Monday, November 30, 2009

Top 10 Stupidest Things Christians Do - Part 4

-4 Talking Like Experts About Things We Have Not Studied - Don't you just hate know-it-alls?

We do not expect a 9-year-old to drive a car; we also do not expect them to teach someone else to drive.

Why is it that we feel the need to answer every theological question? Although I find it interesting that many Christians have not really read the Bible, that is not the entire problem. Often times those that have taught us, tend to round the corners of verses to fit a particular point, or topical teaching. I do that here. It is always a good idea to take a look for yourself!

The Bible is an amazing book, and no one will know everything about it.

Christians seem to find it important to defend God and the Bible. Well, God doesn't need defending. Nor is He threatened by popular culture running off in the ditch.

In life, we will often meet folks that are better educated than we are. It happens all the time. But we don't start telling a doctor how to do a medical test or procedure, or tell the car mechanic how to adjust the intake valves, do we?

I find it interesting that cults seem better educated in the scriptures than many Christians. Cults rely on having answers, and we should too - answers that give life, not simply engage debate.

Early on, I was encouraged to read books about other religions, the cults and the occult. It is good to know what we, as a church, are up against. That said, it is better to know what our gifting is, and stick to that which God has created us for. Each one of us has unique abilities to relate to God and to others with our spiritual gifts. This will include an understanding of the Scriptures pertaining to our gifting.

I happen to think that the church is well taught in some areas, and extraordinarily uneducated in others. Any good evangelical knows Romans 10:9-10, John 3:16 and Acts 2:21. Our Charismatic and Pentecostal friends are well versed on 1 Corinthians 12 and Acts chapter 2. Folks that believe in healing are familiar with Isaiah 53:5 and Mark 6:56. And our friends at the 4 Square, their denomination is based on: Acts 2:42.

Where we fall short is in digging in and getting our own revelation, and developing an intimate relationship with God. We tend to follow the main stream of Sunday morning teaching, missing important areas God may want to work in us personally. For example, I know hundreds of believers in the spiritual gifts, but few, even pastors; who can give a biblical example of each of them. If you'd like to be the first on your block, HERE they are.

When questioned about our faith, it is OK, to say: "I don't know," " I'll look it up," or "I'll get back to you." God can use that kind of humility - especially if it is the truth!! Most folks are much more interested in what Jesus has done for YOU than they are with the tidbits you know from the word.

To put it in a nice neat little list.
-1 Be passionate about why YOU love Jesus.

-2 Don't float Bible verses like magic diamonds in an arcade game.

-3 Keep the Bible chatter to a minimum. Some say don't use verses with those that are not saved. But I believe that the Word has power. One Holy Spirit place verse is worth a 1,000,000 words. Read Acts - quoting scripture, however; is mostly for religious people!

-4 Don't Claim that only Christians can understand the Bible. That's crazy! Some things are understood with the natural mind, like some of the 10 commandments.

-5 Don't confuse science with faith - and for God's sake if you are against the Theory of Evolution, abortion or Global Warming (and you should be) then you should know why!

-6 Do NOT pound your least favorite denomination into the ground or tout your favorite one. It makes you sound like a religious bigot. Romans 14:22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.

-7 Listen carefully and speak slowly - if God is at work, and then let Him do His job. HERE are a few tips. It is much easier to present a challenge to naysayers such as this. "Ask God every morning and every night to reveal Himself to you in a simple prayer for 30 days." Then we'll talk some more.

I believe that what people find important about Jesus is that He meets them where they are. He doesn't beat them over the head with a Thompson Chain Bible. It is love that is attractive; it is the beauty of His presence - the wonderful and indescribable passion we feel that overflows our hearts - which seems to capture the attention of others.

Revelation 12:11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.

What's your testimony?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Top 10 Stupidest Things Christians Do - Part 3

-3 Not Living Up to the Level of Our Beliefs - Healing, creative miracles, salvation, power over demons and other supernatural abilities are ours - well if we believe. I know it sounds a bit like Peter Pan.

Why is it that we know what God can do, yet we do not pursue the type of relationship with Him that produces Kingdom results?

The fruit of the kingdom of God is power. I am not talking about the fruit of the spirit outlined so eloquently by Paul in Galatians 5:22. The substance of God's kingdom is power manifest in you and in me. The Gospel message is about becoming a disciple of Jesus, not merely a follower. Those that are disciples do what Jesus did, that includes the miraculous. They are not robots waiting for their ticket to the heavenlies when the rapture comes. The violent take the Kingdom by force. (Matthew 11:12)

The Bible says that signs and wonders will follow them that believe. Are they following you? If not, why not? If you are truly born again and full of the Spirit of God, then the job is to advance the kingdom one loving act a time. If you read chapters 12 through 14 of the first book of Corinthians, you will see the complete package. In 12 you will see the power, in 13 you will understand how love and gifting co-mingle in the heart producing supernatural works by your hand. In chapter 14 you will see its outworking in the community of believers.

Do you know what you believe? Maybe it's time to make a checklist.

- Salvation
- Blessing on your family for keeping your priorities
- A return on your tithe
- Spiritual gifting to support your call from on high
- Help in times of trouble
- Interpreting dreams
- Healing
- Power over demons
- Revelation
- Wisdom
- The dead raised

As Christians it is easy to give lip service to the things of God. A quick reflection of our prayer life should reveal what you can expect from God. Are you praying for healing? Most of us can pray for help in times of trouble, but what about interpreting a dream, or for revelation regarding a friends situation?

John 16:24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

Do not be cheated by Satan, it is by your testimony and the power of God that the Kingdom of God expands and lives are changed.

Revelation 12:11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.

Isn't it time to pray at your belief level?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Top 10 Stupidest Things Christians Do - Part 2

-2 Winning People to the Church, Not Christ - You may be all about your denomination, you may have a great church, a pastor that is amazing; you participate in small groups, you have Bible verses all over your MySpace, your Facebook and your refrigerator - even a Honk if You Love Jesus bumper-sticker - you are a soul winner to boot. You are, after all, out to get folks saved, isn't that the purpose of the church?

Each one of us comes from some sort of Christian upbringing, background or heritage. Our religious experiences and influences tend to shape our view of what church is, as well as who Jesus is. To some, God is a legalistic, rod bearing tyrant, that will have His way, or send you down the chute to Hell. For another, God is so full of grace, He wouldn't want you to be unhappy, so those rules, well, He'll just forgive you if you if you break them. Others think that if they are devout enough, never miss church, try to be good, and help with the poor; they are in good standing with God.

For many Evangelicals and Catholics too, the purpose of conversion is to make another member of the church. Denominational opinions abound - why is that?

In the first century church, there was one church, one way of doing things. There were no buildings, no mega-churches, and leadership was under the authority of the 13 apostles (12 plus Paul). As you can imagine, the factions started right away. Paul vs. Apollos (1 Cor 1:12), while Peter wanted folks to act like Jews. Paul rebuked him for the same (Acts 15:1-12).

1 Corinthians 1:12 What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas [Peter]"; still another, "I follow Christ."

It is in this verse that we see exactly what is happening. Each of the four are expressing whom it is that they believe; whom it is they follow, and whom they look to for answers. The one who said, "I follow Christ," if in fact that is what they were doing, that voice was correct.

It is a rare church that brings someone to Christ, and then wants them to attend another church. Sure, Billy Graham tries to connect folks with a church after a crusade. He planted seeds that others would need to water. That mentality needs to be every believer's heart. We lead people to Christ so that Christ can take over and reign in that person's life.

Church, it essential that everything that we do points to Jesus, not to men, denominations or theology. You may not agree with my Baptocostalmatic theology, but I assure you, God has a church for each one of us! A church where He will allow us to grow to be what we were destined to be. The very essence of what God knit in our mother's womb and knew before the foundations of the earth - to be like Him.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Top 10 Stupidest Things Christians Do - Part 1

After 30+ years hanging around the church I have noticed some odd behaviors. I wrote them down and then discovered a book that I have not read, nor do I intend to, entitled: The 10 Dumbest Things Christians Do. After a quick look at the Table of Contents I noticed that Mr. Atterberry and I matched 7 out of 10! I felt like I was a contestant on Concentration waiting for Hugh to let me solve the puzzle.

