Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sorry for being silent

I apologize to any of you that regularly look in here. I haven't written anything for several days due to several reasons. Not long after my last posting I developed a bad case of bronchitis. The severe coughing it brought on caused terrible headaches and light sensitivity and I had ignored the symptoms of the bronchitis for so long that I developed an infection in the lungs which brought on a fever. Needless to say, I was a very sick puppy.

I'm feeling much better now and I appreciate those of you who regularly look in here and I wanted to give you an explanation for my silence.

The good news is that in the midst of my illness I passed my first course in the MIP (Ministerial Internship Program) with flying colors. Only eight more months to go! YIPPEE!

All is well here and I'm slowly getting back on my feet. Dad still needs our prayers. He has good days and bad days. There have been days when he has walked the entire length of the driveway several times with a walker and there are days when he can barely stand up. His therapist says that his strength is fine, even on the bad days. It appears that sometimes the signals from the brain work correctly and sometimes they don't. I know he is still in a healing process but I really wouldn't mind God speeding up the process.

I will try to write more in the days to come. Thanks for your support and for your prayers for my family!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Some of my Heroes

I was thinking the other day, (I always note when I do because it don't happen too often), about the people who have impacted my life through the years and I thought I would share some of those thoughts with you. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. They don't duck into phone booths or get mad and turn muscular green whe they are angry. They are just people. People who lead by example. People who have a knack for being there. People who you want to pattern your life after. God has blessed me with many and for that I am eternally grateful.

Old School Heroes:
My Dad. Through the years, Dad has been an example. Not always a perfect one but an example nonetheless. You can't spend 10 minutes with the man without knowing that he has a deep, abiding love for God and for the Church. He taught me faith at an early age and even now, in the midst of a debilitating accident he shows me great faith every day.

My Grandpa Childers. I only had him in my life for the first 17 years but the impact of those years still affect me today. He was a man of great wisdom and I still miss him every day. He was the glue that held his family together and from his death I learned that we ALL need glue.

William & Esther Witcher: I first met the Witcher's back around 1968-69. I was around 7 at the time and they were preparing to begin their ministry. I had a big time crush on Esther although I had difficulty with her name and called her "Festus." Still do, for the laugh. William or "Butch" as he is more commonly known by, began pastoring the Oak Hill Church of God, in Forrest City AR, back in the early 70's and as far as I know, he is still there today. Definitley the longest serving COG pastor that I have personally known. Butch and Esther didn't build a Church but in my opinion they birthed a Church. I rarely get to see them these days but the impact that their love and devotion for a local congregation has made on me, affects me to this day.

Edgar and Andrea Foster: I first met the Foster's in 1970, when Edgar preached a remarkable revival for my Dad, in Brookport, IL. I had a big time crush on Andrea too! I'm beginning to see a pattern here. LOL It was in this revival that I first began to understand the power of the Holy Spirit. I've been in and through many, many revivals in my lifetime but I've never witnessed another that had such a powerful and long lasting impact on a Church and community. Those were truly special days and the Foster's are heroes to me.

Evangelist George Horton: The summer that I turned 16, Brother Horton held a Revival for my Dad in the little town of Logan, IL. It was during that revival that I received my personal call to ministry and it was a night that I have never forgotten. The Holy Spirit rested so heavily on me that I felt as if electricity was flowing through my body. I became drunk in the Spirit. I acted ways that I had said I would never act. I laughed, I cried then I laughed some more. Most importantly, I felt God speak, for the first time in my life that I had no doubt. That night is a bedrock truth in the rest of my life and Brother Horton will always have a place in my heart. Some folks don't "go for that emotionalism." Bless their little Ole hearts. I don't base my walk on feelings but I do enjoy them when they happen. To me, something is wrong with an experience in which emotions are not involved. Nearly thirty years later that night still resonates within my soul.

I have many, many more heroes to share but I'll call this a good start and get some sleep.

And now, all glory to God, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and who will bring you into his glorious presence innocent of sin and with great joy. 25 All glory to him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Yes, glory, majesty, power, and authority belong to him, in the beginning, now, and forevermore. Amen.
Jude 1:24-25 (NLT)

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Wonderful Weekend

I became young again this weekend, (if only for a few hours) as I was able to go see one of my favorite bands play, LIVE!

Yep, Saturday night I was able to go see Audio Adreneline's, "Adios" tour and it was fantastic. The biggest surprise was that I wasn't the oldest one there! There were people of all ages and it was truly an awesome time and man, they did rock the house!

