27 May, 2016

Who Do You Represent?

One thing that has become a source of frustration and concern to me is how that so many who are members of the Body of Christ seem to be no different from those in the world, other than they happen to go to church. People say what they want no matter how crude or even vulgar the language may be. Some continue to hang out in the same places, doing the same things as they did before they were born again. (Which honestly, causes me to wonder if they are indeed, born again.) With the advent of My Space and then Facebook, things that were once "hidden" from view are now published openly and quite frankly, as a  Pastor, I find myself wondering if I am absolutely failing, because I see things that just blow my mind as people post pictures of their drinking binges, videos that show themselves living lives that in no way reflect Jesus Christ. Recently, a member told me that I needed to "lighten up", that I was old fashioned and worried too much because people were jsut having fun.  Well, I can't "lighten up." I have read that part in the Bible that says that we have become dead to sin. I read where the old has passed away and all things have become new. I read where John writes, that if we love the world (or the things of the world) "then the love for the Father is not in them."  Seems to me the Bible is pretty clear that our lives are to mirror the life of Christ... that's why they called the early church "Christians"... because they were Christ-like. And I recall a verse that says  “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17) We are not called to "have fun" as it was put. We are called to represent the one who gave his life for us.

I leave you with on question this morning: Who are you representing?

25 May, 2016

What Happened to America?

I was talking with someone on the phone just a few days ago and the conversation turned to the moral decadence of America as a whole. My friend asked me, "What happened to the nation we grew up in?" I told him about a conversation that I remember having at a cookout with several of the people from my church in the fall of 1992. One of the men from my church asked me why I would not vote for Bill Clinton (mind you, that up to this point in my life I had almost always voted as a Democrat). I told him that I had been looking into this man and everything I saw about him was corrupt, immoral and that his character was at best "shady". I told him then, in September of 1992 that if Clinton was elected it would begin a downward spiral of the moral fabric of this nation and that he would bring about such a shift in our nation's moral fiber that it would bring disgrace to the White House. I will NEVER forget that man's response to me. He said, and I quote, "If a man puts a dollar in my wallet and food on my table, I don't care what he does with his personal life." 

I would love to look that man in the eye today and ask him what he thinks about his statement today. I'm not trying to blame it all on Bill Clinton... far from it. I'm laying the fault at the feet of people who put selfish gain above moral fiber.

That my friends is what happened to this once great Nation. The self-indulgent, self-absorbed people of this Nation sold out and forfeited God's blessing for a buck. 
Unless America as a Nation heeds the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" then America is doomed. This Nation cannot stand much longer headed in the direction it is going.

11 May, 2016

Just a Few Minutes Can Make a Real Difference

Yesterday I needed to drive over to Bloomington to meet with someone, so I decided to just leave early and take my wife to work, then drive her car over to Bloomington and then come back and wait for her to get off. I figured it would save on gas, even if I had to find a way to kill a couple of hours. I took my iPad with me so that I could work on my Wednesday night study for church. After I dropped off Libby, I drove over to McDonalds and have breakfast and work on my study before heading on to Bloomington. I ordered a breakfast burrito meal and sat down to eat and had just opened up my notes when I saw an elderly gentleman sitting by himself drinking a cup of coffee. I said good morning to him and we exchanged a few comments and I turned my focus back to my notes. But something about this guy was pulling on me. I asked him if by any chance he'd like my hashbrowns. He said no, and I told him that I really did not want them and I hated throwing food away. I started to look for someone else to give them too and he stopped me and said, "if you are going to toss them, I'll eat them."  He told me that he was not homeless or poor, and explained that he'd run a construction business for years and he lived a comfortable life now that he'd retired and he had given the business to his son. I asked him what type of construction business and his face lit up. He asked me to join him so I moved my things over to his table and we sat and he told me about his life and business. 

His name was Antwain, and he was from Louisiana but had moved here back in the 1960's for work and had stayed. I asked and he told me he was now 88 years old. He told me how his wife had died and he'd met a woman from Kenya 10 years ago and remarried. She came in a little while later, but we were so engrossed in conversation that she got up and went to another table to talk with someone she knew. Antwain was so excited as he was telling me about his life and business and his eyes just twinkled as he told his story. After almost an hour I told him that I was going to need to run in just a moment and explained I had an appointment in Bloomington as I was packing up my iPad.  Then he said to me, "You've just made my day today. No, you've made my week. It felt so good having someone to talk to."  Then he commented how that when he was a young man a white man and a black man could not have sat in a public place and enjoyed such conversation. He commented how that it did not seem to matter to me what color his skin was and I said, "you mean to tell me you're black!"  He just cracked up laughing. Before I left, I told him how much I'd enjoyed his company and conversation and I said to him, "Antwain, I've heard you talk about your life and you've had a good and happy life... but I was wondering, do you know Jesus?"  He said, "I used to, but I have not been to church since I was a young man."  I said to him that all of those things he'd shared would not matter one bit once he died, and that what mattered was not his business or homes or trips, but if he knew Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Tears welled up in his eyes and he said, "You know, you are right."  He did not accept Christ with me right there, but he did allow me to pray with him and before I left he called his wife over to the table and told her what we'd just spoken about and he told her that he was going to church with her this Sunday. I pray he keeps that promise.

