As a seminary professor for more than four decades, John Frame has distinguished himself as a prolific author and one of America’s foremost theologians and philosophers—significantly shaping the thought of Evangelicalism today. Many of today’s most influential Christian leaders and authors, like Tim Keller and John Piper, readily acknowledge the significant impact John Frame has had on them. Although widely known and deeply respected in church leadership and academic circles for decades, his works are now, finally, becoming well know to the general public.

Frame Selected Works Cover

This is the third of a four-part series taken from the foreword I wrote for his most recently published book, John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings, Volume 1, by P&R Publishing. I wrote this with the goal of helping to introduce Frame and his writings more widely to the general public, with the hope that more people would begin mining the rich theological, philosophical, and practical gems that have for too long been mostly in the hands of academics and church leaders.

JOHN FRAME is often difficult to categorize because he is marked by both genuine humility and great courage in his approach to a vast array of today’s theological and ecclesiastical categories.

john_frame sketchLiberal? Denominational? Ecumenical? Fundamental?

  • Knowing that he might be accused of being a theological liberal, he continues to stand against fractured denominationalism, and to fight for greater ecumenical unity in the church.
  • Knowing that he might be accused of being a theological fundamentalist, he continues to stand against moderate views of Scripture, and to fight for an infallible, inerrant Bible.

Optimistic Transformationalist? Pessimistic Dualist?

  • Knowing that he might be accused of being a cultural transformationist (and triumphalist), he continues to stand against pessimistic theological dualism that wrongly separates the church and culture, and to fight for the optimistic, biblical social engagement of Christians as witnesses to the lordship of Christ over all areas of public life.
  • Knowing that he might be accused of being a cultural isolationist (and pessimist), he continues to stand against theological views of God’s kingdom that wrongly equate the priority of the institutional church ministries of the Word and social action, and to fight for understanding the primary purpose of the institutional church as making disciples of all nations through prioritizing the ministries of evangelism and the Word.

Ecclesiastic Traditionalist?  Pietistic Individualist?

  • Knowing that he might be accused of being a traditionalist, he continues to stand against rapidly emerging, individualistic expressions of “Churchless Christianity,” and to fight for the biblical necessity for all Christians to come under the spiritual authority and care of a local church body, through which they prioritize the regular, corporate ministries of the Word, sacrament, and prayer.
  • Knowing that he might be accused of being a pietist (and revivalist), he continues to stand against theological views that wrongly emphasize the communal dimensions of Christianity at the expense of the personal, and to fight for the biblical validity and need for all Christians to pursue holiness through personal spiritual disciplines such as regular Bible reading, prayer, and fasting.

  Traditional Academy? Educational Revolutionary?

  • Knowing that he might be accused of being an out-of-touch, ivory-tower academic, he continues to stand against the trend of church leaders’ not receiving seminary training, and to fight for the importance of well-educated church leaders.
  • Knowing that he might be accused of being opposed to traditional seminary training, he continues to stand against the inherent problems with the traditional seminary model, and to fight for more innovative, practical, church-based seminary training models.

At Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando (RTS-O), where John and I have served together (our offices are next to each other) as resident faculty members for thirteen years, we have heard a description over the years of those who are Reformed (Calvinistic) in theology as being on a theological continuum that ranges from the broadly evangelical (BE) on the one end to the truly Reformed (TR) on the other.

Broad Evangelical (BE)? or Truly Reformed (TR)?

Calvinism Poster Secret BE

Calvinism Poster TR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEs are those who normally emphasize their evangelical theological convictions more strongly than their Reformed convictions. And at the other end of the continuum, TRs normally emphasize their Reformed theological convictions more strongly than their evangelical convictions.

So what is John Frame—a BE or a TR? He is neither. Frame is in a completely different category called WR—“Winsomely Reformed.” Someone who is WR cannot be identified as normally being at any one particular point on this Calvinistic continuum between the BEs and the TRs. That’s because

John Frame has the unique capacity to function wisely and well anywhere across the doctrinally diverse continuum of evangelicalism—yet still hold strongly to his robust theologically Reformed convictions.

