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July 2007

June 2007 entries

God and Country

Reading the local newspaper this morning it reminded of the comment I got from a person last year after out patriotic service at DB. It seems some Methodist minister commented that no U.S. flags should be displayed in their churches. He said it amounted to worshiping the flag. That's similar to the word I got last  year that the person thought it was wrong to have a patriotic service.

It's not my desire to be argumentative, but I do have an opinion. GET OVER IT! We would not have this country to be patriotic toward if it were not for our forefathers and their faith in God. Atheists did not discover, explore, and settle America. Our founding documents do not hesitate to attribute both this land and the freedom that this land offered to a higher power. I doubt if anyone who attends this July 1st at Dallas Bay will think that we are worshiping the flag or even the country that it stands for. We are going to be APPRECIATIVE for the freedom to worship and assemble. No we won't be as contemporary in our service as is my preference, but this is the one of those occasions when tradition has significance. It's not corny or old fashioned to state that your proud to be an American or shed a tear when a veteran of WWII struggles to walk forward and stand next to his or her military flag. I do draw the line, however, at wearing a red,white, and blue tie. So Happy Birthday USA and God Bless America!Flag    


Startling Facts About Pastors

I recently acquired these stats about pastors from a fella who wants to start a retreat here in Tennessee for ministers and their wives. I thought you might like to read them, particularly that lady who once told my wife how lucky she was to have a husband who only worked 3 hours per week and received full time pay.

Pastors

  • Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
  • Fifty percent of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
  • Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
  • Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
  • Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
  • Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • Almost forty percent polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
  • Seventy percent said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.

Pastors' Wives

  • Eighty percent of pastors' spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
  • Eighty percent of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
  • The majority of pastor's wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry

Spiritualizing the Silver Surfer

I took the family to see "The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" yesterday. Matinee prices of course. Enjoyed the movie better than the first. As usual, I began to spiritualize the story. Let's see;

A person comes from heaven sent by someone else;

That person was powerful, but not safe; good but not a wimp;

Became stained with death while giving life to the innocent;

Gave his life so that the planet would be saved because of love; and

In the end returned to heaven where in the last frame of the movie he came back to life.

Seems everybody is looking for a savior...even Hollywood!


Act or React continued

I left the question open last time as to how do we find balance. I tend to rail against so many things I don't agree with the church or my denomination that sometimes I spend too much time and energy in a defensive mode rather than doing something constructive. I have recently read of pastors of small churches  that claim large churches are impersonal and shallow. Because of such an imbalanced view they tend toward an over-reaction against the "corporate" image of church. Such pastors appeal to others who see lack of structure as "being led by the Spirit." While pastors of large churches over "programize" things as to leave no room for the flexibility required for the Spirit to lead.  I admit it, I am often out of balance. So what to do?

Some would suggest self reflection. Done. I'm out of balance. That doesn't fix anything it just identifies the problem. How about Bible study? There is no more balanced approach to life than found in the Word of God. Unfortunately, while the Bible is balanced the people who wield it as a weapon are often out-of-balance. I can easily turn to the Word and manipulate it to reinforce my position.

A step in the right direction may be to bounce things off a trusted friend who may help bring you back to center. Often this friend is from a different Christian denomination. Their views will not be weighted with your cultural religious experiences and may help you see things without bias. I'm afraid we are so afraid to be challenged in our views that we tend to isolate ourselves for own peace  of mind. In my thinking, if you can't defend your position on an issue, whether it be doctrine or style (see last blog) then you are standing on shaking ground. It is hard to find balance on shaky ground.

So I am committing to react less and act more. Reaction is most often negative. We often react by "taking a step back" not forward. I am complaining less about how others in the family worship, teach or dress. I refuse to become bitter by holding any ill will against another because they are different from me or disagree with my methods. I doubt if the Lord will ask me "How many did you put in their place?" when I stand before Him. So I have decided to follow Paul's advice;

"If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone."  Romans 12:18 (HCSB)

    


Act or React

What is the hardest thing for a person to find? Expeditions have been launched for everything from the fountain of youth to a pot of gold; from the perfect job to a perfect mate; from the meaning of life to the Colonel's secret recipe. I would propose that balance is the hardest thing for a person to ever find. We all tend to lean to the left or to the right. We are progressive or traditional. We are painfully honest or deceptively elusive. Balance is difficult to achieve.

The question is why? Why is balance so difficult. The reason is that we react more often than act. For example, the Southern Baptist Convention, America's largest non-Catholic Christian denomination, is out of balance. For years we fought against those sorry liberals until they were out-numbered and out-shouted at our conventions. They started their own organization and the fight was over right? Wrong. Now we fight over style not substance. It seems the less liturgical pastors and worship leaders attack the more traditional churches and declare that they are not sensitive to today's culture and are missing the boat. The more traditional claim the informal churches are abandoning heritage and are compromising with the world. Both are right and both are wrong. Each is reacting against a deficiency they see in today's Christian environment and are trying to deal with it. I struggle with the same dilemma. How do I stay true to the calling of God on my life and not over-react to the perceived weakness I see in modern Christianity? How do I continue to fight against the evil in the world rather that expend precious energy just complaining about my brothers and sisters in the family of God? The subject is too big to adequately cover in one blog entry and I'm not sure I am ready to give a sufficient enough answer to the question I just posed to satisfy. I am still working on this one. If you want to dialog on the subject I have raised I would like to read your comments. So until I get back with you on this hang tough and pray hard. Pastor Ken.             


What's Wrong With My Prayer Life?

One more prayer not answered. What's that make. One million two hundred thirty two or is that two hundred thirty three? I prayed for more than 30 years that the Colts would win a Super Bowl. It began while they were still in Baltimore. That the Braves would win the World Series. That was when I was a Junior Brave in the 4th grade. I had the patch on my sleeve and everything. Recently I asked that Tiger Woods would not beat Jack's major championship record. I'm waiting to see how that one turns out. I prayed I would have a Corvette by the time I finished high school. All I ended up with was a 1966 Ford Falcon 4 door with a straight six. No, matter how you squinted it just didn't look like a Sting Ray.

So, with my proven track record I should have never asked the Lord to let the Lady Vol's win the girls college softball championship. Mind you, I'm not that big a softball fan. I really didn't get interested until I found out the Lady Vols were playing for the title. What really got me concerned about the outcome of the series was when I watched the opposing pitcher. Whenever this cute and petite blonde would have a call not go her way she would say the "f" word, and I don't mean fudge or friendly. That really ticked me off because the camerman was always looking for the moment when she was about to let another bomb drop. My first inclination was to ask for a bolt of lightning to hit the pitcher's mound. You know like John did when the people wouldn't accept Jesus in their midst. Well, that was risky. The mound in girl's softball is only about 24 feet or so from home plate and that may be disastrous for the home team. So I decided to take the Christian approach and just pray that we would hit this foul mouthed rag arm into oblivion. And we did, sort of. In the course of two nights we must have loaded the bases a half dozen times with either one or no outs. How many runs resulted of that offensive barrage? 0, nada, none! It seems that God was not listening or just teasing me. The result is that we lost the best two out of three and now Arizona is the national champion. How could the Lord let this foul mouthed infidel beat the saintly Vol girls? It must be me. I have a history of unanswered prayer. (James 4:3)