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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thank God for Children!

In a time when life seems so heavy....I thank God for children.  They take all our problems and toss them out the window with their simple and loving faith!  Jerry sent this to me and I laughed out loud.  There is nothing more beautiful and fun as the simple faith of a beautiful child!

Judas Asparagus

This is so cute and should bring tears of laughter to your eyes. I wonder how often we take for granted that children understand what we are teaching?

A child was asked to write a book report on the entire Bible. Here is what was written:

The Children's Bible in a Nutshell

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, 'The Lord thy God is one,' but I think He must be a lot older than that.

Anyway, God said, 'Give me a light!' and someone did.

Then God made the world.

He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet.

Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden.....Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars.

Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.

Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.

One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.

After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable.

God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor's stuff.

Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.

One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.

After Joshua came David.. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me.

After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore.

There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.

After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of The New Testament. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, "Close the door! Were you born in a barn?" It would be nice to say, "As a matter of fact, I was."

During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Republicans.

Jesus also had twelve opossums. The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.

Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount.

But the Republicans and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead.

Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again. He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

Thank you God for laughter! 

God loves you,


Monday, March 28, 2011

American Christians in Danger - Franklin Graham

I read this article and my heart broke.  As I study the New Testament I understand the fear the disciples must have encountered when they saw the Roman Guards enter the Garden of Gethsemane and take Jesus away.  They knew that they could be next.  Peter was one of the strongest disciples Jesus had.  Peter made great statements to Jesus.  He emphatically proclaimed his love for Jesus and the fact that he would never leave his side.  Within hours he denied Jesus three times.  He was so frightened that he even cursed and swore that he didn't know Jesus.

If fear can turn a man like Peter and make him run away, how can nominal Christians who go to church because it's fun and are fed the weakest kind of feel good theology - how will they be able to resist fear and stand strong for God?  How will the name it and claim it spoiled bunch be able to stand strong when they are faced with the most horrendous forms of violence and torture?

In John 15: 20-23 Jesus says...."Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.  They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.  If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.  He who hates me hates my Father as well."

In other words some people react to the message of Christ with humility and a desire for forgiveness.  Others will arrogantly deny God and will be so adamant about their beliefs that they will treat you the same as Christ was treated just because you believe in him.  And some will not only hate you, they will kill you.

In John 16:1-3  Jesus goes on to say, "All this I have told you so that you will not go astray.  They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.  They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me."

Wow!  Can you relate this to today's situation in America and around the globe?  Christians are being persecuted, called horrible names, blamed for the world's problems and virtually demeaned as being stupid or deranged just because we believe in God.  Add to that the fact that our churches are not producing strong theologically sound Christians and instead are playing to marketing themes just to fill pews.  There is a great void of truth that's building like a swirling hurricane.  Within this void of truth is a group of harsh killers waiting to take over and destroy the name of Jesus and all who believe in Him. 

Be very careful that you are on the side of truth.  Your soul and your place in eternity will depend on you knowing the truth.  This is not a game.  Franklin Graham was recently interviewed.  Please listen carefully to what he has to say about the coming violence that's gearing up to take over this country.

You can find this article at Franklin Graham: World's Christians in Grave Danger
By Chris Gonsalves and Kathleen Walter

The Muslim Brotherhood, with the complicity of the Obama administration, has infiltrated the U.S. government at the highest levels and is influencing American policy that leaves the world’s Christians in grave danger, warns internationally known evangelist Franklin Graham

“The Muslim Brotherhood is very strong and active here in our country,” Graham tells Newsmax. “We have these people advising our military and State Department. We’ve brought in Muslims to tell us how to make policy toward Muslim countries.

“It’s like a farmer asking a fox, ‘How do I protect my hen house?’"

That same Muslim Brotherhood is fomenting much of the rebellion and the deteriorating social order roiling the Middle East, forcing millions of Christians to flee for their lives, says Graham, son of beloved evangelist Dr. Billy Graham, and founder of The Samaritan’s Purse international charity.

“Under [Egypt’s Hosni] Mubarek and [Jordan’s] King Hussein and other moderate leaders, Christians had been protected,” Graham says. 11 million Christians live in Egypt and I ear for them, because if the Muslim Brotherhood comes to power, you’re going to see a great exodus of Christians. Same thing in Tunisia and Lebanon. I fear for the church because the Muslim Brotherhood is going to be a very terrible thing.”

