Charlie Bit Me!

For those who are tired of that which is serious, that which is politics, that which is introspective, here are two boys… Charlie and his older brother. His older brother is learning a lesson. Hopefully, he will learn not to stick his finger in the mouth of a baby, or a shark later on in life. Charlie is glad to help in this lesson.


Antonin Scalia

I’m not a big fan of 60 Minutes, but they did a piece on Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court Justice. I think both clips are worth watching. Scalia is one of two originalists on the court. The other is Clarence Thomas, another man I have a high regard for.

Hat tip: Dee.

20 Annoying Things about Christians.

Atheist Hemant Mehta of wrote out a lift of 20 things that annoy him when he does go to church. I liked the list. Many of these things annoy me too. Many of these things are why I am a Presbyterian! We like to do things in an orderly fashion for HIS glory. Hat tip: Gunny.

I’ve added my comments in bold maroon. Here is Hemant’s post:

Between the eBay auction and writing the book, I’ve been to many different churches in the the past year. This is a compilation of the things I’ve seen and heard in the churches that simply annoy me. I’m sure they annoy other Christians as well. They detract from what could be a very positive message. It’s not a complete list by any means, so feel free to comment and add to the list!

(By the way, for those who think this list is too “anti-Christian,” the next list will be much kinder to them. Trust me.)

  1. Wave their hands in front of my face making it impossible to see the stage.

    (Will you put your hands down? I get it. They’re singing a song. I’m happy, too. Use your mouths, people. Jesus doesn’t love you any more because your hands are in the air.) I strongly agree. I often wonder if these people are their to worship and focus on Jesus, or to have everyone look at them!

  2. Yell out random words (“Praise Jesus,” “Hallelujah!”) while I’m trying to listen to the sermon.

    (You agree with the pastor. We understand this. But just say it in your head or nod silently.) On the surface, this can be inspiring to a preacher because it shows that the people are listening. But after a while, it’s chatter. Most of the time I’m so focused on what I’m preaching that I don’t notice the crowd at all. After all, it’s God’s word that is to be preached, not my ego to be soothed. In view of that, just silently nod and sing the Amen chorus at the end of worship with more enthusiasm. That is why we put it there.

  3. Walk in after the music— or worse yet, the sermon— has started.

    (If it’s not that important for you to be on time, just stop showing up.) Very good point. As I heard Bruce Waltke say about those who are late, that they are very selfish and self centered because they don’t see the service as more important than they are.

  4. Look at me with anxiety because I’m brown. I hope that would not happen in my church… but we are a bunch of sinners saved by grace and need more grace in some areas than in others. I’m not saying it would happen, but it could…
  5. Look at me with excitement because I’m not white. Sorry, guilty as charged! I would like to think that the love of Christ would draw those that are not white to our congregation. At least that is my hope and prayer.
  6. Assume that because I know about the Bible, I must believe in the Bible.

    (It’s the opposite that’s true.) No comment.

  7. Perform a skit that is supposed to tell the day’s message.

    (They’re not funny. And frankly, the kids are bad actors. Let’s get to the sermon already.) Again, another reason why I’m Presbyterian. I believe God’s means of grace for reaching and edifying the people of God are the preaching of the word, prayer, the sacraments. No where in the New Testament, or the Old, do we have the giving of the silly skits by kids, bad or good actors. Jesus didn’t say, “Do this bad skit in memory of me.” Punt the skits, they are not a part of true worship.

  8. Tell me I’m on the “right path” by being there.

    (I was doing just fine a couple hours ago, thank you very much.) No comment.

  9. Pass out Christian business directories.

    (It’s like saying the Christian lawyer is trustworthy, but the Jew lawyer will take your money and the atheist lawyer will try to lose your case on purpose, and don’t even get me started on those brown lawyers… these directories aren’t helping me understand “Christian love.”) I agree. Plus there is the false obligation that we have to support Christian businesses because they are Christian. If you want my business, you better be the best there is. I strive to be the best pastor, I expect you to do likewise in your profession. Don’t think just because you have a fish on your truck that I will do business with you.

