Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sunrise, Sunset...!!!

"Here's what's happening in your world even as we speak." I don't know if they are original to him, but these words were made famous by Willard Scott, the former 'weatherman' on NBC's Today show. Today (no pun intended), I thought I should give you a synopsis of what's really happening in our world (other than the weather) even as we speak.

  • Israel is at war with Hamas (Palestinian extremist terrorists)
  • A new study was published indicating that Teenage virginity pledges are 'ineffective'
  • Foreclosure rates continue to climb as interest rates continue to rise
  • There is a resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan as they take over villages and towns
  • There is mounting tension between Pakistan and India as both countries mobilize forces towards their common border
  • Home values have dropped 18% from October 2007
  • 'Santa' gunman kills 9 people at his ex in-laws Christmas party. Reports are that he had also planned to kill his own mother as well as the attorney who represented his ex-wife
  • Child sex trafficking continues to thrive in Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines
  • Child 'slave' labor is alive and well and making inroads into the USA
  • People continue to die of starvation, malnutrition and disease in Darfur, Sudan

But, in the midst of all this apparent gloom and doom, the best news of the day is that Jesus is still Lord! He still sits on His stately seat of power, investing Himself in the affairs of men. The world may appear to be spiraling out of control as evil appears to triumph, but this is all an illusion. Truth will prevail and good will ultimately triumph over evil. Our part is to fix our eyes squarely on the Author and Finisher of our faith. As the sun sets on 2008, with all its attendant tragedies, I am looking forward with a great sense of anticipation toward the sun rise of 2009. You're welcome to join me!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Frivolous Friday!

I trust you had a great Christmas! Just in case though, I wanted to be sure and give you a good reason for a good ol' belly laugh so I found these frivolously funny signs just for you. I don't know about you but I'm thoroughly confused by this one and I must admit it left me scratching my hairless dome. Was Spiderman in the building or were they expecting him? The only other possibility is that the rest of you humans are keeping a big secret from me about our special abilities.

Please ensure that all nuclear grade plutonium is also left outside as the radiation messes with the flavor of the food. Also, please be sure to label your weapons for ease of identification on your way out. Management is not responsible for stolen nuclear warheads!!!

What the heck, if it happened to the people during Noah's time, I sure as heck am not going to let it happen to me. I'm not getting caught off guard if another flood hits, I'll just make my house ready for sailing 'cos I'm really smart like that. Now if I can just figure out which room to put the gators in, I'll be fine!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Who stole Christmas?

According to reliable reports coming in from the fictitious town of Whoville, it is now an indisputable fact that the Grinch has stolen Christmas! Reported sightings of the ‘mean green monster’ carting away all the presents belonging to the entire town, have created an extreme sense of disillusionment amidst speculations that this might be the worst Christmas on record. As the self-appointed investigator representing “Whoville,” and with all due respect to the masterpiece penned by Dr Seuss in 1957, I am amending the story ever so slightly. In the new version, the Grinch doesn’t just cart away the presents of the Whovillites (or Whovillians, depending on what part of the country you’re from), he messes with the adjustable mortgage rates so that there are unprecedented reports of home foreclosures. He destabilizes OPEC and the Middle East so that there are inflated oil prices, resulting in a snowball effect of increased prices on gas, groceries, utilities, rent… and the list goes on and on.

Hold up, wait just one second! I think I’m mixing the stories up. It wasn’t the Grinch who stole Christmas, it was you and I. How did we steal Christmas, I hear you ask? Well, simply by buying into the deception that Christmas is all about gifts and presents, and about being as pretentiously sweet as possible (just until the season is over). That is an illusion! By definition, an illusion is the art of deception by producing a false or misleading impression of reality. In believing the illusion that Christmas is about presents (even though we aren’t the ones being celebrated), many of us will go into debt before the season is over, trying to compete with the Joneses next door on who can put up the most outdoor lights without blowing the transformer down the street. We will max out credit cards purchasing gifts that will be returned on Friday in exchange for other gifts that will eventually find their way to Goodwill or the Salvation Army store (we've even created a new word "regifting" for the category of people that will give away a gift they received, to someone else). We will gather around gaudily decorated trees and ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at the gifts we receive (whether we like them or not), and at the end of the day, very little, if anything, will have been said about what Christmas really is about.

I hate the overindulged spending that happens at this time of year (the marketing is almost as tedious as a presidential campaign), I despise the obligatory greeting of “Happy Holidays,” and I absolutely abhor the attempts to make Christmas a secular holiday that celebrates culture more than Christ. Christmas is about Christ! Regardless of what any one says or thinks, the idea behind this holiday is the fact that Christians are celebrating the birth of our Savior, who, by His shed blood redeemed the world from sin and eternal death. Whether you believe that to be true or not does not change the facts. If you’d rather pretend that Christmas has nothing to do with Christ simply because you say happy holidays instead of merry Christmas, that’s your prerogative. But I urge you to carefully consider that stealing Christmas is not the exclusive domain of the Grinch. Too many of us, in forgetting or choosing to ignore the real reason for the season, have effectively stolen Christmas too!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What's in your closet?

Here's a hot topic that's been in the news of late: Kevin Naff, editor of The Washington Blade, a gay publication, recently lambasted Obama's choice to have Rick Warren give the invocation at his inauguration, stating, "His presence on the inauguration stand is a slap in the faces of the millions of GLTB (gay, lesbian, transgenedered and bisexual) voters who so enthusiastically supported him..." He went on to say, "This tone-deafness to our concerns must not be tolerated. We have just endured eight years of endless assaults on our dignity and equality from a president beholden to bigoted conservative Christians. The election was supposed to have ended that era. It appears otherwise." Presumably this is a reference to President Bush's moral (and might I add Biblical) stand against homosexual marriages. I mean, last I checked, the president didn't carry a placard campaigning against homesexuals, nor did he vote in the recent California elections that opted to overturn gay marriage. Evidently whether it is Bush or Obama, as long as any president (or president-elect) does or says anything that is perceived as remotely 'offensive' to gay rights activists, they become persona non-grata.

This constant war of words back and forth between gay rights activists and conservative Christianity is a hackneyed strategy that serves no useful purpose. Clearly the freedom of speech allowed by our Constitution provides room for ideological differences rather than a sequacious following of so-called 'political correctness.' The angry diatribes proferred by both gay rights activists and 'gay-people loving' Christians further adduce to the fact that the only way to effectively win this raging 'battle' is on our knees and not through swollen, empty rhetoric. Lee Grady's, Charisma Online, recently published an article that highlighted Ray Boltz's (singer/ songwriter) "30-some years" battle with homosexuality. Married for 33-years, and with four grown children, Ray Boltz finally gave in to his personal struggle and embraced [his homosexuality], stating that he feels closer to God than he ever has. The article pointed out that the gay community is probably waiting with bated breathe, to see the response of Christians. They probably expect that we will take all of the 'heretical' Boltz's CD's and burn them in a bonfire while decrying his betrayal of true Christianity. The article rightly hints that such a reaction would be the wrong one. Sadly, there will be many-a-'Christian' who will respond in just such a manner.

My favorite part of the Charisma article is, in response to the question, "how do we react," Grady makes this simple but profound statement, "We must weep." He further opines, "It's not enough for us to preach to people. We must pray for them first. When they meet us, they need to see our moist eyes, not scowls and pointed fingers. Compassionate prayer bathes our message in God's mercy. It requires us to humbly identify with sinners as we recognize that each one of us battles some form of brokenness or addiction." Bravo Lee, well said! This 'battle' being raged in front of abortion clinics and across picket lines from 'card-carrying' homosexuals is destined to be a losing battle until we learn to weep for our nation. We must love the people enough to feel their despair and brokenness rather than point angry fingers of judgment that only serve to further alienate us and our message. The overarching message of the gospel is love. This kind of love is not found in the pages of books, nor in the lecture halls of seminaries. It is found only in an enduring and endearing personal relationship with Christ, that further demonstrates itself through an all-consuming love for others. If you're gay and you're reading this, I want you to know that I love you and welcome you with open arms at The Well, and believe me, I am not being condescending or judgmental when I say that.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One Incredible Journey!