I know that AA isn't everyone's cup of tea but they sure are mine and luckily for me, God did not ask my to give up my taste when I came to follow Him. So Head bang on, Brothers and Sisters! I will confess that my ears are still ringing and that my knees are sore from "jumping with the kids" but I'll also confess that I would do it again in a heartbeat!

We had a great service on Sunday! God really tore me apart this past week, dealing with me about "neglecting the love of God." In other words, being so busy and doing things out of such a sense of duty and traditional obligation that we forget what or WHO we are doing them for. I preached it to my Church yesterday and I want to share with you, one passage of scripture from the New Living Translation.

2Thessalonians 3:5 May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.

"A full understanding and expression of God's love!" That tells me that His love is multi-faceted and that it is "discoverable" every single day of our lives. I believe that this past week will change the focus of my entire life and ministry. I have fallen in love again with God and I pray that I do that every day of the rest of my life.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Your tax dollars, hard at work

If there is indeed, an "axis of evil", as the late Ronald Reagan dubbed the Soviet Empire, then the other end of that axis spins in U.S. politics. Somewhere, the idea of a government, "of the people, by the people" has given way to a goverment up for the highest bid or bribe.

Take for example, the deplorable situation with Congressman Tom Foley, out of Florida. When confronted with his despicable acts and as more light was shed upon the sad situation, he withdrew himself from the limelight and cowardly began to offer up weak excuses.

Weak excuse number 1: He is gay. OK, even if we are accepting of that lifestyle, what does that have to do with being a pervert with Teenaged boys? What does that have to do with, not only supplying, but partaking in the consumption of alcohol with minors? What does it have to do with ANYTHING concerning Mr. Foley's behavior? It doesn't! In fact, it only points out the hypocrisy that we, as a nation, revel in. I wonder where the outcry is from the gay community? Because, if we accept Mr. Foley's excuse for his behavior then there is an admission of sorts that something is inherently wrong with that lifestyle. Even if you buy into the, "if he had his freedom or didn't feel confined by society" excuse, (which is the design of the excuse) it still doesn't excuse contributing to the delenquincy of minors now, does it?

Weak excuse number 2: He was molested as a boy by a member of the Clergy. I must confess that I was waiting for this one to be roled out. It seems to be in the unwritten handbook, "Excuses for deplorable Behavior". Now don't get me wrong, I don't mean, for one second, to make light of the pain of someone that has been abused in a situation involving men of faith. It is a definite problem in this day and age and it isn't only in the Catholic Church. It is a serious and extremely sad situation. However, with that said, It is also becoming a very weak excuse that seems to be unquestioned. Are we really saying, "well, since he was abused by a member of clergy then I guess it's acceptable that he has abused young boys?" Where did this ideaology come from that because of the actions of others it excuse my personal responsibility? I'll tell you, it came straight from the garden of Eden, when sin first made it's entrance into this world through man. ADAM: "it's the woman's fault that YOU gave me" (blaming not only Eve but God as well) EVE: "It was the serpents fault." The point is that personal accountability for our actions does not end when something bad happens to us. Let' put it into perspective. If conducting yourself in an illegal, immoral way that abuuses others is acceptable because you were abused by a clergyman, then the families of Jeffery Dahmers victims should be allowed to go out and murder innocent people because it happened to their family! Preposterous, isn't it? EXACTLY!

My last rant for the day, goes toward ignorant partisan politics. In the wake of the Foley fallout the character of a good man is being impugned. Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, is a good man. He is an exemplary leader and someone that I will, once again, vote for with a good and clean conscience. He is also the scapegoat target of hypocritic Democrats in the wake of the Foley fallout. Why, hypocritic, you may ask? Where was their outcry when Clinton used the Oval office as his own house of ill repute? Where was their outcry when headlines and news leads, talked about stained, blue dresses? Do I mean that we should excuse either of these instances? Absolutley not! But if Denny Hastert is guilty of anything, it would simply be a lack of credible information. Partisan politics, (by no means exclusive to Democrats) says here is something we can use to get someone else. Men of character, (which should be who we vote for, regardless of political affiliation) say this is wrong, let's fix it.

*editted to correct the state that Mr. Foley is from. My apologies to California.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Where is Jesus today?

In this Psuedo-religious world of "spirituality" today it seems as if Jesus has been relegated to a game of "Where's Waldo?" and in my opinion the more the "spiritualists" try to find Him the more rediculous they become.

