with raw, organic cheese on a whole wheat homemade bun. Their ice cream is all organic, made fresh right there, and sweetened with their own sorghum syrup they grow right there.


We always camp overnight when we go here. They just let us use part of their land to set up a tent and provide a port-a-potty for us. Less than a mile down the road was a "real" bathroom. No official campsites, no tables or anything, but lots of fellowship. There were about 30 families camping together. It's not a requirement to be a Christian to come visit, but there are lots of Christians who come to get a vision of what "church" should really look like, what living in a community is like. It was so refreshing to see families gathered separately and in groups having devotions together all over the campground, or just singing hymns and praising the Lord.

I read a little bit in a book about why they live in a community. Church is not about meeting together on Sunday, they say, but about living life together. They don't keep out the world from their community, they invite them in six days a week. But even though there was no sermon and no "love" offering, I knew that I would give almost anything to live in a community like this, except my biblical beliefs.

Nov 20, 2006

Weekly Recipe: My Favorite Turkey

I love moist turkey and this is the moistest I've ever tasted! I've been using this method for years now, but it takes quite a bit longer to cook at this low temperature, so give yourself plenty of planning time.

I soak all my meats in salt water first to remove the blood. 30 minutes up to several hours is fine. If you can't find a container big enough to soak your whole turkey, you might consider using a cooler, and then washing it well. It also greatly enhances the flavor.

Time: ~1 hour per pound, plus one more hour (your bird's weight + 1 hour, less for small birds)

Rinse turkey thoroughly, including cavities, and pat dry with paper towels.

Stuffing is optional, but internal temperature of stuffing should remain at 165 deg. if stuffed.

Rub outside of turkey with olive oil and any other seasonings desired.

Place breast side down on rack in roasting pan, with thermometer in meatiest part.

Place in preheated 300 degree oven and roast for one hour (this kills any bacteria).

Reduce temperature to 180 or your oven's lowest setting above that. Roast 45-60 minutes per pound (3 times longer than standard). The larger birds require 60 minutes per pound. It doesn't hurt anything to cook it for several hours longer after it's done, in case your timing's off.

Roast until the meat thermometer reaches 180 deg.

No basting required! Lots of juices for gravy. Be prepared that it will be so tender that the bones may fall off when you cut it!

Warning: Some digitally controlled ovens have an automatic cut off time. You may want to consult your owner's manual about this, or set the alarm to check on it in the middle of the night! If your oven just uses a dial, you're good!

Nov 19, 2006

Two Sides of Forgiveness

I've been following another thread recently where some women have been abused and injured during their walk with Christ. Somewhere along the way, they turned their backs on everything of the Lord and decided that they didn't need to forgive those who hurt them because the abusers were above them in their station in life - husband, pastor, etc. - as written here. I had never considered that forgiveness only applied from the higher ranking toward the lower ranking, as in the parable of the king who forgave his servant 10,000 talents, but the servant wouldn't forgive another 100 denarii, a measly amount. This author advocated that we were only commanded to forgive either those below us in situation, or our equals (forgive your brother 70 times 7). So these women have decided that they don't have to forgive their husbands or pastors or other men who were above them in some way who all abused them because of this teaching. They think, as do most people probably, that forgiveness equates to no consequences.

With this fresh on my mind, I was so pleased by the sermon I heard today about the two sides of forgiveness. Whenever we think of forgiveness in general, we must think that there are at least two sides: the offender and the offended. I think most Christians agree that if we forgive those who sin against us, as the offended one, we are the ones who are then free from what unforgiveness does in our lives. We've all seen unforgiveness grow into bitterness, and from there into anger, and some have even seen it grow into very irrational behavior, which only causes more hurt for everyone involved. I am going to assume here that we all agree that forgiveness is a requirement for Christians. "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."

What really interested me, though, about today's sermon, which seemed to speak directly to what these women's concerns are, is the other side of forgiveness - the offender. Have you ever noticed that there are certain principles in Scripture that are not laid out all in one place, all in one verse or passage, but when we put them together, we can see the full picture? One such topic would be salvation. I am not going to go into detail here, but there is the aspect of seeing how depraved we really are, seeing that we can do nothing of ourselves, seeing our need for a Savior, admitting and confessing our sins, repenting, and believing that only Jesus can save us because He died to atone for our sins and set us free from the wages of sin. I am simplifying greatly, of course, and it is really simple, but we don't really see this laid out all at once in Scripture. I really like this example, though, because when we repent, God is faithful to forgive. We clearly see here that forgiveness and repentance go hand in hand. God offers us forgiveness, but we must willingly receive it, we must repent.

This is really no different from our relationship with the offender, then. As the offended one, we can forgive the offender, but the offender cannot receive that forgiveness until he repents from the offense to begin with. Luke 17:3-4 adds this aspect to forgiving one another: "If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” This is not saying that we don't have to forgive unless he repents, as we can clearly see from other passages that we must forgive the offender; but rather that the offender cannot receive our forgiveness until he himself repents. Forgiveness offered is what we must do; forgiveness received is up to the offender.

