Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ghost Stories

I spent time this morning hearing great stories about how God works in other people’s lives. Lots of people call these testimonies. That is far too religious for me. I believe that calling them Ghost Stories (Holy Ghost) is more relaxed and maybe more accurate.

Besides most testimonies are stories of what a bad old sinner I was and how now I don’t beat my dog anymore. Interesting but not as inspiring to me as how last week something wonderful happened and I saw the hand of God working in a magnificent way in my life.

A Ghost Story.

I love sitting around with other people of faith and hearing and hearing and hearing what God is doing for Good in the lives of these common ordinary people with mortgages and back pain.

Sometimes I have been fortunate to be part of such a group of people and we have done this for hours and hours. Come out of that time together and you feel like NOTHING is impossible with God.

That seems so much better than hearing about old Pete used to do cocaine and gamble and how he doesn’t do that any more. All good, but how about the time when God opened a door you thought was closed in relationship or employment and you knew it HAD to be God because nothing else could have been just exactly like that. That is a real Ghost Story. At this season of Halloween with all the garish and sometimes over the top costumes you see all around and all the decorations that imply the demonic, I love just a simple Ghost Story of the mercy and goodness of God.

Isn’t that really what All Hallows Eve should be about?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Do Babies and Dogs go to Heaven?

I heard a cute report last Saturday on the Paul Harvey report. He had been asked a question of a listener. This man had a little dog who had died and he wanted to ask Paul if that dog would be in heaven. I get asked this often. Mostly by nominal Christians. Seems like to them this is a big deal. So, Paul Harvey postulated the question to Billy Graham. I thought, now this is going to be interesting. You will be happy to know that Billy Graham agrees with me. There is little evidence of Dogs, Cats or Horses in heaven. Although there is some prophetic writings that you could interpret thusly. But in any case one more time, if you need to have your pet in heaven to have fullness of Joy (which is what heaven is) then you will. My guess is Jesus will be enough. But, that settles that from the desk of Billy Graham and Gene Redlin.

On a more serious note, I have been openly critical of Infant Baptism. I’m a believer that Infants should be dedicated to the Lord as Jesus was (there was Baptism before Jesus was born so if Baptism was the thing to do to babies they would have done it to/for Jesus). I believe that once a person comes to faith in Jesus he or she should then, upon the profession of that faith, be Baptized in the Name above all Names, Jesus, the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. A baby has no faith. It must be a person of reason. An adult. I was baptized at 32 years old.

I don’t think infant baptism does any good but it does have the potential to do harm. It offers false security to parents that they don’t have to work very hard to raise their kids in a Christian home. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard parents say to me, “I know he’s away from God but he was baptized as a child so I know he’s going to heaven”. I want to tell them the raw truth. He’s hell bound and will not see heaven unless he repents.

The other reason adult baptism is important is the whole line in the sand thing. Once we are buried and raised again in baptism we can point to that when the devil comes to us to lie.

I remember growing up how priests and pastors would race across town to baptize little babies who were just born but who thought they might die. The idea was that if a little baby died without being baptized it would go to hell or if catholic at least to limbo. No heaven for that little tyke.

What a bunch of hogwash that was.

It was with some appreciation that I saw that the Pope has renounced the catholic theology of Limbo. That if a baby dies baptized or not it goes to heaven. He’s right about that. I have often said that I have more in common with Catholics than I do with some protestant denominations theologically. Now even more, I'm more in line with true presence in the elements of Commnunion as well, but that's another story.

This is one such agreement with the Pope I say Yea and Amen to.

Now if we can just get the Pope to quit baptizing Babies we’re getting somewhere.

In Respect of the Amish

I wrote to a friend of mine that i have been challenged in who I am as a Christian by the actions of the Amish after the murder of the little girls in the schoolhouse in Pennsylvania. I don't know if I could do this. I'll admit I am ambivalent. But, maybe I should get a black hat, buggy, and join the Amish to he a better Christian. Or maybe I could just try to be a better Chrisitan without the hat. Let me have the love and compassion they have. I cried the first time i heard this story about the love of Jesus shown thru them. They, in this simple act, have done more for the cause of Christ than I have in a lifetime. Read the whole article.

