31 October, 2014

The Only Way to Freedom

Many years ago I read a story in a newspaper in which the told of a prisoner in Australia who was in the county jail awaiting to be transferred to the State Prison. He was facing a lengthy sentence and knew that if he was going to escape, he had to do it from the county jail. He began to plan a daring escape. The day came when he executed his plan flawlessly by crawling under a delivery truck parked at the prison receiving dock. He clung to the bottom of the truck and rode it out of the front gates of the prison. He held on for dear life to the bottom of that truck as it drove down a major highway for about 20 minutes or so. Finally the truck began to slow down and when it came to a complete stop, the man quickly let go of his grip and dropped to the ground. As fast as he could he rolled out from under that truck to freedom.  As he stood up he was stunned to find that he was inside the walls of the state prison, five miles from the county jail from where he had come from.  


You know, a lot of times it really seem that life is like that, doesn’t it?  Life boxes us in and we get to a point where we feel imprisoned by our fears, or anxieties… our guilt and shame. These pressures seem to wall us in emotionally and spiritually, and we begin to desperately search for a way out. We try one thing after another, trying to escape, only to discover that we're just moving ourselves from one prison to another, one anxiety to another. We might try friends or relationships. Some might try drinking or drugs or even risky behavior, trying to find a release from the pressure we are under and the wall that are closing in on us. And with each “escape attempt” that fails, those wall get even tighter, higher and thicker and there just seems to be no way out. The reality is, there is no way out… except for Jesus. It does not matter what elese you try, or how many times you try it, eventually it is going to lead to the same dark, cold and lonely place. The sooner we learn this and we give up our folly, the sooner we will find the only real purpose and fulfillment that there is to find I this life. Yes, those things work for a season, but the end result is always the same. We’re just riding from prison to prison, thinking we are free, but when we stop and look around and discover that all we’ve done is exchange one prison for another. Only Jesus can set us free. And he whom the Son sets free is free indeed. 

28 October, 2014

The Deception Grows Deeper Day By Day

I'm not exaggerating to say that almost every day, at least 5 to 6 times per week I have someone calling me "judgmental" or  a hypocrite because I will not agree with them and their individualized gospel that they have come up with. Today alone, three people have said something very similar to this. Two of them were on Facebook and one was a telephone call this evening. One of these people has been a friend since high school and she was irate with me. She told me that I'm losing friends left and right because I always have to feel like I am right and that I cannot respect other people's religions. I told this person that 1) It was not me that was right, it was the Bible, and 2) Not one of these people who have gotten mad at me are from "another religion." All of of them "professed" to be Christians.  She said that it's the same thing. No, it's not. When we call ourselves Christian, it implies that we have become BORN AGAIN, that we have died to our selves, our own will and plans and we surrender our lives to Christ, so that He can live in us and work through us. She said, "that's your opinion." No, my friend, that is not my opinion. That is what being a Christian is. Anything less than that is NOT being a Christian. I can tell everyone that I'm 28 years old, that I'm independently wealthy and live in a mansion. Saying it or claiming it does not make it so. Even if I really BELIEVED those things does not make them so. The FACTS are that I am 55 years old, I am relatively poor and I live in a house that is about 130 years old and looks it. You may say that is a silly illustration, but folks, believing you are a Christian because you believe in Jesus and go to church once in awhile (or even every Sunday) does not make you a Christian. To be saved is not to believe in Jesus. The Devil himself and all of the demons in Hell believe in Jesus. It takes more than belief. It takes surrender.  And once we are saved *Born Again (which means we died and started over with a new life in Christ) then we turn from our old way of life and walk in a new way. It's called obedience to God's Word. If we are not walking in obedience, then it means we are rebelling from God's Word and the Bible very clear tells us that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.  I hear it all the time, "I may not believe the way you do, but I believe." Some say that they and God have an understanding. That is utter foolishness. The Bible says clearly that no man comes to God except through Jesus, which means we do it His way or we don't do it at all. Go ahead, get mad at me, because I would rather you hear the truth and be mad at me than stand back and keep my mouth shut and be guilty of not telling you the way of salvation. This stuff of "I choose to do it my way" is a road marked for Hell. I'm sorry, but it is. When you choose to do it your way, you reject God's way, and there is no middle ground... it is Heaven or Hell. 

