Wednesday, July 1, 2015

An Open Letter To Homosexual Supporters of Same-sex Marriage and the Unlawful Actions Of The SCOTUS

Now that you got your way, I want to get one thing straight right at the outset; SAME SEX MARRIAGE WAS NEVER ABOUT YOUR EQUAL RIGHTS TO THE BENEFITS OF A MARRIAGE CONTRACT.

You wanted the right to intimate expressions of love with your partner just like the rights that straight people enjoy.  Well, guess what!  Sodomy laws (as well as laws against adultery and all kinds of other sexual activities) have been largely ignored, unenforced, or even decriminalized for years so you can be equally as perverse as can straight people.  Nobody is policing your bedroom.

You wanted hospital visitation rights, you said.  But restrictions on hospital visitation ended decades ago.  You can go into any hospital and sign in to visit anyone. 

You parroted the lame argument that you should have the same rights, that married couples have, to access medical information and consult with your “partner’s” doctor.  Well, that’s a non-existent argument.  Under current HIPAA laws, I cannot discuss my wife’s medical condition with her physician without her written consent and, by the way, my wife can give consent for her physician to discuss her medical conditions with anyone she chooses and so can you so that’s a bogus argument too.

Was it the right to adopt children?  Is that what you wanted?  Nope.  Not that either.  Unmarried people have been able to legally adopt children for years so pitch that one into the bogus file also. 

So what else is there?  Oh yeah, the old, “we want the right to enjoy the contractual benefits of marriage just like straight couples have” argument.  That’s the worst argument ever.  Without legal same-sex fake marriages, you already have the right to enter into any contractual agreement with anyone you choose.  You can own property jointly; you can borrow money; you can adopt children, and you can do all of that with legally binding civil contracts. In fact, the only conceivable benefit of a marriage contract is that it is the easiest of all contracts to break.  You don’t even need the permission of the other party to divorce.  Divorces are cheap and simple; you can be irresponsible and literally break all your promises without consequences.

Unless you are looking for an easy way to end your relationship, skirt your responsibilities, and break your promises without consequences, a real marriage contract is unnecessary.  Admit it.  We both know that the argument was never about the contract.

So now that we have eliminated all your fake arguments, what is it that you REALLY wanted?  Well I’ll tell you what is but before I do, if you are reading this post, I know that you are going to dislike me; in fact you might even hate me.  If you are homosexual, you are going to hate me because I am a Christian.  You hate my God so, naturally, you will hate me.  And you probably think I hate you.  I really don’t, but frankly that doesn’t matter.  My personal feelings about you are irrelevant.

And if there are any biblically illiterate Christian sypathizers reading this, I already know that they are going to criticize me but that's okay; I’m used to it.  They (and you) will call me unsympathetic, unkind, untactful, unfair, intolerant, unloving, unaccepting, or any other of a myriad of “un” or “in” prefixed adjectives. But I really don’t care. Their feelings about me are also irrelevant.

But let's get back on point; the plain and simple fact of the matter is that you want me (and everyone else who thinks like me) to shut up.  You don’t want my tolerance; you want my approval.  You want to force my engagement and participation in a lifestyle which God calls sin.  You want me to act contrary to the dictates of my conscience, violate the convictions of my faith, and denounce my God.  You will never be satisfied to live in a world where others disagree with you.  You want to criminalize all speech, ideas, thoughts, and doctrines of homosexual marriage that are contrary to yours. In short, you want to destroy the very principles of our constitution and the bill of rights that guarantees every citizen's basic, God-given freedoms. 

And I get that but if you have been reveling and rejoicing recently over the ridiculous and irrational reasonings of five robed, self-righteous, unelected reprobate judges who, without any authority, unilaterally changed language, culture, theology, and law, you are grossly misinformed.  But more importantly, your perceived victory is a myth and you are in serious danger.  You should be very afraid.

Do you not realize that when you vilified the conservative Christians in this country, you declared war against the only real true friends you have?  It’s not that we approve of your lifestyle; we don't.  But we really do love you and whether we agree about same-sex marriage or not, we want to protect your real constitutional rights and your freedoms. 

