God Bless America

26 Oct

I hate our current political climate. It disgusts me how divided this country is. I am 56 years old and remember tumultuous times politically throughout my life. But I have never seen the divisiveness like today. The corruption in politics, the press, entertainment etc. is rampant. People are so divisive that saying “make America great again” is racist, male dominant, hateful, etc. OK, how about “Let’s make America better. Let’s make America moral. Let’s make America honest. Let’s make America humble. Let’s make America wear it’s big boy underwear again. Let’s make America able to agreeably disagree and work together again. Let’s make America able to communicate (not via FB, Twitter, etc.) face to face again. Let’s make America loyal again. Let’s make America have healthy functioning 2 parent families again. Let’s make America wholesome again… and on and on.
Has America been perfect? No and it never will. If there are people involved there is sin, selfishness, dishonesty, etc. Has been since Adam and will be until the new heaven and new earth when Jesus returns. But as I tell my 9 year old to help him mature, “We learn from our mistakes and grow.”
America has given more assistance to the rest of the world than the rest of the world has given combined. We have led in two world wars to defeat evil. Even when we defeated Japan in World War II we then helped them rebuild. During all of our epic adventures you can point out errors, some corruption etc. Again, people are involved therefore sin wreaks it’s ugly havoc. But we have historically grown to be a better nation. Until recently.
We are boxing ourselves into a corner that’s getting darker and darker. I believe scripture is clear where this is leading. I don’t like it and I dislike greatly what it creates for my son and his generation. But I also have great peace because no matter who gets elected as President, God is still King on the throne. I have eternity to look forward to peace in His kingdom. But for now I choose to be active, participatory, hopeful, and inquisitive.
Therefor, for this brief period of tumult, I am sharing whatever bits of information I have found to try and ascertain truth. My most powerful weapon in this adventure is prayer. My wife and I pray daily for Gods wisdom and truth to reign. We pray for our family, friends, acquaintances and culture.
God Bless America… please.

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Been a While…

30 Apr

Maybe I’m in a bad mood today, but I gotta ask. The two terrorists that killed 4 and injured many more, immigrants just a few years ago, were going to college (with Government assistance, continued to get aid with 7 failing grades), received food stamps, the family received approx. $100,000 in 10 years from the government (you and me), was able while getting assistance from us to travel to Russia for an extended trip, was being investigated by our government as a possible terrorist while all this was going on… then pulled their heinous act.
Me, born and raised in the U.S., started working at the age of 13 (which required a permit to allow me to work that young), paying taxes for the 39 years since then, paid my own way to travel to several foreign countries to work on the Mission filed, donate 10 + % of my income to a charity, volunteer to help people with addictions, volunteer to work one day a week at my sons school, took a 70 % pay cut to work in a group home with troubled teenage boys, regularly give financial support to missions trips/children’s sports/homeless, etc…. I try to get any assistance since I quit my job to take care of our 2 year old (then) son who had health issues that disallowed day care, to go to college to finish a degree (which today is evidently more important in hiring than 39 years of highly regarded work experience) and I can’t apparently get a dime from the same government that did the above. Something is wrong.
Now just so you don’t misunderstand, I don’t share the “things I did” to receive cudos. I do those things because my loving God asks me to and he takes care of me. I have a wonderful (now healthy) family including a vivacious happy almost now 6 year old. We live in a nice newer home that the Lord has provided and my lovely wife works her butt of at her State job. I don’t believe I have done anything particularly outstanding or irregular from what we as Americans used to be known for. And there are a lot of us Americans that still do. We still live in the best country on the planet. If you disagree, I would be glad to give you some assistance in relocating to the country of your choice. I don’t necessarily say that with anger, just hey if we suck so bad as a country, move on please. We don’t need your negativity here. If you want to complain about it at least do something to make it better, maybe move away is the best you can do. But how about volunteering to stop the Human Trafficking that is the number two crime committed in the U.S. ( what you didn’t know that?? If you’d like to get informed contact me). I don’t understand how we have gotten to this place. We have wonderful people in this country, based on wonderful principles and human rights. We have changed into something John Wayne, Mr. Rogers, Andy Griffith, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, and many more would be saddened to see. But there is hope. There is a God who cares amidst all this garbage. We can try and even rant and complain and protest and piss and moan, but on our own it ain’t gonna change a thing. I don’t understand why terrorists can get $100,000 in ten years ($10,00 a year for you math slow pokes), and people like me can’t get a dime. But never-the-less, I’m doing great, I would like some help. But my hope rests with my God and the blood of Jesus Christ. Yours should too.

You’re Not Special!…or Are You?

