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Why must pastors sign government-issued marriage licenses?

Baptists like John Leland influenced the creation of our Constitution. Last week, I met a fellow author in Windsor. As we walked out of the library, I mentioned what our early Baptist forefather John Leland said, that the idea of Christian Nation “should be exploded forever.” “Oh, yes,” my friend answered. “My Christian history classes talked about him.”


John Leland

Many of my friends disagree with Leland’s POV and they’re in good company. In 2011, Focus on the Family posted an article on their website. It discussed the spiritual aspect of civil marriages. This year they again affirmed this position that the civil marriage license should have spiritual significance.

Yet, in the reality of today’s culture, civil authorities and conservative religious institutions use the word “marriage” with two different definitions and applications. Until the church and the state decouple the use of this word, situations like we now have with Kim Davis, will occur more frequently. IMHO John Leland would want to see this unlinking. Some nations (e.g. Belgium, the Netherlands, and Turkey) require a civil ceremony separate from a religious one. So, in those countries, a couple that wants to be married before God, must have a separate ceremony.

Cattails Again!

For the last few days, our deck had white cattail roots that I was sun-drying to brown. This morning I put them on a board and pounded out the starch, leaving the stringy portion of the roots. Then I poured the white powder into a jar for safe keeping. 

In Ruined, Bekah ate cattails. I am now in the middle of the third and final book in the Fury series and again the protagonists are consuming this vegetable known as the supermarket of the wilderness. This site says to boil the starch out. My research also found a site that said to dry the roots and pound them to remove the starch. Of course, you want to wash them and peel the outer black , like this, before drying.


So Sandy and I will be trying something with cattail starch. Shhh! Don’t tell her!

Holy Emotions or Just My Feelings?

In the Carolinas, with General Baptists on the frontier and Regular Baptists on the coast, different styles of worship evolved, especially concerning emotion. This difference in Baptist worship is seen even today. Some congregations love formality. 1 Corinthians 14 says that all things should be done for edification; worship should have an order to it. Too much emotion may lead seekers to think we are mad. On the other hand, other congregations see that the same passage talks about exercising our gifts in songs, teaching, and exhortation. Even in our music, we can see this divide. Some of us love lifting hands to praise songs. Others of us crave the teachings found in the formality of our hymns. So how do we know if our emotions, in either setting, are truly “Holy Affections” or if they are just our own feelings?

If we are satisfied merely with our feelings, we risk making our Self the object of our emotions. We “feel” good. But did the experience point us to our Lord and Savior, to the God of our creation? Feelings by themselves are not evidence of holy emotions. But, if the object of those emotions is God, then we are, at least in one aspect, in the realm of holy emotions. Edwards says that holy emotions are based in the “transcendentally excellent and amiable nature of divine things as they are in themselves and not any conceived relation they bear to self or self-interest.” [p 165]

One Labor Day, at an outside Baptist worship service, someone recited Isaiah 53, personalizing the phrases. As she read the passage, I heard inside me, “…surely Tom’s griefs He Himself bore, and Tom’s sorrows He carried….” In a new way, I saw God and what He did on the cross for me. With my eyes and heart focused on God, I let go a loud “Amen!” An older friend sitting next to me looked my way, raised his eyebrows, and said, “Did I just hear an amen from you!?” Holy emotion…? I like to think so.

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