Did 9/11 work?

A few days after 9/11/01 church attendance went up.  People knew they needed God.  It troubles me that ten years after the Islamo-fascist attack on the United States we are debating whether it would be OK to pray at the Trade Center site.  Maybe even worse, we are avoiding any evangelical presence at the Pentagon memorial.  Apparently the goals of the terrorists have been achieved at the level of government.  Islam is the only religion that can get building permits near NYC memorial.  It is the only religion that cannot be questioned by anyone.  All other faiths msut be kept out of the public square unless they are ritualistic, liberal, and politically correct.  We have abandoned our commitment to Israel and are pressuring them to annihilate themselves.  I can’t imagine how the Islamists could be any happier.  Jesus is Lord, and we will proclaim it.  Government is rotten to the core because we have elected rotten people.  Revival at the grassroots is the ony reasonable solution.

Just a thought

Debate was a yawner

I thought the debate last night was a bit dull.  These guys just regurgitate the same stuff.  Except, of course, for Newt.  I love the guy and really wish he were electable.  He is by far the sharpest of the group.  I really want to like Perry.  He seems like a decent fellow.  His heart is in the right place, but he is going to have to be a little faster on his feet to make it past the onslaught of the progressive militia and their media air cover.  (Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, but the vast majority is unaware what that means.  Cute is insufficient.  Succinct and substantive must win the day.) Huntsman is an idiot, making the comment that we needed to get off of national security and get back to something important. Huh?  Bachmann’s lack of depth (I get it – you’re a fighter)  is starting to  wear thin, as is Paul’s perpetual Grinch imitation.  Cain is a great guy who is in over his head.  Similarly, Santorum is a wonderful, principled fellow who doesn’t appear to have a shot, and he sounds like he is whining about it. That leaves us with Mitt.  In ’08 I said if it were down to Mitt and Obama I would vote for Obama.  I now have to rethink that statement.  Obama is a disaster beyond my darkest nightmares.  I now have to convince myself theat Romney would be an improvement.  This group is largely uninspiring.  Maybe with a little practice and polish Gov. Perry can distinguish himself.  I was really hoping for Cinderfella and not just the eighth dwarf.

Just a thought

Tell Somebody

We just completed three wonderful days of meetings in our church. The Spirit of God moved in a powerful way. Folks were saved, healed, and delivered. It truly was a time of refreshing. God revealed Himself as Jehovah-Shalom, the God who is our Peace. Mental torments and anxieties were lifted. He reintroduced Himself as the God of all grace, freeing those trapped by worksy religion. He revealed Himself as our good and gracious Heavenly Father, bringing us a fresh sense of what it means to be a child of God and not just His servant. Physical healing flowed in every service by the anointing and by the gifts of the Spirit. I am always grateful when God manifests Himself in such a tangible way. I never want to take these times for granted. From Friday until the late hours of Sunday evening, God was there.

And then it was Monday. Monday is always problematic. There is no worship music playing save the melody I make in my heart.. The warmth and conviviality of the gathering of the saints is exchanged for an alarm clock and the imminence of the work week. The Holy Spirit on the mighty man of God is now revealed as the Holy Spirit in my own heart. The Word of the Lord comes from the page instead of the pulpit. Now I find out if I can keep what I received. Jesus said in Mark 4:15 that Satan comes immediately to steal the Word that is sown in our hearts. I believe this is a great spiritual truth that we often overlook. Every new insight, every new commission, every fresh touch will be tested and tried. There are many things we can do to resist the enemy when he challenges what we have received from God. We can rebuke him in the Name of Jesus, we can quote the Word on the subject, or we can pray in the Holy Ghost. But one of the most powerful things we can do is testify. Tell someone what God has done for you. It reinforces your faith, slaps the devil up the side of the head, and encourages the ones you tell that God is real. That is a powerful trifecta.