Does this forgiveness necessarily mean that there are no consequences then? What about justice? Do we just forget that anything ever happened? No. It is an attitude of the heart that changes, but often there are outward consequences that cannot, or should not, be changed. If a "brother" owes you $1000 and refuses to pay, you can forgive him, and not have any bitterness toward him. But does it necessarily follow that he doesn't owe you the money any more? that you will continue to loan him money? that you will be in fellowship together? Of course not. He has refused to receive your forgiveness by the mere fact that he has not "repented," which would be shown by him paying you the $1000. You could "forgive" the debt as well, but without a repentant spirit on his part, you have now encouraged him to sin even further. This is a minor example. I know of one church for instance, where there were multiple adulteries (one woman, seven pastors) and all eight people continue to "fellowship" together because they said, "I'm sorry." Confession without repentance is not enough. A natural consequence should have been the loss of fellowship for all and removal from the ministry for all the pastors, at a bare minimum. Yet, these eight people and their spouses all continue to go to this church every Sunday, "fellowshipping" together. Can you feel the tension? There is no repentance here. These spouses might have forgiven the adulterers, but the offenders have not received that forgiveness yet, as they have not truly repented. Where is their shame?

Many sins have built in consequences that will remain even after full repentance and forgiveness. Think about a baby out of wedlock. Those involved may repent and be fully forgiven, but if there was an abortion, that consequence cannot be undone. If a young lady ends up a single mother, that consequence cannot be undone. She's forgiven, but she is still responsible for taking care of that baby for the rest of her life. Oh, there are lots of examples, and I'm sure we each have examples in our own lives we can point to.

One example of an unrepentant heart is pride. In the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, the Pharisee was so full of pride that he couldn't be forgiven that day. The tax collector, on the other hand, was so humbled by his own sense of depravity, that he was able to receive the forgiveness that comes with repentance. Sweet forgiveness.

People want forgiveness, approval, and acceptance without change or repentance. If we show compassion, mercy, and forgiveness to one who refuses to repent, we are encouraging the offender to continue in their sin. God is a God of forgiveness, compassion, and mercy - to the repentant - and He is also a God of justice. We must not interfere with justice, especially when it would also interfere with repentance that leads to forgiveness! Those who refuse to repent alienate themselves not only from God, but also from the church as a whole.

Romans tell us to "note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them." See clearly who is causing a division in the church, who is offending. Do offenders cause division in the church? Always! And offenses are always contrary to the doctrine we have learned, so we are told to avoid them, not to fellowship with them. This is hard, even harsh, but those who refuse to repent should not continue to fellowship as if nothing happened just because they say, "I'm sorry." There must be repentance in order to receive forgiveness. Proverbs tells us that "the way of the unfaithful is hard," which is what helps him come to repentance. Let's not interfere with the hard way he sometimes needs.

As a Christian, I must forgive anyone who offends me, who hurts me, who abuses me, who causes me harm. I must. But forgiveness does not mean justice is not carried out; the one who sins must face justice. Forgiveness also not mean that the offender is ready to receive forgiveness. Until there is genuine repentance, he cannot receive that forgiveness that I so freely offer him, just as we cannot receive Christ's forgiveness that He offers us until we repent. So forgive. Forgive from the heart. But also realize that we are not letting anyone "off the hook" by our forgiveness. They are still fully accountable to God for their sin and there are almost always consequences that come because of their sin. Our forgiveness does not justify someone else's actions, it only sets us free.

Nov 17, 2006

Woman Triumphs Over IRS

Here is an article that seems diametrically opposed to Kent Hovind's trial. Not exactly the same circumstances, but close enough.

Nov 16, 2006


My New Theology

I am going to shock all my readers by announcing that I am starting my own brand of theology. I see many truths in different doctrines, different theologies, different denominations. But I have to question why we have so many differences. Why is each person entitled to their own interpretation? Why do Calvinists see John 3:16 totally differently from Arminians? What does "it" refer to in Ephesians 2:8? Why do dispensationalists see several different covenants, but the Covenant Theology people see only one? Why are fundamentalists so strong on being transformed outwardly as well as inwardly, but the "grace" folks have "freedom in Christ?"

I have a lot of respect for most of my readers here (even those that disagree with me kindly), but I have learned one thing that I never realized until I started writing here: Even truly dedicated Christians will often go to "man" rather than God. I post a lot of Scripture here, and rather than discuss the specific Scripture, I have been surprised at how many times I am "encouraged" to go read what some man has to say about the subject, as if that's God final word on the subject. I have readers telling me to read Edersheim or DA Carson, some tell me I need to read more commentaries, and a couple think John MacArthur will set me straight. Here's an example of one comment to my straight quoting of Scripture:

"You (and Mark) should refer to reliable Christian commentaries to revise this statement. If you mean this, then your understanding of the Gospel in insufficient. ... You will cause harm to everyone who reads and believes your distortion."

