Friday, August 29, 2008

Dr. Mohler's Blog

Dr. Mohler discusses adoption and the evangelical church today in his blog:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Heads up to young men who may someday try to date my daughters...

Since my oldest daughter is seven and my youngest is two, I'm hoping the following does not come in handy for many years to come. This is from Dennis Rainey's book "Interviewing Your Daughter's Date." The orginal version can be found here. What do you dads think? How did you or will you handle this?

Guarding Our Daughters' Moral Purity

Dennis Rainey

I was seated at my desk, barely able to concentrate. I shifted papers, opened drawers, glanced out the window. Shifted papers, opened drawers, glanced out the window. Shifted papers … I felt like I was expecting an important phone call and was just trying to do something, anything, productive while waiting. But it wasn't working.

Neither was I.

Finally, my executive assistant informed me that the young man I'd been expecting was waiting for me in the lobby.

Deep breath, Dennis. You're the adult here. You can do this. I was about to interview the first of many young men who wanted a date with one of my daughters.

I stood to my feet and walked across the room, still amazed at how nervous I was as I stepped into the lobby to meet Kevin—the only person in the building more anxious and ill at ease than I.

"Afternoon, Kevin, glad you could make it."

"Hello, Mr. Rainey."

"How about we get something from the Coke machine. I hear you're a Dr. Pepper man."

"Yes, sir."

Riding a very thin wave of forced, uncomfortable chitchat, I deposited enough quarters to dislodge a cold can for him and a Diet Coke for me. Then, not wanting to be the Ultimate Intimidator, I suggested we go outside and chat in the parking lot. That's where he showed me his motorcycle—which wasn't exactly how I wanted Ashley to go out on her first date!

I popped the tab on my soft drink and looked squarely into the same eyes that enjoyed looking at my sixteen-year-old daughter. We began with the basics. I asked him about school, his mom and dad and family, interests—just a general get-to-know-you type of conversation.

"God made men and women different"

"Kevin," I said, hoping I'd also remember the rest of the words I wanted to say, "God did a wonderful thing when he made women."

The color fell from his face. This was going to be worse than he had thought. I wondered if at any moment he might hop on that motorcycle and bolt!

I continued. "And, Kevin, God made men and women different. You've probably noticed some of those differences."

Kevin was getting paler by the minute, but he had the presence of mind to nod.

"Actually, God made us different so that men and women would be attracted to one another. Now, Kevin," I paused for dramatic effect, "you have probably noticed that God made Ashley quite attractive. She's a really cute girl. In fact, you've probably noticed that she has a cute figure."

This was less of a statement and more of a question. If Kevin said no, he and I would both know he was lying. If he said yes, however, he was admitting to the obvious: that he had the audacity to notice my daughter's figure!

After a brief pause, I spared him the agony and continued.

"I mean, you're a young man and Ashley is a young lady, and God made men and women to be attracted to one another. It's good." Kevin seemed to be relieved at my pronouncement. I went on.

"And, Kevin, I just want you to know that I am a man and I understand this attraction. I was once a teenage boy, and I know what teenage boys think about. I've even read some research on this, and the studies show that teenage boys think about sex every seven seconds."

At this point Kevin's eyes darted, wondering where I was going next.

"And, Kevin, you and I both know those teenage boys were lying about the other six seconds."

At this point Kevin's eyes began to dilate! There was no dodging this one. "Yes, sir," he said, with a nervous little laugh.

"Are we communicating?"

"Kevin, I don't know how to put this any plainer: I want you to keep your lips and hands off my daughter. And I'm going to help you with that. Because whether I see you at the door after your first date with Ashley—or after your fiftieth date—you can expect me to ask you, 'Kevin, are you dealing uprightly with my daughter?' And I want you to know what I mean when I ask you that question. Are we communicating, Kevin?"

"Yes, sir." His eyes were fully dilated at this point.

I continued. "Kevin, more than likely Ashley is going to be somebody's wife someday. And I don't want you touching her body. Would you want someone touching your wife's body?"

"No, sir."

"That's what I thought. So you and I, we know what we're talking about when I ask you to be accountable for protecting the emotional and moral purity of my daughter, right?"

He nodded enough to let me know my vocabulary was in his dictionary.

"And, Kevin, I want you also to take this challenge: If God ever gives you the privilege of being a husband and a dad, especially if He gives you girls, I want you to take your role so seriously with them that you'll talk to your daughters' dates the way I've talked with you today. Will you promise me that?"

"Yes, sir."

At that point both Kevin and I were relieved that the conversation was over. I grinned and patted him on the back. I told him I was proud of him for coming to talk to me and allowing me to interact with him around such important issues.

As he was putting his helmet on, he answered one last question by assuring me he'd take Ashley out in a car!

