Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lousy Church Sign

This has got to be the dead-level, lousiest church sign I have ever seen. While traveling in SC visiting family, we came across this sign. I wanted to post it before I forgot it.

Happy Birthday Son


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Something Gross, Something Funny, and Something Amazing

First, something gross.

Not too long ago I stepped over to the church office from home to make a few copies for homeschooling purposes. When I arrived, one of the sweet ladies who gives of her time to clean the facilities was there. I stopped in the sanctuary for a moment to speak with her and exchange pleasantries. She was hard at work polishing the backs of the pews. It did not immediately register to me what she was polishing the pews with until I walked up and greeted her. As she sprayed the polish on the pews, she was rubbing it in with a pair of men's underwear.

I have learned a lot about frugality at the church I serve, from seeing used Ziplock bags washed and propped up on a dish drainer to dry, muffins brought to a fellowship on a meat tray, to some folks who drive cars that are twenty years old or older. But I just talked with her like polishing furniture with a pair of worn out men's underwear was the most natural thing in the world to me.

OK, something funny.

I haven't posted any lousy church signs in a while because I have not seen anything relatively original in its level of lousiness, just more and more of the same. However, this one I saw on an independent, fundamental baptist church a couple of days ago.
Take Christ out of Christmas and
all you're left with is _ _ _ _ _ _ mas.
Those independent, fundamentals do tend to be fairly literal in their approach.

Now--something amazing.

Last week my good friend and fellow blogger Steve Sensenig posted on a topic that I had been mulling over for a while, particularly since I had been doing some private study on spiritual gifts for Wednesday evening services. In response to a request from another blogger, Steve posted on the topics of miracles and particularly healings, to which much of the discussion turned. (You can find the posts here, here, and here.) I won't get into the bulk of Steve's arguments because I would much rather you go there and read them for yourselves, giving him the hit counts he deserves.

I will say though that Steve's primary contention, and I believe it, was that healings are part of the Gospel message and serve a much greater purpose than just authentication. Healings are just as valid today as they were during Christ's time on earth and it is God's will that we be healed of our diseases and infirmities. Further, nowhere in Scripture is anyone ever told "no" to a healing request and Christ even healed some who didn't ask.

I haven't nearly shared the bulk of Steve's arguments but only to lead to this point. My wife has had kidney stone trouble for years. In summer 2003 she had a delicate operation where a stone was directly removed from her kidney. Since then, kidney stones have been a constant worry. Since our last baby was born, and even before the delivery, she has had a stone that has bothered her intermittently. Sometimes she has just been uncomfortable, other times she has been in severe pain.

This had been going on for over five months. Then I read Steve's posts on miracles, threw my two cents worth in the comment thread, and Steve helped me think through some things. I discovered my views on healings were not entirely biblical. I didn't tell my wife that I had been thinking and pondering and searching Gods' heart on this matter.

Late last week, I began to pray in accords with what I had learned from the Lord through Brother Steve. I claimed no promises, placed no obligation upon God, nor did I "pray in faith," as the faith healers say is necessary. I simply prayed, knowing what I now know about the character of God and His desires regarding physical healings.

My wife went to the doctor last week, had a culture done, and then this past Monday had an ultrasound. Leaving the hospital Monday she called me on the way out the door. There was no kidney stone. When we hung up, I wept and whispered a prayer of gratitude. Like I said, something amazing. I am still assimilating it all and I'm not sure how to completely respond; right now just in thanksgiving and praise.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


That is how many years I have been married as of yesterday. I often joke around and tell other guys I have the utmost in sympathy for them because they had to marry the second best lady in the world and it must be terribly difficult knowing you are married to the second best. At the last wedding I officiated, I told the bride she was the second prettiest bride I had ever seen. It took her a moment and she finally got it, but the initial note of offense on her face was priceless.

This post is in some way a tribute to my wonderful wife. Other than my Savior Jesus Christ no one means more to me than her. She crashed into my life a little over thirteen years ago (yes, the engagement was very short) and it has never been the same. I met in her all that I could ever hope to complete me in a soul mate.

We have come to that point in our marriage where we complete one another's sentences, know what the other is thinking without saying a word, and can communicate from across a room with just the flicker of an eyebrow. Moreover, she has borne for me five beautiful children. This past July we finally had a boy, though I was threatening some kind of Henry VIII retaliation if she didn't deliver (no pun intended) this last time around. (Again, just joking!)

She has also been the consummate pastor's wife. Always there when I need to vent, she listens to all of the trials and troubles of ministry, she always has a word of wisdom just when I need it, and most importantly, I know that she prays for me.

I would be loathe not to mention that she takes wonderful care of our family. The children never want for anything when she is on duty. When I am in charge, the house could burn down around us and I would be none the wiser. I am that inept. Tim "the Tool Man" Taylor and I were conjoined twins separated at birth, I am convinced. When mommy isn't here, they all whine, "When's mommy gonna be ho--oo--oo--me??"

We celebrated last night by toasting some Welch's sparkling white grape juice over light conversation. The background music was the incessant crying of #5 as we have been training him at five minute intervals to put himself to sleep. When we talked about what we loved most about the last thirteen years, we agreed that it was having gotten to know one another so well.

