Wednesday, February 6, 2019

What Do I Do?

    The other day, someone simply asked, "What do you do?"  Now, they were not asking my vocation, but as a pastor, they were asking what all do I do.  I tried to answer them the best I could, but the reality is, as my dad always said, "every day is an adventure."
    I thank God for the privilege of being able to serve as a pastor.  It is such an honor that God would allow me to do so.  I've heard the old joke, "must be nice to only work two days a week" more often than you can imagine; and while I know most people are just kidding, I do not think that most people realize what all a pastor truly does do.
    I would start by saying that every pastor, every week, every where, every day does not truly know what he will "do."  That's part of the adventure.  I also know that every pastor should strive to live a disciplined life concerning his time.  I also know that a Biblical pastor should spend his primary time in the Word of God, and be sure that his duties do not cause him to "leave the Word of God to serve tables." (Acts 6:2).  But, serving tables is part of it.
     Every pastor would write a different piece than I am about to write, but for what ever reason, I feel the need to stop and answer my friend and share "what I do."
     Let's start with the first day of the week, Sunday.  Sundays are the best!  This is the Lord's day!  Now for the pastor, it is definitely not a day of rest, but it is never commanded in Scripture to be a day of rest, but it is the Lord's Day.   I woke up Sunday morning at 5:45 a.m.  I got alone with the Lord and read, meditated, and prayed for the day. I then got dressed and ready and left by 8:00 a.m.  I and my daughter picked up a young lady who helps work on our bus, and then we arrived at church.  We then road a bus route and I ran the route, leading in songs, games, and teaching a lesson.  Upon returning at 10:05 (oops we were late), I went to my office, grabbed my Bible, and walked into my Sunday School class.  I teach the young singles class.  I dismissed at 10:45 and headed over to the auditorium.  I met with some visitors, talked to a man struggling with some family issues, and greeted the brethren.  The service started at 11:00 and I had the privilege of preaching on "Keep on Singing."  When the service concluded, I shook everyone's hand as they left.  I was given multiple prayer requests, a few compliments, many greetings, a good joke, and a request for counseling later this week.   When the last person walked past, I ran to my bus, had prayer with the kids and we were off.  We dropped off our kids as we passed out a snack, drink, and usually have some singing and games.  We arrived back at church at 1:45, and I dropped off my things in my office and then we got in the car and headed towards home.  Starving by this time, we stopped into a Gold Star Chili and ate as a family.  We got home around 3:15 p.m..  I finally was able to use the restroom and even had time to play my daughter in Mario Kart (I actually beat her, first time ever).  We soon got back in the car and headed to church as choir practice begins at 4:30.  We arrived and I went to choir.  (I have 4:30 discipleship every other Sunday and the off Sundays I go to choir).  Following practice, I ran to my office and had 15 minutes to look over my sermon and pray and get back to the auditorium.  The Lord blessed with a good service.  Following the service, we spent some time fellowshipping with the church.  As I was making my way later towards the back, a young person caught my eye.  They were hurting.  I went to them and they soon began to pour out their heart.  We went and met and I tried to share what the Lord laid on my heart to help them.  We left church about 9:00 p.m. and headed home.  Upon getting home, we fixed a light dinner and ate it as a family.  It was just that quickly 11:00 p.m. and we headed to bed.  I answered two emails, played a game of Clash Royale, looked over my calendar for tomorrow, returned two texts, and had prayer.  I drifted off somewhere around 11:45.
   It's now Monday morning at 5:30.  A dear missionary I love, who needs prayer as he was hurt on the field, touched base with me through WhatsApp.  The chime of that alert gets me up.  I have a time of fellowship with this brother, and then begin to spend time reading my Bible and in prayer.  At 7:00 a.m. I am getting dressed and ready for the day.  We leave a little before 8:00 a.m. for church.  There my wife and I teach and my daughters attend our school.  I got in and got busy.  I spent the morning writing post cards. Every Monday, I write post cards to all of our college kids that are away, those who are not feeling well, and anyone that has a birthday or anniversary that week, along with a few other random cards as the Lord lays it upon my heart.  I then worked on the slides for the Sunday morning service.  With everything fresh on my mind from the weekend, I type out the slides that will be used for this upcoming week.  Following that, I had to return a car we had rented.  Our vehicle has been broken down and in the shop, so we had to rent a vehicle.  It was due back Monday, so I took it and cleaned it out and gassed it up and returned it to the dealership.  Bro. Sallee picked me up and we stopped on the way back and had lunch (aka a staff meeting about the week ahead of us).  We then stopped by the post office where I mailed the post cards and returned to school in time for me to teach three classes.  At 3:00, I finished my teaching (I teach typing, Literature, and Algebra 2 on Mondays). I then had to contact another two schools about scheduling a tournament basketball game.  I was emailed the seeding and it is my responsibility as serving Athletic Director to schedule these things.  I then went and got the bus ready and the basketballs and equipment together for our game Monday night.  As coach of our basketball team, it is my responsibility to do these things.  I filled the water bottles up with the help of my wife and loaded the bus.  It was then a teacher brought a situation to my attention that needed to be handled immediately.  I called a meeting with some staff members and we dealt with a pertinent matter.  It was then 4:30 and it was time to leave for the game.   I and Bro. Sallee are the only CDL drivers available on weekdays, and I normally drive the bus to games.  So, off we went at 4:30 towards Dayton.  After a little over an hour drive trip, we arrived at our location.  We had a Junior High Game and a Varsity Game that night.  While driving, I received notice from a lady of her husbands funeral arrangements.  We finalized the arrangements when I parked and was able to get a phone call back to her.  I also was still texting and emailing trying to figure out the tournament games and their times.  The games began at 6:00 and ended around 8:45.  We stopped soon at a fast food restaurant and grabbed some food, only to return to church around 10:45.  I parked the bus, dropped off a  few items, and arrived back home at 11:30.  After cleaning up and answering a few texts and emails, I laid down in bed.  My precious wife had stayed up to tell me good night.  I played a game of Clash Royale (you don't understand, it helps me unwind), had a time of prayer, and drifted off around 12:30 a.m.