Go on... post on Facebook now that I'm being judgmental again. The fact is, I'm not. I'm laying out the clear Biblical truth and when you reject the truth, you judge yourself. You will stand before God one day and utter your words, "I chose to do it my way" and he will say that he never knew you. That's not me being judgmental... that's what His Word, the Bible says. I love you enough to risk making you mad and losing your friendship with the truth because what some of you don't realize is that we are talking about eternity here, and that is no laughing matter.

21 October, 2014

Rattlesnake Logic

I received this tonight and wanted to pass it on.
Pay attention folks!


Rattlesnake Logic....
After the Boston bombing the news media spent days and weeks trying to determine why these men did what they did.
They want to know what America did to make these brothers so angry with us. They want to know why these men were not arrested before they did something so terrible.
The media is in a tizzy about this new era of homegrown radicals and about why and how they can live among us and still hate us.

A friend of mine from Texas explained it all to me: “Here in west Texas, I have rattlesnakes on my place, living among us.
I have killed a rattlesnake on the front porch.
I have killed a rattlesnake on the back porch.
I have killed rattlesnakes in the barn, in the shop and on the driveway.
In fact, I kill every rattlesnake I encounter.

I kill rattlesnakes because I know a rattlesnake will bite me and inject me with poison. I don’t stop to wonder WHY a rattlesnake will bite me; I know it WILL bite me because it's a rattlesnake and that's what rattlesnakes do.
I don’t try to reason with a rattlesnake or have a "meaningful dialogue" with it…I just kill it.

I don’t try to get to know the rattlesnake better so I can find a way to live with the rattlesnakes and convince them not to bite me. I just kill them.
I don’t quiz a rattlesnake to see if I can find out where the other snakes are, because (a) it won’t tell me and (b) I already know they live on my place. So, I just kill the rattlesnake and move on to the next one.

I don’t look for ways I might be able to change the rattlesnake to a non-poisonous rat snake...I just kill it. Oh, and on occasion, I accidentally kill a
rat snake because I thought it was a rattlesnake at the time.
Also, I know for every rattlesnake I kill, two more are lurking out there in the brush. In my lifetime I will never be able to rid my place of rattlesnakes.
Do I fear them? Not really.
Do I respect what they can do to me and my family?
Yes!!
And because of that respect, I give them the fair justice they deserve....
I kill them.

As a country, we should start giving more thought to the fact that these
jihadists' are telling the world their goal is to kill Americans and destroy our way of life. They have recently posted two graphic videos on the internet showing them beheading Americans.
They are serious.
They are exactly like rattlesnakes.
It is high time for us to start acting accordingly!

I love this country.
It's the damn government I'm afraid of!
Look who's new in the White House!

Arif Alikhan - Assistant Secretary for Policy Development for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Mohammed Elibiary - Homeland Security Adviser

Rashad Hussain - Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic
Conference(OIC)

Salam al-Marayati - Obama Adviser and founder of the Muslim Public Affairs
Council and is its current executive director

Imam Mohamed Magid - Obama's Sharia Czar from the Islamic Society of North America

Eboo Patel - Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships

This is flat-out scary!

The foxes are now officially living in the hen house...
Now ask me why I am very concerned!
Do you feel OK with this?

How can this happen, and when will we wake up?
We are quiet while our Country is being drastically changed!

"Spidey Senses"

One of my friends (who is also a pastor) and I frequently talk about, what we call, our "spiritual Spidey senses." If you ever watched the old Spiderman cartoons you may remember when his spidey senses went off, he was sensing that something was not right, or that something was about to happen. Jim and I have spoken many times about how in our spirit we were sensing that things were not right or that something was about to change or happen. Well, for more tha a month now, I've had that sense. It has been much more specific this time as I have said over and over the date(s) October 25/26 were jumping out at me. I felt like the Holy Spirit was saying to keep a watchful eye out toward those dates. I don't really have a clear direction as to what it is (although I have my own idea) so I am not going to share that. I'm simply writing to those who will give ear, keep your spiritual eyes and ears open this week.

14 October, 2014

Is It Wrong to Speak of the End Times?

