Friday, May 31, 2013

Benghazi - Left to Die

Wood was shattered on the roof
Rescue called-- never came through.
Told to never doubt this truth
They did what they had to do.

With the gates torn down,
A flashing blaze rushed smoke.
They heard the Jihad sound
They knew they couldn't choke.

Pictures blared round the world
Each minute death drew close.
Into action their instinct hurled
Deep stench filled up their nose.

The call went out for help
They kept looking to the sky,
Not ever thinking of them-self.
Brave men were left to die.

Disgrace is the only medal
He should wear upon his chest
Rome burned, Nero fiddled
Barak denied their request.

The devil danced in the street,
The Ambassador tossed thru crowds,
Brave heroes never accept defeat,
They fought and made us proud.

Our President brought us shame,
Plotting lies while Americans died,
Now dodging personal blame,
But, we --the citizen-- know he's lied.

Redeemer of Righteousness
Hear our plea before Your throne,
Expose truth until they confess,
May their evil deeds be shown.

Set the Benghazi record straight
Let us see what You already know,
Turn Glory from this wretched hate,
May Your mercy and justice flow.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Always Right = A Fool

Do you know a fool? Do you live with one? Are you one?

If you think you might be a fool, that is a huge sign that you are not. A fool thinks he is always right and would never ponder on the fact that he might be one. But you might feel like a fool because you live with a fool or someone very close to you is a fool.

Do you know someone who is so self-confident that they are always right? Now I am not talking about a teenager that naturally goes through the 'I am right, parents are dumb' stage. We all have periods of foolishness in our life. It can be hard to love someone through a foolish period, but tough love will not cater to the whims of foolish whimpers and cave in with giving what they want rather than saying or encouraging what they need.

A fool is deceitful. Every Christian knows it is wrong to be deceitful because Satan is the father of lies and deceit. To be deceitful is to follow the father of lies.

Just yesterday I heard that Sun Tzu in the Art of War said that all warfare is based upon deception. There is that word I try to avoid "deception" because I equate it with the evil one. But I began to look up what in the world Sun Tzu meant by this quote and found that it is most often misunderstood because it is taken out of context. (Is this not so common?) [great blog on Sun Tzu]

Sun Tzu taught that a leader in war must be careful to let his opponent believe his own lies about himself, others or the situation without ever actually speaking one lie. It seems he knew well how to deal with fools. An enemy who thinks he is always right will delude himself into his own personal disaster and drag along those who follow him closely or who get caught in his web of lies.

A fool is arrogant, but a delusional arrogance that comes not from achievement or hard work. A fool lies to himself and to others. He is convinced he is something he is not and others believe his charade about himself.

A fool need a posse. 

He can't stand on his own because he doesn't do the hard work necessary to stand. He needs to surround himself with 'wannabes' who are willing to do the grunt work for him, who will drop everything when he calls, who will jump on the wave when the tide is rising because they desire to partake in the ride. A fool collects people like a magnet but drops them without a compassionate thought when their usefulness comes to an end. Callously a fool prunes back perceived 'dead weight' regardless of the love or sacrifice previously bestowed on him. People are disposable, but most never leave; they keep on giving regardless of how many times they are trampled.

A fool has an amazingly appealing good side, a dazzlingly bright star, a stellar competitor, and a charming presence. People feel fortunate to be called a friend or to be in the fool's inner circle because the high times are intoxicatingly special and regardless of the price to be paid during the fall they remember how great it felt to be there during the good times.

In this way, a fool is addictive, but more than that...

 a fool is a trap. 

They can catch people on their hook and drag them along thinking they are actually choosing to be around. This is the deception... a fool make people believe lies and even live lies as they toss out a few bits of bait to keep them around.

It is hard to awaken and recognize a fool when you consider the person a friend or even worse if they are a family member. You have a kind heart, you want to believe good about people, you question your own responses, you imagine that you are the fool and at fault... it could never be the other way around.