10 Jun

Well, I haven’t posted much for a while. Raising an amazing son has joyfully taken my time and dedication. But a recent series of events has prompted me to write. Most of you have at least heard of the speech given at a recent graduation ceremony where the speaker made an impassioned speech to the high school students and rather effectively reminded them in a nutshell that they are not to be spoiled brats that thinks the world owes them special things, pats on the back and privileges just because they are here. If you have not seen the video I have the link here:

graduationspeech

I saw this and I do agree to a point in what he said. This current generation of children have been taught too much that they deserve special treatment and have not been taught enough about dedication, commitment, hard work, trustworthiness, loyalty, and that hard work pays off. Conversely, if you don’t work, you are not entitled to whatever you want or what everybody else has.

There is a well intended message in the gentleman’s speech. However I was reminded of an equally powerful message when we went to church this weekend. Our God is a big God. He created everything we see. I think science is the best argument for a creator. When you look at just what we know now, and there is much more to know, it is awe inspiring to understand the vastness of known existence. Just look at the hugeness of life on our planet. The millions of life forms here in our oceans, forests, air, and everywhere. The intricate nature of creation. Did you know that the most common form of communication is light? Not any spoken language, light. National Geographic did a show about the oceans and declared this truth. Our oceans are huge, deep containers of varied life. The depth of our oceans contain tons of creatures that live in the dark, and they communicate by light. It is an amazing picture. Yet this whole glob of life on this planet reflects a mere fraction of God’s creation. Louis Giglio does an amazing series about this. You can watch it all free online, just search for it on Google. Here is a small clip as a sample:

That gives us a great perspective on how huge and great our God is. It is almost overwhelming when we begin to think about it. Think of the size of the entire vastness of space. We live on this little tiny speck in our little corner here. A speck on a speck floating in space. Yet God tells us in Matthew 10:30 that he knows the number of hairs on our head. He knows us by name. He even sent His Son to die for us that we could spend eternity with Him and talk and walk with Him. Are you special, absolutely positively beyond a doubt you are. It doesn’t even matter what horrible awful thing you have done or thought about doing. It doesn’t even matter  that you may not yet have a relationship with God. Because the Bible tells us in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He knows what you have done, what you will do and still considers you special. Does this mean we don’t need to change some things and straighten up? Yep, we all are in a lifelong process of changing, but the beautiful thing is God loves us and will continue to love us. We seek Him and ask forgiveness, He gives it and we learn from our mistakes. We are not to be spoiled brats like the graduation speech told us. This requires living a humble life knowing that we don’t deserve God’s love, yet He gives it freely. We are very special and unique to God.

Is it Settling for Less?

23 Oct

I must confess I am a bit confused lately. No, I’m not getting senile or suffering from the effects of lack of sleep, although with a four year old I could afford some more sleep. I am confused by what I am hearing and seeing in my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Specifically how they are dealing with Halloween. Let me begin by saying I am thoroughly familiar with the varied Christian stances on the holidays including Easter, Christmas, Valentines day, etc. I am not going to debate whether Christians should celebrate these varied holidays. My family celebrates the Resurrection, the birth of Jesus and a day to express our love one for another, oh and some great food. We used to celebrate Fall and the Celebration of Harvest at the end of October.  I phrase it that way purposely because Halloween has changed so much from when I was a child that I don’t want to even refer to it as the same name. When I was a child I have very clear memories of hay bales, stalks of corn, fall leaves, dressing up as various characters like a hobo (Vaseline on the face and coffee grounds stuck to it for the beard), superman, a Knight in shining armor, a fireman, one year dressing up like an old grey haired lady, having smiling pumpkins decorating every yard, yummy candy (that lasted about a week at most) etc.,, etc. Gradually it began to get a bit darker with a few Frankensteins, maybe a headless horseman or two. Then it began to include Freddy Kruger, demons, lots of knives and blood, and more and more violent, evil and darkness. It really doesn’t reflect much at all of what I remember as a child.

When I walk into a store now and walk past teh Halloween section, I have to look hard to see much that would be referred to as innocent and cute. Maybe a few princess costumes for girls. A spiderman costume for boys. Even teh adult costumes look more like a clothing shop for a porn movie or a clothes store fro street walkers.

I will admit I am a bit more sensitive to it with raising a 4 year old and trying to at least limit the exposure to this stuff. But I am just confused by the things I hear from my brothers and sisters in the Lord.

How do you respond to verses like Psalm 101:3-4 “3 I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me. 4 Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil. ??

