I've been studying in Galatians recently. The results of my study for chapter one are available.

Decorating gingerbread cookies

The Nations

Did you know God has a plan for all the nations of the world? I've added a short point paper which traces God's plan through the Bible, from the Garden of Eden and the nation of Israel through the church and the end times. Take a look in the Point Paper section.


As you may or may not know, Ann has been making and selling homemade candles for several years. I've just put up a link to the candles she can make. Look on the menu in the "family" area.

Star Wars Cartoon

Our previous DVD player died last spring. Ann had bought me the cartoon version of Star Wars: Clone Wars for my birthday in June, but I had not been able to watch it. We finally replaced our DVD player this week, so Jacen and I watched it. Well done! I like the cartoon version as much as the real one.

Marble Run

We picked up a neat toy for our kids - a marble run set. It's a bunch of connectable pieces that build into a track for marbles to follow down. There are wheels to spin, bells to ring, and whirlpools to descend. I think the best games require kids to be creative, and this fits the bill. They keep coming back again and again to build new tracts. So far our tallest tract was nearly 5 feet tall.


We didn't do much of anything for Thanksgiving this year. After taking the entire family back and forth to Wake Forest for 2 days every week of the semester, we were really ready to go nowhere and do nothing, so that's what we did. And it was a great time! I got to spend more time with the kids, and Ann got to focus on her cooking and her scrapbooking. We even broke out a couple puzzles and fixed them together as we talked. It was a nice break in a busy semester.

More on Baptism

Why did Jacen get baptized? First, let me try and answer a different question: what is NOT the reason why he got baptized? He didn't get baptized as a means to God's grace. That is, baptism has nothing to do with establishing a right relationship with God. You might recall that last February Jacen accepted Jesus as his Savior and Lord. That step of accepting God's grace only through faith is the ONLY thing Jacen needed to have a right relationship with God. So if baptism does not confer God's grace, why bother? Jacen gave two reasons in his testimony video, which was shown to the church. He said first he wanted to follow Jesus' example. Recall that John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the river Jordan. Why did Jesus get baptized? Did He need grace from God? No! He is God. He did it out of obedience to His Father and to set an example for those who follow Him. So Jacen was simply following Jesus' example. Jacen said second he wanted to be baptized because God said to. Jacen was referring to a portion of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I commanded you." Those who are disciples of Jesus should be baptized and should be taught. Jesus Himself commanded that His followers be baptized, so Jacen was simply being obedient to His Lord. These are great reasons for being baptized, and I'm very proud of my son.


Today, Jacen got baptized. As you might recall, he asked Jesus to be his Lord and Savior last February, and today he followed His example. Pastor Gilbert, the senior pastor at Calvary baptized him, and as you can see from the picture below, he graciously allowed me to assist. It was a great time.

The heat is on

In the living room of our condo we have a gas fireplace, something we've never had before. When the temperature dropped into the 30's one night this week, I decided to fire it up (no pun intended) the next morning. Wow! Within 15 minutes it jumped 8 degrees in the living room/kitchen area. I suspect Ann, who is still a Texas girl at heart, will really appreciate the heat when winter arrives.

John Calvin

If you're interested in John Calvin, I highly recommend a recent biography of him by Thomas J. Davis simply entitled John Calvin. The book is well-written, reads easily, and deals fairly with his beliefs. At just over 100 pages, it's closer to an overview than a serious biography, but on the other hand, it doesn't take too long to finish.

Biography on John Calvin from CBD


Ann's parents are in town visiting for the week, and they came with us to church today. When Emilee saw her grandfather all dressed up, she said, "You look like a preacher!"

Walking with Emmy

Earlier this week Emmy and I went walking in the neighborhood behind our condo complex. We saw a big spider on a 6 ft tall web and a small snake (about 6 inches long). But the best part of the walk was the conversation, which ranged over a variety of topics including biology: "Daddy, do spiders poop?" (I don't seem to remember this from my biology class, but I said yes anyway.) and theology: "Daddy, is God on the moon?" I told her that since God is everywhere, yes, He's on the moon, and in fact He's here with us right now. She thought about that for a moment before replying, "Yes, He's right here on my shoulder."

