Dealing With Our Past Struggles

January 13, 2023

We all have struggles in life. We don’t always express those struggles to others. People who know you,people in your small group, —

your family, all may have known some of your struggles and mabe they have shared their struggles with you, but most of all they are people that have worked with you , studied with you and prayed with you and will reach to help you through the valley.

Your grief may be for something that happened many years ago and you didn’t deal with it at the time. Now you have an outlet, a sounding board from those people who know you best. I can’t express strongly enough the need to come to grips with your unresolved grief. Because what happend to you may be frozen in a life that is less fulfilling because of it.

Examine your past life. Did you have a traumatic event that you haven’t brought out in the open and now in today’s light realize that you can move forward knowing that it doesn’t have the grip on you that it once did?

God wants you to have life and have it abundantly. Take advantage of the opportunities that God puts in front of you to escape what is burdening you. Like I said, it could be a close friend that you have not confided into this point. It could be your small group that you now feel confortable with sharing your burden (that is the case with me). But especially it can be God and the Holy Spirt.

Call on God to bring you out of the “abyss” and bring you to a life that is positive and that reflects the love of Christ to others. Now lets turn our focus on what you as a loving person can do for others and therefore help you to as you turn from your own struggles to look beyond yourself.

Consider these positive actions: 1) call people you love and are concerned with; 2) Write a letter; 3) complement others; 4) pray for them; 5) give them your time; 6) point them to scripture; 7) fill a need; 8 8)be forgiving; 9) be a good example.

Resolve now to move beyond your past troubles and to be the positive loving person you can be. You will be the beneficiary of the care of others and your care for others… Amen

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What Does Christmas Mean To You?

December 17, 2022

What does this season mean for you? Decorations, Santa Claus, shopping, parties, etc.? Or does it mean that our Savior Jesus Christ was born on December 25th (don’t correct me, I know that theologians say that he probably was born in the spring) We need to realize that this birthday was not a day for a young girl to give birth in a stable, it was the day that Christ came to earth to be with the people he created.

The first to know that were the shepherds , as the angels announced the birth to them. They saw the Christ child and told all the people they came in contact with (the first evangelists) Do we really understand what that means to all the people? God created all that we know and see. He created us in his image.

You remember He established the Garden of Eden for His people. and then he created man and woman. However they sinned against God and were banished from that utopia. From then on all creation was burdened with sin. We can go on and on in the old testament about God trying to guide His people Then he sent his Son to be with us and to guide us and yes to heal us. Then in the ultimate reason Jesus came to earth was to die on the cross for our sins, all of them, past, present and future. His resurrection three days later was the final gift from God to His people. He was saying that all who believe in Him will never die, because at the end of our earthly life we will be with him in Eternity.

Do you understand that God loved us so much that he sent His Son to live among us and then to die on a Roman Cross to take away our sins and put them on Jesus??

So as we focus on this season, let us focus on Jesus Christ’s coming to earth to save us from our sins. Yes God wants all people to come to Him to be redeemed so that we will live with Him in eternity.All we have to do is acknowledge Him as our Savior, that He died for ur sins and then ask Him to come into our lives ,and guiding us through the Holy Spirit. Amen and Merry Christmas.

Preaching the Bible

November 14, 2022

I may have addressed this in the past but I can’t help but bring it up again. One preacher I heard said “We preach God, We worship God, we worship Jesus Christ and we preach the bible” But then he said, if you don’t like it you can get out!’

How can a person called by God to preach the Gospel, tell people that don’t believe like him to get out?? Would Jesus say to those aroud Him, if you don’t believe me then get out?? Another pastor is in the news a few years ago for damming America and it’s racist culture.. What is going on here? How can anyone who follows God’s word, the bible, persecute those that don’t believe as they do.. As a pastor I am offended by those called to the ministry, condeming or putting aside those that don’t think like they do.. We are supposed to love all people and if they aren’t believers then we should extend the had of compassion and present to them Christ’s message to all peoples.

Millions of people today are going to church on Sunday and being fed off the wall theology. There are more and more churches today that if you attend services a couple of times, you realize that what is preached is not the word of God. There are some churches that hardly refer to scriputre in their messages.