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”17Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”18 “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

I’m just touching the tip of the iceberg with these verses. It is difficult for me to rationalize going to Houses of Horror and Fright Festivals and being entertained by them and “having fun.” I remember when my son was two and the woman who attended our church who was watching our son was allowing her 4 year old to chase my son around the house wearing a very scary Devil mask. I was appalled and as calmly as I could, asked her why she was allowing him to do that and her reply was, “It’s just pretend and innocent play.” To which I replied, “No. Satan is very real and is my enemy. It would be like me chasing your children around the house dressed like the person in your life that has most hurt you and your family.” The things that are all encompassing about Halloween are way too real and realistic to be entertaining to someone that knows the Love of God and lives for Him. I am not judging any of you that read this and perceive that I am referring to you. I am not going to say that you are such a great sinner and how can you call yourself a Christian. I am saying that I believe we all must ask questions about what we are perhaps a bit to “used to” or that we rationalize away as just innocent and pretend. If you can celebrate and make it more like the Harvest and celebrations we used to have, more power to you and enjoy. I just find it too difficult to avoid the total degradation of the holiday into a celebration of evil darkness and things contrary to that which is pure and Holy.

Repentance and rest

30 Apr

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” Isaiah 30:15

We are in some interesting times. I watch the news for perhaps a total of 15 minutes a week. I can still hold a great conversation regarding current events with probably anyone. I just choose not to spend 60 minutes a day being fed a stream of depressing, alarming, and negative “pre-digested food” from the news networks. Regardless, it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to believe we may be in the end times. We certainly are witnessing a plethora of events that we have never seen before in our lifetimes, or in all of history. Our national debt is  $ 14,571,655,073,214. To put that in perspective, that means $46,024.33 for every citizen of the United States.  14.5 “trillion dollars”, that’s 14.5 million million dollars.

Depressing huh.

Yet we are to live our lives and glorify God with joy and hope and live with...the peace of God, which transcends all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) I am in the process of writing a book about this peace that I believe is about a timely a message as we can have for today. I am discovering how as I go. I have not arrived there yet myself where I would say I have a peace that is all encompassing. But I can say that I have more peace than I have had in a few years. I have a confidence that is illustrated well by the following song by Lincoln Brewster.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Matthew 6:34 says this:“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

God gave Philippians 3:12-14 to my family at the beginning of this year:  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” …and I WILL HAVE ALL OF IT!!!

Take Heart

17 Apr

The following is from a daily devotional that I read titled, “The One Year at His Feet Devotional by Chris Tiegreen.”

Seeds are buried in the ground. Caterpillars are contained in a cocoon. Grain is pummeled into flour. But each one has a higher purpose and another world to experience or function to fulfill. So do we. We can easily make the mistake of thinking that God’s primary purpose for us is a matter of our lifetime on earth. But the Kingdom is the main event. Like the seeds, the caterpillars, and the grain, we are in an elemental form, being shaped by the Father for a greater, lasting purpose. The world is the arena in which we are trained. As God shapes us for His kingdom, He uses many means. One of them is the tribulation our world naturally dishes out. But our trouble is not meaningless; we can take heart. Peace is found in seeing beyond the training ground that so often distresses us. It is found in placing all hopes in the One who overcomes the world.

What’s Most Important?

5 Mar

What Is Most Important?

God has placed in me a desire to be used by God to reach the marginalized and forgotten in our society. I believe the church has dropped the ball in a big way as far as reaching the lost in our own immediate neighborhoods. I feel that the church has become a largely ineffective body of immature Christ followers that choose where and when they feel like following Christ and when and where the are the most “comfortable.” Before you get too upset at me, let me say that I put myself in that category too.

I believe in the organized church body. I believe that the church has many appearances though. If you are looking for a church that you have no differences in theology, or practices, or anything else you deem important, then give up now because you will never find one. You will always have differences with wherever you fellowship at. I’m sure you understand that the church is made up of people who are on a lifelong journey to become more like Christ. We are all dysfunctional to some degree. We are all incorrect on some issues, we are all out of balance in some areas, we are all disobedient to some degree. But we serve a God who is our heavenly daddy and He just wants His kids to work and play well together. I have a much greater appreciation of this after being blessed with our son in our family and seeing how a father that loves you unconditionally has patience and mercy with his child. God’s love “covers a multitude of sins.”

