Wednesday, September 26, 2007

When I Grow Up

While my 6 year-old son and I were driving in the truck, we were talking about the future. We happened to talk about how I had gone to college, and some of what I did to prepare for my work. He said that he was thinking about being a doctor or a teacher or something similar. Then he said, "I know what would be a great job...a pirate!"

I explained to him that piracy as he knew it was no longer available. But it made me think about a couple of things. He was interested in it because it has been promoted as glamorous in his viewing. This is because of fantasy, television, books and movies. Secondly, he wanted to do it because he didn't really know what it was about. If he really knew what pirates did in real life, I'm sure he would have changed his mind.

This simple story has an application to Christianity, for which many have a child-like perspective. Christianity has been understood by many to be nothing more than a feel-good experience. It has also been misunderstood by some in that they do not really know what it demands. This is apparent by how they attempt to take on the name, and yet they live as though they were not Christians at all. In fact, for those who attemt Christianity without knowing the requirements, you might say that my son has an equal chance of being a good pirate.

I hope, as we grow up, we will all know the difference.

"Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name." ~ 1 Pet. 4:16

Monday, September 24, 2007

"You Do Not Believe"

It is very peculiar that we as a body of believers are often accused of not believing in certain things. Here is a list of ideas that from time to time people claim about us:

1. "You are the folks who don't believe in miracles." This of course is not true. We believe in every miraculous event recorded in the Bible. We believe that God can perform any miracle he wishes to perform whenever he wishes to perform it. If we did not believe in miracles, we would have no hope, because the resurrection of Christ is the greatest miracle of all (1 Cor. 15:1-20).

2. "You are the folks who don't believe in prophecy." This of course is not true. We believe in every Biblical prophecy recorded. We believe in the prophecies concering judgment and eternity yet to be fulfilled. We believe that the prophecies about Christ in the Old Testament were fulfilled in the incarnate God, who has accomplished His work (John 5:39; Luke 24:44).

3. "You are the folks who don't believe in music." This of course is not true. We believe in every example of musical worship displayed by the New Testament church. We believe that this is the pattern we are obligated to follow (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12).

4. "You are the folks who don't believe others are saved." This of course is not true. We believe "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16). We believe "And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" (Ac. 2:38). We believe "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Ac. 4:12). We believe that "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Cor. 1:18)

It is not that we do not believe in these things. It is simply that concerning these we choose to believe God's commandments, rather than man's opinion.

"But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they." ~ Acts 15:11

Friday, September 21, 2007

Spousal Abuse

I do not know the statistics. I am not sure how it is actually quantified. The reason is because there are many ways spouses can abuse one another.

It is obvious that there is a type of abuse that can be statistically charted. But what about the things we do to our spouses out of sheer selfishness?

Case in point. The other day I saw the stupidest thing I have ever seen being done in a vehicle. I was at the stoplight. An elderly couple was just in front of me. They had a handicapped license plate. She was driving, and smoking, and her husband was in the passenger seat hooked up to an oxygen tank!

I just shook my head.

But are we choking out our spouse in our own way? Are we allowing them some air? Are we promoting health, spiritually, mentally, and physically? I don't know about you, but I would hate to lose my soul, second-hand. I know we will all stand alone in judgment, but that doesn't mean that we aren't sometimes killing each other.

"Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." ~ Philippians 2:4

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Babel Revisited

Dubai, a part of the United Arab Emirates, now boasts the tallest free-standing structure in the world. Passing the CN-Tower of Canada, the Burj-Dubai stands 1,831.5 feet above ground. Dubai is a booming area, and this tower is the latest of the Samsung cooperation's achievments.

I ask, why? Why build it? Is it about prowess, power, money, or a name?

The Bible tells a story of people who dwelt in the plain of Shinar who said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth" (Gen. 11:4).

Not far from the ancient plain, another tower now stands with similar goals. No matter how tall it gets, or how famous it or its builders may become, one fact remains:

"if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing, but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it." ~ Acts 5:38-39

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


In 1969, in Pass Christian, Mississippi, a group of people were preparing to have a "hurricane party" in the face of a storm named Camille. Were they ignorant of the dangers? Could they have been overconfident? Did they let their egos and pride influence their decision? We'll never know.

