Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Fear of Marriage
  Here I am, here we are, looking at 50 years of marriage. My parents will have their 70th a few days before our fiftieth. That is 120 years of marriage between us. Scary. Amazing. I remember dad saying at their fiftieth that being married that long was a “feat.” I am wondering what he will say about 70.
The current divorce rate is 50% or more through out our society, including Christians. So, there is something wrong with our view of marriage or the ability to make it work. You cannot blame it on the male or the female, it is both. As a result of so many failures in marriage, we have a younger generation that comes from broken homes who are terrified of marriage. They watched parents fight, argue, and when the divorce came, turn into horrid people who hate, connive, and punish as much as possible the other person. Often this battle uses the children as pawns in the war,extracting as much pain as possible at the cost of the children. These children then become very wary of marriage and will chose paths that exclude marriage. Some of the paths are blatant sexual promiscuity, others are limited relationships of “living together,” with the back door always open, others seeking same sex relationships, or choosing to not involve themselves at all in any close relationship and dedicate oneself to career.
So, we see far more marriages taking place later in life, if at all. We also see those who have married and divorced extremely fearful of making the same mistake and will not risk a relationship going any deeper than a dating or casual sexual relationship.
However, God intended marriage to be successful, the cornerstone of society, the model of what eternity should be with Christ. Wow, those are some pretty high goals, but that is what God intended.
The failures of mankind and society do not change the goals of God. Proverbs says that finding a good wife is a gift from God. I believe the converse would be true as well. Paul states that marriage is honorable. Marriage is good.
However, marriage is not a place that you can be selfish. It is a place of giving, sharing, learning, loving. While sex is extremely important, it takes a whole lot more than that to be successful. Men have their issues and women have theirs. Neither gender is innocent. The stereotypical woman and man never have a good marriage. I have found that my biggest job in marriage was to learn how the woman works, thinks, feels, and spiritually processes things. My wife had the same task to learn me. We have been at it 50 years and are still learning. Life has enough seasons to it that we both are constantly changing: emotionally, physically, and spiritually. We have been hit by so many different battles and situations that we have to constantly learn and adapt in order to, not only cope, but overcome.
Marriage is good. Men and women both live longer when married. They are healthier, physically and emotionally. Good marriages are meant to be life long, life giving, and loving. The man is commanded to love his wife as himself and the woman to respect her husband.
Listen, dysfunctional families have been around since creation. Prostitution has been practiced forever. Homosexuality has been with us since there has been a society. Infidelity is common and is recorded in history among the rich and famous as well as the poor and indigent. Immorality is the condition of man when un-submitted to the grace of God. It can be a struggle for Christians as well. We all war with the flesh.
The excuse of “I do not want to suffer in marriage,” is unthought of in Scripture. The fear of marriage is certainly a fear that has been generated by the enemy to thwart the plans and goals of God for eternity’s joy.

Personally, for the all struggles, I would not trade my marriage for anything else. My greatest joys have been as a result of marriage and the family that has grown from our union. I am happy to be celebrating 50.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Fear of Sharing

The Fear of Sharing
 Most of us are intimidated by the idea of sharing our faith. Really, we are. The very thought of witnessing to someone sends chills down our spines. We think, we think, and then talk ourselves out of it. We are afraid. 
What are we afraid of? Being rejected. Not knowing our stuff. Not able to answer questions. Do not have a particularly amazing testimony. Have no idea how to lead someone to Christ if they wanted to. Social pressure is too great. There are a number of fears that reside in all of us.
I think there are other factors involved that we have slowly accepted. These factors come from two sources at least. One is the world, and sorry, but the other is from the church.
The world has slowly cooked us into believing that our faith is private. It is not to be shared because you might offend someone. Lies. You do not see the social activists being quiet for fear that they might offend you. They offend and then dare you to disagree and if you do disagree, they want to sue you for civil rights, defamation, and any number of things they can use to intimidate. Meanwhile, the saints sit back and buy into the lies of keeping quiet. Islam is not keeping quiet and are murdering people who might even say something about the Koran they do not like. Meanwhile, we allow the Bible to be tramped on, disregarded, defamed, lied about, and taken from us. So, the “let’s be quiet and everyone will get along” is one of the greatest deceptions perpetrated on the church.
Thanks to former President L.B. Johnson we have the 501 (c) (3), non-profit, IRS qualifications. He did that to silence a preacher who was adverse to his leadership. Now, we have threats that our tax exempt status will be removed. Is the gospel about exemption from taxes or is about the truth and eternal life? So, the world continues to back the saints into a tomb of silence out of fear. While I am not opposed to rendering unto to Caesar which is his, I am certainly not interested in compromise to appease and fail the Lord.
Philosophically the world has promoted doctrines of secularism, tolerance (their definition of it), pluralism, and relativism. This has caused believers to be labeled intolerant, bigoted, prejudiced, and fanatic because the word of God holds things to be absolute and defined by God. All of the current philosophical approaches defy the word of God.
However, the church has created fears that limit us as well. We have somehow developed doctrines, written or unwritten that define how you lead someone to Christ. There have been movements that have printed materials and propagated them through media. There have been campaigns where there has been city wide efforts to touch each home with some sort of witness, usually a tract of some sort. There have been revival meetings, tent meetings, stadium meetings. We have been guilted into actions that are entirely uncomfortable to most people. We have been shamed by those who are really good at meeting people. So, as a result, the good news languished in the hearts of people never to be shared. Then, we have become so overwhelmed with information that we do not know the heart of the gospel to share. Certainly the good news is not “the world is coming to an end.” The good news is not “turn or burn.”
So, there has to be a rebirth of good news that is shared with the world. The side stuff needs to be the side stuff; fun, interesting, important, but not critical to salvation for the individual. Let’s make first things first.

