A Sidekick's Blog

Imagine

May 1, 2015
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Originally posted on chantrynotes:

lennon Sorry, John, but I had to do it.

In an excellent post in which he admits that he’s a recovering TGC fanboy, Justin Bullington put the following words into the mouth of an imaginary objector to his criticisms: “Imagine if TGC didn’t exist!”

So I did.

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David Murray on Depression and Medication

April 10, 2015
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Originally posted on Reformed Baptist Geneva:

david murray

Dr. Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary

Many readers of this blog will be familiar with the disagreements among Christian counselors regarding antidepressant medication. My goal is not to start a debate but to offer some comforting thoughts to Christians who have opted to use antidepressant medications, seen positive benefits, and desire to glorify God for this gift. My material will come from the book “Christian’s Get Depressed Too” by David Murray.

David presents the fantastic point that there are Christians who “…view medication as a rejection of God and His grace rather than a provision of God and His grace.” Should Christians think like this?

David lays out two different Christian approaches to this issue. The first approach, which is labeled “almost always spiritual”, views depression as mostly coming from spiritual issues and represented by Jay Adams. At the…

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Re-Thinking My Next Career

March 11, 2015
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I’m about to get my Associate of Arts degree in History. Yay for me. I minored in Education, taking three courses that are required for certification as a teacher here in Florida, so I have them out of the way when I transfer to my next school to finish my B.A. (also in History, perhaps something else). Finishing up my classes this semester, I’m taking the last two of the three required education courses, Introduction to the Teaching Profession (EDF2005) and Diversity for Educators (EDF2085). What I am learning in those classes has me seriously reconsidering becoming a schoolteacher, at least in a “public” (I prefer the term “government”) school.

The Diversity class, as expected, is nothing but a State-mandated propaganda course in political correctness. The textbook is filled with suppositions that are not only unfounded, but also completely at odds with the principles upon which our own nation and government were founded: Personal responsibility, limited government, local control of local issues, free markets, freedom of opinion, debate, economy, and as little government regulation/intrusion/control as possible. The Diversity coursework assumes not only that government can solve every human weakness and problem in the world (poverty, inequality, prejudice, sexism, etc), but that government should cure every human failing and solve every social problem, using government’s one unique asset: The power of coercion by force.

Harry Browne said it best on page 31 of his wonderful 2003 book titled, Why Government Doesn’t Work:

But coercion never produces harmony. How harmonious are people who are being forced to act against their will? Most likely, those who are coerced will resent those who benefit from the coercion. This sets group against group; it doesn’t bring them together.

Instead of persuasion by reason, by debate, by discourse, or by “voting with your wallet” in a free market, the answer is to simply use the force of government to impose sanctions on those who disagree. But the real answer to injustice and bigotry is the gospel! The human heart must be changed from within. Dressing mud-loving hogs in nice clothing does not change their nature, it’s just a waste of nice clothing. But God has been evicted from government, and from government schools in particular. So a lot of clothes get wasted, and government responds by spending more money on nice clothing and passing rules against mud, and spending even more money to incarcerate hogs for doing what hogs do. It’s a reincarnation of the lesson that Prohibition apparently failed to teach us: Legislating “morality” – even so-called secular morality – doesn’t work.

But it isn’t just “political correctness” that has me re-thinking my next vocation:

My other class, a much better put-together class that I have actually enjoyed and learned a great deal from is called Introduction to the Teaching Profession. It really is a good introduction to that career as far as I can tell. Largely free of the politically correct assumptions that must be accepted in order to succeed in the Diversity class, this one has shown me what is expected of educators in government schools and given me a far greater appreciation of teachers, their work, and the impossible constraints placed upon them. If I can’t even get an A in my Diversity class without violating my conscience (I’m only maintaining a C average in that class because I refuse to violate my conscience), what in heck am I going to do when my paycheck depends on it?

