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Thursday, 3 December 2015

To answer my own question, Yes: Josh Duggar is a Child Molester, it turns out.

Amazingly, it's getting on three months again since my last post. I'm working on getting started on the next one, but first I should update my readers on what I wrote about in this post.

When the news first broke in a big way about Josh Duggar's criminal past (it had been known to Duggar followers for years, just not in the detail that has now emerged), I took Josh's word for it that he was rehabilitated. But no--thanks to the Ashley Madison hackers--we now know that the pornography addiction that Josh picked up through his political activity as a teenager has kept a grip on him ever since, and he has gone so far as to act out his fantasies with a number of prostitutes. He may have gotten his start with his own sisters, but he has gone on to less accessible prey,  never having gained control over his sexual appetites.

Several questions arise. One, can a sexual predator EVER be cured? Josh Duggar stands as evidence that a professed cure can be anything but. He's been in private rehab since August, but will it take this time? One thing is for sure, no Christian advocacy agency has any business hiring him as an executive.

Another question: does severely limiting one's children's access to the Internet prepare then for the onslaught of temptation that they will face the minute they leave the house?

And, finally: can any family survive the glow of celebrity with their values intact? Many hoped that the Duggars would turn out to be an exception, but alas, we still wait. Perhaps the Bates were wiser to quit before fame took too strong a hold.

This story will not be going away, as the Duggars are either going to have to fork over a substantial settlement payment, or submit to discovery motions that will force them to bare their souls on the record.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Pearl Harbor Revisited

Well, it's been going on three months since my last post, and I'm still alive, so I'd better send out another one.

I wrote this almost exactly one year before 9/11; before I had a blog.

At six in the morning of December Seventh, Nineteen Forty One, Hawaii Time, A Japanese Naval Task force of six aircraft carriers and their support craft reached a point two hundred miles north of the Hawaiian island of Oahu. As the first faint light of dawn gleamed in the eastern sky, forty-three fighter planes took to the air. These were followed by one hundred and forty bombers, many of them equipped with a secret new torpedo that was capable of operating in shallow water. Their target was the United States Pacific Fleet, which was at the moment lying at anchor in Pearl Harbor. It was Sunday, and most of the Fleet’s sailors were still asleep. It had been a busy week of one battle-preparedness drill after another, for war with Japan was considered to be just around the corner, and the fleet wanted to be ready for war when it came. It would come much sooner than any of them thought.
At six in the morning in Hawaii, it was 11:30 in the American capital, and after months of frenzied peace talks with the Japanese government, official Washington was strangely silent. The Chief of Staff of the United States Army had just returned from his usual Sunday morning horseback ride. Waiting for him in his office was an intercepted Japanese radio message instructing the Japanese diplomatic delegation that the peace talks were to be permanently broken off as of one p.m. Washington time. The message followed an earlier warning that had come in the week before, warning the Japanese embassy to destroy their code machines and stand by for a complete end to diplomatic relations. When this message was relayed to the Present of the United States on the evening of December Sixth, his response was to say: “This means war.” It was time to alert the Armed Forces in Hawaii and the Philippines to expect an imminent attack.

Back in Hawaii, as the sun came up over the eastern islands, the destroyer Ward detected an unidentified vessel in a secured area and implemented the shoot-on-sight orders that had recently been handed down. The dull thud of an underwater explosion lifted a tiny submarine to the surface of the water. It was obviously not American, and it had been right at the entrance of the Pearl Harbor Naval Base. Word reached the Admiral in Command of the Pacific Fleet that someone was attacking the base, and he hurried to get dressed. Forty-five minutes earlier, back in Washington, the top Commander of the Naval Forces had reached for the telephone to notify Hawaii that war would probably break out within hours, but changed his mind and telephoned the White House instead. At ten forty-five on a Sunday morning, the President’s phone line was busy. The top Army commander and the top Navy commander held a hasty conference, and rather that using official channels, they decided to send a warning message to their field commanders in Hawaii by Western Union Telegram. The telegram made its way across the US to a station in San Francisco, where it was relayed on through another telegraph company to their office in Honolulu. It was handed to a motorcycle-riding delivery boy who set off with the coded message just as a hundred and forty Japanese planes began to fill the sky over Oahu. It was five minutes to eight in Hawaii, and 1:25 in Washington. Two Japanese diplomats were on their way to a 2 p.m. meeting with the American Secretary of State. In their briefcases were copies of the message that had been intercepted by American Military Intelligence a day and a half earlier. Within hours the whole world would know what only a handful could now predict with certainty: The Unites States was at war.

Who was to blame for the two thousand and three sailors, two hundred and eighteen soldiers, one hundred and nine Marines, and sixty-eight civilians killed that fateful morning in Hawaii? Was it the Army and Navy commanders on the ground, who were relieved of their posts and spent the rest of the war fighting to clear their records of unspecified charges? Was it their supervisors in Washington, who right up to the minute of the attack refused to grant them access to the intercepted Japanese radio messages that caused so much alarm in Washington? Was it the president himself, who, while campaigning for an unprecedented third term in office, had assured audiences all over America that he would never, never, never, involve their sons in a foreign war? Who had, since 1939, been carrying out secret negotiations with Winston Churchill as to the conduct of a future war with Germany? Who, in the months leading up to Pearl Harbor, ordered his forces to share all intercepted intelligence information with the British--including information that was denied to his own commanders in Hawaii? Who had ordered, on July 26, that all Japanese assets in America be frozen, an order that everyone involved agreed amounted to an act of war? Who, as the Japanese attack force was secretly steaming east from its base north of Japan, gave orders to the Census Bureau to hand over a list of all the Japanese people in America?

The former commander of the Pacific Fleet, whom the President had dismissed from command at the beginning of 1941 for insisting that to base all of the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor was to invite a Japanese surprise attack, put it this way to an investigator:

Assume you were the leader of the greatest nation in the world, and assume that you saw, in another hemisphere, the development of a power which you regarded as a threat to Western civilization as you knew it. Supposing, however, that for various reasons, your conception of the danger was not shared by your own people. Assume you saw that the only salvation of Western civilization was to repel this particular power, but that would require you to enter a foreign war for which your people were not psychologically or militarily prepared. Assume that what was needed to galvanize your own people for a unified approach towards this basic danger to civilization was an incident in which your posture was clearly of passive non-aggression and apparent unpreparedness; and the incident in question was a direct act of aggression which had no excuse or justification. Assume that you saw this potentiality developing on the horizon and it was the solution to the dilemma, as you saw it, of saving civilization and galvanizing your own people. It is conceivable, is it not, that you’d want to be sure that whatever the incident, it happened under circumstances where it was perfectly clear that you were not the aggressor, and the resulting incident galvanized your own people to a realization of the terrible threat which they faced from this totalitarian force. 
 
  What difference does it make to us who was responsible for involving our country in a war which we would have all repudiated? Who really cares, fifty-nine years later, that our nation was deceived into entering a war, a war that cost millions of human lives, by a coldhearted administration that made a calculated choice to act dishonorably in what they perceived to be the best interests of the nation and, ultimately, the entire world? 

Who really cares? I do--not because 10 years ago I stood over the hulk of the USS Arizona where it still lies at the bottom of Pearl Harbor and watched streaks of oil still bubbling up from the watery tomb where half the victims of that attack still lie buried. I care, not because I stood in the Arizona Memorial Visitors Center and listened to a tour guide go through a carefully prepared explanation of that attack, which had been modified to avoid offending the Japanese tourists who stood next to me. I care, not for reasons having anything to do with the fact that I was involved against my will in a war that could have easily been avoided. I care. The war brought about by the attack on Pearl Harbor is long since over; its survivors have by now mostly died; there are few left who still carry in their memories the horrors of that Sunday morning. Wars have come and gone since that time with enough horrors of their own. The full details of all the events leading up to Pearl Harbor will never be fully known. So what does it matter if someone in high places deliberately provoked that attack, suppressing both information that could have prevented it, and information about the attempt to let it take place?

Truth matters. The truth really does matter. What really happened really did happen, and no amount of lies, half-truths, deceptions, and cover-ups take away from that fact. I cannot stand before you today and say that the attack on Pearl Harbor came as a surprise to the highest officials in the US Government any more than I can say that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was a plot hatched by his followers to gain public sympathy for his teachings. Regardless of what people have been told, regardless of what facts have been manipulated or suppressed, regardless of what the majority of the people believe, the truth is still true. The truth will always stand up to scrutiny. The truth will always bear up under investigation. The truth will always come out, because the truth is what really happened, and no one can ever change that, no matter how much they might wish to. You don’t even have to believe the truth to make it true--it just is.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Invisible Angels

I earlier wrote about a documented characteristic of the appearance of angels: they are so bright, it can be hard to look at them. On the other hand, it's also documented that angels can look quite ordinary. There are examples both in the Bible and from anecdotes of both. In this post, I'll address an interesting quality of incognito angels: it appears they can't be photographed.

