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April 2015 entries

Something to Ponder While in Church this Sunday

I usually share my thoughts in “Outside the Box” about seeing life through the eyes of a non-conformist pastor. I try to make these insights light hearted but helpful. Today, however, let me speak of a more serious topic; the intense Christian persecution occurring around the world. 

In my world Christians suffer worship centers that are too cold; worship schedules that interfere with ball practice for the kids; music that is either too loud or too old; pastors who only talk about money and other horrendous atrocities being perpetrated against American church-goers. In the rest of the world things are considerably worse. 

Did you see in the news last week where over 800 people drowned aboard a dilapidated ship while they were attempting to make land in Italy from Libya, fleeing the chaos there? Did you know many of them were Christians? Were you also aware that on another crossing, not publicized as well the capsized ship was an incident where fifteen Muslims threw twelve Christians overboard while traveling in those same waters. 

Brutal religious persecution is going on around the world today. Thousands of believers have been martyred in the last few years. Many others have suffered imprisonment, torture, burning, enslavement and starvation. Often newscast don’t share that those who are being abused are being persecuted because they are Christians. 

 

The Center for the Study of Global Christianity in the United States estimates that 100,000 Christians now die every year, targeted because of their faith — that is 11 every hour. The Pew Research Center says that hostility to religion reached a new high in 2012, when Christians faced some form of discrimination in 139 countries, almost three-quarters of the world’s nations. 

I’m convicted we don’t pray enough for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. Miles are no deterrent to our prayers. We are all a part of the body of Christ made up of “every tribe and tongue” who will confess Him as Lord. I have to believe the music, preaching, temperature and friendliness of American churches would be more tolerable if we forgot about our own preferences long enough to pray for those who would give all they had to be sitting next to us this Sunday.     


Why I Exist

Here I am at my office in front of my desktop blogging.  As I look out my window rain is coming down and the streets are sloppy. The sky is dark grey and the sun is a distant memory. So I'm at work. I'm also on vacation. I am not one of those people who can lay on the couch at home reading a book or watching TV to relax. That would be my definition of purgatory.

My problem is that I like my work. I love being a pastor and teacher. Some people can't wait to get away from the office or the shop. I can't wait to get here. I don't mind working late or on my off day. Weird, huh?

I don't work for a paycheck. Although they are greatly appreciated by my family. When I apply for a loan or fill out an IRS form I have to go to personnel or the bookkeeper to ask how much I make. Money doesn't motivate me to come to work. Considering this is April 16th, I am very aware how quickly money can disappear.

 

In case you think my favorable attitude toward my calling is because I am known by a lot of people; you would be oh so wrong. It's nice when people speak to you in the coffee shop or grocery store. However, it's not so pleasant when they want to "give you a piece of their mind" while waiting in the checkout line or pumping gas. Being a pastor of a church with over 3,000 souls is a heavy burden where every difficult  decision is scrutinized.

So, why I am in the office on my vacation? Because I am certain this is why I exist. I know God created me for this purpose. Nothing else thrills me like teaching God's Word. Seeing God transform people's lives is as exciting as winning the Master's or pitching a no-hitter. To have someone quote a line I said years ago in a message and tell me how many dark days those words have gotten them through; that's a feeling money can't buy.

I'm still waiting for the skies to clear. I want to go fishing. I want to drive my car with the top down and not get soaked. I'd like to play 18 holes with my oldest son before my vacation time ends. My mind needs some time off. I need to clear my head and breath some fresh air. But I'm not wanting to escape my job or looking for another. My payer for you is that you find your purpose too. Vacations are great, but a person is blessed when they love their work as much as they do time off.