Young Men Need to Be Challenged

That was it. Took maybe twenty minutes.

And I've done a version of this same thing dozens of times now as I've interviewed young men who wanted to date my four daughters.

I've learned a lot as I've gone through this. I've learned that there are some very specific things I need to know about each young man, and I try to tailor each of these little talks to the particular situation and the young man I'm dealing with.

In the process, I've met some fine maturing men and seen some interesting things happen along the way. In one case, another dad who came with his son to sit in on the interview, to observe and be trained. I've also had younger brothers sit in (probably just to see their big brother squirm).

I even had one young man come to me and say, "Mr. Rainey, I'm not interested in asking any of your daughters out on a date, but I was wondering, would you be willing to take me through the interview?" I did. He wanted to go through it so he would know what I said. It reminded me that young men today yearn for older men to enter their worlds, talk straight with them about how to treat a young lady, and call them to a high standard.

Guys, I can't tell you how strongly I feel about this. The statistics don't lie. Despite more than a decade of "Just Say No" and countless sermons on "Love, Sex, and Dating," the sexual conduct of Christian youth growing up in Christian youth groups, worshiping to Christian music, and sitting in Christian Bible studies, is virtually no different than the sexual conduct of any other teenager.

These young men who like what they see in our daughters enough to want to spend time alone with them need us to hold them accountable and call them to restrain their sexual passions. They need older men, dads, to challenge them to protect our daughters and do what it takes to guard their moral purity.

Let's do it.

Taken from Interviewing Your Daughter's Date by Dennis Rainey. Copyright (c) 2007 Dennis Rainey. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fidelity to the Gospel in Dark Times

I know that mentioning Obama's opposition to the Born Alive Infant Protection Act is not an earth-shattering revelation. As shocking as it is to me that our country is on the verge of electing a man who opposed a bill in the state senate that passed 99-0 in the U.S. Senate, what is more shocking to me is the defense of his vote that he gave at the time.

Currently, he is claiming that he voted against the bill each time due to the danger it might pose to Roe v. Wade. As we now know, that is a false statement for two reasons.

First, there was language in the bill that would have protected Roe. Whether it did or did not is immaterial except for the fact that it may make his opposition to it all the more revolting.

Second, new audio reveals Obama stated another reason for his opposition to the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. At the time, Obama said he opposed the measure because saving a child born alive would interfere with a decision a mother had already made to terminate her pregnancy. He says it with such shocking callousness!

Please think about what he is saying. He is saying that having another doctor assess whether an infant could live interferes with a mother's desire to kill it.

In fact, Obama even defends partial-birth abortion in this statement. He is describing a scenario in which: 1) the life of the mother is not in danger (NOTE: even those who desire to keep the practice legal couch their arguments in terms of saving the life of the mother; 2) she has decided to undergo a partial-birth abortion; 3) the infant has been born and could survive; but 4) the mother has decided the baby should die and that decision should not be interfered with.

What is the proper response to this as a Christian? I think it is a renewed emphasis on the proclamation of the gospel. My hope lies not with the alternative to Barack Obama, but with a renewed emphasis on proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Opposition to abortion is certainly not a uniquely Christian position. People of all religious faiths and no faiths at all oppose abortion. But the Christian, I believe, has a unique reason to oppose abortion, just as he has a unique opposition to theft or murder or lying. He sees these acts as infringements upon mankind's responsibility to magnify the name of God. Abortion especially contradicts that purpose as it devalues human life and exalts the decision of an individual over the revealed will of the creator.

These are dark times. We do not despair in them, nor are we overwhelmed. We simply cling ever more tightly to the precious promises of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Friday, August 15, 2008

What's a Pro-Lifer to Do?

Much is being made of the Democratic Party's decision to include a new phrase in its party platform. The new language is aimed at attracting the pro-life voter who finds Obama personally appealing, but abortion morally repugnant (admit it, he seems like a nice guy). At the same time, the McCain camp is sending out signals that the VP slot on the ticket may go to a pro-choice politician like Tom Ridge or Joe Lieberman.

On the one hand, I feel a degree of excitement that the Democratic party may be backing off on its radical support of abortion. On the other hand, the new statement is, in my opinion, less than breathtaking. The platform now states: "The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support and caring adoption programs."

You read that right. They "strongly support" the decision to have a child. That begs the question: what was the old position? Bloomberg reports that this new language was the result of negotiations between pro-life and pro-choice forces: "The compromise language is the result of behind-the-scenes negotiations with abortion-rights groups and religious leaders on both sides of the issue."

Is that chilling? How long were the negotiations? How long did it take pro-life forces within the Democratic party to get their pro-choice colleagues to acknowledge that they would support the decision of a woman to keep her baby? What was the starting point for the pro-choicers? "We support the decision of a woman as long as that decision is to terminate her pregnancy?" We live in a sick, sick world.

