Friday, February 29, 2008

Grandpa, you're not old...

The old saying is true, "If I knew grandchildren were going to be this much fun, I would of had them first!" Grandchildren are such a joy that I cannot begin to explain in words.
The other night, while playing with my granddaughter, who is 4, she wanted me to get in the floor where we began our time of her climbing on me, jumping on me and then our little "tickle spot" game. She is really tickleish around her neck. After some time on the floor, my body began to hurt and the need to get up was growing. As she sat on my chest laughing, she looks at me with her beautiful, blue eyes and a smile that just shines from heaven above. She wanted to keep playing but I said, "Grandpa needs to get up!" She asked, "Why?" I responded, "Because grandpa is old!" She leaned over, kissed my cheek and said, "Grandpa, you're not old. Old people walk with a stick!" It hit me, no wonder they call them GRAND..........children!!!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Rest of the Story...

I found it interesting as I was browsing through some things about the "little prayer" we are all so familiar with. It goes like this:

"Now I lay me down to sleep;
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord, my soul to take."

The author of this prayer is Eugene Henry Pullen. It is a prayer we learned as children and many still teach their children. Here is the interesting part. There is a second part of the prayer that I never heard and I don't know if you have heard it. It goes like this:

"Now I wake and see the light;
'Tis God who kept me through the night.
To Him I life my voice and pray,
That He will keep me through the day.
In Jesus' name, Amen."

I realize the Lord does not want repetion in prayer, that we pray from the heart. What struck me was why do we know so well the first part and have never second? Do you think it might reflect our real attitude toward God? Here's my thought...during my sleep and hours of the night, I have no control over my life and I have to trust God to care for me. But when I am awake each day, I feel in control and can handle things just fine without you. Thanks anyway.
Maybe we need to consider the prayer of David in Psalms 3, when he was surrounded by enemies and his life was at stake. "But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and teh One who lifts my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves agains me round about." Do we really trust our heavenly Father or do we just repeat words because they are the right words to repeat?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Traps of Preaching

I've been preaching for some 28 years. In that time, I've been around and met a lot of "good" ministers. I experienced some things and watched others progress or lack thereof. A "good" minister receives a lot of praise. He is fair, compassionate, a personality that one enjoys being around and sympathetic. He has a wonderful message each and every time. He is considered a good leader. People flock to him with all sorts of thoughts and struggles. Along with all the above comes something else, the power that goes with his reputation. A "good" minister doesn't ask for the power, it just happens. His looks may not attract but because of the qualities he possesses in dealing with people, he attracts people. Those who come to him are happy and well adjusted. They want his insight. Others are hurting, vulnerable and unhappy with lives filled with troubles. They all come listening, trusting and allow the preacher into their lives at very personal levels their own mates or closest friends may not know. Here is the trap: People who come to such a preacher open themselves to a person they may consider powerful and the preacher can be seduced by that power into sin if he is not careful. The "good" minister finds himself thinking more highly of himself than he ought and sin is waiting to take him down! This is especially true in those very vulnerable because of stuggling marriages and communication problems within that marriage.

The "good" minister is married to a "good" woman who knows each and every aspect of her husband. She love him but does not hang on his every word, does not see him quite as wonderful as others do, so the power and qualities others see, she is immune to. When he comes home, her heart does not become a flutter, her smile may not be lighting up the world and her eyes may be tearful, but that's because she has been peeling onions. She knows the weaknesses and struggles that exist in her husband and he knows she know. Here is the trap: The minister gives and gives so much to the people that he forgets she has needs. Because she does not bow down at his presence, not impressed by his following, she find herself on the "leftover" end of his life. She suffers and the children suffer, while the "good" minister never realizes where the sin of not loving his wife has taken him. He can take a wrong attitude toward his wife because she is not falling all over him like many do. What a tragedy! If one wants to really know the "good" minister, just ask his wife or children!

A "good" minister is under great pressure. People do not realize that. People and their expectations of him can tempt him into the very world of sin. That's hard for some to believe. "Good" ministers are not immune to sin and failure. We can be in danger as well as dangerous. The devil is looking for those to devour and some his greatest prospects are those "good" ministers who get duped into this power play and adoration of the people, forgetting that you are simply a servant, washed in the blood of the Lamb and anyone that comes your way, it's not about you. It's about the healing and saving power of the Lord and the strength of His might. That's the only way to avoid the traps of preaching.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