One prominent person who is using their popular platform to espouse their religion , but if you look at what they are teaching in their classes it is NOT the Jesus of the bible. And some of these people (and they are not necessarily preachers) are promoting Idols through their new age theoligy.

There are “pastors” today that will tell you that they have questions about the resurrection of Jesus Christ!! Think about that for a minute… No wonder people are disillusioned and don’t really know what to believe. I almost feel like forming a “truth squad” to follow some of these preachers and tell God’s truth. The true follower of Jesus Christ, the true Christian is called to go and make disciples baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The fastest growing churchs in the United States are two..those with the feel good theology and club atmosphere and then there are the:

fundamental denomiations. What does that tell you ? That some people will buy into a church as long as it make me feel good when I leave and they want to join an “organization” . The reason for the growth of the second one is that they don’t sugar coat the gospel and those people that are searching for a walk with Christ that will acknowlege their searching for peace on earth and a way to eternity/

There are a lot of denomiations in the middle of those just described, and their attendance is dwidling. People have a spiritual side and want as way to express it Too many of these church services are routine, rote and frankly boring.

Unfortunately we will not bring everyone to Christ, but we can share the Gospel with those we come in contact with. But in order to do that, in order to be motivated to do that we need to believe the following:

1-God loves us and has a plan for us; 2-Man is sinful and separated from God therefore he cannot experience God’s love and his plan for their life; 3- Jesus Christ is Gods ONLY provision for mans sin. Through Him you can experience Gods love for you.; 4- We must individually receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. Then his plan for you can be known.

Knowing that, experiencing that in our heart, and accepting Christ as our Savior will give us the uncomromizing message that all we meet need Christ or they are lost. Those of us as disciples or those of us called to preach, cannot fail our Lord who guides and directs us… Amen

The people of Ukraine

October 8, 2022

I want to relate an experience I had as a pastor in Missouri. I have mentioned this in a blog several years ago.

A Baptist preacer contacted me about some members of the Ukrainian Church wanting to reach out to other churches. It seems that a member of our congregation had gotten acquainted with a Ukrainian man he worked with. In one of their conversations the man I will identify as Vladimir, acknowledged that yes, they did want an invitation. We said that we would love to have them come, not knowing who, why and how many and what they were going to do.

That Sunday, a group of about 25 men, women and teenage boys and girls came and as we found out they were an orchestra . They played several numbers,and a couple of the young people played solos on the violin , fllute and sang. Then a couple of the older ladies stood up and told stories of the trials of escaping to come to the United States…… we were mesmerized…. then we had the opportunity to talk to each of them. Of course most spoke english but for some it was difficult.

A year later we heard that the Unrainian community had built a new church. We drove by there and sasw this magnificient church with a large parking lot. The front door saidt that services were at 10:30. So one Sunday we went to the church. We were almost late and the parking lot was full. We drove around looking for a place when a man ran up to us and asked if he could help (of course he spoke Russian) I said english and he said ok. I told him we were looking for a parking place. He directed us to a spot that wasn’t really a parking place but he said it was ok…. right by the front door!

We followed him in and he asked where we would like to sit, the main floor or the balcony. We said the balcony so he took us up and found us seats . The balcony wasn’t completely full but the first floor of the sanctuary was. Of course the service was in Russian. We said to ourselves lets just enjoy the people and what was going on After a few minutes a young man came and asked us if we would like an interpreter. We said yes and for the rest of the service he gave us the english version of what was being said. They had a big choir that sang beautifully and two other solos. Two young ladies read poems about their lives in the US.

The first speaker introduced himself and said that he was from Seattle Washington, and it was his first time at that church. He gave a rousing sermon on listening for God, using several scriptures that were put on a big screen to make his point. Another choir piece and then the next speaker who said he was from Oklahoma. He talked for 20 minutes and his subject was being worshipful in the sanctuary and raising your children as Christians both in church and at home. Another choir piece and then 15 minutes of annoouncements. The Pastor then talked about missions and a youth bible study starting the next week, and why it would be helpful to have them in the class.

The last thing the pastor did was invite all the missionaries that were in attendance to come forward with their families. They honor different ones each week. The congregation prayed for them and the service ended with the congregation saying the Lords Prayer.

