Meanderings of a Minister


Cry Out America

This coming Monday, we will remember the horrific terror attack on our nation.  Terrorists flew hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and presumably wanted to fly one into the White House, but were prevented by heroic passengers who gave their lives to save countless others.  Cottonwood Elementary School will host their annual Patriot Day Celebration at 9:30 AM to thank veterans, servicemen and women, law enforcement officials, firefighters, and emergency services personnel.

Another event that will happen is a corporate prayer time at the County Courthouse at Noon.  18 churches from the Liberal area will join together to pray for our nation.  All are invited to take an hour out of their lives to pray for our nation.

As I think about this gathering, I am mindful of how Paul prayed for those with whom he worked.  Read the following list and see if some of these prayers might be appropriate for us to pray over our churches and over our nation.

Paul’s prayer for the Corinthians was (2 Cor 13:7-10): they would do no wrong, they would do right, they would be made complete in their faith in Christ.
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians was (Ephesians 1:15-19): God would give them a Spirit of wisdom, God would reveal Himself to them, God would reveal to them how to live for Him, God would enlighten their eyes to see all He is doing, they would know the hope that comes with being called His kids, they would know the riches of the glory of their future inheritance, they would know and experience the surpassing greatness of God’s power towards them.
Paul’s prayer for the Philippians was (Phil 1:9-11): that their love would abound more and more, that their love would be based in knowledge of God and discernment of what is right and wrong, that they would approve what is excellent, that they would be sincere and blameless until Christ’s return, they would be filled with the fruit of righteousness, they would live to the glory and praise of God.
Paul’s prayer for the Colossians was (Col 1:9-12): they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, they would have all spiritual wisdom and understanding, they would walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, they would please the Lord in all aspects of their lives, they would bear fruit in every good work, they would increase in the knowledge of God, they would be strengthened by God, they would attain steadfastness and patience
Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians (2 Thess 1:11, 3:5): That God would count them worthy of His calling, that God would fulfill their desire for goodness, God would fulfill their desire for the work of faith, with power, that Jesus’ Name would be glorified in them, that the would be glorified in Him, God would lead them into greater love for God, God would lead them into the steadfastness of Christ.

In addition, Paul asked the Thessalonians to pray for him (2 Thess 3:1-2): that the word of God would spread rapidly, that the word of God would be glorified in them, that they would be rescued from evil and perverse men, in the church.

How many situations and people in your life could benefit from these prayers?

As you pray for others, keep these things in mind and plan to join us the Liberal Ministerial Alliance for a prayer time on Monday, September 11th, at noon, at the County Courthouse.

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If You Can Keep It
July 7, 2016, 3:56 pm
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If-You-Can-Keep-it-Feature-e1465588198324

Eric Metaxas is a Christian author who specializes in historical biography.  He has written books of Deitrich Bonhoeffer and others who have had a major impact on church, world, and American history.  In his latest book, Metaxas reminded me of an event from our past that has major ramifications for today and certainly needs to be heard today.

In 1787, a woman approached Benjamin Franklin and asked what the founding fathers had given America in terms of a government.  Benjamin Franklin’s answer should be reverberating in our ears today.  He said, “A Republic…if you can keep it.”  What did Franklin mean by that statement?  First, he meant that we have a style of government that is a Democratic Republic.  What is a Democratic Republic?  Good question.  And while it is beyond the scope of a simple and limited newspaper article to exhaustively define it, basically this means that the government, “Of the people, by and the people, and for the people” is the intent and elected representation that then is free to interpret the will of the people and apply it on their behalf is the expression.

What this system was designed to accomplish is a liberty not seen in other parts of the world up to this time.  The people would have the freedom to elect their officials.  They would cast votes and one vote would be one vote.  For many of us who have grown up here, this only seems like the logical choice and is expected, but this is not the way the rest of the world still lives.  Now, many countries have followed our example and there were examples of democracy before us, but none that combined this with a republic style of government and a stated dependence upon God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Once our officials are elected, they are expected to represent the interests of those whom they represent.  Under a republic style of government, these officials are free to interpret those intentions and vote according to their interpretations.  What this was intended to accomplish was to keep from bogging down the system waiting to hear from constituency before a vote can be cast.  With a nation as vast as ours, any other system would be untenable at best or inconsistent with democracy at worst.