It's truly amazing how quickly time goes by when you're living life to the fullest. The last three years have been an amazing season for my family and I. We've 'fallen' deeper in love with Central Florida and the people we are called to serve. We've, surprisingly, developed somewhat of an aversion to really cold weather, and have practically become Florida natives as we've discovered all the treasures Orlando has to offer. While The Well has been a large part of our lives over the past three years, watching our kids grow, adjust, and then fall in love with this region has given us the greatest joy. My girls are blossoming and thriving as they build new relationships, adapt to new schools and 'spread their wings' as they discover their likes and dislikes.

My daughter Bimi is an avid writer and her skills never cease to amaze me. She writes 10 years beyond her age (she's fifteen), and has such a way with words that she puts her dad's writing skills to shame. She also fancies herself as somewhat of a budding music star and has dreams of living in her blue mansion paid for from all the money she'll make from her recording contracts (it used to be a blue and pink mansion when she was planning on living with her then best friend. Apparently they never accounted for getting married and considering their husband's preferences too). Temi is both the athletic and academic one. She is so book smart that a single B on her report card can send her into a 'tailspin' of misery. She's been invited into the TAG program at her school and she's currently committed to pursuing music and a soccer career.

My son, Demi is in his final few months of high school (I'm still finding that hard to believe) and he has committed to the University of South Florida where he will be playing his college football. Today marks a special day for him in the process of his football evolution as he plays in his final high school football game. He was selected to the Central Florida All-Star game, and is actually going to be one of two starting defensive ends on his team. I am ovewhelmed with memories as I anticipate watching my 'young man' playing in his final high school football game tonight. Sometimes life seems to fly by way too fast, while at other times it appears interminably slow. Whatever the case is with your life, sometimes, if we don't slow down and savor the 'scenery' we might miss out on the best things life has to offer. I am truly thankful to be blessed with such incredible kids, and with the opportunity to watch them chase their dreams. What exciting things are happening in your life?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dancing with the non-stars!

I was on a friends blog and I found this youtube video. I'm not ashamed to say that it brought tears to my eyes! You see, I live in a world where 'performance' is a pre-requisite for 'success', and as a pastor, everybody measures your success largely based on parameters that you have little or no control over. I've said on numerous occasions that pastoring a church can sometimes feel like an exercise in futility. An often thankless exposing of your heart to hurt and pain. In fact, just recently Craig Groeschel's blog, Swerve, had a post titled The Private Cost of Visible Success, and it was a poignant reminder that, while in the visible expansion of your ministry many will desire to have what you have, few are willing to do what you did to get there. He reminded us that only you and those closest to you will know the sacrifices, pain, loneliness, fear and weight you've had to deal with and carry along the course of your journey.

This youtube video reminds me of the simplicity of the power of love, laughter and a genuine caring for people. I know nothing about Matt! I don't know who he is. I have no idea where or if he works. I don't know where he lives, nor do I know what he believes. I do know this though: I know that in the simple, almost foolish gesture of a 'dance around the globe' he has piqued the interest of many. Who knows what was going on in the lives of many of the people that joined him in a dance? Whatever the case, for a few fleeting moments their pain and adverse circumstances were forgotten and they celebrated life and laughter. I applaud this unique expression of simplicity because, at the end of the day, that's exactly what I'm trying to accomplish as a Christian, except that I hope that what I add to people's lives will be of more lasting and eternal value than a fleeting dance of joy.

So for the next few moments, I dare you to forget the 'multi-million' dollar deal, the big presentation, the busyness that always beckons, and enjoy a dance with Matt. It doesn't really matter where you are because wherever it is, he's probably already been there and danced! a friend of mine once penned the words, "You dance over me, while I am unaware..." Since Matt might not be available, may be you'd care to join Him in a dance today. Have an incredible and inspiring day.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Frivolous Friday! (we're back)

As you've probably noticed, my blogging has been somewhat sporadic over the last couple of weeks, and much of what I've posted has been fairly 'heavy' stuff. Incase you've begun to wonder if I've lost my sense of humor and simply live in this 'dark, angry place' I thought I should lighten your weekend with some more funny road signs. I can honestly say I have no idea what this road sign means (we don't have them in Florida). Does it suggest that there's a naked, large chested woman up ahead kicking a lamp post, or does it suggest that...? If you have any idea please put me out of my misery!

Now as you approach a gentle curve to the left watch out for two or three little exits where folks may not be paying too much attention as they turn onto the highway. Immediately after that curve, prepare to make a less subtle turn to the right and then accelerate so that you're going 65 mph as you zip across the railroad tracks (be sure to be going 65 as that way you won't feel a thing if there happens to be a train going by right then). Finally, if you happen to make it across the railroad track, drive at the same frenzied speed into a gentle S-curve. I'll meet you at the end with the gentlemen who run the psyche ward. Apparently, one of their inmates designed this little, neat driving experience!

"Hey, don't thank us, it's our job and we aim to please!" You know how they say things get worse before they get better (no, I'm not talking about the economy)? Well, the person who coined that phrase actually made it up while sitting in this traffic jam. Have a great weekend and I'll see you on Monday bright and early.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The silence is deafening!!!

The silence is deafening! The ‘angry mob’ that has sought to oust the ‘Kenyan born usurper’ would appear to have failed in their bid to disprove his citizenship. The courts are throwing out law suits like Santa throws around Christmas gifts. What has come of all the hoopla? At best, another failed, weak, and poorly reasoned attempt to impose personal preference disguised as the will of God. And at worst? Who knows? But it may be argued that Christians have again become the laughing stock of our country and our political process. ‘Our man’ (or woman) didn’t win and so we embarked on an eponymous campaign to discredit the one who did. Jerome Corsi, who wrote a book which attacks Obama, did an interview with Fox News’ Steve Doocy on August 15, 2008 in which he claimed, with great alacrity, that Obama’s birth certificate was a fake.

The following is a part of the transcript of the interview.

Doocy: What do you mean they have a “false birth certificate” on their website?

Corsi: The original birth certificate of Obama has never been released, and the campaign refuses to release it.

Doocy: Well, couldn’t it just be a State of Hawaii- produced duplicate?

Corsi: No, it’s a – there’s been good analysis of it on the Internet, and it’s been shown to have watermarks from Photoshop. It’s a fake document that’s on the website right now, and the original birth certificate the campaign refuses to produce.
(To get the full transcript on the Obama birth certificate fiasco go here)

Why does this conversation remind me of the book 88 reasons why the rapture will be in 88 I’ve said all along that the merit of our testimony is significantly weakened when we rush like ‘bulls into china shops’ destroying everything in our path simply to establish our preference, even at the risk of being wrong. My concern has always been with the way we as the Church seem to present speculation as if it were fact, and then attempt to strengthen it with a "thus sayeth the Lord" to ensure that our weak suppositions remain unchallenged. So now, after all is said and done, and there appears to be no valid case for making Sarah Palin the 44th VP of these United States, we begin the ‘sheepish’ attempts at back-pedaling, while making every excuse in the book to justify our ‘foolishness’ rather than publicly acknowledging that we were wrong. The sudden silence from the American Church is deafening!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Payback's a stitch!!!