  10. Ask me if they can pray for me.

    (If you want to, just go ahead and do it.) I think the better question would be: “how can I pray for you.”

  11. Ask me if they can pray for me, then put their hands on my shoulders and begin praying.

    (Stop touching me.) I can understand that.

  12. Mischaracterize people of other faiths or no faiths.

    (“Those atheists know God is there; they just don’t want to follow His rules!” “Those Muslims really want to become Christians—to the MissionaryMobile!”) I can’t say that I have ever heard that before. The Bible says that no one seeks God, so the natural tendency would be to come up with religions we can agree with, or dump it all together.

  13. Assume that everyone who is not Christian must be “saved.”

    (I’m quite alright. And stop putting your hands on my shoulder.) Again, I agree with the touching aspect. I do believe all non Christians need to be saved, however I also agree that they will not all be, and all of them want nothing to do with being saved. That is a natural position until Christ draws us. If He doesn’t change our hearts, we want NOTHING to do with Him and are quite happy in that state.

  14. Bring their children, then proceed to fall asleep during the sermon.

    (If you don’t want to be there, don’t drag your kids with you.) I agree.

  15. Say that those of other Christian denominations aren’t practicing “true” Christianity.

    (”They believe in Christ… but they speak in tongues! The heretical bastards!”) The heretics! 🙂 Jesting aside, there is a reason for denominations. I believe my denomination is the right one. If I didn’t, I would go join the one that I felt best understood the Scriptures. The same is true for those in other denominations.

  16. Look at their watches mid-sermon.

    (You know this pastor goes long. If you weren’t prepared to sit through it all, you shouldn’t have come.) As I like to say, “It’s the Lord’s DAY, not the Lord’s hour!”

  17. Pray for things they can just as easily take care of themselves.

    (You want that promotion? Then work harder. You want to pass that test tomorrow? Then go study.) Jesus has told us to ask. But we must take the human steps as well. Pray hard, work hard, study hard!

  18. Pastors tell stories without giving citations.

    (“There’s this true story of a guy who [insert random Bible-based act here]…” If it’s true, give me some actual facts.) Guilty. Sometimes the guy is me, and I just don’t feel like tooting my own horn. Sometimes, the guy is in the congregation and I don’t want to needlessly embarrass him. Sometimes, more often than not, I just can’t remember the references because it was an unplanned illustration. I will try harder not to do this.

  19. Pastors ask questions with obvious answers.

    (“Who here believes the Lord is going to save them today?!” I think the people in church are going to say “yes.” Call it a hunch.) The joke goes that the pastor had the children down front for the children’s moment in worship. He said, “children, I want to describe to you something and you tell me what it is. This thing is grey, eats nuts, lives in trees and has a furry tale. What is it?” A boy raised his hand and said, “I know the answer is Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me!” Yes, questions with obvious answers do get old.

  20. Pastors take an hour to analyze a simple, straight-forward Biblical verse.

    (The verse told me to trust in God. I get it. Let’s move on.) Then there are those of us who want to take a verse, Thou shalt not steal, and say, “Don’t do it! OK, let’s pray!”

Abide in Me: J.C. Ryle

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will[a] ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

J.C. Ryle writes:
“To abide in Christ means to keep up a habit of constant close communion with Him, — to be always leaning on Him, resting on Him, pouring out our hearts to Him, and using Him as our Fountain of life and strength, as our chief Companion and best Friend. — To have His words abiding in us, is to keep His saying and precepts continually before our memories and minds, and to make them the guide of our actions, and the rule of our daily conduct and behavior.”

Birthday Pics

We had a western theme to the party. That meant cowboy hats, sheriff’s badges, and chocolate cake. Below Joe wears two of that hats, but not for long. He’s not much of a hat man.

For his first try, he did a good job.

Classic boy meets cake shot.

More cake shots.

Happy Birthday Joey — A Year in Review

Yes, it’s hard to believe it’s been a year, but it has. What a FULL year! Happy Birthday Joseph Nathaniel… See the original post here. If you will recall, he weighed about 10 lbs. 12 ounces when he was born. He is now about 32 inches tall, and weighs 28 lbs. He is wearing size 2-T that Andy can no longer wear, he has 8 teeth, and eats every thing we eat, except peanut butter and popcorn. Those are no-no’s.

