Four Things I've Learned from Dad

An old addage says that when you’re sixteen your dad doesn’t know anything, when you’re twenty-six he’s occaisonally sensible and when you’re thirty-six he’s one of the wisest people you know. I can testify that there is some truth in that observation. Though I still rarely seek my dad’s advice, it’s because—at age forty-three—I have come to realize how much of his advice I’ve already absorbed from growing up around him.

Our Savior bought us with His own blood in order to redeem us and remake us His image. That transformation is central to His great gospel purpose. In my life, He used my dad to accomplish some important parts of that purpose.

Four values

I don’t think my dad sat down and planned “I need to teach these four values to my kids.” He did it mostly by just being there and speaking his mind (sometimes quite passionately!) in the context of a life that made what he meant unmistakeably clear. Read more about Four Things I've Learned from Dad

Real Men Command Respect

A Lesson for Fathers

It was just a few weeks into my senior year in high school. I was sitting in Advanced Math class when the door opened and the school secretary motioned for me to come out for a minute. Oh, of course, that form, I thought. “Sorry, I totally forgot about that form! I’ll bring it tomorrow, I promise.” She shook her head as she again motioned for me to come out in the hall. “It’s not the form.” I got up and left, a little embarrassed in front of all my classmates and wondering what kind of trouble I was in—it was still pretty early in the school year for anything major.

Crossing the threshold from the classroom into the hallway, I saw my dad standing there. And as soon as I saw my dad, I knew I wasn’t in trouble. Yet I suddenly, sincerely wished I were, because the look on his face told me that whatever had prompted this visit was much worse than any trouble I could’ve been in. Today, I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I think it might simply have been, “Poppie’s gone.”

Respect earned

We had been quite a threesome, Poppie, my dad and I. Hunting, fishing, cookouts, football games—you name it. No grandfather was in better shape than mine. He was tough as nails. Exercised every day. Not afraid to stand up to anyone, in the right way—like the time he stood toe-to-toe with a man twice his size who had a reputation of being less-than-nice to his wife. No blows were struck, but none were needed. He knew the difference between a real man and a coward, and the coward backed down. His leaving us in his mid-sixties was a completely unexpected shock to everyone who knew him. Read more about Real Men Command Respect

In Defense of Pan-Millennialism

Not long ago, a friend of mine was challenging me on eschatology. He believes that it is very important to embrace the pretribulational, premillennial position. I asked why this was so important. His answer was that we need to know which season we are in because the danger of false teachers will appear in the last days. I asked him whether believers in the second century worried about false teaching or whether only believers in the last days will need to be concerned. He said that today is different; we need to be more on the alert, he said, because false teaching will be more cunning. Later in our conversation, he read me a quote from The Shack.

True story.

In the end, I told him that I was reluctant to agree that what he was trying to argue was of much importance, even if he was right. At that point, he accused me of being a “Pan-Millennialist.” I told him that I was surprised that he had used a term I was completely unfamiliar with. When I asked him to define it, he squinted, pursed his lips, inclined his head, and said, “Look it up,” as though a description of this horribly bad doctrine would never pass his lips.

Here I point out three passages I believe should influence our eschatology and explain why I am indeed a “Pan-Millennialist.” Read more about In Defense of Pan-Millennialism

"Give Attendance to Reading"


The apostle Paul instructed the young preacher Timothy to give himself to reading. In the ancient world, reading was normally done aloud, and it was often a public activity. Books were scarce, and if you were going to read aloud anyway, why shouldn’t others benefit from hearing?

Paul thought that a young preacher needed to develop the habit of reading. This sensibility has been echoed through much of the history of the church. For example, the Anabaptists who drafted the Schleitheim Confession made reading the first duty of a pastor. Periods when pastors did not read have invariably been times of spiritual darkness for those who name the name of Christ.

