Friday, December 24, 2010

I've Learned to Wait for Christmas

I’ve learned to wait for Christmas
As it comes around each year.
Still with anticipation
As the time draws ever near.

The child-like joys I loved the most,
Once held in my young heart
Have passed first to my children
And then to a “grander” part.

I once had worried Jesus
Might resent my gifts received
But I learned they’re all from Him
Since in Him I believed.

I wouldn’t want to miss it
The family gathered ‘round.
The carols sung by many voices
What a sweet angelic sound!

I’ve learned to wait for Christmas
And miss it when it’s gone.
But I'm glad the Christ of Christmas
Is with me all year long.

by D. Pitman
Christmas 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Memorial to a Friend

Gentle voice, gentle words, a gentleman.
Thoughtful friend and neighbor kind,
Ever ready to lend a hand,
These are the things that come to mind.

Stalwart and sure in the House of God.
Knew how to pray and stand for right,
Knew the Shepherd's staff and rod,
Knew to walk in the Savior's light.

Husband, Father, Grandfather, great.
Son and brother, so much and yet more.
Respected, admired, each godly trait
A path you walked that reached Heaven's shore.

Farewell for now! My Helper,  My Brother!
By faith I trust we will meet again.
So glad we still love one another,
So glad I can say you are my friend.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

We Can Do Better

It was inevitable I guess that the down-grade of Christianity would eventually spiral into what can be called for lack of a better term: "Christian" Pornography.  Please understand that it is decidedly unChristian but since it finds its  promoters and participants among those who emphatically insist that they are Christians and who also insist that they are some of the best Christians, what else can we call it?

John MacArthur has confronted this issue more eloquently than I could hope.  But I do want to say something.  MacArthur is the only national voice, the only prominent voice that I am aware of, who is speaking specifically in warning about this.  Perhaps others are speaking against it as well.  I would be delighted to hear about them. 

The chief proponent of this pornography has been  Mark Driscoll.  Most prominent evangelicals either say little or nothing because of Driscoll's rock star status; or they agree with him about it; others, I am sure, have adopted a "greater good" rationalization.  Many young evangelicals have made him into a near idol and they emulate everything he says and does. 

Well,  I am sure that the scruffy, bad boy image that Driscoll cultivates plays well to the crowd looking for a way to slap a thin veneer on the very behavior that is emphatically condemned in the Bible.  It is not Driscoll that grieves me so much.  It is the near silence from men who I thought were mature enough to see this for what it is and to rebuke it as they should.  Some will say that he has "toned it down."  Not nearly enough.   I must say that much of the admiration directed at Driscoll is characteristically the stuff of  "The Emperor's New Clothes."

Brett McCracken has sounded an alarm about the failure of this methodology even from a practical standpoint.  Perhaps that will alert some who are unwilling or unable to oppose this garbage simply because it is wrong. 

I have a precious, godly wife, three daughters living for God, four grand-daughters learning about God and a son in whom I am well-pleased;  I will not have them encounter this perversion of Biblical Christianity and think I do not speak and stand against it.

The gospel deserves better than this.  I do not believe that Christ died so "Christian" juvenile delinquents can wallow in this kind of filth.  Grace overcomes this depravity; it does not turn it into a marketing device.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bonhoeffer: A Brief Review by Dr. David Pitman

     It took me some what longer to read the last two chapters of this biography. The sadness of Bonhoeffer's impending execution, set against his expectation that he might be released for further ministry and for his marriage, was written eloquently and effectively. I now think I know Dietrich Bonhoeffer.     Metaxas handles primary sources as well as any biographer I have ever read. I am persuaded that he separates the man from the myth (and misrepresentations) and yet manages to convey the heroic, yet humble man that Bonhoeffer was.
     The larger canvas upon which Bonhoeffer's life is drawn incorporates themes from the sublime to the stupid; from the heights of human aspirations to the depths of human depravity. Theology, culture, politics. family, patriotism, sacrifice - Bonhoeffer's life and death weaves it all into one seamless fabric.
     In this book you will find orthodoxy without obstinacy, self-sacrifice without self-pity, and faith without fear. This is now one of my five favorite biographies.
     I recommend this book.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Beck, Bifurcation and the Blustery Day

The reactions to the Beck Rally have been fascinating and foreboding.  The political left was predictably  appalled by it all.  The political right was unpredictably undercut by friendly fire, especially from some of the more erudite evangelicals. This vividly illustrates how zealous some are to protect the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I commend them and I count myself among them.

