Law Three: Know Where You’re Goin’

porter'slawsI once worked for a pastor who said if you’re going to choose between Bible study and hearing me preach, I encourage you to come to Bible study.  The pastor in question proclaimed the gospel with enthusiastic acumen, but as the years went by, only later did I understand fully.

As our senior pastor has often taught, the purpose of the church @ Myrtle Lake is to glorify the Lord God by preaching and teaching Christ and Him crucified.  But, how does “Bible study” glorify God?

yogiberraWell, when Yogi Berra was asked about the chances for the Yankees winning the 1957 pennant, he answered, “If you don’t know where you’re goin’, you’ll probably get there.”

Until we know where God wants us to be, we won’t know where we’re goin’.  If we don’t know where He wants us to go, we’ll probably get there.  We will not know what He wants nor where He wants us to be—without Bible study.

Bible study is a lamp at our feet.  It helps us see the Way because the way is narrow—it is neither broad, nor easy to find, according to my Jesus.

I’d love to see you next Sunday in Bible study, or next Wednesday, or at Band of Brothers on Mondays, or Sunday afternoon in Logos Academy classes, or Sunday evening in Logos Prep classes.  As you can tell by all these opportunities, the church @ MyrtleLake loves God’s word, for He is the Word, and the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.

Bible study:  Know where you’re goin!

Finding A Gospel in the Media

Way back in Genesis 1:26 Holy Spirit said the gospel would be known through us. We humans were created in God’s image—if people were to see God, we need only to look at ourselves. Although our mirror is “but a poor reflection” (1 Corinthians 13:12), it nonetheless tells us much about the God we serve.

God loves family and faithfulness in His created beings. If we look carefully, we can see these attributes in ourselves as mirrored by the media we create and consume.


For example, through NetFlix Sandra and I have become recent devotees of Parenthood. “Family” is the paramount theme of NBC’s hour long drama. Parenthood’s drama ebbs and flows with Braverman family crises and their resolution. Our hearts are warmed weekly as we see siblings stick up for each other, uncles hire nieces, and parents sacrifice everything for their kids.

The drama of Parenthood is driven also by marital faithfulness. Infidelity is sometimes temporarily tolerated, but is nonetheless vilified. Faithfulness serves as the benchmark for relational success in Parenthood.

Adultery is, thank God, still a source of dramatic tension in the media. When infidelity no longer creates anguish, then we humans have indeed forgotten our roots. God created us to be faithful, and to recognize un-faithfulness as something improper, if not downright evil.

But, what about God? What gospel do we see when human attributes, even Godly attributes, are put on a pedestal? In Parenthood, for example, “family” is golden, celebrated and praised as paramount. Make no mistake about it, God Himself supports this value—after all, Scripture says we are worse than infidels if we do not care for our family (cf., 1 Timothy 5:8).

But when “Family” becomes our raison d’être, our very reason for being, we lose sight of Who gave us this wonderfully potent attribute. Bottom line? “Family” is the idealized idol of Parenthood. Their struggle to pray, even at Thanksgiving says it all. Parenthood’s gospel? Family saves.

Are we going to keep watching Parenthood? Probably. It is an engaging series with considerable social and entertainment value. But now we will watch with caution. To celebrate God’s attributes within us without recognizing the Source of those attributes is at least spiritually retarded, if not downright seductively idolatrous.

Is a gospel of “family” or any human attribute, even a Godly attribute, the gospel? No. The gospel needs to be our benchmark—Jesus saves.


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I encourage you to share with me your analyses of media you like to read, click, and/or watch but also recognize your need to consume cautiously, if at all.

November 2012 & 2014 Were Tests of Moral Obedience

The election of 2012 was a test of moral obedience.  Being a former political operative (Tallahassee) and pollster (Chicago), I knew Romney did not have a chance.  But I didn’t know I would feel morally jilted—I did the right thing, but I was not satisfied.
When you vote for what is right, instead of who will win or what fattens the wallet, it tests your integrity.  Mine was tested again this recent Tuesday night watching the returns.  I wanted so much to be on the “winning” side.  Then, it hit me.  I am.  Let me tell you what turned me around…

It wasn’t the defeat of the candidate for whom I voted in 2012, Romney, even though I’m a registered Democrat.  It wasn’t our current return to the political status quo—aka political stagnation?  It was the Biblical immorality expressed in new ballot initiatives about denying rights to unborn people, equating marijuana with recreation, and denigrating marriage as a God-gifted covenant.