A new report from the Roman Catholic aid agency 'Aid to the Church in Need' supports Graham’s contention that the persecution of Christians world­wide has worsened exponentially in the past few years.

According to the report, Christians face increased suffering in 22 countries around the world, with Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Nigeria being among the worst countries to be a Christian in today.
The persecution has gotten markedly worse over the past two years according to the organization.

“The proportion of countries with a worsening track-record of anti-Christian violence and intimidation would be higher were it not for the fact that in many cases the situation could scarce­ly have been worse in the first place” the report’s authors wrote.

More than 75 percent of religious persecution in the world is currently being carried out against Christians, the report concludes.

The Vatican formed a special committee late last year to address the flight of Christians and the rise of militant Islam in the Middle East. In his New Year’s message, Pope Benedict XVI said Christians suffer more than any other religious group because of their faith

Asked if President Barack Obama was doing enough to protect Christians at home and abroad, Graham says, “No. If anything it’s the opposite.”

“Muslims are protected more in this country than Christians,” he says. “The president has made many statements but he doesn’t back them up. We have to do more to protect the Christians in the Muslim world. Their lives are in danger.”

In recent weeks, Obama administration officials have stepped up the defense of their inclusive stance toward Muslims in their ranks. Deputy national security advisor, Denis McDonough, said last week that President Obama is actually trying to prevent terrorism by "dispelling the myths that have developed over the years, including misperceptions about our fellow Americans who are Muslim."

"When it comes to preventing violent extremism and terrorism in the United States, Muslim Americans are not part of the problem, you're part of the solution," McDonough said at an interfaith forum in Sterling, Va.

Graham, however says what Obama is really doing is "giving Islam a pass" rather than speaking openly about the "horrific" treatment women and minorities receive.

"We certainly love the Muslim people," Graham said in an earlier interview with Newsmax. "But that is not the faith of this country. And that is not the religion that built this nation. The people of the Christian faith and the Jewish faith are the ones who built America, and it is not Islam."

Thank you Rev. Graham.

I hope all of you will click on the link to the right of this blog and check out how many people have been killed because of the Muslim belief.  While you are at it....check out this peaceful religion that believes in honor killings, cutting off hands for theft and marrying 8 year old little girls.  Don't hate and don't base your beliefs on here say.  Get the truth.  Research and know what they believe.  We need to know what this religion is really about before we allow them to take over our court system and demand elite protection under our laws.

God have mercy on us.

God loves you,


Friday, March 25, 2011

Stealth Abuse - Abuse that's revealed during Economic hard times

Originally I wrote this for a magazine, but decided to print it on my blog instead.  I hope you will share this post with anyone that's feeling the pain of economic downturn.  We must be careful not to hurt the ones we love just because we don't know how to handle financial misfortune.

Stealth abuse

Paul fidgeted, rubbed his temples and took a loud deep breath. His wife Sarah shook her head at his lack of concentration. Pastor Reinhoff concluded his sermon unaware that Paul was not impressed. After the last amen, Paul bolted for the door and fled to the safety of his car.

He tapped his finger on the steering wheel. “I can’t believe they are taking so long. Who are they talking to? I bet she’s talking about me. Just wait. I’ll make sure this never happens again.”

Sarah called to her excited children. Tears stung the corner of her eyes as she waved to friends. It would not be a pleasant Sunday afternoon.

According to the American Bar Association, approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States. 90% of pastors I surveyed in 2010 admitted calls for help with aggressive behaviors were higher than normal. 100% of counselors said inquiries are up but sessions are down. Presumably callers can’t afford the fee.

Marta Pelaez is president and CEO of Family Violence Prevention Services in San Antonio, Texas. A clinical psychologist, Marta oversees a shelter for battered women and children where the demand for admission has tripled in recent months. Marta explained that as of April of last year they saw numbers increase. “Last year, at this same time, I had 68 – 70 on my daily census. I called this morning and we had 184.”

While abuse statistics are staggering, they are also misleading. Abuse victims who feel hopeless, helpless and embarrassed often refuse to report their abuse.

Paul’s grip on the steering wheel turned his knuckles white. “You have no idea how this makes me feel. I’m not a bum. I’ve worked hard all my life. It’s embarrassing to watch people look at me with pity. I know what they are thinking.”

