Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Let me start from the beginning. My life has been one of a series of good and bad decisions. What is apparent is the bad ones were almost all when I was away from God. I had strayed. Only in the past 15 months, have my eyes been opened to the point where I've been able to reconcile the past with the future. God has placed a few people in my life that have opened my eyes and He's placed me in a few situations over the past year that have shaken me to the core, in a good and convicting way. My past doesn't have to limit my future.
Several of these people that have changed my life have become my three best friends. One is my pastor. Another is the eldest son of a family I've grown to love and the last is a fellow church goer who shares my same world view on nearly everything. The other two who have had the biggest impacts on me are a 14 year old boy and a 22 year old woman. These five people have shown me that that I can trust people again. They've shown me that unwavering faith is possible. I've had weak moments and a kind word or a well timed text message have lifted me out of something that in years past would have saddled me with sorrow and grief.
What spurred this post is an experience I had over the last weekend. I spent the past several weeks helping prepare for the Marion Avenue Baptist Church Live Animal Christmas Play. I was able to spend time with people I have grown to love like family. Sunday evening, during the final performance, my pastor came off stage and gave me a high five and a hug because he was so pumped up about that final performance. Our church charges nothing to attend this play because we want people to come and hear the Gospel message of Christmas and the Resurrection. This is a mission field for this church and my Pastor's attitude has changed my life. He knows my past and still thinks enough to call me a friend.
The other two friends are there for me, no matter what, and I strive to be there for them, too. Whether it is a call or a text, I can always reach out and I want to be there to listen when they need an ear to bend. We laugh and talk sports or politics or family. I appreciate these two guys more than I can express.
The next two will make me tear up a little. The 14 year old young man I speak of has shown me that it is OK to share my faith with others. He is so cognizant of others that he makes me take notice of people who might need a message of hope through Jesus. His knowledge of the Bible pushes me to read the Word of God everyday. His earnest kindness pushes me to be better to people because I need to be a better witness for the One who has saved me.
The lady I speak of has shown me what unwavering faith in God looks like. She has shaken me to my core. Several times, her words have caused me to reevaluate a situation from the side of God and walk in faith, trusting that He would make a way, and she's not been wrong. I appreciate her pointing me toward God more than anyone I've ever met. She continues to be the light I need to continue to follow God and pursue a closer relationship with Jesus. Her words to me almost 10 months ago stick with me everyday, "One of the blessings of being a child of God is sweet peace in the midst of storms". When I have a bad day, I repeat that to myself and remind myself that I am a saved believer in the one true God and that his Son came to earth to be a perfect sacrifice for me, and anyone else who would believe on Him.
I urge anyone who reads this to do what ever is possible to find people who point you to God. I did not deserve any of what I've been given and it was only after I recommitted my life to Jesus that these blessings came to me. I needed a life line and God gave me one. For that, I am eternally grateful.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Today, November 8th, 2016, should be marked as a new national day of reflection. On this day, a new president will be elected. Normally, I would have a rooting interest in this day. Today, I don't. Today marks a day of profound disgust for me. Disgust with the fact that the two major political parties and the majority of voters from one and the smallest percentage plurality of voters in over 4 decades from the other saw fit to nominate the two worst candidates in the history of this nation. Frankly(inside joke), if you would have told me we would have two candidates in 2016 who's sole purpose is to make Barrack Obama look better than he is, I would have told you that you were insane. That exact scenario has happened. My confidence in the America people has suffered greatly this election cycle.
Let's do a bit of a premortem postmortem, if you will. First, Hillary Clinton is the worst Democrat to seek office since the last one. Donald Trump is first Republican to make Richard Nixon look good. Clinton has ties to awful world governments. Trump has funded her after her ties were exposed. He even said she was a great Secretary of State after the failures of Benghazi.
I think the vast majority of the blame for Hillary rests on the Democrat party. She is who the Democrat establishment is. She and her husband have been the measuring stick for the Democrat party for years. Nothing more needs to be said as this is who the Democrats are.
