Thursday, July 27, 2006


The Ten Commandments monument across the street from the U.S. Supreme Court continues to draw reactions from people that pass by it. Yesterday was particularly eventful:

It began when Chief Justice John Roberts' Cadillac executive sedan passed by and slowed down for the turn into the Court's underground parking ramp. At the time, I was standing in our front door talking with Dr. David Moshier of the National Clergy Council. While the Chief's security windows are too darkened to see inside, I can only imagine that a brilliantly curious mind like his likely makes the Commandments impossible to ignore. He's a God-fearing, deeply religious man. I trust the sight of the Great Words of Sinai are an inspiration to him each day as he leads the most powerful court in the most powerful nation on earth!

At noon, as I left the building for an appointment, two professionally dressed young people passed by our front garden. One of them, a young woman, stopped suddenly and said to her companion, “Wow! There it is!”

I couldn’t let it pass, so I engaged them in conversation. She explained that they had just been “talking about the Ten Commandments.” Then, she said, she looked up and, “there they were. I couldn’t remember what they said, and then, wow, they were just there.”

We finished the conversation and I thought, what would have happened had she not seen the Commandments? Maybe she and her friend would have just moved on to another topic. Maybe they would have gotten it wrong. Who knows? The only thing we do know is that she saw them just when she needed to—and that moment will not leave her any time soon.

Then, toward the late afternoon, the doorbell of the ministry center rang. A gentleman and his family stood at the door, obviously tourists. He thanked us for our “expression of faith in the public square.” He went on to say how deeply he and his family appreciated “the beautiful display of the Ten Commandments.”

His words were touching. And when I think about it, he would not have seen anything quite like it anywhere in the Capital. Of the two or three other public renditions of the Commandments here in the Washington, none are in English. Two are in Hebrew and one is simply represented by Roman numerals.

Even I am tempted to underestimate the value of this monument because I see it several times every day. It’s when we get surprised faces, words of gratitude, even tears or anger, that we are reminded just how powerful are these Great Words of Sinai!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What Version?

I often get questions about the version of the Ten Commandments displayed on our monument, mostly from reporters. A few passers by may ask, but it’s rare. Still, it’s a good question and one with a good answer.

We chose the most popular, truncated rendering of the Commandments in the King James translation that begins, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” enumerates the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” as the sixth and combines all the edicts against coveting as the tenth. We figured that would resonate with the largest number of readers.

As you may know, there a difference between our presentation of the Commandments and how Jews typically enumerate them, and how Lutherans and Catholics, along with certain other Christians divide them.

When I’m debating the public display of the Commandments, my opponents often try to use these different “versions” as a club for beating us back into a corner. Alas, it fails every time. Why? Because each tradition—that is Jewish, Catholic and Protestant, respects and endorses the rendering of the others. This is because the essential meaning of the Commandments isn’t changed by how they are enumerated. No matter how you break them up, it’s all the same words in each variation.

Add to this fact that there was no punctuation as we know it in ancient Hebrew. Translators only inserted punctuation centuries after the Great Words were brought down from Sinai. So, the actual enumeration is a modern invention.

A good way to read the Commandments is without any punctuation or line breakage. Just read them like one great big run-on sentence. Once you do it, you’ll get the meaning in the exercise: God had a lot to say about what we were and were not supposed to do. Reading it without punctuation prejudice leaves it quite clear what God wants and doesn’t want from us.

That’s where our focus should be—not on the inconsequential distraction of who gets to apply the numbers to the lines!

Friday, July 21, 2006


Last night I stayed in my "other home," our ministry center here on Capitol Hill. This is my part-time residence. My office doubles as an apartment so I can be close to the action here in Washington when I need to be. (Cheryl and I have our principal home 40 miles west of Washington. We had to go out that far in order to afford a house!)

Staying here allows me to observe passersby at our building in a way I can't during a busy work day. I see them early in the mornings and late at night. Just last night and this morning I noted how many people approach the front of the ministry center, slow down, turn their head towards the Ten Commandments monument in the front garden, stop, pause, read, apparently think about what they've read, and then, slowly, move on. An awful lot of people read the monument!

As I watched them from my third-floor window, I thought, How many of these people would ever read God's Word--let alone the Ten Commandments--if we didn't have that monument out front?

The Word of God says of itself, that it is "quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

That block of granite outside our front door is one powerful instrument--digging deep into the joints and marrow of Capitol Hill!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Portable Commandments!

