Monday, July 4, 2016

Opinions Posted on Facebook

When I go camping I have time to reflect. This long weekend has given me that time. I've made some decisions concerning what I say publicly. This only applies to me and no one else. If you want to know my opinions, you will need to ask me privately because I am not going to give them here on Facebook. Too many relationships have been destroyed by opinions concerning political, religious, and sex-related issues. No one wins. We all want to be on the right side of any issue, but in the end the only one who can truly judge is God. I want to err on the side of love, grace, and forgiveness.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Where Are the Statesmen?

Statesman: a person who exhibits great wisdom and ability in directing the affairs of a government or in dealing with important public issues.
Dignity: bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.
Are these characteristics found in the candidates desiring to be our next President? My prayer for America is, "O God, be merciful to us and deliver us from our lack of vision."

Monday, April 25, 2016

Why I Am No Longer a Pastor

Why I am no longer a pastor has been on my mind lately. I have never doubted that God called me to preach in 1972. The calling has been the anchor that has held me through thick and thin. I left the pastoral ministry in 2006. I've done many things over the last ten years. Two of the years I was unemployed. For four years I worked as a Hospice Chaplain. Two years I served as an associate minister at a large membership church. One year I was a transit driver/courier and the other year I wrote three books and spent time teaching in Zambia. Ten years ago I left the ministry of being a pastor of a church but I didn't leave my calling as a minister. In many ways I may have been more effective since removing the title of pastor.

There are three reasons why I left. 1. I felt I was not the role-model that I needed to be. A pastor is human, but congregations expect pastors to be on a different level. I understand this but I relate to what Isaiah said, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

I knew God is holy and I was not. I have personally known dozens of pastors who say one thing in the pulpit and something else when they are not around their members. I did not want to be a hypocrite. I knew my heart and I did not want to be a stumbling block for any member of my congregation.

2. I was not happy or at peace. Life is too short to be miserable! Man-made rules can sap a pastor's creativity and joy. I regret that I didn't make the shift when I was younger. At age 56, I shifted.

3. The organized Church is not relevant in our culture. It is an old wine skin without flexibility. A paradigm shift will not be enough to become relevant; it will take a shift from Church to Kingdom thinking. I knew that I could no longer give myself to something so out of touch with reality.

My present sphere of ministry is companioning the dying through Hospice care. Everyday is different than the one before. I have the privilege of being with people facing death and eternity. I have not left my calling to preach. I am preaching in a different way now. I love this saying, When we minister to the sick, who heals who? I recognize that I am truly a wounded healer sent by the Lord.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Faith Eyes Stronger than X-ray Eyes

So we don’t spend all our time looking at what we can see. Instead, we look at what we can’t see. That’s because what can be seen lasts only a short time. But what can’t be seen will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:18) What kind of eyes can see what cannot be seen?

"Superman used his 'microscopic vision' on many occasions analyzing fingerprints, checking out atomic structures, electrons, and protons." Kevin Kelly 2/26/08 Filed to: TRIVIAGASM

God wants to open our eyes of faith. Faith believes what it can't see. Even though the natural eye sees objects in the real world, the unseen realm is actually more real. That is why God desires us to see with eyes of faith. In the unseen realm of God everything is eternal; nothing becomes obsolete. 

Instead of looking so much at our outward appearance it would be worthwhile to focus on eternal issues. What will matter most when our life ends here on Earth; our bodies or our spiritual soul?  

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Death Can Bring Blessings

Death avoidance is a major pastime in our culture. The avoidance of death preoccupies the focus of most health professionals, including policy makers, in the western world...Kay Price & Julianne Cheek. Avoiding Death

At the same time, many of us ride motorcycles and parachute from airplanes. It is almost like we are tempting death. With the advent of cell phones, one almost takes his life into his own hands each time he drives. We avoid death, but we also live close to it daily. 

The death of a loved one brings heartache and sadness. The death of a dream or a relationship can make the heart sick. How can death ever bring blessings?

In our natural way of thinking it cannot, but from a spiritual perspective blessings can come out of death. "I tell you the truth: unless a grain of wheat is planted in the ground and dies, it remains a solitary seed. But when it is planted, it produces in death a great harvest." John 12:24

Following the death and burial of Jesus there were eleven disciples who had followed him, but following the resurrection millions follow Jesus today. Out of death came a great harvest!

"To find your life, you must lose your life—and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." Matthew 10:39  

"The death of a dream can in fact serve as the vehicle that endows it with new form, with reinvigorated substance, a fresh flow of ideas, and splendidly revitalized color." Aberjhani

Out of death new possibilities and dreams can flow. Out of death blessings can spring forth.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Scapegoat & Good Friday

In our society, it seems it is always someone else’s fault when things go wrong. It is hard for many people to admit fault when relationships go bad or organizations experience difficult times. Taking personal responsibility is not easy. Dr. David Hawkins, director of the Marriage Recovery Center, writes, “Shifting the blame is the oldest tactic known to humankind for avoiding taking responsibility for our actions. While shifting the blame may seem innocuous enough, it is deadly.. This action is called scapegoating.

There is an organization in England, the Scapegoat Society that serves as a resource both for people who have experienced being a scapegoat and for people working professionally to resolve scapegoat problems. Scapegoating is found in all walks of life.

The origin of the term scapegoat is found in the Old Testament. The biblical scapegoat is a powerful image of Jesus taking away the sins of the world. The scapegoat is described in Leviticus 16:5–10:

“He [Aaron] shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering. Then Aaron shall offer the bull for the sin offering which is for himself, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household. He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the doorway of the tent of meeting. Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the Lord fell, and make it a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat. He shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and thus he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities. When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness.”

The iniquities and transgressions of all Israel were laid on the head of the scapegoat. Aaron spoke and confessed over the goat all the iniquities and transgressions. Aaron spoke to the goat, and he touched the goat. Clearly, the scapegoat is a foreshadowing of the crucifixion of Jesus. On the cross Jesus carried on his body all the iniquities and sin of humankind. God could not look at Jesus, the sin-bearer. For the first time in the relationship between Jesus and his heavenly Father there was a separation. Perfect communion was broken and Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus had become the scapegoat in the wilderness, bearing not his sin, but the sin of all humanity. He was totally alone in the wilderness!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Generals in God's Church?

Are there military officers that lead the body of Christ? The New Testament describes Church leaders as pastors, bishops, apostles, elders, and deacons. The pastor is admonished to shepherd the flock of God. Have you ever read about Army Generals in the books of the New Testament? The title of "army general" is usually held by the equivalent of a four-star general, and corresponds to the command of an individual army in the field. So, is there any validity to the many men and women referred to as generals in the Church?

Last night I had a dream that I was wearing a military uniform. I thought that after all my years as a pastor I surely must be a captain. When I looked in the mirror I saw that I was a second lieutenant and not a captain. I reflected on this dream all day and believe it was an insight I should share with fellow believers. When I was twenty years old I served as an enlisted soldier in the Army. Several years later I served as an officer in the National Guard. I actually had more authority in Vietnam as an enlisted soldier than I did as a 2nd Lieutenant in the National Guard. Whether we are a member of a congregation or a pastor, our faithfulness to our assignment is what matters to God. We are all disciples of Christ and members of His body.

I understand and believe in showing honor to those in whom honor is due. My concern is that the emphasis being placed on generals can become divisive and can lead to unhealthy relationships within the Church. Rather than referring to people as generals, the title of leaders should be sufficient.