On the other hand, do you understand that there is a real threat from the left to destroy our entire political and legal systems and then subject us to Sharia Law?  Do you have any idea what that might mean to you?  Under Sharia Law, your chosen lifestyle will come with a huge price tag.  Muslims really do hate queers.  And if you have already altered you Facebook picture with the colors of the rainbow, you have identified yourself to them.  At least Christians aren’t fixated on separating you from your head.

What the Supreme Court did last week was unconstitutional; that means it was illegal.  In our constitutional republic, our laws are written by our representatives in Congress and enforced by the President.  By magically creating new law, the court has recklessly plunged this country into chaos.  The nation is in critical condition.  Stop and think about what that means to you.  An out-of-control, criminal government that can suddenly take away my rights to speak and to believe and to exercise my faith can also, by one simple executive order or illegal decree, take away yours. That’s why I say you should be afraid.  That's why you should be troubled by the action of the Supreme Court.  That’s why I believe that you and I should be allies; not enemies. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Justin Bieber's "Unexpected Act Of Faith"

So Justin Bieber has apologized for his outrageous behavior, as well he should.  He has acted like the self-indulgent, undisciplined, spoiled rotten little punk that he is.  But I wouldn’t equate his apology to any kind of spiritual awakening.  Why should anyone assume repentance? 

Justin has claimed to be a Christian in the past (before he figuratively flipped God the bird).  What is the evidence of his, so called, unexpected act of faith?  He attended a week-long Hillsong conference.  That doesn’t mean that he is a Christian any more than watching fireworks on the 4th of July makes him a patriot.  What did he say?  Why should we assume a rebirth?  How is anything in these news stories to be interpreted as a life-changing epiphany?

Hillsong senior pastor, Brian Houston, said, "No doubt he’d probably be the first to say he lost his way in a whole lot of ways and, yeah, I think he realizes that it's now-or-never time to try to build better foundations into his life."

Another pastor, Carl Lentz said, “(Bieber) just wants to make his heart right.”

But building a better foundation in one’s life or making your heart right doesn’t equate to real Christian conversion.

I want to see genuine repentance which will be evidenced by a radical change in his behavior.  And I want to know what HE said.  I want to hear HIS OWN TESTIMONY from his own lips.  The testimony of a Christian must be IN HIS OWN WORDS.  In a criminal trial, would you be satisfied to hear testimony of a witness as told by a third party?  Of course not; a witness speaks for himself.  I don’t care to hear about Justin’s “act of faith” from the media, his fans, his pastor, or even his own father.  I want to hear his own testimony. 

The news articles don’t reveal much but they’re all we have.  So what, exactly, did he say?   

"I've turned a lot of people off in the last few years, but I know I can still put out good music and turn everything all around."

"There was really no preparing me for this life. I was thrown into this at 12 years old.  I didn't know what I was getting myself into. There were moments I am proud of. And there are moments I am disappointed with myself for. But the things I have done don't define who I am. I am (a) kind-hearted person who loves people. And through it all, I have lost some of my best qualities. For that, I'm sorry."

Bieber referred to the celebrity roast, just after his 21st birthday, as "a turning point" in his life. "I am looking forward to being someone you can all be proud of."  

"Someone close to me once said, 'It's how you rise from a fall that truly defines you as a man.' I'm excited for that challenge. And I want to say thank you for taking this journey with me."

Justin’s own words seem to be sincere in a humanistic, self-improvement sort of way.  He seems sincere in his determination to change and to try to do better for the sake of his popularity and his career. And I wish him well.

As for any genuine spiritual change in his nature as a result of any act of saving faith, I didn’t hear any of that.  I really hope that he comes to trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross as payment for his sin.  

 I will just continue to listen for it from his own lips and then I will wait to see the evidence.  

Sunday, June 28, 2015

How to Celebrate Independence Day In A Socialist Country

Six years ago,  on February 18, 2008. Michelle Obama said, “For the first time in my adult lifetime I am proud of my country.” 

That was the beginning of my dislike for this country.  As of June 26, 2015, I must say, for the first time in MY adult lifetime, I am ASHAMED of my country.

Don’t misunderstand me – I love my country.  I love its founding principles of Truth and Justice and Liberty.  I love its exceptionalism.  I honor and respect those who sacrificed their lives to provide it for us and to protect our freedoms. 

I love the America that I once knew.  I hate the new Amerika that now exists; the socialistic Amerika that Michelle loves. 