A New (Old) Category: Winsomely Reformed (WR)

John Frame is the epitome of someone who is WR. This is why it’s been so difficult for people to categorize him. In some contexts he’ll be overtly emphasizing his Reformed convictions. But in other contexts he will intentionally emphasize only his broader evangelical convictions.

This confusing behavior is not because he is fearful or comprising his beliefs, but because he’s learned to base his words and emphases on what will be most appropriate in each unique context. Frame has a strong commitment to both evangelical theology in general and Reformed theology in particular, coupled with godly wisdom to know in which context and to what extent one or the other should be emphasized.

If you’re new to reading the works of John Frame (or theological works in general), let me strongly encourage you to take the time to explore his other writings. Here are just a few introductory readings I recommend that you consider to begin priming your theological pump:

  • Salvation Belongs to the Lord [7]—a brief mini-systematic theology that is easily accessible to the average reader.
  • Studying Theology as a Servant of Jesus—practical advice for incoming seminary students and all new students of theology.
  • Browse his website, where you’ll find many of his writings. He shares this website with Vern Poythress, Calvinistic theologian, philosopher, New Testament scholar, and one of his former students

Click here to read Framing John Frame Pt 1: Introducing The Man and His Message

Click here to read Framing John Frame Pt 2: Influencers on His Thought

Coming Soon: Framing John Frame Pt 4: The Private World of a Bible Scholar

Including-The 100 Books That Have Most Influenced John Frame’s Thought by Frame and Childers

______________

[1] John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006).

[2] John M. Frame, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013).

As a seminary professor for more than four decades, John Frame has distinguished himself as a prolific author and one of America’s foremost theologians and philosophers—significantly shaping the thought of Evangelicalism today. Many of today’s most influential Christian leaders and authors, like Tim Keller and John Piper, readily acknowledge the significant impact John Frame has had on them. Although widely known and deeply respected in church leadership and academic circles for decades, his works are now, finally, becoming well know to the general public.

Frame Selected Works Cover

This is the second of a four-part series taken from the foreword I wrote for his most recently published book, John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings, Volume 1, by P&R Publishing. I wrote this with the goal of helping to introduce Frame and his writings more widely to the general public, with the hope that more people would begin mining the rich theological, philosophical, and practical gems that have for too long been mostly in the hands of academics and church leaders.

JOHN FRAME believes those with Reformed and evangelical convictions are at risk of being marginalized in our generation because of some Reformed leaders, both inside and outside the academy, espousing unbiblical views of such critical areas as worship, evangelism, Christian spirituality, church planting, missions, and the relationship of the church and culture. [1]

christianity-todayBut the good news is that God is raising up a new generation of church leaders and other Christians who are stemming this tide by standing for a robust Reformed theology that includes a biblical view of all these practical areas of ministry. And the theology and philosophy of John Frame is at the forefront, influencing this resurgence of biblical Calvinism among a new generation of church leaders. [2]

Frame represents a historic stream of biblical and philosophical thought [3] deeply rooted in the best foundational contributions of Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas. In his writings you’ll also find the biblical riches rediscovered by the church in the Protestant Reformation by Martin Luther and John Calvin, as well as the reshaping of those biblical truths in the seventeenth century by the English Puritans.

Frame’s thought also reflects the Dutch Calvinism of Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck and the Princeton theology of Charles Hodge, B. B. Warfield, and J. Gresham Machen. He writes, “I yield to no one in admiration of three brilliant and godly men, friends of one another, who set the highest standards for Reformed theology in the 1900s:

BAVINCK_mediator

A handful of professors profoundly shaped his thought while he was in seminary, including

Cornelius Van TilThe three authors he resorts to most often today are Murray, Van Til, and Clowney. [5] Van Til became the greatest single influence on Frame’s apologetics and theology. Other significant influences on his theology include

  • G. C. Berkouwer,
  • R. John Rushdoony,
  • Meredith Kline, and
  • J. I. Packer.

