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.

09 September, 2014

Just Reminiscing

I was digging in my closet this afternoon and I found this poem my daughter wrote for one of her classes and I just had to share it.  She called it:

My First Love

I've been told the worst part of flying is landing.
I've found this not to be true.
Seventeen- more than a magazine
More than an age
It's the gateway to adulthood.

Daddy used to toss me up in the air so playfully.
I'd always land so I could be tossed again.
This time I don't think I'll be landing soon
and it won't be Daddy catching me if I do.

See Daddy, you threw me really high this time
So high...
But I know why
You want me to really know 
what it means to fly.

See, the worst part of flying isn't the landing
It's knowing I won't land in those same arms 
I've come to love
As I begin my journey...
Here's to
My First Love

You Ask Me To Be Tolerant

The cry of this current age is for tolerance. They want everyone to be "tolerant."  I suggest we stop and ask ourselves just what it means to "tolerate."  Looking at the Merriam-Webster Dicitonary we find the definition :
: to allow (something that is bad, unpleasant, etc.) to exist, happen, or be done

: to experience (something harmful or unpleasant) without being harmed

: to accept the feelings, behavior, or beliefs of (someone)

Interestingly enough, that last part of the definition has only been added in recent history.  Another online dictionary that I looked it up in said "to put up with."

Here's the problem. No one is willing to accept the "put up with" definition. They want everyone to ACCEPT what we do not agree with. They want us to embrace things which we don't agree with. I have no problem "tolerating" in the sense that anyone else is free to believe or do what ever they want to do with their lives (within reason) but that does not mean that I must embrace what they are doing and call it OK.  Allow it? Yeah... I can go with that... so long as it is not bringing harm to me. But when "tolerance" has been transformed to accept and embrace OR ELSE... now we have a problem. In the name of "tolerance" I am no longer tolerated! This is exactly where we are in the United States today. Especially when it comes to Christians. If we don't embrace the practices of other religions, then we are called "intolerant." If we do not embrace homosexuality, then we are intolerant. If I tell someone that Jesus is the only way to Heaven; I am called intolerant.  In reality, it is the Christians who are being discriminated against.

Just this week I have had four different occasions where people became very upset and even bash me for believing that Christianity is the only way to heaven.  The really ironic part of this whole thing is that if I am not mistaken, all four of these women would consider themselves to be a Christian. I gave the same response to all four, and now I post it here for all to see:

We must come to a conscious and informed decision as to who Jesus is. There are only two possibilities. Either Jesus was (and is) the only begotten Son of God...  Or he was not.
Either He is God... or he was the biggest liar or nut that ever walked the face of this earth. There are no other options. 

Before you lash out at me, consider this. The Bible says Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus made the claim himself. He further said that he is the way, the truth and the life and that no man comes to the Father but by him. (Through Jesus)  There are many other scriptures that could be given, but one is all we need for this argument. Either Jesus is right... that he is the only way; OR he is a liar.  Every thing you believe and do hinges on your decision of that question.  For if Jesus is telling the truth, then I CANNOT embrace another means to God. Right?
If I do, then I do not believe the Words of Christ.
It is that plain and simple. 
It is not just a matter of "putting up with" anyone. I can do that. I have friends who claim to be atheist. I have friends who are Muslim. I have friends from several religions and beliefs. Friends? Yes. Tolerate? Yes. Embrace their religion as another means to God? Absolutely not.
And this is why the world has a problem with those of us who are true Christians. We could never embrace another means to God, for to do so means we no longer agree with Jesus.

It's that simple.

08 September, 2014

Flip-Flop Again

So, just a couple of years ago everyone was screaming "Global Warming." Al Gore said the polar ice caps would be completely melted by 2014. Then things started cooling off and in 2014 the ice caps were at record HIGH levels... and it became "Climate Change." This year they are predicting an extremely cold winter and well above average snow fall across the majority of the United States, dipping much further south than normal. Many of you are too young to remember, but when I was in High School the "experts" were telling us that the word was beginning to go into another ice age. (Check out that cover of Time magazine from 1977!) 