Matthew 18:2-3 Calling a little child forward, [Jesus] had him stand among them. Then he said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven."

You need the faith of a four-year-old to get into the kingdom of heaven.


Life in Winston-Salem has finally started to take on a routine. The kids have started school; Ann is homeschooling them again this year. Jacen is in the 2nd grade, while Emmy is starting K-4. I'm working at Calvary on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, mostly doing sermon prep and critiquing but with a sprinkling of other ministries. The whole family travels together to Wake Forest on Thursdays and Fridays, so James and Ann can take classes. Yes, Ann's taking a class this semester, one designed to equip women who will be pastor's wives. We stay in the seminary's commuter housing, which works well. The remaining days are for family and study. So far, we really like being here in Winston-Salem. The church is treating us like royalty, and there is so much to learn and to do.


I found an excellent definition of humility. It's a quote from the "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia," which I read in Dr. Jim Berg's "Changed Into His Image:" "...the habitual frame of mind of a child of God is that of one who feels not only that he owes all his natural gifts, etc., to God, but that he has been the object of undeserved redeeming love, and who regards himself as being not his own, but God's in Christ. He cannot exalt himself, for he knows that he has nothing of himself. The humble mind is thus at the root of all other graces and virtues."


On Saturday Dad drove the rental truck for us to Winston-Salem. With help from some of the guys at Calvary we were unloaded in about two hours, and then we began the task of unpacking. So far we've gotten the kitchen and living room nearly done and the master bedroom started. We haven't even looked at the kids room, since we're not sure their furniture will fit. The church is graciously putting us up in a new condo, and it's really nice. It even has a pool. Here's a picture of the building:

Moving Week

This is moving week. The apartment is nearly all boxed up, the kids' beds are taken down, and a bunch of the furniture is stacked up in the living room. We've been eating all the remaining odds and ends of food (finished the last of the halibut today, Dad) and using paper plates and plastic utensils. We're nearly ready to go. We're going to miss our many friends here, but we're looking forward to the opportunities at Calvary. The second chapter in our ministry adventure draws to a close.

Greek Is Over

On Monday I took my final two exams: one was another vocabulary test and the other was translating five verses out of 1st John. They weren't too bad. Although Greek was hard, particularly the second semester, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I'll be taking a third semeseter of it this fall. Although I know enough to do some translating, I suspect there's still tons I don't know.

June Bug Kites

I took the kids up to the seminary today to make some june bug kites. What? You've never had a june bug kite before? Here's what you do. Catch a june bug, preferably a large one. I use a tennis racket to pin them down to the ground. Grab one of their hind legs with needle-nose pliers, then tie a piece of bright thread to the leg. When you let go, the june bug will fly all around, but can't get away. It's a june bug kite. It's a lot of fun for your kids.

Another Move

Yep, that's right. We're moving again. This time we're heading to Winston-Salem. I've been asked to participate in the first class of the Calvary School of Pastoral Leadership, and I've accepted. It's a two-year program where I'll be on staff at Calvary Baptist gaining ministry experience while still working on my M.Div at Southeastern. I'm estimating that it will slow me down by only 1 semester, which is good, and give me a lot of practical experience, which is really good. Our target date to be in Winston-Salem is the middle of August. Yes, that's in only 6 weeks.

Calvary School of Pastoral Leadership
Calvary Baptist Church


In my personal quiet time I have begun to translate 1 Corinthians from the Greek and then study and apply it. I've finished the first five verses of chapter two. You might find this to be a helpful resource.

Google Earth

Google has a new tool called Google Earth. It allows you to navigate our planet using satellite imagery. They've tied it to various other search features, such as looking for restaurants, getting directions from here to there, etc. It's kinda neat. Below is a zoom in on the main campus of Southeastern. Ann and I live just NW of this map.

