06 February, 2016

Go On And Call Me Weak

A few months ago I was going through a period where I was having relentless migraine headaches and it was pretty much crippling my life for about a week and a half. During that time I had requested prayer several times. I believe in the power of prayer and I was depending on the Body of Christ to lift me up in prayer as not only was I in pain, but it was severely limiting how much work I could get done. Right after I finally got over those headaches, I was chewed up one side and down the other by a person who told me that I had no faith and that I was displaying weakness as a pastor. He said that a Christian ought not ever confess weakness or illness and to post prayer requests like I did showed that I was not a man of faith. I did not argue, told them that they were entitled to their opinion and let it drop. Just this week I had someone else tell me that this same person had been telling them that I was a weak leader and showed no faith and was talking specifically about my battle with illness. Rather than argue or try to defend myself, I will simply state what God's Word has to say about the matter and let that stand for itself.  
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 says,
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

05 February, 2016

What's The Grade Scale?

(Reposted from October 2005)
Everyone who has ever studied in college remembers this question: "What's the grade scale?"
It never failed, the first day of every class, someone was going to ask this question; and it usually would come within the first 3 minutes of the beginning of class.
The funny thing is that usually the one who asked this was the person who really wanted to know, "How bad can I do and still pass this class?"
What they really were really trying to discover was could they goof all semester, show up to class once in a while and still somehow manage to get a passing grade and credit for the class. Oh yes, in truth we were all wanting to know what the grade scale was so that we knew what was expected and were we stood, but we were going to give it our best, no matter what. But in every class there was always that one person (maybe more) that was trying to scrape by on the skin on their teeth. Funny how so many of those people dropped out of a lot of classes after that first day and somehow found themselves in Basket Weaving or Golf 101. I always found it amazing how people I had not seen for weeks showed up to class when ever test days rolled around. When they bombed the test, they would usually have a fit about how hard the test was, and they would either rush off to their advisor to drop the class, or they just might show up for the next week or two, hoping to do better on the next exam... but they would usually disappear again in a few days, only to reappear the next scheduled day for exams.

Isn't it odd how this same mentality is found in the church? You will find them in every church, although you may need to wait around for three to five weeks before they show up again, but I promise you, they are there in every church. They are the one who come in every now and then, usually when they are going through trials (tests). Or maybe they just happen to realize that they need to get the family back to church. They really mean well, and they want to make it to heaven, but they still have not discovered that it is not about going to church. They're the one's who had every intention of going to church on Sunday morning, but later tell the pastor, "But it sure is hard to get up on Sunday morning when I work the rest of the week."
They meant to come Sunday night... but since they slept in and missed the morning service, so they decided to make it a family day and by the time they went shopping, to the lake or some other place, "there just wasn't time to get ready... and we were too tired anyway."
They planned on coming Wednesday night, but "you know, there are just so many things going on all week... well, we've got to have ONE night for ourselves pastor!"
And so it goes, one service missed... a week, two... now three... and it hits them, "Oh, maybe we should go to church tomorrow." And they come, they enjoy the worship, are fed by the Word and feel good about themselves, and they think, "Let’s do this again!" They come for couple of weeks in a row, but once they have been revved up a bit they begin to think, "I deserve a day off" and the cycle begins again and they disappear again for a few more weeks. You would never convince them of this, but they are just like that person who asked, "What's the grading scale?" Their action (or in-action) speaks clearly. It says, "How little can I do and still get into heaven?" Some get really bold about it and insist on trying to convince the pastor and anyone else who will listen that you really don't need to be there every week. They want others to know that everything is just fine in their lives and there is nothing to worry about. They might even go so far as to convince others just how spiritual they are with their liberty to not be "bound to the church."

Call me silly, or maybe even legalistic... some might even say my faith is weak.. but I need to be in church on a regular basis.
Truthfully, I WANT to be in church more often.
It is not just a need to thing, but I have a burning desire to be in the house of worship.
Take away my opportunity to be in the House of God on Sunday and my whole life is out of sync that week.
Take away the fellowship of my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I feel isolated and lonely.
Take away the corporate worship, and I notice that my private worship begins to falter before long.
Take away the spiritual manna that I receive and feed on and I notice that I begin to get spiritually weak, all of a sudden and thoughts, ideas, attitudes and words creep into my life that don't belong and I get frustrated at what I find myself becoming.
We were made to worship God, and when you take that out of the equation, there is a void, with a vacuum created that will suck something else into the place that belongs to God and we find ourselves in a miserable state of being.