Dr. Russell Moore, whom I greatly admire, warned, "It would be a tragedy to get the right president, the right Congress, and the wrong Christ. That's a very bad trade-off."  I agree; what a horrible trade that would be.  Beck's Mormonism has many alarmed that he is using politics to advance the cause of the Mormon cult and Mormon false doctrine; hence deceiving many to accept or even to become Mormons.  In the most recent Presidential campaign some were concerned about Senator Obama's religion: is he a Muslim?  does the Rev. Wright represent Obama's Christianity?  Legitimate questions still lingering.

Having been a political observer now for many years, I am not surprised by the controversy.  What cost Al Smith the Presidency in 1928 was still an issue in 1960.  Kennedy was elected by the narrowest of margins.  Part of his baggage was his Catholicism. Clinton/Gore in 1992 made much of  their membership in Southern Baptist Churches (not sure where their letters are now); it must have helped them some.  But honestly, Ross Perot triangulated the conservative vote and was very much a factor.  I have since forgiven the SBC.

Dr. Jerry Falwell was forming his Moral Majority in the late 1970's, and his odd couple blending of co-belligerents - Catholics, Jews, Christians (and Mormons) delighted many conservatives.  Some labeled Dr, Falwell a king-maker and perhaps he was.  I always thought Reagan had the great political fortune to run against the most incompetent President in the second half of the 20th century; but I could be wrong about that. Falwell's Liberty University (affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention) hosted Beck (affiliated with the Mormons)  as its commencement speaker this year and very few evangelicals protested.  At least I heard very little about it.

As a young pastor in 1979, I preached some warnings about the slippery slope of ecumenism, one sermon was titled Why I Cannot Join the Moral Majority.  I took some grief over that.  I was young, very young;  later on two former Falwell insiders (Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson) wrote Blinded by Might and they agreed with me (that 's the way I remember it and I am telling the story.)  Good men disagree now about signing The Manhattan Declaration: for example, Albert Mohler says yes; Alistair Begg says no. 

My warning about the Beck factor is simple:  Be careful with the "evangelical" anxiety over Beck, (some of which I share). Avoid the logical fallacy of bifurcation.   Bifurcation is a false dilemma, when someone is asked to choose between two options when there is at least one other option available.  I reluctantly say that Dr. Moore's warning, though well-intentioned, falls into this fallacy. Sharing Beck's political views does not mean I must convert to Mormonism. 

Some evangelicals may suffer from a genetic disorder known as YDD.  My Papa called them yeller dog Democrats i.e., they would vote for a yellow dog if it was a Democrat.  I am sure there are blue tick hound Republicans, too.  I will be kind and observe that some of these YDD cases are recessive genes but they can assert themselves at odd times.  Be warned that some of these evangelicals do not share consistent conservative political views; that makes them more likely to criticize Beck.  They have the right and the duty to do so. They have freedom of speech and freedom of religion (and come to think of it, so does Beck.)

Christians in the political arena nearly always (I want to say always, but that would be a logical fallacy) must act as co-belligerents with some whose religion is antithetical to ours.  Political choices are nearly always the lesser of two evils.  Christians in a representative Republic must participate; I know it is not easy.

What about the Blustery Day? Well, I just like Winnie the Pooh and threw that in for free. 

No, it does have some connection because Christians are warned not to be tossed about by every wind of doctrine, When political winds are blowing you had better hold on tight to the anchor of God's inerrant, infallible Word.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Presidential Doctrines

Monroe Doctrine
 Guaranteed Freedom for Nations in the Western Hemisphere, or "America Helps Her Neighbors."

Truman Doctrine:
 "America helps those who resist Communist Aggression."

Eisenhower Doctrine:  
"America helps those who resist Communist Aggression, sometimes, in some places."

Kennedy Doctrine
"America will defend any friend and aggravate our foes."

Nixon Doctrine
"America will help any friend, or any foe for that matter."

Carter Doctrine
 "America will boycott the Olympics if you hurt our feelings."

Reagan Doctrine:
"America will defend any friend and defeat any foe."

Bush (41) Doctrine
"America will do whatever it takes... up to a point."

Clinton Doctrine:
"America will do ... whatever, as long as it is pointless."

Bush (43) Doctrine
"America will talk tough and back it up."

Obama Doctrine (explained last evening):
"America will find it tough to talk but we can always back up."
(with apologies to Bush 43)  or:
"Walk politely and carry a big purse."
(with apologies to TR) 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Old, Young Earther

I would be classified as a "Young Earth Creationist." I understand the Biblical record to reveal a 6 day(of 24 hours each) Creation. I am persuaded that the unbiased, scientific evidence observable today corroborates this record. I do not consider theistic evolution, day age theories, gap theories and such like to have any merit.

