January 28, 2013
I want to fast forward through the rest of Genesis to get to Moses and the deliverance from Egypt. I am currently working on a commentary of the Bible so I don’t want to duplicate that in blog form. Most people are familiar with the story of Moses and how God used him to free Israel from slavery in Egypt. What most don’t think about is how they got there. If you have read your Bible you know the story of Joseph being sold into slavery and the brother’s lie to the dad saying that he was killed. What happens after that is often forgotten when the slavery part comes around.
The Old Testament is full of typology. Certain things and places represent certain common theological issues all throughout the Bible. For instance, Egypt is a type of sin. God’s people, Israel were in bondage to sin, Egypt. When we get to that point in the Bible, most of us are feeling sorry for Israel and rooting for them to be delivered. We all want God to fix the injustice that Egypt is inflicting on them. What we forget is that Israel chose to live there.
Keeping in mind the typology, Israel chose through the years to disobey God. God promised them a land through Abraham and his descendents and over time they rebelled and did what they wanted to do. They chose what felt right to man over what was right to God. That is how sin works. It causes us to go farther and farther away from God. Before you know it we are deep in trouble and crying for God to get us out of it..
Remember that Joseph was sold and left for dead. God sent a famine, and his family that did this to him had to face their sin by going into Egypt and asking for help. Joseph made it possible for the family to move into Egypt and for a while, things were great. But that is how it is, way to often, with sin. It usually feels good and for a while even looks like the right thing, but before long, sin shows its true colors and turns ugly.
God said from the beginning that sin would lead to death. He said that sin would cause trouble for mankind as long as we are on this earth. The more we sin, the less God can fix our problems until we finally decide to turn to Him in desperation and let Him restore us. The good news is that when we finally ask God for help, He will help. He is the only answer to our sin problem. His gift of salvation and forgiveness comes through. Call to Him with all your heart. It is called faith and repentance. If we cry out to God with a change of heart He will forgive us and begin to deliver us from our sin.
The best thing we can do is trust God before we move to Egypt. Turn to God before we think that we can fix a problem by trying to get even further in sin.
Don’t forget that it was Israel that chose to live in Egypt. Don’t forget that even their best efforts turned into slavery. Don’t forget that God is the one who set them free. And don’t forget that you too can be set free if you cry out to God.
November 21, 2012
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I love this holiday. I have more than I can name to be thankful for, but I always like to mention a few.
I am thankful for my wife. She is the girl of my dreams and the love of my life. Everything I ever wanted in a woman is fulfilled in her, except the fact that she does not fish or like baseball. (I have to keep her humble) Other than that, she is everything I could dream of in a wife.
I am thankful for my kids and grandkids. They are far from perfect, but, I still like them. None of them have become filthy rich yet so I will probably have to work until I am really old. I am still thankful for them.
I am thankful for my church. It is full of really weird people who remind me that God made none of us perfect. Some of them look weird and most of them act weird. They will make it possible for me to continue working as a pastor until I am really old.
I am thankful for the friends that I have. Really.
I am thankful for my salvation through Jesus Christ. I do not deserve what He did for me.
I think that is all I want to mention right now. There has been plenty that I did not mention for someone to get their feelings hurt because I did not mention them or what they did.
I want to close out this blog by telling you who I am thanking. Way too many people say that they are thankful, but don’t really think about who they are thankful too. In my case it is God. Not a god, but the one true living God. The one who forgave me, started fixing me, and will always love me. The God that gave me everything I mentioned above and everything I failed to mention. He made the turkeys that we will eat and the families that we will be hanging out with. He gave His Son to die in my place and His Spirit to guide me through this life. Without Him I am nothing but a body waiting to expire. With Him I am anything He wants me to be and even though this life is temporary, He has assured me of a life that will never end. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. That is who I am thanking. Not just during this great holiday, but everyday that He lets me live on this earth.
Thanks God! And Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
October 10, 2012
I am very blessed to be serving in a church where people “get it”. Last week, many of those who serve in our children’s ministry and greeter ministry as well as our music ministry were away on Sunday and yet the church did not fall to pieces. The reason is that others did not hesitate to step up and fill in where needed. Every Sunday our church functions in ways that I can only describe as incredible. For a church our size, we do more than other churches two and three times our size do and this is a testament to the people who attend.
