Saturday, January 19, 2008

Knocked down not out

My Boy Huckabee was knocked down tonite. Not out. But, he needs to get some legs pretty soon.

His story will have been totally told by Feb 15.

It's not beanbag.

Looks like the fear of God didn't drive voters. He doesn't get the non evangelical vote. They don't get him.

Martin Luther King and Mike Huckabee

I've never been a fan of gradual change. I'm a big bang guy. That's why I support action like the Iraq war rather than dink around with the UN to solve problems internationally.

This has always been my style. If it's right, do it. Oh, I get into trouble for this from time to time but I have been more often rewarded for taking life by the horns and acting boldly.

Gradualism always seems to be attractive. It seems like it will be less painful. Oh, it will hurt less in the short run, but in the long run it's much more painful and you end up with nothing but frustration.

Bold action gets bold results. That's what I want in a leader.

Martin Luther King in the I have a Dream speech said: This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.

Mike Huckabee put out a radical tax scheme. His opponents poo pooed him. That's gradualism. Trying to fix the tax code with diddling around with it with tax cuts like Mc Cain and Thompon want to do is weak gradualism. Romney is little better. Gulliani has a plan but he can't win. Huckabee has a plan that works.

I leave Ron Paul out. He's the only R I won't vote for.

Do we want our government to work or do we want to take another Zoloft and stay the party of ineptitude.

Plan B trumps Plan A

Yesterday in our CBMC business fellowship meeting there was a comment made by Carl Boedner. 
The problem with a plan B project is that it always ends up eclipsing plan A. 
Another way to look at it, if you allow a hobby, an activity even a ministry become too large, or even to become it will consume you. 
So don't do that, GENE.
I needed that dope slap.  Stick to the knitting.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Women in their place

Of all the struggles in a marriage the worst is the woman who tries to control her husband.

I have a lot of counseling going on right now with that very issue at the heart.  I don't know what happened.  What caused this to come to pass.

My friend Pastor Barry Kolb has a story:

A man wears the pants in the family at the beginning. But then he leaves them lay around.  Soon because someone has to wear the pants his wife picks them up.  She wears them but since they are for a man they need tailoring.

She soon is wearing the pants and they fit very well. One day the Man figures out that he is not being the man of the house God intended him to be.  So, he tells his wife that he wants to put the pants back on.  Reluctantly she complies after much complaining and threats of the worst kind starting with the letter D. 

When he tries to put the pants on they no longer fit.  They are formed to another.  They are uncomfortable, ugly on him, barely able to be accommodated.  But, with tailoring, time and effort the pants can be retailored to fit the Man once again and order in the home is restored.

If, however he decides to relinquish those pants she will make it twice as hard to get them back.  She will holler, how much better it was when she wore the pants.  She will complain that he doesn't believe she can wear pants.  She thought those pants on her looked pretty good.

Never mind that they looked awful to everyone who saw her in them.  She looked like a misfit. 

And that's what it's like when order is no longer in the home.

Men, find that pair of pants you laid across the back of the sofa, put them on and don't every lay them there again.  She is cursed of the fall to try to take them away from you put them back on.    Genesis 3:16. You do her a disservice to allow her to.  She is out of order and brings a curse on your household.  Stand up oh men of God.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

If this were a Horse Race, Where would you put your money?

This morning the Reuters/Zogby poll came out reflecting the zeitgeist in South Carolina. I know this is only Wednesday, but we have 3 days. Between now and Saturday there will be changes. McCain's loss. Impact. Huck's standard. Romney's win. Thompson and the rest way back in the pack. What has to happen for Huck to lose. Romney will pick some up. Old Mo. That will not come from Huck. McCain and Romney are trading voters. People are looking at the horses in the pack and trying to pick a winner they want to win. Who looks like that man? Bad news for McCain and Thompson.

My diet for 2008 failed -----------SO WHAT!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Why It's So Hard for People to Change

I work with folks who want to do better. I want them to do better. But, they don't. They have a hard time changing. Part of it is they want instant improvement. I tell every person I know who is in deep trouble that it took you a long time to end up in this mess and it will take you a long time to get out.

We have to go back and change root cause things about you or you will end up exactly where you are now.

OF COURSE: What they really want from me is for me to lay hands on them, pray in tongues over them and things will be all better. If I had that ability it would be terrific. I don't. God can change your heart, but he needs to spend time changing your Character. IT starts with mindsets that are wrong. Strongholds.

