An appeal to pray for the repentance of our Minnesota Governor, Tim Walz

An appeal to pray specifically for the repentance of our Minnesota Governor, Tim Walz:

Last Wednesday (July 5), Pastor John Tramm (Marshall, MN) and myself, along with Tim Miller (who leads a pro-life legal action group) were granted a face-to-face meeting with Tim Walz at his offices at the capital in St. Paul, in which he read the letter posted below, penned by John and signed by 15 pastors in Minnesota.  The fact that this meeting happened was an answer to prayer and defied our presumptions.  Governor Walz was personable and after reading the letter, pressed back with questions and rebuttals.  The rebuttals were the common progressive talking points regarding abortion, using Biblical and spiritual terms.  What surprised me was that Governor Walz, far from a committed atheist, is a member of a local church in the Twin Cities (ELCA).  In this, my hatred for false teachers who prostitute the pastoral office and give faulty assurance and false authority for the wicked agendas of the left was re-established.  Governor Walz is deceived by these deceivers and granted “spiritual” authority for the wickedness laws recently passed and described as bringing God’s wrath in Romans 1.  

After the meeting, we sensed that it was good to wait for a time, and not publicly speak of our discussion, that our efforts would not be confused with either that of the lobby group or that we were seeking some sort of fame.  

We spoke the truth to Governor Walz, the truth regarding God, humanity, sin, judgment, and repentance. The Gospel has been offered to him.  Pray that he repents of wickedness and seeks the forgiveness of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Pray to the God of heaven who can not only transform a sinner’s will but change the fortunes of a state gone astray.   May the Truth set him free.  

Here is our letter.

An Open Letter to Governor Tim Walz

May 28, 2023

Governor Tim Walz

State Capitol

75 Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. #130

St. Paul, MN 55155

Dear Governor Walz,

The sovereign King of the universe has declared in His Holy Word: “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.”  (Psalm 103:19). As the governor of this state, you have been given a temporary position of authority by the eternal King, to serve as “God’s servant…for good” (Rom. 13:4) .  There have been leaders throughout history who pursued justice and righteousness and those who practiced and promoted evil.  Time and again, we have seen that those who persist in evil eventually reap the consequences of evil, for “He does not leave the guilty unpunished”  (Exodus 34:7).  We, therefore, as pastors concerned for you, the good of the people of this state, and the glory of almighty God, are compelled to warn you of “the wrath to come”(1 Thes. 1:10) and to urge you to turn away from the great evils that you have enshrined into the laws of Minnesota. (Psalm 94:20)

God has also declared judgment upon those “who call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).  Your ascent and celebration of three bills in particular, though there are others, do this very thing.  The recent passage of the Trans Refuge Act is a clear case in point.  This bill not only promotes the mutilation of bodies, including minor children and teens, but it also subverts the fundamental right of parents to make decisions on behalf of their children according to their beliefs and conscience.  You claim this law “protects access to gender-affirming health care.”  If you want to affirm gender and truly care for people, start by teaching them that God created people in his image in one of two sexes: male or female. (Gen. 1:27)  To alter one’s God-given body through genital mutilation or pharmaceuticals is an effort to play God and to declare that our wisdom is greater than his.  For God has made us in his image, as male and female, to reflect his own being and nature.  

Rather than allowing counselors to offer the truth and intervene in situations of brokenness, you seek to take away the freedom of speech of those in positions to offer meaningful help.  You claim “conversion therapy” is harmful and signed bill HF16 to stop it.  It is truly harmful to perpetuate lies to people, encourage them to dishonor their bodies and God, and silence those who desire to help others by speaking the truth.

You claim to be “protecting people seeking or providing abortions in Minnesota” through bill HF366.  Rather than protecting human life, you are destroying it and breaking God’s law, in which He said, “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13).  Certainly, the blood of those babies who are being slain cries out to the Lord, even as the voice of Abel’s blood cried out to God from the ground where he was murdered (Gen. 4:10).  Governor, you have blood on your hands!  

