Archives for November 2012

Springfield Bible Conference

Last weekend, I spoke at the 2012 Springfield, Illinois Bible Conference, organized by my friend Dr. Curt Daniel, pastor of Springfield’s Faith Bible Church. Dr. Daniel spoke on the identity of the Spirit, sins against the Spirit, and the filling of the Spirit. Pastor Charles Leiter, co-pastor of Lake Road Chapel, Kirksville, Missouri, spoke on conviction by the Spirit, regeneration by the Spirit, and prayer and the Spirit. I spoke on the illumination of the Spirit, the sanctification of the Spirit, and the inner witness of the Spirit. The conference was attended by 250 people from the Midwest.  A good spirit was present, and book-buying was brisk.

Airplane Evangelism

On my flight home from the NCFIC conference, a young Chinese woman sat beside me. She was brilliant and had worked her way up the corporate ladder to the point that her company in China was sending her to its headquarters in Michigan for the very first time. Understandably, she was full of questions.

After chatting for a while, I asked her, “Are you a Christian?”

“I’m not sure exactly what you mean by that,” she said, rather shyly. “I have a friend who texts me a Christian message every day in both Chinese and English. Here, let me show you.”

I realized immediately that these messages were way over her head. “Are your parents Christians?” I asked.

“No,” she said.

“What do they believe in?” I asked, and then added, “And what do you believe in?”

“My parents and I only believe in the Communist Party,” she said. “If they treat us well, we are satisfied.”

“Look,” I said, “you must have thought many times in your life that there must be something more to life than the Communist Party in China!”

For the first time, she laughed. “You’re right there,” she said.

“Have you ever thought that ‘the something more’ might be the Christian God of the Bible?” I pressed on.

“Oh yes,” she said, “but I don’t really understand what the Christian worldview is. And how people get saved.”

“If you’re really interested, I’ll try to explain the basics of Christianity in ten minutes,” I said.

“I would love that,” she said.

I began with Genesis 1 (how we were created), then moved to Genesis 3 (how we fell). She was all ears but had a hard time taking it all in. She had never heard of Adam. I also had a hard time convincing her of the seriousness of sin. She finally seemed to grasp it when I explained that sin is essentially living selfishly rather than living for God’s glory. I explained to her why God put us here on earth—to live to His glory. That seemed to make a lot of sense to her.

After I drew a chart with God on the top, us on the bottom, and a wall of sin between which Jesus had broken open by His obedience, she began to ask a lot of questions about Jesus. “Why do we need Jesus to get to God?” “Why do we need to pray in Jesus’ name?” “What is it like to pray?” “How do you know when God answers your prayers?”

She also wondered why the Old Testament was necessary if we have the New Testament today. She wanted to know about Jesus’ mother. She wondered what the differences were between Judaism and Christianity.

I answered all her questions as simply as I could (she was challenging at times!), and then, as the plane was descending I shared with her how God had made Jesus precious to me in my own life, and that if you have Him, you really have everything. I told her too that I certain met more than 100,000 Christians in my life, but I had never met one who was sorry he or she was a Christian.

“That’s wonderful,” she said looking directly at me, and then she added emphatically, “and I can believe that.”

I offered to give her some of my books and invited her to come to a Bible class. She warmly accepted both invitations. Pray with me that she will attend.

A Faithful Servant of the Persecuted Church

Probably my highlight of the NCFIC conference was that I finally got to meet Rev. Fikret from Turkey. Paul Washer has wanted me to meet him for a long time and is encouraging me to minister among the churches this brother serves in Turkey. Rev. Fikret tells his story in a low-key yet powerful way. Today he ministers in one of the cities of the seven churches of Asia. Here’s the story he told me at lunch and then later to the entire gathering:

 When I was 18, I became curious about God, Islam, and Christianity, even though I knew nothing about the Bible or Christianity. One day I met a tourist couple from America who explained the gospel to me and encouraged me to attend a small, underground Christian worship service in Turkey. I decided to take the risk, but not without precautions. The first time I went I took a large, muscle-bound Turkish wrestler with me; he was trying out for the Olympics and was also interested in learning the basics of Christianity. We were ushered into the middle of the church, which made us feel very uncomfortable, since a Christian could then easily attack us from behind. We moved to the back pew which had a wall directly behind us. We were amazed at how people stood up during the service, how they sang, and how friendly they were to each other after the service. We had never seen anything like that in Islam.

