Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ya Gotta Meet My Dad!

Like you feel about your parents... I really love both of mine too.. and they are still together after fifty years! Today that seems so rare. They travel well together and are leaving on another month-long vacation tomorrow. What a blessing they've both been, but have I ever told you about, Kim, yet? He's my incredible father and a best friend of mine in Christ. As a teenager when I knew everything there was for humans to know, I never could have imagined being close friends with my dad. But Kim is a good example, a leader, very to the point (he never minces words) and tough in a good way, but he feels for and also helps the hurting. I've learned tons from him. He's the real deal; a much better Christian than I am, that's for sure! He has always been an honest, hardworking professional who has provided well for his family for many years. We're so thankful for him and for all that God is doing in his life.

Indulge me for a few seconds to brag just a little more... Jesus lives in my dad. Many people respect him and for years they've have gone to him for counsel due to his consistent integrity, keen business acumen, sharp mind and deep convictions that he is willing to die by. He is not self centered or a pleasure seeker. He used to be feared as he punched-out many troublemakers a long the way (he'd carry boxing gloves in his car just for such moments where "something needed to be proved and some fool needed to get a clue on how to be a man"), but today he biblically dukes-it-out in the good fight of faith.

Zero pathetic wimp, perverseness, or girley-boy in him... God has given him a lot of wisdom for dealing with boys and young men, and a lot of it came from from his dad (Bill) who started a great camp business many years ago (Tom Sawyer Camps). My dad was the director for years.

Now it became the task of my wild brothers and I (me being the worst of the lot of wayward rascals) to thoroughly prove this wisdom by testing my dad in every area possible and we started early in the '70s as we began to drink hard, listen to hard rock, and grow out our hair down our backs. We made life hard for him. Hey, not a fun job, but we felt that someone had to do it.

Kim is very evangelistic today. He humbly and clearly shares his faith with all who will listen to him and as a result, several have come to faith in Jesus due to his bold obedience. And he hates sin more than ever... and every evil way (even the wrong in faulty politics), therefore he serves at his church diligently in San Clemente, California ...that majors on getting the truth out in love. My dad does whatever the Lord and his pastors need done.

Well, he has been asked to speak at men's meetings on different occasions and God has really used him—even recently. In a nutshell, this is his story ..in his own words. If you have a few moments, take heed to the Word. It's interesting and very inspiring.

The Early Years "Decent Folks – High Standards"

I was born into a hard-working, middle-class, loving, but unstable family – unstable because of mental illness (with my mom, due to a family tragedy car that she suffered in when I was a small child). Although my parents were not Christians during my growing up years, my parents had very high moral standards and lived them out. They were well known and respected in the community. My dad was an educator, small businessman and rugged outdoorsman. My mother was a stay at home wife and mother. Dad owned and operated a private youth camp, so the out of doors and sports were a part of my life from the very beginning. I somehow got the message very early that some of the traits I should possess were physical, mental and emotional strength, rugged individuality, industriousness, honesty, competence, achievement, and leadership. Tough assignment to live up to, right? I was taught that not only should I complete all tasks undertaken, I should do them well. Dad often said: "If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well." I was also taught that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. I believe that a good foundation was laid for my later belief in "works salvation and sanctification." Of course I found out later that no amount of good works on my part would gain me a "ticket to heaven". No one can earn their salvation, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). Through the ministry of Katherine Kuhlman, Dad became a Christian near the end of his life as a result of a series of strokes, so I look forward to seeing him in heaven.

No Christianity Growing Up

Church and/or religion were not part of our lives when I was growing up. I remember one occasion, as a very young child, visiting a Unity Church. Also, my mother read some literature on an ongoing basis by Ernest Holmes, who I believe was the founder of the Church of Religious Science and to my knowledge never mentions Jesus Christ. Dad believed in some "great spirit of goodness and the great out of doors." I don't remember ever attending a Christian church as a child. In fact in the schools I attended, I can remember Christianity being ridiculed from time to time.

Drinking was Evil

My dad never used alcohol or tobacco and on many occasions made sure that we all knew how evil those things were. I can remember one time when he bought a bottle of whisky in order to mix it with some other ingredient for the purpose of stripping the finish from some furniture. It worked and he made sure that my sisters and I witnessed how powerful the whiskey was. He asked us how we thought our insides would feel if we drank some of that stuff. That left a great impression on me, but apparently not a good enough impression, as you will hear.

Mother's Illness and Instability in our Home

My mother didn't smoke but would have a small glass of wine on rare occasions; she was a very loving and doting mother to my two sisters and me. She started showing signs of mental illness not long after a serious auto accident involving our whole family. She seemed to get worse as time moved on, and eventually lost complete touch with reality. Despite her illness, she was remained a loving, and giving person; she passed away a few years after Dad. God is perfectly loving and just. I trust Him and entrust my mother to His hands

Sports, Outdoor Pursuits and School

Despite, or perhaps because of, the instability in our home, I spent much time when I was growing up in sports and outdoor pursuits. I was very shy but I excelled in studies, was elected to various student offices and was a better than average athlete so I had some recognition and validation at school. Since "toughness" and excellence in athletics were high on my list, I worked very hard at being the best. I was good but not as good as I wanted to be; it always seemed that there was some guy who was better, and that was frustrating to me. I was an "over-achiever", as opposed to being an "under-achiever". The best way I can explain that is, in my mind somehow I had to achieve more than you to be equal to you. Among other things, this lead to being a good student in school, and eventually graduating from the University with honors.