Sarah blew her nose and wiped her face. “Our friends love you. They wouldn’t…” Paul yelled. “Shut up. Just shut up. I can’t stand this anymore.” He beat the steering wheel causing the car to swerve. Sarah reached to the back seat to comfort the children who were crying.

Economic hard times and loss of income can reveal abuse in good people who ordinarily are kind and supportive. Various reasons for this sudden outburst of anger can include illness, addiction, affairs, lack of spiritual knowledge or a desire to abandon all responsibilities.

The most challenging reason for abuse hides like a stealth bomber until the economy takes a dive. Families that have built their goals exclusively on financial success will suffer the most when the economy dips. Surrounded by possessions they don’t see the stealth approach until depression and disappointment is securely in place. By placing more importance on acquiring “things” rather than building strong relationships, these families can face a deeper depression during hard economic times. Depression and embarrassment over the loss of possessions coupled with the fear of failure can cause a person to slip into abuse.

According to Biblical principles, marriage is not about acquiring possessions. It’s not a business with a bottom line. When a marriage is defined by financial goals success can be derailed by a failing economy.

Christians are encouraged to trust God during all forms of distress. “Nothing is impossible with God” unless….we believe that God’s will is complete financial success and prosperity. That belief can seep into our families and destroy our ability to stick together and survive. God is just as powerful in hard times as He is when times are good.

How can a successful family who has fulfilled every desire survive the loss of Dad’s job? How can you remain healthy when your lifestyle is tied to your self-esteem? Good Christians who enjoyed being the benefactor for the church may feel guilty when they need the services they once sponsored. Abuse is never the answer. Strong Family relationships will always help us survive tough times.

Paul slammed the door to the car and stomped inside. He slumped in a chair in front of the TV. Sarah kept the children away and hurried to fix Paul’s favorite lunch. She sat it down in front of him and smiled. He glared at her and exploded with anger. Sarah was afraid. The children ran to the doorway and began to cry. Paul threw the dishes toward the TV, stood and hit Sarah. As she dropped to the floor Paul saw his true reflection in the eyes of his startled children.

During a down economy, physical abuse can escalate. Mental and emotional abuse can also devastate families. It leaves no visible scars but can last far longer than a black eye or a bruise. The top four reasons for economic stealth abuse are disappointment, overload, blame and loss of self-esteem.

1. If your marriage was built on financial goals, economic loss can lead to severe disappointment which can escalate to desperation. When you can't provide the desperately needed braces or the new birthday bicycle, severe disappointment attacks your self-esteem and self-worth.

2. When powerful emotions collide, even gentle personalities can respond to loved ones in anger. Fatigue, worry, lack of sleep, feeling like a failure, feeling as if you’ve let your family and church down, feeling as if your dreams are crashing around you, overwhelming fear, loss of hope, feelings of paranoia or even jealousy that a co-worker is doing well can combine into a weight that may cause you to explode with anger.

3. If your family chooses to point fingers rather than show love and support, the bread winner may feel like a caged tiger. A caged tiger feels as if he’s lost all options and lashes out at anyone near the cage. The family can make it worse by appearing to bang on the cage bars by asking for "stuff" or demanding "participation" especially when the breadwinner is overworked and tired. This action will most certainly be met with angry growls and mental attacks.

4. When multiple emotions swirl together, the provider can view the family as all or part of the problem. The simple act of bringing a treat to his four year old can become stressful if dad is behind on the house payment. The lack of a quarter needed to share with his child represents failure. If Junior continues to want the experience, dad’s disappointment can turn into anger against the child. The resulting outburst can hurt the child and the relationship.

Christian families can build strong relationships and find creative solutions for stressful times. Families must pull together in times of crisis. It will define who you are. Engage your children to find fun ways to survive. Make it a game to save on utilities, food and clothes. Concentrate on love and your non-financial goals as a family. When love and respect binds the family, you’ll be amazed at how little you need to survive.