Having nothing planned, except to avoid Black Friday crowds at the local mall, here is part 1 of 10.

-1 Shooting Our Wounded - Isn't it bad enough that church people get caught with their pants down; their failures televised on broadcast news? Look, we all sin. It doesn't matter more to God that someone is a televangelist or mega-church leader when they sin. Sin is sin.

What matters is how we act towards those individuals who do sin.

Newscasters make money by reporting the news. From the Baker' of PTL fame, to the Clergy Sex Abuse Scandals in Massachusetts and Ireland, church folks fail - that hurts the church. I am not saying that we should side-step the truth, or cover things up. Sin is sin.

Why is it that the church some how feels a need to shoot it's wounded?

It is not wrong to have an opinion about sinful acts. In fact we should speak out against them. Gossip, name calling, degrading remarks, acting better than, acting unlovingly towards, and judging people, however; is sin. Their is a law written against those things (Gal 5:20-21). I also do NOT have a problem identifying Christians that don't act like one. Hypocrisy hurts the church (wait for number 9).

In the past couple of years a few stories made the news. I wrote about Rick Warren's flip-flop on Prop 8 back in April. I don't know Rick Warren, but he told his congregation that he supported Prop 8 in CA, he then told Larry King that he didn't. So, which is it? He has, as far as I know, not set the record straight.

Hypocrisy in religion hurts the church. Had the elders removed Pastor Warren, he may have had second thoughts about sticking to both stories.

Three years ago there was a sex and drug scandal involving a prominent Colorado pastor named: Ted Haggard. Ted was rightfully removed from his pastorate. Remember we all sin, and there are consequences for that sin.

What makes these two stories different? Repentance; albeit a little slow on Ted's part, he came around to saying the following in a goodbye letter to the congregation:

"I am guilty of sexual immorality. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all my adult life." MORE...

What much of the church did correctly, starting with removal from a leadership position, was provide counseling, love, and support. Some Christians, however; took up the cause of bashing the denomination, evangelicals in general, his wife, their family - and the list goes on. The holier-then-thou blogosphere went crazy.

What Ted did correctly, was take God up on His offer to forgive, to renew and to bring new life.

How about you, has someone fallen in your midst? Have you been a minister of reconciliation, or a harbinger of the latest gossip? Is it easier for you to talk than pray? There is sin all around us: divorce, addictions, teens with trouble, it's everywhere in the church. Have you thought for a minute what it is like to be caught in your sin?

Jesus saved thieves, prostitutes, and even religious folks, are you a messenger of THAT Gospel?

Church, we are not going to solve the problem of sin with broadcast news. It will be solved with loving confrontation, mercy, grace and recognition of the very fact that we are sinners too. For a wonderful illustration of this fact, read Brian Moore's essay, The Room (at the end of the post).

Revelation 2:5 Remember the height from which you have fallen!

Matthew 5:24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

More Intellectual BS - Don't Make Me Unfriend You!

Growing up I virtually lived the English language at home, not merely learning it. How about you?

My mother was a grammarian at Yale - that's right, she held a degree in English from the most highly regarded University in the US; if not the world. I received a copy of Strunk and White's, The Elements of Style about ten times before she died - I finally read a couple of chapters.

I confess, I hate Scrabble - sorry mom. If I don't get to use the word "ox" on a Triple Point point square, I am D-O-N-E. Wow, that was random.

As a person who writes, as opposed to a writer who is educated in the art, some of my previous grammatical immersion penetrated my viscous brain cells. Thank God for Thanksgiving Day - there was a reprieve from correcting English at the table. That is one of the things I secretly added whilst saying grace once each year.

Who cares about language anyway? I do! Why? Because understanding language - English in particular - is essential to communicating ideas, expressing feelings, telling jokes, and lying. Besides, God speaks to me in English - and well sometimes Portuguese.

Language skills, or lack of them, have been left to the media, publishers, and homegrown bloggers like myself - but I am no Word Girl. Two of the latter three, essentially experts in the field, tell us what we need to know about word usage.

There are a couple of reputable academic publications that guide the canonization of words in the English language. Each year the American Dialect Society (ADS), publishes the academic journal, American Speech containing the Oxford Word of the Year. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary also publishes new words which are added to its pages each year. Many of them are slang terms which become mainstream to pop-culture. The Beatle haircut, for instance. By the way, did you ever wonder why beetle was spelled incorrectly... I never noticed until today.

Irregardless - I'm just kidding - irregardless is not an acceptable word. However; it is in the dictionary - regardless, ADS, and MWC are the institutions that determine when to transform a hyphenated-word into a compound one. IE: e-mail to email, and web-site to website. What a great job title: Hyphen-Remover. I suppose that is the better paying version Dash-Remover.

This year's word: unfriend was chosen for its "currency and potential longevity." Which asks the question, doesn't the word "unfreind" create an abnormal verb sense? Are we saying that the prefix "un" can be used with a verb now? I thought it was used for adjectives including: unattractive, unnerving, unfair and unseen. We get an occasional un-noun such as unrest or unemployment; even unbirthday. But verbs?- well except for unpack - nada. Makes me wish I could "phone-a-friend" (a candidate for next years word - or it may have to wait until Regis is history). In any case, I'd call my mom if I could.

Furthermore; does it surprise you that the word "friend" can now be used as a verb in filling out your favorite Mad Libs? It didn't phase the young adults in my life as I tried explain that friend is a noun. My friend's Percy and Pat - they know about lot about Mad Libs. Their I go, using a noun an a proper noun- amazing. Grammar (that's English grammar, not your mother's mother) is so exciting, maybe next week, we'll have phrasal verbs - I'll look it up.

So what did the drive-your-spellcheck-crazy word unfreind loose out to? Such colloquialisms such as "trampstamp," "Obamaneur," Obamanomics," "hashtag," "intexticated," "netbook," "paywall," and "sexting."

Except for the word trampstamp, a woman's lower-back tattoo, what, if any of these terms has potential longevity? I mean she is going to have to explain that to her geriatric physician. I don't believe any of the above mentioned contenders pass the longevity test like my favorite: "cool," which has for over 50 years.

That reminds me of one other question? What if a man has a tattoo on his lower-back, what is that called?

I am wondering about the resurrection of certain words such as these written in a scathing judgment by Judge Spinner as he reprimanded a foreclosing bank, branding their conduct as "Inequitable, unconscionable, vexatious and opprobrious." Now that's English!

After your Thanksgiving Day nap, you can check out the previous Oxford winners and see what you think - try them in your spellchecker - you'll be amazed.

* 2009: Unfriend (to remove someone as a "friend" on a social networking site such as Facebook.): no new taxes" broken promise)
* 2008: bailout (in the specific sense of the rescue by the government of companies on the brink of failure, including large players in the banking industry.):
* 2007: subprime (an adjective used to describe a risky or less than ideal loan, mortgage, or investment):
* 2006: plutoed (demoted or devalued, as happened to the former planet Pluto):
* 2005: truthiness (popularized on The Colbert Report):
* 2004: red state, blue state, purple state (from the United States presidential election, 2004):
* 2003: metrosexual:
* 2002: weapons of mass destruction (WMDs):
* 2001: 11-Sep:
* 2000: chad (from the 2000 presidential election controversy in Florida):
* 1999: Y2K:
* 1998: e- (as in "e-mail"):
* 1997: millennium bug:
* 1996: mom (as in "soccer mom"):
* 1995: web and (to) newt (to act aggressively as a newcomer, like Speaker Newt Gingrich during the Contract with America):
* 1994: cyber, morph (to change form):
* 1993: information superhighway:
* 1992: Not! (meaning "just kidding"):
* 1991: mother of all (as in Saddam Hussein's foretold "Mother of all battles"):
* 1990: bushlips (similar to "bull&!%$" – stemming from President George H. W. Bush's 1988 "Read my lips, no new taxes comment.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

OK, I'm Mad as Hell - The Quagmire of Stupidity

As a Christian, today I am going to exercise my right to judge a few things that affect people in America.

1 Corinthians 2:14-15a (NIV) 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things...

Three things have happened recently that I believe God has something to say about. A man was arrested by ICE for overstaying his visa. Two, a US Senator has attacked the Catholic Church, and three, health care will be debated in the Senate.

How is that for hot button issues?

First, Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, was discreetly asked by the Bishop of Rhode Island to stop taking communion because of his stance on abortion. Patrick decides to make it public - unlike his drunk driving and philandering, which he preferred to keep private - now the church has to respond. They did, they said the request was confidential and pastoral; that it was about Patrick's spiritual health, not some political issue - the way it should be. Bravo Bishop Tobin!

The church is saying that you cannot be pro-abortion, and be right with God.

Now come the pundits and three Massachusetts Roman Catholic candidates hopeful for Ted Kennedy's ultra liberal senate seat in the primary December 8th.

"We need the separation of church and state." Mary Ann Marsh - Democratic Strategist

"I don't think it's the churches business, especially a church that overlooked the Church Sex Abuse Scandal. It's an affront to good Christians and Catholics. " Martha Coakley

"No wonder people have stopped going to church!" Mike Capuano

"Excommunicate the spoiled little brat! And add to that John Kerry and the rest of them that are pro-abortion Catholics. It's pure hypocrisy!" David Johndrow

1 Corinthians 5:4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

One down, two to go.

I have written about health care a couple of times. Now that we are going to debate it in the Senate, I find that the camps are polarized because of their political views. The Democrats say provide it regardless of the cost, the Republicans say let Darwin handle it, and the church is divided.

I was reading the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Matthew - the one where the robbers beat a fellow and went away, leaving him half dead. A Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

Church we have and obligation, regardless of what the government does or doesn't do, to care for those that God does not supernaturally heal. Sure, I think we need more faith healing - so, are you out there doing it?

Who is going to pay for health care anyway? I don't know. But that does not relinquish us of our responsibility. Can health care be done more cheaply then it is now? YES!

The whole problem with health care is the way politicians are going about it. One party is for the health care unions, the other seems to be for the insurance companies, BUT the church needs to be for the sick, the poor, the widows and those in jail. We must count the cost, we must participate, we must pray, and we must not shirk our part in this mess.

Two down.

This week a good friend of mine, actually my closest friend in the world was arrested for an immigration violation. He overstayed his travel visa. He's been whisked away to a holding facility in Texas. Bond has been set at $7500.

I am often disappointed when people point at the bad behavior of others to rationalize their own bad behavior - like Martha Coakley above. So, I won't say that we have child molesters and felons that get lower bails. That's just what I'm thinking, not what I'm saying.

My friend was wrong, but he is not a felon. He is well educated, speaks 4 languages fluently, and has invested most of his adult life in ministering to folks both here in the US, Columbia, Israel and of course, Brazil. He's a man of good character.

His dream is to minister around the world, to work hard and to have a family. And after trying to get a green card for nearly 10 years, he fell prey to the rhetoric that our new President might give him amnesty.

God will prevail in his life. Hopefully he can raise the bail money before tomorrow (Wednesday), or he'll be deported. God have mercy.

What makes me angry is that our country doesn't really have an immigration policy - at least one that is uniformly enforced and fair to all potential immigrants. There is no line - it more like a crowd of 20,000 screaming Bon Jovi fans trying to get the best view of the stage with "arena seating." The rushing, pushing, stomping, screaming, crowd funneled through a few small doors to the promised land.

In my opinion, wouldn't it be wise to say these are the rules. Come after a background check, having a place to stay, see an INS officer every 6 months, and in 2 years, if you haven't committed a felony, and you have learned English, you can become a citizen of the greatest country on earth.

I confess, I don't know what Jesus should do about my friend. I just know what I am supposed to do.

Hebrews 13:1 Keep on loving each other as brothers. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. 3Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Holiday Traditions - Don't Get Plucked

Most of us have expectations for the holidays - family traditions, church activities, certain foods, TV sports and a variety of other activities. For some, the holidays can be a nightmare - the Bermuda Triangle we used to call them in AA.

My holidays growing up were basically decent, and mostly comprised of good memories. My mother had some very enjoyable traditions that made Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years a time of expectation and even joy.

I admit it, as I have grown older, holidays have lost their luster.

I have an old friend from Junior High who posted a status on Facebook. It was sad because, after 50+ years of celebrating life at the old family homestead, it is no more. I remember my own feelings as my childhood home was sold, and no longer the possession of my parents. There is something barely describable that is lost - the nostalgia, the memories - well, if they were good ones. That was home.

I am sure most of you don't care about my darn holidays, you have your own to worry about. However; his post made me think about why the holidays have grown a little dull.

As a kid, the magic of special treats, seasonal decorations, presents, visiting friends and neighbors - it was all very welcome. We even put on a Thanksgiving Concert (see above) at about 6 AM one year - my folks tried very hard to be excited at such an early hour. They worked hard to make Thanksgiving - all the holidays for that matter - a special time.

Thanksgiving started off with the Macy's day parade on the years we had a TV - and weren't preforming. Mom and Dad made cranberry-walnut-apple stuffing, and seasoned a 25 pound turkey; making sure there was something left over for sandwiches to get us through the long weekend. "In at seven, out at two thirty," my mother would say; baster in hand.

The table was set with candles, while Mom set about whipping candied sweet potatoes, mashing spuds, boiling peas, simmering creamed onions, making gravy, and putting ripe olives, celery, and carrot sticks in china hor devour plates. She made the pies in advance: one apple, one cherry, one pumpkin and one minced meat - ready for desert. My brother made real whipped cream, I polished the silverware, my sister set the table; everyone else seemed to have a place in the preparations.

At 3 o'clock Dad carved up the turkey with a "cheesy" 70's electric knife as we sat down. Hell, we even said grace on that day, and then pushed the creamed onions in the direction of someone that would actually eat them. The house was filled with an unusual warmth back in those days - the holiday spirit.

Each holiday had its own traditions in the Johndrow house. Christmas featured hot chocolate and fruit cake while we opened stocking gifts in front of the fireplace - probably at 5 am - each one of us taking turns. Then a special breakfast before going onto the big presents under the tree. It lasted hours - and I didn't ask Santa for any clothes - and still can't figure out why there were so many! I even wrote him a letter telling him don't bother.

New Years was a big deal too. We had all kinds of finger foods, cheese and crackers, dips, miniature rye and pumpernickel bread, a cheese-ball, chocolates - and my favorite, shrimp. We often spent time with the neighbors - drinking, playing Twister and then walking home in the snow.

For a kid, that is how it was. My mother put a lot of effort into "tradition." Even as a young adult, she kept her traditions until she moved to the Midwest in the late 80's. They consisted of yearly rituals from the one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments to the "gelt," gold foil wrapped coins in the stockings with walnuts and oranges.

Since the time we lived on Old Turnpike Road, both Mom and Dad have passed away. But it was them that showed me what tradition was made of, doing the same thing over and over each year so that we could look forward to something special. As a Christian, I have also enjoyed going to services for each holiday during the Bermuda Triangle -

- but something is missing. And this year I seem to have put my finger on it - it's tradition. The past 10 years or so, my kids have grown up and want to be other places, we've alternated holidays with the in-laws, but not had our own traditions With a little one, jobs, commuting and all the rest - we are lucky to cook a turkey, get a tree up, and we haven't once stayed up to ring in the New Year.

This past few years we've had an open house the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve at the in-laws, and Christmas morning will now be here at home. We haven't been as ambitious about decorating as my Mom, and there are no handcrafted felt stockings; edges cut with pinking shears, adorned with reindeer, snowmen and sequins on them, bet we have something to look forward too. Lots to be grateful for, and now we say grace every night.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

5 Reasons Why Being PC is Anti-Christian

Have you noticed? It seems like our freedom of speech and freedom of religion is in bondage to idiots. In America you can say anything you want as long as it's politically correct. Me, I am thinking of running for governor of MA, so I want to make sure everyone knows where I stand.

The PC Police (Tolerance Police in some asylums) have got us believing that offending someone is a bad thing. Love maybe kind, but it doesn't mean we have to cut anyone any slack. It should not be our goal to offend others, but sometimes the truth is offensive. For some reason the insanity of not being able to state facts has become common place. We've been trying to be politically correct for so long that we can't call a spade a spade. The fact that the very term uses the word "political" should be a clue.