I've got a news flash for all those eggheads... er, I mean experts...
The word goes through cycles or patterns. always has, always will. The thing that most people fail to understand is that these hucksters (ala Al Gore) have found a method of sucking millions of dollars into their coffers and pockets by hyping fear with their predictions. Right now, fresh on the heals of telling us the world was going to die from the heat... they are once again peddling the notion of another ice age. Seriously people... wake up.

Yes, we need to take care of our planet. But we don't need to pay these idiots millions of dollars to sell fear and allow them to limit our freedoms and choices based on these false predictions. It's a cycle. Nothing we can do is going to change that. Get used to it. 

06 September, 2014

The Secret Pain of Pastors

(The following article was published in Churchleaders.com and written by Phillip Wagnor, Pastor of Oasis Church in Los Angeles. I hope you will take time to read it.)

The Secret Pain of Pastors 

Peter Drucker, the late leadership guru, said that the four hardest jobs in America (and not necessarily in order, he added) are:
  • The President of the United States
  • A university president
  • A CEO of a hospital and
  • pastor
Is that true? Pastors love God and love people. They get to pray for people, lead people to a faith in Jesus Christ, and teach the Word about God.
That’s the dream job. You can read the Bible all day, pray, play a little golf and preach. I want to do that!

Here is the secret. Being a pastor is hard work. It’s not for wimps.
This is the reality—the job of a pastor can be 24/7 and carry unique challenges.

Some pastors wear themselves out trying to help people. Some wound their families because they are so involved in ministry. Others flourish in their ministry and personal life.
Approximately 85 percent of churches in America have less than 200 people. Sixty percent of churches are under 100 people. The average size congregation in the U.S. is 89 people, according to The Barna Group. Staffs are small, and needs are great. In many situations, the pastor needs to be a Bible teacher, accountant, strategist, visionary, computer tech, counselor, public speaker, worship director, prayer warrior, mentor, leadership trainer and fundraiser.
Who can be all of that?
  • Ninety percent of pastors said the ministry was completely differentthan what they
    thought it would be like before they entered the ministry. 
  • Seventy percent say they have a lower self-image now than when they first started.
Personally, I love being a pastor. I have a great staff. We have great people in our church. I am content whether going through good times or difficult seasons. Of course, it’s a lot easier to be "content" when things are good. I have great friends who are pastors. My marriage is strong. I am a better man because of my time in ministry.
Some of the unique problems that pastors face are:

1. Criticism 

Pastors can be criticized by a lot of people for a multitude of things.
 “Music is too loud. Worship is not long enough. It’s too long.”
“Sermon is not deep enough. It’s too long.” 
“Pastor thinks he’s too important. It took me three weeks to get an appointment.”
“You talk too much about money.”
“Can I talk to you for a minute, Pastor?” This simple question can cause a pastor to think: “Oy vey. Now what?”
We pastors need to find a way to not take criticism so personally and learn from truths that could be hidden in the criticism.

2. Rejection

Members leave, leaders leave and pastors’ friends leave. The reality is—people leave.
The smaller the church, the more obvious it is when people leave. Some leave for reasonable decisions; many leave ‘ungracefully.’ They leave the big churches, too—by the thousands.
People leave T.D. Jakes’ church, and they leave Andy Stanley’s church.
When our church had about 150 people and some would leave, it was so disappointing. I tried to console myself by thinking, “They may be leaving by the dozens here at Oasis, but thousands have left Jack Hayford’s church, and he’s a great pastor.” … That only helped for a minute.
“I’m leaving.”
“We want something deeper.”
“My needs aren’t getting met.”
These comments can feel like a personal rejection.
Every pastor has heard, “I’m not getting fed here.” Bill Hybels has heard it. Wayne Cordero, Dino Rizzo, Ed Young, Craig Groeschel, Steven Furtick and Matthew Barnett have heard it.
Really? Not getting fed? In those churches? How is that possible?
One of the most difficult conditions to achieve is to have a “tough skin and a soft heart.” Love people, hold them lightly and don’t take it personally.
“Uhhh, OK. Lord, help us.”

