Friday, July 30, 2010
So I heard that our President was a guest on The View, a daily TV program basically for women. While I haven't been watching much TV or reading the news very often, I have picked up on the controversy about whether this is "Presidential" or not? Here's my opinion.
I have only seen a brief promo about this program so I don't follow it at all. I am at work or ministry when it is airing. It may be popular and it may be a fancy and personal way to connect with the "lady" folks, but why does a "President" need to spend valuable time on such a program? Is this morning entertainment? Some way of promotional connecting?
Who are those ladies anyway?
Color him purple. It doesn't matter to me of his race or party or affiliation. What matters is where our Nation heading and seeing America as One Nation Under God.
He says we are no longer a "Christian" Nation.
He says that the government must be our "big brother".
He says that some laws fit for some but not others.
He says that our past isn't so pretty.
All these things bother me deeply. Do I care that he was a guest on "The View?" Personally, I think that there is a much more productive way for a President to spend the day.
One other thing.
It was reported on the Thursday evening news that a former President's daughter's upcoming wedding will cost between $3-5 million. Wow! Why don't they take some of that to help others rather than taking yours or mine.
Just was wondering?
I think I'll watch even less news.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Life is filled with questions, but none more difficult or puzzling than the "why" question.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why does this trial last so long?
Why can't I have life as easy as others seem to have it?
Why doesn't God answer my prayer now?
Why am I not as gifted or blessed as others?
Why? Why? Why?
Little ones ask why, and so do teens. But adults struggle with this question too.
Why we do things is another dimension to the "why" question. I once read that why we do something is far more important than how to do it. The person who knows how will always be servant to the one that knows why. If we don't know why we do something then we we eventually lose interest, purpose, and passion. Why we do things is important.
Why do we eat? Why do we breathe? Why do we read the Bible and pray to God? Why do we honor and keep His Laws? Why do we work? Why do we do certain tasks?
Silly question. Why do we bathe, brush our teeth, or put on clean clothes?
Why do we put gas in our cars, or watch where we're going?
Obviously to some of the "why" questions there are easy, quick answers, but to other "why" questions there may be a long wait.
Here is a good quote:
Patience is the champion of wisdom-St. Augustine.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Last Wednesday Wanda gave me roses. Two red ones. Beautiful red ones. A note came with them that spoke of her love and desire. They came on a tough day, but she had it all planned to bless me and show me the incredible kindness of the Lord.
I don't remember receiving any flowers from anyone. I might have, but I can't remember that ever happening. I have given many flowers to her and she even had some sitting on the kitchen counter that I had just given her. So for the remainder of the week there were two arrangements of flowers that we enjoyed.
Red roses given by a beautiful lady.
God's gift to me.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Life is slow, boring, and aimless where there is no risk. I am not encouraging anyone to follow the path of blind, dumb danger, but everything moves with risk. We risk in driving our cars, investing our money, eating in restaurants, giving our love, and the list goes on.
Trust and risk are partners. They pull us into a new and better future filled with exciting opportunities, but there is danger there too.
Love has a huge risk. It is released from our hearts with opportunity to bless or break us up. It can come crashing down on us with cruel harshness of broken hurt. But where there is no willing to venture and release love there can be no joy, fullness, or bliss.
Love is the fulfillment of life.
I have been hurt, wounded, and worn over and over through the years as love has gone out of my body. Disappointments, denial, and disrepect fuel the charge. Thankfully, I have not been hurt so much by spouse or family or friends for I have been blessed by those close.
Love turned cold can hurt. It can left one breathless. It can wound deep and leave scars.
Here is the cure.
It is found in God's love. His love is pure, without limit, free, full of grace, and renewing of spirit. His love sets us free to trust and risk again. That is where the joy and peace of life finds highest measure.
So, risk love again. Fly high, go deep, broaden the scope.
Let His love heal.
That is what faith is. It is risk released without full assurance of return.
Monday, July 19, 2010
The Internet is a great way to connect with lost friends from past years. Whether through Facebook or Internet searches or other networking sources, I suspect most of us have connected with lost friends. I cannot tell you how many friends from childhood, college, and past ministry settings that I have been able to reestablish friendship. It has been great.
At the church I pastor there has been a re-connecting of friends from their previous Southside Church life in youth ministries area. This was a gathering of young people now older from the 70's and 80's.
Our youth program has had many different names through the years. Now is is called Refuge, but before that it was Powerhouse and before that Potter's Wheel. I don't know what it was before. Now I have an unwritten rule that any youth pastor has to stay with us 3 years before he can have the right to change the name. Ha!
On Friday night a group of the Potter's Wheel gang had a dinner gathering and then a worship and praise gathering in our youth hall on Saturday night. They had a great reunion and reconnected friendships. I joined them for the Saturday gathering and it was super. They told stories, sang old worship songs and rocked with their musicians of their era. It won't be long until they will be the "old" folks.
Reunions are always fun. Family reunions or high school or college or church homecomings. It is just a great time to get together with old friends.
