Archive for May, 2007


Cline Paden Passes Away

May 28, 2007


Cline Paden, founder and long time director of Sunset International Bible Institute, in Lubbock, Texas went to be with the Lord on May 26, 2007. He was at home with his family gathered around. After a long struggle with health problems he finally won his victory. Cline was 87 years old. Cline will long be remembered for His love for the Lord and the lost. His visionary leadership over many years was responsible for the training and sending of hundreds of men and women into the mission fields here at home and abroad.  He will be missed.


Sydney and Soccer

May 22, 2007

Sydney is our middle (according to age) grand child and has become an avid Soccer player. She scored 4 out of 6 goals during a recent game. Sydney is Joyce’s second child. We are all very proud of her!


A Letter Concerning Toleration

May 21, 2007


Virgil Vaduva grew up in Communist Romainia. I appreciate his prespective and share the following as a little food for thought!

At exactly 2:20 we both quietly stood up and walked to the small hallway in the back of the train. I opened the side door of the train car, and although I was wearing my favorite black jeans and black turtleneck, the cold October air hit me full-blast and shocked me back to reality. The freezing blast surprised me, and made me realize that the train was traveling much faster than expected. In the eerie dim moonlight I could see the telegraph poles flying by; I counted them…one every three seconds…that’s fifty meters every three seconds. The communist math classes came in handy; an instant mental calculation prompted me to think “That’s about sixty kilometers per hour! This is suicide!

Four days earlier, after just turning 18 and after saving money for several months with my friend Virgil (yes, his name was also Virgil) I left home for a once in a lifetime adventure: my friend Virgil and I were to run away from home and illegally cross the border with Hungary during the night and escape the communist regime of Ceausescu for which we both had nothing but seething disdain and discontent. I was 18. He was 20. We both thought we were invincible.

During my high school years in Romania I learned a lot about the implications of government intervention in people’s lives. The twenty-so years spent in Romania seem now to be more of a dream than a reality; I often wonder how humans can treat each other the way communists treated their countrymen and as Christians we were even more likely to suffer abuse at the hands of the secret police. Regular search raids on Christian’s homes were designed to constantly keep us under harassment, keep Bibles out of our hands and always remind us who’s really in charge. Communists did not have any tolerance for Christianity. At the time, being just a high school kid, I did not care much about theology, eschatology and social issues, but I do remember the many conversations with other Christians revolving around “how bad things are” and always being wrapped up with “but don’t worry, Jesus will come back and wipe out Communism.”

There was a great sense of complacency on the part of the Romanian people, especially on the part of the evangelical Christians. Most if not all of them settled for the fact that there was no way out of the terrible situation, and many even suggested that our sin caused the suffering we were experiencing at the hands of the abusive government; that’s right, it was our fault that a handful of power-hungry bureaucrats were sucking the life out of our country and people. Especially in the Church, the sense of guilt was disturbing. Gathering on cold Sunday evenings without any heat in the church building was a continuous reminder of the misery of living in sin, and the fact the world was “fallen” and turned away from God.

Of course in my teenage rebellion I did not fall for that. I was always convinced that I could make a difference. The two years leading to 1989 and the fall of Ceausescu are a blur to me consisting of nightly adventures in firebombing communist newspaper distribution centers, defacement of propaganda statues and buildings and distribution of hand-made posters and flyers. The days would be spent sleeping and “writing” flyers out of individually-cut letters from books and newspapers to make them virtually untraceable. It was always thrilling to throw these “manifestos” into a crowd of people from the roof of a ten-story building. Every single one would be picked up and would disappear in the safety of someone’s pocket for a reading at home away from the prying eyes of the state police. It is a wonder that I didn’t get killed, but again I did not really care; I was convinced that freedom was something worth dying for.

At the time I was puzzled and angry about the complacency of the general population, but after living in the United States for more than 12 years, I now understand how it all works. The Communists in Romania also understood that taking over does not happen overnight, but a little bit at a time. At first there is a reaction from the population but with time it all subsides. This happened early last century here with the institution of the mandatory federal income tax under the excuse of paying for the war. How can anyone argue against helping to pay fight a war? Several decades later we are told that private property is fair game as long as it is for the good of the commune and of course, the income tax was never rolled back at the end of the war.

