18
Aug
14

Blessed are the peacemakers

As I see images from the ongoing and out of control rioting in Ferguson, Missouri; I am struck by the pure and unbridled hatred being manifested by people toward the police. These people are willing to sacrifice their very lives to prove their point that all cops are bad and deserve to die. I am left with the overwhelming question in my mind; where does all this hate come from?

Next to the restaurant where my wife works is a new hotel just built last year. Yesterday morning and then again this morning we noticed about 20-25 Missouri State Police cars parked in the lot. We found out that this is where the beleaguered men and women on the front lines of the street warfare in Ferguson come to catch a few hours of sleep in between shifts.

This morning I saw one of those men as he got out of his patrol car heading for the hotel. The man looked like death warmed over. He was obviously tired to the bone and stressed out mentally after yet another night of conflict, tear gas, arrests and shots being fired. All I could think of was that this man probably had a wife and children at home worried sick about his safety. I can tell you in no uncertain terms, this man WAS NOT A PIG, as the protesters proclaim.

My heart goes out to those charged with “keeping the peace”, for theirs in a job no one appreciates or understands. They must put themselves in the line of fire in order to get different sides to back down, listen and hopefully talk. No wonder Jesus said that peacemakers are blessed. Anyone who has to mediate a conflict, whether verbal or with weapons of destruction, has to have nerves of steel and a heart immune from personal emotions.

As I see images of men, women and children literally running for their lives in Iraq, I am struck by the fact that in so many places on this earth, hatred and absolute disregard for the value of human life is non-existent. Just as in all cases of genocide, the humanity of the enemy has been removed and all that is left is a body (no different than a deer, rabbit or other hunted animal) that needs to be exterminated as one would get rid of roaches or ants.

It is a travesty that abortion is still legal, and it is truly a horrible thing that so many unborn children are murdered each day around the world. But, what about actual living, breathing, walking and talking people. Is not their systematic genocide even more grotesque and ugly than killing an unborn child? Of all the atrocities man does to man, none is worse than genocide, otherwise known as ethnic cleansing.

Adolph Hitler set about seeking to systematically purge his new kingdom of Jews. Millions of people were killed for no other reason than their ethnicity. In Rwanda, a half of million people of one tribe were killed (usually with a machete) by another tribe as they sought retribution for horrible atrocities in the past and to cleanse the country of their presence and memory.

Ethnic cleansing, unbridled hatred by one race toward another and the mistaken belief that one group of people is universally better or anointed to be most powerful on earth leads to mass murder, rioting in the streets and a general sense of uneasiness everywhere. Add into this equation the power of religious hatred and the outcome is horrifying and senseless.

We live in a world ready to explode with anger, righteous indignation and the burning lust to spill blood of perceived enemies. It seems that each day brings a new challenge for those charged with keeping the peace or mediating between warring parties. Please pray for those who must put themselves in harm’s way in order to calm down the fires of hatred ready to erupt into savage brutality at any moment.

12
Aug
14

Riots are NEVER a good thing

A few blocks from where I once worked selling cars in Ferguson, Missouri, a young man was shot and killed by a policeman which in turn has triggered ongoing and increasingly violent riots in the whole St. Louis area. Demonstrations are perfectly legal and entirely understandable but rioting, stealing, looting and destroying property is NOT.

It is interesting that the things going on in my area are the very things brought up and prohibited in the New Testament. Obviously the idea of people using a situation to justify rioting is not a modern phenomenon for it has been a part of cultures for thousands of years.

We need look no further than the mob action relating to the apprehension, “trial” and sentencing of Jesus to see that when leaders (especially religious leaders) stir up the people into a frenzy, the results are predictable and unpleasant. Is it not possible that the reason Pilate gave into the demands of the people to crucify Jesus was his fear that if he did not, the people would break through the Romans guards and crucify him?

On more than one occasion, the Apostle Paul was caught in public riots that nearly cost him his life. In Acts 19, while Paul was at Ephesus, people upset with losing money making idols of the goddess Diana, caused a riot that would have killed Paul if the disciples had not restrained him and safely took him away from the upheaval. An excellent definition of a mob is recorded in Acts 19:32 where it says:

Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused: and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

Most people who participate in a riot have no clue why they are rioting. The confusion of the situation leads to lack of communication which in turn leads to clamor and mass destruction. While in Jerusalem, Paul went to the temple to purify himself in Acts 21. What happened next defines a riot and almost claimed Paul’s life:

26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,

28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

29 (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)

30 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.