But remember if you dare to think for a moment that you are a fool, if you regret and repent of your sins, if you seek forgiveness and want to live right according to God and not in your own sight, you are not a fool. You might need to wake up and realize you don't need that fool in your life, but only God can reveal this to you. If you are in doubt, ask Him. He will be happy to show you. He hates arrogance, deception and foolish ways.... the ways of a sinner but never the person. God love you and me and all of his creation.

I hope this helps you see more clearly. I hope you have enough self-respect to let God remove fools from your life. This is my prayer for you and for myself.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Daily - One Thing A Christian Has to Do

Religious duties are drudgery and have nothing to do with Jehovah God - Jesus - of the Holy Bible. Most certainly many in the name of God, claiming to represent Him, have laid down upon man many religious musts and don'ts, but let me be clear... we have only one thing to do:


I say that as though it is a simple, common thing that can be done by any person... and it can. That in itself is the mystery of grace that is boundless and sufficient for all.

Yes, yes, that sounds like religiosity... the mystery of grace.... boundless and sufficient for all is about as simple for most to understand as how one is to practically and daily experience a LIFE of relationship and intimacy with God.

But that is precisely what I am saying can be done and must be done in order to be a Christian.

While discipline is important, religious duties are not in the least pleasing to God unless we are practicing steps of discipleship with a heart to know and love Him, with an inner heart cry for touching the hem of Christ's garment, hoping with your complete being to be engulfed in the presence of God's manifest spiritual awareness.

What must you do? What must I do? What are the requirements?

A longing after God! (oh, is that all! YES! but what and how?)

In our age of technology that burst out of the age of science and high intellectualism, people have lost their way in believing and experiencing the inward life. Sure we eat, and watch and go and do. We touch and smell and taste and see.... but feel with our spirit in our soul. How does one find that in a cadaver? Who has seen it under the microscope of real world facts?

But if even the greatest of skeptics were gut honest, he knows he feels and not only with his mind but with his soul. The heart skipping beat when one knows he is loved regardless of imperfections. The awe of seeing the wonders of nature and everything in creation.... a newborn baby emerging from the mother's womb, a sunset on the horizon of the ocean, a butterfly unfolding its wings for the first time, a hug that fills the deepest hole during the agony of loss... yes, if we have allowed ourselves to live life, we have felt and been touched by something unseen, intangible. The honest scientist knows there is more beyond what can be dissected or observed with instruments.

It takes no degree in theology or innumerable days spent in Bible study to reach out and know God. In time it will take diligent study to grow deeply, but never study that is detached from the spiritual yearning and delight in knowing God and being known by Him - the zenith of life itself. And yet, no matter how much we grow, we will always be young seeking the Lord in fresh experiences, never satisfied to live on a memory of a time we had once or twice in life.... "daily" is all that will do.

It takes courage to move beyond the physical to explore the inward life, to ask 'how to'.

You and I --ordinary human being--are able in Christ to be liberated from the physical bounds of body and mind -- to be quickened in spirit daily.

Superficiality find satisfaction in fulfillment of purpose and joy of living. BUT HOW?

By God, not by what we can muster through hard work and determination. I laugh, because the full work is already done by Jesus... God simply will complete it within us as we sit at His feet surrendered to His molding, obedient to His calling, vulnerable to His passion, yearning to please Him and walk abiding... Him in me and I alive to being in Him. Awareness comes through stillness and surrender. Listening for His voice and following Him where ever it might take you.

What must I do? I must be still and know that HE IS GOD. I must be quiet, I must listen, I must be ready to obey... it is not about anything you manufacture, but think of it more like allowing the Artist of life to paint through you onto the canvas of today. Stroke by stroke, moment by moment, color by color, shadow by shadow, shape by shape, brush by brush, wash by wash, technique by technique. A gigantic canvas being tooled through you by the One that is the object of all your desire.

That is a perfect picture of the union of God becoming real in a person's life. We simply must learn how to let, and then to be.

May you have a wonderful day.



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Christian Versus Atheist All-Star Celebrity Apprentice

This coming Sunday night is the finale of the Donald Trump All-Star Celebrity Apprentice. Our family has enjoyed watching the show together each Sunday.