Several people have been making comments to me, or to others who I know saying that writing things such as my blog entry about the vision I had is nothing but theatrics and scare tactics and that we (the church) don't need to talk about this sort of thing. They insist we should focus only on the love of God. I really am not going to write to argue with anyone, because those folks have their mind made up and they are comfortable where they are. I happen to disagree with them. There is a lot written in the Bible about the last days, and I believe it is there for a reason. In fact, I KNOW it is there for a reason. So much about what the Bible speaks of is taking place right before our eyes. The signs are all around us, both in the church and in the world. In the church, we see exactly what the Bible warns us of where people have exchanged the truth for a lie and preach "another gospel."  Jesus himself spoke with very real clarity about those last days when the disciples asked him about when these things would happen. If it were not important, then I really think Jesus would have said, "Just preach love and everything will be alright."  The fact is that it was because He loves us that He gives these warnings. When you love someone you give the a heads up or a warning so that they don't miss something important. Could you imagine if someone knew the bridge was out ahead and they did not try to warn you as you went speeding by? Love is more than gooey emotion... it speaks truth. 

In Mark the 13th chapter, for the entire chapter Jesus is talking about the last days. At the end of that chapter, in the last 6 verses, Jesus says something very interesting.
32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 
33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 
34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 
36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 
37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

The imagery which Jesus uses here is that of not being ready or prepared for Jesus when he returns. He warns us to watch for his coming and be ready because we do not know when he will return. Now, the question is, "Why would Jesus do this?"  Why such a warning if all we needed to do was make a decision for Christ and nothing more?   The fact is that Jesus uses a number of parables like this to express the idea that we are to prepare ourselves for his return at any moment and watch for its coming. The warning is pretty evident to the one with open eyes and ears... that if you are not ready you will miss out.

So what does it mean to be ready and watch as a Christian? Again, I believe this is more than making a decision to be a Christian. Being a Christian is far more than a decision. It is radial change. It is such a transformation that the Bible calls it being, "born again."  To me, I think it is pretty evident that we are radically transformed, so much so that Paul would write "do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is... his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)  When this sort of transformation takes place you are no longer asking, "can I do this and still be a Christian." There will be no need, because the renewed mind rejects those worldly patterns. The New Testament Christians were so radically transformed that the people of Antioch began to call the followers of Christ, "Christians."  That was not a compliment! They were insulting them, saying they acted just like the one they called the "Christ" (Jesus). What they meant as an insult was in fact a testament of how radical the transformation of their lives had become. We should be the same. 

Let's get back to Jesus' warning at the end of Mark chapter 13. Jesus warns to be ready, to not let the Master find them asleep. To me this means that we are to be be and do the things that Jesus would want us to do rather than simply doing what we want to do, which is what the modern church is telling us that we can do.  In the Mark passage Jesus uses the image of servants being left to do the task assigned to them. The idea being that when the master comes back he will be happy with those who are doing the tasks he set and angry with those who aren’t... those who are “sleeping.” Keith Green had a powerful song back in the 1980's about being "Asleep in the Light."  (Look it up on Youtube.)  The thing is, the tasks that Jesus has left for us to do is to make disciples. Not converts... "disciples."  Disciples are those who are radically transformed... not those who have "joined the club."  We are to live for God at every moment and to "watch" for His return. (Yes, it is in the Bible!) This means that we are to be reading his word and praying, meeting with other Christians to encourage and build them up. It means living a godly life and taking the time and effort to tell others of the hope and joy you have in knowing Jesus. And all the while, watch the signs. Jesus said "when you see these things... lift your heads, for your redemption is near."  He clearly said we would see the signs and know the day was close, which tells me that it is absolutely correct to tell others that His return is close at hand.


Get Ready Church!

Late last night, after reading my blog entry from yesterday about the vision I'd seen, a friend of mine sent me the following link. Take a look at this and compare it to what the Holy Spirit showed me Sunday night. Coincidence? I think not.  I believe God is sounding the alarm to America that it is time to fall on our face before Him and repent, before it is too late! 

Top 5 Cities to be Affected By Ebola by January

13 October, 2014

Will America Turn Back Toward God?

Last night during our prayer meeting at church I received a vision from the Lord. At the close of the meeting, I was not sure if I should share it or not, and chose to remain silent for the time being. But as today has worn on, I've felt like this needs to be shared, and I hope that others will pass it on. In all my years of ministry I have never asked anyone to spread or pass on a vision that I've had. But this one is different. This one needs to be shared.

To start with, I was sitting in the floor near the front of the church praying last night when suddenly I felt a wind blow by me. It was very cool. I actually thought that one of the women of the church who worships with flags was near me  and I was feeling the wind from the flags. But I realized that there was no sound, which there usually is if she is waving the flags. I opened my eyes and there was no one within 15 feet of me, yet I still felt the wind. At the close of the prayer time I did share about this wind blowing, but I did not share that it was a cool wind. A minute later a woman who was seated several rows behind me spoke in Spanish and told her daughter that she too felt the wind blow through and that it was a cold wind. The daughter told me what she said and asked me if the wind was cold. I only share this to testify that the power of God was so real and moving throughout the building last night. 