3. Betrayal

Trusting church members with personal burdens can backfire. They may end up telling the pastor's personal issues to others. Staff leaders can take church members away. The pastor trusts a person with the platform or title, and that person uses the influence given to them to take people away. The Judas kiss.
Church staff causing problems is a betrayal. Pastors rightfully think, “I’m paying you to solve problems. I can get new problems for free. I don’t need to pay someone a salary to create them.”
  • Forty  percent report a conflict with a church member at least once a month
  • Eighty five percent of pastors said their greatest problem is they are tired of dealing with problem people, such as disgruntled elders, deacons, worship leaders, worship teams, board members and associate pastors. 
  • The #1 reason pastors leave the ministry is that church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction, but the people are not willing to follow or change. 
  • Forty percent of pastors say they have considered leaving their pastorates in the last three months.
We pastors have to find a way, with God’s grace, to love people as if we have never been hurt before.

4. Loneliness

Who’s my friend? Who can I trust? If I tell another pastor my problems, will he criticize me, tell others or just treat me differently?
  • Seventy percent do not have someone they consider a close friend.
Are my friends really my friends or a church member who is a temporary friend who may leave any day now?
Healthy friendships are crucial to a fulfilling life, especially to the wellbeing of a pastor. Put special effort in this area.

5. Weariness 

Fifty percent of the ministers starting out will not last five years
Seventy percent felt God called them to pastoral ministry before their ministry began, but after three years of ministry, only 50 percent still felt called. 
Keeping personally refreshed is an art and a science … and extremely important.
When fatigue comes in, you not only look half-empty, but also dirty, contaminated and undrinkable.

6. Frustrations & Disappointments

Disappointments come in many ways.
Because of smaller congregations, the average compensation package for pastors is between $35,000 and $40,000. There are many things pastors in this salary range are not able to do for their family that other people around them can do.
There are many areas of ministry in which judging "success" is difficult. Pastors can be hard on themselves. We work in an area that good work and good effort does not always guarantee success.
Many pastors work hard but are missing some kind of "X-factor." They are good people, sincere believers, love God, know the Word, have great content in their sermons, but somehow it’s not clicking. It’s frustrating.
It’s like a worship leader who loves Jesus and has a great singing voice but somehow cannot lead people in an effective worship experience.
Some days, leaders feel like they can’t seem to do anything right. The ministry finally gets momentum, and then a leader in the church falls. Things are going well, and then a couple of your biggest givers leave.
The church needs money, but the pastor doesn’t want to put too much focus on money. It’s not about the money—but it becomes about the money.
All of this can be overwhelming.
  • 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close. 
  • Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year. 
  • Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year. 
  • Fifty percent of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if
    they could, but have no other way of making a living. 
  • 45.5  percent of pastors say that they've experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry. 
This is not the case for all pastors. In fact, many that I know have managed to handle these issues well. 

How Christians and church members can help:  

Pray for your pastor.

Pray for guidance, protection, healthy friends, their marriage and family. Pray for inspiration, anointing, the leadership team, unity and clarity.

Protect your pastor.

As best as you can, don’t allow or participate in gossip and criticism. How can you serve and problem solve to prevent overload?

Encourage your pastor.

Thank him or her for his or her work and ministry. Thank them for their sacrifice. Tell them a specific time in which you or someone you know experienced a life change in their church. Honor them to others. Let your pastors know you are praying for them. According to the Barna report—the profession of “pastor” is near the bottom of a survey of the most-respected professions, just above “car salesman.”

To Pastors.

Don’t give up, pastor! Persistence is powerful.
Keep on. Really! Your work, your labor of love and your sacrifice matters.
I realize the last thing a pastor needs is another sermon. But these verses have helped me. Hold on to God’s Word with your life.
So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36 NLT
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time, we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Gal. 6:9 NLT
Be careful of the comparison trap.
Looking at other ministries can be inspiring. Comparing yourself to other churches can be destructive and discouraging.
Make new pastor friends. Expose yourself to new influences, new leaders, churches or ministries that are doing some things differently.
Discover to some fresh views and ideas. Sometimes, it just takes one or two new ideas that can change momentum around.
Pastors that are struggling or are no longer in ministry may have unresolved hurts. I encourage you to find healing. Seek counseling; find a local Celebrate Recovery group; equip yourself with resources on healing (some examples areSafe People or Boundaries) and share your secrets with safe people. Remember, you're only as sick as your secrets.