Sure there are those who have not found their place yet and there are others who have not found the motivation yet and there are still those who don’t care yet, but they are few and they are being taught otherwise. I always ask people what are they doing and if they say nothing or I don’t know, I try to find them something to do. You see, we want people who act like the own the place not members who think that they deserve a staff to meet their every need. This is how God wants us to view the church. In fact we are told that we are God’s building blocks in the church and that we are His co-workers in building the church. There is no place in the Bible that teaches us to join in membership with privileges.
I don’t know where you attend or if you attend a church on Sunday morning. If you are attending somewhere, are you serving? Do you have a reason to be there outside of “doing your weekly sacrifice to God”? If you don’t show up, do people miss you? If you didn’t find someone to fill in, would things go undone? Every church member should evaluate their importance in the church as workers and not attenders. We are to let our good works shine before others and glorify God. If you don’t have a place to get involved, perhaps all you need to do is ask. But if you are told there is nothing needed, try picking up trash that no one else will or sprucing up the bathrooms just before church starts or maybe do something as simple as greeting everyone with a smile and a friendly “hello”.
If you don’t go to church and you are thinking about it, look for a place that has needs. Look for a place that you can offer to use your talents and then get involved. It will make getting to know others and getting to know God a lot easier. It will help you to feel needed and wanted and you might even help others who would not attend because of something you are willing to do that “regular” church people won’t, don’t, and haven’t thought about doing.
Make it your priority to be missed if you aren’t there. Train others to do what you do and do it better than anyone else. Serve God with the gifts and talents that He gave you and you will find joy and satisfaction at whatever church you attend. I know that as a pastor I sure do appreciate those who get involved in serving at my church. We are growing and new folks are coming every week. I would love to say it is because the pastor is such an awesome dude, but, I don’t need too. I mean, I am only doing my part. Others are the ones who make it the friendly and welcoming place where they feel safe and excited about bringing their friends and family.
If your pastor hasn’t asked you lately, then let me…What are you doing?
September 20, 2012
This weekend is our second annual church camping trip. Our participation has doubled from last year and so the pressure is on to make it as much or more fun. I don’t think that this will be a problem. As I have said so many times before, I love the people of my church. They are weird, whacky, and fun to be around.
Last year we did our camping in late October and it just happened to be the coldest October in the history of the planet. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but it was cold. The low temps were in the 30′s, although my feet said that it was more like 20 below. But we had plenty of firewood, warm clothes, blankets and moonshine. Just kidding, we didn’t have any moonshine, but you would think that some of these people were drinking. There was way too much laughing and cutting up for that many people to be sober, right? Not this bunch. We are had rather be filled with the Spirit rather than strong drink.
So this year we moved the trip back a month and the weather is supposed to be perfect. Highs in the upper 70s and lows in the upper 50s. The rain has moved out and the sun is supposed to shine abundantly. We were a bit worried, as all this week it has rained several times very hard; I am talking inches of rain.
Something about camping just makes for a lot of fun. Fishing, making smores, singing around the campfire and hiking are just a few things that lend to the fun. My favorite thing is eating food cooked over a fire. Hopefully there will be some fresh fish this year. But what I look forward to the most is the fellowship with my friends and family and the worship on Sunday morning. Last year my friendship with those who went grew exponentially and I believe that this will happen again this year.
Worshiping around a campfire on Sunday morning with a bunch of friends is an awesome experience. This year I won’t have to try to play guitar with frost-bitten fingers. In fact, won’t have to play guitar at all. We are going to be treated to worship led by our international student that has invaded my house. He is an incredible musician and will be playing and singing. I have asked him to not only lead us in English but to sing a song in Korean. Why? Because God uses praise to speak to our hearts, not our ears. So the worship time will be very special. Then I get to preach with coffee in hand and still wearing my pajamas. No, not the sexy ones that you think I wear, those are for my favorite wife, who will be in her pajamas, and well, she makes them all look…never mind. Back to the preaching.
I love preach/teaching in an intimate atmosphere and being around a campfire is as good as that gets. God’s creation glorifies Him and puts the pressure on us to glorify Him. I am not sure what I will talk about, but it will be different from my normal preaching schedule this year. I want to be sure that we get a chance to experience worship and fellowship in a way that makes us all desire to be back next year with even more friends and family.
I love my church! I can’t wait to hang out with them and experience God’s fellowship with us.
July 30, 2012
As a pastor of many years and a church person of many more, there have been a lot of things that have stuck with me. One of them is how church people can get stuck in ruts of complacency. I did a blog last week about getting in a comfort zone. It is a dangerous thing for people who claim to know God to get to the point to where they expect the same ol’ stuff from God. But this is not a blog about being comfortable, it as about expecting more.