Start of Drinking

I took up drinking in my junior year in high school, despite my early education about its evils. It seemed that I was pre-disposed to alcoholism; I was an alcoholic just waiting to take that first drink. Much later, In a 12 step program I have been labeled a "silk sheet" or "high bottom" drunk, because I didn't spend a lot of time in jail; I didn't go through several marriages, I didn't live on the streets, or even receive a DUI arrest, (although I deserved all of the above). My "skid row" was between my ears. It was in my head, but I believe that my "bottom" was every bit as painful to me as that of anyone who reaches a "deeper bottom."

More Drinking and Crazy Behavior

Since my father was so "dead set" against alcohol and it became so important to me, I had to do a lot of sneaking around to drink. My drinking increased in college; I did some wild and foolhardy things when drunk. On a dare, 4 of us climbed the Pasadena City Hall at about 2:00 o'clock one morning. We were caught and spent the rest of the night in jail. That made the front page of the L.A. Times. They played it up as a daredevil prank. I once picked a fight with a former welterweight champion who was pointed out to me at a bar. He was kind and didn't take me up on the challenge; thank God! These were just a couple of the incidents that demonstrated my rebelliousness, which was released under the influence of alcohol. In college I became quite active in campus politics and held a couple of offices, at the same time I became known as a partier.

Betty Came Into My Life

I met my wife to be, Betty, on the beach at Little Corona, and later at a fraternity party. We both had different dates that night, but ended up sending our dates home with other people and she and I ended up together. Betty was, and still is, a devout Catholic. Our relationship was "lust at first sight". We were married during my junior year in college and started having kids right away. I worked part time and with Dad's help finished college; I was 22 years old and by this time and we had 2 kids; we ultimately raised four.

Graduated and Started First Career

Upon graduation, I went to work full time in my father's youth camp business and coached athletics in the local community. As a coach, because of my ego and the fact that I was, and still am, a perfectionist, I insisted upon having winning football teams and went to great lengths to make sure that happened. I coached at a small Catholic boys High School, which had about 600 boys, and no girls. About 300 of those boys came out for football for one of the 3 teams. I was the head sophomore coach and assistant on the varsity. The varsity won 2-A CIF several years and was bumped up a division. We won CIF there too and were bumped up again to the highest division.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I was careful not to do my drinking in town because I didn't want to run into anyone who knew me in my "educator" capacity. What a hypocrite; I lived a Dr. Jekyll – Mr. Hyde existence, on one hand, playing the role of a youth leader-educator, with high ideals, and on the other, living my "secret" life of drinking and partying. My life was a paradox, for example, in the year that I got sober, but while still drinking, I was nominated as the outstanding young man of the year in the city where we lived and worked; little did they know. Knowing what I know now, it was the Lord Who sustained and protected us, and my faithful wife who stood by me at least to that point.

Became a Catholic – Had Problems taking Communion

I became a Catholic convert in 1967, with the attitude, if I couldn't "whip em", I might as well "join em"; obviously the wrong reason, and I certainly was not "born of the Spirit" which Jesus said was necessary to see heaven. I had problems with taking communion on Sundays because I had almost always committed the "mortal sin" of over-indulging in alcohol the night before. I would go to confession on Saturday afternoon, and then before Sunday communion, had blown it by getting drunk. I thought that if I was going to go to heaven, I was going to have to die in a rather small window of time, after communion on Saturday afternoon, (when I was supposedly free of mortal sin), and before I started drinking on Saturday night, when I put myself back into that state of "mortal sin". On Sunday morning, because of that "state", I couldn't take communion again.

Betty Left – Reached "Bottom"

As I mentioned, Betty and I raised 4 children. We were both extremely busy. Thank the Lord for the energy He gave both of us. The drinking was getting more frequent and one night, after an argument, and after I passed out, Betty packed up the 4 kids and left. Although she left a note stating that it was over, she didn't tell me where they had gone. I was devastated and truly believed that I had blown it and had lost my family for good.

I had one more "swan song" drunk a couple of nights after she left, and the next day "turned myself into" a well known 12 step program. In my eyes, my life was over; I was at my bottom, completely surrendered and was willing to listen and take the loving yet tough directions of my sponsor. I took my last drink sometime during the night of November 21, 1970. I have never sworn off forever even till this day, but have never had another drink or "mind bending" chemical since that time. I was delivered from that terrible bondage by a loving, powerful God more than 37 years ago.

There was no doubt in my mind that there was a loving and merciful God. I started to succeed at that point for the right reasons, rather than to try to satisfy my ego. I continued coaching football and although my underlying goals had changed, we won for the "right" reasons.

