Wednesday, August 27, 2008
We had a great week-end of ministry. On Saturday, we had a men's breakfast with over 400 men in attendance. The food was good (as it always is), but what makes it special to me is more than the food. The guys serving especially blessed my heart. We have a large group of men who come out early, set things up, cook, stay late, clean up the mess and do it because they love the Lord and their church. It truly blesses me and all involved, and I am very thankful for such dedicated men. Victor Marx shared God's Word with us, and he gave a very powerful message. He pointed out that we can be led by the Spirit, or driven by our flesh, and all in all, his message was moving (he gave much of a personal testimony) and instructing, teaching us all that our past should be left alone, and that we should move into our future with hope and faith. It was really a great message, we were all encouraged, and several men got right with the Lord at the invitation. The next day, we had good Sunday morning services, and capped off the evening with special music and a baptism that evening. The worship was absolutely beautiful, and after the service we baptized over 200 people, with many were crying as they "took the plunge". One brother said something to me that reminded me of something once said to Pastor Chuck. He said something like "I'm going to have to stay down there for awhile!", meaning he had a lot that needed to be buried. Don't we all? On a personal note, God is working overtime in my heart, working on areas that have long been buried but have somehow stayed alive, and sometimes it is very difficult and even discouraging. I don't like what I see, and I don't like what I have been and can be, and I find myself asking God for relief from some things that seem to plague my heart. Though I am not doing anything overtly wrong, still I want my heart to be healed of past hurts, and I want His joy to flood my soul. I also carry a great concern for the state of our fellowship, as I know many attend our church but not all are saved. What concerns me is that large amounts of people think they are saved, when in reality, they are self-deceived. It seems to stem from a poor understanding of the grace of God, in that they have re-defined grace and consider it "permission" to continue in sin and still go to heaven. The evangelical church today reminds me of the denominationalism that I escaped from as a youth, in that the churches of America are occupied by people who "hear, but do not do". That of course applies first and foremost to me, but also extends to the body at large. I am finally awakening to some deeper things that need to be taught, and it is my prayer that I will be able to live what God is showing me, and that I may somehow learn to communicate these things to our church fellowship. Finally, the answer is going to be found in the love of God. Like the Beatles once sang "All we need is love", and in that they were right. We need to know how deeply God has loved us and loves us, and we need to love Him back, and to really learn to love people: not just the ones who love us, but to love as the Lord would have us love. Again, this is a common theme in my life, because it is the one thing the Lord keeps trying to teach me. Still, I cannot help but thank Him for His goodness to me, to my family, and to the church...one day I will be able to say that to Him, face to face. Jesus, Thank you, and I love You.
Friday, August 22, 2008
I was invited to go to the political forum at Saddleback church last week, and spent a good deal of time thinking about and praying about whether I should attend or not. I am concerned with the state of our nation and am using the presidential election to gauge the spiritual temperature. It truly seems to me that the kind of leadership we elect is a pretty good barometer of the spiritual life of our country, in that the majority of people voting will give us insight into what is going on in their heads as they elect a president. I realize that president's, for many are simply figureheads, as the cabinets and various advisors really are the ones governing the nation; yet, I also realize that the kind of man or woman elected is simply the revelation of the heart of the nation. After all, our form of government is really supposed to represent the will of the people, which is why when someone says, "I love Americans but I don't like your government" we the people are being slighted, because we the people, are the government! Still, I am not one who trusts the promises of politicians. Not that they cannot be honest, indeed I pray that the majority are. It is simply because I realize that many will pretty much say what is necessary for them to get elected. So, when my friend Jim Orate called and asked if I was going to the forum, I at first said that I did not want to, but ended up going. The tickets to get in were given to us for free, and some tickets were selling for several thousands of dollars, so I thought I should take the opportunity and hear the candidates for myself. I could go into quite a few things that we saw as we went to the forum: protestors, interesting signs, people yelling across the street at one another, people tearing signs out of other people's hands, etc. but suffice it to say it was pretty much typical of how emotionally charged these kinds of things can be. We went to a hall (not the main sanctuary), found a place to sit, and listened for two hours. My impression simply put: both candidates claim faith in Christ, both claim to attend church regularly, and both think that they are spiritual men. I do not know either one personally, cannot say that I believe either one of them is a believer (though I pray they are), but I for the life of me cannot understand Obama's reasoning. I have been around lawyers, and know that they have been trained to see both sides of an issue but to be honest, I find it difficult to believe someone who says two things at the same time. His answer reminds me of the Chesire cat in Alice in Wonderland. That cat said two things simultaneously, and so does Obama. I came away believing that he wants America to be more like Europe, is pro-abortion, and (though he is financially rich) has no problem with raising taxes on the "rich", but can't define what rich is. McCain didn't seem much better at defining wealth either, but between the two, I could at least understand McCain! I especially had a problem with the question about abortion. Obama is pro-choice, and has surrogates who have said that abortion is defensible, from a Christian theological perspective. I heard one of Obama's defenders say that Jesus would be in favor of it, and I was truly grieved at such a comment. All in all, I did not learn anything about either man that I had not learned before, but was left with a better sense of who I could trust in some things that are essential to me, things that have moral underpinnings. I pray that we see ourselves as the salt and light that Jesus called us to be, and that we actually vote our consciences this November. God help us all, we are in a true crisis and people just don't seem to see it. There is one King, Jesus, and I long for His rule, but until then, may we remember that Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34)...we need a revival, and we need it now!