Friday, April 20, 2007

In Honor of the Recent Supreme Court Decision

© Steve Shultz 2008

Save the whales and the owls,
Save the seals in the sea
Save the buffalo roaming
And please save the tree

Who could object?
Every person likes life
From the left or the right
We want birds to take flight

Yet a strange thing's askew
Our value is questioned
If God isn't real
We choose what feels best then...

Save every creature that moves
The ones high and low
But the ones we will lose
To the children, say "no"

Since God may not exist
We can dispense with the kids
We say with our fist
We close our eyelids

The cross is long gone
There's only a tomb
It's empty of course
But so are some wombs

We're told "it's convenient" to end a small life
But only a baby's
-- For animals we fight

Convenience is truth
Though animals are saved
Little children are no proof
That God chose our way

Yet God is a God -- who loves man and beast
But to some, God seems a God
who loves children the least

It's the other way 'round
You see children must reign
Over all the earth
To protect fish and game.

But the child might get in the way, some say
There's too many children they think,
To protect animals all day

So some make that choice, because choice is their god
They choose animals and things
Instead of a blob

We call that blob, "tissue"
It makes easier to do --
To a fetus destroy
There's simply no issue

And we forget that our choices killed Deborahs and Davids,
Future judges and kings
We don't need them to save us

It's just cells, only stems and things
It's just embryonic
They don't even have wings

If the truth were told, what was growing inside
Will cause pain when you end it
Did cause pain when they died

The good news is this, though we're made out of mud
There's forgiveness from Heaven,
We can be washed in His blood

Much in America is left to be cleansed
But we're moving toward cleansing

Before it all ends

While we can't judge the sinner
Because of our mirror
We can offer forgiveness
Because He is here

He's Savior and Lord
The Lord of our planet
He loves animals too
But no baby is banished

He loves those who sin
He loves those who blew it
He is the God of Choice
So His choice will "renew us"

He asks us to consider
Only what is best
For the planet He made
So we would find rest


-- that what's in a woman
Is not "what" at all
Though He loves animals too
A Baby's a person
A person who's small

Thursday's with Terry

I spent a pleasant afternoon with an old friend. Terry. He's a pastor in Michigan. He has gone thru a similar crisis in business as I did. He is at peace. But he tried. He dared. He believed. Not everything we try in life works, but some do. So it's worth trying.

For you Terry:

"What I've dared I've willed: And what I've willed, I'll do!"
- Melville

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."
-- Robert F. Kennedy

"Most people live and die with their music still unplayed. They never dare to try."
- Mary Kay Ash

"Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance."
- John Barton

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Monday Night at IHOP

I have been a supporter and participant in the Ministry Todd Beery has had for 10 years.  He has been a major molder of my life and Christian growth. He still is.  I owe him much.
His "House" is the IHOP in Bolingbrook.  International House of Prayer.  Ark Ministries.  What is so wonderful is to see it as it came together.
There have been ups and downs but it just grows, prospers and develops mature disciples like a nonstopping disciple making machine.  MANY ministers have emerged from this work to go off on their own.
Last Monday night was exceptional at IHOP.  Not because of the events at Virginia Tech but because Monday Nights are one of the Two Main "Services" held at IHOP.  There is something every night (but Sunday) but Mondays and Fridays are the Big Nights.  I try to make Friday every week and as many Monday's as I can.  It's always good.
The house seats exactly 120 people; the number in the Upper Room at Pentecost.  When it's full it feels like Pentecost.  When it's half full it still feels like Pentecost.  When its just a few it still does. 
But Monday night was near full.  Wonderful problem.  We need a bigger building.
The worship was great.  There was a band that played from 6-7:30. Preaching went till 8:45 and ministry time till 9.  Monday nights are short nights.  Only 3 hours.  But last Monday night was different.  The service was over.  People didn't want to go home.  Todd sort of intimated that's all folks.  People stayed.  The music picked back up. Second Band.  People prayed, danced, worshipped, and basked.  No one wanted to go home.  About Quarter to 10 things thinned out. 
The sign of a great service is when no one wants to leave.  I have been the last one out the door more than once in Churches.
One last tidbit.  They have a band that plays the first 90 minutes.  Then after the service a second band that plays an hour or so.  This band is as good as the first.
What struck me was there was a drummer, 2 guitars, keyboard and 2 singers.  All young people.  I did a little calculation and the whole total age of the Band was under 100 years old.  One other little thing.  All of them learned to play the instruments they were playing AT the house of prayer.  Todd Dowling, the music guy meets with the band every Tuesday night for 3 hours and teaches them to play and sing.  Even if you couldn't play he will teach you.  That's building and discipling a music team from scratch.
And they're cumulatively under 100 years old for 6 band members.
Heck, my wife and I are over 100 years old total. 
And we don't play nearly as well.
It's fun to be part of something great.