To combat depression, individuals – especially the provider - should concentrate on the overall success of the family rather than individual desires. The “all for one and one for all” mentality can take the focus away from individual actions. This will give the provider time to adjust his/her feelings of inadequacy. Teens can be engaged to look at the family budget, share suggestions and help with work. Elementary age children can participate in chores or saving money games like turning off lights. When the family begins to function as a “unit” committed to the survival of all, getting through the crisis can take on a game mentality that will provide individual relief from blame. A great example of this is the black and white movie “I remember Mama”. The family pulled together and survived difficult times. They also bonded while caring for struggling individuals.

You can diffuse stealth abuse by emphasizing family relationships while rejecting unnecessary possessions. Contentment with basic needs can help you release emotions of bitterness, disappointment and fear. Philippians 4:12 “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Knowing that your family can survive any adversity will empower everyone. Relationships first should be your new goal. How can you do that when you are suffering? Here are 6 ways to experience the healing power of strong relationships.

1. Play the hand game. Every time you feel disappointment or sadness, hold both hands out in front of you. In one hand imagine the life or soul of your spouse. In the other hand imagine a check for $10,000. Which would you chose? You can only choose one.

When your child is nagging for a toy, imagine a check in one hand and a cancer free body in the other hand. What would you do? Would you choose her life or the ability to give her “stuff”? This exercise can help you define real needs and discard unnecessary desires.

2. Make saving a game. Fussing about costs will keep everyone on edge allowing anger to soar. Instead create a game board that promotes saving money by turning out the lights or cooking at home. The weekly winner gets breakfast in bed and the ability to choose Sunday’s menu.

3. Find new ways to enjoy each other. Insist on “Personal” moments during your busy day. For example, declare a coffee time with your spouse before bed. Make something special to go with coffee even if it’s a saltine cracker with a little jam. Designate 30 seconds a day – per person – to give them a compliment and enjoy who they are. You’ll be making memories that will last a lifetime.

4. Celebrate family talents. Encourage Dad to finish his woodworking project. Display new handmade decorations. Enjoy being musical, artistic or creative in the kitchen. It’s amazing how a new coat of paint, fresh cookies or a mended outfit will give everyone a “can do” attitude.

5. Always point to a brighter future. Hope can overcome feelings of depression or disappointment. Rather than concentrating on solutions five years away, look for hope in smaller doses. Find little moments during your week that materialize quickly. Celebrate those moments and chart your success no matter how small. If you have two dollars more this week than you had last week – you are making progress.

6. Pray together as a family. The old saying, “The family that prays together – stays together” is still true today. Instead of allowing hard times to break your family and cause abuse, ask God to help you become closer to those you love.

Paul sat on the floor with Sarah in his arms. Tears fell down his cheeks and puddled on her shirt. “I’m so sorry. I am so ashamed of what I’ve done.” Sarah tried to smile. Paul touched her swollen lip and cried harder. “How can you ever forgive me?” His broken spirit led him to counseling and a new philosophy. He was determined that money would never be more important than his family.

The great depression was devastating to this country. Millions of jobs, homes, farms and businesses were lost. Yet for every depressing story there are those that remember the depression with a sparkle in their eye. Why? Because it taught them to love their family, that God is faithful and that strong relationships can weather any storm. You too will be able to look back on this time with a smile if you placed your hope in God while building strong family relationships.

For permission to reprint this blog post….please contact

God loves you,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hell is getting hotter....Am I right or am I right???

As I told you in the post  Snakes in your Brain - not knowing the truth can destroy you.  Listen to the following clip of an alleged pastor in Michigan, Rob Bell.  In his desire to fill his church with the fluffy bun theory (see my post Where's the Beef?) this alleged pastor is touting a theory that no one should worry about Hell.  I think it's cool that a liberal news station MSNBC still employs a Christian with enough guts to take this guy on.  Listen carefully to his answers.  This guy is like a small child in a candy store.  He doesn't want to make sense....he just wants it all.

Listening to this video was painful.  I actually felt bad for Rob.  It must be exhausting trying to walk the fence, being sure not to tip to far to either side.  I thought about a wonderful verse in Revelation 3:15-16.  We should be in Revelation - right???  After all, we are talking about Heaven and Hell.

Revelation 3:15-16  "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth." 

