Thursday, January 19, 2017

Just This Once

I've become pretty good at keeping my mouth shut when it comes to politics. All of the arguments and vicious attacks on social media do nothing but add to the discontent and frustration many of us already feel. I am unapologetically Christian, and I believe that respect for authority is paramount to my faith. Romans 13:1 commands us, "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." To outwardly rebel against what God has established is to rebel against God.

For the past eight years, I have prayed for President Obama and his family. I have written him to encourage him, and I have written when I disagreed. Respecting authority does not mean that any of us are forced to agree with a leader who defies God's laws and mandates. It simply means we respect the office and the man or woman in that office through prayer and positive words. Negativity only serves to deepen the chasm that exists in our country. 

I am writing these words on Mr. Obama's last day in office. Tomorrow, we will inaugurate Donald Trump as our new President. With that in mind, I offer my thoughts about the recent past and future of our country.

I am deeply disappointed in President Obama's administration. He has outwardly and proudly defied God's standards regarding the sanctity of human life and of marriage. His administration has sought to literally force Christians to change the very moral standards by which we choose to live, under the guise of "equality" and "freedom." His tepid responses to police shootings served to add to, rather than heal the racial divide in this country. Despite my disappointments and frustrations, I have prayed weekly, and led my church in praying for God's guidance on his life, and protection for his family. Why? Because at the end of the day, I want my government to serve the people according to the righteousness of our Creator who has blessed our nation for so many years. 

And now, Donald Trump becomes our new President. I did not vote for him, nor did I vote for Mrs. Rodham-Clinton.  As one of my missionary friends put it, "I'm relieved that Hilary didn't win, but I'm scared because Trump did."  Again, I will pray for the administration. I am pleased that Mr. Trump has chosen a seemingly devoted Christian man as our next Vice-President. I hope and pray that he will make Godly choices for his cabinet, and Supreme Court Justices. But I also hope that Christians don't continue to give him an automatic pass on the garbage he has spewed,  just because he's not Hilary. If a Democrat were taking office tomorrow, and had pulled even half the shenanigans that Mr. Trump has pulled during his campaign, you can be assured that the conservative right would be up in arms. Putting blinders on and accepting continued childish behavior does not serve to advance the gospel message we profess to love. It's nothing short of hypocritical to turn a blind eye and simply accept clown-like foolishness from a world leader because he represents the supposed favored political affiliation of Christ followers. Let's respect the office, but let's not support what displeases God.

And so I will join others in praying for President Trump, his family, Congress, state, county, and local government. And during his tenure, I would hope that all Americans join in supporting him through prayer, even through disagreements over policies and decisions he makes. Ultimately, we all want to see a successful and thriving United States of America. Division, arguments, loud protests and complaining will only serve to accomplish what they have in the past - absolutely nothing. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Because Decency Matters

I've been staring at a blank screen for quite some time, trying to come up with words sufficient enough to express how dumbfounded I am. I've seen a lot of weird things in my day that I've been at a loss to explain: Pet Rocks, Leisure Suits, 8 track tapes, Dennis Rodman...

Okay, we can chalk those things up to temporary insanity. But the latest movement (pardon the pun) making its way into our schools, our fitness centers and businesses is the moral equivalent of Sodom and Gomorrah. I could even argue that it's worse, because it's being forced upon all of us. If it continues unchecked, none of us will have a choice. Someone riddle me this: When did it become a good idea to allow boys and girls, men and women to use whatever bathroom or shower they choose depending on what they "feel" like? In other words, whatever happened to common decency?

Here's the problem, for those who, for whatever reason cannot see the problem inherent in this. Let me spell it out for you. BOYS and GIRLS are different. And they have a right to keep their bodies PRIVATE.

It was the rite of passage that many junior high students dreaded, and I imagine many still do. Gym class. That uncomfortable hour of the day when you find yourself dressing and showering with the students you just studied geometry and science with. It's difficult enough with members of the same gender. Imagine the chaos that's likely to unfold when raging teenage hormones get together in the shower and dressing room!

Let me put it another way. I made a marriage vow to my wife. My vow means I only have eyes for her. Therefore, I have the right to not be exposed to an undressed member of the opposite sex whether I'm in the bathroom, changing room, or anywhere else. Does my right to purity enter into play, here? We chastise women for for dressing scantily and enticing men, and we chastise men for viewing pornography and seeing women as objects. Is there a difference, here? Sorry, but if God granted you certain plumbing, it doesn't matter how you "feel." It's indecent and its wrong to expose that body to a member of the opposite sex.

