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Showing posts from 2012

For or Against?

It seems that every year at Christmas there is a plethora of topics that Christ followers line up against.  Whether it be greetings (Happy Holidays) stores (those that disallow the Salvation Army bell ringers) or articles in the media that disparage our coveted beliefs, it seems so easy for Believers to get in the "against" line.  I'd like to suggest that we take a different tack this year.  Why not be FOR the things you support and stop wasting your time being negative?  For example, I'm FOR "Have a blessed Christmas" (I like that better than "Merry Christmas" although that is O.K.)  I'm FOR Nativity scenes, choirs presenting music and dramas of the season, Christmas eve services, the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible, caroling from door to door in my community and so much more.  Because I'm for them, I invite my friends and acquaintances to join me.  I counter "Happy Holiday" greetings with "Have a blessed Chri…

America's New Reality

The new reality inAmerica is that the country has embraced killing babies, homosexual marriage and paying people not to work.  Those who stand for Biblical principles are now aliens in their own country.  So what do we do now?
We pray for our governmental leaders as the Bible tells us.We seek the spirit of Joseph and Daniel, who, in a hostile environment stood firm in their faith while not denigrating those who ruled over them.We trust God to see us THROUGH the storm.We recognize our failure to fulfill the Great Commission, repent and re-double our efforts to expand God's kingdom here on earth.We realize that the answer to all of the ills of earth is not politics, but is and always has been allegiance to Almighty God.We now have the awesome assignment of living for Jesus in the same sort of environment that the first century disciples did.  We must realize that we have the same Word of God to guide us, the same Holy Spirit to empower us and the same guarantee that we may well suffe…

Hide and Seek: A Novel: Jeff Struecker,Alton Gansky: 9781433671425: Amazon.com: Books

Hide and Seek: A Novel: Jeff Struecker,Alton Gansky: 9781433671425: Amazon.com: Books:

'via Blog this'
This fast paced military thriller will grab your attention and imagination and keep you turning pages.  Knowing that it is written by a decorated Army Ranger gives additional credence to the story line.  I especially enjoyed reading such a novel without having to wade through pages of profanity laced dialogue.  Both Major Jeff Struecker and co-author Alton Gansky have communication skills that draw readers into the story.
Major Struecker's experiences in Mogadishu, Somalia were documented in the NYT best seller "Black Hawk Down" which was made into a major motion picture.  Fans of Tom Clancy will enjoy this pulse pounding story.

Our Personal Passover

OK, our family is not Jewish, we are "grafted in" as Christ-followers.  However, we celebrated at 3 day "passover" in that we had a "time of remembrance" of all that God has done in our lives.  The Youth Group that we had in the '80's had a reunion this past weekend in Pompano Beach, FL.  We were inundated with memories as we visited, remanised and celebrated friendship and the many blessings of God.  Thanks so much to those who planned and pulled off this event.  Thanks also to those who traved many miles to join us.  Kinda like going back to Jerusalem for the Passover.
Over the past 5-10 years it has been our joy to attend 4 reunions of past youth groups we have had the privilege of working with.  Each of them has brought back a flood of memories of all that God did over many decades in our lives and ministry.  I would encourage every former "youth group" in any church to plan such events while those who were the leaders are still aroun…

This Is My Story

I love the hymn "Blessed Assurance" especially the chorus, "This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long." I've just read of Paul telling his story in Acts 22.  I'll be preaching on this text next Sunday.  Even as I prepare to do so, I'm convicted that I don't tell my story more often to more people.
I remember a quote from the great British evangelist Leonard Ravenhill; "A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument."  That is a great answer to those who say, "I don't know enough scripture to witness." or "I'm afraid I won't be able to answer Bible questions they may ask me."  The reality is that the best evangelism tool any of us has is our own story of how we encountered Jesus, received Him and how our life has been since.  That being said, here is MY story...
When my dad was in the army and there was just my mom and me, we went to a tent revival that my …

GlobeQuake: Living in the Unshakeable Kingdom While the World Falls Apart

I've just finished reading the book "GlobeQuake: Living in the Unshakeable Kingdom While the World Falls Apart" written by my friend Wallace Henley.  He is remarkably equipped to write such a book because of his storied background.  A pastor, journalist, author, former aide in the Nixon White House, and former chief of staff for a congressman, Henley has both the theological and political background for this task.
While many have attempted to cast our current world situation in the light of Armageddon, Henley goes beyond that to show why Christ followers can anticipate victory here and now as well as in the "sweet by and by".  He leaves us with a message of hope.
I recommend that every pastor, educator, parent and student read this book to get a balanced view of what God is up to in our day.