I am looking for a fresh, New Testament, “I am on fire,” kind of sharing of Jesus with others.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dream ON

Dream On 
Dream Dreams and Prophesy
Pastor Bill
“I have a Dream,” was one of Martin Luther King’s greatest messages. It was delivered before a crowd gathered at the Lincoln Memorial facing out to the reflecting pond between it and the Washington Monument. The crowd stretched from one memorial to the other. Those present said that the message was droll at the beginning while King stuck to his notes, and then, like a refreshing wind, something happened and he moved from his notes to a message on his heart. At that moment inspiration took over and history was made.
My son, Bill, preached a great message on God Loves a Dreamer. He charted the life of Joseph and from those scriptures inspired all of us listening to not give up on our dreams. Many of you commented that you were touched and challenged.
When the message by King was given, no one could see down the road to all the struggle and the assassination. No one could realize that the civil rights prophet would enrage a nation on one hand and inspire others to greatness.  Everyone who hears God is given an inspiration of some dimension. We are not left alone by Him. He calls, He woos, He speaks through others, and through us. He tugs at the heart, convicts the mind, and pulls on our emotions. He truly will not leave us alone. His heart is for us and our destiny lies before us as uncharted waters, and lands not discovered.
When we are given a dream, if it is left there without nurture, it will remain in the land of fantasy and what “could have been.” All dreams must make transitions. Dreams are the flights of imagination and creativity. We can see things in our minds and spirits. Dreams are the sources of invention and discovery. But dreams left unattended will fade and evaporate. Great ideas will vanish with morning light if not nurtured with attention.
Dreams, necessarily, must transition to vision. Vision takes the imagination and creativity and begins to find a way to make it happen. Vision begins a process of preparation, education, exploration, and experimentation.
If we sit with the idea that a prophetic word is final and fore ordained without our involvement, it will die the death of neglect.
Vision grabs the prophecy, the dream and begins to translate it into steps and milestones. Vision begins to plan how to get from here to the dream. It breaks down the components and puts them in attainable sections. Vision plans and moves. Vision knows that you cannot get from A to B without a journey.
When God gives a dream, He often paints in broad strokes. You know where you are to go and what is to be done, but the journey is never clearly and definitely laid out. God always leaves large space for faith. So, prophetic words always speak to our potential, what we could do, what we could accomplish, what we really could be.
When God speaks, He often starts with a word of knowledge to get your attention, “Hey, I know who you are and what you are doing and feeling. Pay attention!” Then comes the directive potential that He wants you to hear and heed.

We all have a dream, or we did at one time. If you are young, you feel it is beyond you. If you are old, you feel there is no time left. Both are lies. It is never too early or too late to obey God and pursue the dream He gave you. Turn it to vision and begin to plan your success in His provision.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christian Influence

Christian Influence
 “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
 (John 8:32)

