Friday, November 20, 2009

Beyond the Normal Seek Out New Life

Psalm 8


 

Unidentified means we don't know

What does the Bible have to do with flying saucers, little green men, and aliens?

Unidentified flying object is a technical term that has been parodied

Are there U.F.O.'s in the Bible? Yes

2 Kings 2:11 – Elijah's final ride

Ezekiel 1:15-21 – Ezekiel's wheels

Exodus 13:21-22 – pillars

There are also creatures that cannot be explained

Ezekiel 1:5-10 – creatures of four faces

Revelation 4:6-8 – four creatures around the throne

Isaiah 6:1-6 – Seraphim

Genesis 6:4 – Nephilim (Numbers 13:33; 1 Samuel 17:4)

Job 40:15-18 – Behemoth

Job 41:1ff – Leviathan

Does this mean that UFO's and aliens are real?


 

Faith and God

This sermon series has never tried to divide along real or not

It has been the issue of responding to the subject

For believers in UFO's it is real for them and they have to be dealt with as with any religious believer

Some people see no inconsistency between believing in God and UFOs

It isn't completely inconsistent to believe in both

God's universe is immense

There are realms that we may not see

God's ways are higher than our ways and knowledge greater than ours

The inconsistency happens when God is replaced

There is a line between believing that life outside of our own is possible and denying the God is God over all

This series has been about asking one question

It was not are ghosts, angels, or UFOs real

The question I have been answering is: Is God real?

Angels are worshipped because of their amazing qualities

Ghosts are sought to provide answers

UFOs are credited with humanity's evolution and advancement

But God is behind angels and they are bound to God's authority

Ghosts are persons without bodies but we have those spirits by God's breath

UFOs and aliens may exist, but it is God who created the universe and placed them in it

God is majestic above all and we have been created by God, for God's glory and worship, and ultimately to be God's chosen people

Beyond the Normal What’s That You Hear

Deuteronomy 18:9-14


 

No way, no how

Lately there is a revival of an artform that was very popular from the late 1800's to mid 1900's

Spiritualists and mediums flourished in the Victorian period

Many people believed in the spirit world and sought to make contact

The rise of spiritualists and mediums eventually turned in the age of science

Science began to "prove" many of these individuals as fakes and con-artists

The increased interest in this artform now is due to the willingness of many to believe in the paranormal

But this practice of communicating with the dead goes all the way back to pre-biblical times

Shaman and magi would claim ability to communicate with spirit world

That is where the OT picks up the story

The Hebrew children/Israelites were surrounded by cultures that practiced this

Egyptians had a very strong belief in the spirit world

The Chaldeans were known for their spirit world beliefs

The Hebrew children were exposed to this on a daily basis

Deuteronomy becomes a defining law in the life of Israel

God prohibits allowing those who cast spells, mediums, spiritists, or anyone who calls up the dead

Chobar cheber - Spell casting to charm someone, or to take away free will

Shoeel owb – a consulter of familiar spirits

Yidde oniy – a knowing one

Doreesh hameetiym – seeker of death/ the dead

Saul breaks the law when he consults a shoeel owb in 1 Samuel 28

Samuel, the prophet, was dead and buried

The Philistines had invaded the land

Saul sought God's wisdom through approved channels – God did not answer

Saul found a consulter of familiar spirits to bring Samuel forth

Samuel comes forth and condemns Saul in death as he did in life


 

Why turn to the dead

Saul is a great example of anyone who goes to a medium – they want reassurance or comfort or wisdom from someone they know has the answers

In life we turn to parents or aunts/uncles we admire for wisdom; we look to our children as hope

In death, when those we have turned to are gone, it seems that our source of wisdom, hope, reassurance is gone

Mediums and spiritists play on the longing of people to find answers or words of comfort regarding someone they have lost

But Saul forgot the word of the Lord – 1 Chronicles 10:13-14

The issue of mediums, spirit talkers, séances, Ouija boards isn't in the act of doing but in the act of not doing

By turning to the dead through these individuals people are forgetting the living – God

Isaiah 8:19 – to consult the dead is to turn on the living God

God has established himself as the ultimate source of wisdom, comfort, assurance, hope

Exodus 34:14 – God is Jealous, demands singular devotion

1 Corinthians 15:22-28 – death is defeated in Christ and under his authority

Romans 5:1-5 – hope that God offers does not disappoint

Beyond the Normal Not Afraid of Ghosts

Ezekiel 37:1-6


 

How does the Bible deal with ghosts

OT – no use of the word "ghost" as rendered in Hebrew

1 Samuel 28:3,11-19 – Saul has Samuel conjured from the dead and has a conversation (eloihim)

NT – 2 separate occasions "ghost" is mentioned

Jesus walking on the water is considered a ghost (phantasm) (Mt14:26; Mk 6:49)

Luke 24:37,39 – Jesus appears and refers to a pneuma not having flesh and blood

What are ghosts?

