12 June 2009

Thank You, Burt Brady

This video was forwarded to me by my good friend George Fennel. I just had to share it with you all.

I can not express my thanks to all these people who are at the airpot to meet our returning troops. When I came back from Desert Storm in 1991, we had a reception, but it was on post, and was all family and friends. While that was certainly a welcomed sight, along with the free McDonalds McRib sandwiches, it was not the general public. This is certainly different.

I think most soldiers will agree that they are not looking for the 'wow' of the public, or a welcome home as all sorts of hero. But what encourages a soldier the most is to know that the people back home, the general public, love and support them, and are glad that they are doing their job to protect America.

You see a soldiers job is bigger than himself. The phrase that gets thrown around as a cliche is that when the soldier is in battle, that is not fighting for his mission, or for his country, or for any cause. What they are fighting for is the soldier to his left and right, who is in turn are fighting for him. Now don;t get me wrong, a good soldier knows that missions comes first above all else. But the cliche is no cliche. That's exactly what the soldier fights for, the soldiers to their left and right, that without whom, his life is lost, and the mission fails.

So to Burt Brady, and all those who come out to help him greet the soldiers returning from war, Thank you for all that you do. YOU all are the real American hero.

Whether you agree or disagree with what the soldiers are doing over seas, they are following orders that are being made by the administration that has been voted into power. Like it or not. Soldiers deserve our support, not our protest.

11 June 2009

Biblical Response to Criticism of the God given, Constitutional Right to Self Defense

In a recent discussion with some other pastors, I was forwarded the following link:
When this link was shared with several pastors, this was one response:

I'm sure [I'm] one of many who doesn't get the point...or at least doesn't see its importance in having such a thing take even a moment of time away from teaching the Word.

My response was as follows:
Did you all read the article? VERY well written and said. If you notice the date it is a Saturday and is not even be a regular time of worship.

The church announcment states:

This event is not taking place on the Lord’s Day. This is not a Church worship service, where the focus is on Jesus and our responsibility to Him. Rather, this is merely a Church hosted event, similar to any other event that any other Church may do to celebrate their heritage. It would be our hope to see this event become a nationally celebrated, annual occurrence on the last weekend of June.

They [the church] give a very eloquent and biblical point of view as to why they are doing what they are doing. It is in effect, and outreach event. They state:
A person does not have to be a member of our church nor even be a believer in God to attend. It is open to any religious, racial or ethnic group. It matters not what your political or personal preference may be. One need not own nor wear a firearm to attend. If you support 2nd and 1st Amendment rights, you are welcome.

This event is no different than having a concert where people are attracted to the event because of a common love for music. Or having a quest speaker who speaks on creationism for abortion, where people are attracted to come out of a common love for those subjects. It’s no different than having a BBQ that is open to all comers, because they are all attracted due to their common love for food and a love for fellowship. in Christian ministry it is often our goal in having church events to do something that will entice those who would not normally come to the church, into coming so that, if simply by our witness only, we can showe them Jesus.

Events like this should be lauded. We should be pleased in Christ with what they are doing ~ as an attempt to show people in the community and in this nation that Christianity is not a dogmatic ‘religion’ of pacifism:
Luke 22:36 (New King James Version) 36 Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.
Those are Christ’s words, not mine.

I will be the first to admit, and in the process find myself agreeing with the church sponsoring this event, that this is an area of Christian freedom. We can be gomatic about the fact that we this right to self protection, and even be dogmatic that it has been given to us by God. What we cannot be dogmatic about is the legalitic approach that this needs to be praticed and or appluaded by all people. Working in the firearms industry as I have for the better part of the past 25 years, I'll be the first to admit that owning a firearms is NOT for everyone, and it should be pushed on NO ONE.

We need to remember that ALL of our Constitutional rights are given to us by God Himself (I do not say that, scripture does…

Romans 13:1 - 1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

That includes both the limitations that God has allowed to be established through the government that He controls and has given authority to, as well as the express freedoms that we have been given as well. It is all equal, and just like the rest of scripture, we cannot pick or choose which verses we will expressly believe in or follow, and those we will reject and not follow. To reject and, and to not follow one or two for that reason, is to reject the Bible in whole, and to destin yourself to be eternally seperated from Jesus and salvation.