God has been patient toward you.  At any moment, He could justly administer his judgment upon you, but in His kindness, He has waited.  Take note of His kindness, for it is meant to lead you to repentance (Romans 2:4).  Repent, and change your ways before it is too late!  Acknowledge God as the sovereign and holy King of all the universe.  He is the one to whom you must bow and whom you must serve and to whom you must give an account.  You have sinned mightily against Him.  But thanks be to God that “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).  Turn to God, express genuine sorrow for your sin, and change your ways.  “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31).  Our God is merciful, and He has promised that “whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37).  This is the heart of the biblical gospel.  We pray that you will repent and believe in Jesus Christ, even today.  

For Christ Jesus and his Kingdom,

Pastors in Minnesota

My assessment of the Awakening Hope Revival

The Awakening Hope Revival Assessment

Exodus 20:1-7 (1)  And God spoke all these words, saying, (2)  “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (3)  “You shall have no other gods before me.

(4)  “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (5)  You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, (6)  but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

(7)  “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

 I attended the Awakening Hope Revival in Brainerd MN, on Saturday, March 25, with a fellow church member and watched the video from March 26. After discussing this with several other discerning Christian laymen and pastors, here is my assessment of the Awakening Hope Revival: It was an exercise in Idolatrous, false worship, which is both forbidden by God’s revealed word and will lead to destruction, according to the 2nd commandment.

God not only declares That we are to worship him only (1st Commandment), but that we are not to worship God as the pagans worship their gods.

We are not to worship the True God with images, or idolatrous representations of God which misconstrue his majesty, holiness, freedom, and transcendence, instead in we are to worship Him spirit and truth, with preaching the Scripture, prayers, singing of Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, confession (I Timothy 4, Colossians 3), the ordinances of baptism and communion…all in good order (I Corinthians 14), with clarity for all the saints to build up the church (Ephesians 4) 

False Worship or idolatry was, and is, in essence, going beyond Scripture for the immediate gratification of making an invisible God tangible, present, and physical. It was a demand for instant assurance on man’s terms.

It is entirely man-centered for it demands God speak to us, bless us, and appeal to us, according to our demands. Idolatry makes feelings and preferences holy, and then we use God for our desires, rather than bringing, through honest confession of repentance, our sins to a Holy God by faith under the declared Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

We are not to presume that God speaks to us according to our imaginations or through means other than Scripture.

While Worship is not restricted to the Local Church’s weekly gathering, it should never counter that which God has declared.

God speaks in Scripture, in worship, and we respond with repentance and faith in Him. This Awakening revival did in effect the opposite. The leaders declared and then God was expected to respond to them on their terms in their time frame. This is the opposite of the pattern and ethos of Biblical Worship.

*Declaring that a bat flying around is evidence of the devil.

*Spiritual and Demonic Deliverance lines with no specific call for repentance.

*The speaker referred to his wife as “smoking hot” multiple times.

*The Gospel was given under the guise of means for my own power and influence, as opposed to the power itself for salvation.

*Faulty and instant assurance was spoken to those who walked the aisle.

*Undermining and even making insufficient the regular church.

*Songs that were both man-centered and unsingable.

*Women preaching.

*The instant testimonies of miraculous healings which could not be verified other than the testimony of the one who claimed to be healed.

*The presumption to heal a sick person outside of the prescribed means of James 5.

*The numerous times we heard “God told me,” “God spoke to me.”

*Partial healings, prophetic declarations over individuals by individuals.

*The use of Scripture terms and Christian images out of their context.

*Jesus’ name was constantly invoked. but as a means to an end. 

It was not enough that this “event” was idolatrous in nature, it was also irreverent, taking the Name of God in Vain. God was constantly misrepresented from being Holy and Transcendent to being beholden to the whims of the speaker. His name was uttered often, but carelessly, out-of-context, and without caution, as a stamp of approval on whatever the leads declared “He has told them.”

