Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why Should I Pray?

I was thinkin' about a pure and healthy motivation to pray. Let see... should I pray because I wanna appease God? Should I pray because if I don't who will? Should I pray because the Bible tells me I should? Should I pray because it's my religious duty? Should I pray because the AG declared that their churches should participate in a week of prayer? Should I pray because it's the only thing that moves the Hand of God? Should I pray because I'm so full of sin that if I don't I'm damned? Should I pray because I need something? Should I pray because others pray?

Well here's a shocker. I'd say initially none of the above. Oh I can find validation for some of the above, but what I'm looking for is the purest and most healthy motivation or reason to pray. Here it is.

Because I wanna! That's right, because I want to. Let me explain my rationale.

If I pray for any other reason (many of which I listed above are valid reasons to pray) other than because I want to... it's possible I'm being dishonest with myself and God. Think of it this way. Does God want us to obey Him because He says so, or because we simply want to obey Him? Do you understand? Wanting to obey... wanting to do right... and then doing it, is far more genuine than doing anything by compulsion or under duress.

So in short... I think I'll pray because I want to... not because I should. Think about that the next time you woefully head off to the next prayer meeting or the next time you think you should be praying instead of blogging or Facebooking or playing some inane video game or watching the latest episode of The Office.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Just Tired of Being a Nazi

I really wonder how many clergy take into consideration the day to day weariness that sets upon the lives of working people? I say that because, when I was a full time clergyman, versus a bi-vocational clergyman, I used to be like a Nazi when it came to guilting people into doing church stuff and getting involved.

Now don't get me wrong... I love the Church and I love Jesus, but since I started working in the trade business (carpentry, painting, remodeling) I come home each night... WAY MORE EXHAUSTED than I ever did when I did pastoral work full time.

I know being a full time pastor is hard work. I was a biology major during most of my undergraduate days, so I understand the physiology of a working brain and know that it has the highest metabolic rate of any organ in the body. Working the brain, which is the seat of our soul, does indeed tire a person out, but MAN... by the end of the day, these days I'm shot. Sometimes after dinner, I'm too tired to take a shower. I just crash.

I really wish I could go back 20 years, knowing what I know and having the ease and confidence in Christ and myself, and do the ministry differently. I'd be way less of a Nazi in my demands of the lay people of my perish. As it is, I expect no more from my congregation than I am able to give. So I think I'm a healthier more well rounded clergyman than I ever was 20 years ago.

To my anonymous comment friend: If I were you and had your convictions and beliefs, I sure wouldn't worry about who knew or my identity. I would just say "to hell with all of you... I can think and feel what I want". But then, I can't do that because I'm a clergyman. I can only say "hell" in the context of a sermon on eternal damnation.

I'd love to have a stiff cup of Kenyan AA Mission Dark Roast coffee with you sometime. If you're ever in the neighborhood, email me at

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Someday Church Only Memory?

During the Wednesday night Youth Group gathering at our house, discussion arose about what the church means to people. The students discussed the many friends they knew who claimed to "go to church" but lived and displayed very contrary behavior.

First let me say that I'm blessed with a hand full of kids that for the most part really understand that the "church thing" we all tend to do, has little if anything to do with their relationship with Jesus and being a Christian.

As that thought swirled around the group, we began to ask the question: What if the church became illegal or non-existent as we've historically known it?

Now we weren't talkin' about the dismembering of the Body of Christ here on earth, but the organization, the buildings and locations that far too many think have significance or bearing on if they are "Christian" or not.

By the end of the discussion, the students determined that the possible elimination of the organized group, buildings and land, typically known as church, may indeed become a reality and a good thing at that. A good thing because, to the hungry Child of God, hypocrisy is a bane to their desire to follow Christ and make a difference.

The students said that because so many kids claim Christianity and church, yet so few genuinely live it, their testimony for Christ's work in them, holiness, determination and faith, all seem to fall on deaf ears.

Maybe that's how it's supposed to be in the end. Those who desire to follow Christ, WILL suffer persecution. I know the mild persecution that our students may experience, is NOTHING compared to the millions who are dying for the sake of the Gospel. But, everyday, their lives are tested, just not to the point of death.