Amerika is no longer a free constitutional, representative republic.  It is now controlled by a lawless psychopath who boldly stood before us and promised to “fundamentally change America” if we elected Him. Unfortunately, that is one of the few times He ever told the truth; it is one promise He has kept.

Today, for all practical purposes, we have a banana republic.  We have lost many of our enumerated rights.  Our dithering president is arrogant, inept, and dangerously foolish.  Congress is feckless and self-serving.  And, as of June 26, we now have a handful of unelected and unaccountable judges who have illegitimately usurped authority and who have created and imposed laws on, what, formerly, were free and sovereign states.  And we are in moral chaos; Up is down; black is white; good is bad; right is wrong, and men are women.  

From this story of our National Anthem, we see just how important it was then, for the patriots of the Revolutionary war, to protect the symbol of our freedom and how determined our enemy was to try to destroy it.   America has always been protective and emotional about our flag.

Today, just a few days before July 4, the Stars and Stripes; the symbol that once flew proudly over so much that was good, has been  co-opted and remains to fly over a nation of people that have forgotten their history or don’t even care. 

So most of the brain dead masses don’t get it.  Now our flag flies as a symbol of the country that now is.
There is one more “change” that I wish Obama would make; I wish that His new oppressive, totalitarian government would fly a different flag and stop disrespecting and degrading our “Old Glory.”

This year, for me, Independence Day will be a special holiday because I will honor the memory of a great, once free, nation that is now on life support.  I will pledge my allegiance to the flag of the United States of America with this qualifier; my allegiance will never be to the lawless banana republic that now exists; it is to the constitutional "Republic for which it  (the flag) stands."

May God Bless America.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Who Killed Our Constitutional Republic?

What happened to the United States of America on June 26, 2015?

I am not overly upset with feckless, dishonest career politicians who ignore their constituents to serve themselves.  Neither am I upset about a lawless, dishonest, psychopathic, President who circumvents constitutional law and order to enact illegal laws by executive order.  Nor am I even very concerned about nine unelected old judges who violated their oaths, trashed our constitution, and invented unnatural laws to impose on sovereign states.  None of that surprises me.  That is exactly what men (which is the grammatically correct generic plural noun that includes women) do.  Those are all normal actions of sinful men who reject God and His moral laws.

What upsets me the most is Christians.  That’s right, CHRISTIANS; those who name the Name of Jesus Christ and then disobey His command to be salt and light, who squander our God-given privileges of self-government, and who hold hands with the forces of darkness to their own demise.  And in case you are wondering exactly who those Christians are, let me be perfectly clear; the chances are it is YOU! 

YES, YOU!  You with the Christian bumper stickers; you who post Jesus memes with happy platitudes on Facebook; you who sit beside me in church.  You are responsible for all those reprobates who scheme to rule over us with the very power and authority that was rightfully yours.  You gave it up.  You deliberately forfeited it.

I say YOU because you comprise the majority (60%) of all eligible, nominal Christians and you DON’T VOTE.  You didn’t vote in 2012, you didn’t vote in 2008, and you most likely didn’t vote in elections prior to that.  Furthermore, you probably won’t vote next time even after reading this rebuke.

You are like the unwise servant who buried his talent.  Our constitutional representative republican form of government was a costly gift to YOU.   Good men fought, sacrificed and died for this amazing experiment in self-government so that YOU could enjoy your liberty.  And you buried it. 

But you have principles, you say.  You cannot violate your conscience by voting for a candidate who doesn’t quite agree with you on every point so, by default, you have cast your lot for the other side.  And you won't vote for a man whose faith is different from yours.  Well, you're not voting for a pastor, for crying out loud.  Statistically speaking, you make up the largest voting block of all demographics and you were responsible for the election of those who would destroy our representative republic.  If only 5-10 percent of you had actually taken the time to vote right, we would not be witnessing the political death of our nation. 

So enjoy your new tyrannical totalitarian government; you are responsible for it, you deserve it, and you own it.  If you did nothing to stop it, then you have no right to complain about it.  And when your children and grandchildren ask, “What happened to the United States of America on June 26, 2015?” you can tell them, “I DESTROYED IT.”

