What Values Do We Vote?

Well, it’s political season again. The candidates are kissing babies and calling each other names. Meanwhile, the world and the nation seem to be spinning out of control. As Christian folks we have an obligation to be good citizens and inform ourselves on the issues. We are also obligated to pray for God’s hand to guide our nation. With these things in mind, and at the risk of offending some, I want to give a little reminder about some important things to watch for in our candidates.

1. Support of Israel is non-negotiable. Israel is not always right, but they are always Israel. They face existential threats from every direction. If we want our country to be blessed, we must have leaders that bless Israel. Gen 12:3 / Ex 23:22 / Dt 30:7 / etc.

2. Life is sacred. We are obligated to allow God to decide when a person should die. This cannot be left to government. Either at the beginning of life, or at the end. Zech 12:1

3. We are here for only one purpose: to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must oppose any governmental authority that attempts to squelch our free speech and exercise of religion.

4. Our rights come from God not government, and are enumerated in our founding documents. Any politician who threatens the rights contained in those documents should be removed immediately.

5. For other issues, whether they be moral, economic, or cultural, we must ask one great question: “Who decides?” On the great issues of life, who makes the choice? A constitutional republic with protected rights to protect the minority prevents the tyranny of the majority. Direct democracy is as tyrannical as any other form of government. Separation of powers and state sovereignty were meant to keep decisions as close to the people as possible. Whether its taxes, health care, education, or your diet, who do you want making decisions on these issues in your life? Vote for those who protect your autonomy as a free moral agent.

Scripture Reading: When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan. (Proverbs 29:2 NLT)

Somebody Said A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.

Thomas Jefferson

Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty. Ronald Reagan

The purpose of government is to establish general order, punish evil-doers, protect the rights of the weak and defenseless, and provide for the national defense. Be careful about everything else. Do your homework, pray, and let’s believe God for godly people in authority.



Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Friday, February 10, 2012

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

The world is insane, Friend.

I have been amused by the uproar in the media for the last couple of weeks. First there was the charity that decided to quit supporting Planned Parenthood. The screams could be heard far and wide: “How could they do such a thing. This will kill thousands of women who will now have no access to health care!” Then came the announcement of a new regulation requiring religious organizations to pay for birth control, sterilization, and abortifacients for all their employees. When the Catholic Church bucked, the apologists began their chorus of, “It’s a war on women. They have a right to preventive care.”

It just seems important to point out a couple of things. First of all, you can diagnose the nature of a person by the things that really cause him to get overwrought – it tells you what is important to him. In this case, we can see that the so-called “women’s movement” is very concerned with money and fornication. The uproar begins when you try to divert finances, or threaten the ability to have sex with anyone, anytime, without consequences. There is no real threat here to women’s health, only to Planned Parenthood’s bank account. The secondary effect of that might be to limit the availability of abortions on demand to the 80% of their clientele who are unmarried and pregnant. I would suggest that chastity until marriage would solve the problem, but them are fightin’ words, pardner. Then there is the remarkable suggestion that birth control is preventive medicine and that women have a right to have this prevention provided at my expense, even though I have no intention of impregnating them myself. (Those that do the deed ought to pay the freight.) Just to be accurate, I looked it up: “Preventive medicine or preventive care refers to measures taken to prevent diseases, (or injuries) rather than curing them or treating their symptoms.” So, if birth control and abortion are preventive medicine, does that mean that pregnancy is a disease?

Scripture Reading: What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever. (Isaiah 5:20-21 NLT)

Somebody Said The mastery of nature is vainly believed to be an adequate substitute for self mastery. Reinhold Niebuhr

The TV commentators assure us that all women are on the side of abortion on demand, government provision of contraception for all, and protection of the right to fornicate without conscience. I suspect that is an inaccurate characterization. I am convinced of better things in the women I know. But then they are mostly members of the mothers movement and the ladies movement, feminine rather than simply female. Thank God.


Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Friday, January 27, 2012

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Are you a radical, Friend?

I heard a fascinating story on the radio the other day. A prominent actor was asked about his intentions regarding marriage to his long time live-in girlfriend. He responded that they were seriously considering marriage, though they had previously expressed a commitment to forego marriage until the nation recognized homosexual marriages. Backing off a little from this stance, he said, "But I don’t think we’ll be able to hold out. It means so much to my kids, and they ask a lot.” I was awestruck. Isn’t it amazing that kids who have been reared in a home where cohabitation is the norm are lobbying their parents to get married? Where did they get such a crazy and traditional notion? It certainly didn’t come from their parents or the schools or the media.