Moved to Orange County – No Job

In 1973, we "pulled up stakes" in La Canada and moved to Orange County; we had always wanted to live at the beach. I had a couple of career opportunities here which didn't materialize but we already had moved. Now I didn't have a job. I diligently pounded the pavement, sent resumes, followed up on ads and did everything I could think of to get a job and income to support my family; no success. Our financial resources were down to about 2 weeks of groceries left for our family of 6. I applied for a graveyard shift assembly line job, which I figured would supply the family food and leave me free during the daytime to continue seeking a position which would pay the other bills. I was turned down for that job for being "over-qualified." I was at another emotional "bottom" and literally went into our bedroom and went face down on the floor. I had a serious conversation with God. I talked to Him about His promise to provide. It suddenly dawned on me that although I hadn't used it, I had a real estate license and perhaps that was what I was supposed to do on a full time basis. I really didn't have any other choices at that point. From that time forward, the Lord took care of our family financially; He did the planning and I did the footwork and His results were beyond my expectations.

I Became a Real Christian

In 1980, I prayed to have an even better relationship with the God. He introduced me to His Son. Shortly after that I recognized that Jesus Christ is God, confessed that I am a sinner, in need of a savior. I realized that Jesus paid the price in full for all of my sins, past, present and future and I turned my life over to Him. I was a "born again" Christian. The Father drew me to the Son, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44). What a relief it was to find out that no amount of "good works" could get me to heaven, Jesus already paid with His blood for my entry.

Was Baptized in the Holy Spirit

Not long after I was saved, I met a man named Wally Jennings at a Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship meeting at a restaurant in Laguna Hills. The luncheon was lead by George White and Wally and later moved to the "Big Yellow House" in Mission Viejo. I wanted all that the Lord had for me and Wally laid hands on me and prayed for me to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was at that time that the power came into my Christian life. I had an extreme thirst for the things of God and His word. I still have a burden for souls and share the "good news" every time I get a chance, and sometimes even when I'm not given a chance. Both George and Wally are now with their beloved Lord in heaven; thank the Lord for those faithful men.

Celebrating Recovery!

In about 1991 my first sponsor, in the 12 step program called from La Canada to tell me that a newcomer was now living in Orange County, and he suggested looking him up. I contacted the newcomer and we met, had lunch together and attended at least one secular 12 step meeting together. This newcomer mentioned to me at one of the lunches we had together, that he loved the SECULAR 12 STEP PROGRAM but as a Christian, he wished he could share more openly about his "higher power", Jesus Christ. He mentioned that he had thought about starting a recovery group which did acknowledge Jesus Christ as God. I mentioned to him that as far as alcoholic recovery, in my view, the secular program had done a great job over the years of getting people sober enough to pay attention. Then they could get saved by the true Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We did pray together about his vision. That "newcomer" went on to be the founder/leader of CELEBRATE RECOVERY, a Christian 12 Step Program. The rest is history: God took this man and his vision for Celebrate Recovery and spread it world wide. It is now in more than 10,000 churches and prisons throughout the world. All glory to Him – God, that is! I now serve in that ministry on a volunteer basis.

Kathy's Murder

All these years God had been faithful and extremely good to us, demonstrating that He is the provider and protector. However, in 1993, I received a phone call at my office from the police in Corpus Christi, Texas, that my daughter, Kathy, had been murdered. She was 29 years old and lived there with her two boys, ages 1 and 3. She apparently had decided to get back with her estranged husband. Her boss/boyfriend, who had "taken a fancy" to her, apparently entered her apartment in the middle of the night and stabbed her multiple times. Her 3 year old found her body in the morning. Her murderer still roams the streets because they couldn't come up with enough evidence to convict him, although they were convinced that it was this boss/boyfriend. A "cold case specialist" from the Texas Rangers recently re-opened the case. For the sake of the people of Corpus Christi, not for mine, I hope they get the murderer off the streets. I came to understand that vengeance is the Lord's, not mine, as it says in Romans 12:19… "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord."

The "Fruit" from Kathy's Death

Without the Lord, neither Betty nor I could have gone through that trauma. I learned that Romans 8:28 is true even in a circumstance like that, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Kathy, our daughter, had accepted the Lord in a phone conversation with her mother 6 days prior to her death. Her friends in Corpus Christi mentioned that she had made some big changes in her life in those last 6 days, one of which was going back to church. Her death has resulted in the salvation of an untold number of people who knew her and/or attended her funeral, including her oldest brother who turned from his lifestyle of drug abuse and dealing, to the Lord. He is now an "on-fire" Christian. Another of Kathy's brothers was a pastor and spoke at her funeral. He had an alter call at the funeral and several people over the years have mentioned to me that, that was the day that they turned their life over to the Lord.

Favorite Scripture Verse

My favorite scripture is found in 2 Corinthians 12: 9 which says, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." Many times in my 30 year plus walk with the Lord I have found myself in situations or positions of helplessness, frustration, fear, pain or suffering. I learned to count on that scripture for deliverance and peace, the Lord's peace, not my own. He always delivers when I rely on Him.

Gratitude and God's Will

God wants me to be grateful; it is a key ingredient of a victorious life. Paul said in First Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Based upon this passage, there is no reason to wonder what God's will is for me; it is clearly stated.