I have a feeling this person is a friend of mine, but I am truly concerned when well-meaning Christians go to commentaries rather than God's Word to see what God says. Commentaries are written from the worldview (the spiritual worldview) of the author. Don't we choose our commentaries based upon our already established beliefs and doctrine? Then we are just preaching to the choir, aren't we?

Here's what I've decided: I am starting a new theology - Bereanology. As you might guess, Bereanology is based upon the verse that says the Bereans "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Luke says that the Bereans were noble for this attitude. Notice that they did not have their own interpretaion of Scripture. They did listen to the apostles (their word wasn't exactly "gospel" back then!), but they tested everything they said. They did not idolize men. They didn't search the commentaries daily, they didn't read the latest fad book, they didn't try to find their purpose in life. They just studied the Scriptures - every day - to find the truth, the truth of God's Word. They didn't read through the whole Bible in one year (although that's not necessarily bad), and they didn't follow a devotional booklet. Their minds were fully open when they listened to the preaching and teaching of God's Word, but they went home and checked it out for themselves - from the Scriptures. Sola Scriptura.

Is there anything wrong with reading other authors? Commentaries? Listening to our favorite preachers/teachers? Not at all. But we must begin at the beginning, by studying God's Word for ourselves, and test EVERYTHING we hear and read - again by the Scriptures.

Here is what I've learned. I've learned to study one book at a time. I read it several times to get an overview and find the main point or so. I like to mark key words then, chapter by chapter, or passage by passage. This has become absolutely critical for me. Then I make a list of exactly what the Scripture says about that word (or group of words or compare/contrast-type words, etc.), a sample of which I posted here earlier. The first time I did this, many years ago, I was very confused about the Holy Spirit, having been taught nothing at all about Him in my churches growing up, then hearing some doubtful ideas in the Assembly of God church we were in (I just couldn't find what they were saying in Scripture), and then hearing all kinds of contradictory teachings about the Holy Spirit. So, I read slowly through the whole book of Acts, marking and learning other things as well, but making a list of only what the Bible said about the Holy Spirit. I had many, many pages of verses that talked about the Holy Spirit when I finished, and I have a strong foundation of what God alone has to say on the subject. As I study other books, I am able to add to my list as well. You can imagine that I have thousands of lists by now. I will not tell you my conclusion because it was such a life-changing experience for me that I wouldn't want to rob you of that joy of discovery for yourself!

Being a Berean can include many other aspects of studying the Scriptures, such as word studies, cross references, and constantly asking contextual questions as you dig deeper, but I remember one surprise that this Bereanology had for me. I was studying Revelation this way several years ago, and I was SO tempted to just read the commentaries and see what they said each thing meant. After I made my lists and all (which really only scratched the surface - I haven't gone in depth in Revelation yet), I was SO eager to read certain commentaries, so I pulled out several. I won't name names here, because sometimes they are very useful, I'm sure, but as I started reading the commentaries, one after the other, I had to say about each one: "But that doesn't line up with what the Bible said." That was when I saw firsthand the value of studying Scripture for yourself.

There are lots of useful tools in studying God's Word, such as the concordance, dictionary, and sometimes even commentaries. There are historical context books that are very useful as well. Use the tools, but use them as tools and not as the finished product.

The ideas I have listed here are not the only way to study Scripture, and I don't claim to either have an exclusive handle on studying Scripture or to know what every verse means. I don't even begin to. But I do love studying God's Word, like a Berean, studying not to obtain knowledge, but to know God. I may attain some knowledge along the way, but my desire is to know God.

Bereanology. Who's with me?

Nov 15, 2006

Wal-Mart Gives $60,000 To Homosexual Group to Support Homosexual Agenda in Workplace

Update 11/21: Statement from Walmart
Respect for the individual is one of the core values that have made us into the company we are today. We take pride in the fact that we treat every customer, every supplier and every member of our individual communities fairly and equally.

We are working hard to make our corporate contributions reflect the values of our customers, communities, and associates. As Sam Walton said, “Each Wal-Mart store should reflect the values of its customers and support the vision they hold for their community.

Wal-Mart will not make corporate contributions to support or oppose highly controversial issues unless they directly relate to our ability to serve our customers.

Wal-Mart does not have a position on same sex marriage and we do not give preference to gay or lesbian suppliers. Wal-Mart does have a strong commitment to diversity among our associates and against discrimination everywhere.
Thank you, Walmart! Below is the impetus behind their statement:

Wal-Mart has gone on record that they are an advocate for the homosexual agenda. In the Out & Equal 2006 Workplace Summit Program Guide, Wal-Mart placed a full-page ad which explicitly stated that it would be an advocate for the homosexual movement. Keep in mind this ad was developed for the homosexual conference and aimed toward participating homosexual groups.