What is the grading scale?
Well, fortunately, I don't set it. Only the Lord gives the grade.
But we all need to be aware that there are no A's or B's... it is either pass or fail. There is nothing in-between. You either make it, or don't.
Just because you make every service does not mean you pass, no more than missing every service means you fail. You don't get points for good service or extra credit for some good deed. It all boils down to one factor: Did you make Jesus the Lord of your life? That doesn't mean you said a prayer or cried some tears, but rather that you surrendered your life over to Christ completely.
His will, his ways, his desires... all the time.
Nothing more... Nothing less will do.

26 January, 2016

Everyone Wants to Play the Victim

We've seen it everywhere in our society over the last many years... no one is responsible for themselves or accountable anymore. Someone steals or loots,  and it is "justified" because they've been underprivileged and disadvantaged, so it's just tolerated. In our schools, kids who should be failing are passed because they don't have the same advantages of other kids. It goes on and on and on. Tonight, I had it thrown in my face as a pastor. I had a conversation with someone who is going through a horrible situation with their family and I began talking with this person about how they need to get some priorities in their life straightened out and put God back in His rightful place in their life and the lives of their family members. I could not believe it when the person told me that it was my fault that they and their family were not in church. I asked if I had somehow offended them or hurt them and they told me that they were not in church because I had stopped asking them to come. At first I was too stunned to even respond, but after the accusations continued further I asked this person if they thought I'd be over stating things to say that I had asked them to come at least 70 to 80 times over the years either by letter, card, email, Facebook, phone calls or in face to face conversations. They admitted that it would probably be far more than that, but said that I stopped asking them and that's why they don't come. I reminded this person that I had actually invited them at least 4 times in the past two months and they said, "Yeah, but you don't don't talk to us near as much as you used to."  I probably should have just let it go, but I told them that perhaps they might consider what it feels like to have extended invitations for years, only to be ignored. I told this person that no one in their right mind is going to keep asking over and over indefintely. They said, "Jesus would!"  So I reminded them that Jesus told his disciples that if they go into a town and the people did not receive the message, to leave that down and shake the dust from their feet as they left.  Then I said to this person, "You may think that you have a great excuse, but I'd really think that one over before you stand before God one day and offer that as your excuse."   

21 January, 2016

"I Do A New Thing"

One of the most misused and abused passages of scripture in the Bible is found in Isaiah 43:18-19 where it reads 
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."  
People often use this to manipulate people into believing some newfangled fad or trend in the church, but even a casual reading of this passage in context will show the believer that this Scripture is pointing  to Israel's deliverance from Babylon, and more importantly, speaking prophetically to the coming of Christ and his sacrificial offering to redeem us from sin. This passage in no way endorses the way out and wacky stuff people have introduced into the church and said, "See, God is doing a 'new thing'".   

Be wise people. Know the Word of God so that you will not be swayed by every wind of doctrine or fad that creeps into the church. Remember that the same Bible gives us a very clear directive, found in Jeremiah 6:16; "This is what the LORD says: "Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, 'No, that's not the road we want!'"  
That last sentence is so many people today. Always restless; always bored and looking for something new, rather than becoming established in the ways of the Lord. If we would be brutally honest, there is nothing more for God to do. Yes, signs and wonders will follow... but remember, signs and wonders are for the unbeliever so that he may come to know Christ, not for the believers to chase after the latest trends. There are a lot of flakes out there, always convincing the weak, gullible and unstable that this is the latest, greatest 'new thing' happening in the Kingdom of God. I don't have to say it; the Word of God says it for me in the book of James. A person chasing after the "new thing" all the time is a person of wavering faith, driven like a wave in the ocean by every new wind that comes their way and unstable in all their ways.  Those who chase after the fads are like the guy pictured above looking for a new thrill and sooner or later, they are going to get bitten or devoured. I've watch many friends over the years who chased the fads have their faith in God shaken or destroyed and they turned their backs on God feeling like God had failed them. But God never failed anyone. The problem is they strayed from the old paths, looking for a "new thing" because they never understood that passage of scripture and were swayed by the latest showboat preacher or trend rather than walking in the confidence that Jesus paid it all.

It's time to set down roots and find contentment in the ways of the Lord rather than looking for a new thrill or dog and pony show. I believe that such people are those that will stand on that day of judgment say, "but Lord, didn't I..." and Jesus will say, "depart from me you worker of iniquity. I never knew you."  