Source Credit Link:abc

We have grown to know the celebrities better and appreciate their strengths and weaknesses. One unusually part of this season has been the oddity of the celebrity Gary Busey, once an up-and-coming actor who got in a vehicle accident, had brain injury and went through a period addiction. Now he is getting his life back together. Gary has a beautiful wife, precious young boy and a definitely up-and-down mental stability; but Gary is Gary--and most viewer enjoy his out-of-this-world mental trips giving us his unique view of life in the mind of Gary.

The show's final two celebrities are Trace Adkins and Penn from the magician act, Penn and Tell. The finale has been slated as Nashville versus Los Vegas. Both men are quite confident of winning and coincidently of similar physical stature--tall, big, long-hair pony tail men. In many ways I find their personalities comparable--they don't sweat the small stuff, they rise above the riffs and have very creative, intelligent minds.

But what struck me to state that this is the Christian versus the Atheist, especially since both Adkins and Penn do not talk about their faith--they are very private and don't disclose a whole lot about themselves through their words?

I was thinking this morning about the irony of the fact that Penn's charity, Opportunity Village, serves the intellectually disabled community in Nevada. I remembered how he and Lisa Rinna two weeks ago belittled and emotionally cut-off Gary Busey who is intellectually challenged following his brain injury. Penn had so little compassion for Gary and simply could not work with him but instead frustrated Gary who was trying to be project manager. Lisa joined up with Penn and stayed clear of helping but instead seemed to talk down to Gary like he was retarded instead of injured and needing an OPPORTUNITY for extra loving care and patience.

In stark contrast last week when Trump pulled out a surprise return of Gary Busey and placed him on Trace's team for the finale, Trace treated Gary much differently. I initially felt Trump gave Trace Gary to aid Penn in winning because without question having Gary on your team is challenging. To my delight, Trace gave Gary a leading opportunity to star in his 60 second video highlighting the new ice cream flavor developed in support of Red Cross, Trace's non-profit group.

Mary Lou, who was also a returning team member for Trace, even teared up when she watched the beauty of seeing Gary come to life in her words with a spark of "genius" when he was in his craft of acting. Also, Trace chose Gary to accompany him whenever he picked one of the celebrities to go with him to do a part of the challenge. He didn't sideline Gary or give him a low level part (like Penn who chose Dennis Rodman, the oddest person on his team, to lie under the table and have ice cream dropped on him as part of the magic trick) that was a questionably degrading position for a celebrity.

Of course, I have no way of knowing if the Nashville Stars of Country music are going to out-contribute the flashy Las Vegas Show Stars in order to bring their Celebrity the crown of All-Star Celebrity Apprentice title and at least $250,000 charity prize money for this Sunday's show. Yet, I recall the old-timers slogan that it does not matter who wins or losses, it matters how you play the game.

After thinking about these points I see the clear winner, in my opinion - Trace is the winner! And in his own subtle way he has shown the walk of the character of Christ in treating the least of us as the best. I am honored to live in a Nashville suburb and to claim Trace Adkins for my hometown as a winner!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Youth Ministry - A Place to Practice

In many churches today youth ministry is the place that the church deacons employ young up-and-coming pastors. They deem that youth ministry is like a trial run for big church, or for pastoring the adult or even the whole congregation. Many senior pastors have used youth ministry as the gateway to becoming the main leader of a whole congregation.

Typical youth crazy activities

Let us look at the pros, cons and mindset that corresponds with this process.

Middle to High School students don't know as much about the Bible so it seems a nice place to let green ministers cut their teeth so to speak. The pastor can try out his Bible knowledge and develop a means of communicating messages to people. Youth are more apt to being flexible and forgiving of errors, let us face the fact that the majority of young people will not even notice if a youth pastor blunders a message or gives advice that is mediocre or not totally wise. And the feeling is "what does it matter" the issues a young person faces are not as surmountable as the adults who are making life important decisions daily.

Youth ministry is also considered the place for the less mature pastor to grow and thereby become a more complete, perfected Christian. The youth are in a maturing process themselves so it seem logical to allow a young pastor who needs time to mature to spend years ministering the comparable members of the church.