Scripture Reading: Come and hear, all you who fear God, And I will declare what He has done for my soul. Psalms 66:16

Somebody Said: Where one man reads the Bible, a hundred read you and me. Dwight L. Moody

Make a better Monday this week. Tell somebody what Jesus has done for you. It will help you. It will glorify God. It will bless the hearer. Where’s the downside?

vls
www.fcftucson.org

Check out our books on Pastor Virgil’s Store

Are You Just Stupid Like Rick?

I see by the morning gab that I am supposed to dislike Rick Perry because he is stupid.  We know this because he said that it would be almost treasonous to print fiat currency for the sole purpose of manipulating an election in the middle of a national crisis.  Then he implied that he thinks it is not unreasonable to believe the Bible.  Finally, he went so far as to say that basing radical overhaul of our economy and lifestyle based on the possibility of man-causes global warming might not be the best idea.  The pundits can’t figure out why this guy is rising in the polls.  I think the reason is obvious:  a whole bunch of us agree with him!  What the intelligentsia labels as a gaffe, I tend to label as a maxim.  I guess I am just stupid like Rick.

Just a thought

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Friday, August 26, 2011

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

It’s really all about Jesus, me and tobie.

I had a remarkable experience during my morning devotions last week. This year I decided to read through the bible again. It had been a while, and I wanted to read it in a new translation. I picked a chronological plan and forged ahead. For 7 months I have read begats and prophets and Israeli history. Then, last week, I opened my reading guide, and lo and behold the day’s reading was in Matthew chapter 1. I had finally arrived at the New Testament. As I devoured that first chapter, I had the most remarkable feeling. I had enjoyed the Old Testament. Much of it was interesting and inspiring and informational, but when I started reading about Jesus – His birth, His life, His sacrifice – it was like being born again, again. There was a sense of relief, almost as if I were breathing fresh mountain air after trudging through the desert. I know I will finish the New Testament in record time. It is just too good to put down!

I guess I said all that to say this: I am so grateful for Jesus. The only difference in the Old and the New is One remarkable Person. I am grateful for a real High Priest. I am grateful that I can come boldly to the real Holy of Holies in the real Heavenly sanctuary. I thank God for a robe of righteousness and a tabernacle that Is inside my own belly so that the cloud will never leave me nor forsake me. I thank God for the blood of Christ that cleanses my conscience and for a Passover Lamb who died once for all. I know some folks revel in the pomp and circumstance of the Old Testament and the liturgy of the historical churches, but I just can’t help but rejoice that Jesus Christ has taken me through the rip in the veil and escorted me into the presence of our Father. I am perfectly welcome there all the time, no ritual required. Whew! Now that’s a breath of fresh air.

Scripture Reading: From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is Himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. (John 1:16-18 NLT)

Somebody Said: It will make a weak man mighty. it will make a mighty man fall. It will fill your heart and hands or leave you with nothing at all. It’s the eyes for the blind and legs for the lame. It is the love for hate and pride for shame. That’s the power of the gospel. Ben Harper

Sometimes we get bogged down in questions about jots and tittles and miss the sentence. Jesus is the point, the perpetrator, and the Person of the bible account. Without Him it’s just a really boring book. And He’s my friend!

vls
www.fcftucson.org

Check out our book on recovery, “God Help me, I Can’t Stop!” on Amazon.com

We don’t have a “jobs” problem

So we have a massive shortage of apples in our country.  If we want apples we have two basic choices. We can buy or borrow apples and place them around the country.  If we want to maintain the illusion that we are producing apples, we can simply hang them in trees and let folks come and get them.  The other option is to grow our own. To do this, we have to have the right soil, the right climate, and some time to let the orchards grow.  The trees will always produce apples if we give them the right conditions.  Borrowed apples will rot because they are not connected to the tree.  To have long-term apple supply, we have to grow our own.

In our nation, we need jobs.  I keep hearing politicians talking about a “jobs program” to solve our “jobs problem.”  We don’t have a jobs problem, we have a soil and climate problem.  Jobs are the natural outgrowth of robust economic activity: business, trade, innovation, manufacturing…  Those things will always produce jobs if given the right soil and climate.  Until someone comes up with an idea to reinvigorate the soil of capital investment and restore the climate of regulatory freedom, there will be no real jobs, only government fakes. We don’t lack jobs, we lack economic activity.  Government jobs will rot because they are not connected to the tree of economic activity.  We need to grow our own.