So, Sola and I just returned from a fabulous 3-day cruise to the Bahamas (Nassau to be precise). We had an amazing time, not having to set an agenda and 'pigging' out like food was going out of style and we had to eat all we could before it was actually phased out. Any way, before we left I took the time to record a video message to our church so that it could be played back on Sunday. I will spare you the details of what my message communicated, but a group of them got together after service to send me a recorded message of their own. I had an apoplectic fit as I rolled about on the floor doubled up with laughter. If the truth be told, you would have to hear my message to really understand why theirs was so funny, but I thought I'd share their message with you anyway since it was such a hoot. Paybacks a stitch aint' it?

Friday, December 5, 2008

We the people... at least I think we are!

You haven't read from me in a couple of days, but it is for good reason. I've been devouring copious amounts of material (written and video) regarding the troublesome issue of Barack Obama's birth certificate. I watched (or rather listened on youtube) with distate, a purported phone call by a 'bishop' to Obama's grandmother in Kenya, with the shameless intent of 'manipulating' her (through a translator) into affirming that she was present for her grandson's birth in Kenya. The large majority of the conversation was completely unintelligible and even through the translator, it was obvious that Mr. 'bishop' was clueless as to what was actually being said. Another 'bishop' has said he is willing to die to expose Obama's fraud, seeing that he is the "devil incarnate." Sadly, he didn't indicate that he was willing to die to make Jesus known in the earth, but to expose Obama would be a cause worth dying for.

Many Christians are leading the charge in the call for 'justice' against Obama's attempt to 'defraud' our beleaguered nation. youtube, and other internet channels abound with conspiracy theorists having their day in the spotlight as they concoct fantastic tales of how Obama came about his birth certificate. Many of them come across as angry, disgruntled, and slighted 'wack jobs' who are indignant that things haven't gone 'God's' way and so, in the 'spirit' of righteous indignation they are fighting to take back what has been stolen. Overwhelmingly, the prevailing sentiment amongst these conspiracy theorists is that there is a large scale attempt to silence the truth. The federal courts, prosecutors and other notable political leaders are purportedly all in on this conspiracy. Now, for the record let me state categorically that I don't know where Obama was born. He may or may not have been born in Hawaii, but that fact remains to be legally proven or disproven.

Meanwhile, Christians who 'prophesied' that Palin would be the 44th VP of the United States are sitting on the edge of their collective seat, feeding the frenzy of disseminated propaganda with the notion that this is God's way of fulfilling His purpose. Exposing the charlatan for what he is may well re-open the opportunity for McCain and Palin to actually ascend their rightful throne as leaders of the greatest nation in the free-world. Or will it? I am troubled on two levels by this reaction. The fervor and passion that has gone into 'exposing' this 'fraud', the unprecedented 'unity' around a common cause (to see the Democrat who supports abortion not take office), the efforts that have been geared towards fighting this 'evil' impostor, are unrivaled by any effort the Church in America has collectively put towards reaching and serving the lost, the hurting, and the next generation. We have built such a chasm between us and the people we are called to love and serve, that it is debatable as to whether we can 'build a bridge' to span this divide.

Secondly, I am in great fear that we may well be setting ourselves up as the adversaries of God. What if it is true that Obama was born in the USA? How would that affect our testimony? How would it impact our ability to influence and impact the lives of the people we are trying to reach? For that matter, what if it is true that he was born outside of the USA? Has the way we have conducted ourselves as Christians been with the integrity that allows us to still influence people? Is the need to ensure that Obama doesn't make it into the White House worth losing our witness over? I am first a Christian before I am an American, and my responsibility as a Christian requires me to love first and above all else. I am not suggesting that if indeed there is a fraud being perpertrated we shouldn't be doing something about it, but as is typical with us, we are going off on a tangent and answering questions people aren 't asking, while ignoring the ones that they are.

Is it no longer true that there are lawyers who are Christians? Or does our nation no longer provide avenues for litigation against injustice? How does signing petitions and making spurious youtube claims make the truth any clearer? Obama is the "devil incarnate"? Wow! What next? Can we come up with any more creative ways to justify the worlds contention that Christians are known more for what we are against, than for what we stand for? I for one disavow this tactic! This is not the way I fight my battles. Since my battle is not against "flesh and blood" I've found prayer and fasting to be a good place to start. Then, I am persuaded we will find divine insight to approach whatever circumstances we face, with greater wisdom. After all, the Scriptures do say that God does not do anything without first revealing it His servants, the prophets (and this is not an endorsement for hoaxsters and frauds who purport to speak in the name of God while promoting their hateful agendas). I remain prayerfully confident that God's true purpose will prevail.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sticks and stones...!!!

Lately I’ve been thinking and talking a lot about ‘caged’ Christianity and 400-pound gorillas in reference to living out loud, and being an effective, adventurous Christian. I had the opportunity to speak at the church of a friend of mine this past Sunday, in Sioux Falls, SD. I know, I know, I must really love him to be willing to go up to Sioux Falls at this time of the year. Seriously though, I had an amazing time, and it wasn’t just at the church services. I love hanging out with Steven and his family. They are warriors and true examples of what it means to live life ‘outside’ of the cage. They are often battle scarred and weary from the many ‘skirmishes’ in which they find themselves as they defend, with all that’s in them, the mandate they believe God has assigned them.

Steven and Kristin continue to lead the charge as a voice for the unborn, not only in South Dakota, but nationally, and not only during election years (as sadly is the case with too many Christians), but at every season of their lives. Steven is passionate about his need to find justice for the voices of those who cannot speak for themselves, and he has invested everything he has to fulfill this calling, often at an unimaginably high and exceedingly painful price. My heart bleeds for him and his family, as I know they often feel alone in the battle they’re fighting on a national scale. This bloodthirsty demon that seeks to destroy the lives of countless unborn children through abortion, is a behemoth.

Because of their very vocal stand against abortion, the Hickey’s often find themselves the object of not just ridicule, but downright hostility and even death threats. This past weekend was a prime example of such hostility. As we drove by the church on Saturday evening, we noticed that someone had spray-painted graffiti all over the church bus used to transport the handicapped. The words “Despise” and “God is dead” were liberally painted all over the bus, requiring them to get the whole bus repainted. We waited outside in the biting cold while the police came by to do an inspection and file a police report for insurance purposes. Through it all Steven and Kristen’s only response was to indicate that the bus needed a new paint job anyway. What an incredible approach to living outside the ‘cage’. What an amazing example of living the adventure. Any thing exciting happened in your neck-of-the-woods lately?

Monday, December 1, 2008

'Gorilla' Warfare

I've been thinking a lot lately about the story of the Rich, young ruler. I'm fascinated by the fact that he was so devout, that he told Jesus that he had kept the commandments from his childhood, and Jesus didn't contest that fact. Can you imagine never having lied, stolen or cheated? Apparently this was his testimony. However, he did have a small 'possession' problem. He was 'owned' by his possessions, and so rejected an invitation to become one of Jesus' disciples in exchange for selling his possessions and giving the money to the poor. What??? Can you imagine being so controlled by something in your life that, even though you're seeking something deeper than your already admirable faith walk, you're not willing to give up what you own to find what you need.

This is our story too you know?! We are in relationship with Jesus and profess our undying love for Him. However, there are things in our lives that we love substantially more than we love Him. Whatever those things are, unless they are put in perspective and placed in their rightful place, we have in essence rejected a call to follow Jesus as one of His disciples, and have instead opted for the 'cage' of safe, boring and unchallenging christianity. It was C.S. Lewis who so eloquently stated, "You can't get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first." If we lose our opportunity to accomplish our purpose because we are blinded by our 'caged' and safe Christianity, then we might as well be a 400-pound gorilla with all of its strenght harnessed behind a cage in the zoo. It is good for nothing except an occasional nose-pick and body-scratch. Unleash the adventure that's in you so that you can truly live!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Another Frivolous Friday on Saturday!