Not only did Wal-Mart place the ad in the program guide, they also gave $60,000 to Out & Equal, a homosexual organization pushing the same-sex agenda, including same-sex marriage, in the workplace . Out & Equal served as conference host and the donation went to help sponsor the Out & Equal Workplace Summit held this past September in Chicago.

The purpose of the conference was to train homosexuals to convince the companies for which they work to support the homosexual agenda and to encourage other companies to do the same.

At the conference, Pride, Wal-Mart's in-house homosexual group, presented a PowerPoint presentation detailing how they were successful in getting Wal-Mart to support the homosexual agenda. The PowerPoint presentation, telling Pride's story, contains 51 frames. Each page of the presentation contains the line Confidential Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. It was used to encourage conference participants to follow Pride's example in the companies for which they work.

Other pro-homosexual actions by Wal-Mart can be found at


Sign the online petition to Wal-Mart letting them know you will be one of the 1,000,000 families who will not shop at Wal-Mart or Sam's Club on the Friday or Saturday following Thanksgiving. Sign the petition at

Nov 13, 2006

Ligonier Lynches Loyal Laborers?

Ligonier's mistreatment of loyal customer service representative the latest evidence of mismanagement

You may remember reading on my blog recently about Meaghan May, a young lady who worked as a customer service representative at Ligonier Ministries during the uproar caused by their unbiblical lawsuit against a professing Christian and subsequent cover-up. Meaghan was the only non-managerial employee at Ligonier who spoke publicly about the lawsuit, and she strongly defended Ligonier's management in comments on this blog.

Well, only a few weeks later, Meaghan is no longer defending Ligonier. In fact, she has left the organization under circumstances that provide the latest evidence of major mismanagement at Ligonier, with implications for all current Ligonier staff.

Meaghan's husband, currently studying for a Masters of Divinity and Counseling Degree at Reformed Theological Seminary, tells the story of her recent plight at Ligonier:

“So my wife got a new job (yay!) and gave her two weeks' notice today after three years of faithful work...and then two hours later they "terminated" her! God, however, showed us really quickly that he will provide for us through the mess left in our laps. Meaghan can start her new job earlier than originally planned, and her old employer agreed to at least pay her unused vacation. Here's to a few days off! It's hard to know how to respond to a situation like this when it's not you but your wife who's going through it. Feeling this desire to protect her and defend her honor, I may have been less gracious in my blog entry for today (in that I actually mentioned what these people did) than she was in hers today, and I want to make it clear that I am damn proud of her in how she's acted through all this!”

Even though Ligonier's policy is for employees to give two weeks' notice of resignation, and even though Meaghan complied with the rules, Ligonier's management fired her for daring to quit! It's a good thing senior management was "generous" enough to pay her for her unused vacation time.

In her blog, Meaghan mentions the three years of trials she endured at Ligonier and how she has been praying about it for the last couple years. She says something about her new job, though, that would be rather puzzling if we were not familiar with the recent happenings on at Ligonier: "I keep waiting for them to be gruff with me if I did something incorrectly, but they are very patient and just excited to see me take on new tasks." I'd like to be able to interpret this comment charitably, but the only way I can understand it is that Meaghan had become so accustomed to verbal abuse at Ligonier that she had begun to think it normal and expected more of the same at her new job.

Ligonier's mistreatment of Meaghan while on the job and continuing as soon as she announced her departure is particularly significant given that she was, after Tim Dick and John Duncan, the most visible staff defender of both the organization and its senior management. Meaghan's loyalty to Ligonier was the strongest when they needed it most - at the height of public uproar over the lawsuit, when Ligonier issued the misleading statements by Tim Dick and Senior Management. In response to the critics, Meaghan posted some very strong comments all over the web defending her employer and identifying herself as the very customer service rep I spoke with at Ligonier. Meaghan did eventually apologize for "any confusion, for Ligonier's part in making the situation more difficult, and that her responses as a customer service representative were not as helpful as they had tried to be." She nevertheless insisted that Ligonier was not trying to lie, that they were all concerned about the situation for the Lord's sake, and that it was all just a matter of miscommunication.

You would think, given Meaghan's vocal public loyalty, that senior management at Ligonier would want to ensure that her last experience of the organization was positive, given that she was going to leave anyway. Instead, Ligonier management bizarrely chose to reward her loyalty ("I will not abandon His ministry, but only pray more earnestly for it") by instead insisting on firing her after she gave notice of quitting.

You will not be surprised to learn then that Meaghan is not the first employee Ligonier management has spurned and discarded. Reportedly, groups of nine and ten employees, some with decades of faithful service, were let go in 2004 and 2005 not long after Ligonier leadership purchased expensive trophy properties. Ligonier is also currently not paying Don Kistler, after he had a stroke and the doctor told him he couldn't go back to work for a few months -- although Tim Dick continues to be paid despite his own medical condition that severely reduces his ability to work productively. Is such behavior in conformity with Ligonier's HR policies? Is this kind of disparity in treatment legal?