This isn't a rant against the LGBT Community, although I understand how many feel that it falls within that debate. That's a discussion for another place. This is about ALL of us, especially our vulnerable children, and our right not to be sexually intimidated or unwillingly enticed in a public place. It is about decency. Let's pray that in America, decency still matters. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Well, Looky Here!

He's back. Yep, I'm back again after a very long, unexpected break from blogging. Unexpected because, for whatever reason, I couldn't log in. My password hasn't worked for.... well, however long I've been away. Then one day, poof! It was working again. Same username... same password. I don't ask questions, I'm just here. Technology and I have never been the best of friends. 
And so it begins... again. I've been reading over some of my past ramblings and quite frankly, I say "quite frankly" a lot. Other than that, not much has changed. I'm still battling the weight demon, still dealing with insecurities, criticisms, and the like... and waiting for God to make a move on some major prayers. And waiting, and waiting...
And trusting. Always trusting that He knows what He's doing.

And so here I am. Same ol' "Just Me," perhaps a little wiser, certainly a little older, and by the grace of God, a whole lot slimmer, soon. 

On that, I'm not willing to wait. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Yeah, One of Those, Too.

Lose weight. Be a better person. Read through the Bible in a year. Visit old friends. Learn to cook. Learn to play the piano. Yadda, yadda, yadda. 

I'm tired of New Year's Resolutions. They. Don't. Work. Ever. That's why for 2014, I'm committing to getting a revelation, instead. A revelation directly from God.  Here's the difference: A resolution generally means that we rely on ourselves; our own strength to make some sort of change in our lives that we've been unable to make before. So we resolve, with good intentions, that this will finally be the year we make the change for the better.

Hogwash. The fact is, we can't do it on our own because we're not designed that way. We were created for intimate communion with, and worship of Jehovah God. Scripture is abundantly clear on this point: When we are weak, God is strong. It is our dependence on Him that gives us the strength to overcome our sins, our addictions, and our bad habits. The apostle Paul got a revelation direct from God: 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (II Corinthians 12:9).

I'm guilty. I'm guilty of resolving to do better. I'm guilty of repeatedly banging my head against the wall in frustration, because I can't get a hold of that thing that keeps me from being all I can be in Christ Jesus. So I'm giving up. I'm surrendering to God. I'm going to spend the next 365 days going after a revelation from heaven.

And I pray that my revelation leads to a revolution.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Big "Buts"

I've learned never to give up easily when it comes to my faith, because God is a whole lot smarter than I am. Many times over, He has proven to me that He has a plan I know nothing about. He'll take me right to the edge, right to the limit of my patience and understanding, and then pour it on in such a way that I wonder how I ever could have doubted.

Now. Some may disagree with my theology, but I really don't care. I'm all about being honest with God. I don't mind telling Him when I'm frustrated, when my faith is lacking, or when I'm just angry that I've been praying for two years and nothing seems to be happening while everyone around me gets blessed. Here's why: I've read the Psalms. All 150 of them. Repeatedly, the Psalmists (especially David) pour their hearts out to God. They give Him all of their frustrations, their worries, and their fears. But in nearly every instance, they follow up with a three letter word:  "But."  But God, I trust in you. But God, you know better than me. But God, you are on the throne! Some might call it a lack of faith. I call it honesty. Those questions are recorded in God's Word for a reason.

So yeah, I'm frustrated. For two years I've been praying for my hip to be healed. I've approached the big guns... some of the most respected and well known preachers and leaders in our "denomination" have prayed over me. They have prophesied healing. They have seen me running. They have envisioned the cartilage growing back in place so I have no more pain. They have stood with me. Men of faith. Spiritual giants. And still... the doctor says my hip is "awful." A-W-F-U-L. Did you hear that, God? It's awful! What about the prayers? What about the faith? What about the prophecies, God? What about the "sinner" you healed through the same hands that were laid on me? Why him and not me, your servant? Yeah, God... I'm frustrated, I'm a little angry, and I'm very confused! Yes, I have a doctor's appointment next month. Yes, we're going to talk about a hip replacement. Is it your desire to have them slice my leg open and permanently install a piece of steel inside of me that will cost thousands of dollars? Or is it your desire to heal miraculously? It's been two years God. Where's the miracle?

But God.....

