Don’t Let Your Sons Grow Up (Parody)

(Sing to the tune of Mammas, don’t let your sons grow up to be cowboys.)

Mammas, don’t let your sons grow up to be pastors

Pastors are easy to love, but they’re hard to get home

Just one more call to be made,

A seed to be sown

Longwinded blessings and old illustrations,

And everyone thinks he’s a saint

His wife, yes, she loves him;

She puts up with him;

But that’s one thing she knows that he ain’t!

Chorus:

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be pastors

Don’t let ‘em tape sermons and buy them old books

Keep them from pulpits, and potlucks and rook

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be pastors

Whenever they’re home,

They tie up the phone

And dinner is always served cold.

(Repeat Chorus)

Pastors like words nobody uses

In modern day language

They’d rather get out their Bible

And speak from the Greek

Dinner is burnin’ but he keeps on preachin’,

Then stops to shake every hand.

He ain’t worried about eatin’

Cuz he keeps on dreamin’

He’ll be the next Billy Graham!

(Repeat chorus twice)

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=WUQYJ77qa50

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U.S. Air Force Retirement

Major Douglas James Pietersma

May 22, 2015

Cheyenne, Wyoming

 

Lord of Hosts, Mighty God, unconquerable but merciful Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace, we bow acknowledging that You alone are our Creator, Sustainer, Provider, Savior and Protector.

Thank You for the abundance and liberty we enjoy. Thank You for the deliverances You have granted us when all hope had vanished at Valley Forge and in wars fought in every generation since our ancestors bravely launched this amazing American experiment. We continue to plead for Heaven’s endorsement upon our land, despite our faltering faith, frequent sins, and wicked pride. Too often, we forget that You created us with abilities and faculties, like sight and hearing, which our best technology cannot duplicate, but without which we would be reduced to abject dependency.

We are gathered today to honor the tenacity, character, and accomplishments of one of our warriors – a brave who outstripped his peers and advanced steadily to the esteemed rank of a chieftain. Thank You that long ago he humbly accepted the gift of forgiveness and Eternal Life, provided freely by Your payment of his sins’ penalty by Your blood sacrifice on the cross.

May today’s event fade into obscurity as he launches upon new adventures, fulfilling Your Divine plan. As he soars like a falcon to greater heights, give him supernatural lift and thrust, to attain and perform exploits and set new records of excellence in his chosen pursuits, so that generations to come will refer to the benchmark of his legacy as both a challenge to be sought after, and a foundation upon which to build.

Please Lord, continue and increase Your matchless blessings upon Major Douglas James Pietersma, his dear wife, their children and progeny until our Lord Jesus Christ returns in power and glory.

In Whose incomparable Name we pray, Amen.

-C.T.L. Spear

 

Same-sex Marriage Denied

Leadership of the Eastern band of the Cherokee Nation wants to  ban same-sex marriage within their borders. ABC News 13 interviewed Cherokee activist Pastor Bo Parris, who said, “Bottom line, there’ll be no same-sex marriages performed . . . The laws of nature are against same-sex marriage. [God] is sovereign and His laws are above every law . . .” (View the You Tube video on this event at http://bitly.com/cherokeeban.)

A federal judge forced the state of North Carolina to legalize same-sex marriage, but the Eastern band of the Cherokee issued a tribal amendment, which reads, “The licensing and solemnizing of same-sex marriages are not allowed within this jurisdiction.”

Cherokee Baptist churches have long exercised an influential voice in tribal politics. The You Tube clip of the news report features short takes of several Cherokee residents including the pastor of Big Cove Missionary Baptist Church, who appears on the video.