     Tuesday came too quick!  The alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. and we were up and going immediately.  A young man who recently rededicated his life and has been back active in church was having surgery at Christ hospital in downtown Cincinnati at 7:00.  I got dressed and was out the door soon and arrived at the hospital and spent time with the young man and his family.  Before they took him back, I had prayer with them all and spoke to the doctor who was confident things were going to go well.  I left the family and sat down in a quiet spot, a small lobby, in a nice chair.  I reached out to the same missionary to check on his progress and fellowshipped with him a bit.  I then called my wife to make sure they made it out the door safely that morning, and then decided it was a nice place to spend some time with the Lord.  I read my Bible, prayed, and thought on the day.  I then headed back to church with a quick stop by Sonic for a large drink and a Keto Bowl. Not bad for $4.  Upon returning to school, I had two emails and two phone calls to return (still working on those tournament games a few other things).  I then taught my typing class at 10:00 a.m. and met with the seniors about their senior trip.  I then booked our lodging for the trip and made and paid for reservations.  I had to run to the store to get a baked chicken for lunch (because the dog grabbed our lunch my wife had laid on the countertop that morning-bad DOG), and then returned just in time to feed the family.  After lunch, I prepared some notes for Sunday night and then taught my Algebra 2 class.  One call I had received that morning is that one of my men's elderly mother was rushed to the hospital.  Following my Algebra 2 class, I typed out what the seniors had to bring for tomorrow's hot lunch and then headed to Wilmington, Ohio to the hospital to visit this man and his mom.  I arrived at the hospital at around 3:15 p.m. and spent some time with the family. I got back in the car around 3:45 and got out my Bible.  I had not had time yet to prepare my message for our nursing home service that night.  There in the parking lot of the hospital, God gave me my message from Mark 14 about being broken and giving God the glory.  Upon finishing the message, I began my drive home.  Each night at nursing home, we give out a Grace gift to one of the residents.  I had not gotten that gift yet, so I stopped at the grocery and picked out a gift, along with some windshield wiper fluid (the car I am driving had none), and some broccoli for dinner. I got home and gave my wife the broccoli, and as she prepared it, I went through the mail.  I had gotten home about 5:10, and she had dinner done at 5:30.  We ate as a family, and I was in the car leaving at 5:45 to head to nursing home. My daughters and I stopped and picked up a young lady who helps at nursing home and we arrived at church around 6:10.  We (my daughters, two young men, and about 4 teen girls) loaded the church van and headed to the nursing home.  Our service runs from 6:30-7:30.  We had a very sweet service, and as always, the residents encourage us more than we encourage them. We loaded the van and stopped at a UDF for a treat.  Most of them got ice cream; but I got a coke zero and a few peanuts (4 carbs). We arrived back at church around 8:15, and I was home by 8:45.  I then posted on Facebook about the service on our church page, answered two emails (still working on those tournament games), and then got a glass of water and watched the State of the Union Address (not bad President Trump). I then went straight to bed, had a time of prayer, played a round of Clash Royale, and was sleeping by 11:15 (I was pretty tired).
     Believe it or not, it was Wednesday next (today-the day I am writing) and the alarm went off around 6 a.m.  I spent some time in prayer and Bible study (God always blesses obedience-Joshua) and then got ready for the day.  We were out the door and at church by 8:15 and the day was already moving.  I went in and collected orders for the senior hot lunch today and then headed to the grocery to get the items needed (one student forgot their items, and we needed a few others).  I stopped in the parking lot and checked in with the missionary on his progress and called our church commissioned missionary, Bro. Roberts, and checked on him. I then drove through and got my wife and I a drink and a Keto bowl, and got back to church by 9:30.  I answered two emails and then it was brought to my attention that the pouring rain was flooding the buildings and septic. After developing a plan to build an Ark (or keep the building dry) I headed to the kitchen. The seniors are having a mashed potato sundae bar today (only $3).  We had to prepare 80 servings of mashed potatoes with all the fixings (I made me a mashed cauliflower sundae bar-only 4 carbs).  We then ate lunch and I returned to my office.  There I had to call and pay for a propane delivery at my house and return a form to our government about our income.  I then called my son who is away at college and I then emailed one of our college students who are away at college and tried to encourage them, as I heard they were very discouraged. I then had to teach myself how to do our Algebra and then go teach it to the students. Following class, I spoke on the phone with our church commissioned evangelist, Bro. Ted Alexander about his ministry and then mailed two books to our dentist office.  You see, last week I was there, and one of the hygienist suddenly passed away.  They were all still struggling with her death, and I teach a grief counseling class at times.   I mailed them a letter and two books that will help if they read and trust the Lord it speaks of.  I then typed up this article you are reading while waiting for the 3:00 bell to ring.  (it just did).  Soon, my family and I will head home.  It will be a little slower night-I think.  That visitor Sunday who asked for counseling is coming over tonight at 6:00.  So, we will head home pretty quick and fix dinner and clean up after dinner and pick up the house and then welcome them at 6:00 to our house.  I do not know how long the time needed will be, but I have marked off the night for it.  I also hope to get those tournament games finalized tonight, spend some time around a family altar, beat Grace again at Mario Kart, and start some studies towards tomorrow night's sermon.  
But there you go....there is a few days of what I do (at least what I could remember).  Every day is an adventure!  Tomorrow's adventure will begin soon enough.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The "Tea" on Tea