I've been thinking a lot about this since yesterday morning and I thought about how if I'd been so fixed on the need to study for my Wednesday night lesson (ironically, on personal evangelism) that I'd have missed a golden opportunity. So I share this today to encourage anyone who reads this to release your schedule and open up the possibility of what just might happen if you give someone a few minutes of your time. It just might make a difference in eternity. 

07 May, 2016

Perspective Changes With Time

When I was a young man, I would read Matthew 7 and I thought that verses 21-23 were talking about false prophets/teachers. Now that I'm older, and have been a pastor for more than 30 years, I have to say that I interpret or understand these verses differently. To remind you, that passage says, "Not everyone who calls me their Lord will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only the ones who obey my Father in heaven will get in. On the day of judgment many will call me their Lord. They will say, “We preached in your name, and in your name we forced out demons and worked many miracles.” But I will tell them, “I will have nothing to do with you! Get out of my sight, you evil people!”

Yes, it could definitely be false teachers or prophets, but I now see this as the lukewarm, pleasure seeking person who calls themselves a Christian yet knows little to nothing of what it means to serve God. So many "church goers" attend so infrequently that if you added all their time in corporate worship up over a years time, they  actually spend less than the equivalent to one or two days out of 365 in worship. (2 hours, 1 time per month for a year is 24 hours. Double that for a person who comes twice per month.) Outside of those hours attending worship, they do not spend time in the Word, they do not witness, nor worship. In fact, little, if anything about their life has changed since they supposedly got saved, other than they now spend a few hours per year in church.  I think this is exactly who Jesus is talking about in that passage.

24 April, 2016

A Week Later and I'm Still Just Messed Up

Last week a friend of mine shared a video with me of the underground churches in China. As I watched that video that day something happened inside of me. I began to tear up... and then sob and then I was bawling my eyes out and literally shaking as I was so broken before the Lord. As I viewed the absolute passion and hunger of the people in China as they pursued the Lord I became convicted over my own walk with Christ. I saw people who even though they know they could be imprisoned or even put to death for worshipping Jesus, got up and gathered at 4:30 in the morning to worship before going to work. And they do this every day, seven days a week. There are days where they gather (again, in hiding) and will stand and listen to preaching and teaching for 6-10 hours at a time. In the video, there were thousands who met in these gatherings. And I sat here an thought how 1/3 to 1/2 of my church is absent every Sunday. Some of my people who consider themselves to be "regular" attending members average 1 to 2 Sundays per month that they attend. At 2 hours per week, that means they were in worship for 48 hours last year. So, living in a land where we have the absolute freedom to worship as we choose they attend less per year than these people in China attend in ONE WEEK. And we wonder why they have thousands attendance and regularly report miracles in their midst... and we are struggling to keep the doors open due to low finances in our church. I've found myself praying passionately and asking God to do whatever it takes to awaken the American church. If it takes persecution, then send us persecution. If it takes a loss of freedom, then take our freedoms. I just want to see this kind of passion and joy awakened in the American church which is by and large, soundly asleep. 

17 April, 2016

How Much Do You Love Him?

This morning I posted the following scripture to my Facebook status... "And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." Matthew 22:37
Just as I posted it, a thought hit me... "If a person really loved the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind... then would anything possibly get in the way of that person getting to the House of God once time per week to worship him with other believers?  
I don't think so.

In the natural, when we fall in love with someone, we will do anything to see and spend time with the person we have fallen in love with. When I met my wife, I often got off work at 7:00 AM and rather than go home and go to bed, I'd drive an hour and a half to go see her, depriving myself of sleep. If I couldn't drive, I'd be on the phone with her. We spoke so often that my phone bill was nearly $400 that month. (Remember, this was more than 30 years ago!) My point is, I wanted to be with her and speaking with her as much as possible.  How much more should we desire to speak to God and to be in His presence?  

I already know that there will be those who will respond with, "I can do that at home." My question is, "WHY?"  
Let's be brutally honest, not all, but by far, MOST people who "worship at home" are doing so because they can't find a church that suits them and does things as they think they should. That's pretty selfish. God's Word is clear about not forsaking the assembly (corporate worship) but these folks reject that because it's not done their way where they are comfortable. All I'll say about that is that somewhere "self" has come inbetween the heart, soul and mind that is to be given to the Lord.