Anyway, after I felt this wind, I felt like I was caught up in the spirit and I began to see this vision. It was as if I was seeing this on a TV or movie screen.  It was like I was looking down from way up high and I could see the entire North American continent, but my focus was on the United States. As I looked, I saw what appeared to be a sheer black cloth begin to move up from Mexico across Texas from about the middle of the state to the Gulf coast and sweeping in a North to North Eastern direction. I could see through this "cloth." It appeared to be like a sheer black drape. As this cloth moved up out of Texas, it covered most of Oklahoma and half of Kansas and then began to move eastward across Missouri.  At about this time I saw another black cloth coming out of Chicago and it spread out pretty much in a circular pattern going across Illinois into the eastern half of Iowa, up into Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, into Ohio and western Kentucky. Then I saw another cloth come up from San Diego, California and sweep over most of the state of California.  At about the same time I saw a much thicker black cloth rise out of New York City and spread to cover the entire North-Eastern United States.  At this point I began to see that these were not clothes that I was seeing, but they were billions of insects swarming. I could see through them in most places but over New York they were so heavy that all I saw was black. I saw them cover the Statue of Liberty and the statue began to fall apart and crash to the ground and into the water.  About two-thirds of the United States was now covered by this swarm of insects. 

As I said, the swarm appeared to be a sheer cloth, and I could see all over the United States little flames. The flames were all a bright gold and red and they were dotted all over the land from coast to coast.  As the darkness spread, there was a wind that began to blow. This was really weird because the wind seemed to originate in the midwest and blew in every direction across the United States. As the wind blew, the flames grew brighter and then I could see little flames being carried by the wind and deposited all across the entire United States, into Canada and the Northern part of Mexico. Each time the wind blew, the flames would grow brighter and larger until there was fires all over the USA and as the flames grew the darkness began to dissipate  and it grew fainter and fainter until it was gone.  The scene was not pretty. I'm not going to even go into all that I saw. 

After I saw this, ran and grabbed a pen and paper and began to write it all down so I would not forget. As I was writing, I felt in my spirit that God was saying that this was going to come to America if the Nation did not repent. I cannot say that God "told" me this part, but in myself, I felt like this was the Ebola virus sweeping across the Nation, and that it would stem from Texas, California, Chicago and New York and spread across a good portion of the United States and into Canada. The flames were God's people in prayer and the wind was obviously the wind of the Holy Spirit. It would seem that there is going to be an awakening that sparks from the midwestern part of the United States and spreads across the USA. It seemed like there were waves of revival. The best I could describe what I saw was like a rock hitting the water and ripples spreading out from the center. And it would hit, and as it spread, another wave would begin, and then another and another and another. There was much destruction and death, but there was also a powerful move of God and I saw dead bodies standing and coming to life. I don't know if that was literal or spiritual, but I believe God is trying to call this Nation to repentance. I believe that the destruction is coming, but I believe the level of that destruction is dependent upon the people and if they will heed the warning and turn back to God. 

I don't believe this is a long way off. I think we are on the verge of this and we will see two things. God is giving a warning and if the people of the Nation hear and turn back to God, then this could be either averted or at least minimized. I believe we are going to see within the next few weeks powerful moves of God across the mid-west. What happens from there depends on what people do with that move of God. Either judgement will be stayed, or the darkness will spread across the land. I pray America heeds the call of the Lord.

"If my people, who are called by my Name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

09 October, 2014

Looking Back...

Early this morning I received a call from someone who called simply to gripe and complain, tell me what a rotten pastor I am, how bad our church is and how bad several other churches are and that there's not a good pastor in this town, and how they (she and her husband) can't find a church anywhere in which they feel happy. I asked her several times just what she wanted in a church and she kept saying that she just wanted to feel God and have her needs met. (Man, is there another message that I could write on that topic!) 


I won't go into it all, but suffice it to say I was thrilled when my other phone line rang and I had an excuse to get off the phone with this sourpuss. A while later I was thinking about her comments and I remembered a post I'd written several years ago, and thought I'd dig it back up and share it today.

                             **********


08 January, 2007

Happiness or Joy?