Google Earth

Half-Way Home

Have you ever watched the ground when it has rained too much? The water table is full, so the rainwater starts running off the top. You know what I mean? Well, that's what my brain started doing last week. Greek got really hard, and the information kept coming so fast that I think some of it slid off. Leaked right out of my ears, I guess. In any case, I finished the first semester on Friday by taking two more exams (one for vocabulary and another for grammar). I enjoyed the weekend off, but this morning I start the second semester of summer Greek. Perhaps you're wondering if I'm actually learning anything. The answer is yes! But I still have far to go. I took my Greek New Testament to church Sunday to see if I could follow along with the texts. Although I can read phrases here and there, there are still too many words and verb conjugations that I don't know.

New Lesson Posted

A new lesson in my study of First Corinthians has been posted.

Ethics and the Bible

Imagine this scenario -- a pastor is sitting in his office when a church member knocks on the door and says, "Hey, Pastor, does the Bible say anything about ___ ?" In that blank spot you could put any number of ethical issues that face our nation today: abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, war, cloning, premarital sex, pornography, or homosexuality. What does he say? He knows the Bible speaks to all these issues and then some, but remembering all this might be a challenge.

This scenario was the motivation behind an assignment I had last semester in my Christian Ethics class. For each of these issues we had to list several pertinent Bible passages, as well as some quotes from church fathers, theologians, and ethicists. Being the geek that I still am, I did mine in Powerpoint. I've posted it in my point papers section, so you can download this resource and use it at your convenience. Feel free to modify any way you want.

Point Papers
Free Powerpoint Viewer from Microsoft

The Conservative Resurgence

In the middle of the last century, Southern Baptist Convention leadership and academicians strayed from God's truth into heresy. If left unchecked, the entire convention, including the people in the pews, would have eventually followed. Dr. Al Mohler summarizes the conservative resurgence, which led the Convention back to truth, in a review of a booklet by Dr. Paige Patterson. If you're not familiar with the resurgence, this is a quick and interesting overview of the last 26 years.


I've finished three days of koine Greek, which is equal to three weeks of Greek in a normal semester. Now it's getting hard. Greek is a fully-inflected language, which means they change the endings of both nouns and verbs in order to show things like the case, gender, and number. So for example, the verb "lego" means "I say," but it changes to "legomen" to mean "we say." You have to memorize all those endings. Similarly, the noun "ha doulos" is "the servant" if it's the subject of the sentence (e.g., The servant pokes.), but it changes to "ton doulon" if it's the direct object (e.g., I poke the servant). If you change that to the plural (e.g., I poke the servants), it changes again to "tous doulous." You have to memorize all those endings as well. Of course, it's actually much harder than this. I gave you the transliterated version (Roman alphabet); we have to learn it all using the Greek alphabet with all sorts of extra funny marks to denote things like accents and breathing marks.

Sample Greek lesson

Learning Greek's not impossible, but it certainly is hard work. But I'm really enjoying it. This will allow me to studying the New Testament in the original languages, something that's very important for pastors to be able to do. One job of the pastor (literally shepherd in the Greek) is to protect the flock from doctrinal errors; to do that well, you have to know the original language the Bible was written in.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Last week we took the kids to the see Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. It was a nice, four-story museum with lots learn about animals, plants, weather, dinosaurs, and so on. It was very well done, had many hands-on stations, and best of all was free! It was well worth our time.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Memorial Day

This was a family day for the Garriss clan. The ladies took Brandon and Emmy to a park to play and have a picnic lunch.

Dad and I took Jacen fishing out in the Chesapeake Bay. We were fishing for flounder, but mostly caught croaker -- 25 in all! Jacen caught one all by himself. When we got home, Dad cleaned the boat while Jacen and I cleaned fish; I taught him to scale them. Much fun.

For dinner Karen treated us to a delicious meal at her house, which we topped off with a game of Tongiaki. It was a very nice holiday, over all too soon.