He who has ear to hear, let him hear!

20 January, 2016

Wait... What About the National Debt?

Has anyone else noticed that no one is talking about the National Debt anymore? Six or seven years ago that's all we were hearing about... suddenly it is not mentioned anymore. Remember when George W. Bush was in office and was slammed terribly because $4.9 Trillion was added to the National Debt while he was in office? When he left office in 2009 the ND was $10.6 Trillion. So, how's Obama doing with the National Debt? As of this morning it is $18.9 Trillion and Federal spending is up 119%! And don't forget, he still has a full year to go! He could conceivably DOUBLE the National Debt during his time in office! 

No wonder no one is talking about the National Debt anymore! The media does not want Americans focused on this going into an election year!

So... just how bad is this debt? Is it possible for America to come back from this staggering debt load?  Well consider this information. I heard these numbers while ago and thought them to be flawed so I checked them out for myself, and assuming that I am doing my math correctly, then these numbers are in fact accurate. 

It was said that if you opened a business the year that Jesus Christ was born and that business was still in operation today, and that business made one million dollars every single day from that day through today, you still would not have made one Trillion dollars. 
Let's round off numbers for simplicity sake and make it an even 2000 years.
At 365 days per year, that is $365,000,000 each year.
Multiply that times 2000 years and you would have made $730,000,000,000 during that time.
If you are like me and slightly math challenged, that is $730 Billion dollars.
Let that sink in.
A million dollars per day for 2000 years to make $730 Billion.
That's still $270 BILLION dollar shy of one Trillion.

And our national debt is now fast approaching $19 TRILLION.

God help us! Come Lord Jesus!

18 January, 2016

Signs of the Times

I received an email from a friend this morning that had this article in it. He did not say where it came from, but the author is Jack Minor. It should be an eye opener to many people who are not aware of the trending movement in "the church" today. (I have a hard time calling this "the church" when it is obviously no longer a Christ-following movement.) 
Do yourself a favor and take 4 minutes and read this. We need all be aware of the deception that has cast it's shadow over the church today.
Modern Day "Pastors" Or False Teachers Of The Last Days?

Apostle's Paul and Peter warned Christians of their times about false teachers who would arrive on the scene during the last days.  Over the ensuing centuries critics, both Christian and non-Christian alike have attempted to downplay these verses, saying that there have always been false teachers, children have always disobeyed their parents, sin was always present etc. in an attempt to obscure the plain prophetic meaning behind the passages. 
While their statements about there always being some people who fit the warnings are true, we are now seeing so-called pastors who are openly touting their beliefs that Peter called "damnable heresies."

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." (I Peter 2:1)

Jesus made it plain that in order for a person to be saved, they must be born again. When the Philippian jailer asked the Apostle Paul in no uncertain terms, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved," he was told "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."  Then in I Corinthians 15, Paul explained how the resurrection of Jesus Christ is an essential part of this belief.  While there have been various debates over various doctrines and even church practices, the resurrection and belief in Jesus Christ has long been a given and not even a point of debate. Even non-believers, when asked will openly admit that Jesus is a key part of Christianity. However, today we now have a movement within the church to actually separate Christ from Christianity. 

John Shuck is an ordained Presbyterian minister. This is the church that was founded by John Calvin, one of the reformers who brought in the Reformation. Among their ranks in years past are Billy Sunday, the man who led over a million souls to Christ and thundered judgment across America about the dangers of alcohol. After a Billy Sunday crusade, many of a town's bars were shut down because they no longer had any patrons since they had all gotten saved. The phrase "fall off the wagon" was a direct reference to Sunday's crusades, as those who made a decision for Christ were encouraged to publicly proclaim it by climbing aboard a wagon he used as a platform. In fact, he was immortalized in the song Chicago, by Frank Sinatra in the line that says, "the town that Billy Sunday couldn't shut down." The great preacher John Knox, who is considered the founder of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, likewise sounded forth righteousness, leading many souls to Christ. Knox s prayers and sermons put fear into the heart of many political leaders of his day.
However, Shuck is as far removed from these great heroes of the faith as a minister could possibly be. He has come forward to admit that he does not believe in God. While there have been stories of Christian leaders who have left the faith over doubts about God, Shuck has no intention of stepping down and even brags about how he considers himself to be a "proud minister."