The problem is that Christians should not be playing this game. I see many conservatives here in the United States promoting some of the same things that Communists were promoting in Romania. To sum it up, their solution is to pass laws to stop everything we don’t agree with or everything that is immoral. Marijuana is a problem? Make it illegal! Cohabitation is a problem? Ban it! Just as the Communist oppression only dealt with the manifestation of the freedom in people’s hearts and it failed, so would the laws proposed by the extreme conservatives in the United States. Communist ideology which was forced on me throughout the school years never affected my thinking and I was always able to mechanically override it with personal convictions. In fact, disagreeing and disparaging the Communist ideology was becoming a joke amongst the young generation. We all lived a lie, at work, in schools and on television; we were playing a game and those who were better at playing it would be elevated in the eyes of the society. In the same manner, forcing a Christian agenda on the population here would backfire and turn the population against the Church; it would in fact have the opposite effect.

Sin is therefore a manifestation of the heart, not something that can be resolved with laws and dictums that only address these issues superficially. It is clear to me that the founders of this country understood this. John Locke’s philosophy of natural law had a major impact the principles on which this country is founded. The three basic natural tenets being life, freedom, and property had a major impact on the development of philosophy behind the creation of the United States. Locke’s 1689 “Letter on Toleration” made it clear that individual needs will always override one’s religious convictions “for everyone is orthodox to himself.”

Some may say that Locke was ahead of his time. I would say that it was the RIGHT time for him to influence the world of philosophy and politics with his writings. Locke understood that force never brings fruition, be it for religious or secular reasons. Locke wrote

“The business of true religion is quite another thing. It is not instituted in order to the erecting of an external pomp, nor to the obtaining of ecclesiastical dominion, nor to the exercising of compulsive force, but to the regulating of men’s lives, according to the rules of virtue and piety. Whosoever will list himself under the banner of Christ, must, in the first place and above all things, make war upon his own lusts and vices. (A Letter Concerning Toleration, 1689)”

If Locke was alive today, the conservatives in this country would crucify him. It is therefore no surprise to me that the hypocritical politicians who proudly wear a conservative label despise the idea of personal freedom, which of course implies freedom from them and from their controlling legalism. No force on this planet will ever be able to control my mind and my desire to sin or to follow God, to take or to save life, to steal or to give, and at last to hate or to love. Locke wisely argued against the Church having a controlling stake in the affairs of the government. Just as in our times, there were Christians in his time wishing to use the police and legal power of the government to inflict punishment on others for living in sin. Responding to these critics, Locke wrote:

“If the Gospel and the apostles may be credited, no man can be a Christian without charity and without that faith which works, not by force, but by love. Now, I appeal to the consciences of those that persecute, torment, destroy, and kill other men upon pretence of religion, whether they do it out of friendship and kindness towards them or no? And I shall then indeed, and not until then, believe they do so, when I shall see those fiery zealots correcting, in the same manner, their friends and familiar acquaintance for the manifest sins they commit against the precepts of the Gospel; when I shall see them persecute with fire and sword the members of their own communion that are tainted with enormous vices and without amendment are in danger of eternal perdition; and when I shall see them thus express their love and desire of the salvation of their souls by the infliction of torments and exercise of all manner of cruelties. (A Letter Concerning Toleration, 1689)”

Is there a more clear and a better understanding of “Let those without sin cast the first stone?” Hardly so; oh yes, those who wish to advance their legalistic agenda will deny Locke’s arguments at any cost. How dare we imply that the foundational philosophy of the United States of America would suggest anything OTHER than evangelical rule and authority? Could anyone even conceive that Locke would argue in favor of tolerating Muslims, Catholics and even aghh…Atheists! And as if that is not enough, could anyone conceive that Locke was actually arguing in favor of separating the Church and the State? He writes:

“But this being not a proper place to inquire into the marks of the true church, I will only mind those that contend so earnestly for the decrees of their own society, and that cry out continually, “The Church! the Church!” with as much noise, and perhaps upon the same principle, as the Ephesian silversmiths did for their Diana; this, I say, I desire to mind them of, that the Gospel frequently declares that the true disciples of Christ must suffer persecution; but that the Church of Christ should persecute others, and force others by fire and sword to embrace her faith and doctrine, I could never yet find in any of the books of the New Testament. (A Letter Concerning Toleration, 1689)

But enough of Locke now; my personal experience is enough to show why laws never solve problems of the heart. My friend Virgil and I never made it to Hungary. The speeding train that came within one mile of the border, out of which we wanted to jump, was going much faster that expected. At least, in our zeal, we had enough sense to not kill ourselves by jumping out of a speeding train, and it was a good decision in the end anyways. Later we learned that the border was heavily patrolled by guards armed with AK-47s and equipped with nigh-vision goggles under orders to shoot anything that moves. Two months later, the people of Romania revolted and ripped Communism out of power. This is one instance when it was good not to finish something I started, but I still feel my father’s stinging words greeting me when I went back home: “If you went all the way there, why didn’t you try to go ahead and cross?


