28 August, 2014

The Osteen's Strike Again

I am often asked why I do not like Joel Osteen. Truthfully, I've never met him, so I cannot say I don't like him. I can say I do not like what he "preaches." I have a hard time calling the stuff he spouts off preaching. It is certainly not preaching the Gospel of Christ.  In this video, you see a CLEAR example of what is wrong with what comes out of this church. I think you find what she is saying in the book of 1 Osteen.


Be Encouraged!

The last few weeks have be rough. That's a tremendous understatement, but suffice it to leave it at that. I'm not whining or complaining, just stating fact. Anyway, I've been sitting in my office working on my sermon for Sunday and just felt the need to stop working and remind myself of who my God is and all that he has done for me. As I began to encourage myself in the Lord, I found myself getting really happy in my spirit man and as I looked at my current situation and circumstances, it really did not seem all that big anymore because I realize that this current moment is not my destiny and I know that this is temporary. God has much more in store for me and I'm not in this alone.  As I was thinking on these things, I found myself thinking about and then singing this old song.  Hope it ministers to someone else today as it did for me.

27 August, 2014

"Pastor, life just sucks right now."

I spent a couple of hours with someone who is just going through it. I won't go into their personal issues, other than to use one quote from something they said to me. They were trying to express what all is happening in their life and in their family and finally they just hung their head and said, "Pastor life just sucks right now."  They then started to apologize and said that God must really think they were pathetic. On the contrary... God knows what you are walking through, and he does not look down his nose at you and condemn those feelings. I believe God would say, "I know and understand my child." It's not like God is a far off God, completely detached from what we are experiencing and feeling. He knows. He cares. (I think I feel a sermon coming on.) This exactly where the whole, "casting all your cares upon him, for he cares for you comes into play.  To that one that I spent this morning with and countless others who feel the same way, please know that God loves you and he wants to take the load from your shoulders.

23 August, 2014

Where the ALS Challenge Came From

I know that we've seen it all over Facebook and other social media and in the news, but the story behind the ice water/ALS challenge will rip your heart out and ... hopefully, silence all the critics. This is where it all began.

22 August, 2014

Email your Board

A couple of folks have asked who to contact and how to contact them about the strike. Here you go.

Wise Words Indeed

I don't have to tell anyone who lives in the Galesburg area that the teachers are on strike and negotiations are going no where. I want to say that I stand completely behind the teachers. This strike is not about money at all, although the Board of Education has tried to paint that picture. This thing is getting ugly, and the cold, hard truth is that the Board is not being honest with the general public about just what the sticking points are that are keeping them from reaching an agreement with the GEA. They are using family members to spew legal mumbo jumbo in the online version of the newspaper and Facebook, but they are comparing apples to oranges and the facts simply do not line up to this current situation.  I'll write more about this situation later, but I wanted to share the following; an email sent to the Board of Education that was by Cameron Line. Cameron attended Galesburg Schools with my kids and then attended Monmouth College. Writing as someone who grew up in this town and knows the values of this town, his thoughts are absolutely on target and brilliant. Proud of you Cameron! Really proud of you. I hope others will follow your lead and contact the board as well. 

I just emailed the board members and the administrative team an email in support of the GEA and I hope anyone who hasn't yet will do the same, or call or send snail mail. The following is the email that I sent.

Board Member and District Administration, 
I write this letter as a K-12 student of Galesburg public schools, family member of District 205 teachers past and present, a former paraprofessional in the district and a Monmouth College graduate.
I write this to you in dismay and shock. I'm in in disbelief that a board of education in a town steeped in the history of civil rights, quality education and fairness for workers is attempting to negotiate away just protection for one of our community's most valuable assets, teachers. You give excellent lip service to how much you value teachers but you seem determined to lay a foundation upon which you can fire proven quality teachers at your whim. I understand you also represent the taxpayer and you are woefully letting us down as well by not ensuring that our best teachers are safe to do their job. Like goes the teachers of Galesburg, so goes the community. If you see it necessary to word the teacher's contract so "proficient" teachers can be RIFed, you at the very least owe it to the taxpayer an explanation as to why you're insisting on a provision this medieval. You've given this just cause clause to paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, custodians and aids and to not give it to teachers is at best an insult and at worst an attack on their livelihood. You're a fighting a battle against justice and common sense that you cannot win. The public may have sympathized with your veiled "piggy bank is empty" cry before but now it's not a matter of dollars and cents, it's a matter of common sense. Please give teachers rated as "proficient" recall rights and get students and teachers back in the classroom where they belong before the public loses it's faith in you. I personally can say that this is a school board and district office that I have great respect and trust in but these latest events have eroded that trust. The weight is now on your shoulders to end the strike. Do it now, so District 205 and Knox/Warren Special Ed can once again focus it's energy where it belongs, the students.