This morning I was talking with someone at the church and we were laughing about how busy we have been. At our church it is common to have stuff happening every day of the week. We like to use our building and let others use it. But there are a few things that are unique to our church and that is what we were talking about. In the last week we have not only had our regular schedule of worship and classes, but we have had a wedding, a funeral, baptisms, communion, baby dedication, and salvation. On top of that, we have recently been on missions trips, raised money for other churches, hosting exchange students, helped church members who needed it, helped homeless in our area, and regularly do counseling. This year we have had outdoor movies, tailgate parties, motorcycle rides, scuba trips, and of course the ever popular church work day. All of this leads to bunches of people visiting us for the first time and many deciding to stick around. So much that we have almost reached our capacity on Sunday morning at 10:30am and are preparing to start a second worship time the first Sunday in January 2013. Not to brag too much, but we have had the privilege of seeing over 60 people make a decision to trust Jesus and over 30 of those have already been baptized this year, 2012.
All of this makes for a crazy pace and it often feels like we never know what to expect next. I love it. It sounds crazy at times and would be overwhelming if it weren’t for all the people who help make these things happen. I believe it is all in line with what God wants us to do because of all the ones who come to know Jesus. Far to often churches are fine with the same faces in the crowd every week. We get very uncomfortable if we don’t see strange faces in our crowd.
It is exciting to see what God can do using a bunch of strange people like us. He never asked for us to be better than anyone else, but rather God asks us to admit that we are sinners in need of His help. Then He forgives our sins, if we ask, and helps us to make changes in our lives that please Him. Most importantly, God wants us to love people, just the way they are. When that happens, people get curious and God gets the glory when they get to know Him, through His people.
I am expecting more from God. He never tires of blessing His children. He never gets bored and is never boring. If you have gotten that impression of God, you have been in the wrong place. The God I know and see working in my church is incredible and loving and far from boring. He has plenty of room in His family and in His church for you. Sure, you may have to change your mind on a few things, but that is the same with all of us who call ourselves Christians. Jesus said that He came to give us life and give it more abundantly, and He does not lie, I am expecting more!
July 27, 2012
I asked you guys to pray for my friends the other day and I am grateful to all who did. I have to give you an update, and at first it seems sad. James died of complications of his illness last night. Because of this, I ask you to continue to praying for his wife and kids. As much as this sucks for them right now, I know that time and God’s grace will allow for things to get better.
James was a Christian. That means now he is better. No more sickness or pain, for him. That sounds great and is true according to what the Bible teaches and in that case I am jealous. But on the other hand, family and friends are left to deal with the sorrow and heart-break of his death. Nothing but time will help that and it is easy to begin to doubt God. That is okay though; God can handle that. He knows what it is like to have someone close die.
God knows that death is an enemy and we are told that the last enemy to be defeated is death. It is a momentary hiccup in the fabric of time that separates what we know and what God knows. Eternity is that close, and wow, in times like this, it is closer than I ever thought. But we are not left to guess what happens after someone dies. For those who believe in this stuff, God says if you have asked Jesus to take your sin penalty for you, you go to heaven. James made that decision several years ago and handed death over to God and accepted the gift of life.
James and I were really getting to know each other in the last year. I thought I knew him, but didn’t. He was really an intense guy who had a wacky past like me. He was funny, while at the same time kept it real. I found out that his faith was stronger than I thought and that was so refreshing.
While we didn’t have enough time with James for my satisfaction, God has promised us an eternity when this life is over. Now, his faith is no longer about what he believes. He has seen it for himself that God is real. He understands what we don’t; the answer to the question, why? He is laughing at our doubts and if I know James, laughing at me and some of the ways I struggled giving answers to things in the Bible that make no sense to us, but now make perfect sense to him. He has seen the beginning of life and knows that there is now no end. He is probably not worried about whether the chairs in the worship center are lined up straight or not. He knows the words to songs that Wanda tries to get us to sing louder and knows the words to songs that only those in heaven can sing. He even knows why that stupid video system doesn’t always work that drives me and Sheila crazy. Somehow I don’t think we will let it bother us as much anymore. (Hey James. Could you at least ask God to let it all work together just once for us?)
There is still a need for prayer. There is still a need for time and for sure, a need for God’s grace. I thank you all for your part. I thank God for the grace and for the time we had with James. I will straighten the chairs this week James, I am sure you have more important things to do.
So long my friend.