Salvation and Sanctification

God is always faithful and lives up to His promises, even though I fail. He has promised to provide and protect. I have a long way to go, but as I cooperate with the Lord's process of sanctification, He has changed me, and He continues to change me. Before I was saved I got salvation and sanctification mixed up. If you would have asked me if I were going to heaven when I died, I would have said, "I hope so." I guess that I believed that if I died in the "small window" of time I mentioned earlier, when I was free of mortal sin I would go to heaven, otherwise I would go either to hell or purgatory. I know now that salvation is an event, whereas sanctification is a process. Since the Lord saved me and I was sealed by the Holy Spirit, that can't be undone, but for the rest of my life here on earth I will be in the process of sanctification as I cooperate with the power of the Holy Spirit. I can neither save nor sanctify myself, but God doesn't violate my free will and I have to be sensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, confess my sin and rely on His power to make the changes God wants me to make.

Where We are Now

Betty and I celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary last year; we have 3 adult sons, 10 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. It wasn't hard to accept that I was a grandfather when that came to pass, but it is unbelievable to me that one of my sons is grandfather. We all have a great relationship now even though they live far away. We talk on the phone or email almost daily. I try not to give advice unless asked, but I am really complimented when my 47, 49 and 50 year old sons ask me for it.

Time to Retire and Refire Spiritually

I recently retired from a real estate company, which was part of the top market share brand in Orange County, wherein I was the broker of record responsible for the supervision of 460 agents. I seem to be as busy as I ever was, perhaps partly because I work slower now. I spend a good amount of time now volunteering in a couple of ministries.

It sounds trite, but, I could have missed all of this, but for the grace of God. I am very grateful, but I believe He's not through with me yet. He has more sanctifying to do with me, as I cooperate. All glory to Him!

Salvation in Jesus – Going to Heaven, Rather Than to Hell

You Can Make that Choice Too!

The Apostle Paul in Roman 10:9 states: "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

Do you want your sins to be forgiven and to have a personal relationship with this all powerful and loving God? If so, bow your head now and say this prayer from your heart to God:

"Lord I know that I have sinned, I believe in my heart that you paid the price for my sin by your death on the cross. I thank you for that and I receive the free gift of your forgiveness for all of my sins, past, present and future. Completely fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I can walk with you now in power and obedience. Thank you for saving me; I now make you Lord and master of my life."

If you said that prayer from your heart, be sure to tell me or someone about what happened. That is a very important part—sharing your faith. You are now part of God's family and the angels are rejoicing in heaven!

Thanks for letting me share and may the Lord bless you!

More Pix: http://www.katanapg.com/group/1972

If you have rebellious boys that are totally out of control, need prayer, or have spiritual questions and would like to contact Kim for some Bible answers. Click here...

Got to Witness to Beepin and Schreelatte

Got a $15 gift card to Subway …one of my favorite lunch spots. Thanks Chip! They've been running a $5 special on their foot-long sirloin sub for a couple months now. Look out Quiznos sub sandwich shop, Subway is now on the comeback trail.

They sell great beef sandwiches... Mr. Beepin (the employee from Nepal with the white writing on his black shirt) made me an excellent lunch today and I suggested to Ms. Schreelatte, his manager this time, that he get a big fat raise which he was pleased to hear (it is so cool that God is bringing those from the mission-fields of the whole world to our doorstep for us to get to know!).

Schreelatte (a name that is not to be confused with the island nation name of Sri Lanka as I had accidentally pronounced it) also does a great job and she also felt that Beepin deserved a raise. He is very quick and efficient. Schreelatte is from South India and we three have now passed the point of merely talking bout the whether and news events to the point of becoming friends. But they only eat Veggie subs (which are very healthy), because after all, they are both devout Hindus that believe in many gods and in reincarnation.

Anyway, we've had some good and mutually respectful discussions about their many gods and Jesus Christ the One who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (Jn. 14:6).

We understand each other most of the time. All of our extended family members live very far away from us so we have something in common. We've talked about visas for travel, correspondence, theft, stealing and telling lies …also on how to get rid of ones sins when we blow it (you know what I mean, breaking some of the commandment on God's Top Ten List). Like me, they believe that all have fallen short of righteousness (not to be confused with: "all have falling shorts" because all don't).

It's a pretty intense list if you get the time to check it out.. and I haven't found anyone yet who has done all that well with it, but I have met some who are a bit irritated with God for even giving us such a list that lays "a heavy" on people—yup, a weighty "guilt trip" as they feel this one does… "You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved imageany likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's" (Exodus 20:3-17; also see Deuteronomy 5:7-21).

I was trying to explain to them that God is kindhearted, just and merciful. He probably didn't feel like sending Jesus to die in our place. We know that Jesus certainly didn't feel like kicking the bucket there. And that God has made it easy and free for us to be justified before Him. How do we remember the meaning of such a funny religious sounding word like that? Here's how I do; it means: Just as if I'd never sinned in the first place. God Himself (Jesus) paid the penalty for us on the cross at calvary ...and then He rose from the dead just like the Scriptures had fortold.

Well, Schreelatte said that they do "punga" after they sin and explained that this is praying with beads to make all the sins go away. They both weren't totally sure it worked and Schreelatte said that she is open to visiting a Christian church with her girlfriend in the future. She has been invited.

Being raised in the Roman church, I related to them how for many years I prayed with beads (the Rosary) but none of that "worked it off." Doing penance is a work and no good works ever made my sins go away. But being born again after asking for forgiveness from God is what got it all done. Jesus came into me, a newly cleaned vessel. I literally felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders in the spring of 1977. I'M GRATEFUL!