The blame for the cesspool of awfulness that is Donald Trump rests solely at the feet of a useless and feckless Republican Party. Under the leadership of Reince Priebus, this party has taken more governorships, state legislatures, and the majority in both the US House and the Senate. What does this nation have to show for it? Absolutely nothing. We still have out of control spending. The best evidence was the latest Continuing Resolution vote several weeks ago. Obama has only had to veto 12 bills in nearly 8 years. He should have had to veto more than that in the first 6 months of 2015. The level of abject awfulness and fecklessness of this party has never been matched. See this July's convention just as a confirmation of this fact. Conservative voices were crushed. It is clear that people like me have no place in this party. The slobbering hordes of insane people shouting to vote for Trump or we all die does nothing to smooth over my righteous indignation at this party.
Donald Trump started courting conservative organizations with donations a few years ago and crafted a message to fit this willfully ignorant mass of voters on the right in this nation. The rise of the AltRight(AltReich is actually a more fitting term) is proof positive of Trump's appeal to the lowest dregs of our society. We've even come to the point where clickbait, made up news is now the most credible source for info for the slobbering horde of true Trumpcult believers. Alex Jones and Infowars are seen as sources worthy of citation now.
I hate to cite this oft used comparison, but there are shades of 1932-1933 Germany popping up all over this nation. Masses thinking that one man can fix all the ills of our nation. People buying into a personality cult. If you combine one candidate who is like the first truly fascist progressive to hold office at 1600 Pennsylvania, in one Woodrow Wilson, and the George Wallace run in 1968, you have the makings of this presidential election. Except now, there is no elder statesman to step in and win the presidency.
Our best hope for this government is to throw off the constructs that have been placed on us by the current corrupt two party system. We must get back to a civil discourse and work towards smaller government. This should be the first goal of any person seeking higher office. Reign in the out of control government and let liberty reign across this nation. Freedom must be the rallying cry. Short of these goals, I will not support anyone running for any office, whether it be county, state, or federal office, from here on out.
There is a new party launching in the coming days. I urge you to check them out. I intend to put as much effort toward this new effort. Click here to find out more. Let us always remember November 8th, 2016 and use this day as a day of reflection and recommit ourselves to the American ideal of government of, by and for the people.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
As many of you may, or may not know, my life has been changed greatly over the last year. Much of this has been due to my church and the people I've met through this church. My friends have had a great effect on me. I see the world as a place to serve others, rather than only myself. I have found joy where none existed before. God is always good. One thing that has greatly increased in me is my sense of the amazing differences God bestowed upon each one of us. No one is the same and there are some differences that God intended us to respect. First and foremost of those is the respect a man should have toward a woman(any woman).
A little background before I go any further. I have never been one to have many female friends. That has changed over the past year. The ladies in my church are great. Several I consider to be good friends. This has changed my perspective, mainly because many of these women are godly and respectful. They honor God and respect the word of God. When you see ladies like this in everyday life, a new respect for women is developed.
I think some blame can be placed for the moral sewer we are in right at the feet of the feminist movement over the past 50 years, downplaying the inherent differences between men and women. Men have gone from cherishing women to competing with them. I don't think this is the way God intended us to live. Before you decry me as a misogynist, I believe, as the civil law says, all people are equal before that law. Also, before you get mad, realize that I am advocating that men honor women and women respect men. Both sides have much to work on because our culture has muddled what it is to be a godly man and a godly woman to the point that this aspect of life is almost unrecognizable. Boys need to be raised to be godly men and girls need to be raised to be godly women, and until we get back there, this will continue. It's taken me over thirty years of life to realize this.
Now, to the meat of my message. I am tired of people who, for many years and decades, have hammered the left(rightly so, I might add) for being anti family and anti Christian and anti morality and now have gone all in for Donald Trump because they are afraid of the
Fast forward to today and people I once respected and looked to for moral guidance have left the Christian movement high and dry. People like Franklin Graham, Dr. James Dobson, and Tony Perkins have flushed their ability to speak to issues of morality and biblical sexuality down the drain. How are we supposed to be able to advocate for marriage being a forever promise between God and our prospective spouse when people the same people who told us that for years are now covering for a man who trades in his wives when they get too old, like a wealthy man does with his cars? Michael Farris, who has been instrumental in the homeschool movement and was a founding member of the "Moral Majority" in the 1980's said this,
"The premise of the meeting in 1980 was that only candidates that reflected a biblical worldview and good character would gain our support.I couldn't agree more with what Mr. Farris said. The Christian right has become what they railed against for so many years.