The notion that marriage between a man and a woman is the desirable structure for rearing a family is ingrained in the very nature of man. Kids know stuff without being told. How many times have you heard a child of divorce beg his parents to reconcile? How often do we see a child of a single mom look at a male acquaintance and ask, “Are you gonna be my daddy?” These things are built in because we were created in the image of God. The Bible says, “In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. (Gen 1:27 NLT)” Though tarnished by generations of fallen reproduction, the ideal of the God-designed, committed, two-parent family abides in the heart of a child. It requires all the effort of the educational establishment, the entertainment industry, and the so-called mental health authorities to convince a human that their basic desire for stable, heterosexual homes is misguided. Even with all that the culture can throw at them, most kids still know in their gut that they need a mom and a dad who are glued by God.

Scripture Reading: In the original creation, God made male and female to be together. Because of this, a man leaves father and mother, and in marriage he becomes one flesh with a woman–no longer two individuals, but forming a new unity. (Mark 10:6-8 MSG)

Somebody Said: A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice. Thomas Paine

I heard on CNN, that folks who believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that kids are better off in a two parent home were radical and extreme. OK. I’m radical and extreme, but somewhere in their belly, they know I’m right! That’s what makes them so mad!


Don’t Settle for Less than God’s Best

Many years ago, in another place and time, I had a fellow come to me with a big grin on his face. He shook my hand vigorously and announced, “Pastor, I believe God wants me to serve as an usher here.” I encouraged him to do so, gave him the job description, and referred him to the Head Usher for further information. A few days later he returned to tell me, “I enjoy drinking wine, but your rule says I can’t be an usher and drink alcohol.” I confirmed that this was indeed the case. He informed me that I should change the rule so that he could serve, since he and his wife enjoyed wine with dinner on the weekends.. My response was simple: “God knew you drank wine. He also knew the rule. He led you to be an usher. That means your choice is either continue to drink, or obey God. You can’t do both.” He got all huffy and left the church. I was saddened by his response, but I was also instructed about why people fail to fulfill their commission and live the abundant life.

There are a couple of interesting points here. First, if you believe that God set you somewhere, then you need to assume He knew what He was doing. Be submissive to those He has set over you. If you don’t believe He set you there, then why are you there? Learning submission to God-ordained authority is a real key to living out the Kingdom of God: the attitude is much more damaging than the wine. The chip-on-the–shoulder posture that pervades our society is counter to the nature of God. He wants us to be bold, not rebellious. The second point is simple: If something is hindering you from being all God wants you to be, deal with it! What a tragedy to think that a glass of wine on the weekend could derail a fellow from obeying the leading of God. For me, it was smoking and wearing long hair. I had to lose both to go to bible school. There have been many others along the way. It never makes sense to cling to something that hinders me from following God. His way is always better.

Scripture Reading: Even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered. In this way, God qualified Him as a perfect High Priest, and He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him. Hebrews 5:8-9 NLT

Somebody Said: I know the power obedience has of making things easy which seem impossible. Teresa of Avila

If you’re in a tough spot, though you believe God led you there, look for the lessons you can learn. If something is holding you back from obedience to God, get rid of it. The relief will be invigorating.


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Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Building People of Substance for Works of Power
Happy New Year!!!

A few weeks ago I was praying about the New Year. The Lord dropped this phrase in my heart: “Overcome the victim mentality.” I knew that would be my preaching theme for 2012. Just before New Years Day, He spoke this to me: “2012: the Year of Victory.” This year will be a year of moving out of victimhood and into the victory that is ours in Christ. With your permission, I will share a few thoughts on how that happens:

