Me and Ernest Angley

I just read that Ernest Angley died May 7, 2021 at the age of 99.

Many/most of you won’t know of him. He was a selfprofessed faith healer, oversaw Grace Cathedral in Ohio, and ran the Winston Broadcasting Company.

My introduction to him happened in probably 1979 or 1980. I was doing school assemblies and evening rallies in and around Steubenville, Ohio.

On a Sunday morning I was waiting for my host to take me to the church at which I was to preach.

I turned on the tv…and there was Ernest.

He was giving a sort of altar call for people to come get healed.

I was about to turn it off when a woman with two young children came to the stage.

Ernest asked what she needed, and she said she was the aunt of the two children, and that both were deaf. She wanted them given the gift of hearing.

At that point Ernest asked, “And I suppose they are both dumb also?”

The woman looked a bit shocked and said, “Oh, no sir, they are both very, very smart.”

It looked like Angley was holding his breath. The cameraman must have been laughing as the picture shook.

I probably laughed too long.

Here I Stand

2021 has hours left…then…BOOM…2022; which I pray is not 2020-2! ’21 was a horrible year in many regards…”but God”…

I end my ’21 postings with this – a declaration of my narrow-mindedness concerning some aspects of the Christian faith.

The list is not exhaustive, but close. Meaning these are nonnegotiable. I have a lot of opinions (which are, ah, like elbows; everybody’s got a couple), and I have my own beliefs about a lot of secondary stuff (that may not be secondary to you).

But these are absolute. They are not “my” truth…they are TRUTH:

  • Jesus Christ is, always has been, always will be God – specifically the Son of God, part of the trinity (Father Son Holy Spirit)
  • The Bible, in its original autographs (original writing) is inspired by God. Men wrote as they were moved by the Spirit of God. There is no “new” revelation; God’s Word is complete.
  • The Virgin birth is fact; without it we would have no hope.
  • Jesus lived the perfect life on earth; the life we could not live; and died the death we should have died.
  • Jesus was tempted in all things; but remained without sin. Therefore ANY temptation is temptation; and not sin (though it can give birth to sin).
  • Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sin. His substitutionary death, and His resurrection (in which He was declared to be the Son of God) is my only hope.
  • All things were created by, for, and through Christ Jesus. “All” means “All.”
  • God is absolutely sovereign.
  • Faith in Christ is not a good way to heaven, nor the best way; it is the ONLY way to heaven.
  • Salvation occurs when one turns from sin (repents) and believes/trusts in Jesus and the gospel and aims at following Jesus.
  • There is a place called hell, which lasts as long as does heaven. Every human spends eternity in one of those two places.
  • Jesus Christ will return. He will not be early; nor will He be late.
  • Abortion is the unnatural death of a human being.
  • Homosexual behavior is sin; as is premarital sex, extramarital sex, sex with a dog etc. All sexual sin is “sin against the body”(1 Corin 6)…that means “all”…I don’t blame the “gay” community for thinking Christians are homophobic as that is how we all too often come across. I make it a goal to never discuss the sin of homosexual behavior without mentioning other sexual sins; to include pornography.
  • The USofA is not “God’s country”. Jesus is not a republican, nor a democrat.
  • All Christ followers need to be in community; not forsaking the gathering together; usually called “local church.”
  • A ‘chrisian’ racist is a contradiction of terms.

Most will note I have not listed some things Christians fight about.

That is because I will not die on those mountains; nor will I break fellowship with a Christ follower who views those things differently than I do.

For some that is a deal breaker.

So be it.

Some may be shocked or mad that I haven’t listed something they believe is nonnegotiable. I respect that and am willing to listen to arguments that the particular issue should be on the list.

What are your nonnegotiables?


Probably most of you know the title stands for “Situation Report.”

No words from me, except that this text is the SITREP for the end of ’21 and the course of ’22. Arm up (stay or get in the Word)! Pray up! Stay alert, stay alive!

Difficult Times Ahead (2 Timothy 3.1-9 csb)

But know this: Hard times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people.

