Pull up your pants!

Today I see we are debating the justness of asking a young man to pull his pants up so as to cover his rear and his crotch while riding on a public aircraft.  This is deemed by some to be reactionary and even racist.  This on the heels of the great Weiner controversy wherein we are asked to decide of it is inappropriate for a sitting US congressman to send nude pictures of himself to random women via the internet, thus insuring eventual exposure (pardon th pun).  What occurs to me is how pitiful that a once-great nation now has to even consider such questions.  Pull up your pants, you are disgusting.  (Normal people have to sit next to you) Put down your camera, the rest of us are not enraptured by your body.  You are a narcissist and should go back to the bar stool to purvey your lies.  The only question in both these issues is whether the perpetrator should be arrested, or simply fined and sent home to be spanked by his father.

Just a thought.

I don’t want to ride the bus

It struck me odd this morning to hear an ad on the radio encouraging me to call my congressperson (if I had one) in order to influence her vote on financing for public transportation.  It sounded so reasonable! I mean we all have to get to work and to the store and to the movies, and gas prices are just going on up. Shouldn’t we expect the government to provide a way for us to get around, no matter how inconvenient it is to carry groceries on the train the bus and the trolley? That is the subtle double-speak of government intervention.  The same government that is causing the energy shortage by outrageous regulation of the energy industry also wants to provide a mass transit system to move us around paid for by by taking tax dollars from us.  How about we get government out of the way, empower R&D and exploration, and let us drive where we want to.  If the government drives the bus, then I can only go where the government wants me to go.  The issue is not energy or transportation, the issue is liberty.

Just a thought

Nothin’ to See Here

I’m thinking if someone asks me, “Is that a picture of you in your underwear posted on Twitter?”  I will be able to answer without hesitation.  I am very sure that no such picture exists.  The current uproar over the good Congressperson and his exposed skivvies is a good object lesson.  Especially in the techno-age in which we live, it is a good idea to avoid doing really stupid stuff.  Privacy is no longer respected, much less guaranteed.  Even the indiscretions of youth are likely to be immortalized.  If you don’t want the world to know it, don’t do it.  If you happen to be a 40ish poloitician and you can’t remember if you took a picture of your crotch, shut up and go home.

Just a thought.

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Thursday, May 27, 2011

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Thanks for the memories, me and tobie.

I consider myself very privileged to have lived my life in the 235 year hole in history marked by the United States of America. The era from the end of the Second World War until 2001 was an especially remarkable time of prosperity and freedom. We have experienced wealth unimaginable to earlier generations. Our poor have televisions. Thanks to the automobile and the airplane, we have traveled the globe at will. We take for granted a level of personal liberty unheard of before our Founders codified the notion. We live longer and better than our fathers. This weekend we take time to give thanks for all those who have paid for our privilege with their lives. I encourage you to spend a few moments thanking God for the men and women whose blood was shed to procure your liberty. Take time for memories on Memorial Day.

In addition to those who have died for my freedom, I got to thinking how grateful I am for those who have lived to impart gifts to my life. I am grateful for the folks who have given up their desires in life to serve the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So many have labored in places they would not have chosen doing things they would not have done for compensation they would not have accepted, save they were obedient to the call of God. I thank God for Kenneth Hagin who taught me esteem for the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. I thank God for Dave Larkin who showed me what a Pastor looked like, and for Jonas M’Butu who gave me lessons in integrity, and for Dennis Cook who showed me what Philippians 4:13 really means. I could go on. Just this month, a good friend ended his tenure here on earth. Gary Devoe went to be with the Lord very unexpectedly. He was a blessing to me in any number of ways – funny, intelligent, encouraging – but the big lesson he taught me was that a man can be realistic without being cynical. In a world filled with flawed human beings, that is a real gift. Thanks, Gary!