??? Um, is it just me and my low level education, or is there something inately wrong with this sign below? I mean, I understand the concept of a drive-thru to be a no-parking, no-waiting service right? I don't know, maybe McDonalds is just way too far advanced for me, so I think I'll just stick to eating real food (and parking in parking spots at dine-in restaurants)

Hmmmm! Please understand that it's nothing personal, and that I've thought long and hard about this but, much as I don't want to insult your judge, 'cos I'm sure he's a really nice fellow and all that, I think I'd rather see your village thank you very much! Now if you'd just post the darn speed limit then at least I'd know what speed to go to avoid the judge!!

I guess we're not in Kansas anymore! Don't you just love how indigenous these great United States are? There's no way you're mistakenly wondering if you're in Florida, California or Hawaii when you come across this sign. By the way, check out the rack on that moose. Woo hoo!!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Random Idleness leads to boredom!

I'm randomly idle right now (that tends to happen when you have a long layover between flights). I'm parked at a superior vantage point in Chicago's O'Hare airport, waiting for a connecting flight to Sioux Falls, SD (don't ask!). I strategically selected my spot so that I can 'oggle' people and not have anyone call the police on me for suspicion of 'malicious' intent through staring. I love watching people and trying to figure out what's going on in their lives. Sometimes you don't have to guess, as the little kids yelling and screaming all over the place, tell it all. I've already 'built' imaginary lives for a number of people around here, and some of them are lives I wouldn't wish on anyone. This is a serious case of random idleness.

Any way, here's some other news I'll share randomly, since I'm already in the flow. This is a big weekend for me as I have so many things going on both at home and on my travels. Next week promises to be an even bigger week. On Tuesday December 2nd, we'll celebrate my daughter, Bimi's birthday. On December 3rd, Sola and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Wow! I often find it hard to believe that 20-years have gone by that quickly, until I see my son and get a real reality check. Sola and I are planning a get-away for the weekend following our anniversary (no kids for three whole days), and I can hardly wait to enjoy the downtime. Okay, enough random idleness, I'll catch up with you later with some real news or valuable info.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


It’s Thanksgiving Day in the USA! Many people are gathering with loved ones today to ‘endure’ turkey and tryptophan, while others are grateful for the day off from work so that they can indulge in a lazy day of vicariously living through professional football players, as they watch the traditional Thanksgiving Day games. Of course, it cannot be forgotten that John Madden and his cohorts will engorge themselves on ‘Turducken” (a turkey, duck and chicken creation of some ‘genius’ who was determined to kill himself with an overdose of ‘bird’ meat). While all this merriment is occurring, some are ‘holed up’ alone at home, miserably wringing their hands and wishing for the day to quickly come to an end. Others defiantly shake their fists in the air at an “invisible” God, blaming Him for whatever ills have befallen them or their loved ones, while others lament His ‘apparent’ abandonment of them.

Some will fight over the turkey being too well done or underdone. Others will argue about the merits of using broth over water to make the stuffing, and the real geniuses will fight over how much honey should be used on the honeyed duck. In the rest of the world though, it will be business as usual. American Soldiers and their UN counterparts will patrol war ravaged areas, trying to give hope and comfort to others while not feeling it themselves. In Mumbai, India, many will be mourning the inevitable change that has come to their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks and the consequent death of hundreds. In Darfur, Rwanda and the Congo, the lucky kids will feed off the ground on whatever they can find while the majority will go hungry.

So today I wanted to say: I’m thankful to live in America. I’m thankful for a nation that gives me the opportunity to be free, and to succeed. I'm thankful that I can write a blog and have you read it. I’m thankful that I can watch football, eat turkey and stuffing (I hate the stuff!), and hang out with my friends and family. I’m thankful for young men and women on the frontlines in Iraq and Afghanistan, fighting for my freedom at the expense of theirs. I’m thankful that the people dearest to me are near me today, and those who aren’t, are only a phone call away. So today I say a prayer for all those who have forgotten the many reasons they have to be thankful, and I pray that they are reminded of what a great country they live in so they can at least give thanks for that. I’m confident that many in Darfur, Rwanda and Mumbai would gladly change places with them today… and be truly thankful for it! Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A moment in time, or is it eternity?

War can be a really funny thing! One of the irony's of war is that we fight and kill so that we can live peaceful lives. Our world is so different from the one I was born into less than 50 years ago, and at any point in time on our planet, there are over 30 wars being waged. Yet in the midst of this wanton destruction, life goes on. This is Thanksgiving week in the USA. It 's a time when we celebrate the fact that we are thankful that we live in such a great nation. Truly though, we've lost sight of whom we should be thankful to. Ultimately, every nation, tribe, and people owes its well being to the Sovereign Creator. Many nations have fallen into anarchy, genocide and complete extinction because they became 'masters' of their own destiny.

This week we must remind ourselves that it is the grace of a loving God that sustains our nation even when our future hangs in balance. Our destiny does not lie in the hands of Wall Street, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Hollywood or any other zip code of repute. It lies squarely in the hands of a just and loving God. Our thanks must be first to Him. And while we're at it, we must remember the ones who actively lay their lives on the line daily to ensure that we have the freedom to return thanks to a loving God in whatever way we choose to. Today I'm further reminded of the irony of war. These photos depict the softness of innocence in the midst of the harsh realities of a debilitating war to protect what we believe is the most equitable way of life for humanity. If you were captioning these photos, what would your captions read?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Frivolous Friday! (on Saturday)

Yeah, so I know I missed Frivolous Friday, but, like last week, I had something infinitely 'heavier' on my heart that I just had to post. But who says Frivolous Friday can't happen on Saturday? So here are a few interesting things I found last week. You know how, as you approach the stateline when traveling along major interstate highways, all the states have taglines on their welcome signs that highlight the most interesting feature of the state? Well someone suggested that if states were being completely honest they would read more like the signs below. I don't know if it's true, but I sure got a laugh out of these ones. Have a positively lovely weekend.

Friday, November 21, 2008

An open letter to Mr. 'Christian'

So, Mr. 'Christian' did you have breakfast yet? How did you sleep last night? I imagine it was a fairly comfortable night, what with your nice fluffy pillow and 400 count egyptian cotton sheets. Heading off to work this morning? Are you catching the metro; braving the traffic so you can park in one of those $10.00 a day parking lots; or simply car-pooling? Talking about breakfast, isn't it tough how they make us have to go through so many choices? Bread: white, wheat, sourdough or rye? Meat: Do you want canadian bacon, turkey bacon, sausage patties or sausage links? While we're at it, how would you like your eggs? Over easy, medium, scrambled or how about a choice of six different omelets that we offer? Juice: you pick your 'poison'!

And still we complain and murmur about how difficult our lives are in light of the current recession!!! We fight over who we want as president. We are divided over who is God's choice to lead us through the next four years, yet we all 'prophesy' that our candidate is God's choice, and for good measure we remind you that if you don't vote for him, God's gonna getcha! We can't even agree on whether the economy, abortion, or the war in Iraq is forefront on God's mind, though we all 'prophesy' that whichever one is dearest to our hearts is dearest to God's. Funny though, that we only seem to have these disagreements every four years. Funnier still is that they seem to coincide with Presidential election years. While we rant and rave, and wield our big 'Christian stick' pointing out how everyone who doesn't believe like us is the 'enemy' , true Christianity is living in the places where the 'stench' of pain and poverty is at its greatest (James 2: 14-26).

So if you did have breakfast this morning (or even if you skipped it by choice), let this picture of a Congolese refugee child, a victim of tribal insurgence, remind you of what Jesus really died for. This child is eating his meal (who knows when and where the next one will come from) mixed with sand from the dirt trampled by a thousand people just trying to survive for one more day. You can interpret this post any way you want. You and I can pontificate and justify our often extravagant and ungrateful lifestyles, or we can fall on our knees in prayer, give generously to help someone live, or go and serve people who are less fortunate than us. Whatever you choose to do will reveal your own heart. Judging from true Biblical prophecy and the prevalent global trends though, we won't always be the most prosperous or for that matter, the most powerful nation on earth.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Photo or Photoshop?