A few years ago I posted my thoughts on the best iced tea available in our area of Ohio.  That post had more interaction and feedback personally than anything I had every written (which says a lot, which I don't want to think about).

Today, I feel the need to update that post, as teas have unfortunately changed, and the quality is different than what is once was.

Apparently, according to my teen daughter, when someone shares "what's going on concerning a person or topic," it is called getting the "tea".  So, today I will give the Tea on Tea.

What is our tea judged by?  Well, we talked about this in great detail.  First, and most importantly, is the taste.  It must taste good.  It cannot have that "coffee ground" taste to it.  It should be pleasant to the pallet.  Then, we decided that the cup is of great importance.  What your tea is served in is of great importance.  You want a cup that holds enough to satisfy your tea desire, but that also can keep the tea ice cold.  As your ice melts, your tea becomes watered down.  The amount of ice is important too.  There is nothing worse than a tea that is luke warm that should be iced!  We also judge tea by its "smoothness."  Some teas just are "smooth" as it enters the mouth and travels down the throat leaving a pleasantness in your mouth and mind.  My wife, for all you sugar people, judges her tea by how much sugar is added.  There is a right balance that must be achieved.   Their is also the eye test.  A cloudy tea equals a bitter tea. The tea must be brewed-freshly.  A fountain tea was created after the fall of man and is part of the curse of sin. The final criteria is consistency.  By this I mean, when you go to this place and order the tea, can you count on it being good every time?  That said, here is our top 10 teas based upon these credentials.

10. WENDYS:  Cracking the top 10 this year is Wendy's.  Wendy's tea used to be disgusting, but they have come a very long way!  The taste is good, and it is brewed fresh.  The color is pleasant.  The cup is that thin plastic cup, which is less than desirable, allowing the ice to melt way to clip and condensation building up on the outside as well.  The condensation runs down the cup and leaves moisture on your desk or in the cupholder of your car-which usually has a small piece of paper in it, which then gets soggy and is virtually impossible to then get out without making  bigger mess.  Having said all that-well done Wendy's, you are getting better!

9. PANERA BREAD:  Not the most manly place to eat; but when dieting, you sure can get a good amount of food that is tasty and low on calories.  On Stacey's list for sweet tea, not that good.  On my list for unsweetened, pretty good.  You control the ice to tea ratio.  The "smooth" factor is very good!  The cups are too small and flimsy and allow quick melting of ice.  There are options for the tea in flavors without the sugar, so I do appreciate it that as well!  Consistency is there.  Overall, you won't go wrong.  Problem is, I like my tea to be there all day.  A Panera Bread tea will last through lunch.  Thirty minutes later, it is a "Laodicean" mess.

8. WHITE CASTLE:  White Castle was a solid 2 on this list before, but has dropped way down. White Castle used to use the ConTea brand, but has switched brands now.  The result, a much poorer taste.  The consistency is not there anymore. The cups are the plastic cups. The size of the cups is better than most options out there, but it just isn't what it used to be.  Being a huge White Castle guy (not a fat reference), I am disappointed. If White Castle reads this, go back to ConTea! Overall, it is o.k., but not what it once was.