Sunday Decompression

Once again I have preached the messages God has led me to prepare to the people God has called me to pastor.  Once again there has been no response.  Once again I'm feeling depleted, wiped out, empty and useless.  It has happened week after week for over a year now.  I keep wondering when or if God is going to show Himself in our services or among our members and stir us to new life.
Some pastors may relish being in a church that is warm, friendly, out of debt, and with little or no problems.  I'd rather be in a church that is vital, alive, living on the edge, taking chances for God and trusting Him to provide what we don't have but need to complete the assignment He has given us.
I get into this melancholy mood every Sunday night.  Sometimes by Monday morning I'm over it.  I keep hoping that one Monday I'll see clearly how to get in step with God and how to lead my church to join me in bringing God's kingdom here on earth in Lake Placid.  I truly believe this …

Sip or Gulp; the Result is the Same

This will be my one and only foray into politics on this site.  I'm dumbfounded that so many intelligent, avowed Christ-followers are "drinking the kool-aid" the Democrat Party has prepared.  By that I mean, they are ignoring the huge platform planks of infanticide (abortion on demand) and same-sex marriage being equal to the biblical model.  It seems that the economy trumps all in their estimation.  There have been charismatic leaders throughout history that have led their country down the steep slope of extinction because they chose to ignore the existence or teachings of God.  In the final analysis, it isn't what one claims, but rather what one does that identifies who they are.
I suppose that some will say, "Well, there is enough good to counteract the bad in the Democrat platform."  To that I would reply, "I have a nice cold drink here for you...O yes, it is only 99% pure, the other 1% is cyanide."  Would you drink it?  It would make no differ…

Review: The 3 Minute Difference

“The 3-Minute Difference” by Wayne Nance; a Review I received a copy of this book from the B & B Media Group, Inc. in return for my honest evaluation. To be honest, I struggled a bit in reading this book primarily because it is really three books in one.  Nance, founder and president of Real Life Management, discovered from his own experience that there are three crucial areas of a person’s life that cry for deliberate management; health & fitness, financial fitness and relationship fitness.  In this book he not only recounts his journey in dealing with these areas, but presents some extremely helpful tools for others who are struggling with one or more of them.  After reading this, I’m putting it in my reference library so that I can refer to it again and again as needed. The name of the book “The 3-Minute Difference” is a bit of a misnomer in that it will take much longer than 3 minutes to achieve success in any of the three arenas of life mentioned above.  The name is derived …

Exposed: Inexcusable Me...Irreplaceable Him - Shannon M. Deitz - Google Books

Exposed: Inexcusable Me...Irreplaceable Him - Shannon M. Deitz - Google Books:

For me this was a tough read.  I received a complimentary copy of the book from B &  B Media Group in exchange for my honest review.  So, here goes....
For much of the book I felt a bit like a voyeur, looking through a bedroom window at a young woman's most vulnerable moments.  At best I felt that I was reading someone's private diary.  Although I recognize the need to "set the stage" for what was a very positive ending, I also felt that in some instances there was "TMI".
With that disclaimer, let me move to the positive aspects I found in the book.  I believe, from her personal testimony that Ms. Deitz is a true "born again" Catholic whose allegiance is more to the Lord than to the church.  Her agonizing search for spiritual truth is the real story.  Though I cannot identify with a back ground of abuse, I have dealt with many who can, and I feel that this book wou…