Most people define ghosts as the spirit or soul or essence of a person how most times is dead

Mark 12:30 – love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, strength

Matt 10:30 – the body that can be destroyed but not the soul

Gen 35:18 – soul departs at death

There is an understanding from OT and NT that soul is the breath of life

Gen 2:7 – the breath given to man

Life is not just physical being

Thought and feeling are experienced separate of physical

Spirit and soul are not "felt" but it is part of us

When physical life ends we believe that only the physical ends

Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually we continue

2 Corinthians 4:16

As a definition of ghost

A demon/angel is not a ghost – demon/angels are a creation of their own

A ghost may be a demon/angel due to the nature of tempt/message

If a ghost is a soul released by death we have to ask why it isn't at rest


 

Dealing with ghosts

Death is a time of rest for the soul

Final judgment is to happen at God's chosen time

Until then death is a time of rest/waiting until then

What is behind ghostly encounters

Explained by natural/environmental explanations

Emotional connection

Natural/environmental

Intelligent

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sermon Series: Beyond the Normal Angels and Demons the Real Story

Angels and Demons the real story


 

OT use of angels

  1. Hebrew word/s used –
    1. malak (messenger) – used in a general sense of a messenger or envoy sent from a person of authority to others; used most frequently of beings sent from God with a message to humans
  2. Described as
    1. Ex 3:2 – in midst of blazing fire
    2. Nu 22:22 – with a drawn sword (1 Chr 21:27)
    3. Jdg 6:21 – with a staff; fire from the staff; disappeared
    4. Judg 13:18 – name is "wonderful"
    5. Ps 103:20-21 – mighty in strength; obedient; serve God's will
  3. Other notable uses
    1. Angel of the Lord/God – a being sent by God for a protective purpose


 

OT use of demons

  1. Hebrew word/s used –
    1. sair (hairy goat; goat demon; Lev 17:7) – used to refer to goat spirit that people sacrificed to
    2. shed (shade; Dt 32:17; Ps 106:37) - used to refer to the spirits behind the idols that people chose to sacrifice to other than to Yahweh
  2. Described as: with exception of hairy goat demon, no description
  3. Other notable uses
    1. Evil spirit – Jud 9:23; 1 Sam 16:14-23; 18:10; 19:9


 

NT use of angels

  1. Greek word/s used –
    1. angelos (messenger)
  2. Described as:
    1. Mat 4:11 – minister to Jesus (Mk 1:13; Lk 22:43)
    2. Mat 22:30 – do not practice marriage (Mk 12:25)
    3. Mat 24:6 – do not know God's full will (Mk 13:32)
    4. Mat 26:53 – more than 12 legions
    5. Mat 28:2 – strength to move a great stone
    6. Lk 1:19 – named angel: Gabriel
    7. Ac 5:19 – power to open prison doors (Ac 12:10)
    8. Ac 12:7 – power to release chains
    9. Ac 12:23 – power to curse a man to death
    10. 1 Pe 3:22 – subjected to Christ
    11. 2 Pe 2:4 – capable of sin
    12. Jude 6 – abandoned heaven
  3. Other notable uses
    1. Guardian angels – Mat 18:10; Ac 12:15; Heb 1:14


 

NT use of demons

  1. Greek word/s used
    1. daimon (demon)
    2. daimonion (demons)
  2. Described as
    1. Mat 25:41 – Satan's angels
    2. affecting a person physically and mentally
    3. Mk 1:34 – they know who Jesus is (Lk 4:41)
    4. Mk 16:9 – multiple demons can affect a person (Lk 8:2)
    5. Lk 4:33 – unclean (Lk 8:29)
    6. Lk 8:30 – named demon
    7. Lk 10:17 – subject to Jesus' name
    8. 1 Co 10:20-21 – Gentiles sacrifice and worship
    9. James 2:19 – know and fear God
  3. Other uses
    1. Evil Spirit – Acts 19:15-16
    2. Demon possessed

New Age angels

  1. Communication link to God
  2. Spirit guide

Beyond the Normal Angels and Demons the Real Story

Colossians 2:16-19, 23


 

Beyond the normal

Christianity is a religion with room for the paranormal

Healing miracles, power of prayer, life after death, body raised from dead

But many Christians reject out right what is called paranormal phenomena

Instead of rejecting it, we need to examine it and speak truth about it

We begin by looking at angels and demons


 

Angels and demons

Angels and demons are a big deal in New Age movements and paranormal research

Angels have a new cult-like religious movement of their own

Demons are considered to be manifesting in cases where there are evil deeds

But what is the biblical truth behind these creatures?