The influence on the world from the impact of Jesus has been long reaching and effective. Even though the world has not all accepted Jesus as the Son of God or a savior of mankind, He still has changed all societies where Christians have lived. We, the people who believe in him, have set Biblical standards, used them to free people, and across the board have elevated the value of individuals. The whole concept of tolerance originated with us. The idea of separation of church and state came from us. The movement to abolish slavery came from us, not in the 18th century, but in the fourth century. The respect and elevation of women and children came from us, not a 20th century movement, but from the teachings of Jesus.
While modern movements have secularized and exaggerated themes, the basic underpinnings of thought and philosophies have originated in the teachings of Jesus and the church’s promotion of those liberating scriptures.
The Laicite’ of the French came from the Huguenot in their movement to free the country from religious persecution coming from the Catholic church and the French monarchy. Our forefathers penned such an approach into the constitution. The reformers’ ideas were not to eradicate faith from government, but not to allow religion to be a government function. 
The tenets of the scriptures promote the church being a salt to society, not to legislate society, but affect the society to form a godly, moral, influence in a world with many different people.
In an article in USA Today, the author was referring to a speech by a Muslim professor who was deeply concerned for the loss of the Christian communities and influence in MdIdle Eastern countries. The jihadist persecution of the Christian community, she indicated, would be a horrible loss to the countries and further destabilize them.
I witnessed in Africa a Muslim man who wanted Blaise Mibabta’s church in his neighborhood as a good influence. In fact, he was giving Blaise preferential treatment in price and accommodation.
Jesus has done more for the world than current leaders are willing to admit. Education is one of the largest contributions through the centuries that Christians have provided. If it were not for Christian missionaries, many countries would still be illiterate in the masses. Even today, Christians are the backbone of education in many third world nations. For instance, there is no public education in the Congo. Church schools are the primary educators until the college level. There is no free education. Everyone pays whether well off or poor. The poor remain struggling for an education. I mean, even the ability to read.
While our western societies are seeking to marginalize Christians, we are the backbone of the society. It is our Jesus who has taught the principles that elevate and free mankind. To remove our influence is to take a step toward anarchy and worse abuse. It may not happen in a decade, but given a generation, it will be significant.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was in 1989. That generation remembers. Teenagers in Germany have no idea of the suffering and separation. One generation and the Cold War and suffering is forgotten. Six million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust and there are those in this generation who no nothing about it, or even believe it is fiction. President Eisenhower wanted every generation to remember the atrocities so it would never be repeated. Remembrances and memorials are necessary.

We, Christians, have a rich history of liberating those in bondage. Yes, we have our history of abuses, but those who have followed Christ, his teachings, have wonderfully changed the world for the better and have even affected non-Christian societies to their betterment.

Joy to the World

  JOY to the WORLD

        ...I bring you good news of great joy which will be to all the people.
                                                            (Luke 2:10)

News travels fast, good or bad. The shepherds were quick to tell their story around Bethlehem. The wise men were telling their story two years later to Herod. Elizabeth had a hallelujah moment when Mary came into the house as John the Baptist in her womb leaped for joy. Mary prophesied the “Magnificat” as the Holy Spirit came over her. Simeon and Anna bore witness with joy when the baby Jesus was brought into the temple.
Whatever time of day, week, month, or year, Jesus bring joy to those who experience him. Joy is that deep sense of well being. It does not have to be exuberant, though it can. But it is that deep sense that everything is well with my soul and that the final outcome is a victory for good.
We have very few times in the daily affairs of the world where notice is taken to the Savior. Two times a year, Christmas and Easter, the world gives a little notice. If we, who are the worshippers of this Jesus, pay no attention to such rare moments, then the world will become less and less interested in our celebrations or high church times.
This is a really good time to celebrate family, friends, and a season of holiday. Merry Christmas should be our greeting. Happy Holidays works if we realize that Holiday is really a contraction of “holy” and “day.” So, holiday is Holy-Day. So, in the spirit of the season, “Happy Holy-Day.”
We are having a Candlelight, Christmas Eve service Tuesday evening, the 24th at 7:00 PM. It will be a one hour service at best, but it will be a devotional, leading us into the day of Christmas. It will be a good time to reflect some, sing some traditional carols of celebration, and set the tone for a joyous day. 

Invite your family and friends to spend that one hour with you.     P. BillpastedGraphic.pdf

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Grand Prophecies

Grand Prophecies
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15)