A "No Duh" Moment

(Timothy has had an awful day today. After having to have some tests run, he found out that the pharmacy sold him $2000 worth of medicine for the tests. Apparently, they can’t just order one vial, but have to order a whole box- ten vials, at $200 a piece, and non-returnable. They didn’t bother to tell him any of that. So, after discussing that with the pharmacy, they decided to charge us ONLY $700 for the vials. We donated them to the doctor for indigent patients who need the test, but can’t afford the medicine. I can’t understand WHY they can’t, can you? Anyway, needless to say, Timothy needs to work on the sermon, so I decided to blog for him.)

After reading through some of Neil’s posts over at 4 Simpsons I had a moment of clarity through the fog of my Spring cold- a “No Duh” moment.

The reason why atheists want to say there’s no heaven, no God, no Jesus, and the Bible a bunch of unfounded myths written and supported by self-righteous, deluded zealots, is so they won’t be held accountable for their sins.

They will not have to face an all-powerful, all-knowing, holy, and perfect God and have their sins judged. Their salvation is the belief that when they die they just simply go away, being turned back into dust. Ironic isn’t it, that their idea of salvation is annihilation? To them, that fantasy is far better than the reality of facing angry and wrathful God and eternal damnation. Come to think of it, if I wasn’t a believer, that sounds better, too.

The thing is, they do know the truth. They do know what their destiny is without Christ. All of nature points to it. That’s the reason why they cling so haplessly to the theory of evolution and vehemently deny ID. If there is a Creator, then all that Christians are saying is true. The Bible is true. They cannot have that, for they smell their death. They have to believe in evolution to feel more comfortable about what happens when they die.

The poor guys though, they can never clear the knowledge of their sin and its consequences from their being though they create theory after theory to try to remake and redefine their version of eternal life.

We cannot redefine what God has told us. Belief and faith in Christ for forgiveness and salvation IS eternal life with Him in heaven. Nothing else can get us there. We will all face God one day.
Some with Christ.
Some with only their theories.

Augustine & Watson

In my studies today, I came across a quote from Augustine: “The tongue inflicts greater wounds than the sword.”

Thomas Watson adds: “The wounds of the tongue no physician can heal; and to pretend friendship to a man, and slander him, is most odious.”

Earth Day

I can’t believe I forgot all about Earth Day. But be at peace, my eco friends. I want you to know that I did have lunch using Styrofoam plates and cups yesterday. I drove more than I usually drive, and I watered my newly planted shrubs.

And guess what? The environment is no better or worse because any of it. Yes, our environment is perfectly capable of handling the extra CO2 that was put into the atmosphere because of me. It’s a natural by product of nature. In hindsight, Happy Earth Day!

I sure wish I had an SUV!

Rush Nails Liberal Intolerance

A quote from Rush on intolerance:

“I have no fear of what people on my side of the aisle are going to think of me if I go out with a liberal woman, or watch a liberal on TV. But on the liberal side, if one of their guys gets caught listening to me, it’s ‘You turn that thing down!’ They don’t want to get in trouble. It’s Stalinist-type intolerance.”


I Own a Hybrid!

Yes, I’ve capitulated. I got a hybrid for my birthday. A hybrid golf club that is, not one of those weeny cars! And I finally made it to the driving range after work yesterday. It was my first chance to try out my new clubs in earnest. (I also got a new sand wedge, that my Dad bought me. I didn’t get to use it though because I had the shaft extended so it would fit me). I golfed last week, but didn’t really use the new hybrid because of a lack of practice with it. Yesterday was the day to pull it out of the bag.
O how sweet it was. On my first shot, maybe my second, I nailed the golf Zamboni! It’s the tractor they use to pick up the golf balls. I use to drive one in high school and on busy days I would get hit with golf balls from those practicing. Yesterday, was my day. It was loud too! All the others at the ranged stopped and looked me. I said sheepishly, “I wonder if they will fine me for that!”

The last time Fred and I went to the driving range, we tried to hit the Zamboni, but never came close. I wasn’t trying and nailed on the front windshield. Don’t worry. The driver was fine. They are designed to take hits from golfers.