And how about ethical treatment? We all know that God’s Word tells us at a minimum to be kind to one another, preferring one another in brotherly love, etc., but let’s get down to specifics. Paul talks about masters and bondservants in Ephesians, and the principles in those verses clearly also apply to employers and employees. Here is a short list of what God expects from purportedly Christian employers:

  • Sincerity of heart, as to Christ
  • Doing the will of God from the heart
  • With goodwill doing service, as to the Lord
  • Giving up threatening

Reportedly, the atmosphere at Ligonier these days is far from this biblical standard, with management threats being common. I'm sure that most Ligonier employees love the Lord and desire to do what is right in His sight, and that they love Ligonier and Dr. Sproul and want to see them both glorify God in all that they do. At the same time, it should be clear to any honest Ligonier employee the vast gulf between what Ligonier management teaches and what they practice, such as what the Bible teaches about handling disputes among believers.

Consequently, employees must be wondering what their obligations are as Christians. I suspect that many would love to speak out and help expose the truth to donors, but fear that doing so would cost them their jobs and possibly also their friends and church. Given the potentially high price, so far most have chosen to remain silent, many while quietly seeking other employment. But I have to ask all such employees: Is your job worth the price of your integrity? Didn't Jesus say that following him would be costly?

As we see by Meaghan's example, you should not expect Ligonier management to reward loyalty with loyalty, unless you're part of the Sproul, Dick or Duncan families. You should not expect that helping management cover up and defending them from critics will protect you from management wrath in the end. If you are "laid off" for "financial" reasons, how will you be able to prove if it was actually for any other reason?

Under the circumstances, it seems to me that, instead of trying to protect the Ligonier leadership, subordinates should help expose the internal scandals in the hopes of cleansing and restoring Ligonier. Fortunately, honorable Ligonier staff can do this discreetly and protect themselves by keeping a low profile at work while supplying information to those who have a genuine interest in seeing Ligonier restored - Ministry Watchman or myself or another trusted outsider - by setting up anonymous e-mail accounts accessed only at home and used only for this purpose. This would help put on public pressure for the replacement of senior management by those with track records that show more concern about glorifying God than gratifying their pocketbooks.

As a former long-time monthly Ligonier donor who loves the Ligonier that used to glorify God and hopes only to see them restored to the glory of God and the blessings of His people, I appeal to all Ligonier insiders who are willing to take a stand against management tyranny, even anonymously and confidentially, to help expose evil deeds of darkness for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, His Kingdom, and His Glory.

Nov 10, 2006

Don Kistler's Statement

A Public Statement from Dr. Don Kistler
Managing Editor, Soli Deo Gloria Publications
A Division of Ligonier Ministries

I have been reading several blogsites lately where things have been posted regarding Ligonier Ministries and its president and CEO, Tim Dick, and the acquisition of Soli Deo Gloria Ministries. I think that I am in a good position to correct some misconceptions and misrepresentations regarding that situation and subsequent allegations.

First, Soli Deo Gloria was not defrauded by Tim Dick or Ligonier. Our ministry was not stolen. We signed an agreement to become part of Ligonier Ministries. There was no switching of contracts, and there was no duplicity in their dealings with us. I have no idea where this came from, or who is making such statements-but they did not come from me.

Second, I am not being mistreated by R.C. Sproul. He is not treating me as a "persona non grata," nor is he failing to speak to me. Neither am I seeing any form of retaliation from Tim Dick, as has been erroneously reported. Those things have simply not happened.

Third, I can accept invitations to speak and/or preach as I am asked. Ligonier has been most accommodating in that respect.

Thanks to all of you who have prayed for me during my recent stroke due to a brain hemorrhage. I am recovering well, albeit slowly. This is why it has taken me until now to respond regarding this matter.

I hope this helps to clear up some of the allegations and accusations that have been made. I also hope it serves to restore people’s opinions regarding Tim Dick, Ligonier Ministries, and my dear friend R. C. Sproul. He remains the object of my highest respect and deepest affection, and I look forward to many years of serving the Lord as part of the Ligonier Ministries team.

Dr. Don Kistler

Grace, Faith, and Works

Sometimes people accuse me of trying to work for my salvation because I believe the verse where Jesus says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments." This concept of obeying God is prevalent all throughout both the Old and New Testaments, yet I know so many who think that the Bible is not relevant for today, that it doesn't speak to our daily lives so much as it just tells us the message of the gospel. "Pray the sinner's prayer and that's the most important thing" is the attitude of so many evangelicals, especially those in the ministry and missionaries. I believe this is one of Satan's biggest lies. There is nothing in Scripture that tells us to pray the sinner's prayer in the first place, although I'm not necessarily against that. But if we use that prayer as "proof" of salvation, we may be damning some to hell by simply not telling them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I prayed the sinner's prayer when I was five, but I was no more "saved" than the man in the moon. It wasn't until I was well into my adult years that the truths of God's Word sunk deep into my heart.

