Friday, October 22, 2010

Homeschooling and the PCA

Recently, a PCA pastor wrote an article concerning the issue of homeschooling(You can view here What is so unusual about this is that a pastor from a usually calvinistic, conservative, evangelical
denomination is agruing for statism and government control. He strongly believes that the government should regulate homeschooling. Because government control destorys the family, this is not a good idea.

Tom Stein, the PCA pastor who wrote the article, argues that school administrators in the state of Indiana are cutting corners about their dropout rates by having failing students sign homeschool forms. Rather than blaming the officials, Stein puts blame on the homeschoolers. So the solution? Regulate homeschooling!

So, if government school is working so well becuase it is run by the government, why regulate homeschooling? Let us make one thing clear, the state should never be involved in education. Education belongs to the parents and the communities. Stein thinks seems to think that if failing students sign a form to homeschool, they will be unproductive and lazy people who will not make any contributions to soceity. According to a study called Progress Report 2009, the "results support the large existing body of research on homeschool academic achievement and show homeschoolers, on average, scoring 37 percentile points above public school students on standardized achievement tests."(
You think that a "a curriculum of potato chips and ESPN" is really what homeschoolers do? Think again. If the public school system continues to be a disaster as it has been, then the homeschoolers are the ones that are going to make the differences in our society.

But, you may argue, are homeschoolers social whimps? According to the study Homeschooling Grows Up, alot os homeschoolers are shown to be active in society more than the average U.S. Adult. It states "Seventy-one percent participate in an ongoing community service activity (e.g.,coaching a sports team, volunteering at a school, or working with a church or neighborhood association), compared to 37% of U.S. adults of similar ages." and "homeschool graduates work for candidates, contribute to
campaigns, and vote in much higher percentages than the general population of the United States." (Read this for yourself, don't just take my word for it As you can see, my prediction will that if America returns to its traditional values, it will be the homeschoolers that will be the determining factor. This year, a homeschool youth political activist group, Generation Joshua, is assembling a thousand man army to help get pro-life, pro-homeschooling, pro-traditional values condidates to get elected. This group has set up camps such as igovern to teach homeschooled students about how our government works. The leaders of this group(William Estrada, Joel Grewe, Jeremiah Lorrig, Michael Zeller) are the people with a passion and a vision for the next generation. So, if America comes back to the values it was founded upon, it will be decided upon by the homeschoolers of this country.

What really is the solution to Stein's problem of school admistrators having to classify drop-out students as homeschoolers? We should go after the administrators, not the homeschoolers! The problem is with the public school system! It is broken. I believe that federally run education should be abolished. The Department of Education must be abolished! No more government intrusion into every aspect of our lives!

In closing, the solution is not to have government control homeschooling. We need to solve the issues of what is going in the public school system. A Presbyterian pastors goes against Covenant theology and family government that most PCAers I know embrace.

Sovereign Grace Ministries Mission Presentation

2010 Sovereign Grace Missions Presentation Video from Riverside Christian Fellowship on Vimeo.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Myths concerning Sovereign Grace Ministries

Within the past couple of years, many stories have spread like wild fire thanks to the internet. Millions upon millions of articles can be accessed within a couple clicks of a mouse. Sadly, due to this fact, great lies and gossip can circulate rather quickly. The same is true with Sovereign Grace Ministries. Due to the vast popularity of just a few blogs, the organization led by C.J. Mahaney has been depicted to look like an organization that is not what it was meant to be. Here, we will, with the help of God, analyze some of the arguments brought up by those slandering SGM.

Does Sovereign Grace Ministries support Ezzo parenting?
Some time ago, there was a claim that a family was "involuntarily" released from membership from Covenant Fellowship Church in Glenn Mills, Pennsylvania(A suburb of Philadelphia)for not agreeing with the church's parenting philosophy. As far as I know, every Sovereign Grace Ministries pastor that I have interacted with does not agree with Ezzo parenting AT ALL! The church that I am at does not teach this method of parenting at all. We embrace more of the parenting of those critical of Ezzo such as Paul and Tedd Tripp. I believe there is another side to this story that we do not know about. But what I do know is that this claim is inconsistant with what I have been hearing from Sovereign Grace pastors; they do it believe nor teach Ezzo parenting.