As for the rescue club, a TaylorMade Rescue Draw No. 3, it was really sweet. It’s a hybrid between a wood and an iron. You get the distance of a wood with the ease of an iron. I hit several balls about 150 yards. Since I can only get about 200 yards out of my driver, that is pretty good.

The other good news is that I’m getting better with my driver. I feel good enough to actually use when I go golfing. Hopefully I will be able to hit the driving range a few more times before the 2nd Annual GPC Golf Tournament in May.

Yup! Our church has an annual golf tournament for the men. (I guess we would allow women if one of them wanted to join us… but so far that hasn’t happened). Last year, Team Waldrop won and my team came in second. This year, we hope to have more than four teams. I’m really looking forward to it. The tournament was really a good turning point for the men in the church because it gave us a chance to get together and have fun. Sort of a bonding experience. I was hoping to golf with them more during the year, but that hasn’t happened. Hopefully that will change.

On Hell

John Piper on hell, from Brothers, We are not Professionals.

“I must feel the truth of hell–that it exists and is terrible and horrible beyond imaginings forever and ever. “These will go away into eternal punishment” (Matt. 25:46). Even if I try to make the “lake of fir” (Rev. 20:15) or the “fiery furnace” (Matt. 13:42) a symbol, I am confronted with the terrifying thought that symbols are not overstatements but understatements of reality. Jesus did not choose these pictures to tell us that hell is easer than burning.

…If I do not believe in my heart these awful truths–believe them so that they are real in my feelings–then the blessed love of God in Christ will scarcely shine at all. The sweetness of the air of redemption will be hardly detectable. The infinite marvel of my new life will be commonplace. the wonder that to me, a child of hell, all things are given for an inheritance will not strike me speechless with trembling humility and lowly gratitude. The whole affair of salvation will seem ho-hum, and my entrance into paradise will seem as a matter of course. When the heart no longer feels the truth of hell, the gospel passes from good news to simply news. The intensity of joy is blunted and the heart-spring of love is dried up.”

Piper’s point is wonderful because he is stressing the need for preaching about hell in our sermons. The pulpits of America are truly void of this topic, even though Jesus speaks of the subject more than anyone else in the Bible. I believe this is because He is the creator of hell. He made it for fallen angels and knows the details of it. Yet, so many pastors, teachers, Bible study group leaders want to ignore the subject because it’s not in vogue. But without it, as Piper points out, the gospel looses it glow. It becomes simple “news” instead of “good news.”

Our pulpits need a good dose of hell. When the pastors in them, realize the danger many are in, they will preach with more clarity, forcefulness and true theology.

Adultery — Updated

I’ve been preaching through the Ten Commandments over the past several months and this past Sunday I preached on the Seventh Commandment, You shall not commit adultery. You can listen to the sermon by going here. It is probably one of the hardest sermons I’ve had to preach in a long time. Not only was it convicting in my own life, but there has also been an incident in the church which has really been heavy on our hearts regarding this issue. It was convicting to me because of the words of Christ:

Matthew 5:27-30 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

It has been heavy on our hearts because of the sin found in the body and the fact that we dealt with it in a biblical way. I think one of the hardest realities to hit us is how far reaching this sin is when it occurs. It is never just between the two offending parties and God. But it affects the spouse, the family, and the church of those touched by it. In fact, adultery probably gives us one of the clearer pictures of the wickedness of sin than any other sin, save murder. Not that the other sins listed in the Ten Commandments are not as sinful or damning, but sometimes we don’t see to obvious ripple effects of sin. We see it with adultery.

Just thinking about this sermon and all that has happened, and my own heart, has been enough to cause me to feel the weight of it all over again. I can’t write what I hoped to write. The prevalence of this sin in our culture is absolutely daunting and the sad reality is that it is not just found in the culture, but saturates our churches as well.

To talk of disciplining the offending member has raised the ire of those who hear of it, as if the church has no responsibility to deal with this sin. Yet, discipline is the most loving and Christ-like action church leadership can take.