Now, what did Benjamin Franklin, a self-professed non-Christian, mean by, “If you can keep it.”?  Quite simply, Franklin knew that this type of system was susceptible to decay from apathy, disruption from enemy, and cooption from deception.  As we pray for our nation, which we should, we should remember these warnings.

Jeremiah 29:7 says, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.”  This was God telling the Israelites to pray for Babylon because that was where they had been taken into exile.  If God wanted the Israelites to pray for a corrupt, wicked, evil, and barbarous nation so that they would be blessed, how much more should we pray for our nation?

Would you join me in praying for our nation?  Let’s pray that God would protect us from decay.  That He would protect us from the decay that comes from a people that have grown to expect the blessings God has granted our nation and take it for granted.  The decay that comes when people make the responsibilities that come as a citizen of this great nation the duties of others and think they are only aboard for what they can receive.

Would you pray that God would protect us from the disruption from our enemies?  Some of our enemies are not foreign powers.  Some of our enemies are those who exploit our citizens through financial bondage, chemical bondage, sexual bondage, and spiritual bondage.  Would you pray that those who are trying to lead our nation astray would dry up and blow away?

And would you join me in pray that God would protect us from the cooption from the deceivers that live in our land and who want to take away our liberties.  Those who actively work against the Republic we have been given and want to keep.

There is a group of people who pray for our nation every evening at 8 PM.  Would you set an alarm on your phone, computer, or alarm clock or set up some kind of reminder that will remind you to stop and pray for our nation, for in its welfare you find your own and it just might be the only way we can keep our Republic.

God bless America.



I Pledge Allegiance

American flag flying in the wind

I have been writing this article for years.  I have written hundreds of articles for many different publications, blogs, newsletters, and web sites.  I don’t say that to boast, but to say that I do not think I have ever written an article like this one.  I should have written about this before, but have not.  I am not sure why when it seems so needed.  I have written on much more important issues than this one.  I have written on topics much less important than this.  I just have never written on this topic before.  What is that topic?

Not that long ago in our nation’s history, children all over our nation used to say these words at the beginning of each day of school.  Meetings were begun with these words.  Congress was started with these words.

 

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands:  one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

You may know these words as the Pledge of Allegiance.  Do you know why we say these words?  Red Skelton did an amazing skit on his radio program explaining each word many years ago, so I won’t do that here.  But do you know why we say these words?

In 1892, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus making it to our side of the world, these words were used throughout public schools.  Since then, the words have been modified one time, instructions for its recitation have been added to the United States Flag Code (Title 36), and schools have been instructed to recite it, but given permission not to, if they do not desire to do so.

On June 22, 1942, the pledge was officially added to Title 36 of the U.S. Code.  This was the official recognition of the words school children had been reciting for 50 years.  In 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that school children could not be forced or coerced into saying the pledge in school.  In 1945, the title was officially changed to the Pledge of Allegiance.  In 1954, Dwight D. Eisenhower, as President, authorized the addition of the words “under God” to the pledge.  Other than that, the pledge has remained, and hopefully will remain, a unifying statement shared by all citizens of this nation.

With that being said, it is interesting to note how attitudes have changed over the years.  President Eisenhower authorized the adding of the words, “Under God”, for the purpose of distinguishing us from the officially atheist and communist Soviet Union.  In his official statement on that day, President Eisenhower stated, “In this way, we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”

Did you notice that our President humbly admitted that he desired for our nation to be different than those around us?  This is the definition of holy.  He desired for our nation to be holy.  He further stated that our greatest asset in maintaining our freedom and prosperity would be to acknowledge God daily in our recitation of our Pledge of Allegiance.  To pledge our allegiance to America was to acknowledge the role of God in our history and our future.  How far we have fallen!