Shuck has gone even further, to where he denies that Jesus is God manifest in the flesh, one of the most important doctrines in Christianity. Indeed, Jesus himself made this bold claim when he said he was the "I Am" of the Old Testament. Shuck states "Jesus may have been an historical figure, but most of what we know about Him is in the form of legend.This is precisely what Peter warned about when he said there would be those who are "denying the Lord that bought them." Shuck goes even further saying that "God is a symbol of myth-making and not credible as a supernatural being or force," and human consciousness is the result of natural selection, so there's no afterlife."

While it would be easy to dismiss Shuck s claims as the rantings of a single individual, the reality is Shuck s form of infidelity is becoming more and more the norm among the major denominations.

Rev. Andrew Frater of Cairns Church in Scotland has openly been critical of Christians who have the audacity to believe the Bible when it talks about Jesus being virgin-born. 

Shortly before Christmas last year, Scotland's Herald reported that Frater said Christians need to "move on from the 'fanciful fairy tale' Nativity story and 'disentangle the truth from the tinsel." 
He said Christians need instead to "look for the symbolism in the Nativity," and that the virgin birth leaves people hung up."

A 1998 poll of 7,441 Protestant clergy in the U.S. show that Frater s beliefs are far from being a fringe belief. 
Among those who deny the virgin birth in various denominations are:

American Lutherans, 19 percent
American Baptists, 34 percent
Episcopalians, 44 percent
Presbyterians, 49 percent
Methodists, 60 percent

The Apostle warned in II Timothy 3 about those "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." He compared them to the heathen Egyptian priests who duplicated Moses miracle of turning his rod into a snake. 
"Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was."

This could be a perfect description of Jim Rigby who pastors St. Andrew s Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. Two days before Christmas, Rigby celebrated the holiday by saying, "I don t literally believe the cadaver of Jesus got up again, but I do believe the resurrection actually happened when the disciples began to see 'Christ' in each other, and in everyone else as well."

He went on to mock the importance of salvation by pooh-poohing the reality of Hell, which Jesus spoke about far more than he talked about Heaven. "God loves us very much, but mindless obedience is VERY important to God. So God decided to barbecue us eternally for the mistakes of our ancestors," Rigby wrote. "But God has a son named Jesus who asked God to abuse Him instead. And so God killed Jesus in our place. And we call this story the 'good news.'" 
"All that matters is that we admit that we are worthless trash, but that Jesus likes us anyway. Oh, and we have to LITERALLY believe Jesus corpse got up... So, anyway, if you believe the 'good news,' your physical cadaver will get up too. Hopefully someone will remember where you are buried and come dig you up," he mocked.

This is the epitome of what Jesus warned about when he talked about "blind leaders of the blind" and warned that by claiming to speak for God they were making their listeners "two-fold more the child of hell."

Another core teaching is that we are all individually responsible for our reaction to the gospel. The Apostle Paul said "every one of us shall give account of himself to God." 
Yet, now, 2,000 years later, Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori claims to have more insight into this area then Paul, who talked with Jesus on the road to Damascus.  In her opening address to the Episcopal Church s general convention recently, she said what Paul said about individual accountability amounted to "heresy." Schori said the teaching "that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God." This "individualist focus," she declared, "is a form of idolatry."

Schori seems to have something against the Apostle Paul. She also seemed to advocate for demon possession. In a sermon in Venezuela, she said Paul did a sinful act by casting the demon out of a slave-girl.  "Paul is annoyed, perhaps for being put in his place, and he responds by depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness," Schori said.
"Paul can't abide something he won't see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it. It gets him thrown in prison. That's pretty much where he's put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God's nature, just as much as he does maybe more so!"

By this logic, Jesus must have been a dunce for casting out the demons from the maniac of Gadera because, if he had just as been as smart of Schori, Jesus would have realized the demons and the maniac were "sharing in God s nature" more than He did. What nonsense from a so called "leader of the church".

While people espousing such teachings have always been around, they mostly didn' t even try to claim they were mainstream Christianity, even going so far as to admit they were opposed to the Bible. However, the Apostle Paul had the numbers of preachers like Schori, Rigby, Shuck and others perfectly pegged nearly 2,000 years ago.