“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”  James 4:17

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ten Reasons Why I Own A Gun (In case anyone needs to know)

Liberals are always asking, “Why does anyone need a gun?”

Well here’s a better question; Why should any free person have to explain why he needs anything?

Here is my list of the top ten reasons why I need a gun.

       1.      So I can start a race.

       2.     So I can make noise on the fourth of July.

       3.     So I have some place to store bullets.

4     4.     So I can have something to keep in my gun safe.

       5.      So I can put my horse out of his misery if he breaks a leg.

6     6.      So I can keep important papers from blowing off my desk.

7     7.      So I can blow up my desk.

8     8.     So I can shoot cans.

9     9.      So I can clear out my congested nose.

      10.    So I can end a severe migraine headache.

A Praise Song For Father's Day

(This was my introductory Commentary for our opening song in church yesterday morning (Father's Day):

A pastor once asked some children in a Sunday school class to draw pictures of God. He intended to use them to illustrate his Father’s Day sermon.  At the end of class, the children were excited to show off their typical pictures of white-robed old men with long white hair, and big, outstretched hands surrounded by rainbows, bluebirds, unicorns, and fluffy clouds.

Finally, one shy little girl hesitantly revealed her picture.  It was a simple drawing of a man dressed in a suit and tie. "I don't know what God looks like," she said, "so I just drew my daddy instead."

I don’t remember my father ever telling me that he loved me yet I NEVER doubted his love; he proved his love for us in so many practical ways. 

He was a hard worker.  It was important to him that his children saw him working for a living.  Even when times were hard and we didn’t have everything we wanted, he was our provider and, with great sacrifice, he did whatever was necessary to make sure that we had everything we needed. 

He was faithful to my mom and that gave us a great sense of security. 

He was fair and just; he was swift with appropriate punishment when it was warranted and he was forgiving when we disappointed him. 

And he was honest in his business dealings; he valued his good reputation. 

Someone has said "a child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in his father."

Much of my understanding about the character and attributes of God, I learned, by experience, from my father who was seldom within our view, but he was always there.

HE KNOWS MY NAME, is a contemporary praise song, written by Tommy Walker, that was very popular for a short time about twenty years ago.  It seemed like every church used it regularly for a few months and then it just sort of disappeared into worship song oblivion.

God knows us, and His knowledge is infinitely more than just a superficial ability to recall our names; it is a personal and intimate knowledge.  And that kind of knowledge is wonderful and terrible at the same time.  The song reminds me of another song, “When He Was On The Cross (I Was On His Mine).   Think about this – “He knew me, YET He loved me.”  The thought that, even though God knew me in all my sorry, sinful state, He still chose to love me and die for my sin is incredible and wonderful. 

That’s the kind of love Tommy Walker was describing in his song.  God calls us “His children” and every phrase in this song emphasizes a different aspect of His knowledge of each one of us.

He made us -- He planned us -- He knows us -- He forgives us – He understands us – He comforts us -- He listens to us -- He fathers us – He wants us -- He’ll never leave us – He’ll never forget us – He’ll never give up on us -- He cheers for us -- And He prepares a place for us.

I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands

I have a Father
He calls me His own
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And He hears me when I call

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Fathers Day Tribute To The Memory Of My Dad

It is hard to believe that it has been over twenty years since my father died.  And memories of him are fading.  Now I am older than he was at his passing and memories of him are swiftly fading.

Dad was a little crusty on the outside; a tough construction worker with leathery skin, rough hands, and a rough demeanor to match.  His direct, no-nonsense, sarcastic style of conversation was often misunderstood but, to those who knew him best, it was endearing. He was not overtly affectionate and I don’t remember him ever telling me he loved me. But I never doubted his love; he demonstrated it in very real and practical ways.

I never had what some people today would describe as “quality time” with my father (or my mother, for that matter). In fact, I don’t remember ever hearing the phrase, “quality time,” used in any context when I was growing up. With seven children, there was always work to do and most of the times I had with my father were spent in hard work.

Dad was a straight shooter; he always meant what he said. You could count on it. Disobedience often brought fearful and painful consequences by his own large, rugged hand. He understood the Proverbs…” evil is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction drives it far from him” and “he that spares the rod hates his son.” He never automatically sided with me against my teachers or others in authority. He taught me that, although they are not always right, it is always right to submit to their proper authority.