For years I have heard over and over that we, the church of Christ, are dying. Then comes the question, "WHY?" It is a question hard to answer, yet relatively easy. Let's address our pulpits and classes. The message of our Lord is being abandoned for entertainment and feel good! Many are substituting ceaseless inspirational stories and jokes, sprinkled with a few Bible verses to make it all seem acceptable. Some have personal agendas they want to promote and target those in lessons. It makes the classes/pulpit powerless and empty. In other words, there is nothing offered that you cannot find from a motivational speaker in an unbelieving world! Many are preaching/teaching on the level of a Reader's Digest or a good movie or television show. Weak and empty! (There is a bible class series out, being used based on a popular television show!) Where does all this take us? To the entertainment mode! It might hold our attention and make us feel good but there is no substance. There is nothing spiritual. It leaves people weak and shallow. They cannot distinguish between gushy, mushy and true spiritual power!
On the other hand, you have those who constantly abuse the people with words of harshness, condemning others, wanting to debate or argue over issues, issue oriented while using biblical texts as machetes to strike down anyone who gets in their way. They are eager, as the Jews were, to defend not realizing they will destroy (or at least attempt) if someone gets in their way, calling it defending the truth! It demoralizes people. I am not saying to not hold to the truth. Truth must be held to and maintained but how does one go about it?
It takes nothing more than looking at our Lord! Jesus is the Teacher and Lord. We have abandoned His love, His authority and His message! No longer are we wanting to "know Him" but use Him for our convenience and personal satisfaction. We seem to be missing our Lord and the message of the good news (not fluffy stories). Wasn't it Paul who said he determined to know nothing, except Jesus and Him crucified? What are we determined to know?
In the recent past, I was reading a blog by a brother in Christ. He asked the question about why so much diversity in the church in contemporary and traditional arena. He personally held to the contemporary thinking. I wrote and pointed out some verses about knowing the Christ and our Father. In his response, he nicely set aside God's word with a nice smelling story and went on. Then it hit me, that's why there are so many dying in the church as well as in the world. We have lost the message and the focus of that message. The message and preaching become persuasive words of the wisdom of man and away from our faith resting on the power of God! As a hopping and confusion. Let's split the services into two groups! (Sounds a little like Jews/Gentiles of the first century.) We as preachers/teachers seem to have created a people with little or no conviction, shallow, empty hearts that go after every wind of doctrine or book because our message is just as shallow. When are we going to take our roles as preachers/teachers seriously as the Lord intended? We have the church to convert!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mountain air

Each and every year we head to Colorado during the summer for a two week break. We go about the same time, to the same place with great anticipation. I love it and look forward to it. Many wonder why to the same place over and over. Because it has become a place of refreshing with family and friends that refresh me. Over the years we have introduced so many to the camping experience in one of the most beautiful places in all of Colorado. I have been from one end of the state to the other and I have not found anywhere as beautiful where we go. It's really out in the boonies! But the beauty is only a small part of it. The renewal within that always takes place is the main reason. Many have said they look forward to my preaching upon my return because of the insight gained to God's word. You see, I can read for me and think for me. No sermon preperations, no classes to think about and no articles to write. Just a time to sit back and meditate on God's word.

I have heard from families that come with us telling me that it was one of the best vacations they ever had. No electricity, hauling water, a campfire, a stream and lastly, no modern bathroom facilties as most know. Most would say 'Yuck! What kind of vacation is that?' But they have never experienced a real family vacation! It's about FAMILY. Without televsion for two weeks, no radio, running from show to show, no entertainment or amusement parks and the modern things we live with daily, it forces families to interact, to be with each other and talk. That is what is missing is many lives today. I have seen mothers and fathers well up with tears saying that being together like that made them work as a family, something they had never done or experienced. Oh, you stink a little, get a little dirty but the value of becoming a family that talks, works and thinks together is, well I'll say it: PRICELESS!

I am aging and the memories I have of my own children make me smile and fill with small tears of joy. My children share these as some of the best times of their lives. Even today, as each have married and started their own wonderful families, they still speak and want to go camping to Colorado. They are bringing their mates along for this experience. I don't know what my "new" children feel about all this but they seem to enjoy it and they bring a joy to my heart as I have taken them into a world that slows down for a short time. I love them all beyond words.
One day it will all be gone and over. Memories of the past that will be laughed at, joked about and stories revisited but the heart felt meaning will never change and I pray that my children will only show their children and grandchildren the importance of being a family, while remembering one day, we will all live in a place where only righteousness dwells and thank God for His wonderful gift of His Son on our behalf and that for eternity! Enjoy it now and the joy that awaits will not even compare.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


They have cloggers in Wisconsin because of all the cheese. They have smoggers in LA and other large cities because of the bad air quality. They have joggers all over America. I have now entered the world of bloggers for whoever they are! Be patient as I try to figure all this out. My beautiful daughter Tawn helped me greatly getting started into all this and her, I dearly appreciate. Resa encouraged me to do this, like a little baby taking their first steps. The rest simply didn't care, for which I don't blame them!