Sunday, July 27, 2014

True Worship is a Group Thing

On more than one occasion, I’ve heard that “I can worship God anywhere.”  That might be somewhat true, but…..More often this is an excuse used to not attend worship in church. 

When (or in some cases – if) you get to heaven, do you think you will be allowed to worship out on your own?

I always believed that it is important that believers gather together for worship.  Recently, a lesson was presented that really defined why worship is important as gathered believers.  I want to share what those reasons – with, hopefully, approval of Thad Ford who made the presentation.

Group worship begins with the concept that we gather together to worship God – not ourselves.  Gathering together is not what we gain through feelings, but giving to God praise to Him through the teaching of His Word and song.

Gathering together in worship is more than just teaching and singing.  Here is where I knew these other activities were important aspects of the church, but failed to tie them together with worship.

Preaching and teaching – involves the expository explanation of the author’s instructions to us from God. The Word moves us to better understand ourselves, our relationship with God, and our relationships with others. Worship here is the recognition of absolute perfection of God and His Word.

Reading scripture


Baptism and communion


Receiving and distributing gifts

Singing of songs


Public confession of the faith

Salutations with a holy kiss

Response to praise and prayer with the saying of “Amen”

Church discipline

Sending, supporting, and receiving reports about missions work

Use of spiritual gifts

“God in His great wisdom has given clear principles to guide the corporate worship of His people”

Where were you when the body gathered together in worship?

Monday, November 12, 2012

I had a stroke and here's my experience

On August 20th I experienced a stroke but didn’t know it.  This is my story.

I was watching television and suddenly part of my vision disappeared.  There was no pain.  I have had migraine headaches in the past.  They typically include that a small portion of my vision is obscured and I “see” a small aura of bright light around the edge of my vision.  My migraines will generally last about an hour and then everything returns to normal.

This time I thought that that was happening again, but there was no aura.  This experience had more of my vision field gone.  My “headache” was not going away.  I went for a walk thinking a little fresh air might help.  When I crossed the street I could hear cars, but I couldn’t see them.  I would have to turn my head further to get the vehicles into my vision.  Since I had not experienced any pain, I felt no need to contact a doctor yet. 

The next day, the vision had cleared up.  The lower right portion of my field of vision was just gone.  It’s hard to describe.  It wasn’t black or white or gray.  It just seemed not to be there, but I knew it was supposed to be there.  I tried to read, but the end of each line wasn’t there.  I was starting to get a little more concerned and expressed it to my wife, but still didn’t pursue the issue medically.

Finally, Wednesday morning there was still no change.  I decided to call my family doctor’s office – and knowing my doctor is not in on Wednesdays – and asked to get in first thing Thursday morning.  The nurse asked my symptoms and after describing them, she arranged for me to see another physician that afternoon.  She said this new physician was just getting her practice started and these symptoms sounded like something that she specializes in. 

My daughter was my chauffeur for the afternoon.  The doctor went through a general exam, similar to what my regular doctor puts me through for my annual physical.  She was trying to look deep into my eyes (best way for me to put that) to look for any damage.  Since my eyes would not stay stable enough for her to see, I was sent to an ophthalmologist.  She also scheduled me for a MRI brain exam for Thursday morning.

 After a good dose of drops to dilate my eyes, I went through the eye exam.  The ophthalmologist found no damage of any kind to my eyes.

The next morning I spent 45 minutes in the MRI.  I also had a dye put into me to help highlight my brain on the film (although the film was only in black and white).    After waiting another 30 minutes for a doctor to read the results, the receptionist told me that my first doctor wanted me back in her office to talk with me. Well, this was not good news.  So my wife drove us back to see her.

The doctor started off by telling me I had experienced something with a really long name – in laymen’s terminology - I had had a stroke.  She said it was a very small one on the back of brain on the left side in area that controls vision.   She proceeded to check me out again to see if there were any apparent residual effects from my stroke. 

My youngest brother had passed away about 6 months earlier and there had been no definitive cause of death.  I had found him dead in bed.  There was the possibility that whatever caused his death might be hereditary.  So, back then I had an ultrasound on my heart.  It was determined to be just fine.  Now the family doc had an ultrasound done on my carotid arteries in my neck.  A-OK there.

