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.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Hebrews 12:1...lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

 No one likes to play church. Either God shows up or we just go through the motions. Sometimes church is a zoom into the heavenlies and other times it is slogging through the Serengeti Desert. I wish I knew how to make every service a “zoom,” but I have never found the solution or the formula. As the Africans say, God is God!”
There are just so many things in life that defy organization, orderliness, and function the way we want it to. We read books, read the Bible, attend seminars and conferences in the hope of finding answers. We certainly learn more, do better, more efficient, more sensitive, but God is God and He will take our best formulas and dash them to the ground like throwing a fine crystal goblet on cement. Our plans and expectations are shattered.
We really want a God who is predictable. It would be nice to be able to know that if you do “A” then “B” would automatically happen. We read our books and the author gives us a fine algebraic formula that has A+B=C. Yes, we have it. If we just plug faith into A and add B will get C. Well, sometimes.
God’s people become agitated, discouraged, and flat out hostile sometimes when the formula does not work. We want a God who is predictable. The problem with predictability is that it leads to lifeless, faithless living. It allows for sterile, uninvolved, liturgical religion.
In daily relationships, no one wants to be taken for granted. Families are great schools of learning. Never does a formula work with rearing children. If you have more than one, you will find that the approach may require a totally different way to reach the second child and on and on as you have more. Each child has their own life and relationship with the parent. Rue the parent that thinks the same formula will work for all.
And then how about the wife? No woman wants to be taken for granted. And just when you think you have her figured out, you fail miserably and things that once worked, now will not. No wife wants to be a roboton that responds to the same input the same way each time. Flowers might be an endearment one time and the next, yeh, what did you do wrong? The same applies to husbands. No one wants to be figured out and manipulated.
Playing church is when you think that you have God figured out. Then He just shows you that you do not. The hymn, the song, that took the congregation into the heavenlies last week, may leave you dry and comfortless this week. The prayer that moved mountains last week, may this week lack the power to move an ant hill. The sermon that brought people to the altar last week, may in another venue or time, be lifeless and touch  no one.
While we are a spirit filled church, it does not mean that we have to have three prophecies to qualify. There can be times when there is quiet, no prophecies, no tongues, or any other demonstration. Church is the gathering of the saints to allow Jesus to be present however He chooses that particular time. We sometimes are awed that worship is so good that we do not preach. What if the word was so good that we did not sing? The Quakers of old would sit and wait till God did something. I am not necessarily advocating that approach, but there is something to be said for flowing with God.
I have been at this for a lot of years. I have been in more church services probably than anyone in the church. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have been exhilarated and bored. I have heard messages that have inspired me and others that have nauseated me. I have been anointed to the place that I thought God was going to take me home and have been in some meetings that were so dead that I thought the grim reaper was leading the service.
But I keep going back. I keep looking for the ZOOM. Because when the zoom hits, the bad and the ugly go away. I have learned you do not think that you have God figured out. You go with the flow as best you can, steward what you can, and be surprised when it really is a ZOOM.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Marriage V

The Battle of Wills

The Battle of Wills: Somehow is marriage we get to the place where there is a battle of wills. Each party, each spouse is trying to establish territory and rights. The strong willed strive to have the upper hand, be in control, rule the roost. The problem with this kind of exercise, which can go on for years, is that it is non-productive and harmful to the marriage and relationship.
The man has his challenge. He has been told he is the man of the house which usually is interpreted as the dictator of the house. His fellow cronies warn him of being run by a woman, where is his manhood, they wouldn’t take it and on it goes. The woman on the other hand is challenged by her female cadre with they would not put up with that and you cannot allow him to do that and who does he think he is?
With male and female machismo running hot and heavy, there is no place of peace and reconciliation. Marriage was not intended to be a battle of wills, but a place where two became one and worked together. The woman was meant to be a helper mate, part and parcel of the deal.
However, male and female gender differences and preferences will conflict with one another. Not maybe, but always. The process is to come to a place of respect and understanding of the differences and make them work together.
The problem is that once we get to the battle of wills, the emotional charge on both sides is so intense that no one is listening to the other. I remember being a counseling session and as we talked the woman was not listening; she was forming her next argument and rebuttal. The emotion was running so high that no one was looking for answers, but simply vindication of their position. At that point, there is no need to continue. Everyone needs a “timeout.” Go somewhere and calm down. 
In these times, women tend to lose sight of the current issue and use it as an opportunity to bring up everything from the past as part of the argument. They cloud the current issue with the failures and foibles of the past. There is then a sense of hopelessness in the debate and discussion because there is a realization that the past has never become the past. The man on the other hand wants to assert some kind of Tarzan approach where he-man, you-woman. The attempt is to make the woman a sub-creation that needs clubbed over the head and dragged to the cave. Neither of these approaches make anyone feel good or begins to answer the conflict.
Conflict resolution comes primarily out of meeting the needs of the other. It is imperative to understand what is driving the conflict and the position that is held by the man or the woman. Each gender has specific, innate, needs that have to be addressed by the spouse. To ignore the differences or ignore the innate needs is to live in a fantasy land and live in constant turmoil while blaming the other person for all the turmoil.
Woman who think that men think like them are grossly misinformed. And men who think woman are men who are just physically different are totally out of bounds. God has made us significantly different, but we need each other. The happily ever-after fairy tale world does not exist. It is definitely happy at times and hellish at other times. But the covenant is meant to be insoluble. This means God expects us to work through difficulty to a place where WE are working together and not against each other. So, the battle of wills is always a losing proposition. You can win the battle and lose the war in this situation. And, just because you think you won the argument does not mean it is over and done. Marriage is not a debate contest; it is real life and you have to live in it.
Each spouse should be looking for answers, not vindication. Men need to learn understand the wife’s concerns and the wife needs to learn to respect her husband and his views. Somewhere in there is the position of togetherness, love, and answers.
God intends for us to find these places of resolution; for in the resolution there is a building of trust and respect for each other. Caving to the other is not the answer, but working together is.