Is Sovereign Grace Ministries hyper-episcopalian?
I have have seen this claim come up alot. Now, many people have the misconcept that Sovereign Grace Ministries is a group run from the top down with C.J. Mahaney as the "pope" and the apostolic leaders as "bishops." According the the booklet "understanding Sovereign Grace Ministries", the local churches are governed by the local pastors/elders.(You can access it here The sovereign grace churches take a presbyterian form of church government where each local church is governed by a body of elders. C.J. or the apostolic leaders do not have the final words concerning a decision on matters that pertain to that particular church. That is up to the elders of the church. Membership in a SG church is completely voluntary and any church can withdraw if it wanted to.

Does SGM strictly enforce homeschooling and courtship?
I heard this one at least once. No, they do not enforce homeschooling or courtship enspoused by Joshua Harris. I believe that it is up to the families, not the church, concerning those matter. In fact, Covenant Life Church has a regular school called the Covenant Life School. All three of C.J.'s daughters graduate from that school. At the church that I am at, I know people who are sending their children to public schools and aren't getting into trouble with the leadership.

In closing, the misconceptions of Sovereign Grace Ministries are great that they needed to be addressed. The time has come when the truth needs to be exposed against those who are covering it and hiding it. May God be glorified in the mist of all this!

Florida Healthcare Freedom

Throughout the United States, there has been lot of reaction against the healthcare reform legislation proposed by President Obama, House speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate majority leader Harry Reid. Many citizens have taken action by filing lawsuits against the federal government. On the other hand, many states are proposing legislation that bans certain aspect of Obamacare from becoming law in that particular state. Florida has joined the fight. A bill that is sponsored by state representative Scott Plankon and state senator Carey Baker, the Florida Healthcare Freedom Act has been struck down by activist justices on the Florida Supreme Court against the will of the citizens of Florida. Because healthcare freedom is necessary for a free society, it is important that this act be brought be up and enacted into law.

To start, the Florida Healthcare Freedom act is a bill that is sponsored by State Representative Scott Plankon(R-Longwood, FL) and State senator Carey Baker(R-Eustis, FL). It prohibits anyone from being forced to “participate in any health care system, permit person or employer to purchase lawful health care services directly from health care provider”1 In other words, it nullifies the part of the healthcare reform where it mandates Americans to purchase health insurance. In case you don’t know, nullification is Constitutional under the tenth Amendment. It states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The debate that is going on is whether a state has the right to nullify a law it deems to be unconstitutional. It is a modern day federalism versus anti-federalism debate. In September 2010, the Florida Supreme Court declared the Florida Healthcare Freedom Act unconstitutional and threw it off the ballot for the November 2010 elections. But there is hope, two of the Justices who voted against the bill, Jorge Labarga and James Perry, cannot take themselves off the ballot for elections. In Florida, citizens have the privilege of voting to determine whether the justices on the Florida Supreme Court can stay on the court. They are still appointed by the governor and approved by the state legislator, which is important that Republican Rick Scott, who is conservative on healthcare, is elected governor. If anyone in Florida was able to vote on something to make a difference, it can be the vote to remove Labarga and Perry.

Why is this bill important? This bill is a stand against the actions of an expanding federal government that is trying to impose its agenda on the American people. It seems that the goal of President Obama and liberals in our government is to control every aspect of American life as much as possible. Healthcare reform is not really about healthcare; it is about getting an agenda across and imposing it on the American people. The feds are more concerned about control and power rather than about healthcare. That sums why former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Our government officials are using the economic crisis that we are currently in and using as an opportunity to implement an anti-American agenda. The American people have awakened to realize these acts of tyranny are being imposed on them and they want to do something about it. Tea parties have been organized and rallies such as the 9-12 and 8-28 have occurred. The people have been aroused. In other words, the American people do not want government involved in their lives.

What can we do about? As citizens of Florida, we can help vote out Florida Supreme Court Justices Labarga and Perry. Since it is important to know that the governor appoints those on the court, it is important that the right governor gets elected too. The republican candidate Rick Scott, who once was president of the Columbia/HCA association of hospitals, is the ideal candidate for the job. He is very conservative on the issue of healthcare and opposes the agenda that the federal government is pushing upon us. If you are interested in helping out with the campaign, go to this link: What I recommend for you do is that you print you 250 of those flyers and distribute them throughout your neighborhood. Put them on the bulletin board of your local library or place them in your church. Do whatever it takes to spread the word. This is a word of mouth campaign. We need a full force in action.

