Help My Doubt

Faith seeking reason- Mark 9:24

Pondering February

Here’s a bit of trivial information…Did you know that if you search for the word “winter” in the Bible that you will find 15 verses? Here are a few of them:

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease (Genesis 8:22).”

“It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter (Psalm 74:17)”.

“It was the ninth month and the king was sitting in the winter apartment, with a fire burning in the firepot in front of him (Jeremiah 36:22)”.

“Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath (Matthew 24:20)”.

Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter (John 10:22)”.

“Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there (Acts 27:12)”.

I was surprised by the verse in Jeremiah. Can you imagine, way back when, people experiencing a winter similar to ours? For centuries God’s creation has experienced the blanketing of winter which makes life a challenge.

This winter I have already had times when I felt “cabin fever”. People I used to stop and talk with I am only waving to now. Muscles I used to exercise are getting soft now. My left hand seems to always be cold.

Think about God’s will for us in winter, pray about it and make plans to do the best you can. Remember that God created winter and it will continue until Jesus comes again. God bless our February!

February 1, 2010 Posted by | Ponderings | Leave a comment

Pastor’s Ponderings…

What do you think of when you hear the word, “Advent”? Do you think of the advent candles with the wreath and pretty decorations of red and gold and green? Those are the kinds of things I think about when I hear the word, “Advent”, not Jesus.

Unfortunately, I don’t think most people understand the meaning of Advent anymore. I think it has become a word like, “Sanctification” or “Eucharist” or “Pentecost”. They are religious words that most normal people don’t even understand today.

I’d like to try something different to honor the birth of Jesus this year. I’d like to watch the history of the One who came from God. I’d like to talk about Jesus, not Advent.

I do want to see the church decorated with Christmas colors and traditional symbols. I like lighting the advent candles too. But let’s be careful not to confuse people with religious language. Let’s simply focus on the birth, life and rising of God’s Son this year.

John said, “these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name (Jn.20:31). We believe and we have life because of Jesus. Let’s celebrate Jesus and help other to believe this Christmas!

December 7, 2009 Posted by | Ponderings | Leave a comment

November 2009 Pastor’s Ponderings

I want you guys to know how thankful I am for your friendships and help.

First of all, you can’t imagine what it feels like to live off of the free will tithes and offerings of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. You guys pay my bills every month! I live in a house that is paid off because of you. Well, maybe the mortgage was paid before some of you joined our church. I know it was long before I got here. What a blessing.

Not only that but many of you volunteer to do work for our church that helps me a lot. You sacrifice personal time to come to board meetings, cabinet meetings, worship and small groups. Some of you even volunteer to preach, teach and lead in public worship! There have been several times when I felt like you deserved my weekly paycheck more than I did. I love you guys.

 

There are many reasons, of course, that pastors are paid and lay “ministers” are not but none of the reasons include, “the pastor is worth more”. I am called to be a full-time shepherd but, “in fact, God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be (1Cor.12:18)”.

All of you are gifted workers. Many of you are good friends. Sometimes I take you for granted, just as I do my wife and children, but this month I am remembering to be thankful. Some of you are family by blood. Some by faith. I trust and pray that our family will continue to grow as we continue in godly help and friendship.

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Ponderings | Leave a comment

Ponderings- September 09

Last week I received the Youth for Christ newsletter in the mail. Their motto is, “Every young person…One at a time”. That stuck with me. Sometimes spiritual progress moves very slowly but when we think about the people we have relationships with one-at-a-time we can see hope.

In our church, I had a great time meeting with the teens for Sunday School this summer. A “full” teen class would be just 4 boys (and one girlfriend) and we haven’t had a full Sunday School all summer but I see hope in our individual teens (kids and adults too).

When Jesus changed the world he did it as one man calling individual men from villages that were even smaller than mine (700 population)! He lived closely with 12 of them and many times met privately with only 3. Jesus told them, “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent (Lk.15:7)”.

If you, just you, have turned away from selfish living and towards Jesus then heaven rejoiced over you! If you helped one person, just one, turn toward Jesus this summer then God is very happy. “Every person…one at a time”. I like that. God does too.

September 14, 2009 Posted by | Ponderings | 2 Comments

Christian Ghetto

Jesus ate and drank with sinners (Matthew9:13). I don’t eat and drink with sinners (except the sinners that go to church!). What’s wrong with this picture? I can’t name one single non-Christian I would call a friend. Do you have non-Christian friends? I know some of you do and that’s great. I, however, have a problem. I do have a few non-Christian relationships but we don’t eat and drink together; we’re not really friends. I’m trapped in a Christian ghetto (by choice!). I’m not living like Jesus.

Did you know that Paul encouraged his churches to spend time with perverts, adulterers, other religions, greedy folks and all kinds of sinners (1Corinthians5:10)? I know this is a tricky issue because God also warns not to be “unequally yoked (2Corinthians6:14)” with unbelievers and “bad company ruins good character (Proverb)”. We need to love our non-Christian neighbors but not fall into sin. The problem is when we develop a distaste for sin which also becomes a distaste for sinners. That’s wrong.

So what am I going to do? First, I have confessed I am wrong and need God to fix me. I am ready to be a friend to my non-Christian neighbors (even when they swear, drink too much and criticize me). Second, I want help each other to be more hospitable. Let’s be more inviting and throw more horseshoes, roast hot dogs, deal poker cards and show our neighbors that God loves people- even sailor cussing, beer drinking and tobacco stained people.

