Previous month:
June 2011
Next month:
August 2011

July 2011 entries

Wouldn't You Like to be a Picker Too?

Have you noticed how TV is becoming bloated with reality shows. It began with Survivor, Amazing Race, The Bachelor and so on. Now, the airwaves are dominated by another form of reality. I don't know the technical term, if there is one, for this new breed of programming. I will just refer to them as vocational reality television. VRT's include Pawn Stars, L.A. Ink, Selling New York, Cake Boss, Say Yes to the Dress and many others. These shows follow people around with camera crews and microphones as they do their jobs. There is a new one beginning soon about a family run truck stop. My favorite of the new VRT genre is "American Pickers." Of all the occupations out there besides what I am doing now, the one I would most want to do is their job. Here is why:

    They never stay in one place very long. They are constantly on the move and meeting people.

    They see value in the things and lives of others that the public deems as trash.

    They appreciate the simple things in life and are able to discern original from fake.

    They like what they do and enjoy each other's company.

It seems to me Mike and Frank are living the way God has intended for all of His children to live. I'm not making a judgment on their religious or moral views, but I do believe they could teach Christians a thing or two about how to live life to its fullest. I think VRT shows are so attractive because the viewer can live vicariously through the characters on their screen without leaving the safety or the comfort of their couch. Why live through someone else when God has given all of us the same opportunities to live an abundant life? Who knows, if you did, maybe a film crew will be following you around someday.       

Observations from an Avid Observer

I am an observer of people. It gets me in trouble with my wife. While in public together she often redirects my gaze back to her as we talk. Any movement...any movement at all draws my eyes in that direction. I find that people are amazing and infinitely interesting.

I am observer of culture. Everything from fasion trends (its fashionable again to roll up the pants legs on your jeans) to the political climate where absolute ideology is supreme. (To compromise, a basic necessity for a bicameral two party system, is now a sign of weakness. The result is gridlock.)

However, given my calling, I am an acute observer of faith. The trend now is to be open-minded and tolerant. This is different from the compromise of politics in America where at least two parties exist simultaneously. There is but one God. We do not get to decide His fate through our opinion or input. He decides ours. Faith is is not a democracy. It is a benevolent dictatorship with God being Supreme. Therefore, we cannot choose to melt faiths into one that suits our opinion about who God is and what He does. When different faiths stand as polar opposites as to the identify of God, one of them must be wrong.

As much as I would want all people to be saved, and I really do, it is not possible. As long as the paths lead in different directions they cannot end at the same location.  So, what is the basic difference between Christianity and the other religions of the world. It is simply the direction they travel. Other religions in the world are following paths they have determined lead to God. They differ in what direction that is, but essentially that is the purpose of each journey. With only finite wisdom and limited spiritual sensitivity it is not possible for man alone to find God, especially when there are so many who would purposefully lead them astray. The direction of Christianity is just the opposite of all other religions of the world. While the desire is the same, to meet, be loved, accepted and forgiven by God, only Christianity understands it is humanly impossible. No, the direction of the journey is not from man to God, but from God to man. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son..." This faith principle causes Christianity to stand alone among all other well meaning faiths of the world. So while it is not fashionable Christians must continue to declare:

 Acts 4:12 (NLT)
12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” That name is Jesus!

I hope to see you Sunday!!!! 



Politically Speaking

When I accepted the calling to be a pastor I decided to keep my politics to myself. So for years I have remained silent. I am still following my principle to remain neutral, in public at least, as to any party affiliation. But I do think it is about time I spoke to the circus that our federal government has become. Neither side wanting or willing to give an inch to promote the fiscal well being of our country. Instead they are constantly running for office. They are not representing their constituents. They are only representing the financial contributors to their campaigns. Their willingness to send our country into further financial ruin so they may please a select few borders on insanity. God help us, and I mean that literally. The Sovereign of the Universe has provided us with sound financial and social advice to not only get out of the mess we are in, but counsel that  will keep us out in the future as well.

 1 Timothy 5:8 (NKJV)
8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Our God puts a premium on personal responsibility. He does not intend for those who are able to work to look to the government for aid. We are to work and work hard. If  you want more, then work  harder, smarter and create wealth so you may fulfill your God given responsibility to take care of your family.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NKJV)
17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,
19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

God does not condemn those who have achieved riches. They are to recognize their prosperity comes from the Lord. It is not to be used as leverage for this life, but as an investment for eternity. The well healed are to remember the needs of others. They should not withdraw from the poor, but willingly share with the truly poor what God has given to them. God  has blessed them with riches for that very purpose.

If we continue on the self serving political path both parties are taking, I am afraid we will soon reap what we have sown.

Mark 3:24-25 (NKJV)
24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

You Have My Permission To Sleep In

I read an article recently about a subject I often ponder. My thinking goes something like this. Since the letter I received a few years ago that called me an entertainer and not a preacher, I have been very sensitive to how I present the gospel. Some have told me they consider the speaker even coming out from behind the pulpit to bring undue to attention to the himself and not the message. Some consider real preaching to be necessarily boring. It is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to hold the listener's attention they say. These people cite the Apostle Paul as their example.  He told the church at Corinth "I did not come to you with excellence of speech or of wisdom." There was another example of Paul preaching so long that Eutychus fell asleep and fell out of a window onto the street below.

However, most of us who preach and teach God's Word on a consistent basis know that people do not come to be bored. If a preacher continues on that track then he will be preaching to his family and close friends, if he has any. Isn't the idea to get the Word before as many people as possible? 

The fact is we are not to become entertainers. We should not be the center of attention. Leading people to be transformed by the hearing of God's Word is my utmost aspiration. I want them to come to know Him and know Him well. And to do that I try and find balance somewhere between the extremes of boredom and amusement. I cannot strive to be boring. It goes against my theology. I believe God is the Creator. He created the butterfly, the peacock, the clown fish and the rose. His artistry is displayed throughout His creation. How then can I speak of Him without using the creativity he placed inside of me? However, my cause is not to merely amuse. Amuse comes from the root word "muse." It means to think or ponder. By placing the "a" in front negates the word. So to amuse is to cause one not to think or ponder. That is certainly not the object of preaching. Sometimes while preaching, I actually bite my lip because I think something is funny, but I refuse to say it because it does not contribute to the message. 

So as I prepare this week's message I walk between the two extremes of boredom and amusement. I want to excite, anger, enlighten, and confront my congregation. My goal is that they believe the 40 minutes or so they have listened to me teach was time well spent. I want them to leave different than they arrived. It is not always a matter of hearing something new every week. Sometimes it is just to remind them of truths they have somehow forgotten. If I can't do that then you have my permission to go and hear someone else or sleep in on Sunday. I would rather have you sleep in your bed than during my sermon!