When I was a kid, the garbageman came to to pick up the garbage. A classmate's father was the garbageman in my town, and he was a hardworking guy. Now they are called sanitation engineers. Do they drive garbage trains? The engineers that I work with have masters and doctorate degrees in real engineering. It seems sort of silly to me.

As a country, America is at war with radical Muslims. And in the WW II we were at war with radical white folks who claimed to be Christians. How politically correct was that? Now I am not suggesting that we use the "N" word, or the "G" word- I guess I am OK with the "F" word for now. Well as long as it stands for faith.

Before you start sending hate mail and rude comments - asking WWJD , consider these famous Bible characters.

Acts 23:3 Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!"

And then there was the Master - and He had some stuff to say.

Matthew 23:27 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.

And Jesus acted on His faith.

Mark 11: 15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.

And our whiny friend Elijah the prophet - he was just enjoying himself on Mt. Carmel with a bunch of New Agers.

1 Kings 18:27 (TLB) At noon Elijah began to taunt them. "Shout louder!" he said. "Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or on the toilet, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened." 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed.

And finally, John the Baptist:

Matthew 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?

And there you have it, some of the most famous Bible characters decided to tell it like it is. True, two of them were crucified, one was beheaded, and one was chased into the desert fearing for his life. But hey, when you number is up, it's up.

-1 Being PC is dishonest either by distortion of the truth, or by withholding the truth.

-2 Being PC is just not authentic. You might have noticed that the above named characters were taking the Kingdom of God by force, not worrying about polls.

-3 Being PC is misleading others, often causing them to sin.

-4 Being PC is hypocritical whereby we say one thing in public and another in private.

-5 Being PC it is anti-Christian and causes damage to the Kingdom of God because it is both loving and truthful.

Jesus is looking for warriors of the faith (Ephesians 6:10-18), and for and army that is ready to die for truth, not some half-baked semi-gospel or powerless-philosophy.

Are you politically correct? Here are a couple of hundred very UN-Politically Correct definitions. (I am not repsonsible for the content of Urban Dictionary)

Monday, November 16, 2009

WTF? - 10 Questions Social Networkers Need to Answer

Social media is great for keeping up with folks that you have no desire to spend any real time with. And you are probably one of them. I know that's hard to take. But really, it's a great replacement for going out to coffee, talking on the phone, inviting guests over to your messy house and attending other activities where you might catch H1N1 or have to take a shower. If you get your kids involved, you can even sell your minivan, blowing off soccer, ballet and swimming!

I was looking over the stats for my most popular posts because Tony C. said his was about Michael Jackson. Mine? It was about the Holy Spirit. I am not even going to try and analyze that... to use an annoying phrase, "it is what it is."

Another one of my most popular posts was 10 Commandments for Facebook - Do's and Dont's for the Over 40 Crowd.

The online community is ever changing since Al Gore passed away. So here are some things I just don't get in today's online world - how about you?

-1 What should your Tweet or Facebook status be? - So tell me, why do people waste bits and bandwidth on posting stuff like this: "My apartment is on fire!"? OMG - Nobody believes you. It is like a car alarm - has anyone ever been caught stealing a car because the car alarm was going off? NO! Maybe you should try Tweeting "911." And believe it or not, your phone makes calls - doesn't it? I know it's been a while since you used the voice feature.

-2 Non-anonymous posts, are they bad? - Why do people post stuff like, "My husband is a jerk," or "Somebody in my house that is 45-years-old is a slob!" I have interviewed many woman, and this is not news. The propensity for it to happen is well - pretty high - even amongst Christians. If you are trying to get his attention, hide the remote before you leave for church. Take separate cars (so there will be no fighting on the way to the Holy Land."), and then go out for lunch with the kids so he can watch the game. Leave your cell phone at home. You'll get his attention.

-3 Why doesn't Facebook and Twitter have spell check? - I'll tell you why, most posts online are so horrendous, they would have Google on it's digital knees. What the hell does "Heheheheheasihwenkjwpas!" mean? Please don't drink and type, you end up posting a comment on my status that belongs on your brother-in-laws Facebook Wall. I assume he interprets drunk, because he posted "Hohohohohohohajhdkjhargqwueh!" in the same thread. Please hide the keyboard or check out your local secretarial school and get a designated typist. Oh yeah, can you capitalize the beginning of sentences! Hint - there are two SHIFT keys and a Caps Lock - you can do it.

-4 What is BORED? - For Pete's sake, we know you're bored, you are ONLINE! And if you happen to be one of my kids, clean up your room, rake the leaves and put your empty glasses in the "effing" dishwasher. Then we can see about finding some other activity to stimulate your pathetic little life between keyboard and mall.

-5 Parents, why do you put uncool stuff on your kids MySpace and Facebook profiles? - I have interviewed a few kids that have deleted their parents because, well, posting "Honey, could you clean up your room before I beat you take away your car again?" was just a little too embarrassing for the designated driver to the Kanye West concert.

-6 Do emoticons really have meaning? - Are you tired of sideways heart emoticons? <3> As a Christian you need to love your online neighbor - so spread the love, do what Jesus would do and send around some smileys and various other emoticons. Barf. If you are going to go on a mission, try eradicating j/k.

-7 What do we need blocking for? - Why should I get blocked when YOU post something as inflammatory as "No one should die because they don't have health care." Did you notice that all the people that commented you have a job and pay taxes? Did you block them too? Are you a Communist that hates free speech? Next time, unless you are willing to be challenged, keep your thoughts to yourself or I'll send you a virus. What? McAfee and Norton should be free to everyone who can't afford it? Click!

-8 What is too much information? - Hey Tweety birds, is your life so shallow that you have to tell us everything that you do? I mean, hearing people talk on cell phones from the stall in the men's room was pathetic. Now you are posting pics of the toilet paper dispenser? Honestly, this is so far beyond, "way too much information."

And posting "I am sick" everyday is stupid. We don't want to hear it anymore. Go drink a couple of bottles of NyQuil - but hide your keyboard first!

-9 Why do people play Facebook games? - People, surveys, and Facebook games are stupid. It is like SPAM for the online community. Think about it, you are feeding fish, buying donkeys (that should have been your first clue) and hoeing fields. What are you thinking? Is this something that you are going to send out in your annual Holiday Update letter? "

Dear Friends: This was an eventful year. Little Susie (cutepuppies2005) hit level 300 in Fishville. Just a few died and went down the digital toilet. J/K it was like over 200! :( Little Johnny (smahta$$2003) put DON FAHQ in the hospital right after he put a hit on him in Mob Wars. Suspenseful! But thanks be to God, wireless reaches to every room in the house and we don't have to hear the Farmville music loop. Hope you had a good year too. <3>

-10 WTF? - The meaning of WTF? still means WTF? It was rumored that it means "who's the fool?" after the inventor of the Internet. Some things never change.

And this is progress? Don't blame me, blame Al Gore.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

American Girl - Heritage and Blessing

As the monumental plate-glass door swung wide, the doorman greeted us, "Good morning, and welcome to the Ritz Carleton." Everyone was busy, the valets, the bellhops and the concierge desk workers - but not too busy to greet us as we made our way to the elevator; the hustle and bustle of downtown Boston just behind us.

Today was the big day for our youngest's proud parents. She was as ready as she could be to walk the runway for the "American Girl Fashion Show," she's been rehearsing for over the past few weeks. We were all a little on edge, the excitement, her shyness that gets the best of her under certain situations, and her age - just 6 a few days ago. It was bound to be emotional, and it was.

She did a great job!

If you have ever had an 8-year-old daughter, niece or granddaughter, it's unlikely that your unaware of the American Girl Dolls; now manufactured by Mattel. My older girls were aficionados some ten or twelve years ago.

The original dolls were from specific time periods in US history, and those ones are still available in the current catalog. Mattel has commercialized the line and added some non-historical dolls to round out the line - but the original intent remains the same - educating kids in US history.

Apart from the commercialism which has ruined everything from international travel to Christmas, for me, there is something interesting and personal about American Girl. Pleasant Rowland, creator of American Girl, went to the same college as my mother. Pleasant was a speaker at an event that my mother planned in Indiana. Currently, the two older girls work for American Girl in a Boston area store.