After more than a half hour, Schreelatte informed me that my Subway gift card indeed had $15 dollars on it, but that the card for some strange reason didn't work in their machine. In fact, they didn't want to give it back to me, but finally they did when I paid using other means. They laughed and said that the card might work at a different Subway shop. I watched them slide it through (as I ate of course) many times in different machines there to no avail. But I was so glad the faulty card reader gave me 40 minutes with them today, but I will need to go have lunch at their shop again. It's only a block away and besides… we have more to talk about regarding punga. What will you do with your sins?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Do We Live Near The CH Spurgeon Of Our Day?

I had a great time ministering to a young adults group today—wonderful people! Thanks for the prayers! Thank you for the invite Pastors Carl and Everette—enjoyed it. These words and thoughts below ..quickly jotted down ...are on my mind. Of course I have others to thank as well for sowing them into me ...starting with the Lord. I'm just thinking out loud a bit. BTW: this wasn't my message to the young people. What I taught them was from Genesis.

Believers; Lets Wholeheartedly Do This Stuff:

- "Preach the Word" without apology! In Jesus, that will combat the famine in the land (People are famished and hungry for excellent Bible teaching delivered with real anointing and many don't recognize it). Yes, lets return to a hunger and thirst for righteousness in Christ and see Him as our ultimate Source. That calls for full surrender on our part. It calls for full commitment with no love for the things of the world inside. Lets get back to the Bible and live it!

- Stop funding bogus media ministries that don't feed your soul with the word of God! If foolish Christians would simply become discerning and quit sending in their sacrificial love offerings to false and anemic preachers (who keep calling themselves Christian ministers), they would go off the air and stop hurting the spiritual fabric of our land.

- Repent of dead works (leaders and followers) and for not fulfilling our respective callings. With all due respect, many preachers today need to hang a U-turn back to Jesus ...away from all the emergent weirdness and the seeker sensitive entertainment emphasis that leaves some ten minutes for a sermonette that produces christianettes. There is way too much biblical illiteracy in the pews now. Pastors must quit golfing all the time (or whatever time wasting activity they are given to, and get back to what God has called them to do. People come expecting to hear about Christ... expecting to hear the Bible rightly taught. Ministers must admit their laziness, quit faking it, cease with the greedy perfunctory charades in the Name of Jesus ..as they try to make it look like they really care for people. Ministers that fleece the flock don’t care for them at all—they care for themselves! They're the only ones leaving the meetings in a Rolls—Liney and I have seen it too much.. like maybe you have!

- Make the house of God a place that represents its real purpose again—a house of prayer and of worship (to Christ)… a house of teaching all the counsels of God line upon line, precept upon precept, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book unto the glory of Father… a house of evangelism as we go out to tell (not about the preacher or us... the Gospel) and also bringing them in to hear from God.

Swindoll says, “Today's ecclesiastical (church) landscape is strewn with the litter of confusion, neglect, and superficiality. Churches everywhere are struggling to find their identities. Pastors, who once understood their responsibility and the roles they were called to fill, have ignored the scriptural guidelines and chosen to walk a different path. This has left congregations unsure of themselves, biblically illiterate, and starving for spiritual direction. The bold proclamation of God's Word that once characterized influential evangelical pulpits has been replaced with shallow and sometimes silly substitutes designed to entertain listeners rather than convict of sin, feed the soul, and equip the believer for a deeper walk and sacrificial service. It's as if a plague of locusts has invaded, resulting in a famine across the land. It's time to restore the years that the locusts have eaten.”

How does God address these issues today? Well, let's look and respect the words of three bold prophets:

- Ezekiel Speaks to a Fickle Congregation: “…you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them” (see Ezekiel 33:30-33 and the surrounding context).

- Amos Warns of a Coming Famine he said, "..I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord..” (see Amos 8:11-12).

But there is no time for despair and passivity for those who are in Christ, for He alone can restore what’s been ripped off from the Church. Let's obey him in truth and love.

- Joel Promises a Hopeful Future “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (see Joel 2:21-27). Cheap Christian fads, hype, gimics, falseities along with those who push them—those who use these things to replace the ministry of the Scriptures in church ..among other things can totally distract us away from what's really helpful if we allow them to...like destructive locust they can devour your time and keep our families away from recieving the seed of the Word and leave you starving for the Bread of Life? What's keeping you and yours away from Jesus and real nourishment? Why let your loved ones become spiritually anorexic?

Personally, I have a weird schedule to keep and I've got to get creative in finding fellowship these days. Maybe it's challenging for you too. Keep at it!

Anyways, we had laughter filling up the building as Swindoll was out there mingling with the locals—those gathering to form an audience at Stonebriar in Frisco ..as they were finding their way to their seats (yup, it was him bursting out in laughter, slapping his knee like they used to do back in the day).

There was about ten minutes before his service started (that's always his custom too—approachability ...right up to the "kick off" but it's not the kick off for a game, a circus or a show. Here, I can't really think of anything more weighty and important as what happens in healthy churches across America each week.

I choose not to idolize anyone great or small or act like some kind of suck-up name dropper, but Liney and I live right near the CH Spurgeon of our day and it might help for me to explain things (well sure, Swindoll is a lot like that prince of pulpiteers of yesteryear even though he's also very unique). Who would disagree?