It was driven by the leaders and their personalities, rather than a sobering reading and singing and declaration of Holy God, according to his holy Word.

 It was also very therapeutic for the 21st century, appealing to the confusion of identity within. It was the type of self-help message for those who imagine a whole category of “inner psychological unhealthiness” apart from the Scripture.  The healing was psychosynthesis rather than actually medically verifiable.

Why does this matter? Bad Theology, particularly in the place of what is supposed to be true Worship, harms people. It creates faulty means of assurance, keeping true Christians insecure, immature, angry, and weak, as they look for the next high and emotional uplift. It gives false assurance to the unregenerate that they have true faith based upon some peer-pressure generated actions (altar call, deliverance lines, etc), thus inoculating them from the need to truly repent and believe, being born again by the Spirit. There is a corrosive and confused pattern, which affects the church.

There is a warning in Scripture for this—Exodus 20:5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. Gal 6:8  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

1Co 4:6  I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 

If your view of God is off, then everything is off. If you think God is less than who he is and we are more than who we are as dead sinners, you will miss the Gospel.

The Gospel is the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, the 2nd adam, born of a virgin, living a perfect life, and dying a sacrificial death upon the cross to redeem sinners and restore his curse-laden creation. God’s wrath was satisfied and the price was paid. The Gospel happened in History and when Jesus rose from the dead, New life is given and imparted to each sinner who believes and repents. This is the Good news. This is the actual work of the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t need our help or our improvements.

Romans 10:8-10 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim)because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Rom 10:10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth, one confesses and is saved.

Theology is meant to be taught and applied

Theology is always meant to change its hearers. True Doctrines of God engage all of a person. There is no such thing as hypothetical truth, it is intended to be applied to the self and others.
Today, in our increasingly hostile culture, there is always a lurking danger of mere intellectualism, whereas a person who loves to talk about, discuss, and even debate theology but only at the level of talk. Why? It feels good to talk about theology, particularly where the enemies are rampant and loud. It is what Christians are to do. But therein lies the danger.
To this end, if you like discussing doctrine, if you read articles regarding the latest controversies, if you have a long list of reformed and cultural podcasts, and enjoy paying attention to social media debates, don’t stop there. This is proof positive that you are being drawn to apply what you are learning to others. Teach your kids. Find an area in your church to teach what you are learning. One of the best areas to start is to teach elementary kids (or older adults) basic Gospel truths of Reformed theology.
Providentially, all of my significant shifts in theological understanding happened, not before I was teaching, but while I had some leadership role and was accountable to teach regularly in the Local church. Ask your pastor. You will find that applying big truths to people has an effect on your own heart. It transforms ideas from existing merely in the intellect to application in the minds of others. It’s harder than it seems, but you will grow to love the truth more and more.

Christianity is both affirmations and denials

The rule of thumb for preaching is stated well: Preach Christ from every page and text. This is true. Let me posit that this is an incomplete principle. We must preach Christ from every text, but we must first also name and tear down the alternate, the rival spirit of the age from every text.
Wokism and its tentacles, religious and cultural phariseeism, and cultural conservative “Christianity” are also hidden in every text, waiting for the wise and bold preacher to expose and anathematize them.
If you are a teacher or preacher, do not settle for preaching merely a positive Gospel, people must repent of individual sins and faulty religious systems overriding their loyalty. Christian preaching is affirmations of instruction, it is also denials and warnings, both for the individual Christian, the Church, and the rulers and powers of this particular, and every age. True Christians love to discern and appreciate that they can have confidence in rejecting falsehoods.
Christianity is exclusive, it is a narrow road. It is declaring what we believe. It is also rejecting all other alternatives, and all competitors. Amidst all the false Gods, as we name them, Christ will always stand.