Sometime back I ran across this little story:
Fred and Mary are driving home from church when Mary said, "Fred, did you notice the pastor's sermon was kind of weak today?" Fred answers, "No, not really." Mary continues, "Well, did you notice that someone in the praise team was off key?" He responds, No, I didn't." Mary went on, "Well, surely you noiced that young couple who let their kids make all the noise and commotion right in front of the church through the whole service!" "Sorry dear, I didn't notice." In absolute disgust Mary said, "I honestly don't understand why you even bother going to church if you aren't going to pay attention to what is happening!"
Ever wonder why so many who go to church walk around so sour and looking like someone just stepped on their toes?
I have.
In fact, I grew up in a church that left me thinking that it was in the job description for all Christian women to put on their best "mean face" when they accepted Christ, and to see to it that no child ever laughed or had fun, especially in the church house.
OK, I'm going a little over-board, but seriously, I thought that it was a sin to laugh or have fun in the church! My experience growing up was such that we had to sneak to the movie theater, hiding our cars well, for fear that when we came out, some of these sour-looking saints of God would be parked next to our cars just waiting to tell us that they had caught us red handed in our sin. They seemed to find pleasure in their hissing at me, "Darrell Garrett, you are going to split hell wide open!" Boy, that really made me want to go to church! I had not one clue growing up what God really wanted for us, nor of what he expected of us. All I knew was based on a religion that said, "Don't, don't, don't, you can't, SINNER!"
Thank God I found a way to divorce myself from that sort of "religion."

Paul writes in 2 Corinthinans 6:17 (NIV) "Come out from them (the world) and be seperate."
Yes, our faith should make us different than the world, but not in a negative way. We should be positively different! I have come to learn that unless you commit yourself every single day to walking in the joy of the Lord, you will find yourself finding negative ways of distinguishing yourself from non-believers. It does a world of good for us to just stop and consider who we are representing with our lives. In John the 10th chapter, Jesus is called "the good shepherd." In the Greek language, the word that is translated "good" means "winsome." Winsome is not a word we use a lot today, but here is what it means... "To be pleasant, charming, attractive, endearing or appealing." So, "the goodshepherd" is so much more than what we have made it out to be. It literlly says that Jesus was and is the shepherd who is pleasant and appealing. 
Does that describe those sour looking folks who think they are so holy because they never smile? Hardly! How appeealing or endearing is that?
Does that describe the image that you reflect of Christ with your life? It should!

Paul writes in Philippeans 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord always." I can just hear someone saying, "yeah, that's easy for Paul to say, but he doesn't have the kind of problems that I have."
Oh really?
When he penned these words, Paul was sitting in prison with no real hope of being released.
We have got to understand that happiness is and emotion, while joy is a decision we make. It's our choice. Our decisions must over-rule our emotions, not vice-versa. Isaiah 55:12 says " For you shall go out with joy..." When we start each new day we should get up and say, "Today I choose to go out with joy!" It's our choice. Things, events, circumstances and situations can effect your happiness... but they cannot touch your joy. Only you can surrender that.
Remember... "the joy of the Lord is your strength!"

Happiness or joy? I choose joy!

30 September, 2014

Don't Cast Pearls Before Swine

One of the most controversial passages of scripture is found in Matthew 7:6 where Jesus says, "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces."  I also believe it is one of the most disobeyed scriptures in the Bible. Especially in the day and age we live in where everyone screams "Intolerance!" at Christians who do not accept and embrace everyone just as they are. God help anyone who decrees what the Bible says! We are told at every turn, "You can't judge me!" "Judge not!"  (Another grossly misunderstood verse of scripture which I addressed HERE. The Bible is clear that we are in fact to judge. Take for example this passage (Matthew 7:6). How would you know who the dog is or the pigs are if you don't judge? Go ahead, spend some time on that one and it will come to you... this whole judge not thing is wrongly interpreted.