Perhaps you don't know of him. You should. He's pretty tough—he says it like it is. Swindoll was in my wife's office a couple times this week and he is just as real outside the pulpit as he is inside it seven days a week.

In a day when gender is sometimes hard to determine in the marketplace with different ones, in a day when the country seems mixed up about who to vote for and what to do about fuel and illegal aliens who are commiting crimes on our streets, this is one guy not confused about anything. In the first place, he protected our country as a US Marine. Yup, he bleeds red, white and blue, and still has his priorities in proper order. I'm explaining his style a bit. He's no wimp—no feminine bone in his body, but today he fights a different kind of battle. To be frank, he's one of the best communicators worldwide and he lives what he believes to push back darkness and shine Christ's light (do I feel slightly motivated inside after meeting him again? Absolutely. I along with many others am now his Facebook friend too. Funny huh? He snickered when I reminded him of FB activity, but he'll befriend you there as well). Have you ever heard Chuck Swindoll live? I'm grateful for him, for Billy Graham and a handful of others.

Please don't come visit Dallas or Frisco Texas and miss hearing Swindoll, Jack Graham or Tony Evans. There are some others here too, but these guys are hitting home runs and impacting so many thousands of people in the right way.

They are good examples, sound ministers, strong leaders...ones that consistently please the Lord and have never been in the habit of giving the Church a black eye ...as so many have done through immoral lifestyles. The nations best go receive ministry from Swindoll regularly. God has made him a shepherd of shepherds under the Chief Shepherd. You would do well for yourself and your family to find your Bible, Jesus, and Insight for Living by Podcast or on the radio! Hey Kurt, why not pull our your phone and take a few shots or get a really weak cell phone video clip?

Insight for Living

Stonebriar Community Church

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Can You Find A Reason To Laugh?

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Liney and I finally bought a stove and are getting ready to saw up the kitchen counters a bit for it. I'm stoked to be with her today. She is one interesting personality who speaks tongue-in-cheek to me sometimes and makes unexpected satirical remarks that catch me off guard. That kind of thing helps when things get serious, intense or half-boring. News flash: Life ain't all trials and trouble. Seeing some of the stuff that's ironic and whacked in situations is OK.

Our friend Dee-Wayne (that's what his peeps call him), his wife Rachel, their two lovely daughters, as well as other friends (Herb Clark, the Gandias, Stropes, Fergusons, Cunninghams etc) came by the other night and were all a lot of fun. That's a pic at the top of Tori, the Page's oldest with her rightfully-fearful-of-her-dad boyfriend (Dwayne as the family protector actually purposely cultivates that feeling in young lads on purpose,
but we don't tell them that Dwayne is really a very friendly NASCAR fun-loving redneck. NASCAR and football are big here in the South.

Liney and I were out walkin' and talkin' together today ..and a lady out jogging around, who we didn't even know ran up behind me excitedly tapping me on the shoulder. Before we could turn to see who it was, she surprised me saying.. "Yes!"

OOoooKay, I scratched my head thinking, Yes what?--and wondered what this lady meant. I guess I wasn't thinking about it when I put on a certain t-shirt that
morning. I had originally designed this shirt and distributed them to all our students at Calvary Chapel School where I used to be the principal for some years. The shirt asks: "Got Jesus--the Bible Jesus?"

Some people get angry when I wear it and others are happy to see it. There's power in that Name, it's comfortable, and it's an ice-breaker. People like to stop us in the stores whenever I have it on. Like them, you might be wondering why I had it made with that particular question on there ...like some wild-eye fanatic. But when you live where I live with many people who are out there preaching the God-will-make-everyone-a-billionaire-if they'll-give kind of Jesus ..rather than the real One, it's good to make things clear. Anyway, the jogging lady told us about her Bible church she loves so much that's around the block from us and that. She said, "I've happily known Him (the Bible Jesus) for four years now!" Whenever Liney and I take our dog out, that's what normally starts all the conversations with strangers, but today it was due to a cheap shirt.

Smile and Snicker Some ...Make Em Wonder What You Pulled Off
"There is a time …to laugh." —Ecclesiastes 3:4
A Seattle third grade teacher was testing her class on the parts of the human body. All of the pupils passed her test except for one. When asked what the body was composed of, this sandy-haired, freckled-face lad voiced his response: "The human body is composed of three parts: the brainium, borax, and abominable cavity. The brainium contains the brain. The borax contains the lungs, liver, and the living things. And the abominable cavity contains the bowels of which there are five—a, e, i, o, and u."

I LOVE IT!!! Got a question… would your friends say that you possess a healthy sense of humor? Are you a fun person to be around? Do you love to laugh with your buddies? Did you know that having joy inside is a wonderful gift from God? Even our Lord was filled joy-filled and He gladly expressed it upwards: "Then Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit and said, 'O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you'" (Lk. 10:21).

Though Christ understood what mourning and tears were about; though He was, "despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief", I bet (if a Christian can say that..) that there were times when Jesus laughed out loud with a hardy belly laugh and even made his disciples begin to chuckle. He knew about jollity and mirth too. Some of the most godly men and women I have ever met just about put me on the floor with their humor.