Although I memorized Ephesians 2:8-9 as a young child, I still remember when it finally "clicked" with me that it actually means something profound. I grew up in a church that believed that each person has the choice to become a Christian or not - all man. Later, I went to a church that believed that you don't have any choice in the matter, that God chooses for you - all God. Wondering why there could be such a dichotomy between two obvious groups of believers, I finally realized the truths of "For by grace are ye saved through faith..." Suddenly, I saw that the grace part was God's part, and that the faith part was man's part. God did the choosing, but man always has a responsibility; God did not create robots to love Him, nor did he just sit up there and hope a few would love Him (no one seeks after God).

But on to the works part. Verse 9 is always quoted with this passage: "Not of works, lest any man should boast." And we stop here, saying works is not a part of salvation. But is that what Scripture really says? What if we go on to verse 10: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." What? God created us for good works and ordained before that we should do good works? Rather than pass this by, this is what I studied this morning.

One way I love to study Scripture is to make a list of how certain words are used in a certain passage. I just focus on one, or two words if they are related, and make a list of purely what Scripture says about that word. Today, I looked at James 2 and looked at the words faith and works. I will just share my list here with you.

What does it profit if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?

Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.”
Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

Faith without works is dead.

Abraham was justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar.

Faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect.

A man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

Rahab the harlot was also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way.

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Salvation by grace and faith; justification by faith and works. In other words, there must be fruit! Praying the sinner's prayer will not get you to heaven; works will not get you to heaven. By God's grace and our faith, true salvation will automatically produce good works, good fruit, that should be evident to all who see us. If I don't stand out as being different from the world, because I keep God's commandments, then what is the purpose of my salvation? To escape eternal damnation? No, I was created to do good works for Christ, to glorify God, and to serve Him. I pray that He will enable me to do just that.

Nov 7, 2006

Rejecting a Greek Mindset

I spent all day in God's Word today. I took my children to a conference where we studied the Hebrew roots of certain words in the Bible and Hebrew meanings of certain principles. I went with a teachable spirit and I came away full to overflowing, knowing one thing for certain...

I was wrong.

I have probably never been so affected by one day's teaching of God's Word than I was today. The class was about the Hebrew mind vs. the Greek mindset, of which I thought I already had a fairly good grasp. I was shocked to learn that I still think with a Greek mindset; we all probably do. Brad Scott, of methodically undermined all my beliefs today; well, not all - but close!

I should give you a little background first, before you think I am one who is easily swayed to the latest teaching or tickling of ears - I am not! For seven years of my Christian life, God had us in an Assembly of God church. I am Reformed now, but I've never had the doctrines and theology of Assembly of God, even while we attended there. Yet we knew that God wanted us there for a season (a very long one!). That is where He taught us to be Bereans, diligently studying God's Word after the sermon each Sunday and Friday, to see whether these things be true. We developed a very strong biblical foundation in those years, searching out the truths of God's Word for ourselves. I then went to a Reformed church for 5 years, but Reformed doesn't necessarily meaned "Reformed" (lots of variations here) and I discovered that the Bible didn't say what I was being taught from the pulpit once again. I was so firm in my stance on God's Word, I was willing to risk excommunication for it. So, you see, I am not one who is easily swayed by man's teaching.

There was so much that I learned today that I can't possibly share it all here, so I will just share a nugget or two with you. I've been having a conversation lately about eschatological viewpoints (what we believe about the end times). I've read a book about four different views on Revelation, studied Revelation somewhat in depth myself, and heard several different viewpoints, coming to the conclusion that I have no conclusion. I saw value and truth in each perspective, yet I needed to choose just one, didn't I?

Here is where I learned one of many differences between Greek and Hebrew thinking. Greek thinking puts everything in a box: there is only one right interpretation of Scripture; my method of systematic theology is the right one and everyone else is wrong. I have often said that God has at least two different meanings of everything in Scripture, but I still haven't gone far from the Greek mindset. Hebrew thinking uses a method called Open Block logic, which says that there are four different, yet compatible, interpretations of each verse. Now, before you think I've totally gone off my rocker this time, I will attempt to explain a very complicated pattern, very simply. I hope I can do this justice. Here are the four different interpretations:

