Saturday, October 30, 2004

Hispanic Democratic group in Fla. rejects Kerry endorsement, citing moral issues - (BP)
By Erin Curry, Oct 29, 2004

"MIAMI (BP)--The Democratic League of Miami-Dade County has announced it does not endorse John Kerry for president, mainly because he is part of the current party leadership that has rejected the moral values and ethical principles of the vast majority of Democrats across the country, according to league chairman Eladio Jose Armesto.

With more than 1,000 members and a reach that expands to 100,000 pro-life, pro-family Democrats in Miami, the Democratic League was chartered by the Miami-Dade Democratic Party in 1989 and is primarily led by Hispanic-American Democrats.

The league released a statement Oct. 27, saying the Democratic presidential candidate stands "at a polar extreme of American public opinion" on certain issues, including same-sex "marriage," partial-birth abortion and human cloning.

"Sen. Kerry's voting record and public statements reveal a candidate who has disqualified himself from receiving the endorsement of pro-faith, pro-freedom, pro-life, pro-family Democrats," the release said. "We believe the Democratic Party is rooted in the values of faith, freedom, family and country. If our party is to once again be a guiding light in America, it must do much, much better than extremists such as John Kerry and John Edwards."

The group listed 10 reasons why they cannot endorse Kerry for president.... (Complete article found here.)

Friday, October 29, 2004

African Bishops Release Joint Response to Windsor Report
Friday, Oct. 29, 2004 The Christian Post

"The bishops who gathered for the first ever African Anglican Bishop's Conference released the long-awaited response to the report on homosexuality and unity in the Anglican Communion.

The 300 bishops who gathered in Lagos, Nigeria for the premier African Anglican Bishop’s Conference, released their first statement regarding the Windsor Report, on Oct. 29, 2004. The response, which offered “preliminary reflections” on the report on homosexuality and the unity of the Anglican Communion, essentially reiterated the conservative stance of the African bishops and called for greater equity in the worldwide Communion.

“We are gathered at an extraordinary and historic meeting of Anglican Bishops from all over Africa. We do so grateful for the Faith once delivered to the saints and the generosity of those who first brought the good news of Jesus Christ to the African continent,” the statement began.

The preliminary reflections began with a note of thanks to the members who drew up the Windsor Report. The report, which was released on Oct. 18, addresses the contentious issues of homosexual clergy and homosexual union blessings, and the consequential divisions that arose in the communion...

“We call on the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada to take seriously the need for “repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ,” they added.

Meanwhile, the African bishops rejected “the moral equivalence” drawn between the Episcopal Church USA and the African churches.

“To call on us to “express regret” and reassert our commitment to the Communion is offensive in light of our earlier statements. If the Episcopal Church USA had not willfully “torn the fabric of our communion at its deepest level” our actions would not have been necessary,” they wrote..." (Full article found here.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Call me "Post-Reformed"

I found some what of a kindred spirit in Tim Etherington who recently declared in his blog, By Farther Steps that he is determined to be "Post-Reformed". Before you haul him out to be burned at the stake, you may want to read the whole article. Here is an excerpt. ~ The Billy Goat ~

"The current philosophy is called "Post-Modern" which means we're longer under Modernity (reason can solve it all) but we don't know exactly where we're going yet. There is the "Emergent Church" which is, in some ways, post-evangelical. They're not evangelical but they aren't sure what they are. Welp, I've determined that I am now "Post-Reformed."

I love Reformed theology, the view is better from here. It is a theology that gives God the most glory and invites the redeemed to draw near with delight. It is the most biblical theology I have seen yet. I just love Reformed theology. What I'm not crazy about is the attitude that all too often accompanies this most holy theology. Calvinist take a maximal view of God's grace and yet many of them show precious little of it to those who formulate it differently. Covenant Theologians take a big view of God's covenant community yet many of them act is if it is really only those who hold to their particular confession and probably only those in their group who actually interpret it correctly..." > The rest of Tim's blog post can be found here.
Excerpt from "Abusive Churches: Leaving Them Behind"
by Pat Zukeran

"Things are changing." That is what we hear from friends who are still going to our former church. Frankly we hope they really are changing, but when asked for specific examples of how things have changed, our friends have to really reach to come up with anything really concrete. The bottom line is that for there to be meaningful change, those changes need to be made in the very foundations of this particular church. This excerpt by Pat Zukeran points out some of those foundational things that need to be addressed. ~ The Billy Goat ~

Can Abusive Churches Change?

"Those who find themselves in authoritarian churches often remain despite the difficulties because there is an underlying hope that the church can change. Even after they leave they often remain keenly interested in the affairs of the former church because they hope restoration will still occur.

Can abusive churches change? Although with God all things are possible, it is my opinion that it is highly unlikely that this will happen. Although a few have, they are the exceptions.

Why is change in these organizations so difficult? One reason is that change usually begins in the leadership. However, the leadership structure is designed so that the leader has control over the personnel. Although there may be a board, the individuals on the board are ultimately selected by the authoritarian leader. He selects men and women loyal to him, who do not question him, or hold him accountable. Therefore, he insulates himself from dealing with difficult issues or addressing his unhealthy practices.

