It’s finished! I was charged with the duty of designing a website for The Ohio Presbytery. Feel free to give it a looksy and make any suggestions.
Better yet, if you know anyone who desires a sound church in their area, suggest they give it a glance. There’s a page that lists the churches affiliated with our presbytery.
You’ll also notice that those who are interested in a PCA church plant can begin the conversation through the site. Our presbytery is dedicated to advancing the gospel in northern Ohio through church planting.
A lot of people are against Ron Paul as a presidential candidate because of his foreign policy. A lot of that number will even express that they are against Ron Paul solely because of his foreign policy. They say that it is too isolationistic in its formulation.
I have the mind to object to such an objection. The video below gives some expression to that. This is my main protestation though: As a nation that slaughters its unborn by the millions each year, who are we to be jaunting around the world putting our guns up other people’s noses and telling them what to do. If we want to be the “defenders of freedom” on the international scene (assuming that is a legitimate cause--which I'm not), then we must first defend it within our own boarders by protecting the womb.
Have you ever wondered where I get it from? Those of you who know the family know it is from my mother. And now you can see it first hand. My mother, who has always been politically active (which is just another way of saying she's widely outspoken like me), has started blogging. You can catch her work over at Ashland's Tea Party website, New American Patriots. I won't tell you which name she posts under though.
"Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity." Psalm 133:1
This past Lord's Day we at Providence Church had the splendid opportunity of worshipping with the brethren from Mansfield Bible Church. I continue to revel in the pleasantry of it. It is not often that you see unity in the broader church. The time in worship also whets my thirst for future interaction.
Both churches value Reformed doctrine and stress family integration when it comes to worship involvement. We came together after a couple members of MBC visited Providence over the summer. This led to a couple of cordial meetings between the leaders of the two churches. Because the leaders "hit it off" so well they decided to have a joint worship service.
The two elders from MBC opened and closed the services while members of Providence lead prayers and the communion service. Singing was jointly led by the representative worship leaders. We brought in Joe Maggelet as a guest speaker for the event. Joe brought a fiery message from Romans 8, and only served to enhance the ecumenicity of the event.
Here is a link to our church's latest newsletter. You may want to check it out. The lead article shows, contrary to popular opinion, just how horrid Christmas really is. It's got some other jolly good stuff in it too, such as poetry, an update on Ohio's Heartbeat Bill, and some other edifying, Christmas-y stuff.
And, in case you missed it, here is a link to our newsletter archives. You can check out our previous issues and grab all the goodies there.
And by all means, feel free to subscribe and have future issues delivered right to your inbox.
“I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.”
Ashland is a swell of Anabaptism. There is a church affiliated with some strand of Brethren denomination on virtually every corner. The other 35% are composed of your run of the mill mainline church or generic non-denominational church. This, I feel, is the reason for the great spiritual lethargy in my town.
One of the main tenets of all of these groups is that of pacifism. The pride of Anabaptism is her pacifism. They make it one of their foremost defining doctrines. Mainliners are basically pacifists too. They are your liberal types that forfeited the fight for truth and justice long ago. Non-denom.’s are of the same stream. They sprouted up as a result of the mainline apostasy. They thought they were fighting, but really they were bailing out of the fight by running away from denominations in order to create their own little independent island where they wouldn’t have to fight anyone.
Which brings me to my point: I wonder if this pacifistic/non-resistance belief is the reason why there is such a spiritual lethargy in this town. In my opinion, pacifism, and its ever more pliable cousin non-resistance/non-violence, is nothing more than appeasement. It shrinks from the fight and surrenders ground to the enemy. His motto is, “Let us keep peace!” Rather than fight to keep peace, he backs away. He would rather have the strained and tenuous peace that comes with an appeased tyrant than a free and robust peace that comes through warding off the enemy.
All in all, such is an act of forfeiture.
This is what takes place on the battlefield, of course (well, actually nothing takes place on the battlefield, but you know what I mean). I can’t help but think though that it translates into the everyday world around us. I feel that the spiritual battle is often lost because of the constant recoiling in the name of “peace.” The battlefield of the mind and heart is repeatedly forfeited because no one wishes to yield the sword of the Spirit by standing up to the encroaching evils and false teachers. Such would be a skirmish and clash, and that is intolerable because it is in all reality a crusade in miniature.
To put it another way, wars are simply ideas fought with weapons. It may be fought with machine guns and cannons, or it may come to blows on a lesser scale with a pen and one’s lips. Either way, it is a war, and pacifists will let evil triumph to avoid both.
 A friend of mine attempted to clarify this. He said: The Brethren would split hairs and contend that it is more aptly called “non-resistance.” I respond by saying, 1) I’d like to glue the hairs back together and 2) I really don’t think that pacifists /non-resistance types contend.