The dolls and their historical backgrounds have played a part of our family history as the fabric of our lives is woven into an intricate pattern called life. It is for these reasons, now that my mother has passed away, that today's events had an emotional impact.

The history of a number of different eras in America provided a common interest - something we shared that was fun and thought provoking. History is always affected by the battle between godliness, and sin. Without this conflict, Christians would not have come to the future America for religious freedom.

Peter said that "life is but a vapor." It's true, especially when we look at history.

I have done quite a lot of traveling and I now enjoy American history. I remember walking through Williamsburg, VA and being overwhelmed with the work that it took to create America. I walked along the banks of the James River and stood in front of the bell tower of the oldest church in the US. I have prayed in the Old North Church where Paul Revere's lanterns were hung that famous night. I have climbed the Pilgrims Tower in Provincetown, MA, marking some of the footsteps of America's earliest Christians. I have walked the battlefields of Saratoga and Bunker Hill and viewed the Liberty Bell up close. I have also inspected the quill pen signatures of Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine and John Hancock.

From Independence Hall in Philadelphia to the majesty of Yosemite Valley, CA, God is here in the foundations, and in the land we call America. I have had the privilege to pray and/or minister in forty-two states. I have been where the Indians worshiped the Great Spirit, and stood, looking at the awesomeness of the Grand Canyon.

How do I know that America is an amazing place? Because I have also walked through a Nazi Killing field in Norway and prayed for the salvation of souls in Brazil where some cities have been given to the work of the devil and Santeria.

God has shed His grace on America, but for the serious student of biblical prophecies, this will not always be the case.

Christians, if we see history as a series of purposeless events, then we have been deceived. Unlike the fictional American Girl stories that are only meant to help young girls understand other periods of US history, the Bible is meant to get us to understand these same events in perspective of God's eternal kingdom.

Everything that we do as individuals and as a church matters more now, than ever. Every failure of the church impacts more and more of the global population. How is that we get farther and farther from biblical principals and call it progress? Like Moses in the time of the Egyptians, we are to stand against that which is unlawful in the Kingdom of Heaven, not justify it or look for a different interpretation.

So tell me, why has ethics become a debate? Isn't the Bible clear enough?

Had it not been for a for a 9-year-old daughter who wanted to experience Williamsburg with her doll, I might have missed the most important history lesson of my life. One in which the Lord and I communed over our spiritual roots as a nation. It was emotional.

Had it not been for a 6-year-old, I would not have been in Boston thinking about my great country and sharing some of those thoughts with you.

Had it not been for a couple of friends that were not to busy to tell me about Jesus, I might have missed the most import lesson in life - making it impossible for me to leave a blessing and heritage for my American girls.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Good Wife - Does Talking to the TV Mean Your Nuts?

For those of you that follow me on Facebook, you know what goes on at the J' home - the censored version anyway. I am married, and I have three daughters that are regularly present at my house. Charlotte is 6, Erin is 18, Zöe is 21, me; I passed the 1/2 century mark and Mary Anne, she's ageless.

Some days I agree with Jeff Foxworthy, it is like living in a sea of estrogen. We have lots of feelings being expressed, some real life drama over silly stuff, and well, lots of pinks, pastels, country music, and stuffed animals. And it is unlawful to leave the toilet seat up.

A few years ago we had some guests over for dinner. During our discussion I told them Mary Anne was the best wife. The husband of couple who were visiting, not wanting to leave his princess un-complimented, promptly announced that he "had the second best wife." The very one that was sitting there unimpressed by his statement.

Mary Anne is the best thing that ever happened to me - but that doesn't mean that the honeymoon is still on. We work hard at it, making time, listening, learning new techniques for communicating, date nights and all that. Which once we are tired and ready for sleep, goes right out the window.

Mary Anne and I have a new favorite TV show: it is the "The Good Wife" and we discuss (censored version of "argue") over whether Alicia Florrick should take back the cheating SOB. Gil Grissom is gone, Mack usually has bad lines before the Who theme, and Horatio never rated with my bride. She applauded the night that he was murdered at the airport only to find out it was a hoax - that's when Miami "jumped the shark." SUV is always pushing some stupid left-wing agenda and Mary Anne doesn't enjoy me when I'm mad.

If you were to listen to the conversation outside the master bedroom, it would go something like this:

Mary Anne: "I can't believe that she is still talking to the creep."

David: "Maybe she still loves him."

Mary Anne: "Not after that."

David: "It doesn't have to be the end."

Mary Anne: "Well it would be for me."

David: "I know, but she's not you."

Mary Anne: "Well she's an idiot if she takes him back."

David: "She's a lawyer, educated, smart..."

Mary Anne: "She's an idiot if she takes him back."

David: "Take him back!"

Mary Anne: "Who are you talking to?"

David: "Mrs. Florrick."

Mary Anne: "She can't hear you! And he's in jail."

David: "I'm just sayin'"

Mary Anne: "Saying what? She needs to dump him and move on."

The more tired we get, the more degraded the conversation gets. By the end, Alicia, my wife's hero (I am not allowed to have female heroes - BTDT) wins the case because she is intuitive, smart and professional.

David: "Doesn't it seem a little odd that she stays with a cheating jerk if she is so smart? I'm just sayin'.

Mary Anne: "No one can hear you."

David: "What?"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Brazil Ministry Tour Nov. '99 - (Part 3 of 3)

10 years ago today, I got on a VASP 757, an overnight flight, bound for São Paulo, BR for a whirlwind ministry tour.

The following are the notes I wrote for my prayer team and supporters at the time.

We had a wonderful trip. This is a partial journal of the happenings in Brazil during my nearly three week stay this past November. I hope you'll enjoy hearing about some of the people that you have supported in prayer. It is a blessing to have been. Thank you.

Nan (a teammate with her own amazing story of getting to Brazil) and I arrived in Curitiba on November 13. We were met there by Carlos and Pastor Silas and his wife Angela. They pastor a church called Monté Hebron in downtown Curitiba.

From the airport, they took us out to a farm style retreat center to have lunch. There we met Paulo and Deborah, a couple from their congregation. After a shower and an hours rest, we went to a small Pentecostal church that meets in a garage. We had a time of prayer before the meeting and the fatigue of a 25 hour trip faded.

The worship team began and the Spirit of the Lord came. I had chance to share on the river of God's refreshing. Then we had a ministry time for the refreshing and the Spirit of God moved powerfully. His presence was glorious. About 50 received prayer that night. The word of knowledge, prophecy and healing were common place.

The Lord did a miracle that night... I was told that the 6 hour bus ride to Londrina was canceled. YES LORD! Someone would pick us up in the morning to make the trip. We went to dinner and had fellowship until the wee hours of the morning - typical of Brazilian culture.

I awoke the next day refreshed and enjoying the perfect weather. After a wonderful meal we met Walter, who was to take us to Londrina for a meeting starting at 7:30 PM. Walter is an electronics wizard and in 6 hours learned a staggering amount of English compared to my 3 or 4 words of Portuguese.

The 400 km ride was beautiful and sun-filled as we motored through the mountains of Paraná in Southern Brazil. We arrived in Londrina and had some trouble finding the church. They had held worship for nearly an hour. We changed quickly in an empty classroom and headed for the platform.

As we walked into Igreja Evangélica Pentecostal O Brasil Para Cristo the worship was sweet. There was a choir accompanied by contemporary instrumentation. The last note died away and Pastor Lessak from our team began to preach on the fire of God. A few hundred attendees clapped and cheered as the power of the Holy Spirit came with a great fire.

Carlos and I shared briefly about our team was assembled by the Lord for this purpose. Here is the story he shared most nights. The Lord moved powerfully in words of knowledge that night as we went to ministry time. I was blessed to see that the church had six intercessors, posted all around the church, praying for the duration of the meeting.

It was here that we met Flavia, a 19-year-old that had learned English in the US as an exchange student. She was such a blessing to us as an interpreter. She was nervous about her assignment, interpreting prayer for 400 or 500 folks in one evening! During the ministry time the Lord really began to speak to her and His grace was all around her. I allowed her to pray for some of the folks that came forward, and I could see that the Lord was using her too.