The process that got you into trouble and will get you out of it is:

  • Your Mindset (what you believe) produces
  • Your Attitude (what you think about what you believe) results in
  • Your Decisions you make (acting out what you believe and your attitude towards it) Producing
  • Your Actions (the result of the decisions you make) resulting in
  • Your Habits (doing the same things over and over again) Producing
  • Your Character (who you are in the dark when no one is looking) which creates
  • Your Destiny.

Where you are right now with whatever success or failure you are enjoying is the direct result of your mindset carried out in your life.

Tough talk yes. If you want to change where you are today, you have to go back and change your mindset Then your attitude, Then your decisions, actions, habits, character and your destiny will follow. It all starts with mindset.

Any attempt to short circuit this by just trying to change actions or habits or even by trying to make better decisions without changing your mindsets are certain to fail. It's external holiness, external piety. It's all vain religion.

It all starts with mindsets, positive and negative Strongholds that will keep you strong or make you weak.

It's your choice. Start now. Become the Person of destiny God intended you to be. But you have to start way back on mindsets. You can make it.

MarK Batterson on Spiritual Leadership

Mark Says:

One of my definitions of
spiritual leadership is this: keeping what is sacred from becoming routine.

YEP! When it becomes routine it's no longer sacred.

A Sermon I needed to Hear

I preached for e-4 Church Sunday. It was a sermon I needed to hear.

They always are.


I have a key, for my car, it has two sides. If I just use one side it won't work to operate the car.

Our lives are like that.

God has two questions he asks every believer. It will motivate or neutralize every believer.

The first is the most important. What will you do with Jesus?
Who is he to you?

He asked that of the Apostle Paul. It was a blinding question.

He asked that of Peter who answered rightly. When others said, "some say Elijah, some say John the Baptist come back". Then Jesus (Probably looking right at Peter) asked, Yes, But who do YOU say that I am. Peter declared the revelation that motivated his life from that day till he was crucified. "You are the Christ, the son of the Living God". Jesus said flesh and blood didn't reveal this.

Thomas the Doubtful one when confronted knelt down and said, "My Lord and MY GOD". He was the first one to call Jesus GOD.

SO, that's the first question Jesus asks us because if we don't get this right, everything else is just religion.

Who is Jesus?

The second is about us. Moses in Exodus 3 comes upon a burning bush. He decides to go look. God speaks from the bush. Moses take off your shoes, this is Holy Ground. Then for the rest of Chapter 3 Moses and God argue about the message God wants Moses to bring to his people and to Pharaoh. God finally asks him the question he asks all of us in the second verse of Chapter 4.

God asks, What do you have in your hand Moses? A staff. Throw it down and I will use it.

Those are the questions he asks all of us. They are tied up in the question a lawyer asked of Jesus, Which are the most important commands. Jesus gave him the answer to the two questions God is always asking of us. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. When the lawyer asks who is my neighbor Jesus answers with a very familiar story to all of us.

The Good Samaritan.

It's interesting in reading the story, in the original text from the Greek, Jesus says, A CERTAIN SAMARITAIN and speaks of a Certain Man going from Jerusalem up to Jericho. This was a rough road with lots of robbers. This was also a road that needed to be traveled for commerce.

Jesus never says "A Certain Man" unless it was a certain man. In fact I'm guessing the crowd hearing this story didn't see it as a parable, but as a story they had heard before. It was a familiar part of local lore. This was a real man that was mugged on the road to Jericho and a real Samaritan came to his rescue.

We think of this as a natural thing. But, what about real life today in Chicago IL, or Lincoln Nebraska or even St. Charles IL.

If we saw a man bleeding and lying on the side of the road left for dead, what would the response be for many today?

Be critical of him for traveling this dangerous road. He deserved to be mugged. Blame the victim and give advice to not travel there anymore alone.

Call 911 as you drive by.

Assume he is drunk and sleeping it off

Pray for him. (Lord bless that poor man laying back there I drove by)

Pick him up and drop him off anonymously at the ER not wanting to get involved.

Stop and tell him what government agencies are available to help him, give him a web address

Or with good intentions consider going back and helping and then as time goes on get distracted

Call the cops who if he is laying there because he's erratic from a diabetic coma will taze him

My brother in law was in a serious accident some years ago. In Lincoln Nebraska. He was thrown from the vehicle. He lay along side the road in winter on a busy highway, not a freeway or interstate, just a busy artery. Only after an hour in the cold did anyone stop. This is supposed to be the heartland. Lincoln is headquarters for major ministry. No one stopped.

