Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Leaders Who Disappoint Us

Well all of the details are supposedly out and it looks like another politician will be crippled politically, but remain in office. I'm not sure how these people keep their positions after such disgraceful behavior!

The Bible is full of men who have acted just as shamefully. David cheated and murdered the faithful husband of his mistress -- and did not resign. Father Abraham had many sons and one was the product of an ungodly relationship with his wife's servant. The "wisest" leader who ever lived had 300 "mistresses" with whom to be unfaithful to his 700 wives. President Clinton has nothing on King Solomon!

Politicians and preachers have been getting caught for as long as I can remember. Why? Why so many lately? For one, they are getting caught more often. Second, the media has no problem exposing them to society these days. In prior years, a scandal would be kept quiet to preserve the people's respect for leadership. That was when integrity meant something. A handshake was preferred to a roomful of lawyers and piles of fine print. Baseball players didn't cheat. Oh, come on! Let me at least have 755 "honest" Homering Hank homers! ...sigh, you're right - he probably did cheat.

You may have guessed which politician I am talking about who has recently disgraced those he represents. Whatever anyone thought about this person before this story broke is irrelevant to the matter at hand.

If you are thinking that Portland deserves better, than I could not agree with your more! The good people of that city deserve much better than a pedophile for a mayor. I think we still call men who admit to "making out" with 17 year old boys "pedophiles" in this country. I hope we do any way. The attorney general dropped the case against Sam Adams this week and will not pursue bringing him to trial. So, he remains in office. He remains an outspoken homosexual activist who claims his 2 year sexual affair with the boy only began after he turned 18. Whatever! If you believe that; then you incredibly gullible.

Some of you are trying to figure out who I'm talking about and why I didn't mention Mark Sanford who is all over the news right now.

For some reason, the news media finds it more "news" worthy to tell you all about a right-wing Republican governor (admittedly, that does outrank mayor) who admitted to cheating on his wife. They have been nearly silent on the "less-evil?" "less-interesting?" Portland politician: the leftist gay activist pedophile mayor Sam Adams.

Last week all we heard about was the Republican senator who cheated and this week the GOP is getting preached to by the left about Sanford!

Why does the left only think cheating on your wife is wrong when a Christian or a Republican do it? Cheating on your wife is wrong. It doesn't matter it you've got "Killed giant named Goliath" on your resume or if you are a greeter at Wal-mart. It doesn't matter if you are a fun-loving, jovial, McDonald's-hamburger-eating, lying-to-America's-face president or if you are a governor who lied about where he was going to disguise his affair. Adultery is adultery!

"Fireproof" is a movie with a great message for husbands and wives concerning adultery and not giving in to it. I am reminded of the liberal movie critics who hated the movie, bashing it's moral preachiness. Their opinion was that the movie was ruined by keeping the marriage alive in the story. One critic I read, went so far as to state that the adulterous affair was his prefered path for the characters involved to pursue. You can read Michael Hardy's critique of Fireproof here.

Being a pastor and knowing some who have fallen in similar fashion as the recently caught Republicans doesn't prevent me from being disheartened each time it happens. I just wanted to shine a little light on the sins of those eagerly throwing stones.

The expression of their faces bears witness against them,
And they display their sin like Sodom;
They do not even conceal it!
Woe to them!
For they have brought evil on themselves.

Isaiah 3:9 (NASB)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Big Government vs Big Corporation

Whom do you fear? Are you afraid of a government so powerful that the individual has relatively no power to effect change in society? Are you afraid of giant corporations with massive amounts of wealth that can effectively do what they wish in society? You may say both! I've been thinking about this a lot and I hope my thoughts provide some value to you.

It seems that politicians and political pundits are preying upon the fears of citizens these days. I hear so much about how dangerous our government is; but then I hear others speak of regulating and limited the power of the filthy rich businesses. TV shows and movies often cast these powers as the "evil" influence behind the antagonists of their stories. Stated accurately by someone: "absolute power corrupts absolutely". Perhaps hollywood is correct that we should fear these behemoths of power and money.

Conspiracy theories seem to always point to these powers as the villians: evil people with too much power and too much money. Perhaps the crazies are on to something!

Remember the "NO FEAR!" t-shirts? I think those things quit selling after 9/11. Correct me if I'm wrong on that. Perhaps I should start selling, "I'm afraid" t-shirts. Hmmmm. Please place your order in comment and paypal me your $19.95.

The division among the people afraid of the bigs is startling to me. Those scared to death of Big Oil, the mighty Microsoft, and giant GE have no trouble granting unlimited power to politicians with equally troubling moral compasses. Conversely, those who fear politicians are going to ruin society by enacting troubling policies, making unwise decisions, and behaving in an unethically corrupt manner do not have any trouble allowing giant corporations to plunder an unsuspecting people. Perhaps the little man has no chance after all.

"Since when is being selfish considered a virtue?" was an often aired quote of President Obama while on the campaign trail. He has made no qualms about where he falls on this issue. His actions demonstrate we have less to fear from big government than we do from big business. Many are arguing - and I believe correctly- for the limiting of government power and control. "Power needs to be put back into the private sector" is the argument. Free market capitalism seeks to limit the government and empowers successful businesses.

Big corporations flourished in the 90's and into the new millinium the sky seemed to be the limit. Well the sky wasn't the limit and the old adage of "what goes up must come down" applies to the economy as well as apples. Big business made some big mistakes and big government has taken advantage to become even bigger. Even still there are some mighty companies with huge piles of money (most if it being devalued as I type by the way), and plenty of people afraid of their power.