Proponents of gambling casinos have been quick to defend the rights of Native tribes to operate gambling establishments on native reservations despite state laws forbidding such enterprises. It should be interesting to see how “the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” (Psalm 2:2-3)

Someone in the grandstand is chuckling derisively. “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.” (Psalm 2:4) Perhaps Supreme Court justices should consider that there is a higher Court, presided over by The Just One, whose supremacy will not be denied. (Acts 7:52, 22:14)

Will the Cherokee Nation win this skirmish? Time will tell. But, one thing is certain: we have yet to see exactly how the final chapter will flesh out. Still, the Bible hints that the enemies of God will ultimately be broken “with a rod of iron;” the Lord will “dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (Psalm 2:9)

By saying these things, I do not mean to imply that God’s primary trait is vengeance. He is a merciful God (Psalm 103). He delights in showing mercy, even to those who have flaunted their rebellion. That is perhaps nowhere more evident than in His forgiveness of the thief on the cross, who had no opportunity to be baptized, to do good works, or to demonstrate his change of heart. No matter what kind of sin we might consider, God loved us so much that He sent His sinless Son to pay the penalty of our sins and crimes against Heaven with His Own precious blood. And, He offers full pardon to “whosoever” will come to Him in repentance and faith.

 

[For more information, visit www.TheBaptistArrow.com]

Grace Shines Best in Dark Times

“The impiety of the times is a foil to set off grace all the more, and give it greater lustre,” wrote Puritan Thomas Boston in his masterful analysis of Malachi’s statements (3:16-17) about the evil days after the second temple was built in Jerusalem more than 300 years before the birth of Christ. A Christian “is most lovely, when he is (as Ambrose says) like the cypress, which keeps its verdure and freshness in the winter . . . An upright man is always worth beholding . . . he is most to be admired when like a bright star he shines in the dark, and having lost all, holds fast his integrity.” (The Great Gain of Godliness by Thomas Boston, The Banner of Truth edition, 2006, p. 8)

Boston, or even Malachi, would be astounded to see the impiety of our times. Still, their observations could not be more appropriate if they were on the editorial staff of the New York Times today.

Let every believer remind himself that though we were not present to stand with our Lord in Gethsemane, nor to kneel at the foot of the cross, we have the greatest opportunity of our generation to let His Light shine. We must take time to “speak often one to another” as they did in Malachi’s era, and “behold the upright man” as the Psalmist reminds (37:37).

 

Talking to Atheists

A friend wrote to me about arrogant Atheists constantly baiting him to argue, but having no sincere interest in the Truth. In 1681, Thomas Watson wrote about God’s point of view of believers during Malachi’s era, 300+ years before the birth of Christ (Mal. 3:16-17): “The Lord was much taken with the holy conferences and dialogues of these saints . . . When others were inveighing against the Deity, that there should be a parcel of holy souls speaking of glory, and the life to come, their words were music in God’s ears.” – (The Great Gain of Godliness by Thomas Watson, p.7, Banner of Truth edition, 2006)
Let us use every means at our disposal to do as they did.

An Irish Blessing

May those who love us, love us.
And for those who don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if he can not turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we may know them by their limping.
May you live as long as you want,
and never want as long as you live.

-Author unknown

-copied from Mary Abrahams

Gone Home

Though none would minimize

The loneliness we all must bear,

Each grief has its unique kind of pain.

Yet somehow, losses can’t compare

Or duplicate the emptiness

When Mom’s gone over there.

But up above, celestial land 

Is surely made more real

When Mother dawns eternal gown, 

New homesickness we feel.

[Written in 1989 when the author experienced the loss of his mother.]

 

 

WE GOT IT WRONG

The story of the Unjust Judge, one of Jesus’ parables, explains that although the Judge was unjust, still because of a widow’s persistent pleas, he granted her request. Many sermons have challenged believers to be relentless in prayer, based upon this passage and parable. For thirty years, I have believed that one of the primary messages of this parable (Luke 18:1-7) was that our prayers should be persistent.

TWO CONTRASTS

G. Campbell Morgan points out that the parable draws two points of contrast between the Unjust Judge and God. First is the fact that the Judge was unjust or unrighteous, whereas God is always just and right. He will “avenge.” Notice the word is not revenge. To avenge is to perform justice. God’s actions toward us are always  just. He cannot do anything unrighteous.

The second contrast is the necessity of persistent pleading, which was required to move the Unjust Judge to meet the widow’s need. In context, Jesus gave the parable on purpose: “to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” (Luke 18:1) If we would always pray, we would not need to beg and plead.