7. SKYLINE:  If you are not from Cincinnati and you do not know what Skyline is, I am seriously sorry.  Now for all you Cincinnatians, Skyline tea is decent. The sweet is VERY sweet if you are into that.  The unsweet is pretty good.  The color is always a little cloudy.  We both feel at times the tea has sat in that large tub a little too long.  They never put enough ice in the tea, and should you get a large, you are dealing with a plastic, condensating, decorated cup.  It's good. It's too expensive for what you are getting.  If you are ever driving down the road and you just want a tea, you can find better places; but don't fear, if eating in, in ordering one of these teas.  They made the top 10, but could do better.


6. SONIC:  Now to some, you may have expected Sonic tea to be higher on the list.  First of all, all the fancy flavors do not interest us as we stick to sweet or unsweet.  On my personal list, it would have been higher, but on Stacey's list it is a lot lower.  So, we give it a 6 rating.  The pros are that the cup is by far the best!  You can get a tea from Sonic and have enough to sip on till you go to bed.  I recommend going early and ordering your .99 cent Route 44.  It's the only way to go!  Then the ice, by far the best of anyone else.  You just can't beat the small crushed Sonic ice.  Where Sonic falls is the taste.  For unsweet drinkers, it is fair.  At times, the unsweet has no taste at all, almost like water.  For sweet drinkers, the tea just isn't that good.  Consistency is poor too.  Sometimes, you get a good one, other times you are sure that tea has sat there in a pot for a couple of days.  Always a danger for the coffee ground taste at Sonic.  Not real smooth ever. So, the cup and ice are off the chart good.  The tea is fair.  In the morning, it is my tea of choice; for my wife, she'd pass every time.


5. McDONALDS:  Yes, we are loving it, just not as much!  McDonalds tea came a long way from what it once was.  Quite frankly, we believe McDonalds is the first fast food chain to start the quality iced tea movement (if there is such a thing).  You just never saw a fast food chain push their iced tea until McDonalds.  In 2008, McDonalds rolled out their Sweet Tea and it all took off.  Why a number 5 rating?  Well, the cups have changed. No more styrofoam cups.  Truly a disaster. They say it is for the planets health.  Seriously, since when is McDonald's concerned about anyone or anything's health?  That is not why we come there you crazy clown!  Consistency is not what it once was.  It is nice to know that pretty much anywhere in the country you go you can count of a pretty good iced tea from McDonalds.  Occasionally you will get that coffee ground flavor in a McD's tea, but over all its trustworthy.  The sweet tea is above average.  The sugar ratio is good for most sweet tea drinkers (if you like Kool-aid.  There is a pretty good smoothness to their tea.  The color not so good. It probably is the tea we drink the most, mainly because of convenience and price.

4. STARBUCKS:  Cracking the top 10 this year and pretty high.  I find myself coming here more often for the tea these days.  First, please don't give me all the "you are a Christian, you shouldn't support Starbucks."  If you only want to support company's that agree with our stands, well, prepare to produce everything at home.  I go on....here is why they climbed the chart so quick: Taste!  Absolutely one of the best teas you will drink. They use the Tazo tea brand, which is above average good. When I order, I get a Trenta Black Unsweetened Iced Tea.  I don't do all those flavors and add-ins.  I keep it simple.  The ice to tea ratio is pretty good.  The cups are those clear plastic, but acceptable.  The main draw back is the price.  Like everything at Starbucks, it cost too many bucks. Truly, it is a very good tea. I highly recommend it and your driving through to get one.

3. CHICK-FIL-A:  Moving up one spot this year in the top 10!  No, the "Christian" friendliness has nothing to do with this selection.  We only are judging by the tea.  The tea is very good here.  It has a good taste.  The tea always has a smoothness about it.  The tea is is very consistent.  We have never gone to Chick-fil-a and received a bad tasting tea.  The cups are insulated and large enough.  Stacey agrees that the sweet tea is consistently good as well.  The problem here (and it is a big one) is that Chick-Fil-A puts WAY TOO MUCH ICE in their cups.  You can order a large tea (and the cup is plenty big) and drink it all in about four drinks.  Now when dining in, those super nice employees are ready "to serve you" and refill those teas; but drive thru and carry out just doesn't work in the tea area.  Great tea! Great consistency! Good smoothness! Great cups!  Just back off the ice! This review was MY PLEASURE.