Just a thought

Can We Govern Ourselves?

I am struck by the outbreaks of violence world-wide.  London, Lybia, Syria, Spain, Greece, and even China have had mass protests turning violent in the last few days.  That, of course, leaves out our own beloved Philadelphia.  The British response is remarkably restrained.  It took them several days to decide to use water cannons and rubber bullets.  Reportedly the sale of baseball bats went up. (In the United States we had a rush of gun sales after the ’08 elections as we anticipated the coming dissolution of the social contract.  The Second Amendment is a wonderful source of behavioral restraint.)  I think it begs the question, can freedom and democracy exist in an amoral world?  For most of us, we don’t riot and loot other people’s stuff because we are morally restrained from so doing.  Your neighbors are safe from you because you are not a thief or a thug.  I don’t hurt people because it is wrong to do so.  The police do not have to shoot me with plastic bullets to dissuade me; my parents and my God have implanted a conscience that keeps me relatively civil.  The values that enable us to live free include personal responsibility, respect for life,  respect for private property, and a sense of moral absolutes.  I am convinced that freedom as we understand it is only possible in a society that is predominantly peopled by Christians and folks who share that world-view. The debate about the separation of Church and state can be reserved for another time.  Our problems stem from a separation of Church and men.

Just a thought

vls

Don’t Miss the Point

When a professional golfer wants to work on his game he hires a swing coach. This guy’s function is to break down every minute detail of the way the player swings his club from the moment he steps up to the ball until it is flying down the fairway. He finds and corrects the tiniest flaws that effect direction and distance in the drive. Even though the Point of the game is to get the ball in the hole, the coach is not an expert on the hole, but an expert on the swing. He studies and corrects the Process. Even though I am acutely aware of the vision – put the ball in the hole – when I play golf I am horribly unsuccessful because of the flaws in my swing. Process is important. On the other hand, I may have the most wonderful swing in the world, sending the ball flying over the length of three football fields. But if I don’t know the purpose – get the ball in the hole – I am only a champion on the driving range. In order to succeed we need Process and Purpose.

A while back I was in a church just watching the flow and cogitating. Just before the service started, a lady came through the door alone. She was nicely dressed and had a pleasant demeanor. As she entered, a very cheerful greeter handed her a bulletin, nodding politely. She took a few steps into the sanctuary glancing about as if she were looking for someone. It was apparent she was unfamiliar with her surroundings. An usher smiled and waved expansively toward a section with several empty seats. After looking around the room one last time, she took a seat at the end of the row furthest from the pulpit. She sat through the service alone. After the last “Amen,” she stood slowly, looked around one last time, and quietly left. Every person along her path did their job. The Parking Lot parked, the Greeter greeted, the Usher ushed, the Preacher preached. The Process was good. The Point was missed. The Good Shepherd sent a sheep to the sheepfold. She got a bulletin and a smile. She got the information the church thought was important. We don’t know what information she actually needed. She got a seat, but she never found her seat. Who was she looking for? What are her preferences and needs for visual access, auditory considerations, or whatever. Process is a wonderful thing. She heard what the preacher had to say, but did we ever discover why God sent her to us that day? Process without the Point is an exercise in robotics, not the loving hand of God extended.

Scripture Reading: So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.

(1 Corinthians 9:26 NLT)

Somebody Said: Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.
John F. Kennedy

What we do, we only do well when we do it with the purpose in mind. It allows us to make intelligent variation in the process to achieve the desired end. In church, our purpose is to love God, love people, and facilitate the connection of the two.

vls
www.fcftucson.org

Father Hunger

A few weeks ago we celebrated Father’s Day. As I began to speak on the subject of fatherhood, I was once again struck by a phenomenon that occurs every year. As soon as I announced the topic, people in the congregation began to react. Some shook their heads. Some gave a wistful smile. Some wiped away a tear, while others wept openly. As the sermon progressed, the tears only increased. This happens in some degree every time I broach the subject of fatherhood. It is clearly a very emotional topic. We have in us a built in desire for a father. It is not by accident that our omnipotent and omniscient God has revealed Himself to us in the term, “Our Father.” In a day when fathers are hard to find, the majority of families have some disruption, and the siring of children outside of marriage is a socially acceptable practice, there are holes in many hearts. Fathers were designed by the original Father to do several things. The more our earthly fathers provide these things, the easier it is for us to receive the work of our Heavenly Father.

