Monday, February 26, 2007

Supernatural Happenings - Know It All

I am still stunned talking to Christians who don't believe that God does things supernaturally. I thought that He was in business of having a relationship with us supernaturally? Christianity is not a social club, it's a relationship with God. If it isn't, it is just religion and there are lots of those. There has got to be something that makes us Christians beside claiming it with our mouth. And, if we are going to claim it, then it ought to have some value don't you think? I also think that being a Christian should have some benefit or why bother!

I have received some interesting comments saying that you can't know something about someone unless you have met them, or been "tipped" off. I have to disagree. In 1 Corinthians, Romans 12 and Ephesians 4 it very clearly talks about the "gift" of prophecy. I am not rattled when non-believers are skeptical, they should be. I am sure many of them saw the Steve Martin movie where he has a hidden earpiece. Hollywood is not truth; not even close.

I have a few friends that are spiritually gifted at interpreting dreams. Amazingly most of their walk-ins are Christians that go to churches where "knowing stuff" is of the devil. So what are they doing at a coffee house with charismatic, dream interpreting Christians? I don't think you'll find to many pastors that will send you off to Madam Palm to get a reading. So what are you doing in a dream interpretation coffee house? The answer is the intrigue of the supernatural. It is one of the things that the spirit longs for. If it wasn't true, horoscopes would disappear from news papers, Disney would have few movies, palm-readers and psychics would be out of business.

I think that the church is longing to hear from God. If the sheep know His voice, they why can't most Christians really hear Him? I think they long for the supernatural too. If you are not getting it, look around I believe that it is out there.

The word of God changes lives. The written word and the prophetic word. My experience has been that there are good prophetic people with real integrity and others with questionable gifting. I had received lots of "words" from different people over the years. Some of it was questionable. Then I met some Christians with real gifting. They told me of trips that I would take to foreign lands, gifting that had not yet been uncovered because I was in a church that didn't know about these gifts. They even taught they were of the devil. But these words ignited something in me. It gave me hope for the future, inspiration in times of discouragement. It was God. I am as certain of it now that these things have come to pass as I was the day I received it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Catcher's Mitt - The Pretender in The Rye

This morning's news headlined the Florida heckler at Mitt Romney's benefit appearance. "You're just a pretender," the heckler said. Mitt responded by saying that we need men of faith in the Whitehouse. I think his return comments, which got him a standing ovation, were saying that faith equals morality. He is obviously a principled man who's faith has changed him or guided him in his decision making. So Mitt belongs to the Mormon faith, a religious cult according to many Christians. Honestly I don't think that it is worth debating.

So, what's the real story for Christian here? The banana-head who felt that pointing out his point of view was superior in front of a national audience. What is he thinking? Being right is not a license to be a jerk is it? Honestly, if every husband or wife that claimed to be right; or was actually right, said it like that, we'd have a divorce rate of about 96%!

What I find amazing is that Christians, the possessors of All truth, can't find a loving way to express it to others. What gives a man that right to name call others in a condescending tone in private or PUBLIC? What bothered me the most was the audience reaction to the fanatics "pretender" comments. It was an an embarrassed "ohhhh." It was obvious that believer and non' were disappointed at this guys comments. Yes, I know, Jesus did some of these things, but by the anointing of the Holy Spirit backed with love and a display of power! I saw none of that here. What was he thinking? This wonderful display of Jesus' love is probably the reason that another few thousand people will not attend church this Sunday for fear of being judged. Sad, very sad.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Troop Surge... Applied Pressure

The congress has voted to not support the president's plan for more troops in Iraq. Apparently it is nonbinding and doesn't really mean much. However; I think it is important as a thermometer for where we are in the process. Before I launch into my topic today, let me explain that I understand that war causes the loss of human lives. It is evident from the first moment of aggression recorded on earth between Cain and Able, that killing is the outpouring of what is in the human heart. In contrast, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob sent Israel to war for different reasons. There in lies the dichotomy of God's plan for mankind, the human race and the future of the earth. God is sovereign and doesn't make mistakes. Therefore; I assume that war is necessary in some cases.

When people receive wounds that cause a lot of bleeding, we apply a tourniquet and pressure to slow the bleeding so that the healing process can begin. Having lived through the Vietnam war, I always thought we should have sent enough troops to do the job. We were there, right or wrong, and we had troops on the ground. They were there in insufficient numbers to finish the job. I am honestly ashamed that neighbors and friends served this country, some dying for the cause, for no apparent reason. The aftermath was horrible in both Vietnam and Cambodia. I have a friend from Cambodia, he is incredibly angry about the mass slaughter that took the lives of a million plus citizens. And worse, our brave men and woman were never received properly when they returned home. Let me take this next line to thank them for their sacrifice. Thank you.

It appears that we are doing it again. We are not sending enough power to get the job done. In the Vietnam war they told us that we didn't want to anger Russia into a nuclear conflict. So, we were out gunned in the war and wasted US lives. Who are we worried about this time? Why don't we just get the job done? For those who say we never should have gone in, it is simply to late for that kind of thinking. And Saddam, the killer is out of office for good this time.