But he was also fair and, believe it or not, he was kind. Our family never had much, but we always shared what we had with others. And he was always forgiving. I remember how often I disappointed, failed, and hurt him but still, he loved me because I was his son.

My dad taught me to judge people on the merits of their character, not on their appearance. He understood that true friendship required work and that people must be accepted with and in spite of their shortcomings. He had friends of varied colors, backgrounds, and stature. The only people he could not tolerate were intolerant bigots.

Our family depended on him to provide for our needs. Although he was a skilled craftsman, no job was beneath him. Several times in my life, construction work was hard to find so, over the years, I watched him work as a night-time school janitor, a drive-in theater usher and a door-to-door Fuller Brush salesman. He found dignity in honest work and he wanted his children to see him getting up early in the morning and going to work to bring home a paycheck rather than going to the mailbox to bring in a welfare check.

He valued his reputation. He was honest and just in his dealings. Sometimes, as a contractor, he would make costly mistakes. But he always finished the job at the agreed price regardless of the loss. He was a man of his word.

He was faithful to his wife and his children and that provided a great deal of security for us. Home was a good, safe place to be. We didn’t always have everything we wanted, but he always tried to give us everything we needed.

Not only was he our provider, he was also a strong and brave protector. I remember, at the age of nine, one evening when he had sent me out to buy something at a neighborhood market (in those days it was safe for children to be out after dark). On my way home I passed a parked car with four guys who yelled something at me. I was scared and felt threatened and told my dad when I got home. He immediately got up and went out to confront them and warned them to keep their mouths shut and leave his kids alone.  In retrospect, I imagine he was really fearful of confronting four thugs at night but he never let on.

It has been said "a child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in his father."

A pastor once asked some children in a Sunday school class to draw pictures of God. He intended to use them to illustrate his sermon. At the end of class, the children were excited to show off their pictures of men with long robes, white hair, and big, outstretched hands amid rainbows, bluebirds, and fluffy white clouds. Finally, one little girl showed her picture of a simple man dressed in a suit and tie. "I don't know what God looks like," she said, "so I just drew my daddy instead."

Much of my early understanding about the character and attributes of God, I learned, by experience, from a father who was seldom in view, but he was always there.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Public Urination (and other gross behavior)

To the street people of our community.

I possess a strong desire to apprise you of my contempt for your repugnant predisposition to evacuate the voluminous excrement from the recesses of your entrails upon the cloisters of our sanctuaries and around the colonnades of our cathedrals. 

I would likewise express my abhorrence for your detestable practice of public urination within the passages of our offices and at the portals of our mercantile establishments. 

Furthermore, I would relish the occasion to convey my utter disgust at the discovery of your sullied, odorous prophylactics. In short, I yearn to inform you of the despicable nature of your uncouth deportment.

But, alas, I cannot. My wife won’t let me say it with words that you can understand so never mind. I'll just clean up your crap for you. 

You're welcome.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Good Mother's Day at Church

It was an interesting Mother’s Day yesterday at our church. 

In our Bible study class, we took the time to allow everyone the opportunity to say a few words or share some memories about their mothers.

My wife and I, at the age of 67 years, are among the youngest members in the class.  Most of them are between 70 and 85 so, as you might expect, most of our mothers are deceased.

As everyone took their turns to talk about their mothers, I noted a common theme; most of the class described their childhood family dynamics in terms of extreme hardships, disappointments, dysfunctional relationships, premature deaths, and abandonments; not exactly the kind of fantasy family life most Christians would expect. 

Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority praised God for His grace and mercy as they recognized His sovereign and loving work in their lives to bring them to Himself.

It was a good Mother’s Day.

“And we know that,  for those who love God, 
all things work together for good, 
for those who are called 
according to his purpose.  
For those whom he foreknew 
he also predestined 
to be conformed to the image of his Son, 
in order that he might be the firstborn 
among many brothers.  
And those whom he predestined 
he also called, 
and those whom he called he also justified, 
and those whom he justified he also glorified.”  
Romans 8:28-30

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Z is for Za

ZA - An abbreviated variation of the commonly used noun, “pizza” as in, “hey dude, lez go grab some suds and a pepperoni za."   Urban Dictionary

In Exodus 16, is the account of a problem Moses was having with the people. There were millions of them wandering around in the wilderness and they were hungry and needed food every day. So God provided daily fast food delivery for them.  When they saw the bread from heaven, they asked, “What is this stuff?” And that is the exact translation of the word, “manna.” It litterally means “what is this stuff?”