The American church as a whole is way too ineffective. We are known more for what we are against than what we are for. I see Facebook posts all the time that are telling everyone “what is wrong with …..” I myself have tried a few “tests” to see if people will even take the time to respond to uplifting messages on Facebook and have been sadly disappointed. People are too busy, to used to sensational gossip, etc. to spend much energy promoting what we stand for. I know there are a lot of “repost this if you love Jesus…” types of posts but frankly I dislike them very much. People can post that and feel like they have “evangelized” their facebook friends.  The desire to touch people with the love of Christ in a real way is refreshing. I haven’t seen that much for the last few years.  I had a much greater passion for it when I first got on staff at my last church, and honestly I let myself be transformed into a person that was totally engaged in feeding people who were able to get food on their own, or should have been, instead of fulfilling my passion f or reaching the marginalized in our society.  In case you aren’t sure what “marginalized” means let me explain. There are vast segments of our society that are in effect “pushed to the sides” of our culture. They have been put in the “margins” because of many different things. Perhaps its a drug addict, a convicted felon, someone with a lot of tattoos, people who struggle with sexual sins, pornography, perhaps it’s those of a lower economic strata. Whatever it may be, a large part, if not the majority of our culture, has deemed them unworthy of spending much effort on because they “don’t have much to offer”, or are just “too lost” to bother with. The American church needs to do a better job of not falling into the trap of marginalizing people.

Regarding that, the Lord spoke to me very strongly about the parable of the lost sheep in Luke:

Luke 15:1-7 “Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering round to hear him. 2But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners, and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4* “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7* I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

What makes God the happiest? I believe it is described here rather well. What is the most important thing to God? Lost people not being lost anymore. What does HE say is the greatest commandment?

Mark 12:28-34 says this:

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.‘Well said, teacher,’ the man replied. ‘You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.‘”

That’s pretty self-explanatory isn’t it? What does God desire most from us? 1) accept Christ. 2) Love God with everything we are, and love our neighbors as we want to be loved. I recently was asked a very important question by a very dear sister in the Lord. She was leading a group for recovering addicts that was not a part of her home church. The host church is in fact the church I am a member of. She had some great questions regarding some issues she was wondering about that came up in a leadership meeting for this small group. She was wondering about the propriety of leading a small group where she was told to be conservative in her expression of Spiritual gifts and more Charismatic expression in prayer and worship.  She has a strong passion for doing everything she can to help the lost and the struggling. With these limitations that were expressed to her, her concern was if she was being faithful to God’s call on her to help these people and be a blessing.

My answer is this… Does God want us to use all the gifts He has for us? Of course, or He wouldn’t give them to us. However, as I said, it doesn’t matter which church you fellowship at, you are going to disagree on some things. My question is where can I be best used. She mentioned that the church where this group was is  “a good foundational church to mostly new believers.” If that is so, what a great place for a mature believer to go to be used of God to help mature people and to mentor. In her question she mentioned that she heard the Pastor say on the radio that he doesn’t believe in healings and other gifts for today. I have found this to absolutely be not true. I have heard many mentions of the opposite from him personally for he and his family and my experience has been supportive of that. Are the church and I exactly on the same page as far as gifts etc. go, nope. But I look at the ministry that takes place out of there, sending hundreds to mexico, multiple trips to Africa, that they immediately started helping employees of our local huge mall with financial support etc, after an arsonist started a fire there. The ministry to Youth that is amazing. It just goes on and on.  I agree with some limitations as to what is deemed “appropriate” at meetings especially when the general public, and new attendees is coming to. But again, what is most important to God. Luke says a lost sheep returning, and loving God with all our heart, and loving others as ourselves.

I like what Philippians says: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4.

She expressed concern about having to “hold back your love for God”,  by not being able to worship with free expression and operation of gifts. I think you show your love for God much better by denying yourself the desire to worship in the Spirit, ( which is between you and God only, nobody else understand what is being said), and showing your love for God by loving people that at that moment  may be less mature, or enlightened perhaps, but need the love of a mature Christian to lead them through something. You spend what, 2 hours or so at this women’s meeting a week? That leaves at least a hundred or so left over for you to pray, worship, dance as you see fit. But you may have only those few moments to reach others with the Love of Christ,  which as we have read,  seems rather important to God to do. I have so much more that God has spoken to me about regarding this issue, I unfortunately can’t cover it all here. I am seriously beginning the effort to write a book. Suffice it to say,  if you have a great heart for God, serve Him wherever and whenever you can. If the times are where they appear possibly to be, it is critical that we, the church, be about our ministry of doing this. Screw minor differences… I’ve seen too many people let differences totally take away their opportunity to serve while they are looking for a place that does everything the way “scripture tells it.” I firmly believe it is much more important to take advantage of every opportunity to love people. I regret that I find myself coming out of a valley where I have dropped the ball and not been about the right business. But my Father in heaven says, “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” Focus on what is most important.