But God. I'm not giving up. But God, I trust Your way is perfect. But God, I know you have a plan. But God... I will trust. I will give you my frustration. I will fast, I will study your word, and I will pray. I will not try to manipulate you God, but instead I will conform to Your divine will.

I don't get it right now, God. I really don't. BUT... I look forward to the day when it all makes sense. That's the day I'll get off my lazy "but" and stop doubting in the first place.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

25 or 6 to 4

I'm not sure why the old Chicago tune, "25 or 6 to 4" is running through my muddled head, but it somehow seems appropriate today. It's one of those songs that doesn't make sense until you hear the story behind it. Someone in the band asked what time it was, and another person answered, "25 or 6 to 4," literally meaning about 25 or 26 minutes until 4 o'clock. Oh, now we get it!

The past month has been a mixed bag of emotions, and most days I don't know if I'm coming or going, happy or sad, contented or discontented, doing the right thing or somewhat out of God's will. Trying to sort out what I'm feeling and why is, well, kind of like trying to figure out that song. Pretty soon the light's going to come on, and it's all going to make sense. It's the waiting that drives me nuts.

I don't know whether or not I regret recent decisions I've had to make. I see things working out for the better, and I should be happy, but instead I'm feeling miserable and alone. I know the right thing to do is seek God, read His word, pray about it, and have a support team I can talk to. Yet I find myself being less than forthright and honest, because I know how it would sound... like I don't have it all together. And I don't.

I've spent my life dedicated to servanthood. I preach it all the time. We're not here for ourselves; I believe we're here to honor God, serve Him, and love others. The rest will take care of itself. But that's the problem. I wasn't made just to love others. I was made to be loved as well. Truth be told, I feel as if I'm doing all the giving, and my "love tank" is running on empty. That feels and sounds totally selfish, and it probably is. I also feel like the one strongest desire of my heart, to be a good father and mentor is the one area where I've screwed up the most. If I can't even get that right, then how can I expect to be loved in return?

It's time to turn the station and get "25 or 6 to 4" out of my head. I need a new song. I'm just afraid the next station will be playing "American Pie." Talk about confusing.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Preacher in the Green Shirt

Pardon me while I ramble.

This morning before church started, a dear lady commented, "Not that I'm counting or anything, but do we need to take up a collection to buy you some new shirts? That's the third Sunday in a row you've worn that same green shirt!"  REALLY??!!?? Okay, so I like green. I think from now on I'm going to wear a different green shirt every Sunday morning, kind of in the same manner that Bill Cosby wore a different ugly sweater every week on The Cosby Show. My neighbor Sandy used to wear two different color shoes to work at her restaurant. Hey, it could be a great gimmick to increase attendance and win more people to Christ. People came from miles around to hear John the Baptist preach in camel hair. Whatever it takes, ya know?

But what's really on my mind as I wrap up a very long and very rewarding day in ministry is this: Love. God is love, and He makes it very easy to love what He calls us to do for Him. Today was baptism Sunday, and what a joy it is to baptize the young and old alike. We went out to the lake on a picture-perfect Sunday afternoon to baptize seven, and ended up baptizing eight. A lady who recently lost her husband of 45 years saw what was going on and came right on out into the water asking to be baptized. What a privilege to pray for and comfort her with Christ's love. There's just no greater feeling than loving on people like Jesus taught us.

The other reason that love is on my mind: My daughter. Shelby came to live with us almost 10 months ago. I first met her in my youth group when she was 11. We're not blood related, but she's been like a daughter to us for years. We opened our arms and our homes to her to give her a more stable environment. But quite honestly, it took us ten months to get it right. I had a huge learning curve, and probably wasn't the best "Dad" I could be. But this week... well, I won't go into the details. But let me urge you parents: When you honestly open up the lines of communication with your kids and let God be involved in guiding the conversation, some amazing things happen. Give your kids some credit. They're probably smarter than you realize. There's not a court order or anything "legal" that says I'm Shelby's Dad. But I have it in writing... from her. She's my daughter. So now I have two wonderful kids who both teach me daily about life in very, very different ways. They both make my heart full. I love them both unconditionally, and with all the love my heart can muster.

God is just good like that. He's an awesome God. I have a beautiful wife I adore (26 years in October and counting!), two great kids, the best church family a Pastor could ever ask for, and a dog that... well, I have a dog. :) 

Now. Where can I find a sale on green shirts?