Anyway... on to today's topic. I believe that one of the things that is hindering the progress of the church is that we are not paying attention to Jesus' words. His directive could not be more clear. Don't give what we hold and cherish to those who will not embrace it. I don't believe that Jesus' intent was that we pick and choose who we give the Gospel message to. Rather, what he is saying is, "watch what they do with it." There is a difference. When you or I continue to give our attention, energy and resources to someone who does not appreciate it and is only using us, then we are casting our pearls before swine.  We need to get a handle on this within our own minds because the devil is really good at keeping us tied up, worn out and busted because we give to the "dogs and pigs" who do not appreciate what we have to give rather than to seek out those who will actually pay attention to exactly what we are giving them and embrace it, rather than use it (and us).
This passage takes place in Jesus' sermon on the Mount and what Jesus is telling them and us is that we should not put what is valuable in front of those who will not recognize or flat out reject the value and will only use the gift and the giver until their need is diminished, at which point they will turn on the giver and destroy them.  What Jesus is clearly painting a picture of here is the person who runs to the church, the pastor or the Christian person every time they are in crisis or in need and beg for our help. They will appear so sincere and contrite and swear that this time they mean it and this time things are going to be different, but they know full well they are only using manipulation tactics to get their bellies full once again. Once they get what they want; their pain or crisis is alleviated... they are right back to their old tactics.
Let me illustrate. I have two dogs that I dearly love. They are beautiful and they are loving and fun. But they are dogs. Tell them to sit... they sit. Tell them to beg... they beg. Tell them to shake and they will shake. But they are not doing it because they want to sit, beg or shake. They are doing it because there is a treat coming when they do the right thing. Cute and loving... lots of fun... but dogs. If we are not watching, they will tear something up. They will dig in the trash. They don't recognize boundaries and they will go where they are not supposed to go, and make messes. And they do not recognize value at all. Just ask my son who made the mistake of laying his $100 bluetooth ear piece down on the coffee table. In the time that it took for him to walk to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee and come back to the living room, his dog had gotten up on that table, snatched the bluetooth and chewed it up. It's value was meaningless to him. He just wanted it for his enjoyment.  This exactly what Jesus was conveying. A person who is "a swine" does not recognize value will come to you looking for something to eat. You could give them pearls... something of great value which is far more than enough to meet their immediate needs, but be enough to get them through life and they will not see the value. Rather they will "eat it up" and use it without recognizing the value.  Pigs do not appreciate fine jewelry! Just as a pig or a dog will eat anything dropped in front of it without seeing the value of it, a person of the character which Jesus is talking about is a consumer... a taker... and they are not looking for answers to life, they are just wanting something to make them feel better right this moment. They will take everything you give them and use it... but never appreciate just what you are giving them.  And when they have gotten all they can get from you, they will turn on you. They tell me that if you are in a pig pen, you never turn your back on a pig, because if you do, they will charge you, knock you down and the pigs will literally eat you. I guarantee you every pastor can relate to that! 
Jesus could not have painted a better picture of the way some people are.     
"Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces."
Child of God... give ear and pay attention. Do NOT think you are being "godly"  by being taken advantage of. Jesus was trying to tell us that what we have in the Gospel is of great value, and we are not to waste it. If someone is a dog or a pig... move on. Isn't that exactly what Jesus told the disciples? He told them that if they went to a place and gave them the Gospel and the people rejected it, to leave and shake the dust from their sandals. It is time we start heeding the words of Jesus. The devil has been having a hay day by sending dogs and pigs to us to distract us and take what could be given to someone who will embrace it and appreciate it. 
Time to move on!

16 September, 2014

A Lesson From My Dogs

We have two Pomeranian dogs at our house. We actually bought three of them, all siblings. Our daughter has one of them where she lives while attending college. One is ours and the third belongs to my son and will be going to live with him as soon as he finds another apartment which will allow him to have his dog. These two that we have are really entertaining to watch. Slice (my son's dog) is the really sly  one who just can never stop. He is always searching, snooping to see what new thing he can find. Our dog, Bella is the jealous one. She cannot stand to see Slice be picked up or pet or heaven forbid, receive something that she does not have. Now mind you, you can give her the exact same thing that you are giving to Slice, but that does not matter. She has to have what Slice has. We will give them each rawhide bones to chew on, and she will leave hers to always try to take the one Slice has. If Slice dare walk away from his to get a drink or anything at all, Bella is on it in a flash. The really dumb thing is, Bella's rawhide can be bigger, and usually is because she has been too busy watching Slice to bother to chew on her own, and she will leave the bigger piece to get what her brother has. 

I was watching this whole routine again this morning and it hit me, this is what coveting someone else's property or belonging's is like. The sad truth is that in today's society, we pretty well teach our children to covet. We tell them to "reach for the stars." Now, that in itself would not be so bad, but what we are instilling in them is to see what someone else has, and to go for it, rather than teaching them to be content with what God's plan is for their own life. And that is where coveting is born.