Frame’s understanding of philosophy has been shaped not only by many of the authors listed above but also by the writings of Plato, Immanuel Kant, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. His emphasis on the importance of not only knowledge and behavior in the Christian life, but also heart affections, is drawn significantly from the writings of Blaise Pascal and Jonathan Edwards (often through the works of John Gerstner and John Piper as Edwards’s contemporary advocates).

Jon-Ed-1-slider

Although Frame’s primary understanding of Christian apologetics and evangelism has been shaped by Van Til, others have deepened and broadened that understanding, including

  • C. S. Lewis,
  • Francis Schaeffer,
  • Gordon Clark,
  • C. John (Jack) Miller, and
  • Vern Poythress (one of his many students whom he now refers to as his teacher.)

As a result of integrating these diverse schools of thought over decades,

John Frame is a rare biblical scholar who has a passion not only for people to gain a biblical understanding of theology, philosophy, apologetics, and ethics, but also for people to learn how to apply these disciplines to practical ministries such as worship, evangelism, discipleship, church planting, and missions.

That’s because, to John Frame, “Theology is application.” [6]

If you’re new to reading the works of John Frame (or theological works in general), let me strongly encourage you to take the time to explore his other writings. Here are just a few introductory readings I recommend that you consider to begin priming your theological pump:

  • Salvation Belongs to the Lord [7]—a brief mini-systematic theology that is easily accessible to the average reader.
  • Studying Theology as a Servant of Jesus—practical advice for incoming seminary students and all new students of theology.
  • Browse his website, where you’ll find many of his writings. He shares this website with Vern Poythress, Calvinistic theologian, philosopher, New Testament scholar, and one of his former students

Click here to read Framing John Frame Pt 3: Why It’s Hard to Frame Frame

Click here to read Framing John Frame Pt 1: Introducing The Man and His Message

Coming Soon:

    -The 100 Books That Have Most Influenced John Frame’s Thought by Frame and Childers

_____________________

[1] John M. Frame, The Escondido Theology: A Reformed Response to Two Kingdom Theology (Lakeland, FL: Whitefield Media Productions, 2011).
[2] David Van Biema, “The New Calvinism—10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now,” Time, March 12, 2009.
[3] See the bibliography at the end of this series for a list of the one hundred works that have most influenced John Frame’s thought.
[4] John M. Frame, Backgrounds to My Thought, available at http://www.frame-poythress.org/about/john-frame-full-bio/ (accessed May 16, 2013).
[5] Ibid.
[6] Frame, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 1–100.
[7] John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006).

As a seminary professor for more than four decades, John Frame has distinguished himself as a prolific author and one of America’s foremost theologians and philosophers—significantly shaping the thought of Evangelicalism today. Many of today’s most influential Christian leaders and authors, like Tim Keller and John Piper, readily acknowledge the significant impact John Frame has had on them. Although widely known and deeply respected in church leadership and academic circles for decades, his works are now, finally, becoming well known to the general public.
This is the first of a four-part series taken from the foreword I wrote for Frame’s most recently published book, John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings, Volume 1, by P&R Publishing. I wrote this with the goal of helping to introduce Frame and his writings more widely to the general public, with the hope that more people would begin mining the rich theological, philosophical, and practical gems that have for too long been mostly in the hands of academics and church leaders.

John Frame PhotoJOHN M. FRAME (b. 1939) is a Calvinist theologian and American philosopher especially known for his work in systematic theology, Christian apologetics, and ethics. In the tradition of John Calvin (Tracts and Treatises),[1] Jonathan Edwards (Miscellanies),[2] B. B. Warfield (Selected Shorter Writings),[3] and Herman Bavinck (Selected Shorter Works),[4] Frame has now published his own Selected Shorter Writings.

Similar to those who have benefited only from J. I. Packer’s more well-known books such as Knowing God,[5] but have never tapped the riches of his lesser-known writings (e.g., his Introductory Essay to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ[6]), those who have benefited only from Frame’s more well-known books can now mine the riches of his lesser-known, shorter writings.