May 31, 2012
I went to see my friend and his wife and their new baby last night. It was their first child and they were thrilled. I love seeing first time parents with their new babies, especially the dad. In this case, the baby was delivered via “C-section, so mom was still under the influence of the pain meds. They had both seen the baby in the delivery room, but she had not yet been brought from the nursery into their room yet. The nurse had been in checking on mom and said that they were going to bring the baby in a few minutes. At that time it was only me and the parents in the room. Some of the immediate family were on their way and showed up right before they brought the baby in, but I got to hang out with them by myself for a few minutes.
I don’t know mom that well. I have met her a few times but never had the privilege of hanging out and getting to know her. I play cards with dad once a month and have done so for over two years. Because I don’t know her that well I won’t make fun of mom and some of the things I observed as she enjoyed the pain meds. But that is one of the fun things about visiting a mom who just delivered via cesarean. They think that they are acting normal, but they are not.
Dad was trying real hard to act normal, but you can’t after your first child is born. You would think that they shared the pain meds with dad sometimes by the way they act. Of course I never acted goofy when my kids were born because, well, have you met my kids? This guy was doing pretty good though. He showed me pictures from right after the birth. Very few babies are cute then, to outsiders, but to dad they are gorgeous. Cesarean babies do look better than those born the other way. Those babies look like cone head aliens, to outsiders, but normal to parents. This was a cute baby. I watched the pride swell with each picture he showed me. It is a special moment.
For a few minutes the conversation went from the tough delivery to our next card game and then back to how beautiful the baby is and finally the family came in. I don’t like to hog time from family in any situation that involves a hospital. So I decided to wait until they brought the baby in and get a look at her in person and then head out so the family could have their time. Suddenly the door opened and the nurse came wheeling in the bed with this gift from God in it. They picked her up and handed her to mom and then I got to see that moment that is worth a million moments. It is the one where dad stands next to his wife who is holding their new-born child and he tries with all he has to smile, but tears just start flowing down his face as pride and joy and reality overwhelm him.
With that memory firmly etched in my mind I went over and hugged him and told mom that everything was awesome and bid farewell to the family I had just met. I knew that I had just seen the greatest life changing event a man can go through, other than knowing God. I believe that it is hard to look at this event in life and not consider that something this awesome just doesn’t happen without the God of love that I believe in. It never gets old and never ceases to amaze me how a grown man can be turned into a speechless and weeping ball of emotions all because of a little baby. I always thank God for that experience and hope that He never stops blessing me with the chance to see His gifts of children being brought into this world.
Congratulations Dru and Wendy! Welcome to this world Coraline. (Yes, I spelled that right)
May 7, 2012
When I was in the second and third grade I had to write a full-page about what I did over the weekend every Monday. I was usually very busy on the weekend as a kid, so it took the full-page. I don’t know why this was on my mind, but I thought I would share some things I did this weekend with you.
We had our youngest grandson, Bryson, over the weekend. He is somewhere between 1 and 12 months old. I think it is closer to 9 months, but I wanted to be safe with my guess. He has teeth now and bites. He likes to pinch and pull arm hair. He likes to scoot across the floor and turn over the dog’s water dish. He likes to wake up and cry and have Mimi come get him and sleep in my bed. So this weekend, I got bit, pinched, cleaned up water, and slept on the couch.
My wife has a room full of stuff that is too important to throw away. I really don’t know what it all is, but when I suggest throwing it away, she gets less than friendly with me. No one uses this room, I think it has something to do with the fact that it is full of stuff, but it was just a spare room. Some of my stuff, mainly tools, like three large boxes full, were in this room. So while I was gone to a meeting that ended up being on another day ’cause someone didn’t read the text message completely, my wife cleaned out some of the stuff in this room. When I came home from my “meeting” I found all of my tools in the hallway. So I spent my weekend moving my tools to shelves on the back porch.
Sunday was church day. As a pastor, it is hard for me to miss church without someone getting upset. But I love my church and my job and preaching. Before church I had to go to the local radio station for a friend of mine’s radio program. I was the special guest. I knew that I was special and it took going on the radio to have someone call me that. Sadly, his show is at 7:30am. As I told you earlier, I spent some of my weekend sleeping on the couch, if you can call it sleeping. So getting up early was wonderful. But the radio gig went really well and I had a blast. I was told that I looked extremely handsome on radio.
