Friday, July 26, 2013

Cartoon of the week

You can add a few more "non-scandals" to that vehicle. Maybe the cartoonist is onto something here ...

Saturday, July 20, 2013


John 15:7: If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. (KJV)

This verse hold several simple, yet powerful truths for the church is these times, when Christians in America are bewildered about the direction of this country (mainly downhill). First, we need to let God's Word, the Bible, “abide” in us. This is not just head knowledge: “Abide in youNot only are remembered, but are suffered to remain in you as a living principle, to regulate your affections and life.” (Barnes)

This is rooted in the first part of the verse, about abiding in Jesus. Obviously, we abide in Jesus when we ask Him into our heart as our Lord and Savior. When we love anyone, their voice, their words have a life in us that no one else could ever have. How much more should this be with our Lord Jesus and His Words in the Holy Bible!

When we are abiding in faith in Jesus, and let His words direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6), then we can be confident that whatever we ask, it will be done for us. It's easy to believe for this in regard to personal needs—but do we believe this for our neighbors, and for that matter, for our nation? Yes, we must put hands and feet under our prayers in standing up for biblical truth and opposing Satan's plans to tear down out society—but we must first and foremost have the total faith in Jesus in our prayers to do this.

When our faith in not firmly rooted in God's Word, any enthusiasm we have in our efforts to turn people back to biblical truth will wilt away, especially in the face of trials and opposition (Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21). So our first steps in shining our light into the darkness, in seeing true revival come to the American church, is not dreaming up more complicated man-made methods for this, but by the church returning to basics of the faith, to get afire with the love of Jesus in our hearts and letting that love shine through our words and actions.

Here is a video link to a chorus written about this truth, that I hope will bless you as you allow Jesus' words to abide in you.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Heart of the pro-abortion movement

The heart of the pro-abortion movement has been pretty much exposed in the recent battle to stop pro-life laws in Texas. I'm posting some links, but here's a rundown:

*The “pro-choice” protesters aren't content to carry around perverted signs—they have little children carrying them too.

*Members of the pro-abortion crowd repeatedly yelled “Hail Satan” at pro-life demonstrators who were singing “Amazing Grace.”

For the above two items, check out the link here (Warning: some of the signs in the pictures are offensive. Actually, they are ALL offensive—but some are especially perverted).

*State legislators are receiving threats from these alleged guardians of women's rights—including messages hoping that their daughters are raped.

*And the kicker—these are PAID activists. They are pulling in up to $2,200 a month from leftists groups allied with President Obama.

If you have the stomach, check these links. Then pray for the pro-life legislators and demonstrators in their courageous stand for life; for the pro-abortion activists' salvation; and for what's left of the conscience of our nation.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dressing down the sheep: some thoughts on the ranting pastor

At last count, there are almost 300,000 hits on the YouTube video starring that Oklahoma pastor who dresses down his congregation during Sunday service. The video gem of his latest homiletic outburst features the pastor criticizing an engaged couple he was supposed to marry. That couple left the church shortly after his “corrective” message, where he was down in the aisle, pretty much in the man's face, saying “You're one of the sorriest church members I have. You're not worth 15 cents.”

I write this as someone who is apprehensive about criticizing any ministry, even if that ministry does things that may seem unusual. But this video cries for some biblical perspective. For that, I turn to a passage that at first seems to have nothing to do with our interesting pastor and his preaching method:

If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.” (1 Corinthians 14:23-25, ESV)

Let's put aside the issue about whether you believe spiritual gifts such as tongues and prophecy are for today; there are dedicated believers on both sides of that issue. Paul is expressing a concern here for what an OUTSIDER would think should they come into the meeting. Of course, this is not calling for churches to “water down” their worship or message so as not to “drive away” unbelievers. Nonetheless, Paul is concerned with what an unbeliever will take away from a church meeting. You see, EVERYTHING a church does tells people something about God; the message is not limited to any inspired speaking or even singing.

So when a pastor uses his pulpit to berate members of his church, what is THIS telling people, especially those outside the church, about God? Look at the pastor's words again, when he tells that young man, “You're not worth 15 cents.” Tell me if you honestly think THAT reflects the heart of Jesus; do you REALLY believe JESUS would say that? To be sure, Jesus had harsh words for hypocrites; put His finger directly on the sin of the woman at the well and the rich young ruler; and even rebuked his beloved disciple Peter with the words, “Get behind me Satan” (see Matthew 16:21-23).