Signs of the Spiritual Sea Change

I have for a while noticed a change in the books that are being sold in Christian Bookstores. If you know me, I'm not a big fan of most Christian Books. I find many of them empty. I have hundreds I have consumed and am sorry for half of the ones I have read.

Tonight I stopped at the Family Christian Bookstore in our area. I bought a Bible for my son. Some years ago, Tim Campbell bought me a
New Living Translation Bible. I have come to use it more and more. I find it very accessible. I don't use it in preaching so much but I use it in developing understanding. Well done guys who did this work. This is a hidden treasure. If you don't have one, you will find it really enlightening. Anyway:

While I was at the bookstore I noticed at the front of the store they have a rack of the current bestsellers. Since I don't spend much time in Christian Bookstores I looked them over. Suddenly it hit me. I knew most of the writers on the rack. I had been to some of their meetings. Joyce Meyer. John Eldridge. I was shocked. The bulk of Christian books being purchased today are written by
Charismatics. For those in Rio Linda, Those would be your tongue talking, radical, pentecostal types.

Maybe not the scholarly of writers all the time. But they write things originating from the Spirit of God that touches the soul of man. They are able to create a hunger and thirst for more of God because they deliver living water from the printed page. Never "Dry" reading.

20 years ago nearly NONE of the bestsellers in Christian books were written by those in Pentecost. In fact they had a "section" right next to Cults for Charismatics. We were separate and unequal.

No more. I'm happy, pleased, thrilled that the message of the fullness of the Holy Spirit is being spread abroad in Christendom. This is not triumphalism. This is reporting something you can discover for yourself by googling "Christian Bestselling Books" as I did. There are several lists. They are good news.

I see this as a positive sea change. Maybe this heralds the final nail in the coffin of cold dead religion as has been practiced for too long in too many dying churches led by nominal quasi-christians. Maybe the fire of the Holy Ghost is being spread once again. I can only hope and pray.

Adding Insult to Injury - I want my Country Back

In all the sadness and anger from the VT murders I watched the convocation yesterday.

What's up with that? Here's a take that will Set the Tone.

Nice talk, platitudes. President Bush did OK. Under the circumstances I guess there isn't much to say. He didn't.

Then the Multi-Cultural Politically Correct attack force descended. I was shocked, insulted and angered. 4 Clergy were presented. Equals. Peers.

An Imam - Spoke in Arabic. Fatalistic. Empty. Hopeless. Godless. Praised Allah.

Some Buddhist Convert weirdo (who I'm sure made her Baptist parents proud) got up and gave some empty philosophy about this or that writer. Quoted the Dalli Lama who I'm sure is a nice man. Hopeless.

Some Female Jewish Rabbi or something and a woman who translated what was read in Hebrew. I know God, that wasn't His Representitive.

And, sadly the representative of the True Savior of the World never even mentions his name. Some milquetoast Lutheran pastor got up and babbled on about hope and all. Never mentioning the Resurrection, never mentioning the Joy found in the giver of Life. Just PAP.

In fact during the whole convocation only ONE NAME, the name above all names
JESUS was never uttered. Not once.