Does the Bible talk about angels and demons? Yes

Old and New Testaments refer to angels in the same fashion

Hebrew – malak; Greek – angelos; both mean messenger

They serve at God's command to deliver messages to people

Old Testament hardly refers to demons; New Testament with some frequency

Hebrew – shade or sair; Greek – daimon

Most often the OT refers to them as the spirit behind idols that are worshipped

NT they torment human kind and lead people astray

Tradition tells us that angels and demons were created in the beginning by God

Is 14:12-14; Jude 6

Angels served God in worship until one angel was filled with pride

This angel was cast down with other angels for their pride

This angel became Satan and his angels are demons

If this is the case then angels and demons have the same power and essential nature

Angels are strong (Ps 103:20; Mt 28:2); have power over material objects (Ac 5:19; 12:7,10); have power to curse a person to death (Ac 12:23); and are capable of sin (2 Pe 2:4)

There is also some evidence that there may be angels who watch over humans

Mat 18:10; Ac 12:15; Heb 1:14

Demons appear to affect people mentally and physically in cases of possession; they know who God and Jesus are instinctively (Mk 1:34; Jam 2:19); and are behind the worship of other deities (Dt 32:17; Ps 106:37; 1 Cor 10:20-21)

Demons seem to operate in three manners

Temptation – as seen in how they respond to Jesus; 2 Cor 11:14; 1Tim 4:1-3

Oppression – 1 Sam 16:14-23

Possession – NT stories (Mt 4:24, 8:16, 28; 9:32; 12:22; 15:22; Mk 16:9;Lk 4:33;


 

The Christian answer to the paranormal question

Within our belief system this is what we can say

Angels and demons are real

Angels and demons have power beyond human ability

Angels and demons interact with humanity

But angels and demons are not independently powerful

Angels and demons both answer to a higher power

Angels and demons are both subject to Jesus Christ - 1 Peter 3:22;Luke 10:17

An angel will speak no message unless Jesus Christ is glorified through it

A demon cannot remain when bound under the name of Jesus Christ

Lk 4:41; Mk 3:14-15; Lk 9:49-50; Lk 11:20


 


 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Where...oh where...has my little blog gone?

I'm still here. Pondering great mysteries. Wondering about my sons become young men. Trying to love my wife more fully. Preaching the Gospel and living it to the best of my ability. But I just haven't been filled with inspiration to put anything to 1's and 0's.

So today, boys and girls, I thought I would vent a little frustration at my vacation. I'm going to Disney World. Yeah, I didn't think anyone would be surprised.

We are planning on a December trip. Lisa and the boys have never seen the park in full Disney Christmas holiday finest (I got to see some of it solo a couple of years back). We were tempted and didn't resist.

One of the nice things about going early in December is that there are smaller crowds. And smaller crowds mean a little slower pace to enjoy things.

Except I now find out that the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade is being filmed the same weekend we are going to be there. Have you ever seen the Parade on t.v.? Bunches of people lining Main Street U.S.A. Crowds of people wanting to get their .015 minute of fame as the camera gazes past their faces. Three days of filming in the Magic Kingdom means three days of really avoiding the Magic Kingdom. Blech!

And I was really looking forward to this trip as a time of relaxing enjoyment without fighting hordes of people.

So what to do? What to do?

Adapt.

It is easy to get frustrated and decide something isn't worth the effort. It is easy to blow it off and say, "There is an easier way." But that isn't how we do things around here.

We are going to go to Disney World. We are going to experience the Magic that Disney excels at providing. We are going to make memories as a family. We are going to get frustrated and aggravated, but we will be together in the Happiest Place On Earth.

And we might even kiss Mickey.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Yo Joe Finally

I love comic books. I've been reading them as long as….well as long as I've been reading. I remember some of my earliest comic books were when I was in the second or third grade. And superhero comics are a big part of my collection. Yes, I collect comic books also. Spider-man has always been one of my heroes. And the Avengers were my favorite superhero team. But there is only one comic book series that I have collected almost every copy of and the accompanying toys (yes, I collect dolls….erm, action figures).

When G.I. Joe hit the shelves in the early '80's, I grabbed the first copy. I still have it. Nope, it's not worth anything, so don't come looking for it. It is ripped and stained and frayed on the edges. It has no monetary value. But its condition should tell you where its value lies. I read and read that book over and over. This was not the story of G.I. Joe, the soldiers of World War 2. This was not the story of G.I. Joe, the toy soldier and adventurer line of the '60's. This was a new G.I. Joe, a team of top of their skills special forces operatives. Their mission was to do what the regular armed forces couldn't accomplish, even special forces. In the comic book, the characters were non-regulation military. Uniforms, weapons, skills, etiquette, grooming habits, none of them would have passed muster in regular military life. But they were excellent at what they did.