But for that pastor to tell that man, a member of his church, he was “not worth 15 cents” is reprehensible, for this is a soul Jesus died for. Or has that pastor forgotten about John 3:16? Picture yourself being in the shoes of a young Christian couple looking for a church, who could well have been visiting that church that day. Or maybe the visitors are a couple living in sin, wanting to get right with God and enter into marriage—and you get an earful of THIS message. Like that poor couple the pastor “confronted,” you'll walk out the door of that church and not look back—and if you're unchurched, probably forget looking for ANY church again.

I don't know that pastor personally, so I can't speak to whether he is living up to those apparently lofty standards he was laying down for that “worthless” man and his fiancee. I certainly hope so, for his sake. But maybe he needs to start praying about whether his “method” really glorifies God, or simply discourages believers and gives unbelievers all the more reason to not follow Jesus—certainly not the Jesus that pastor is presenting.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Where have we heard THAT one before?

"On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital. How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.”—President Obama, in his statement applauding the Supreme Court's decision striking down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Well, we see how long THAT statement holds up.
"Here’s guessing that the Roman Catholics and other religious groups that are in the midst of fighting the [Obamacare] contraception mandate are skeptical of that pledge,” notes Joel Gehrke of the Washington Examiner, in reporting on the president's statement.

The court's rulings on same sex “marriage” weren't a total washout. While the court essentially sidestepped ruling on California's Proposition 8—effectively allowing homosexual “marriage” to resume in that state in violation of the will of the voters who passed the law—the justices did NOT sweep away laws in other states that ban same sex “marriage.”

On the REAL reasons for the push for “marriage equality,” see my previous blog on May 13. And for some encouragement, see this article about a group of courageous African-American pastors in Illinois who stood up for true marriage—and stared down attempts to legalize homosexual “marriage” in the Land of Lincoln, a very deep blue state (if you haven't read about it in the state controlled mainstream press, don't be surprised; as the article points out, the media has been careful to avoid covering this victory for traditional, biblical marriage like the plague).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Favorite Songs (May 2013)

Haven't done this in a LONG while, so why wait? Here's another favorite song of mine …

The song that transformed gospel music is actually based on an 18th century hymn (and only part of one, at that). Hawkins, who formed a Frisco Bay ensemble with the best voices in that area, gave the hymn the distinctive music and arrangement that would take it to international fame and a Grammy Award. Small wonder when you give it a listen, especially when the smooth opening words give way to the electrifying chorus that rings out, “He taught me how to watch ...” The song, which quickly became a gospel standard, has been covered by numerous artists, and was featured in a number of films, including Sister Act 2 and Secretariat.

It's particularly interesting that the song, part of a privately released album, got repeated airplay on the Bay Area's underground FM stations. In time, mainstream stations picked up the album and the song. From there, “Oh Happy Day” would reach No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 in the UK, selling 7 million copies. While that song would prove to be the peak of the group's commercial success, they would go on to earn three more Grammy Awards. The lead singer on the song, Dorothy Combs Morrison, would quickly go on to a solo career. Her debut single released later that year, “All God's Children Got Soul,” just made it into the Hot 100, but Morrison's performance of the song was immortalized in the concert film Celebration at Big Sur.

It wouldn't be the first time a Christian song was a major pop hit; Elvis took “Crying in the Chapel” into the Top 10 four years earlier. But it's still astounding that a song that proclaimed "oh happy day/when Jesus washed my sins away” got such monstrous airplay at that time, putting Jesus' salvation message in front of millions around the world.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Two must-read links ... make that three ... while you can

(Updated 5/16/13)

Three must-read links for my readers. And I do mean you MUST READ—before the Justice Department decides to “suspend” my blog for being on the wrong side of political correctness:

Gay Marriage vs. Tax Exempt Churches (Brian Cherry, Canada Free Press)
Though you're sure to disagree with parts of this article, the central premise is chillingly on target: “The gay marriage issue, as it is currently being pursued, is a back door assault on the constitutional freedom of religion and [Bible-believing] Christian churches.”

The Mask is Ripped Off of “Hope and Change” (Jim Geraghty, National Review)
A good brief rundown of the three scandals rocking the Obama administration, with a succinct summation: “You 'Hope and Change' true believers were a bunch of chumps.” Check out the picture at the end of the article. And get ready for more Captain Renault imitations by our beloved Great Leader about the subversion of the Constitution he ordered in these Nixonish acts: “I'm shocked, SHOCKED!”