  1. It is immoral to kill unborn people (Jeremiah 1:5).  God has a plan for those in the womb even if we can’t hear their cries.  The deaf are we who hear not their cries.  God is not deaf.
  2. It is immoral to approve a drug whose primary goal is intoxication (Proverbs 23:20-21).  Sure, marijuana can have positive effects for those seeking pain relief.  But, do we really need another cause for DUI?  Yes, it’s “positive” —provided you don’t drive, think, work, or behave under its influence.  And, it is potentially immoral for the rest of us to pay for its abused uses and their effects on the health care system, or on our fragile families.
  3. It is blatantly immoral to tolerate, much less approve, that which is evil and call it “good” (Malachi 2:17).  Sensitive to being labeled “intolerant,” and feeling appropriately culpable for its own hyperactive sexual promiscuity, the heterosexual community has upgraded cultural tolerance to conspicuous approval of homosexuality in general and homosexual marriage in particular. Homosexuality is no more a sin than adultery, yet we wink at one and embrace the other.  We humans are an odd lot.

Sure, I sound out-of-touch and muddle-headed, but there is a reckoning.  You see, we’re watching a great game being played out on the world stage.  It’s exciting, and sad.  It’s tragic, and pleasing.  It’s lovely, and repulsive.  BUT, we know who wins.

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns … He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.”  [Revelation 19:11-13]

When the Lord of lords and King of kings wins, we win.

How’s Your Credit Rating?

Every week I get about 3 to 4 opportunities to acquire debt.  It seems CitiBank, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo all think I’m a Rockefeller descendant  I’ve learned Visa, Discover, MasterCard applications are clearly heterosexual—they multiply profusely in my wastebasket.
creditcardsMy business credit cards are with Chase & American Express, and our family cards are with SunTrust.  They treat me as a Rockefeller even though they know I’m not.  And so, I stay with Chase, American Express and SunTrust.
God actually knows how good I am, yet He doesn’t send me new applications each week to be made better.  You see, He came to earth to build my credit.  It seems I was so much in debt that I never will be able to pay the Lord God what I owe Him.  So, He paid the price.
So what is my heavenly FICO score?  Well, I’m on the books, by the way (see Philippians 4:3).  Even though I might have a 750 on a good day, the Lord God requires an 850!  But, with God I have a perfect FICO score of 850.  It’s based on His righteousness, not mine.  That’s why my FICO score is based on His work, not mine.
So if I’m in so much debt and can’t ever pay off my debts, why don’t I declare bankruptcy?  I did.  In 1961 I laid my debts at the cross, and He paid the full payment—for debts past and debts to come.
I’ve never really seen my heavenly FICO score.  I trust it is indeed 850; otherwise, at the day of my death or judgment day, whichever comes first, I’d be left holding the bag.  When I’m worried about whether I’m “good enough,” I just remember three things:

  1. I am not good enough; Father God is (Romans 3:22-23).
  2. Jesus is preparing a place for me (John 14:3).
  3. Holy Spirit is guaranteeing my debts on that day (Ephesians 1:14).

I’ve told you about my credit rating.  How’s your FICO score?  Read Romans 8 to improve it.

The Nine? Commandments of the Decalogue

Learning Not to Ignore the Fourth Commandment  
The Sabbath has always disturbed believers.  We’ve demoted, altered, abrogated, and challenged its place in the heart of the Lord God.  From the very beginning  (Genesis 2:3) God set aside a day of rest; i.e., He made it holy, setting it aside and designing it, like all His commands, to help people be and stay closer to God.  But…

  • Modern believers have demoted God’s commandment to an anachronism of Judaism.
  • Reformation believers altered the fourth commandment by stipulating believers observe the Sabbath on the first day of the week, regardless of the witness of Scripture.
  • Pharisee believers abrogated the Sabbath; i.e., obedience became an artform of religious chest-beating, rather than a means of spiritual refreshment, a day made for humans (Mark 2:27).
  • Pre-Law believers challenged its observation (Exodus 16:23ff); to say nothing of those who had the fully articulated Law (cf., Nehemiah 13:15ff; John 9:13ff).