It seems that we are now trying to become like everyone else, which is unholy.  If President Eisenhower was right, and I believe he was, then to attempt to remove God from our nation is akin to sabotage.  To want the United States to become like every other nation is to cut our collective knees out from under us.  Perhaps it is time that we got back to living holy as individuals, and realize that we are only indivisible as a one nation when we realize we are under God and not take His place.

I told you it was going to be different.



Are We Fighting the Right Wars?
December 10, 2015, 10:57 am
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War

I am sure that the title of this article will resonate differently with different people.  Just this week, we remembered our Veterans on Veteran’s Day.  For many of those Veterans, especially the Vietnam Era Veterans, this is a question that stirs up feelings of betrayal and abandonment as our nation and its citizens failed this group by refusing to recognize their sacrifice and service because of a select group of people that characterized them poorly.  For others, they are tempted to say we should not be fighting the War against Terror. That is not the way I posed the question, but it is probably a good example of how we are failing.  Allow me to explain.

In 1 Timothy 6:11-16, Paul wrote the following words to Timothy:

 “But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”[1]

 In this passage, Paul says that Timothy is to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.  That is the fight we should be fighting.  As believers, that is the focus of living out the salvation we have been given.  Sadly, many have turned their backs on fighting for these things.  Since they are not fighting the war we have been called to fight, they turn and focus on many other things.  We criticize the Baptists because they don’t dance, the Pentecostals because they dance in church, the Lutherans because they are so predictable, the Charismatics because they don’t plan anything, the Hispanics because they are always late, or the Anglos because they are so caught up on time.  We find any number of things to fight about because we are not fighting the war we have been saved to fight.

We even carry this outside the Church, where we turn to the ballot box to try to accomplish what we are not willing to carry out ourselves.  We blame the government for handling the care of seniors so poorly when we were called to that task.  We blame the government for messing up everything from public education to healthcare to the definition of life.  The government was never given this war to fight, but, since we chose not to fight it, government took it over and then we are shocked that government handles it differently than we would.

Perhaps, on this week when we have spent some time thanking and thinking about the Veterans, it is time for us to get serious about living for God with all of our hearts, setting that example for others, sharing Jesus with our neighbors, and stop sitting in front of our various screens talking about how things should be different and actually help to make them different.

It won’t be easy, but war never is.


[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.



Why We Can Never Lose Sight of Veterans

Veterans

 “Thus says the Lord, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jeremiah 6:16, NASB95)

I was asked to speak at last night’s veterans’ recognition event for the Five State Free Fair.  As I thought about what it means to be a veteran, the thought occurred to me that there seem to be fewer and fewer veterans identifying themselves as veterans and fewer and fewer people that understand the importance of veterans to our nation.  As I thought about it, I remember Jeremiah 6:16 and thought about the importance for more than just our happiness.

Why can we never lose sight of veterans?  For many reasons.  First, veterans are the only significant segment of the population that have given up their freedoms so that you can enjoy yours.  They have stood on the flight line, firing line, front line, and chow line to make sure you could hang clothes on the line in peace.  They have been fired upon so that you can enjoy campfires.  They have gone without sleep so that you can sleep peacefully.  They have stood watch on a dangerous world so that your world would not have to be interrupted.  In an age when everyone wants to talk about their “rights”, we need to remember veterans because it is right.

In addition to veterans’ sacrifice, we also need to remember and recognize veterans because veterans took an oath to defend our constitution and kept their promises.  In an age where, increasingly, politicians are seen as more for themselves than their constituents, we need to have examples of truth, integrity, honor, and kept promises.  Veterans help to keep us from growing so cynical of our nation that we stop defending it and supporting it.

We can also never lose sight of veterans because that was our promise to them.  The general population does not want to have to leave their lives, work, families, or hobbies to have to go and fight an enemy.  They don’t want to have to put up with the horrors of death and destruction, so they sent the veterans to represent them.  The agreement was that the general population would stay behind and support their efforts while they charged into battle.  To forget veterans is to break that promise.

