Being Thankful During COVD-19

Aug 08

Being Thankful During COVD-19

Some of what I’m thankful for during the coronavirus pandemic:   I eat a lot healthier, now that we don’t eat out at restaurants. Fast food is no longer part of my life whatsoever. Lack of work during March, April, and May meant I started running a lot earlier in the year and now have new personal records. Not traveling or eating out means our budget is healthier as well. Work from home means I’m not putting 20k+ miles per year on my car or $$$ in the tank every week for now. That lack of commute means I can now eat dinner with my family most evenings, as well as binging Family Matters together with them. Not going to church has meant the emergence of a family Bible study together. Remote depositions means I can cover work anywhere in the country, not just local ones. I went from the worst financial month I ever had to the best month I have ever had in the life of my business. After a challenging last 2 years in ministry, forced isolation is what the doctor ordered. While others have been suffering through it, I’ve been getting healthier and stronger. My perspective on American life and American Christianity has been enlightened by what I have witnessed these past 6 months. Having to wear a mask and being prohibited from doing normal leisure/social activities has given me a greater appreciation for things I used to take for granted, as well as helped me better appreciate the plight of people around the world whose living conditions are much worse than anything we’re suffering.   All in all, while I would not have wished this upon myself or anyone else, I appreciate working to adapt to new realities rather than fighting for what is taken away....

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What Matters To Me/Us?

Jul 14

What Matters To Me/Us?

What do you care about? I am slowly figuring out that one can only care about so many (or should I say, few) things, and that caring for one thing means not caring as much about another thing. I’ll speak to this personally, and then church-ly.   Personally: Black lives matter to me. Unborn babies matter to me. My neighbors matter to me. But I do very little personally for these people. Because I matter to me too. And, unfortunately, I matter to myself more than other people matter to me. My family matters to me. I’m currently trying to work harder at being there more for them than I have in the past. A daily prayer/Bible study time matters to me more now than before as well. Having enough work coming in to provide for our finances continues to matter to me. Finding a church home for my family matters to me. Making time to play the piano matters to me. Finding a home for us to purchase matters to me. The money from the sale of our old home that I put in the stock market until we find that next home matters to me. The political and selfish climate of the church during Trump’s presidency and during COVID-19 matters to me.  After these things, I just have very little energy for other (possibly more important) things to matter to me in a practical sense. My small group should matter to me. Children who are being trafficked should matter to me. People around the world who have never heard about Jesus should matter to me. And on and on it could go forever. There are certain people on my prayer list–they matter to me. But most of my prayer list currently consists of things that I feel like matter to God regarding who I am as a person on the inside. The few things I’ve mentioned mark my current limit of how many things can truly matter to me. I wish I could care about more things, but I simply can’t. We almost had a contract on a home this week–all of a sudden, that was my focus for 24-hours to the detriment of everything else. I...

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All Church Concerts Cancelled

Mar 20

All Church Concerts Cancelled

NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC: Due to the coronavirus, churches can no longer hold free concerts on Sunday mornings.   I guess Christians at home will need to find another way to experience “God” without turning the living room lights real low, the kids moving around the kitchen spotlights with fog, and dads sipping coffee to mom’s professionally-crafted musical performances as she follows her click-tracks. Sound silly? Why then do we feel the need to resort to these kinds of things with our Sunday morning family?   Having resigned as a pastor and trying to find a new church home, I am discovering that so many popular churches don’t expect, nor do they facilitate, the congregation to deeply seek after God together. Rather, they work hard to produce a felt mood that the congregation can latch onto.   It’s as if churches have decided that people don’t really want God; they want a faith in God to get them through their current situation. Jesus said in John 6:26, “You are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” Could He say today, “You are looking for me, not because you see my glory, but because you got your pick-me-up and had your fill.”?   I experienced a lot of pain over my resignation. Afterwards, at various churches, I heard a lot of “God will get you through whatever you’re facing.” I got this message through the songs that were sung and the sermon that morning. Ironically, that was of little help to me. Of course, I’ll get through this! (But it sure does stink real bad for a long time.) Almost everyone gets through whatever they’re going through, whether they even believe in God or not. Nothing lasts forever. (The same will be true for coronavirus.)   The truth is, I haven’t necessarily needed to hear (or feel) anything at church; what I have needed is to see something different. Hearing is just words, seeing indicates truth. I look forward to being with people who don’t fixate on solutions for their lives or the experience their church can provide–due to finding something much better: Jesus.   How...

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I Had A Dream!

Feb 09

I Had A Dream!

Sorry for misquoting MLK Jr, but last night I had a dream I actually remembered, which hardly ever happens. I came in from the snow into the back row of a small group or classroom setting, and the teacher was asking everyone to share about their experience with suffering. I had something to share about how God helps us in our suffering. Then people started sharing their stories of suffering. One person shared a very personal example of suffering (I don’t remember anything about the story, but only that she was in tears as she told it). Then a few people started expressing empty platitudes of how God can remove our suffering, and how knowing God makes everything better in life. I could tell it was hurting the woman who shared the personal story–not helping. I could also tell that the rest of the group was dismissing these platitudes as well, so I quickly raised my hand so that the teacher could call on me and I could give some encouragement to her and others in the room who were getting upset. I began sharing how even though God may not remove our suffering all the time, He knows our suffering and walks through it with us, although it was much deeper than that. I felt like I was communicating some much-needed words of truth that if only believed would make a difference in each person’s life. However, as I was talking, it was clear that everyone was tuning me out, including the woman who had shared her personal story. During my appeal, she walked out of the room in tears, rejecting what I had to say. As I looked around, I realized that everyone was tuning me out. I was upset about this, because I knew what I was trying to convey was of utmost importance. But it was to no avail. As I was finishing, I looked more closely at one of the students. She had painted her face white while I was talking and had the most stoic facial expression, not moving an inch. As I looked around the room, everyone had done the same thing while I was talking. Everyone’s face was now white, motionless,...