In closing, the importance of having healthcare freedom is of paramount importance. The encroachment of the federal government on our lives is opposite to the principles that originally made our country great. The people have been awakened and it is time that we let our government officials know that we will not have their agenda shoved down our throats. Let us be the generation that will bring socialism and fascism to their deaths!

1.HJR 37, Florida Healthcare Freedom Act.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Learning Something

This was a letter written by James Alexander(1804-1859) who was a minister in the Presbyterian Church. The following is a letter written to his brother about learning. Something that is much needed today....


My dear brother,

You must not suppose, from what I said in my last letter, that the school is the only place where you can acquire knowledge. I would by no means have you to play all the time, which you are not employed at your tasks. There are a great many hours, especially in these long winter evenings, in which you may be filling your mind with something useful. For this purpose you should always have some instructive book at hand. Your parents have many such books, and are always glad to give you the use of them.

It makes me sorry to see that you read so much in mere story-books. Some of these, indeed, are useful, and they are liked by all young people. But most of them are foolish, if not injurious. Boys often become so fond of this sort of reading that they never look into anything but tales, stories and novels. And in this way they weaken their minds, and lose all the advantage they might gain from books of instruction.

Now, if you did but think about it—you would find out that there are works which are highly entertaining, at the same time that they are profitable. I mean books of history, voyages and travels, biography, natural history, and philosophy. If you were once to taste the pleasantness of these, you would soon throw away your story-books, which are mostly fit for the nursery.

But you cannot be always reading—and it is by no means necessary. There are many other ways of getting useful knowledge. The greater part of what you already know, you have learned from hearing your father and mother talking. If all they have told you should be written down, it would fill a multitude of volumes. And you remember this much better than if you had read it in a book. You ought, therefore, to learn something every day from your parents. They are always willing to teach you; and whenever you have any difficulty you should get them to explain it. There are a thousand things which they would be delighted to tell you, and which you would be profited to learn. Whenever you are sitting with them, try to get them to instruct you.

You may do the same thing with all your friends. If you are only modest and respectful, they will not consider you too inquisitive. All sensible people are gratified when they see that boys are desirous to learn. Make it a rule to learn something from everybody; for there is no one, high or low—who has not some knowledge which might do you good. For instance, you have friends in the school who come from different parts of the country. You may gain much information from them, by inquiring concerning the places where they live, and getting them to describe to you everything that is remarkable in their own neighborhoods. Even the tradesmen and mechanics can instruct you in many little matters relating to their own employments. It is a great advantage for a man to know something about every different trade and mechanical art—and you cannot learn this from books so well as from going into the workshops, and asking questions of the people who are at work. When they see that you really wish to be informed, they will he glad to answer all your inquiries. I would like you to know all the particulars about every kind of trade and industry.

And then, when you go into the country, it will make your excursions much more pleasant if you will take pains to learn from farmers everything about the cultivation of the earth. You must be sure to find out as much as you can about the different operations of agriculture; sowing, reaping, and the like; and about the productions of the land, the raising of cattle and sheep, and the ways of improving the soil. You will find that many farmers, who have not read as much as yourself, have a great treasure of knowledge and wisdom. Sometimes you will fall into the company of those who have traveled in foreign countries. This will give you a fine opportunity to learn from them all you wish to know about the parts of the world which they have visited.

And if you travel about in your vacations, you must keep your eyes open to everything that is remarkable, and learn all about the places through which you pass. In old times this was the principal way of acquiring knowledge. Instead of going to colleges and universities, the ancient Greeks used to travel for years together in Asia and Egypt, and other lands. This is the method which was pursued by Lycurgus, and Pythagoras, and Plato, and others of whom your histories tell you. When you go to a strange place, you must endeavor to find out about whatever is remarkable, and to make inquiries of all your friends.