To ridicule this event as one that detracts from the ‘teaching of the word’ is at best simply short sighted, at worst, anti-biblical. Think of the people that this event might attract who would not normally come? There will almost certainly be some sort of gospel message given, or at least the opportunity for the leadership of that church to do so on their own as the event transpires, person to person, and to do so to people whom they have probably never seen at church before.

Their message also included this statement:
Gun ownership is not part of the gospel message. The gospel message is Jesus Christ, His life, death, burial and resurrection. He came to reconcile sinners unto God. One is saved by faith alone through grace alone by Christ alone. Gun ownership falls under the scope of Christian liberty. One may either choose to own or not own a firearm. But as soon as someone yells “foul” or that this event or activity is not something that one may do as a Christian, the matter now becomes inextricably linked with the gospel. We believe that a person can neither add to nor take away from their justification by Christ. It is a matter of Christian liberty that flows directly from one’s justification in Christ. The gospel makes Christian liberty an issue that must be exercised in the face of legalism.

Congrats to them! Christ is being preached! How dare we judge them…… lest we become another Christian 'discernment ministry' that makes it there goal to root all all those who (in their limited view) should be deemed inappropriate to join the ranks of Christian fellowship with the likes of the rest of us "righteous" people.

09 June 2009

“False Prophet”

As we all know, last week our President made a speech in Cairo Egypt. In that speech he made several references to the Koran, confessed his Islamic heritage in public for the first time, and to begin the speech offered the following Islamic greeting, "As-Salaam Alaikum". In response to this, at a Republican fund raiser, actor Jon Voight (a conservative oasis in the moral desert of Hollywood, unfortunately perhapos best known by today's movie goers as the father of Angelina Jolie) called Barack Hussein Obama a 'false prophet' of sorts. I'm in agreement.

The true meaning of "As-Salaam Alaikum" is not a mere "Hi," "Hello," or "How are you" as we are accustomed to using today in America. It has a much deeper meaning than just a standard greeting. In actuality, there are three meanings for this greeting:

  1. As-Salaam, as we know, is one of the names of Allah. Thus, when one says "As-Salaam Alaikum" he is actually asking that the trait of Allah (as-Salaam, or peace and tranquility, be upon you and may he protect you)
  2. As-Salaam is also in the meaning of submission or surrender. Thus, when one says "As-Salaam Alaikum" he is actually saying he submits to what you would like for him to do (obviously within the limits of the Shariah);
  3. As-Salaam is also in the meaning of protection or safety. Thus in this meaning, when one greets another Muslim with "As-Salaam Alaikum" it is actually guaranteeing a "believing brother or sister" protection from any evil and that the one addressed will not do a single thing to harm them - either physically or even spiritually. Not only would they not be harmed with the hands, but also not caused grief with the tongue....

Is this the change you wanted? Is this the kind of 'movement in the right direction' that you voted for? Do you still think that Barack Obama's agenda is not one to roll over and play dead to everyone he thinks this nation might have ever offended? Should our nation be apologizing for the fact that we are a democratically elected republic and that freedom, personal, religious, as well as speech and assembly are precious to us...and bowing in submission to foreign leaders who have sworn a fatah against America, Israel, Jews and Christians?

Why are we in this hand basket? And where are we going?


Without going into what could be embarrassing detail, my eldest son Wyatt had a tough experience yesterday. It involved a bit of public humiliation, but in the end became a lesson for both he and I, and a bonding moment that neither one of us will soon forget.

I was touched at Wyatt's trouble, and it immediately took me back to the days when I was 13. It is a tough age. Any parent who has taken their children into young adulthood and past the early teens knows exactly what I am talking about. You see, Wyatt just turned 13. At 13, you are not a 'boy' any more, and you are not an 'adult'. I made Wyatt a promise that at 13, I would do my best to make sure that I no longer referred to him as a boy, but instead a young man. In part because at this age it is earned. But also because it is a psychological encouragement to be reminded that you are growing up, and that teenagers are expected to reach higher in themselves and strive for that adulthood that they still can't quite reach.