SabbathbyJosephDutkoThe Sabbath is important to the Lord God.  Consequences for violation were, and are, dramatic.  When the Sabbath was not observed under the Law of Moses, death could result (Numbers 15:32ff).  Today, the consequences of failing to observe Sabbath are even more obvious—and deadly—stress has been clearly linked to heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression, GI problems, and Alzheimer’s (see

My Jesus observed the Sabbath; thus, it is clearly part of our Christian heritage (c.f., Hebrews 4:9).  Why did the Lord God create the Sabbath principle?  God loves us; He deserves to be glorified while we’re here on earth and beyond.  It’s difficult to do so when dead, coughing, fat, depressed, and/or with dementia.

And for those of you like me from Missouri, nothing shows you more about how central the Lord God is to your life when you stop everything and think on Him.  It’s hard.  We’re all so wrapped up in doing, doing, doing.  And then we’re done, or are we?  Sabbath teaches us to see there’s more to living than doing.  And, ironically, our doing becomes more abundant.  A glimpse of what’s to come?

God is smart.  He doesn’t desire our obedience to fulfill some fascist, narcissistic personality.  All of God’s commands are designed to bring us closer to Him; i.e., to be blessed by Him.  When we are closer to Him, He can be glorified, and we get to bask in that glory.  Observe Sabbath—Jesus did.


“Easter” Linguistic Idolatry or God’s Providence?


Yes, that is a pentagram in her right hand. Is this what we want associated with the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ?

While the precise etymology is unknown, scholars accepting the derivation proposed by the 8th-century English scholar St. Bede, believe it probably comes from Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon name of a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility, to whom was dedicated a month corresponding to April.  Her festival was celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox.  Traditions associated with the festival survive in the Easter rabbit, a symbol of fertility, and in colored Easter eggs, originally painted with bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring, and now used in Easter-egg rolling contests or given as gifts.

Early Christians began celebrating the Resurrection at the time of the Passover, but to distinguish themselves from their Jewish roots, they began their celebration a week later.  As the years continued, the German Teutonic tradition’s dependence on the lunar calendar served to “date” when Resurrection Sunday should be celebrated.  Incidentally, some Christians do still celebrate the Resurrection on the Biblical calendar.  The Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the Resurrection based on the annually legitimate time to celebrate—Passover.  It’s the “first day of the week” after the last day of Passover.  Interesting about that first “first day of the week….”

My church, Carrollwood Baptist Church, will celebrate the Resurrection on April 17, not “Easter.”  We take the first and second commandments of the Decalogue seriously; i.e., a “Teutonic goddess of fertility” has no place in a Yahweh-fearing church.  Of course, most people don’t think they’re worshiping “Eastre” when celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus as the Christ. Our linguistics, nonetheless, need some edification.  God is smart—He’s even taken a linguistic lie and associated it with the greatest event so far on earth.

So, should you wish people, “Happy Easter?” Seriously?  But when you’re greeted with a “Happy Easter!”—bunnies aside—take the time to remind them Who was resurrected, and why! You’ll be blessed, and so will they.

Porter’s First Two Laws of Human Behavior

Porter’s First Law of Human Behavior
“Human beings see, hear, remember, understand, and do what they want to see, hear, remember, understand, and do.”  Porter’s First Law of Human Behavior—Simplified: “People believe what is useful to them.”

Porter’s Second Law of Human Behavior
redflagGiven Porter’s First Law, “When confronting our beliefs, we must raise an epistemological red flag whenever said belief is useful.  When things are useful, all historical, empirical, and experiential data which contraindicate our belief must be brought to bear.  Otherwise—we’re not thinkers as God intended, merely narcissistic lumps.”

Remember, why and how we believe (epistemology) what we believe is often more important than what we believe.  If our epistemology is weak, then our beliefs are easily weakened, but if our historical, empirical, and experiential evidence is strong?  Beliefs become Truth, and not just truth.

An Apologetic for Satan?

A Frightening Study in the Scriptures
My students were recently given a dangerous project in Logos Prep. I thought it might be hazardous, but I didn’t know just how much.  Assigned to conduct a concordance study in Scripture on the word “Satan,” they were to find at least 10 passages and then report what’s newly learned about the Adversary.  The results were alarming.

I never assign work I’m not willing to do; so, I too completed the assignment.  My results were alarming as well.  Satan is alive and real, for sure, but Holy Spirit’s Scriptures taught us why and how.
A CALM Approach(C) 2013 D. Thomas Porter

A CALM Approach
(C) 2013 D. Thomas Porter

Biblical apologetics calls for calm—comprehend, appreciate, love, and master the enemies of Christ by containing, controlling, and combating their influence, latitude, and lethality. But it is hard to appreciate Satan, much less love him.  He is the enemy after all.