I got to thinking about this recently when reading the original version of Dracula by Bram Stoker, which brought the term 'vampire' into colloquial English. Among the characteristics of a vampire described in Dracula (and apparently original to Stoker) was an inability to cast a reflection in a mirror. In other words, the phenomenon of seeing a vampire was not due to the physical reflection of light off its corporeal body, but some independent effect on the eye or visual cortex. Such appears to be the case with all visible angels, whether they be elect or fallen.

I base this on the testimony of a friend of mine, returned from a mission trip to northern Ghana. While there--he reported--during a church service, he spotted a dove in the rafters of the church; something not all that uncommon in Ghana. But when he attempted to snap a photo of it on his digital camera, all he could see in the viewer were the empty rafters. Looking directly, he could see the dove; looking at the camera, he couldn't. He snapped a photo anyways, which he showed us upon his return. It showed the rafters, but where the dove would have been the picture was totally washed out, as if hit by an intense beam of light.

I ran across another apparent example of an angel visible to the eye as an ordinary man, but incapable of being captured in a photograph:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865584511/Unknown-angel-priest-prays-with-19-year-old-at-accident-scene.html?pg=all

The priest's image did not show up in a single one of some 70 photos of the crash site. But it turned out he wasn't actually an angel, after all according to a man who admits to having been the mystery priest:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/12/father-patrick-dowling-angel-priest-_n_3746077.html?1376357440

So be careful about stories like this. I trust my friend's testimony, and saw the washed-out digital photo. But I wonder how many other stories like the 'mystery priest' end up being more than they actually were. Some level of science has been brought to bear on investigating this pheonomenon, but it has been roundly criticized for not being rigourous.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Indiana Revival Report - Day 182

It's been six months since Time To Revive first came in force to Indiana. It must be said with some amazement that they haven't left yet. The original six days in Goshen were extended to 52, then another week after a month of rest. This was followed in quick succession by a week in Kokomo, then a week in Bloomington, a week in South Bend, two weeks in the Valparaiso-Gary-Hobart area, and a week in Terre Haute. Finally, a week in Fort Wayne. Each city was followed by a week off, to give the team time to prepare for its next city.

Because every Revive Indiana city was within a 2 hour drive of a previous location, there was a growing army of Revive veterans from each city helping to jump-start the outreach in the next city, or the one after. An array of red T-shirts were designed with the logo of a respective city on the front, all with a map of Indiana on the back, with the "seven rays" design from the state flag superimposed.

Things were supposed to have wound down last week in Fort Wayne, but it didn't happen. From the first day to the last, turnout for the morning and afternoon outreaches was strong and steady. Reports soon came out of people being healed, both in the meetings and on the streets. Over thirty churches got behind the movement in a massive display of unity, and it became clear by the middle of the week that this outpouring was a repeat of Elkhart County half a year earlier. Sure enough, Revive Indiana (Ft Wayne) has been extended through this week. [UPDATE: it's been extended yet another week.]

First Assembly's Senior Pastor Ron Hawkins wasn't eager to get on board when it was first suggested that his church building would be the ideal place for Revive Ft. Wayne to meet. He'd been heavily involved in a general revival that had swept Ft. Wayne 20 years earlier, and wasn't interested in any other than the real thing. These were the five characteristics of revival that he was looking for before he'd get involved. And yes, once he found out that they were all characteristics of Revive Indiana, he jumped on board.

1. God said, I will pour out My Spirit in greater measure in the last days.
2. It will be more in the street than in the building.
3. It will be when "all the brothers are in the house."
4. There will be signs and wonders that rival those in the New Testament.
5. It will not be about a man, a ministry, or a manifestation; it will be about Jesus.

I've written about the lack of impact this revival has appeared to have, for example, on the local crime rate in Elkhart. But that seems to be changing; last night's testimonies included a report of a potential reprisal murder miraculously stopped, and the would-be murderer was there in the meeting to attest to his change of heart--and life.

I'm thinking that the Holy Spirit has a lot more to work with in the Black community--perhaps more on that later.

Monday, 29 June 2015

In which twelve people display a little-known and seldom-seen Christian virtue

[You can begin a chain of linked articles on this topic by clicking here.]

There's something striking about the Charleston Massacre that's not, to my knowledge, yet been commented on. According to news reports a week in (early reports of tragedy always being overturned by later ones), on June 17, 2015, a young man named Dylann Roof joined a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. The twelve others present at the Bible study welcomed him, although he had apparently never been seen by any of them before.

What they didn't know was that Dylann had come with one purpose in mind, and that was to kill them--evidently in hopes of starting a race war. What happened was probably different than anyone would have expected, because when he pulled out a .45 pistol and started shooting, none of the twelve resisted him. Rather than a war, it was nothing but a massacre, and when the shooting stopped, nine more martyrs had joined the celestial ranks.

What's unusual about this is that Methodists aren't known for non-resistance. Yes, several Methodists were persecuted for refusing to take up arms against England during the Revolution, but that was probably more due to their loyalist sentiments than their adherence to any biblical doctrine. Yes, the senior pastor of the church, as a South Carolina state senator, had voted for gun control and had even banned guns from his church--but gun control, far from being about the elimination of firearms, is all about the concentration of firearms in the hands of law enforcement, denying them to everyone else but criminals.

Yet for all their lack of theological reasons for doing so, all twelve victims practiced the primeval Christian response to violence: they didn't fight back. Some even jumped in front of the gun, like the girls did in the Nickel Mines shooting, to take a bullet for their friends.

So confused was Dylann by this turn of events that he forgot to count his bullets, and, after reloading twice, failed to save the last one for himself. He put the gun up against his head and pulled the trigger on an empty chamber. Not having had an escape plan, he fled in disarray and was easily captured the next day.

So, in taking all 15 of his bullets, the congregants at Mother Emanuel saved one more life: that of their killer. There's no other explanation for this, other than that non-resistance, and loving one's enemies to the point of laying down one's life for them, is an inherent Christian virtue.

This was reinforced at Dylann's bond hearing, where the survivors were unanimous in offering him not hate or acrimony, but love and forgiveness. In short, the Methodists of Mother Emanuel acted like Christians.

All hail the martyrs of Mother Emanuel. All hail the Christian virtue of non-resistance.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Nickel and pencing us to death

I was in the store the other day where the cashier had run out of pennies, and was giving out change in nickels to the person ahead of me at the checkout. I pointed out that there were plenty of pennies (and a few coins of a more valuable denomination) in the 'penny jar' which is often found at the checkout counters of small stores. But the cashier wouldn't touch those pennies; apparently using them for any other purpose than providing a cash-strapped customer with access to free pennies needed to complete a purchase is culturally unacceptable. I intended to put a few of those pennies, and maybe even some of the larger denominations, to that very purpose--but as my purchase was being rung up, another store employee returned from a run to the bank, rolls of pennies in hand. I'm sure that bank run cost more than the store saved that day by giving out exact change (an inevitable result of ending all of their prices, already plenty low enough, with the digit 9).

It's been quite some years since I wrote on the upcoming demise of the American penny, and word out now is that not only the penny, but also the nickel, costs more than its face value. Yet the US Mint continues to churn them out, despite my prediction that the Obama administration would see an end to the penny. Well, in the meantime, Canada's penny, which is worth even less than America's, and produced of even cheaper metal, has in fact been pulled from distribution.

So what happens next? If the nickel and penny alike are too expensive to produce--as well as being worth less than a twentieth of what they were a century ago--the next logical step is remonetizing our currency down to the next order of magnitude; perhaps in conjunction with putting the visage of a woman on the new $10 bill.

That's probably the only way it would happen overnight.

Monday, 15 June 2015

A review of Doug Kutilek’s article on Christian Pacifism and Non-Resistance

I have earlier reviewed Peter Hammond’s take on this question; Doug Kutilek has, I believe, a more balanced approach, but it remains to be seen how it will fare under my scrutiny. I earlier reviewed an article by Doug Kutilek here. This article was printed in his most recent issue of As I See It, which has yet to go online at kjvonly.org. In fact, none of last year's issues have yet been put online, so don't hold your breath. But a copy of the article can presently be seen here.

From a quick glance at the title, one would naturally conclude that Mr. Kutilek knows the difference between Pacifism and Non-Resistance. Alas, he treats them merely as half-segments of a longer phrase, without distinguishing the two. All he distinguishes is between the Old Testament teaching on retributive violence, and that of the New Testament. The only question he sets out to answer is, do the OT laws still apply?