No wonder the Church of Jesus is become the Church of Political Correctness and vanilla. It has no appeal. It has no power. Ichabod over all those church doors that have become conformed to the world.

The only hope for America is JESUS. It was when we first came, it still is. I'll even be more bold. The only hope in all the world is basic pure Bible based proclamation. That young man might have been redeemed from his personal hell if somehow he had been touched with the truth of the Word of God.

The hopeless Church in America isn't Americas pathway to Hope. The only hope for the Hopeless Church is a new Pentecost. A pouring out of the Spirit.unrestrained by political correctness. The sick dead church needs a transfusion. The same blood that courses thru The Risen Jesus veins, The Spirit of God must flow thru a cold dead Church or it must be allowed to die the slow death of the disease it already has.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Murders - I Won't Stay Silent

My thought when I heard was, "What was going thru these young people's minds and spirits when they saw and realized that they were about to be killed?"

Think about it, put yourself in their place. This nutcase shows up, 2 pistols. Tells you to line up against the wall. Starts shooting. What do you do? What do you think? Who do you call on? Did they try to negotiate with the killer? Did anyone even try to rush him knowing they were going to die anyway, maybe if they all did they would stop him. What God given instincts kicked in? Or did they engage in passive resistance and die like sheep as was ingrained in their heads in grade school. The whole idea of Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of letting the tyrants win without a struggle (as is now taught in our godless public schools) has robbed our national soul of it's strength. This is the same Gandhi that told the British they should just allow Hitler to take over, not to resist. That told the Jews being taken to the slaughter to go willingly and allow themselves to be murdered. Pacifism in this way is evil.

It's the evil that causes hesitation in a time like this. Programming for sheep. Would you line up against a wall if a gunman told you to? If he shot one and aimed at you would you fight back in whatever way you could or would you just stand there and die. You are dead anyway. How do you want to go? I'm angry and grieving over this and I'm not going to heal for a few days until I've allowed my anger to be spent. I will be angry and sin not. Pacifism is UN-Goldy in this context. It's Gandhi, not Godly.

Now they have been pushed over the edge prematurely into eternity. When they got up this morning and pulled on their jeans for that 9:00 class in structures thinking about eternity wasn't on their mind.

In hearing the reports of what went on, there appears to have been some resistance. For that I am grateful. We must not allow the evil among us in Media, Education, Religion and Oppressors to succeed. Only if we do nothing will they.

I'm thankful for every one who fought back. WE are not defeated until we fail to act. Fight on Hokies, Fight on.

The recriminations will be huge on all this. They will be useless. If a person wants to spread mayhem no one is going to stop them. This is not a grade school. The idea of "Lockdown" is stupid. Yes some attempt to notify would have been good. The administration fumbled the ball.

But How far does the idea of controlled "Lockdown" go. Do we lockdown Neighborhoods or Cities because someone breaks loose.

This killer is a symptom of a spiritual emptiness not driven by any eternal perspective. He had no fear of God in his Soul.

But the vacuous spiritual condition of the day preaches that Jesus is Bad, Global Warming Religion Good. All on your tax dollars. And we get soulless killers.

As for me, I am going to spend time being angry, grieving, in pain, considering the loss of potential and hardening my desire and purpose to turn this evil around. To fight against the mindsets that produce soullessness.

It wasn't always like that. Read this.

Read all the links above. You will get a perspective on what is really going on and how far we have drifted from the course we were once set upon.

Monday, April 16, 2007

For Earl on the Holy Ghost

A couple weeks ago I began a series on the Holy Spirit. I didn't stop it, I am in the middle of my busy season and have all I can do to keep my head above water. My friend Earl asked me about this. Here's a little more for him.

I have been working in a denominational church for the last few years. Good people. Love God. Educated. Flat.


Now that I have been back among Spirit Filled people in ministry I have come to this conclusion, trying to do ministry without the Holy Spirit's fullness is like:

Playing tennis while blind.

Singing with an orchestra while deaf.