I really believe their desire for DISTINCTION of faith and followership in Christ, is okay because it WILL force them to line up on one side or the other. If anything their struggles to follow Christ in this day and age are simply a sad reflection on a nation that had ALL the opportunity to possess and administrate the power and mystery of Christ, yet we have failed our Mission here at home.

Yes... we've failed. So to the student's I would say... live strong NOW for Christ, for the day and the hour will come soon, when their faith WILL be tested to an even greater degree. And to the ones who ENDURE to the end, they will receive the Crown of Righteousness.

So, when our church buildings and our organized religion disappear... we will find out who belongs to Who.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Is Gaza Another Sign?

I watch news. Sometimes too much. Most stuff on TV is hard to watch because it goes contrary to where my heart needs to be, so I avoid most of what's broadcast. But these days, watching the news does something for me. It's not scary or unsettling as one might think. Just the opposite.

As I watch things unfold in Gaza, the Ukraine, Wall Street, Detroit and any number of other places that merit a sound bite report all I can think of is... Jesus you must be coming soon? I know, people have been thinking that for 2000 years, but eventually some generation will see that day.

I wonder how many church folk are keepin' their ear to the ground and their eyes to the sky? Since we've been around this eschatological mountain many times before, for some, they don't think twice. But for others, like myself, I'm thinkin' I might not even get my next sermon done before the Trumpet sounds.

I could be wrong, that's nothing new, but think for a minute... Some generation, some day, some minute will be the ones to see it all unfold. My money's on this generation.

May God protect the innocent people of Gaza and may we know and understand the Power of His Grace and Mercy in these our last days.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Swimming in the Shallow End

I’m 48 years old and I’m not a very good swimmer. I can jump off the diving board and paddle to the edge of the pool. That’s kinda fun from time to time. But as for swimming, I never really learned that skill.

My mother was not a swimmer and was very terrified of deep water. For that matter, any water that was in her face really bothered her. I don’t know why she suffered from Aquaphobia, but it was real powerful. Maybe she had a bad experience when she was a kid that none of us knew about. All I know is that it was real to her and she attempted to foist that fear on me.

I did take swimming lessons one summer at Northwest Pool. But somewhere in that first week, we ventured down to the deep end to try our hand at treading water. I was pretty sure I could do it, until someone shoved me in. It was unexpected and to this day I have no idea who it was, but something happened that day.

I came up gasping for air. I’d caught lung full of water and realized I was about eight feet away from the edge. The swimming teacher just stood there like “okay show us what you’ve got”. But all I could do was panic. I imagined myself dying right there in front of all those laughing kids. Once I finally made my way to the edge I was crying and having a hard time catching my breath.

I remember getting out of the pool and walking away in total humiliation and fear. I never returned. Mom was right; I had cause to be afraid of the deep end.

Eventually, I did learn some basic swimming techniques, on my own. But I never really got over that fear of the deep end. Oh I can somewhat enjoy the pool these days with my kids and thank the Lord we gave them swimming lessons and they do pretty well, but it’s funny how things like that will stick with you.

Most of my life I’ve been swimming in the shallow end of life. I’m not sure if it’s because of my early and unwanted introduction to Aquaphobia or if that’s just the cards I’ve drawn? But the one thing I am very sure of is this: I’ve made the decision to move into the deep end. I’ve decided that the second half of my life, if God gives me a second half, must be spent swimming in the deep end.

Thirty two years ago an old friend, Jerry Holte, coached me to memorize some scripture. One of the passages of choice was Philippians 4:13. I know that there is much in the context that surrounds this verse (for all you textual critics out there), but for me that verse was powerful then and I’m gonna make it powerful again in my life.

I can do all things, to include swimming in the deep end of life, through Christ who gives me the strength. So back up I’m takin’ the plunge!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year Vision

I'm really looking forward to what God is going to do in the days ahead. Last night, at our church gathering we had an awesome time of fun, food and fellowship. By the end of the night our hearts were wide open to what the Lord was doing and will be doing in this coming year. Thanks for all your open hearts. I love my church. It's a great bunch of tender hearted hungry folks.