Wow...that verse should make you feel warm and fuzzy.  Don't take bets on where you'll be "spit" to.  Don't mess with me!  I can pull hundreds of scriptures out that insist that there will be thousands...millions of people that will inhabit Hell.  And...if you take those scriptures out of the Bible, you are left with a namby pamby powerless nothing of a gospel.  Take those scriptures out and you will gut the very strength of the gospel.  Am I saying that Hell, mean spirited torture or demands by God are the only things that matter?  Absolutely not!  But they are part of the mix that keeps us focused on the message.  Knowing the consequences of your actions will keep you striving for the good.  Knowing the penalty of wrong doing is what keeps you moving forward.  Knowing that this is wrong and that isn't will help you to focus on the greater good.

NEVER FORGET THAT THERE ARE ABSOLUTES TO THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.  Absolutes sent him to the cross and absolutes will either send you to Heaven or to Hell. 

Humans are cunning.  We know how to negotiate our way into getting what we want.  It's only when we understand consequences and that those consequences will be upheld that we actually turn our head enough so we can see the value of goodness. 

Rob Bell is dangerously close to saying that we are little Gods.  I clicked on several of his you tube showings and in one he was boasting about the story of Peter walking on the water.  In this rant he is excited because he doesn't feel that Peter starting sinking because of a lack of faith in Jesus....Rob feels he started sinking because he didn't believe in Peter.  Rob goes on to say..."Wow...that's what we need to do more of.  We need to understand that it's not all about Jesus - we just have to believe in ourselves."

As I was listening to that I wondered....Did he fall asleep in Seminary?  Was he present during Sunday School?  What happened to this guy that he could twist the scriptures so badly?

There are three things I want to point out to you.

1.  You better make sure your pastor and your Biblical training is based on the truth.  Your soul and eternity depends on it.  I'm sorry to tell you that you can't stand before God and point your finger at your pastor and scream, "You can't send me to Hell.  I didn't know any better.  IT'S HIS FAULT!"  Sorry darling....that won't work. 

Philippians 2: 12-13  Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Your salvation is up to you dear.

2.  Make sure your pastor isn't basing his theology on his own journey.  When Rob Bell said that some of this was based on his own journey....I knew then that he was not sharing the gospel of Christ.  NONE of the teachings of faith should be based on your journey.  YOU are not the savior!  Base your faith on the gospel of Christ only.

3.  Make sure your pastor or teacher isn't looking for fame, money or has grandiose desires.  Any of those will naturally take him down the wrong road.  As I've said before, anytime a church is more worried about the pews being filled than about taking care of the individual saint - they are in trouble.  The main function of the church is to guide saints in their walk with Christ.  If you have 1,500 members but they are more interested in singing fun songs and going to cool parties than going to a Bible have a problem.  If your church has 1,500 members but Christ comes tomorrow and only 5 people make it - what good is that???  I actually heard a quote from Rick Warren where he said, "Don't do Bible Studies.  People already know more Bible than they can practice in their lives."  WHAT???  Maybe he needs to study his Bible a lot more.

I hope that all of you will hold your pastors accountable.  Make sure that your #1 mission is not to fill the pews but rather to disciple strong men and women for Christ!

God loves you,


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Where's the Beef?

Watching the devastation in Japan brings me back to a religious thought that's been brewing for quite a while.  Where's the beef? 

There are some commercials which, even without a jingle, have become virtually iconic, such as Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?”  For a very long time that phrase was used to question anything that did not appear to be genuine and Clara Peller, the little old gray-haired lady who uttered it, made it famous.

In 1984 Wendy's aired a commercial titled "Fluffy Bun".  Actress Clara Peller and two other elderly women are investigating a massive burger bun from a fictional competitor which uses the slogan "Home of the big Bun."  In the middle of the big bun is a minuscule piece of meat.  They poke at the meat and look at it from all sides causing Clara Peller to say, "Where's the beef?".  When there's no answer she gets louder and louder.  "Where's the beef!?!"

The other two ladies poked at it, exchanging bemused comments ("It certainly is a big bun. It's a very big bun. It's a big fluffy bun. It's a very big fluffy bun.") before being interrupted by Peller's outraged, irascible demand. Sequels featured Peller yelling at a Fluffy Bun executive on his yacht over the phone and approaching fast food drive-up windows that were slammed down before she could complete the line.

The catch phrase was repeated in television shows, films, magazines, and other media outlets.  It became the catch all for anything fake, not living up to it's promise or being a complete disappointment.