Some other observations. This was as worshipful a church service as I had been to for a long time. There were about 350 in attendance. All the women wore dresses with a head covering. All the men had on slacks and a nice shirt. Same with the children….and the children ! there must have been 10 little babies, 70 5-10 year olds and another 75 teenagers. Our interpreter said that they usually have one or two guest preachers and the regular pastor preaches as well. We arrived at 10:30 and the service was over at 12:20. A wonderful and unique opportunity that is now more meaningful with the suffering of the Ukrainian people at this time. We need to pray for all persecuted people but especially the people of Ukraine.Amen

Missions

September 9, 2022

Our church has started a prayer program of praying for a different country each week. We hear about the country and its struggles and the facts regarding the population and the percent that has not heard the gospel message. So for a week the congregation prays that Gods word and helping hands will be a reality for them.

I am involved in a ministry called Pioneer Bible Translators.The organization sends biblically trained ministry teams throught the world to make contact with people groups in the different countries. The organizations mission is to make disciples through bible translation. Currently Pioneer Bible has translated the bible in 13 languages in 28 countries.

As a reminder, Jesus commanded his disciples (us) to to make disciples of all nations. He was referring to peoples, tribes and languages. There are approximately 17,000 people groups (groups that share a common language and culture). Another category is called the unreached. That equtes to 7,000 people groups. These are among those that are unknown and the church has not sufficiently been able to reach them. It is estimated that out of 7.75 billion people in the world today, over 3 billion are unreached. That means that they would have never heard of the saving Grace of Jesus Christ all their life. What is to become of them?…you answer that.

Let us not forget that in addition to being spiritually hungry many in these countries are physically hungry. Not only do missionairies work to preach and translate the Gospel but they help the tribes to be growers of produce to eat an sell. Other missionaries are there to help tribe members start a business in order to be able to buy the necessities. There are many organizations in addition to the one mentioned above that work in country to provide for the people One I am acquainted with is Samaritans Purse a program of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. In addition Doctors Without Borders provide medical teams to these groups and tribes.

I urge you, in your local church, to find out if you have an active missions committee which will connect with any organization that has it’s mission to help those in foreign countries.. Like I said earlier, we are called to make disciples of all nations. But in order to do that we first must show the love of Christ in our lives by giving those we meet “a cup of cold water”. Then they might see our love for them.. God Bless you all…Amen

Do You Know A Skeptic?

August 3, 2022

Lets talk about skeptics.. first we need to define the word: Webster defines it as “a person who doubts or questions”

Before we envision a skeptic as a negative person, we need to understand how skeptics work in our society. In Western Philosophy , skepticism has been identified since the 5th century. The tradions has persisted among great thinkers in modern use. It is doubting what has been presented at face value without any substantial evidence.

Let us now get in context. The church has not always been a safe place for people who doubt or ask questions. A majority of the population believe in God and most believe that Jesus exists however there are barriers to people having a complete view of God and Jesus. One barrier that is familar to us all is people reconciling faith and science .They need empirical proof before they believe. Another barrier is that people admire Jesus and what he taught and how he healed the people but they cannot accept his Divinity. another barrier is that people have no relationship to Christ through prayer .In addition some people have deep-seated instincts when it comes to responding to Christians and or the Church.

I am now going to take a different tack. Lets take a look at some biblical examples of what I am trying to say; Peter stepped out of the boat in to the water to walk to Jesus in great faith .However when the waves and the wind came up he began to sink. Peter in his skepticism knew that he couldn’t walk by himself and he cried “Jesus, save me!” We know of doubting Thomas . He was skeptical that Jesus had really been nailed to a cross and was now alive. But when Jesus said to him put your finger in my side and look at the holes in my hands and feet, Thomas cried, “My Lord and My God!”

As a pastor. I have delt with many “skeptics”, but you know what, some of those skeptics were a boost to my ministry. To be challenged , to be questioned helped me solidify in my mind the direction that I thought the church should go. We dropped some plans and institued others because we had to examine those ideas in light of being questioned by some members of the congregation.

By encouraging Christians toward an honest faith, protecting the vulnetable and cultivationg empathy, skeptical people helped the Church to live as God intended. Jesus draws near to those who doubt, so we can too. Amen

Making plans

July 5, 2022

Oh we think we are in control of our lives. We soon discover that we cannot plan the next day or the next month without having to alter our plans because “life gets in the way”. It isn’t supposed to be that way. The Lords desire is to fill us with peace that guides our changing circumstances.