Scripture Reading: I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:5-7 NLT)

Somebody Said: Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.
Albert Schweitzer

Memorial Day: A uniquely American holiday, but not a uniquely American principle. Take time to remember the lives that have been invested in you.

vls
www.fcftucson.org

Don’t forget to check out Faith Ministry Training Institute online. www.fmtionline.com

Willing to help

I read that Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt and the pols who invented it can’t figger out what to do about it.  (Frankenstein comes to mind)  I am 62.  In just 3 years I will be at the show-me-the-money threshold of 65.   A little break on health insurance would be nice, since I have basically lived without it for 35 years.  But, I love my country, and if I thought it would actually help the nation deal with its debt, I would happily forego my benefits under both plans for 5 years.  I don’t think I am alone.  I believe there are many “seniors” who would keep on working and put off retirement in order to save the nation.  Here’s the rub: even if we do it, the pols will steal the money again just like they have been stealing it ever since I was 14 and started paying into the system.  Obama’s “shared sacrifice” means that Washington shares in whatever they can force me to sacrifice.  Their record is just too poor to trust them with anything of any importance.  I would feel better if they would just offer me a lump sum buyout for SS and Medicare, then let me fend for myself.  Kind of a bankruptcy settlement for willing seniors.  I would take 50 cents on the dollar for my projected benefits right now and they can get my part of the unfunded liability off the books.

Justa  thought.

Back in the Fray

I have been remiss in writing on this blog for a good while.  Every time I start, I back off.  This particular page is supposed to be just me and my thoughts, but i realize that in my job, there are those who will be disturbed by some of my comments.  Therefore, I have been silent.  Nearly every day I am struck by something that seems to me to portend the end of our nation as we know it.  I have for some years felt that the United States would decline from its position as a world power prior to the coming of  the Lord.  As I watch the acceleration of the twin snowballs of economic collapse and political tyranny, I am both saddened and excited.  I am saddened to see the end of such a grand experiment in government, but I am thrilled to know that Jesus is coming.  That said, if folks get offended, then so be it.  Our country is on fire, and the bucket brigade that has shown up to fight it is armed with empty containers.  God fill me afresh and help me get back in the fray.

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Hell? Yes, me and tobie.

The other night I watched a news program that had advertised an interview about the demise of Hell. It seems that a new book by some Evangelical Superstar has created a bit of a hubbub, and the Catholic newsman wanted to clarify the issue. I watched as he sparred with a very liberal minister whose reasoning went something like this: “God is a loving God, therefore anything that looks unkind to me must not be true.” He said that the idea of a God who would consign anyone to an eternal torment is simply unacceptable. In fact, he opined, “that makes God a monster." The newsman rightly argued the more traditional approach. God is a just God and must make a difference between the righteous and the unrighteous or He is no God at all. In fact, he made this remarkable statement: If there is no Hell, that undermines all of Judeo-Christian society.” Not bad for a TV news guy.

The truth is, I am not too wild about Hell, myself. It seems a little extreme. But then, I am not God. I do know God, and I know He is perfectly just in everything. That means there will be a payday for all of us. For those who choose Him in this life, there will be a day of reckoning at The Judgment Seat of Christ. That is not a Heaven or Hell decision, but an accounting of what we did with His grace while in the body. (2 Cor 5:9-10) For the one who has rejected God’s offer of fellowship, there is a day when he will stand before the throne of God and be judged according to his works. Those not written in the Book of Life are consigned to an eternal punishment. (Rev 20:12-15) The exact nature of the punishment is up for some interpretation and has had many a re-construing over the centuries. I know this: Torment is not good, and God will deal justly. The abolition of Hell causes several problems. If there is no Hell, then most of our evangelism is without point: “Hey, why worry. We’re all going to Heaven!” All the calls of the New Testament for a decision concerning Jesus, including our Great Commission, are meaningless. And, as previously noted, our Judeo-Christian society is without foundation. Sin really is a socio-genetic problem, not the manifestation of a hopelessly fallen nature. A man really doesn’t have to make choices for which he is individually and ultimately responsible. That, my friend, is unacceptable.

