A friend of mine had a severe leg injury. She had to have a rod inserted all the way up her leg. The bones were broken in a splinter fashion and it was a very long recovery period. She continued to struggle with her leg and was not gaining the use of it properly. Amputation was considered.
A second opinion by a different surgeon found the problem. The rod that had been inserted into her leg was an inch too long and was not allowing bone tissue to re-connect. Instead, there were very painful and damaging infections ……in the void between the bones. She ultimately had to have the first rod removed and the proper one fitted. This also included taking bone grafts from her hip and packing the bone tissue into the void between the bone breaks. She soon recovered the use of her leg.
The human body cannot sustain “voids” in it’s tissue. We are built in such a manner that every part of our body is “filled” with bone, flesh, muscle, tendons, etc. A void creates an opportunity for infection that can lead to death.
We are also spiritual beings who need the “voids” filled in our souls and spirits. Existentialism is the term used to describe man’s continual search for the meaning of life. Through the writings of Kirkland Rollo May Hagel and Frankl, we are taught that man is free and he is what he makes himself and that he is a dynamic state of becoming/ evolving. They assert that he must focus on experience and on the here and now. The goal is finding one’s essence. Sounds reasonable. No?
The problem is that WE do not possess the power to “become”. We do not possess the power to find our “essence”. We cannot, of ourselves, fill our own “voids”. How simple life might be if we could. But boy do we try. We have become a world of obsession. We obsess over games of all sorts and lose friends over the color jersey someone wears. We site statistics of wins and losses and coaches and players. We revel in our wins and mostly defend our defeats. The favorite line is always “wait till next year”. We cannot drop it for a second. We even develop “fantasy teams” to keep our appetite fed until the next season. We can’t watch one game and go on to something else. It is constant. We even have “jersey days” at church and show our team pride.
The issue is not the game or the jersey or the statistics. The issue is our attempt to be filling our voids. We see relationships as disposable as a wet paper towel. We move from one to the other …yet again to fill a void. We strive to achieve. We ache to become wealthy to the point of playing long odds at becoming insanely wealthy on the backs of other people’s losses. We march for some unknown and ill understood philosophy to fill that void.
When one thing no longer fills the void….we move on to the next shinny object. We look for love and acceptance and approval in all the wrong ways. Just trying to fill that void. The more we try, the worse we get. Finally our decisions can be our undoing.
I am not bashing having fun and enjoying a game or playing to win. I believe in competition. The reason for this blog is to help us to understand that if the void has a certain shape or need, nothing short of that will fill that void.
Man is born with a God sized hole in his heart. Nothing short of a relationship with God will fill it. I was listening to a preacher who is considered to be a huge success today. He was talking about the whole idea that NOT ONE OF US has the kind of faith that we need. His contention is that we believe in God , but we don’t believe God. I was preaching that 50 years ago. Dude stole my stuff. But I have found over the years that he is wrong. I do believe we can have that relationship that fills that void that nothing else can. I know I have that. Without sounding arrogant, I can truthfully say that I believe God.
I Know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day. I know what has filled that void for over 65 years. He is as real to me as the very air I breathe. I have no doubt about His love for me and mine for Him. It is not based on actions but upon faith.
Your void will be filled …somehow. Something will slowly take a place in that void. Make sure YOU decide well what will do that for you.
A day in Washington DC
I just returned from Washington DC. It was not my first trip to DC nor my first time to visit the White House. I have been to Washington many times. It was, however, the first time that I had received an invitation to come to a White House briefing. I had gone there once before to testify to a Senate Sub Committee on being a victim of a radiation experiment while a fetus. It was a very large issue during the Clinton administration. My mother and I discovered we were used as human guinea pigs in an experiment to see how radiation would affect a fetus. I thought everyone glowed in the dark. We did win that class action suit. We each received a very small settlement. I think it was a few thousand dollars each.
But this trip was different. We were there to receive some exciting news for the church! You know….The Church! And this news can and should motivate us like nothing has in a very long time.
We learned that every Administration Cabinet Office has been assigned a “Faith Director”. The President has asked that the Faith Director reach out to the Church to ask how the White House might help us do ministry. As we all know, President Trump is very concerned about the huge drug problem in our country. He knows full well that the Church has the answer for helping to change lives. He is concerned that we be given all the assistance possible in doing our part in sharing this story.
I was amazed at all the Faith Directors who work in the Administration as they shared their personal faith in Christ. They shared the feeling of freedom not seen in decades to pray and seek God for answers to all the issues being faced. TheFaith Director for FEMA shared that for some reason, this President LOVES pastors and preachers.
So, to make this as simple as I can, delegations from different states that are hand picked are coming to interact with those Faith Directors to bring ideas, inspiration etc, to get us to rise up and do the work for which we have been called. The President believes that many of the things we do politically were the mandate of the Church. He wants to make that opportunity OURS again. It’s basically coming down to less talk…more action. He believes we hold the key to the success of people’s lives through Christ. I agree with him on this one.
So, the Faith Leaders led us in prayer. Jason Crabb was selected to be there and like the rest of us was not sure why. He led us, along with other singers, in Amazing Grace and I’d Rather Have Jesus. Church broke out! We praised, we sang, we prayed, and we accepted the challenge.
The benefits being offered will become more clear in the future, but they are amazing….take that from me. I was moved to tears as I saw the possibility of that next great move of God for our country. This decision from the White House is something I have never seen before in my 71 years. Love him or hate him, he, Trump, believes in the Church and it’s mandate. I don’t care about your opinion of him. I care about the opportunity being afforded us. We must join this effort.
Nothing was said about trying to get votes, or popularity polls or anything of that nature. It was just about “How can we assist the Church”…..I loved it.
A door of opportunity is being swung wide open. Walk through it.
Each state will have a delegation of people who will help to share this information. I will likely be going back to DC in the next few weeks to discuss Prison reform, and Counseling options for implementation. Pray for me. I know I am a bit old, but I am desperate to see the move of God again.
I am writing as fast as I can and hoping you can catch some of the excitement of what God is doing. Please pray for our leaders. You don’t have to like them to pray for them.
I want to take this opportunity to thank my pastor, