Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Place I Visit!

There is a place that I visit occasionally and I really hate going there. When I go, I make every effort not to get to far passed the door and I try very hard not to stay any longer than I have to.

Some people go more often than me and some go deeper into the place and some stay much longer and there are even some who never do come out.

As far as I know, though I had heard about that place for years, I don't recall ever going there until just a couple of years ago. I really don't know what caused me to start visiting and I have been there several times since the first time. There was even a time in my life that I was a bit critical of people who went there and stayed to long, obviously I was unaware of the draw.

This time of the year seems to even be worse there than normal and yet has a greater draw to go in than any other time of the year.

In fact I visited there this morning prior to writing this blog and have been more in the past few weeks than probably any other time period for a while. This morning, I decided to stand at the door a little longer and pray for those who go more often, in deeper and stay longer and I hope my prayers helped some to turn around and get out, at least for a while and hopefully for a very long time. My ultimate prayer would be that they never have to ever go back and while I was at it, I prayed that maybe I wouldn't have to back either.

I also never thought I would ever talk about it out loud and many, maybe most who go, don't want to talk about it and do not want anyone to know they have been there.

In fact, you may even be surprised that I go to this place. After all, I am a preacher and the regular person out there would probably cringe to think that a person in my position would ever visit such a place. So, this blog is somewhat of a confession if not a testimony.

The place is a dark place and has a strong grip. I admit, I don't go near as much or stay near as long as many, I just would like to never have to go again.

At this point, some of you are waiting for a humorous twist to this story. You think I am speaking of the shopping mall at Christmas or a nursing home or a deacon's meeting or something of that nature. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

This place is called "Depression". Now, understand, my visits would likely be considered mild compared to so many others and I hope it never goes beyond that. But even at mild, it is not a place I enjoy. It hurts, it drains, it pulls you into ugly places.

Sometimes, circumstances and events help carry you there and they try to force you to stay.

I thought this would be a good time to ask you to pray for those who suffer this condition. Also, I would like to encourage you to attempt to be a little more understanding if you see someone going there or standing there. In addition, you may even be able to help a little beyond your prayers, by being more discerning and maybe a little more sensitive and a little more kind.

My prayer for you is that when you see this place, you can simply keep on walking by and thank God you are not walking through the door and then whisper a prayer for those who are in for a visit.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Where Have all the Children Gone?

I was a bank robber that no lawman could catch and many met their end by virtue of my amazing ability to out draw and out shoot anyone. However, that all ended one day when I called out the wrong man. I made the first move but before my gun was out of the holster, I felt the hot lead passing through my body. Dropping to my knees, my life flashed before me as I was falling forward. The blazing fast sheriff returned his gun to his holster and then jumped up and down screaming... "I won, I won!"
We both laughed as I jumped up and said "Yeah, this time...let's go again!"

No blood, no gruesome entrails flying from my body, just a simple "Bang, bang" and I was down.
In fact, sometime the guns weren't guns at all, they may be a stick or piece of wood or something else I could hold in my hand and stick into the top of my pants when I wasn't "shooting".
Virtual reality for us was a well played imagination.
Trucks, tanks, motorcycles, race cars, mountains, trains, horses...anything you could imagine became a reality as long as you needed them.

We never dreamed of sitting in the house all day playing gruesome, vulgar, destructive video games. When cowboys and Indians were over, we grabbed a ball and bat or found a basket to shoot file shots or a field big enough to play football. Or we jumped on our bikes and raced through the neighborhood.
If we did sit inside and watch TV, it was some silly cat chasing a little mouse or a talking bear stealing picnic baskets or a blue horse that had a quick draw.

I wonder how many hours our children spend playing horribly realistic video games winning points by strangling or beheading or blowing off a head or stabbing or torturing the so-called enemy.

Then the so-called realistic TV shows on network television, you know, all the Detective, medical, police, investigative dramas. Many have pushed the envelope as it relates to language and visuals that are too realistic to handle. Then move over to some of basic cable shows and the language deteriorates and God help you if you watch the premium channels like Showtime or HBO.

Who are the highest paid people in our culture? Entertainers, musicians and athletes. I am not trying to degrade them as I enjoy each of those categories. However, we put our priorities in areas that promote self indulged attitudes and aspirations.

Our society has chosen now to turn our backs on biblical principles and God instituted and ordained family models and the sovereignty of human life. We have decided as a people that character means little to nothing and that respect for other people is almost non existent.

Even down to the grade of customer service you can expect now days in Lowe's or Wal-Mart or most fast food chains and on and on. Sorry to offend anyone, but I struggle with dumping my money in these places while being treated like I'm a bother. But it all goes right back to our attitudes and our values in this time period of our existence.

So, when we spend hours watching television reports about horrible incidents that occurred in Connecticut on December 14th or the 22 children that were stabbed in China on the same day, we shake our heads. How can anyone be so sadistic. Really? What exactly can we expect to produce with the kinds of values and convictions we have demonstrated in our entertainment, our self indulged ideals and our lack of respect for one another.

We have cried long enough "God Bless America" (or any other society), we must now begin to bless God. Unless we return to His values and His desires our hope on this earth is swiftly disintegrating.

The peace of God can be ours when we first make Peace WITH God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

God Forgive us of our trespasses!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

And Then The Tears

On Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 I left my house early in the morning to catch a 7:30 flight in Norfolk to Orlando.
My dearest friend was about to make his journey home...his eternal home. Hoping I could arrive prior to his departure, I little more than made it out of my own city, than at his normal 5:00 a.m. devotion time, he went ahead and had his devotion time with God in person.
That really was best, because his wife and their two children (his oldest son was not there) were there together in those final moments and that's as it should of been.
So later that day, I arrived and was able to hold his family and love them. Later still, I was able to see my friend, whose tent was peacably displayed for a private viewing for his family and I. I hugged him, thanked him and kissed him and whispered to an unhearing ear, "I'll meet you on that beautiful shore." Those were the words to a song he had sung to me a few times on the phone...before he was even sick.

We celebrated his life in The Villages, Florida two nights later with around 75 people with several asking Jesus into their hearts. Three days later, we celebrated again in Rome, Georgia with maybe 250-300 people again with several asking Jesus to come into their lives. Seven days later we had our final service in Chesapeake, Virginia celebrating this wonderful man's life with between 600-700 people present, all of which was a wonderful testimony of the people whose lives this 60 year young man had touched.

Through all of this, I enjoyed sufficient strength from the Lord as a pastor and friend when ministering and loving on others. That strength was a gift and should not be confused for a lack of love or caring as anyone who knows me would realize (I'm kind of a cry baby).

Yesterday, I was relieved apparently of a good measure of that gift of strength ... for yesterday I cried and then to cover all bases, I cried some more. In fact, I was introduced to last night's sleep with a wet face and a broken heart. Not for my friend ... but for me! Selfish, maybe ... but it is his fault. He's the one who came into my life and made sure I never stopped learning to be who God wanted me to be.

One is blessed to have had such a friend and I am thankful.

Friday, November 2, 2012

If I Die Before I wake

If I die before I wake,
Nothing here will I take.
But lots of things I'll leave behind,
For they were borrowed and never mine.

If in fact, I were to die,
Without the chance to say good-bye,
Just look around and you will see,
Something to remind you of me...

A Reese wrapper or a diet coke,
A crumbled page of some tired ole joke,
Or on my desk, a bible worn,
Pages brown & marked & torn.

Or look up at the birds in the trees,
Or stand out in the summer's breeze,
Or listen for the ocean's crash,
Or look at my grave-stone dash.

Or listen to "It Is Well",
Or to the sounds of Christmas bells,
Or a lively Southern Gospel tune,
Or just stand and stare at the moon.

Yes, If I die before you do,
Know that I really cared for you,
And that my earthly work is done,
And now I'm with the Father's Son!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

When did God become a Republican?