Most youth ministries are very silly and few mature Christians would want to engage in such youthful activities anyway. It is therefore seen as a win-win situation to place the silliest, most playful leader with the youth.

Then, of course, most congregations have the mindset that the youth need to be entertained and engaged in songs, skits, games, etc. that would never be acceptable on a Sunday morning but are highly palatable on Wednesday nights in the youth service. Loud rocking music, concert lighting, dimmed club-like room settings are the choice of esthetics for youth ministry.

So this is all grand! Is it not? What possibly could be unwise about this arrangement?

Well, it is similar to the blind leading the blind which is birthed from the mentality that the young don't need as much solid teaching and wisdom. From all of the teens I have known this is not so. Teenagers are growing up in an increasingly unprotected evil society and they are faced with unstable family structures and highly unBiblical public education that often lead to being forced to growing up fast.

In Scripture God never gives the church time for mindless play and immature teaching. All saints regardless of their age needs solid Biblical teaching of laying down foundational truths and a pastor that is able to spontaneously react to given challenging situations in a mature Biblical manner. A youth minister has a powerful opportunity to lay the strongest Christian foundation into impressionable minds and quite often tender hearts who have been hurt by adults and peers in their life.

Quite possibly the most grievous downside to church youth ministry is how it separates youth from their family and how it weakens teens relationships with their parents. The public school mindset that parents are a hamper to minister to their our teen children is damaging not only to the individual parent-teen relationship but to the strength of the church body itself. Parents are seen as noising around visitors that are over-protective or unable to relinquish their young to socially exciting events and cool experiences. Viewed as fuddy-duddies that are out of touch parents are excluded from events and thereby miss any opportunity of having shared experiences with their teens. Just like public schools, parents are felt they are intruding on someone else's territory if they try to hangout with the youth ministry. This is a most unfortunate trend in churches.

Teens are naturally growing and looking for answers. They frequently are open to the input of adults in their life beyond their parents. They are seeking to find out if God is real and if His Word can truly help them navigate the trials and obstacles they are facing. Teens need mature ministers that can instruct them in how to apply the Balm of Gilead (Scripture) to their hurts. They need experiences with God that are spirit-led, meaningful and life changing.

Youth is no time for Practicing Pastors. It is quite rationally the most essential age period for reaching the unsaved and for grounding men and women in righteous living and Christian ministry. The prudent church will recognize that youth is the age to ground individuals in a disciplined pattern of Christian response and living.

With all this said, I include this "food for thought" on youth ministry. Christians need to be on their knees seeking the wisdom of God and searching His Word pertaining to the teaching of children. Parents - not the church - are instructed with this high mission. It is folly to try to replace the life on life instruction of a parent in their child's life, and quite possibly a very dangerous mindset. Parents are given the responsibility to train up their children and it is unwise to try to establish a method of living that is extra-Biblical.

The wise deacons of a church will bring in a mature youth pastor who can come along side the parents of youth and equip them to be the best parents they can be to their middle and high school children. The youth ministry with work hand in hand with God's chosen minister (the parents) in facilitating the growth of the teens and work tirelessly to create a family-friendly atmosphere where family units are encouraged to grow in the Word together and to apply teaching in their daily relationships. The youth ministry should be a resource in the Body of Christ that happily welcomes parents and teens to come and learn together and to build strong bonds that will last a lifetime.

Let me end by saying, that among the Kingdom of God there are some churches who are perfecting their children and youth ministries to be family focused and to be Bible Study based. The children and parents are richly growing in God and mutual respect developing into the people God created them to be and assisted by men and woman of God that have devoted their life to the ministry of youth and their families. The key is to honor God and the teachings of His Word in every ministry of the church. We need to search for Biblical precepts before developing ministry and church programs so that we are certain God's will is being done and HE is getting the greatest glory through our time, money and efforts.

I hope you have found this post beneficial and I would be happy to hear your experience and any Biblical insights you may have to add to the discussion of youth ministry.



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