Also, there are a great many common things which we see every day, that are very interesting. Many boys carry watches for months and years without knowing at all what it is that makes them go. Charles Harvey had a watch given to him the day he was fifteen years old. He was much pleased with the present—but could not feel satisfied until he went to the watchmaker, and got him to explain the inside of it. The watchmaker took the watch to pieces, and showed him all the works. He showed him the steel spring wound up in a coil, and let him see how it was constantly trying to unwind itself and get loose. Then he showed him the barrel to which the end of the spring is fastened, and how the working of the spring makes the barrel move round and round. He pointed out the chain which goes from the barrel to the great coil, and told him how one wheel moved another, until the hands were made to go around. But you cannot understand this by writing. If you ask a watchmaker, he will explain all these works to you in a few minutes.

Some boys are so careless that they make no inquiries, and never learn anything of value. I knew a boy who used to go to a mill every few days—but who never had the curiosity to ask how it was that the water falling on the great wheel could make the mill-stone turn round and round. Some lads will often own guns without ever finding out how the lock is formed, or how the trigger moves the other works, or how the gunpowder is made. I hope it will not be so with you—but that whenever you see any machine, you will not rest until you know all about it.

When you are next on board a steamboat, get someone to explain to you how the steam works. Inquire about the boiler, and the condenser, and the piston, and the valves.

Find out the way in which the pump in the yard raises the water, and what it is that makes the mercury rise and fall in the thermometer.

The great thing is to be always inquiring. Ask and you will learn. Learn something every hour. Remember the little story of “Eyes and no Eyes,” and read “Travels about Home.” Whenever you take a walk, you may be learning something. You ought to be able to tell the name of every kind of tree in the woods, either by the bark and leaves, or by the shape, and the way they look at a distance. You may easily find out the names of the principal plants and flowers which grow in the fields. It will be a shame if you grow up without knowing how to tell one bird from another, by their shape, their plumage, their song, or their manner of flying. When you come to look more sharply, you will discover a great many curious differences in the mosses and the ragged lichens which grow on the fences and stones, and look like mold.

This is the way to become a philosopher. A philosopher is a lover of wisdom. The reason why some men become philosophers is that they are always inquiring and learning something every hour. It was thus that Dr. Franklin became so celebrated, and discovered the nature of thunder and lightning, which no one knew before.

I have read also of poor shepherd’s boys who have become great philosophers in the same way.

If you are only determined to be learning something all the time, there is no doubt that you will be constantly improving. When your friends see this they will help you, and be glad to instruct you. They will put you in the way of making experiments for yourself, and will furnish you with books and instruments. Thus your very amusements will be full of profit. I am sure that you would find far more entertainment in trying experiments with a little electrical machine than in playing at ball or marbles. And at the same time you would be learning an important science. You might spend an hour or two in a printing office, learning the way in which books are made, and be much more amused than by running about the playground.

So you see that even when you are not in school, you may be constantly improving your mind. You cannot open your eyes anywhere without beholding something to inquire about; and the more inquiries you make, the more you will know. This makes one great difference between people—some are anxious to learn, while others do not care whether they learn or not. Be awake, my dear brother, and remember that time is short, and that you must give an account of the way in which you spend every moment. The greater your knowledge is, the more useful you may be to your fellow creatures.

Your affectionate brother,

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Way the World Thinks: Meeting the Natural Mind in the Mirror and in the Marketplace

The word “think” is central. Evangelicals are known as people who do things. But to our shame we are not largely known for thinking. So without apology, we are here to think about thinking.

By the time we enter adolescence, we are aware that it is possible to think about thinking. We ought to be a people that never get over thinking about thinking. This is a second-order discipline. It’s complex thinking, the kind of thinking required if we are to measure faithful thinking against unfaithful thinking.

How should we think about thinking as Christians? We must first recognize that there is a crucial distinction between the regenerate mind and the unregenerate mind. Also, we must understand the mind of the age, the mind around us, because we want to communicate the gospel well.

1) Understand the Difference Between the Regenerate and the Unregenerate Mind
We currently live in a postmodern age where some think that the claim to knowledge is merely a political statement. We need some biblical grounding. Let’s look at Romans 1:18-32.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

In the opening chapters of Romans, Paul is informing us that this is our story, a story of universal human sinfulness. Romans 1 is fascinating territory. Many evangelicals have turned to this chapter to understand the human predicament, but they typically focus on verses 18-32 to the neglect of verse 16. However, it is important to see that Paul begins his description of the problem with humanity by testifying that the gospel is the power of God (Romans 1:16).