What does this have to do with religion?  I find myself asking the question over and over....where's Jesus - the substance - the meat of our faith?  We have big churches in this country, big mega star pastors and big programs designed to do everything except teach deep spiritual truths.  We have big concerts and some church buildings are even desecrated by allowing secular programs and shows to take over.  It seems that most pastors are more consumed with "getting people to attend" than they are with "getting people saved."  And while the church worries about marketing, our country is falling apart and faith values are slipping away.  Out of the 4 divorces in 5 marriages in this country, 3 of them claim to be Christian homes.  Something isn't right.

In Hebrews 5, the author is talking about the Superiority of the Priesthood of Christ.  He's discussing the trend of people to discredit Jesus.  Finally in the 11th verse, he's had it.  He realizes that it takes maturity and a deeper knowledge to understand the truths he's trying to explain.

Hebrews 5:11  "We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.  In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

6:1-2 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment."

This scripture and a silly Wendy's commercial keeps me scratching my head and wondering why this generation of churches is moving so far from the true - deeper message of Christ.  Why would any Christian or church body buy into the false teachings of people like Rick Warren and other religious super stars?  Why would we want to infect the message of Christ with an addictive desire for money and fame?  Rick Warren teaches that the church is just a business and should be run as such.  He goes on to teach that adhering to the teachings and demands of our faith isn't as important as filling the pews.  Marketing and giving the people what they want is more important than insuring that they make heaven.  Unfortunately, that's nothing like the Bible.  The entire message of the Bible is based on the simplicity of the salvation of Christ.  We should be 100% involved in the responsibility for teaching others to "mature" in Christ so they will make Heaven. 

The simplicity of the son of God dying on a cross has been distorted by the message of "come here and we'll make you feel good." 

I just shake my head and think, "Where's the beef?"  Where's the meat of the word?  Where's the anchor that you can hold on to in the time of a huge disappointment or a huge problem. 

Japan was hit with a 9.0 earthquake.  I watched in horror as homes - probably filled with unsuspecting residents - were swept away in the following Tsunami.  I couldn't watch the videos and heartbreaking pictures as if I were comfortably watching some movie.  Each picture, each destroyed home or car held an individual and if that individual did not survive - he/she met God at that moment! 

The thousands of souls that appeared before a righteous and holy God didn't need a watered down, happy go lucky, I feel so good faith!  They needed the meat of the word.  At the moment of intense pain, or sorrow, or fear or death....they needed a Savior.  At that moment they didn't have time to do research on the strength of God.  They didn't have time for a recall of their lame pastor.  They didn't have the ability to throw up their hands and ask for a two day stay until they could get their spiritual lives together. 

In that moment they needed to "instantly" know, understand and cling to the verses of the 23rd psalm.  "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me." 

When only devastation and ruin lay around them; when they had no water and no comforting to cling to the verse, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows."

How in the world can your cup overflow in the middle of such a tragedy?  I can't explain it to you unless you can eat the meat of God's word.  If you have grown up in a watered down, flimsy, where's the beef kind of church - you can't possibly understand the maturity and strength that a Christian feels when he has matured on the meat of God.

The commentary of my NIV Bible explains that Hebrews 5:14 makes a clear point....Christian maturity involves time.  It involves growth in the knowledge of the Word of God and experience in the use of the Word in discerning between good and evil.  In other words, it doesn't come overnight.  It probably won't be a lot of fun to sit and study or to learn to trust God when life is uncomfortable.  It doesn't come through contemporary music, it's not about feeling happy or good or getting everything you want and it doesn't come through signing a membership card.  It comes through knowing your Bible, learning to lean on Jesus and discerning between good and evil. 

I remember old saints talking about the huge economic, food, weather and personal pain associated with the pre and post depression times as well as the pain of WWII.  They cupped my small face in their hands and with strong but tired eyes said, "You hold on to God.  Learn all you can from Him.  Never fight the bad times - they will teach you how to be strong.  Then you too will know how big, how great and how comforting is the love of God."  I watched those saints live out a Godly life of strength and maturity.  It was amazing to watch God working in their lives.  None of them were financially wealthy but they were rich beyond my wildest dreams - rich in the strength of life and in the things of God.