"The hurt is very great, but they don't balance the hurt with hate."

WND/TN (Oct 5th, 2006)

In what's being called a stunning example of "the imitation of Christ," WorldNetDaily reports that the Amish community devastated by the cold-blooded murder of five of its schoolgirls is raising money for the killer's family.

Dwight Lefever, a spokesman for the Roberts family, said an Amish neighbor comforted the killer's family and extended forgiveness to them after the shooting, the Associated Press reports.

Barry Wigmore, reporting for the UK's Daily Mail wrote, "One of the few non-Amish guests invited to the funeral of seven-year-old Naomi Rose Ebersole, the first little girl to be buried, was Marie Roberts, the killer's wife. With tears in her eyes, Mrs. Roberts sat in the back of one of the 34 black horse-drawn carriages that were part of the funeral cortege behind Naomi's horse-drawn hearse. On the way from the church to the hilltop cemetery, the procession passed Mrs. Roberts' home where her husband, Charles, loaded up his guns before heading for the little village school on Monday."

Reacting to the Amish outpouring of support for the killer's family, columnist Rod Dreher wrote: "Yesterday on NBC News, I saw an Amish midwife who had helped birth several of the girls murdered by the killer say that they were planning to take food over to his family's house. She said – and I paraphrase closely – "This is possible if you have Christ in your heart."

And Journalist Tom Shachtman, who wrote a book on Amish culture called "Rumspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish," told the New York Times: "This is imitation of Christ at its most naked. If anybody is going to turn the other cheek in our society, it's going to be the Amish. I don't want to denigrate anybody else who says they're imitating Christ, but the Amish walk the walk as much as they talk the talk." Amish expert Gertrude Huntington noted, "They know their children are going to Heaven. They know their children are innocent ... and they know that they will join them in death. The hurt is very great," she told the Associated Press. "But they don't balance the hurt with hate."

Jesus Camp - From the Horse's Mouth

Non Christians have been shocked by a movie about young people who are passionate towards Jesus. What a Concept. There has been much written. I have not, but today I got this and decided it was worth posting. I may see the film but If you should hear of it, this is the truth, all else you hear are lies. OK?

Aimee Herd (Oct 5th, 2006)
(She wrote this and works for the Elijah List Group.

The documentary Jesus Camp is now being talked about on just about every form of media available. Reviews have been mixed. Some are moved by it and inspired, some are horrified and alarmed, still others who viewed the film were disturbed by a negative tone in places, toward the camp, and even Evangelical Christian ideology in general. The documentary follows three Christian children attending a summer Bible camp. Cameras are rolling as pre-teen boys and girls display a passion for God's Word, weep in intercession, repent of their sins and those of the nation, and lay hands on a life-size cut-out of President Bush as they pray for him. Some of the children in the film are praying in tongues with intense emotion, others are forcefully declaring Scriptures with hands raised.

Certainly, one who has never witnessed these kinds of activities in church, let alone by children, would wonder, maybe even be shocked at what they see. But for Pastor Becky Fischer, who has spent much of her life working with, and ministering to children, this is normal "Spirit-filled" life. Pastor Fischer still has trouble seeing the "political" slant of Jesus Camp. When praying for the President, she says they were just doing what the Bible commands all Christians; to "pray for all who are in authority . . ." Yes, adds Fischer, "even if the President was Saddam Hussein," Christians are still told to pray.

Much of the controversy stems from the intensity and seriousness of the children who are concerned with world events and practices, such as abortion, and see themselves as "soldiers" in a war. Pointing to places in the film, where the kids attending the camp don war-paint, and talk of dying for their faith as martyrs, Mike Papantonio, radio host for Air America, sounds a warning of possible brainwashing by the likes of Becky Fischer, and other fervent Charismatic preachers. But has Mr. Papantonio, forgotten those familiar verses of the age-old hymn, which certainly seems to have been readily accepted by thousands in the past; "Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war . . ?"