He doesn’t get off to a very good start—citing James 5:7 when he actually has verse six in mind. Verse six talks about the (presumably poor) righteous man being oppressed by the evil rich man, and not resisting him. Aha—this takes us at once back to our previous review of Mr. Kutilek, when he attempted to prove that Psalm 12: 6 was not, as many suppose, referring to God protecting His Word, but rather to God protecting, as verse five of that psalm indicates, the poor who are being oppressed—presumably by the evil rich. Now, if Mr. Kutilek won’t link his exegesis of Psalm twelve with that of James five, then we shall. Here we have two verses—one in the Old Testament, and one in the New—which both appear to reference an oppressed poor person crying out to God for protection from his rich oppressor. Yet God’s approach in the Old Testament is not to provoke the poor man to violence, but to promise to protect him. If God would do this in the old dispensation, how much more so in the new?

Indeed, Doug Kutilek does find harmony between the testaments. He quotes Jesus quoting Exodus 22 to show that the Old Testament model was intended not to encourage retaliation, but to curtail it. He quotes Romans 12:20-21 as encouragement to love and be kind to our enemies. So far, he’s right in step with the doctrine of non-resistance. But this is as far as he is willing to carry it; his criterion for deciding whether to submit to one’s persecutors, or to take up violence against them, seems to be strictly utilitarian, and consists of lovingly submitting to persecution only if hopelessly outnumbered—as Israel was under the Romans, who could compel any able-bodied man to carry their rucksacks a mile. Thus, Jesus’ admonition to his outarmed and outnumbered disciples not to resist his arrest.

Now, it is significant that Doug’s son served as an infantry commander in the American forces occupying Afghanistan, and often found himself enforcing US foreign policy through the barrel of a gun, until he was himself disabled by a bullet to the leg. Bear that in mind when Doug writes, “Jesus’ words, “All who take the sword will perish by the sword,” . . . seems[sic] to address specifically those who as a matter of course resort to violence to force their will on others (robbers, gangs, bandits, and the like)." It would appear that the Kutileks exegete Jesus’ words to apply only to those who take up arms for their own personal benefit, rather than for the elusive benefits of a state.

As in the case of former South African Army commando Peter Hammond, we see that the author has a personal stake in parting ways with the non-resisters once the rubber meets the road. Should he accept Jesus’ words at face value, he condemns his own son as a murderer. Or does he? At this point in his essay he attempts to turn the tables on the non-resistors, to show their position as beset with hypocrisy: “Some pacifists and ‘non-resisters’ would insist that Jesus’ words are plain: ‘Do not resist an evil person,’ (Matthew 5:39), which they would take to mean at all times and under all circumstances, that is, we should never defend ourselves with physical force, weapons, etc. no matter what. However, if they really took literally and at face value the admonition (v. 39)--‘Do not resist an evil person,’ then they would never lock their houses or cars, remove their car keys from the ignition switch, or conceal their bank ATM password. And of course they do not do these things. They do resist evil persons’ in matters involving property crimes. And if one may legitimately resist evil in matters of property, how much more may one resist evil when threatened in one’s health, well-being, safety and life?” 

First of all, Mr. Kutilek is committing a exegetical fallacy here, by ignoring other biblical uses of the same word. The word translated ‘resist’ in Matthew 5 is anqisthmi, which is translated as ‘withstand’ in Ephesians 6:13 (KJV): “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day.” Clearly God wants His people to resist evil on the spiritual and moral planes; concealing one’s house or car keys—or bank codes—is resisting evil; not physically, through threat of violence, but by avoiding what is called in legal terms “an attractive nuisance,” to avoid placing temptation in the way of an evil person, easily drawn away by his own lusts (James 1:14). 

Now it is that Mr. Kutilek shows his ignorance of the crucial difference between pacifism—which rejects the biblical authority of a government to wield the sword—and non-resistance, which affirms it. The question then raised is, could it be right for a Christian to participate in the sword-wielding activities of the government (as did Peter Hammond and Captain Kutilek)? Doug naturally says “yes,” and points to several biblical examples in his defense. Alas, neither the soldiers who questioned John, nor Cornelius, are ever depicted as doing anything militant. Nor was the centurion of Galilee, in whom Christ found such faith. Significantly, the only soldiers mentioned in the New Testament as doing anything that involved the use of arms were those charged with hunting down and killing the Christ Child, those involved in his arrest and execution, and those who guarded Paul the Apostle following his arrest. If being commended for one’s faith justifies one’s normal occupation, then the soldiers mentioned in Matthew 27:54, who, as Luke records, “glorified God,” justified their occupation of crucifying an innocent man, whilst gambling over his possessions. Would Doug Kutilek commend his son for doing that?

Mr. Kutilek takes another exegetical leap in his last point, “There are times when threats and violence are imposed on us unprovoked, and in such cases we are not required to be “at peace with all men” (in reference to Romans 12:18). Of course it is not required of us—we cannot be at peace with anyone who is unwilling to be at peace with us. Paul’s entreaty here simply means that, insofar as the peacefulness is ours to bring about, we should do so. We can’t be held responsible for a war which someone else declares. But neither do we have any biblical responsibility to fight back. On the contrary, Scripture insists that we should leave that up to God, either through His direct agency, or through His ordained ministers who bear the sword not in vain. And, failing that, we must joyfully submit to any persecution suffered for His Name’s sake, with an attitude of love for our persecutors. To fight back bodily against such persecution—or even to participate as one of those ordained ministers in wielding the sword against evil—is neither commanded, nor ever commended, on the pages of the New Testament.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The Duggar Scandal--What Next?

First of all, let me say that one of the things that most concerns me about this whole Duggar scandal is how it is polarizing the Christian community over 'what should have been.' "There's no use crying over spilt milk" is a very old saying, and as hard to implement as ever, but we need to keep in mind that this is NOT a current situation. We all agree that what Josh did was bad, and that it is good that he stopped doing it. If there's anything else we disagree on, we ought to be able to keep the Duggars out of it.

Secondly, I see people flocking to the position that the government has a role to play in keeping boys from falling into sin. That has NEVER been a responsibility of the government, and ESPECIALLY should not be a responsibility now that our government has itself undergone such moral decay. Do these people realize what they are suggesting when they say that the Duggars should have turned Josh over to the government as soon as they realized he was failing morally? A government that applauds homosexual experimentation, even among teenagers? A government that promotes public obscenity under the guise of supporting the arts? Remember, it was Lisa Miller's government-approved counselor who urged her to try homosexuality, driving her into the arms of the very woman who poured all her energies into stealing the heart, soul, and body of her only daughter.

Saying that only the government, and not anyone else, can be trusted to handle a problem is to give up on ever solving it, because the government is just people, and if people outside the government.can't be trusted, then neither can people inside the government. Such trust is guaranteed to be violated, on the principle that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Okay, on to the questions.

1. Is what Josh did really all that uncommon?

No. Talking about it is uncommon, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. What happened to Josh's sisters happened to my sisters, to my wife, and to her daughters. In other words, to an overwhelming majority of the women who are in a position to have disclosed it. Read any woman's biography who is open about the abuse she received as a child, and it's there. Attend any women's conference that dares to open that can of worms, and it's there. Boys have an extremely powerful urge to fondle girls, and no one has yet found a way to eliminate that urge in such a way as to leave those boys capable of becoming fathers of their own girls later on.

2. Was the approach the Duggars took effective?

Their first attempts weren't, but when the abuse continued, they ramped up the treatment. Josh finally had to be removed from the home entirely, with intensive counseling and mentoring, before he got his passions under control. But it did work. Everybody who has any standing to comment on the question agrees that Josh is cured. That they did it without government intervention is commendable, given the total lack of success of any government program at curing pedophilia.

3. What can be done to keep boys from molesting their little sisters?

Ah, there is the rub. By now, everything has been tried at least once. If any approach has been proven to work 100% of the time, I haven't heard it. But I do suspect that the fact that the little Duggar girls are never seen without pants on under their dresses is part of the Duggars' post-tragedy strategy, and is in line with the recommendations of Myron Horst.

4. What good could still come out of this disaster?

I believe that until you can name an enemy, you cannot defeat it. I hope that out of this, parents will be much more open about telling their sons to keep their hands out of their daughter's pants, and much more cautious about allowing their daughters to sleep in the presence of their brothers. I hope that the conspiracy of silence that has long fed the monster of child sexual abuse by family members will be broken for good.

5. What BAD could still come out of this disaster?

A lot. I won't predict it, lest I give out any ideas, but I have my concerns. I will express one concern, and that is that pundits are proclaiming that Josh's sisters had NO RIGHT to forgive him for what he did to them. Anyone too young to give sexual consent, goes the expressed thinking, is not yet mature enough to grant forgiveness. That idea is totally inconsistent with Christianity, and if it prevails, countless lives will be condemned to ruin that could have otherwise been redeemed.

Please remember: This is not about protecting abusers, or covering up ongoing abuse. It's about learning how to prevent abuse in the first place, and to protect its victims from having to experience the trauma all over again, when what was hidden comes to light. The way this has played out so far in the headlines has done no one any good. If any redemption comes out of it, it is probably going to have to happen through the Duggar girls themselves. May God give them strength.