Remember that Christ was mainly concerned with the Father’s glory. That should be our main concern as well, and the best way we do that is by keeping the name of Christ from being profaned and seeking what is best for the flock. Yes, the flock does need disciplining. This isn’t something that we seek to do, but there are times we must confront sin, otherwise we join in profaning His name. By doing so, God keeps the church pure. This is something has been lacking from the pulpits in our day and age: the purity and holiness of the flock. I know that we are made holy because we are in Christ, but that doesn’t mean we should not also pursue holiness itself.

In view of this, I like the way the larger catechism question of the Westminster Confession of Faith put it: The duties required in the seventh commandment are, chastity in body, mind, affections, words, and behavior; and the preservation of it in ourselves and others; watchfulness over the eyes and all the senses; temperance, keeping of chaste company, modesty in apparel.

The idea is that we are to be chaste in our body, mind, affections, words and behavior. Being chaste is not something that we hear a lot about today. It means to be morally pure, decent, modest, abstaining from unlawful sexual intercourse, virtuous. In fact, our culture would have us believe that this is an impossibility. But it is not an impossibility. If we are truly saved then we have been given His Spirit in us, to live as He has called us to live. Therefore we should live as those who are chaste.

Will that be easy in our culture? No, not at all. But our God is bigger and more powerful than our culture. He overcame the world, and if we are in Him, we will too. But this cannot be done apart from the corporate body. We must avail ourselves to the means of grace that He has given us to overcome these things: preaching of the word, prayer, communion, baptism, and yes, even discipline. We must strive to keep ourselves from idols, but also keep the church from idols as well. That is not done without discipline.

I snagged the following from Youtube on a defense of church discipline.

Masters Update: Trevor Wins!

Yes, I know many of my readers don’t like golf or know anything about it. But I’m into it. It’s one of the few sports that middle-aged physically challenged pastors can still play. Basketball is out. Softball is out. There is bowling… but… most bowling alleys seem to have that sleazy feel of a late-night bar. So I don’t bowl, even though I once owned my own bowling ball and scored a 288. Yes, you read the correctly. It sent the guy I was bowling with over the edge, because the more I drank my pitcher of beer, the better I got (this was before I was a Christian. Now I would only have one beer, but a very good one). Football, rugby and hockey all are too physically demanding, and… I like my teeth. There are horse shoes… but very few to play with.
So I golf. I know that Mark from Pearls is strongly and fundamentally opposed to golf, but I’m not opposed to it. I like it. I love the wide open, manicured spaces. I love the wind when it’s there, the sunshine, even the rain when it comes. I love the feel of a good solid hit on the golf ball off the tee, and seeing the ball stay in the fairway. I love challenging chips shots. I love making great shots out of the woods. I love the occasional long putt that go in. I love my one birdie and four pars that I’ve made since I took up the game a year ago. 
I love the fact that I got a new club for my birthday, and may get another one yet, to complete my bag. I love the fact that I’ve found an inexpensive golf course to play on that has a special on Mondays: $15 for cart, green fee, AND a free hotdog for lunch. That’s hard to beat. Never mind that when you putt on the back-9 greens, the ball bounces along instead of rolls. It evens the playing field for us poor putters. 
I love the fact that my church now holds a yearly tournament for the men, and since our first tournament last June, it has brought me closer to some of the men in the church. After all, we have something in common. A love for the game and a love for Christ.
I love going to the driving range and practicing my swing, and on occasion, putting together a string of shots that shows definite improvement. I love the fact that someday, my boys and I will be able to head out to the driving range together, and then to the golf course together. 
I love playing the game with my Dad. We always manage to have a wonderful time, and now that he is set on selling his ranch in Texas, he will have more time to golf, and fly out to see us.
The point is that I like golf. It’s a delight to play. (BTW, I don’t put pressure on myself to do well. I play to have fun. That’s why a birdie is fun and delightful. But so are the double-bogeys when I finish well. I have has some of the most satisfying bogeys and double-bogeys because of the way I finished the hole. The is part of the love of the game. It’s about recovery). 
With all this being true, it has increased my interest in the pros. Watching what I could of the Masters was a delight. Watching Trevor Immelman keep it together for the win was also fun. I’m glad that he won, and Tiger only managed a second place finish. It was a great tournament.