Eventually I got a small New Testament. I read it from cover to cover. Part of me wanted to become a Christian and the other part of me was very afraid. I feared that to become a Christian meant losing my job, denying my culture and country, and eventually facing imprisonment and possibly death for converting from Islam to Christianity. When fear got the better hand of me, I would return the Bible to the friend who gave it to me and make him promise that he would never give it back to me, even when I asked. But then, two or three days later, I would miss it so much, that I would go to him and beg to have it back—and he would give it to me!

I kept attending the underground church despite the risks involved. One day, a church “friend”—or so we thought, but he was really a police informant—asked our group of believers to come over to a friend’s house after the service. There all the Christians were arrested and dragged off to the police station. Initially, they were treated fairly well, though they were told that the government was convinced that they were “Christian terrorists,” and acted as if the Bible was their secret “weapon.” Our captors kept saying, ‘Don’t worry, if you only say the Islamic prayer, you will be set free.” The Islamic prayer means saying aloud: “There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet.” The first man—who we still did not know was the police informant—was the first to say it, so he was set free. Four others followed suit. Then came my wrestler friend, who feared no man. Boldly and freely, he said, “Jesus Christ is God’s Son and through His righteousness and obedience I am saved from all my sins.” They immediately attacked him, beat him up, and incarcerated him. Blood was everywhere.

My turn was next. I was trembling like a leaf. In fact, I was so afraid that it felt like my mind was turning numb. I felt like I had no choice—the torture that would come upon me for denying Islam would just be too great. Just as I was about to open my mouth and deny my new-found faith, I felt hands come from behind me and cover my mouth fully so that I couldn’t say a word. I turned around to see my friend, as I was sure it was one of my friends, but he was nowhere in sight. In all my numbing fear, I suddenly realized that God was holding my mouth so that I would not deny Him but profess Him. After I confessed Jesus, I too was beaten badly and put in a cell.

At that time I didn’t know that there were only 80 Christians in all of Turkey, and that all of them were being arrested the same day that I was. For the next ten days, we were beaten every day, given daily electrical shocks, and underwent coffin therapy. By coffin therapy, the Islamic Turks mean that they put your body in a coffin and fill it with water until you feel like you are drowning. At that point, they again ask you to say the Islamic prayer. This is hard for me to explain, but persecuted Christians around the world have often experienced this well—you are so overcome with numbness that the only thing in life you can remember is that Jesus Christ suffered, bled, and died for your sins. In the midst of numbness, that provides peace that passes understanding.

After ten days, we were released suddenly by God’s kind providence. Apparently a European Union minister (Sir Fred Catherwood) came to Turkey to put pressure on Turkey’s Prime Minister to release us at once if he still wanted his country to be received into the European Union. A few hours later we were released.

 When I asked Brother Fikret if he was still being persecuted today, he said, “I have been arrested several more times after the first arrest, but it is no longer so severe. The authorities beat you and harass you, and then ask you to say the Islamic prayer, but by nightfall they give up and release you again. Things got a bit better for the Christians in the past four years.”

When I asked him how we should pray for the Turkish Christians, he said, “Don’t pray for or against persecution—for persecution keeps us close to God—but pray for perseverance under persecution.”

God is blessing Brother Fikret’s ministry in Turkey, as well as several other Turkish ministers. Today there are 4,200 Christians—a substantial increase from 80, but this is still a very small percentage for a land of approximately 75 million souls. Today, Turkey is still the largest unevangelized nation in the world.