WHAT IS A PRAYER LIFE?

Morgan explains, “The prayer life does not consist of perpetual repetition of our petitions. The prayer life consists of life that is always upward and onward and Godward. The passion of the heart is for the kingdom of God; the devotion of the mind is to His will; the attitude of the spirit is conformity . . . the higher we climb in the realm of prayer, the more unceasing will prayer be, and the fewer will be the petitions.”

HOW GOD VIEWS PRAYER

Our gracious God is the opposite of the Unjust Judge. He is “not willing that any should perish” (II Peter 3:9), but is eager to pardon sinners. (Isaiah 55:7)

Likewise, God is so full of compassion, so full of power and unlimited ability, and so absolutely just that “the foremost wish of the weakest, feeblest, frailest soul brings an answer.” (-Morgan) That is why we “ought always to pray and not to faint.” There ought to be no fainting among the people of God, because they are praying.

THE HEART OF PRAYER

Prayer without ceasing is a life lived with a perpetual desire for His Name, His Kingdom, and His Will. Morgan comments, “The man who makes prayer a scheme by which occasionally he tries to get something for himself has not learned the deep profound secret of prayer. Prayer is life passionately wanting, wishing, desiring God’s triumph. . . . When men so pray they do not faint. They mount up with wings as eagles, they run without weariness, they tramp the hardest, roughest road, and they do not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

We had it all wrong. Although we may profitably use a list, prayer is not repeating or rehearsing a list. It is not reminding God that we are still waiting. Instead, it is bringing all my aspirations to Him, not to convince Him, but to ascertain His preference about it. It works like the chorus by Margaret W. Brown, which we sang in our youth group many years ago:

“I keep in touch with Jesus, and He keeps touch with me.  And so we walk together, in perfect harmony. There’s not a day that passes, there’s not an hour goes by, but that we have sweet fellowship, my precious Lord and I.”

Jesus ended the parable with a question: “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (verse 8) Our daily life is a life of faith, or else we walk by sight (II Corinthians 5:7).

John H. Sammis captured the idea:

“When we walk with the Lord in the light of His word, what a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey.” (Trust and Obey)

As a young teenager, I walked with Him and enjoyed that sweet fellowship and prayer. But as I grew older, my vistas became clouded with humanistic ideas of success. In the process, I became susceptible to man-centered concepts of prayer.

Have you had it wrong? He still resists the proud, but gives grace – undeserved favor – to the humble.

 

[G. Campbell Morgan quotations are from the sermon Prayer or Fainting The Westminster Pulpit, Vol 3 (London: Pickering and Inglis).]

My grandfather, from the earliest age, made it his business to try to right wrongs and adopt his dad’s bitterness over injustices after his homestead was stolen by legal maneuvering and subterfuge.

Life continued to deal Granddad some very hard blows. His wife died at age 29, leaving him $60,000 in debt in 1926, shortly before the stock market crash, the great depression, and the dust bowl, which ravaged his crops.(Proverbs 19:19)

For most of his life, he could hardly speak a sentence without using profanity, vulgarity, and taking God’s Name in vain. I thank God that my mother’s prayers had a profound impact. Although I grew up on the farm spending time with Granddad every day, learning his angry vile epithets, I saw a better example in my pastors, who also influenced my dad to strive toward faithfulness in church, regular family devotions, and cleaner language.

Ravaged by emphysema, and dependent upon oxygen, my fighting Irish Granddad grew weaker and weaker. Not long before he died, he commended my desire to enter the ministry, and said, “Son, I’ve been saved a long time, but here lately, I’ve been saved to the uttermost!” What comfort that memory brings! God’s grace provided a blood sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, that paid for every sinful rage, every blasphemous oath, and every nasty rhyme and ditty.

How true it is that “the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20) What fools we are to allow the continual encroachment of vulgar language (lmao, etc) in personal conversation, and taking of God’s Name in vain in the media and social media (OMG, etc.) which steadily wears down strength of conviction, and undermines our children’s and grandchildren’s awareness of God’s Holiness. I hear preachers using language in pulpits for which my mother would have washed my mouth out with soap.