I like that--old friends. They are the best.
The second picture is of me introducing Carlos Santiago to the group. Carlos is our worship leader and choir director. He is doing a fantastic job. A new generation takes the stage.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Looking down on the River City, or The First Coast of Florida, is spectacular. The St Johns River flows through the heart of our city in a deceivingly slow manner. Actually I am told its
currents are deep and rather strong, but it is a beautiful Florida river. It is the only one in North America that runs from South to North. Starting way South in the Ft. Pierce area, the St. Johns is joined and feed by many springs and other small Florida creeks and rivers.
Tuesday for lunch, Wanda and I and two of the kiddies went to the Bank of America Skyline Cafe on the 42nd floor. Now that is way up in the air at almost airplane view. Wow! A helicopter flew by the window while we ate lunch. That is high.
What do you see that high up?
People look like specks. Boats are tiny dots. Large buildings shrink. Bridges take a different look. Hustle and bustle slows to a crawl. The river looks like still glass.
But I had another take while enjoying lunch with Wanda. I looked down over a good city yet with great need. I could feel hurt. Lost feelings. Question about future. Wonder about life. Uncertainty of heart.
The Skyline Cafe had a few businessmen, couples, personal assistants, young adults, and kiddies all enjoying the view with a tasteful lunch. It was a feeling of awe and grandeur yet mixed with personal curiosity. It was definitely unique.
I felt a need to pray for Jacksonville and its citizens and leaders and churches and families. I felt a burden of concern and care. I saw and felt spiritual need.
We will return for another visit. I may make it a prayer vigil.
Now aren't these kiddies something else? Yes they are!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I have ridden elevators all my life. Some go slow. Others shake back and forth. Some zoom high and fast. The highest elevator I have ridden went to the 109 floor of the World Trade Center in New York City. Wow, did that one ever fly to the top. I have flown in airplanes that didn't get that high.
Monday as I was leaving the 5th floor of Memorial Hospital after visiting a sick church member, I entered an elevator punched the 1st floor button and waited. The door had shut, but nothing happened. I punched the button again and again. Finally the obvious took hold. I was stuck all by myself.
I banged on the doors. Then I found the alarm button and pushed it until someone yelled from the outside to find the phone and call for help. The phone was so low to the floor that I couldn't see it, but after pushing the one button the operator said they would send help.
After waiting 10-15 minutes with no one apparently doing anything, I called again. Waited another 10 minutes. Nothing.
Called again, and finally heard someone on the outside fooling with the door. Another 5 minutes went by and the door opened. The security guard and repair man said they wouldn't charge me more for my ride and I thanked them for that with a smile.
I was the only person on the elevator and it wasn't fun. I am not claustrophobic or it would have been scary. I sent a Facebook appeal for help. Got some funny responses and sincere concern. Amazing how we can communicate even from a stuck elevator.
No, there wasn't a door in the elevator ceiling to crawl out. No, there wasn't any elevator music. Yes, I did call on the elevator phone before sending a Facebook appeal.
Anyone else got any smart comments?
I took this picture myself. Not very good.
Glad all ended well.
Monday, July 12, 2010
In just over 20 minutes from my house you can be strolling on the beach. Of course the Atlantic Ocean is East so there is no sunset, but the sunrises are glorious every morning and filled with new mercies. Wanda and I ride out every so often to enjoy the beach. Sometimes we ride "Big Red", but when we have guests we take a car.
What makes the beach a nice place to enjoy? Well for starters, it is cheap fun. In fact, except for the cost of gas it is free. Free is better than cheap!
It is God's creation. It is relaxing. The waves and the wind and surfers and fishermen and beach walkers are all part of the mix. We take a lite snack with water and cookies and chairs and a small cooler. No more than can be carried in one single trip without strain.
And then it is fun.
It becomes a no brainer. No deep thoughts. No worries. Not planning or problems or issues. It is just calm, peace, and glorious creation.
I like to take Wanda on dates with delicious food at a nice, fine restaurant. I know how to put on a romantic evening out. But what could be more enjoyable than a free late evening stroll on the beach?
Listening to the waves pushing in and out and watching kites, surfers, slow moving ships in the distant, and other beach walkers strolling too. That is the event.
Just a stroll. Just a stroll.
Oh, sometimes we take the kiddies for a stroll when they are in town. That's fun too.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Did you know that there are seven pillars of wisdom? Yes, the Bible says so. Proverbs 9: 1, "Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars."
Before I write further, did you note that Solomon put wisdom in the female gender? How so? Why? What does that say about men? I am not wise enough to answer those questions, but I am smart enough not to go there. Ha!
Solomon didn't list the seven pillars in order, but you can find them throughout his writings. They are:
1. The fear of the Lord. This is where wisdom begins.
2. Knowledge and understanding.
3. Seeking good counsel or advice.
5. Accepting Correction.
6. Self-discipline or self-control.
7. Developing and maintaining good relationships.
Now don't worry, I am not going to preach today, but I could on this subject. There is a sore need for wisdom in the land.