When people, who have made it their business and their mission to speak up for traditional values, throw their credibility away for political expediency, we know they have bought into what Satan peddles. No one is righteous before God, but we must try to be. Giving in to a disgusting man, like Donald Trump, because of a fear of his opponent shows a stunning lack of faith in God. A phrase my pastor used several months ago keeps coming back. So many people are trying to "put God in a box".
On October 7th, when I first saw the piece about Trump's hot mic comments regarding how he treats women, I told some friends of mine, but I wouldn't even send the article to my female friends. I did send it to their dad and let him know what I thought so that he could inform them, but I wasn't going to subject them to that kind of filth. I couldn't bring myself to do that. Fast forward to just last week and a piece by Nancy French in the Washington Post,
"Republicans who have lamented the Clintonian proclivity to malign women are now defending the same activities because … well, they idolize power or their own strategic cleverness. Trump, like the preacher, is too important to abandon. We have become what we said we despised."I was in tears by the end of this piece. I want nothing to do with a movement or a party that will excuse one vile and awful person just because the other might be worse. I can't do it. I have screwed up many times in my life and I've paid a price for doing so. Relationships have been harmed. I was on the wrong path. I've found my way back, thanks to God working through so many good people and lots of personal reflection and prayer. I don't want to go back to the path that isn't from God's word.
Shortly after reading that piece, Nancy's husband, David French, released this piece in National Review,
"I distinctly remember the first time I saw a picture of my then-seven-year-old daughter’s face in a gas chamber. It was the evening of September 17, 2015. I had just posted a short item to the Corner calling out notorious Trump ally Ann Coulter for aping the white-nationalist language and rhetoric of the so-called alt-right. Within minutes, the tweets came flooding in. My youngest daughter is African American, adopted from Ethiopia, and in alt-right circles that’s an unforgivable sin. It’s called “race-cucking” or “raising the enemy.”"David French and his wife, Nancy, adopted a child from Ethiopia. He was a subject of scorn and ridicule for this because a sizable minority of Trump supporters, Trump's cult, if you will, think this is disgusting. We have to push back against this type thinking. Enough is enough.
As I read an email from a friend of mine last night, her work and her words rang true. She is burdened for two young ladies in the community she is staying in who have an abusive and immoral father. She's trying to combat what so many "evangelical" leaders are now excusing as locker room talk. She is reaching out to young women in a different country, trying to help them overcome what society has become. She, through the Holy Spirit working through her, is doing what we all need to do. We need to readjust our focus from a purely political and worldly focus to one of reaching the lost for Christ and then helping them to walk the path laid out for us in the word of God. This friend has reminded me of that calling and I think we all need a reminder, from time to time.
Stop making up excuses for evil! Stop making up excuses for fearing man! Fear God and speak the truth in love! Jesus still saves and God will still be in control on November 9th, just as He is right now.
Some more resources and reading:
"I want to ask the men leading the GOP some questions. Why didn’t you defend women from this raging sexist especially after so many Republican women — for so many years — eagerly defended the party from charges of sexism? You must make us out for fools."
"Only as the major party nominees. The one is a repeat donor of the other. Trump endorsed Hillary Clinton over both John McCain and Barack
Find me on Twitter.
Friday, October 21, 2016
Monday, October 10, 2016
I have a prayer request. A dear friend of mine has been called into the mission field. Allison Bontrager is going on a 5 week mission trip to Mexico to minister, encourage and support young women in the Russian/German Mennonite community in that country.
Pray for her safety, that she would be filled with the spirit of the Lord, and that she would be able to help win souls to the Lord. Also, pray that she is a light to the young women she comes in contact with.
Allison has been there for me at God appointed times to speak to me from God's word and to provide a spiritual lift when I've faltered over the last year. My faith is immeasurably stronger because of Allison. And, she makes the best no bake cookies.
Saturday, October 8, 2016
In one month, our national nightmare will be codified by the vote of people who don't have the best interests of the nation at heart. The 2016 presidential election has been a hot mess(or as a Senator from my home state of Nebraska described, a dumpster fire) for the better part of a year now, but mark October 7th , 2016 as the day the Trump campaign died. I won't post links to the articles that quoted or even showed the video of Donald Trump from 2005 because I have too much respect for my female friends. Suffice it to say, what Trump said 11 years ago is the real Donald Trump. Those wishing he was a better person or could possibly act "presidential" will be waiting until they die or until Jesus comes back, which ever comes first. I pray for the latter daily.