UPDATE: Yes, it's happening. Bravo, girls.


Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Is Josh Duggar a child molester? Are his parents guilty of a cover-up?

As I wrote earlier, this is not a gossip blog. Yet from time to time a child molestation scandal breaks into the news, and I am compelled to address it. This is one of those times.

On May 22, 2015, The Learning Channel pulled '19 Kids & Counting' from its Tuesday evening lineup on cable television. The reason for this arose directly from the outrage expressed over the revelation the previous day that Josh, the oldest of the Duggar children, had been investigated in 2006 for 'forcible fondling' of his younger sisters when he was 13-14 years old. Exactly what the girls accused him of was putting his hand under their clothing and feeling their 'chest and privates' while they were sleeping. Since the 2-year statute of limitations under Arkansas law had already passed, no charges were ever filed, but the day the news broke, Josh resigned his position as Executive Director of the Family Research Council, and published a second apology for his wrongdoing:
"Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption."
 His wife Anna stated:
"I can imagine the shock many of you are going through reading this. I remember feeling that same shock. It was not at the point of engagement, or after we were married - it was two years before Josh asked me to marry him. When my family and I first visited the Duggar Home, Josh shared his past teenage mistakes. I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn't know why he was sharing it. For Josh he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was -- even every difficult past mistakes[sic]. At that point and over the next two years, Josh shared how the counseling he received changed his life as he continued to do what he was taught. And when you, our sweet fans, first met me when Josh asked me to marry him...[ellipses in original] I was able to say, "Yes" knowing who Josh really is - someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended. Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right. I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis. Your investment changed his life from going down the wrong path to doing what is right. If it weren't for your help I would not be here as his wife — celebrating 6 1/2 years of marriage to a man who knows how to be a gentleman and treat a girl right. Thank you to all of you who tirelessly work with children in crisis, you are changing lives and I am forever grateful for all of you."
 and his parents chimed in as well:
"Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before. Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles everyday. It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us — even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey — the good times and the difficult times — cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything."
 Now, the real story of what happened is found in the words I have highlighted. A boy fell into sexual bondage, resulting in the molestation of five innocent girls. His alarmed parents took control of the situation and led him to freedom. Once caught, he actively sought release from the bondage and made no attempt to hide his past when he met the woman he decided to marry. By 2006, everybody involved in the abuse was over it, beyond it, not suffering any lingering pain from it--until now.

When we ask if it was wrong for the Duggars to 'cover up' this story (i.e., not to make it a part of their official biographies), we should also be asking if it was okay for In Touch Weekly to dig it back up. After all, Oprah Winfrey's production company, which reported the abuse in the first place, has sat on it for nine years--why couldn't everybody else?  All the trauma which both the victims and the perpetrator are going through right now comes directly as a result of this public shaming undertaken by ITW. The victims are being victimized all over again, and I must say that this comes as a delight to those who hate abuser and abused alike for their stand against fornication.

Are the Duggars hypocrites? Absolutely not, if hypocrisy is denouncing something in public while practicing it in private. There have been plenty enough of those exposed lately, but their punishment for being found out-- often in flagrante delicto--is typically no worse than what is now being foisted upon the Duggar family, abused and abuser alike: the loss of their celebrity careers.  And it disgusts me that ITW and their sycophants are largely getting away with it. It's Bash The Duggars Day, every day, and everyone gets a turn with the stick. Well, not everyone. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee had this to say:
Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, 'inexcusable,' but that doesn’t mean 'unforgivable.' He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things. The reason that the law protects disclosure of many actions on the part of a minor is that the society has traditionally understood something that today’s blood-thirsty media does not understand—that being a minor means that one's judgement is not mature. No one needs to defend Josh’s actions as a teenager, but the fact that he confessed his sins to those he harmed, sought help, and has gone forward to live a responsible and circumspect life as an adult is testament to his family’s authenticity and humility. Those who have enjoyed revealing this long ago sins in order to discredit the Duggar family have actually revealed their own insensitive bloodthirst, for there was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed—not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims. Janet and I love Jim Bob and Michelle and their entire family. They are no more perfect a family than any family, but their Christian witness is not marred in our eyes because following Christ is not a declaration of our perfection, but of HIS perfection. It is precisely because we are all sinners that we need His grace and His forgiveness. We have been blessed to receive God’s love and we would do no less than to extend our love and support for our friends. In fact, it is such times as this, when real friends show up and stand up. Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends. Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support.

So, the answer to the questions posed in the title of this post is "NO." But now that the cat is out of the bag, what next? Well, for one thing, an Arkansas judge has employed the classic "close the barn door" move of expunging the records that have already been released. Now THAT would have been a cover-up, had it been done in the previous decade. And it still would have been justified, for all the same reasons.

In the next post, I'll address another whole set of questions:
"Is what Josh did really all that uncommon?"
"Was the approach the Duggars took effective?
"What can be done to keep boys from molesting their little sisters?"
"What good could still come out of this disaster?"

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Revival Now--but what follows?

“It is a delicate matter, to write up revival!” wrote Dr. Joe Church, who, by his own account, seeded the East Africa Revival in 1929 by studying the Scofield Reference Bible with Simeon Nsibambi in Kampala, Uganda. Full revival was then launched from Gahini, Rwanda in the early 1930's as preachers fanned out with the message of repentance unto salvation.

Nay, counter the Ugandan Anglicans. The Balokole Revival started there in 1922, and spread to Rwanda from there in the late 1930's--and it was in spite of, rather than due to, Joe Church and his associates, who objected to their revival being taken over by unruly natives.

And an unruly revival it did become. As the Balokole threw aside both Anglican liturgical ceremonies and the animistic syncretism that had crept into them, they had to contend with a rash of new hyperspiritual fads, such as meeting naked (to demonstrate a complete freedom from lustful desires), ecstatic utterances (which had actually begun in 1916 in the Uriya Forest, and 1912 among the Luo), and dramatic physical signs such as collapsing, hyperventilating, quaking, grunting, shrieking, and thrashing--behaviour usually associated in those climes with demon possession. Muslim evangelists produced similar manifestations in their disciples, but without the public prayer and confession of sins that characterized the Anglican revival.

So, like revivals tend to be, it was messy. Yet it swept across East Africa for decades until it finally burned out in the 1950's. Lasting legacies of the East Africa Revival are numerous indigenous religious movements, still outside the mainstream of Christianity. And although Rwanda and Burundi remained over 90% professing Christian, what good did that do in the decades that followed, when both nations reeled under one genocidal bloodbath after another, that cost upwards of a million lives?

Be careful what you pray for, as you may just get it--and its typical aftermath. It's difficult to see how the countries at the epicenter of the East Africa Revival--Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi--could be any worse off now, had revival never swept their land.


Monday, 11 May 2015

The end of "Women and Children First?"

"Women and Children First!" was the cry as the SS Titanic began to slip beneath the waves of the North Atlantic over one hundred years ago. The policy was such an ironclad element of European culture that some men reportedly survived only by passing as women, and one of the richest men in the world went down with the ship rather than taking a woman's place.

That ethos still survives, but barely. In a fire aboard an Adriatic ferry just last year, causing the death of ten passengers in the mayhem which followed, one survivor complained, "They didn't take into consideration the women or the children, nothing." Another, who was rescued along with her 2-year-old daughter, told the Associated Press, "They called first on women and children to be evacuated from the ship."  So while officially the rule still applies, apparently there are fewer Europeans willing to implement it.

Yet in the aftermath of the Katmandu earthquake last month, there was some consideration given to women and children--along with the elderly of both sexes, in the first few flights out from the damaged airport.
This can be traced to the Nepali culture having more regard for actual disability than sex. The World Bank reported:
The Nepal Motor Vehicle and Transport Management Act requires all public transport to have special reserved seats for women. This study shows little evidence to support this provision. Provisions of this nature are regarded as short term solutions and do not address the underlying societal attitudes and norms which currently allow harassment to happen. The provision can be interpreted as maintaining the subordinate position of women (need for protection), and there was a strong feeling among many women who participated in this study, especially younger ones, that the approach should be one which enables women to enjoy similar freedoms to men, i.e. right to travel safely on all public transport. Mostly, people preferred the idea of priority seats for pregnant women, parents carrying small children, elderly and persons with reduced ability to stand rather than for women.
A pregnant woman of any age--especially one carrying a toddler--and any handicapped person, is much more in need of special consideration than a typical older teenager of either sex. As the biblical consideration for a woman as the weaker vessel is extinguished in Western culture, one would hope that it is at least replaced by a logical hierarchy of need, rather than a mad free-for all or battle between interest groups.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Publishing Peurile Prognisications

The White Man is neither a prophet, nor the son of a prophet. Yet this is not a non-prophet publication, as I often pass on predictions, both prophetic and prognosticatory. In the latter category, no doubt, would fall my own predictions, none of which seem to have turned out as I expected.