Teachers are not trusted to know what they’re doing, much less given any liberty to teach, except “to the tests.” Their evaluations and livelihoods are directly tied to student test scores rather than to better measures of actual learning. Zeal for accountability runs roughshod over students, families, teachers, and schools alike. Ideologically-based social experiments take deep cuts right through living human beings to achieve political objectives that cannot benefit anyone but the elites who profit from coercive testing and coercive government programs. I honestly cannot see myself as willingly having any part whatsoever in such a corrupt system, but I deeply admire and pray earnestly for Christian believers who are somehow able to survive there (so far anyway) while maintaining a clear conscience. In all honesty, I don’t think I could. God bless those who can.

So should I only look at private Christian schools? Should I look at teaching overseas where there might be, somewhere on this shrinking planet, a system that benefits students rather than existing only to achieve ungodly political ends? Does such a country even exist on Earth? Should I forget about teaching in the K-12 range and just major in the subjects I love and am passionate about, only to teach on the college level as a curmudgeonly professor at some little private Christian college? I have to admit, I think I’d love that. But I was hoping to work as a K-12 teacher on my way through a Master’s program. That would give me the benefit of gaining teaching experience before I jumped into a college faculty position (not to mention keeping student loan debt at bay). Now, I wonder if that is even possible.

Please share this post with any Christian educators you know. I would really appreciate some advice and counsel on this – counsel I cannot get from guidance counselors at my school. I need to hear from Christian educators about this. Christians who put God first, who do not surrender their principles for a paycheck, and for whom teaching is a true calling rather than just a job. Advice can be posted in the comments section below. I read them all.


Defining “Reformed Baptist” (again)

March 9, 2015
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It’s surprising how quickly the meanings of words and definitions change.  In fact I’m sure that a lot of plain, longstanding theological definitions are deliberately changed – without saying so – in order to “justify” some new and completely unorthodox theological position while making it appear orthodox by using familiar terminology.

Federal Visionists in my former denomination have turned the Reformation on it’s head to justify such unorthodox things as paedocommunion and salvation-by-sacrament, yet most of them claim the Westminster Confession and the Three Forms of Unity.  All they had to do was apply new definitions to the old terms and viola – they’ve undone the Reformation using their Reformed Confession.  They know that their heretical position cannot be justified in Baptist theology, so they call even 1689-Confessional Baptists “non-Reformed.”

Absurd.  They’re a heckuvalot further removed from the Reformation than any Reformed Baptist is.  But it seems that, again, Reformed Baptists – just at a time when we are rediscovering our own roots and restoring our churches to their historic heritage – have to defend our very existence again, as others change the meanings of plain, long-understood theological terms.  Linked below is a wonderfully clear article which I hope will help cement our identity.  Enjoy:

Defining “Reformed Baptist” (again).

 


The College of Central Florida Needs a New Name

February 24, 2015
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The College of Central Florida needs a new name, to better reflect it’s actual mission and purpose: To make money for the Pearson Education publishing house; to enslave students to a single proprietary vendor whose policies, prices, terms, and forms change on the whim of that vendor, and to promote political correctness and discourage independent thought.

Almost all of my classes insist on using Pearson textbooks, and the Pearson web site for homework. Almost all of the instructors and classmates passionately hate the Pearson books and web site. They would choose different textbooks and certainly a different web interface for exercises and homework. Yet the college tells them they have to use these awful textbooks as a matter of policy. What real college does such a thing? It stinks of kickback, and I’m not the only student who thinks so. More than one of my professors thinks so too. Perhaps it should be re-named Pearson College.

