I was watching the news last week and, like many times in the past, I became frustrated and turned it off. Why you ask? Well first, I am troubled by the direction that our country is headed and how the media relays information to us. There are a number of things that I disagree with when it comes to the way our country is being lead. However, I was equally troubled by some of the things that a famous television host was saying. He referred to President Obama as “a rigid ideologue” and lambasted him for his poor dealings in the Middle East. I remember when President Bush was attacked for how he handled the Hurricane Katrina clean up and I thought that was equally wrong. My point of contention is that the news host spoke of being “a rigid ideologue” as if it were a bad thing. In my opinion a person should be honest about who and what they are. They should be rigid about what they believe when it comes to things right and wrong. They should stand for something and not give in. Unfortunately, I think that the president is wrong in most of his beliefs, however, too often politician’s views are for sale. I’m not saying that a politician shouldn’t compromise on some things, but they are willing to compromise on things that as a Christian I cannot. So, on one side we have a person who will not bend and on the other side we have people criticizing them for it. So I ask, “Which one is worse?”
As I look at the political landscape I think both sides have missed the point. They are dealing with symptoms of a problem rather than the problem itself. The real issue is that unless the Lord builds the house the laborers labor in vain. Unless the Lord protects the city the guards guard in vain. (Psalm 127). When we allowed people to separate God from our government the downfall began. This country was built on Christian beliefs and principles. I know many have sought to reinvent history to justify their claims. How has that worked for us? What Thomas Jefferson said later about the separation of church and state has somehow become part of the constitution. Most people merely know what has been said about the constitution, rather than knowing what the constitution actually says. I know that this place will never be heaven. The second law of thermodynamics states that left to itself, energy goes from a higher level of utility to a lower level of utility. The world is winding down. When left to itself, something that was once great is destined to become mediocre. But that is the point. We don’t have to be left to ourselves.
God wants to work in our lives and in our homes and in our government. He will not force His way, we must choose it. I pray for our country, our church, and our homes. God must build our lives, and protect them, if we are to remain. I believe that if we seek the Lord and are about His business we will remain as long as the Lord has use for us. Eventually the whole world will be destroyed and we will receive our reward. Those who have accepted the Perfect King will receive an eternal perfect Kingdom. I can’t wait. But until then, let’s remember the heart of the issue, a relationship with God that blesses and protects our lives.
Share on Facebook
It’s been a tough couple of years in my family. My oldest son has dealt with really tough issues and it has affected how I lead here at the church. Obviously it has affected my whole family at a very personal level. I am so thankful for the Elders and staff who have ministered to me and my family. They modeled what it should look like in the church. They didn’t shoot the wounded but ministered and even carried part of the load.
During this time I felt like I was in a fog. I am thankful to the Lord for holding me and my family together. I am thankful for my other two boys who have had to watch us struggle to chase after my prodigal son and yet have remained faithful to this point in their young lives. I am so thankful that God loved my straying son even more than I did. Though I was powerless to do anything –He had the power—He loved me and heard my wife and me –He acted. I am thankful that my son is on His way “home” (toward a relationship with God). He has a long way to go, as we all do, but he is doing better.
I know we live in a dangerous and discouraging time in our culture—but we were saved for eternity; and for the battle for our nation, our families, each other, and the lost. I pray that we hold on –I am thankful that we get to live for such an important time and purpose and I am thankful that in the end we win. God bless you today.
Share on Facebook
I was at a conference this last week with some wonderful people. They were leaders in a major denomination and the subject was …the church. Discipleship was the topic and the conversation was about how best to disciple people. Should we use the Sunday school model or the small group model? What is discipleship? Whose job is it? And so on. As they spoke I knew that these people were incredibly smart and were wonderful Christian people. However, at least as I saw it, they spoke as though the church was only a little messed up and we have some time to make changes before it gets to be a real problem. If you know me, you know I disagree.
I think the church is really messed up and we don’t have a lot of time. I believe this because the statistics bear this out. Few churches are growing, most believers don’t have a biblical worldview, our kids are flocking out of the church when they graduate from high school, and most Christians have the same lifestyle that unbelievers have…this equals a really messed up church. When I sit with leaders they often acknowledge the truth but are unwilling to make hard corrective changes. It’s like our government…we are going under financially but every program is too important to be cut. At some point we have to recognize the problem is real and immanent. It’s the same in the church. We have to realize that we are like the frog in the kettle. You have heard the story, if you boil water than throw a frog in he will get right out, but if you put the frog in cold water and slowly raise the heat the frog will get used to the temperature a little at a time and eventually it will cook. We don’t see the problem cause we are often a part of it and we don’t think it is that bad. Why? Because we have gotten used to the heat. Others admit that there is a problem but the things they are willing to do to change it won’t make a difference….i.e. moving the deck chairs on the titanic.