Lest it appear I'm taking sides, I don't know where John McCain will land on this issue. His campaign is at least sending signals that he will not end up in a place that pleases me. Picking a pro-choice running mate would clearly indicate that McCain doesn't consider it a core issue. Does anyone think he would pick an anti-war running mate? Of course not. McCain's convictions on the war are genuine and deeply felt. Unfortunately, his pro-life convictions may not run as deep.

I feel pretty confident Barack Obama has already staked out his territory on this issue. Pat Buchanan has an interesting article entitled "A Catholic Case Against Barak." Here are a few excerpts.

"Obama says he opposed the Born Alive Infants Protection Act because he feared it might imperil Roe v. Wade. But if Roe v. Wade did allow infanticide or murder, which is what letting a tiny baby die of neglect or killing it outright amounts to, why would he not want that court decision reviewed and amended to outlaw infanticide?

"Is the right to an abortion so sacrosanct to Obama that killing by neglect or snuffing out of the life of tiny babies outside the womb must be protected if necessary to preserve that right?

"Obama is an abortion absolutist. 'I could find no instance in his entire career,' writes Freddoso, 'in which he voted for any regulation or restriction on the practice of abortion.'

"In 2007, Barack pledged that, in his first act as president, he will sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which would cancel every federal, state or local regulation or restriction on abortion. The National Organization for Women says it would abolish all restrictions on government funding of abortion."

It is my belief that as technology improves, it will make arguing the pro-choice position less and less tenable. The Democratic Party's "shift" may already reflect that. But my fear is that Obama and McCain's rush to the "center" on this issue reflects a disturbing undercurrent in our nation. We may find ourselves in a culture in which there is general acknowledgement that an act is reprehensible but simultaneously a widespread refusal to prevent it, either from apathy (McCain?) or lack of moral clarity (Obama?).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lottery Winnings Not Accepted Here

I saw an article this morning about another church refusing to accept lottery winnings. This time, the church was being offered a $600,000 tithe from a man who had won a $6 million jackpot. Here's the article from

ORANGE PARK, FL -- After Robert Powell hit the Florida Lottery jackpot last month and took home more than $6 million, he thought of his church.

And he offered to drop his tithe, around $600,000, in the collection plate of First Baptist Orange Park.

But the church and Pastor David Tarkington politely declined and told Powell they will not accept the lottery winnings.

Many churches do not approve of the lottery and gambling but on the other hand Pastor Dr. Lorenzo Hall of the El-Beth-El Divine Holiness Church says $600,000 can do a lot of good.

"I'm against the lottery, but if one of my members won the lottery, I wish and I hope he would give 10% to the church, we could do a lot of things with that money," says Hall.

As a Holiness minister, Dr. Hall says he does not ask where members get the money they decide to donate.

He said he would welcome Powell's donation to his inner city church anytime.

"We are in the process now of building a youth center, and you would be surprised at the people that can be helped with $600,000," says Hall.

Bethel Baptist Church member Lottie Walker says if she won, the first thing she would do is give lottery money to her church.

"Anything extra is bonus so that would be an extra blessing of offering after that, so if I did win lotto, sweepstakes I would tithe to my church," says Walker.

First Baptist Orange Park Pastor David Tarkington would not say exactly why the church refused the money, saying only he didn't want to talk about members' gifts.
I applaud the church for its refusal to accept lottery winnings. We often rightly condemn playing the lottery and gambling because it is incredibly poor stewardship of God's resources. The Puritans rejected all forms of gambling not only because of the problem of squandering ones resources but also because of the problems inherent in WINNING the lottery. They rightly saw that the one who profited from gambling was profiting off the loss of his brother.

Furthermore, since the poor play the lottery is disproportionate numbers, the one who wins the lottery is essentially gaining from the losses of the poor. Supporting such a system is immoral and I believe that a church should remove itself from participation in such a system.

Which makes the response of Dr. Lorenzo Hall all the more disappointing. His concern is very pragmatic: the building of a youth center. He's "against" the lottery, but not above benefiting from it. The article states that he doesn't ask where members money is coming from. I wonder if there are any exceptions to that. Would he accept money from known drug dealers? From those involved in prostitution? From telemarketers?

I also appreciated Pastor Tarkingtons refusal to offer a comment on the story. He doesn't publically chastise a member of the church, opting instead to simply say that he won't discuss individual member's donations. Good for him.

John Piper has an article entitled "Don't Play the Lottery for Me" that I have referenced before in a blog. It was written in response to a West Virginia man who tried to donate some of his winnings to the Red Cross. I highly recommend it to you again for your consideration. Here are the opening paragraphs and closing paragraph to his article:

The West Virginia pastors who accepted Jack Whittaker's tithe on his $170 million Powerball booty should be ashamed of themselves. One of them said, "That's a blessing to have that kind of backing." I don't think so.

