Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Moses- Leader with Faith and Humility

I have started a study of the life of Moses for the Summer of 09. I like character studies,becuase they remind us that God uses all kinds of people, in his own way and time, to accomplish his purposes.

Moses was the Deliverer... but he was so much more. He was a humble man. He was scared at times. He did not believe in his ability to convinice Pharoah, to let the peoeple go. He felt inadequate as manager of large groups of people. He had an anger problem at times. His leadership was constantly criticized. He disobeyed God and it cost him something very precious. (the honor of going into the promise land.") He got to spend time face to face with God, and then go down the mountain and confront the sin of the impatient people. I have read through his life... don;t see alot of down time once he turned 80. That was a hard run into the last 40 year segment.

If I were going to study 5 hero's from the Bible I would study, Abraham, Joseph, Moses and David and Jesus. Those are the top five in my book.

Right now I am outlining the books of Exodus and Numbers...along with some refrences in Hebrews 11. All in preparation for 10-11 sermons and 12 study guides for the summer.

You learn alot about God by watching how He works through other people.

I am thankful for a church leadership and staff who gives me the time to study for a series like this...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Real Life meeting faith...it works

Being from Oklahoma has somewhat insulated us from the harshest realities of the economic downturn. Here in the heartland we are not seeing the wide-spread layoffs that are hitting the Northeast, West, Southwest and Upper Midwest. It may get worse, but for now it is more like a trickle, instead of a flood.

But we are seeing people in our church who are being laid off. It doesn't matter whether it is you, or a 100 people, it is still scary to get the paperwork. When Joel was laid off last November, he said that he was so surprised and shocked... They were putting papers in front of him and telling him to sign them. He was numb.

Imagine what it is like for someone who is married and has children. Joel is single and in pretty good shape as far as obligations. But lots of people are not. It's scary.

I saw an email that one guy in our church wrote to his small group this week. He talked about how he would be laid off today. It was kind of scary, but he knew that God would take of him and his family (including a baby on the way.)

So what did he do? He emailed his small group. The email is one overflowing with faith. But it is also a signal that they have a group to call on if they need help. He ended his email with a quote from 2 Cor 4:8-9 and these words, "I will praise Him in the hard times!"

We will help where we can, along side of the groups. We are being blessed now as a church for times such as these. If you have lost your job, let us know... we want to help.

This is where real life meets faith. And it works!

On another note, Pam and I went to an open house for Pregnancy Resource Center. It is really growing influence in our community. There is a strong vision, great leadership and a desire to care for people. They have expanded thier facilities and they are making a difference.

It is another place where real life meets faith. And it works!

A member of our church lost his brother suddenly this week. His small group was on it, before I even knew about it ( And I knew within about 2 1/2 hrs). There is a group of people who will minister better to him and his family than I can. I will do my part...but the group is where the consistent support and love will come.

It is another place where real life meets faith. And it works!

We want to be a real life kind of place, full of grace and love, support, honoring the truth of God's Word and using those things to build faith into the lives of people. Sounds exactly like what the church should be doing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


MARCH MADNESS- going very well for me... see previous post... Proud of the OSU Cowboys!

NAIA-Steve Mowery and I went to KC for the NAIA Championships ( 24 games in 3 days). Love it! And we got an added bonus... we took a chance and went to the Sprint Center, bought two tickets and got to see OU-Morgan State. ( Yes, I saw the flip...It was just as bad in real life as on TV.) Great time with a great friend.

CHURCH- The BAGGAGE series has been awesome. It has also been the most draining series of sermons I have done in a long time. People have so much to deal with... and preaching about Anger, bitterness and guilt surfaces alot of things. I think I most pleased with the fact that people look to God to help them with these kinds of things. I have said the same thing every week...."If you allow bitterness, anger, or guilt to take up residence in your life, it makes you tired and weary. And even worse, after a while, you begin to think how you feel is normal and how it will be for the rest of your life."

Galatians 5:1- "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free."

Good Stuff...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March Madness

Here it is... the predictor of March Madness. I am not an expert in Basketball, but I know a little about it. And it sure beats talking about the economy....

Round 1 Upsets- Not too many limbs to climb on in this round...
- Sienna (9) over Ohio State (8)
-USC (10) over Boston College ( 7)
-Texas AM ( 9) over BYU (8)
-Maryland ( 10) over Cal (7)
- Mississippi State (13) over Washington ( 4)
-VCU (11) over UCLA(6)
-Butler ( 9) over LSU (8)
- Western Kentucky ( 12) over Illinois ( 5)
- Michigan ( 10) over Clemson (7)

Round 2 Upsets
- Fla. State ( 5 ) over Xavier ( 4)

Round 3 upsets
Gonzaga (4) over UNC (1)
Kansas (3) over Michigan State ( 2)
Wake Forests ( 4) over Louisville ( 1)

Round 4
Pitt Vs. Duke- Pitt
Gonzaga Vs. OU- OU
Uconn Vs. Memphis - Memphis
Kansas vs. Wake - Kansas

Final four

Pitt Vs. OU- Pitt
Kansas Vs. Memphis ( rematch of 08 national championship)- Memphis

Title Game
Pitt Vs. Memphis- MEMPHIS

there you have it... Should be interesting...

Oh boy.....

I am going to wade into "deep yogurt" here. I am no expert... but have a thought or two.

It's this AIG thing. I understand that the government bailed them out last fall because they were "too big to fail." I understand that salaries and bonuses are hot buttons today and get people all riled up. I have watched for the last 2 months or so at how the "government " has been outraged at what has been happening in some of these banks and insurance companies. Today, I listened for a bit as Congreessmen and Senators, and even the President said, "We will figure out a way to get that money back, even if we have to tax them (those that got the bonuses) at 90%.

WOW.... here is my problem. Several ( I am being generous here) of the administrations top financial people , along with tax legislation writing congressmen have been accused of dodging personal income taxes over the past few years. Only when they were nominated to the cabinet, or called on the carpet by regulators did they come clean and pay up. Hmnnnn..... and now they are screaming bloody murder about AIG bonuses?

Don't get me wrong... I am not a big fan of 1 million dollar bonuses. ( I never have received one.) This is not the time to be doing that... bad PR.... I think that there would be some better uses of the money.

But , if they are contractual in nature, and have been agreed upon before this current crisis hit ( and that seems to be the case), then what is the big deal about? A year ago, the climate was different. I kind of doubt that someone at AIG woke up in mid-feb and said, "Hey I think I will shell out 165 million dollars of the tax payers money, to a bunch of my buddies at work, some of whom do not work there any more."

What bothers me more is the idea that Congressional members are trying to write laws that would TAX 90% of that money to recoup it. If they will do that, then where will it stop? Talk about "trickle down economics." Pretty soon we will taxes go up on everything , even for the middle income kind of guy...all in the name of "making things right." That is code for "wealth re-distribution." And no matter what anyone says, when the wealth get re-distributed someone gets rich. Its generally the guy who did not work for it.

This gets personal if the government decides to take their new found power to "make things right" and tells me that I can not preach on passages in the Bible that stand against homosexuality ( and if it begins there, it will never stop until Biblical Christianity is legislated out of existence in this country.)

I see this desire to use "power in legislation" to re-shape our country. It is scary.

I am not all that political in nature... I generally try to stay out of these kinds of things... I rarely if ever, write about it. But this Sunday I preached about "Dealing with Bitterness". At the end I talked with people who were dealing with bitterness toward family members, toward employers, even toward God. But one guy really caught my attention. I respect this guy so much and have grown to love him. He told me how good the messages in this "Baggage" series have been, and then he told me he had a problem with bitterness... toward the people that are running this country into the ground right before our eyes.

I thought it was a very transparent and sincere thing to say. He really wants to guard his heart.

There are days like today when I think, "He could be right... and we could be watching it all happen right before our eyes."

I am not smart enough to know whether that is exactly true or not. But I do know that if our government can write legislation in the name of "making things right" that will tax anyone any amount they deem "right", allowing them to dip into our wallets, and to leigslate our own moral beliefs, then this is really not the United States of America any more.

Our hope???? Turn to God...Put our faith and trust in Him. For in the end, all of this will be hay and stubble, and all that will remain is our faith in God and trust in His Son. I believe God is in control and in the end, he will use anyone, anytime to draw people's hearts and mind back to Him.



I will post my final predictions tonight.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Something to think about...

Interesting little battle going on in California. Last fall, voters supported Proposition 8, which basically stated that marriage was a union between a man and a woman. 52-48%. So those who held an opposing view, that marriage is a civil right for all people, including same sex "couples", went to court. The issue finds itself before the California Supreme Court this week.

Pundits don't know what to do with this. Beyond the obvious question, there is one that I think goes to the heart of the battle.

Here it is...

If the majority of the people say that marriage should be between a man and a woman, what do the proponents of same sex marriage do next? In other words, if they don't the answer they want from the people, they go "above their heads" to get what they want.

So they go the the courts. And they put their trust in their belief that the justices on the state supreme court know better than 52% of the people. This is not a constituional thing. Those who supported Prop 8 followed the letter of the law and constitution in California. They took it to the people... and the people have spoken. But that is not good enough.

( It is an age old problem..remember when you were a kid??? You would ask your Dad, and when he said, "no", did that stop you? No way... you figured out how to spin the question a little different, avoid having to answer the question, "Did you ask your father?" and then get a different answer from your unsuspecting mom. Don't deny it... we all did it)

Now, while I agree with this "form" of referendum politics... and think it has a place in our culture, It does not have a place in this arguement.

California politicans ( not just them, but many politicians in all locales) have made one fatal mistake. The people are not the final word when it comes to moral issues such as same sex marriage. The judges are not the final word either.

In our country, it is all about "majority" rules. That is our country. And in many cases it works. But not in these kinds of cases. There is a higher rule of authority here... And the problem is that sometimes the majority is wrong...

Ultimately the final word is the Scriptures. Bottom line, God has always said that marriage is a union between man and woman. He has consitently condemened homosexuality as a sinful lifestyle, something that people choose to do.

Leaving moral decisions like this to votes or to judges is bad leadership. You have to go beyond what a group of people feel. Because they may feel different next week. Circumstances change... emotions change...and the next thing you know, your perspective changes. Then the rules change... and you are well on your way to chaos.

Going to judges is no better, in large part because they are humans. They are susceptible to changing views, emotions and circumstances.

It is a kind of viscious circle that our founding forefathers could not have anticipated. Don't like something? Vote on it. Is the new law unconsittutional? Ask a judge. Do we need to have a new law? Let the legislature write a new law Don't like the solution? Ask a judge.

It all might work today if we had the same standard of truth that they had back then. The Holy Scriptures. But we don't... so we vote, ask, rewrite, find someone that agrees with me, and then say, "They are the final word..." But they aren't the final word, or someone else will find their own "final word."

We need a standard of truth that sets us straight on how to live in a way that is honoring of our Creator and good for us. That is the Bible... I put my trust in what Scriptures say about all things. I think scripture is pretty clear...