Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Okay - I have so far resisted talking about politics. I don't like bringing politics into the church. It's not like God is on the Republicans side - there are plenty of corrupt politicians on both sides of the aisle. Championing anyone from the pulpit seems beneath what the pulpit represents.

With that said, I can't help myself a week out from the election, to have some fun with some thoughts about it. So, I present to you....(the anticipation builds)....

"9 Reasons Why an Obama Presidency Might not be the End of the World"

1. It will force us to be less materialistic. Hey, if he taxes more of our income, there won’t be any money left over for those fancy toys that make us prideful (look what I’ve got!) and take time and money away from Kingdom issues! Thanks, Barry! Of course, it might also keep you from buying extras like, food, water, electricity and medicine – but let’s not be glass half-empty people, okay? Consider this verse:

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
(1 Timothy 6:10 NLT)

In other words, the love of, and the pursuit of money has been many people’s downfall. Let’s face it, many of us have never had to live at the level of “having nothing but the Lord” financially. We obsess over the next pay raise, the better paying job, paying this or that bill off to give ourselves more room in the budget, it really never ends. And it can seriously, sometimes fatally, affect your spiritual life.

What if all that was taken from you? Do you think you would be more devoted to Christ, or less? Would you have more or less stress? What would you do differently with your life? Would you spend more time with your family? Volunteer more? Enter the ministry? (shoot, if you aren’t going to have any money anyway – why not?)

2. We will be able to eliminate one more name off the list of guys who might be the Antichrist.

I have heard a lot of that rumbling lately, and I heard the same thing when Bill Clinton won the presidency. Sometimes we can’t put things to rest like that until we see the person in action. Turns out Bill just didn’t have any character.
The Bible doesn’t mention any countries that are involved in end times events that resemble America, so it’s doubtful that the Antichrist would come from here. Although, I think Barack is campaigning hard for the job.

3. We can finally drop the illusion that America is a Christian nation.

America may have been founded on Christian principles, but that does not make it a Christian nation. The very definition of democracy and freedom means we cannot declare ourselves to hold any religion above any other. Freedom of religion is great for people who want to be free to worship who they choose, but if I’m not mistaken in the Bible they call that idolatry. Can you imagine God saying in the O.T. that the Israelites could worship whichever god suited their fancy because he wanted them to be free? Ahh, no.

Sure, Christians have benefited from freedom of religion, but so have a bunch of false religions. Isn’t any country that allows the worship of false gods doomed to fail?

Barack Obama is not an exception to the American rule. He is exactly what America has become and what every democracy becomes if you give it enough time. One author said it this way:

“There is a moral law that teaches that if men and women are left to the consequences of their own freely chosen course of action, they will go from bad to worse-unless this tendency is reversed by divine grace.”

That has happened to every democracy that has ever existed and it is happening to us. I look around and I don’t see any reason why God would bless us, except maybe our support for Israel. The author goes on:

“So we read these words of doom, “God…gave them up,” “God gave them up,” God gave them over” (Romans 1:24,26,28 KJV)

There are a lot of things you can call America: Land of Opportunity, Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, the Shining City on a hill – but, Christian isn’t one of them. We turned that corner a long time ago.

Okay, that was pretty heavy. On a lighter note…

4. With no money to go anywhere, demand for oil will stay low and so will the gas prices!

“Yeah, mom, I lost my job today because of cutbacks and high capital gains taxes on my employer-but, look how cheap gas is!”

5. It will force us to face our fears.

Many of us are scared of what an ultra liberal will do given the presidency and a democratic congress to go along with him. Hey, maybe having to face this will finally let Amy get over her fear of clowns, and Pastor Keith will get over his fear of short people!

6. It will bring the abortion debate back to the forefront where it belongs.

We haven’t had an eager proponent of abortion in the Whitehouse, probably ever. This will be the first time that the president will be making the case on why you shouldn’t restrict abortion in any case or even save babies who have survived abortion.

He will be signing into law and defending legislation that pushes things that a vast majority of Americans won’t support. In fact, he promised Planned Parenthood that it would be his first order of business. It will bring abortion back into the American conversation in a way that it hasn’t been for a long time.

It seems like America has resigned itself to the reality of abortion. Maybe this will make them take another look at it. I’d like to believe that anyway. Okay, everyone start singing…”When you wish upon a star,”…

7. He might overreach and America will swing back the other direction!

Presidents always seem to have this knack of thinking that, because they won, that gives them a blank check to do whatever they want. If he follows through with all he wants to do, the backlash could be huge which would send most Americans running the other direction.

8. It will guarantee that Alaska will be well run, at least for another 4 years!

And finally...

9. It will drive us to our knees, where we should have been all along.

“If there isn’t a revival in this country of some sort…we’re moving toward a state that would be very much like pagan Rome.” - Stephen F. Olford, Stephen Olford center for Biblical preaching.