Before publication of this book, most of these rare theological and philosophical gems had been hidden away as Frame’s book appendices or as electronic files or articles posted on websites and blogs not widely known to the public. This book, however, is not merely a compilation of appendices and articles. Instead, these chapters are mostly unpublished essays of Frame’s thought as part of the culmination of a remarkable career as an author and a teacher of theology and philosophy.

Building on his education at Princeton, Westminster Seminary, and Yale, Frame distinguished himself as an outstanding theologian during thirty-one years on the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and California. Since 2000, he has been on the faculty of Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando as professor of systematic theology and philosophy. He teaches apologetics, systematic theology, ethics, and history of philosophy and Christian thought.

During his decades as a seminary professor, Frame has distinguished himself as a prolific author, publishing books and articles not only in the areas of apologetics, theology, and ethics, but also in worship, film, music, and other media.

Among his larger theological works is his highly acclaimed and award-winning Theology of Lordship series, including The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (1987),[7] The Doctrine of God (2002),[8] The Doctrine of the Christian Life (2008),[9] and The Doctrine of the Word of God (2010).[10] Frame is especially noted for his work in epistemology and presuppositional apologetics. He is considered one of the foremost interpreters and critics of the thought of the late Christian apologist Cornelius Van Til, whom he studied under at Westminster Seminary.

In Frame’s first book, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (1987), he elaborates his Christian epistemology, which he calls triperspectivalismand argues that in order to appreciate the richness of attaining true knowledge, a person must understand that knowledge always involves the integration of three perspectives: the normative, situational, and existential.

TRIPERSPECTIVALISM

tri-300x73His triperspectivalism has made a profound impact on church leaders today, including his practical application of Christ’s offices as Prophet (normative), Priest (existential), and King (situational) to all of life and ministry. Frame’s passion to see the lordship of the triune God in every sphere of thought and life is contagious. And this needed contagion is now spreading to multitudes of Christians and church leaders at a critical time.

If you’re new to reading the works of John Frame (or theological works in general), let me strongly encourage you to take the time to explore his other writings. Here are just a few introductory readings I recommend that you consider to begin priming your theological pump:

  • Salvation Belongs to the Lord [11]—a brief mini-systematic theology that is easily accessible to the average reader.
  • Studying Theology as a Servant of Jesus—practical advice for incoming seminary students and all new students of theology.
  • Browse his website where you’ll find many of his writings. He shares this website with Vern Poythress, Calvinistic theologian, philosopher, New Testament scholar, and one of his former students.

Click here to read: Framing John Frame, Part Two: Influencers on His Thought

_________________________________

[1] John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Tracts and Treatises of John Calvin (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2004)

[2] Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards,vol. 13, The Miscellanies: A–500, ed. Thomas A. Schafer (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994); vol. 18, The Miscellanies: 501–832, ed. Ava Chamberlain (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000); vol. 20, The Miscellanies: 833–1152, ed. Amy Plantinga Pauw (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002); vol. 23,The Miscellanies: 1153–1360, ed. Douglas A. Sweeney (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004).

[3] Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, Selected Shorter Writings, ed. John Meeter (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2001).

[4] Herman Bavinck, Selected Shorter Works (Portland, OR: Monergism Books, 2011).

[5] J. I. Packer, Knowing God. 20th anniversary ed. (InterVarsity Press, 1993).

[6] John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ: A Treatise in Which the Whole Controversy about Universal Redemption Is Fully Discussed (London: Banner of Truth, 1959).

[7] John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1987).

[8]John M. Frame, The Doctrine of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2002).

[9]John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2008).

[10]John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2010).

11] John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006)

AllThingsNewPeople who know me well, know that I can very easily get lost. I think it must be part of my nutty professor DNA. When I first enter a shopping mall and begin walking from store to store, I still have a pretty good sense of direction.  But after shopping for awhile, especially after I’ve been up and down stairs and turned around a few times, I have no idea where I am in relation to where I parked. When my daughters were teenagers they learned quickly that dad’s internal compass didn’t work very well in the mall. After we’d been shopping for a while, one of them would often look up at me with a big grin and say, “OK dad, time to go back to the car. Which way?”