Yes, Becky does point out to the children, the passion and dedication-to-belief that is found within youths of the same age, in Islam . . . even of those willing to be "martyrs" for their faith. But Becky is making a point. The opposite of such devotion is apathy. "This is the reason I let the filming of Jesus Camp take place," she explains, "statistics say, 70 percent of our children, who are raised in Christian, Bible-believing churches, are leaving the church when they become teenagers and young adults, and never stepping foot inside a church again. That's a crisis, and we've got to do something to change this picture."

According to Fischer, when footage was first completed, she was told the film itself was still without direction, so she informed film makers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady that she would pray for God's direction for the project. "I prayed for them," says Becky "I asked God to give them the direction they needed for the film." Nine months later, she realized the documentary about the kids had taken a different turn. Objections were voiced, from Fischer, as well as many of the parents. "It was a shock," remarked Becky. "I did go through a very emotional time wondering 'did I get tricked?'" So, Ewing and Grady went back and re-edited, even changing the music score, which had a somewhat eerie feel to it, and was felt to have added to the negativity. The result was the final version of Jesus Camp.

And Becky stands by the film, knowing the controversy it has stirred, enduring even death threats and angry phone calls in the night. Why? Becky explains, "I know what this film looks like. And I have two choices. I could distance myself from this, or I can continue to support this film. I look at this and think, 'this is still salvageable, there is more good in this film, than there is bad.' Everyone is focusing on the political angle and that's what's getting attention. My message is so much bigger to the Body of Christ. But if it wasn't for the political controversy, no one would've ever heard my name."

"Here's what I see," continues Becky, "this film has nothing to do with politics. This film has nothing to do with any chasm between Evangelicals and Charismatics. But this film has everything to do with; this is the generation that prophets have been speaking over for 25 years. This is all about this generation of children. I hate this controversy, but I'm using it as a platform to get this message out to the Christian community that God sees our children as partners in this 'last-days' move of God."

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Do I Love You Enough to tell you the TRUTH – Do You Love me Enough to Hear It Without Offense – I don’t know.

A few weeks ago I read a blog that asked that question. I have people I don’t tell the truth to. I don’t lie to them, I just don’t tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

I tell them convenient truth. Couched truth. Comfortable truth. Candy Colored Truth.

I admit it, I do this because I know full well that unvarnished truth damages relationships. I don’t care who you are, the unvarnished truth is hard and if it is the truth comes off as uncaring.
Even if it’s a gift to see ourselves as others see us.

O wad some Power
the giftie gie us,

To see oursels
as ithers see us!

Robert Burns

The opposite is true. If I didn’t care I would say nothing. Why bother.

So, now the fix I am in is the need, even the demand that the truth be told and risking the relationship. I have heard all the pap about there being a good way to tell people bad news. To package the information so they will accept it. A little bit of sugar makes the medicine go down.

The reality is some people with too much sugar miss the whole point. The truth must result in getting a person to face some reality or another and make a positive change in behavior.

If I tell the truth and am rejected, that person rejects me, doesn’t change behavior and it was all for naught. In fact in that case would I have been better saying nothing. Sort of the strategy of hoping for the best and doing nothing about it. Not a good way to go.

Truth, you want the truth? You can’t handle the truth.

I’m in a tough place.

Guilty Pleasure

This is a small deal.  One to which I must confess.
Peggy and I love to watch "Dancing with the Stars" on ABC TV Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.  We watched it last year as well.
In fact for as long as I can remember we have enjoyed all kinds of competitive ballroom dancing.  Watched it for years on PBS.  There was this hostess who I guess died of cancer who I liked better than the ones they have now. 
When we were younger won a few dance contests in Dickey County.  We were (at least I was) much more flexible then.  Not so much now.
I know it's all made for TV hype, I know it's phony, all the tears and such.  It's reality TV with ballroom gowns and lots of makeup.  I know all that.  Hey, some people watch professional wrestling.  So, lighten up.
We don't call in and vote.  We just enjoy it.  And without activation of my prophetic gift I try to guess the comments and scores the judges give.  I do OK.  Maybe I'll apply to be a judge.  I could do as well.
Don't love me any less for my guilty pleasure.  You have them too.  I'll be you don't even feel guilty you Wrestlemainia watcher.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

God uses a Strategy from Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book

I read much of Mega-Shift a while back. It told of the great move of God happening all around the world particularly in China. It was optimistic. Hard to believe since I see nothing like this kind of intense revival in America.