We went home to Dad's for the Memorial Day weekend, which gave Uncle Eric and Aunt Karen a chance to give Emmy her birthday present -- a new scooter! Needless to say she gave it a spin right away.

New lesson posted

I've just posted a second lesson from 1st Corinthians. It could be helpful to use in a personal quiet time.

Finals Begone!

Well, I've survived my first semester in seminary. I took my fifth and last final exam this morning, and I'm glad to be done. I may have gotten all A's, depending upon how well a couple professors liked my papers. To celebrate we had a 7-player Halo 2 deathmatch in our living room this afternoon. Nice! Next on the calendar: 6 weeks of death-by-Greek.

No more classes

Yesterday was the last day of classes! The only thing left is final exams; I took one early yesterday, and the other 4 are next week. Overall I have thoroughly enjoyed my first semester of seminary. There is so much to learn, and most professors are really good at forcing me to re-examine God's Word to determine what I really believe (absolute truth cannot be determined experientially). Most of what I believed has been reaffirmed by my studies, but some viewpoints have been altered. There have also been a number of issues I just never considered before (e.g., what does it say if a seminary student preparing for the pastorate decides to accept welfare?). Next on the menu after finals: death-by-Greek! I'm taking 6 weeks of Biblical Greek (the original language of the New Testament) during summer school. Can you say "firehose?"


A lot of the tests here at Seminary are short answer tests. One common way to study is to buy a pile of index cards, write the question on one side and the answer on the other, and then flip through them repeatedly until you learn them. Being the fiscally conservative (read: cheap) kind of guy that I am, I decided to write a piece of software that does this for me. For those who don't know, I used to write a fair amount of software while working at my previous employer, The MITRE Corporation. I wasn't a great programmer, but I was good enough to write this.

"StudyMatch is a simple application that mimics flash cards, where the question is on one side and the answer is on the other. It supposed to help you study for tests and quizzes, and it lends itself best to matching, true/false, short answer, and short list types of questions."

Download StudyMatch from my new software page.

Read the readme file; it will explain everything. If you have suggestions for improvements, please let me know: james @

Emmy's Birthday

Emmy turned four last weekend; my how time flies. We had a small party at a nearby park with some of her friends. Below she's opening some new accessories for her favorite bear, Peggy.

Dr. Al Mohler's Radio Program

I've recently discovered Al Mohler's radio program. Dr. Mohler is the president of Southern Seminary, as well as a theologian and cultural commentator. The program is billed as "your place for intelligent Christian conversation about the issues that matter." He makes some comments on current news, then tackles a current cultural issue from a Biblical point of view. You can listen online or download the program as a free MP3.

His website
His radio program

1 Corinthians Study Guide

I've started a study in 1st Corinthians. As I've studied, I've prepared a study guide with reading and questions (and even answers). If you're looking for something to help you study and learn God's Word, feel free to use it. I'll post a new guide every other week or so. Look for the link under the "Bible" section or click here.

Across the River

I wonder how many parents find themselves across the river from their children.

"This mother expressed it well when she said, 'It is as if we are standing on opposite sides of a river from them, and are looking across and desperately longing to be together'...Parents and children share a house, but live separate lives with separate activities, separate entertainment, separate work, and separate goals. Parents confine their children, constrain their children, and control their children, but fail to fellowship with them."

If you want to know how to fellowship with your children, read this excellent article (particularly the first half) from Michael Pearl.

Living Parallel Lives in the Same Space

Boring Church?

Is attending the worship service of your church boring? Perhaps your church isn't the problem; perhaps your worship of God is. Read Drawing Near to God, an article by John MacArthur on worship.

Adoniram Judson

Adoniram was the first US overseas missionary. I just finished reading his biography, To the Golden Shore by Courtney Anderson. The book is a wonderful read, tracing his story from his father (a pastor) through to his death in Burma. For those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ, Adoniram's story forces us answer a question: what am I willing to give up to tell someone else about Jesus Christ? Adoniram's first and second wives and several of his children died on the mission field, yet he never quit the work God called him to. That is the stuff true believers in Jesus are made of. I highly recommend this book.