Monday Morning Musings

As is the case with many, if not most, pastors, Mondays start off sluggishly.  Usually we are spent from the rigors of preaching, and are either elated or dejected depending upon the response of the people.  There is the immediate need to evaluate the services from the previous day and begin planning for next weekend.  Even if we are in a preaching series, there are always "tweaks" that need to be made, editing, blurbs for the bulletin or newspaper, etc.
One thing I'm trying to implement in my walk with Jesus is His practice of going to the Father each day for marching orders.  I love the passage in Mark 1 where, in the midst of a revival meeting which went well into the night, Jesus went out to a quiet place "while it was still dark" and spent time with His Father.  When the disciples came seeking Him because the crowd was back, He said, "Let's go to the neighboring villages so that I may preach there too."  Not many preachers would walk away from…

Praying Through

The term "praying through" is one of those "old timey" phrases that often gets tossed around with little understanding of the meaning.  I'm not sure that I totally understand it either.  One definition that rings true to me is praying until you sense the presence of God, or a sense of peace that God has heard your prayer, or have come face to face with the answer.  The real problem, especially where corporate prayer is concerned, is that in many churches or prayer groups there is an agenda that precludes "praying through".  If God doesn't appear or answer within a prescribed time frame, we tend to end the prayer time until next week.  Rarely do I leave such a group with the sense that we have dialoged with God.  Mostly what we have done is our weekly "dump" of concerns into the lap of God without listening to see if He has questions or suggestions or commands related to our requests.
Case in point; there are names and requests that have b…

Amazon.com: Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival eBook: Leonard Sweet: Kindle Store

Amazon.com: Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival eBook: Leonard Sweet: Kindle Store:

'via Blog this'
Leonard Sweet's book, "Viral" is designed to be experienced rather than just read.  It is the announcement of a new revolution that is almost a Reformation so far as Christianity is concerned.  Though I read it alone, it seems to be best fitted to be read and discussed in groups because each chapter ends with interactive ideas for digging deeper into the meaning of the content for each individual.
Sweet divides mankind into two groups; "Gutenbergers" (those raised on the printed page) and "Googlers" (the new digital generation).  Though he identifies with the Gutenbergers because of his age and experience, he is rapidly becoming a Googler in practice.  Googlers are further identified as the T.G.I.F. generation (Twitter, Google, I-Phone, Facebook).
There are times that the book moves somewhat slowly as though slogging through…

Trying vs Doing

One of the more difficult lessons I have learned (and still struggle with) is that trying is not the same as doing.  Too often we use the excuse, "I'm trying..." to cover the fact that we are not doing.  Often in witnessing or counseling, I get this response from the one with whom I'm conversing, "I'm trying to live a good life" or "I'm trying to solve the problem."  In every instance that is a cover for the FACT...they are not "doing".  We need to learn from Thomas Edison that this important thing is the doing.  He failed 10,000 times before succeeding in inventing the incandescent light bulb.  Rather than whining, "I'm trying" he just kept doing.
This is not to discount the validity of effort.  One only has to observe the butterfly struggling to be free from the cocoon to recognize the benefit of effort.  Without the struggle, the butterfly would never be able to take wing and fly.  However, we (mankind) have becom…

Having the Right Connections

This has been a frustrating morning.  For some reason I could not access the internet via our wireless router at the office.  I'm not at our condo, and was able to get on line here.  I spent part of the morning on the phone with a tech, and part of it fuming as I tried different things with my computer, the modem, and the router.  All of this has made me very aware of, and uncomfortable about, the reliance I have on "being connected".  I have a smart phone, a desk-top and lap-top computer, and a tablet.  I'm constantly looking for the latest and greatest devices.  I have wireless internet capability at both my home in Sebring and my condo in Lake Placid.  I spend an inordinate amount of timeon line either surfing, reading or studying for sermons or Bible Studies, playing games, or involved with social media.  Currently our home group is dependent upon my internet connection for video-driven studies.  Yet, when I look at the productivity of my ministry with all these …

Catching up?'