The Trump campaign has forever damaged the ability of the current Republican party to speak to issues that many of us hold dear. I'm a small government type when it comes to political philosphy. The GOP is so far from being a small government party, they are happy being the "we'll die from debt slightly slower than the other guys" party now. In areas of morality, the GOP has also abdicated their place as the party of morals, once and for all.
As someone who led a life away from church and from the truly Christian lifestyle for many years and recently found my way back, I can honestly say that I understand why so many people are eschewing the Church, nationally. When people like Robert Jeffress and Dr. James Dobson make excuses for the behavior of Donald Trump, why choose to be apart of a religion that endorses the same thing as the world endorses?
Christians are called to be separated from the world in our ways. If we are not willing to stand against the national disgrace that is Donald Trump, what will we be willing to stand against? I know Hillary is bad. We've all known that for the better part of 30 years. Why then, did Christians allow someone like Donald Trump to gain the nomination to oppose the wretched woman? It's almost like some of us went from state to state sounding the alarm that a Donald Trump nomination would result in Hillary Clinton being elected president. Oh, wait. Some of us actually did do that.
While a chorus of "I told you so's" is highly warranted, I am now going to choose to drop to my knees and ask God for His mercy. Our nation surely doesn't deserve it, especially since our leaders and wannabe leaders now say marriage is a nebulous concept to be defined by the parties choosing to define it, men aren't men and women aren't women(opposing God's design), and babies aren't babies until some crazy group like Planned Parenthood says they are babies.
Don't try to tell me that "I should think about the cabinet and the Supreme Court" with regard to Trump. He has shown himself to not have the ability to listen to wise counsel. He has surrounded himself with people who are not conservative. His most trusted advisor is his daughter. She is a big government progressive with views more closely aligned with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama than with the late Antonin Scalia or Senator Mike Lee.
Anyone, and I mean anyone, who has accepted Jesus as He is and believes that He is the way, the truth and the life, must turn from the current major party choices for president. Some will practice situational ethics and say that one(or the other) is better than the other. That is wrong. Both must be soundly rejected. One will win, but the winner must not have a mandate to anything other than sit in the Oval Office.
On a more personal note, I've never had many female friends because of the businesses I worked for in the past were heavily male dominated, but I have become friends with several of the most amazing ladies I've ever met over the past year. If anyone, and I mean anyone, said what Trump has said about women toward one of my friends, my sister or my mom, I'd do a lot more than just wring my hands. I'd do everything I could to make sure that person was called out for the digusting human he was. I surely wouldn't vote for that person. What would you do if someone used language like Trump has used and directed it toward your daughter, your wife, or your sister?
Sara Gonzales, a writer at RedState.com, summed up the current mess like this:
Friday, September 23, 2016
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Here's where I break with many of the families in attendance. Many of the families were in home churches or family centered church settings. Some others were in Mennonite Churches. The main thing I heard from many of the people I talked to was a lack of enthusiasm for their church lives back at home. Some had fallen into the trap that the church must only revolve around the family and reaching out to others would somehow taint their ability to raise their kids in the way they wanted to. Some just found church to be a place to learn about the Bible. Learning is good, but I have found I need a soul convicting message from time to time to stay focused on what it is that I, as a Christian, am supposed to do. I was raised in a dying church and from my conversations with many of these families, they are in dying or dried up churches too. It breaks my heart.
A church should be focused on the Great Commission, set forth by Jesus Christ when he reappeared to the disciples after His Resurrection.
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. If your church isn't centered around this, you need to find out why. If your church isn't centered around reaching the lost amongst us, why does it exist? If your church is just a place for people to go to feel better about themselves, why go?
There are many Sundays or Wednesdays when I can be found weeping at the altar in my church because I am on my knees before a Holy God asking his forgiveness for my sins and my shortcomings. I was never asked to do this in any other church setting I'd ever attended until I was invited to Marion Avenue Baptist Church. I know I'm nothing with out Christ. I know that I must be broken before I can be of any use to God.
So many times, people get wrapped up in what makes them feel good. I know I did. I took the path of least resistance for so long. I was wallowing in my own iniquity and sin. Until I came to the realization that spiritual growth can't occur until spiritual baggage is let go of, I was unable to grow.
My burden is for this to be made clear, to all who are lost and even all who've been saved but then after their decision to trust Jesus were not discipled and led to grow in their faith, that there is more than just the 4 walls of your house/church. We need to be taking the light of the Gospel to all corners. We can't be afraid to hand out a Bible tract to those we meet. We can't be afraid to tell others. In living for others, we can see God bless our own lives more than we could ever see if we turn inward.