17 August, 2014

It's Been One of THOSE Weeks

This past Monday was just awful and I made a post on facebook saying something like, "Days like today only prove that Murphy's Law is true. I figured the rest of the week had to get better. It didn't.   My computer crashed and died leaving me in a bad spot because I had a families photos and photos from a wedding that were due this week and I could not get them done. We apparently had a bad power surge, bad enough that it blew out my surge protector/power back up, blew the computer and the monitor. I ordered a new one. The computer came Thursday, the monitor still has not arrived. (NOT a happy camper!) My church was also broken into this week, the 7th time we've been broken into in the 10 years I've pastored here. The alarm system scared them off without getting anything out of the building, but they tore up a door getting in. Several other issues came up this week that I won't even go into. All the stress and strife over the whole thing in Ferguson, MO has had me on edge. This is my home area. I grew up across the river and used to date a girl that lived literally right around the corner from where this shooting took place. Enough... suffice it to say that it was simply an awful week. The good news is that we had a fantastic service at church today, and I am believing this week is going to be great.

10 August, 2014

Sunday Schooling our Kids Out of Church

I ran across this article and wanted to share it at get the thoughts of others.  

Sunday Schooling Our Kids Out of Church

About 40 years ago a profound shift took place in many Christian congregations across the country…for all the right reasons…with one troubling unintended consequence:
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, my generation, Baby Boomers, rebelled against the “institutional church” just as we did with every other institution our parents built/supported.  We rebelled by dropping out: 2/3rds of my generation dropped out of church.  In the late 1970’s/early 1980’s, innovative pastors and congregations of all sizes and denominations looked for ways to draw Boomers back to church.  They began to create worship experiences based on the unique “personality” of the Boomer generation. These churches went “contemporary,” “seeker,” and/or “seeker-friendly.”  Because these were the primary parenting years for Boomers, these congregations recognized the need to not only provide Boomer-friendly worship experiences for adults, but the need to create dynamic experiences for their children as well, knowing that if the kids wanted to come back, the parents were more likely to come back.  XX Sunday Morning-p7 dk
So began a shift from kids worshipping with the big people for one hour followed by all ages attending a second hour of Sunday School, to churches creating Sunday School experiences for kids that ran concurrently with their parents’ worship service.  In other words, kids and parents were separated from each other, having different Sunday experiences.
Again, the reasons were right…or so we thought.  Because these new Boomer services had a sense of evangelism about them (trying to win Boomers back to the church) we didn’t want anything to interrupt their focus…like squirming or crying or screaming kids. Church leaders sensed that Boomer parents wanted the one hour break from their kids—that they wanted to focus on their own spiritual life for an hour away from the distraction of their children.  And, again, we assumed, reasonably so, that worship targeted to adult boomers would not be all that engaging for kids.  So dynamic Sunday school programs were created to engage the kids at their level in their language while their parents were in worship.  In fact, some churches didn’t (and don’t) allow kids into big people worship at all.
The result: Many of these innovated congregations had a positive, significant impact on the lives of disenfranchised Boomers and their kids.  Many saw their congregations and their children’s ministries grow exponentially.  The evangelism imperative to reconnect with Boomers seemed to work.
But there was (and is) one huge unintended consequence:  We have raised the largest unchurched generation in the history of our country.
Admittedly, there are many reasons why each generation in our culture is increasingly distanced from the church.  Some have to do with societal shifts that have nothing to do with the church.  Some have to do with the inability of the church to articulate the Gospel in compelling ways.
But perhaps one of the reasons has to do with the Sunday School shift…as we shifted kids out of the main worship experience, en-culturated them in their own program, and robbed them of any touch points with the rest of the body of Christ.  Another way of saying it: by segregating our kids out of worship, we never assimilated them into the life of the congregation.  They had no touch points.  They had no experience. They had no connection with the main worship service—its liturgy, its music, its space, its environment, and its adults.  It was a foreign place to them.  And so…once they finished with the kids/or youth program, they left the church.
With good intentions we attempted to raise kids to be Christians, but we didn’t raise them to be Churched Christians.  And perhaps that, in part, is why so few of them attend a church today.  We’ve essentially “Sunday-Schooled” them out of church—because we never assimilated them into church.  We never “church-broke” them.
For years I was an advocate of this model.  And I still, in many ways, feel the tug to stick with it.  But I remember reading a study some 20 years ago that said back then what our experience is now confirming: Kids who attend Sunday School but never attend church are more likely not to attend church as adults.  (It makes sense, doesn’t it?)  And kids who attend worship and never attend Sunday School are far more likely to attend worship as adults.  (Those who attend a mixture of both are also more likely to assimilate into worship as adults.)
A few weeks ago I preached on this in our church.  One of our members pulled me aside and told me a story:  When he was small, he looked up at his dad who had tears in his eyes as the congregation sang, “Spirit of the Living God.”  After church he asked his dad why he was so sad during church.  Dad said, “I’m not sad.  I was just remembering how when I was a boy like you I stood next to my dad singing, ‘Spirit of the Living God.’  And now here I am, singing that song with my son.”  How are we creating those kinds of touch points for our kids?
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.  For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
What does it look like in the 21st Century to be a church that belongs to such as these kids?  What does it look like to be a church that makes children the priority of the Kingdom?  That raises them to be “Churched Christians?”  What does it mean that all of us are the Body of Christ together?
It may be an upstream challenge.  Many of our churches are used to separating the kids from the adults and having squirming, squealing kids may dramatically change the worship dynamic.  Many parents want their kids in Sunday School during worship and may even demand it…or will leave to attend a church that does so.
But what is our ultimate call?  To create programs?  Or to raise disciples (i.e., followers of Jesus committed to his church and his world)?  And what might that that calling to raise “churched” disciples look like?