Christ does not build his church on the backs of the poor. The engine that delivers his righteousness in the world is not driven by the desire to get rich. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not advanced by undermining civic virtue. Let the pastors take their silver and throw it back into the temple of greed.

Don't play the Lottery for Bethlehem Baptist Church. We will not, I pray, salve your conscience by taking one dime of your plunder, or supporting even the thought of your spiritual suicide. Let the widow give her penny and the laborer his wage. And keep your life free from the love of money.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pastor Chris becomes correspondent for CNN

The Most Excellent, Holy, Right Reverend C. Ryan Jenkins is now a correspondent for CNN. His latest field report is on the Edwards scandal:

CNN IReport Correspondent Chris Jenkins

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Whitney!

Nine wonderful years! Thank you for your love and friendship!

A citation question...

O.K. Turabian lovers out there. How would you cite the following resource as a footnote or bibliography:

It comes from the website The document you see is a PDF the website produced.

Big prize for any reader who knows Turabian citation well enough to figure out how to cite this report.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Last Day in the Life of Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Alexander Solzhenitsyn passed away today of heart failure. His story is one that we do well to remember.

In the closing weeks of World War II, while a young commander in the Russian army, Solzhenitsyn wrote a letter to a friend. In the letter, the young man flippantly referred to Stalin as "the man with the moustache." For this act of disrespect, Alexander Solzhenitsyn would spend the next ten years of his life in work camps.

Released following Stalin's death, Solzhenitsyn vividly portrayed the brutality of the Stalin regime. His first work was "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich."

The AP describes his early work and its impact this way:

Beginning with the 1962 short novel "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," Solzhenitsyn...devoted himself to describing what he called the human "meat grinder" that had caught him along with millions of other Soviet citizens: capricious arrests, often for trifling and seemingly absurd reasons, followed by sentences to slave labor camps where cold, starvation and punishing work crushed inmates physically and spiritually.

His "Gulag Archipelago" trilogy of the 1970s shocked readers by describing the savagery of the Soviet state under the dictator Josef Stalin. It helped erase lingering sympathy for the Soviet Union among many leftist intellectuals, especially in Europe.

But his account of that secret system of prison camps was also inspiring in its description of how one person — Solzhenitsyn himself — survived, physically and
spiritually, in a penal system of soul-crushing hardship and injustice.

I read "One Day..." while in high school and it had a dramatic impact on me. I still sometimes think about the closing lines of the novel. Solzhenitsyn describes a day in the life of Denisovich, a carpenter imprisoned at a work camp. At the conclusion of the day, Denisovich reflects that the day wasn't as terrible as it could have been: "they hadn't put him in the cells; they hadn't sent his squad to the settlement; he'd swiped a bowl of kasha at dinner; the squad leader had fixed the rates well; he'd built a wall and enjoyed doing it; he'd smuggled that bit of hacksaw blade through; he'd earned a favor from Tsezar that evening; he'd bought that tobacco. And he hadn't fallen ill. He got over it."

And then the haunting final lines: "A day without a dark cloud. Almost a happy day. There were three thousand six hundred and fifty-three days like that in his stretch. From the first clang of the rail to the last clang of the rail. Three thousand six hundred and fifty-three days. The three extra days were for leap years."

The inhumanity of this system targeted not just political dissidents and those guilty of dissent but believers as well. God used these work camps to create opportunities for believers to reach those they would never have been allowed to reach on their own. Stalin actually aided the missionary endeavor through his imprisonment of believers!

Yet Stalin and the oppresive regimes that would follow, had no intention of being anything but brutal. Solzhenitsyn offered a scathing look at a government that, as Pushkin put it, forced its citizen to become either tyrant, traitor, or prisoner.

Here is Alexander Solzhenitsyn being searched at the gulag where he spent several of his ten years of imprisonment.

The AP has a summary of his life that you might find helpful here:

Solzhenitsyn was not a great lover of Western governments as well. He denounced the materialism and decadence of our society as well.

I think it is incumbent upon us as both believers and good citizens to read books like "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich." As citizens, we do wsell to remember the tyranny inflicted by an immorral government upon her own people. It keeps us humble, grateful, and watchful.

As believers, reading books like "One Day..." helps steel us for the possibly difficult times God may have in store for us if we decide to be obedient to Him. We live at a unique time in human history in a unique place. Most believers have found themselves having to make hard decisions about how to be obedient in an environment that hates God and the gospel.

Just ask our brothers and sisters in China, who are facing intense persecution as the rest of the world looks on with relative indifference.