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America the Ugly!

Almost every patriotic occasion includes the singing of "America, the Beautiful".  Of course this refers mainly to the landscape.  There is something in this country to appeal to almost everyone.  However, from the standpoint of the citizenry, we have become "America, the Ugly".  We are divided politically, racially, financially and worst of all, spiritually.  Those who do not look like, act like or agree with us we consider to be enemies.  We lambaste each other with rhetoric that would peel the paint off a wall.  Anytime someone dares to question the scathing things we say, we loudly proclaim our "freedom of speech".
What used to be news reporting has degenerated into opinionated verbiage espousing the reporter's own political stance or that of the media that pays them.  Listening is a lost art. When someone else is speaking we often are waiting for a brief lapse so that we can jump in with our opinion which we deem to be the only one worth hearing.
O…

Why Go to Church? - Craig Blomberg

Why Go to Church? - Craig Blomberg:

Recently I wrote a blog post on the importance of church attendance.  This post by Craig Blomberg goes even deeper than I did.
Just this past Sunday we experienced our low attendance for the year in our little church.  Only 13 people gathered for the evening service. (Yes, we still have one)  Some of the "reasons" (excuses) that good people give for not attending would come off as very lame when they stand before God and give an answer as to why they only attended when "convenient".

I predict that unless the LORD comes back soon believers in America will not enjoy the freedom to worship that we have had in the past.  We will begin to experience what our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, parts of Africa, China and North Korea have been experiencing for years.  Our "take it or leave it" attitude toward church attendance is in direct violation of scripture, as Blomberg points out in his article.  Violating scriptura…

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13  "Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus." I believe that what Paul wrote is applicable in the life of any Christian.  We have all been called by Christ to a new life in Him.  At the moment we received Christ as Lord and Savior, we were also called to be witnesses for Him (Acts 1:8). Some would like to say that this only applied to the apostles.  If that were the case, Holy Spirit would not have preserved the message for you and me today.  Regret is a tool that the devil uses to derail Christians in their pursuit of the prize.  We often live in an "if only" world.  "If only I had done this" or "if only I hadn't done that."  If Jesus had that attitude, He would never have gone to the cross for us.  If Paul had tha…

Is Church Attendance a Priority?

New polls show that many people who attend church once a month or quarter or maybe even twice a year consider themselves to be "regular attenders".  This has resulted in a new classification of church attenders called "Chresters"  (Christmas and Easter attenders).  It seems that the younger generation does not see church attendance as a priority.  Perhaps they have forgotten that the fact of their parents or grandparents being consistent in their church attendance is a factor in their coming into a relationship with God.  It doesn't take much for such people to miss church; visiting relatives, hobbies, family time, preparation for the coming work week all take precedence over church attendance.
Once when I was a Youth Pastor, I devised a plan to emphasize the flippant attitude many of them had toward church.  With only a couple of people being aware of what was up, I did not show up for Youth Group on a Wednesday evening.  After waiting for about 10 minutes, on…

A Parable of Good News

Once there was a man who visited every bank, savings and loan, and business in the world and made arrangements to pay all the debts of all the people who owed anything.  This information was made public, and some people took advantage by ceasing to struggle to pay their debts and just acting as if they owed nothing.  Some of those who were thus relieved of debt told their friends and family members. Some even told strangers they met this good news.  However, others said nothing to anyone.  They knew they had neighbors and friends who were weighed down with debt, but they didn't think it was any of their business to interfere.  Eventually many people who had accepted this freedom from debt got together with others who also were now debt-free.  They met weekly to talk about their new freedom and celebrate it.  On very rare occasions debt-ridden people found their way into these meetings and discovered how to be debt-free.A few of those who were freed from debt felt strongly that the…

Scripture Impetus for Prayer and Worship

It seems that anything we do over a long period of time can become tedious and stale.  That is true even with personal devotions.  Anyone who denies ever going through a "dry" period in their devotional life, would probably lie about other things as well.  Recently I was reminded of the benefit of praying from scripture.  Prayer that springs FROM Scripture is a bit different from praying Scripture.  It means that the Scripture you read provokes prayer that may even take a different direction. The video specifically mentioned using the Psalms and  epistles as a springboard for praying.  As I thought about this, I realized that we can actually do that with every book of the Bible. Then I also realized that using the Scriptures is a great way to freshen my praise and worship (that phrase includes more than just music).
For example, take a look at Genesis 1:1  "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  That sentence alone could lead you to praise God fo…

Kick Back, Look Up and THINK!

Have you noticed that there are few great "thinkers" in America today?  It seems that we put a premium on doing and not on thinking.  I heard a story once of a person who was being shown around a great business that occupied a skyscraper in a major city.  It seemed that on every floor and in every office people were scurrying around or pounding at computer keyboards or locked in intense discussions during meetings.  As they passed one office with the door slightly open, the guest noticed a man leaning back in his chair, with his feet propped on his desk, gazing out the window.  He couldn't help but ask why this would be allowed in the midst of such frenetic activity.  In answer, his guide said, "Oh, that is Mr. "So and So".  He is thinking.  One day when he was doing that he came up with an idea that has made the company twenty million dollars, so no one bothers him when he is thinking."
God gave us minds.  He intends for us to use them.  When we do He…