Surely the judgment of God is approaching, not because of our political leaders, but because mothers and dads have forsaken the Holy One. Fast food, sports, booze, recreation, and tawdry humor has replaced Sunday school, scripture memory, prayer, Bible drills, Bible quizzes, songs, hymns, spiritual songs, and sacrificial giving.

My Granddad was a product of post-millennialism, and the “roaring twenties.” Thank God, prayer prevailed and a generation or two made a serious, if not always whole-hearted, pursuit of godliness. But now, the world rushes headlong toward HELL, and the average Christian home remains mesmerized with technology and entertainment while the kids badmouth “old school,” and welcome more and more godlessness.

Granddad had a work ethic and debt-paying ethic instilled by a school system that still recited the Bible every morning. The twentieth century led Americans steadily away from the Bible and prayer. Granddad grew older and died shortly after the revolutionary 1960’s. He saw the rise of socialism and communism and warned against it. But, he waited too long to surrender his heart to the transforming Spirit of God, who could have given him a major influence, especially to the extended family.

Most of us have regrets. Most of us have suffered injustice and have struggled with bitterness. Most of us have employed some choice language that would not be welcome in Heaven. But who will beg God for tears of repentance? Who will accept the burden of being an example to the kids, and especially of bold prayer that unleashes Heavenly power to change lives and alter destinies.

Maybe my mother really believed the words of George Muller, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”

Amazing Grace: A Witnessing Tool

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There is a universal familiarity of Americans with the song Amazing Grace, and an excellent gospel tract about its story. Some time ago, I discovered a unique and compelling way of using the song and story of the songwriter in witnessing to a wide demographic of the populace. Although I have not used this approach much with children, I find it is useful with most people, from young teens to senior citizens.

 CONVERSATION OPENER

Here is the way I employ this excellent tool: When I meet a person, in almost any setting, I find a way to ask, “Do you know much about music?” (I really don’t care how they answer, because I am only using this question to launch the conversation. So, it doesn’t matter whether they say “Yes” or “No.”) Some may reply with an explanation of their interest or lack of interest in music. A few may begin to tell me about childhood music lessons, or a particular genre or stye of music they prefer. This is fine with me, because as I listen to whatever they wish to say, I know that any resistance to me talking about my point of view is dissipating. In fact, by listening with interest to their comments, nodding agreement if possible, smiling, and even offering encouraging comments, I am already on my way to winning a hearing for the Amazing Grace story.

My next question is, “Have you heard of a song called . . . um . . .  Amazing Grace?” I usually hesitate as if I’m having trouble recalling the title of the song in order to further lower their defenses. If they imagine that I am speaking off-the-cuff, they are more likely to allow me to continue, since curiosity often overrides suspicion.

Usually, the response I get at this point is laced with incredulity, something like, “Oh, everybody knows Amazing Grace.” To which I immediately reply, “Who wrote it?” Few are able to answer that, so again, this approach puts them off balance for a moment, keeps them focused on answering my queries, and intensifies interest.

 HUMOR

Soul-winning often provides a venue for humor. Once, I asked a man in Florida about Amazing Grace, and he replied, “Ever’body know’ Amazin‘ Grace.” I asked, “Who wrote it?” He wrinkled his brow, “W-w-was it Ray Charles?” I nearly lost my composure!

I wait a few moments while they try to recall who wrote the song, then I follow up with another question: “How old is it?” This question has provided some comic relief also. One young lady said, “Oh, it’s really old.” So, I asked, “How old?” She said, “At least fifty years.” I grinned and said, “Don’t insult me like that.” We both snickered, because I am over sixty.

 THE MAIN PRESENTATION

Next, I launch into the main part of my presentation: “It was written by a guy named John Newton, who lived during the 1700’s. He was Captain of a slave trading ship. His Christian mother begged him not to go into the slave trade, but his Dad was a slave trader, and he knew he could make a lot of money. So he bought people captured in Africa and sold them in slave auctions in the American colonies. So you see, the song is over 200 years old. Another amazing thing is, it is still recorded year after year.”