1. 1 John 5:4 says that our faith is the victory overcomes the world. 2012 is a great time to remind ourselves to use our faith, particularly in the area of our mouth. 2012 will be as good as you dare to say it will be.
2. Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33) Trouble cometh. It is inevitable. Our job is to remember the “but” in this verse and CHEER UP!!
3. Psalm 91:15 tells us He is with us in trouble. But it also ways He is there to hear us, deliver us, and honor us. Heb 13:6 says that if we know He is with us we can boldly say, “the Lord is on my side, I will not fear!” So say it!!!!
4. I particularly like the Message Bible of Ps 91:15, “Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.” Trouble is a sure sign the party is about to start! Let’s get this party started!!!!!
5. Psalm 32:7 says He preserves me from trouble and surrounds me with songs of deliverance. 2012 is a year to sing more, it builds the walls of deliverance higher around you.
6. Psalms 47:1 encourages us to “Shout to God with the voice of triumph!” 2012 is a year to shout about triumph.
7. 1 Cor 15:51-57 reminds us that Jesus is coming back, and that we can be thankful to God who gives us the victory in Jesus Christ. I am thanking God for the victory while I wait for the last trump.
8. Verse 58 tells me that you must never give up, because what you are doing for the Lord is never in vain. You are making an eternal difference, so hang in there!

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:31-39 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (32) He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (33) Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. (34) Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (36) As it is written: "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE KILLED ALL DAY LONG; WE ARE ACCOUNTED AS SHEEP FOR THE SLAUGHTER." (37) Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (38) For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, (39) nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Somebody Said: Paul asked a good question in Romans 8:31: What Then shall we say? Here’s our answer for 2012: “I have the victory over the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. My God-given gifts and callings are growing into full fruition, for they are born of God. I am of good cheer, because Jesus has overcome the world. He is with me to deliver me, he hears me when I call. Trouble avoids me, and the party is starting. I have a song in my heart and a shout in my mouth
I cannot be defeated and I will not quit. My labor for the Lord is not in vain. Payday cometh, now in this life, and very soon in the next. I am eagerly listening for the trumpet, and I’m always giving thanks to God who gives me the victory!
God is for me, who can be against me? He freely gives me all things. I am not condemned; just ask Jesus, the One who speaks up for me! He’s got my back. I am more than a conqueror – no created thing can separate me from the love of God. This is the Year of Victory!!!”


Thank God for the New Old Days

As Christmas gets close I tend to reminisce and, like many in my age bracket, wax philosophical about the “good old days.” I do miss my mom and dad, and Christmas at Grandma’s, etc. But this morning I am struck with how many things I am grateful for today that we didn’t have just a few short years ago. I am grateful for modern transport that has enabled travel to places I could only dream about when I was a kid. I have friends in places like Panama and Nepal and Germany and Mexico and Costa Rica. Thank you, Jesus! I am grateful for modern medicine, goofy as it seems sometimes, because it allows me to have friends who have survived cancer and heart disease. I actually heard a doctor say, “We’re gonna put in a stent, but don’t worry, it’s a simple procedure.” That was science fiction not too long ago. Thank You, Jesus! I am grateful for the internet and cellphones. I communicate instantaneously with people around the world. I can read and listen and learn in ways unheard of 20 years ago. Maybe more importantly, I can get the Gospel to people I can’t touch with my hands. That is truly important. Thank You, Jesus!

Most of all, I am grateful that I have wonderful friends and co-laborers. 35 years ago all my friends were really acquaintances who occupied a proximate barstool, or whom I had to tolerate because they worked with me. Now my life is rich with connections to men and women who love Jesus with all their hearts. Many have given selflessly to help us in our pursuit of the plan of God. That is amazing. Many who are closest to me have made a commitment to lay down their own lives in the service of the Gospel around the world. They are those, “…of whom the world was not worthy.” (Hebrews 11:38) I am privileged just to know them. Thank You, Jesus!

Scripture Reading: You will be blessed in every way, and you will be able to keep on being generous. Then many people will thank God when we deliver your gift. What you are doing is much more than a service that supplies God’s people with what they need. It is something that will make many others thank God. The way in which you have proved yourselves by this service will bring honor and praise to God. You believed the message about Christ, and you obeyed it by sharing generously with God’s people and with everyone else. Now they are praying for you and want to see you, because God used you to bless them so very much. Thank God for his gift that is too wonderful for words!
(2 Corinthians 9:11-15 CEV)

Somebody Said: God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame. Elizabeth Barrett Browning

To each of you whom God has placed in our lives, Judy and I pray His highest and best to you and yours. Thank you for being a part of God’s grace to us. Merry Christmas!