Their primary nemesis was a terrorist/for-profit organization called Cobra. The Joes waged a balanced struggle with Cobra. They were just as over the top as any other comic supervillain. The Joes had their work cut out for them. And they fought the good fight through 155 issues. Larry Hama was the principal writer for the entire series. And he produced some compelling characters, engaging stories, and memories that will last a lifetime.

Fast forward to this past weekend when Lisa, Andrew, and I went to see the first serious feature length life-action G.I. Joe movie. I love comic book movies. Except Superman Returns. And The Hulk. So the Joe fan in me had to go see this movie.

Let me say up front that I liked the movie. It was light years beyond Transformers 2 in terms of enjoyment. There were plot holes. There was some campiness that I could do without. But I liked the movie.

Except.

They really messed with my story. I say my story because these were characters I had grown up with through my teen years. The stories of their life are as real to me as a soap opera junkies "stories" are to them. As I watched them being totally re-written for a new generation (who rarely ever picks up a book unless they must…much less comics) I felt that I was losing the opportunity to share with my boys what was a big part of my youth. I am going to have to tell them the stories to help them understand how passionate I am about this.

Or better yet, maybe I'll drag out the comic collection and let them share it.

No. On second thought, maybe not that.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fear Not

Yesterday morning I was out on the back porch, drinking my coffee and enjoying E. Stanley Jones. For those who are not familiar, E. Stanley Jones was a Methodist preacher and evangelist in the middle part of the 20th Century. He was also what may be considered a prolific devotional writer. I am currently collecting and reading through his writings. Most of ESJ's writings were devotional books that were structured to be read completely through (and could be done in one sitting…if you were only reading in a shallow manner), read thematically (he broke the writings into themed sections and not chapters), or daily (each page gives a daily reference). As a frame of reference, think about the Upper Room devotional or Our Daily Bread. Only chewier.

What I mean by chewier is that ESJ wrote some real serious thinking and introspective material. He was writing for life change, not just simple devotion. He wasn't trying to give people a brief "time with God" kind of moment. He was looking transform people in such a way that their lives were radically altered. He was an evangelist after all. Titles such as How To Be a Transformed Person or Abundant Living hint to the depth of where ESJ wanted to take devotees. Currently I am reading The Way. And I want to share something that I came across yesterday in my reading.

ESJ was dealing with fear. The first thing that really struck me as I was thinking about the subject was my own fears. I have identified three fears that are obvious in my life. I'm afraid of water (although I shower regularly), I'm afraid of heights, and I'm afraid of roller coasters. ESJ speaks to dealing with fears and presents 16 steps to dealing with fears. This is not a short term, easy fix solution.

The first step he describes is by saying that there are only 2 inherent fears in human nature – fear of falling and loud noises. By remembering that all other fears are learned behavior we begin to see that there is control over them.

Second is to talk over those fears with someone you trust. Really talk about the fears. Third is to decide on a plan of action. Fourth is to look at our surroundings (environment), our past history, and our present ideas and attitudes. Fifth he encourages us to think faith (Proverbs 23:7; or even Philippians 4:8). From the 6th point through the 16th point he talks about surrendering that fear to God instead of fighting those fears. If you want to know more detail, I suggest picking up a copy in an old book store or trying to find it on line. Or come for coffee some morning.

But reading all of that got me to thinking about something else. Do we ever see Jesus afraid in the Gospels?

The only thing that I feel may be close was the scene in the garden on the night of his arrest. But was it really fear that motivated the prayer, "let this cup pass from me"? When he was a youth separated from his family, there was no fear. When Jesus faced the crowd that wanted to stone him, there was no fear. When Jesus was being pressed by the religious leaders on his beliefs, there was no fear. When he was in new territory and surrounded by strangers, there was no fear. When he stood before a kangaroo court, before the seat of Roman power, was led from place to place under arrest, walked to his execution, and even on the cross facing the end of his mortal life Jesus showed no fear.

Fears control so many people. I don't just mean actions. I also think about how fear controls emotions, attitudes, opinions, and even health. Fear is a cancer. It takes healthy life and turns it into something negative and destructive.

But throughout Scripture, when God's appointed messenger shows up on the scene, what is the first word – fear not. It isn't easy to fear not. But it is possible; especially when we begin to tap into the power of surrender. Surrender is not a natural human inclination. In fact surrender is blocked by fear. When we face something in which surrender is an option, we encounter the natural inherent human response – fight or flight. This is fear response. So surrender, even to God, the lover of our souls, is fear inducing. But when we overcome fear through surrender to God, we are bringing power beyond imagination and grace beyond degree into our lives to bring fear into control. Healing occurs, forgiveness abounds, and love fills.