The Israelites never seemed to get serious about revival until things got really bad for them. They prayed this during one of those times:

Oh, that You would burst from the heavens and come down! How the mountains would quake in Your presence! As fire causes wood to burn and water to boil, Your coming would make the nations tremble. Then Your enemies would learn the reason for Your fame! When You came down long ago, You did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations. And oh, how the mountains quaked! For since the world began, no ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like You, who works for those who wait for Him!
(Isaiah 64:1-4 NLT)

This is how God answered them:
The LORD says, "I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for Me. I said, 'Here I am, here I am!' to a nation that did not call on My name.
(Isaiah 65:1 NLT)

If this is what God is waiting for, let’s get on with the asking, the looking and the calling! If it takes a Barack Obama presidency to make us desperate for it, I say – Bring it on!

Before you start writing angry letters, understand that I don’t want it to happen. I don’t want him to win for all of the same reasons you don’t want him to. But, it may take that to get American Christians to respond.

Have we ever considered the notion that America doesn’t have to survive? (I know that’s heresy). Patriotism is great and all, but it isn't everything. If somewhere down the line, America bites the dust - Christianity will still thrive and grow, don't ya think? Maybe even stronger than it was because persecution will mature it so that it is not lacking anything (think James). I mean, if it makes you feel better, I don't think that's going to happen in the next 4 years, but if he gets a 2nd term, all bets are off. :)

What do you think?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Reminder...

I received a survey from an old student of mine from my first youth ministry asking me to answer some questions about how my ministry has changed over the years. I want to share with you some of what I wrote to him:

Question #2
What do you do more, less or differently.

I read the bible more and church growth books less. I pray more and plan less. It’s not to say that I don’t plan, or I am not interested at all in Church growth, but I have come to the realization that a lot of so called programs to grow your church are just good business principles brought into the church to get more people in the seats and grow the church without needing the Holy Spirit’s involvement.

We coax people into the church thinking that if they are there long enough they will change. In reality, they don’t really change, they just become more religious. They come to church and sing the songs and think they are spiritually ok.

I had to take a hard look at the fruit that was coming out of our church and I realized that a lot of what we were doing, we could do WITHOUT the Holy Spirit’s help. The fruit we were producing was not necessarily evident of God’s power in our midst, it was just the natural outcome after effective outreach and good leadership. But it lacked the kind of power that changes people forever. People were pretty much just better versions of themselves(sometimes not even that), instead of being a new creation.

If you have good programs and your service doesn’t put them to sleep, people will come. Numbers will go up and people will get excited (you hope) about the church. But does that mean God has transformed them? Not usually. Why is that? I believe it’s because it’s the result of our effort and not God’s power.

I said it this way in a recent sermon:

“I need to ask your forgiveness as your pastor. I have put methods and creativity before God. I have depended on my ability to say it right –
I will always be creative and I’ll do anything I can to reach some, but nobody is going to be reached by my or your creativity. God reaches people – and if he is not in it we’ve just created a bunch of false converts who worship themselves and are driven by their own needs and wants and not by what will give God the most glory.”

And then I quoted a sermon by another pastor:

“God removes his hand of blessing and power so we have to resort to all sorts of Madison avenue and Steven Spielberg type gimmicks and idolatries because God’s not doing anything so we have to manufacture something to make it look like something’s going on.”

That hit me right between the eyeballs. That’s exactly what my ministries did for years. I thought I was talented enough to pull it off myself. I would create some great event and then say a 30 second prayer beforehand asking God to bless my brilliance. I had success, but it seemed superficial and not in proportion to the work I was putting in.

I try really hard not to do that anymore. I, and the elders of our church, are meeting twice a month just to seek God. Not for direction – just for Him. Because we know if we have Him and His power displayed in our church, the direction will be apparent and the fruit will be obvious.

So I guess you can say I’ve had a sea change in ministry (that is the correct expression, isn’t it? ) I look at it a lot differently than I used to.

That's a good reminder to me as we head into Sunday. Let's pray that it won't be human ingenuity, but God's power that shows up.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We're Baaaacck!

Hi all!

Sorry about no post last week, but that's just the kind of week that last week was. (How many times can you fit the word week in one sentence? I Win!)

I have something great for you today. As we are all trying to read the Bible for all it's worth, I think you will find this helpful. It is about the study of hermeneutics, which is how we interpret the Bible.

As I have been studying for the "Follow the Leader" series, it has become even more apparent to me how important this is. Because I didn't know the context of the passages and because I didn't know what it meant for them(the people he was speaking to)specifically - I wrongly interpreted the meaning of these texts for years.

It's amazing how knowing context and language peculiarities make difficult passages much more understandable, like the "clear eye" passage in Matthew 6.

Anyway, here is the article. This guy is good to read if you want to explore the rest of his blog as well. He teaches at Asbury Theological Seminary, which a lot of Wesleyans go to.

Have a great week! Don't forget to share your thoughts with the rest of us

Friday, October 3, 2008

For Your Friday

Hope you had a fantastic week!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Another reason (as if you needed one) for not letting your kids watch MTV

Apparantly there is a new show on MTV called Sex...with Mom and Dad, where parents have the sex talk with their kids in front of tv cameras. Here is the story.

And just when I thought the world couldn't get any dumber...