That night the Lord established some ways of working together the we used for the entire time that I was there. We were a team. The next night was more of the same except that we had a wonderful time of prayer with the pastor (above). He anointed us with oil for the service and the Spirit of God moved greatly that night too. Some of the intercessors came to help during the ministry time and we began to build a bond through working together.

We were blessed to stay with Pastor Erinaldo Lopes and his wife Sarah and their two children, Philippe and Joanatan. He is the pastor of Igreja Evangelico Poço de Agua Viva. They were amazing as they were ready to serve our every need. Food, laundry, showers and trips to the different churches, luncheons and other appointments. We were very grateful.

Our next night we were at Igreja Presbiteriana do Brasil, the largest congregation in the city. It was a beautiful church and we were received into a prayer room where everyone took off their shoes and we prayed for about 40 minutes before the service. (wonder why they are the largest?)


The worship was powerful, a full band, spectacular voices, and the anointing of God. It was a non-church night and the place was packed to capacity.

We prayed for hundreds in a bit hurried fashion but the Lord moved powerfully. I had a line of woman that were recently divorced that night. They just kept coming asking for prayer for there marriages. The brokenness and fear was great in many of them. There is no welfare in Brazil and this makes for a difficult situation. But the Lord came to many with a gentle peace that was so very refreshing.

After the meeting we had a time of thanks in the office of Pastor Osni. Fortunately many of the attendees needed to go to training meetings that night or we would still be there praying. We were invited to attend a birthday party not far from the church. It was in a courtyard of a high-rise apartment building surrounded by towers on three sides. The open side was facing the street. Many who did not have a chance to get in line, found us here at this party and the ministry line started again. It went until some time after 3 am!

The next evening we were in the satellite church of Igreja Evangelico Paco de Agua Viva in the slums on the outskirts of the city. We were asked not to dress in a showy fashion that night. It was a small church and the children had learned to say "I love Jesus" in English to greet us.

One young man, eleven years old, Rafael sang praise that made us cry. He had a powerful anointing from the Lord. We prayed for everyone there and then we left with the children shouting, "I love Jesus" as we pulled away. We had a visit with Pastor Beniditos and his family until late that night. He and his daughters played CD's that they had recorded. WOW! So much talent. We liked them so much that we had them come to perform a few nights later.

Our team also attended a pastors meeting in Londrina at the home of an American Missionary, Michael Shea (now of Casa de Davi - when I was there it was just a prophetic vision.). We got there late and everyone was on their knees praying (on ceramic tile floor... softer than concrete I guess).

The Spirit of the Lord was present as we took chairs in the last row. My Portuguese is minimal, but after months of being with my friends Carlos and Lessak, I had picked up quite a bit. The praise and adoration of the Lord was very touching. All around the room you could hear sobs of gratitude. For those of us here in the US it was not a "business as usual" type meeting. It had a "serious about God" feeling to it.

After prayer there was a time of worship followed by specific prayer requests for the community, the country and the world. And finally, a time to lay hands on those who wanted to receive prayer. We enjoyed praying for the pastors there and our team received prayer too. But the real joy came later as the Lord began to move in the fellowship afterwords. The Lord leading, we met and prayed for a number of men there. The Lord moved solidly in a ministry of encouragement. It was amazing how the Lord gave knowledge about situations and circumstances allowing for a very focused time to minister to the lives of a few men.

Across all barriers of language the Spirit of God caused a unique type of fellowship to happen. As I looked into the eyes of some of these men I was moved by that which they have given to each other and to the cause of the kingdom. Only tears of gratitude were the appropriate response.

On November 19 we did another meeting at Igreja Evangelica Luz do Mundo. It was strange, but the pastor left to go somewhere else; another commitment. We just started to pray for people and Nan laid hands on a woman that had a severe car accident and was in wheelchair. She got up and started to walk around. Another woman with leg braces, who was about 60, took them off and she was running about the sanctuary, shouting "Gloria Deus!" For she had been crippled since birth!

November 20 we put on a meeting at Comunidad Evangelica Adonai. Again, the word of the Lord came, and there was healing and something a bit strange, religious spirits were cast out in the name of Jesus. False tongues were silenced, and Jesus was glorified.

One of my favorite meetings was at Igreja Presbiteriana Independente. The pastor had checked us out pretty well, having us for lunch the day before. His wife received healing and the words of knowledge about him were so very personal that He was convinced that it was God. The worship team played Aclame a o Senhor (Shout to the Lord) for 20 minutes and the presence of God was so great I could hardly hold the mic to my mouth. Some of the elders could not even stand up at their seats. So we just had everyone come forward to the altar area for personal ministry. We saw many prophetic words, and great power displayed by the Holy Spirit. It was amazing.

Having the chance to minister, to pray, share communion and fellowship with thousands, it is hard to pick and choose what to share. (You can read lots more about our trip to Brazil by clicking the Topic Link "Brazil") My personal favorite experience was this one. Although there were many saved in the meetings, many blessings, healings and other types of spirit-lead ministry, this particular one touched my heart.

I stayed in Londrina for most of my time in Brazil at the home of Pastor Erinaldo, a Baptist pastor, and his family. Each day I was there I watched the housekeeper, an indian looking woman in her late 20's named Sandra. The pastor mentioned that she did not know the Lord in a personal way but he was praying for her. Each day I saw the look of despair in her eyes as she went about her work: washing dishes, doing laundry, and preparing meals. I felt impressed to ask the Lord for the opportunity to share the good news with her.

I waited and waited until the day before I was to leave. I awoke Saturday morning and saw her in the kitchen. I spoke to my ministry teammate, Carlos, and asked if he would interpret for me.

We said a quick prayer and asked her to sit down with us. We chose a quiet room and began to talk to her. I felt the Lord tell me to talk about rejection, her two failed marriages, and the fact that she was living with her boyfriend. At the very first mention of the word rejection, she began to cry. We talked for just a few minutes about Jesus and she said that she wanted to know Him in her heart. Carlos led her in a simple prayer.

She left this note for us.

Dear David and Carlos, I thank God for sending you to Brazil.

I hope that you will remember both Brazil and me in prayer. It is with tenderness that I will remember those moments when my heart was filled with the love of God. I remember only some words that are in the Bible. "The Lord is my shepherd." I know that He will take good care of me now.

With love,

Sandra

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Purple Heart - A Veteran's Honor

Today is Veterans day. Most of us have never seen war - I know I haven't. I would venture that most don't know what today is about - the Armistice that ended WW I in the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month. It's been going on since 1919 and the name was changed in 1954 - all probably before you were born - or at least remember.

My grandfather on my mother's side, born in Ireland in 1888, came to the USA and served in WW I. He also chased Pancho Villa are around the Mexican border in 1916. This day was to honor his efforts, and later, to honor the efforts of all US military veterans. He received a Purple Heart - I actually can't remember how the story goes - but his injury affected his hearing.

My father also served his country in both the European and South Pacific theaters during WW II and the Korean War conflict. He received 2 Purple Hearts for injuries sustained fighting for my freedom and yours.

How I wish I had a better understanding of their sacrifice while they were alive.

No one likes war, regardless of the rhetoric. It is, however; a fact, that war has made America free. From the Revolutionary War to the battlefields of New York City, Afghanistan and Iraq, brave men and woman have laid down their lives for you; for your freedom of religion, your freedom of speech and your pursuit of happiness.

Next time you watch the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan, or the firefights in the Platoon, remember freedom, it's not free.

It is unimaginable what some of our veterans have gone through. For those that have survived the violence and given their lives in sacrifice, we salute you this day. Better yet, send an email, make a call or visit the VA.

2 Chronicles 20:15 (b) This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Being Buffeted is Nothing Like a Buffet - The Path to Brazil (Part 2 of 3)

The thought of going to Brazil, doing something for God, and hanging out with friends was evermore exciting. Like many Christians, I was planning for the blessings, but I forgot that there is always opposition to God's plans.

2 Corinthians 12:7 (b) there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me.

That is a nice way of saying he [Paul] was demonically afflicted. The word buffeted literally means "to be hit with small punches. (fist)" I prefer to think of it as buffet-ed; the French word buffet - "a spread laid on a cart to feed to the hungry; with salad at one end and desert at the other."