2. MIAMI MARKET: Miami Market is a carry out located on St. Rt. 131 in Day Heights near Milford.  If you  have not discovered this hidden gym of tastefulness, you need to do so today.  The food and sandwiches are the biggest and the tastiest around.  Their hot plates are delicious and plentiful.  Their brownies are to die for....but back to the topic at hand.  Behind the cooler near the deli, hidden almost, is freshly brewed iced tea, both sweet and unsweet.  The tea (just as the food) is wonderful!  The color is perfect.  The cups are styrofoam and large, keeping your drink cold and plenteous all day.  I have never gotten a bad tea from Miami Market.  Truly, you must stop there...frequently.  The staff is awesome and I promise it will be the largest bologna sandwich you have ever eaten, if you are into those like me!  Anyways, cracking the top 10 and landing at number 2 is Miami Market!

Are you ready for it?

The Number 1 Tea of choice on our list?

We should first state that also receiving consideration were the following:  Zaxbys, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, and more.  Did you know that last year America spent over 8 billion dollars in Iced Tea at Fast Food chains?  This is serious!!!

OK...her it is...the number ONE choice of Travis and Stacey when it comes to Iced Teas is...

1. McALISTER'S DELI:  Still number 1!!  What makes this tea stand out?  Well first and foremost,
the taste is just out of this world.  There is a crisp taste to this tea.  It has tea
flavor that is perfection.  It is by far, the best tasting tea, both sweet and unsweet, that is out there.  This is a fine, high quality iced tea.  When it comes to smoothness, no other tea can compare.  It is the standard of taste and smoothness for all other teas.  Consistency is absolute perfection.  To have such a great tasting tea, that is perfectly smooth, and it be that way every time you purchase one is quite impressive.  The tea to ice ration is always perfect.  You can order this tea and eat lunch and sit and talk for 30 minutes and you will still be able to sip that extraordinary tea.  The cups are the perfect size for tea drinkers.  The only not perfect score this tea gets is the cup.  While the size is perfect, the plastic will allow ice meltage on a hot summer day.  But, in our minds, its way worth the cup to drink that delicious tea!    By far, the best!

Well, there you go.  I know everyone was wondering and now you know what teas Stacey and I drink.  So now when you are out there driving around and get that hunkering for a good iced Tea, you finally got something to go by.  I love my wife, and I am glad she loves iced tea too.  Enjoy my friends!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Created For His Pleasure

Revelation 4:11 reads, "Thou are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."
This passage of Scripture clearly teaches that all things were created by God. Further, all things were created for God's pleasure.  The word pleasure there is the Greek word thelema,  meaning "what one wishes or determines to be done."

Part of the "all things created" is us.  You and I were created for His pleasure.  At first, our minds go to some king or dictator seeing us as some jester or slave, but that is not reality.  God does not treat us that way; yet, we were created for His pleasure.

There are many things created for our pleasure.  A White Castle cheeseburger can be created for my pleasure.  When it is, it is totally in my hands, soon in my mouth, and I am greatly pleased.  The cheeseburger has no say in what happens, for it was created for my pleasure.

A teenager will turn on his playstation, which has been created for his pleasure.  The playstation will play and do whatever the young man tells it to; for it was designed for his pleasure.

We were designed for God's pleasure; yet, He doesn't make me do anything.  God doesn't make me wear certain clothes or listen to certain music.  God doesn't make me go to church or force me to tithe.  He has the power to do so and the right to do so; yet, He doesn't make me.  Too many Christians do these things, along with many more, trying to earn God's pleasure.  If those things were the zenith of His pleasure, He would force us to do them.  But, they are not.

So what is His pleasure?  We were created for His pleasure, that is our purpose in life!  If you are reading this and you have said (or are saying), "I have no purpose," or "What is my purpose?", I am about to share it.

You were created for His pleasure!  So....what is His pleasure?  He doesn't make you do a thing.   God's pleasure is to have a relationship with us, and us allowing Him to be our pleasure!  Let me explain.  God gets pleasure in being our God!  He desires to have a relationship with us (through salvation) and then to be the God we need Him to be.

Stop and think Who God is to you.  Seriously, think of a one word answer to "Who is God to you?"



Got it?




Keep Scrolling....



Think on it.




Stop!  Before you go on.  I want to answer it for you.  If you are saved and have answered this question, here is your answer:  He is what you needed Him to be.   For the person having grown up in a broken home, He is your Father.  For the person who faced the hardest of times, He is your Strength.  For the person who needed deliverance, He is your Salvation.  For the person who was weak and almost done, He is your strength.  For the pastor, He is your Life.  For the addict, He is your Deliverer.  I could go on, but you see, we were created for His pleasure; and His pleasure is to be our God...just the God we need.  What a God!!!