No matter how much training, skill or ability in the flesh you have it is always going to be far short of the mark without the fullness of the Spirit. Preaching, teaching, ministering, or leading a ministry without the Holy Ghost will be like Blind Tennis or Deaf Singing. Clumsy and out of tune. Nothing to do with ability or talent.

The difference is tangible.

I told some denominational mainline Pastors the truth about this and they were insulted. I guess I thought I had earned the right to tell them the truth. I was wrong.

I has simply said, that to conduct a prophetic meaningful charismatic service for people filled with the Holy Ghost was something they were incapable of doing. In spiritual leadership in those conditions they were deaf singers, blind tennis pros. I'm sorry they were insulted but I am more and more of the opinion that ministry without the power of the Holy Ghost is mostly tepid stuff.

All the training, seminary, instruction, books and experience in the world can't make up for the fullness of the Holy Ghost. I wish that wasn't insulting. It wasn't meant to be. It's just the truth.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Thinkers Get IT!

I listened to NPR Sunday Edition with Liane Hansen this morning.

She's really liberal. Not as liberal as Dianne Reems but that's another story.

She had a man on who has written an article for Esquire Magazine about the War in Iraq. His name, Thomas P. M. Barnett. I would be smarter if I had two initials for middle names. But, his conclusions about the Iraq war were right on the money.

He believes despite all the fits and starts that it was the right thing to do. That it was a Big Bang. From the interview:

What the Bush administration basically did by going into Iraq was - the best rationale is really to lay the big bang on the Middle East and set that part of the world down some pathway of change.

And they certainly accomplished that. And the cynic in me says basically the worse Iraq goes, sort of, the better the big bang goes because it's more realistic that Iraq was going to go badly as opposed to well in terms of our expectations and the breakup of Iraq really forces the fights that need to occur in the Middle East now that Saddam is gone and those fights are all going to be tricky. They're going to be overlapping, and there's not going to be an obvious conclusion to it.

globalization is finally penetrating the part of the world to which it hasn't found much purchase in the past. And you, know, when you add those three new billion capitalists in the East, you create impulses. You create the oil boon. You create all sorts of interests in that part of the world that's really discombobulating because these are still fairly traditional societies.

So we got to look at this as a process to be managed where there will be countries that come apart, and there will be countries that rise and fall, and there will be societies that are in some ways completely made over, just like they were in Asia for the last 20 years.

But what we don't have in the Middle East is basically some sort of regional security dialogue, which I would argue is the required diplomatic, political top-cover. We've had this tendency in the Middle East to assume that if we can find, sort, of the perfect peace plan for Palestine versus Israel or if we can find the perfect peace plan now or whatever you want to call the plan - surge - in Iraq, that we can take care of individual problems and on that basis create, sort of, oases of stability in that part of the world.

But what we found in the Middle East over the last 20, 30 years is that whenever there's an ongoing conflict, basically everybody in the region uses it to rough each other over. They take it as a venue for proxy conflict, and that's really, in many ways, what's going on right now in Iraq, which means Iraq can't be separated from everything else. And if you want to fix everything else, in some ways, you got to fix Iraq. And that was what the Iraq Study Group called for.
While I don't hardly agree with everything Mr Barnett said, I do agree with this.

This war was important. We had to fight it. It must be that this part of the world comes into the 20th Century. Ms Hansen is a rampant radical liberal without a lick of sense. So forget what she says.

But listen to the behind the critisizm in the Barnett interview.

The Iraq war is essential and prophetic.

Get on the right track and start seeing reality.

