I watched in horror as a young teen with long hair and a trench coat in the middle of July walked out to the car his mom was driving and said “You stupid cow….get out of my way before I slap you.” Before I knew what I was doing his head was under my arm in a full blown choke hold. I know….I probably should have gone to jail. However, I was fearing for this mom’s safety. So, I said “hey punk, I will take you down right here and now”. He and his mom began to beg me to let him go. I did as they asked and he started to mouth off to me….I just looked him in the eye and said. “son, you don’t want to go there with me.” Oh…and they were members of my church. I knew what sacrifices she made for him. She was a single mom. The dad was long gone. The kid and I became friends and I did some mentoring with him. It’s all good.
See, I was raised in a different culture. I was raised to respect my mother no matter what. I raised my sons that way. I told them all their lives that they were to remember always she was my girlfriend and my wife long before she was their mother. I told them that they would treat her with respect or I would treat them like any other man who tried to disrespect her. They got it. No talking back to your mom. No shouting. I have never raised my voice to my wife in 53 years of marriage. I will not tolerate anyone else doing it either. You don’t want that consequence.
To see what is happening in our country today makes me heartsick. But it didn’t happen over night. It has been an evolution of disrespect. I can’t tell exactly what the starting point was. Maybe it was when we decided that corporal punishment in school was no longer acceptable. Maybe it was when we decided that prayer in school was no longer allowed. Maybe it was when the parents stopped being the back bone of the school system and hoped the teacher would “teach them how to be adults”. Maybe it was when children became more athletes than kids. Maybe ……..But the tipping point of any revolution, is when the older generation no longer teaches the next one.
I just had the privilege of meeting Irving Roth. He is a survivor of Auschwitz death camp. I immediately got his book and could not put it down. One of the things in his writings hit me hard. He had been raised in a strict Jewish tradition. The Jews in Europe before WWII were hard core. The observed every tradition religiously. No slacking.
But Irving Roth said that when he was released from that horrible place and made his way back to his little village, so much had changed with the Jews. Less than 1% of Jews over 45 years old survived the war. Less than 10% of Jews under 14 had survived. Very few women with small children survived. He states that the old traditions had been lost in the death camps. They could not observe them and they became less and less important. He said, “those older Jews did not push the teens and early twenty year olds because they had endured so much and they were afraid they would lose them again”. So……the new generation of Jews lost much of their tradition.
I watch with sad eyes as kids no longer seem to have a moral compass. I cannot tell you the horror stories of things I have dealt with. I can say I fear for my grandkids. Far too often children are not taught the idea of commitment to anything or any one. Sadly, a huge percentage of children are in blended families with no moral compass. It brings about the loss of R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
We just lost the Queen of Soul. Aretha. What a talent. She was known for her song….R.E.S.P.E.C.T. I read the lyrics today. They are so simple they are almost insulting. But in the song, she is saying she will pay any price just please….give me some R.E.S.P.E.C.T. That’s all. Just a little bit….
I don’t know that it’s so bad to have your ball cap on in church. And I KNOW that we can have major debates over dress codes and lack there of. My mother always said. “Son, the ministry is the greatest profession you can enter…dress like it”. When my dad would be called out at 3 am, he would put on a suit and tie and look as though he had not been in bed. It was the family’s idea of respect for the ministry. I don’t care what you wear. But.. You will almost always see me in a suit and tie in the pulpit. I just can’t get away from my “raisin”.
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is more than rules. It’s all about attitude. No. we don’t yell at our moms without getting our face slapped. I hope you don’t allow that. No. We don’t take the seats when ladies are present. That is rude. No. We don’t assume everyone is beneath us. That is ignorance. Yes. We do stand for the pledge and the anthem. it’s R.E.S.P.E.C.T for the dead and injured. Yes. We honor the house of the Lord.
So, I encourage you to take a self examination of where you fall in the areas of R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Facebook is filled with disrespect constantly. Don’t get dragged into to that. We generally get the R.E.S.P.E.C.T we earn. Let that sink in.