The answer to that question is pretty clear, it seems to me, from the text.  It was ZA (pizza). Why do I think that?  If you consider these statements about that mystery bread, I think you'll be convinced too:

  • In verse 4 God told Moses that He would send bread down from Heaven. Whatever God gives is good and pizza is, in my humble opinion, the best food on earth (or in Heaven). It was a complete, perfect food. It was all-sufficient for their sustenance.  It was their daily bread. I can’t think of a more, perfect food and I couldn't imagine anything less from God. It contains a variety of proteins and carbohydrates. It is healthy. I make it a personal habit to try to eat from all four of the major food groups each day; sugar, salt, grease, and cholesterol. Pizza has all of that in abundance.
  • In verse 8, Moses tells the people that they are to eat bread to the full. And then, in verse 16, he instructs them that each man should gather according to the number of persons in his own home. Everyone was well-filled. There was plenty to go around.  It was enough. When my wife and I go out for pizza with our kids and their families, we usually order one pizza for each family unit and there is always enough for everyone. Some of our grandchildren eat very little and some of us eat much more than our fair share, but we eat it all and everyone is filled.
  • Moses tells them, in verse 19, don’t save any of it for the next day. They were to eat all of it and not save it because it would go bad. I love pizza and I could eat it every day. And when I do, I stuff myself to the full.  But as much as I like it, I’m not crazy about warmed over leftover pizza.
  • In verse 23, they were told to bake what they wanted to bake and boil what they wanted to boil. They were free to prepare it in a variety of ways according to their preferences. And that's the way it is with pizza. Some of us like thin crust and some like pan styled. Others like stuffed crust. We have ours prepared in a variety of ways.  There are Mexican, Chicago, New York, and a myriad of other styles. 
  • Whatever it was, it was pleasant to every man’s taste because in verse 31 we are told that the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. Some of us like plain cheese and others like the works (but I don't think sausage or pepperoni was on the Hebrew menu).  And we usually get pizza cheese sticks with marinara sauce and cinnamon sticks with sweet dipping sauces. We get a variety and I enjoy most of them. Each of us leaves the table fully satisfied.
So there you have it; Pizza Delivery from Heaven. Little, round, personal pan sized zas. What else could it be?  It's good!  It’s the perfect food. It's all I need to sustain my life and make me happy (although a little chocolate once in a while would be good.  Oh yeah, and some tortilla chips with salsa and some Coke Zero too).


Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Y is for Youth Ministry

My wife has an acquaintance who told her they left their church over philosophical differences regarding youth ministry. Her teenager asked the youth pastor why everything they did was always centered on food, fun, and foolishness. Why could they not have some substantive Bible study and instruction? Why is the entire program so grossly focussed on silliness?

His response was disturbing. He said that’s not what youth
ministry is all about. The kids "get their fill" of Bible in plenty of other places. They don’t want to come here for that. They want to have fun. That’s how you build a youth program.

After that, her teenager was told not to come back to the youth group. When she discussed the incident with the church’s pastor, she was told that she just had different ideas about youth ministry so they left and found another church.

Roy Ingle is a blogger who calls himself, “The Seeking Disciple.” He posted a very insightful and introspective blog titled, "Errors I Made In Youth Ministry“ that is really worth reading.  In fact, if your church has a youth pastor and a you have a teenager, you should read the whole article.

In it he makes this shocking statement. “(one of my failures) in my first stint as a youth pastor was thinking that I could actually preach on holiness, repentance, and perseverance in the faith without offending the adults who merely wanted numbers. The deacon board, of the church, I was at wanted results. The bottom line was money. The lost parents bringing their lost teenagers wanted me to straighten out their rude teenagers without asking any price to be paid by the parents. The church board wanted pizza parties, camps, lock-ins, and retreats aimed at having fun and keeping the parents tithing. So I quit.”

Wouldn’t we all love to have a youth pastor like that? Well, in reality, probably not.