What we do know is that the wind was howling outside the posh Richelieu Apartments when Police Chief Jerry Peralta pulled up sometime after dark. Facing the Beach less than 250 feet from the surf, the apartments were directly in the line of danger. A man with a drink in his hand came out to the second-floor balcony and waved. Peralta yelled up, "You all need to clear out of here as quickly as you can. The storm's getting worse." But as others joined the man on the balcony, they just laughed at Peralta's order to leave. "This is my land," one of them yelled back. "If you want me off, you'll have to arrest me."

Peralta didn't arrest anyone, but he wasn't able to persuade them to leave either. He wrote down the names of the next of kin of the twenty or so people who gathered there to party through the storm. They laughed as he took their names. They had been warned, but they had no intention of leaving.
It was 10:15 p.m. when the front wall of the storm came ashore. Scientists clocked Camille's wind speed at more than 205 miles-per-hour, the strongest on record. Raindrops hit with the force of bullets, and waves off the Gulf Coast crested between twenty-two and twenty-eight feet high.

News reports later showed that the worst damage came at the little settlement of motels, go-go bars, and gambling houses known as Pass Christian, Mississippi, where some twenty people were killed at a hurricane party in the Richelieu Apartments. Nothing was left of that three-story structure but the foundation; the only survivor was a five-year-old boy found clinging to a mattress the following day. (Christian Values Qs Quarterly, Spring/Summer 1994, p. 10).

Some of us may read this and think, “How ridiculous, they got what they deserved.” But there is a much greater storm just off shore. How many of us continue to “party” in the meantime?

“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” ~ Matt. 24:37-39

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Visit to the Kingdom Hall

I have always wondered what it would be like to be in an episode of The Twilight Zone. After last Thursday evening, I don't have to wonder anymore.

Call it research for a presentation. I showed up right at 7 p.m. for their ministry school. I had made several other attempts to contact the local Jehovah's Witnesses. I had been by the Kingdom Hall at least 5 or 6 times and I had left my card with a note to call me. They never did, so I decided to drop by.

I was the only man without a tie there. I observed their worship and school. These were my findings:

On the one hand:
  • The people were very involved and dedicated.
  • Most of them played an important role.
  • You can tell they had studied their material well.
  • They all have a sense of obligation to teach others.
  • They never once looked at the clock or seemed that they were ready to leave.
  • They were dressed modestly and respectfully.
  • They were not at all worldly in their appearance or thrust.
  • They were convicted.

On the other hand:

  • They misinterpreted the Bible continuously.
  • They only referred to God by saying, "Jehovah."
  • They talked of the "temple class" and the "slave class."
  • They taught it was sinful for Christians to celebrate birthdays.
  • They talked of the coming "reward in Jehovah's new world."
  • They spent most of their time teaching out of their Watchtower publication.
  • They only read from their slanted New World Translation, also their production.
  • They said very little about Jesus Christ.

It is indeed unfortunate that they are so evangelistic, and yet their doctrine is wrong. I have to say it was a different experience. It was like I had stepped into a black hole.

The two things I took from the evening that have been sticking with me the most:

1. Those who have the truth should be more excited about it.

2. Those who visit with us must often feel awkward, too.

"If you abide in My word, you are My disicples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." ~ John 8:31-32

Friday, September 14, 2007


I admit it. I have a problem. The good news is that I am praying about it and I hope you will pray for me. This preacher sometimes tends to get a little too preachy.

Preachers understand the importance of being spiritually minded. It is a matter of occupational awareness. This is because people hold us to a higher standard than others. If we do not live spiritual lives, then our ministry is not effective. So to start I can assure you that doing the right thing is always on our mind.

Then there is the pulpit. Unless you take your place there two or three times a week, you don't know how it changes your life. The responsibility is great. People depend on you to help them work out their salvation. When you get to have that type of role it is often hard to leave it behind when you get down. This leaves the preacher with the preachy problem.