I have, over the past decade, miserably predicted the following:
2005: A coming inflation crisis.
2006: The fall of the Danish flag.
2007: The extinction of the Parsees.
2008: The demise of the penny.
2009: A Pandemic of Piracy.
2010: An immanent war with Iran
2011: 1) No military drawdown. 2) Higher oil prices. 3) A big drop in Christmas tours to Bethlehem.
2012: No more life sentences.
Apparently I've learned since then to keep my prognostications private.

As for some well-placed Americans being held hostage in a rogue state for years, I was almost right. Lowly Americans had been held for years by North Korea, but are now all free.

Some of my predictions may yet come to pass, whilst others already have, but just not quite as soon as, or to quite the extent that, I thought they would. For example, I predicted in 2006 that Free Speech was On its Way Out.  And in 2008 that the Deficit would Double, and that Social Security numbers would become mandatory for medical treatment by January 20, 2013. Oh, I was SO close on that one. That heath insurance my children were covered by in 2008? It was canceled in October of 2013, and there's no possibility of replacing it without assigning them all SSN's.

If I can't do any better than one out of ten--at best--I'd better quit while I still have my head.

Friday, 24 April 2015

At the sound of the trumpet

"So the Spirit of the LORD took control of Gideon, who blew a trumpet, mustering the descendants of Abiezer to follow him into battle." --Judges 6:34 ISV

I don't follow World Net Daily news much anymore, having been burned a few too many times by their sensationalist approach to journalism. But I never dismiss any news out of hand due solely to the source, and this particular piece really caught my attention today.

In my coverage of mysterious air crashes, I keep running across the theory that a person could be pre-programmed to fly a plane into the ocean; it's about the least conspiratorial theory to account for several spectacular crashes in the past couple of decades. In this particular story, though--based on an eyewitness account now verified through the power of the internet--a trumpet was sounded to incited normally peaceable people to murderous violence.

“They were very hospitable and would invite you in,” she said. “But, if a distant signal was given – it sounded something like a trumpet – then they would instantly change, and would attempt to harm you. Yet if the signal sounded again, they would immediately switch back to normal.” 
It's the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian Genocide. What other lessons could we--should we--learn from this event?

This week also marked the passage of a man who passed on to me, as he received it from the lips of a man who experienced it, unpublished information on the Battle of Shiloh (which he still referred to as the Battle of Shiloh Church). He may have been the last living person who was only one link removed from a first-hand account of a Civil War battle and its aftermath, which goes to show that it can often take over 100 years for the history of a war, or even a battle, to finish being written.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Indiana Revival Report: Day 100

This will probably be my last update on ReviveINDIANA. Throughout the past 90 days, I've tried not so much to provide a play-by-play, but a commentary; so I can't say what might happen that would arouse me to comment again--but things are taking off to the point that my own reporting probably won't play so large a role as it has to date.


ReviveINDIANA (Kokomo) is in full swing this week, now with its own website, and Bloomington likely to be the next city on the map. Chicago is continuing to get a lot of attention, with focus diverted from Reinhard Bonnke's Christ for All Nations to Patricia King's XP Ministries. Dozens of cities are vying for the chance to bring in Revive teams, which look to more and more be made up of pastors and song leaders from former Revive cities, in order to capture the momentum.

There's no question but that the past 100 days have marked another turning point in what Kyle Martin started seven years ago in Dallas. One recalls the words attributed to a critic of William Booth's rapidly growing evangelism organisation, about the time it became known colloquially as The Salvation Army:

"I wouldn't say it's a matter of them wanting to take over the country; what they intend to do is take over the world."

And Sarasota ("Southern Middlebury"), stand by. You're on the list.

ETA: I should really add that ReviveINDIANA is seeing strippers in Kokomo come to Christ and leave their workplace. This could be the beginning of an outbreak into the underworld.

Here are a number of media mentions of ReviveINDIANA:
Bethany High School Student Editorial
Christian News & Commentary also, Kokomo coverage
The Elkhart Truth--originator of the "Pray, Eat, Revive, Repeat" slogan now seen on mugs and T-shirts
Goshen News--the only paper to give advance coverage of Prayer Week
NBC News local affiliate

Day 116 update: Kyle continues to work in references to his parents' Ace Hardware Store in Middlebury, no matter where in the state he is speaking! In recognition of the National Day of Prayer, he returned to Chicago for the One Cry Prayer Summit, carried over the Moody and AFA Radio networks. South Bend will be the next city on the ReviveINDIANA schedule.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Myron on Mennonite Modesty

I've written earlier on the Mennonite Modesty Mishap and Misplaced Mennonite Modesty. Myron Horst (aka Hurst) is writing a book about Mennonite modesty. Yesterday he posted a long comment to a blog, excerpting his book, which I reproduce here as I found it, without comment.
--------------------------------------
    Myron Horst April 16, 2015 

    Thank you for addressing the subject of "modesty". I'm sorry you had to be affected by this wrong teaching. It is something that your parents were deceived about and that I was also deceived about. I am going to share several excerpts on modesty from the book I am writing about the Amish and Mennonites. While it addresses these groups, it applies to ATI, Patriarchy, Vision Forum, and other "dresses only" groups.

    The Bondage of the Term “Modest”
    The modesty doctrine of the Great Amish and Conservative Mennonite Dress Experiment has been a complete failure in protecting girls from sexual abuse. There is not a major difference in the sexual abuse rate between conservative, modestly dressed girls and girls who dress according to what the dress experiment calls the immodest dress of the world. If anything, the dress experiment “modest” dress is actually more “immodest” because the regulation dress and everything that goes with it makes girls more vulnerable to sexual abuse than the “immodestly” dressed girls in the rest of society.

    “Modesty” is not a concrete, clearly defined concept, but is open to a wide range of opinions about what is modest and what is not. Total nudity in public is a God-given shame that a person, Christian or non-Christian, usually tries to avoid. One of the places God tells us about the shame of nudity is in Revelation 3:18: “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” But beyond nudity, a person’s conscience of how much of the body must be covered in order to be modest tends to defined by those who one is influenced by. There is a very wide range of opinions among professing Christians about what is modest and appropriate and what is not.

    Jesus has not defined what is modest or what is immodest. Mennonite churches have attempted to regulate modesty, feeling that the Bible alone is inadequate on the subject and that husbands and fathers cannot be trusted to regulate it in their own home. Modesty is a concept that is drilled into conservative Mennonite women. They are made to feel guilty and responsible if a man were to look at them in any way sexually. Jesus on the other hand, puts the responsibility on a man for his lust.

    Part of the failure of the Conservative Dress Experiment is because it is based in part on Old Testament Law. Among the Amish and conservative Mennonites, the women have been required to wear dresses, based upon the church’s interpretation of one command that was handpicked out of the Old Covenant Law (even though Christians are no longer under the Old Covenant Law). “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” Deuteronomy 22:5...

    What is ironic about Amish and conservative Mennonite “modest” women’s dresses is that in addition to not preventing men from lusting after girls and women, the dresses with their open bottom hem are an open door that allows easy access for perverts and sexual molesters to quickly do their wicked deeds without fully undressing their victim. Is a dress safe? Is a cape dress really modest with its double layer at the top and an open door at the bottom? Can a dress really be labeled as modest for a young girl to wear? Little girls have great difficulty keeping their dresses down and end up showing their underwear at times. It is young girls and teens that are the ones most likely to be sexually abused.

    A friend of ours, who did not grow up in a Mennonite home, told us that she was taught growing up that dresses were immodest. When I first heard it, I was surprised because it was the opposite of what I had been taught growing up. In reality, dresses are actually more “immodest” than pants. On the internet there are a number of testimonies of women who have been sexually abused who feel very uncomfortable wearing dresses. Addressing the question about why women don’t wear dresses anymore, is this answer: “Some women may have had bad experiences with wearing skirts or dresses, since a lot of them may have been sexually assaulted in the past (direct or indirect), a skirt or dress does invite molesters to unlawfully play down there.”
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110913162555AAfIs6J
    Myron Horst April 16, 2015 
    continued:
    ...Trudy Metzger says this about the blame and responsibility that the conservative church puts on the women and girls:
    “Boys wore normal clothes and acted like nothing happened when they violated us. We were stuck in homemade dresses, giving males easy access, and still the bulk of responsibility fell on us. When they violated us, it was because we must have behaved in a sensual manner, dressed inappropriately, or perhaps flirted with them. They couldn’t help their sex drive and if only we would behave right and dress right, we would protect them.