Second Week In --- Berwyn Church Plant

We had the second official church service of the New Church Plant in Berwyn this morning.  Peggy and I are going to help them until they are ready to fly on their own.  We will be part of the ministry team during that time.  How long, till God releases us.
Good news, we found a place to meet.  It's on the corner of 16th street between Roosevelt and Cermak on Harlem.  Big parking lot, Big meeting hall, place to store our stuff.  Everything.
So, we are off and running.
Pastor Aaron gave a great sermon this morning.  I wished a million people could have heard it.  It was a hard but essential message for Christians.  The essence of it was, if you want to get right with God expect intimidation and difficulty.  The devil isn't going to let you go that easy.  Are you willing to walk it out?  Or will you give up when the pressure comes?.
Pretty tough talk, but people need to know the truth.  Serving God can be really hard sometimes.  Lots of people start, many people never finish.
The exit from Egypt of the Children of Israel was the text.
I opened the service with a prophetic word and a prayer.  The people leapt to their feet.  The worship band was skeletal.  The keyboard player had a sick child.  So it was 2 guitars and a drum.  It was some of the most anointed worship I have been involved in for a long time. I wasn't playing, I was just in the back enjoying the anointing.  Sometimes a little rough, ugly and minimalist is better.
We didn't have to tell the people to raise their hands, didn't have to tell the people to clap, didn't have to tell the people to dance.  We just enjoyed the moment.  This is an ethnically mixed group.   1/3 White, Black and Hispanic.  I love it that way.  We enjoyed the mix.  They amened and things happened.  Some of those folks are really new Christians.  They are so hungry.  They feed on every word.
I am amused at my prejudice.  I harangue the Lutheran Church I have been working in about communion every week.  So, what does Pastor Aaron do?  Communion every week.  Pentecostals a few years back discovered the Lords Supper in all it's reality and now they think THEY invented it.  That's ok but I guess that's the way he wants it that's the way it is.  Pastor Aaron comes from the International Pentecostal Holiness Church in Chile.  There the Pentecostals baptize Babies.  I told him I didn't think we should do that here.  He is ambivalent.  If someone wants a baby baptized, we'll do it (he said).  I need to help his theology.  He's a dissertation from a PhD from ORU.  So, maybe I'll back off for now. 
During communion we had the people come up, I laid hands on every one of them.  Some I had a word for, some I had a prayer for, some needed healing, some just needed encouragement.  That is hard for me because I want to spend time, a lot of time with each one.  The Lord gave me grace and we moved thru the people in not too much time.  Pastor Aaron took some who didn't want to wait and Pastor Dan who is a Baptist Pastor who just transferred into our denomination and is getting his Pentecostal feet wet took a few.
Pastor Dan said when he grows up he wants to be just like me. He's 55.
I told him that probably wasn't a good thing.  One Rev Gene is enough.  Besides he'll be better at being himself than someone else.  I laid hands on him and prayed for a release of the Holy Ghost in his life.  He's Baptized in the Holy Ghost but he's not fluid yet.  He will be.
At the end I closed the service by using the traditional Benediction Aaron the brother of Moses was give from God thru Moses.  Numbers 6:24.
I helped them to understand the language of it all.  They had never heard anything like that.  They had never heard it explained.  Then after I explained in detail the essence of the language I pronounced it over them prophetically.
They will never ever hear "The Lord Bless you and Keep you............" the same again.  I wonder how many people really have a clue what that really all means.  You have to spend a lot of time in Hebrew to get it.
It was wonderful to look into those peoples eyes.  We went 70 minutes.  Communion and everything.  You could tell,  they didn't want it to end.  They wanted the service to go on and on.  They are so hungry for God.  Hungry for hope.  Hungry for a word of encouragement.  Hungry for Jesus.
I needed this.  It's great to be back in the saddle again.  Ministering like I was meant to.  To people who really want Jesus and not religion.
All this while Peggy and I have been fighting a cold between us.  We didn't even go to Rockford to our Sunday Night Church.  I know Apostle Lyon misses us when we are gone. He's so gracious. They encourage me to bring a prophetic word in every service as the Lord leads.  I don't.  But only when the Lord leads.  But the Prophet was whipped and not well.  So, we deferred.
One last thing.  There is such a thing as Collar Power.  I never would have believed it.  I didn't experience it but Pastor Aaron in calling on places to meet gets a whole nother reception from people with a collar than without.
So frankly did I.  I guess the uniform can help make the man. 
I always thought it was the anointing.