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/searchingfortomsawyer/2014/08/sunday-schooling-our-kids-out-of-church/#ixzz39zHF43V3

07 August, 2014

Anyone Paying Attention

"Jesus is coming soon!" We've heard it said so often and for so long that I really wonder how many believe it. I'm not talking about in the world, but within the church. I think many have been lulled into a sense of complacency to where they are asleep at the wheel and don't even realize what is unfolding right before their eyes on the world's stage that fulfills the prophecies of scripture. If you are awake, you get it. Jesus is coming soon... REAL SOON!

Open your newspaper, magazine or log into the news online and it is like the headlines are ripped from the pages of the Bible. The events unfolding in the middle east are hurling us full speed toward that great event. The headlines just a few months ago (hardly seen here in America) spoke of a pact between China and Russia to change the world's currency away from the US dollar which would all but destroy the American economy. The events in the Ukraine are crucial, especially being that China has publicly come along side Russia in full support. These two countries hold crucial parts of end time events. Another huge event that has hardly seen in the news but is crucial to end time events is that the Euphrates River has been drying up. This river must be dry for the great army of the north to march into the Valley of Armegeddon. I could go on and on, but we are seeing an amazing number of scriptural prophecies lining up before our eyes.  Another key one that is often missed is happening right now and is all the world headlines. It revolves around the Ebola disease. I'll come back to that in a moment. First, let's look at a key passage of scripture.

Jesus' disciples were wanting to know about his return and what would the the sign of his coming. Jesus responded to them in Matthew 24:3-13:

3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

There are many things in this passage that jump out at me. False Christs are appearing all the time and false teachers are deceiving millions. Wars and rumors of wars... don't even need to go there. Famine? We hardly hear of it but tens of thousands are dying of hunger. Why do you think we have all these commercials on TV asking you to support a child? Earthquakes on on the rise. Islam is playing a vital role around the world as they are killing Christians if they do not renounce their faith. (vs9)  Also in verse 9, "and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake."  Have you ever known or heard of a time where Christians are hated as they are today? Do a simple Google search on the net with the words "kill the Christians." You'll be surprised.  Fox news reported that the number of Christians killed for their faith nearly doubled in the year 2013. ( http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/01/12/christians-killed-for-faith-nearly-doubled-in-2013-group-finds/)  Take a look at verse 10. Have you ever seen a time in our history where everyone was as offended as they are today and turning on one another? 

But let me draw my focus on one word. One simple word that is often overlooked. In verse 7 Jesus says, "and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places." Zero in on the word "pestilences."  A number of years ago when I was working as a substance abuse counselor we were in the early days of our awareness of AIDS and I was at a conference to learn about the disease. The speaker was a doctor who was one of the leading doctors in AIDS research, named Anthony Fauci. As he was teaching us about this newly found disease he said something about the rise in pestilence around the world. That struck a chord in my mind and I began to do some study surrounding "pestilence."  Be honest... we don't use that word very much, and to be honest, I did not realize just what it meant. I looked up the meaning of the word and when I read the definition, chills ran down my back. The definition said, "Pestilence: An infectious, fatal, virulent disease that is widespread and devastating."
Now, immediately my thinking was that AIDS was the sign of the end times. But over the years, what I've noticed is that since then (1988) there has been an unbelievable increase of bloodborn diseases around the world and each of them becomes more and more immune to our antibiotics. The latest is Ebola. Within the last 24 hours the CDC has blown the trumpet to tell the world that the outbreak and spread of Ebola around the world is something we need to become gravely concerned about as it is a particularly gruesome disease that is not responding to treatment and hundreds are dying and the disease is spreading. Read your Bible and you will discover that in the end time prophecy found in Revalation 6:7 where one forth of the worlds population dies by a plague or disease! Am I saying Ebola is it? No... but it could be. My point is that we are seeing two things happening. Diseases are becoming resistant to our antibiotics and at the same time there is a rapid increase in pestilence. 