    “How ironic. In a male-dominant culture, where men were portrayed to be the godly leaders, the strong ones, they were not required to be men at all. All they had to do was cry, “she asked for it” and the onus was on us. And even if they didn’t cry it, that was a given. There was nothing of teaching young men and boys to honor, respect, love and protect a woman. Nothing of saying, ‘if you find her naked, be man enough to cover her and protect her’.”
    http://trudymetzger.com/2012/07/11/sexual-abuse-violence-introduction/

    Trudy’s words, “if you find her naked, be man enough to cover her and protect her”, gives new meaning to what Jesus said in Matthew 25:41-46 when you look at it in the context of sexual abuse, “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

    It is a Christian man’s responsibility to protect those who are least able to protect themselves – children - from sexual abuse. If a man exposes a child’s nakedness and sexually abuses the child, he saw or felt their nakedness and did not cloth them. He has Jesus to answer to. Jesus views the sexual abuse of a child as the same as an attack on Him – “I was… naked and ye clothed ME not”. Jesus knows what the sexual abuser has done, even if the church doesn’t. This can be a real comfort for anyone who has been sexually abused. Even if no one else has stood up for you (the victim) Jesus has. He has felt your pain and defilement, and the perpetrator WILL suffer the consequences – everlasting punishment unless he/she repents.

    The guilt that conservatives have placed on women in the area of modesty, and the hypocrisy by which women are judged are paralleled by the conservatives in Jesus’ day. The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman that they claimed they had caught in the very act of adultery. What is conspicuously missing is the man who should also have been caught in the very act of adultery if it really was adultery. The woman was being tried for committing a sin, but not the man. Many sexually abused women in Amish and Mennonite groups can identify with this woman. They feel like they too are the ones that were tried by their Amish or Mennonite church leaders, and the men who sexually abused them are not. “And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:3-11)

    The conservatives, the Pharisees, treated the woman as if she had committed adultery all by herself. It is similar to the way Amish and Mennonite women are treated in the modesty issue. Modesty is treated as if a woman could commit adultery all by herself by dressing “immodestly”. Women are judged for dressing “immodestly” without proof that a man has looked on them and committed adultery with them in his heart.

    Knowing how the Pharisees made up rules and went to extremes in expanding God’s commands, I have to wonder if the adultery that the conservative Pharisees were accusing the woman of committing was a manmade “sin” that they called adultery and was not sin at all, similar to the Amish and Mennonite manmade sin of “immodesty” that they hang over women’s heads. Several clues that it probably was not the true sin of adultery are that there was no man involved, and Jesus did not condemn or rebuke her for what she had done. Whatever the case, there is a strong parallel between the way the Pharisees judged this woman and the way many Amish and conservative Mennonites judge women in the areas of modesty and sexual abuse.

    (there is much more that could be said but I will stop there)

Monday, 13 April 2015

Indiana Revival Report: Day 90

News of what is happening in Indiana continues to spread like ripples on a pond. And as in the game called Telephone, details can get a bit murky. Titles like "Time to Revive" and even "Revive Indiana" get stripped away, and people end up searching for terms like "Amish Revival" and "Indiana Tent Meetings." Kyle Martin gets mixed up with other Martins of Mennonite renown, and--to Wes Weaver's potential dismay--the muddling extends even to the meetings he condemned, with the meetings in which he condemned them. But for hundreds of miles to the north and south, people are hearing that wonderful things are happening in Indiana within and amongst the spiritual descendants of Menno Simons and Jacob Amman. This is one case in which good news seems to be traveling faster and farther than bad.

As for ReviveINDIANA, the news has never been better. The Kokomo meeting Sunday night at the Christian Heritage Worship Center overflowed the overflow. In a tableau almost never seen in the First World, members of the extended audience were not only standing outside the doors, but even clustered around the windows. It may not have spread very far into the assemblies of the inebriated, and may only be starting to emerge amongst the suspendered and bonneted, but a hunger for Christian unity in the church at large is rapidly increasing.  

The Elkhart Truth notes:

Since Oct. 3, 2012, there have been at least 28 incidents involving gunfire in the city, resulting in 13 deaths (including four by Elkhart police) and 13 injuries, according to Elkhart Truth archives. That works out to about one incident per month and a death by gunfire about once every two months.

What does the city of Elkhart have to show for 90 days of revival? Even one violent death would have been within a standard deviation of the mean; there have been at least two injurious shootings in Elkhart in the past 90 days, but no associated fatalities so far this year. But given the cold weather (and associated cooler tempers) of the period, this is probably no less than could have been expected. Warmer weather has returned, allowing a true glimpse over the next few months of the impact of this revival on those not just literally, but figuratively outside the church.

UPDATE April 14: Today saw Elkhart's third shooting, and first related death of the year. Typical.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Indiana Revival Report: Day 85

Well now, this is interesting. The most incriminating website revealing a collaboration between Time to Revive and Christ for All Nations has been taken down. Here is how it read:
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Reinhard Bonnke Evangelism Kick Off Event
Hello Pastors, Ministry Leaders, Evangelists and Friends, We would like to extend and invitation for the Reinhard Bonnke Gospel Crusade Evangelism Kick Off Event on Tuesday, March 17th at Noon. Inter-denominational leaders from the Revive Indiana movement will be in Chicagoland specifically to share with you about this incredible move of God already spreading throughout the USA.

Evangelism Kick-Off (Featuring Kyle Martin and Pastors from Revive Indiana)12:00pm Tuesday, March 17, 2015 RSVP below Oak Brook Community Church 3100 Midwest Rd. Oak Brook, IL 60523

Goshen, Indiana recently experienced over 50 consecutive days of thousands gathering for prayer, evangelism, intercession and unity (visit www.reviveindiana.org for testimonies). We are praying for unity between the states and churches to cultivate an environment of on-fire Christians, and to see thousands come to Christ during multiple outreaches leading up to the Reinhard Bonnke Great Lakes Gospel Crusade at the Allstate Arena, June 26-28, 2015 and continuing long after. Please join us as we hear from people already witnessing revival and working together, led by the Spirit, to see it in your community! We will stand shoulder-to-shoulder declaring, “America Shall Be Saved!”

There will be light refreshments served. Please RSVP below if you will be attending or sending a representative. Sincerely, Tim Marshick, Dan Bawinkel and Joshua Porter Local Crusade Directors 407.854.4421 Great Lakes Gospel Crusade June 26-28, 2015 at the Allstate Arena www.GospelCrusade.org/Chicago
 ----------------------------------
There are no online mentions of collaboration dating past April 4th. It would appear that, as of this week, TTR is no longer associated with the GLGC. And indeed, they will have their hands full enough without it: ReviveINDIANA is in the process of spreading to six other locations across the state over the next four months, according to a prophetic vision of the seven rays of the Indiana State Flag. Interestingly, the state statute only mentions six rays, but there are, in fact, seven on the flag, the shortest one seeming to indicate Ground Zero for the campaign:

Flag of Indiana.svg

The first stop will be Kokomo, on April 12, with a 7pm kickoff rally at the Christian Heritage Worship Center, following meetings throughout the day with interested pastors and congregations. A week of outreach and fellowship is then planned, following the usual model. All this will culminate with a mass meeting at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds Grandstand on July 26. It will probably be the largest crowd ever assembled in Elkhart County, with hundreds of acres of parking available and a potential audience of a million fairgoers. [UPDATE: This didn't pan out. Instead, the Statewide Gathering was to be held in Fort Wayne.]

Getting back to the local venue: In order to avoid overcrowding the facilities, small coloured flags are distributed at the entry doors, in number corresponding to the newly enlarged official building capacity. These, and only these, can be used to save seats, such that only people who are already in the building can reserve one. And of course, they make for a pretty display when waved during worship. Once all the flags are distributed, latecomers are sent to one of three satellite locations in the area. So far this week the precaution hasn't been needed, but attendance is growing by the day, with first-timers continuing to arrive, both locally and from out of state.

Monday, 6 April 2015

1 Peter 2:2--Another Calvinist mistranslation in the NIV

"Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation," --NIV 1973-2011

"As infants euen now borne, reasonable, milke without guile desire ye, that in it you may grow vnto saluation." --Rheims NT 1582

There are several issues here; we may as well begin with the textual issue. Most Greek NT manuscripts don't have the last 2 words of the verse, εἰς σωτηρίαν. But it's a rather slim majority, and the words are well attested in the sizable minority, with omission tending to increase rapidly toward the end of the manuscript era, when most extant manuscripts were made. Of special note is that the words ARE found in the versions, whether early, middle, or late. It would appear that theological reasons were behind transmitting a text without them--and that, even as recently as the textual selections behind the King James Version--but we'll leave such questions for another day, because even by including the variant, the CBT managed to rob it of its meaning by mistranslating it into English.

And thus we come to the translational issue: how should one translate εἰς σωτηρίαν? Well, literally, it's "unto salvation." Εἰς is a directional preposition, most often translated into in the KJV.

Here is a lexical definition:
eis (a preposition) – properly, into (unto) – literally, "motion into which" implying penetration ("unto," "union") to a particular purpose or result.

We can see that in regards to entering into salvation, 'unto' would be a more grammatically apt wording. But I'll accept 'into,' as it wouldn't make a difference either way. The vital point is that salvation is being entered through the process of craving pure metaphoric milk (the Greek literally means 'wordly,' or--idiomatically--'reasonable' or 'logical,' not 'spiritual'). "In" is an unacceptable translation, as it denotes position, not transposition.

Now, why would the CBT want to have us "grow up in our salvation" rather than "grow into salvation," maugre well-established translation principles? Clearly, this paraphrase was made for no other reason than to avoid the implication that salvation is a goal to attain rather than a state to improve. And this is an characteristically Calvinist interpretation, pressed into service under the guise of the most accurately translated English Bible possible.

Calvinism, of course, does not stand or fall upon a paraphrase of 1 Peter 2:2. It is able to twist any scripture to its ends, and this one need be no exception. So why not just translate it as it stands, and leave its (mis)interpretation up to the theologians?

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Germanwings Flight 9525: The Religious Connection

Inasmuch as I have become a source for research on air disasters, I'm compelled to write about the most recent no-survivors air transport crash. As soon as I heard that the plane descended smoothly into the side of the Alps in clear weather, my only response was, "Islamic pilot." I listened over the next few days to hear the name of the pilot, but when it was finally released, along with the information that the pilot had been locked out of the cockpit (an ironic unintended consequence to post-911 security), the name was not Islamic after all. It appears that mental illness, not religious duty, led the copilot to commit mass suicide.

Indeed, there could be an element of mental illness in all recent mass suicide air disasters. Carrying a parachute could have saved a life in many of these cases, but banning passengers from using cell phones aloft has, in another unintended consequence, limited what can be learned from them.

Apparently the main reason for limiting the use of electronic equipment aboard a cruising airliner is due to their potential drain on the plane's wifi bandwidth--as if a simple cell phone or laptop would be capable of doing such a thing.

Getting back to copilot Andreas Lubitz:  It turns out that his outwardly happy life wasn't so happy after all: his girlfriend, whom he intended to marry, had broken off the relationship. This makes this tragedy another unintended consequence of the decriminalization of adultery: adulterers no longer face the death penalty--but, if they are pilots, their passengers face death all the same.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The pro-Calvinist slant of the NIV

I have not written on the NIV for some time, but recent posts by Brian Abasciano brought out the fact that a pro-Calvinist interpretation of Acts 13:48 is firmly ensconced in the NIV, despite his promotion of a translation that preserves the ambiguity of the Greek. Here is a link, with some relevant parts quoted (with the spelling standardised):
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Back in December of 2009, I wrote [this] letter to the NIV Translation Committee recommending a change in their translation of Acts 13:48[:]

The present NIV has this for Acts 13:48 — “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.”

Of course, the main translation issue has to do with the translation of tetagmenoi, which the NIV translates (together with esan) as “were appointed”. This is such an important text theologically because it gives the impression that the people referred to believed because God first appointed them to eternal life. Some consider this a slam dunk proof for Calvinism/unconditional election. Indeed, some consider this to be the most powerful text in favor of Calvinism. So I would argue that it is especially important to take care to be fair-handed in the translation and indicate if there is any serious alternative. Now I don’t think this is the best translation, and a number of scholars have objected to it. But even if one disagrees with the alternative, I think it would be most fitting at least to indicate that there is a legitimate alternative.

An alternative has made it into a legitimate lexicon. Friberg’s has: (2) passive, with an abstract noun ὅσοι ἦσαν τεταγμένοι εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον as many as had become disposed toward eternal life (possibly AC 13.48) or all those who were appointed to eternal life (probably AC 13.48)

Now I note that Friberg does think “disposed” less likely, but that is essentially an interpretive decision. That then means context etc., not grammar or pure lexicography, must decide. And the context favors taking the Gentiles as being set on eternal life in contrast to the Jews of the same episode who judged themselves unworthy of eternal life. It is imperative to note that this alternative rendering is a rendering of the passive; it does not construe tetagmenoi as a middle. . . .

Turning to BDAG, it is significant that this most authoritative lexicon for NT studies does not take tasso as “appoint” in Acts 13:48. It gives two major meanings for tasso: (1) to bring about an order of things by arranging — arrange, put in place; (2) to give instructions as to what must be done — order, fix, determine, appoint. BDAG places tetagmenoi in Acts 13:48 in the first meaning. Now BDAG happens to assign a specific sense within that meaning that would practically arrive at a similar theological place as “appoint”, but with a decidedly different lexical meaning for the word: “belong to, to be classed among”. Nevertheless, it is significant that they conclude that the meaning of tetagmenoi in Acts 13:48 lies in the domain of placement/position, and specifically under the meaning of people being put into a specific position. It is also worth noting that BDAG places the use of tasso in 1 Cor 16:15 under this specific heading (people being put into a specific position), an instance that specifically means “to devote to” (speaking of the household of Stephanus: “they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints”, which obviously refers to an inward positioning of will or intent, a disposition/commitment or something along these lines). The use of tasso for disposition can be seen in non-biblical texts as well such as Philo Quod. Det., 166. . . .

In Conclusion:
I believe that the current translation of Acts 13:48 in the NIV is inaccurate, and that the best understanding of tasso in Acts 13:48 is that it refers to Gentiles who were in position for eternal life / ready for eternal life / even intent on obtaining eternal life (particularly in contrast to the Jews of the same episode who opposed Paul and rejected the gospel, and so who judged themselves unworthy of eternal life [Acts 13:46]), and that the most accurate translation of the phrase in question would be something like: “as many as were disposed to eternal life believed” or “as many as were aligned for eternal life believed” or “as many as were positioned for eternal life believed”. However, I recognize that this would be to take a very specific view of the passage, and might not be appropriate for the NIV. So, remembering that BDAG places the instance of tasso in Acts 13:48 not under the meaning of appointment but under the meaning of being placed in position, and that Friberg’s lexicon notes “disposed” as a possible meaning, I would suggest a more neutral translation: “as many as were set for eternal life believed”. This can readily be understood either of these Gentiles having gotten set in position for eternal life (by whatever means or agent[s] one infers from the context) or having been set (by absolute and effectual appointment) for eternal life by God. Thus this translation preserves the ambiguity of the Greek. I would then suggest adding a footnote along these lines: “or appointed or disposed”. This would probably be ideal for the reader to feel the sense of the Greek and know the two main ways it could be taken. If the committee is reluctant to change the present NIV translation, then I would urge that at least a footnote be added to the verse mentioning that it could be translated “as many as were disposed to eternal life”.
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It does not appear that his letter had any effect on the CBT, as the NNIV reads the same.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Indiana Revival Report: Days 53-82

Well, it appears that the Revive INDIANA story is far from over. It's going to stay in the news, but if you want to know a lot of the inside scoop, you're going to have to keep turning to the White Man's exclusives.

First, this report has come in from a visitor to Maple City Chapel on Sunday, March 4:

Those used to having to save seats hours in advance to get a direct-sight view of the stage were in for a treat when they arrived for the special 10:00 am service at MCC. Ushers assured arrivers that there were still some seats available up front, although the overflow was almost full. A glance around indicated that not only were the 9 and 11 am worshipers congregated together, but a lot of Revive attendees from other churches just hadn't been able to break the habit yet and had returned to a familiar venue yet again.

"Welcome to Day 57 of Revive INDIANA!" proclaimed the worship pastor (it was actually Day 56). And what followed was almost indistinguishable from a regular Revive service--especially the music, which was followed by a reprise of Day 52, in which Pastor Shetler called up all the members of the MCC staff to publicly thank them for "exploding their box" over the past eight weeks. Then, nine baptisms in the same tank that Revive had used. The remainder of the service was given over, first to another Revive-style mass communion, and then to testimonies from Revive, several by parents of the children who had just been baptized. And, of course, a fellowship meal followed with everyone invited.

So much for Maple City Chapel. How about Clinton Frame Mennonite Church, the weekend venue for Revive? Well, they started up something called Ice Cream Sunday, a 5 pm informal get together around ice cream and acoustic guitar music that hopes to carry on the ecumenism of Revive through the active participation of multiple churches. It started up the last week, so word went out and a small but growing smattering of the community has started to show up for it--so far, without any need for parking attendants!

And, despite the proclaimed 30 Days of Rest, local Revive leaders (with Kyle's blessing) are already planning to Go Forth on Saturday, March 21.

This page will stay open throughout the 30 Days of Rest, to accommodate any further updates.

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Revive continues to be on everybody's lips. Just as an example:

The weekend of March 14, Elkhart County hosted an national conference of ultra-conservative Amish, Mennonites, and Brethren. Following each lecture, there was a time for questions and answers--allegedly open to the hundreds of women in attendance, but they knew better and kept their silence. Opening it up for questions, you see, can easily lead into something else. And thus it was with the final "question" of the conference, when Wes Weaver stood up to sound a clarion call of warning against Revive INDIANA. They are an Emergent Church movement, he warned the 800 or so in the audience, operating in the Spirit of the Antichrist. With their rock and roll music, they are out to get your children--and some are already gone.

When he sat down, moderator Nathan Overholt thanked him for that report, saying he'd wanted to take in one of the Revive meetings but hadn't had the chance. He lives in Florida!

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On March 17, there was a meeting at the Community Church in Oak Brook, IL between Revive INDIANA staff and pastors, and Chicagoland staff and pastors preparing for participation in this summer's Christ for All Nations Gospel Crusade at the Allstate Arena. This collaboration is significant, because of the similarities and differences between the two ministries. Although both are inclined toward ecumenism and charismata, Time to Revive is primarily focused on discipleship, whilst CFAN is primarily focused on mass altar calls. While Kyle Martin may hope to greatly expand his reach through this collaboration, it cannot help but dilute his message.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Indiana Revival Report: Day 52

What a day. Everyone knew it was going to be crazy, after Kyle implored the tens of thousands who have been following ReviveINDIANA to do whatever it took to be there for March Forth. At 7 am, Maple City Chapel already held thousands of people. Fortunately one last downward plunge of the thermometer had ensured that the grass parking lot behind the building would be useable, rather than a sea of mud. Most surrounding business (notably including Menards, whose competitor Ace Hardware has received about 52 promotions from the pulpit, and notably not including the bank, whose drive-in window had unfortunately been blocked the third Wednesday) had opened up their parking lots, either next door, down the street, or even across the highway.

After an in-your-seats breakfast (there were still over 500 donuts left at the end), somewhere upwards of 500 4-person teams were assembled and sent out in waves. The last teams to be made up barely had time to go anywhere before returning to Goshen to assemble at Rogers Park at 12:30, where 2000 people somehow all fit in a single pavilion for a snack lunch (15,000 had been made up, and were also distributed to the satellite locations so attendees there could also share a fellowship meal) and a brief song. Then, for about half an hour, a steady stream 2-3 people wide issued forth to walk over the bridge, past the courthouse, and around the old jail. The vanguard returned long before the end of the march had left the park.

It was cold and icy, with a biting wind; one woman slipped on the driveway of the park and suffered injury when she fell. Many young people hadn't worn gloves or boots. And there was a bit of an outcry from the surrounding businesses who found their parking lots and restrooms overrun by a couple thousand people and their cars. But, no matter the weather, at least they did March Forth.

The prolonged march also cut into the time for afternoon teams--crazy it was. Then, by 5:30 the parking attendants were already turning away anyone without a reserved seat, sending them to one of 7 simulcast locations spread over 4 counties (the closest, only about 3 miles away). The regular overflow area was full; all but the center aisle of the sanctuary were full; the cafeteria area was full (requiring another in-your-seats snack meal). All three theaters were full, with extra chairs in the side aisles. Best estimates are that upwards of 4000 people were in attendance, and the Fire Marshall came that close to shutting everything down.

More craziness: Nine baptisms, or eight if you count the fact that two teens got baptized together. Yes, and what a touching scene it was: a severely disabled girl was brought up in her lay-down wheelchair, and her friend explained how she had reached out last week to share the gospel with her at school. Now that they were sisters in Christ, she wanted them to be baptized together. She then climbed into the stock tank, while her friend was lowered into her arms; then they passed through the waters together.

Then Kyle spent quite a bit of time bringing up the entire Time to Revive team and introducing them. Somehow, even the ones in charge of the Children's Ministry managed to get to the stage.

On all 47 days, a local pastor had the opening. This time is was Phil Byars, of Elkhart Baptist (he'd spoken much earlier, being one of the leading members of the pastoral team). He shared an extensive clip from his favorite movie, the Wonkavator scene from Willy Wonka. By the time he was done applying it to the present situation, it was almost nine.

When Kyle finally got up, he was pretty brief. He'd been sharing for the previous two nights on stages in the life of a hair follicle, and admitted that he'd long had a problem with the third one: it stops growing and goes into a time of rest. But this is what God had showed him: Taking a cue from Mary v. Martha, ReviveINDIANA was to take a 30-day rest, and then come back together again on Holy Saturday. No meetings, no outreach teams. Spend time in the Word, both individually and in the 50-some Bible Studies that ReviveINDIANA is setting up across the area. But on Day 83, the team will be back to Pray, Eat, Revive, and Repeat--and he's convinced that they'll be able to do so without having lost any momentum.

This brings an end to The White Man's reporting on ReviveINDIANA.

Unless it doesn't.


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Indiana Revival Report: Days 47-50

Fourteen baptisms on Day 48, nineteen on Day 50. As Kyle says, when you're doing discipleship, you're going to have a lot of baptisms. One boy had his leg in a cast, so the dipping was a little creative. It's interesting to see some who got baptized a few days earlier, now administering baptism.

Day 47 was the regularly scheduled training night, but Gary and Tony had finished their course, so Kyle did some training on how to pray for healing. This mostly involved about a fourth of the audience coming forward for prayer. But beforehand, Monica stood up and testified how she had come into the meeting in a wheelchair three weeks earlier, unable to stand up without intense and lingering pain. Heather (who flew in from Germany for the first week and still hasn't left) shared how she and at least a dozen others had "prayed relentlessly" for her until Monica finally got the faith to respond to their repeated urgings to "stand up!"  When she finally did, she proceeded to walk all the way up the aisle.

Heather has been in contact with her ever since, and even drove the 3 hours to see her. Monica met her at the door dancing! There weren't any spectacular results this night, other than a 28-year old woman who ran to the front and threw down a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, declaring that for the first time in 16 years she was free of her addiction.

Day 48 included a touching video of Bill Lantz, whom Kyle and his team had prayed for weeks earlier, just before Bill was hospitalized for his terminal illness. But that week, he was released to home hospice care, and Kyle was invited back to pray for him again. Kyle told him that God was keeping him alive until he was ready to say "Yes" to Jesus, to which Bill responded, "You're scaring the heck outa me. Does that mean I'm going to die today?"

Basically, yes. Bill did give his life to Jesus, and by the end of the next day he was in heaven.

Day 50 started the wind-up to the Day of Jubilee on Wednesday. A record crowd filled the overflow, and a cry went out for more children's workers. Kyle began a 3-part series on growth, based both on the first half of Acts 16 and a vision his sister Janae Werner had about hair follicles. His cousin was back from Canada to paint another picture, this one slightly abstract to illustrate "Breaking out of your box." Kyle urged the audience, and specifically his brother Shannon (manager of Ace Hardware in Middlebury), "Don't go back to your box."  There are still over 200 names of contacts waiting for discipleship, which will kick into gear beginning on Day 53. Here is what was sent to REVIVE's email subscribers:

When Old Becomes New...


What do we do when we have new patterns of living, of walking in the Spirit, of eating together, and of frequent worship in community? Today is Day 50 of Revive Indiana.  On Day 52 we will March Forth and we will move into yet another phase of life. For me, the last week has been a flurry of activity in itself and I am tired. When we have lived with this revival for 52 days, the new can become old.  But as God changes our lives, we wonder how these changes will carry forward as we return back to our old lives. Here are some ideas to make this transition:
  1. Don't Go Back at All. Some of you may look at what it means to go back and realize that if you do go back, you will lose everything you gained. For you, it may be important to find a new job, a new place to live, or moving to a new community. Ask God what new thing He has for you and earnestly seek it. 
  2. Go Halfway Back. If you are married, live honorably in your marriage vows. If you have minor children, be the parent God asks you to be. But even within these commitments, there is space to make changes as God invites you into new things. Perhaps you will make some radical shifts in your social life and hobbies. Don't automatically start
  3. Embed in a New Way. This may be the most difficult choice. We have all kinds of triggers around us that remind us how we used to be, and shame can shut us down and temptation can pull us back. But perhaps you can shift all the parts of your life to effectively live differently where you are.
No matter which direction God leads you, don't just go back. Don't go back to the old habits; binge watching, eating or drinking. At the core of all of these changes is a continued attentiveness to God and the Holy Spirit's guidance to have everyday encounters with people. Remember the joy that has been given you and continue to engage in activities that feed that joy. Intentional practices of prayer, worship, gathering with believers, and going out into the streets together will sustain and support your continued joy. 

We also need places to cross over and gather with believers from other churches. Last night we gathered with about 60 people from variety of ages and churches to have ice cream, worship, sharing, and games at Clinton Frame. We will continue to do that each Sunday at 5 with a continued welcome for everyone to attend. Perhaps there will be other ways these kinds of gathering will continue on a regular basis. Revive Indiana will have monthly gatherings in April and May with a week long outreach effort in June. Pastors will continue to meet every other week for fellowship and prayer. God has brought us great joy by bringing us together. Let's live in that joy.

John M Troyer
Pastor of Youth & Young Adults

Clinton Frame Mennonite Church