Necessary Endings

 Necessary Endings

Dr. Henry Cloud, along with Dr. Townsend, wrote a book called “Boundaries.” It is a great lesson on setting boundaries in life that allow us to be what God has called us to be. Often in life we are dictated to, manipulated, and controlled. Learning to live a healthy life is a challenge. We grow up with certain environmental situations that can mold us unknowingly into dysfunctional people. We may never know what God intended for us. I will be leading a LifeGroup soon on Boundaries. We will explore the boundaries necessary in life and how to get there.

I am currently reading another book by Dr. Cloud called “Necessary Endings.” It is geared primarily to the corporate world, but the backdrop for the book is the Book of Ecclesiastes. There is a time and season for all things.

We all hate to end things. We often hang on way too long. We don’t change a job that we are bored with and dream of what we want, but never go after it. We keep trying to hang on to relationships and friends, all the while, we are growing away from them. People hang on to businesses that are failing too long. The same principle holds true in human relationships. Everyone of us has struggled with making changes. We hate to let go of the past and the present. Sometimes we just have to come to the “moment.” The moment that we quit trying to salvage it, quit trying to fix it, quit trying to dig around the bush again and fertilize it.

In church, I have had to learn that the gospel remains, but our programs are expendable. We should not and cannot be married to a program, a ministry, a way of doing church. Every so often, we have to take a serious look at everything we are doing and ask some hard questions. Is it working? Is it healthy? Is it contributing to the vision?  Is it really Christian? Are we adding to the kingdom of God or just entertaining people? 

People, we, do not like change. 60% of people do not like change. Some can take it if it is slow. Only 5% of people like rapid change. That is how traditions get started and no one knows why after 20 years.

A good indicator of change coming is the constant discomfort and ill ease you experience when facing the same situation. God often uses the discomfort to force us to deal with a problem and get it fixed, or He uses it to make us end something that is damaging and hindering us from moving forward with Him.

Now, I am not writing to end marriages etc. But marriage has its seasons. There is the ending of certain seasons and life together has to be redefined. I know, just being a young couple is one season, but when baby comes along, it changes the season dramatically. The way the husband and wife relate changes. Empty nest changes the seasons. Sickness can change the season. Extra people in the house can change the season. Elderly parents in the home changes the season. There has to be a necessary end to one season and the beginning of a new season with fresh direction and companionship. Death of a spouse changes the season drastically.

I have found that adaptability is a necessary commodity for human health. Life is messy. It changes constantly. I look back and the world that I grew up in does not exist. To hold on nostalgically to the past is a ticket to irrelevance. There is a day of necessary endings to behold and enjoy the future.
-Pastor Bill

Friday, July 19, 2013

Piece of Paper

While the percentage of people who choose to cohabit continues to increase, there is a corresponding decline in morality and an increase in unwed mothers and children being raised in single parent homes.

The situation has become so common that many young people do not know that it is wrong to live together conjugally without being married. Those who do have some form of moral upbringing throw out the argument that there is no where in the Bible where marriage is constituted by a “piece of paper.”