No apparent physical lingering effects, although my vision was beginning to return.  When I would read a line of print, at least I could see some of it.  It just looked like a poor quality ink jet print.  So the doc put me on a low dose aspirin and a minimal diuretic. My next visit would be to a neurologist, but I would have to wait for insurance approval first.  The first, middle, and last instruction I had from the doctor was clear – another experience like this I was to head to the emergency immediately!

Well, that Friday evening I suddenly experienced very blurred vision, but it was in a different area of my vision field.  So off I went to Parkview North.  Again, no pain.  By the time I arrived there I was already started to feel better.  After 3 hours of nothing – other than the vision clearing up – the ER doc arranged to get me into a neurologist ASAP after Monday. 

I got in the next Tuesday to see the neurologist.  He took a look at my MRI films again and confirmed the diagnosis.  He started looking at some other issues in my health history.  His concern centered on my snoring.  Sleep apnea has been linked to a possible cause of strokes.  So a couple of weeks later I found myself wired at a sleep center to record what I do while I sleep. I also had another heart ultrasound that examined my heart in more detail.  The results indicated moderate sleep apnea.  At that point I also asked the neurologist further about my earlier MRI results.  He showed me the spot on my brain where the stroke occurred.  He said I ‘was very lucky.”  That hit me with a lot of impact.  So, the result now is that I started sleeping with a CPAP, a device that forces air into my breathing while I sleep to prevent me from suddenly stopping breathing. 

I reflected on the fact that my father had experienced a major stroke in his early 40’s and he was a chronic snorer.  I suspect that maybe this is how my brother died.

All of the tests that I have experienced have returned as normal, except the sleep apnea.  Of course, I still need to lose more weight.  The doctor said I could be taken off the CPAP if I lost at least 40 pounds.  That does give more incentive.  More time on the treadmill.

I never would have thought of myself having a stroke.  I was always expecting the widow maker heart attack.

I write all of this as a warning to others that could be susceptible for something like this also.  Get yourself checked out.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Implications of the constitutionality of the ACA for Christians

With the declaration that the Affordable Healthcare Act IS constitutional, my analysis of the implications upon Christians should be of concern.
1.    Every individual is required to purchase some form of health care.  If you do not purchase health care, you will be required to pay a penalty.  If you can’t afford to purchase the insurance, how will you be able to afford to pay the penalty? 
2.    Given that the government is already running annual budget deficits in excess of $1.5 trillion, eventually some savings in the budget will need to be made.  There will most likely be reductions in medical services available.
3.    Given that abortions are funded in this law – yes, every Christian will now be paying to abort babies – this feature will be protected politically to remain. 
4.    The reduction in services will mean a cutback to older Americans.  Does that 60 year old really need joint replacements?  Drugs will be provided to overcome the pain.  Rationing would be done fairly – it’s just some people will be treated more fairly than others.
5.    There will no desire to withhold necessary treatments to newborns.  That would be inconceivable, especially when these newborns are potential future taxpayers.  What WILL happen is the expanded use of technology to determine if a fetus could be born with a birth defect or genetical possibilities for future major health conditions.  Doctors already “suggest” that these babies be aborted before birth.  Health care may require these abortions.  Better to have all babies born to be healthy.
6.    Many health care programs will be financially driven out of the marketplace and all that will be left will be the federal government to provide these services.
7.    Churches – of any denomination – will be required to pay for health services that are in complete opposition to religious doctrine.
8.  The government will be looking more into your annual tax returns to determine your “ability to pay.”  Some people will be determined to be able to pay more than others.
9.    Everybody will now be subject to the future potential of the government – at probably any level – to be taxed to do whatever the government wants to do.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Accommodating Christians

This is a brief book report for my evangelical Christian friends that can also apply to those that are politically active.

What makes the following excerpts so significant is that they were written nearly THIRTY years ago! 

Today, there have been several comments about how the Church/Bible/Christians have become irrelevant to today’s culture.  There needs to flexibility to make room for the changes in today’s society.  Unfortunately, the Church cannot bend the truths of God’s Word.  He is unchangeable.  His Word is unchangeable.  His truth is unchangeable. 