To the Golden Shore (CBD)

Commentary by Daniel Akin

Dr. Akin is the president of Southeastern, the seminary I am attending. He has been preaching through the book of Titus during chapel, and I must say he is as fine a Bible expositor as I have ever heard. Based on his messages, I decided to pick up a copy of a commentary he wrote on the books of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John (it's part of the New American Commentary (NAC) series). The campus bookstore had it on sale for $20, which is a good deal. Maybe I'll get a chance to study through it this summer.

Dr. Akin's chapel messages (downloadable MP3 files)
Dr. Akin's website
Dr. Akin's commentary on 1st, 2nd, 3rd John (CBD)


We learned how to play a new game over the weekend. Tongiaki is a tile-laying game where you are a Polynesian explorer braving ocean dangers to discover new islands in the Pacific. Like many of the so-called German games that we enjoy playing, the mechanics are simple and the gameplay is interactive. We taught it to 10 people, and it was liked by everyone. It plays nicely in 30 minutes or so and works best with 4 to 6 people. It's well worth the money.

Definition of German games
Tongiaki review

Of all the German games we have so far, the most popular (in order) are probably: 1) Ticket to Ride 2) Killer Bunnies 3) Settlers of Cataan 4) Tongiaki 5) Carcassonne.


The combination of spring break and beautiful North Carolina weather made it impossible to stay inside and study too much the last couple of days. I took the kids on a march around the seminary, and we found a wonderful magnolia tree that was perfect for climbing. One of the bigger kids (ahem, me) climbed it a couple stories high. We also went into a nearly forest to catch some bugs for Jasen's science project. We got ants, spiders, and a yellow jacket. What fun to be a dad!

Qualifications of a pastor

I've uploaded my latest point paper; this one is on the Biblical qualifications of a pastor. It was particularly interesting to see how God views marriage and family as a testing ground to determine if a man is prepared to lead the church. I wonder how many pastor search committees spend time examining a candidate's wife and children to see if he's qualified.

Where does a baby go when he dies?

This is an old and (at best) difficult question to answer. The Bible is not as clear on this issue as we would like. I ran across an interesting article on this subject by Dr. Al Mohler, who is the president of Southern Seminary.

The Salvation of the 'Little Ones': Do Infants who Die Go to Heaven?

He does a nice job of refuting many of the spurious viewpoints, forcing us to consider only what the Bible really says. He then comes to the conclusion that infants who die go to heaven and bases his conclusion upon the election of God. He believes that God in His grace has elected all infants who die, thus they go to heaven. Although this is very interesting viewpoint, I think he makes a couple mistakes in his logic (Let me admit I'm treading on thin ice; by all accounts Dr. Mohler is one of the sharpest apologetic minds in fundamental Christian circles today, so I'm thoroughly outmatched. Not that I plan to let that stop me... :-) First, he notes that non-believers are not judged at the Great White Throne (Rev 20:11-15) based on their original sin, but on their deeds. Although they are judged on such (vs 12), the climax of this judgment is in verse 15, where those whose names are not found in the book of life are thrown into the lake of fire. Eternal condemnation is ultimately based upon their response (or rather their lack of response) to the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ alone. Second, he asserts "young children are incapable of committing sins in the body." I'm not sure what kind of kids he had, but I'd love to trade! I've got two well-trained children, but to assert that they can't sin until they are old enough to understand salvation is ludicrous. It's also illogical; if they can't sin, how can they understand a need for a Savior? Furthermore, Dr. Mohler and I apparently have very different viewpoints on what consitutes "election." I believe God's election is based on His foreknowledge, but as one of my professors, Dr. Caner, has said, the key is to define what is meant by "foreknowledge." I believe foreknowledge means that God, being omniscient, peered into history and saw who would accept salvation through His Son; those who did, He elected. So you can see that from this position, infants cannot be elected; they die before they have a chance to accept salvation. So although I find Dr. Mohler's viewpoint interesting, I can't agree with it.