1. Literal interpretation - what we see on the surface, the basic facts of the gospel message, what each word literally says, although I'm sure this view would take into account the fact that we need to recognize the genre of literature being used, such as poetry using similes and metaphors, for example. The Hebrew meaning of this viewpoint is "to strip off your clothes, to be out front, in the open, everything exposed." Most Christians (dispensationalists, evangelicals, fundamentals) would agree with this thinking.
2. Here we go a little deeper into the more profound, looking for clear implications. This is often used in prophecy, but can be used in other situations as well. The example was given of Ps. 34:7 "The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them." While this verse has extremely rich meaning, which I will go into in a later post, we can infer from this, as an example, that the angel of the Lord does NOT encamp around those who do not fear Him. (You'll understand why this is important in my next post or so about this.)
3. Search diligently (almost a desperate, panicked search) for what pertains to me.
4. The hidden things - the Hebrew here means "seed," which is buried in the ground and you must be willing to dig deep in the ground to find it. There are many truths contained in God's Word that don't translate well into English and we miss the Hebrew meaning of them, unless we are willing to dig deep into the Hebrew and find them.

These four categories mean that, as an example, the seven churches in the book of Revelation can have four different meanings:

1, The churches represent those who lived at that time.
2. The churches fit a pattern (I don't know if I got this one exactly right in my notes).
3. The churches represent the last days.
4. The churches are verses that really are written for us today.

If I am making any sense at this point, apparently this is a controversial subject, but if we interpret Scripture according to the Hebrew Open Block logic, all four would be correct interpretations. I can now go back and study eschatology all over again with a fresh perspective! (and every other verse in Scripture!)

Let me just give you one other example of what we can learn in Hebrew that we don't see in English. I know how much we all LOVE those genealogies in Scripture, so let's look at Genesis 5 at the names only of Adam to Noah. Did you know that the names tell the gospel message, when read in order? Blogger doesn't let me set up a chart (at least I don't know how), so in each line, I will write the name first and then the Hebrew meaning of each name.

Adam - Man
Seth - Is appointed
Enosh - Mortal
Cainan - Sorrow
Mahalalel - But the blessed God
Jared - Shall come down
Enoch - Teaching
Methuselah - His Death Shall Bring
Lamech - The Despairing
Noah - Rest/comfort

So, if we read them all in order, it says, "Man is appointed mortal sorrow, but the blessed God shall come down teaching; His death shall bring the despairing rest and comfort." Wow! What a geneaology!

My cup is so full, it's overflowing tonight! More later.

Nov 6, 2006

Guilty of Disobeying What Law?

Kent Hovind and his wife were found guilty of 58 counts of tax fraud, including failure to pay $845,000 in employee income taxes, facing up to 288 years in prison in what appears to be something of a kangaroo court. One thing I noticed as I watched many of Kent Hovind's videos was his constant appeal to Christians to do something for the Lord; it doesn't matter what necessarily, but it's important to do something for the Lord. As I was telling my son that Kent may spend the rest of his days in prison when he could be out carrying on his ministry if he had just paid the money and went along with the crowd, I realized what a hypocritical attitude I had. Looking back through history, I am very grateful for all those who didn't go along with the crowd, but made waves, BIG waves, that brought about the necessary changes to get us to where we are today - free.

But are we really free? Why is this SO important to Kent? To him, this was worth risking going to jail for the rest of his life. He is not a kook; there must be something worth learning here. So I took a look around and discovered Aaron Russo's site, Freedom to Fascism, which has a private movie that came out this summer exposing the fact that there is NO law that requires American citizens to pay income taxes. Check out the 14 minute trailer; it will make you think, at the very least. For Christians, there is a timeline there that should ring a bell somewhere.

So, my son wants to know, how can they charge Kent Hovind with a crime if there is no law requiring him to pay taxes for his employees? I haven't researched this fully, so I surely must be missing something somewhere.

Meanwhile, what to do? I hate it when I learn something new; now I am responsible for what I know!

What Immigration Used To Mean

Written in response to a series of letters to the editor in the Orange County Register, but they refused to publish this:

Dear Editor:

So many letter writers have based their arguments on how this land is made up of immigrants. Ernie Lujan for one, suggests we should tear down the Statue of Liberty because the people now in question aren't being treated the same as those who passed through Ellis Island and other ports of entry.

Maybe we should turn to our history books and point out to people like Mr.Lujan why today's American is not willing to accept this new kind of immigrant any longer. Back in 1900, when there was a rush from all areas of Europe to come to the United States, people had to get off a ship and stand in a long line in New York and be documented. Some would even get down on their hands and knees and kiss the ground. They made a pledge to uphold the laws and support their new country in good and bad times. They made learning English a primary rule in their new American households and some even changed their names to blend in with their new home.

They had waved good bye to their birth place to give their children a new life and did everything in their power to help their children assimilate into one culture.

Nothing was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labor laws to protect them. All they had were the skills and craftsmanship they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity. Most of their children came of age when World War II broke out. My father fought along side men whose parents had come straight over from Germany, Italy, France, and Japan . None of these 1st generation Americans ever gave any thought about what country their parents had come from. They were Americans fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan. They were defending the United States of America as one people. When we liberated France, no one in those villages was looking for the French-American or the German American or the Irish American. The people of France saw only Americans. And we carried one flag that represented one country. Not one of those immigrant sons would have thought about picking up another country's flag and waving it to represent who they were. It would have been a disgrace to their parents who had sacrificed so much to be here.