I found this photo on line. It's taken from the September 2005 issue of Africa Geographic. I originally came across it on someone's facebook photos, and in the comments someone suggested that it was a great photoshop job of airbrushing. Someone else posted a link to the page stating that it was a legitimate photograph. Either way it's a great shot, but I am fascinated as to whether or not it's actually a real photo. You see, if it is, I can only wonder if the guy in the kayak has an extra change of underwear as he watches this mammoth creature approach his 'vinyl-thin' kayak which offers about as much protection as a paper house in a hurricane. Here's the link so that you can examine it even closer yourself (It's time for all you forensic 'experts' to let your skills show). http://www.whitesharktrust.org/pages/mediaarticle/media25.html

My personal take: Judging from the line that splits the photo right down the middle, and the differences in the shades of the sky on either half (which might indicate photos taken at two different times of day), as well as the fact that the ripples on both halves don't exactly line up, I'm inclined to think it's a fake. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I'm a little nostalgic today! My 'boy' is growing up and slowly becoming a man (well maybe not so slowly any more) and I just realized, during a conversation last night, that he will be going away to college in July next year. If all goes according to plan, he should spend four years in college and hopefully be drafted into the NFL. This means that when he leaves our home in July next year, he essentially will be leaving our home for good (obviously he'll be back for vacations and stuff while he's a college student), and begin to make his own way in life. Sola and I have invested 18 years of our lives into building his (where did the time go), and I sort of wonder how we'll handle reading all the press about him (especially the negative) knowing that this is our 'baby' who is being written about in such uncomplimentary terms.

If the truth be told though, we must learn to adapt, as it comes with the territory. Trust me, I know! As I've stated quite a few times lately, "fish bowls don't have blinds" so if you live in the public eye, you must be prepared to trip and stumble in front of people, yet get up, dust yourself off, and get right back to what you were doing. There will always be dissenters to your cause. Some more vocal than others, but their singular purpose in life is to ensure that they bring you down so as to make themselves look good. These are some of the lessons I'm learning along the way, and I take occassion of my own 'stumbles' to teach my son the most valuable lesson of falling: the need to get right back up again! Sola and I are immensely proud of Demi and his accomplishments, as indeed we are of all our kids, and so I just wanted to give a 'shout out' to my son today to let him know I'm thinking of and praying for him.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Caged Christianity

A while back I posted a blog explaining how I was in a season of "Holy discontent" and was so dissatisfied with where I was in my Christian experience. I'd love to tell you that I've moved on from that but it just wouldn't be true. I'm more discontented than ever! You see, lately I've been asking myself some tough questions as I look in the 'mirror' of God's word. It sort of feels like looking in an actual mirror after I've slacked off working out for a few weeks because of a hectic schedule but I haven't slacked off 'stuffing my face' with my favorite chocolates and pastries. I absolutely despise the reflection that looks back at me from the mirror, and it motivates me to do something drastic. Those are the times in which I'm more motivated than ever to get back on my bike, get back in the gym, and do whatever else it takes to ensure that the line of sight down to my feet is not obstructed by a 'hanging' gut.

With all of these questions circulating around my cerebral cortex, I'm distilling the vital from the irrelevant and identifying the questions that need to be answered the most, such as:
  • What would it look like if we stopped "doing" church and "become" the church?
  • Is it possible that, as pastors we are so busy pastoring churches we've forgotten to pastor the people?
  • Who determined the blue print for what church should look like on a Sunday, and does that work for me and my community?
  • What would it look like if we actually took Jesus at His word, and radically loved and served people regardless of their beliefs?
  • Could I potentially miss a divine opportunity to walk intimately with Jesus, having 'kept' all the 'rules' of 'good' Christianity just like the Rich young ruler did?

I guess I really want to see Jesus glorified in me and through me, and I can't help feeling that there's something missing. I wonder if I'm living in a cage when I should actually be living in the 'wild' adventure of pursuing God with everything I have no matter what that looks like. I certainly empathize with a 400 pound gorilla trapped in a cage in the zoo. You see, he can never live the life he was created to live, trapped behind bars 24/7. In order for a gorilla to "be all that he was meant to be" he must live in the wild and explore every instinct and tendency he was born with. It's no different for the christian. We can choose to live staid, caged lives, or we can throw ourselves in with reckless abandon against all reasoning. If Peter hadn't done that, he would never have walked on water (even though as a fisherman, he knew men didn't walk on water). If Andrew hadn't done that he would never have witnessed the miracle of feeding 5000 men with five loaves of bread and two fish. Just think what the rich young ruler missed out on. Jesus actually gave him the opportunity to become one of his disciples(Mark 10: 17-22), and he turned it down for the safety of the cage of 'financial security.' What's my cage? well... while I'm figuring that out, you might want to find out what's yours!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"One of them is a warrior..."

Wow! I bet you guys must think I'm schizophrenic, the way I constantly change things around, here. One week I'm posting on Saturday (which I almost never do), another week I miss out on posting for a day or two, then Friday rolls around and I don't post the 'sacred' and highly anticipated Frivolous Friday posts... "What the heck is wrong with you?" you're probably asking. Well, don't forget my blog is called Seasons of Change! Seriously though, I'm posting today because I have something incredibly amazing to share.

Yesterday I flew in from Washington DC in the afternoon, after spending the night there, having previously been in Alabama for two nights. The main reason I flew back yesterday instead of today was to be able to attend Senior Night at my son's high school, as well as watch him play in his final high school football game. It's been a season of adversity for him and he's weathered the storm beautifully, though not without some "lessons along the way." He literally played the entire season with a cast on his left hand (this is not a good thing for a defensive end who needs his hands to make tackles), because he'd torn the tendon and ligaments on his pinkie just before the season began. Then he broke the same finger in the first game of the season. He had to undergo two different surgeries and in the process ended up missing five of his twelve-game season. Immediately after the surgery (when he first had the 'ginormous' cast put on) he didn't want to go to a USF game for fear that the coaches would see him injured and revoke his scholarship offer (I don't know how he figured that), but I persuaded him otherwise, explaining that it was better that they saw and heard from him regarding the injury rather than read about it on rivals.com.

He's constantly felt as if he let down his team because he had to play hurt all season, and nothing I said seemed to persuade him differently. I tried explaining that his team and coaches really valued his valiant efforts and that he still had the most sacks on the team, which was amazing considering he'd played in far fewer games. I tried to make him see that that was certainly a commendable performance even though it may not have met the goals he set. Adversity in and of itself may not be great to experience, but the lessons learned through navigating it are invaluable and stay with you for life. Yesterday, towards the end of the game a gentleman introduced himself to me and informed me that Demi had been selected to play in the All-Star game for Central Florida (covering an eight-county area). Evidently more than just his team mates and coaches recognized his efforts and contributions to his team even in a losing season (they ended up 4 - 6). What a wonderful 'feather in his hat' to conclude his high school football career. So I guess yesterday wasn't his final high school football game after all! This photo was taken after the game yesterday. I like it because with me being in the foreground, the perspective gives the impression that I'm bigger than Demi.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sometimes I sit and think...!!!

"Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit!" This was the phrase on a poster that I saw as a kid growing up, and it has stuck with  me all these years. I find myself doing an awful lot of sitting and thinking these days, and at other times I completely zone out and am focused on... absolutely nothing! I feel as if my brain is broiling and smoke is pouring out of my ears. So this morning, as I head to the airport for my trip home (I've thoroughly enjoyed my time in Alabama and DC, but I am soooo ready to get home), I feel like I'm just going to sit. I'm on strike from thinking so don't ask me any life altering questions until tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blog this!!!