Behind the scenes the devil working overtime to oppose the will of God in my life; hindsight is always 20/20. Now I can clearly see that there was an equal and opposite reaction to God's advancing Kingdom, by the one roaming around seeking to devour us.

The Passport:
I went to the Post Office and got an application for my US passport. I decided to get two copies in case I made an error. Just a few blocks away I went to the photography studio I once worked at to have instant passport photos taken. My plan was to go right back to the Post Office and be done with it. One problem, I need a "certified" birth certificate from New Haven; 175 miles away!

After frantic phone calls, online searches and Fed-Ex packages, finally a certified birth certificate arrived about 10 days later. I placed the application, photos and birth certificate in a large envelope and headed back to the Post Office. What else could go wrong? The passport photos taken by a professional studio were the wrong size, that's what! The next day I made another appointment, got new photos, and finally my application was on it's way to Boston for processing.

In the midst of getting ready to go to Brazil, I was ministering at a few local congregations with my friend Carlos. HERE is one story, and HERE is another from that season. God was on the move and His supernatural presence followed us wherever we went.

One Saturday someone ran into my car in a parking lot. It was no big deal, the insurance company was going to pay for it -- well some day. It took months to straighten out a dented bumper.

On Tuesday morning I woke up to go to work, and my car with the dent was gone from in front of the house. The bank had sent a repo crew to pick it up. Wow, and I had even paid them on time. It turns out there was some mail fraud in the area, and my checks never made it to the bank, nor did my late notices make it to me. It was going to take a couple of days to fix that problem and I was scheduled to leave in a few days.

Things just seemed to be stacking up - issues that were, well, out of the ordinary.

The Visa:
My team of 4 kept praying, ministering and fellowshipping. To enter Brazil I need to get a travel visa. I Fed-Ex'd my application, a check for 40 dollars, and my passport to the Brazilian Consulate in Boston. All the delays with the passport photos, and birth certificate had made the time-line very tight. I was to leave on Saturday and here it was Wednesday. On Friday afternoon at 3 PM, I received a Fed-Ex from the consulate - VISA DENIED.

God, what is going on? I called the travel agent to cancel my tickets from JFK to Sao Paulo.

On Saturday I took my wife's car to transport my Brazilian friends to the airport. I was able to transfer my tickets for the connection to them. It was emotional as I saw the plane take off from Hyannis headed for JFK without me.

Now what God? You promised me, you provided for me, and now I am standing here. I don't get it!

I went home and prayed for my friends travel. I was so certain I was supposed to go - to be on THIS trip. I began pacing the house, and I was so angry that if I'd had a dog, I would have kicked it.

In my spirit I heard this verse. Mateus 11:12 E desde os dias de João, o Batista, até agora, o reino dos céus é tomado a força, e os violentos o tomam de assalto. Matthew 11:12

The words violento and assulto gave power to my prayer. And the Lord spoke to me. "Go to the consulate in Boston on Monday and I will give you a visa and favor."

Are you kidding me? I don't have a car, my wife needs to get to work. This is crazy. I needed the visa for today, and favor? I needed that before today too! God what are you doing?!?!?

At dinner, I asked my wife, "Can I use the car to go to Boston on Monday to get a visa? I can drop you at work, and get the kids to school on the way."

"I think that would be OK - actually I can go into the stained glass supplier and pick out some glass for my boss and you can drive." She said. "We can get lunch on the way back and then pick up the girls from school."

Wow.

Sunday I just kept praying. My phone rang, and it was the guys in Brazil. They were there - and I was still in the US. I told them about the promise I had from God for a visa. They didn't seem too convinced - but said they would pray for me.

Monday my wife and I dropped the kids off at school, got a coffee and made the trek to Boston.

"Parking is really bad downtown - and expensive ($13.00/hr), my wife said."

"I was told there are some free spots near the building." I said.

"Well, we'll see." she replied. "I could wait in the car."

We pulled up in front of the Consulate and there was one free spot right in front of the door! It was 2 hour parking. The line was all the way from the second floor, down the stairs and into the street. I took a number; 26, and got in line with my papers. I told my wife I would page her when I was done, but she agreed to wait in the car because we had a free spot.

They stopped giving out numbers for the day at 40.

A gentleman came down the stairs and threw his ticket on the ground mumbling some about the line. I picked it up, number 4. As they called the numbers on the second floor, there was a "telephone" line in English and Portuguese coming down the stairs. "Two!" "Dois!" "Two!" "Dois!" Each person relaying the service number from the second floor.

"Four!" "Quatro!" I went up the stairs, making my way to the window passing, dozens of other folks. Thank you God.

At the window I handed my paperwork to the gentleman there. "David Johndrow" oh - this was a problem. He went back to talk to a supervisor. "You are all set, the cost is $40 dollars and it will be ready this afternoon." He said, returning to the window.

"Would you mind using this Fed-Ex mailer so that I don't have to come back?" I asked.

"That will be fine Mr. Johndrow. Go in peace and bless my people." He said as he handed a receipt back under the glass.

"God bless you." I eked out, in utter surprise at his statement.

I went back down to the car. 17 minutes had passed. Wow!

As I started the car, I heard that still small voice say, "You'll be leaving on Friday."

"Lord I don't even have a ticket!" I thought.

We went to the glass shop as planned, and I decided to stop at the travel agent in the Sommerville section of Boston. I had almost forgotten about my ticket refund. "When would you like to leave?," the agent asked?

"I will have my visa tomorrow, so any day after Wednesday." I replied.

As she scanned the PC screen, she said. "I have one seat for this Friday, and no seats for next week..."

"Friday will be fine," I blurted out. "Friday - yes - Friday"

I paid the $15 fee ticket transfer fee and called my friends in Brazil. "I'll be there on Friday to join you!" I said.

It seemed like anything that could go wrong, did. I wasn't able to get the car issues solved before I left. I broke a crown that had to be repaired. I slipped and fell down the stairs - things were tense at home - but I was on my way to South America.

Friday, November 6, 2009

God Rocked My World - The Path to Brazil (Part 1 of 3)

This month marks 10 years since I went on my first mission trip to Brazil. On November 13th I will be posting a few testimonies and pictures from that trip. In this blog I would like to tell you about some of the events leading up to that amazing journey - some a blessing and some very difficult - the war between Heaven and Hell.

In April of 1999 I met a Brazilian pastor in Hyannis, MA. He is now my good friend Carlos. You can read some of that story HERE. Through him many doors were opened for me to minister in his community both here and abroad. He was my faithful interpreter and has seen me through the good times and the bad times.

The real story of Brazil starts in January 1997. I received this prophecy from a gentleman named Denny Cramer.

"I will give you a heart for nations as well, says the Lord. And you will travel from coast to coast. And you will learn what I am doing upon the earth. You’ll pick up this truth and that truth. I see you going to several major conferences. I see several airline tickets being purchased. I see you getting on a plane-- flying here, flying there, flying here, flying there."

Regardless of how you feel about spiritual gifts, let me tell this was all very exciting; yet bewildering. After all, I am afraid of heights, I don't like flying and had a fear of being in a country where I don't speak the language. It rocked my complacent little, religious world.

During a small meeting, Carlos introduced me to another Brazilian named Lessak. Pastor Lessak did not speak English at all; therefore, all of our conversations were translated. He was convinced that the power of God was not something you could actually experience - just something to have faith in. God was not going to knock him down, and no minister was going to push him either. He stood there and challenged God like Gary Sinise atop the mast of the shrimp boat, in the movie Forrest Gump.

He readied himself like a linebacker before the call to "set." So I gently touched two fingers to his forehead and simply asked Holy Spirit to come. The power of God came like a shotgun to challenge his beliefs.

As he lay on the floor across the room he began to prophesy in English-- "Dav- i - G (the sound of my name in with a heavy accent) will be a minister on our team in Brazil. He will come with us to Brazil."

Wow! Ummm I mean, thanks but no thanks. I like it right here in the good ole' US of A. Carlos was trying to make sure that I knew what he was saying. I heard him loud and clear in English.