Love Constrains

So I’m standing in line with Judy at the salad buffet, tray in hand, ready for lunch. Ahead of us is another couple perusing the cabbage. They look to be 40ish, attractive and well-groomed. Suddenly, the woman takes out her cell phone and appears to read a text message. We stand waiting. She puts down her plate and begins to type on her phone. We stand waiting. The line beyond her proceeds toward the cashier. She types… We stand waiting. I’m irritated, planning ways to get to the chopped greens that she has blocked. She types… We stand waiting. Her husband glances nervously back at us, then at her. She is oblivious. I want to say something, to move up and demand access to the carrots. She types… We stand waiting. I think, “I’ll clear my throat, or sigh real loud to express my pique.” By the grace of God, her husband finally reaches in front of her to push her tray forward and begin filling his own plate. She slowly, deliberately closes her phone, puts it in her purse and resumes the leisurely construction of her lunch. I am relieved.

As much as I would love to rail against abusive cell phone behavior, that was really not my takeaway from this encounter. I came away filled with gratitude that the Holy Spirit in me constrained me. My self-centered anger was immediately countered by the sense of God’s disapproval. I did not offend anyone or allow it to ruin my lunch. Though the thought of verbal, and even physical, assault passed through my mind, I never acted on it. I knew that this would be wrong. Thank you, Jesus. Here is my question: In a world where Christ is marginalized and belief in God is disparaged, how many of the folks around us do not have that sense of inner restraint? I think of a news story about teenage girls beating a rival in the school restroom. A kid who has been taunted and teased takes a gun to school and uses it. Someone in traffic is armed and unrestrained. Somewhere in the Middle East a young man walks into a café and blows himself up. In Phoenix a father kills his daughter for having an American beau. The only difference between me and them is that little voice of restraint, the constraining of love, which stops me from following my vilest and most violent impulses. Life is full of inconveniences and injustices which seem to deserve or even demand some sort of vengeance or aggression. A society without Christ is eventually a society without restraint. It is inevitable.

Scripture Reading: Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NLT

Somebody Said: Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When I lament the demise of our culture, it occurs to me that the problem is not simply a list of behaviors, or a general coarsening of via the media. It is more than that. I listen to the pundits, even the so-called conservatives, debating whether we have a political problem, an economic problem, or a moral problem. What we have is a spiritual problem and the larger culture doesn’t want to address it. the truth is that without Christ, any culture is in decline, sliding back toward the law of the jungle. It is not so much that we have lost our way, but that we have decided to ignore The Way.


God Does Good Stuff!!

We just finished a season of collecting testimonies from the people in our church, both written and recorded. Last Sunday, the service was comprised of 4 testimonies. It was great! (If you missed it, you can watch it on line.) We had stories of recovery from addiction and sexual abuse and incarceration. God has been good! But it occurred to me that two testimonies were particularly poignant. One was from a gentleman in his seventies who had been married for 52 years, total but not continuous. Thirty years along, had divorced his wife, then got saved and was remarried to her. Describing his character before his salvation he said, “The main thing was that I was very self-centered. I thought the whole universe revolved around me.” It was self-centeredness that caused the breakdown in his life. No drink, no drugs, just selfishness. The second great story was submitted on paper from a pre-teen boy. He said, “As long as I can remember, I have been a Christian. God has been so good to me.” He went on to relate how God had answered his prayer for a dog when he was four years old. Now that is a great testimony!

Sometimes we get captivated by the wild tales that preceded conversion for many of us – the gorier the better. Truth is, we were all sinners before we were saved. In fact, that cancer of self-centeredness is the root of most of the world’s ills. It certainly rots the foundations of many marriages. It is at the core of what sin is. Every human being needs to be forgiven and delivered from it. It is the antithesis of love, and God is love. Maybe the greatest testimony a person can have is the one the young man gave: he never remembers a time when he didn’t know God. Wow! Indeed, that is God’s desire for all of us. He designed the family that way, but selfishness and self-centeredness have done their corrosive work well. Most grow up without godly parents, or with “nice” parents who are too busy being the center of the universe to take care of their responsibility to bring up their kids in the knowledge of God. No, sin is not glamorous, and one sin is not worse than another. We all need the grace of God, and the earlier the better.

Scripture Reading: Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins. Ecclesiastes 7:20 NLT

Somebody Said: I got disappointed in human nature as well and gave it up because I found it too much like my own. J. P. Donleavy

It argues for the reality of God that He can take a selfish man and make him a servant. He can keep a life as well as restore one. The better I know the Unseen One, the less attractive are the things I can see in the world. He fashions the inside of a person and that is not only inexplicable, but impossible apart from the divine.