NCFIC Conference, Asheville, NC

This year’s National Center for Family-Integrated Churches (NCFIC) was dedicated to evangelism. Approximately 2,300 people attended October 27 to 29—mostly conservative home-schooling families from various parts of the nation. Conrad Mbewe, Paul Washer, Doug Phillips, Scott Brown, Kevin Swanson, and I were the plenary speakers. Forty men joined us for breakout sessions. I spoke two times: first on “The Puritans and Their Evangelistic Method,” and second on “The Profile of the Evangelistic Home.” As a plenary speaker, I was also called upon (1) to give a preconference brief message on what was “burning in my soul”—that is, what issue or issues did we feel burdened or moved about; (2) to be filmed for an interview on worship—in anticipation of the next year’s conference; and (3) to do a video with Doug Phillips and Scott Brown on a forthcoming 3-volume set of William Gouge’s Family Duties, which Scott Brown and I have been editing. The first volume should come out in February, the Lord willing. It will be great to have the greatest Puritan classic on godly family living available in an easy-to-read format.

Our book table again did extremely well at this conference–$17,000 worth of books were sold, including 260 copies of A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life. (Soon we’re expecting the second printing of this book at arrive at Reformation Heritage Books.) I enjoyed meeting a family from near Lansing, Michigan, with eighteen well-behaved children—sixteen of them adopted from several cultures and ethnic backgrounds with various needs. Only eleven of them were able to come to the conference, and only nine made it on the picture I took. What a happy bunch they are! The children were all so polite and kind—the grace of God and the aroma of Christ seemed to emanate from them.

Then there was lunch with a couple from upstate New York. This brother started teaching Sunday school decades ago. The church enjoyed his teaching so much that they finally asked him to be their full-time pastor—a position he has happily and successfully for nearly two decades despite having no seminary education. Other old friendships were cemented deeper and new ones were forged.

Update on Victoria (X)

Five-year-old Victoria DeHaan suffered severe wounds after being attacked by dogs a few weeks ago. This time my update on Victoria (Tori) is a personal letter received from Victoria’s mother this morning. She has given me permission to post this.

Dear Uncle Joe,

Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart for writing the posts on Tori! It felt so amazing to be so surrounded with people in prayer for our little girl! Every time we heard of more and more churches and people praying for her, we just couldn’t believe it. We just felt arms reaching out, and knees being bent.

Our God is so amazing! Every day we have been able to witness new mercies, as we witnessed progress in our little girl. First her life spared and stabilized, her leg saved, arteries put back together, warm little feet, pulses in both feet, new tissues growing back, head scan cleared, scars healing at a rapid rate, and today standing!! I never thought three short weeks ago we would be wheeling our precious little girl down the corridor in a wheel chair. My mind can hardly take it in.

My worries have shifted from her body to her mind. Just before going to bed tonight she asked me to pray with her again. She was thinking “bad things,” she said. She will often talk about the whole accident from start to finish. She remembers every detail. One day she turned to me and said, “Did you see the barn floor? It was full of blood.” My heart breaks when I think of this, but every time I remind her that God delivered her. When I think of the whole accident, and events leading up to it, I love to see how calculated the timing of everything was. Every step was so timed, and just on time. I love seeing God’s direction and hand in this. It is so comforting.

This week Thursday skin grafting is scheduled. I have to constantly remind myself not to worry or be so weak, that God is in control, and there is no amount of worrying that would change the outcome.

Please continue to pray for our little girl. I’ve asked her many times if this makes her happy when people pray for her, and it definitely does. I also noticed the first week and a half that she only prayed for others. I couldn’t believe it. She has now started to include herself.

Lots of love,


Conscience, Christ, and the Ballot Box

As I said in a previous blog post, my conscience is convinced that I must vote for Mitt Romney. That has predictably generated some discussion. It’s not surprising that there are various brothers and sisters in Christ who agree or disagree, some of the latter including dear friends whom I love a great deal.