How does this make me respond?  I love Him, because He first loved me.  I want to serve Him, because He gave all for me.  I want to be holy, because He is holy.  I choose to dress the way I do and listen to what I listen to, because...How could I not?  I just want to please Him....and I and God get to share in His pleasure!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Not The Place

With today's social media, we all have so many outlets to share our opinions...too many outlets. My grandpa always said, "Opinions are like armpits, everyone has them and most of them stink."  While we all have opinions, many that would read this and follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram also have preferences and we all have convictions!  Daily, I find great joy in reading through my friends posts.  I love being challenged by the math questions, finding the hidden objects, laughing at someone falling in a video, and then nearly every time you find it!  What is it that seemingly shows up daily on my "friends" pages?  A controversial statement.  As soon as I read it, my emotions start kicking in, my thoughts start racing, my "wisdom" starts to pour forth, and before you know it, I am typing and correcting the world....well, I used to.   You see, I stopped.

Now, before you start calling me a coward and a compromiser and tearing down statues of me, let me explain.   I will start with a story.  Once upon a time, quite a few years ago now, I was commenting on every one's blogs trying to make my point, I was writing weekly my own blog begging people to comment and challenge me, and I was ready with my 120 words a minute typing skills to correct my brothers and sisters who needed correcting.  There are many illustrations I could point to, but the bottom line is, I was wrong. I was not wrong in my stand, I was not usually wrong in my thinking, and I was about 50/50 on the deep stuff, but I was wrong in trying to correct everyone through social media.

On my Facebook page, I try to pretty much share a good quote every so often, pictures for my family, and brag on my God and the church He allows me to serve in.  Every once in a while, I will share my opinion on something, but you will notice something below those opinions...NO COMMENTS.  There were comments made, but I hide them, because social media is not the place for spiritual debates.

For one, the Lord gave us some simple instructions in Matthew 7:6:
"Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again to rend you."
My, how this Scripture is applicable!  In case you don't know, Facebook, Twitter, and whatever ".com" you go to, is not Christian.  You may have Christian "Friends", but it's not a Christian setting. When we take matters of spiritual debate to social media to exchange Sword blows, it is ALWAYS rooted in pride.

What ends up happening is described in the above verse.  We take what is precious and let "swine" handle it.  How often are debates "hi-jacked" by some reformed, Calvinist, compromising, antagonist, agnostic, liberal, or worse-a know it all Baptist who then twists, distorts, misinterprets, and abuses Scriptures to make their point?

Who wins these debates?  How often do you ever read the final comment as "well brethren, I am so glad we all could humbly discuss this and all come to the same Scriptural conclusion"?  Normally, we end up with "I'm blocking you," "brother, I appreciate you, but can't agree on this," or the best lets still be friends comment, "I suppose we will agree to disagree."  No one ever wins on social media, except the swine.  There are those who mock the Lord, Christianity, and His Word who watch all of this and laugh.  While a world is supposed to view a John 13:35:
"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
Instead, they see the arguing, tempers, and emotions being shared and are not being drawn to Christ, for sure.  That which is  precious is then trampled under feet with all the "traffic" and the end result is those "turn again to rend you."

Now, don't get me wrong, use every outlet you have to share the Truth.  Matter of fact, share your convictions, your preferences, and even your opinions; just reconsider allowing or participating in a debate on social media.  Remember, it's your page, your tweet, your space (lol) and you can share what you want; just keep in mind others.

I know the Scriptures teach rebuking, correcting, and teaching; but it also is pretty clear when and how to do this. Paul had an issue with Peter and he withstood him to the face. (Gal. 2:11).  In other passages, the rebuking is done either by "going to the brother" or handling it in a church setting.  Going on social media is not "going to a brother."

Here is a novel idea, talk to people.  Go and see them as Paul did and how the Bible instructs. You can visit, call, FaceTime, Skype, email, text, private message (need I go on?), but stop and think before you cast pearls before swine.

Face to face or voice to voice is preferable and most Scriptural.  Why? Because writing keeps a wall up.  When you write (type), you are most often more comfortable in sharing things you would not at first say.  Most of us wrote, "I love you" before we said it to our honey.  We will type things at first, we normally would not say face to face.  Then, emotions get involved. When participating in an online social media debate, you have time to read, get mad, develop your point, and then scathe the other.  Words are much more harsh when hiding behind a keyboard.

I know some are probably still fuming and ready to correct me, but stop and think first.  God gave us a gift to handle spiritual matters and debates, it is called a local church. The church is still the "pillar and ground of Truth." (1 Tim. 3:15)-not social media.  If you have questions, concerns, and disagreements, handle them within your local church.

I know, I know, "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear." (1 Tim. 5:20).  But those instructions are for a local assembly dealing with corrupt elders.  I hate to bust the bubble of all our "spiritual watchdogs" out there that are caring for all us and warning all of us about all the heathen and heretics and compromisers out there, but...that's why God gave us a local church.  I have no problem warning the flock that God has placed me as the under shepherd of whoever and whatever is wrong out there, but it really isn't my business what other church's are doing.  I think we can trust God to handle His churches.