Scripture Reading: All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about His Son. And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. 1 John 5:10-12 NLT

Somebody Said: "If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for." Charles Spurgeon

We can debate the exact nature of Hell. We can prattle on about the plight of the unreached. But something in our hearts, as well as something in the Book, witnesses that there is an eternity to face, and that only there will justice ultimately be served. Without that notion we are indeed bugs adrift on a giant dirt clod speeding aimlessly toward nothing. Hell lends meaning to life. Thank God for Hell!

vls
www.fcftucson.org

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

You are not alone, me and tobie.

Every now and then I try to get away for a day or two just to pray and wait on God. On my most recent excursion I was fasting and praying. I spent hours in the Word. It was great to just hang out with the Lord. As is my habit, I made notes to myself as things occurred to me. One of my notes said this: “The hardest thing for me is trying not to call Judy when I am supposed to be taking time away.” I realized that every time I had a thought, or the Lord spoke to me about something, my first impulse was to call my wife and tell her. We are on the north side of 30 years of marriage. During those years, we have worked together most of the time. It is unusual to go more than an hour or two without talking. Talking to Judy is a habit. When we have a fight, I have to get it right. I hate being in the same house but on different planets, still married but not intimate. It’s just lonesome

When I wrote that little note to myself, I realized I had caught a glimpse of something really important. We always tell folks that Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship; a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. As with many things in life, it is often easier to regurgitate the platitude than it is to explain it or to live it. The wonder of my experience with the Lord is that He is personal to me. I can talk to Him. My first impulse in any situation is to say something to the Lord about it. I am used to His Presence. He is always there, and I know it. I expect Him to speak to me when I’m befuddled, to gently nudge me in the right direction when I get off track, and to hold me up when I am staggered. When I do something dumb that I know is offensive to Him, I can’t wait to ask Him to forgive me. I detest the sense that He is grieved with me. It is not enough to be in His house, I want to be close enough to whisper and know He hears me. It is a life of constant contact, real intimacy.

Scripture Reading: And we know that the Son of God has come, and He has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and He is eternal life. Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. (1 John 5:20-21 NLT)

Somebody Said: "If, in this life, we might enjoy the peace of paradise, we must accustom ourselves to a familiar, humble, and affectionate conversation with God." … Brother Lawrence

Talking to the Lord is a habit to be cultivated. Practicing the awareness of His Presence is the difference between a Sunday nod to God and a vital walk with a Savior-Friend. God is with you, get used to Him.

vls
www.fcftucson.org

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Friday, April 22, 2011

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Christ is risen, me and tobie!

Most of us are celebrating the resurrection every day, but it doesn’t hurt to take an opportunity to just bask in the wonder of what Jesus has done. It provides us with a great chance to talk about the Lord to those who don’t normally think about Him. However you spend your weekend, I trust you are abiding in the reality of the Risen One. May His grace and favor rest upon you in everything you do. Thank you for serving Him.

Scripture Reading: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 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? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 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. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE KILLED ALL DAY LONG; WE ARE ACCOUNTED AS SHEEP FOR THE SLAUGHTER." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 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. (Romans 8:31-39 NKJV)

Somebody Said: Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song. Pope John Paul II

In His death He said, “I love you,” in His resurrection He shouted, “We win!” Christ is risen indeed.

vls
www.fcftucson.org

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Friday, April 1, 2011

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Praying friendship for you, me and tobie.

April 1st was a Monday in 1991. I remember because 20 years ago today my good friend, Larry Dunning died in a car crash a few miles from our home in upstate New York. Larry was very important to Judy and I. He performed our wedding. He invited me to preach in an actual church service. He gave me my first real live job in the ministry. I guess most importantly he made an impartation into my life that has never gone away. You see, I was a sinner before I was saved. Not just as a hobby, but as a fulltime occupation. Even after I went to bible school, I didn’t have much “polish” when it came to church stuff. I had never even been a church member, much less a Pastor. In spite of my ecclesiastical ignorance, Larry gave me his pulpit. He asked my opinion on stuff about which I had no clue, then nodded as if my replies made sense. He gave me the gift of believing in me.