  • Having time on your hands can be extremely profitable if it's used well. I have been in a meeting for much of today but have had a lot of time (since arriving in Birmingham, AL yesterday) to reflect on a number of things. I've also been able to listen to podcasts of a few pastors that I admire. I'm experiencing an amazing 'download' of truly impassioned purpose. To boot, a dear blogging friend of mine wrote a really wonderful post that speaks to the heart of a typical pastors "life in a fishbowl."

    So, here are a few things that I'd like to remind you of today:

  • The culture of a church is merely the vehicle used to carry the information of Christ's love, it is not Christ.
  • We must leverage our culture to fully engage people in the message (information) we have to share. In other words, God really isn't mad at us for introducing drums, electric guitars and hip hop into the church.
  • If the culture of your church eclipses Christ, people's faith will crumble.
  • Whenever we elevate culture above Christ, it's over for us.
  • When you know you want to live in Alaska, you don't waste time in surf shops (you must make a plan for your life that allows you to spend your time doing things that are relevant to that plan)
You might ask, If culture is merely a tool, and we say that we want to be relevant to the culture, doesn't that imply a contradiction, since being relevant requires us to make the culture a priority? Not if you understand the difference between being relevant and being dogmatic about your church culture because you're trying to reach a certain 'type' of person. I would define relevance as meeting the current needs of the people you're called to, and answering the questions that people are actually asking, as opposed to the ones we think they should be asking. Culture on the other hand would be leveraging the tools that are available to our generation of Christian leaders so as to communicate our message more clearly. That means that facebook, blogging, music, lights and youtube are actually not tools of the devil drawing us into sin and away from God. They are merely a language spoken by today's culture, that make it easier for us to connect with people right where they are. Weigh in with your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I'm writing this from my hotel room in Birmingham, AL. I flew in today for a couple of pivotal meetings that will help determine a number of major decisions that need to be made. I am spending time praying today! I'm persuaded that prayer is what changes the course of human history and orchestrates the plans and purposes of God for whole nations. I admit that I am ambitious. I desire to see whole nations impacted with the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This does not occur without significant resistance and so I am praying! I'm praying that God's wisdom will be made manifest. I'm praying that the "arm of flesh" will fail and only the will of God will be done. I'm praying that the city to which I've been called will experience an awakening the likes of which have never been recorded in her history. I'm praying that our nation will be ignited with a 'fire' that will set her on course to her world changing destiny. I'm praying that His purpose is accomplished in and through me no matter the personal cost. Will you join me and pray too? Our nation could use a few more 'battle-hardened warriors' to fight in the spirit realm where the battle is won or lost.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Of hubris and other vices!

Okay, before you begin to accuse me of breaking my word, I said I was done writing any political posts about the elections. I did not however say that I was done writing about our new President-elect, and my observations regarding his potential policies and their spiritual implications. Let me preface all that I’m about to say with the clear warning that I am addressing these issues purely from a spiritual standpoint as I perceive them to be. If you’re looking for a place to argue your intellectual, social, and political position regarding these issues, slowly back away from Seasons of Change and head over to a blog that is geared towards such speculative hubris.

Christians and Christianity have long been defined as intransigent, yet if the truth be told, we are all to some extent dogmatic about what we believe in, whether that be our partiality to a particular flavor of ice-cream or our penchant for a specific political position which we believe to be right. Regarding one such position MSNBC reports,

“Obama himself has signaled, for example, that he intends to reverse Bush’s controversial limit on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, a decision that scientists say has restrained research into some of the most promising avenues for defeating a wide array of diseases, such as Parkinson’s. Bush’s August 2001 decision pleased religious conservatives who have moral objection to the use of cells from days-old human embryos, which are destroyed in the process.”[emphasis mine]

The pro-life position, which President Bush believes in, does not look at embryonic stem cells as merely beneficial research, but as human lives worthy of a chance at survival. The pro-life position does not think of human embryos in terms such as, which are destroyed in the process” but as people who are killed in the process.” Both positions are intransigent, and indeed should be, based on a person’s worldview. This means that the Church has a more powerful role that goes way beyond deciding which position our nation adheres to over the next four years based on a vote. Our larger role is to influence the lives and hearts of those who think of life differently from the way the Bible defines it. That battle is not waged primarily with a vote but with love. That way, the battle is fought and won where it counts most…against principalities, powers, wicked spirits in the heavens and the rulers of the darkness of this age.

Friday, November 7, 2008

What's in a name?

I'm not feeling quite as frivolous this Friday as I consider how far we as the Church have set ourselves back with all of our political wranglings and machinations. Having said that, this will be my last political post regarding the elections. The idiocy of tracing Barack Obama’s ‘ties’ to terrorists is at best a remarkable display of how, uninformed yet blind allegiance can sometimes turn the best of intentions into the most embarrassing displays of foolishness. As Christians, we appeared singularly devoted to putting McCain (or was it really Palin) into the White House at the expense of objectivity and sometimes honesty. We were quick to point out, and consistently use Obama’s middle name, Hussein, so that it remained forefront on people’s minds that he had Islamic ties. Frankly, I found this rather bothersome largely because I am personally acquainted with quite a few Moslems that I would trust with my life before I would any number of Christians I know. The problem, as I’ve highlighted in a previous article, is not with Moslems in general, but with Radical Islam, yet the use of his middle name and constant references to his Islamic ties would seem to indicate that, if indeed he was secretly Moslem it lent credence to possible terrorist ties.

My given middle name is “Abdullahi.” It is of Arabic descent and it literally translates as “Son of Allah.” In addition, I have been in the Middle East on previous occasions. Ergo: I’m potentially associated with terrorism? That’s how foolish the arguments regarding Obama and his potential terrorist ties sound too! Why on earth do we think that he could have legitimate terrorist ties, and in his 2-year run for the office of President of the United States, with all the extensive background checks done on him, the FBI would not have found any damning evidence to prove that fact? It is one thing to stand vehemently opposed to his worldview and disagree with his choice as president on the basis of that. It is quite another, and in fact is entirely disingenuous to raise unfounded speculations as if they were proven facts, just to push our agenda of preventing him from attaining the highest political office in our nation.

In blindly pointing attention to an insignificant detail in order to create a desired impression, we are in danger of becoming the very thing that we fight against. How would we be any different from the pro-choice movement who will stop at nothing (no method seems beneath them) to promote their agenda? For example, to highlight their cause they refer to themselves as being pro-choice. To highlight ours, we refer to ourselves as being pro-life. In their unveiled attempt to deflect attention away from the real issue of human lives being arrogantly expended, they choose to refer to the pro-life movement as anti-choice. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate that they be called pro-abortion, since that is the larger issue at stake? Why are they not referred to as anti-life as a direct opposite of pro-life? After all, to be fair, both sides should get equal billing. If one side will be referred to as anti-choice in direct opposition to pro-choice, shouldn’t the other be referred to as anti-life in direct opposition to pro-life? Reality though is much different than what should obtain, and we must recognize that there is a bigger “war” being waged behind the scenes that cannot be won through rhetoric and incendiary remarks or comments.