A friend asked two questions on facebook a couple of days ago. Though I respect the individual and admire his accomplishments in life, I did sense a tinge of sarcasm (he may refer to as satire)in his inquiry. However, I an going to attempt to offer an honest answer to his questions. #1- When did "Conservative" and "Christian" become synonyms? First of all, I understand his scepticism here and agree that just because you are one, does not necessarily make you the other. The word Conservative is defined in Webster's dictionary as *traditional ... maintaining existing conditions or views. The word Christian was first used by the enemy of the church and was not a compliment and referred to believers in Antioch as followers of the way of Christ. So if a person is a follower of Christ and accepts the bible as final authority they will hold to the traditions of sanctity of life and traditional marriage that is defined by Christ Himself.Evidence of this is found in Mark 10:6-9 where he said "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his Father and Mother and cleave to his wife; and the two shall be one flesh, so that they are no more two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man seperate." I am saying that if a Christian holds the view that the bible is true then they are maintaining existing and traditional views which is the definition of conservative. So maybe that could be the connection of the two words. Again, I am not saying they are synonyms but they do have a connection based on that logic. #2- When did God join the Republican Party? Obvious jab there but that's okay. You would be hard pressed I believe, to find a president that did not at some point quote the bible and express their belief in God. Jimmy Carter quoted from Micah and later explained what it meant to be "Born again". Lyndon Johnson quoted Solomon. Even good ole Bill Clinton expressed his beliefs as a Southern Baptist. Again if you hold to the biblical beliefs of the sanctity of human life (I saw a clip yesterday that someone posted on facebook of George Carlin who accused all pro-lifers of being women haters and he simply dismissed the sanctity of unborn human life), traditional marriage as stated by Christ Himself in the above reference and the work ethic that is plainly stated in scripture, you are not likely to be a Democrat(or at least hold to the Democratic platform). That of course does not make God a Republican. No He has not joined the party. He is unafilliated but we as individuals get to choose whether or not we affiliate with Him and at what level we take Him at His Word. There are people with challenged intelligence and wisdom (two different things) on every side of the political fence. It concerns me that because I consider myself a conservative and a Christian, I am attacked from so many directions as being a hater, intolerant, racist, homophobic bigot. Hope this helps with my friends questions, at least as an explanation of possibilities of the use of certain labels. Bessings.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I notice on facebook, and this seems to be mostly from the younger people, something called "Truth is" when someone starts with those two words and then shares something about someone else. It is usually a positive or encouraging statement. So "Truth is", life changes. That covers it really, life, all of life changes. Sometimes good, sometimes, not so much, but all the time, it changes. When I was a teenager, I spent hours on Friday nights "cruising" the local streets. Somtimes it was alone but mostly with one friend or another or even several. Seems the more we had in the car the more roudy we got, not bad, just a little loud, harmless(for the most part),fun. Haven't cruised late on Friday nights much in the last 35 years. But I did this past Friday night. I was waiting for some news on the health of a friend and when the news finally came, it was simply "not the good news we had hoped for...details later". You might as well of slammed a 2 X 4 in my gut. I sat on the couch, numb. Finally, I asked permission to leave the premises. I know that riding out on a Friday night at my age after 11:00 might not sound like the best idea, but for me, it was my theoropy. I still live in the same town I have always lived in. Almost fifty seven years and I am the only one in my family who never left. So, I have this thing I do on special days like Holidays and such. I simply drive around "my" town. Passing by places I lived and played and worked and grew. Houses, buildings, playgrounds, etc. In fact, I seldom ever visit cemetaries where the people I love are buried. In stead, I drive pass places that remind me of them. Places where memories spring forth that provoke smiles or tears or warmth or maybe even sober reminders. So Friday night, I simply "took my pill" ... I drove around "my town". Smiling here and tearing up there and remembering all in between. My theoropy includes houses that are gone, trees that have grown, parks that are no more, roads that have changed and expanded, stores that have closed, new places that replace the old ones. I remember favorite eating places and hangouts. I remember bicycle rides and blocks I jogged around and sidewalks that were my stage for performing life at it's fullest. The friend that I was thinking about when I left the house ... I drove by the place I remember first seeing him ... I drove by places that reminded me of him, houses he lived in, our favorite eating place that is no longer there, the front door of the house that served as an annex for a church where I stayed all night for a 24 hour prayer vigil when he first came into my life. I smiled, I laughed and I cried ... then I came home. Life is better and richer for me because of my friend. Life changes ... love strengthens ... tears cleanse and God is good ... All the Time! And "That's the Truth"!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Can I eat a Pig?