I have been a young earth Creationist now for nearly 50 years; that makes me an old young earther. As a teenager I read Morris and Whitcomb's Genesis Flood. I heard Morris speak back in the early 70's. His clear, Bible-based, scientifically valid presentations blew the opposition arguments out of the water (pun intended). When I attended college, I became a disciple of Dr. Gail Terrell, a PhD scientist extraordinaire. How many times I heard his lectures; how many questions I asked him!  How well he taught me.

From time to time I challenge some evangelicals who mock young earth creation.  Their ignorance is matched only by their arrogance.  They find it easy to ignore me.  I had to smile when Dr. Al Mohler stepped into this arena. 

It did sadden me though that they attacked Dr. Mohler's integrity.   Shame on those whose logic is so flawed that must try to distract us with ad hominem insults that tell us more about them than about their target.  I am amused that some may think Dr. Mohler unequal to the task, intellectually inferior or academically unprepared.  I suspect that they were ill-advised to get into a war of words with this man.  He is as smart as they think they are.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Church and State: Mosque and Church

As do many others I have strong opinions about the building of a mosque near Ground Zero.  I have read the various arguments for and against; not surprisingly they ran the gamut on the political and the religious spectrum of viewpoint.

I have a pastor friend who served in NYC before, during and after 9/11.  For some years he lived in an apartment overlooking Ground Zero.  We visited there and saw the site just a few months after the attack.  His view is that the mosque should not be built.  I trust his judgment enough to defer on his wisdom alone.

There are other voices, of course.  One of my friends insists that it is a matter of first amendment issues - religious liberty trumps our "bias" against Islam - he thinks; and he makes a good case.  It would be a stronger case if Islam had no mosques in Manhattan or they were being discriminated against, or persecuted here in America as Jews or Christians are treated in Muslim countries.

When I learned of this news story, I was suddenly reminded that political posturing is often just so much noise.  How does this religious liberty issue fail to make the national news until now? 

I realize I do not know the whole story about this conflict;  but apparently there is no urgency.  So my remedy for the controversy about the mosque is to delay it for several years, appoint some committees to study this issue, maybe have some Congressional hearings, appoint a Presidential Commission.  Surely the Greek Orthodox deserves to be built (actually re-built) first.  Perhaps we could wait until the War on Terror has been won or at least until Islam publicly and profusely apologizes for its militant "wing."  I am confident that Islam ("a religion of peace") will not mind demonstrating patience.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Everybody has one

This  is a good example of why truth is often counter-intuitive to, or at least unexpected by, the masses. I live in a culture intoxicated with opinion polls.  From politicians to pastors we misuse the ones that reflect our views and abuse the ones that reject them.  If we disagree with a poll, we become brave and label our self  a statesman (if a politician) or a prophet (if a pastor.)  If we agree, we get over-confident and call our self a man of the people (if a politician) or a man of Issachar *(if a pastor.)

I think the political process has been eviscerated by the 24 hour opinion polls as news cycle.  Churches have been encapsulated by the seeker sensitive methodological models.

If you want the answer to a math question, asking 100 people does not necessarily provide a trustworthy answer. Include the toddlers and you may get an interesting array of opinions.  The correct answer is a fact.  We could do with a lot more facts and a few less feelings.

Please feel out the survey below to tell me how you feel about this.

Just kidding.

* I Chronicles 12: 32:  Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do,

Friday, August 13, 2010

Never Too Late?

We have all seen the inspirational stories of the septuagenarian who goes back to college or high school and completes the program; then there is the fellow who searches and finds his childhood sweetheart. Opportunity does not knock once we are told; rather it sits on our doorstep and trips us every morning as we leave.

There is some truth in all that. But I see another permutation on those possibilities. Sometimes we spend too much time trying to re-connect, re-discover or re-invent ourselves. Of necessity the inspirational stories do not mention the elderly lady who bankrupts herself with student loan debt and fails to graduate and dies penniless and unfulfilled. They do not usually tell about the fellow who breaks up his marriage to go looking for the girl of his dreams only to find out it is a nightmare.

I mean to say that if you are late and miss the bus maybe you just need to take the next one, or walk, or call a taxi. I do not see that as a sadness nor as an excuse for tardiness ( I hate being late.) Sometimes unfinished business demands to be completed; sometimes to do so is just a waste of time and talent.

I told you I was a contrarian.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


"The exception makes the rule." Or so I have heard. Whether by nature or nurture I have often noticed that I often incline to observe the contrary facts to positions being stated or read. This may derive from a contrary spirit and yet it may also reveal that often we speak in generalizations and ambiguities. Thus, I am often moved to contradiction, sometimes silently. Sometimes, to be fair, the subject is so large that no single discussion could cover every facet. Sometimes I am just wrong. I would like for this blog to help me with this. At best I would like it to reveal logical fallacies, and with astute readership, even my own logical fallacies. At worst, it may only reveal that on many matters we may have to agree to disagree.