Certainly, the methods that Christians employ to share the Gospel will have a great effect.  The problem in my short 40+ years of being a Christian has been the increasing bending over backwards of Christians to be more like the world and less Christlike.  This is what Schaeffer warned against. 

So, I feel, the following passage is more relevant for Christians today than ever before.

Accommodation, accommodation.  How the mindset of accommodation grows and expands.  The last sixty years have given birth to a moral disaster, and what have we done?  Sadly we must say that the evangelical world has been part of the disaster.  More than this, the evangelical response itself has been a disaster.  Where is the clear voice speaking to the crucial issues of the day with distinctively biblical, Christian answers?  With tears we must say that largely it is not there and that a large segment of the evangelical world has become seduced by the world spirit of this present age.  And more than this, we can expect the future to be a further disaster if the evangelical world does not take a stand for biblical truth and morality in the full spectrum of life. For the evangelical accommodation to the world of our age represents the removal of the last barrier against the breakdown of our culture.  And with the final removal of this barrier will come social chaos and the rise of authoritarianism in some form to restore social order.  (p. 141)

But the accommodation we have been speaking of has constantly taken the form of giving in to the humanistic, secular consensus which is the dominant destructive force of our day.  And if no change in this comes, our opportunity will be past.  Not only will the compromising portion of evangelicalism go down in collapse, all of us will be carried down with it.  We cannot think that all of this is unrelated to us.  It will all come crashing down unless you and I and each one of us who loves the Lord and his church are willing to act.  And so I challenge you.  I call for Christian radicals, and especially young Christian radicals, to stand up in loving confrontation…with all that is wrong and destructive in the church, our culture, and the state.  (p.151)
Francis A. Schaeffer
The Great Evangelical Disaster, 1984, Crossway Books

Take some time to think this through and let me know what you think.  Now, more than ever, Christians need to be engaged with the world without compromising the absolute truths of God’s character.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Marketplace of Ideas

“If you take away the biblical teaching of the sanctity of human life and of man created in the image of God, there is no final basis for placing value on human life.  And this applies to whether we are talking about the unborn or those who are already born.  If human life can be taken before birth, there is no logical reason why it cannot be taken after birth…..Yet much of the evangelical world carries on business as usual….But if we are not willing to take a stand even for human life, is there anything for which we will stand?”
Dr. Francis Schaeffer, The great Evangelical Disaster, pp. 108-109

This was written nearly THIRTY years ago.  The evangelical church has not progressed much since then.  We have been fortunate that medical technology has increased and been able to show that the lives of children born before the normal gestational period can be kept alive and eventually develop normally.  Through this fact, more people are willing to accept that life can begin before birth.  But what have we done in the marketplace of ideas?  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

An open letter to the newly elected city government of New Haven IN

With the results of the recent city election, New Haven will be represented entirely by Republicans. This provides an opportunity to demonstrate that Republican principles can adequately provide for citizen services at a low cost to taxpayers.

As a fellow Republican, I would like to repeat some of those principles and add some strategies that will benefit our community.
First, I would ask that all of the elected representatives be sure that the only personal gain would be from a stipend. Do not participate in any other perks that will add to the taxpayer obligation, such as, health insurance, retirement plan, or personal expenses. Elected office should always been viewed as a sacrifice on the officeholder, not as a financial gain.

Develop – with community input – an aggressive business attraction plan. With the transportation infrastructure soon to be all in place, it is time to sell it to potential businesses. Updating a new comprehensive long term growth and zoning plan will give reassurance to businesses and community members that development is being done responsibly with future generations in mind. There has been much discussion regarding the use of various tax incentives as a tool to attract and retain businesses. I believe that an active public discussion needs to examine the responsible use of them, including an evaluation of their effectiveness. With all of the discussion regarding the permit process for businesses that is taking place in a nearby community, our processes should be re-examined for possible streamlining also.
There needs to be a comprehensive community input on future infrastructural efforts. Where should the priorities of local government be placed? I suggest that public safety be first. Where are the needs for improvement or change in public safety and what could be the associated costs? Because of the highway system that navigates through the city, perhaps adequate pedestrian tunnels or bridges would effectively better tie the city together. Encourage private development of the end of the Greenway trail with the downtown region.