 

Fear not – for God is on your side.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Questions from the Congregation

In February and March I asked the Turpin congregation for questions. This is a practice I started where I get questions from the church and then preach on the subjects of their questions. I have been working on them from March until now.

This week I will begin to answer those questions. The first series will be Tithes, Taxes, and Tips. We will examine the biblical subject of tithing and what that means for modern followers of Christ. The question that sparked this series was: Do you go with 10% of your gross income or do you give to Caesar and then tithe on that?

Here are the other sermon series that I will be preaching based on the questions that I received.

Do pets go to heaven? - what happens to our beloved companions
Stereotypical or stereotyped Christians - how do we respond to being lumped together
The Return of the King - what does the 2nd coming mean and when will it happen
Mysteries of Genesis - creation, Cain's wife, Nephilim, Tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah
Faith in Families - how to grow the Faith in a family setting
Death of Loved Ones - coping with the loss of family members, redeemed or lost
Paranormal - Ghosts, Spirit Communication, angels and demons, aliens and life out there
Is It All One God - world religions
What About Sin - dealing honestly with sin
What About Salvation - what does salvation mean
Why We Do What We Do: Holy Communion
Why We Do What We Do: Worship

I will try to post a recorded sermon on this blog. But I will also be occasionally be putting in something different: the sermon that didn't get preached. This will include information that didn't make it into the preached sermon. It may be material I found or things I left out of the sermon.

But I will be posting a little more frequently now. Feel free to join in with the comments and other questions.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Annual Conference '09

So I'm back with absolutely nothing enlightening to say.

Or do I???

Annual Conference is the most frustrating and most rewarding most-of-a-week I have every year. It is frustrating because of the amount of 0 interactivity that is involved. Come on. I'm a web geek and RPG computer gamer. I don't like the complete lack of interactivity. I know that the stories and progress reports are signature feature of the conference experience. But there is so much sitting and listening that I lose all sense of reality.

But AC is also the most rewarding because we there is interactivity, it is usually lively conversation about pressing topics with good friends and colleagues. I've seen conferences where factionalism reigned supreme. I have seen people eye each other with skepticism and a lack of charity. But I try to avoid those circles of interaction. Instead I look for chances where people of differing opinion and world view can sit down and really express their opinions with respect for one another and listen to the differing viewpoints.

No I won't change my mind because we talked about a given subject. But the next time we do meet, I will have a deeper respect for you.

But then there is also time for conversations that contribute in no meaningful way to anything healthy or uplifting whatsoever. And only true friends can handle that kind of conversation.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Nostalgia day

There are some days when the past just haunts your every move. Today it is music.

I've been wandering around the house with old favorite country CD's in the stereo, '80's metal hair bands on VH1 Classic, and now this.



This is Ralph Macchio doing for guitar music what he did for karate and the martial arts in "The Karate Kid". This from "Crossroads", an excellent movie about a Julliard-trained guitar prodigy who wants nothing more than to be blues guitarist.

This is the climactic guitar duel scene.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Update

Lisa's Dad died at about 7:30 April 1st.

His funeral will be Monday at 10:00 at 1st United Pentecostal Church in Ada, OK.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Prayer Request

Lisa's dad, Marvin, is in serious condition. He had quadruple bypass surgery about 4 weeks ago in Oklahoma City. Since then, he has remained in ICU. His current condition seems to be multiple organ dysfunction syndrome. He is having problems across many of his bodies systems. His heart is not operating properly, he is on dialysis because his kidney's are not functioning, his lungs are not processing oxygen into his cells, and the doctors are claiming he also has leukemia. There is fear that his brain functions have been compromised as well.

The doctors are not confident about any reversal. They wanted the family informed of how serious Marvin's condition truly is. Lisa's mom, Lois, also needs prayer. She does not handle a crisis well.

Lisa is struggling emotionally and spiritually. She is currently at the hospital and we don't know when she will come back home.

Our desire is that Marvin will be blessed with a miracle. He needs an intervention and we hope for God's power to bring him the balance and restoration of the organs and systems of Marvin's body. Our desire is that Lois will have the emotional fortitude to face this crisis. And that all of the kids will be able to face this difficult time.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New meaning to "I am the shepherd"

What would you get if Jesus was the Good Shepherd and meant it in a techno-junkie way:

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rapture Debate

As part of the preaching series on life, death, heaven, and the Resurrection the subject of the Rapture became quite the conversation starter. As part of that conversation, we had a talk-back debate one Wednesday night. Here is the audio of that conversation.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Country music funnies

There are just some songs that need to be spoofed:



It's not that I hate Carrie Underwood. I just like fishing more.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Welcome to change

The world is probably now well aware of the passing of the Stimulus Bill. That bill will be heading to the President's desk with all expediency.