What concerns me is that we won't finish the job and we'll see a wholesale slaughter when we leave. Vietnam the sequel. I don't have an answer except to apply enough pressure to stop the bleeding. At this point, in the end I believe that it will save lives; precious lives.

So, what is the Spiritual implication of all this? We do that same thing in church. We dip ourselves once a week for an hour or two and maybe catch a home-group, but many of us, myself included, are not applying enough pressure to stop the bleeding... we have a hard time trying to change. The war goes on around us even if we switch the channel, but it is still there. The dying is still going on in us... sin leads to death. I think about the decisions I have put off in my life. Some of those issues are still with me. In many ways I have bleed, and I looked for help but in some cases it did not come. In the end, I can't really blame anyone but me, for I am the one holding the tourniquet.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Oil!

I just heard that Al Qaeda wants to have all its members and supporters work at cutting off oil to the USA. Wow, what a plan! I wonder if anyone has thought about this before? Can you imagine, oil prices 4 or 5 times what they are now? It would be tough on lots of families. What if we didn't get any supplies of oil at all? My first question is pretty easy. How did we get here in the first place? I have a few thoughts.

I am old enough to remember the first gas crises in the 70's. I remember paying the outrageous price of $1.00 or more per gallon. Gone were the days of 50 cent fill-ups for my motorcycle. We later had billboards with a fuel gauge, almost to "E", superimposed over the earth (shot from space) that said, "What Then?" and the word "Then" was crossed out and written in red, "NOW." What NOW? Hasn't anyone thought about this before last Monday? Who held up the progress from producing gas guzzlers to gas misers? Was it big business? Big government? Who?

Before we assign blame, I have a conspiracy theory or two that I have heard regarding oil supplies. I asked an ex-Marine why we don't just drill in the US? He looked at me and said, "we're going to use all their oil (Middle East) first!" So I stood there with the "cow at a new gate" look; mouth hanging open... whoa... I guess I hadn't given it much thought either. I also met a man that worked for a carburetor company in the early 80's. He told me of patents for carburetors that would give much better fuel performance; maybe 60 miles per gallon or more. They were designed and tested. The problem he said, "they were bought by the gas companies."

If you watch the markets, crude oil is one of the "futures" that is traded. Bill O'Reilly of Fox news doesn't believe that those really control the price. Maybe he is right. He is also against big profits in a time of war. I am not against making money by hard work and honesty. No one was upset when Beanie Babies went from $4.99 to $6.99 during the craze a few years ago. The guy had a good idea, great marketing, worked supply and demand to a "t", produced an enjoyable product and now he has loads of cash. Welcome to America; who can be against that? Microsoft continues to be a very profitable company on the verge of monopoly everyday. No one is calling for impeachment over that. The truth is, it doesn't matter what the oil companies do, or the futures, we are a nation dependant on oil! That is the fault of everyone that drives a car and doesn't vote. There was a line in the movie "Left Behind." "Just follow the money." I am sure that is part of it.

Maybe it will take $5.00 per gallon gas prices to get us to change. What bothers me is that someone must have thought about this. Where are they? Where is their voice? It is probably wrapped into some left-wing, pro-life, anti-Christian, anti-War, global warming rhetoric. Left or right-wing, I think we need to take a serious look at this issue. In the 60's we used to say, "if you can put a man on the moon, you can __________." Well, we did that in 1968, you'd think we could come up with a few ways to use less oil. And speaking of futures, do you know where you'll be spending eternity?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day

Here we are on what is known as the most romantic holiday of the year. I confess, really enjoy it. With three girls and a wife, it is a way to "win" in relationship with them. Flowers, cards and chocolates make them feel special. We are a pretty affectionate family, and it is one more good reason to be that way.

The history of holidays always intrigues me. Almost everything that we celebrate in the US comes from a Roman Catholic holy day. As most well know, they celebrate the lives of canonized saints; this is just another one. Most of the saints were "certified" men and woman of God who preformed verified miracles. Their contributions to Catholic Christianity are pretty well documented. On the other hand, there is a fuss in some parts of the church calling this day secular, or pagan... and it is both... sort of.

Valentine's Day was holy day until 1969 when it became fully secular as it is today. However; while it was a Holy Day, it was set aside, like many Roman holidays, to compete with a non-Christian pagan rituals that took place at the time. This is true for Christmas, Halloween, St. Patrick's Day and Easter. We have the blending of spiritual achievement, pagan ritual and plain ol' fun on these holidays.

I guess some folks take these holidays to the point of sin. I mean it's all about romance and lust and the flesh, right? NO! This is where the church can step in and be the example. I try to tell the real story when it comes to holidays. The story of the real birth of Jesus, the real raise-the-dead St. Patrick, and yes St. Valentine too!

Let's get a little un-religious for moment. These holidays are tributes to men that set an example with their faith. St. Patrick and St. Valentine along with countless others gave their lives for the cause of Christianity. They were beheaded, beaten, stoned, burned and tortured. Like our brothers and sisters in some Asian and Muslim countries; they did not denounce their faith in the face of death.