Here are some simple questions we need to ask ourselves: 
- Do I ever complain about my lot in life as compared to someone else?

- Do I find myself asking why I cannot sing as well as someone else? Or why can I not play guitar like him? Or why does she have all that talent and I seem to have none? 

- Do I find myself bemoaning the fact that my coworker always get the breaks?

- Do I find myself longing for the marriage I see someone else having? Or that money? Or that talent or ability? Or maybe even to look as pretty or handsome as someone else? 

Simply put; when you or  I want what God has given to someone else - we are coveting. It's no small wonder that we have become this way. Almost every aspect of our lives today push us toward coveting what someone else has. Watch television for one hour and count how many advertisements lead us to coveting.
Even in the church we find ourselves coveting. When I see your blessing and I find myself feeling bitter or cheated... the reason is because I am coveting. We need to come to the place that we know and understand that God is leading us somewhere... and if we have our eyes on what someone else has (or has not had to face) we will miss the open door before us because our eye is on them, rather than what God is trying to bring into our own lives.

It reminds me of something that happened a few weeks ago. Daniel's dog, Slice needed to take some medication. The medicine is made in the form of a treat so that he will take it.  I did not want Bella to be left out, so I had one of her favorite treats in my other hand to give to her. I called them to me and each started to take their treat from me. Bella grabbed hers, but saw that Slice was getting something different so she dropped her treat and tried to take Slice's medicine from him. Slice gulped down his "treat" and then ran over and took Bella's treat as well. Bella stopped and looked at me as if to ask, "are you going to allow this?" I looked at her and said, "Don't look at me, your greed caused this, so you do without."
Even a dog can teach us a lesson.

14 September, 2014

I Miss Our Time Together

One of the greatest joys of my life is being a daddy. Both my kids are unique and special. They are as different as night and day, and raising them was too. I was afforded something that a lot of dads are not lucky enough to have. Being a pastor, my schedule is more flexible than others. Yes, it is true that at times, being a pastor causes stress on the family because of times when we are called away from special events or just an evening with our family. But at the other end of the spectrum, there is the flexibility. When my kids were little, I was able to at times take an hour or two off to take Daniel to A&W to get a hot dog and a root beer. He loved those times, as did I. Sometimes we'd go fishing, or as he got older go out and play catch or shoot some hoops or play video games. Ashley came along and she was different in that she did not care what we did, so so we spent time together. We'd go for walks, or she'd get the biggest kick out of me watching her dance, or show me how she'd learned to do a cart wheel or stand on her hands. She loved to go for rides in my truck and she loved singing together. We got to where we'd schedule "daddy/Ashley days" that were set aside just for us. As she grew up, those days grew fewer and farther in between, but she'd still walk into my office from time to time and announce, "We need a daddy/Ashley day." I loved hearing those words. Daniel had a different agenda, but we always found ways to spend time together as well. In his later teen years he'd come ask if we could go to Inn Keepers and have a cup of coffee and talk. I always loved spending time with my kids. They are such a joy to my heart. But those days are much fewer and further apart now days. Daniel lives and works in Peoria, and Ashley lives 3 hours away going to school and working. We talk on the phone pretty well every day, sometimes several times a day... but it's just not the same. I don't get to see either of them all that much any more... and I miss the time we had to spend together.  

I was thinking tonight about how things have changed as they've grown up and become busy with their own lives, and it hit me that for a lot of people, they've become so busy that they no longer spend time with their Heavenly Father. They always plan to make time, but they just don't get around to it. Life is just too busy. This is one of the worst traps we can fall into. Time with the Father is crucial to our relationship. It takes effort and planning. If you "try to make time to pray" you can pretty well bank on the fact that it won't happen. I try to teach people that it is a good idea to plan time for God. Just as Ashley and I planned "daddy/Ashley" days, we also need to plan out time to be with God. Speaking for myself, I plan appointments with God. Times that are set aside for me to just spend time with Him. When I do this, I turn off my phone, and lock the door. Nothing interferes with my time with God. I've actually had people get angry because they came by the church or my house, saw my car and I did not answer the door or the phone. While I don't purposely want to make anyone made, my time with God is that important that I will not break that appointment. I figure I'm going to be talking with GOD! Creator of all that is. Nothing trumps that appointment. 

I'm sitting here thinking about this, and I wonder if God is sometimes calling out, "I miss our time together"?