In this post I would like to clarify a few matters and offer a prayer for the election tomorrow that I hope many can echo in their own prayers.

1) Accountable to God for Our Vote. When I put our voting responsibilities in the light of Judgment Day, I am not invoking God’s wrath against those who vote for someone other than the Republican candidate. I am however reminding us of our accountability before God. As Christians we must do all things, including politics, in the fear of the Lord. Sins of commission and omission may bring fatherly discipline and a loss of reward on the great Day. The very fact that we are redeemed by the blood of Christ demands that we be holy (1 Peter 1:15–19).

2) No Excuse Not to Vote. In the blog post, I addressed two groups of people. My strongest words were reserved to Christians who do not vote for any presidential candidate. I believe that to fail to vote is to remain silent when God has given us a political voice to speak against abortion and immorality. Regardless of whom you mark on the ballot, the Christian should vote. The lives of millions of children are at stake, and God calls us to stand for the orphan in the political and judicial system (Isa. 1:17).

What Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote concerning the Nazi holocaust is equally true of today’s abortion holocaust: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

3) Need for Unified Opposition to Evil. The other group I addressed was believers who intend to vote for a third party candidate in the presidential election. I have empathy for them. I recognize the righteousness of supporting third party candidates where the main parties have lost their way. I also long to see godly and experienced Christians running in the primaries to gain Republican nominations.

However I do think that in this present election so much is at stake that we cannot afford to be fragmented among various presidential candidates. The Obama administration is not the run-of-the-mill liberalism we have seen in previous years. It is driving our nation full speed over a cliff of socialism and immorality into an abyss that is profoundly anti-Christian.

I understand that some believers have scruples of conscience against voting for Romney because he is only a moderate conservative and also not a Christian. My aim was, and is, to persuade their consciences that Christians need to use common sense. I freely admit that we don’t have an ideal candidate, but this is a time to stand together against evil that the other party advocates so blatantly with its bold stand for unbiblical, homosexual marriage and its unabashed support for abortion.

4) Sovereignty, Responsibility, and Urgency. I have full confidence in God’s providence over all things. Whoever rules the United States in 2013 will be appointed by God. At the same time, God’s sovereign providence does not remove our moral responsibility, nor the suffering that poor choices bring. We should foresee these consequences and be motivated to choose wisely. There was indeed a strong tone to my exhortation and it was a tone of urgency. God’s sovereignty does not make us passive or emotionless, but empowers us to take action.

5) The Supremacy of Christ. Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 17:14), including all Presidents of the United States. Even though the nations rage and the people plot a vain thing, God has enthroned His Christ and He will reign (Ps. 2:1–9). All men, whether kings or beggars, must bow the knee to Christ or suffer His wrath (Ps. 2:10–11). But because this King shed His precious blood, all who trust in Him, no matter how sinful they have been, will be blessed by God (Ps. 2:12).


Let me close with a prayer for election day.

Our Father, Lord of heaven and earth, Thou art very great. We praise Thee for Thy name is above all blessing and praise. Thou canst do immeasurably above all that we ask or think. Thou hast made the heavens and all their host, the earth and seas and all that fills them, and the angels of heaven do worship Thee.

Thou hast blessed our nation with an abundance of food and wealth. Thou hast revealed Thy law and gospel in Thy Holy Scriptures. Thou hast sent Thy Son to give His life a ransom for many. Thy servants have testified to our people.

Yet, O God, our land is bathed in the blood of innocents. We have taken Thy gifts, and made them our idols. We have hardened our hearts, and listened not to Thy commandments. We have turned Thy holy gospel into a license to sin. We have celebrated that which Thou dost condemn. We are a proud nation, and Thou dost hate pride.

