Monthly Archives: March 2006

Heb. 11:23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born…they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

Everyone knows the story of Moses in the bulrushes.  The king issued orders that every Hebrew boy was to be killed, but the parents of Moses refused to obey.  In effect they stood between Pharaoh and their son.  I am reminded today that the enemy of our souls wants our kids too.  He wants to destroy their lives and he will use whatever means he can to accomplish it.  Parents are God’s first line of defense for their children.  As Moses’ parents said, “The king wants our son’s life, but we won’t let it happen,” so must Christian parents say, “The devil wants our child, but we will stand between him and our child, by God’s grace, we won’t let that happen.”

Hurricanes and the Return of Christ

Originally posted 9-23-05

We are ready to wait out hurricane Rita in an area that is expecting lots of rain and winds of 50 to 60 mph. Not the perfect place, but out of the worst of the storm.

I got an email from a friend I haven’t heard from in a long time. He isn’t in the path of any storms but it was clear that he is upset and concerned in the face of so much unrest in the world. Katrina, Rita, terrorism, the war in Iraq, rising fuel prices — these are days of uncertainty. He wonders if this is the beginning of the end of the world.

I can’t answer that question, although I do think that storms and such are just part of living in a world where bad things happen to even good people. My best advice is to get ready and stay ready for the sure Return of Christ. We don’t know “when” but we do know that it is a “sure thing” — Jesus is coming back and the world, we know it, is going to be totally changed.

However, there is even more here. When we give our lives to Christ things are not the same afterward. First, our relationship with God is changed — we have “made peace” with our Maker. Second, we are changed. God begins a process of transforming our lives. The result of this is the possibility of our facing uncertainties with new eyes. That is where the famous “peace that passes understanding” comes in.

One more thing though — the peace of Christ is not automatic, even for Christians. We have to receive that peace. If we don’t, we are in no better shape, peace-wise than anyone else.

Unplanned blog break

Originally posted 9-20-05

We are now under threat from hurricane Rita. While we are not under mandatory evacuation orders, we are just a few miles from where it is happening. With that in mind, we are going to pull the plug here and move away from the possible destruction. While in exile I may have internet access, if so, I may do some blogging there. Otherwise, I am about to take an unplanned blog break.

9/11: We remember

Originally posted 9-11-05

Some of you can talk about where you were and what you were doing on December 7, 1941 when Pear Harbor was attacked and our nation was forced into a World War. No question about it, everything changed that day — and down to this day almost 65 years later it remains true.

The same thing can be said about September 11, 2001. Everything changed that day. All of us can remember where we were and what we were doing that morning, and as a result our world has been dramatically changed. This is such a moment in history that we can talk about it in shorthand. No one talks about September 11, 2001. We simply say: “9-11.” The phrase, “World Trade Center” is filled with facts and emotions.

9-11 proved to us once again just how bad people can be. In it we see murder in one of its most freighting forms — the taking of innocent life on a mass scale as nearly 3000 lives are taken that day. The events of that day open doors of understanding that frighten us and cause us to recoil in horror.

9-11 proved to us once again the heroism of ordinary people. First responders risk, and loose, their lives, trying to rescue strangers. Passengers on an airline add another phrase to the common vocabulary: “Let’s Roll.” People around the world respond with an outpouring of anger and compassion.

9-11 proves to us once again our great need of God. People who haven’t prayed for years, who even would argue against the existence of a Supreme Being complain, “Where was God?” People who rush to provide assistance, who weep with those who weep, who give sacrificially affirm that God is right here, among us. In the face of murder we remember that we need mercy. In the face of loss and pain and weakness we seek his strength. On 9-11 all pretense that we are self-sufficient is lost. On 9-11 a realization of God’s faithful strength and help is renewed.

Today we remember 9-11. We remember the lostness of the world. We remember lives that were taken. We remember our helplessness in the face of determined evil. We also remember God’s goodness and his faithfulness through ordinary people.

These things we remember.

Thoughts on a year of blogging

Originally posted 9-4-05

So, I have now been blogging for over a year. My blogging experience has and is a bit of a journey and I have changed my approach a few times through the year. One approach has been to copy posts to my blog that I have done on www.naznet.com. Things move pretty fast there, with one line, “Attaboy” posts having the same life as a 3 page researched and well written effort. Not that I often do such things, but once in awhile I write something that I think is worth keeping available a bit longer, so bringing it to my blog is a good solution. I have also taken a few things that others write and copied them to my blog. However, as blogging has become more popular, most of the more serious NazNet writers have blogs of their own, so I don’t feel the need to copy their posts to my blog.

Another blog starter for me has been related to new equipment, etc. I am a sucker for new gear and have blogged about that.

While I don’t usually have profound thoughts related to current events, some things to stir my thinking. This has been evident as I have had some limited experience with Katrina survivors.

Being a pastor, I am sometimes moved to wax eloquent in devotional ways. My insights probably aren’t especially original, but it helps me to write about them — in some ways writing it down in my blog helps me think through the implications of what occurs to me.

Of course, the real key to my being a regular blogger has been my devotional thoughts I work through Peterson’s wonderful Bible paraphrase, “The Message.” His approach is wonderfully refreshing to me, with phrases that stir all kinds of original thinking. I blog from The Message around 5 days a week.