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Christians and Gay People

Apr 06

Christians and Gay People

In my previous post, I spoke on the relationship between Christianity and gay marriage. Today I would like to discuss my beliefs on the relationship between Christians and people who are gay. I feel like Christians and gay people don’t see things objectively, because they both have an agenda. So here is my best attempt at trying to be objective: 1. Gay people should be allowed to get married, as far as the state is concerned. We live in a free country. That means that people of all kinds of lifestyles that are incongruent with the Christian faith should be allowed. Christians shouldn’t fear if gay people “get married” and enjoy the same tax breaks and legal protections of those who are traditionally married. 2. The state should let all other “alternative lifestyles” get married as well. Polygamy shouldn’t be discriminated against. Neither should incest. If all are consenting adults, the state should recognize these unions for legal purposes. This is only fair to all of the sexual philosophies represented in the general population. 3. Christians should understand that the concept of “freedom” in our country has largely worked for us, because the vast majority of our citizens have identified themselves as Christians who believe in the Bible, and so we all have affirmed the same moral views generally. Today, that’s no longer true. As a result, we are going to see a lot more divergence from what the Bible teaches is right and wrong. We need to get over it. Christians believe that sexual activity is a moral issue. The society today doesn’t—and that’s their right (even if they are wrong). With today’s sensibilities, people can have sex outside of marriage with no moral implications. The only concern society sees is the prevention of unwanted diseases or consequences (pregnancy, etc). Any Christian who doesn’t realize this has their head stuck in the sand. 4. Christians should continue to affirm that although the state acknowledges all of these various unions as “marriage,” God absolutely doesn’t. And Christians should stand up for their beliefs, while allowing the practices to move forward unhindered. The Bible is clear that gay relationships are sinful. The Bible is clear that any kind of sex...

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Christianity And Gay Marriage

Apr 01

Christianity And Gay Marriage

One of the big cultural stories in America right now is trying to reconcile religious belief with non-discrimination laws in regards to homosexuality or other alternative sexual lifestyles. People are up-in-arms over legislation that would allow people with religious convictions to refuse to participate in celebration of gay marriages, etc. The argument is, no one should be discriminated against, based on their sexual orientation. The prime example of this is a Christian wedding cake maker who holds the belief that the Bible teaches that homosexual relationships are sinful, and therefore refuses to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. Should this be allowed, or is this discrimination? I do not believe this ought to be considered unlawful discrimination. Let me explain. Imagine a Christian who owns a sign company. A customer comes in wanting them to make a billboard that says, “Gays are faggots.” He should be able to refuse to make the sign, due to his religious convictions which state that hate is a sin. He shouldn’t be forced to make the sign, even though such a sign is legally permitted. Or, if a customer wants a sign made that reads, “People who believe in Jesus are assholes. There is no God.” Or, “Obama is an idiot.” If a Christian lives by his/her morals, such signs go against their moral code, because it goes against the Bible’s teachings of respecting everyone, not taking God’s name in vain, showing respect for government authorities, and so on. However, if someone wants signs made containing such statements, America is a free country. Find someone who feels no moral culpability for creating them. Imagine that same Christian sign maker has a gay customer who needs a sign made for their science project, “The Study of Green Plants In Urban Environments.” He ought not be allowed to turn away the customer, simply because he/she is gay. However, the situation is different if that same gay customer wants a sign made for their wedding which reads, “Uniting Fred and Ted In Holy Matrimony.” Take another instance. A Muslim caterer believes that only Muslim weddings honor God, and that all other weddings are blasphemous to God. A Christian couple requests him to cater their...

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My Valentine, Audra

Feb 14

My Valentine, Audra

This year, Audra and I aren’t exchanging gifts for Valentine’s Day, so this is my gift to her. I am thankful for my wife for many reasons. Unfortunately, I’m not the best at articulating them, and I don’t affirm Audra like I ought to, or she needs. But here are just a few reasons why I’m the luckiest guy in the world. She somehow manages to take care of all five of our children–usually on her own, due to my work schedule. Many days, I leave the house before the family wakes up, and come home after the kids have already been put to bed. Even on the days that I don’t have videos, I usually have a meeting at the church that evening. At least half of the days during the week, she is managing the house/children on her own. And on the days I don’t have to wake up super-early for work, Audra ends up getting all the kids ready for school anyway and lets me get some rest. With five children, Audra spends most of her day feeding Bethany, putting Bethany down for a nap, putting down Joanna for a nap, giving Sarah a snack, repeat…etc. I would have a mental breakdown after just a few days of doing this, but she does it everyday. I am amazed at the grace and respect that Audra gives to people she interacts with. She always seems to have the right words with difficult people or situations. I have much to learn from her in this regard. I tend to avoid such people or situations. Or put my foot in my mouth. But not Audra. She seems to know exactly what to say and how to say it, regardless of whom or what is thrown into her path. Audra has every excuse to say “no” to any request outside the home, having to raise 5 children. Yet, when everyone else at the church says no, Audra is willing to step in and volunteer. Most of the time, this relates to the children’s ministry. If there’s anyone in our church that needs a break from working with children, it’s Audra. Yet, she fills in anytime she is asked. I know...

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