Piece of Paper

The argument is extremely hollow and selfish; intended to excuse bad behavior. The Bible actually does talk about a “piece of paper.” Jesus indicated that from the beginning it was to be one woman with one man in a bond or covenant of life long, committed, relationship. “What God has joined let no man put asunder,” speaks loudly to the level of commitment intended. Also, it was “till death parts,” covenant. While there were no court houses at the time or justice of the peace or marriage licenses, there was a society that recognized marriage as sacred. Parents made contracts and arrangements with each other for their children that were legally binding. Although arranged marriages are passé, the purpose of my point is that there were legal implications and binding relationships that were sealed in many different ways. The ceremony was a community recognition that this couple was now a unit. The Biblical laws were such that the contract of marriage was sealed by the blood stain of the virgin wife. This was binding and final. The recognition of marriage was so final that adultery was punishable by death. This speaks strongly to the value of marriage in God’s eyes and the eyes of the society.

Now the “piece of paper” that I am talking about is the writ of divorce. Jesus said that because of the hardness of people’s hearts, a writ or certificate of divorce was granted. If a certificate of divorce was given, it is explicitly implied that the marriage had a bond and contract that had been broken. Marriage protects all. It protects the society in that there is no wholesale sexual abuse of male and female. It protects a society from rampant diseases of the body and of the soul. Marriage provides and protects children from great harm and abuse such as child trafficking, slavery, and physical abuse. It protects the woman giving her a place of importance and a place to bear children that are cared for and loved.

Without marriage, partners have no legal responsibility to each other. The relationship is a casual sexual relationship used by both parties, but withholding the totality of self to the other. When the relationship fails through frailties, emotional failure, financial circumstances, or just boredom, the parties are left destitute of recourse. There is no protection. So the 60 year old woman is replaced by a younger one and she is left in the cold with no protection from the law. A man is left by his partner and incurs huge credit card bills and she finds another sugar daddy. He has no legal recourse. They have children and she leaves with the children; he has little to stand on.

The Bible does not teach, nor support casual relationships without any commitment. The issue of marriage is an important one with deep, legal ramifications. It has to do with heritage, inheritances, blessings, birthrights, and long term health. Living together outside the bond of marriage offers none of the above. By law, the children are illegitimate, the woman, a paramour at best, and the man, an irresponsible lout.

Yes, there is a piece of paper in the Bible. It is a writ of divorce.

Marriage 4

Marriage IV
Love is patient and is kind; love doesn’t envy. Love doesn’t brag, is not proud, (1 Corinthians 13:4)

“Without love, we can live together; yet live alone. Without love, we can have children; yet despise and revile them. Without love, we can be filthy rich; yet desperately destitute.” - Cole Will in his personally written marriage vow to Katie.
Cole shared that with me Sunday night at youth and it was so profound I asked his permission to use it in this article.
How many people are living in a loveless marriage? How many people despise their children? How many people have money, but are destitute? Marriage is an institution which is ordained of God; yet it is used and abused by many who are married. It is not meant to be a torture chamber. It is not meant to be a place of loneliness while sharing the same roof with someone. How many women are trapped in bad marriages because they need the provision that the man is earning?
Silence, distance, co-existence mark many relationships. Man living in his man cave with the TV on, the woman is her chair with her hobbies and phone and Facebook. I have seen people who take separate vacations, have a separate social circle, who, for all intents and purposes, are divorced. They are divorced emotionally. What keeps people like that together? Finances do. Children do. Social pressure does. Embarrassment does. A fear of God does for some.
The Pharisees asked if a man could divorce for any reason. Jesus told them it was not so from the beginning. That the man and the woman would become one flesh. When asked about the law of Moses, Jesus responded that it was because of the hardness of hearts that divorce was granted. So the unity that is intended in marriage is far more than realized. The one flesh rule includes far more than sexual union. It implies that there is a common goal, a common life, a common care. As one nourishes and cares for their own body, the same response is given to the marriage partner. Nothing is to be done to harm the other. While there are huge gender differences and emotional approaches, it is never an excuse to quit on the other person. We are one flesh. It is like one being.
Now the reality is far different. Self enters the picture regularly and consistently. Self wants to emphasize the differences, emphasize personal need, and lobby strongly for what self wants. This is true of man and woman. The playing field of marriage shifts regularly. It is place of constant change and adjustment. Children change things, jobs change things, in-laws change things, age changes things. Each decade seems to bring changes in physical and emotional health for each member of the marriage and learning the oneness is a new adventure.
Those who are constantly looking for romantic bliss will probably never see it. Those who are looking to serve and love their spouse will find those moments of romantic bliss. However, the moments are fairly spontaneous, extemporaneous, and fleeting. Sometimes, it is almost like when you recognize and mention it, it is gone. So, when you have the moment, savor it and keep quiet, do not label it, just take it in and cherish it.
However, long term success in marriage is not one long romantic moment, it is more the peace, acceptance, the calm love, the security, and the shared journey that really counts.
Men and women who keep their marriages charged with jealousy, arguments, insecurity, and constant distrust, ruin the intended blessing of one flesh. No one wants to live with someone who does not trust them. And every partner should be so committed to the other that there should be no distrust.
Remember, love is kind and patient. We must work toward these Biblical goals. Trouble comes and we are troubled by events and circumstances, but they can be overcome by the patience and love that each should have for one another. Remember, we are one flesh. Together we make a pretty formidable stance against the enemy and any situation thrown against us.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Seasons, To Everything a Time