So what do I believe on this issue? I have come to the same conclusion as Dr. Mohler, but along a different path. I have two defenses. First, my stronger defense is based upon David and Bathsheba's first son (2 Sam 12:15-23). David says "I shall go to him, but he will not return to me." I believe that David expected to find his baby in heaven when he arrived. (The weakness in this position is that this passage is a narrative, not a statement from God; just because someone says something in a narrative does not necessarily make it correct.) Second, my weaker defense is based upon a "Scripture-driven theology" hermeneutic; that is, Scripture drives theology, so use that theology to help shed light on unclear subjects or passages. Scripture drives my theology of God, and Scripture tells me that God is just and fair. More than that, God is merciful and gracious. With these, I tend to believe that God will not hold a baby accountable at the Great White Throne judgment for rejecting Jesus Christ when the child is not capable of understanding; that wouldn't be fair. Likewise I believe He will allow the baby into heaven; that would be mercy and grace. So when I put these two defenses together, I think I have a fairly strong position. But I will admit, it's not a rock-solid position. Like I said, the Scripture is just not as clear as we would like.

[Rabbit Trail: You must careful when using the hermeneutic I mentioned above; you might be tempted to use it to arrive at the conclusion that God will let everyone into heaven. Remember that this hermeneutic is only useful to shed light on unclear subjects or passages. Scripture is very clear that those who reject Jesus will spend eternity in hell (Matt 10:32-33; Acts 4:12; John 14:6).]

I saw a dark and stormy ocean

The third chapter in John Piper's book, Let the Nations be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions, is about the suffering that accompanies the spread of the Gospel. He says, "Some suffering is the calling of every believer but especially of those God calls to bear the gospel to the unreached." He quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "The cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise God-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."

Let me admit I know personally very little about suffering for cause of the Gospel. This causes great concern for me, especially when I study passages like Philippians 1:27-30 and 2 Timothy 3:12. Why don't I suffer? Part of the reason is probably cultural; our country was the first to institute the teachings of Jesus about separation of church and state, and so we still have (for the moment) true religious liberty (Mark 12:13-17) (note: I doubt we'll have this much longer; tolerance will overtake it, persecuting any who are exclusive. Want proof? See what's happened in Canada to those who preach the Bible's position on homosexuality.). But the larger part is probably because I have not been a consistent, fearless witness for Jesus Christ. Although I know the truth of salvation, I have been lazy and apathetic in sharing it. And though there are always exceptions, this seems to be the way of most of the Christians I know are. Why? Piper goes on to say, "Persecution can have harmful effects on the church, but prosperity it seems is even more devastating to the mission God calls us to." Read Matthew 13:1-23. Are we not thorny soil?

Matthew 13:22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

I have long thought that this problem was unique to the modern church here in America, but today I discovered otherwise. As I was studying, I read an article from William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. It's so accurate, it could have been written yesterday in Washington DC instead of a hundred years ago in England. Read the entire vision, entitled A Vision Of The Lost. May God speak to your heart as He spoke to mine.

God, please forgive me for being thorny soil. May I never be apathetic again.


I'm reading John Piper's "Let the Nations be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions." If you're at all interested in understanding why there is such a thing as a missionary, this book is required reading. It will certainly challenge your heart to do more for missions.

In chapter 3 Piper asks an interesting question: Is the concept of retirement Biblical? He says, "Since the first edition of this book in 1993, one of the significant advances in Christian mission strategy has been the emergence of ministries focused on mobilizing people in midlife for the cause of finishing the Great Commission. Paul's words in Acts 20:24 have come alive for thousands as they contemplate a better way to finish their earthly live than to throw them away golfing or fishing in the unbiblical dreamworld of wasted lives called 'retirement'."