*The Fuller Institute, George Barna and Pastoral Care Inc. provide the statistics I have used in this post

05 September, 2014

You Don't Say

Last night on the Kelly File, Megan showed this clip of George W. Bush from 2007. He was speaking prophetically as he nailed it right down the line. 

Barack Obama, of course won the White House that year, running on a three point platform, 1) Hope and Change, 2) End the War in Iraq, and 3) I'm Black.  We could debate as to why he won, but suffice it to say that by and large it was  because of the way most liberal minds work. It took me awhile to figure it out, but I've finally got it. Liberals hear something that sounds good... and they run with it, without considering the cost or the final outcome. Take for example Obama's clearly stated plan which he spoke of often while he was yet a Senator. He wanted to "go green" and was going to force that upon the nation. One of his plans was to enact Cap and Trade limits and penalties which in his own words would cause utility prices in America to "necessarily skyrocket."  His idea was if it costs 5 times as much, people would use less energy. He said the exact same thing concerning gasoline prices. That mindset settled in over this nation when Obama said, "I will end the war in Iraq." Bush warned liberals to not be hasty in pulling out the troops. (See the video above.) But liberals don't think ahead, nor consider the cost or the outcome. So... here we are 7 years later with a world wide crisis on our hands with ISIS as they seek to bring chaos around the world. (You have to understand Muslim teaching to get what they are going for. That is for another day.)  This could and should have been averted... and would have been... if POTUS Obama could have gotten over his own arrogance and actually taken advice. But no... here we sit with an Iraq that is FAR worse than it was prior to the war, a middle east where millions of innocent people are being slaughtered because they are not radical Muslims and right now these crazy people have 11 commercial jets which they have stolen, just waiting to unleash them in an act of terrorism. This problem can be traced to one man... who SHOULD be sitting in the Oval Office right now, but he is probably on a golf course somewhere. 

04 September, 2014

I Can Relate to This!

A Quick Snap Shot of the Contrasting Churches of Today

Last week I posted the short clip of Victoria Osteen's now infamous blathering about worship being all about you and not about God because God wants you to be happy. Today my friend Steve Morrison shared a video from Bethel Church in Redding, California and I wanted to show both here to illustrate the difference between the "Me Church" of today vs a church that is going after the heart of God.

The "Me Church"


The Christ Centered Church


So, is worship about you doing something for you...
Or is it all about Jesus?

We love You and we'll never stop
We can't live without You, Jesus
We love you, We can't get enough
All this is for You, Jesus
When you walk into the room sickness starts to vanish.
Every hopeless situation, ceases to exist.
When you walk into the room the dead begin to rise.
'Cause there is resurrectin life in all You do.
We love You and we'll never stop
We can't live without You, Jesus
We love you, We can't get enough
All this is for You, Jesus

You decide.

A Blast From the Past

All day today my thoughts kept being drawn back to a blog post I'd written some time ago. It took me quite awhile to find it, but once I did, I felt like I needed to share it again. Hard to believe it has been nearly 6 years since I wrote this. 