31 And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.

32 Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.

33 Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done.

34 And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle.

35 And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people.

Acts 21:26-35

Mob action is dangerous and many times leads to a full blown riot. A riot is a violent disturbance where angry and out of control people damage property and physically injure others. Rioting, reveling, clamoring etc are specifically forbidden numerous places in both Paul’s and Peter’s epistles. God’s people should NEVER be lured into a riot or mob action. There is absolutely no justification for anyone claiming to know and love God to participate, incite or take pleasure in anything resembling a riot.

My heart aches for what is happening in the St. Louis area for innocent and gullible people are being lured into doing things both illegal and dangerous. I pray that calmer heads prevail and the vultures descending on the area from other states fail in their attempts to incite the people to even more dangerous and damaging actions.

08
Sep
13

Cheer up, we will understand it all by and by

In my younger years I used to love strumming the guitar and sing simple songs (I wasn’t very good at all). One of the first songs I learned how to play became one my favorite songs due to its message. Over the years when I led a fellowship or meeting I many times had everyone sing this song because it was simple, short and encouraging.

Recently I was amazed to find out there are MANY verses to this song instead of the first verse and refrain I had heard all my life. Once I saw the complete song, I knew I would have to blog about it because some of the verses are truly awesome. Without further ado, may I present to you, the complete song “Farther Along”.

1. Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder
Why it should be thus all the day long;
While there are others living about us,
Never molested, though in the wrong.
o Refrain:
Farther along we’ll know more about it,
Farther along we’ll understand why;
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,
We’ll understand it all by and by.
2. Sometimes I wonder why I must suffer,
Go in the rain, the cold, and the snow,
When there are many living in comfort,
Giving no heed to all I can do.
3. Tempted and tried, how often we question
Why we must suffer year after year,
Being accused by those of our loved ones,
E’en though we’ve walked in God’s holy fear.
4. Often when death has taken our loved ones,
Leaving our home so lone and so drear,
Then do we wonder why others prosper,
Living so wicked year after year.
5. “Faithful till death,” saith our loving Master;
Short is our time to labor and wait;
Then will our toiling seem to be nothing,
When we shall pass the heavenly gate.
6. Soon we will see our dear, loving Savior,
Hear the last trumpet sound through the sky;
Then we will meet those gone on before us,
Then we shall know and understand why.

There are several contradictory claims for the authorship of this song. The words and music are frequently attributed to W. B. Stevens, although others have attributed the words to W. A. Fletcher

If there is anyone out there who has never had these questions come up in their mind, I wonder how much of a stand for God is really being made. Anyone who boldly proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ and faithfully stands firm in that Gospel SHALL suffer persecution, affliction and tribulation, many times while watching people who despise God seemingly live the “perfect life”.

Unless we live for more than what this life has to offer, we will spend much of this life in misery, jealous of others success and questioning our very faith. We live, stand and speak God’s Word not for the physical rewards in this life but rather because God says to do it with the hope that farther along we will understand why.

I pray that having these words to this simple song handy can bring you comfort during times of distress, joy during times of sorrow and confidence during times of uncertainty. Always remember that just because we don’t understand the whys and the wherefores of things today doesn’t mean we won’t have an epiphany tomorrow. Cheer up my brothers and sisters and live in the sunshine for God has assured us that we will understand it all by and by.

02
Sep
13

Living the love of God instead of just talking about it

As I watched the “Secret Millionaire” show last evening, which featured Tri Coastal Community Outreach which I have worked closely with for seven years, I was struck again by how ignorant many Christian denominations are when it comes to charity. For reasons that escape me, there is a belief among some branches of our faith that it is a bad thing to help people in any way except preaching the Bible to them. I believe this is not only shortsighted but also in direct opposition to what Jesus said in the parable recorded in Matthew 25:34-46.

When someone has been beaten down by life’s storms, the last thing they need (usually) is someone to slam a Bible over their head and tell them to believe. When someone has seen their home washed away, their job dissolved, their family split apart or their physical body break down; the last thing they need to hear is that they are a sinner and all these things happened to them because they sinned.