Valentines day, it is all about hearts and love. How is your heart? Do you love Jesus enough to give your life for Him?

Here is a the real St. Valentine story. LINK

Friday, February 9, 2007

The Death of Anna Nicole... What's the Real Story

I don't think anyone is "shocked" at the death of Anna Nicole Smith; a tragedy at 39-years-old. It seems fairly common knowledge that she had some sort of addiction problem. I didn't know her personally or even follow her in the tabloids for any reason. It just seems that she made news often enough for me to see a pattern of destruction. It made me think of some of my hero's that have gone the way of drug overdoses... Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Tommy Bolin (Deep Purple), John Entwhistle and Keith Moon (The Who), John Bonham (Led Zeplin) and my close friend and old roommate, Doug.

First let me say that addiction is a killer and often is resistant to treatment. My personal experience with it is that it can be overcome, yet I found that it was more of finding a healthy replacement than just stopping the destructive behavior. Years of education, prayer, requiring more of myself, and some plain old "just walking through it," have brought me to this point in recovery. That is a fancy way of saying, this could easily have been me; but for the grace of God.

Having spent nearly 30 years in various recovery programs, I have met lots of substance abusers, addicts and alcoholics. They all have a story, and some of them are far more then heart-wrenching... they are revolting. I am not talking about the their personal exploits as abusers, no, I am talking about what led them to it in the first place. I have spoken to men and woman that have been belittled, cursed at, beaten, slapped, kicked, burned, sexually assaulted and forced to lie, cheat and steal... and worse; abandoned by the very ones that were supposed to love and protect them.

When I see a kid in trouble, that first question I ask is where is the father? The answer is usually uninvolved due to divorce, addiction, overworking or something else that has kept them from doing their job. As a dad with children ranging from young adults to preschool, I know that responsibility; and it is a huge one. It keeps me from doing some of the things that I want to do in life, but I find time with them rewarding. Besides, research shows that married dads live longer then single men. With a couple of them not living at home, that task is a bit more difficult. You don' get to invest the little things each day, things like morning kisses, teasing them about the amount of time they spend in the bathroom and having meals together. It is often little things that open the door for the big things like talking about boyfriends and girlfriends, sin, addictions, family curses and discipline.

When any adult misses, avoids or refuses to invest in the little things, they become the sin police. Their only interaction seems to be while pulling the offending kid aside to let them have it. Think about how often you have conversations with cops. It is usually through the window explaining why you were speeding or telling them that you'll get that taillight, the one that's been out for months, fixed tomorrow. This is not a realtionship! When a parent is absent for long periods of time, kids often think that they are unlovable. You see where this going. My question regarding Anna Nicole's death is not how did this happen. No, it is where was her father when she was growing up?

Monday, February 5, 2007

Super Bowl-ing for Dollars - Who Are We Rooting For?

Did you see the game? "No, did Payton hit a homerun?" Oh, that's baseball, I forgot. Really, the great American sport, millions of viewers and millions of dollars... screaming fans, hysterical commercials... it's almost a national holiday for crying out loud! The age of entertainment... the big game played in the poorest city in the US. That's ironic, don't you think? Billy Joel, Prince, they were there and didn't have any wardrobe malfunctions. It was good.

What I, personally, find amazing is that these are our heroes. These are the men that our kids look up to, and we shout at in front of the new hi-def. When I look at Biblical history, the heroes were men and woman of God. And at the center of it all was Jesus, who was cheered on, in the same city streets that He carried the cross in as He neared death. Not long before, for a brief moment in history, He road a donkey colt; the Ferrari of His time... He was the hero. He was a bit like a Barack Obama that day, he had this rockstar status that was based more on what He was going to do, then what He had actually done. Now don't get me wrong Jesus had a quite a ministry; healing, feeding the droves of listeners and followers, but nothing like being raised from the dead and conquering death. Barack, well he actually hasn't done much of anything at all; save vote on a few small pieces of legislation and admit to cocaine use. But he's just a rockstar... for the moment... where drug use is as acceptable as say adultery.

So what happened to Jesus? What happened to the throngs of cheering disciples? Was His performance overshadowed by the commercials of the day? Was the half-time show so controversial, that we forgot who was in the game anyway? Was the referee one-sided? To many penalties? What? Well, here is my guess. Their team didn't seem fit for the big game. No, He wasn't that important and appeared to be out of shape... a real long shot. A one-hit wonder of sorts. To the casual onlooker, He was a charismatic minor-leaguer at best. They loved the appetizers and hot wings of the day; the healing and the loaves and fishes. But all those rules, they weren't politically correct. But the food, that was good.

If we are honest about our churches, our lives and our relationship with God, we'll ask ourselves the hard questions. Why isn't Jesus exciting in our sanctuaries? Is our expression of Biblical Christianity really reaching people with a powerful message that is relevant? Or, are our programs just the hot wings of the day? What happens when the pre-game is over? Well you watch. Here is what I predict for the future. Jesus is practicing for the BIG GAME and when the greatest opponent ever steps onto the playing field, He'll be ready. Will you be rooting for Him, or for Payton What's-His-Face?
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