Then this article hit the wires a couple days ago: Evangelicalism Fastest Growing Religious Movement in the WORLD!

In it they make these statements:
....although Christianity has barely kept pace with world population growth over the last century, evangelicalism is “far and away the fastest growing major religious movement in the world today,”

Evangelicalism is growing twice the pace of Islam and three times as fast as the overall world population...

...the Mongolian church is now the most efficient missions force, sending one missionary for every 222 Christians.

...churches in the global South, from China to Nigeria, are now increasingly aiming to spread the gospel and close the gaps of the 10/40 window.

“I believe the older generation has slipped away from the idea of mission, but now I believe God is using a younger generation to renew the church’s commitment to mission,”

What it looks like to me is that the Body of Christ at the urging of the Holy Ghost is waging it's fastest and most effective conquest in remote, 3rd world and atheistic countries. That to this point the “Cultural West” countries are being left out of this global move of God until the countryside has been conquered. I would even say that the conversion rate among Muslims is greater than in the west. They are converting by the thousands.

That gives me hope. A quote from an interview with Chairman Mao.
Later, when we got to the countryside. Chairman Mao saw that in order to carry out the revolution it is necessary not only to rely on the peasants, but also to win over the middle and petty bourgeoisie.

It worked. Now, this spiritual revolution is taking place first in the countryside and the middle and then the petty and not so petty bourgeoisie will follow.

That’s pretty much all of America, Europe, Canada, Austrailia and New Zealand.

I am hopeful. I want to see revival in the USA before I step from time into eternity. So, do it Lord, do it again. You can do it over there, you are doing it over there, why not here, why not us, and why not now.

If you have to De-Bourgeoise us a little that’s ok.

Oh, and that whole Idea about starting in the country and moving to the city, I don’t think that was actually origional with the Chairman. I think the really BIG chairman, "He who sits on the throne", has ideas Chairman Mao never imagined.

Are YOU from Mars???

There is a great cultural and political divide in this country. It’s deeper and wider than even I can comprehend. I have written on this before, If the divide we have politically were geographic we would be in full blown civil war, if it were geographic we would label the other side as a whacked out cult. I know this because I have friends who have political views that can only be explained as otherworldly. Out on a far stratum of space. A strange parallel universe. Completely alternative to anything I know or understand. Nice people but so incredibly wrongheaded as to make me think they are aliens, strangers in a strange land, completely other.
Almost as if they are visitors from another planet, maybe Mars.

What brings that into focus is the Foley thing. I’m just about sick of hearing about this already. He’s a creep. He needs treatment. I don’t care what party he’s from; he needs excising from the body Politic.

But those from Mars, (I have now decided to quit calling people Liberals, democrats, wacky left, weirdoes) I’ll just give them the more accurate appellation of being from Mars; those from Mars are just giddy.

Turning on National Liberal Public Radio is a love fest of joyful Martians dancing around whatever kind of maypole they have on Mars in anticipation of how the Foley thing will allow the Martians to take over the congress. Never mind that the Martians are incompetent to govern and have no idea of what life is like on earth. The Martians have NEVER been able to lead with any kind of competence. Nothing has changed; they still have a Martian mentality which means they have no concept of earthly things.

Well, my Martian friends, don’t get too excited too soon. You Martians are not an organized political party. A fellow Martian said that long ago. Mark Twain. You have the record of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory more times than not.

