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.