Wow! That's a pretty strong statement. One of the organizations he highlights is "The Finishers Project." Here's a part of their vision statement: "The Finishers Project is a movement to provide information, challenge and pathways for people to join God in His passion for His glory among the nations. Boomers are and will be the healthiest and best educated generation of empty-nesters ever. This generation is skilled and resourced with a multitude of talents. We can either give them to Jesus to lay up as treasure in Heaven or lose them." I don't know anything else about this group, but I sure do like the idea of encouraging older, mature believers to live out the rest of their lives fulfilling the Great Commission.

The Finishers Project

Act 20:24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (ESV)

An Easter craft.

The Lord's Supper

Have you heard a pastor say "if there's sin in your life, just don't take the bread or the grape juice" during a Lord's Supper? Where does that come from? Find out in my latest point paper, which is on the Lord's Supper. I'm writing these papers as I read and study material in my Pastoral Ministry class at Southeastern. Writing a paper isn't a requirement; I just study better when I have to organize my thoughts.

Homeschool in action.

Church Discipline

"The absence of [church discipline] may well be the most severe and debilitating problem in the church of this century." John MacArthur

"Few facets of the modern life of the church have found themselves any further removed from New Testament Christianity than the subject of church discipline." Paige Patterson

Are these guys overstating the matter? Read through the point paper I wrote on the subject of church discipline, and then let me know how close your church follows the New Testament model.

Atheist Becomes Theist

Can you imagine Billy Graham renouncing Christianity? If not, read this:

"College freshmen taking Philosophy 101, in which the professor is trying to challenge Christianity, have likely encountered the writings of Antony Flew. Mr. Flew has been called the most influential atheist philosopher in the world, and his arguments against the existence of God are staples of many college anthologies and textbooks. Now he says that he believes there is a God...Key to his conviction that there must be an intelligent mind behind the universe is the nature of DNA...Mr. Habermas says the impact on the atheist movement is similar to what would happen in the evangelical world if Billy Graham or J.I. Packer renounced Christianity."

Read the entire article from World Magazine, and then go read the fascinating interview with Liberty University's Dr. Habermas.

The right half of our kitchen.


We've been in Wake Forest for 2 months, and we've received no less than 8 phonebooks. What in the world do I need with 8 phonebooks? Haven't these people heard of this cool new invention called the internet? Try this: go to

In the search box type in:

open door baptist church raleigh nc

then click the search button. See? I get a map, a link to their website, an address, and a phone number. How cool is that? So why do I need 8 phonebooks? In case you're wondering, Open Door is the church we've been visiting recently.

The left half of our kitchen.

Psalm 23 redone

"The TV is my shepherd, I shall not want anything else. It maketh me to lie down on the sofa. It leadeth me away from the Scripture. It destroys my soul. It leadeth me in the paths of sex and violence for the sponsors sake, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will enjoy the evil, for blood and sex they excite me. Its cable and remote they comfort me. It prepares a commercial before me in the presence of my children. It anoints my head with humanism, My coveting runneth over. Surely laziness and ignorance shall follow my family all the days of our lives, and we shall dwell in the house watching TV forever."

Quoted from No Greater Joy

This is why we no longer watch TV in our house. I'm convinced godliness and TV are mutually exclusive.

Salvation has come to this house

Paul spends a little time reminding the church at Philippi that since they have trusted in Jesus Christ, returning to the laws of Judaism won't help them. Here's a long quote:

Philippians 3:4-7 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law blameless.

So Paul tells them some about his background. Although he had impeccable credentials, he goes on to say that none of them were useful to put him into a right relationship with God. People today still try and use these same credentials:

circumcised the eighth day - No ritual or ceremony, regardless of the church you attend, puts you into a right relationship with God. This includes baptism (infant or adult), confirmation, mass, etc.

the people of Israel - No racial heritage can put you into a right relationship with God. Being Jewish doesn't help, neither does being American or anything else.

the tribe of Benjamin - It doesn't matter what family you come from. There's no help in being a Bush, a Kennedy, a Graham, or any other family. God's not impressed.

a Hebrew of Hebrews - Adhering to a specific culture or tradition doesn't do anything either.

as to the law, a Pharisee - There is no religious position or office that can help you. Being a monk or priest or pastor or seminary professor does nothing save you from your sins.

as to zeal, a persecutor of the church - Here's the big one today. Many say, "It doesn't matter what you believe, so long as you are zealous." Paul was so zealous he killed people who didn't agree with him. But he came to realize that it wasn't zeal that matters, but the object of his zeal.

as to righteousness, under the law blameless - Paul said he always obeyed all the rules of his religious organization. You couldn't bring any accusation against him that would stick. But obeying lots of rules don't please God if your heart is far from Him.