I've let myself get behind in updating my blog.  As a matter of fact, I have so many things I want to write about, it is hard to determine which to choose.  I've decided to start with fulfilling an obligation I have.
I recently received the new Bibles from Zonderkidz entitled "NIV faithGirlz Bible" and NIV Boys Bible".  The idea is that I am to review them on my blog.  So here goes.  Having both grandsons and grand-daughters who fall into the age range being targeted by these Bibles, I'm especially interested in the distinctives that set these Bibles apart.
First: NIV faithGirlz Bible:  I love the pink; I love the "Dream Girl" inserts that draw young ladies into the story.  Also, the "Bring it on" segments create an interactive opportunity where girls can actually take a quiz based on the scripture  passage.  Other distinctives in this Bible are the "Oh, i get it!" (explanation of some hard to grasp issues) "Treasure this!&qu…

The Challenge of Intercession

Today I'm faced with the challenge of interceding for family members many miles away.  There is a combined sense of helplessness and empowerment as I take these loved ones and their needs to the Lord.
The sense of helplessness comes from being so very far away and unable to touch them or to physically comfort them in any way.  However, that sense of helplessness puts me in a perfect position to intercede.  Since there is nothing I can personally do to alleviate their pain or help with their problem, I MUST rely on God to intervene in response to my prayers.  I remember hearing Ronn Dunn say that "intercession is like an ICBM launched from a pad no larger than your knees.  It travels at the speed of thought to any target on earth; scores a perfect bulls-eye, and there is no defense against it."
I'm encouraged that I can pray for my loved ones and their specific needs, and have an IMMEDIATE impact on their situation even though I'm not there physically.
I'm also e…

A matter of Focus

There are people I know who are always talking about how bad things are, how evil the government is, how dire the economy has become, etc.  It has come to the point that if I see them coming, I start looking for the nearest exit.  Often, even at church, I hear this sort of conversation; constant focus on the down side of life, health, relationships and events.  I have discovered that if I don't make a conscious effort to do otherwise, it is very easy to be lured into this sort of thinking and talking.  For that reason, I deliberately focus on the upside.  Call me a Polly Anna if you will, but I'm happier this way.  The bad is always going to be there.  If the Lord tarries, it will become worse, however, we have a choice as to where we focus our attention.  Paul said it best in Philippians 3:13;  "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead..." (NLT)  The "what is ahead" for the Christ follower is life eternally with Jesus.  No matter how ba…

Stuck!!!

Today I'm stuck!  It seems that my creative juices have dried up.  I've prayed, read, walked, sat, viewed a video and just about everything else I can think of and I'm still stuck.  This is not a good time to be stuck because tonight is Prayer Meeting.  I need to have something fresh for the people tonight to get them on track to pray.  This will be one of those times when unless God shows up, we will have a drab 45 minutes where we sing a song, make announcements, read a scripture, and offer the obligatory prayers for healing for those who are sick and then go home.
I feel almost as if I need a spiritual Roto Rooter to clean out my pipes and get the flow from God moving in my direction.  I've confessed, repented, praised, prayer walked around the building and now am purging my soul at the keyboard.  Maybe that is part of the problem.  If something works, I'll be hard put to determine which of these was the magic bullet.
If this were a sit-com, all would be resolve…

Are You Ready?

After all the hullabaloo (which is still going on and likely will escalate) surrounding the presidential race, are you any closer to making a decision?  Of course we won't know our final choices for some months, but every day we're bombarded with ads, blurbs, news items, etc surrounding each of the Republican wanna-be's as well as O'bama's slant on things.  I'm still waiting for someone to take the high road and emphasize what they plan to do if elected rather than blasting their opponents and slinging mud.
All of this has made me look back at the Old Testament records of the kings.  In the first place, Israel's insistence that they have a king was a rejection of the leadership of God.  Jehovah finally acquiesced to their whining and gave them what they asked for, and there has been trouble ever since.  It seems to me that the best of the kings (David, Solomon, Joel, etc.) did not seek the position, but it was conferred on them either by the anointing of Go…

The All Day 5 o'clock Shadow

Does anyone else find it strange that more and more we are seeing men in the media, especially comercials, exhibiting the shabby look of the 5 o'clock shadow?  It seems that after years of feminizing men and promoting "E.D" drugs which indicate that testosterone levels have dropped, those in the media are suddenly wanting to show that men still can grow facial hair.  Not full beards mind you, but just that "my beard is so heavy that even though I shave I still have this shadow".  I'm waiting for the day one of our politicians running for office shows up in a commercial, or for a debate with the manly "shadow".Don't get me wrong.  If I have a few days off, I'm likely not to shave.  It is not one of my favorite things to do.  However, I still think that when I'm at work, or in public, I need to be clean shaven.  I can even go a couple of days without anyone noticiing (guess I really do have "low T")   I'm noticing that many …