Anyway, as I said when I started this blog, I mainly write for myself. Thinking that someone else might be “looking over my shoulder” helps me take the effort seriously. To all who read, even on rare occasion, thanks — I consider your dropping by to be a real compliment.

Seeing the system work

Originally posted 9-3-05

As I have said, things are pretty fluid so far as those displaced by the hurricane.

Just a few minutes ago I was talking to a New Orleans family. He works for the Children’s Hospital in the computer department and, somehow, they have found their way to our community. They said they had just heard from their insurance company and that they now had assurance that they could rent an apartment here and it would be paid by insurance. They had a flyer from one of the nicer apartment complexes here offering Louisiana people apartments for zero deposit and no lease.

I know that there are thousands of stories to be told, but it is nice to see that people who work a steady job, own a home, and pay for insurance actually have resources at a time like this. I mean, I consider myself to be one of those people and it could be me in that situation.

By the way, he had no doubt that he would be living in N.O.
again.

Not refugees and not victims — ‘displaced’ or ‘survivors’ or even just ‘Louisianan’

Originally posted 9-3-05

I read an article in the local paper in which it was mentioned that the man being interviewed twice interrupted the reporter to say, “Just call us ‘Louisianans’ — we aren’t refugees.”

Then I had a conversation with a fellow pastor and career military chaplain and he mentioned that he gave a talk today to a group of volunteers advising them that the people they are working with are “survivors” and not “victims.” Names mean something. To call someone a refugee or a victim is to strip them of dignity. To make them “survivors” has a victorious feel to it. If nothing else, they are simply people who were “displaced” by the storm.

I think this is much more than just trying to be politically correct — it is the difference between seeing people as powerless people who must be protected and cared for and seeing them as people who have gone through a lot and simply need a helping hand for awhile.

Clothes Gluttons

Originally posted 9-3-05

I started off the day thinking of how I needed to make a financial donation to a relief organization.

Then, I heard for sure that people were coming to the Astrodome, just 40 minutes from me and I wondered if our area Nazarene churches could put together packages of hygiene items for those being moved to the Astrodome.

Then I got a call that our motels had several New Orleans families in them and that there was going to be a community meeting about it.

While at the meeting I met two New Orleans families who heard about the meeting and showed up. Looking at their precious baby and being told by a lady that she was concerned about renewing a prescription she needs made it all seem very personal.

Someone had been so kind as to put out cookies for our meeting, and so far as I know they were untouched. I went and got the plate and offered it to them. A little girl was sure happy to see the cookies. And they thanked me for offering them cookies that I had nothing to do with.

In the final view, this is all personal. Each person, individually, has needs.

Then I got to thinking that is what living the Christian life is all about. I have something good to share with people, and what I have to give has cost me nothing, but cost Christ everything.

It has been a humbling afternoon.

It has been a humbling afternoon

Originally posted August 31, 2005

I started off the day thinking of how I needed to make a financial donation to a relief organization.

Then, I heard for sure that people were coming to the Astrodome, just 40 minutes from me and I wondered if our area Nazarene churches could put together packages of hygiene items for those being moved to the Astrodome.

Then I got a call that our motels had several New Orleans families in them and that there was going to be a community meeting about it.

While at the meeting I met two New Orleans families who heard about the meeting and showed up. Looking at their precious baby and being told by a lady that she was concerned about renewing a prescription she needs made it all seem very personal.

Someone had been so kind as to put out cookies for our meeting, and so far as I know they were untouched. I went and got the plate and offered it to them. A little girl was sure happy to see the cookies. And they thanked me for offering them cookies that I had nothing to do with.

In the final view, this is all personal. Each person, individually, has needs.

Then I got to thinking that is what living the Christian life is all about. I have something good to share with people, and what I have to give has cost me nothing, but cost Christ everything.

It has been a humbling afternoon.

Reverend, pastor, preacher, father?

I have always encouraged people to call me “pastor.” I don’t like “preacher” because that only describes one aspect of my ministry and because it is often used in a negative way (“don’t preach at me”).

“Pastor” better describes what I do, and almost always has a positive feeling — more akin to being a servant or shepherd.

I have never liked “Reverend” and avoid it as much as possible. However, I accept the title as one of respect and usually let it pass until I have a chance to gently move the the title over to “pastor.”

However, I don’t think Jesus is speaking literally in Matthew 23. In that passage he not only mentions “Father” but also says the same thing about “rabbi” and “teacher.” I find it interesting that any church that has “Biblical” grounds for not calling their minister “Father,” or “Reverend” almost always has several people who are named “Teacher.” Apparently, they are kind of selective in what terms to take literally and which ones to take figuratively.

From the context of Matthew 23, Jesus is talking about having a love of titles and position. Jesus says that instead of seeking such things we are to be called “servants.” “The greatest among you will be your servant.”

Clearly, the Apostle Paul didn’t take Jesus’ words literally. He wrote to the church at Corinth: I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. (I Cor. 4:14-15 )

Note that Paul gives himself the title “Father” in this Scripture.

So…I don’t like the title “Reverend” but prefer “Pastor” — not because I think Jesus was forbidding the title, but because he was encouraging his followers to seek servant status in their relationships with others.