MallMapsLite_mainI would have no idea which way to go. That’s until I learned the secret of just walking until I found a mall directory map with three glorious words on it, usually highlighted in red, YOU ARE HERE. It was not until I could see the bigger picture and where I fit into it, that I could find my way.

Even though it often doesn’t feel like it, there is a reason why you are here. You are part of something truly epic and astonishing. And although they aren’t simple or exhaustive, there really are honest answers to the ancient questions human beings have been asking throughout history, such as:

  • Where did the world come from?
  • Where did we come from?
  • How does everything connect or fit together?
  • Why does anything exist at all?
  • Why is there evil and suffering in the world?
  • What happens when we die?
  • Why do we have a sense of rightness and wrongness?
  • What is really going on in the universe?
  • How can we find meaning for our lives?
  • Is there really meaning to life?

We look for these answers and connections, and we’re restless until we find them. That’s because nothing really makes ultimate sense in life until we can properly relate it to other things. God created everything that exists, including the earth and all the nations on it for a purpose. The degree to which we understand God’s purpose for the world is the degree to which we will understand God’s purpose for our lives in it. And the degree to which we align our life purpose with God’s purpose for the world is the degree to which we will experience the fullness of God’s purpose for our lives. To summarize:

God takes great pleasure in manifesting his presence and pouring out his power on those who will dare to align radically their purposes with his for the nations[1].

The only way we can discover God’s purpose for our lives is by learning how our story fits into God’s still-unfolding story for the universe. So in this book we will do a sweeping overview (the view from 30,000 feet) of the history of the universe, from creation to the final consummation of time, through the lens of the Bible. Although the bible is not a history book, when it speaks to history, it speaks truthfully [2].

Antique-Compass-1103474_55801016-300x289

What’s unique about the Bible is not all the stories, but “THE STORY in the stories,”[3] the one, true human story that God means to shape our understanding of history and give ultimate meaning to our lives.

We can master a knowledge of all the biblical stories, and even master a knowledge of all Christian doctrine and theology, and still not really know THE STORY unfolding in the stories. Many years ago, a Hindu leader in India strongly reproved a young, well-intentioned missionary for how he and the other missionaries were presenting the Bible to them. He said,

I can’t understand why you missionaries present the Bible to us in India as a book of religion. It is not a book of religion–and anyway we have plenty of books of religion in India. We don’t need any more! I find in your Bible a unique interpretation of universal history, the history of the whole of creation and the history of the human race. And therefore a unique interpretation of the human person as a responsible actor in history. That is unique. There is nothing else in the whole religious literature of the world to put alongside it (emphasis mine). [4]

Although the Bible consists of a wide variety of writings (including laws, history, prophecies, poetry, letters, and apocalyptic writings), at its core the bible is one unfolding story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. God means for his story to so captivate you, that you are drawn into its plot to find your place and then compelled to draw others into that story with you for the rest of your life.

I invite you to join me on this life-changing journey to discover more deeply God’s unfolding story so that you might experience more fully your story in his.

_______________________

[1] See Challenging Missions Quotes for a free download of similar quotes compiled by Joshua Project staff. 
[2] Francis Schaeffer, No Final Conflict
[3] Edward Clowney, The Church: Contours of Christian Theology
[4] Lesslie Newbigin, A Walk Through the Bible
 

0This evening I’m reading the fascinating results of what is arguably the most important study of the life and happiness of human beings ever done.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development began in 1938 when researches started following 268 young men (Harvard undergraduates) for the rest of their lives. In 1966 this study became the life work of Dr. George Vaillant (now 80) Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Some of the findings include:

  • Alcoholism is a disorder of great destructive power
  • Aging liberals (political) have way more sex
  • A strong correlation of the warmth of your relationships and your health and happiness in your later years
  • How significant men’s relationships with their mothers are in determining their well-being in life

In one of his book publicity interviews about the study, Vaillant joked, “Being a couch potato I was delighted to find that it’s good health that makes it possible to exercise at sixty, it isn’t the exercising at sixty that creates good health at eighty.” But in his own words, the #1 most important finding from this study is this:

“The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the study points to a straightforward five-word conclusion: Happiness is love. Full stop.”