A pastor friend of mine who worked in youth ministry years ago shared a similar concern that he had for some of the rebellious young people in his charge. He said that they were so antagonistic to any kind of Christ-centered ministry that their very presence in the group was destructive and inimical to the spiritual growth of the group. And he found himself spending far too much time and energy “chasing after the chasers” that he neglected the very ones who hungered for solid, biblical instruction.

When he realized the negative affect their influence had on the group, he switched gears, minimized the juvenile foolishness that attracted the troublemakers, and started to focus his ministry efforts on Christ-centered teaching and discipling young people to serve God.

That plan was the beginning of his demise in that church. Several of the parents of the renegade bunch were long-time members with influence, positions, and clout in the church and they wanted their children to be entertained and engaged. When their kids stopped attending church, they blamed the youth pastor. Shortly afterward, he was terminated and replaced by a youth pastor who would cater to their children’s wants rather than their needs.

Another post worth reading is, "The Biggest Mistakes I've Made In Youth Ministry."
And for a very unconventional but well-developed, responsible, and Bible-centered philosophy, read "Our Philosophy of Youth Ministry" at Family Ministries.


X is for Xmas

I read last year that a school principal in New York prohibited the mention of the “EASTER BUNNY” because Easter is a religious word.  Instead, they have substituted the name Peter Cottontail. That’s crazy. Everyone knows that Peter Cottontail is a make-believe children’s fairy tale rabbit and they know the difference between him and the Easter Bunny.

This country has gone nuts. And we just seem to roll over at every politically correct effort to secularize our religious holidays. The Thanksgiving holiday is now commonly referred to as “Turkey Day” or “Harvest Celebration.” And in recent years there has been a noticeable increase in the use of the term “T-Day” which is just about as outrageous as removing the name of Christ from Christmas and replacing it with an X.

Because we are afraid to offend anyone when we come to a holiday like “Thanksgiving Day,” we try to express our thankfulness in general without mentioning God in particular. That’s like the child who wrote for a classroom assignment, "The Pilgrims came here for freedom of ‘you know what.’ When they landed, they gave thanks to ‘you know who’ and because of them, we can worship each Sunday, ‘you know where.’”

Concerning Xmas, I’m kinda thinking that God is probably not very impressed anyway, with so many hypocrites who, for a few days each year, pretend to want to keep Christ in Christmas symbolically, when they literally expel and reject Him from every other area of their lives.

Have you ever really noticed how the holidays are lined up on the calendar? I think there is an interesting narrative of the Christian faith found in the way they are ordered. Think about it!

What we generally refer to as the holiday season starts in the Fall with Halloween which has become the biggest holiday of the year in the U.S. More time and money and energy is spent on this holiday that any other. The theme of Halloween is darkness and it is all about evil. From a spiritual standpoint, that is where most of the world is. That is our natural condition so it is understandable that most people are very comfortable with it. The Bible tells us that “men love the darkness because their deeds are evil” (John 3:19). It also tells us that we are “dead in sin” (Eph. 2:1, Col. 2:13). We have no knowledge of God and until the Spirit of God reaches toward us and brings us light, we can’t know Him. But when that happens, He gives us a desire to discover Him and a longing to learn more about Him.

The next holiday on the calendar is Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving is not a multi-cultural celebration about Indians; it’s not even about Pilgrims, pumpkins, or turkeys. In 1621, the Pilgrims had just endured a terrible winter in which scores of children and adults had starved to death. They were ready to give up and were about to return to England when another ship arrived with medical supplies, food and just enough hope to encourage them to remain in the midst of terrible adversity.

Two years later William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth Colony, said, “Inasmuch as the Father has given us an abundant harvest and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish; and He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship Him according to the dictates of our own conscience; I now proclaim that on Thursday, November 29, 1623, we will render thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings.” Romans 2:4 says, “The goodness of God leads you to repentance.” We celebrate His goodness and His provision and His care at Thanksgiving.

So then what is the ultimate manifestation of His Goodness? It’s the giving of His Son and we celebrate His birth at Christmas, the very next Holiday on our calendar.

Then there was this guy named Valentine. He was a priest near Rome during the rule of Emperor Claudius II who was persecuting and imprisoning Christians for not worshiping the Roman gods.