As a result of a statement I made on facebook, two friends of mine (who admittedly do not share my views) asked [respectfully] that I address the issue of the Old Testament and it's relevancey to today.I am grateful for their desire to hear my thoughts and hope I can make some sense for them. The question that came up dealt with the fact that in view of the same-sex marriage issue, many people are quoting from Leviticus chapter 18 where the view there is quite harsh on the issue. So if we take that literally, what about the dietary laws set in chapter 11 and the purity of blood issues (women's monthly visitor... ok, I know that's corny, but hopefully you smiled a little)and there are many other things that could be added to the list. Now, please understand, I am not a scholar or even a theologian but simply a lifetime student of the bible and I confess to you there is much I do not fully grasp & likely will not until I am made whole in eternity. Remember in Exodus, the book that preceeds Leviticus in our bible, Moses, by direction from God, has led His people from Egyptian bondage and are heading to the promised land. (Took them a while to get there due to there own lack of trusting what God had promised). In that time, God presented the commandments to Moses and then gave Moses specific instructions on constructing a tabernacle (which by the way means "tent" or "residence"). The tablets (10 commandments) were placed in a box (an ark, which means box) and on top of it were golden cherubim facing each other and that is called the mercy seat. The ark was placed in a special place in the tabernacle (of course the tabernacle was portible) and that is where God would meet with the priest when they would sprinkle blood on the seat for the atonement for sin. The tabernacle (and later the Temple) would become the place where God would dwell and meet with the High Priest on behalf of the people. The people we are referring to here are the Israelites who God had chosen. Remember it began when He made a covenant with Abraham and promised him a promised land...Caanan...Israel. Now, in Leviticus, God is giving instuction to Moses and to be passed to the Israelites on Holiness and purity. Understand at this point God is setting up standards for the Israelites that will set them apart from all other people groups (again they were His chosen people). These laws would not be easy and they may not make sense to our culture, but they were meant to be exclusive in their purpose of identifying and blessing the Jewish people. (By the way, there were provisions for non-Jews to become converts into that chosen people group...but that's for another day) So in Chapter 11, God deals with physical purity and he lays down the dietary laws. In Chapters 12 and 15 he refers to blood issues including the woman's purification period (which aint a bad idea to me...just saying... smile again). The important thing here is to remember these laws were specific to the Jews. Other people groups were not held to these standards. Then Israel shunned God for so long, constantly disobeying His desires and refusing His Blessings ... an example is the very journey in Exodus ... God promised the land, sent them to it, they sent 12 spies to check out the land and 10 came back with negative reports and refused to go in... 2 reminded them of God's promise,,,they wanted to kill the two positive spies. So they wandered for 38 more years (total of 40) in the wilderness... none of the men above 20 years old at that juncture made it into the promised land 40 years later except the 2 positive spies. That is indicative of how the Jews treated God and His cammands. There are 400 years of seperation from the last book of the Old Testament to the New Testament. 400 years of silence from prophets. The New Testament ushers in a major change God's plan. The focus is now starting to move off of the Jewish people. The Jewish leaders were not happy with Jesus' teachings and actions that seemed to go against the laws they knew (Now there were many laws that the Jews themselves had made up and were enforcing that did not come from God) . They even conspired to have Him stopped and killed if necessary. Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 that He did not come to DESTROY the law but to FULFILL it. So all that the law had been designed to do ... act as a mirror for people to see their condition, He now came to complete by offering Himself as the final and perfect sacrifice. In Mark 7:18&19 Jesus removed the dietary requirements that had been established in Leviticus. "...Thus He decalred all foods clean." (King James says "purifying all foods") [My quotes come from the NASV by the way... just a little more modern translation than the KJV] Then God affirms this new idea to Peter in Acts 10:15 when He tells Peter not to call what He had provided unclean. So, why would God change His mind about this? Good question. Remember, God made a covenant with the Jews and gave them boundaries (commandments) by which to lead them towards holiness. In Leviticus 11:44&45 He says "I am the lord your God. Consecrate (set apart) yourselves therefore and be Holy, for I am Holy, and you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on this earth. For I am the Lord (First time He has said this) who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be Holy for I am Holy." HERE IT IS... After this statement, He says those words "I am the Lord your God ... be holy as I am holy." about 50 more times in Leviticus. The issue is seperation from all sin and a lifestyle of seeking holiness. In Luke 19:41-44 Jesus entered Jerusalem which represents all of Israel and wept over the city because the nation of Israel never got it. At that point all things changed. Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice to atone for sins once and for all. No more need for sacrificing animals as Jesus fulfilled all of that requirement. Now Jesus establishes His church and says the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. This does not mean the Old Testament is not relevant, it very much is. But the rules of seperation and purity for mankind is now found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus says in John 14:6 "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me." Those are His words and leave no room for any other so-called diety. John 1:12 is also very clear where it says "But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name." Romans 10:9&10 says "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (John 1:12) for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. So this is why I originally said on facebook that if I believed the bible to be true, and I do, wouldn't you be mad at me or hurt if I did not share it with you so you too could have eternity with Jesus. And if I am wrong then how much worse off is my life...none! But if you are wrong, how much worse off is your life and the answer to that terrifies me. Now in closing, so if Jesus fulfilled the O.T. requirement of dietary laws and animal sacrifices in the New Testament doesn't that apply to homosexuality as well? The answer is clear as you read from the New Testament in Romans 1:24-28. It not only supports the O.T. teaching on the subject, it clarifies it. I absolutely detest the idea of anyone abusing and physically attacking homosexuals. I would never ever, stand by and allow that to happen in my presence without involving myself. I have held the hands of many homosexual friends during their times of grief and will do so again. But I will also never support it as an acceptable lifestyle because of my biblical belief. I hope this helps to at least shed some light on my position and my heart. Thank you ladies for asking. One final thought... Paul tells us of a "peace of God" we can have in Philippians 4:7 which is made available to us whe we have made "peace with God" in Romans 5:1 faith through Jesus Christ. So, I wish for all who read this ...Peace! P.S. The answer is yes! I can eat the pig... okay I would be better off perhaps if I didn't...but I can.

Friday, May 25, 2012

I Believe!

I had some things on my mind and decided to write a blog to find that it has been exactly a year ago today since my last blog. Wow. So, I thought I'd just share some random thoughts... here we go ... I believe Jesus Is God and He is eternal, past and future ... does that make me an idiot? I believe in Creation and a young earth ... does that make me ignorant? I believe marriage is clearly outlined in the scripture as being between 1 man & 1 woman ... does that make me a bigot? I believe that Jesus is the ONLY way to Heaven ... does that make me narrow-minded? I believe that I am supposed to live out my beliefs in love ... does that make me weak? I believe I am supposed to follow God's commandment to share the message of salvation ... does that make me arrogant? I believe we are living in the last days ... does that make me an alarmist? I believe that God can save anyone on earth who ask Him ... does that make me naive? I believe Hell is real and Heaven is too ... does that make me gullible? I believe that I can respect others but should not compromise God's Word is doing so... does that make me inflexible? I believe that I am a sinner saved by Grace of which I do not deserve ... and that makes me very Grateful! God Bless [P.S. By the time I sent entered this post it is the next day... see first sentence]