Occupational awareness + pulpit exposure = preachy preachers. It just happens. I can't tell you how often I have been told to "lighten up", or to "stop being a spiritual policeman." Sometimes we just need to be regular people, too. People with weaknesses. People who are patient. People who can cut the common man some slack.

I am learning that one thing people want, even more than instruction, is room. Not room for sin, but room to move. Preachers will have greater influence when they give the power back to God and His word to change lives. We cannot do it by force. In the meantime, those we strive to help need space for emotions, faults, and even doctrinal immaturity, until the time comes when they come to us to help them grow. Our preaching day will come.

We still need to preach the word in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2). But may we never forget to respect the humanity of those who hear.

"A man has joy by the answer of his mouth,
And a word spoken in due season, how good it is!" ~ Proverbs 15:23

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"Absolutely No Soliciting"

I have encountered this sign at the doorfront of several businesses. When ever I think of this term my mind goes back to New Zealand, 1997. On a campaign we were told that some doors might have the sign, "No Letterboxing." This meant you could not leave a flier. When we came in to report on our first door-knocking effort, I replied that several of the homes refused "soliciting." The native folks burst out in laughter. Turns out "soliciting" means entirley something else in that country. But they knew what I meant.

I am ready to put this sign up now inside my TV screen. Here I was, just watching Monday Night Football, when a commercial comes on the screen for "Interactive Male." This is some kind of homosexual chat-line out of Nashville. I know things are falling apart when something like football, perhaps the most manly thing on the planet, is being turned into a side-show for the advancement of the gay community.

When will this end? There may be nothing more discouraging then living in a society morally akin to Sodom and Gomorrah. I shouldn't have to change a football channel to get away from it. Oh, wait a minute, when was the last time I changed the channel during a beer commercial?

Umm...this was more enlightening than I thought.

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God." ~ 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Monday, September 10, 2007

What's in the News?

So what is the world talking about these days? What does the world really care to talk about? You can find out by getting on the internet and looking each morning at the main story on Yahoo, MSN, or some other site most often used as a homepage.

This morning, on just about every one of these sites the headline was "Spears Bombs at the VMA's." The Video Music Awards were last night. I am happy to say I didn't know this until I saw the headline today. Modern music is continually in a down spiral. The videos are filthy, the lyrics are ungodly, and the majority of the artists are morally bankrupt.

Yet what do we as a people wish to talk about and read about? Britney Spears and the VMA's. I know I am only in my thirties, but I am glad I care nothing about these things. Our young people do, however - mostly because the world's young people do. We need to give our kids something else to talk about and think about, something that is more excellent (Deut. 6:4-9).

What is news to us defines who we are. Several internet host sites not only give headlines, they add categories for more current events. I have noticed the most common categories are "Finance, Autos, Real Estate, Movies, Music, Personals, and Shopping." One category that is found less and less - "Religion."

This is the world in which we live. It has become too much about us, and too little about Him. So ask yourself this question - "What's in the news?"

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." ~ 1 John 2:15-17

Friday, September 7, 2007

Truth and her Children

Mary Winkler said she was abused. She said she was forced to do things she didn't want to do. She says that her husband was abusive to her and her children...

These were things she said after her lawyers helped her plan her best escape from the murder she committed. Her first testimony was, "My ugly came out." In her first interview (on tape) she claimed that the one thing she didn't want was for Matthew Winkler to be defamed and persecuted. Now it seems she is first in line to do it herself.

The question that keeps coming back to me is this - How can a person who really loves the Lord persecute His church? The latest is the Oprah Winfrey show, September 12th. She will appear on the show to tell, "what really happened." Sorry to say, but I doubt it. Only Matthew and Mary will ever know what happened in their home. The media isn't going to tell the true story, they don't know it. Some may say she is doing this for custody of the children, or perhaps for some other reason.

Two things are for certain. 1. Mary Winkler is well pleased to slander the man she shot in the back who is not here to defend himself. 2. Mary Winkler does not care about the church, otherwise she would stop attempting to make it a byword in the public arena.

The Lord will work it out. Praise His name!

"...wisdom is justified by her deeds." ~ Matthew 11:19