We were living in El Paso, Texas at the time. We were just starting out in this venture called spirit filled living. We were newly baptized in the Holy Spirit. We were following the leading of the Holy Spirit when we moved to Texas. It was brash, bold, and scary. Taking two little kids and launching out into the unknown. We knew that when we arrived and met the folks that knew us that the moment they knew we were baptized in the Holy Spirit that they would want nothing to do with us. So it went.
But God is good and does not leave us stranded. The wife of one of the elders was searching for more of the Lord and came to us. She received the Holy Spirit and then made all kinds of connections for us in El Paso. At that time there were a number of traveling ministries that came through El Paso. One of them was a prophet that ministered in several homes meetings at Ft. Bliss. We met him and spent some time with him.
One day we took him for a ride with us up into a park that was located in one of the many canyons. We parked the car and the kids and us began to hike up the canyon onto some high rocks. The prophet stopped us and began to prophesy world ministry and travel to us. We were in our 20’s and hardly making ends meet, had no church to pastor, no ministry of any significance. We were fresh out of the Church of Christ. I was teaching school and Cathy was caring for two active kids. The prophecies were wonderful and oh so grand and impossible to imagine. World travel? I hardly had enough gas money to get to church. I walked to work. 
However, I did not dismiss the prophetic words, but held them for the time of their fulfillment. I did not try to make them happen. An international trip I could afford would have been to cross over to Juarez, Mexico and be sure to get home before you had to buy a meal.
But God did not lie or give me something that he would not perform. So, here we stand, ready to leave Monday with a team that will touch Europe and then on to two African nations. We will be ministering to pastors and leaders and churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo. This will be my third time into the Congo and the rest of the team’s first time. It will be my first visit to the Republic of Congo even though we have ministered to the church in Paris and have been asked to go there for probably ten years. This time we will make it.
Missions of this nature are expensive, but the responses from those in the church and friends from other churches and family have made it possible for such investments to be made into the lives of saints around the world.
I guess part of what I want to say in this article is not to give up on your dreams and visions. Do not quit the prophetic words that have been given to you. Some of them may seem like pipe dreams and so far fetched that you will never see them come to pass. While I know some prophets can weave words that are grandiose, we must remember the kernel of truth and vision God has for you. What resonates with your spirit is what you want to hang on to. 
We were just a couple of kids when we received that word and it was confirmed again and again. So, we allowed God to work and to bring it to pass in his timing.
And his timing has taken us to Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, El Salvador, Grand Cayman, Haiti, Wales, France, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and new this time, the Republic of Congo.
Starting with that one little, unbelievable moment, it has grown into all these opportunities and ministry. I often wonder what did I accomplish preaching through interpreters and praying and prophesying through all the interpreters? How did I contribute to the Kingdom of God? When you minister at home and in your church, you work along for years and see some good results. When you minister in other countries, the results are not well known, if at all. Yet, for those who go, there is the contribution to the mandate of going into all the world and the blessing that carries a residue of impact for life.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


  He said to them, “Go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation. (Mark 16:15) 

Africa: That huge continent with so many nations, religions, tribes, languages, and waste howling poverty. For centuries, missionaries have poured their lives into various nations and tribes. The need is seemingly endless. Nations have colonized, taken natural resources for themselves, have invested in infrastructures, and provided forced government and order. Nations have left, independence seeming the route all wanted. The free nations quickly lapsed into dictatorships and economic growth pretty much came to a halt. The French, Dutch, and English moved on and life continued in old tribal ways.
The north of Africa has been over run by Muslim regimes and the once fertile plains along the Mediterranean, once known as the bread basket of Africa, is now sand. The continent is religiously divided north and south. The north being Muslim and the sub Sahara to the south is predominantly Christian with large doses of Animism thrown in.
Years ago I read a book called, Missionary Methods, Ours or Paul’s by Roland Allen. His thesis was that for all the money we have invested in missionary outreach, we have not begun to touch the impact that Paul made in one life time. The missionary methods of establishing compounds and westernizing the converts failed miserably. The New Testament approach seems more to bring to Christ and establish local leaders. This allows indigenous leadership who know the language and the culture. Christ is able to minister through the local leader and reach his people. The learning curve is cut short by decades.
This is why one of my friends in France had established a house for foreign students coming to France for education. He knew that reaching and equipping foreign students would pay long term benefits for the kingdom of God. Why? Because these students were the ones who would be leading their countries. Case in point. We had one African student in Limoges, France who was a leader in the church there. When he finished his degree, he returned to his country with a high position in government and yet, a committed Christian, a man of influence.
When we invest in our mission trips, they are expensive, but we are working on a New Testament mandate. We are not trying to buy buildings and establish elaborate compounds. Our approach is to invest in indigenous leaders. This mission will be about equipping pastors and leaders. We supported establishing a training school for leaders and when we went back for their graduation and commissioning, there were at least ten churches started out of that one class. Some went places that were way too dangerous for foreigners to travel to.
This trip is a conference for training leaders. They are interested to know the key doctrines of the faith. They are interested in how to minister the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and want to know more about business for building a base of support and employing their members. The unemployment rate is somewhere around 70-80%.
The church needs to be powerful in the culture. There are more than 50,000 orphans roaming the streets of the capital. AIDS is killing their parents and infecting many of them as well. Occult groups are grabbing these kids and using them for horrible practices. Eight million people are crammed into the capital city, many of them refugees fleeing the civil war in the east. Women are used and abused. The church provides a refuge for them. The custom has men having multiple wives with children of all of them. The father is a distant being. Many times the wives have separate homes or apartments and do not see their husbands for days or more.
Our part is to help. We cannot change the tribalism or rescue the economy. We cannot change the nation in a visit, but we can help those who are nation changers. We can help leaders be better prepared to serve their people. We can bring hope and encouragement. We also can take away a lot. These people are mighty in prayer. They are amazing in worship. They face hardships daily and seek God’s provision and direction hourly. Most are walking a faith walk, not for prosperity American style, but survival. We are committed to help.