The solution is simple but difficult. We must repent and go to the Lord in submission. We must look at our individual lives and say, “Lord change me.” We must look at the church and compare it to scripture. Are we defining words as the Lord defined them? Are we doing the jobs God called us to do or have we kept the job title and changed the job description to meet our schedules? Are we devoted to the scriptures? To prayer? To each other as the church was in the first century? Are we fighting the right fights, the right ways? Today, I am reminded that we can’t allow ourselves even for a minute to drift from the Lord. Apart from Him we can do nothing. We must seek His perspective. Many in history thought they had plenty of time, but they didn’t….Could it be that we are in the same place right now?
Share on Facebook
Today, I was reminded of how difficult it is both to build something great, and to keep something great from collapsing. In fact, nations have been born, become great and then vanished from the earth to become part of history. Church revivals have begun only later to leave an empty building dotting the country side. Places where God worked once but no more. How did it happen? Some times a leader fell because of immorality or pride—it looked like things were great and then all of a sudden…. But that is not true. Some how these people had lost their way in private long before it became evident to everyone else. Both in our personal lives, in our churches, and in our countries, they died the death of a thousand little cuts. The cumulative effect of bad decisions took its toll. These little cuts became infected and later spread like gangrene. They were not dealt with, and by the time they were recognized as serious, people were not willing to do what was needed to save themselves…their church, their country, their marriage…. In Psalms 127 it says unless the Lord builds the house the laborers labor in vain. That means that we can work hard in our own strength, using our own plans, but unless the Lord is strengthening and guiding us, it is all for nothing. The writer than says unless the Lord guards the city, the guards guard in vain. In other words, if the Lord built the house it could stand, but often we take the house after the Lord built it (life, career, marriage, church, country, etc.) and then claim it as our own work. We use it for our own purposes. We forget that the Lord built it for a purpose – His work – His glory. If it is to thrive, continue on, be safe from destruction or an enemy, the Lord must guard it as well. We all can tend to forget who has worked in us …we can all get bored of the things that made us who we are and seek something easier – or something more exciting, instead of remaining diligent and faithful. I am so glad that the Lord is faithful even when we are not and He is quick to forgive when we cry out. Of course it is better to recognize the disease that is spreading due to the little cuts in the early stage – the longer you wait, the worse the consequences and the harder the work to start over or heal up. But thankfully God will help us no matter where we are in the process—all is not lost, though the enemy will tell us it is. One last thing I want to say about the thousand little cuts…in our church we believe that the gospel is shared best not in a large group but from person to person – this is not to say that we don’t find value in sharing it in large groups – we do that too. But the point is that we believe everyone earns the right to share by living a life of love and service, everyday, right where we are… we are all a part of the team and we all have been given a mission. By the same token we also know that we all play a part in protecting the team one person at a time. When the little cuts come – a mistake is made – a gossiper unleashes with a criticism – we protect the body by stopping the little cut as best we can. We overlook a mistake – we confront in love when we must – we make sure issues are dealt with in a godly way. We make sure that our tongues are not the source of a problem and we ask for forgiveness when we are wrong. Just as we reach the world one person at a time as we allow the Lord to work through us to share the gospel, we protect the team and fight for our relationships one person at a time. We all have the responsibility to create and protect a safe and loving culture in our church as the Lord empowers us one decision at a time. I pray that we are able to continue to be a part of the Lord’s mission to reach the world. I pray that we remain faithful. I pray for our people to walk with Jesus—the only source of strength that can enable us to love others… to do our part of the mission… I pray that we continue to allow Gods grace to flow to us and through us to others. Jesus said, “by this all men will know that you are my disciples…by your love for one another” (John 13:35) – God bless you as the Lord uses you in the lives of others and uses others in your life to keep the little cuts from killing us and the team God has blessed us here at Real Life Ministries.