Thoughts on manliness through developing an assertive, manly voice…

Thoughts on manliness through developing an assertive, manly voice…

One marked difference I noticed as I attended John Piper’s pastor’s conference’s over the years is how high-pitched the voices of the worship and workshop leaders had become. Before there was a woke ideology present at these conferences (2017 or so, after which I quit attending), we (myself and others) noticed a marked and increasing effeminacy of both the worship sung and the men leading the singing. No longer was it men singing hymns loudly and boldly, but increasingly newer, passive, higher pitched (unsingable!) and emotive songs.

I have been noticing a distinction between confident men and insecure men, or men who act like men and men who retreat from conflict as their primary default position. It is that the former have lower pitched voices while the latter’s voices are soft and effeminized. This is true of me, I would guess—when I am confident, I say things with a low, yet assertive voice, while the things I say insincerely or in fear of people are said in a higher-pitched passive voice. Repentance and obedience carry a tone.

Posture matters for both men and women, and this includes working to cultivate a manly voice. Notice in the movies of yesteryear vs the sitcoms of today? There is almost an entirely different vocal tone of actors in the old days than in today’s generation. Look no further than what the law of winsomeness, popularized by Tim Keller, Desiring God, and the Gospel Coalition have produced, vs. those influenced by Douglas Wilson, John MacArthur, or Voddie Baucum. Listen to their voices, their posture.

Case in point: I was on a zoom call recording a friend’s podcast (on “worship in the church”) and besides myself, there was another reformed Baptist pastor and a younger Presbyterian worship leader. The vocal tone-ation of both men presented a huge contrast, but it was reflective of what they said. The PCA guy, quoting TCG articles and an avowed Keller-ite, made no assertive claims, but merely hypothetical statements and platitudes about appealing to the comforts of men and women in worship, while the Reformed Baptist Pastor asserted Truth according to the dictates and principles of God’s Word. Ironically, the assertive pastor had a lot of practical nuggets to give, while the passive Millenial with the effeminate voice said almost nothing applicable.

Does not the nature of Godly manhood necessitate developing a low voice, one which is confident and assertive? Yes, because the nature of fighting and taking Culture for Christ necessitates assertive statements of advancement.

I would posit the High-pitched and rather effeminate voice is kept this way because of the law of winsomeness and is driven by necessary Accomadtion to not being offensive to others means that they (others) are “in Control.” The tone and pitch of the voice will follow suit; for in this view, public interaction being retreating, necessitates being afraid of men; Whereas driven by Fear of God will cause one to make confident assertions in spite of men’s opinions.

Is this not merely a natural genetic makeup? Of Course Not. Listen to Steve Lawson preach. He might have the world’s most unnatural preaching voice, and yet it sounds manly and clear. The same could be said for James White, whose natural voice seems quite high, but is manly. Or, on the opposite, does Voddie Baucuum really have that low and intimidating voice, or has it become this by his posture, his theology lived out?

Listen to the voices of pastors who were influenced by “the culture accommodationists/retreat-ism vs those who were most influenced by those who, by conviction or by obedience, take stands against culture to bring Christ as King into all of life. I would say the contrast would be striking over time.

Good theology lived in obedience will lead to mature, secure men. And Mature and confident men’s vocals will reflect this. A Godly posture in men will involve the whole of the man.

1 Corinthians 16:13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.


Convictions on the “altar calls” and planned “revival responses”