These immigrants truly knew what it meant to be an American. They stirred the melting pot into one red, white and blue bowl.

And here we are in 2006 with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes the entitlement card and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country. I'm sorry, that's not what being an American is all about. I believe that the immigrants who
landed on Ellis Island in the early 1900's deserve better than that for all the toil, hard work and sacrifice in raising future generations to create a land that has become a beacon for those legally searching for a better life. I think they would be appalled that they are being used as an example by those waving foreign country flags.

And for that suggestion about taking down the Statue of Liberty, it happens to mean a lot to the citizens who are voting on the immigration bill. I wouldn't start talking about dismantling the United States just yet.

(signed) Rosemary LaBonte

Nov 5, 2006

Righteous Ruling

In the midst of the pain of this situation with Ted Haggard, I see great cause for rejoicing. It is rare that we see elders and pastors make swift and righteous rulings against an elder in sin. It is rarer still that we see an elder humbly acknowledge his need for removal from office and submit to proper church discipline. I rejoice today that there still are godly Christian leaders who are willing to hold even the top dogs accountable.

So what is wrong in the Reformed community? Aren't we the ones who preach orthopraxy as well as orthodoxy? Let's compare the situation with RC Sproul, Jr., for instance, with Ted Haggard. Now, granted, Ted's sin was decidedly more grave, yet they did both admit to at least some level of sin in their lives. I would have expected someone like Ted to take a temporary leave of absence, though, and attempt to come back to New Life. His church would have welcomed him with open arms (they understand cheap grace - not to be confused with God's grace). But he didn't; he is leaving permanently and fully acknowledges that he does not have the biblical right to be an elder any longer. So why does RC, Jr. think he has the right to sin, and then when defrocked, just go to another "denomination" and still continue at his same church where he was committing these sins to begin with? What's wrong with this picture?

Where are the Reformed leaders who are willing to hold other Reformed leaders, such as both Sprouls, accountable? "Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame."

Nov 4, 2006

Tearing Down Christian Idols

Thoughts on the Current Christian Hypocrites

Modern technology has made it possible for certain charismatic personalities to become famous quicker and over a broader area than in the past. Not too many years ago, jet-setting was only for the rich and famous. Now, there are many Christian "speakers" who travel often, even as often as weekly, going to conferences and speaking engagements, often all over the world. We used to have just the radio, or perhaps a column in the local paper, but now, through the use of the internet, podcasts, cheap DVD and CD recording, and any number of other multi-media resources, a Christian speaker with a little charisma can become quite an idol in Christian circles. Whatever happened to the local shepherd who just stayed at home and took care of his sheep?

Maybe it's just the big name Christian leaders in my line of sight, but it appears to me that the Lord is starting to tear down these idols. I've written recently about Dr. RC Sproul, who has implicitly put his stamp of approval on rampant sin within his own ministry; and of course, there's his son, RC, who was recently defrocked for numerous sins. Both of these men were put on a pedestal by many Christians, and that pedestal is quickly crumbling.

Then I wrote about Kent Hovind, who is having the rug pulled out from under him because of his disdain of US government policies. And then there's Beka Horton, of Abeka and Pensacola Christian College, who turned Kent in to the authorities.

And now we hear about Ted Haggard, of New Life Church in Colorado Springs. I remember going to his church when I used to live there. It wasn't our church, but we visited a few times. He was an unusual preacher, sitting down next to people in the pews in the middle of his sermon. He was all over that sanctuary while he was preaching, interacting with people.

Oh, that's not all, not by a long shot. But the worst ones for me are the ones I know personally. There are at least a couple I can think of that I know personally that are deep in certain sin, refuse to acknowledge it, and yet they haven't fallen yet. They've fallen in my eyes, though, and rather than wish God's judgment upon them, I pray that God would open their eyes to what's going on in their lives before they have to take a fall.

Is this what fame does to Christians? Is pride the underlying root cause? Do they become careless in their walk because they think they've made it?

I watched two men in particular start out small, loving the Lord, and as they became more and more famous, attracting more and more "groupies," I watched both these men become so filled with pride that they didn't have time for ordinary people anymore. At that time of realization, I was doing a small amount of public speaking, and I prayed that I would never be famous if it meant that I would compromise my walk with the Lord. Some Christians can handle fame, I'm sure, but it sure seems to me that they would be a rare gem indeed.

I am praying for God to sort us Christians out. Let us either be hot or cold - preferably on fire FOR the Lord, but God is starting to spit out those who are lukewarm. What's your choice? Don't be a fencesitter; take a stand for holiness.