Dysfunctional leaders also resist change because it is an admission of failure. In order for a genuine change of heart, leaders must first acknowledge a problem and repent. However, a leader who considers himself "God's man" or the spokesman for God will rarely humble himself to confess his shortcomings. Spiritual wholeness and renewal cannot be achieved until unhealthy behavior is recognized and dealt with. Unless this behavior is confronted, the likelihood of real change is diminished.

In most cases, the leadership focuses the blame on others. Those who left the church were not committed, were church hoppers, etc. Stephen Arterburn writes, "Anyone who rebels against the system must be personally attacked so people will think the problem is with the person, not the system." It is often useless to point out flaws because an abusive church lives in a world of denial. Many of the leaders are themselves deceived. Although sincere in their efforts, they may have no idea their leadership style is unhealthy and harmful. They are usually so narcissistic or so focused on some great thing they are doing for God that they don't notice the wounds they are inflicting on their followers. These leaders often twist Scripture to justify their unhealthy behavior. Most members will go along with this because they assume their pastors know the Bible better than they do.

Lastly, authoritarian churches make every effort to ensure that a good name and image is preserved. Therefore, the leadership often functions in secrecy. Disagreeing members are threatened and told to remain silent or are quietly dismissed.

For these reasons, it is my opinion that it is best to leave an abusive or unhealthy church. Learn to let go and let God deal with that group. Only He can bring people to repentance. Although painful, leaving an unhealthy church and joining a healthy body of believers will begin the healing process and open new doors of fellowship, worship, and service for you." (Complete article found here.)
Mystery Surrounds Kerry's Navy Discharge
BY THOMAS LIPSCOMB - Special to the New York Sun, October 13, 2004

An official Navy document on Senator Kerry's campaign Web site listed as Mr. Kerry's "Honorable Discharge from the Reserves" opens a door on a well kept secret about his military service.

The document is a form cover letter in the name of the Carter administration's secretary of the Navy, W. Graham Claytor. It describes Mr. Kerry's discharge as being subsequent to the review of "a board of officers." This in it self is unusual. There is nothing about an ordinary honorable discharge action in the Navy that requires a review by a board of officers.

According to the secretary of the Navy's document, the "authority of reference" this board was using in considering Mr. Kerry's record was "Title 10, U.S. Code Section 1162 and 1163. "This section refers to the grounds for involuntary separation from the service. What was being reviewed, then, was Mr. Kerry's involuntary separation from the service. And it couldn't have been an honorable discharge, or there would have been no point in any review at all. The review was likely held to improve Mr. Kerry's status of discharge from a less than honorable discharge to an honorable discharge.

A Kerry campaign spokesman, David Wade, was asked whether Mr. Kerry had ever been a victim of an attempt to deny him an honorable discharge. There has been no response to that inquiry.

The document is dated February 16, 1978. But Mr. Kerry's military commitment began with his six-year enlistment contract with the Navy on February 18, 1966. His commitment should have terminated in 1972. It is highly unlikely that either the man who at that time was a Vietnam Veterans Against the War leader, John Kerry, requested or the Navy accepted an additional six year reserve commitment. And the Claytor document indicates proceedings to reverse a less than honorable discharge that took place sometime prior to February 1978....

...The "board of officers" review reported in the Claytor document is even more extraordinary because it came about "by direction of the President." No normal honorable discharge requires the direction of the president. The president at that time was James Carter. This adds another twist to the story of Mr. Kerry's hidden military records.

Mr. Carter's first act as president was a general amnesty for draft dodgers and other war protesters. Less than an hour after his inauguration on January 21, 1977, while still in the Capitol building, Mr. Carter signed Executive Order 4483 empowering it. By the time it became a directive from the Defense Department in March 1977 it had been expanded to include other offenders who may have had general, bad conduct, dishonorable discharges, and any other discharge or sentence with negative effect on military records. In those cases the directive outlined a procedure for appeal on a case by case basis before a board of officers. A satisfactory appeal would result in an improvement of discharge status or an honorable discharge.

Mr. Kerry has repeatedly refused to sign Standard Form 180, which would allow the release of all his military records. And some of his various spokesmen have claimed that all his records are already posted on his Web site. But the Washington Post already noted that the Naval Personnel Office admitted that they were still withholding about 100 pages of files..." (Complete article here.)

Saturday, October 16, 2004

This Hope

Last night we had the joy and privilege of hearing the Christian vocal group This Hope at our church's 90th Anniversary celebration.

This group does a variety of Christian acappella vocals as well as songs with instrumental backup. The acappella numbers are on par with more well known acappella groups such as Glad. Tight harmonies, underscored by an excellent "air bass" done by Tim Inabnit, make for a very enjoyable and worshipful listening experience. Speaking of Tim's "air bass", in one number he did a very excellent "air trombone" with slides and all. You had to see it to appreciate it.

Their music is done in popular Christian style, and based on sound Evangelical theology. Parts of traditional hymns are mixed with original compositions to highlight the grace of God and His awesomeness. If you have a chance to hear them, or to pick up one of their CD's, I highly recommend you give their music a hearing.

More information can be found at their www site: This Hope.