But I suspect that my school is not a wholly owned subsidiary of Pearson Education, Inc. Microsoft surely has a large stake in the College of Central Florida as well. Because all work in all classes has to be submitted in Microsoft format. Both of the two alternatives for the required computer literacy classes are classes in Microsoft’s Windows® operating system and Microsoft applications, and all work has to be submitted in Microsoft format. Technology for Educators, the class I chose, makes no mention of any alternative to Microsoft products and formats, even though many schools, businesses, and even governments are freeing themselves from being bound to a single system from a single vendor. It is completely unrealistic and unethical to train future educators in only one single proprietary vendor’s system and software when most of the world is free to choose any other vendor, system, and software. Mac. BSD (OpenBSD, FreeBSD). Or any one of hundreds of GNU/Linux distributions. So maybe we should call it, Microsoft-Pearson College. Or an abbreviated blend, like Soft Pears College, or Micro Arson College. Any of those names would make more sense and better reflect the real mission of this never-to-be-recommended institution of so-called “higher” learning. I can’t wait to get this insanity over with and get the hell out of there.

I disagreed in a research paper with a bit of extreme left-wing propaganda that was required viewing in the mandatory Diversity for Educators class. The so-called “documentary” was produced by the ultra-leftist group, Southern Poverty Law Center, which was recently dumped by the FBI as an educational partner because of its radical agenda. The result of my disagreement – on a well-documented opinion paper no less – was a 75 out of 100 possible points. Instead of Diversity for Educators, that class should be re-named to the You-Should-Be-Ashamed-to-Be-a-White-Male-Heterosexual-Christian-American class.

I’m sure that the College of Central Florida will be first in line to adopt the New History when the Emperor’s “updated” version of U.S. History is released by Pearson Publications. And a great hero of America – besides Emperor Obama, that is – will be a gay and black version of Microsoft founder and major financial backer of Common Core, Bill Gates.

All this bovine excrement has got me seriously re-thinking my pursuit of a second career as an educator. I don’t think I can really do it under all of the idiotic constraints that our government has imposed. Perhaps I could teach outside of the U.S., or in a private school where the truth is still permitted; where critical, independent thought and argument are still encouraged; and where students and staff are not held hostage to a single vendor’s textbooks, software, or format.


Why I Dumped Facebook

February 12, 2015
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No matter what I did on Facebook, it seemed like it always hurt someone. Someone I left out, someone I included, someone who took me seriously when I wasn’t serious, or vice versa. I was only on Facebook because my family begged me to get on there so they could “keep in touch.” As if the phone had stopped working. Or e-mail had disappeared. Or the Postal Service had gone out of business. There are a zillion and eleven ways for family to keep in touch, with or without Facebook, and I frankly resent being forced into a single one. A proprietary one at that, in which every “like,” every click, every comment, and every check-in is logged and sold to targeted advertisers. I don’t like being reduced to a commodity, and that is exactly what Facebook users are. My phone still works, family and friends. So does the United States Postal Service. So does my e-mail. You want to keep in touch because family matters to you? Then answer my letters (e-mail and snail mail)! Return my phone calls! Make a few keystrokes if it’s important to you. If “keeping in touch” just means clicking a “like” button once in a while, then we have very different ideas about what keeping in touch means. And, apparently, very different values when it comes to family.

There is an alternative “social networking” site that I’m still on, but it is far from ideal, probably not safe for kids, for the easily offended, or the easily provoked. I don’t think I’ll even stay on Diaspora either since almost no one there shares my interests and the federation of content (as opposed to having it all on a centralized network) needs a lot more tweaking before Diaspora can really function as a viable “social network.” They do keep trying, but I think the main issue is more basic than the ones they keep re-trying and re-tweaking.

I don’t tweet, and I never will. I don’t “check in” on social media and I never will again. I like and I share and I comment, but I use the telephone, email, Internet message boards, and this blog to do that. Besides, in my experience, communication that isn’t done person-to-person is at high risk for misunderstanding, hurt feelings, drama, and other pointless, unnecessary headaches. That is what finally drove me off of Facebook, but all along there were other concerns that gnawed at me:

Privacy concerns: I’m not shy with my opinions, and I’m probably already on a dozen watch lists for my political, religious, and vocational views.


Permanency:
Nothing posted to facebook is ever deleted. There is a permanent record of every little thing I ever liked, posted, or commented on. Including some stuff I wish I could take back. An impossible fantasy on facebook. I still have a future to think about, too: Finishing college, getting a job, applying for loans… everything with my name on it is available on-line to potential employers, partners, professors, supervisors, fellow employees. And most of it is simply none of their business.