So, to my beautiful wife, I love you. May I one day become all that you have been to me.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Comment Moderation Enabled

To all of those who regularly read and comment here, I sincerely appreciate it. Your interaction is a blessing. My goal for both blogs has never been to moderate comments, but to allow free expression of opinion yet without belligerence. As of late, I am unable to make no other choice. For a brief period comment moderation is enabled and if you comment on a post, I will receive your comment and I will respond. Again, to all of the regular readers and the Internet community I have come to appreciate, thank you.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas and Eschatology

I have been told many times that there is an apparent "war on Christmas", that secularists and liberals are trying to run Christmas out of the public sphere. I am also told that secularist engineers are recklessly encouraging American retailers to sweep the term "Christmas" under the rug so as not to offend their base of customers. Congress has even passed a resolution affirming Christianity as "a holiday of great significance to Americans and many other cultures and nationalities, [and] is celebrated annually by Christians throughout the United States and the world."

In this post, I want to offer a different perspective on America's "drift into secular monotony," as one prominent preacher has put it. I am persuaded that this "war" has much less to do with Christians being on the defensive as much as they are on the offensive. The current climate of dispensational eschatology has warped the Christian's triumphant spirit into an aggressive attack on anything non-Christmas, perceiving it as anti-Christmas, and that the appropriate response is to go on the defensive against it.

Dispensational eschatology, a la' Left Behind, really does not inspire the church to greatness. The eschatology essentially says that the church is going to wither up and shrink from the earth until there is a rapture that will come and rescue the few faithful remaining Christians from a horrible end. This overtly defeatist tone has pushed the church into a supposed corner and therefore it interprets itself as having to come out with tooth and claw borne so as to defend itself from secular humanist and atheistic attack.

According to the House resolution mentioned above, there are 225,000,000 Christians in America. Obviously then, Christians occupy a majority status on America. Of course we must account for nominal and carnal Christians, not to mention indifferent ones. Plus, there are the vocal minority that continuously claims that Christianity is being assaulted upon every street and avenue. Wither then the brave Christian?

We have picked and chosen the wrong enemy and it isn't the secular humanist or the atheist. Our adversary is still the devil and he gets great pleasure watching God's children flounder wasting their precious evangelistic time waging a war for Christmas. God has not called us to be culture warriors; rather, He has called us simply to be faithful. Persecution is something that should be expected; indeed we are blessed when persecuted (Matthew 5:11). If a "secular", a "liberal", or an atheist reviles Christmas, we should count our blessings, not get on the offensive, rattling our green and red sabers.

By recapturing the triumphalist tone of Christmas we can cause more good for the Savior than by marching to the drum beat of the culture warrior. Consider Isaac Watts' words in the second through fourth verses of Joy to the World, which ironically, really is not a Christmas hymn:

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Notice just a few considerations and Scriptural reflections. Jesus is on the throne of David, has been, and will continue to be (Acts 2:29-35).
"Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ..."
Mr. Watts also recognized Christ is extending His rule unto all the nations and is putting all His enemies under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:25-26).

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found...

As a final reflection, Watts realized that Christ's rule was "already" though still "not yet." The government indeed rests upon His shoulders and His rule would increase until consummated (Isaiah 9:6-7).

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love...

Jesus rules as King of kings and Lord of lords. This is much reason for the Christian to celebrate Christmas yet to remember that Christ already reigns and does not need His rule spread by coercion or force, but by simple evangelistic witness. The eschatology of Christmas is not one of defensive market and media aggression but one of triumphant hope and a victory that has already been won.
In His days, the righteous shall flourish, and abundance of peace, until the moon is no more. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before Him and His enemies will lick the dust. Psalm 72:7-9

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Some Miscellaneous Notes

The family went out to eat at Wendy's yesterday evening. My oldest daughter went to the bathroom after the meal and when she returned she had turned her shirt, a white turtleneck, around. Walking up to the table, she remarked what she had done. I asked her to turn around and when she did there was a stain at the tail of her shirt.

"I turned it around so no one could see it."

I laughed. Hard. How often do we try to cover up our sin in such a way that we cannot see it but it becomes readily noticeable to everyone else?


I stopped by to visit with the nursing home residents of our church yesterday as well. While visiting with one 89 year old lady whose hands are riddled by arthritis, the nursing assistant brought her lunch and I had the joy of blessing her meal and helping her eat it. No, I didn't eat half of it; her hands don't function the way they ought to because of the crippling disease within so I helped her get the food to her mouth. How grateful she was!

When the lady dropped her meal off, Mrs. Francisco remarked that I was her pastor. We introduced ourselves and she asked me what church I pastor. After exchanging pleasantries, she asked me a remarkable question.

"What else do you do?"

"Huh? I don't think I understand. What do you mean?"

"I mean, what other job do you have?"

"Oh! I'm a full-time pastor."

Incredulous: "Oh...mmm...OK. It was a blessing meeting you."

Dumbfounded: "You, too."

To give a bit of necessary context, the lady was African-American. I have been blessed to get to know many of the other African-American pastors in our community and county at large. Of all the ones I have met, they all work secular jobs as well as pastor their respective churches. I was taken aback when she discovered that pastoring was all I do.


Say a prayer for my baby brother. He is tying the knot this weekend. I get to stand up and be a groomsman and I'm kind of glad I'm not doing the ceremony. I don't want to be held personally responsible when she discovers his true demeanor and runs off. I mean, he might pop out of the washing machine and scare the poor girl half to death.


And finally, a picture of #4 to conclude. The irony is that it was really cold that day. Notice the disparity.