For us to sink to the disparate level of indulging in such underhanded tactics by referring to Obama’s middle name, yet never making mention of McCain’s, is to suggest a hidden agenda. Such agendas ultimately do not promote godliness and serve to undermine God's greater purpose being fulfilled, which is to reach the lost, the hurting, and the next generation. So, as we begin the journey towards 'fence-mending' within the Body of Christ, let's refocus our attention on things that have more eternal value. Things such as loving and serving hurting people. Hurting people like the woman in the picture above.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Anti-war voices!!! (Part 4 of 4)

In order to refresh your memory regarding the ‘prophecy’ I posted yesterday, go here. Now contrast the spirit behind this ‘prophecy’ with the Biblical story of king Ahab told in 1 Kings 16 – 18. Ahab becomes king over God’s chosen people (Israel), by the popular vote of the people. His legacy, however, is that he was the most evil king Israel ever had, yet God permitted his reign for twenty-two years while other ‘less-evil’ kings like Zimri reigned for just seven days. Ahab turned the people’s hearts from worshiping God, to worshiping Baal. He married Jezebel, the daughter of a pagan king (Ethbaal) for whom Baal was named, and proceeded to build an altar to Baal in Israel’s capital city of Samaria. So evil was Ahab, that God permitted Elijah the prophet to speak a judgment of a three and a half year drought and famine over the land in order to realign the people’s allegiance to Him. After three and a half years, while Ahab and Jezebel are still hell-bent on destroying God’s people and erasing any remembrance of God from their history, God sends Elijah back to Ahab to inform him that the drought is about to end. Ahab, upon seeing Elijah, has the gall to call Elijah “Troubler of Israel.” In his misguided, misdirected perspective of his authority, he believes that Elijah’s drought is the cause of Israel’s problems and not his own ungodly leadership. If you’re tracking with me so far, you might be wondering where this is going. Well, wonder no more as I’ll show you what I consider to be the most remarkable part of this story:

“Now the famine was severe in Samaria, and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of his palace. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.)” (1 Kings 18: 2 – 4 NIV)

Obadiah was in charge of Ahab’s palace? In today’s parlance we’d call him the Chief-of-Staff to the President. Even more amazing is that he was a “devout believer in the Lord.” How incredible is that? You mean, even in the most dire of circumstances, when God’s people have a ‘king’ whose values are diametrically opposed to God’s, God still lets him reign and places His people in direct service to such an evil king? Evidently God is capable of bringing about His purpose regardless of what men do. Ahab did not meet a desirable end (1 Kings 22: 29 – 40), and ultimately God’s greater purpose was served. We fret and panic, cajole and manipulate only because we don’t see the macro-story. We look only at the micro-story. We are constrained by the immediate. And we act as if one battle makes the whole war. In the ‘prophecy’ I shared with you yesterday, no names are mentioned yet it would take an idiot not to recognize who the players in this unfolding drama are. Sadly, such a prophecy does not serve to strengthen, but rather, to polarize the Church, as people begin to respond with indignation to what appears to be ‘God’ cursing Christians who vote for one particular candidate over the other. Last I checked, neither candidate that had a shot at being president of the USA was quite the ilk of Ahab. But what do I know?

I do know this though: I know that our nation would be more inclined to listen to an “Elijah” who demonstrates the power of God against ungodliness, rather than a so-called prophet who tries to manipulate God’s people with threats of God ‘killing’ them because of their political vote. I know that I have greater respect and admiration for an “Obadiah” who serves in the ‘lions den’ and protects the innocent, than I do for volatile rhetoric parading itself as God’s frustration with the Church and the prevalent political climate in the USA. My God is not frustrated by His ‘enemies.’ If anything, He might be frustrated by a Church that would rather manipulate others to establish ‘His purpose,’ rather than pray without ceasing until His purpose is established! Whatever the case, irrespective of all of the ‘prophecies,’ we now know who our new President will be come January, and whether we voted for him or not, it is what it is! By the way, I’ve often heard it said, “You get the leader you deserve not the leader you want.”

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Anti-war voices!!! (Part 3 of 4)

Yesterday we concluded with the idea that there are certain things we should be doing as Christians in the midst of a culture-transforming spiritual war. Today I want to flesh out that idea a little more as we examine some things that we shouldn't be doing. One of the issues I find hard to stomach in the midst of our polarized march to the White House, is the obvious and ungodly manipulation by some Christians to ensure that we vote a certain way in these presidential elections. Now don’t go confusing me with some pacifist who wants peace at any cost, and who is too milquetoast to take a stand for God’s truth. The problem is that sometimes we confuse men’s ‘noble’ desires as being God’s truth. Take a ‘prophecy’ I recently received via e-mail as an example (I am posting a very truncated version of the prophecy since it was quite long):

“For each one who makes a choice with a vote to support the murder of the innocent in the womb… for each one who casts a vote in favor of one who will legislate rebellion against My commanded order for the covenant between a man and a woman… for each one of these violations and for others against My holiness… legislating against the life and the truth I have entrusted to you… a great opportunity for destruction will now come. Each person who votes for the prosperity of abortion death, will open a great door into his home, into his life, and into his family for the spirit of Death to enter in freely. Death will come in many forms, and it will not be turned back from those who made a covenant of acceptance with it, through their vote…. This Election will be like no other election to this day. My patience has been expended concerning this matter. This is an election of Life and Death; affecting not only nations, but also individuals who have claimed to know Me within those nations. Choose this day who is your authority. Choose this day whose word is truth. By your vote you will declare it. By your vote, either I will protect you, or I will step back to allow that which you have chosen to defend with your freedom and vote, to come upon you. Truly I say to you, choose Life!”

Note: Nothing in the above ‘prophecy’ has been altered from the version I received. The emboldened and italicized words or phrases were emboldened and italicized on the e-mail I received. If I wanted to be divisive I would simply remove the words death and life and insert the names of Obama and McCain as necessary since it’s patently obvious whom the author is speaking about. If our modern day prophets held themselves to the same Biblical standards as prophets of old, they would probably be less likely to prophesy without a 100% certainty that it was God’s word to His people. In the Old Testament, as a prophet you only got the chance to be wrong once, because false prophets were stoned to death.

One commenter, on a blog with a similarly worded prophecy said this,
“So have I now become an infidel, anathema maranatha and apostate because of this?” [Voting the opposite way from the 'seemingly prevalent' Christian sentiment]
Note: words in parenthesis are mine.

He went on to say this,
“We have had 8 years of motive and opportunity to deal with abortion. Or Sudan. Nothing really to show for it besides a couple of brand, spanking new Supreme Court justices. Or is it implicit in their views that the Republican Party should rule forever and begin the biblical millennial reign right away...? What stellar “Christian” credentials has McCain espoused that make him “The one who is to come”? Bush was marketable as an ex-alcoholic who found the Lord and was delivered….Or is it American conservative theology of politics that the party platform sanctifies the candidate? If that is the case, the path to heaven is not the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world, but the elephant that takes away the sins of the nominee!”

We'll pick up this thought tomorrow as we conclude this four-part series. In the meantime, what are your sentiments the morning after?

Anti-war voices!!! (Part 2 of 4)

Yesterday we began by taking a look at anti-war voices and established that, Jesus, "The Prince of Peace," didn't Himself consider world peace the ultimate goal according to Luke 12:51 and Matthew 10:34. The word for peace used here in Luke and Matthew’s Gospels is a Greek word which means prosperity; quietness; rest. If our world is embattled because militant ideologists seek to overthrow truth, there can be no prosperity, quietness nor rest. If our freedom is threatened by a devious and arcane system that seeks to treat women as “property,” there can be no prosperity, quietness nor rest. If countless unborn babies with no voice of their own are killed without conscience, there can be no prosperity, quietness nor rest. If we remain quiet while our culture redefines marriage differently from God’s original intent, then we are accomplices to a crime of unimaginable proportions, and there can be no prosperity, quietness nor rest. We often act as if what happens in the rest of the world doesn’t concern us (unless it directly impacts our economic bottom-line). We act as if the USA is a vacuum that is unaffected by the rest of the world’s suffering. That’s why we were silent when over 1,000,000 hapless people were murdered in Rwanda over a period of ninety-one days. But, as has been stated so eloquently, “The only thing necessary for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.”

On a parallel issue, these 2008 presidential elections have been more divisive than any that I’ve known in recent history (and I’ve lived in the USA since Reagan was President). Many ‘celebrity’ voices are again speaking out zealously but foolishly (During the last elections, Alec Baldwin promised that he would move to another country if George Bush won the elections, but he never made good on his promise). Today MSNBC reported on a few NBA celebrity ‘sightings’ in the political arena.