In New York City a woman fell down in the road. Cars kept coming. They drove over her, thump thump until the cops came. No one called. No one cared.

This is not to place guilt, but we are not far from the villains in the story. The priest and the Levite. They didn't care, they didn't help. Are we any better?

So what did the Samaritan do that we are unwilling to do?

He stopped, he was going to late for his meeting.

He used his oil and wine to clean the man's wounds. This was probably merchandise.

He tore his own clothing to make a bandage. I don't think he carried a first aid kit.

He placed the man on his Donkey. He had to walk to the Inn. He was inconvenienced and put out to be helpful.

Then he paid the innkeeper two days wages in advance to keep the man till he came back. Two days wages in todays dollars would be about $150. See that a dinaerias was one day's wage for those chosen to work in the farmers vineyard.

This was all possible because when the time came God asked the Samaritan, WHAT DO YOU HAVE IN YOUR HANDS, LAY IT DOWN. Thats what he asks us.

I love the manifestations of the spirit of God in life. Tongues, Prophecy, Healing, Words of Wisdom, but I really believe that this Samaritan manifested the power of the Holy Spirit in ways we don't as we should.

He was a comforter (Jesus said I'll send you another comforter)
He came along side (Like a Paraclete)
He reassured and healed the man
He gave the man life again

All those are things the Holy Spirit does in our lives.

But there is one other thing we MUST recognized. God used him because he was available, had compassion like Jesus and he was able.

The Masthead of the Daily Herald Newspaper has a saying that the man who established the newspaper place over 120 years ago.

Our Aim:
To Fear God
To Tell the Truth
To Make Money

Fearing God has to do with knowing who he is and understanding that we will all stand before the creator of the universe someday and be accountable for everything we did or didn't do.

Telling the truth is like that. You can't lie to God, he knows already. If you lie to others it makes you a liar. If you Lie to yourself you are deceiving yourself. Besides when we lie we serve the father of lies, the devil.

But the one I want to focus on today is the last one of the three. To make money.

You and I live under a Wealth Mandate. God can't do much unless we have money to do it with.

The Good Samaritan would have been useless to show the Mercy of God without money. If he had been a poor ragged shoeless better he might have commiserated but I'm guessing the wounded man would have died.

The Good Samaritan owned a Donkey, looks as if he was in business for himself since he was carrying Oil and Wine which most likely was merchandise. He had at least a couple hundred dollars in his pocket. Something a poor man would not have hand. He was able to pay in advance and promise to pay when he returned.

God was able to create compassion for a man who could and would do something about it. God wants us to have money so we can do good. We live under a wealth mandate.

He wants his church to prosper so it can do what it needs to do. He wants every person in the church to work hard and make money so they are ready in the day of need to provide when God asks, What do you have in your hand.

The problem is many of us have lived with a promise for wealth that was given by the spirit or by a prophet. We want to believe but we can't anymore. We are disappointed in the promise of God.

God wants to encourage us to live in earnest expectation of his provision.

That means we live as if we were about to see what God is about to do in our lives with better Jobs, better health, better connections, better work situations, better opportunities. He wants us to prosper.

Somehow we were told a lie by the Church, particularly if you grew up Roman Catholic that somehow it was not God's will for you to prosper, that poverty was more holy. That's a lie.

The apostle Paul said, I know how to abound (have lots of money) and how to abase (have none).

I will add Pastor Gene's addendum. Abounding is better when you understand it.

If I asked Tim to give me some money I needed. I know Tim has it, I know he can give it. When I ask him he says, sure. I've got it in my car, I'll go out and get it. Let's say it's money I really need. Say, 5000 dollars. When Tims says sure, I've got it, I'll get it for you. When would I thank him for that money? After he delivers it to me? Probably not. Probably as he walks out the door to get it from his car I'll be trotting along behind saying thank you, thank you.

Now, he hasn't done it yet. He's just promised it. But, upon his work I give thanks.

Tim would be pretty disappointed if when he said, "I have it, I'll get it for you" I were to say, we'll see. We'll see if you are a man of your word or not. I wouldn't blame him for changing his mind and driving away. Yet we treat God that way. We wait for him to "Come Thru" before we thank him.

God wants us to thank him upon his word. Then trust him. He's directing your paths. His mandate is for you to make money, tell the truth and fear God.

I believe many of us here today need to thank him right now for what we know he has already said he would do in our lives. We may not see it yet, but thankfulness releases the power of God in our lives.