Then there’s the whole being a Christian thing. That John (Lukewarm) Danforth is bemoaning the conservative Christian takeover of earth politics. Danforth is a Martian in earth clothing. My main concern is that we have too many of these. I am also highly amused by Martians telling me what the UBER-Earthling Jesus would or wouldn’t do according to Martian scripture. Danforth does that, and elequontly says, "Can't we all just get along?" Sorry John, That' line's been taken. I want to know what middle ground looks like in the abortion debate, in homosex, in pornography, in a hundred other things. What does middle ground lukewarm morality yeild? John and other clergy of his denomination gave us an openly gay Bishop. Is that the middle ground? It would be always good for a Chuckle if it wasn't so sobering. These Martians who put on a Christian hat frequently send me emails that begin, “How can you say or believe THAT and call yourself a Christian". I guess according to Martian theology I can’t. I’ll take my chances. I’m still from earth.

Then there are the Islamic Fundamentalists. There’s no compromise with them either. They are like the Martians in that they see earth as a foreign place. They are actually Venusians. Different Godhead. Different planet.

What is true of both Martians and Venusians is there is no compromise with either. We just can’t let the invasion of the body snatchers go on from either planet. They are a foreign substance and must not be allowed to take over earth.

I have seen enough Star Trek Next Gen (actually all of them) to say that if the Borg or any other foreign entity takes over another planet its bad news for the conquered planet.

The same is true of the Martians and Venusians. Don’t let them take over. Foley or not, you must vote republican this fall. Yes, there are a few Martians in earthly clothing among them, but we will discover them and like Foley, out they go.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Please DON'T Bother

I tried pretty hard and failed. Except I didn’t fail. I had some pix on a compact flash card to be developed and printed. I went to the Walgreens near us. Corner of Peck and 64 west of St. Charles. Walked in. Photo manager tells me that the whole computer is down, doesn’t know when he will have it up, so, I’ll have to go elsewhere. Other customers who had already downloaded their requests were about to be disappointed. No sorry, just Computers.

So, I went to the Walgreens on the west side of Geneva on State Street. That computer was up and running. But the YOUNG lad manning the booth tells me that he can’t find the adaptor to use to load the pictures. It’s now after 8PM. My options are slimmer than they were. He makes a perfunctory effort to find something and then throws up his hands. Well I don’t have his adaptor. And, they SELL these flash discs. Why in heck do you need an adaptor? Shouldn't this be part of the system?

I needed these pictures for a legal deposition I did this morning. So, I went to the west side of Geneva on state street to the CVS pharmacy. They have one hour too. I walked up to the machine, it took my card (a newer machine than Walgreens, no adaptor needed) and then I selected my pictures. At the end it asked me to print a claim slip for the pickup the next morning. I did so. It printed nothing. I asked the little kids who worked there if I could get my claim slip. OH, they assured me, we have you name, when you come in the morning just give us your name and all will be well.

I show up this morning. I stepped to the desk. Was waved dispassionately to the photo counter. Gave her my name. She looks all over. My pix (which I needed) aren’t there.

Now, I get a person over the age of 16, the manager. He looks in the computer, sure nuff, my name and pix are there. But, they didn’t make the “Transfer”. He tries to be apologetic. Badly.

So, the slip the computer didn’t print had something to do with transfer.

Now, I know the picture from Digital camera biz isn’t the biggest thing in all the world. But, it was big to me. I am disappointed and not a happy customer.

Here’s what I am asking Walgreens and CVS to do. PLEASE DON’T OFFER SERVICES YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO OR WON’T BE ABLE TO PROVIDE. Just Stop!

I’ll go to Wolf or Jewel. from now on anyway. When I was at Walgreens I spent $11 on candy, pop, popcorn and other incidentals. Plus I have a prescription that costs about $30 without copay per month. Oh, and you screw that up too often.

I think Jewel has a pharmacy.

I have emailed this link to both companies. Incompetence is it’s own reward.

One other thing, do NOT send me any discount coupons or free stuff. I don’t want it. I’ll just burn it if you do. I would rather just vote with my feet.

Bye Bye

Monday, October 02, 2006

Lord I Believe, But HELP my Unbelief

I am going thru a crisis of faith. I have seen a miracle. Actually several. I am having a hard time with all this. I won't tell you what the miracle was, it's too fantastic to relate. But, it was real and I am having a hard time dealing with it.

