Monday, July 25, 2016

Random thought on what am I to do/expect.

Random thought on what am I to do/expect.

I don’t expect to be the Martin Luther or the George Washington that changes the world around them. Sure it might be cool to be that person but I don’t think that is my call. My call is to help push the ship of history in a certain direction, maybe not to stop the onslaught of anti-Christian bigotry, but to slow it until the tide turns again. History is full of ups and downs “back and forth”s and this is no different. Jesus never said that life would be easy nor that Christians would take over the world.

I have lived my life in a time and place of relative peace and security. Yet at the same time, the benefits of the waning Christian worldview are protecting the growing agnostic worldview. This will end maybe in my lifetime maybe soon after, but when it does it will take time for Western culture to realize it needs the Christian Worldview. The interesting thing is the Christian worldview is growing in new ground. Those in the new grounds, unless guarded against, may at some time face the problems we have, I hope not. I hope that what I do might help those who are holding onto God both now and in the future. 

What if all I do is lost? What if the haters of Christianity come in and destroy all that I do? Then it will still not have been in vain because God is the final judge. He is the one that I write for and to. He is the one that I want to lead people to he is my father who will be pleased if I do my best and leave the rest to him. I am the framer he is the finisher. I do what I can he will take care of the rest. 

Radical? Yes, but Jesus was always considered a radical and he is supposed to be my example. 

Does this mean I can’t change the world? No, I can try but it is not my responsibility to do what I can.      

Monday, July 18, 2016

God said, "Don't go to church!"

God said, "Don't go to church!"

My grandmother, Martha Drake, told me an amazing story. She said God told her not to go to church. I am a pastor and I have heard lots of stories of why people didn’t go to church. Though some have merit most are just smoke and mirrors and I don’t know if they are trying to fool me or themselves. Personally, I don’t think I am as dumb as they think I am considering some of the stories. I have never had anyone tell me that God told them not to go to church and I believed them until grandma told me her story. 

Grandma had accepted Christ and was serving him in spite of the fact that her husband, Ralph my grandfather, was not very happy about it. Grandpa was what some might call an alcoholic but considering how he behaved I would have called him a drunk and a mean drunk at that. Grandma lost 12 children to miscarriage all of the probably due to the beatings. I was glad that by the time I came along Grandpa was a different person. 

One night grandma was walking to church and felt God tell her, “Don’t go to church, Martha.” She didn’t think it was right to miss church on Sunday night when she could go so keep walking. God did not let up and a couple houses before the church she turned into her Aunt  Millie’s house and visited with her rather than go to church. Afterward, she went home feeling a little bad for not going to church. 

“Martha,” her friend Treasa told grandma later, “I am glad you weren’t in church Sunday night. Part way into the service, Ralph shoved open the back doors of the church. He stood there holding open the doors, cigarette hanging out of his mouth, and just stared around looking for you. You could see he was drunk and mad. When he didn’t see you he stomped out letting the doors slam behind him. I think if you had been there he would have dragged you out and beat you.”

 Grandma later wondered if perhaps God did not save her that night, not just from a beating but from losing her life. It is strange to think perhaps I might never have been born if Grandma had gone to church. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Riding the Rainbow.

Riding the Rainbow
    One experience I hope never to forget was the day we traveled in the rainbow. We have all heard there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. However, since the spectrum sent out by the light is actually a circle (we only see a portion of it, the bow), there is no end. What we experienced was nearly as fun as finding a pot of gold, probably because we never expected it. 

      We were leaving the church in Terre Haute and it was raining. Off to the west, the sun was holding its own against the storm which broke out overhead. We got in the car and were heading home with one eye on the road and another looking for the rainbow. We love seeing rainbows. This day it wasn’t hard to find it was right in front of us. It looked like it settled down not a  block from the church on the very road we were traveling. 

      “We’re going to the end of the rainbow” my wife and I announced to our youngest daughter. 
She was looking around for the pot of gold when it happened. The light in the car changed. The colors of the rainbow filled our car. The color red was dominate and gave everything in the car a look of pink, then it changed the others coming and mixing so the air itself seemed to be filled with a golden color. 

      It must have lasted only a couple of seconds but the moment seemed to last much longer. The color then slowly faded away, like the smell of flowers that linger around you long after you pass them. 

     Maybe there wasn’t a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but since that day, when things are just right, I again get a glimpse of the color that hides inside the light and that isn’t a fairy-tale. 

So when life sends you a storm don't get down. Remember it is only in the storm that you can find a rainbow and who knows maybe, just maybe, you'll get to ride the rainbow.

Monday, July 4, 2016

God said, "HGTV?"

God said, "HGTV?"

In early 2013 I was sitting in a meeting with other pastors watch a leadership video. The video had nothing to do with family or children, but in the middle of it, God spoke to me. “Leave the church or you will lose your daughter and go home tonight and register to win the HGTV Smart Home.” 

This hit me out of the blue. I knew when God said to leave the church he meant for me to resign the church I was pastoring.  The church was dead, the last of the people there did not want to grow and the only youth was my youngest daughter who was 11. I wasn’t worried about the money, I wasn’t being paid and the budgets were being paid out of my chaplain’s salary. I did not have another church lined up so it would mean that I would be a pastor without a church. I was hoping to go somewhere but to just quit without somewhere to go sounded crazy. It would look bad on my resume.

I also realize when God said I would lose our daughter, he meant that we would lose her to the world. She would lose her faith. This I could see easily. There were no spiritual people in the church that weren’t family and no one else to see as an example of being a Christian. Church would be in her mind her parents and a few old folks. 

The strangest of all was being told to go home and register to win the HGTV Smart Home. There was no way this could be God, at least that is what I thought.  My daughter Elizabeth had seen it a few night before and asked if we could register to win. I told her, No it was a waste of time, we were not going to move there, and besides we weren’t going to win. 

Through the day, the words keep coming back to my mind and by the end of the day, I decided to try a test. There wasn’t anything scripturally wrong with getting on the internet and registering to win the Smart Home, so I would do it. 

I went home after work that night and announced to Elizabeth that we were going to get online and register to win. What happened was amazing. She lit up like a Christmas tree. We sat down and began the process, but of course, she had to show me the features of the house. I told her that if we win we couldn’t live there because there was not a church for me to pastor there. As we talked we came to the conclusion that we could turn it into a retreat for pastors and their families. We spent hours talking about what we could do and how we need to use all the things in our lives for God’s kingdom. It was a great time. When we were done my daughter gave me several hugs, and I reminded her that we probably wouldn’t win, but if we did it would be in God’s hands. By the way, we did not win the house, but we did get something more not from HGTV but from God and each other.

What I thought would be nothing more than a waste of time turned into a great teachable moment. I knew what that meant, I needed to resign the church. However, I was still afraid. I was going to call the DS and tell the church I resign because I registered to win the HGTV Smart Home? This really would be hard to explain, but God wasn’t done. For the next month, every time I turned Christian radio on I heard a teacher say that those in ministry do not want to sacrifice their children on the altar of ministry. I finally said, “God I got the point, I called the DS two weeks ago enough already.” I don’t think I heard another message on the same subject for a year after that. 

Looking back now after several years, I know it was God. Things did not go smoothly and there were hardships because of what I did, but in the long run, it was good. I needed the time away from the church as I finished my MA degree, my daughter’s faith is becoming her own, and I now pastor full time in the place God wants me. All of this because God spoke and used a very unusual request to confirm it.

Now, what has this to do with you? Listen for God and do what he says. If you're not sure, if it doesn’t contradict scripture, try it and see what happens. You will be surprised what God will do for those who listen and obey.