Seasons, To Everything a Time
Faith. The illusive understanding. All of us have struggled with faith. We struggle mostly because of confusion. We do not fully understand what God is doing. We read of the miracles in the Bible, we listen to the TV preacher who speaks of formulas of faith, we read the books and testimonies of great times of God’s interventions and then we have our challenge facing us.
We question, why? We do not understand that in one instance God does His intervention thing and then in others, it seems He is uninterested or maybe, just says no. We have  our questions and with them come out doubts. Am I crazy, am I an unbeliever, have I backslidden, or maybe God just dosen’t like me?
Every honest follower of Christ has asked these questions. If you live by a formula of faith, you will fail. God is not a magic dispenser. He is not moved by threat or formulas by which he is supposed to perform. He does know our human condition. Even Jesus cried out with a sense of forsakenness from the cross even though he is a part of the trinity and is God. Wow, figure that one out.
However faith is not capricious. He does not favor one over the other. As the call to salvation is for all, so is the call to faith. We cannot please him without faith. Faith is basically, trust. I trust you God. Faith has substance and most times what we call faith has no substance. It is more a hope of grasping something that is illusive. Faith comes by hearing the word of God. Not preaching, but the word of God. Not reading, but the word of God. This means I heard God speak to me. Not all things we hear from God are favorable in this sense, it may mean a call to suffering or dying. What Jesus heard in the Garden was the cross and no options. What Paul heard was Jerusalem and jail. Yet, faith was in those words. Strength to endure were in those words.
Often our attempt at faith has a preconceived notion or a prejudice of response. Faith is trusting God after hearing him. Oh, we can bring our wish list and our priority list to him and those my match up at times, but really faith only comes when we hear him. He may reject our wish list. He may rearrange our priorities. He may speak something totally unheard before and tell us to take that path.
Now, when we hear from God, we get substance and evidence. We can boldly move forward since we have substance and evidence. Faith has a confidence. There is none of the confusion. There is no waffling. It is firm, established, and now the confession part works. Confession does not work until you have faith. Often people are making confessions to work themselves into faith. What a waste of time. Seek the Father, hear his voice, get your instructions, and then you have grounds of faith to begin confessing what God has instructed. Then you begin to practice faith. Then you do not doubt in the dark what you saw in the light.
Can I have questions? Yes. What about my doubts? You can have those too. But questions and doubts should drive us to God for answers and reassurance. They should not take us to accusations of God nor lead us into self worship.
Learning the seasons of God helps us in coping with life. Blanket exemption from life’s seasons is not available to Christians or non Christians. Life’s problems are held by all. But we do have the Lord and his wonderful care. Faith causes us to trust Him and that all things will work together for our good. -Pastor Bill  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


 Marriage is honorable in all,...  (Hebrews 13:4)