Like the man whom God told to push against a giant rock. The man pushed and pushed and pushed, but the rock never budged. It was a HUGE rock, and there was no way that he could ever move it. Finally after hours of frustration the man called out to God, "Father, I'll never be able to move this rock. It is too big, and I am not strong enough. Why would you punish me with a task that I can never accomplish? It does not seem fair, and it is humiliating." God answered the man by saying, "Son, I love you very much. But I never asked you to move the rock, just push on it." In the same way our youth in those pivotal young teen years are being asked to push a giant rock by their parents and society. We need as loving parents to be there for them to assure them that all they have been asked to do it to push, not move. Does this mean we do not require them to push? Absolutely not. We encourage them top push with all their might. Push until they cannot push anymore, and to work hard towards whatever it is that they have been asked to do. But we love them, support them, and even help them push from time to time.

Wyatt and I cried together yesterday. It was a good cry. I assured him that these 'Tweener' years are hard years. At this age, even though they know they do not belong at the kids table at Thanksgiving dinner anymore, they still know we are not quite ready for the adult table, yet they crave it so much. I hugged that young man remembering exactly what it was like to be 13, and my tears were genuine ones. I made sure he know I understood...

...and that I was there to help him push.

In the end, I was reminded of a great way to explain this to our young adults as they go through the 'Tweener' years. I cannot take credit for this wisdom, as it was given to me by my loving wife, Sonja. At this age, we need to encourage these young adults. Even though this is a hard age, it is a special one. As a 'Tweener', they get to choose at any given moment whether they want to act like a child (laughing and playing with their siblings, enjoying "younger aged" toys and activities, and even enjoying a bit of naïve foolishness along the way. Or they may choose to take the adult path. Instead choosing to spend time with the adults talking sports, politics or religion. Either way, it is a learning process; i.e When it is OK to act like a child, and how to act like an adult when the time is appropriate? What a joy to have that choice. What a precious age this is for them, and how much more we should enjoy it and support them in love while they learn, rather than shake our heards in disapointment.

Wouldn't it be nice as parents that we might be able to, at the drop of a hat just act a fool for the fun of it? We do, but just like 'tweeners' there are apprpriate times, and inappropriate times aren't there? Maybe it is us adults that have something to learn from the 'Tweeners'? Perhaps this learning process is for young adult and old adult as well?

May God bless our 'Tweeners', and always have us adults ready with love and compassion.

Take ‘em With You

We have probably all heard this phrase used before. In a movie or TV show, some macho guy is at the end of his rope. There is little or no hope left. He can see that the odds are stacked against him, and it is certain that his doom is imminent. He looks around at his side kick (if all have not already abandoned him or been laid to waste themselves…)
and says, "I'm ready to meet my maker…" or words to that liking. He then utters his last words by gritting his teeth and spitting through them almost under his breath just loud enough that all the remaining survivors of the apocalypse he has found himself in can hear, "but if I'm gonna die now, I'm going to take as many of them with me as possible!"

In theaters or even in the quiet of our home, these scenes make men stand and offer a robust rebel yell. We cheer for these men as we now have cemented them in our minds as Metal of Honor winners in the making. We know they are going to die, they know they are going to die, everyone watching the movie knows they are going to die. But with every kill-shot that drops his enemy one by one, we cheer all the louder. He runs through the crowded field of combatants, hades-bent on killing our hero, only to be beaten to the trigger or knife. In the end the numbers are just too great, and as expected, the defenses can't hold and our hero falls. Tears come to eyes, and hats come off heads. We mourn the loss of such a mighty, fearless man. This is a man who put principal ahead all else. He believed in the mission he was given to the point he was willing to do anything to accomplish it. This man put others in front of himself. He stood immovable against the enemy, and fell fighting the good fight.

I do not write this prose to make a political statement. I do not write it to make folly of real world heroes. I do not write this to suggest that we do not honor such fighters as these. On the contrary. I write this so that I might submit to you, that you too can be such a hero. Not for country. But for Christ.

Allow me to draw the full analogy.

In the story above, the hero knows his death is certain. Yet he battles on in order that he might kill as many of the enemy as possible before he himself comes to the end of his days. His reasoning for killing as many as he can before he dies, is that if he must die, it is better to destroy as many of the enemy as he can in order that those who follow him might be spared of facing such great odds. He fights so that others might live. Or at least live a better, safer life.

As a Christian, we should have a common desire with the hero above. Our desire must also be to take as many people with us when we go as possible. Not to death, but to life.