One last thing to consider is the spiritually weak.  The Bible warns about offending the little ones.  Children, definitely, but also the young in the faith.  As a pastor, I have other pastors and spiritually mature people who are my "friends" on social media; but I also have new converts and lost people who are becoming wise unto salvation.  We have to be careful about hindering the work of God with our words and debates on social media outlets.  They are watching.  Paul gives us a thought on this in 1 Cor. 8:9:
"But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak."

So there you go, something to think on. I will post this, I will share this, but I will not debate this on social media.  Feel free to contact me personally if you like.  May others see Christ in us, the love of God, and read and hear only Truth spoken in that love.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Snow

Today here at home, we are enjoying a beautiful snow. It really is our first good snow of the year. As I drove in this morning and looked at the snow, I thought of some Scriptures about snow. Snow gives us some beautiful pictures in the Word of God:
1. Forgiveness of Christ: Psalm 51:7 describes the forgiveness of God as making us “Whiter” than snow. There isn’t much more “white” than a field of untouched snow, but our forgiveness in Christ makes us “Whiter” than snow. If you look close enough in any snow, you will find contaminants, but in the forgiveness of Christ, ALL is forgiven. Is. 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall e as white as snow...”
2. Refreshing of the Word: Proverbs 25:13 states, “As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.” In the harvest time men are working hard and pouring themselves out to reap all they can. It is hard work. In those days, there was no ice machines, but rarely and at great expense, one could be sent to the top of a nearby mountain and obtain snow and then hurry back to the men working. By then there was offered to the laborers an ice cold drink of pure water. That snow represented the refreshing power of the faithful messenger. A faithful messenger these days is rare, but for those laboring in the field, nothing refreshes the soul like the Word of God.
3. Folly of a Fool: Proverbs 26:1 reads, “As snow in summer....so honour is not seemly for a fool.” The thought of seeing what I am seeing in my front yard in July is ludicrous. So, the Bible teaches, is honor for the fool. It is time we quit trying to give honor to those who live ungodly lives. It is the fool that says in their heart there is no God, and may we add to that, it is a greater fool who says there is a God, but they will not serve Him.
4. Face of God: Rev. 1:14 gives us an eye witness of our God: “His head and his hairs were white look wool, as white as snow...” What a day, when we get to behold with our eyes the pure, righteous, holy face of our God!
Thank the Lord for snow.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Why Our Girls Do Not Play Basketball

The picture to the right is that of our church's academy's girls volleyball team.  This was them displaying their trophy after volleyball tournaments.  We are very thankful for our young ladies. After volleyball season begins basketball season.  I schedule our academy's games, and each year I am asked if we have a girl's basketball team.  Each year I answer "no."  They usually ask why, and I usually answer with a vague response like "it's just not something we do."  It's an acceptable answer, but I know I didn't answer anyone's question.  I've never really given an answer.  I know there are parents who wonder the same thing.  To be honest, we would probably be pretty good after some practices, but still...no thank you.
The reason we do not have a girl's basketball team are quite simple. Now, let me make clear, I am NOT saying that others are wrong and in sin if they have a girls team.  I am NOT saying that girls should not play basketball.  What I am saying is that I chose for our girls not to based upon the following reasons.
 First, and foremost, the Lord just doesn't give me liberty to do so.  I have prayed about it, and if I were to have one at this time, I would be going against what I know God has told me not to do.  As a pastor, I try to be sensitive to the Lord's leading.  Second, I don't care for what most often is produced.  To be a "good" basketball team, your team must hustle, run, be aggressive, fight for the ball, box out, be strong, and dive for the loose ball.  Growing up, most schools I went to had a girl's basketball team.  When we first started CBA, we had a girl's basketball team.  The "good" basketball players carried these characteristics with them off the court.  Most of them were "jocks" with aggressive spirits.  When I read the Bible about young ladies and Biblical ladies, the ideas of diving on floors in front of men, fighting, boxing out, and being physically dominant is just not found.  The reality is, most who were "good" girl basketball players did not end up being sweet, modest ladies.

Third, and sorry for the awkwardness, it just many times is not modest for ladies to run up and down the court and occasionally diving to the ground for a loose ball.  Most time the shorts and culottes ride high above the knee when running down the court.  My understanding and conviction is that above the knee is nakedness as defined in Scripture (Ex. 28:42; Is. 47:2-3; 1 Tim. 2:9).  For this same reason, our boy's basketball team wears long pants.  Also, a modesty issue is the cut off sleeves along with the running up and down a court for a lady as designed by God.   You may think I am being too strict, foolish, or a sexist, but just watch most men's eyes when a lady is jogging by.

Titus 2 gives us our Biblical goals for our young ladies.  The Scriptures demand they be taught to be sober, love their husbands, be discreet, be chaste, a keeper of the home, good, and obedient to their own husband (submissive).  Playing on a basketball team helps in none of these areas in my opinion.  Rather, it teaches them to be emotional (just watch a game and hear the screams and watch the tears), strong willed, in your face, hustle at all cost, be at practices away from home, be dominant, and modesty not prioritized.  This just isn't what I desire for our young ladies.