Spiritual giants like Charles Haddon Spurgeon and Martin Luther were very humorous. Luther once kidded, "If they don't allow laughter in heaven then I don't want to go there." He then added, "If the earth is fit for laughter then surely heaven is filled with it. Heaven is the birthplace of laughter." Spurgeon was once approached by the elders of his church and asked to tone down his humor in the pulpit. The great English expositor replied, "Gentlemen, if you only knew how much I held back!"
Bill and Vonette Bright (who started Campus Crusade for Christ) enjoyed laughing with each other a lot. They would pick on each other sometimes, but not in a hurtful way. Have you ever heard Chuck Swindoll, pastor, author, and radio personality live at Stonebriar Church or somewhere? He goes right up to the edge of propriety and walks that tightrope of a line with his joking around ... and according to the religious folk's estimation of him, he goes well over the edge with his humor and so called "vulgar language" (yup, "buns," and "heck"). He does this especially when he is with his sister Luci too.
Lucy Swindoll once shared a funny story with some ladies about a time in her youth when she "taught" Chuck how to "smoke"! She rolled up some paper, had her younger brother put one end in his mouth, commanded him to inhale and then swallow at the time when she lit up the other end. Well, Luci lit it and flames shot right up and burned Chuck's big white-man lips and His tongue! Well, it's funny to them now! Lucy claims that she is the one that first got him "on fire for God!" But Chuck has people who love his robust laugh almost as much as his preaching! His hero, Howard Hendricks, a respected professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, peppers his messages with hilarious stories too and some of the funniest facial expressions you've ever seen. My ex-alcoholic dad isn't religious either. He loves the Lord now too, and he can also tell some hilarious stories of what he and his drunken buddies used to do in a haze. He doesn't glorify his past life or go into all the gory details that we shouldn't hear, but he is lowly and relatable to people struggling with different addictions, people who want to learn to walk with the Lord and learn to laugh at themselves. He talks of how most of his friends would misplace their cars when the bars closed—that's goes hand-in-hand with that lifestyle. But one drunk was a train conductor with the Union Pacific Railroad who would stop in Indo California to frequent his favorite bar and later on at 2:30 AM when it was time to go, he would misplace his train. He couldn't figure out where he parked it. For real!

He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. —Job 8:21

Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face. —Victor Hugo

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, and looks to God alone; laughs at impossibilities, and cries it shall be done.
—Charles Wesley

I have a lot to learn, but did you know that it's been psychologically documented, that laughter along with having a well-rounded sense of humor in a person is one of the sure signs of intelligence. I saw this in an interesting TV documentary. Laughter releases chemicals in our bodies called endorphins that serve as painkillers to a degree.
Proverbs 15:13 says, "A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken." Having a merry heart inside will express itself right. It's having the God-given ability to capture, appreciate and enjoy all the wonderful times of life and then let it turn into laughter. The Bible says there's, "A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance" (Eccl. 3:4). That's right, there's a time to dance about all filled up with exuberance! Jesus said, "God blesses you who weep now, for the time will come when you will laugh with joy" (Lk. 6:21).
Hey, be open to chuckling, smiling and snickering some more. People might wonder what you got away with.
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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Time For Suffering That Is Not Sought After

Jesus made His way to the cross and displayed God's love for you, but you don't have to go looking for pain in order for it to find you. I've got a Christian friend who has been suffering and struggling today with some relational and other challenges that I can't even imagine having or really talk about. Maybe you also know of a Christian in just such a predicament... or know of someone else who has not yet become a believer to start really making sense of the hurt that they've long endured. Whatever the case; love says we mustn't be cavalier or indifferent about it.

What can we say that will help people in pain? I don't really know what to tell them all. Each situation can be so different and complex and my brain is so tiny compared to the mind of the One who created them. But as long as there is breath in hurting people, there is hope ...and there is also indeed Someone they need to hear about Who knows what you can say or do for them.

Of course, lots of times the best thing to say is nothing. Just be there for them, to pray and to listen. Yesterday I had some extra minutes between a lot of semi-stressy busy activity and so I threw down some quick thoughts that might hopefully encourage someone.

A Time For Suffering That's Not Sought After

It is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. —1 Peter 3:17

Are you suffering because you refuse to compromise in a sinful way? If so, you are not alone. But our world today is unfortunately not overrun with Christians willing to suffer, or with a lot of example leaders that are willing to sacrifice in order to do the will of God. Keep up the Good Work and go through with His strong grace!

A lot of religious people today do not know that our loving Heavenly Father has no desire for us to seek out pain; for us to voluntarily bring-on suffering to ourselves in order to try and gain points or glorify Him. But He does want real Christians to endure hardness and suffering as exemplary soldiers in order to do what is right in all circumstances. Paul said, "Follow God's example in everything you do, because you are His dear children" (Eph. 5:1, nlt).

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. —1 Pet. 2:21

As Joseph shared the stories of what God taught him in prison, I learned that the justice of God is not hampered by the evil of men. Doing good is still pleasing in His sight—even when we're mistreated by the world for it. —William Crowder

We work hard and suffer much in order that people will believe the truth, for our hope is in the living God. —Paul, 1 Tim. 4:10, nlt

Some TV preachers still say we're to always keep it positive and if you have enough faith and get your confession just exactly right, you will never have to suffer or ever get sick. In fact, you will be rich! Man, I personally hope you don't get sick, but that kind of message is a lot of BUNK (which means it's flat out erroneous). That kind of talk doesn't square with the Bible. Please don't get twisted by those twisted but popular high profile personalities!