So my friends, I R.E.S.P.E.C.T.fully leave you for now. Be good to each other. It comes back.
I just felt led of the Lord.
I have spent the majority of my days on earth working in and around church/christian people. I know the language and the nuances of the spiritual world like I know English. Maybe even better. I can read the signs, hear the call, bow to the presence, feel the glory. I know the text, context, pretext, proof text, and how to use exegesis to prove my point. I have danced, run, shouted, sat in silence, spoke in tongues, lifted up holy hands without wrath and doubting. I have “yielded to the spirt, held on and let go. I have seen, experienced, been held spellbound, and bored senseless by the preacher. I know the difference between expository preaching and textual preaching. I have studied homiletics (although some would question that) and have on more than a few occasions even taught it.
So, after spending most of my life having exhausted every means possible to win souls, there remains very little I have not tried or seen. To me, I have no issue with anyone’s methods if they are successful in winning the lost to Christ. I do’t care if you are seeker sensitive or preach hell so hot, Jesus gets under conviction. Go get em.
But the one thing I have always had an issue with during my entire life, is the most over used and abused phrase that we would have expected to have explained by now. For some unexplained reason, we still seem to have the need to “feel led of the Lord” when we are doing things spiritual.
I watched a youtube video the other day of some very sincere people handling snakes. I can do that. I just use a shotgun to handle them with. I hate snakes ….alive or dead. I have been snake bit by a copperhead and it was not an experience I would wish on my enemies….well…..maybe a couple , but I digress.
These folks “felt led of the Lord” to go out and catch these poor creatures that everyone hates anyway and bring them into the “presence of the Lord” to prove their power over the devil. Sadly the preacher was a little too friendly with “Satan” and the rattler nailed him. I am not sure if he survived or not. These same people do not believe in medical treatment. If you are truly “in the spirit” you won’t die. If you die….well…you had hidden sins. I am Not amused nor entertained by this. It is a sad commentary.
We sometimes want to be so “spiritually superior” in our work for the Lord, or our living Him out loud, that we can’t explain our actions any other way except “I felt led of the Lord”.
Now, a disclaimer. If you know me, you know I am NOT in any way stating I don’t believe in the leading of the Lord. I have gone places and done things and given away cars, and shared my life simply based on this One thing. I indeed felt like it was what I was to do. I felt drawn to someone, or felt like I needed to be at a certain place, or give something to someone. I am not trying to diminish the work of God’s spirit.
I just think maybe it gets overused when we are wanting to do something “spectacular”. I don’t feel led of the Lord to come to your house and anoint your couch, so your lazy son will get a job. I don’t think anyone else does either. But if it helped fill seats at the church house, we would advertise it anyway.
The greater majority of the miracles I have seen and experienced have been very private. They were not for exploitation. Yes, we need to testify to the greatness of God. No doubt. But many things that are done are simply for our edification. Our relationship with Him is personal. Sometimes all He expects is a simple thanks.
Yet, we continue to say. “I feel led of the Lord” to ….fill in the blank. I have known many people who felt led to the mission field for a couple of weeks. They won’t visit their next door neighbor or mow the grass at the church, but maybe God just didn’t feel the need to lead us to do somethings that needs to be done anyway.
I hope this will not be confusing to anyone, but check what you are saying when you use that phrase. I “felt led of the Lord”. Ask yourself if He would be edified by your having done it. What would the eternal results of you following what you feel? Who would benefit most by your having done it? Would the success or failure of it reflect on Him?
I was raised and mentored by people who knew what it was like to cry all night long for the lost souls in their area. Many of those men DID “feel led of the Lord” to go places no one else wanted to go and to endure what others did not want to endure. But it was after the struggle for the lost. It was after the unconditional surrender to God’s will in their lives…….not as a ploy to exploit.
I personally feel that each of us is born with a purpose to fulfill. I don’t think we need to “feel led of the Lord” to do what he has purposed for us to do. Just do it! Wait….is that a slogan for something?