Let's rededicate ourselves to being ready to do what God has asked us the question, "What do you have in your hand". Let's go out and Fear God, Tell the Truth and Make Money.

That is the will of God Concerning You.

Let's pray.

Lonely Unmarried Women's Salvation

I heard Greg Dickow tell a version of this story. I laughed out loud. Thought you would enjoy it.

The Husband Store

A store that sells husbands has just opened where a woman
may go to choose a husband from among many men. The
store is composed of 6 floors, and the men increase in positive
attributes as the shopper ascends the flights.

There is, however, a catch. As you open the door to any floor you may
choose a man from that floor, but if you go up a floor, you cannot go
back down except to exit the building.

So a woman goes to the shopping center to find a husband.

On the first floor the sign on the door reads:

Floor 1 - These men have jobs.
The woman reads the sign and says to herself, "Well, that's better
than my last boyfriend, but I wonder what's further up?"

So up she goes.

The second floor sign reads:

Floor 2 - These men have jobs and love kids.
The woman remarks to herself, "That's great, but I wonder what's
further up?" And up she goes again.

The third floor sign reads:

Floor 3 - These men have jobs, love kids and are extremely good
looking. "Hmm, better" she says. "But I wonder what's upstairs?"

The fourth floor sign reads:

Floor 4 - These men have jobs, love kids, are extremely good looking
and help with the housework. "Wow!" exclaims the woman, "very
tempting. BUT, there must be more further up!" And again she heads up
another flight.

The fifth floor sign reads:

Floor 5 - These men have jobs, love kids, are extremely good looking,
help with the housework and have a strong romantic streak. "Oh, mercy
me! But just think... what must be awaiting me further on?" So up to
the sixth floor she goes.

The sixth floor sign reads:

Floor 6 - You a re visitor 3,456,789,012 to this floor. There are no
men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are
impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at The Husband Store and
have a nice day

The Face of Christianity Changes Faster and Faster

This is another take on the Barna Study I cited a few days ago. I have been following this carefully not because there is triumphalism but because I believe it means good things for the church in America. There is no way it can keep going the way it always has. The prophecy that all Evangelical churches would be indistinguishable from one another in 20 years (this prophecy was made in 2000 by a national prophet, not me) may be on the way. For sure this is true.

Today 51% of Born Again Christians are Charismatic. In 20 years 80% of born again people will be Charismatic/Pentecostal. At that point we have reached a tipping point. Only a few hardcore dying
denominations and congregations will deny Joel 2. God is pouring his spirit out on all flesh. Pouring out his spirit means pouring our his spirit. So, watch and see what the Lord is doing. Like Peter said on the first day of Pentecost, THIS IS THAT. (every day is a day of Pentecost for millions of people worldwide and now in AMERICA).

I am glad I was able to make this transition long ago. Being filled with the Holy Spirit, the Baptism of the Spirit promised by Jesus in the first Chapter of Acts is one of the most precious gifts he ever gave me. Not the most important. Being Born again was that. But the infilling of the Spirit changed me forever. I got a downpayment of heaven without having to die. That is why i am so passionate about the whole thing.

If you are a reader of this blog and you haven't yet entered in, ask yourself why? What hidereth you to be Baptized? Step in and see how good God really is. God is changing the worldwide face of Christianity in ONE GENERATION. Just as he said he would. He told Mike Bickle this 15 years ago. It's happening.

New Barna Report on Growth of Charismatic Churches Debunks Myths—Indicates Growth Will Continue

by Teresa Neumann : Jan 13, 2008 : Jennifer Riley - The Christian Post

"A decade ago, three out of ten adults claimed to be charismatic or Pentecostal Christians. Today, 36% of Americans accept that designation. That corresponds to approximately 80 million adults."

Charismatic worship(Ventura, Ca.)—In response to the results of the recent Barna research on the growth of Charismatic churches in the country, the Christian Post has reported on the myths that were exposed in the survey.

Some of the myths that were debunked were:

1) –charismatic Christianity is exclusively Protestant. It's not.
2) –charismatic churches belong to a separate denomination. They don't.
3) –charismatic churches are small and relatively unsophisticated. They aren't.

Research leader George Barna is quoted as saying that he expects charismatic Christianity will continue to see strong growth.

"The freedom of emotional and spiritual expression typical of charismatic assemblies parallels the cultural trend toward personal expression, accepting diverse emotions and allowing people to interpret their experiences in ways that make sense to them,"he said. "It is not surprising that the Pentecostal community in America has been growing."