Nonetheless, the Scriptures reveal much about Satan I appreciate—he believes in Christ, definitively more than any human.  And, he wants what he wants.  He wants the credit for what he’s done, and other good stuff too.  He doesn’t like being number 2.

Yep, Satan is alive and well.  In me.  I too believe in Christ, not as much as Satan, but I too want credit and appreciation.  I hate being ignored, and number two?  I love being in charge.  And so, the Devil crawls around in my mind, seeking what he might devour (1 Peter 5:8).  Like most humans, I love the idea of Jesus the Christ being my savior, but as my Lord, my boss, my master, my CEO, my owner, my sovereign?  Wait a minute, I am an American—no one is my boss; I am the captain of my destiny.  Not. All of us have that in common.  But …

Thank you Holy Spirit for convicting me of the horror of evil personified, and evil incarnate—Satan (accuser), Beelzebub (lord of flies), Belial (wicked), Dragon, Devil, Serpent, Tempter—none of your names comfort me.  Perhaps you should change your name to ἀντιχρίστου.  But Holy Spirit warned me about that name as well (1 John 4:3).  Christ and I are ready for you—bring it on.

Don’t forget, Satan once accused the Lord God of blasphemy: “Of course believers love You,” he claimed, “You’re always blessing them with Your presence.”  The Lord God Jehovah smiled and said, “Do your worst, bring it on.  Believers in Me worship Me, and Me alone.”  And so the story of Job played out, ending with that glorious statement:

Oh, that my words were on a scroll, inscribed in granite forever!  I know my Redeemer lives.  In the end, even with my body destroyed, I will see God, with my own eyes.  Oh, how my heart yearns for that day.

My heart yearns as well—come quickly my Lord Jesus.

Willie Robertson: The Duck Commander

Courage Conquers Compartmentalization…
In December of 2012, America’s remotes voted in a new champion—Duck Dynasty won outright the Wednesday evening 10pm ratings race.  6.5 million viewers watched a Christian family enjoy its self-afflicted, tongue-in-cheek high jinks, and Christian faith.  An acquired taste, Duck Dynasty is nonetheless a bright spot on the media horizon.

duckdynastylogoOur culture tends to compartmentalize life.  We put our job in one compartment, faith in another, and family in another box.  Compartmentalization seduces us:  we believe we can serve more than one master, simply by thinking and acting differently within each compartment, as if one did not affect the other.

Rabid compartmentalization produces moral lapses as in “It’s just business” or “Talking about Jesus will get me fired” or “What the IRS doesn’t know won’t hurt them.”  Eventually, we tear ourselves apart thinking what happens in one box won’t affect another, or we become so split, we develop a different personality for each of our “compartments.”

Colossians 3:23-24 teaches us that we are to do all things as unto the Lord God.  Jesus taught us not to compartmentalize—we can not serve God and mammon.  Willie seems to have it right.  His success in business led to success in the media to giving him a platform on which to glorify the Lord God (see a GodTube video).

See more Tutu Photos by D. Thomas Porter

Click to see more of my time with Bishop Tutu.

As you note those who are successful as parents, teachers, politicians, managers, and even pastors, please pray for their continued success, and particularly that their success in that endeavor will bring glory to God in all their endeavors.  Relatively few would be interested in hearing about Jesus from Tony Dungy, or Desmond Tutu, or Mother Teresa or Bobby Bowden, or Willie Robertson were it not for their success elsewhere.  All “did their thing” as unto the Lord.

So, as the new Duck Dynasty season begins, I encourage you to look for new changes.  Previous years have seen their show not only become more popular, but even more up front about who they are as Christians.  Their evening prayer and how it ended the second season’s episodes says it all.

Porter’s First Law of Theology: “God is Smart”

God is not very smart, for “very” implies a non-existent continuum.  God is smart, period, in the absolute.  Therefore, we can better understand God’s revelation in history, the natural world, and in Scripture if we continually ask—Why did God allow that in history?  Why did God create the world with such beauty, and trauma?  Why did God give us these commands in Scripture?  With every answer, we learn how and why… God is smart.  “God is smart” thus becomes a potent hermeneutic.