For among them are those who worm their way into households and deceive gullible women overwhelmed by sins and led astray by a variety of passions, always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so these also resist the truth. They are men who are corrupt in mind and worthless in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress, for their foolishness will be clear to all, as was the foolishness of Jannes and Jambres.

Struggles in the Christian Life

10 But you have followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, and endurance, 11 along with the persecutions and sufferings that came to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured—and yet the Lord rescued me from them all. 12 In fact, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, 15 and you know that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God[a] and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Delta Yankee Oscar Tango

Drove my children nuts…

Every time they’d start griping about somebody or pointing something out about another person I’d say, “Delta Yankee Oscar Tango.”

They knew, for I had drilled it into them, that this acronym meant “Do Your Own Time.”

DYOT was something drilled into my head when I was a guest of the state (in Oregon State Prison).

It’s a decision that needs to be made and acted on immediately upon arrival in a maximum security institution.

If you identify with one of the gangs, you end up not only doing your time, but theirs also. If you stay close to just one other inmate, you will do his time in addition to your own.

The guards and others are observing, if not interfering. If you run with a gang or a certain individual they note it…mentally and physically by including a note in your “jacket” (file) that will be seen by the parole board.

So the best way to live is by doing your “own time.”

Works on the street, also.

And it’s biblical…John 21.20-22:

So Peter turned around and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them, the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and asked, “Lord, who is the one that’s going to betray you?”  When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?”

“If I want him to remain until I come,” Jesus answered, “what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”

So the Lord counseled Peter…and me…and you…to “do your own time.”

Don’t compare. Don’t envy. Don’t judge unrighteous judgment (you have to judge righteous judgment).

Delta Yankee Oscar Tango.

Great/Best Witnessing Tool

I was converted by reading a rather whacko book that introduced me to the Bible at the age of 26. I was in a Texas jail cell en route to prison…had no clue what the Bible/gospel was…but in reading God’s inspired Word His Spirit – without my permission by the way – and when I didn’t know He existed – and when I didn’t know the difference between a pentecostal and a king-james-only baptist -His Spirit used the sharper than a two edged sword Word to convict me of sin, judgement, and righteousness and to draw me to salvation.

There was no human being involved – “just” God’s Word.

There are many great ways to share your faith. The best is to share your story; and thus I am convinced the main reason people don’t share their faith is that they are not sure they are saved, and have not “worked out their salvation with fear and trembling.”

But I am convinced a best way to share faith is simply to stock up on some gospels of John..probably cost you a buck a piece.

When prompted, ask a friend or associate if they will accept a gift of the gospel of John, ask them to read it, and then ask if you can follow up in a couple weeks to discuss it.

“Oh, Jack, they will never accept it.”

“Shoot, Jack, they may take it but they will never read it.”

“Jack, to be honest I’m not sure if I have enough guts to try this.”

Why not?

People expect us to talk about what is important to us.

Whatcha got to lose? Maybe they will say, “no.” But maybe…because you have prayed and acted…maybe they will take it…maybe they will read it…and maybe the John portion will perform its stated purpose.

What stated purpose?

The last two verses of John 20 are the “mission statement” for the gospel of John:

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Maybe also consider buying several portions and giving it to friends, with a note asking them to read it and then follow it up a couple weeks later with a phone call.

Really, what do you have to lose? And what do they have to gain?

What Did Mary Know?

One of the great mysteries of life is how a certified ding like Mark Lowry could write lyrics like “Mary, Did You Know?”

I type that with all respect; I’ve had occasion to meet Mark very early in his career and a few times later. He is a poster child for ADD, and loves Jesus crazily.

By God’s good grace I’ve also met the guy who wrote the music, Buddy Green. He and I sat in my office in New York years ago discussing great theological themes, like how much we both enjoyed the Beatles.

Anyway…I like the song. And I’ve heard, over the years, many smart people blast it.

A friend recently commented on one of my threads that he hated the song “because it’s a waste of time. Yes… she knew. Luke 1:26-35.”

Well, here’s the text he cited: “26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged[a] to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you.”[b] 29 But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. 30 Then the angel told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.”