“Oh, I remember it well.” This line from the movie “Gigi,” is played out in our lives regularly. Cathy and I have now been married 49 years and counting. How did that many get by us? We will tell stories of different events and she will remember things I don’t and I remember things she doesn’t.
I was commenting to Cathy that many people do not get to be married that long to their spouses. Her mother had two husbands pass away after being married to each one for fourteen years. My grandmothers probably did not see more than twenty five years with my grandfathers. Circumstances of life alter plans and sometimes sickness or tragedy will interrupt married life and leave one alone.
So, we consider it to be a blessing to be able to be married this long. Of course, my parents are twenty years ahead of us which is an amazing blessing. Maybe they will reach the 75 year mark, it is entirely possible since they still have good health.
God honors marriage. However, he never mentions in his word anything about “easy.” He did say something about leaving mother and father. He did say something about holding to one another. He did say something about being one flesh. He did say to be fruitful and multiply. He did say to love your wife. He did say to respect your husband. He did say to be faithful to one another. Those are all positive things. The converse of all those brings heartache to the marriage. A man who will not take his place in the marriage and still remains a “mama’s boy,” will dishonor and damage his wife. The other side is true too. A woman who will not hold to her husband and runs to daddy and mommy for everything disrespects her husband and tears her home apart. The idea that God has, is that the man and woman work together to form a family and a deep bond with one another.
Also, the one flesh thing is extremely important too. The bonding that takes place when there is love holds that unit together in times of difficulty. There is a spiritual bonding that takes place as God designed when the husband and wife come together. This area is one of the key areas of marital difficulty which continually needs addressed in struggling marriages. Men and women differ in their needs in this area and learning to serve one another is important to the marriage’s longevity and success.
He said be fruitful and multiply. Marriage is for building families. Children are a blessing and a huge responsibility, but they are part of the perfect plan of God. Those who marry and decide not to have children have missed part of the blessing God intended and part of the plan for marriage. Of course we know that sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that do not allow a couple to have children.
The whole area of love and respect is a mountain of conscious responsibility. Men are commanded to love their wives. This means going way beyond the physical attraction to a place of being genuinely concerned for her in every aspect. She needs love when she has had a horrible day with little ones. She needs love on a bad hair day. Women are commanded to respect their husbands. Men, because of their leadership position and responsibility to provide will sometimes make mistakes which affect the wife and family negatively. The wife can then become critical and complaining. He then can be cast as never good enough which will defeat the marriage.
All long term negatives in a marriage will set up circumstances for moral failure. The guy at work pays attention to the woman who is struggling at home, the gal at work listens to the man struggling and the set up is made for unfaithfulness. It usually starts with the need for someone to listen and understand before it becomes sexual. Not dealing with problems at home allows the enemy to create situations for unfaithfulness. Learning to work through problems and do so quickly helps sustain a marriage long term. No one skates through life with a breeze and unchallenged. My dad said marriage is a “Feat.”

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Nephilim (giants)

Nephilim (giants)
There were giants (nephilim) in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God
came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became
mighty men which were of old, men of renown.    ~ Genesis 6:4
In the 1968 horror movie, Rosemary’s Baby, the plot had a woman conceiving the offspring of Satan. So, in the movie Satan was able to impregnate a human. It was the antithesis of the incarnation of Jesus Christ through the virgin birth. 

There is a disturbing thought that is passing through Christian circles. It is that somehow fallen angels or Satan are able to procreate with human women. The scriptures referring to the Nephilim are given the status that the sons of God found the daughters of men attractive and they bore giants in the land. Some have taught or speculated that these were the cross breeding of angels and humans. The Nephilim appear before and after the flood. 
Here are some of the issues that concern me with these thoughts and speculations. First of all, there is no indication in scripture that this is true. It is not expressly stated anywhere. Secondly, there is no statement that angels can reproduce.  Jesus indicated that they are neither given or taken in marriage. They are created beings and their number seems to be fixed. Lucifer led a third of them in rebellion. Demonic beings can inhabit and control, but there is no indication anywhere in the word that possession causes any form of procreation. 
Thirdly, it is important to pay attention to such conspiracy theories and speculations. If you say that angels can procreate, you open the door to all forms of heresy and undermine some of the key beliefs of the faith.
If you believe Satan can procreate, then he is a being with creative power; whereas the Bible says that he is a created being. He is subservient to God and not an equal power to God. If you believe he can have children with human women, then, knowing his approach, he would have filled the earth already with his fallen, mutated beings.
If you believe there are mutated human/demonic beings, then it is impossible for you to believe in the creation as God describes it in the Bible. The Bible expressly states that everything is created and procreated after its own kind. If you hold to human/demonic creatures, then it is plausible for evolution to be true. While you as a Christian would fight evolution, you fully support it if there is the ability for such mutations as proposed by those who believe the Nephilim were angel/ human mixes. 
Yet, in all of the studies done by Christian and non-Christian scientists who question evolution, there has never been found any record of mutational transitions. Everything has produced according to its kind from the beginning. Even the virgin birth is substantial in that God said, “let us make man after our own image.” So, God overshadowed Mary for the conception of Jesus would still hold true to the “after their own kind” mandate of the Scripture.
Is the purpose of all this conjecture to just add to the aura and mystic of Satan and darkness? Does it really explain anything or does it just add confusion? The fact there were giants does not make them demonic. Even today we have cultures that are larger than others. The Dutch are the tallest nation. There are tribes in Africa that are extremely tall and then there are pygmies and small Asian peoples. But they are all human, after their own kind.
I do not know exactly what the Nephilim were or why they were to be destroyed. They were considered evil. But to assign crossbreeding is dangerous conjecture. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Opinions and Absolutes

Opinions and Absolutes
For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works
are done in truth.
(Psalm 33:4)