A few years before the onset of the persecution of Christians, war broke out in the Roman Empire and Claudius began calling for all the able-bodied men to go into battle. Many of the men were reluctant to leave their families or their sweethearts. To remove this reason, Emperor Claudius ordered that no marriages were to be celebrated and that all engagements were to be broken off immediately.

St. Valentine, in addition to helping other Christians escape persecution, is said to have begun secretly performing Christian marriages for young couples wishing to marry in spite of the Emperor's ban. Valentine soon had a reputation throughout Rome as a friend of those in love.

When Claudius learned of Valentine's activities, he had him arrested and imprisoned for not renouncing his faith. Yet, even in prison, Valentine continued to minister to those with whom he had contact.

Emperor Claudius was so furious that he had Valentine beaten with clubs and beheaded on February 14, in the year 270 A.D. Valentine was made a saint by the Church because of his commitment to his faith even unto death.

Isn’t that like God’s Love? “God demonstrated His love for us (His Bride) in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

And He did that on the cross, which brings us right up to Resurrection Day (Easter).

I don’t know where on the calendar yours is but after Easter is where I am going to insert my Birthday. There was a time in my life, and yours, when we were born. I was very young when that happened. And then, for Christians, there was another time when God gave us new life and we were Born Again.

Later, on the calendar, we get to Independence Day. We have been liberated; Christ sacrificed His life to free us from the bondage of sin and death. “If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). That’s worth celebrating.

Finally, we come all the way back again to the holiday of darkness and death – Halloween. But most of us who are Christians, no longer wallow in that one. We walk in the light and have no fear of death because we will live forever with the Lord.

So there it is. God is sovereign in history and in salvation. But if you want to continue to secularize all the holidays in the name of tolerance and political correctness, you are certainly free to celebrate Spooky Day, Turkey Day, Peter Cottontail Day, and even the jolly old fat man who shows up at Xmas.


Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for Wretches and Worms

Whatever happened to old Ebenezer?

I’m not talking about Ebenezer Scrooge; I’m talking about that Ebenezer in the hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Do you remember the second verse? Here’s the way I remember it:

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

But here’s the way it appears now in our new hymn book:

Hither to thy love has blessed me
Thou has brought me to this place
And I know thy hand will bring me
Safely home by thy good grace.

So what is an Ebenezer anyway? In 1 Samuel 7:12 we read, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, "Thus far the LORD has helped us."

Ebenezer is a word that derives from two Hebrew words which literally translate to a "stone of help."  The stone was placed as a memorial to remind them of God's help.  An Ebenezer can be nearly any symbol that reminds us of God’s presence and help: the Bible, the elements of communion, a cross, a picture, a hymn – those things which serve as reminders of God’s love for us, His presence in our lives, and His assistance are "Ebenezers."

What was wrong with the song the way it was written? I guess some revisions are good but the words in this new version don’t even mean the same thing.

There are a couple other revised hymns, though, that really push me over the edge. One of them is Amazing Grace. Of all the hymns, this is probably the most popular and acceptable to the world, mainly because there is not one single reference to God or Jesus in the first verse so it is pretty generic.  But there is one glaring problem.  It’s the word “wretch.”  The author, John Newton, might have been a wretch but today we don’t like to damage our fragile self-esteems. Its a good thing we have these new words that make this great song more palatable to our narcissistic generation: 

"Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved and set me free.” 
There, that sounds much nicer.

And then there are these great words by Isaac Watts in the hymn, At The Cross.

Alas, and did my Savior bleed,
And did my Sov'reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

But in our new hymn book that last line has been changed to, “For such a one as I.”


The old hymn writers knew and wrote lyrics that were doctrinally sound.  God isn’t impressed with our self-esteem and I really don’t think He cares much about our sensitive feelings. 

We are NOT basically good and there is nothing about us that should merit God’s favor.  In fact in His Word, He tells us just how bad we really are. It is only when we understand that we are dirty, rotten, low life scumbags, that we have no hope except to beg for God’s mercy and then we can appreciate His grace.

So I say, leave the words alone.  Wretches and Worms are right and fitting descriptors for us in our fallen, natural condition.

But if you don’t like them and you want a nicer song for your worship, you could always sing the Barney Song, “I love you, You love me. We’re as happy as can be.” That should make you feel really great and, by the way, good luck with that one.