I want my life to count for the cause of Christ. I have spent 60 years in active ministry. I know what it feel s like to be “led of the Lord”. I don’t discount it. But I do protect it. Don’t make it a tool to edify yourself interest. That statement comes only after the soul searching struggle for the lost.
Love you….now I “led of the Lord” to close.
From Horror to Honor
Yesterday was a momentous day for me. From my earliest memories, I have been intrigued by WWII history. I have studied it in depth, visited Europe (Especially Germany), and spoken with many who lived through it from many sides of the story.
When I was 12 in 1959, I traveled with Harrison Price, World Evangelist for the Church of God of Prophecy. We went to England and Europe for revival meetings and mission work. Our trip took us to the heart of Germany. While there, we stayed with the people. We didn’t do hotels and such then. Not many existed and those that did were far beyond our financial ability.
The fact that we stayed in people’s homes was an incredible educational experience for me. We stayed with one lady named Krista Koppenhoffer. She was the “textbook” German woman. Her husband had served in the SS during the war. After I asked her a million questions about the war, she took me into her room and opened a trunk. Inside was her husband’s black SS uniform. It was complete with boots and belts and his pistol. I begged her to let me have that. She had no family so she could have given it to me. She refused. It was her only link to her husband, she said.
Her husband had taken part in the plot to overthrow Hitler and so he was shot. She never forgot. But she did forgive. She had been a Christian and decided to dedicate her life to God and winning people to Him. She gave us lodging and food and was a marvelous hostess. She took me to many places to show me the German side of the war. Her stories of the liberation of Europe were not good stories. Murders of over 1 Million German speaking people were enacted. They were guilty by vernacular. She told me how she claimed to only speak Polish. It was all that saved her life. She explained how food was almost non-existent. She hid from the Russians and the Americans to keep from being raped.
While Krista was feeling the oppression of hatred toward the German race, another story was happening in the same country. The story of a young man who was 15 years old when he was liberated from Auschwitz and Buchenwald. He was a Jew and had survived the holocaust. Irving Roth had felt the oppression of the Germans and their allies as a young impressionable boy.
Because he was a Jew, food was almost non-existent. He and his family were forced to hide from the German army because they were Jews. He could not speak his own language for fear of being discovered and killed. Eventually he and his family were put in cattle cars and taken to the death camps. Because he was a young and strong young boy, he was sent to the labor camps. There was a big difference in the two. One was for immediate extermination; the other for slave labor in the fields, building roads, housing etc.
Both of these people have crossed my path in my lifetime. It was surreal to see that ominous black SS uniform and those boots and that pistol. I could only imagine the man who wore that uniform. His wife tried to describe him as a good man who was deceived to believe that Hitler was making a Germany whole. She said Hitler could hold you spell bound with his speeches and the result was prosperity. To a war torn country that was like a soft gentle rain.
Yesterday it was again surreal to see the actual tattoo on Irving Roth’s arm that was placed there by the SS. It was his only identity. His name was of no importance to his captors. He spoke of his childhood being ripped away from him by those soldiers in the black uniforms. All because he was a Jew.
But both of these people who had seen and experienced horror beyond belief, professed to me that God had been the real Savior of their lives and of their world. Krista and Irving might have lived in the same town and maybe have seen each other at some point. I don’t know. But what I do know is that neither of them let their horror define who they became.
I can’t imagine that Krista is still alive. How I would love to have kept in contact with her. I wrote her a few times and she responded , then it became less and less. I wish I had known more. But I do know that she put herself into the work of God to bring hope and honor to her little part of her world.
And Irving Roth? He spoke of his horror without one hint of hatred. I spoke with him briefly. I said “I am so sorry for what you had to endure”. He said…”Yes, but I am here now”. He is a voice for Christians United for Israel. He knows horror first hand. He knows Honor first hand.
So you see dear friends, our lives may take many dark paths. We may endure horrors that are beyond imagining. But Honor…..Honor comes from forgiveness and vision. Look ahead. Look to the future of what God has ordained. Forgive the horror of the past. Find Honor in the future.
Take your life from Horror to Honor!