You'll soon be able to watch or listen to an in-depth study of the Ten Commandments on your I-POD, laptop, in your car's CD player, or wherever you have a DVD, CD player or Internet connection.

I’ve just returned from five days in extraordinarily hospitable Middletown, Ohio. This hamlet, midway between Cincinnati and Dayton, is home to the even more hospitable Grace Baptist Church pastored by the Reverend Dr. Roger Green. Dr. Green is one of the most gracious ministers of the Gospel I have met in 25 years of itinerant preaching. He has a passion for missions and evangelism—my kind of guy!

I was at Grace Baptist because it’s the home congregation to two of our most stalwart supporters, Don and Gayle Wright of nearby Centreville. The Wrights have been generous donors to Faith and Action for over 10 years and are members of our Extended Missionary Team. They play a large role in our ministry to the US Supreme Court.

Besides enjoying a very warm reception to my preaching at Grace, I was able to commit the full five-day Ten Commandments seminar I conducted there to video. Over five sessions, I presented on the history, context, word studies and contemporary application of the Great Words of Sinai.

One memorable highlight was a segment under the Fifth Commandment, on honoring mother and father--and, by extension, all our elders. During that session, I invited the 92-year old pastor emeritus of the church, Dr. Howard Sears, to share his greatest words of wisdom with us. Dr. Sears still travels the country preaching, driving himself hundreds of miles each month. What pearls he provided! Wait till you hear him for yourself!

This is something I wanted to do long ago. It’s a great feeling of satisfaction to finally have it—albeit in a raw, unedited form. Please pray for us as we finalize the material.

The next step will be post editing the material to condense it to a viewable length, write a companion study guide and package it for CD and DVD. We may also release excerpts on our website.

My hope is for the finished Ten Commandments series to be our definitive piece on this central part of our mission and message. I’m very excited about this prospect!

I’ll update you as the project comes along.

Monday, July 10, 2006


I received excellent advice today on the next phase of our battle to display God's Word on Capitol Hill.

It appears that the Government of the District of Columbia was quite serious about its ruling that we have both a First Amendment right to display the Ten Commandments in front of our building--and that the law does not require us to obtain a permit. So, the Commandments are here to stay!

It's only now settling in, but this was an enormous victory with enormous consequences. There is a second phase, however, and we will be underway with it in a few weeks. Please pray. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, July 06, 2006


It's been some days since I last posted. A lot has gone on lately. In the immediate aftermath of our Ten Commandments victory, we had another. My good friend and colleague, Pat Mahoney, went out to San Diego to organize large-scale prayer vigils and rallies in support of the Mount Soledad Cross.

If you're not familiar with this skirmish in the war for the soul of our culture, it's nearly as absurd as the one over our Ten Commandments monument. The Cross sits atop Mount Soledad along the San Diego skyline. It's been there for over 50 years as part of the nation's largest war memorial, a tribute to fallen veterans of the Korean conflict and World War II. 17 years ago, a single atheist activist sued to have it removed. The city sold the land to a private association but a federal judge nullified the deal. After another judge ordered the Cross removed, I went out there with Pat. (See our article at We had--and HAVE--a plan to defend the Cross. In the mean time, however, the city courageously appealed to the US Supreme Court. (A very different court than the one that previously denied review of the case.)

To our surprise, Supreme Court associate justice Anthony Kennedy granted a stay (hold) on the order to remove the Cross, pending further review by him and, possibly, the whole US Supreme Court! Glory to God! Pat "happened" to be out in San Diego when this temporary ruling of the High Court came down. He held a prayer service at the foot of the Cross in thanksgiving to God. (See

No one knows quite what Justice Kennedy's terse, single-sentence ruling means. He could look at it some more and change his mind at any time, allowing the dismantling to proceed. Or, should four of the justices not see merit in the case (it takes that number to accept it), all legal remedies will have been exhausted and the Cross comes down.

Should the High Court accept the case and review it, they could find for the Cross or against it. Such a case would take months or even years before a final determination. It takes a majority of the nine justices to win or lose. Since Justice Kennedy--the new swing vote--saw at least some merit in the arguments of keeping the Cross, it's not a stretch to say he might vote for keeping it. We already know that Chief Justice Roberts and associate justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito are highly likely to vote to keep as well. So, this could be a big win! Only time will tell.

We will file a brief in the Supreme Court in favor of keeping the Cross. We'll also go out with a national call to prayer. Should the Cross be ordered removed, we'll put out a call for every conscientious Christian in the country to travel to San Diego to rally and pray for its preservation.

As you can see, there's no time to be bored around here! Back later with more . . .