Glenn Beck has pointed to Obama's “magician” abilities in diverting attention from critical issues with “spontaneous” eruptions in the news cycle. So could the IRS campaign against conservative groups and Justice Department press wiretapping (stories in the previous link) be diversions from a central question in the Benghazi killings? That central question: where WAS our Commander-in-Chief while Americans, including an ambassador, were being slaughtered at a US embassy in Libya? “With Benghazi, we have a Commander-in-Chief who, while acting in that capacity, fits the very definition of MIA, or missing-in-action. Not AWOL as some have proclaimed, but MIA. A schedule not erased after the fact, but an itinerary deliberately withheld from the purview of us all. The Commander-in-Chief inexplicably went 'off the grid' during a time of national and international crisis. He became MIA, but why?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

On the miniseries "The Bible"

First off, I highly encourage everyone to watch The Bible miniseries on the History Channel on Sunday nights at 8 p.m. through Easter Sunday night, March 31. Judging from the first episode, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have done an outstanding job producing the series, which topped every other show that night with 13 million views during the two-hour slot (you can check History Channel for re-broadcasts of the first episode).

The show was highly entertaining and at the same time stuck to the core of the Bible's story. I know that some Christians were upset with some of the embellishments (yes, the angels-turned-ninjas take at Sodom was, er, a little different). To be honest, all major TV and movies with biblical themes will have some sort of embellishments—even Cecil B. DeMille's venerable epic The Ten Commandments has some “innovations” in the script. But I believe the series can nonetheless spark a major interest in people turning to the Bible. I was also encouraged hearing of families that watched The Bible together, using it to teach the children, with parents answering their questions about what they saw.

Churches (including my home church) are linking up with the show by presenting messages based on each episode, and showing clips from the series—encouraging the faith of believers and sparking interest among those who may not know the Bible.

Christians need to do two more things with such an opportunity in sparking a vast interest in the Bible: the first is pray, especially for a lasting impact on hearts. We can probably all remember people who were greatly affected by previous great shows, the most recent example being The Passion of the Christ. But we can probably also remember some of those same people who claimed the movie changed them—and sadly watching them never follow through with a commitment to Jesus. I also remember seeing this during the showing of another great TV special from the 70s, Jesus of Nazareth. Speaking of which, there are several reliable reports that John Lennon became a Christian after watching that show in 1977. Sadly, apparently for a variety of reasons, his faith was short-lived. Nonetheless, The Bible, like Jesus of Nazareth and other quality Bible-themed shows, can bring the truth of Jesus right into the living rooms of people who wouldn't otherwise turn on Christian TV stations. We need to fervently pray for a continued impact on many lives, especially those we personally know who are watching and being impacted by the show's message.

Secondly, and most important, we need to stay alert for open doors, to discuss the series with others who may be watching—which can lead to sharing the truth of Jesus with them, and praying for them. Even the aforementioned “embellishments” can spark discussion on what the Bible actual says—and can provide a catalyst for getting deeper into the truths of God's Word. We can take hold of the promise that God's Word never comes back void (Isaiah 55:11), and trust that the Holy Spirit will lead us as we share from the Bible, His Word of Life.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Imprisoned nation and captive press

Well, it looks like if you want the straight truth about President Obama from the mainstream media, you'll have to go to the ENGLISH mainstream media. Here's a link to an article in the UK's Telegraph, and see if you'll ever see a headline like that from (to borrow and old Cold War phrase about communist countries' media) our captive press.

I used to say that our media is becoming more like a Third World nation's press. I take that back: it's now more like eastern Europe's old Iron Curtain press, merely an extension of the communist state, which will print even the most ridiculous statements, unchallenged, as long as they uphold the great leader. Conversely, they will hush-hush any embarrassing or contradictory info for the same reason. Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes recently admitted that Obama is a repeated guest on the show, because "he knows we're not going to play gotcha with him, that we're not going to go out of our way to make him look bad or stupid, and we'll let him answer the question"--a rule not readily applied to George W. Bush or Mitt Romney.