Reading continues to be one of the most important duties of a pastor. Pastors are responsible to do the work of the mind, and their minds must have something with which to work. Reading is the door, and texts are the workmen through which the furniture of ideas enters the mind and organizes a pastor’s ministry.

How much should a pastor read? The answer to this question is determined by the nature of the ministry. A pastor needs to read enough, and enough of the right stuff, to be growing intellectually and to meet the demands of ministry in the world in which he lives.

Most of us minister to people who are familiar with sophisticated ideas in the fields of politics, jurisprudence, ethics, philosophy, and religion. For the most part, these ideas are mediated to our people through channels that are hostile to Christian orthodoxy and morality. Reading widely and thinking well is the only way for a pastor to help his people out of their bad thinking. I do not see how a pastor can expect to meet the challenges of contemporary ministry if his goal is to read less than approximately one book every week.

What should a pastor read? The short answer is, “All sorts of things.” Besides reading his Bible and reading for sermon preparation, a pastor should have a reading plan that he tries to implement consistently. Of course, his planned reading will be interrupted by necessary reading, but the plan gives some shape to his reading agenda.

Since graduating from seminary, I have found it useful to try to read by topic. I have a list of half-a-dozen general categories of reading. I try to rotate books from these categories. Read more about "Give Attendance to Reading"

SharperIron Financial Update

Though SharperIron is not organized as a nonprofit, it has never earned a profit. The site basically broke even in 2008, but it had some debt before that. And, so far, 2009 has accumulated a deficit. Though deficit spending seems to be the “in” thing these days, I’d like SI to operate on wiser principles! Read more about SharperIron Financial Update

The Parental Challenge of Imparting Wisdom

The Need for Wisdom

Through the ages parents have passed wisdom along to guide their children while young so that it might direct them as they mature.

In 21st century American society, short, easy-to-remember admonitions such as “Say no to drugs” or “Stop Bullying Now” are expressed in schools, homes, and community programs. In 19th century America, Poor Richard’s Almanac shared wisdom such as “The sleeping fox catches no poultry” and “At the workingman’s house hunger looks in, but dares not enter.” In 18th century England, Lord Chesterfield admonished his son with sayings including “A favor may make an enemy, and an injury may make a friend” and “Above all things, avoid speaking of yourself.” Ahiqar, an Assyrian court official, expressed wise sayings such as “For a man’s charm is his truthfulness; his repulsiveness, the lies of his lips” and “Let not the rich man say, ‘In my riches I am glorious’” (as translated by H.L. Ginsberg). Amenemope, a minor official during ancient Egypt’s New Kingdom period, wrote proverbs for his son such as “Fraternize not with the hot-tempered man, and press not upon him for conversation” and “Better are loaves when the heart is joyous, than riches in unhappiness” (as translated by James Breasted). Read more about The Parental Challenge of Imparting Wisdom

Is Global Warming for Real?

(Reprinted with permission from As I See It, Doug’s monthly electronic magazine. The article appears here with some editing. AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at

Virtually the whole of what the so-called main-stream media (including taxpayer-subsidized PBS and NPR) spew out regarding alleged man-caused global warming is propaganda of the most blatant sort, regularly dishonest, scientifically inaccurate, purposefully slanted and grossly exaggerated. Virtually the whole of the mainstream media—TV networks, newspapers and other print media, and the film industry—has sold its soul to spout the most extreme claims of the rabid environmentalists without qualification or caveat. We are assured that “the science is settled,” “the discussion is over,” “there is complete scientific consensus,” and “now is the time to get on board and act.”

We are fed the line (and lie) that … Read more about Is Global Warming for Real?

Writing Contest Winners

The winners of our first-ever SharperIron writing contest have been chosen!

They are John P. Davis for “My Journey Out of Dispensationalism” and Paul J. Scharf for “Why I Am a Dispensationalist.” These contestants will receive prize checks in the mail shortly and their articles will be published here in sequence within a few weeks.

We much appreciate everyone who participated. Several of the other contest entries will be appearing here at SI in the weeks ahead.