We are adrift in a sea of opinions. We are dictated by opinion polls. Leaders poll the people and maintain their political career based on the polls. Relativism has taken us to the brink of anarchy. It certainly has delivered us to the stage of people “doing what is right in their own eyes.” Presidents, congressmen, state leaders, community leaders, all pay homage to the press, the media, and the onslaught of politicized entertainment.
Our society is the proverbial “Frog in the Kettle.” The frog is cold blooded and can adapt as the temperatures change. So, the frog has no idea it is being cooked until it is too late. We are being cooked by strong movements which by media blitzes, TV roles, movie roles, news presentations, have twisted the minds of the populace. There is little push back since relativism can convince and dress itself up in many robes of tolerance, freedom, and rights; then turn and vilify an opposing opinion or stance as narrow minded, bigoted, intolerant, abusers of rights etc.
As long as we stand on opinion, the masses will rule. When you have a dumb downed society and the masses basically illiterate, the perpetrators of opinion will rule through the barrage of media opinion. Sadly, this all sounds so like the days of Hitler as the world moved toward a world war.
Absolutes, which I mean as truth revealed, can guide a society, provide parameters of decency and order, can determine what is right or wrong. Law is supposed to be based on immutable principles. While we have our culture tearing down the ten commandments, the world thinks that the Judeo-Christian moral is passé. However, the ancients had similar codes, such as Hammurabi’s Code which had very similar laws. No society can be sustained without laws that protect and guide the moral fiber of the people. Decency, order, constants, all provide a safer society and protection of the constituents.
We hold that the Bible provides the absolutes that can guide a nation and cause it to prosper. The laws contained within provide a guide to good living, safe families, and moral leadership. They have guided societies and nations for centuries and have succeeded.
For Christians, the landscape of life has become more difficult. To stand for absolute truth is contested in most venues. To state that there is truth that is absolute, undeniable, firm, and backed by a living God causes educators, politicians, and media to recoil in anger. But this is not a time to waffle. It is a time to stand. The accusations which will be hurled at the firm believer will come. But standing on the word of God and his immutable laws will be rewarded by Him and every society that follows Him is blessed.
While the world asks, “What is truth?” we can answer that truth is a person named Jesus. In the end, truth will prevail. In the end, opinions unchecked and followed, will lead to confusion, anarchy, and judgment. The church cannot pretend anymore. We must absolutely speak the truth.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Defense of Marriage

Defense of Marriage
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

It seems surreal to be writing an article of this nature, this topic. To live in a world so turned upside down causes pain.
To have to defend marriage as one man and one woman is so bizarre that it defies logic. The preternatural bonds introduced and expected by the homosexual movement are militant. There is a rage and a special interest that is driven by lust and greed. All the rage and lust is dressed up in tolerance and equality. But since we have no moral compass anymore, it all sounds good and can be debated on the grounds of pluralism and personal rights.
However, we have a moral compass and it is the express, written word of God. The Bible states that a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh. He also stated the purpose of this union was for them to be fruitful and multiply besides the joy of companionship and oneness. The propagation of humanity was planned through the loving relationship of a mother and father, husband and wife. Just because there are bad marriages and bad parents does not nullify God’s plan. There is no way that same sex marriages will ever be fruitful and multiply unless we leave the world of choice and love and move into a “Brave New World” as described by Huxley. Sure, we are at the place of genetic engineering and there can be and will be the petrie dish babies that are programmed for various slots in the Utopian hell that will be created. We will also end up with the “Soilant Green” disposal of the aged with its utilitarian euthanasia. 
The world is on extremely dangerous thin ice. The ethical and moral standards are being obliterated as society marches toward anarchy and judgment. If I recall correctly, this very problem brought about a fiery rain from heaven and destroyed two city states. If I recall correctly, it was the last days of the Roman Empire that were filled with this kind of issue.
I am so disappointed in our elected officials. For political expediency from the president to congressmen, they have caved into the pressure and the money behind the movement and just because your son or daughter has chosen a path of homosexuality, does not mean that you change your stance. The word remains true. You should love your child, but truth is still truth. If your child becomes a murderer, do you now condone and support murder?  The logic in all this is missing.
There is a huge push for this as well on an economic basis. The implications for state support, inheritances, taxes, and health care are all in this mix. The more Socialism creeps into our nation, the harder the press for the distribution of benefits will be. As one writer put it, who will be next to push their agenda? Will the Mormons lineup and begin to push for polygamy on the basis of my rights? If you let homosexuals redefine marriage, who will be next? When will it stop? There is no stopping point anymore because we have no standard to measure ourselves by. The Bureau of Standards is closed. This so does remind me of the reason for the flood, “Everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes.”