Again, any one else can do what ever they feel the Lord will have them do.  It is none of my business and I do not write this to correct anyone, but to explain why we do not participate.  Do as the Lord leads you; just make sure you have asked the Lord what He thinks about it.

Monday, January 11, 2016

An Open Letter to the Struggling

My name doesn't matter, but I represent those who go to church every week, get out of the car with our smiling family, sing the songs with a smile on our faces, and "amen" when the preacher is preaching.  I represent those who go back to church on Sunday night and the mid-week service and spend an hour or two on visitation every week.  I represent those who dress with standards, and call other Christians brother and sister each time I meet them.  I represent-the Church people.

First, trust me, we all have our problems.  Even though the above paragraph truly does represent me and my family most every weekend, we have our own struggles.  We all have our past, we all have our besetting sins we must guard against and often repent of, we all have days of tears.  Yet, there we are each week enjoying the presence of God in the presence of our brothers and sisters.

The reason I write this is because we get a bad rap most often.  A quick "google" and you can find plenty of open letters to us church people from those who have struggles reminding us that we are not perfect and how we don't understand and how we need to quit judging and how we are pushing you away.  Well, as a representative of many of these "church people," let me just answer that we know we are not perfect.  Probably, we know that more than you understand.  We are so far from perfect.  Matter of the fact, we make ourselves sick when we look at ourselves, and that's why we are so happy!  You see, I know how bad I am, but despite me and my flesh, the Lord has saved me and forgiven me!  Because of His great mercy, I get to go to Heaven!  What a miracle!  How can I not be happy?  I have given all my sin and guilt and unrighteousness to God, and in exchange He gave to me His Son's righteousness!  All this, by repenting of my sin and trusting in Jesus Christ as my Saviour!  Even after that experience, I have failed so many times.  Yet, time and time again, I confess my sin and turn from it and He is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse EVERY TIME!  No wonder I smile a lot.  I know we are not perfect.

The accusation that we don't understand just isn't applicable either.  I do understand.  I am a sinner.  I have sinned and done things I so bad regret.  Our sins may be different, but we are both sinners the same.  Even if there are some sins I may have never participated in that possibly you find yourself entangled in, doesn't mean I don't understand.   All sin is addictive.  All sin is powerful.  All sin can take over your life.  I do understand what it is like to be under the power of sin.

Then there is the whole judging thing.  I speak for the great majority here, "no one is judging you."  How could someone who knows how wicked they are and how powerful sin is think they are better than someone else struggling with the same thing they struggle with?  No, we are not judgmental and no, we do not think we are better.  Matter of fact, we care even more.  We understand and we reach out our hand to help you with the Truth.  That hand out reached is not a hand pushing you away, but a hand to offer you help.  A hand to help you get up.  A hand to help you overcome.  A hand to help stabilize you.  The devil tries to get you to duck when we reach out that hand, but he is lying to you.  That hand is one that is just there to offer help.  The reason we do that is because someone reached out a hand just like that to us in our life.  Each of us have needed that hand, and we still do.  That's why we spend so much time together with our brothers and sisters.  We need each other!

The problem is many times, that the person struggling doesn't want help.  Now that statement may upset you and you may think "here he goes again being judgmental," but please let me try to explain.  We all are often like little children in the sight of God.  We all fall at times.  Then, just like I have done both physically as a child and spiritually too often, we lie there and cry because we have fallen.  What we want is for someone to lie there next to us and cry with us.  We want people to wallow in our sorrow with us and feel like no one understands what it is like to have fallen.  Reality is, we all have fallen.  Some have harder falls than others, but we all have fallen.  What did we need when we fell?  We didn't need our parent to lie on the ground and cry with us, we needed a strong and loving hand to lift us up and help us get on our feet again.  We needed a stabilizing hand to just "be there" in case we began to fall again.  It wasn't long, until that fall was behind us and we weren't even thinking about it anymore...because we let someone help us get up.

How does this work?  That "rhetoric" you hear from us ("let the Lord help you," "you must repent and turn from your sin" "you must take hold of God's hand" "you need to come to church and be faithful to services" "quit going to those places that offer temptation") is not judging, it's experience.  Those are words that we were told that helped us get up and get on our feet.  You see, we don't  think less of you because of sin, because we are right there with you as sinners.  We just have experienced the forgiveness and restoration of God and the necessity of fellowshipping with our church for strength and stabilizing.

The good news is that there is hope!  The Lord will help!
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Isaiah 41:10, 13
 It's not just words, the Lord truly will help and strengthen you.  His hand is mighty.  Victory comes when you are willing to get the sin out and the Lord help you up.  And I promise, we will be there offering our hand too, for that's all we know to do, because that is what the Lord and others did for us.  We love you!