Sinful humanity is involved in a conspiracy: we suppress the truth. We desperately need to know this about human beings, particularly because we don’t like to think of ourselves as suppressors of knowledge. We like to think of ourselves as questing for truth. But the reality is that we are about the project of suppressing the truth.

Paul goes on to say that we suppress the truth in unrighteousness. We are not only truth-deniers. We work out the suppressing conspiracy in a cloud of unrighteousness.

And we’re accountable. This knowledge crisis is not about what people do not know. It’s about what we will not know. The will is the great engine of the intellect. We not only behold truth in the outer world (the creation); we also behold truth in the inner world (our conscience). But our unrighteous wills can make our consciences do what we want them to do.

This suppression plays itself out in futile thinking: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” We don’t want to hear that. This futile thinking, then, leads to idolatry: we exchange the glory of God for the glory of the creature.

But that’s not the end. Three times in Romans 1 we see the phrase “gave over.” This is not about God giving empires over to destruction. The tense is in the past. God has given humanity over to futility. When did this happen? It happened in Genesis 3. In the fall of Adam and Eve we see the beginning of the great crisis of knowledge.

The consequences of the fall were enormous and immediate. First, there was death. Then there is the story of human depravity made clear in the early chapters of Genesis.

We often talk about the “noetic effects” of the fall. This refers to knowledge. There are intellectual consequences to sin. Calvin said there were three causes of the noetic effects of sin in our lives:

The fall itself.
Satan wishes to confuse our thinking.
God, for the protection of his own character, judges our minds in such a way that he gives us over to ignorance and falsehood, seen most clearly in idolatry.
What are the effects of the fall on our minds?

First, our reason is now opposed to God. The fallen will produces a fallen reason. This doesn’t mean that unbelievers know nothing. The reason is not destroyed. It is given over to sin. An unregenerate person can know that two plus two equals four. But when it comes to the fundamental issues of meaning, that is where our reason is most corrupted. The unregenerate mind sees the gospel as folly.

What are other effects of the fall?

Faulty perspective
Intellectual fatigue
Failure to draw the right conclusion
Intellectual apathy
Dogmatism / Closemindedness
Intellectual pride
Vain imagination
Partial knowledge
The list could go on, but the point is that all of this is tied to the will. The noetic effects of the fall are devastating. They operate on multiple levels.

2) Understand the Natural Mind
Evangelicals have begun using the word “worldview.” A worldview is a set of beliefs and principles and axioms of thought that allow us to make sense of the world. It is like gravity. We don’t think often about its presence. We simply assume it in our actions.

In understanding the natural mind, I want to speak about the natural mind we are most likely to meet. It is a secular mind. It’s not a fully secularized or irreligious mind, but it’s a secular mind. There are five precepts that govern this mind:

Postmodern anti-realism.
Selective moral relativism.
Therapeutic universalism.
Radical pluralism.
Managerial pragmatism.
Though the natural mind doesn’t change between Genesis 3 and Jesus’ return, it puts on new clothing. Here are several precepts important to understand this mind:

I am who I think I am.
I may do some bad things, but I am not a bad person.
Something is wrong, but it’s not my fault.
Something happened to me.
Morality is a good idea, but it’s relatively relative.
What goes around comes around.
There is not only one way of anything.
God is available as an explanation when needed.
God is available as a helper in case of emergency.
Science or technology will solve most problems.
I may need help, but I can negotiate the terms.
Most people are well-intended, but some people are just mean.
If we do not think about thinking, if we are not intellectual disciples of Jesus Christ, then we will find the natural mind staring us in the face. If we’re going to think rightly, we need to do at least three things:

Avail ourselves constantly of the Word of God.
Avail ourselves constantly of the life of the local church.
Depend constantly upon the corrective power of the Holy Spirit present in our lives to conform us to Scripture.
Keep thinking till Jesus comes.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Jonathan Rourke as CJ Mahaney

Book Review: Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis

Here is another interesting book. Socialism by economist Ludwig Von Mises is a classical masterpiece that is still relevent today. In this book, Von Mises critiques socialism not only in the economic arena, but how it affects every area of one's life. What I want to see is that you read the book for yourself... You can read it online at It will change your focus on how you view the crisis America is facing today and what we can do about.