To read in detail about the results of the Barna report, follow the link provided above.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Empty Pulpits - Full Hearts, Why Can't they Get Together?

I heard about a church flooded out today and they needed people to go fix it. A Lutheran Church. It was a routine if not needful announcement, but then something Pastor said that make me startle, He said this church was pastored by a retired pastor. OK, Now, let me get this straight, he's operating as Pastor and retired at the same time. How does that work?

Oh, I kid a bit. I understand. But there is a growing emergency of empty pulpits in America. Thousands. Church of Christ, Lutheran Church MO Synod, ELCA, Methodist and to me most interesting Presbyterian. Never mind the huge vacancies in the Catholic Church. I considered linking stories reporting these huge vacancies but if you just Google the words Empty Pulpits you will get them all. Here's a brief summary.

The reason these pulpit are empty is because there are not enough pastors willing to take them. OK, I'll bite. Why. Because there aren't enough people coming out of seminary and staying in the ministry. Why? Because many people go into ministry as a Job and Not a calling.

Those people will NOT make it. They will burn out and leave an empty pulpit.

They didn't come in with a full heart. I am disappointed at the fact that the Lutheran pastor being asked the question didn't see the spirit behind the inquiry and dig a little deeper to discourage a young man from doing something he has no heart for.

If you want to fill an empty pulpit effectively you have to possess a full heart. Full of God, full of fire, full of passion and full of the desire to see God move.

Here's the real problem. Plumbers and Hairdressers both need to be licensed and both need to be part of a "Union" to get hired. Even though some of the best hairdressers and the best plumbers I ever knew learned it by life experience and loved plumbing. Bill Hepola was one such. Being a pastor is no different. The training and theological knowledge isn't that hard to achieve in 10 years of life experience. The passion will get it done.

The seminary system has become an effective roadblock that insures full employment forth Ordained pastor. Meanwhile churches founder because of lack of leadership at the Pastoral level.

What is most painful is the large number of Effective pastors and spiritual leaders willing to fill pulpits and do a great job for churches without one. I know of many who are doing good work and some who really should have a church. One such is a friend of mine who has been a pastor for a long time. He's just not credentialed in a mainline denomination. So the pulpit is closed to him that his full heart might fill. He would like to take a church, but the credentials of this 15 year pastor is not boilerplate.

There are many full hearted men of God who could and want to be pastors of churches and are experienced in doing so. They are blocked out.

A quarter of all Lutheran churches in America are about to find themselves pastorless. Empty pulpits. A large proportion of them will close.

This is too bad. Some of them might have made it if it weren't for a system that has created artificial shortages that serves only professional clergy and the seminaries that produce them. It's like dental schools that limit applicants so there is always a slight artificial shortage.

The old men are dying out. There are no new ones being produced at the rates needed. This is about to come crashing in on leaders who haven't yet faced this. They are living in 1973. Empty pulpits are about to multiply.

It's time to come up with an alternative credentialing system recognizing experience, ability and on the job training. The old boys fraternity system doesn't work anymore.

It reminds me of a great story some years ago:

A church was in need of a Pastor. One of the deacons was interested in knowing what kind of minister they desired. He therefore wrote the following letter, as if it he had received it from an applicant, and read the letter before the pulpit committee. Gentlemen:

"Understand your pulpit is vacant. I should like to apply for the position. I have many qualifications that I think you would appreciate. I have been blessed to preach with power and have had some success as a writer. Some say that I am a good organizer. I have been a leader in most places I've gone.

"Some folk, however, have some things against me. I am over 50 years of age. I have never preached in one place for more than 3 years at a time. In some places, I have left town, after my work caused riots and disturbances. I have to admit that I have been in jail 3 or 4 times, but not because of any wrong-doing. My health is not good, though I still get a great deal done. I have had to work at my trade to help pay my way. the churches I have preached in have been small, though located in several large cities.

"I have not gotten along too well with the religious leaders in different towns where I have preached. In fact, some of them have threatened me, taken me to court, and even attacked me physically.

"I am not good at keeping records. I have been known to forget whom I have baptized. However, if you can use me, I shall do my best for you, even if I have to work to help with my support."

After reading this letter to the committee, he asked if they were interested in the applicant. They replied that he would never do for their church; they were not interested in an unhealthy, contentious, trouble-making, absent-minded jailbird. In fact, they were insulted that his application had even been presented. Then they inquired as to the name of the applicant, whereupon the leader answered:

"The Apostle Paul."