On Pastoring a Sr. Adult Church

Some days it is tough to determine just what I should be doing.  Most of my parishioners are 60+ in age.  In the 6 months I've been pastor here I've had 4 funerals and no weddings.  There are days that I feel like a hospice chaplain as I visit the terminally ill in various hospitals and nursing facilities.  Most of my praying is for health or God's mercy upon those who are suffering.  
Our fellowship is wonderful.  The people are loving, kind and gracious.  Those who visit here are welcomed and most seem to enjoy their time with us.  However, we've had one baptism and one addition by letter in six months.  How can we even start to fulfill the Great Commission that way?  
I suppose I could just relax and enjoy being the resident teacher, entertainer, activities and choir director for this land locked cruise ship called a church, but somehow that just isn't enough.  It seems that the Lord left us no alternative...we are to be disciple-makers which includes sharing the …

Church as the "Go-to" Place

I'm one of those who has emphasized many times that most of the programs in most churches are designed as "come" structures.  Come to our service, come to our program, come to our concert, or revival or whatever.  Cast against the backdrop of the Great Commission which emphasizes "go", it makes it seem as if we are choosing the exact opposite of what Jesus meant.  Today as I was praying and thinking about an identity for our church, I began to think of "go" in a bit of a different light.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if the people of our town began to think of Faith Baptist Church as the "go-to" place for all sorts of needs?  

Lonely?  Go to Faith Baptist.Depressed?  Go to Faith Baptist.Hungry?  Go to Faith Baptist.Homeless?  Go to Faith Baptist.Jobless?  Go to Faith Baptist.Not that we are currently equipped to meet all those needs, but we can become equipped.  When we have a member who is passionate about a particular ministry, we can help …

National Signing Day for Believers?

Wouldn't it be great if churches went after non-believers with the same intensity that colleges pursue football recruits?  Here's how I see it happening;

A church identifies and locates the non-believers in their area.Each non-believer is assigned a Believing church member to connect with them, woo them and seek to get them to commit to Jesus.The entire coaching staff (church leaders) make connecting with the non-believer their priority.  They make phone calls, write letters, make home visits, tweet, write on FaceBook pages, etc.The "fans" (church members) are encouraged to focus their prayers on the non-believers on the list.When the non-believer visits the church campus, they are assigned a church member to show them around, introduce them to other members and make them feel a part of the "family"I believe that if we took reaching the unreached half as seriously as college football programs take reaching a prospective player for their team, we would see ma…

Internal House Cleaning

February was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification, via the purification ritual Februa held on February 15 (full moon) in the old lunar Roman calendar. What better time than this to spend some quality time with God asking Him to reveal things in your life that need purifying.  ·Take something to write on, a pen and your Bible ·Block out at least an hour with no distractions. ·Read Psalms 139:23-24 and make this your prayer. ·Write down everything that God brings to mind; don’t justify. ·Agree with God that the things He has brought to mind are sin. ·Cross off those which are only between you and God. ·Ask forgiveness from those you have wronged by word, attitude or deed.  Then cross them off. ·Thank God for cleansing you from sin and ask Him to fill you with Holy Spirit. ·Repeat as needed.

The Week That Was

This has been one of those weeks that tend to wear one down.  Beginning last Saturday evening.  After getting ready for bed early, we got a call that a church member had had a heart attack and was in ER at the local hospital.  Quickly we changed and charged out of the condo toward our car.  Before we got there, the owner of the unit below us rushed out to tell us that our shower was leaking into his unit. Explaining that we had no time to deal with this now, we left for the hospital, only to arrive too late.  The man had died.  We sat with his wife while the Dr. broke the news that the man she had been married to for 64 years was gone.  Just as we were getting ready to leave the hospital, the owner of the unit below us called to insist that we do something about the leak.  Once again I had to explain to him that we would not longer use the shower until we could get a plumber to check it out.
We assessed our shower situation later and determined that the leak was through a break in the …