Hmmmm. That word reminds me of something. What was it?

Oh yes, I remember now.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man -- a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience sake.


These were words spoken by President Obama upon his inauguration. The words struck me as biting and cutting to the outgoing President at the time. They were words meant to point at the decisions of President Bush to restrict freedoms to preserve security.

But now those words strike me as being hollow and devoid of meaning or substance. This stimulus bill has been pushed, at break neck speed, through the process of legislation. Republicans are complaining that the Democrats reneged on their word of allowing 48 hours to review the document before a vote. I'm simply flabbergasted that a 647 page bill filled with intricate and subtle financial projects was not allowed adequate time to be read, reviewed, and argued.

President Obama has established that he was the leader that will take us into a change. What change is he leading us into? I see nothing new. Except maybe to further remove us from the Founding Fathers ideals of this nation has been established upon.

The way I see it, if this is going to be business as usual, why don't we just eliminate the Constitution and the full document of the Declaration of Independence. I say get rid of them because the ideals that President Obama and the people who are guiding him into the decisions that are being made really only care about the opening lines of the second paragraph of the Declaration.

People forget what the Declaration of Independence was all about. They remember the lines "blah blah unalienable rights blah blah life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." But the Declaration of Independence was so much more than just the perceived right to get what you want to make you happy.

The Declaration of Independence was a rallying cry for a people who's government had forgotten the responsibility that government has to the governed. Those founding fathers, as we have come to call them, were holding king and country accountable for the duty of seeing the common good of all people within the boundaries of the nation. There were no political parties involved. There were no lobbyists at work for special interest groups. It was group of people who believed that government was to be accountable to the people.

In fact, the words following "pursuit of happiness" state just that fact.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,...

Government exists at OUR consent. Those people who sit in those beautiful, grand buildings in Washington, D.C. sit there because we allow them to. Those people get to spend their time on C-SPAN and all the talk shows because we allow them to. Those people get to write laws and govern this nation because we ALLOW them to.

When I see something like this stimulus bill passing without due diligence I have to wonder, "Why do we continue to allow this kind of behavior?"

The very next truth that is self evident (of which the government's power is derived from our consent is one) is that when the government abuses that trust the people have given, the people have the right to alter or abolish the government and establish a government that will effect safety and the happiness as they see fit. Welcome to the idea of revolution.

It is time for a revolution. It is time to get rid of the attitude of aristocracy in the government. It is time to remind politicians that they do not have self-interests or personal agendas when they sit in office. They do not have the right to receive gifts or incentives from lobbyists or special interest groups in return for favorable legislation. They are not there to represent the minority voice. They are there because we allow them to. Regardless of who we vote for, they sit there because this is a government for the people, by the people.

Let's put career politicians, lawyers in office, and lobbyists in their place: back in the workforce looking for a real job. Let's dismantle the machine that runs D.C. and replace it with the heart for the nation.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Growing a Church's DNA

Here is something I am playing around with for a larger piece I am trying to write.

Growing a Church’s DNA

D.N.A. is the collection of proteins that combine to give each of us our unique and individual make up. It truly is the foundation material of our identity. People can be identified through D.N.A. People can also be connected to others through sharing of D.N.A. (from parent to child). D.N.A. is remarkable in giving us a basis for our identity and relating us to others.

Each church has DNA also. There are some fundamental elements that help give us identity. There is also a basis in our DNA for how we relate to one another and the people around the church. DNA does not limit us in who we can be. It only offers us the foundation for growing into who we are. Each church needs to identify its DNA and compare it to the One who gave birth to the church, Jesus Christ.

A United Methodist Church is to be a place of practical divinity. Practical divinity is a phrase drawn from John Wesley’s opinion of his work. He was not a systematic theologian – he didn’t write thick books on which he explained who God was. He was more concerned with who God is in our lives. His writings reflect a concrete application of scriptural revelation concerning the nature of God. Practical divinity is about making God’s nature a reality in people’s lives. John Wesley strove to do that in 18th century England. We are about making God’s nature a reality in people’s lives in 21st century community.

Our purpose or mission is to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We do this by four means: mission, witness, nurture, and discipline. The church serves as the connection point or hub to engage people in a life of discipleship. We invite people to encounter God through mission and witness. We grow people in becoming followers of Christ through nurture and discipline. Then we send people out to minister and be agents for transformation in the world. Supporting this mission these values that cannot be compromised for any reason.

First, we constantly remember that Christ is the source of our strength and identity. No religious institution or tradition, no individual’s personality or qualities can supply all we need. Only Christ, the Savior and Redeemer, our hope and salvation, can be the source of strength and identity for what we do and who we are.