Convictions on the “altar calls” and planned “revival responses”
I grew up in a church system where a public call for “walking the aisle” or “raising your hand” to receive Christ was a semi-regular occurrence in my Evangelical Free Church, though not too ostentatious. I remember this as normal but began to have some concerns as I worked at Bible Camp and saw the same kids come forward for the same experience on Decision Night (Tuesdays at the chapel) year after year, regardless of the content of the message.
My clear, personal, and abiding conviction on these issues came when I became the Camp speaker and was actually in charge of the Altar Call (circa 2003). I remember this night clearly as one of a fork in the road for ministry after which my ministry direction was altered and set on a different course. The night I am referring to came during a week of camp where there was a big thunderstorm and a significant power outage, which meant for chapel, the lights were off, candles were lit, and the music was acoustic. After two days of games, lack of sleep, and storms, the ambiance was one of the emotions, a “revival spirit.” Kids and counselors were swaying and raising their hands. Was it the Holy Spirit at work, or was the atmosphere unique and intimate?
Before I got up to speak, I remember that a very clear thought came to me and was crystallized. It was my turn to get the big decision numbers, and I knew exactly how I would do it. I was sure that I could get up, share the horrors of crucifixion with all the dramatic emotion I could muster, and then make a plea for the decision to receive Jesus.
As I considered this, I then realized that I could easily, not because I was a great speaker, but because of the emotive atmosphere, simply calling for a decision, and most or all of the kids would do whatever I told them to do. I knew it. I held this in my hands. And then I was gripped by Fear. I knew it was in my power to do this and I then realized their response might have nothing to do with God, but only by using the right words, and in this, I could give false assurance. They would have their faith in that night and the feelings of that night, but not in the Abiding Truth of God’s Word. It was one of those ministry crossroads. The temptation was great and the power and pull of immediate success were terrifying. I knew that God would hold me accountable for my words and actions.
I remember going to the bathroom and staring at the mirror with this realization and this Holy Fear. I knew I could go in the altar call direction and I knew the results would be immediate and marked. I knew we would have numbers to report and decisions to count up. In my fear, I resolved to do the opposite. I went up on stage and gave a simple, clear, and sincere gospel message. Then I did the opposite of what I had been indirectly trained to do: I sent the kids back to their cabins. I shared that I and the counselors would be available to pray and answer questions. A few kids stayed. Most departed. The Lights came on. I didn’t have the revival I had craved, but I had a clean conscience and the methods of my preaching ministry were changed. This was 18 years ago. I have only grown stronger in my convictions: Real Salvation is seen in the Spirit working on the individual to believe in Christ Jesus and Repent. This will lead to a lifetime of discipleship, love of the church, and marked maturity. This person will love God’s word. Their assurance will be Christ Alone as their King and High Priest (Hebrews 10:19-25), as they obey His word for the rest of their early lives.
Friends, you need the Word of God, preached, sung, obeyed, and meditated upon. Will your life be marked by experiences? Sure, both of victory, hardship, and repentance. You need to first realize that you are a Sinner who is separated from God and headed to Hell. The Gospel is Christ’s Work of mediation through his perfect life and atoning death. Believe this.

Thoughts on 20 years in the Ministry…

Thoughts on 20 years in the Ministry…
I am now in my 21st year of pastoral ministry and as I think back on the first two decades, my life has been one of reformation, both in the positive and the negative.
In the positive, I look back at the kindness of God to hem me in and move me from a seeker-driven youth minister to a Confessionally reformed pastor. That, through a series of books, mentors, podcasts, and just preaching through books of the Bible, I praise God for where he has reformed by thinking and living in conformity with his written word.
In the negative, I also evaluate my life through a long series of “forks in the road” requiring repentance and faith which God designed to put in front of me. Difficulties with people, the world, and the devil, the ministry has been anything but “conflict-free.” I look back and realize that every time, the dominant enemy, the primary foe, was my flesh, the hard choice between obedience in the long term and appeasing my desire for comfort, conflict-free living, and immediate success. Every conflict was exacerbated by my own fear within (II Corinthians 7:5, Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 29:25), and the choice was often not that difficult intellectually, but it was painful spiritually. God has so loved me that he has forced me to contend with myself. Will I fear Him and obey Him, or will I give my dues to the altar of man’s approval?
The last 20 years have been a series of events and relationships through which God has forced me to recon with my worldly fears.
It has been a reformation of fears, a reformation of the heart.