You will never truly experience the greatness of God by limiting your knowledge of him to a contemporary non-theologically based "I need to feel good" fluffy bun church.  You will never learn how to be a strong Christian if your Bible is kept in the closet or collects dust on the nightstand.  You will never learn the power we have in Christ if you are not pushing yourself to obey each and every commandment. 

The greatness of God is learned.  It's learned by reading and studying the scriptures.  It's learned by striving to do the righteous thing even if it hurts you.  It's learned by obeying all of God's commandments - not just the ones you like.  It's learned by going through the tough times and learning to lean on Jesus.  It's only then that you will know that Jesus is all you will ever need.  Jesus is the beef!

God loves you,


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Snakes in your brain....

Just typing the word "snakes" makes me feel woozy.  I have an intense fear of that animal.  I don't think it would have to bite me to kill me....just coming face to face with it would be enough for a heart attack. 

Over 25 years ago I had a horrible nightmare.  I dreamed I was waving goodbye to a friend.  I got in a little car - a VW bug - and reached for a helmet.  I put the helmet on and started the engine.  When I reached to put it in gear I felt something move under the helmet.  There were small snakes under the helmet and they were crawling all over my head.  As they squirmed out of the helmet, I screamed and apparently woke myself up.  I was horrified and sat on the side of the bed crying for about an hour. 

I was going to include a picture of Medusa here.  In Greek mythology Medusa was a Gorgon, a chthonic monster.  She was beautiful but had been cursed by Athena.  Enraged because Medusa lay with a suitor, Athena transformed Medusa's beautiful hair to serpents and made her face so terrible to behold that the mere sight of it would turn onlookers to stone.

Thinking back on my dream, my head felt like the images of Medusa.  Unfortunately, my hatred/fear of snakes is so strong that just looking at pictures of Medusa made me uncomfortable.  So...if you want to see her, you will have to google it yourself :)

After the nightmare, I called my mother and asked her to pray.  We prayed for just a few minutes and she interrupted the prayer by asking, "Do you want to know what the dream means?" 

You have to understand that my mother and father have a very powerful prayer life and a direct connection to God.  I've seen hundreds of miracles happen in their life and I am positive that God often directs their thoughts.  "Yes...of course mom....what does it mean?"

"The dream is about your brain.  You have to protect your brain from infection."


"Not a virus or anything like that.  The one thing that can infect a Christians life is believing a lie.  Lies will change your life.  Lies will destroy the good in your life.  Nothing else matters except knowing the truth.  After all  the Bible says, "Know the truth and the truth will set you free."  You can't grow as a Christian or go anywhere God wants to take you if your beliefs are wrong.  In your dream you were preparing to go somewhere.  You've always wanted to be on God's path.  The one thing that will stop your journey - or change it and take you in the wrong direction is lies.  I think your dream is about the fact that you need (like all of us) to be very careful about the information you believe.  You need to make sure that any new idea or belief is strictly based on the scriptures. also need to be careful about what you believe about life.  You know as well as I do that you can't arrive at the right decision if your information for that decision is flawed."

I've never forgotten that dream or that conversation with mom.  Even before the dream I was careful about "investigating the truth".  After that dream I've been a compulsive truth seeker

Over the years I've watched a lot of people accept flawed information and try to base their lives or important decisions on that flawed information.  Basing a decision on lies will always turn out bad.  Why would I ever want to do that?  Why would anyone want to make a decision when they know there is a possibility of failure? 

Unfortunately, that is what is happening to our country.  Men and women who have not been successful in their personal lives try to give "instructions" to those around them.  They desperately want to be respected, they know they have messed up, but they stick to the premise of lies and distortions.  Once you dig into a person's life and actually find the truth - you may find that the thing they are holding on to so desperately may be the thing that is ruining their own life.  You may find that they are not all that happy or fulfilled.  That's why I'm so adamant about finding the truth in any situation.  That's why I lay all my beliefs out before you in a logical way.  That's why I try to center in on the truth....without truth no life can ever be right!

So why would some people hide the truth about their lives?  Why wouldn't they be honest?  Pride and avoidance of their own pain can cause them to lie.  They don't want you to know they are hurting.  They want to be respected.  They don't honor your life by trying to prevent you from hurting.  They would rather lie and puff up their own life than admit to anyone that they made a mistake.  They keep moving, keep talking, keep pretending because facing the truth of a failed life is too hard to face.  