I remember listening to a recording of JFK's speech during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, where he made a reference to Cuba as the "imprisoned island nation" (at this point in the speech, he was directly addressing Cuba's people). And here we are, half a century later, being transformed into our own "imprisoned nation" with a captive press, watching our constitutional rights being swept away at the behest of a true "imperial presidency" (a phrase used against President Nixon in the 60s and 70s). Will we ever wake up?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Obamacare cartoon of the week

Too much common sense in this cartoon I just ran across:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

In Season and Out

Way back in 1985, I recorded an album, In Season and Out, which was produced by my good friends in the Christian band Rough Draft. Seven of the songs on the cassette (remember those?) were ones I wrote, with the eighth being written by a friend of mine in NY. Recently, I was able to recover one of those lost cassette tapes (thanks Michele!) and digitalize it. So I’m putting it up here on the blog for anyone who would like to download it free from the Media Fire storage site. Here's the link:

The file is in a zip file, so after downloading it you'll need to click on it and extract it to your music file, or extract it to your desktop and move it to your music file. From there, Windows Media Player should automatically read it, and you can sync it to a digital player or burn it to CD. Hope you enjoy it, and God bless!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Perfect Church!

upon this rock I will build My church (Matthew 16:18b, KJV)

In those days, as the number of the disciples was increasing, complaint was made by the Greek-speaking Jews against the native Jews that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. (Acts 6:1, Williams New Testament)

You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free your mind instead
                                                The Beatles

            I found the perfect church!

            Want to take a look for yourself? Then turn to Revelation 7:9-10: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (ESV)

Take a good look, because until Jesus returns, that heavenly scene is the ONLY place you’ll find the “perfect church.” You certainly won’t find it among the seven churches Jesus addresses in Revelation 2-3; Smyrna and Philadelphia are the closest you find to being perfect in those chapters. You definitely won’t even find it in the Book of Acts. The imperfections of the early church were on display early on in that account. For example, in Acts 6, contentions between Jewish and Gentile believers regarding food distribution required establishing the position that we now call deacons, to settle the matter. Conflict rose again later when Jewish believers started telling Gentiles that to be REAL Christians, they had to hold the Old Testament ceremonial law. The church council in Acts 15, under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, set down rules for Gentile Christians that ensured morality and respect for their Jewish brothers and sisters—but put on them no “additions” for them to be saved (it must also be noted that Jewish Christians were free to continue observing their rituals; but they could not push them onto Gentile believers).

Even the letters to the churches, especially those penned by Paul, indicate that the churches of the New Testament era were far from “perfect.” And yet, there are Christians who are content to “give up” on involvement in a church, because of imperfections they find in churches (and in many cases, in just one church). Just playing a hunch here—if you can’t find the perfect church in the New Testament other than in heaven, then chances are you won’t find one on earth today, either (and for the record, my family and I are part of a wonderful church).

For those Christians who want to give up on church involvement because church people are imperfect, no doubt doing something that irks you, I have this question: were YOU perfect when you first got saved and started attending church? Have you progressed so quickly to perfection, to the point where you can judge the entire body of Christ based on what you may have run into in one or several fellowships? Please don’t claim you have a attained that state: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8, ESV)

I recently read an article that discusses how aloneness—and its accompanying condition, loneliness—is increasing exponentially in our society. Many young people who “strike out on their own” from their parents seem to want to stay in a state of living alone, instead of viewing their establishing independence as a bridge to one day starting their own families, according to the article. I must quickly add here that God blesses both married and single people; Paul even calls both states a gift from God in 1 Corinthians 7:7. Conversely, loneliness can be experienced by anyone, single or married. What I am concerned with is the continuing move away from community in our society, as the article indicated—an increasing isolation that could even be creeping into Christian fellowship. America has always been an individualistic society in any event; perhaps this is part of the reason Americans are increasingly shying away from church involvement?

Regardless of the reason, those choosing to stay away from Christian fellowship are cutting themselves off from the special presence of Christ that can only be experienced corporately with other believers. Jesus said, “… where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20, ESV) He also makes it clear that HE is the One who created the church (Matthew 16:18). God has always meant for His people to dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1)—regardless of how “imperfect” that fellowship might be. And staying in fellowship helps us to grow together in Christ (Ephesians 4:1-3) Overall, it is an important corporate witness to a society that appears to be atomizing, where community is increasingly becoming a meaningless word. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35, ESV) It’s hard to see how this love—an important part of our witness to the world—can be practiced away from church fellowship.

While the church on earth might be imperfect, it is still JESUS’ church, where He calls us into fellowship with Him and each other, through faith. “Christian community is not an ideal we have to realize, but rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate,” says Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible). “The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and promise of all our community is in Jesus Christ alone, the more calmly we will learn to think about our community and pray and hope for it …

“We are bound together by faith, not by experience.”