My point?  Jesus is coming soon!

06 August, 2014

Unteachable Is a Dangerous Way to Live

A few days ago I was speaking to someone who wanted to know my Biblical belief's about certain subjects. He would fire off a question and I would answer. On most things we agreed. There were some areas were we differed, but these were on minor issues that really are not earth shaking or issues that mattered in the grand scheme of things. But then he asked me about a topic and as I answered he cut me off and sharply said, "you are wrong!" I asked him how I was wrong and he said that he stood on one particular verse of scripture. I told him that that verse really did not say what he was trying to make it say and then gave him 4 other passages that supported my belief. He again said that he stood on that one verse. I asked him how he would explain the verses I quoted and he responded that he did not want to discuss those verses, he was standing on his one verse. I tried to explain that this was how people fell into error and began to expound on how the verse he quoted, when used in conjunction with the verses I was quoting fully supported my stand and told him this was why we are to take the whole Bible, rightly divided to build foundation for the formation of what we believe. He said, "you might as well stop right here, because nothing you or anyone else could ever say would change the way I believe." I told him that this was not ME saying anything, rather it was the Word of God saying it. He again said that nothing would change his mind.
That is very dangerous. 

My purpose for righting is not to bash on the man. No one else even knows who I was speaking to, or what the topic was, and I doubt seriously he ever reads my blog. My purpose for mentioning this is to serve as a warning to others. We need to know what we believe and why. And when we do form our beliefs, NEVER build your belief system on one verse of scripture without other verses to support and substantiate that belief. Any verse or passage of scripture used as a stand alone or out of context can be twisted and used to build a false doctrine. 

04 August, 2014

It's Not Too Late

Ever feel like you have failed... like you've not attained or accomplished what you had hoped for? I know I have! This often leaves us filled with regrets. I know people who feel like their life has been a mistake. The accountant regrets his choice and wishes he'd become an artist. The pharmacists wishes he'd become a doctor. Maybe your desire was to leave a mark or a legacy, yet to date, all you have is a trail of unfilled aspirations and dreams. Maybe your dreams are spiritual. I spoke with someone online early this morning who was telling me that they had always wanted to do great things for the Lord, but that they had wasted years of their life going in and out of church, and never growing up spiritually.

Can I tell you today... It is not too late! You can begin again! It does not matter your age or your situation, if you want to, you can have a fresh start! But you have to be willing to draw a line in the sand, cross over and be determined not to go back. You have to be willing to pay the price as you chase down your dream. 1 Corinthians 9:25 in the Living Bible reads, "To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best." One thing is that you must determine to stop listening to the critics and complainers of life. (Which includes yourself.) You know... those folks who have settled for less, and they want to keep you down on their level. We all know that misery loves company... so they want to keep you in their company of whiners. If you succeed then they must admit their own failures. Break free from that crowd and leave them in the dust.

Your personal goal should not just be to get by and live a long life. Rather, our goal should be to make a difference in this life and to glorify God in all we do. You must know that to be a difference maker, it is going to cost you something. To reach your goals, you must be willing to pay the price. Charles Lindbergh once said, "I feel I lived on a higher plain than the skeptics on the ground. Who valued life more highly; the aviators who spent (their life) on the art they loved, or these misers who doled it out like pennies through their ant like days?  If I could fly for ten years before I was killed in a crash, it would be a worthwhile trade (rather than live) an ordinary life. 

"But I'm too old. It's too late."  Really? Take a look at the life of Moses who began again at 80 years of age. Remember the Apostle Paul? He had already lived a "successful life" by man's standard, when God called him to a new life with a new direction and purpose. How about the great leader Winston Churchill. He had already attained fame and greatness when he retired after World War II, but rather than retire and fade into obscurity he changed directions and went on to win a Nobel Prize in literature. Ever hear of Anna Robertson?  She started painting at the age of 70 and did not sell her first painting until she was 81... and yet she became world famous for her art work. Perhaps you know her better as "Grandma Moses."  I could go on with example after example of people who changed paths or directions in their 40's, 50's or even much later. The point is simple: It is NOT too late!  Here is a scripture for you to hold on to: "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion... therefore I hope in Him!" (Lamentations 3:22-24) 

You have not failed... until you quit! Get up and try again. It is not too late!