If you really would like to split hairs, let’s think of it this way: Pacifists are willing to take a stand and get slaughtered while doing holding their ground. Non-resistance people will continually concede ground in the name of appeasement and keeping the peace.
I’m preaching on 1 Peter 2.18f this week, a passage that talks about servants submitting to their masters. Such passages make you wonder about the ethical questions regarding slavery. I thought I would lay out some of the thoughts I’ve had this week regarding it. This is by no means meant to endorse slavery outright or even meant to be an exhaustive study. I merely put these thoughts out as some clarification.
In the Bible…
I. Forced slavery is absolutely wrong, except in the case of prisoners of war or the purchase of foreign slaves
The Bible sates in several places that it is illegal to compel someone to be their slave. For instance, in Deut. 24 it condemns this practice. It says that if someone is found stealing one of his brothers and forcing him to be his slave or selling him off as a slave, then he is to be put to death! Death mind you. This was a capital offense!
I want to make this clear because the issue of slavery is one of those things that is bandied about by anyone and everyone who is critical of the Bible. Someone will inevitably say that “The Bible allows slavery!” And they will make great cries of how terrible such a thing is. But look here. Forcing someone to become your slave was a crime punishable by death. To say that the Bible permits slavery in this capacity is simply wrongheaded.
The Apostle Paul is clear about this too. In 1 Timothy 1 he lists enslavers (i.e. those who kidnap and force people into slavery) among the types of murderers, perjurers and the sexually immoral. Hardly could it be said that Paul tolerated form of slavery.
Now, having said that, let me say that the Bible does tolerate the enslavement of foreigners. But when you think about the implications, you’ll realize that this was still not slavery as we may originally think of it. First, prisoners of war were permitted to be forced labor. Now what exactly are you supposed to do with people who attack you and you capture. You could let them go, but chances are they’ll be back to attack you again. Another thing you could do is kill them. I think that you will agree that putting them to work is a bit more humane.
Finally, foreign slaves could be bought by Israelites and made to work for them. Now, we don’t have any evidence of this happening, so we don’t know if it did happen. But let’s think together. Would you rather be a slave in Syria or Israel? Would it be better to be a slave in a pagan country where you were simply property to be battered and beat, or would it be better to be a slave in a country where your personal dignity would be regarded with the utmost respect? I submit to you that this kind of slavery was an act of mercy. I think this will become clearer in a few minutes too. So let me move on to the next item.
I just said that in most cases, forced slavery is wrong. But the Scripture says…
II. Slavery may be permitted on a voluntary basis.
In the Old Testament you could, by your own volition, become soemone’s slave. This was a means of survival in those days. If you could not provide for yourself—if you had become impoverished and had no means by which to live—you could give yourself as a slave to another person. And in doing so, you could be saved from your utter destitution.
Again, no one could force you to do this. Someone couldn’t come along and compel you to be their slave. That would be what we call man stealing or kidnapping, and the Bible is clear in its denunciation of that in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
For it to be legal, slavery had to be voluntary. You had to come into it willingly and express your own personal desire to enter into that mode of living.
And this leads to the next item regarding slavery.
III. Biblical slavery was only to be for a limited amount of time.
It was never for life (unless you wanted it to be). There were a number of ways to be freed, most notably at the end of a 7 year cycle. To be sure, it wouldn’t have been a bad thing. Even if you worked all seven years, it wasn’t a long time.
IV. In any case, slaves were to be treated with the utmost respect
The slaves ought to be treated with the utmost respect. You are never allowed to violate their personal dignity. There is nothing in the Scriptures that permits men and women even in bondage to be denigrated or treated with the least disrepute. They always have to be cared for with fatherly affection and given the best possible means for their livelihood.
In this sense, a slave would be much like an employee that we would understand today. He might not make money, but at the very least he is giving his life and work in exchange for the basic provisions of life (i.e. protection, shelter, and food, perhaps also medical assistance and other physical cares).
The class which shall dazzle us with their eloquence.
[The following is the press release I submitted to the TG. I’m putting it here as an invitation to you all to come and join us for the evening.]
For immediate release:
Students Clash in Debate
Thursday December 8 at 6:30 pm at Ashland Brethren in Christ Church
Minds and voices will come to a head on Thursday, clashing in a battle of opinions and eloquence.
For the last 10 weeks seven homeschool children have been learning the techniques of public speaking. Under the tutelage of Matt Timmons, a pastor and homeschool father, the class has discussed and presented various speeches, including informative, persuasive and emotive speeches.
All their training will now be put on open display as they enter into a public debate. Students have been paired off with an opponent and given a topic to research. They will attempt put their opponent to shame by winning their audience with the techniques discussed in class.
Timmons said that the class has done exceptionally well, demonstrating radical improvement with each passing speech. "This debate should be interesting," said Timmons. "Due to the odd number of students, I have to debate one of them. As well, there are some great personalities here. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the speeches get a little spirited."
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