Perhaps you'd like to get past all your failures and be right with God today. He will accept you and teach you what it true and doesn't change! What you don't want to do is this… You do not want to ever bring suffering into your own life due to your own foolish or hasty choices (or into the experience of others ..especially to those of your family who trust you—those you are trying to win to Jesus Christ). Please never do harm to yourself or to your loved ones (or to anyone) by making lukewarm, carnal fools into your best friends or by receiving any negative influences. Lots of people do this, but that's so diculous, it's ridiculous!

The Bible warns us, "Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm" (Prov. 13:20). You want to remember the Lord and wisely pray about your decisions first. You want to listen to Him and to godly council. That would be much better for everyone! You want to do what's right no matter the suffering or cost involved!

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sowing and Harvesting Right

Where God's Spirit leads you, His grace will keep and empower you for ministry. Where He guides, He provides. Some of my friends who live in other parts of the United States or who move away from here, sometimes call me to complain about how they wish they could simply return to Texas. No lie; they miss the people and the fellowship around the Word of God. People can get malnourished spiritually and weak and even begin to feel that way. Perhaps you are poor but have lots of money. Maybe you are famished, living in a famine-stricken region surrounded by huge grocery stores that have countless well-stocked shelves. Do the people there get it? Hey, that dull blue glow of light emanating from your TV set for hours on end won't satisfy or replace His pure Light!

Anyway, these friends of mine explain how they can drive a long distance from their homes only to find the somber frowns of the "frozen chosen" and some lame choir songs or an organ that is about to croak—a loveless non-exciting group of people who love pointless rules, their old building, the status quo, and their own denomination more than they love people sinners--people who are stuck in a time-warp-rut that have set up a faulty pecking order and that are stuck in the mire of some ice-cold dead, gossipy and plucked up has-been-congregation.

It's sad. They might live in the beautiful mountains of the northwest or in some other scenic spot, but they miss all that they can not seem to find in their new vacation area. I feel for them. They tell me how it's suddenly hard to get motivated to read God's Love Letter (the Bible), or to witness to their neighbors. It's frustrating to them.

I live in an area of the country where it's not that way. Well, at least it doesn't have to be that way. We are stoked to have some excellent sheep-sheds (and I don't mean the temporal buildings, I mean flocks that rock in more than just a musical way. We have churches with warm-hearted non-stodgy people in them—fresh thinkers, positive change agents—and many sound under shepherds (pastors on-fire and in Christ …when not all of em are) to learn from—guys that are doing the job right without the cheap hype, false teaching, manipulation or pressure. I know this isn't the only area with thousands of praying sincere believers and churches that are making a difference (I experienced authentic biblical awakening in the OC of SO Cal as well) and I know that this town has unfortunately had more than it's share of religious wackos filled with gospel-greed (which has nothing at all to do with the real Gospel) like many cities have had… but do I sound like I'm kind of pleased with what the Lord is doing in so many families and in different circles of people around here? I am, but I'm also hungry to learn and reach more. We can all do this!

Resist Hurrying the Harvest

"...Be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain." —James 5:7

Does it ever seem to you like the things that we count the most important, often seem to take the longest to wait for or to reach? Does it ever seem like your most important prayers are being ignored when so much is at stake? Like me, do you ever feel impatient to the point of feeling like you need to take matters into your own hands? Hey, just give God some time to work.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts. —Ecclesiastes 3:11

Give them God's Word in the right Way, for "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant…" (Eccl. 3:1-2). Don't give up! In due season, you shall reap if you faint not!

Jesus never asked you or me to evangelize the whole world all by ourselves ..or in our time and our way. We aren't even able to. He never asked us to use words only. We need to use whatever we can short of sinning. But He did ask you and me to pray, to obey, to abide, and to go …and to bear much fruit—"By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit" (Jn. 15:8).

One way to bear fruit is to lead someone to Christ when they are ready. One way not to bear fruit is to force the issue when they are not because we are impatient or just being weird. Remember that any person, who complies too quickly ..or is apparently convinced against their will, is of the same opinion still. If they can be talked into "it"… and that's all, then they can also be talked out of "it" just as easily. Why have that happen?

We're waiting for You, Lord, to convict and to save ..and then come catch us all away to stay.

We want to fully obey, intelligently pray and to all our friends boldly say;

all Your promises are true and better than OK!

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. —Isaiah 40:31

Question: Have you been patiently waiting for God to intervene? You can't really join the rescuing effort until you have first been rescued yourself. No beach patrol puts a dead person in a tower to watch those surfing on the waves of the sea.

Do you think you came out of your mother's womb Christian? Believe me; you haven't done that, but God can make you into one right now! The bottom-line is this: Jesus Christ is the Person you really need. What do you have to lose? Zilch, nada, null.. nothing but a moldy old way of life that does even let you experience real LIFE!

Have you shared your story with a lost individual… your personal experience, your testimony …or some verses regarding the Gospel in a gracious and non-pushy way? You can today. Receive encouragement by prayerfully reading Isaiah 55:11 and Romans 10:13.

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