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Lord of All The Stars Who is Sara's Lord

She was just a young teen at the time. She was in town visiting her Aunt Ruthy and Uncle Bob who are good friends of ours. We had gone out together someplace or another, probably the Grand Haven Pier, or a Lake Michigan beach. In any event, on our way back home we stopped at Russ's Restaurant for a "little something".

When we came out of the restaurant, it was dark. We were in the parking lot getting ready to say goodbye before we went our separate ways home. It was then I looked up at the sky. We were in area of the parking lot somewhat shaded from the bright street lights and all the other lights that make metropolitan areas glow in the dark. The sky was clear that night and I could see the stars. I don't remember the exact conversation, but it went something like this.

I looked towards the northern sky and said aloud, "There is the Big Dipper."

"Oh really!" Sara responded, "Where?"

I pointed up into the sky where the handle and the sides of the Dipper could be seen. She looked and then recognition came.

"I've heard of the Big Dipper, but have never seen it before." she said. "That's pretty neat!"

It was a little hard for me to imagine going into your teen years without seeing the Big Dipper in the night sky, but then I grew up on a rural farm where the night sky was a familiar companion not shrouded by the man made lights of the our urban areas. Sara had spent most of her life in a large metropolitan area, so in retrospect it was not so surprising. And so it was that I inadvertently added a small moment to Sara's life experience.

It was some years latter I began to grasp the fuller meaning of God's sovereign lordship over specific areas of creation. He is Lord of all, therefore He is Lord of the stars. He orders their dance, and calls them all by name.

Sara is now grown, married, and a mother. He, who being Lord of all is Lord of the stars, is also Sara's Lord. Perhaps there will come a time when she will be out on a crisp clear night with her children. She will look up to the stars, and point out the Big Dipper to her children. And she will tell them again, as she has done so many times, about the One who being Lord of all, is Lord of the stars and Lord of the night sky and Her Lord and God. And in that witness, may the Lord of the stars who is her Lord, become her children's Lord also.

~ The Billy Goat ~

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Bible Gateway On-line Search for the word “Grace” in the New Testament
As used in Young's Literal Translation (Edited)

Words in quotes indicate how “charis” or a form of “charis” is translated in the NASB.

Luke 2:40, 6:32-34 “credit”

John 1:14, 1:16, 1:17

Acts 4:33, 11:23, 13:43, 14:3, 14:26, 15:11, 15:40, 18:27, 20:24, 20:32

Romans 1:5, 1:7, 3:24, 4:4 “favor”, 4:16, 5:2, 5:15, 5:17, 5:20, 5:21, 6:1, 6:14, 6:15, 11:5, 11:6, 12:3, 12:6,
15:15, 16:20, 16:24

1 Corinthians 1:3, 1:4, 3:10, 15:10, 16:23

2 Corinthians 1:2, 1:12, 4:15, 6:1, 8:1, 8:7 “gracious work”, 8:9, 9:8, 9:14, 12:9, 13:14

Galatians 1:3, 1:6, 1:15, 2:9, 2:21, 5:4, 6:18

Ephesians 1:2, 1:6, 1:7, 2:5, 2:7, 2:8, 3:2, 3:7, 3:8, 4:7, 4:29, 6:24

Philippians 1:2, 1:7, 4:23

Colossians 1:2, 1:6, 3:16 “chariti – thanksgiving”, 4:6, 4:18

1 Thessalonians 1:1, 5:28

2 Thessalonians 1:2, 1:12, 2:16, 3:18

1 Timothy 1:2, 1:14, 6:21

2 Timothy 1:2, 1:9, 2:1, 4:22

Titus 1:4, 2:11, 3:7, 3:15

Philemon 1:3, 1:25

Hebrews 2:9,4:16, 10:29, 12:15, 12:28 “show gratitude”, 13:9, 13:25

James 4:6

1 Peter 1:2, 1:10, 1:13, 3:7, 4:10, 5:5, 5:10, 5:12

2 Peter 1:2, 3:18

2 John 1:3

Jude 1:4

Revelation 1:4, 22:21

This list was compiled as handout for a men's Bible study on "Grasping Grace". A study of the verses on this list will give you a good grounding in how the Bible uses the word "grace".

~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, October 02, 2004

The Context and Content of a Concept

This past Wednesday was my turn at teaching the men's Bible study. The topic was "Men at Church Grasp Grace." In my preparation it became clear that grace as a concept has no real meaning unless there is a context and content to the concept.

What do we mean by "grace"? In what context are we to understand that meaning? The same questions could be asked of the concept of "faith" or "revelation" or a whole host of theological terms.

And in this Post-modern age, those are no small questions. In case you have not heard the news, Post-modernity seeks to make everything relative, especially meaning. That's why you can have a President who asks you what "is" is.

So I found it necessary to spend time with the men discussing the meaning and context of the concept of grace. The context of course is the Bible and the progress of redemptive history coming to fruition in the New Testament. The content comes from the Gospel of He who in John 1 is described as the personification of "grace and truth".

Context and content. That's what makes a concept meaningful. It is in that light that grace becomes


In His joy,

~ The Billy Goat ~