Should we be afraid of either of these entities? I don't believe so and I'm going to try and live my life free of the fear of either. I'm not putting blinders on to their greed, corruption, immorality, unethical bevavior, and etc; but I'm not going to let them bully me either. To be honest, I have to say I'm more inclined to fear big government because I think I have less control over them. Corporate power seems to fluctuate and I can always stop buying their product if I desire. Even with this inclination, I am determined to fear neither.

Here is why.

Psalms 118:6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?

Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man brings a snare: but whosoever puts his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

That seems to sum it up just fine.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Keys to Victory in Super Bowl of Life

I had fun preaching this a few years ago and thought I would put in on the blog.

Keys to Victory in the Super Bowl of Life

Psalms 98:1

O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvelous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.

Introduction: Many people are predicting that Peyton Manning’s golden arm is going to secure his team a victory in tonight’s Super Bowl. Others are sure that the Bears defense will be the difference they need.

I wanted to give you a very special Super Bowl message this evening. Tonight I’m going to give you 6 keys to victory in the Super Bowl of life. The good news is that there are no commercial interruptions. The bad news is that we will not be serving refreshments during the game. I hope that this message reminds you of the keys to victory in your life. Unlike the game being played in Florida tonight between the Colts and Bears that everyone will forget sooner than those players realize, the game of life you and I are in is for real. The consequences of tonight’s Super Bowl are minimal compared to the consequences of your life.

Having established the importance of the game we are involved in, please consider these keys to victory.

I. You need a consistent running attack.

Galatians 5:7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

A. You have to keep running even when it seems like your not gaining ground.

B. You have to remember the game is not one play.

C. You have to keep the goal line in focus at all times.

Philippians 2:16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

II. You need to have a solid defense.

Ephesians 6:10-11 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

A. Prepare for an aggressive attack against your team.

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

B. Stand firm against the swelling tide of opposition.

Ephesians 6:13-14 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

C. Never give up even when things look bad for the team.

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

III. You need to limit mental mistakes.

1 Peter 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

A. Guard your thoughts during the game.

Mark 14:38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.

B. Concentrate on the goal.

Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

C. Put in the necessary preparation for the game.

IV. You cannot fumble opportunities away.

A. To witness for Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

B. To serve the Lord.

Matthew 10:42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

C. To be a blessing.

Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

V. You must memorize the playbook.

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Psalms 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

A. The plays are perfectly designed.

Psalms 18:30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

B. The plays in it will work.

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

C. The plays must be practiced often.

Repetition is the key to success in executing a spiritual game plan.

Titus 3:14 And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

VI. You have to listen to the coach.

A. He has devised a winning strategy.

1. It only needs to be executed as directed.

Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

B. He is guiding us to victory.

1. He has guaranteed victory for His team.

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

C. He can be trusted without wavering.

1. He will not ask you to do something you are not able to do.

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Conclusion: Now go out there and win!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength

"Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."  Nehemiah 8:10

Five years ago I didn't know anything about politics.  I voted Republican because I am vehemently opposed to abortion.  "The Prophet", a novel by Frank Peretti, woke me up to this issue.  Something happened during the 2008 Republican primaries that caused me to pay attention to politics as I had never done before.  I think it was the combination of buying my first house, our 3 children all getting older, and pastoring a small church that finally forced me into the murky waters.  

Five years ago I couldn't stand watching the news.  I wouldn't read an editorial if you paid me to do it.  I might force myself to listen to Rush Limbaugh occasionally on the radio; but I would get bored quick.  

Five years ago I lived in the most powerful nation on earth.  I had confidence in the president; although I must admit, I wasn't paying all that close attention.  I felt relatively safe for my family.  Financial peace was within the horizon.  

Five years ago there were rumors of a collapse of America's financial and industrial strength, but I refused to live in fear of a day that may or may not come.  I wasn't heavily invested in the stock market and had a secure income, thus my lack of concern.

Today I'm very much into politics and observant.  I watch Fox news. I read editorials every day.  I still don't listen to Rush, because I don't think his show is that interesting.  I prefer the other conservative radio talk shows.  I read my Christian Law Association letters faithfully.  I subscribe to several other Christian legal alerts.  I pay attention to how my congressmen vote and let them know my opinions. 

Today I'm worried about our country's future.  I'm not worried about my future, but I'm worried about my kids.  They deserve the freedom and opportunity I took for granted.  I want them to aspire to be great and have a shot at succeeding.  

Today I am more informed, but with that information comes unwelcome baggage.  Fear, anxiety, righteous anger, disgust, and the occasional fit have replaced my apathy, ignorance, tranquility, and peaceful bliss.  That is an exaggeration, but it really isn't that far from the truth.

Today I need the Joy of the Lord.  Today it is a necessity; whereas, five years ago it was a perk of my faith in Christ.  My bonus has become my bread and butter.  

Tomorrow is for my children and for yours.  I will teach them Nehemiah 8:10.  I will tell them the stories of the Bible.  Stories of God saving the day, rescuing His people, and extending mercy to those who cry out for it.  

I don't know if my children will grow up in the same kind of country that I grew up in, but I do know the Joy of the Lord will be their strength.  All other sources of strength are fleeting, false, and feeble.  

Don't look to Rush, Obama, or Ralph Nader (if you prefer) to bring you Joy.  Look to the Savior of all mankind, the only true source of Joy - indescribable Joy, real Joy, Strong Joy.

"Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."  Nehemiah 8:10