When I dropped everything in May of 2006 and took off for the Gulf Coast to try and help those who were in great need after Hurricane Katrina, I had one goal in mind and that was to be of service. I of course had my Bible with me and studied it faithfully, but I did not embark on my journeys to be an evangelist but rather to be a servant.

Many times I found myself loading or unloading trucks in 99 degree heat, tearing out rotten drywall in a mold infested house, running all over three states trying to find supplies when none were to be found and numerous other menial tasks. My greatest joy came when I was able to be a part of a distribution day at one of the outreach centers when food and other supplies were passed out.

I remember vividly handing a package of toilet paper to an older lady at a distribution center one day. I had to drive nearly 100 miles to find that paper due to shortages. Upon receiving the package, the woman broke down in tears and thanked the Lord for His faithfulness over and over again. How can helping someone SEE the love of God in manifestation be wrong?

When I wasn’t actually helping people I was traveling across the United States trying to present the needs I had witnessed to churches, ministries and other groups who claimed they wanted to help people. For the most part my appeals landed on deaf ears. Time and again I heard the same excuses which were that these people needed to help themselves and just “giving them things” did not help them rebuild their lives.

If more Christian preachers and teachers spent less time talking and more time putting on their work clothes and helping someone rebuild their home, clean their yard or find supplies to stay alive; more people would come to the Lord by seeing the love of God in manifestation than just hearing about it on Sunday morning. Those who live their faith provide a far greater testimony to the faith than those who simply want to talk about it.

01
Sep
13

Tri Coastal Community Outreach is on television tonight

I first met Carolyn in June of 2006 at her outreach center near Mobile, Alabama. At the time, she was taking care of displaced Hurricane Katrina victims out of her father’s unfinished church. Unlike many of the people I had met doing the same basic thing; I knew from the outset that there was something special about the way Carolyn did things.

Carolyn had been a wedding planner before the hurricane with no thought of coordinating a sprawling charity. But, when the devastation became apparent soon after the storm passed, her ironclad Christian faith and abounding love manifested in mercy prompted her to act instead of reacting. Instead of sitting around in a daze waiting for someone to help her and her family, Carolyn immediately started finding food and other supplies to help others.

I was in Kentucky when I received a call from Carolyn in July of 2006. Her father had just died and she was suffering physical problems herself that would necessitate her going in the hospital. Although we had only met once, there was a bond that quickly developed between us due to the mutual respect we had for what each other was doing.

I had to go to Pennsylvania to do a meeting but afterward I made a beeline for Mobile to visit Carolyn in the hospital and do what I could to help the people she was ministering to. Thankfully I had my little green van to stay in and help out. That trip 7 years ago fostered a relationship of trust and thanksgiving that remains vital even today. Although I rarely see or even talk with Carolyn much anymore, I deeply admire what she is doing and pray for her and her outreach daily.

Carolyn refused to quit, get discouraged, compromise or sell out to anyone over the years. Her group, Tri Coastal Community Outreach, is truly independent and is not supported by government programs or underwritten by a major denomination. Carolyn has depended on donations, both large and small, to stay afloat for years. She draws no salary but works 60-80 hours a week strictly as a labor of love.

Over the years, I have supported Tri Coastal through donations of money and goods. I even purchased freezers for them in 2007 to allow them to give out frozen food. More than once I have taken trailers of goods from our eBay store to help stock their thrift store. Of all the people and groups I met in 2006-2007, none were as pure and Godly in what they were doing as Tri Coastal.

Years ago Carolyn started conducting classes on how to repair your house, set up a checking account, stay healthy and many other things. This was all done to break the cycle of dependency many charities fall into. It is a true saying that if you give a man a fish he will eat for a day but if you teach him HOW to fish he can eat for a lifetime.

Two years ago, ABC television visited Tri Coastal and filmed an episode of their unique show “Secret Millionaire”. Tonight at 7:00 pm CDT on ABC that episode will be aired. If you want to see how much good a grass roots charity can do when the leader is a devout Christian who refuses to compromise Biblical truth; I urge you to watch or record this show for it will truly bless you.

Many of you know of my admiration for Carolyn and Tri Coastal for I have written of her before. It fills my heart with great joy and thanksgiving to know that this evening, her group will finally receive the recognition it deserves. For me, it is like the joy a parent feels when seeing their child graduate. Thank you for allowing me to share a bit about someone and something very near and dear to my heart.