That about covers everything, doesn't it? So why did I write all this? Because a couple weeks ago, Jacen repented of his sins and trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. It's important to note what Jacen did not do - he didn't get baptized; he didn't claim his American heritage; he didn't claim to be a Garriss; he didn't re-use his parent's faith; he didn't take a position in a church; he didn't get zealous; and he certainly didn't claim to be perfect. He repented of his sins and trusted in Jesus. That's it. It's a decision he made all by himself at age 6.

Can a kid really get saved? Read the point paper on the salvation of a child.

Welcome to God's family, my son. It's what we've been praying for since you were born.

Muslims, Christians, Jews

Take a look at this very interesting article by Dr. Ergun Caner, the new dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. His brother, Dr. Emir Caner, is my professor here at Southeastern.

Dirty Little Secret

See also:

Liberty's new dean
Ergun's website
Emir's website


We just wrapped up our Second Annual Father/Son Male-Bonding Event Where We Just Happen To Go Skiing. :-) Jacen and I went to Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia again this year. Jacen spent the first day in Ski School while I skied the harder runs. I particularly reacquainted myself with a Terrain Part, jumping as far as 6 feet. The second day we spent skiing together. We had a number of firsts this year: 1) First time we tried night skiing - the lift tickets we got covered night skiing, so we went out after dinner and made several runs. It was not as difficult as I expected. 2) Jacen did a blue run several times - his skiing is vastly improved from last year. He can fly down the mountain and (to my surprise) rarely crashed. In fact, going fast is his weakness; he doesn't carve enough to control his speed. 3) We skied in the fog - Wednesday afternoon a cloud descended on the mountain and by lunch visibility was about 20 feet at the top. This made for rather dangerous skiing. At the top of the mountain, it was very hard to find some of the runs. If you've been to Snowshoe, you know they have a number of sharp drops down into trees. On the slopes, it was hard to see other skiers and read the snow. We quit a couple hours early to return home. All in all it was a wonderful time together. I thank God again for giving me a son.

Snowshoe Mountain

Moving Day, Part 2

The first week of January was moving week! Dad and Eric spent Tuesday and Wednesday helping us move to our new home in Wake Forest, NC. With Dad's expert loading, the 24' U-Haul was big enough to haul everything we needed. It's about 3 hours from Hampton down to Wake Forest, so it wasn't too far to drive. The new townhouse is around 1000 sq ft, and it quickly filled up with our boxes. We've gotten most of them emptied and stuff put away by now, but we still need more shelves and storage spaces.

Moving Day, Part 1

Last week was moving day. We had to move all the we had been storing in Dad's house and garage into a 24 foot U-Haul truck to haul down to Wake Forest. With Dad's expert packing and Eric's strong back, we had no problem getting everything loaded. Dad's Avalon gave an audible sigh of relief when it was finally able to park in his garage after being out in the cold for the last 2 months. Thank you, Dad, for letting us crash in your house!

Jacen's Birthday

Jacen's 6th birthday fell on moving day, so before we left Dad's house we celebrated with family. He got exactly what he wanted -- Matchbox cars and Legos. Grandpa also gave him a white dress shirt, because Jacen he wants to wear a tie to church like Daddy does.


The day after Christmas a storm dumped 12 inches of snow on Poquoson. Although it was perfect for snow angels and snow ball fights, it cancelled our plans for traveling to Aunt Nan's house to see family for Christmas.