10 September, 2014

Some Of the Best Advice I've Ever Received

I have often said of being a pastor that "it would be the perfect job... if we not for the people." Of course, I'm joking with that statement, but truth be told, only half joking. Honestly, I think every pastor would agree with me that by far and away, most of the people we pastor are just just awesome. But every pastor has run into "those" people. Let me be clear, this is not only about pastors, but being that I am a pastor, this is my only point of reference. I am confident that every person in life can relate to what I'm talking about within their realm of life. 

So, what am I talking about?

I'm talking about the "talkers." Those who love to spread gossip and rumors. Those who are down right vicious with the stories they tell and just seem to find their reason for living in the hope that they might destroy (or at least do serious harm) to another person. I've often wondered, do people like this really just sit around and think, "what lie can I tell today?" Apparently they must, because they never seem to stop. I just don't understand what makes people like this tick. 

Anyway... my purpose for writing this is not to discuss "those" people, it is to talk about us... those of us on the receiving end of their war against us. I remember back in college I had an instructor who warn us about these attacks and absolutely drove home the point that we had to safeguard our reputations. He said that once we allowed our reputation to be ruined, our ministry was finished. It did not take long after assuming my first pastorate to face my first attacks. They came fast and they came at me in an almost non-stop barrage... and they have never stopped in the twenty-three years I've been a pastor. I quickly learned that one of the Devil's top objectives is  to "take out the pastor."  If he takes out the pastor, he can destroy the church.  I've been amazed at the stories and lines of attack that have been launched against me over the year. They've ranged from the absolutely comical to the earth shaken, rage making attacks that hit so hard that I wanted to hurt someone. One of the ones that I laugh about now but as a young preacher starting out, caused me a lot of stress was that a woman in my church spread it all over town (I mean literally all over town; as we pastored in a town of 1100 people and everyone heard this one) that I had stood in the pulpit and called everyone in the church a "pain in the ass." (Pardon the language, but that's what she said.)  I was bewildered. I'd only been a pastor for about 3 or 4 months when this happened and I did not know what to do. I tried calling this woman several times but she never answered nor returned my calls. All over town for the next week I would run into people and they'd ask me if I had really done this. I tried to defend myself, but they'd say, "Well Helen says you did.. and she was there!" I would respond, "Hey... I was there too, and I never said that!"  It took me a couple of weeks to track Helen down, and when I did, she was adamant that I had said it. We went round and round and finally, after asking her a couple of dozen times just when I had said this, she said that a couple of weeks before I had gotten up to start the church service and I told everyone to put a smile on their face because they all looked like they were down in the mulligrubs. She said she did not know what that meant so she looked it up and she knew what I had called them.  I was stunned and asked her what in the world she was talking about. She got up and left the room and came back with her dictionary. She had the page marked and the definition highlighted.  It said, "a discomfort or griping of the intestines." She pointed at it and said, "see, you called us all a pain in the ass."   I told her that first, that this meant an upset stomach or digestive track, but if she read the definition that came before the one she had chosen to run with, it said, "a person who is ill-tempered or grumpy."  I said, "I rest my case!" 

This woman's daughter in-law quickly spread it around what Helen had done and most of the talk about town quickly died. But there is a funny thing about some people. Some people love a juicy story so much that it does not matter when they discover the truth, they will continue to spread the story that they know to be a lie because they get a sense of perverted joy in doing so. It was there in that town where a retired pastor lived who I'd known since I was a child. I went to Billy and talked to him about this he gave me the best advice I've ever received as a pastor. I believe it would be true for anyone. He grabbed his Bible and turned to 1 Timothy 3:2 and read the first few words, "A bishop must be blameless." He looked at me and said, "That's the key, Darrell."  I told him that I did not get it, because every time I turned around I was being talked about and blamed for something. His next words have never left me, as he said, "It says You must be blameless. It does not say they won't accuse you. You're job is to make sure that their accusations are not true."  Billy told me that people will never stop with their lies and accusations. He said, "Your reputation will be slaughtered many times over. You must be a man of character." Over the years I've come to know exactly what Billy was saying. There is always someone throwing out accusations, and even worse, there will always be those who gladly receive those false accusations, because there are people who love to get down and dirty and try to destroy others because they are not willing to do something to straighten out their own lives, so they would rather destroy someone else to make them feel good about themselves. 


So, with no apology to that college professor, I say, "there really is not much you can do about your reputation... but you CAN be a man or woman of character.