False friendship: People who never kept in touch for years suddenly appear and want “friendship” after having ignored me for years. Just – no. I don’t put up with that sort of phoney behavior from memebers of my own family! So why in heck would I put up with it from someone who has let himself become a stranger?

I am not for sale: Facebook is not free. No multinational corporation is simply giving away a product for people to use as they see fit. Facebook users are a commodity, to be sold to targeted advertisers. Your likes and dislikes, favorite things, and affiliations are valuable information which is gathered by Facebook and sold. It doesn’t make sense for me to give that valuable information away and let Mister Zuckerberg use it to line his own pockets and share none of the profit with me. I’m not a commodity to be bought and sold. This for me is an ethical issue, and I’m ashamed that I ever took part in it.


Big Brother is Watching:
I’m sorry if this sounds paranoid, but it isn’t only the NSA that has me nervous about sharing every little thing on “social” media. It’s all the other players in this global intelligence game as well. Members of the military are cautioned all the time about what they post to sites like Facebook. Enemies use posts from soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and their families to gain access to information which seems innocuous and harmless, but used cumulatively and coordination with other global cyber-sources can lead to disastrous consequences at home and overseas.

In the end it was “family drama” that finally got me to listen to my own conscience and close the door on Facebook. People who are accustomed to communicating only in memes and text messages can expect to be misunderstood, offended, scolded, and “unfriended” frequently. Real life relationships are becoming an endangered thing, and the simple skills needed to maintain good relationships are vanishing. I hope they will last beyond my own generation.


Birth, Life, and Death

January 22, 2015
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If you could talk to a baby still in the womb, you might tell her:

I can’t begin to describe the world that is waiting for you! Things you cannot even imagine, like colors, smells, touch, the unmuffled sounds of music! Everything you know in your present world is just preparing you for life in my world, and it’s wonderful! Pretty soon, baby, you will be pushed through a tunnel and enter this amazing new world, and we are very anxious to meet you, to hold you, to see you, and to have you see us as we really are. We are preparing a special place just for you, with your own crib and warm cozy clothes and pictures on the walls – oh, you can’t understand this description at all, but trust me, it’s wonderful. Your room is almost ready, and we can hardly wait for you to join us here in our world!

Hearing this, a baby who has only known the warmth and comfort and familiarity of her floating, liquid home with all it’s comfort and the sound of Mom’s heartbeat, might reply, if she could:

No, thank you! I am fine right where I am! I like my cozy little home, it’s great right where I am, I don’t want it to change. What’s a tunnel? What is color? What are taste and smell and touch? Please don’t frighten me, just let me stay here. It’s so nice and cozy, and I am content to live and float right where I am, beneath that beating rhythm and the embrace of this home.

But inevitably, birth comes. The painful squeeze through the tunnel, pushed against our will and thrust into a world of cold, warmth, light, color, sound, sensation, smell, and the taste of mother’s milk. And y’know what? It ain’t so bad after all! It’s amazing! Indescribable and constantly new! Only the transition through that tunnel was hard, but we quickly forget our former life in the womb because this new world is so totally awesome!

Now the preacher is describing life in the next world, and it’s as impossible for us to understand as it was for us to understand this world when we were still being prepared for it. He says,

I can’t begin to describe the world that is waiting for us! Things we cannot even imagine, not like colors, smells, touch, music, but much more! Everything you know in your present world is just preparing you for life in God’s world, and it’s wonderful! Pretty soon, baby, you will be pushed through a tunnel and enter this amazing new world, and your Lord and His saints are very anxious to meet you, to hold you, to see you, and to have you see Him as He really is. Christ is preparing a special place just for us. Oh, you can’t understand this description at all, but trust me, it’s going to be wonderful. Your room is almost ready, and Jesus is waiting for you to join Him in His world!

