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November 2010 entries

Plans in the Making for 2012

Hey I'm on my phone and my texting skills are indicative of my generation. So I have to be brief. I'm spending a couple of days at Whitestone Inn doing sermon planning for the next 6 months.
The innkeeper and friend, Paul Cowell, has suggested we travel together and lead another trip to Israel in 2012. This would be in the spring and coincide with the Easter season. Paul is the most seasoned world traveler know and has great connections in the travel
industry. Several of you have suggested you would like to go with me next time so here's 1
1/2 years to start collecting that spare
change. It will be a trip you will never forget. Disregard superfluous and redundant info below. I told you I was a product of my generation and could not figure out how to delete it from my phone. Thankfully I'll not be flying the plane!

industry.

Several people have suggested they would like to return with me next time. So here's 1 1/2 years notice for all you to start setting spare change. I promise you it will be an experience of a lifetime!


Time to Give Thanks

Sunday morning our worship leader, Rick Greene, began our worship time by having everyone pause for a moment and meditate on the things that they were thankful for. We then lifted those things to the Lord in prayer. I have continued to ponder on this and I would like to list just a few.

I am thankful for being paid to do what I love.

I am thankful for a church who allows me to be creative and just a little rebellious.

I am thankful for a wife who is patient enough to stay married to a man who hasn't one romantic bone in his body.

I am thankful for two sons who both know the Lord and are more like their mother than me.

I am thankful, by God's grace, I wasn't born in North Korea.

I am thankful I was born during a time in America where we took Easter and Christmas holidays rather than spring and winter breaks.

I am thankful for peanut butter, apple butter and Cracker Barrel.

I am thankful for friends with boats, trucks and mechanical skills since I have none of the above.

I am thankful that, although I have been privileged to see many other lands, the USA is more beautiful than any other.

I am thankful for the prayers of God's people who have sustained me when I have become physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted.

Finally, I am thankful to God for loving, forgiving, and never giving me what I deserve.

Now what are you thankful for? 


Thankful to be Out!

Last week while in Israel I did something I don't recommend anyone try. My fellow travelers and I stayed for 4 nights behind a wall with armed Israeli soldiers. We were in Bethlehem, which is now a part of the West Bank territory occupied by the Palestinians. The hotel where we resided for those days was awesome. It was 5 star all the way. It was built originally as a palace and had been updated with all the modern conveniences of a modern European hotel. But just down the street was a gate manned 24 hours a day by the military restricting who could come and who could go. It was not difficult getting in. The driver would just roll down the window and declare "Je suis Americans" and we would roll right on by. But leaving was a different matter. Reminds me of the line from the Eagles song Hotel California, "You can check-out anytime you like, but you can never leave." The trip through the gate would take as long as an hour as soldiers would climb aboard the bus and ask to see our passports. Often cars in front of us would pull over and each person questioned while every crevice of their car was searched. There is no U.S. Embassy on the West Bank. If we were ever detained we would have no where to appeal. Each day as we made it through the gate I thanked God for the grace to get out successfully.

When we finally left Bethlehem for the last time I breathed a sigh of relief as the gate disappeared into the rear-view mirror of the bus. As pleasant as the Palestinian waiters and hotel employees tried to make us feel, it still felt like prison to me. Leaving there for the free city of Jerusalem each day had great spiritual signifigance to me. It was like escaping from the world of darkness into light.  

1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV)
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

 The departure each day made me long for tha day when we would leave these razor wired gates behind for good. Just like the world we as believers now live. We wait for the day when we get to leave this world with all it's darkness and sin. And no matter how you try to dress it up, you are still trapped in enemy territory. But some day...some day we will leave this world behind and never look back. We will be free. No longer needing to look beyond decay and the results of man's sinfulness, we will be free indeed. I was thankful for the spiritual truths I learned while in Bethlehem, but next time I'm staying in Jerusalem.    

        


Bishop Jimmy: Please Reconsider

I intended to blog about tomorrows trip to the Holy Land. I do hope you will follow us as we travel by being my friend on Facebook or following me on Twitter (DoctorKD). But just as I was preparing to write I read an email. It was titled "Mega-Church Pastor, Bishop Jim Swilley, Declares He's Gay." Jimmy was a childhood friend of mine. My dad was the Sunday school superintendent and his father was the pastor. He lived in the parsonage next door to the church. It was an easy walk from my house to his. We would play at church and afterward in the yard. He left town when his mother and father moved to another church. I heard about him a few years back and learned that he was the pastor of a large charismatic church just outside Atlanta. I was really happy about his life's calling and the success of his church. 

This was the story as it was reported by ABC News:

On Tuesday, ABC Good Morning America featured Bishop Jim Swilley who says he came out as a gay man to save the lives of teens across the country—maybe even his own children. On Atlanta’s WSB-TV, Bishop Swilley said, “As a father, you think about your 16 or 17 year old killing himself…”and choked up with tears. Bishop Swilley spoke to his congregation recently and said, “I know a lot of straight people think orientation is a choice. I want to tell you that it is not."

It seems Jimmy was touched by a story of a young man killing himself because of the grief he was getting because of his homosexual feelings. He now believes that by coming out of the closet he can save others. I want to be careful how I respond to the words of my childhood friend. It is a tragedy that anyone takes their own life. My heart goes out to that family. Unfortunately, Christians have been unfairly critical of gays while ignoring other sins like predjudice, greed, covetousness and the like. Because we find the sin of homosexuality so repulsive we tend to forget that all sin is repulsive to our Father. But, Pastor Swilley, is the answer really siding with the sin instead of praying for the sinner? Just because we have overly condemned one sin and have basically ignored others, does it mean we are to now somehow make up for too much condemnation by ignoring such behavior. Let's be clear, all sin condemns one to death. (Romans 3:23) No sin is to be tolerated or coddled. By admitting we are sinners we are tearing down walls of self righteousness that has so long caused unbelievers not to take us seriously. But to admit our sins and then justify them as "just being the person God made us" is to make God a liar. (I John 1:10) How much more would God have been glorified if Jimmy would have declared that he was sinner, that he struggled with being gay and that God loved him no less for it. How many could he have helped by being honest about his life and agreeing with God's Word that his life was not pleasing to his Heavenly Father? What if he told others struggling with same moral dilemma that they could walk the road to forgiveness together? By doing so he might not only save someones life from suicide, but someones soul fro hell as well.

The reaction to Bishop Swilley's announcement has been predictible. He now has maximized the number of friends he may have on Facebook. GLAAD, the gay activist group, has come out to support and encouragement him. His ex-wife says she stands beside him. His mom, my former pastor's wife, is writing now how the Spirit is moving so freely and powerfully in their church services since her son's announcement. Jimmy says he understands how many will not agree with him. He says we just differ on the interpretaion od Scripture. Jimmy I disagree. We don't disagree on interpretation. Romans 1 is very simple to understand.

Romans 1:22-32 (NKJV)
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,
25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,
30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

It is not our job to try and explain away the Bible when it speaks so clearly on a subject. Bishop Jimmy Swilley please consider your actions in the light of God's Word. I am not speaking to you as one who is perfect. I am not. I have much to be ashamed of myself. But please know this, I am ashamed of my sins. I cannot before God justify or ignore them. I can only seek God's forgiveness and go on.

 1 John 1:8-9 (NKJV)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.