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (II Corinthians 11:14-15)

15 January, 2016

The Roof Is Going On

After 64 days of my church sitting there without a roof, construction actually began yesterday. They tore the remaining pieces of the roof out yesterday and began setting the trusses in place, and finished setting them this morning. As of this afternoon they are putting the decking in place. I just came from there and I'm wondering if their timing was all that smart because it will be dark in less than 3 hours and they only had about a quarter of the roof decked. That is particularly bad because there is a pressure front coming through this afternoon and temps will fall drastically and we will have wind chills of 15-20 below zero for the next several days and they will not be able to work in that, leaving the building susceptible do a lot more damage if water gets in during this time because it will be coming directly into the building now with nothing to stop it. Just hoping those guys work fast this afternoon. 

Is The Window About to Close?

I was reading the news this morning and I saw a story talking about all the unrest in Germany and how they were on the brink of a civil war over the "refugee" situation there. Suddenly I was reminded of something that I've not thought of in awhile. 

In February of 1999 I was preaching a series of revivals in Berlin, Germany when one night I spoke a prophetic word to the church. I was in a church on the former East Berlin side. Remember, the Berlin Wall had only been down for less than 10 years at that point. I turned to the pastor and told him that "a window had opened" for them to preach the Gospel and they needed to move fast while that window was open to reach as many as they can for I saw that window being shut and boarded up. I spoke to them that I saw a civil war coming to Germany within a generation and when that war came there would be a shutting down of the churches and great persecution to follow. I've thought about this a few times over the years, but looking at what is unfolding across Germany right now I am reminded that if a generation is 20 years, time is growing short before that window again is shut.

09 January, 2016

A Sad Reality Settles In

I've finally come to the place where I am forced to admit that in the times we are living in, people's word, pledge or promises seldom mean anything. It's no wonder the divorce rate is so high. People think that they can go back on their word anytime they change their mind. I was not raised that way. I was raised in a time where a man's (or woman's) word was his bond and a handshake was better than a contract. Now days people can stand before God and witnesses and recite marriage vows without even considering what they are saying, because they can change their mind and walk away with little to no regret. And it's not just about marriage. People today will join themselves to a club, organization or church and recite vows to be committed, faithful and supportive and walk away with no remorse just a short time later. Old timers in these clubs and churches have been with the same one for decades and watch the shuffle of younger generations come in and out with no understanding of the word "commitment." The reality is that in these times we are living in, a man's word is worthless. 

I guess I'm old school and have tried to hold on to those values that I was raised with, but I'm a part of a dying breed. I watch people get married, forming "life-long covenants" three, four and five times. When I married my wife, it was until death do we part. I thought it though and honestly  came very close to not marrying her, not because I did not love her, but because of the weight of that covenant. But when I did, it was forever. At times it's been tough and what held us together was that covenant that we formed and bound ourselves to. I've seen dozens and dozens of people dissolve marriages rather than work through problems and fight for what Libby and I have walked through. But we made a covenant! That means something to us. Unfortunately, it doesn't to most people anymore. 

When I came to pastor this church, I gave them my word... this was not a stepping stone, and come what ever may, I was their pastor until I retire or if/when God changed the plan. I've been here through some tough times for this community as well as the church. I've watched the economy of our town fizzle with thousands of industrial jobs done away with. I've watched literally dozens of families in our church move away for jobs. And I've watched many, many others who stood before God and the congregation and pledged their loyalty to the church walk away when times got tough or a new church sprung up in town. Even in the church, people's word means absolutely nothing anymore.

It's hard for me to say... but I've come to the reality that integrity and faithfulness no longer exists.

06 January, 2016

The Almond Tree Is Budding

The following was sent to me in an email and was printed in the End Times Headlines.

This prophetic word is very interesting to me because of the time frame mentioned in this prophecy for the almond tree to produce fruit. This year is my 12th year as pastor at Harvest Church and this is the 5th year since we went through a major transition in the church which has left us struggling to keep our heads above water ever since. But this is the Season of the Almond Tree Budding, and I believe this is the season in which Harvest Church comes out and once again produces fruit. It's been a long try season these past 5 years, but it's time! Some will miss this season because they walk away right as the "budding" begins, but this is our due season!

6 JANUARY, 2016
(Prophetess Glennitta Battle) 
The Season of Almond Tree are Budding. The priest of God shall be resurrected in this season. The Hebrew word for almond is “watch or wake”.
The priest have awaken out of their season of winter and are now forming Apostolic Fires with sphere of manifestation of the Supernatural shall through the “Ekklesia”(Called Out). My husband spoke on that Aaron rod (Sign, Wonder and Miracles) budded, flowered and produce almond overnight. I mean supernaturally things are going to BUD in your life on today.