Tiger Woods was asked this week if his immoral actions were worth the loss of millions plus the loss of his family. He was speechless.
Here are some thoughts worth considering:
From The Handbook of Wisdom
If you don't have a Bible, GET ONE.
If you've got a Bible, READ IT.
If you read the Bible, BELIEVE IT.
If you believe the Bible, LIVE IT.
Here is a word of wisdom from my father: "Every tub has to sit on its own bottom."
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
As a pastor I believe I can best help people with their needs at the altar. That is where Jesus touches us and our lives are made new. It is at the altar where God's love through Jesus Christ is made personal and real. We have altars in our church so people can kneel before God in humility and find answers and healing from their hurts and wounds. I prefer altars over counseling rooms.
I never have felt that I wanted to promote counseling as one of my pastoral gifts. Yet, people often need someone to point them to God's Word and help them through their dilemmas. That is where pastoral counseling can help. So all along I try my best to counsel people in need.
What makes for good godly counseling? Confidentiality, honesty, faithfulness to God's Word, impartiality, and faith are all needed in effective counseling. Here are a few other pointers:
1. Be a good listener.
2. Let them spill out their hurts without adding guilt or condemnation. Let the know that God cares and you care.
3. Let them tell what they feel is the real, right, and righteous answer.
4. Gently nudge them in the right way in a manner so that they adopt the right solution as their own.
5. Be faithful to pray and allow the Holy Spirit to counsel through you.
Here is another good word to remember. The Bible says the older men should counsel the younger men, and that the older women should counsel the younger women. That is a good rule. Actually there are two rules at work here. One is a gender rule. Men counseling men, and women counseling women. This rule keeps relationships between sexes in proper order. The other is an age rule. The older counseling the younger, not the younger counseling the older. The older should have more insight and wisdom. (Titus 2:1-8)
One final thought, if you feel a need for counseling then first go to the Word and let the Holy Spirit guide you into the path of truth. The truth will set you free. Then if other help is needed, seek out an older, wiser, mature person to offer counsel.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Wanda and I watched the Jacksonville Fireworks downtown on the St. Johns River Sunday evening. Thousands were there to celebrate our Nation's birthday. Wow! It was impressive and filled with glittering explosions and loud sounds. It makes me proud to be an American!
July 4 is a special day. It is the birthday of our Nation, and for me it is the date I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I will always remember that what happened on July 4, 1963 in my life as a youth camper at Oak Mountain State Park just outside of Birmingham, Alabama.
I had prayed for hours and many times previously for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I had felt the joy and glory of His presence in my life and wanted more of God. Finally. Late that night at the altar, I received the infilling of the Holy Spirit and spoke in a language I did not know. It was powerfully supernatural. It was wonderful. It was life changing. It was real.
Some question the reality of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit for contemporary times, but for me it is real. Why do I know it is real? There are several reasons:
1. Jesus said He would give us this experience.
2. It is Biblical.
3. Paul taught, practiced, and gave instructions on it. In fact, he said in I Cor 14:39 not to forbid speaking in other tongues.
4. It is needed for today.
5. This experience is found in all corners, peoples, generations, races, and nations of the world.
6. It strengthens believers and that is good.
7. God is supernatural and He works in supernatural ways.
I could tell story after story noting the reality and power of this experience, but I will just say that if you seek more of Jesus then He will fill you to overflowing. That is what happened to me on July 4, 1963.
Friday, July 2, 2010
It is summer time in the city.
Summer is the time for VBS and/or Kid's Crusades. This week we enjoyed the children's ministry of Pastor Mark from Leesburg as he led our annual Kid's Crusade.
Summer is the time for VBS and/or Kid's Crusades. This week we enjoyed the children's ministry of Pastor Mark from Leesburg as he led our annual Kid's Crusade.
Wow! Can kid's ever wiggle, laugh, and get excited!
What is a Kid's Crusade?
For us it is an opportunity to reach boys and girls for Christ through specially designed and planned ministry just for them. It is fun, exciting, entertaining, spiritual, life changing, and actually touches the whole family.
I loved seeing our boys and girls singing, learning Scripture, growing in the knowledge of the Lord, and most of all make commitments to serve Christ. Kid's Crusades are powerful outreach programs that can make a difference in life.
Recently Wanda shared a thought she had read in her personal devotions. Someone asked what could be done to stop crime in England. The response was to get children in Sunday School. Learning about Christ could transform a generation. This happens through proactive, intentional efforts through many and various forms. Sunday School is a great one and so is a Kid's Crusade.
I think the most important thing that can change lives is for moms and dads to faithfully lead their families in a way that honors Christ. Just think what would happen in Jacksonville if every home was a truly christian home.
Can children have a truly meaningful life changing experience with Christ? Yes! I accepted Christ into my heart when I was around six or so. I remember it like it was yesterday. Jesus changed my life.
I loved watching our kids worship the Lord and enjoy the crusade this week. Lives were changed for eternity. That is all that matters.