Once I met a young man that was in the gay lifestyle.  It was just a quick acquaintance and once our business was done I would never see him again.  I asked if he was happy.  He shrugged, "Is anyone?"  I shared how happy I had been and how my life had turned out.  I told him about Jesus and said that I hoped he would find happiness.  I was very careful not to ask him to change.  Instead I was chatty about what I was experiencing.  His eyes filled with tears and he quickly swiped them away.  "I wish I had known the truth.  There's a lot to this lifestyle that no one wants to talk about.  There's a lot of pain and a lot of disappointment."  He closed down and didn't want to talk anymore.  When our transaction was done I smiled and put my hand on his.  "I will pray for you that God will give you truth."

Truth is the most important thing in this world.  Without it you are destined for pain and sorrow.  You must face the truth about yourself and your own feelings no matter what kind of pain that causes.  You must be willing to discuss any area that causes you or others pain.  You must put every desire and need on the table to be examined from every viewpoint as well as inside and out.  You must closely guard your feelings and be sure that you deal with others in a logical and careful manner.  You must always be willing to say, I'm sorry or I was wrong.

Our country, our churches and our families will never be successful until we get the snakes out of our brains and face the hard cold truth.  I have a problem with liberals and spoiled Christians who refuse to face facts or investigate problems by being logical.  It's not about truth for them.  It's about what they "think" is truth. 

Suppose I decided to make a simple yellow cake.  I don't have all the ingredients necessary to make it the traditional way...or maybe...I just want to do my own thing with the cake.  I dump flour into a bowl and use tea instead of water for the liquid.  I use baking power, salt and eggs but for flavoring I use tomato paste.  I add chocolate and coconut just to give it texture.  I mix it up and bake it.  Because of the baking powder, eggs and flour it looks like a cake.  It rose properly and I can transfer it to a plate.  Since I didn't have sugar I decide to frost it with solid Criso and butter.  I even take the time to put the Crisco in a bag and decorate the cake. 

Finally, I present this concoction to you and say, "Look I made a wonderful yellow cake.  Would you like to try it?"  I dare say that after just one bite you might insist that it's not a yellow cake.  "Oh but it is!  I followed most of the recipe.  I used flour and eggs.  I used baking powder and salt.  And...just like the recipe called for I used Crisco and butter in the frosting.  It has to be a yellow cake!"

That's the problem with so many "new and contemporary" decisions being made in this country.  When you move too far from the truth or the "absolutes" the end results of your decisions will be disastrous.  Just because you use a traditional church building, mention Jesus a lot and ask people to pray - does not mean the building is inhabited by the spirit of the living God.  There is a specific formula for bringing the power of Jesus into your life and into your church.  If you stray from that formula - you will not have the blessings of God. 

You can insist that sugar water can be substituted for gas, but when the engine freezes up you can't deny the absolute that sugar will not run an engine.  You can go on insisting that something else is wrong, but you are still sitting on the side of the road while everyone else passes by.  Ignoring the cause of your predicament doesn't get the car moving.

When you advise a young child that sex is okay at any age and that multiple partners in a lifetime is fine, you must accept the fact that diseases, heartbreak and unwanted children will follow.  Just denouncing that fact doesn't relieve you of the responsibility for telling a lie or for ruining a life.

Churches in America are becoming less and less powerful.  According to a Barna study group, more people are leaving the church every year than are joining.  More young people would rather "create" their own faith than to submit to the teachings of the church.  Almost 90% say they are Christians but 70% say their faith doesn't affect their life in any way. 

The truth is that the Church is losing it's power because there are snakes in the pew.  My grandmother was a wonderful evangelist and traveled all over the south.  She built 5 churches and held huge tent revivals.  As a teen I remember being sad about some problems.  I sat close to her while we talked.  I put my head on her shoulder and whispered.  "Grams, why is there so much trouble in the church?"  She patted me and softly gave me this very wise answer.

"When the church was being persecuted from without, we grew.  We held to the scriptures, each other and God and we grew.  All our problems got worse when Satan got smart and joined the church."

That statement is so true now.  I hope you will join with me today and pray for the churches of this country.  So many of them are playing with the souls of their members by concentrating on "marketing" and appeal more than the simplicity of Jesus.

God loves you,