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Keepin’ it Simple

If you could advise a young pastor what would you tell him? At our recent leadership meeting, Rev. Van Crouch shared several things he believed to be vital. Citing the mission of the local church to make disciples who live victoriously and bear fruit, he proposed a list of things that should be on the regular menu in every sheep’s diet. I thought his observations were helpful. Remember to teach people:

  1. Their identity “In Christ.” The reality of the new birth and what happened when old things passed away is essential to living the way we were designed to live. So many live their entire Christian lives and never know who they are.
  2. The Word is true no matter how you feel. The culture we live in emphasizes feelings. In order to live above feelings, we must know that the Bible is the Word of God and can be trusted. Teach on how we got our Bible and why we believe it.
  3. We have a covenant with God. Most folks don’t know what a covenant is. They sure don’t know they have one with God, and that Jesus is the Mediator of it.
  4. Prayer is a foundation stone to all Christian progress. It is imperative to teach people both by precept and example. Just knowing about prayer is insufficient. They must know and experience the “how” of Spirit-empowered prayer.
  5. There is a difference in living in the Kingdom and living in the world. We can live apart from the world system:
    1. Babylon vs. Seedtime and harvest. We don’t work for a living, we give for a living. We work in order to give.
    2. Make God your source. The natural eye is always subject to the natural system. God’s system is not hindered by man’s.
    3. Abundant financial provision is part of our covenant. Since most don’t know they have a covenant, they have no clue that their covenant includes money. I don’t give because it is a law; I give because I have a covenant. I receive for the same reason.
    4. God wants to teach you to PROFIT. You ought to expect increase! God wants it. You should, too.
    5. Dt. 28:8. You need a storehouse so God can bless it. Open a storehouse account of some kind and begin putting something in it every time you have increase.

I’m sure you can think of other things that are important, but I found this list interesting. These are all areas that were points of constant emphasis when I was saved. Our attention tends to wander over time, and it is important to remind the older sheep and feed the new lambs. Most people don’t know as much as you think they do.

Scripture Reading: “The LORD will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The LORD your God will bless you in the land He is giving you. Deuteronomy 28:8 NLT

Somebody Said: Of course it’s the same old story. Truth usually is the same old story. Margaret Thatcher

The dirty little secret is this: we stray from the basics because we feel the need to entertain the older believers. If a believer is so steeped in truth that he is bored by it, he ought to get up and go empty himself so as to be desperate for a refill. The world is perishing. I don’t want to disciple the older sheep, but thrust him out of the fold and into the field, thus making room for more raw material.


A Few Things I Want to See Again

We have just returned from the annual leaders meeting for our international organization. As always, there was much to report. The first morning we were blessed by the ministry of Van Crouch, whom I heard first some 27 years ago. He is still a blessing. During his message he referred several times to “this demographic,” speaking of the age of the people in the crowd. I took time to look around at our group of maybe 50 ministry leaders. It was certainly a veteran group. I could find only 4 or 5 who appeared to be under 50. Biblically, it is appropriate for leaders to be older. They are called elders for a reason. That being said, I felt a certain sadness for a younger generation who may not see the move of God in the way previous generations have. There are things that ought not be lost, but they will be if we don’t expose younger people to them. I sometimes fear that in an attempt to be cool and relevant and inoffensive we have lost some reality.

So then, what have we seen in the last 30 or 40 years that we want to be sure to pass on? In no particular order, here are my personal top 10:

  1. The amazing power of genuine, Holy Ghost- powered, intercessory prayer. Folks need to see some groaning and shaking and crying and travail.
  2. The ministry gift of tongues and interpretation. There is a power there that rings true with the unbeliever and inspires the faithful.
  3. The glory of being in a large crowd all worshipping in tongues. The angels join in to charge the atmosphere with holiness and usher in the glory.
  4. Crowds of American believers so hungry for God they line up hours before the service to get a good seat. It helps if they are carrying bibles and notebooks, though now it would be a different kind of notebook.
  5. Bible translations that have not been so dumbed down that they have lost their majesty. Don’t you occasionally miss old King Jimmy?
  6. The kind of audacious faith that just takes off to another city or another state or another country with nothing but a bible and a dream. Organization and prudence are wonderful things, but I love the guys who get out of the boat. (I have been privileged to know a bunch of them.)
  7. Sermons about Hell. If there is no Hell, then Heaven is meaningless.
  8. Sermons about Heaven. If there is no Heaven, then life is meaningless.
  9. When was the last time you saw someone get up out of a wheelchair? It’s time to revisit the miraculous with an on purpose expectancy.
  10. A lot fewer politically correct, Oprah-esque, sermons. I long for the days when people will once again commit sin instead of just making mistakes. (Jesus didn’t die for your mistakes) Wouldn’t it be great just to hear the truth in plain language coated with love and passion?