Finally, I would suggest making city government even more open to the public. Rather than encouraging the public to sit in on meetings, bring the meetings and information to the public. Could public broadcast be beneficial? Publishing all of the various budgets and monthly updates would be informative. The use of technology to better deliver city services should always be an evolving process.

As a Republican, I look at the results of this past election as more than just a clean sweep. It is a rare opportunity that government can effectively meet the needs of the community that is low cost and less intrusive. I challenge all of the winners of last month’s city election to demonstrate not only to New Haven, but also to the nation that Republican principles can provide for a thriving community.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Where has the language all gone?

This has been a topic I’ve thought writing about for some time. Today’s culture is losing the sense of expressing itself in complete, accurate, thorough, written communication.

I am guilty of participating in most of today’s social media. I do too much Facebook time, according to my brother. I dabble a little with Twitter and play the Foursquare game. I have read there are many other sites out there, but I think I would go into technology overload.

What I have been noticing has been the overuse of communication shortcuts – the use of numbers or symbols as replacements for words or parts of words. Even more fascinating to me has been the lack of spelling accuracy and incorrect grammar, especially when many programs offer spell check/grammar check before sending a message.

Of course, there used to be the use of shorthand, the use of symbols to replace words as a method of recording conversations.

When I taught a class at IPFW, I gave the students one essay question on each test that gave them the opportunity to express their opinion and justify why. I did not grade according to their opinion, but, rather, their ability to express their opinion in complete sentences.

I guess the quality of the English language is slowly deteriorating. First goes the spoken language – the word “ask” no longer exists, it has instead become “axed.” Next, we lose the written language. Oh well, before long everybody will be speaking Chinese, so I guess it really doesn’t matter.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Green Hornet - crimefighter?

This is probably going to be one of my oddest posts for this blog.

I went to see the new movie “The Green Hornet.” Obviously, what drew me to this movie was the fact that I grew up watching the original 1960’s television series. I spent most of the movie comparing the movie to the TV version.

The TV series only lasted one season and can be associated with the “Batman” series as they were made to overlap – production resources and scripts. GH was made to be somewhat futuristic with a dependence on electronic gadgets. The most important aspect of the show was the level of crime-fighting intelligence and understanding of the criminal mind. He and his sidekick Kato worked well together.

What I saw in the movie was the “hero” Britt Reid as selfish, dimwitted, dependant, lush, inability to judge others’ character…and on and on. In other words, this hero really had very few redeeming values.

Finally, the hero tries to do what is right and even manages to succeed. One incident was even copied from the TV series.

What makes this movie so disappointing – along with some of the Superman and Batman movies – is that the heroes are made out to have significant personality flaws. The heroes of old could be depended to not only catch the criminal, but also make the right moral decisions.

Young people look at these movies and see no sense of right and wrong, only gray areas of poor choices. I believe that one reason young people today make bad choices is the lack of superheroes with bedrock right morals and cutting edge crime fighting capabilities.

Yeah, this movie was a waste of movie.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Take a shot at this poll

In my opinion, Steve is:
an overachiever
an under-performer
always in the wrong place at the wrong time
all of the above
none of the above
I could care less about Steve
Steve who??? free polls

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The need for further local and state fiscal controls

The Indiana General Assembly election results are very encouraging. Economic issues, I believe, will be central for the 2011 legislative session. I do believe there needs to be a discussion from the General Assembly regarding a couple of central fiscal issues to local government.

With the approval of property tax caps to the Indiana Constitution, the GA must address the up-and-down cycles of business that naturally happens. The general economy will always have its cycles of expansion and retraction. Associated with economic cycles come the tax revenue increases and decreases. Many local government services were dependent on local property taxes. That issue is now changing. Many of these services are dependent on revenues from the state. The increase of sales tax was the offset to property tax caps. Sales tax revenue will follow the economic cycles. The GA must look to smooth out the disbursement of revenues to local governments.

This should include greater expansion and controls on the use of local “Rainy Day” funds. The use of these temporary savings accounts should have greater definition regarding the amount (percentage or dollar) that can actually be accumulated and then also how and when these funds should actually be used.

I ask local legislators to begin an in-depth discussion and evaluation of this issue.