The laws of physics and science will not apply to you in this season. The Almond Tree wait 5 years (Five-Fold) before expecting fruit. Almond trees take some time to start producing nuts. Typically, this “waiting” period lasts about five years. However, depending on the species of tree, it can take as long as 12 years (Governmental Authority) for it to reach full nut-producing capacity.

You’re about to BUD before time in the promises of God in this season. I also heard that the budding is limited in the earth realm and will have maximum capacity, but this law will not apply to you. God ask the Prophet Jeremiah one question “What do you see, Jeremiah?” and Prophet Jeremiah replied “I see the branch of an almond tree,” The Lord replied to Jeremiah “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”

The priestly garment have been restored. You shall receive power and authority to complete every assignment that God gives you because He is watching for His word to be fulfilled. 
It is time for you to BUD! Jeremiah 1:11

24 December, 2015

Reality Hits Home

Those who know or follow me know that the last 6 weeks have been rough. Six weeks ago last night a storm blew the roof off one section of the church where I pastor. To date, we've still not begun any repairs and the damage continues to grow from all the water getting into the building. It's been stressful to say the least. On  a personal level, I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that the past year has seen our family take a substantial hit financially, and then had someone we paid to do a job on the house that never did it and blew town with his job not being done. This left us in a lurch because we could not do several other projects which he had already scheduled and paid deposits on. That other job has to be completed before the other work can be started. This could end up costing us thousands of dollars. All this has been quite stressful. I'll be honest enough to say that I was just a bit down because we've had to cut way back personally, and I'm trying to figure out ways to juggle the finances of the church until the insurance money comes in to help out. And honestly, while I was not to the point where I'd say I was depressed or anything, I was feeling sorry for myself and having a mini-pity party of sorts. But that changed in one of those "suddenly" moments for me this afternoon. 

I decided to run into the grocery store to pick up a few snack items to have at the house with the kids coming home, and there I met a man who brought me back to reality with a crash. I ran into a couple of people I knew in the parking lot, then a couple more walking into the door. Then a woman stopped me and asked if I was the pastor who spoke at Louise Piggee's funeral. We spoke for a couple of moments and then as I went a little further I saw him. A frail, elderly man who was stooped over and shuffling his feet to walk. I said hello to him and asked him how he was doing today, and he said, "I've sure seen better days."  I could not let that pass, so I stopped and spoke with him for a few minutes. He shared how his son sent word they would not be coming to see him. He said that his son never had time for him. He said, I guess I'll have a pot pie for Christmas dinner and watch TV alone. I felt so bad for him that I invited him to come have dinner with my family. No matter how hard I tried, he said he would not be comfortable doing that. So I said, "why don't you have a better dinner than that, even if it is only you?" He said that he could not afford more than that. I looked in his cart and he had 6 pot pies and a bag of salad. This would be his meals for the next week.  I excused myself and hurriedly went through the store and bought him a cornish hen, stuffing for Christmas, a package of pork chops and a variety of canned vegetables and I waited outside the store and gave them to him when he came out. He was not going to accept them, but I told him that I'd follow him home and leave them at his door, so he took them.

My point in sharing this is simply to say, sometimes we need to be reminded just how blessed we are. I know I do. I'm blessed far more than I deserve and then some. My pity party is over now. My daughter is home, my son will be here in about 3 hours, we've got a beautiful home, even if we did not get to get it painted this year as we planned. I've got a wonderful group of people that I am privileged to pastor and yes, the building is a wreck, but we have insurance and it will be put back together eventually. We are blessed. 

I thank God for allowing me to meet that little old man today. That encounter put everything back into focus for me.

19 December, 2015

Why All the Excuses?

I have never understood why people come up with all the excuses for why they miss church. If you don't want to go, just say so. When you say you're sick, as pastor I get concerned and I pray. When you are out for weeks, even months with that sickness then I am deeply concerned, but begin to wonder if it is sickness or sick of church. When you say you no longer have transportation, I worry about you and try to find someone to help with your groceries and getting you to and from church. But then you turn down those who offer to help, so I begin to realize that maybe you just want me to leave you alone... so I stop calling. The next thing I know, someone is telling me you don't come to church because the pastor does not care enough. Really? When do the excuses stop? When do you own up to the fact that you really don't want to attend worship and you just don't have the integrity to say so. Why all the excuses? Even if you fool everyone around you, God knows. So if you've decided you no longer want to go to church just be big enough to say so and stop with the charades.

Rant over.