So what exactly did she “know?” And how much did this teenager really grasp? Did she go thirty plus years knowing her Son was going to die such a horrific death? Doesn’t seem like that would be a joyous motherhood.

A few times Scripture records Jesus telling the disciples exactly what was going to happen to Him on what we call “passion week.” The Word continues to say they understood none of it.

How come?

Beats me.

But I will continue to enjoy “Mary, Did You Know?” and am hopeful that non-Christians will hear it and begin to wonder…

Jesus Prays…for Me? for You?

Hebrews 7.25 always shakes me: “Therefore He is always able to save those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them.”

The King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the resurrected Savior makes time to pray for us…for me???

What does Jesus pray for us?

Certainly we do not know the full answer, but John 17.20-23 gives us some specifics:

“I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word.  May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one.  I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me.”

I’m not real bright, but three times in the passage Jesus prays for “oneness,” for unity.

I type this on Sunday morning. Soon I’ll head out to church…a Southern Baptist church. Many of my friends will head out to a Nazarene church, an Assembly of God church, a Methodist church, a Pentecostal assembly, etc.

And that’s okay by me. We are brothers-and-sisters in Christ; not identical twins.

We can and do differ on secondary things. Some are calvinistic; others more arminian. Some don’t know the difference (I wish I were you!)

Some are pretrib, post trib, mid trib; we differ on the ways we look at other aspects of eschatology.

Gasp. Some speak in tongues, some don’t.

Some believe “once saved, always saved,” while others believe you can lose your salvation. (and others, like me, sometime wonder if you can give it up)

I don’t think those secondary doctrinal differences break our oneness…unless..unless…we start loving our pet doctrines more than we love unity.

Colossians 2.2 reads, “I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of complete understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery—Christ.”

The ESV reads “knit together in love.

I like that…yarn that goes around other yarn to become stronger.

Maybe we can be more unified if we’d “go around” those secondary things and strive to obey the command to “love one another.”

It’s not compromise.

It’s obedience.

It’s answering, in a way, the prayer of our Lord.

Answer the Question!

Maybe it’s the journalist in me. Maybe it’s a holdover from my four years in the ultimate oxymoron – military intelligence.

Whatever…my blood pressure rises when I ask someone a question and they answer with a non-answer. Just answer the question, please!

Jesus endured such stuff.

Here’s an example from John 5:

When Jesus saw him lying there and realized he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the disabled man answered, “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.”

It’s comes across as an excuse. “Ain’t my fault, gots no one to take me down to the pool.” Yet the disabled man addresses Jesus as “Sir,” so he perceives this is not just some random dude.

But why does he not shout, “YES! I want to get well!”

I don’t know.

I just wish he’d answer the question.

Why Are Young People Exiting Church?

I just discovered a new writer, Jack Lee. He blogs at THE CHORUS IN THE CHAOS.

It’s long; so there goes a large audience. But it is critical, and I urge anyone concerned with the church overall, and its youth and young people in particular, to make the time to read it…here it is:

A  recent article on the Wall Street Journal titled, “Young People Say Disconnect Keeps Them From Church,” pointed out that roughly half of the people surveyed (ages 13 and 25) say they feel out of sync with churches on issues like race, gender, and immigration. Adding that the “biggest disconnect” emerges around LBGT rights, and that only 44% of churches care about such issues. It is for these reasons that churches have seen memberships fall over the past several years. The survey was conducted by the Springtide Research Institute and touched about 10,000 youths.These statistics and takeaways are hardly earth-shattering. Such trends and observations have been made repeatedly made over the past couple of decades. Across America, church attendance is generally falling, and it is getting harder for churches to retain young people. So why bring up an article stating the obvious? Well, what struck me was the commentary from some of the individuals they interviewed on why they feel disconnected from church. It evidences the need for churches to speak boldly, clearly, and directly to youth about the power of the gospel, the relationship between the church and the world, and the holiness of God.