The word of God is like fire in your bones. PS Lessak's words resonated in my spirit, but I was scared. What was going to happen to me in a foreign land? What if it was too hard, or something happened to me? How would I pay for it? What if I couldn't get the time off from work? What if...

The wheels began turning. Not too long after, I decided I would go to Brazil. Making the decision was hard - it was way, way, way out of my comfort zone.

After I had a chance to minister in a couple of dozen Brazilian churches here in the states, I started to become comfortable with the culture, and the language. I had a few friends - and well, it didn't seem so unbelievable after all.

Funding the trip was going to be a problem - and I sort of felt that if God would pay for it, then I should really go. The two Brazilians and I went to the beach and prayed for about an hour. We prayed about it on a number of other occasions.

Through a friend, I was asked to participate on the ministry team of a Refresh conference. In the process, one of my teammates wrote me check for $1000. That was enough to buy tickets for me, and for the others.

One obstacle down.

I also needed to get time off from work, so I went to the owner of my company. He needed me there, so 21 days was going to be significant. But he gave me the time off with pay!

The next step was to get a passport. I thought this would be easy, but it wasn't. Check out Part II in a few days to see how God handled that one.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh - Making Happy Campers

We've all heard the song "A Letter from Camp."

"Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh. Here I am at Camp Granada. Camp is very entertaining. And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining."

What's it going to take to make us all happy campers in church? I think I have a few ideas - so bear with me as I lay a foundation.

The song assumes that the "singer," a child, has two parents, one male and one female. But this blog is not about families - no - it's about church.

Presently, in most developed countries, the cultural status of the nuclear family is fractured. There is rampant divorce both in and out of the church, resulting in single parent families, and various other aberrations of the biblical family. Regardless of what the world thinks is politically correct, God has a standard.

I am assuming that you have noticed there is a difference between the way males and females act? The healthiest families are meant to have a father and a mother. I am not dissing single parent families - thank God one of you is taking the responsibility to raise your child!

The male is meant to be the leader and initiator (Father God), where the female is meant to be the nurturer and comforter (Holy Spirit). This does not mean that men cannot be nurturing, or that females cannot initiate. These are however; the "natural" and instinctive roles for men and woman.

Interestingly the church is designed to be the model of marriage, with Christ as the head, and the church submissive to His loving leadership. That's normal, regardless of how you "feel."

Ephesians 5:23 "For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church"

In a marriage, a woman is not to be the head of the house, although she may feel the need to take over if the husband does not lead. The man is not created to be the one with the "nesting" instinct. These (and all) biblical principals are meant to bear fruit for the family by balancing love, grace, discipline, and submission. All are essential elements in a healthy relationship with Jesus.

Although grace has been available in the church since the beginning - much of that has come from Mother Church - she has held that name for nearly 1500 years. This understanding comes from Ephesians 5:23 (above). At best it is an incomplete revelation - and possibly a wrong interpretation of the scripture. Having a one parent church over the centuries has caused some problems in the church.

We are in the post-denominational era. It is an interesting time for the church global. Participation in denominational churches is subsiding in the US and elsewhere. The term "recovering Catholic" has been coined but it is commonly used to describe every other "recovering" denomination. The growth of non-denominational churches, although still seeing a decline in attendance, is doing a better job in attracting congregants than its denominational siblings. That's a fact, not an opinion.

Unfortunately all churches not only have declining attendance, but they also have an exodus of young people to other religions such as Islam and JCLDS, as well as followers of the paranormal and occult. This is sad news parents!

So, what does all this have to do with parenting, kids falling away and denominations? Everything! Let me explain.

The same thing that is going on in the world, for the most part, is going on in the church. Believers in our churches are parented in the same way many children are - with one parent. And in some cases a dysfunctional parent. In the worst cases, there is no parent at all!

Parent-less; but particularly fatherless believers show up at church every week looking for significance. Maybe you're one of them. As Christians, we need both spiritual fathers and mothers!

Do a word study on "father" and then do one on "mother," you'll see.

Look, I don't care how we got here, but we need to fix it. We need the church to act as both parents, not a parent. That means we need both fathering and mothering. Maybe you remember when you told you mom you were too sick to go to school. She got you and aspirin, and a cup of tea. But when your father came in he said, "If you are to sick to go to school, then you are too sick to play in the game after school.

You may remember your mother saying. "Wait until your father gets home." I do.

Fathers are to provide some "spine," it is part of who they are. Mothers are to be nurturing. It is part of who they are. And when both dynamics are part of church, we are much more likely to become disciples.

We need spiritual fathers and mothers, and we need them now!

And now for the good part. You can be a spiritual farther or mother. Woman you can dote on your kids with affection, and smother them with love. Fathers, you can take another male and teach him to be accountable, help him pray and make decisions that are good for him and his family. You can be affectionate, loving and hear confessions. You can be a family.

Sure, many of us have had bad modeling in terms of parents - particularly fathers. So? There are a lot of things we used to be, but then we met Jesus? Amen?

Think about it. You can find someone in your church or neighborhood and model God! You can bless them, laugh with them, cry with them, and take on their burdens. You can hug them and kiss them, and expect nothing in return. If you do, you will probably have a spiritual kids that you are proud of. A child that serves God, and loves others.

What's that you say? This wasn't done for you? Well, its got to start somewhere.

Next time you see a lonely teenager in the back row, grab them. Next time you hear someone say, "let's get together." DO IT!

What would it mean to you if someone who had invested something in your life said, "I am proud of you kiddo!" What would it mean to have a cheerleader for every decision? How would you feel if someone showed up at your game?

Me, I'd be a happy camper.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Health Care, Ethics and Community Service - What the Hell are We Doing?

John 14:12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

That's right, we will do what Jesus did -- and even greater things!

Why is it that in most churches have sustained a Gospel that seems to only perpetuate the central truth of Christianity (salvation by faith), and not much else? I am sure there are some churches that are seeing the fruit of the supernatural hand of God - while others wouldn't recognize God if He showed up with cherubim and seraphim.

We must get past making decisions for Christ, and start doing what Jesus did! Even a man who has a ticket to a faraway island gets off the plane once he arrives!

Our salvation is not complete. We get saved by the faith changing moment, we are being saved as the new man is released from the grave clothes, and we will be saved when we arrive prostrate on the sea of glass (Rev 15:2) before the throne of the Most High. Until then, the Kingdom of God is at hand - and one of the ways that we know it by a supernatural God, doing what man can't using a vessel like you.

Luke 10:9(b) ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

What about you, is your salvation producing fruit by lovingly doing what Jesus did? What is keeping you from doing what Jesus did: fear, bad theology, laziness, lack of faith, under poor leadership-- what?

Getting out there isn't hard. I went to church with a woman who would regularly go and sit in the chairs near the prescription counter at the local drug store just to find sick people to pray for! She had lots of testimonies.

There was another woman that got free day-old bread at the local supermarket and went to the projects knocking on doors handing it out and inviting folks to church. Through her ministry dozens came to church, got saved and some filled with the Holy Spirit.

A worship leader I knew took a small team to nursing homes just to play old hymns and look for fertile soil to plant seeds of salvation. Again, more souls saved and some folks healed.

Yours truly invites everyone in the neighborhood to an open house at Thanksgiving time.

Have you thought about your faith, and how God might use it? Do you have faith for healing a cold, for healing a broken bone or cancer? Could you really bring someone to Christ, or pray for them to received the baptism in the Holy Spirit? Our faith needs to know no bounds - if you want to see people raised from the dead, bring the dead to church or hold services at the funeral home. That should raise the odds!

We live in the WWJD generation, so let's take a look at what He did not just how He acted.

- He built intimate friendships
- He healed the sick
- He cast our demons
- He wept with compassion
- He slept through the storm
- He encouraged others
- He applauded faith
- He let the religious people know where they stood
- He taught
- He studied
- He prophesied
- He used the word of knowledge
- He calmed the storm
- He gave peace
- He gave joy
- He forgave sin
- He raised the dead
- He fed the poor
- He had compassion on widows
- He hung out with prostitutes, corrupt politicians and the deathly ill
- He fed the hungry
- He gave drink to the thirsty
- He gave His life

That's what Jesus did, any questions?
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