Continuing, I say, “Now you can see why he wrote the lyrics he did: ‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a WRETCH like me.’ – He knew he was a wretch! He abused and probably killed a lot of people, treating them worse than livestock. He was so cruel and vile that his own crew of sailors despised him. Once, he was drunk and fell overboard. He couldn’t swim. They argued whether to just let him drown. Finally, they harpooned him like a whale and dragged him back on board half drowned. He could have died from the wounds. Later, his ship was overtaken by another ship. They flogged him and nearly beat him to death! During that time, he remembered his mother’s prayers and began to cry out to God in prayer, begging the Lord to save him. Amazingly, his prayers (or his mother’s) were answered. He made it back to England. There, he became a Christian, married a fine lady, and eventually became a preacher. He wrote over 500 gospel songs, but the only one we still sing is Amazing Grace.”

 A ONE-WORD DEFINITION

There are usually some comments about the story, so I listen and offer my own remarks in response to whatever they say. As soon as feasible without rude interruption, I ask my next question: “May I ask you a question that I ask people all the time? Could you give me a one-word definition of the word GRACE?”

It is my experience that it is best to ask for a one-word definition. Otherwise, they may filibuster, repeating platitudes and ideas to impress or simply to “muddy the waters.” By limiting the request to one word, you also eliminate the likelihood of religiously trained people spouting definitions they’ve learned in catechism or Sunday school. Most will be stumped, and will stall, trying to think of an appropriate answer. Many offer various one-word answers, such as “faith,” “God,” “love,” “hope,” or “Jesus.” I smile approvingly at each attempt, but shake my head indicating it is a wrong answer. Most will only attempt one answer.

Then I say, “The word grace comes from a Greek word Charis (pronounced Kair-is). Some people name their daughter Charis. Have you heard of that? The word derives from a word that means ‘gift’ – but not just any gift. This is an undeserved, unearned gift. That is what John Newton was writing about in the song. He knew he was a wretch, who did not deserve God’s mercy and kindness, but God gave him that Amazing GIft anyway. He realized that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price of our sin, to provide that undeserved gift to each of us.” 

Depending upon their responses, I may go ahead with a simple appeal to believe the promises of God: that He provided Eternal Life as a gift to undeserving sinners, which includes all of mankind. If I sense conviction and an open heart, I go directly to my closing questions.

However, if I’ve sensed some resistance to the idea that he is a sinner; if I sense doubt about the deity of Christ, or the certainty of God’s Judgment, or sense any indication that they need a more thorough presentation of the gospel (the good news of God’s grace), I usually ask them to look with me at verses like these: Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5, Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 5:12, 10:9-10, John 3:15-18, I John 5:11-13. Using a question – answer approach, I try to ascertain what may be the problem in their mind, repelling them from Christ. I try to provide Bible answers to resolve these issues. Many people in America have some understanding of gospel truth, but most do not understand the concept of grace.

 THE CONTRAST

Frequently, I use this approach at some point in my presentation of the gospel: “There really are only two categories of religion (or 2 kinds) in the world. One is a religion of works. Works religion always says, ‘Here is a list of things you must DO, and a list of things you must NOT DO, in order to go to heaven. If you DO all the do’s (or most of them) and DON’T all the don’ts, you’ll ‘make it.’ But the Bible says ‘Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy he saved us’ (Titus 3:5). Ephesians 2:8-9 says, ‘by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.’ If we could ‘make it’ by our works, we could brag about it, but we have no right to boast, because our best works are insufficient.”

“The other kind is the religion of Grace – ‘by grace are ye saved through faith.’ Romans 6:23 says, ‘the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’

Jesus Christ paid the price for your sin (and mine) with His blood on the cross. He offers eternal life as a free gift to all who will receive it.”

CLOSING QUESTIONS

Always, my goal is to get to my closing questions: “Let me ask you an open-ended question. Salespeople usually ask questions that hint at the answer they want you to give. Such as, ‘You’d like the red car, wouldn’t you?’ (nodding head vigorously). But, I don’t want to put words in your mouth. I just want to help you think this through. I don’t intend to offend you by asking in this way, so you can just give the first answer that comes to mind. Here’s the question:

“If Jesus Christ would take you just the way you are, would you be willing to take him as your Savior right now, and really mean it?”