After that, I went to my church and preached about God calling us to do something special. I used the story of Moses meeting God in the burning bush. We had a full church and many new faces and 5 people got saved. After church we went on a motorcycle ride and ate at a greasy burger joint. Man, it was good. Especially since my wife has me eating leaves and lean meat most of the time. Then back to church that evening for a new teaching about the life of the Apostle Paul. During the morning time I challenged people to quit complaining about Monday and some actually listened, at least on Facebook their posts were positive. So I spent my weekend telling people what to do and some actually listened to me.
It was a great weekend! I love my church, my family, and my God!
March 7, 2012
I read today that there are now 1226 in the world. It pains me to report that I am not on that list. I remember when Mr and Mrs. Howell were considered extravagantly rich. I guess being stranded on a deserted island with only 5 other people makes a millionaire seem really rich. I miss Gilligan’s Island. This same report said that the richest of these billionaires can lose as much as 11 billion in one day. I wish they would lose a billion my way.
I would be lying if I said that I would not want to be rich. Being rich offers a lot of benefits. It lets you eat the food you want to eat. It lets you vacation in better hotels and locations. It allows you to pay your mortgage and power bill while filling your gas tank all on the same day. Being rich can even allow you to get season tickets to see your favorite team and not have to park a mile down the road where it only costs $20. If I were rich I would park in the $50 parking just because I could.
But I am not jealous of those super rich. I have been blessed with more than I ever deserve. First, I have a beautiful family. My wife and I have been happily married for over 30 years. Money had little to do with it. We have three grown children who all have children of their own. We have a home that we can afford and automobiles that will get us to the jobs that we have. We have a church family that loves us and loves other people. We have friends who like us because of who we are and could care less how much money we have; thankfully. We are in relatively good health and don’t have too many enemies. Most of all, we know Jesus Christ personally as our Lord and Savior.
Being rich is not the way to happiness. God wants to give us happiness and have it not depend on how much money we can make. Jesus says that He wants us to have the joy that He has and to look to Him for our blessings. We are told that the things we have on this earth like money and houses and cars will all fade away. But things like family and friends are eternal when they are built on faith in Him.
No, I did not get my name on the list of those 1226 billionaires in the world, but I do have my name written in the Lamb’s book of life. Yep, I am rich beyond measure!
March 2, 2012
My wife is addicted to little children. Our own children are grown and cannot or will not produce babes fast enough for her. So she has a plan to have every baby and little kid at our church think that she is their Mimi too. I am pretty sure that this is not dangerous, but I do think it is an addiction.
Last night she went to help a couple with a baby that is only a month or so old. Both of them are sick and they are new parents and they were just worn out. My wife is a very compassionate woman. She will help almost anyone. But when she sees an opportunity to hold and spoil a baby she quickly jumps to feed her habit. I got the call that she was going to their house about an hour before she got off from work and was told that they were desperate and needed her help. I immediately knew that she just needed a baby fix.
Guess what she is doing tonight? Going to visit our son who lives a couple of hours from here so that she can “help” them. And guess what they have at their house? Yep. A baby. She is staying there for the weekend and my suspicion is that she is gonna be so wired up on baby that she won’t be able to drive home and that is why she is staying the weekend. She really does not know how to take babies in moderation. As an ex addict myself, not to babies, I know the signs. You always try to justify what you are doing, but no matter how much you try you always end up over indulging. There have been times when she would come home from “helping a friend” and she would smell like baby or small child.
Don’t misunderstand, she is not dangerous and I am not scared of her when she is using. Rarely has she ever missed work and she has never lost a job because of it. She has never threatened me seriously with violence and for the most part it does not interfere with our marriage. There are times when I will choose to sleep on the couch because she is so strung out on babies and children, but it has not approached the point to where it threatens our relationship. From time to time she will stretch the truth about her habit. The other week she said that she was only going to have one or two kids and it ended up being six kids at once. I can tell you that one kid will take the edge off, but she is not satisfied until she is totally loaded with kids.
She tries to limit getting children from only people that she knows. Family and friends are her biggest suppliers. But she will quickly run to anyone who comes into our church with a child and try to, as she likes to call it, “love on them”. I have seen her trying to talk to strangers about their children but for now, I feel she can restrain herself.
I have to watch her closely. We cannot have children anymore. I thought that doctor had fixed the problem, but occasionally she will mention adopting. I am strong for her and I remind her that she is an addict and does not need children in the house all the time. Sure, I should probably put my foot down and get her some help, but without children, she can be difficult to live with, so I turn a blind eye and just try to help manage her addiction.