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Recently I was asked what I think the purpose of this blog is, and thought I would reiterate what I felt I had recently said, for those who might not have noticed. The purpose of this blog is to say what is on my mind and to give people opportunity to read it. Some comments that are sent to me might be posted, some might be referred to, and others will simply be deleted. I don't post every response, only a few, and normally want them to be of the encouraging sort, knowing that there are people reading this blog who might not understand the reason some write the way they do, or understand why they might write kind things to me. Just so that you might know, I delete most of the responses because I am trying to keep this from becoming a "David Love Fest" or, for that matter, a "Let's kill the egomaniac" kind of thing. Of course, other people have their own reasons for blogs and that is fine with me. Some think a blog is a place to get dialogue going with others, some think it is a place to share what's on their hearts, and some think it is a place to give opportunity for "hurt" people to vent their anger in a public forum. You know, get direct and let others in on the argument. That way, when people have a chance to see some "hurt" person vent their spleen, they can jump on in and let the self-absorbed guy know how hurtful he is. Whatever the reasons others have, the reason I have this blog is to just share what is on my mind at any given time. I actually thought it would be a good place to share with my fellowship, and have enjoyed doing so, and from the responses I have gotten, it seems that some appreciate the time and effort being made to be in contact with them in this manner. I have gotten to enjoy taking the few moments it takes to write this blog, in that for me, it is another opportunity of saying hello to members of our fellowship and even the larger body of Christ. With all of the things going on here, it is pretty much impossible for me to be able to spend even a moment with members of this church, and the best I have been able to do is to spend time with them at events or retreats, and the few moments we have after church services. Still, I want to thank those of you who understand those limitations, and want you to know that I have been personally blessed by your service and goodness to the Lord and to me and my family. This church has a large percentage of people involved serving the Lord here, in one form or another. Some places have a small number doing most of the serving, but the Lord has seen fit to touch many hearts to find a place of service. At the moment, I am spending time with over 60 men who have a desire to become leaders in the body of Christ, and it has been such a blessing to see them growing and learning simple principles of ministry. For me, it is a blessing to be able to spend that kind of time with them. We had our marriage retreat, and it was a blessing and joy to be able to visit with so many, and I look forward to more opportunities. Thank you for understanding that in a large church such as ours, that it is never going to be possible for us to really get to know one another (outside of heaven), but thank you for not making it so important to know me as to know the Lord. Also, since I sometimes get interesting posts, it would be good if you want me to personally reply, to simply include your email address and I will do my best to reply, personally. If you do not go to this church, it would be all the more important to do so, as giving your name really isn't going to help me if I can't write you back! I get quite a number of emails a week, and I take the time to personally respond to each one of them, so if you want a response, please put your return address and I will get back to you! Or, if you'd like, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. God bless you all, and when you go to church this Sunday, try to listen to what is being said! You just might learn something about Jesus that will change your life and heart! Who knows, anything is possible!
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Writing a blog is actually something I have grown to enjoy, in that it gives me an opportunity to write what is on my mind or heart in a spontaneous way. Church life, personal life, it all will eventually have an opportunity of being expressed, and for those who log on, it is something they have access to and kind of an open window to my life. Recently, I wrote of Christopher Laurie's home going and did so while reflecting on how this event would effect a friend of mine and of all who know him and his family. For me, as a minister, such tragic events seem to hit closer because of the similarity of duties shared amongst ourselves. It isn't that our lives are entirely different then other people's lives, it is that every person has an environment that they live in that makes their situation somewhat unique except to the group that shares that environment. Military personnel, police officers, fire fighters, and a whole list of others have a commonality that makes them closer to one another then they are to those outside of their chosen professions. Because of this, I had a sympathy for Greg and Cathe that is unique to my calling. My church was deeply touched by Christopher's death, sympathizing with the Laurie family, and I wrote concerning this. Which brings me to what's on my mind: Every person who has spoken to me about my praying for or writing concerning the Laurie's appreciated it. They realized it was out of sympathy and sorrow that I wrote, a sorrow they shared. Every person that is, except for one, whose name is anonymous. Funny thing, by the way anonymous wrote, I know who he is, but the things written were sad and tragic in their own way. Our church is fairly large, and most people do not know that we conduct between 40 to 50 funerals a year. I do not perform all of the funerals, and I do not mention names of those who have died from my pulpit. If I did so, I would more than likely be saying something about someone going home almost every week. Still, anonymous thinks I mentioned Christopher Laurie because his father "is a well known pastor". No, I mentioned this because his father is my friend, and as a shepherd I understand how it feels to suffer personal pain and to still come to a pulpit to minister to people. At any rate, the reason for this post is to simply say, if people sign their names to their posts, it is to be preferred over hiding behind the wall of anonymity and tossing hand grenades. Just last night in a leadership class I was asked if it bothered me when people made unfounded accusations, and I said no, you kind of get used to it. Still, I would prefer it if those who write me to at least sign their names, and if there is any rebuke or correction they think I should receive, well they can approach me at church and let me know face to face. I realize that the way people are today, those who are bitter will take the opportunity to write out their anger, and I have expected some interesting posts, but still, I continue hoping that this blog actually ministers to those who read it with an interest in our church and the maturity it requires to understand its purpose. This will be the only post like this, as from this time on I will simply delete the odd post and save all of you the trouble of reading me rant on!