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Power of Words, Stupid Ones

The Power of Words
You are trapped by the words of your mouth. You are ensnared with the words of your mouth. (Proverbs 6:2)

The world is driven by words. The Kingdom of God is speech driven. Words set things in motion. God spoke and there was light. Words are spoken and we know that we are loved. The actions will accompany the words, but speaking drives the universe.
We have available now all forms of social media. Words are being written and published for the world to see. Feelings, rants, tirades, accusations, love mush, and all kinds of comments are being made. The writers seem to think it is only for a few, but experience tells us that anyone can get to those comments and make them universally known, posting them on numerous sites.
The rape of a girl in Steubenville, Ohio should give an exclamation point to what I am about to say. These boys posted video of themselves in the process of abusing the girl. They bragged about it on social media, and even said they had violated her. What were they thinking? This is wrong on so many levels that it is staggering to consider. First of all, how could you be so cruel to act like that, secondly, what weird, twisted mind thinks you will get away with it? Thirdly, what kind of school culture idolizes sports figures to the place that they think they are above the law? Fourthly, where in the world were the parents who were allowing an underage drinking party that had denigrated to an orgy? Fifthly, what was wrong with the other teens who were watching this and did not stop it? Sixthly, why did coaches and school officials not do anything once they found out about the incident? I probably could go on, but the complicity is rampant on many levels.
Social media can become Orwellian as the government is able to track and follow and convict based on what you say. Teens are oblivious to the consequences of stupid posts. Posting pictures, sexting, making bizarre statements, complaining and accusing others will come back to bite you! Look at the political campaigns. They dig up stuff from the candidates past and publish it and use it as ammunition against them. Doing stupid stuff today will be published because someone has a camera phone handy. 
While I believe social media has a place and is good most of the time, it can become a horrible media that will eventually harm you if you are not careful. For instance, two girls were arrested for threatening the victim in Steubenville. There have been cases of people loosing their jobs after posting comments against the employer. A waitress just lost her job for complaining about a tip given.
Here are some thoughts for safety: Do not post pictures that are provocative or suggestive, do not make really personal comments about yourself, your wife, husband, or children, do not tell too much about yourself, your feelings etc. Be careful. Do not attack other people. Be wise. You are snared by the words of your mouth! More so than ever now!
Bless, not curse.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

At The Cross

At The Cross
I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. (Galatians 2:20) 

When was the last time you heard or sang the “Old Rugged Cross?” When was the last time you heard a message on the cross of Christ? It has been a while more than likely, maybe last Easter, if then.
We have been working on transformation without the cross. We seem to want to feel good about ourselves and work harder to be holy and acceptable (at least to ourselves). Today’s definition of holy and acceptable is more along the lines of what makes me happy. The transformation that most people want is a better me, an improved me, a made over me. God’s definition of transformation is dying and letting Christ live through us. “No longer I live, but Christ in me.” 
So, if I am to die in order for Christ to live in me, then there must be something that takes my life. There has to be an instrument and a circumstance that takes my life, kills me, or in more polite terms, expire.
That instrument is the cross. It is meant to be the tool of my demise. But we come to the “nevertheless I live part.” The death desired is internal. Something in me really offends God. It has to die. There is no way to live for God without this significant internal death. We speak a lot about the new birth, but we fail often to speak of why we need a new birth. We invite people to the new birth, but we infrequently speak of the death required which brings about the need for a new birth. It seems from the New Testament that the cross of Christ was preached prefacing the new birth.
But, oh how do we die? There must come a day of total exhaustion. That all the self induced, mind over matter, human determination, comes to an end. Exhausted. Tired. When life becomes a burden and you do not want to go on, then we are willing to die. It is at that point that the cross becomes inviting. It is said that in lifesaving school, they teach to let the person drowning exhaust themselves first or they may drown the rescuer as well. Once they are tired, the lifeguard can bring them to safety. So it is with mankind, sometimes we must exhaust ourselves before we will finally embrace the cross.
Looking to the cross, we find one who suffered and died for us. We begin to realize that all our fruitless self efforts were nailed to that cross. We realize that our addictions were nailed to that cross and the freedom we so desperately need was purchased there by the blood of Jesus.
The internal death begins to take place as we run out of our own breath. We come just as we are, hopeless and tired. We are ready to die and die we do. But in that death, as we expire to self, instead of oblivion and annihilation, at the moment of ceasing to struggle and we abandon ourselves to God, life comes roaring in and the breath of God touches us and life is worth living again. Life, not for ourselves, but life for the one who rescued us, who died for us. The cross then becomes a thing of beauty and an object of deep respect for the one who hung there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


...you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you...