Veterans also represent an understanding of “One Nation Under God”.  While not all veterans are Christians, or even monotheists, or theists, they understand that the true strength of our nation, outside of God, is our unity.  When you are on the battlefield, in the battleship, or battling the incoming jets of a foreign enemy, there is no time for Mexican-American, African-American, Native American, or any other such distinction.  Veterans know that we will only stay strong as long as we learn to see each other as Americans.  Period.  There is no dual citizenship when bullets are flying, bombs are dropping, or bayonets are rattling.  There is only “us” vs. “them” and the “us” is U.S.!

Veterans remind us of what it means to work for our goals, dreams and visions of the future.  They remind us that nothing comes without hard work, sacrifice, and time.  They stand as a beacon of responsibility in a sea of entitlement.  They stand up proudly and show what Americans can do when they work hard, work together, and work for the long haul.

Lastly, veterans represent our past, our heritage, and our history.  They represent our future because without the lessons of our past, we will repeat its mistakes.  They represent our present because they have seen where socialism, Marxism, communism, and elitism have taken other nations and what it takes to win a nation back after it has been taken over by one of these or other ideologies.  They represent what is right and wise, which combine to form righteousness.

We can never lose sight of veterans.  Heaven help us if we do!



How Do You Get There From Here?
May 15, 2014, 4:56 pm
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What Are You Standing On?

This morning, I was reading out of 2 Chronicles 12-16 and read about a king of Judah that does not get mentioned often.  His name was Asa.  He was described as a good king who followed God with all of his heart.  He tore down the shrines used to worship other “gods”.  He cleaned up the spiritual landscape of Judah.  He enjoyed ten years of peace as God protected him from the nations surrounding them because of his faithfulness.  As a matter of fact, God delivers Asa from the Ethiopian army, numbering over 1,000,000 and protects Asa in response to Asa’s faithfulness.

One day, Azariah, another little known figure from the Old Testament, a prophet, tells Asa “the Lord is with you when you are with Him.  And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” (2 Chronicles 15:2b, NASB)  Asa responded to this prophecy by redoubling his efforts to lead his nation to the worship God.  He restored the altar in the temple, destroyed more of the places and items used for worshipping other “gods”.  He led the people to swear an oath to follow God with all of their hearts.

In the middle of the glowing description of Asa, there appears a crack that is the pivot point from faithful to faithless.  2 Chronicles 15:17 says, “But the high places were not removed from Israel; nevertheless Asa’s heart was blameless all his days.”  In other words, Asa began to pull himself back from leading others into faithfulness and simply retreated within himself and made his faith in God private and personal. Where did that lead?

In 2 Chronicles 16, Asa is challenged by Baasha, king of Israel (the other ten tribes of the nation Israel that had split off from Rehoboam and followed Jeroboam).  What does he do?  He offers money to the king of Aram to defend himself and his nation instead of turning to God for deliverance and protection as he had always done in the past.  From there, he actually throws Hanani (a prophet) in prison because he corrected Asa’s lack of trust in God.  He goes from that to a disease that takes his life.

How did Asa get from Biblical superhero to Biblical superzero?  In reading the passage, it would seem that the pivot point is when he begins to separate his faith from this leadership.  It is when he turns from thinking of his job to lead others to God and hold them faithful to God to thinking that his faith was his and his only and that he needn’t worry about leading others to that end.

As I think about this reality, I am challenged to think about how we have seen this very same thing happen in our nation.  2 Chronicles 16:9 describes Asa’s foolish past as well as our own as a nation.  It says, “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.  You have acted foolishly in this.  Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.”  We used to follow God.  All of our laws were based upon God’s laws.  Our values were based upon His Word.  Now, we go with public opinion polls.  We have turned away from God for our protecting and provision as a nation.  Our nation has done so only because our state has done so.  Our state has done so only because our city has done so.  Our city has done so only because our families have done so.  Our families have done so only because we have done so.  We have turned from leading others towards God to making our faith personal and private and we are losing the war.

How did we get here from where we used to be?  The same way Asa did.  How do we get back?  Repent.  Turn back to God as individuals.  Lead our families back to God.  Lead our city to God.  Lead our state to God.  Lead our nation to God.

Asa died a diseased shell of his former self.  Will we?