We can face the future as we “see” the Lord. Of course we cannot actually see God, but there are places were we can observe the Lord and be guided by His peace. The first is the Word. In this world there are many concepts of what the Lord is like and what He teaches. But any view if the Lord that is not supported by scripture is dangerous becaus it is not the truth. God gives us His Word to reveal himself to us.

The second way to see God is through His Son. Every time we read about Jesus in the Gospels, we gain a greater understanding of the Heavenly Father through Christ’s words and actions.

The third way we see God is through eyes of faith. We are called to walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Cor 5:7) Even though Jesus taught with wisdom and performed many miracles, many rejected Him. However some who heard him said, “blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8)

When our hearts are pure through our confession of sins and living a lifestyle of obedience, our conscience is clear and our minds are spiritually sensitive and discerning. We will be able to filter our experiences through the mind of Christ who has given us the Holy Spirit. With that awareness life’s uncertainties lose their power to make us fearful. …we can trust God for tomorrow

This month we celebrate Indepence Day and the liberty we have in this country. As wonderful as it is, God has something greater for His people., freedom from stress and worry aboutr the uncertainties of life. We cannot control what happens but we can trust the God who holds the future. Amen

The Little Things

June 2, 2022

This month I am unashamedly going to use material written by others. I can’t even give credit to the author. The piece is is not credited. But it spoke to me loudly.

“I used to refer to myself as a white crayon in the coloring box of life. There are all of these other beautiful colors to be put to good use. But the white crayon just kind of sits there and tends to get overlooked. That’s exactly how I felt, just merely existing and not serving any kind of purpose. And at the time I sort of wasn’t . I felt like I didn’t matter and never would until I did something big–something that everyone would notice. We live in a society where the little things we do often get overlooked and this has a way of making us believe that these things don’t matter. But it is these little things in life that matter. most.

Kindness you may recall the story about a boy who was about to take his life after school one day. As he was walking home, one of the kids from school joined him and walked with him the rest of the way. That boy ultimately decided not to end his life, all because of that simple act of kindness, and that kid from school ended up being best friends. Be kind to every person you meet because you never know what someone is going through. You could be saving someones life and not even know it.

Thoughtfulness My mom recently told me that she regularly writes little notes to her clients–letting them know that she is thinking of them. One client contacted her one day that those notes were a ray of sunshine and that she was keeping all of them in a special box. Being a little light to someon’s life by letting them know you are thinking about them. It only takes a minute to make an impact.

Attention Some of the best interactions I have had are with people who listened more than they talked. At a time in my life when I felt like nothing I was doing was good enough, I’d get real anxious meeting new people and felt uncomfortable talking about myself. One day I met this girl at a restaurant, and even though I knew her but a brief time, I consider her to be one of the nicest pepole I have ever met. Why, because she took time to listen to what I had to say. She was very kind , attentive and non-judgemental. Listening is a lost art–take time to really listen to what people have to say, it could change a life.

Gratitude When someone knows that they are important to you or that they have made a difference in your life, it changes them . Many times we see ourselves differently when someone expresses gratiude toward us. We feel validated and this positive reinforcement is invaluable. I have been on both ends of this stick, and know the powerful effect that simple gratitude has on people -both the giver and the receiver of that gratitude. Let others know that you are grateful for the role they play or played in your life.

Vulnerability When I first started submitting personal stories to on line publications, I had mixed feelings. I looked forward to challenging myself and exploring my passion, but was afraid of the responses I might get due to my limited writing experience and my willingness to be so open and honest about my personal struggles I I have learned that vulnerability is a huge connecting factor. Some of the most intimate relationships start when you are honest and open with others. We are each unique for a reason, so go ahead and be the you that the world needs–be yourself.

I couldn’t have said it better Amen

Who Are We Listening to?

May 9, 2022

I wonder if you have heard this story: There was a man who lived by the side of the road and sold hot dogs. He was hard of hearing and had no radio and he had trouble with his eyes so he read no newspapers, but he sold good hot dogs. He put up signs on the highway telling how good they were. He stood by the side of the road and cried: “buy a hot dog, mister?” And people bought. He increased his meat and bun orders, he bought a bigger stove to take care of his trade.