OK... Let the attacks begin. 

13 April, 2016

We Are Needing Help!

Sometimes I wonder if it will ever end.
Most of my friends and readers know that the church where I pastor was heavily damaged in a wind storm back in November when the roof was ripped off and then suffered tremendous water damage when we had a freak snowstorm that dumped 8" of snow inside the building and then we had torrential rains for a month. Repairs have been slow and ongoing as the insurance has fought us every step of the way.

Now... it gets worse.
The insurance company has now told us that unless we do some repairs to the outside of our building and have it repainted by the renewal date in July, they will not renew our policy. After all the added expenses of being out of our building for 5 months, paying double utilities and the additional insurance policy to cover us in the temporary location, we simply don't have the funds to do these repairs. We are trying to do much of the inside repairs on the building to save money and use some of that to make outside repairs, but we are not going to reach the time frame they are giving us this way. As much as I HATE doing things like this, I am reaching out to others and asking for your help.
Anything that anyone can do to help us will be appreciated. No gift is too small. When it is all added up together, I believe God's people can help us get this done.

You can donate here

Thank you in advance for anything you can do to help. If you cannot give, please pray for us and pass this on to others.

Silently Saying the Shadaha

It is the Muslim way of silently saying the Shadaha, "The only god is Allah and Mohammed is his prophet!"  Index finger extended vertically, symbolizing "one god."

Important: Follow the pictures to the end.

You can bet that 100% of the Muslims of the world who view these photos of Obama absolutely know what he is telling them.
Those who saw him do this in the picture have a VERY big smile on their faces!
Silently. Secretly. But at the same time, OPENLY.
The President of the United States is one of them and on their side.
Any doubts now? Pass this on to others!

By the way... Snopes.com will tell you this is false. But you need to understand that Snopes is VERY liberal and largely funded by the likes of George Soros, so they are always trying to cover the tracks of Obama. Do your own research on the use of raising the finger by Muslims and you will find the truth. 

12 April, 2016

Don't Give Up

How many Christians give up on a God-inspired dream before it comes to pass? Negative circumstances bring discouragement and frustration and we get ready to throw in the towel. For example, only two people show up for a prayer meeting and suddenly thoughts like, "Nobody’s interested in prayer" or you convince yourself that you didn’t really hear from God about having prayer meeting in the first place. Many things come to distract us and get us off track through frustration and discouragement. 

Consider this... King David waited years, living as a fugitive before he was given access to the thrown for which he had already been anointed as King. Eventually, God’s promise became reality, but his trouble didn’t cease. When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him. But David heard about it and went down to the stronghold (2 Samuel 5:17). It says in verse 19 says that he “inquired of the Lord” before he made another move.  There's the key!  If we feel discouraged in our quest to follow God, we could learn from David. Our enemy the devil will dog us like Saul did David. When the temptation to quit beckons, it’s time to talk with God. It is even okay to ask Him for encouragement, direction, and reassurance. He is faithful.

Instead of giving up a dream, spend some time alone with God.

04 April, 2016

Adversity With A Purpose?

I don't believe I know anyone who would actually say that they love adversity, but the truth is that adversity is a great indicator of our level of commitment to God. When life is just flowing along smoothly and we are having very few problems come against us, it becomes way too easy to fall into the trap of depending on our own abilities and resourcefulness. It becomes so easy for us to take for granted all of God’s abundant blessings and even forget how it is He which provides for us. When life is on cruise control and problems are few, we can get to the place where our self-reliance can cause us to neglect our prayer time and Bible study... and even attending corporate worship (otherwise known as church).

An example of how adversity pulled people toward God is seen in the book of 1 Samuel chapter 7 verse 8. We read: "They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines."  You see, the Israelites heard that the powerful Philistines were preparing to attack them and fear seized their hearts as they realized they were no match for the enemy. So they pleaded for Samuel to continually cry out to God for deliverance.  So it is with us today. We are cruising along, neglecting our relationship with God, our dependence and reliance on Him and suddenly there is a bumpy road where problems come along and we turn around and cry out to God. So God will often allow problems and difficulties to arise, only because they are needful to gently remind us that we cannot do this life on our own.

My point in writing this today is to hopefully cause some folks to realize that their issues, problems and conflict that have come up in their life over and over are not simply Satan tormenting them, rather it is God trying to entice them into a deeper relationship with him where they learn to rely and be dependent on Him. Yes, there are times when we are vulnerable to attacks from the enemy, but always remember, that God hears the cries and prayers of His children when we humble ourselves and seek Him first and foremost. Just maybe you are going through the adversity right now because God is trying to woo you closer to Himself?