Excellence. It is an attitude. It is an approach to life. It requires a vigilance, a concern, an awareness. There is a difference between opulence and excellence. Opulence is accomplished through lots of money and the display of having it. It can be opulent, but gaudy and tasteless. It can be over the top; yet offensive to the senses. Excellence, on the other hand, can be accomplished with any income, any place in life. It has the attitude of doing the best with what you have and presenting it in that fashion.
I have been in homes that are poor. You are served with honor and presented their best. In one place, it was a white, plastic table cover and a fish. In another, it was a young lady waiting the tables, hovering around everyone making sure we enjoyed the greens that came from a peanut plant and the chicken and the warm coke. It was expressed in a well swept dirt floor and cots made neatly and children clean in the midst of dust and grime.
Excellence was expressed with tears and hair wiping the dirt from the feet of the master; it was the cry of a doubting man declaring “my Lord and My God.” It is the giving of the best you have, sharing your life in quality.
The attitude has to be developed from gratitude. How often do we see children with much disregard for the sacrifice that parents make to provide. They are given things that cost a lot and in a matter of hours, they are bored with it and never play or use it again. Children walking around with $800 iPhones and iPads, and computers worth thousands and clothes from designers, costly. Yet, go to their room and the designer clothes are thrown on the floor, games strewn, devices scratched and broken. Adults who wanted the best cars, neglect them, never wash them, allow them to deteriorate at a rapid rate, or they buy houses that they will not keep up. Ingratitude and a sense of entitlement leads to a lack of excellence.
Ingratitude and a lack of excellence show themselves in many ways. You walk past stuff that needs done expecting someone else to do it. The public does it all the time, throwing paper down, littering, expecting someone else to clean up. It happens in homes with adults and kids, leave the dishes, mom will do them. Throw the clothes on the floor, mom will pick them up. Don’t fix the little problem, dad will do it. It is always someone else’s job.
The excellent attitude takes ownership and cares. They care when there is an issue. They want things to be presentable and pleasant. They are not cheap, giving leftovers. They may look for a bargain, but they are not settling for poor quality. Excellence says something about you, your business, your church, your life. I always want to hire someone who takes pride in their work, excellence.
Our church is becoming a house of excellence. The Lord deserves our best.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


For what will a man give in exchange for his life? (Jesus) This question should haunt your existence. What are you allowing to take your life?

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29)
I have been pondering this for some time. What has taken our life? Who has murdered me? While the gifts and callings are without repentance, there are things that do fade.
I know people who have a calling and have not responded. I know people who have a calling and who have quit. I know people who have a calling and have been offended and forsaken their destiny. I know people who are called and will not engage anymore in the process because of the politics and hypocrisy of many.
These have been murdered, yet live. They attend church sometime, they hate church all the time, they love God, but they hate his plan.
I have met those who later in life anguish with a life wasted, a calling unused, an anointing ignored, all because the enemy took their life and left them the walking dead. The calling still is heard and echoes in their soul. When they are around the things of God, conviction sets in and the voice of the call haunts their being. Instead of a blessing, it becomes the curse of dreams unfulfilled. They avoid places where there might be an opportunity for God to touch them. Many seek to drown themselves in entertainment, hobbies, alcohol, or drugs. These are the ones who sit in bars and under the influence begin to talk to others of the Bible.
Lost souls, desperate souls, unrested souls, they walk with the unrelenting understanding of who they should be. But, when they attempt to make a come back, the enemy always makes sure there is some self-righteous, judgmental individual or circumstance to run them back to their dysfunction and their death row cell.
While the call remains, the anointing is gone. King Saul had the spirit depart from him. King David begged God to not take his Holy Spirit from him. Having a calling and having the Spirit depart or lose the anointing is torture. The enemy wants to make sure we live in defeat.
It is easy to be offended. Having a calling does put a target on you. There are many offenses in ministry. People hurt people. But the goal is God, not people. I just read Jeremiah and he was treated horribly by kings, priests, and the people; yet he continued because of God, not the reception of his ministry. Jesus was rejected and despised; yet did not shrink from his calling. And betrayal comes to those in ministry often from those close and trusted which makes it more painful and easy to walk away from. 
However, the issues are far larger than the follies of man. These are eternal issues and one of them is you, me. Can I endure to the end? Will I allow a person or persons to take my calling, my inheritance? Or will I persevere in spite of hurts, offenses, and betrayal? There is no one or anything worth my eternal life! I will not exchange my calling and anointing for what the world has to offer. The treasure is Jesus.
The Loss is Real
Half of ministers get divorced. Same rate as the world. Something is wrong.
35-40% of ministers leave the ministry after 5 years.
57% said they would leave ministry if they had a better job waiting.
77% said they did not have a good marriage.
1500 pastors a month leave the ministry for various reasons.
Around 10% are able to make it a life long ministry