Have mercy, O God, have mercy upon us! Thou dost not change, and therefore Thy people are not consumed. Forgive America for its many sins. Forgive each of us for all our sins. In wrath remember mercy. Thou didst promise that for the sake of ten righteous men Thou wouldst spare wicked Sodom. O God, hear the prayers of those who delight to fear Thy name, and do not give this nation over to a lie.

Thou art the Most High, who doth rule over the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever Thou wilt. If the heart of the king is in Thy hand to turn it as Thou pleasest, certainly then Thou rulest over the votes of the people. Direct their votes, we pray Thee, to those that will govern our nation with wisdom and lead us in ways that are right. Grant to us a president, senators, representatives, judges, governors, and other officials who will do us good and not harm. Give us a government under which Thy people, Thy church whom Thou dost love, may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Yet, Sovereign Lord, our deepest prayer is that Thou wouldst do whatever is necessary in the United States so that Thy name be hallowed, Thy kingdom come, and Thy will be done, both here and throughout the world, now and in all generations to come. Glorify Thyself in Thy church and in Thy Son now and forevermore. Amen.

Update on Victoria (IX)

Five-year-old Victoria DeHaan suffered severe wounds after being attacked by dogs three weeks ago. I post this to keep faithful and loving prayer warriors updated on her condition.

Earlier this week Victoria had another sponge vacuum put in again and the doctors were amazed at how well things looked. They did not have to cut away any tissue this time and the infection is gone! For this, we praise God. The doctors are hoping that this procedure will not have to be done again. There is an area as big as a thumb print that has tendons exposed which still needs some tissue growth.  If this proceeds well, the doctors anticipate skin grafting to be done in the near future. Victoria was in good spirits; at times she is quiet and withdrawn. We pray that all may go well in the next days and that she may be given the grace needed as she comes to terms with her condition.

Why My Conscience Won’t Let Me Not Vote for Romney

Some Evangelicals and Reformed Christians in the United States show a surprising ambivalence about the election on Tuesday. I am not suggesting that many of them will vote for President Obama. But I do know some godly Christian people who may either not vote at all, or vote for a conservative candidate who has no reasonable possibility of winning the election.

I would hope that all who love the Scriptures would agree that we should not vote for President Obama. There are compelling reasons why a Christian should be distressed with the current administration. The President’s unqualified support of abortion goes beyond anything we saw from previous Democratic leaders like President Clinton. His public endorsement of same-sex marriage is well known. His fiscal policy has launched the federal government into reckless spending which runs up our deficit at a rate of more than a trillion dollars per year—that is, more than $3250 of additional debt per year for every one of our 312 million people. At present, our government is in debt more than $51,000 for every person living in our nation. People have documented his socialist agenda for the government to use its coercive power to steal wealth from some in order to redistribute it to others as its officials see fit.

When one considers what the Bible says about the unborn child (Ps. 139:13–14), homosexuality (Rom. 1:26–27), debt (Prov. 22:7), and stealing (Ex. 20:15), including taking from the rich to favor the poor (Ex. 23:3), those committed to biblical truth cannot but groan over the policies that presently rule our nation. To vote for President Obama is to vote for the advancement of moral evil, intolerance against biblical teaching, financial bondage, and political tyranny. As citizens of a democratic republic, we have the grave responsibility to use our vote to end this administration before it does more harm to the people of our land.

Furthermore, I think that we all would also agree that either President Barack Obama or Governor Mitt Romney will win the election. This is not a statement of choice, preference, or political ideology. It is just a statement of fact. Polls indicate that only a few percent of voters will choose another candidate.

Therefore, if you are a biblical Christian, and cannot in good conscience vote for President Obama, then you must choose whether to vote for Mr. Romney, or a candidate who cannot win, or not to vote at all.

Why would any Christian choose not to vote? You have an opportunity to speak up for the unborn children, who cannot speak for themselves. God will hold you accountable one day for how you used this power to vote. Proverbs 24:11–12 says, “If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? And he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? And shall not he render to every man according to his works?” To avoid the ballot box is to remain silent while a million lives are snuffed out each year.