When I picture Larry, I see him on the platform at that old church in Oklahoma City. He has both hands in the air so high his shirttail is pulling out of his waistband. He has his eyes turned toward heaven. He is just shouting “Glory!” He never worshipped just a little bit. He always gave it everything he had. He was acutely aware that Jesus gave it all for him. Larry was a decent preacher, and a good friend. But he was a great worshipper. In particular, I remember one chorus he liked to use to close the service:

I WILL ARISE AND GO FORTH, IN THE NAME OF THE LORD OF HOSTS
FOR HE HAS CONQUERED EVERY FOE BY HIS NAME, BY HIS NAME
I WILL DECLARE HE IS THE LORD I WILL TRUST AND NOT BE AFRAID
I WILL ARISE AND GO FORTH BY HIS NAME

Scripture Reading: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16

Somebody Said: God puts people in your life to assist in bringing His future for you to pass. It is said, “When God wants to birth a future, He births a relationship. When the devil wants to destroy a future, he births a relationship too.” Question, “Who is speaking into your life?” The answer is, whoever you have authorized to speak into your life. Recognize the godly leaders that have been placed in your life and follow their example. Lonnie Hilton

I thank the Lord for sending someone who believed in me and who showed me how not to be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May you be blessed with such a friend.

vls
www.fcftucson.org

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Thursday, March 25, 2011

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Hey, me and tobie, we need each other.

A few weeks ago I was agonized as I watched my dear wife struggling to lift a 3 gallon jug of water in our kitchen. For years we have had a water dispenser which I kept supplied. I normally went to the water store and filled several 5 gallon jugs and hauled them home. Now, thanks to a back injury, I couldn’t do my job. It was left to Judy to carry the weight. I could only watch as she struggled, and pray she didn’t hurt herself. That was only one incident among many in a very difficult period for me. At church the staff all ran ahead to open doors. An 11-year-old boy met me at the car to carry my guitar. My wife did all the driving since I couldn’t feel my foot. I found it very difficult to allow others to serve me in these ways, but because of their willingness to help, the ministry continued and I recovered at an astonishing pace. It was a learning experience in many ways.

God has designed the Church in such a way that we all need each other in order to accomplish His ends. You can’t do it alone. Every person in the church has a purpose in being planted there. Some don’t seem important until they are not there. You don’t miss your water ‘til the well runs dry. The truth is, every part of the body is important. As a Pastor, I take my calling very seriously. I prepare and pray and organize my life so as to be of maximum effectiveness. But my calling is not any more important than the sound tech, or the usher, or the kid’s club leader, or the building cleaner. I may be more visible, but I am not more important. When any part of the body is out of place or broken down, another must take up the slack. Unfortunately, just like Judy trying to lift the water jug, it is a real strain to do someone else’s job. The job gets done, but usually less well, and the weight of it may cause other problems. Your calling is as important as any other. Please take it seriously.

Scripture Reading: In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; Romans 12:4-6a MSG

Somebody Said: Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. Vince Lombardi

I believe it is God’s design that we should need each other. It prevents pride. It makes every life valuable. It insures that the glory goes to the One who gives the grace. I thank God that I need you.

vls
www.fcftucson.org

Authority

Just doing a little research and found this definition that really blessed me: “Delegation of authority is the action by which a commander assigns part of his or her authority commensurate with the assigned task to a subordinate commander. While ultimate responsibility cannot be relinquished, delegation of authority carries with it the imposition of a measure of responsibility. The extent of the authority delegated must be clearly stated. (Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. US Department of Defense 2005.)”  Our commander has assigned us a part of His authority to carry out a portion of  His mission.  Glory!

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.  (Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV)