Archive for Faith

This week’s homily

Tom and Virginia Boles

By Thomas M. Boles DMin., D.D., PhD.

Psalm 14:1

The fool hath said in his heart,

There is no God.

A skeptic is a person who, when

he sees the handwriting on the wall,

claims it is a forgery.

Gordon Liddy, a White House aide during the Nixon administration,

was a student of the German philosopher Nietzche.

Nietzsche taught that man’s will was of supreme importance, not God’s.

A man with a will of iron, Liddy saw no need for God.

After serving a four-year prison term for his part in the Watergate scandal, Liddy renewed his friendship with some former FBI colleagues, who asked him to join their Bible study.

He agreed, with one caveat: “Please do not try to convert me.”

Of course, things didn’t work out as Liddy had anticipated.

He had been willing to read the Bible as an historical document,

but his friends’ attitudes toward the Bible made him take a closer look.

He began to think about God. If God is infinite and we’re finite,

he thought, how can we ever understand Him? Liddy reasoned,

God will have to communicate with me. Then he realized, the Bible is God’s communication.

Still, he argued, we can never be worthy of God. And again, he was hit by a thunderbolt:

God sent His Son to make us worthy (by virtue of His crucifixion and resurrection), and to keep the dialogue going between God and man.

Liddy suddenly per perceived a need for God and he accepted Christ.

God is surely alive. The question is: Is God alive in you today?

When God meets the good road

About 30 motorcyclists from Morningstar Christian Chapel in Whittier gather at the end of a 108-mile ride to Old Town Temecula on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. The church offers monthly jaunts through its Motorcycle Ministry. Head Pastor Jack Abeelen was among the participants with pastor Bill Swaim, center, leading the way.

Marriage chaos in the courts

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute

By Brad Dacus

President, Pacific Justice Institute

Like me, you have probably been frustrated and disappointed by what seems like an avalanche of bad news lately in the fight for natural marriage. In the midst of the confusion being caused by our courts, I wanted to give you three quick insights about what is happening, and what we can still do.

1. The battle is not over, but the battlefield is shifting. With the media triumphantly proclaiming the end of natural marriage as we know it, they are hoping to short-circuit a debate that is definitely not over. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court shocked most legal experts (myself included) by declining to hear a number of cases striking down marriage laws in the Fourth Circuit (based in Virginia), Tenth Circuit (based in Denver) and Seventh Circuit (based in Chicago). Cases are still very active, though, in the Sixth Circuit (Cincinnati), Fifth Circuit (New Orleans) and in lower federal courts in other parts of the country. It is likely that one of these remaining courts will uphold natural marriage laws and that the Supreme Court will step in at that point.

2. Our next great challenge will be to protect the church. PJI has been very active in filing friend-of-the-court briefs in many of these marriage cases, and we will continue to stand up for natural marriage in the courts. It is not a foregone conclusion that same-sex marriage will be forced on every state. In fact, if you look across the Atlantic to Europe, LGBT activists have not been able to convince the courts to force their will on all member countries, and many continue to staunchly resist. The same could happen here. Regardless of what happens in the coming months, though, we will be focused on protecting the church’s independence from government mandates. Whatever it takes, we absolutely cannot allow local, state or federal officials to dictate who pastors must marry, what will be preached, or any other essentials. Make no mistake — the activists will push further; marriage is only the beginning for them. It is up to us to protect the liberties our Founders and forefathers have handed down to us.

3. This next month offers us an opportunity to take action. In less than a month, each of us will get the chance to vote for members of Congress, as well as many state and local offices. While it is very tempting to conclude, based on the judicial activism we’ve seen lately, that our votes don’t count, I urge you to use this election to speak out on the importance of natural marriage and our constitutional freedoms. Regardless of party affiliation, if a candidate has not taken a strong stance of defending marriage, we cannot afford to vote for that candidate. I have been amazed the last several months as even some politicians who claim to be conservative have abdicated their responsibilities to defend their state’s laws, or have otherwise “gone wobbly” on the sanctity of marriage. PJI can’t endorse or oppose particular candidates, but let’s all do our homework before voting so these elected officials know how important religious freedom is to us!

We can’t sugar-coat it — these are very challenging times in which we live. But that’s all the more reason to pull together, stand firm and send our roots deeper for the great cause of freedom. Our children deserve no less!

Running the race …

This week’s homily

Tom and Virginia Boles

Psalms 106:2

A coincidence is a small miracle

where God prefers to remain anonymous

Who can put into words and tell the mighty deeds

of the Lord? Or who can show forth all the

praise that is due Him?

By Thomas M. Boles, DMin. D.D. PhD.

On his way back to Italy, Columbus was disheartened and discouraged when he stopped at a convent one day. He asked for a drink of water. The monk who gave him a drink listened to his story.

Later, he was the man who spoke to Queen Isabella on Columbus’ behalf.

John Calvin, also on his way to Italy, found that the regular road was closed because of a war between Italy and France. Therefore, he had to pass through Geneva. There he met a man who, with fiery eloquence, demanded that he stay at Geneva and lead the work of God there.

While rummaging in a barrel of rubbish someone had left in his store at Salem, Abraham Lincoln came upon a copy of Blackstone’s Commentaries. Reading that book awakened his desire to participate in government.

George Whitfield was once a bartender in the Bell Inn. Unable to get along with his brother’s wife, he gave up his job and decided that perhaps he should return to college. He made his way to Oxford, where he prepared for his future. He is considered perhaps the greatest of all preachers.

A glass of water, a discarded book, a closed road, a disagreeable co-worker. Coincidence? More likely providence. The same hand is at work in your life.

PJI defends Chick-fil-A in high school flap

By the Pacific Justice Institute

VENTURA — The opponents of Chick-fil-A have laid another egg. The Ventura High School football booster club was set to sell 200 meals donated by the local Chick-fil-A restaurant at a back-to-school event. These meals were expected to bring in $1,600 to support the football players. Their plans, however, were met with a cluck by the principal who banned the donation from the event.

Ventura High School Principal Val Wyatt noted as part of her opposition to Chick-fil-A that, “With their political stance on gay rights and because the students of Ventura High School and their parents would be at the event, I didn’t want them on campus.”

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, “Taxpayer-funded public schools have no business going on a witch hunt against benevolent businesses simply because one of its managers was quoted as supporting natural marriage.

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute

” He continued, “Overt actions by government to isolate and punish business owners who express their moral beliefs is an outrageous violation of public trust.”

PJI staff attorney Matthew McReynolds sent a letter to the principal on Sept. 17 informing her of the legal obligations a school has to not discriminate. Citing the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, McReynolds noted that strict adherence is required not just by businesses, but by schools too.

The letter further noted the free speech rights of corporations, as well as the religious freedom rights of their executives.

Alluding to the irony of banning an organization with supposed diverse views from a school event, one person insightfully commented on PJI’s Facebook page, “So they are going to kick out all the conservative students as well?”

PJI has reached out to members of the booster club offering free legal representation. PJI hopes to ensure that tolerance at the school returns to a two-way – and not a one-way – road.

This week’s homily

Matthew 6: 14-15For if ye forgive men their repasses,

your heavenly Father will also forgive

you. But if ye forgive not men their

Trespasses, neither will your Father

your prespasses.”

Tom and Virginia Boles

By Thomas M. Boles, Phd., DMin., D.D.

On Feb. 9, 1960, Adolph Coors III was kidnapped and held for ransom. His body was found seven months later on a remote hillside.

He had been shot to death. Adolph Coors IV, who was 15 years old at the time, lost not only his father but his best friend. For years, young Coors hated Joseph Corbgett, the man who was sentenced to life for the slaying.

Then in 1975 Adolph Coors became a Christian. He knew this

hatred for Corbett blighted his growth in faith and also alienated him

from other people. Still, resentment seethed within him; He prayed,

asking God to help him stop hating Corbett.

Coors eventually felt led to visit Corbett in the maximum-security unit of Colorado’s Canon City penitentiary. Corbett refused to see him, but Coors left a Bible with this inscription: “I’m here to see you today and I’m sorry that we could not meet. As a Christian I am summoned by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to forgive. I do forgive you, and I ask you to forgive me for the hatred I’ve held in my heart for you.”

Coors later confessed, “I have a love for that man that only Jesus Christ could have put in my heart.”

Coors’ heart, imprisoned by hatred, was at last set free.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.


Church overcomes sobering resistance

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute

By Brad Dacus

President, Pacific Justice Institute

I’m excited to tell you about a church we have been helping recently … and a terrific outcome on their behalf.

The Holy Resurrection Romanian Orthodox Church in the Sacramento area had struggled for 11 years to find a place of its own to worship. They found what seemed like the perfect spot, in the Rio Linda area, with a building that had already been approved as a worship center with seating for a larger congregation.

They moved ahead with their plans … until they encountered some unusual local opposition. At PJI, we’ve been representing churches just like this one for many years, so opposition is nothing new to us – but the excuses being given to stop the church were some of the most illogical and unreasonable we’ve ever heard.

In short, an establishment next to the church property had a liquor license. They acknowledged that they were such bad neighbors in terms of traffic, parking, late-night noise and drunken patrons that they didn’t think a church next door would fit into their neighborhood. (Now is it just me, or does this sound like exactly the place where Jesus would want to minister to people desperately in need of healing and hope?!)

Sadly, some also complained that they thought there were already too many churches in the area.

Since PJI has represented and advised countless churches in similar situations and won some important precedents in this area, we helped this church present an appeal to the Planning Commission. It was sobering to hear some of these believers note similarities between the hostility they were experiencing right here in America with the persecution they had fled in Romania.

PJI Attorney, Kevin Snider, wrote to the Commission and spoke at a hearing on behalf of the church. We are thankful to God that the Planning Commission recognized the illegal basis of the opposition and voted 5-0 to approve the church’s plans. Members of the Commission specifically thanked Kevin for his helpful explanation of the law in this area.

It’s possible there may be further opposition and appeals we will need to counter, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you know of a pastor or church that is even thinking about building, leasing, buying property, expanding, or anything similar that might require local permits, please let them know that Pacific Justice Institute would be honored to work with them at no charge to advance their important work. Oftentimes, we can help churches avoid major problems much more easily when we are involved right from the start.

Thanks to each of you who make our work possible!

Running the race …

This week’s homily

Tom and Virginia Boles

By Thomas M. Boles Phd., DMin., D.D.

In her book, “A Closer Walk,” author Catherine Marshall tells about a

great personal struggle she experienced after writing a novel

titled “Gloria.” Marshall began the novel in 1969 and then abandoned

the project two-and-a-half years later.

To her, the shelved manuscript was

“like a death in the family.”

In attempting to reconcile her conflicting thoughts and

feelings, Marshall spent time at a retreat house in Florida. While

there, she re-read a Bible story from Numbers about a time

when poisonous snakes filled the Israelite camp.

The people recognized the snakes as a punishment for their sin, and cried out in repentance.

The Lord told Moses to “make a (bronze) snake and put it up on a

pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” (Numbers 21:9.)

Marshall realized that just as the Israelites took that which had

hurt them, lifted it up to God, and were healed, so we each can take

our mistakes and sons, lift them to God in prayer, and trust Him

to heal us.

She writes, “When any one of us has made a wrong (or

even doubtful) turning in our lives through arrogance or lack of trust

or impatience or fear, God will show us a way out.” Even when we

stray, He knows both where we are and how to get us back on His


Decisions can take you out of God’s will but never out

of His reach.

If we are faithless, He will remain

faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

2 Timothy 2:13

This week’s homily

Tom and Virginia Boles

By Thomas M. Boles PhD., DMin., D.D.

A comic strip created by Charles Schulz addresses the

need for each of us to make the most of the immediate presentin our lives.

Charlie Brown is  seen at bat. STRIKE THREE. He has

struck out again and slumps down on the players’ bench. He

says, “Rats! I’ll never be a big-league player. I just don’t have

it! All my life I’ve dreamed of playing in the big leagues, but

I know I’ll never make it.”

Lucy turns to console him. “Charlie Brown,” she says,

“you’re thinking too far ahead. What you need to do is set your-

self more immediate goals.”

Charlie Brown looks up and asks, “Immediate goals?”

Lucy responds, “Yes. Start with this next inning when

you go out to pitch. See if you can walk out to the mound with-

out falling down.”

The first step toward walking into any future is the step

that you take today. Make it a forward, positive, springy and

light-hearted, energetic, well-aimed, purposeful step. The steps

you take today become the well-warn path of tomorrow.

The only preparation for

tomorrow is the right

use of today.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow:

for the morrow shall take thought for the

things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is

the evil thereof.

Matthew 6:34

How Hobby Lobby decision helps area churches

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute

By Brad Dacus
President, Pacific Justice Institute

I hope you were as encouraged as I was last week to hear that the Supreme Court took a stand for the religious freedom of family-owned businesses in the Hobby Lobby case.

At PJI, we noticed another positive aspect of the decision that will benefit churches. (Since the nuance that I’m going to explain next was completely overlooked by the media, I would encourage you to forward this e-mail to your pastor and make sure he is receiving our updates.)

The Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby’s owners were protected by a federal law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). In the process of interpreting that statute, the Supreme Court pointed to a related law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). This caught our attention because PJI has represented countless churches under RLUIPA and won one of the leading cases in this area at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. We have used RLUIPA successfully on many occasions to help churches overcome opposition from local officials who do not recognize the value of churches and would rather have their properties used for tax-producing businesses like bars or nightclubs.

So here’s the good news: as part of its Hobby Lobby decision, the Supreme Court stated that federal protections of church property rights go even further than the First Amendment. This is exactly what we have been arguing in case after case for more than a dozen years! And it is the opposite of what has been argued by leading opponents of church property rights. We expect this little-noticed holding of the Supreme Court to have some very positive implications for years to come.

If you become aware of any pastors or churches that are encountering hostility from local officials in the process of trying to expand or relocate their facilities, please let them know that PJI provides free and highly effective assistance in this area.

At PJI, it is our mission to clear away legal obstacles so churches and ministries can focus on what they do best – reaching people with the Gospel. It is our privilege to serve pastors and the people of God.

Running the Race,

Brad Dacus, Esq.