14 November, 2008

Imagine If You Will

Today I was having lunch with my son at a Mexican restaurant in Champaign, and he was noticing some of the pottery that was used to decorate the place. He asked me if I had ever seen any of the black pottery that came from Mexico, and was telling me about how there was a black clay in a region of Mexico and how unique it was. His conversation got me thinking about making pottery. Long ago, in seemingly another lifetime, I originally started out my college career as an Art major, and I used to do some pottery in my art classes, so have used the potters wheel some.
Daniel got me to thinking about the process of making of a pot on the wheel, and the scripture passage in Jeremiah 18 came to mind where God speaks to Jeremiah through the work of the potter. That work on the wheel represents us and the process that we go through in the making and shaping of our lives.
As we drove home from Champaign tonight, I got to thinking about this more. Allow me to share with you some of the thoughts I had.
Imagine, if you will, that the beautiful pot you see above was able to speak to us. I believe the conversation would go something like this: 
I wasn't always like this. At one time I was just a cold, dirty, wet lump of clay. One day the potter picked me up and said, "I can do something with this." Then he began to knead me and to pound on me to work out all of the air bubbles. He patiently continued to knead me, pausing now and then to pull out all of the pieces of stone and other impurities in me that would cause me to be marred and to break if they were left behind. Then he threw me onto the wheel and started to put pressure on me and change my shape. It hurt, and I asked him to stop because the pressure at times seemed to be too much to bear, but he said, "'Not yet." Then he began to spin the wheel around and around until I shouted, "Stop, I want to get off." Again he replied, "Not yet." He began to put more pressure on me, stretched and pulled on me and shaped me into the shape of a pot. Just as I thought I could take no more, he stopped and I thought it was over and I could rest. Just then he suddenly took a knife and began to cut at me! Again and again he cut pieces away and then he took other tools and began to scrape away at my surface and it hurt so that I screamed and asked him to stop... but once again he said, "Not yet." 
Finally it all stopped and I was left alone to rest, and all seemed well for a few days. But just as I thought it was all over, he picked me up and put me into a hot oven and turned on the heat. I screamed at the top of my lungs, "STOP! Let me out of here! I can't take the heat! I'm suffocating!" But he looked at me with a knowing look and said, "Not yet."
Finally, the heat stopped, but I was left alone in that cold dark oven for what seemed an eternity. One day, the door opened and he took me out of the oven and I thought his work on me was over, but then he started to paint me with some stuff that smelled terrible and made me sting. I could not believe what he did next. He put me back into the oven and cranked up the heat again! I cried and I said, 'I can't stand this, please let me out!' But he said, 'Not yet.'
Finally he took me out of the oven and set me on a shelf where I sat for such a long time that I thought he had forgotten me. Then one day he took me off the shelf and held me up before a mirror. I couldn't believe my eyes. I had become a beautiful vessel, more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. All of a sudden he turned me over and began to scratch at my base and it hurt so bad. I could not imagine what he was doing at the time, but I learned that he put His mark on me so that anyone who saw me would immediately know who my maker was.
You know, there are things that go on in our lives that we don't understand. It hurts at times. We think we cannot take anymore and at times feel all alone. But it is a process that "The Potter" is taking us through. He has purpose, a plan, and when we finally get to the place God wants us to be, you and I will realize that He has been making you into a vessel of honor; one He can use, bless, and use to bless others.
So, allow God to shape you and leave His mark on you!

03 September, 2014

See You In Church On Sunday!

"Let us go into the house of the Lord."
Psalm 122:1
One of my blog posts that has continuously drawn the most hits from people doing web searches was one from the early days of the Dawghowse  about excuses that people give for not attending church. 
I thought it would be good to add this list of reasons to miss church as well. I don't even know where I got this list any more, but I did tweak it a bit and add some of my own insight.

What's your reason for not going to church?
Before you answer, read Fifteen Reasons Why I Never Wash!
(1) I was forced to wash as a child.
(2) People who wash are all hypocrites - they think they are cleaner than everyone else.
(3) There are so many different kinds of soap; I just can't decide which one is best for me.
(4) I used to wash, but I got bored and stopped doing it.
(5) I only wash on special occasions like Christmas and Easter.
(6) None of my friends wash.
(7) I'll start washing when I get older and dirtier.
(8) I’m just too busy to wash.
(9) The bathroom is never warm enough in winter or cool enough in summer.
(10) The people who make soap are only after your money!
(11) It’s more important that I spend time with my family than wash.
(12) Mom and Dad need me, so I can’t wash.
(13) The soap company did not call me, so I’m not going to wash anymore.
(14) I don’t need to wash because I think about it and that’s good enough.
(15) I wash 5 or 6 times a year… that’s good enough.

Sound familiar?
Speaking of the church, Paul writes: "There should be no division...its parts should have equal concern for each other...each one of you is a part of it" (1 Cor 
12:25-27 NIV).
You are part of Christ's body, the church, so you need to be there! Watchman Nee says, "Alone I cannot serve the Lord effectively, and He will spare no pains to teach me this. He will bring things to an end, allowing doors to close and leaving me effectively knocking my head against a wall until I realize that I need the help of the body, as well as of the Lord."
There are truths taught in God's house that you won't hear anywhere else. There you'll find a Spiritual family to belong to, a faith to live by, and a focus that gets your eyes where they should be - on Christ! So, see you in church on Sunday!