08
Aug
13

God is, was and will always be…

From the very depths of the universe Almighty God proclaims to all who want to see and know Him that He is the creator of the heavens and the earth. In every aspect of creation we see His handiwork, His power and majesty. In every living thing we see the very essence of what God is, and that is LIFE.

Almighty God is not the god of death or hate. He is, as He always has been, the God of Life and Love.

Why did God bother to create this world in which we live? Why did He not be content to fellowship with angels? That Almighty God would see fit to create this earth and fill it with plants and animals in preparation for us being here is an act of super abounding love and grace.

Almighty God is not the god of despair or disgrace. He is, as He always will be, the God of Hope and Grace.

We know that in the beginning God told Adam and Eve that He had given to them, for their blessing, all that is on and in the earth. God gave them the herbs and fruit of the earth for their healing and nourishment. God made all the animals subject to them to be beasts of burden and sources of companionship and enjoyment.

Almighty God is not the god of stoicism and lack. He is, and always will be the God of Abundance and Blessings.

Even after man’s terrible fall, God did not strike him dead on the spot or place him in chains to live out his life in prison. No, God simply laid out the new rules in Genesis chapter 3 which entailed hard work for both the woman and the man. Instead of childbearing and working the earth being a joy; those things would now involve pain and hard grueling work.

Almighty God is not the god of injustice or spite. He is, as He always has been, the God of Righteousness and Justice.

Our God is a mighty God of power and strength and might. He is not as other gods who are not able to aid, help or assist anyone. Our God is a loving God who constantly is looking out for and watching over His children and who only desires the best for them. Our God is He who made us to worship Him and placed within us the need and desire to please Him. Our God knows our frame and everything about us for He is the one who made us.

As we go about our business here in life, I pray that we always seek to place God where He deserves to be in our hearts and minds, and that is of course FIRST. May we strive to never relegate Him to the position of being just another god among many, but rather that He is who He was, is and always will be—Almighty God, our creator and loving Father forever more.

06
Aug
13

Reaching out with the love of Christ to a dying and lying world

My heart aches as I think of and pray for numerous people in various stages of cancer diagnosis, treatment or follow-up. It is incredible how many people are directly or indirectly impacted by this horrible disease. Added together, the amount of time, effort and money spent to monitor and treat various cancers is staggering.

My heart aches as I think of and pray for numerous people facing battles that are testing and trying their faith. So many people are afflicted with pressure in their lives due to financial and other issues. So many people are firmly entangled in the various elements of oppression and depression. Situations that arise and will not quit leave a person tired, worn out and vulnerable.

My heart aches as I think of and pray for numerous people firmly in the grasp of oppressive powers intent on making and keeping them slaves. Those who have sold their bodies or minds to others for the sake of financial security are in reality slaves to whom they sold out to. Once caught, very few people ever escape from the imprisonment of their choices and corresponding obligations.

Never in the history of this world have things appeared so good on the outside but so rotten on the inside. At first glance, the world seems to be buzzing along doing better than ever. At first glance, people seem to be content, happy, satisfied and well taken care of. But are they really what they project?

Under the surface of the pretty facade so many put up are unhappy, dissatisfied and restless people worried about what tomorrow will bring and what they did yesterday. Locked in the prisons of their own minds, they become experts at looking good to hide the inner turmoil, unrest, guilt and fears that eat them from the inside out just as cancer does in the human body.

Subdivisions and communities are full of people who outwardly appear to have it together and happily are living the American (or any other country’s) dream. Behind the walls of their mini mansions and within the confines of their own minds, these people are tormented day and night by unanswered questions, regrets about the past, guilt for things done or said and fears about what tomorrow may bring.

Lying underneath the smooth exterior people project are truly troubled individuals. Hidden out of view of prying eyes are questions, temptations, battles and doubts that drive people mad. How many millions of people resort to drugs or alcohol to subdue the demons afflicting them? How many people run to every distraction this world offers in hope of finding an ounce of peace and comfort?

Without Jesus Christ there is no peace. Without God there are no answers. Without the Word of God there is no hope. Without the fellowship of believers there is no way to withstand the onslaught of all that seeks to derail and destroy the faith by which we live.

There is a whole world out there diseased and dying; waiting for someone to care enough to help them out of the nightmare they call life. Let us pray to be Ambassadors for Christ willing and able to reach out with His love to those hurting and teetering on the edge of spiritual oblivion.