When asked in an interview how he would apply this five-word conclusion to his own life, he said, “In part by not worrying more about myself but more about my children. I’ve been more interested in my successful career and less interested in just hanging out with them. And if I had it to do it over again, I would have spent more time with my children.”

Even when it’s almost too late, learning that “Happiness is love” is powerful and meaningful. But frankly, that doesn’t surprise me, and I’d be surprised if it did you. My first thought was, “Well, it doesn’t take seventy-five years and twenty million dollars to figure that one out. Of course, happiness is love.” So to learn more about what Vaillant considers to be his most significant findings, I began reading his book reviews, summaries, and listening to his interviews.

As a result I discovered what I consider to be the #1 most important finding from “Vaillant’s most important findings” about HOW happiness is love. (You may want to read that last sentence again for it to make sense.) This finding is not drawn primarily from his book, but from his post-writing interviews:

“Happiness is love. Full Stop” -especially shown by those who learned to: 1) “take love in”, and 2) “give love out.”

Now, again, I’m not surprised by the “give love out” finding. But it’s the “take love in” finding that intrigues me. Below is my transcript of one of Vaillant’s interviews I listened to tonight as he described one of the most important things HE learned through all these years of human research since 1968. He tells the story of one of his research subjects, a man who had a very difficult life into adulthood. But, after learning how to “take love in,” his whole life turned around ending very well with rich relationships. He said,

One of the lessons and mysteries of the study is that probably the greatest human skill you can have is the ability to take love in and metabolize it. That’s how you grow. Nobody knows a lot about that.

Now this statement grabbed my attention. And it makes me want to explore more deeply what it means for someone (especially me) to “take love in and metabolize it.” Why? Mostly selfish reasons I guess. Hey, if the Harvard study says this is how a man finishes life well with rich relationships, then let’s get on with it!

But there’s also the deeper realization that it’s only when I learn more about how to take love in, that I’ll truly learn more how to give love out. The Apostle Paul taught the key to human growth (happiness) is to focus first on taking in (metabolizing) the love of Christ before giving it out. This is how God means for us to grow (flourish) in all our relationships. I’m glad somebody knows a lot about that.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:14-19

Book CoverThe findings of this study are now published in Vaillant’s book, Triumphs of Experience.

 

July 4 Shirtless ManJPGTHIS 4th of July is one I’ll never forget. And neither will our guests. Our celebration of the 4th began normally. Becky and I had several seminary students over to our home for an old fashioned hamburger, hot dog, baked beans, etc. spread.

As it started to get dark, we all drove to our neighborhood fireworks display on the edge of a small lake near our home. A relatively small crowd of a few hundred neighbors were there. <A few of the students brought to my attention that the blaring music was very boomer–70’s hard rock. Hadn’t noticed it except for the involuntary head-banging.>

It was a very Norman Rockwell sort of scene with kids and dogs running around as spectacular fireworks were exploding high in the air.

What happened next is still hard for me to believe. Just after a beautiful display of fireworks over the lake had ended, a shirtless man walked over near the base where these very high-powered, professional fireworks were being launched.

He then handed his beer can to another man, who had a large American flag in his other hand, and then reached over and picked up one of the large boxes of fireworks-apparently scheduled to be shot off for the next round. I still can’t believe what happened next. This man hoisted the large, heavy box of very powerful, highly explosive fireworks over the top of his head and lifted the box up as high as his arms could reach.

Then this man started walking from the edge of the lake toward the broad yellow tape that was designed to keep the crowd (us) at a safe distance from these potentially dangerous explosives. He stopped about 10-15 feet before the yellow tape, with his arms still fully extended as high as they could go, when the first sparks began to shoot from the huge bottom of the large box of fireworks.