And as before, we might say,

No thank you! I am fine right where I am! I like my cozy little home here and I don’t want that to change. Please don’t frighten me, just let me stay here. It’s so nice and cozy, and I am content to live right where I am, in the embrace of my own body, my own house, my job, my family. Must I really leave all this? Please let me stay, even if just a little while longer.

Death is just like birth – for those who have been born again. But only for those who are twice-born! Those who have not been born of the Spirit, but only born once, of “water and of blood,” as the scripture says, cannot look forward as I do, to a wonderful world beyond the tunnel.

My wife’s mother has just made that journey through the tunnel to the invisible world, untouched by the pain of the disease which ushered her out of this earthly home to the next. I bet she couldn’t find words to describe the life she has begun there, but the closest we can come to words are described in God’s Book. We shall see Him as He is! We shall be like Him! No more tears, no more pain, no more sorrow, no more loss, no more fear.

But this new world, and a place in it prepared by Christ Himself, only awaits those who are twice-born. That is, born of the Spirit, as well as having been born physically into this present world with it’s mortality and decay and sorrow and pain. But this New Birth is from Above, not from within. It is not something we can work for, conjure up, earn, or create with our own efforts. Just as with our physical existence, it is entirely the work of Another, the Author of all things. Without His work, we have no hope in this world nor in the next. Are you twice-born? Are you being prepared for the tunnel and the entrance into everlasting life and light? Or will you face the justice of a holy God without an Advocate who gives His own birthright to those who trust in Him?

If you are not sure, find a copy of God’s Book and read the little Gospel of John. It is the story, in short form, of how God, the Author of all life and all creation, rescues a people for Himself from the fallen race of Adam. Those who have faith in Christ alone for safety from the Father’s terrible justice against sin can be born from Above! I am happy to answer questions in the Comments section below.


“The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven” Recants Story, Rebukes Christian Retailers

January 14, 2015
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Robin:

From his own pen, the Boy who did NOT Go to Heaven repudiates the story and urges readers to go to the Scriptures instead of purported “tour guides” of heaven.

Originally posted on :

download (3)

Lifeway has been selling The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven for many years now. It is part of the trifecta of books on “heavenly tourism” that Lifeway has sold and has promoted, along with 90 Minutes in Heaven and Heaven is for Real. The co-author of The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven – the boy himself – has written an open letter to Lifeway and admonished them for not holding to the sufficiency of Scripture, and has recanted his tale. For those who may not be familiar with of The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, the publisher’s description is as follows:

“In 2004, Kevin Malarkey and his six-year-old son, Alex, suffered an horrific car accident. The impact from the crash paralyzed Alex–and medically speaking, it was unlikely that he could survive. ‘I think Alex has gone to be with Jesus,’ a friend told the stricken dad. But…

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Confessionalism or Biblicism?

January 12, 2015
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Robin:

Why do creeds and confessions of faith matter? Especially to Baptists? What is the difference between “sola scriptura” and solO scriptura?” Consider the “faithful sayings, worthy of acceptance” that Paul refers to in his epistles to Timothy and Titus. These “faithful sayings” were the earliest CREEDS! And the Apostle Paul endorsed them as “worthy of acceptance.”

Confessionalism, particularly among Baptists, is constantly under attack. Now it seems that yet another “Reformed” theologian has subtly launched a fresh one. Read on:

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

mcGraw Ryan McGraw

As the New Year dawned, I was directed to a review of John Frame’s Systematic Theology by Ryan McGraw, a review which I quickly linked myself.

I would strongly urge anyone interested in Reformed and Reformed Baptist theology to give this review a close read. McGraw lays out may of the elements of Frame’s divergent thinking which are central to the ongoing debate over the Confession in Reformed Baptist circles, and he does so in a calm and reserved manner.

If I am too much of a rabble-rouser for you, please read McGraw. I can vouch for him; he has never roused any rabble. But can anyone read the following without applying the “dangerous” label to Frame?

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Who are #the15 ?

January 5, 2015
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Who are #the15 ?.


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