I could go on and on. The longer I sit here the more things I think about. You can add your own if you’re over 50.

Somebody Said: Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late. Thomas Sowell

Scripture Reading: One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness. They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. Psalms 145:4-8

We certainly want to change with the times in some ways, but in others, we must mold the times. That will require the power and boldness that only the Holy Spirit can provide. As Elders, we need to stand up and do a little show and tell.

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Thank a Preacher

I watched another TV drama last night about a preacher who was a real idiot. It seems to me that the preponderance of movie and TV Christians are horrible people. They are either really icky-sweet or effeminate, or they are some kind of monster. We have certainly had plenty of characters to provide models for the caricatures. My first coherent memories of church were awful. They asked me not to sing in the children’s choir because my voice was no good. Then the pastor ran away with a woman and took church funds with him. Bad start. I lived through the sixties in a segregated church where there was bitter debate over whether “coloreds” could be members. Christ-like? Then, after my conversion and entrance into ministry, along came the televangelist scandals of the 1980’s. We had lust, avarice, and power on display every night on TV news – and the characters were preachers!. Finally, the Catholics chipped in with a little pedophilia, just to garnish the hypocrisy pie.

Fortunately, for the last 30 plus years I have had the privilege of knowing lots of real preachers who have never made the news. They are the vast majority. I would love to see a TV show or a movie about some regular guy who has chosen ministry over a lucrative profession. Maybe he could do without health coverage because the church can’t afford it, or cut his salary so another staff member can be blessed or a program continued. It would be a nice touch if he worked a second job so he could help folks in his “spare time.” They could show him putting the kids to bed then sitting up to pray and study so the flock gets fresh food on Sunday. How about a scene where he shows up at the bedside of a dying congregant and prays a family through as their loved one enters the doors of Heaven? There are a lot more of those guys and gals in ministry than the crooks and creeps and charlatans. I think these real-life stalwarts might even make a better movie if anyone took the trouble to investigate reality.

Scripture Reading: Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith. Hebrews 13:7 NLT

Somebody Said: We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. Mother Teresa

They tell me this has been Pastor Appreciation Month. Well, to all you preachers who have not quit, who have fallen and gotten back up, who have not stolen the money or chased the secretary, who have devoted your lives to the calling of God to the best of your ability to do so, THANK YOU!!!! Maybe someday they will make your movie.


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Go Occupy Somewhere Else

Just a few thoughts from watching the protestors on Wall Street and their spawn in other venues.  I am struck by the lack of respect for property they seem to reflect.  Then it dawns on me that they have no respect for private property and that is part of their world view.  They want govenment to take private property (wealth) from one individual and give it to another based on their idea of what is “fair.”  The implication is that what I earn and accumulate is not mine.  It is effectively the property of the state and may be redistributed at the state’s command.  I find that horrifying.  At its root, taxation is theft.  It takes property by force and gives it to someone who did not earn it or inherit it.  We all agree that in order to run a country, we need some means of financing necessary activities for our common purposes.  What we don’t agree on is what constitutes our common purpose. When government undertakes to use taxation to control behavior, rewarding or penalizing what they deem desirable, we have left the realm of liberty.  When government decides which businesses deserve to survive and which should fail, we have allowed our government to become our god.  They have the power to use the fruits of your labor to support activities you would individually deem evil or corrupt, and they have the power to use taxation to inhibit or destroy activities you would like to support.  As always, the question comes back to, “Who decides?”  Who decides where your money goes?  Who decides what products will be available to you?  Who decides what businesses will prosper?  When anyone other than you decide how your resources are to be allocated, you are no longer free.  How much tyranny are you willing to tolerate?  You decide.

Just a thought