We may not know what our hero is fighting for, but we know that he holds with great conviction, that for which he is fighting. If he did not, he would not be willing to die for his cause. As a Christian, we know what we are fighting for. We are fighting for the eternal lives of those people who have rejected Christ as their King. Because of such, it is our calling to live with similar convictions as our hero . Just as the death of the hero was imminent, so too is our physical death. But more importantly is the spiritual life or death of those people around us whom we do not know are saved. Once we have obtained salvation by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, in spite of the fact that our physical death is certain, so too is our life eternal. Our life eternal is just as certain as the death of our physical bodies. But what should compel us to fight with the same convictions and drive as our hero, is the sick feeling we should be getting when we meet someone, only to shortly thereafter realize that they are separated from Christ and destined for eternal separation from God and just punishment for their sin.

Hence the title, "Take 'em With You". We fight not to see that those who fight against our King (as all those who reject salvation in Jesus do, consciously or otherwise…), but rather to win them to Christ, to take them with us if you will. In this case it is not a fight of self-survival, but rather a rescue mission; a rescue mission that we are willing to go to any lengths for to see that those around us are saved. Our comfort, our safety, our desires and privileges must be laid aside so that the message that we have been entrusted with by God can be delivered, and that we might save as many from death as we can.

If we are confident of our reservation in heaven, and we know the consequences of not having such a reservation, why would we not give all we have to take as many with us as possible? Our commission is not just to make converts, but to make disciples. Let's use the same valor as our fighting hero to make this happen. Spare nothing to follow the calling of God in your life and your ministry. Like our hero soldier, take the sword of the Word, and yield it with the power that it has. Do not compromise the truth, do not water down the Word, and do not cower from those who oppose it. Rather, run forward into the spiritual battle. Run as if you are going to win the race. Remember it is the love and respect and honor that we have for Jesus who made this all possible for us that is our driving strength. The motivation is to save the lost, but the power is of the Holy Spirit.

Listen, we all know we are going to die. And knowing that this is true, fight the warrior fight, and take as many with you as possible. Paradise can never be too crowded.

08 June 2009

Redeeming Your Time

Ephesians 5:15-16

15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

I spent Monday through Thursday last week at our annual Calvary Chapel Sr. Pastor’s Conference. It was wonderful. The best one I have attended yet. But because it was so wonderful it seemed like we (individuals and the conference in general) were under attack at all times. In the end, the Spirit Ruled, and the enemy sent packing. What a blessed time it was.

At any rate, you always leave these conferences with lots on your mind. You are refreshed and renewed and anxious to get back into the Word and take the energy and enthusiasm you have taken in and pass that on to your flock, or in this case your readers. I made a list of things that stood out to me at the conference in practical applications for me as a pastor. I’ll share some of them with you over the next couple of days, and save others for timely insertions in sermons or later devotionals.

The first one I want to start with is this: Time is short.

I don’t think it is a stretch to say that most Evangelical Christians believe we are living in the last days. I know, I know, the skeptics will respond by saying something like, “You stupid Christians have been saying that for 2,000 years and nothing has happened yet!” Well, stupid is relative and in this case would smash a door wide open for you to explain why Christianity is not stupid. But we also must remember that as previous generations shared this thought with others, they did not have the Nation of Israel like we do today. Israel, being the lynch-pin of Eschatology exists today as a sign that the end times are not near, they are HERE.

It is for this reason that I bring up the verse in Ephesians above. With time as short as it is, we must be looking to redeem every moment for His purposes. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I can spend less time in front of the TV, that I can choose more wisely the things that I read or participate in. Fellowshipping, being in the word, breaking of bread with brothers and sisters in the Lord are important things for us and excellent ways to redeem our time for the Lord and His purpose in our lives.

The ESV puts it this way: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” As I shared with our congregation this weekend, we are Christ’s Epistles to the world. We must be all the more careful as we walk in these evil times. Things are changing in this country, and even though Christians make up the vast majority of the population, we will continue to see increased persecution from society and from the state. It is happening already, and in some states it is already illegal to preach the truth of scripture, even from the pulpit because it has been deemed “offensive” and “hate speech”. Time is short.

Redeem your time. Be in the Lord’s work always. And with time as short as it is, make sure that every opportunity He gives you, that you share the message of salvation. It should pain us when we realize that the person we are talking to is going to spend eternity in suffering, when peace and salvation are there for the taking. Redeem out time.