This has caused me to question what I say I believe. I have been a charismatic for a long time, I have seen some remarkable things, I have been shocked spiritually from time to time. It's all been good. But now, I am seeing things happen I can't explain. I can accept people being healed of disease, people having restoration miracles (Like a restored eye, eardrum or cancerous tumors disappearing), I could deal with someone being raised from the dead, miracles of financial provision, miracles of God's intervention in difficult situations. All these are well inside my comfort zone. It's the Miracles that are over and above blessing and provision that I struggle with.

Extravagant Miracles.

That's the problem. Now that certain higher-level miracles are happening around me, I'm staggered. I don't know what to think. I don't know why I don't believe. I want to find ways to explain these things outside of the supernatural. I can't easily explain it away.

This is rocking my world. I didn't realize I had once more put God in a box and told Him he could do this but not that. I have heard of these amazing things from overseas but had never seen them for myself. Always dismissed them as so much charismatic hysteria. Now that I have seen them for myself I'm shocked and filled with doubt.
The doubt comes because these things have the effect in that they magnify the reality of God more than I was ready for. I can't rationally deal with that.

I was comfortable with a more abstract God. I have no idea why I'm writing this. I'm not confessing a loss of my faith in God, but I must get past this stop limit I have placed on his hand in peoples lives. He's bigger than I thought possible.

I mean, what if on a regular basis people who were dead, dead, dead in the morgue for 5 days were raised up? Frequently. Documented. On TV. In person. How do you deal with that? What if a man standing in front of you had no arm, it had been shot off in Iraq. While you stood and watched the arm was restored, grew back, in your view. What do you do with that? What does that mean in your life? How do you not change everything in your life? What does it all mean?

Where I am is this? Maybe his arm being gone was an illusion. Maybe he really didn't lose it in Iraq. Maybe this is all a parlor trick. Maybe I'm being played for a sucker. I saw the old movie Mondo Cone. I know it can be done.

OR, maybe God really is doing these things. I don't know what I believe anymore. I'm in crisis.

It so disturbed me that last night in a dream I had a visitation. I was in Germany with my wife. We had gone there for a meeting. We were staying in a nice hotel ($400/night). We were in a meeting of some kind led by someone who I didn't recognize. It was conducted in English. About 40 or so people there. Then the meeting's leader called my name. He didn't know I was there. Calling my name shocked me. He asked me, "Why are you running from the Ministry I called you to". "You were called long ago for this purpose and you aren't filling it". He then proceeded to display ancient documents written in a language I didn't understand, Not English, Not German. But written there was a long long heritage of Men from my lineage who had committed themselves to ministry and had fulfilled it. That is true. We have a stambuch which goes back to 1271AD. There are many men in my family tree who were spiritual leaders, pastors, theology professors, and men of God in other ways. He was pointing to them, particularly those after the reformation. Why was I running from the call on my life? I didn't think I was.

Then the scene changed.

A 3 decade review of ministries I have been involved with began to review (like in "It's a Wonderful Life") in front of my eyes. A Christian Magazine that almost folded but for an encouragement God allowed me to bring 20 years ago when it was about to go under they now they are in 11 countries in 5 languages with hundreds of thousands of subscribers. How a proclamation, encouragement or impartation had made a major impact on many ministries in the USA and overseas. How some of those ministries would not exist today if I hadn't been placed strategically to provide a word from God in due season. How I had been used of God to do accomplish his purpose. I was humbled to see this. I knew that this was how God had used me to bring clarity and encouragement to keep ministries that were stumbling to keep from falling down. I also knew that I have been less faithful in this area than I had been in years past.

Now I'm in a new place. A place I'm not comfortable with. A place that is stretching me spiritually. I don't know what to do with it all.

I jokingly say, maybe I've been around Lutherans too long. I've been infected with doubt and unbelief. (That's a Joke). I'm just not sure why I'm having a hard time.

So, I'm going to let it stew, I'm going to ask God to help me out of my unbelief.

I need a breakthrough. I need to stop running away.

If you see me running, stop me.