What would you say to the Lord on Judgment Day if He asks you, “Why didn’t you use your vote to stand for the millions of unborn boys and girls of America?” The difference between President Obama and Governor Romney regarding abortion is clear. Romney has far more respect for the right to life and for freedom of conscience than Obama.

What about Christians who plan to vote for another candidate who cannot win? I can imagine two scruples of conscience that might hinder them from voting for Romney.

First, they might object to voting for a Mormon, and thus choose to vote for someone professing orthodox Christianity. I am no supporter of the distorted theology of the Church of the Latter Day Saints. It is outside the bounds of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It adds other writings and so-called prophecies to Scripture as the Word of God. However, we are not electing a pastor. We are electing the President of the United States. We do not live in a political system where the head of state leads the established religion of the nation. We live in a system of religious liberty where our Constitution says no religious test must be passed by a candidate for public office. (Ben Manring has posted on this topic as well.)

Christians can in good conscience support the political office of non-Christians. If godly Daniel was able to serve in the administration of the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar, then godly believers can support a President who is not a believer in the God of the Bible. The President’s job is not to teach sound doctrine, but to punish wrongdoers and to protect good citizens (Rom. 13:3–4), as the head of the executive branch of the government. To vote for Mitt Romney is not to endorse his views of religion, but to support him politically.

I might also point out here that as far as I can see in Mr. Romney’s past political record, at no point has he promoted his Mormon views upon the people he has served. I cannot find a single instance where he has tried to impose unsound Mormon theology on those whom he has governed.

Second, they might object to voting for a moderate conservative, and prefer to vote for someone who better fits their own more conservative views. They might say this is “voting on principle,” suggesting that they are acting with strict integrity of conscience rather than making a pragmatic compromise.

Let me respond by asking some questions. Is it a compromise of principle to vote for someone who does not agree with your perspective 100%? If so, then it seems that you can only vote for yourself! No one shares the exact same principles. In fact, our system of government virtually requires people of varying principles to work together so that various branches and offices of the government cooperate efficiently.

Imagine three presidential candidates in 2020, one of whom is an unknown worker at a Kleenex factory, the second is a famous and experienced leader, and the third is a homicidal maniac wildly popular for his music videos. Mr. Kleenex holds almost the same views as you do. Mr. Leader is sometimes frustrating to you but holds similar views to you on several points. Mr. Homicidal Maniac is, well, you know. Does “voting on principle” mean you must vote for Mr. Kleenex, even though 99% of voters have never heard of him?

Someone might say that this is not a fair characterization of our choices in this election. Of course it is not. These are imaginary people, not an allegory. My point is that voting on principle does not mean disregarding a person’s experience or ability to win the election.

To consider practical matters when making decisions is wisdom. Our Lord Jesus acknowledged the wisdom of being careful to “count the cost” before engaging in a large economic or military endeavor (Luke 14:28–32). Our resources are precious. We must not throw them away if we know we cannot accomplish our goal.

Your vote is precious. Please do not throw it away when you could use it to defend our children against a future of abortion, sexual perversion, socialism, crushing debt, and tyranny.

The elections where we must press for solid, biblical, conservatives are the primaries. It is sad that we have so few options in the Republican Party that represent the wisdom of the Word. I personally would have chosen a different man for the Republican candidate. We must remedy that, and we can remedy that. But the 2012 primaries are history now.

In the election on Tuesday, we have only two realistic options. If you don’t vote for Romney, then you have helped Obama. And if a significant number of evangelical Christians do as you do, Obama will be elected. I could not live with my own conscience if I contributed, even by default, to electing a president who promoted same-sex marriage and baby-killing, which may well lead to the destruction of America. That’s why my conscience won’t allow me not to address this issue, and also won’t allow me not to vote for Mitt Romney.

It’s a close race, dear friends. Choose wisely. No election in recent history has been so important as this one. Your vote could make a world of difference.