Second, we must keep our focus on people. Christ did not come into the world to transform religion or to reform the world. He came to be among his people and to heal their hurts. He went where the people were. He listened to their stories. He saw their needs. He never took his eyes off of the people. We must always look at Christ’s people.

Third everything we do should be a source of healing, or at the very least cause no harm. Christ’s teaching and healing were inseparable. His mission in the world was to proclaim freedom and healing. Our efforts should intend no harm to anyone but should be done with the intention of leaving that person better than when we first met them.

Fourth we can never give up. Christ is our source of strength. The world cannot overcome the victory we receive in the name of the risen Lord. He has overcome death and the grave, our mortal enemy. He gives us hope and reason to celebrate in everything. So we must give thanks to God and continue to persevere in the expectation of overcoming.

Fifth, we face the unknown and the new through imagination, innovation, and adaptation. Christ told the disciples he was about to do something new. Every opportunity we face should follow Christ’s example. We allow ourselves to do something new in order to accomplish mission. We adapt to the surrounding situations in order to minister more effectively. We cannot allow ourselves to be stuck in complacency or stagnation because we haven’t done something before. Christ ministered to the Gentiles, the unwashed, the diseased, and the outcast. We approach ministry looking for new ways to heal and help.

In order to fulfill our mission and honor our values, we place principles or guiding standards around our lives and activity. Above all else, we put ourselves in a position to seek the Holy Spirit’s direction and power. In order to reach God’s people and do God’s mission thus fulfilling God’s will, we must seek the Spirit’s guidance and power. If we do not begin at this point, we will be ill equipped to do anything else.

To fulfill our mission of inviting, we need to remember to do two things. First, always remain outwardly focused. The church was born for the people who are not yet part of the church. Jesus called on his disciples to go into the world baptizing and teaching people about him. This implies that we are called to focus on people who have never been a part of the church. Second we need to build and maintain loving, caring relationships. This begins in our homes but extends into every relationship we have. If people do not perceive that we love or care for them, our invitations will be hollow and return empty.

To fulfill our mission of growing, we need to concentrate on five areas.
• One, learning and growing in our walk with God and with one another in a safe and affirming environment.
• Two, train, model, and practice daily spiritual disciplines.
• Three, come together regularly and faithfully to worship God in ways that engage our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies.
• Four, teach and encourage all members that they are stewards of God given resources and challenge them to give sacrificially for the sake of Christ and others.
• Five, identify recruit, train, and empower leaders to be servants to the entire body.

To fulfill our mission of sending, we have two important principles. First, wisely administer all of our resources to provide the maximum amount of support and hold one another accountable that we are being honoring and answering to the DNA through the use of our resources. Second, network with other churches and faith-based organizations with compatible DNA to ensure the widest possible ministry effort and provide hope and healing further into the community.

A church’s DNA amounts to its Purpose or Mission, Values, and Vision or guiding principles. Everything a church does is based on enhancing the DNA. Each action or decision is compared to the DNA and then carried out only as it truly honors and answers to the DNA. Once the DNA has been formulated the leadership of the church seeks to understand and live it out. Each member is taught and expected to accept the DNA of the church. This may sound tyrannical or hard-lined. The truth is that if people cannot identify with who the church is our mission will encounter resistance. If our mission is resisted we cannot live what God calls us to be. If anything does not honor or advance the DNA of the church, it is dropped. From this position the church is ready to move forward in the mission field with Christ our shepherd.

25 Random Things

Just because I did it over on my Facebook page:

25 Random Things about me.

1.) Short, fat, bald, nerd - of those only 1 of them can I change. Others I might change I choose not to.

2.) I'm religiously opposed to green beans.

3.) I have rattlesnake-head shaped big toes.

4.) If I could live anywhere in the world it would be on the property of Walt Disney World. Preferably within walking distance of one of Epcot's gates.

5.) The two things I always wanted to be growing up were: a fireman-paramedic and a forensic pathologist. Mostly because I loved Emergency and Quincy growing up.

6.) One of my favorite jobs has been radio d.j. at a country music station.

7.) I'm not a musician. I'm just a guy who plays guitar (poorly) and sings (badly).

8.) I love photography. I'm trying to improve my ability with that. Some day I hope I can get good enough to show some of it.

9.) If C.S.I. is on, I will most likely flip over and watch it (see #5).

10.) My God-given purpose in life is helping others become everything God has created them to be.

11.) I would love to sit down and have have coffee with Alton Brown.

12.) The most famous people I have ever met were Billy Sprague and Dave Ramsey.

13.) I think I'm a better cook than I really am.

14.) When life gets too stressful, and I'm dealing with people at the end of my limits, I find that virtual violence is a great release.

15.) I say "crap" entirely too much. But it is such a versatile word.