Standing about 6 feet away from this shirtless man was his buddy with the can of beer in one hand and raising up the American flag in the other.

If you look very closely at the video screenshot above (from my trusty iPhone), you can see this shirtless man with his hands held high above him holding the box from which all the fireworks are starting to explode. And if you look to the right of this man (his left) you’ll see his buddy, who has a big American flag in his right hand that you can’t see because it’s behind the fire. If you look closely you can even see the yellow tape (between these 2 men and the crowd in front of us) supposedly meant to keep us a safe distance from the fireworks.

What took place next only lasted for 7 seconds before the shirtless man had to throw down the exploding fireworks box. But everyone with us that evening said they will probably never have another 4th of July when they don’t remember this one. Immediately after the explosions and balls of fire stopped shooting at us, one of the seminary students, Nolan, yelled out,

“That one nearly killed you Steve! We’re lucky to be alive! We’re lucky to be alive! Friendly fire!  We just came under attack! This is unprecedented in the American society! We just came under attack at our own fireworks show!”

Becky and I think our favorite Thank You note came from another student, Tim, who wrote,

Thanks again for having us over for the 4th. It was one I’m certain we’ll never forget. It was the first time I was shot at by a shirtless man while his buddy held his beer and waved an American flag. I’d like to think that this is what the Founding Fathers would have wanted. “Give me drunk fireworks, or give me death.”

To help make your 4th of July weekend more memorable, I’ve just posted the video I took of those 7 seconds, along with some slower instant replays so you can see the most amazing and frightening fireworks display I’ve ever seen.

You’ll also hear the adrenaline-soaked comments made by some members of our group immediately after we stopped being fired on. BTW: If you watch the video carefully, you’ll see why Nolan screamed, “That one nearly killed you Steve!”

If you’d like to see this brief 3-minute video Click Here.
Or watch below:

I was sitting in a hospital waiting room this morning, nervously waiting for a nurse to open the door and give me a report on Becky’s (my wife) minor surgery. I hold to the belief that all surgery is major if it involves someone I love, especially if they’re going under anesthesia. There was one other person in the room with me, a man sitting immediately next to the door. He looked nervous too. But both of us were just sitting there silently looking down at old magazines.

All of a sudden, the door swung open and the nurse looked at me and said, “Are you ready to take Bonnie home now?” In response to what I’m sure was a very confused look on my face, she then prodded me again, “Well, Bonnie and I are ready to go. Are you?” The other man in the room, who was sitting too close to the door for the nurse to see him at first, then piped up, “Bonnie goes with me. I’ll take her home!”

Humor in Crisis QuoteWithout really thinking, I then blurted out what I shouldn’t have, “Wait a second, I might want to take Bonnie home with me!” Then to my surprise, the man responded by saying, “Hey, why don’t we just flip a coin?” To which I then said, “Or we could wait and see how they both did first.” By now, the nurse had her arms folded and was just rolling her eyes as she watched two grown men act like junior-high kids in this normally very serious surgical waiting room.

Then she said to me, with a small smile starting to surface, “Sir, who are you taking home today?” To which I responded, with a small, counter-smile, and a truly inquisitive tone, “Do I have any options?” Then she and the man both broke out laughing. The man then got up and went with the nurse to see his wife. Soon, the door suddenly opened again and there stood the man, with Bonnie seated behind him in a wheel chair being pushed by the nurse. Bonnie smiled at me with that glazed smile of someone still recovering from sedation.

As the three of them went by in front of me, the man leaned over and said, “Last chance bro.” And then he winked. When the door closed behind them, I smiled as I thought about how many times God has used humor to comfort me when I’m afraid. Humorist and presidential speechwriter, Robert Orben once wrote, “In prehistoric times, mankind often had only two choices in crisis situations: fight or flee. In modern times, humor offers us a third alternative; fight, flee – or laugh.”