This morning a great friend and amazing man of God, posted about a dream he had. In his dream he saw a great number of excited people gathered around a man who was legendary in his church organization. As the dream progressed, the crowd began to dissipate and finally the man was left standing alone in the rain. My friend made the statement :”It was as though in the dream, people’s excitement was more about the excitement than it was about his (the man) genuine worth.”That profound truth has been stuck in my mind and heart all morning.It has been said that “excited people excite people.” During my life I have witnessed this over and over again.
The Tennessee Titans made it to the 2000 Super Bowl. I was privileged to go. It was an experience for sure but not one I wish to repeat. As I sat in the wonderful seats made available to me by some wonderful people, I was excited about the game and the prospect of leaving as the World Champions of Football. The excitement was overwhelming for a while. Then there was the kick off! Wow. Super Bowl and I was there in the midst of it all cheering for my team. I was standing and yelling and being a great fan. After all, it’s part of the sport. The fans are the heart of it all.
Little did I know, everyone didn’t share my excitement. Behind me a very loud and gruff voice said “You are gonna have to sit down so I can watch the game.” I turned to see a man with a team shirt of a team not even in the Super Bowl. He said. “I paid good money for these seats now sit down. “. I looked at him for a moment the did something every good Titan fan would do. I stepped out from my seat into the isle. My wife froze in fear. I leaned down to the man and said “Mr. I have no idea who you are, but do recognize my seat is closer than yours. Good money paid for my seat too. Now, in Tennessee, we don’t sit down for football. We sit down in Sunday School, but we stand for football. So….one of two things is getting ready to happen. You are either going to become a Titan fan . or I am going to trade seats with you so I will be behind you and my standing won’t be an issue for you.” He looked at me then smiled. I was relieved. He said “sir, you are absolutely right. Who is your favorite player and I will cheer from now on.” He and his son stood for the rest of the game with us. He was a CEO of a big company who just came to Super Bowls to bring his son.
We lost that game by one yard.
After the Super Bowl, I had an Easter Outreach at my church. I invited one of the Titans to come and be the guest speaker. I had an overflow crowd. He gave autographs, and we gave a football that had many of the team names on it. It was an exciting event. Then….he and I were standing there alone in the parking lot. We discussed a bit of the Super Bowl game and I noticed that he was not all that upset. He just said, “we do our best to bring excitement to our fans”. It doesn’t matter who the next big star is on the team. The team moves on after the excitement.
The next Sunday, few people returned to the church who had come for the excitement. And there we were. Standing in the rain wondering what happened. That is what is so terribly wrong with our society.
Had you had the pleasure of knowing the man my friend was dreaming about, you would have known the excitement of being near him. He was a very unique man who possessed a passion for Christ like no one I have ever known. His life was totally about pointing people to Christ. But what many would never know that he was the same man even when there was no one there to adore him or get excited about him. Most never knew he could totally rebuild a car on the side of the road. He was late for a large State Convention of which he was moderator, because he stopped to help a stranded motorist on the highway. He came in with grease all over him….an hour late. People were getting up to leave when he arrived. Excitement returned.
Once when he attended a revival meeting I was conducting at a small church in Cleveland, Tennessee, I asked him to stand and address the congregation. He stood up and looked at them and said “Three cheers for the man on the donkey” Hip Hip Hooray!! Revival broke out for the next 20 nights. It wasn’t that he was excited about excitement. He was excited about the Lord whom he served and knew intimately.
So, I can see that man standing in the rain alone as he did on more occasions than one could imagine. He stood alone many times because he didn’t care about the excitement. He cared about the relationship. Many sold the whole excitement thing, but he promoted the infallibility of God’s word.
Lately, I was in a place of excitement. People were excited by the excitement. But after the program is finished and the lights go off and the chairs are folded and life goes back to “normal” and we are standing in the rain alone, who is there with us? He and He alone.
Get excited if you will, but not about a man. Be excited that your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Thank you Bo Robinson for allowing me to use your inspiration today regarding D.H. Queener.