Take, for example, the lady in Chicago recently. Her story has been on every one of the local news stations and probably some National ones as well. It seems that while she was very despondant, Jesus showed up in a very unusual place. As she was using the "facilities", yes, setting down on the commode, the image of Jesus appeared in the wood grain on the bathroom door! Now, I saw the door that they showed on the news and the only thing that I saw was where the hollow cut door had been pieced together so that the wood grain was symetrically reversed. I could see where someone that spent way to much time in the bathroom could see a "face" in the arrangement of the wood grain but Jesus? I don't think so.

I do have some advice for this lady, though. 1. Get some good Fiber, or, 2. Get some reading material for the facilities.

Take this past winter in Chicago for example. Under a Viaduct on the express way, on one of the local streets, Jesus appeared in a salt stain that had surfaced through the cracks in the concrete. It was a big deal. They set up a makeshift shrine, complete with City barricades and protection. Funny thing is that the spring rains washed it all away. Any half baked theologian can tell you that 2000 years ago, Pilate found out that the real Jesus couldn't be washed away.

Now me, I'm probably not that spiritual. You see, I believe that Jesus shows up every day of our lives if we will really look for Him. In fact, He shows up every day IN our life if we are believers. No, not in bars of soap, turtle shells, grilled cheese sandwiches or any of that nonsense but He shows up in peoples actions, attitudes and behaviors if we let Him.

I saw Him this week at the Funeral of Violet Gwaltney. I had the privilege of conducting that service and ministering to a family that had seen their Mom, Grandmother, Great Grandmother and loving wife go through a physical hell of sorts, with Alzhiemers and Cancer. There they all were, dealing with their grief and their questions but in the midst of it all, every one of them at different times came to me privately and enquired how my Father was doing. I was happy to report that he was doing well in his recovery but the point is that, that is Jesus showing up. Being concerned for others in the midst of your own grief, that's a God thing.

The thing that is so often overlooked is this. Jesus is never hard to see, it's just that we don't always recognize Him. Maybe if this "spiritualistic" world would stop looking for His image in everything that is out there and start concentrating on letting His image shine through them, maybe, just maybe they won't have such a hard time recognizing Him in the simple things.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Where are we headed?

I'm sitting here today, greatly bothered by the recent rash of school shootings that have taken place. Particularly the one that took place yesterday in Amish country.

The majority of us, (those my age or older) grew up in a time where the only concern we had about school was grades and avoiding the playground bullies. These days, my son attends a school where the doors lock automatically and people must be "buzzed" in to gain entrance. We live in a day where when hears of such news as has taken place recently, one is thankful that it hasn't happened where we are at---yet. And sadly, we live in a day and age where, quite frankly, this doesn't affect us in the same manner that it once would have. Oh, there is shock, disgust and an outcry but it is quickly becoming too much of a normal news day. I believe the reason that yesterdays shooting is getting the coverage that it is, is simply because it happened to such a peaceful group of people.

In thinking about it, my mind went back to the Bush1/Clinton election and I remembered how Vice President, Dan Quayle, was openly rediculed and mocked because he stated that we, as a nation, needed to return to family values. He cited the then, sitcom, Murphy Brown, as an example of how single parented, unmarried households were becoming the norm for our society. Of course, he was attacked and maligned for his views and that particular stance became political fodder for how out of touch the current administration was. However, I don't remember any mass school shootings before that time. I'm sure there was an occasional crackpot that in their insanity, mamed and killed but nothing like we have today. Today, it is kids, killing kids and it isn't in areas that one would expect. Columbine was an affluent school in an upscale area. The young men involved in that shooting were from "good" but broken families. Our youth today have lost an innocense that once was common placed.

No, I'm not blaming the politicians for the killings in schools. Although I strongly disliked Clinton and all that he stood and didn't stand for, it's not his fault that we have come to this point. Like it or not the blame falls upon each and every one of us. We are a government "for the people and by the people" so in that sense it is governments fault. I'm not trying to make Dan Quayle out to be a saint, far from it, but his words echo in my ear this morning. It is my belief that God was giving us warning back then about the direction that we were heading as a society. The warning was laughed at, scorned and rediculed and sadly, I'm afraid we have arrived at the destination we were warned about.

I don't mean to bring anybody "down" today but I am bothered and I think it is time that we speak up and speak out. My prayer is that it isn't too late.