“NBA players Etan Thomas and Steve Nash have spoken out against the Iraq War, with Nash wearing a T-shirt that said “No War: Shoot for Peace” at the 2005 NBA All-Star game.”

“Ira Newble asked fellow NBA players (including (Lebron) James, who declined) to sign a petition targeting China for its role in the Darfur humanitarian crisis.”

By contrast, here’s a report of another athlete and his response to the human rights violations in Darfur:

“Joey Cheek, a gold-medal speedskater in 2006, donated his $25,000 award to refugees from Darfur. He lost his visa and was banned from attending the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a spectator.”

Well done Joey! At least someone has the guts to stand for something right at significant cost to himself. So, as the Church, how should we respond in a time of war? Well, for starters we can take a page from my friend Steven Hickey’s book. Steven is leading the charge against abortion in South Dakota in a debilitating fight for the rights of the unborn. His blog, Voices Carry outlines this fight, which is sometimes heated, sometimes civil but never without casualties. Steven has actually had to blow the whistle on an organization that has sent people to Sioux Falls to lead the campaign against the pro-life cause. These immoral people, willing to bend the law to further their agenda, claim that they are residents of South Dakota even though they aren’t. They will stop at nothing to ensure that they win this fight. We can choose to bury our heads in the sand until every state has passed a law legalizing abortion, allowing partial-birth abortion, and under-age abortion without parental consent, or we can choose to jump in the fray now, knowing that sometimes the only way to true and lasting peace, is war. We're just getting started so keep your thoughts and ideas coming. See you tomorrow, same time, same place!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Anti-war voices!!! (Part 1 of 4)

The greatest opposition in any war is not necessarily the opponent you are fighting, but the anti-war voices: Those “conscientious objectors” that constitute the biggest distraction to waging an effective campaign. “World peace” is a popular refrain often touted at every beauty pageant worth its salt, but these days it’s become more than just a novel idea rolling around in the heads of the blonde beauties vying for the crown. Peace at any and all costs has become the loudest opposition to the Bush Whitehouse. Why, the indignant cries of the anti-war voices are so loud that even McCain has sought to distance himself from the President, seeing as he has become somewhat of a liability to the success of McCain’s campaign to step into his underappreciated shoes. This chasm between the war proponents and opponents has grown so wide that it threatens to polarize the Church on grounds of an “ill-advised war” that has crippled our economy and is killing our parents and children.

Now before you begin to vilify me, hear me out! I don’t presume to understand all the nuances of the war in Iraq (but speaking frankly, neither do you). I also admit that my sources, and my access to information in support of or against the war are significantly less reliable than those of the President of the United States (but honestly, so are yours). I do know however, that I support any war that is waged to thwart the efforts of any campaign designed to take away my rights to live in godly freedom, as long as I’m doing it within the dictates of the established order. ‘Bombs’ were ‘dropped’ on our friends and families back on September 11, 2001, and that changed our way of life forever. Those who sought to harm us made it clear that they would not rest until they had destroyed our way of life, and wiped the memory of this “Great Satan” (USA) off the face of the earth. They have continued to make it clear that they (Radical Islam) have a mandate from God to rid the earth of the “evil” that is the Western world. Last time I checked, this goal is yet to be accomplished and this means that they are still waging a war against our ‘utopian’ lifestyle.

I’m going to drop another bomb myself! God’s greatest priority in the earth is not world peace!! What?! “You can’t be serious” I hear you thinking. “Doesn’t the Bible call Jesus the Prince of Peace?” I hear you asking. Yes it does. But hear what the Prince of Peace has to say about peace: “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” (Luke 12:51 NIV) Here’s another verse: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34 NIV). Wow! If these weren’t the words of Jesus Himself they would be tantamount to blasphemy. “What on God’s good earth is He talking about?” you may wonder. Well, He’s simply telling us that peace at any cost is not now, and never was His goal for the Church. If we sacrifice the truth for the sake of peace, then we have lost our conscience. If we choose the imagined safety of our comfortable Western lifestyles over fighting for the safety and freedom of oppressed peoples, then we have mortgaged our faith. Nibble on that for a while and let's discuss it. I'll post part 2 tomorrow.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Frivolous Friday!

I'm posting four 'irresistible' photo's for frivolous Friday today. After a week of thought provoking issues, I thought you could use some levity. Enjoy.
And by golly we're going to enforce it. Don't you think for a moment, we're gonna let you use this bus stop just because you want to. I'm personally okay with the rule, except I just have one question: Do you want me to pay the fine before or after I'm dead from electrocution because I touched the wires???Here we go again! Your typical divided city council, with each faction wanting their voice to be heard. So what do you really want us to do? Should we stop or shouldn't we?

I am honored to have found this photo, and you should be honored to be seeing it. Why? Don't you realize you're looking at a photo from before the name "banana" was invented? Have a phenomenal weekend!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

We're Back!!!!

In the November 2008 issue of Charisma magazine, J. Lee Grady, the editor, reiterates a prevailing sentiment about how difficult a year 2008 has been. He calls our attention to a divisive presidential campaign, a mortgage crisis, failing banks, failing Christian leaders, soaring gas prices and various other “crises” that we’ve had to contend with. He states, “Some of my friends are joking about buying “I SURVIVED 2008” T-shirts.” At the risk of appearing sardonic I say, hold on a second! Not so fast my friends!! What makes you think you’ve survived it? We’ve still got two whole months to go, with a major presidential election still ahead of us. Who knows what else will ‘crawl out of the woodwork’ in that interminable amount of time.

As our nation sinks deeper and deeper into the mire of godlessness, the Church is conflicted with regard to how to combat this ‘cancer.’ Many of us ignore the obvious. We turn a blind eye to the fact that our society is a reflection of the Church. We struggle with prayer and fasting, but excel at rhetoric that ignites misplaced passions. We spend more time on our computers than we do on our knees, yet we think that we can find the ‘heart of God’ for our nation. We spew propaganda deriding anyone who thinks differently from us (even among Christians), yet we expect them to buy into what we’re offering. From Ted Haggard to Todd Bentley, the Church is deeply divided as to whether or not God ever used, and indeed still can use these men in any capacity, and how, if at all they should be welcomed back into ministry. Racism and what Kim Daniels calls “ricochet racism” (when the abused becomes the abuser), are alive and well in our deeply divided churches and society. We have factions in the Church that represent polar extremes in their world view. On the one hand we have the inclusionists who just want to love everyone and everything even if that means embracing sin, and on the other hand we have the troglodytes who want to “Run to the hills” and recluse themselves from our “sinful” world.

And the media? Well they’re having a field day with all of this! My friend Steve Vickers displayed remarkable insight into this media manipulation when he recently wrote an article in which he stated,

“Not pleased in the least with the script of history written in blood and sacrifice by our forefathers, they [the media] despise completely the values and beliefs which anchored its decisions and directions. Determined to erase God and any reference to Him and the values of life belief in Him creates, they ingeniously play out the America they are creating 24/7 right before our eyes in big screen, surround sound, high def quality… I guess you could call it “entertainment with a purpose.””

If it’s true that the secular media are evangelists for advancing a dubious agenda, they are remarkably good at it. They blitz the airwaves with their propaganda, seeking to convert non-believers to their way of thinking. They argue that morality is relative, an unborn baby is not a human life, heterosexual marriage as an exclusive way of life is outmoded and outdated, and that those who believe differently are nothing but bigots. The Church on the other hand unwittingly neglects our access to the ‘airwaves’ that can make the greatest difference. Prayer shatters the boundaries between heaven and earth, allowing for God’s purpose to be played out in the hearts of men. Please pray, and then vote!!!