Welcome Home Nick! Semper Fi!

May 17, 2007


Nick West is a Marine from Hendersonville who was recently injured in Iraq. He had surgery last week and is returning home on medical leave Friday, May 18th from Camp Lejeune , North Carolina. Kelly Hughes, one of our Madison members is putting together a welcome home celebration. We are lining the streets near Nick’s house (very near where we have just moved to) Friday night to welcome him home. I wanted to invite any local readers of this blog to join us

Directions: Take Vietnam Veterans Highway and exit at New Shackle Island. Take New Shackle Island Rd. to a left turn at McDonalds on to Wessington Place. Our house is on the Corner of Wessington Place and Old Shackle Island Rd. We will be lining the street on down Wessington Place to the corner of Georgetown. We have small flags for everybody and we encourage you to make your own posters, decorate your cars, etc.

If you have any questions please call Kelley Hughes at 615-582-9384. Hope you can join us in welcoming this hero home!


Turbulent Times

May 16, 2007


These are turbulent times for my tribe. A number of churches here in the middle Tennessee area have split or splintered. Some members have left and found homes among other churches; others have started a new congregation.  I spoke with one of my neighbors last night who when they learned where we worshiped told me that they had a family member that used to attend Madison, but is now worshiping with another congregation near by. A little later a fellow was giving me an estimate on some concrete work and as we talked he learned we worshiped at Madison. He too had heard rumors of the trouble there, and what he had heard was not even close to what happened. My tribe is not the only group dealing with this problem. It can be found in most every denomination today. People are more concerned today with a personal and meaningful relationship with Jesus than holding on to the traditions of their parents and grand parents.

I mention this as a back ground to what I want to say about division. I believe that even though God hates division I do believe that it is often inevitable and necessary for the church to grow. In dealing with the division at Corinth Paul makes and interesting statement, “For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.“ (I Cor. 11:18-19). Division has a way of showing a person’s heart. Emotions rise, tempers flair, some call it righteous indignation, other a real window to the soul. It sometimes becomes a “holy road rage” for lack of a better term.

Sadly most division is about power and control and not the issues that are put forth as the root cause. And when the dust settles what is clear to the Father is, “those who are approved”.

Often the results are positive, as in the case with Paul and Barnabas over John Mark recorded in the book of Acts. Instead of just one missionary journey this division resulted in two missionary journeys, and that was good for the Kingdom.  In other cases it doesn’t work for the good of all. Often those with factious spirits usually find friendship based upon having common enemies, and then when there is no enemy to battle, they usually will turn on each other. Those situations usually end in the death of the group…and that is not always a bad thing.

16 There are six things the LORD hates,
       seven that are detestable to him:

17 haughty eyes,
       a lying tongue,
       hands that shed innocent blood,

18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
       feet that are quick to rush into evil,

 19 a false witness who pours out lies
       and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

Prov. 6:16-19


Jerry Falwell…Dead at 73

May 15, 2007




May 11, 2007


I enjoyed a great visit by phone with Ben Overby yesterday.  We discussed how frustrating it can be to work with folks that are fearful of change.  Change is always a threat to the status que. Some see it as a departure from the way it has always been, or the way their parents believed. Others see it as a threat to “the truth”.

We are not the first generation to have to deal with change. Three and a half years of listening to Jesus teach about the Kingdom and just before He ascends back to heaven the disciples are asking Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6. Ten years into the Book of Acts and Peter still doesn’t understand Grace.

The urgency of the Gospel causes us to want run and not walk, and surly not crawl in changing hearts. Time is a wastin’, there is a world in need of salvation! There is not a minute to waste. I can’t tell you in words how I have been driven by those kind of thoughts in my life. When I reflect on the life of Jesus I think I see the solution to this dilemma. This is not a new observation, but it is one that takes patience and often because we lack patience we miss its power. Are you ready? Jesus did not seek to change the whole world during the days of his ministry; He simply poured Himself into the lives of twelve very ordinary men. I told you it was not new.

Maybe what needs to change is our approach to change. Find an open heart or two or three. Pour yourself into them. Love them like Jesus loved the disciples and give them a dream like the one He gave them and that you now have. Teach them to trust the Father the way Jesus did. I think God can bless that! What do you think?