1. Provide identity: They give us a name and a heritage. Heb 1:4-5.

2. Provide protection and nurture: Ps 103:13-14

3. Provide for physical needs: food shelter and clothing. Lk 12:29-31

4. Provide instruction in the things of God. Is 38:19 / Prov 4:1

5. Provide correction when we go wrong. Heb 12:7-9

6. Provide an example to imitate: Eph 5:1-2

The list could go on, but you get the picture. The bad news is that many have missed these impartations from an earthly dad. The good news is that we get more chances! As Christians we get to have three fathers. We have natural fathers whom we honor. If they fall short, we have a Heavenly Father whose love is beyond our wildest dreams. In addition, since we are born into a new spiritual family, we get to have spiritual fathers who make impartations and provide examples that empower us to live this new life in Christ. Such a deal!

Scripture Reading: Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Extol Him who rides on the clouds, By His name YAH, And rejoice before Him. A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land. Psalms 68:4-6 NKJV

Somebody Said: I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. Umberto Eco

Musing the subject, I feel compelled to teach a bit more on how to let God serve as your Father. To those who have sired children, I encourage them to learn to be fathers. To the rest, it seems we should strive to live in such a way that others can see our Father.

vls
www.fcftucson.org

Who do you want in charge?

I noticed this week that the National Football League and the players manged to hash out an agreement over which of the rich people would get the most money.  One day they met for over 13 hours.  When they were interviewed they were generally discrete, respectful, and professional.  These are guys who get paid to run into each other in a pasture.  A little south, down on the Potomac, we had our national leaders dealing with a financial crunch that has the potential to impact the entire world, possibly impoverishing millions.  They are lawyers with degrees from Ivy League schools.  They get paid to listen to whoever pays them the most and then make those people richer at our expense.  In their passion to defuse an international crisis, they managed to meet for nearly 6 hours during the entire week.  That number was easily matched by the time they spent in press conferences divulging sensitive material to the public, lying about what was said, and calling each other names.  I am not encouraged or impressed.

Here’s my suggestion:  Let’s put the Potomac bunch in the pasture and let them run into each other, hopefully knocking some sense into themselves.  While they are keeping busy, we can appoint a committee of lineman, linebackers and a couple of quarterbacks and give them 48 hours to solve the debt ceiling issue.  I think we have a better chance with the jocks than with the pols.  It’s a character thing.

Just a thought.

Who Decides?

The first question I ask in any political issue is “Who Decides?”  Our system of federalism was predicated on man’s fallen nature, and provided for a number of checks and balances to prevent any one man or group of men from controlling the lives fo the people.  We have divided powers for a reason.  yet while the congress debates the immigration issue, chewing over the so-called Dream Act, the executive branch has already implemented much of its substance without so much as a by-your-leave to the constitution, the congress, or the courts.  Witness this ICS memo: http://www.ice.gov/doclib/secure-communities/pdf/prosecutorial-discretion-memo.pdf    Who decides?  It sure ain’t us.

Just a thought

He’s not a rapist, so hail to the chief

OK. So let me get this straight:. the head of the IMF is now free from prosecution.  We are relieved to discover that the housekeeper with whom he committed adultery was lying about the rape.  Hence, we should not be shocked if he now runs for president of France.  He is, after all, not acriminal.  Well, at least he is not a rapist.  I suppose that should be some consolation to his wife and children – dad may be a philanderer, but he only does it with cooperative women.  Now there is a presidantial qualificationif I ever heard one.

Just a thought