It is now clear that broad evangelicalism has largely miscalculated how to engage the youth with our evolving, sexualized culture. 30 years of emphasizing purity over faith and repentance, entertainment over meditation, and games over catechisms have left scars. The Exvangelical movement, for all its faults, has highlighted this truth. Those who grew up in such theologically derelict conditions are walking away from the faith in droves, and it should be no surprise to anyone that their kids are following.

Here are a few of the comments in the article from those surveyed:

Jesse Brodka, 22, said that “I hear what priests and pastors say at the pulpit and I say to myself, ‘No, that is not what I believe in my heart.’” He goes on, “The fact that Christian faith has become a symbol of judgment speaks to the gap between religious organizations and the non-judgment that we value as young people.”

Amethyst Rose, a self-identified non-binary person, said she has stopped attending their Baptist Church when homosexuality was declared a sin. She clarified, “that sets you up for eternal damnation. I was afraid to live my life.”

Christian Camacho, 22, said, “I don’t accept the teachings when it comes to discrimination” and that when it comes to going to church he and friends “have no reason to go”.

There is much that can be said about this commentary. However, if anything stands out is that there is no fear of God before their eyes. Whereas the debate for decades centered around whether or not God even existed, today it seems to be swirling around a personal freedom for licentious behaviors and ideals. What changed? How did we get here?

In the ’90s, many evangelical churches operated on the practical assumption that if we want young people to stay in church then we need to make church fun. This often meant fun youth trips, games, pizza parties, etc. The thesis, if not stated directly, seemed to be that if we entertain them, and keep them coming, genuine faith will come along eventually. This entirely man-centered approach to evangelism drove churches to became less about worship, faith, and repentance, and more about Christian-themed activities and programs. Parents would choose churches not on the quality of their doctrine, preaching, polity, and sacraments, but instead, on the vibrancy of their youth groups and program.

Largely, the first half of the plan worked; kids did show up. This effort was fueled and aided by Christian marketing agencies who caught on and flooded the space with new music, books, bracelets, t-shirts, and so on. It was big business. Furthermore, parents were generally supportive of programs that focused on abstinence, purity, and piety. As long as outward sin was avoided and piety was maintained things seemed to be on the right track. Yet, as we are seeing, it was largely posturing. Perhaps that’s too harsh. If it wasn’t outright posturing, it was at best empty instruction that lacked theological substance. Because of this it should be no surprise that so many that grew up in such conditions have left the faith. We had the process backwards. Instead of hoping the outward would change the inward, churches should have focused on the inward (justification) changing the outward (sanctification).

Let me quickly clear up that there is nothing wrong inherently wrong with building community, having fun in youth groups, and church programs. Gospel-centered community is a wonderful aid for Christians of all ages. The problem is that while some churches created a nice environment for kids to hang out, they failed to also teach an entire generation about worldview, repentance, faith, and at the risk of overstating things, the glory and holiness of Christ. We made idols out of various aspects of the Christian life, while ignoring more weightier matters of the faith. Instead of worrying so much about attendance, we should have been teaching them concepts like inevitable persecution and what it means to suffer for Christ. After all, scripture is clear that “all who desire to live a godly life will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

An entire generation has now graduated to adulthood without substantive guidance on how to live and exist faithfully to God’s word in a world that hates the gospel. While I don’t like it, I understand it. Cultural evangelicalism offered little in their training up. So when they went out and were challenged with hard, cultural, social, and moral issues, they’re unequipped to think critically and biblically.

As I continue to muse on the commentary of the young people mentioned above, I am saddened because these individuals, who appear to have spent some time in church, still have no idea what it means to be a Christian. They’ve flip-flopped the value system. Rather than looking to Christianity to understand the world, they look to the world to understand Christianity. They fundamentally view the church as the flawed entity in need of more modern moral interpretation. Therefore, the church must change to accommodate the culture. This false hermeneutical approach undermines every word and doctrine of the Bible. The moment we determine that scripture is unreliable on any moral issue, we will abandon its credibility on all of them. This is, as the overused expression goes, a very slippery slope.

The truth is, scripture is wholly sufficient on issues like sex, race, gender, and immigration. Whereas some act like the church has never thought about such things, in reality, these issues are not new to our world. We have thousands of years of insight woven into God’s word for guidance. Yet, so many are afraid of what the Bible says because it is unpopular.  News flash: it has always been unpopular in the world. Jesus wasn’t crucified because He said things people liked. Since day 1, the church has been fighting a battle to redeem the culture for Christ and His kingdom. It will remain this way until Jesus returns. Moreover, Jesus’ beauty and the kingdom of God is worth every sacrifice that one might for Christ. It is as the Jesus once said that “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44). Are we teaching the youth today what this treasure is and why its of infinite value? We must contend for the culture with the gospel and proclaim the the glory of Christ.

A very good friend of mine recently commented to me that he thinks the focus of the church right now ought to be to “love people” and not “fight a culture war.” I respectfully, yet firmly, disagree. In our current social climate, I would consider it unloving if the church were not to speak clearly on the issues that face our culture. Love doesn’t coddle and it always speaks the truth. If the church isn’t willing to stand her ground and offer something different than the world, then what’s the point? The quotes above are proof that lost souls are searching for meaning, identity, and life. The church, by the grace of God and the love of Jesus, can speak truth on these issues. Christianity offers more life, peace, hope, joy, and love than any other ideology in the universe. In Christ, we have answers for all of these hard questions.

If any good thing can be said about the recent surge of exvangelicals and flood of social issues in our society, it is that serious issues are now at the forefront of the minds of our youth. Young people are now being forced to address issues like sexuality, race, gender, etc. at younger ages. Because of this, they are more prepared than you might think to discuss hard topics. They have questions and want more than to be entertained. If we are unwilling to speak hard, biblical truths to young people, they will continue to view the church as little more than a small group of judgmental conservatives with antiquated worldviews. However, if are willing to train up this new generation on the weightier matters of the law and faith, they will see the substance of a church that has withstood every fiery arrow hell has ever thrown. Moreover, they will see the beauty and power of Christ Himself.

Let us prepare the minds and hearts of the generation tomorrow by equipping them with the Word of God today.

I Hate The Prosperity ‘gospel’

The prime reason I despise the “prosperity ‘gospel'” is because it is not gospel.

Jesus did not die to make me healthy and wealthy. Unlike some, Jesus did not run a con job. “Marvel not that the world hates you…,” He says. “In this world you will (not might) suffer persecution.” We are to “exult in our tribulation,” “consider it all joy when (not if) we encounter various trials,” and “all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will (not might) suffer persecution.”

I hate it because I’ve seen too many sucked up in it and when their grey matter returns they toss it…and too often toss Jesus with the lie.

Here are good words from Jared Wilson on the subject:

“To be clear, the prosperity gospel—a theology of a Protestant subculture largely occupied by (but not limited to) Pentecostal and charismatic believers that posits financial blessings and physical health are God’s will for the faithful—is an especially pernicious plague in the world, now fully exported and a global affront to true Christianity. And its problems aren’t merely theological. The prosperity gospel movement exploits the poor and many others in ways implicit and explicit that often cross fully into the category of spiritual abuse.

When we couple this very real religious epidemic with wider (but also very real) concerns about social justice, income disparities, economic disadvantage, and the like, evangelicalism’s money problem makes total sense. Prosperity theology—“health and wealth,” “name it and claim it,” and so on—turns God’s commands into formulas and faithful obedience into a kind of magic. The prosperity gospel twists biblical concepts into a counterintuitive mix of superstition and pragmatism. This heterodoxy ought to be rejected wholesale.”

This comes from a longer and worth-reading article you can read here:

Amazingly, to me, the “pg” is proclaimed and accepted by all too many inmates. Perhaps that is the main reason I hate it. Prisoners never exposed to genuine Christianity are subjected to this garbage and fall victim, yes, victim to its proclaimers.

I am NOT saying all proponents of “pg” are conmen and women. I believe some are, and would go to the wall saying Benny Hinn is based on his son’s book.

Sadly I believe some of the “pg” proponents genuinely believe what they are selling.

So I try to often pray that the Lord would open their eyes and hearts to truth.