16.) My most treasured earthly possessions would be my comic book collection and my collection of G.I. Joe figures. And my Bibles. And the scrapbooks my mother made for me. And the map from my Pappaw's service in W.W. II. And my library.

17.) My favorite work of literature would be A Christmas Carol.

18.) I can eat good B.B.Q. ribs any time.

19.) There is nothing as frustrating as pedestrians.

20.) My mother is the strongest, most faithful person I know. If I would aspire to be like anyone, it would be her. She faces the crap of this world with a strength that circumstances cannot provide, but comes only from the depth of faith of a life lived in surrender to Christ.

21.) My best friend growing up in high school was my sister. She was the one who I felt I could share anything with. And it's not because I have plenty of "stuff" on her. She could make me laugh and hack me off quicker than anyone. But she was the best friend I had.

22.) Andrew, my youngest son, is the person who makes me happy. He has a sense of humor and natural comedic ability. He can say the right thing at the right moment to make me laugh hysterically. And he likes to wrestle.

23.) Nicholas, my oldest son, is the person I am most proud of. He frustrates me quite a bit. But that is because he and I are so much alike. But he is a smart kid. And I look forward to watching him become what God has planned.

24.) Lisa is the person behind me, pushing me, challenging me, keeping me honest, and bringing clarity to everything that happens around me. She keeps me aware of the important things in life. She deflates my big ego and boosts my failing spirits. She knows me better than anyone and yet still is willing to spend the rest of our lives together. I'm worried about her.

25.) There is nothing more important, nothing more substantial, and nothing more valuable to me than the faith I have in Jesus Christ. It defines my life and decisions. It is the only way I face reality. I may not get "it" right all the time. Failures and doubts still darken the landscape of life. But by grace and love, I know that there is more to life than how I far I've fallen. Life is how far God is willing to go to bring me back.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Don't account on me

President Obama sure seems to be following through with his dedication to transparency in D.C. We are less than 1 month into his term and so far 4 of his picks for prominent positions as Cabinet members or advisers have had tax problems. This isn't about the fact of their failures. This is honestly about the transparency that we have seen. The sad truth is that if these 4 had not been moving into positions as visible as they are, there would have likely been nothing come of their infractions. They would not have been held to account for it. They would not have been penalized or punished in any way. But because of the public nature of the offices, they were held to account.

But how much of that accountability was proactive to beat the Republicans to the punch?

I say this because I'm in a generally cranky mood. Everyone seems to talk the talk of ethics and holding people account. But do we really want people to do this. Honestly, look at the culture we live in.

School kids ("good" kids as well as trouble makers) don't have a problem with cheating. The banking industry is having to be bailed out because we have allowed our economy to be built on debt and lending. Oh yeah, those same banks are constantly being busted for taking our tax money (that's what the government bailout was - our money) and using it for the same practices that got us into this situation. Which, by the way, was our money we gave to them to manage. You have to dig into people's past with the skills of a private investigator to find out if someone's resume is filled out honestly and that they went to the schools they said they did or performed the jobs they claim. And what was the last excuse you gave to get out of a speeding ticket?

Do we really want someone to hold us accountable to a good life? Do we really want someone getting up into our stuff and pointing out our failures? Do we want to live out the responsibility of Christians to "encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." (Hebrews 3:13). Do we want a pastor who will "reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction" (2 Tim 4:2). And we definitely don't want anyone to carry out Christ's instruction in Matthew 18:15-17 if we cause offense.

I know I'm not perfect. Anyone who has been around me more than 8 minutes knows that. I offend people. I make people mad. I say things that don't set right. But I tell people straight out: if I offend you, make you mad, set you off then hold me accountable. I can't promise to not screw up. But I can make myself open to seek forgiveness and restore relationships. I live with regrets and mistakes, just like we all do. But when they happen, I try to make reconciliation possible. But it has to begin with me being willing to face accountability.

And to any law enforcement officers who may stop me for speeding, I have no excuse. How much do I owe?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Revelation ch 5 and 6

Revelation chapter 5




Revelation chapter 6

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Turpin is on the map

Yeah, it's been a while.


I was playing around with Google Maps today (when I should have been working on Revelation Bible Study - yeah, I haven't updated that in a while either).

Any way.

I put good ol' Turpin in the Google Map search line. Up popped the familiar overhead satellite photo image of our little corner of heaven in the panhandle. But there was something new. Turpin has a Street View.

What is a Street View, you may be wondering? Well this is Google's newest idea. They are sending out special vehicles to photograph places around the world from street level. They use spherical camera units to give a full panoramic, total view of the area.

Turpin's picture is from the south side of town on highway 64 heading to Hooker. It is across the street from the Post Office. The really cool thing is that this hasn't been done everywhere yet.

So Turpin has made it on the Google map. Check it out at www.google.com/maps and enter Turpin OK in the search line.