I introduce the question this way because they may be offended if they think I am suggesting that they do not believe in Jesus Christ. But, by asking this way, I find they usually respond immediately with a heartfelt reply, if they are seriously considering the information already provided, and especially if the Holy Spirit is bringing conviction to their heart. The heartfelt response will usually be one of two possible options: They will immediately say, “Yes.” Or, the alternative reaction is, “I’ve already done that.”

IF THEY SAY “YES”

 If they say “Yes,” I ask them if I may pray for them right now. I immediately pray aloud, but softly (especially if others might hear) a very short prayer: “Lord, Joe is willing to take You as his Savior. I know You are eager to hear his prayer . . . Joe, while our heads are bowed, just go ahead and ask the Lord Jesus Christ to save your soul and forgive your sins, right now. Pray aloud, and I’ll be your witness.”  I remain silent, with my head bowed, not looking for eye contact. If he is sincere, he will usually begin his prayer. I listen carefully. If his prayer is not specifically asking Christ to save him, I wait for a pause and then suggest, “Say, ‘Please forgive my sins and take me to Heaven when I die.’”

Telling the prospect “Pray aloud, and I’ll be your witness” is to encourage him to pray aloud. For many years, I asked people to pray, waited respectfully, but heard nothing. Then I would have to ask, “Did you pray?” Or “Do you need some help wording your prayer?” Often, they would say, “I prayed in my heart.” The fact is, they do not need a witness, but I want to be the witness to their prayer. Hearing their prayer helps me to know how to help them further. If the prayer is silent, I go away wondering if they really prayed. And, I think many of them were left wondering if their prayer was heard.

I realize some will criticize the idea of coaching or suggesting words for the prayer. It really boils down to the heart motive of the soul-winner. If my motive is to run back to church and brag about “winning” someone, my suggested prayer is probably already being subverted by spiritual enemies (demonic) at work to distract the prospect from real salvation anyway. If my motive is purely a compassionate heart, longing to win souls and snatch them from a burning hell, the prospect has probably already sensed that in me, and is willing to receive my guidance as he prays.

I’VE ALREADY DONE THAT

When the soul-winner has properly set up the question, he can be pretty certain that “I’ve already done that” is an honest response. There will be other indicators if the prospect is merely trying another ploy. In any event, I accept the response at face value, and begin moving toward final remarks and courtesies. However, this is a very good time, if you are convinced the prospect understands and is truthfully responding, to ask, “Have you been baptized in deep water, like Jesus, since you received the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart?” This may provide a wonderful opportunity to lead them on to baptism, membership, and discipleship through a local church. We need to remember that in His great commission, the Lord Jesus sent us not only to “preach the gospel” and make disciples, but also “baptizing them” and “teaching them to observe all things . . .” (Mark 16:15-16, Matthew 28:19-20) When people pray, receiving the Lord by faith (John 1:12) in our presence, we have only helped with the birth of a babe in Christ. Obeying His commission has just begun.

 AN ADAPTABLE TOOL

The Amazing Grace method is adaptable to very brief conversations also. In such situations, I merely ask the introductory questions and comments, and then offer to give them a shortened version of John Newton’s story. I don’t call it a “tract,” or “pamphlet,” because those terms are used to describe political and religious literature, which many are predisposed to reject. If my time is limited and the conversation is ending, I offer the tract: “Hey, here’s the whole story about the song and John Newton, that you can read when you have time.” 

For several years, I have used an Amazing Grace tract written by Lindsay Terry and published by the American Tract Society (www.ATStracts.org). Scripture references are from the King James Bible (my preference). There are other variations of the Amazing Grace story in print. I like this one because it transitions from the story into a point by point presentation of the gospel with Scripture texts included. This is especially good for the quick contacts where there is not enough time to whet the prospect’s appetite with the warm up about who wrote the song, and other details.

– C.T.L. Spear