Share on Facebook
To the family:
Today, I have been thinking about all of the families that have come in to share with me the struggles of their marriages. I went through in my mind the many families we as a leadership and pastoral team have ministered to in the last few weeks. A deep sadness came over me and an overwhelming sense of helplessness. Some of these families were in a bad spot and didn’t know if they even wanted to continue to try. They have had kids that they had taught for years (about Jesus) but now were so close to quitting and had even began steps to make it official. A few of these couples had been Christian for most of their lives, and at times were plugged into a small groups and really serving in the body. However, in the last few years, these families have drifted from their groups and have been plugged into some good things (what appeared to be good) but not the best things. They got busier and busier pursuing positive hobbies and began missing church on the weekends as well. I would call to see where they were at and they were always friendly – they would say that they were at this event with their kids or this camping trip or that event…not to worry we will be back they would say. As they reassured me I didn’t feel reassured. So many have told me the same thing but slowly they were inch by inch getting closer to being swept into the fast water of our culture and its consequences. God – the church – personal relationship with Him and other believers – the daily study of the word – priority setting – all a thing of the past. I have to admit that I have never been more fearful of what our culture is doing to Christians than I am right now. Our people are sooo busy doing all kinds of things. They are making sure that their kids have every advantage in their education or in their sports. There was a time when the weekends were for families and Sunday at least was for worship and a time for spiritual reality checking. NO more. Christians used to make Sunday morning a time of worship together and Wednesday night was off limits to sports because it was a bible study night… that really was the thinking of the schools in my own adult life span and experience. Now there is not a night that is off limits – Sunday is just another day for tournaments of one kind or another. At the same time the television, which always took more time from our marriages, families, and service to the Lord than it should, used to at least not allow outright perversion to flow into our homes—no more. Pornography has always been a problem but now our computers – in every home – make sure that it comes to us rather than making us search it out. Politically there was a time when Christianity was an important prerequisite to getting a seat on the supreme court or a political office – now we must make sure people know that we are able to put our faith aside or there is no way we can qualify to get the seat or the position at all. I have watched the drugs and the sex take over our kid’s culture at younger and younger ages. I worry that many people who claim Jesus as their Lord do not recognize the danger we are in ….they do not know that our kids have it much worse and because of the fact that we are soaking in this culture we are not aware or able to withstand the pressure ourselves let alone help them.
This summer seems worse than others…people telling me when I call to check on them that they are so tired that on the weekends they need to get away to their cabin or their favorite fishing hole…where does God fit into all of that I wonder. Do you really believe that you can find rest for your soul or your marriage or your children outside of relationship with God? I am not a legalist… I don’t believe that if you miss a church service that you are condemned to hell… but I do believe that many of our people who say they love the Lord are trying to build their homes – their lives – without commitment to the Lord. They are seeking their own desires rather than listening to the Word …they are seeking the wrong kind of rest because they are often showing the wrong kind of commitment to the wrong kind of things… They forget what Psalm 127:1-2 says “Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. 2It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.”
In my mind I see a picture of a news cast I saw not long ago. I see a young boy in flood waters hanging onto a telephone pole in the middle of the street as tightly as he could. He is holding on because water flowing powerfully against his little body is trying to sweep him down stream with the cars and the furniture and other things that are floating by him at a rapid pace. He is holding on because he knows to let go will kill him – he will drown. Our culture is doing the same to us… we must hold onto Jesus and to each other or we too will be swept down stream and be drown. Oh at first you might think it would be fun to go with the flow… you will experience the speed of the water …it will be like the experience of water skiing… but what looks like fun for a moment will end up leaving you broken and dead… unfortunately it will also affect those who rely on us to shelter them from the torrent and devastation. As parents our decisions affect our kids. By making everything else a priority rather than God…spending time with Him and His people… will leave us in the middle of that raging river – culture – and it will teach our children that spending time in nature or in a sporting event can do more for us than spending time with God…is that true? According to scripture I would say no.
Now I don’t want to be negative…I just know that Jesus loves you and so do I… I get so sad when people tell me that they can’t do this — whatever this is – any more. They usually mean their marriage, or their job, or their service to the Lord. Of course you can’t in your own strength. Of course you can’t by yourself. What makes your family worth being a part of is your walk with God… He changes you and enables you and He does the same for them. As we walk with Jesus we find rest… relationship… purpose… and hope for the future. Please hold onto Jesus… please put Him first… Please don’t allow yourself or your family to be swept down stream because you let go of the Lord or just were not able to hold onto Him because your hands were filled with something else… there is so much at stake… God loves you and so do I.
Share on Facebook
Welcome to my blog. I am excited to begin this endeavor. I hope you enjoy journeying along with me!
Share on Facebook