He finally got his son home from college to help him out. But something happened. His son said “father havent you been listening to the radio? Havent you been reading the newspapers? There is a big depression. The European situration is terrible. The domestic situation is worse” Whereopon the father thought “Well my son has been to college, he reads the newspapers, and he listens to the radio, and he ought to know”

So the father cut down on his meat and bun orders, took down his advertising signs and no longer bothered to stand on the highway to sell his hot dogs. And his hot dog orders fell almost overnight. “You are right son” the father said to the boy, “we certainly are in the middle of a great depression”

How many times are we told in scripture that we are in this world and not of it. How many times are we told to follow the Holy Spirit, to do God’s will . But how many times each day do we listen to the naysayer and follow what the world is telling us and not what God is telling us. This story is a good example of following the world and not what is right and what we are called to do and be. It can be depressing if we listen to the loud clatter of those who would tell us how to think.

Think back, how many times EACH DAY do you listen to and react to what you hear and see in this world. If that is your frame of reference, what a negative stressful life it can be. But I like to think that we, as Christians, and yes I am painting a broad brush, live in the Kingdom and are guided by a God who created us , loves us and wants the best for us.

We don’t have to look far to see the ungliness and evil in this world. The uprising in Ukraine, slaughter in Somolia. But we can also focus on our own backyard. Children held as sex slaves. Fathers that killl their spouses and children. Public figures who seem to have everything, dying of drug and alcohol abuse. Doctors who perscribe medicines to those with influence to keep their business. Pharmacies that dispense more than the perscribed dosage “to do a favor” for the same reason.

So what are we to do, look the other way and say “that is not our problem?” Mayb we can take to the streets to protest what is wrong with our world. Or maybe we do as Jesus commanded his disciples to do, shine our light in the world and bring people to Christ one at a time. By living in the world we are called to feed the hungry, give the thirsty something to drink, cloth the needy, take care of the sick (Matthew 25:34-37)

Jesus said, “enter through the narrow gate for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to distruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life and only a few find it.” My point is that we cannot save or change everything in the world, but we can influence the person in front of us, the people we meet each and every day. And most important, we can pray for all those who suffer, and yes, for those we may classify as evil. Pray for this world that the Prince of Darkness be defeated. That defeat will come because we have a weapon that cannot be stilled and that is love. The love that God has for all his creation, the love that we have as followers of Christ, that we show in all that we do. We must keep the faith!…Amen

April 4, 2022

This is what it is all about

This month we go from the last weeks of Lent to Easter and Resurrection Sunday, April 17th.

Easter week is so meaningful to me and to so many. Starting with Palm Sunday. We recognize Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem with the people celebrating as He rode into town on a donkey (he was mocking the Roman Generals – that is another story). Everyone was convinced that He was going to take power and drive the Romans out and become the leader of the people. Of course they got it wrong. Some understood why He came but not even all the disciples were fully aware of His mission.

The next day Jesus went to the temple and saw the people changing money and selling doves for the sacrafice. He drove them all out. The next day Tuesday He went to the temple again and was confronted by the chief priests and elders. They challenged him upon what authority he was doing those things. They left confused as to where he was coming from. Wednesday He and his disciples were preparing for the Passover. He tells many parables at that time.

Thursday was the Passover Feast. Jesus gathered His disciples in the Upper Room And gave them the new Covenant. Then He passed the bread and the cup and said to them “this is my body and blood which will be sacrificed for you and for many” Then He led them to the Garden of Gethsemane where He prayed for God to take his burden from him. But in a statement that all of us should live by He said: “Father take this cup from me, yet but not my will but what you will”

Jesus was captured, tried and convicted. The Romans didn’t want anything to do with what would happen to Him so they turned Him over to the crowd. On Friday they nailed Him to a tree to die. He said, again a lesson for all of us: “Father forgive them for they do not know whaat they are doing”. The nineth hour Jesus cried out “Father why have you forsaken me?!” He then said “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” Then he died. He was buried in a borrowd grave.

On Sunday the woman prepared spices and went to the tomb to anoint the body and found that the stone had been rolled away and all that was in the tomb were the buriel clothes. They saw two angels who said why are you looking for Him, He as risen just as he said.

We now celebrate the Risen Christ…Happy Easter. Amen