July 27, 2009 Posted by | Ponderings | 7 Comments

Churchaholic

What would you do if our church burned to the ground? I’ve been thinking about that question lately. I guess that we would immediately start worshiping with the Baptist church until we figured out how to rebuild. Actually, I like that idea.

 

In years gone by, when God grew tired of the priests just going through the motions instead of truly worshiping Him from the heart, God destroyed their building and started over again. In fact, He did that a couple of times. When Jesus came He warned His disciples that they would be kicked out of the church. He was right. Since then God has expected true worshipers to worship, not in Jerusalem or in any building, but “in spirit and in truth”.

 

What would you like our church to look like if we could build it all over again out of nothing? My first thought is that we already have enough sanctuaries in this town! This town also has a senior center for socials, a fire hall for dinners, a school for indoor sports, a court for outdoor sports, a camp for recreation and a little playground for kids.

 

If we think about our community in terms of “kingdom” instead of “church” then we will understand that all the buildings in town are already ministry centers for God. Praise God that we are already living like that to some extent! I don’t know how God wants us to change our church and add a ministry center but I do know that God will guide us if we seek His “kingdom”, not our church, and do it, “in spirit and in truth”.

 

July 20, 2009 Posted by | Ponderings | 5 Comments

Easter’s A Joke?

This is what I wrote for our church’s monthly newsletter for April:

 

“I forget where I read this but apparently there was an early church tradition which was practiced the day after Easter. What they began doing was to go into the church on Monday morning and simply tell jokes. It sure sounds like a silly thing to do.

 

As I understand it the reason people got together to tell jokes was to celebrate God’s victory of Satan. In a sense God made the devil the butt of his joke. Satan had been on the wrong end of a sarcastic trick. He had egg all over his face when Jesus rose from the grave.

 

These are gloomy days we are living in as we see our country choosing to walk farther down the paths of greed and perversion and godlessness because they each lead to death. On the other hand it is especially in areas of darkness that the surprising laughter of Jesus can best be heard.

 

With Jesus it is possible for people in thrift shop blue jeans to sing joyously about God’s many blessings. With Jesus we can smile about pure love that grows in our marriages year after year after year. With Jesus those who fall in dark despair can be raised to eternal life at the least expected moment…and then the joke’s on Satan- again! “

I believe this is true but I have to admit that I don’t see this reality being lived out as well  as God indends.  At the same time my own faith experience is more joyful than it was last year. I hope yours is too.

March 30, 2009 Posted by | Ponderings | Leave a comment

Bad Pastors

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them (2 Tim 3:1-5).   

Tell me you guys, would you know a bad pastor if you saw one? When I heard this news report last month I was furious:

 Randy and Paula White, the founders and co-pastors of what has been one of the nation’s biggest and fastest-growing churches, plan to divorce. Members of Without Walls International Church reacted with tears and a chorus of ‘Oh, no’s’ after the Whites’ announcement at Thursday night’s service. Randy White called Paula White to the podium about an hour into the service. He was somber; she appeared choked up. ‘It’s the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make in my entire life,’ he told the congregation, describing her as an exceptional woman, mother and preacher. She pledged to return frequently to preach. The most shaken members left the service and went into the entryway to cry or call loved ones. Most said the news came as a shock, but it didn’t shake their faith in the ministry. http://www.tbo.com/news/nationworld/MGBA6S84Q5F.html 

If you could see the picture of this couple they are beautiful and young. If you read the rest of the article you would hear how both of them earn millions and millions of dollars. The problem is that they are preachers of the Word of God and at the same time are betraying a clear command not to divorce. They are being, “lovers of themselves, lovers of money” and God warns us, “Have nothing to do with them (2Tim.3:5)”. Their congregation, however, responded by saying, “it didn’t shake their faith in the ministry”.

If Anissa and I had stood up and done the same thing in our church last week I would have been immediately suspended from my position as pastor and placed under the care of a guidance board. Pastors who have such devastating moral failures need to be taken to the spiritual emergency room. Pastors who teach that such sin is only a “difficult decision” need to go to the spiritual woodshed.

Please don’t be fooled by young and attractive and successful preachers. There are so many of them and they preach so much better than I do but some of what they say can lead you astray. God forbid but some of what you hear may even lead to spiritual death. Instead, “have nothing to do with them”.

September 26, 2007 Posted by | Christian Celebrities, Ponderings | 6 Comments

The End of Time

Wow! I just spent some time reading the global news and there is a growing fear that our country could be hit by a nuclear bomb. Are you hearing the same thing? I get all my news from Christian radio and Christian newsletters so there is obviously a Christian bias but when Vice President Cheney says there is a real risk of nuclear bombs in the USA it doesn’t really matter if the reporter is a Christian! That’s scary.

 

Have you heard people talking about the end of the world too? I read one person’s take on Bible prophecy this morning and he believes that the president of Iran could be the Antichrist and the rapture of the church could very well take place just before New York City is destroyed by an atomic bomb. That is the kind of stuff we Christians need to be very careful about.

 

Even so, I thought it was useful to tell you these things because the Antichrist, the Rapture, the Tribulation and all the other Bible prophecies are very real and the symbols describe real people and real cities. I need to remember that so I can stay motivated and focused! You need to remember that so that you can stay alert too. If you don’t do anything else today pray to Jesus with all your heart to forgive your sins; and pray also for your neighbor.

 

Jesus said, “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them (Luke 12:37)”. Oh boy!

September 3, 2007 Posted by | Ponderings | Leave a comment