Many of the people I talked to didn't even have actual pastors who were tasked with preaching the Gospel in their churches. Some were in glorified Bible study classes. Learning and memorizing the Bible is great and to be commended. Doing that without applying the principles inside is rather useless. Having a called pastor is a must. That pastor must preach the Gospel and lead people in how to apply God's principles to their daily living. Anything less is dead religion.
People, especially children, need to know the reasons for why they are told to behave in a certain way. If you offer nothing more than, "because I said so" or "Do as I say, not as I do", you'll have children that fall away from God and eschew the Church. I know this happened to me. I was lost and backslidden(that's a Baptist term) for years. I didn't even see it. It has taken me nearly a year to figure out that I need to forgive many people and repent of my own sins to be able to move forward with a joy filled life.
I urge everyone who reads this to find a Bible preaching church where the pastor will challenge you. You should be uncomfortable from time to time. When church becomes comfortable, it starts dying. When you do find a church like I've described, get involved. Help take the saving knowledge of the Gospel to a lost and dying world.
Monday, September 12, 2016
The last message I heard my pastor preach was about shutting the door on past hurt and past sin and giving it to God. He preached on having faith to trust God in what was to come, but in order to do that, we couldn't let our past sin remain in the forefront. We needed to learn from it and move on, lest it become a weight around our neck, pulling us down.
I needed that message. Between the bleak outlook for our national discourse and the dumb things I have done in the past, I could easily choose to dwell in my own sorrow. I can't. I need to move on. Give it to God, lay my issues at the feet of Jesus and choose to move forward. To be honest, it was a pretty tame sermon (in Joseph Brown terms) that caused such a revelation.
If I chose to let my dumb and ungodly living in the past rule me, I'd be a slave to it. I need to move forward. I need to work on my anger and I need to work on living for others. When I am living to serve others, I truly find happiness and I think God designed us to be servants to our neighbors.
This week, I'll be spending my time at a camp with hundreds of Christians, mainly families, hosted by my friends, the Bontragers and the Wissman family from Nebraska. I feel blessed to have been invited to this by my friends. For the last month, all I heard was "You're coming to camp, right?" Well, I really didn't need my arm twisted. There are good people from all over the US and even from Canada at this camp.
On a side note, the political season can't come to an end quick enough. Between Hillary's health issues and her lack of any respectable ideas and Donald Trump's complete and total inability to grasp the issues at hand, I don't see a pleasant end to the election in early November. I must wash my hands of this presidential race. I will focus my efforts on a US House race in Northeast Iowa. Rod Blum needs to be sent back to Washington, DC. Outside of that, I'm left with a bunch of squishy Republicans to cast ballots for in my local races. If I focused on this, I'd go nuts. I'm giving it to God. I truly believe he'll use the next president to exact a measure of judgement on our nation.
2020 starts the moment our next president is elected. It is up to brave patriots to oppose the next president of the United States.
I know this post is kind of a mishmash of two thought tracks but I just needed to write a bit this morning. I'm ready for a week of meeting new people and being with my friends.
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Last week's missions conference at Marion Avenue Baptist Church showed me what was important. I saw people from all walks of life, whether they be a successful Fortune 500 businessman or an alcoholic who was a bad husband until he was presented the Gospel and chose to turn his life over to Christ, living for the work of Jesus here on earth. One thing that was true was the calling to help save souls across the world and here at home. Our assistant pastor told me that as a young man, he saw missionaries as heroes. I didn't know what he meant until I met this group of people at our missions conference. God has truly chosen them to help save others.
I didn't get it when a friend of mine told me she wanted to return to Mexico to help minister to other young ladies for a month and a half later this year, until I talked to these missionaries. It isn't about wanting to go to exotic places or experience other cultures, although that is part of the experience. It is about wanting to see as many people come to the saving knowledge of Jesus as is possible in our limited time here on earth. It is about being the salt and light Jesus called us to be.
I think this is where many so-called Christians miss the boat. The Great Commission was go and tell the world about Jesus. That world includes your neighbors, friends, relatives and people you meet in the course of normal life. It doesn't take someone special or gifted to do it either. It takes each one of us who call Jesus our Lord to just do our job.