Master’s Week

We are coming to the close of Master’s Week here in Aiken. Yes, here in Aiken, S.C. We are so close to Augusta, about 20 miles, that Master’s Week has its effect here as well. For instance, our public schools hold spring break during the Master’s Week. One reason for this is that many people here in Aiken, rent out their homes to people that will be here for the golf tournament. A lot of people do this. They rent their homes for something between $2,000 to $10,000 depending on the home, and go on vacation somewhere else. The neat thing about it is that you can rent your home for up to 2 weeks without having to pay taxes on the proceeds. Neat little IRS loophole for you.

Of course, we don’t rent our home because… it’s not the type of home that golfers would want to rent. It’s a nice home for us. But not for someone like Vijay Singh. Besides, I just don’t like the idea of someone like John Daly sleeping in my bed, even though he wasn’t at the Masters this week.

The one course of action that I’m looking into for next Masters is that of serving as a caddy. No, not at Augusta, but at one of the local golf clubs here. Apparently, they guarantee their caddies a minimum of $1,000 a week to serve as a caddy. The golf courses around Augusta all up their prices for Masters week. Even those who are members of the area clubs are told not to come around during the week since these clubs pick up so many golfers here for Masters week. Not the professionals, but spectators. When they are not attending the Masters watching Tiger Woods, they are on the golf courses in the area.

Since I like golf, and would love to go to this particular golf course, serving as a caddy would be some good money for a week off. Yes, it’s work, but it would be a nice addition to the bank account. I think I need to learn a lot more about golf before I do that.

Another effect is that for the hotels. Prices skyrocket this one week of the year and for some of the hotels, this is their make or break week for the year. Most of them have no problem making it. Even the roach motels do well this week. Apparently, those flying in bring their own roaches to the area.

Now for the tournament. I have to say, that I’m pulling for the field. For those of you are not aware what this means, the man to beat is ALWAYS Tiger Woods. So people either pull for the field or for Tiger Woods. Since I started typing this blog, he has moved from 4 under par, to 5 under par, putting him four strokes back from the current leader Brandt Snedecker, who is sitting at 9 under par.Tiger is finished for the day and has tomorrow alone to catch the leaders. Four strokes is nothing for Tiger to make up. He started at 1 under par today, and made up four strokes. So if Snedecker wants to pull this off, he better golf better tomorrow than he did today. Tiger is known for coming from behind and winning it all. I think it’s just the fact that the four men in front of Tiger, know he’s back there and can close the gap in one round. That tends to make them nervous and causes them to take chances they normally would not take. But who knows, they may pull out.

Currently, Paul Casey, Trevor Immelman, Steve Flesch and Snedecker are ahead of Tiger. I hope they don’t get nervous and continue their play that put them ahead of Woody in the first place. It’s not that I don’t like Tiger, but just like pulling for the underdog, which happens to be “the field.”

That is how good Tiger is. He is ALWAYS the favorite when he shows up. He usually gets beat by men that don’t know they are not supposed to beat Tiger. Hopefully it will happen again tomorrow.

Oops, I just checked the leader board and apparently Snedecker has fallen out of first place and is now only two strokes ahead of Woods. Doesn’t look good for him.

I kind of wish that Phil Mickelson would pull it out. But he lost 3 strokes today and is only 2 under par. Don’t expect much from him tomorrow.

20,000! And Counting

And the winner is… Rivka! Our 20,000th visitor to the Possession, just before 9 p.m. EDT on the 11th. Here’s Johnny Donovan to tell her what she has won.

You’re absolutely right Timothy. Rivka, for being our 20,000th visitor wins… a brief moment of notoriety on your tiny corner of the blogosphere.
Thanks to all those who have come by the Possession. Now, it’s back to bed. After all, who blogs at 4 a.m. in the morning?

Quote of the Day

While at a local restaurant.

Waitress: “How old are you?”
Andy: “Three.”
Waitress: “When did you turn three?”
Andy: “On my birthday!”
Some things are just so obvious, a three year old can figure it out.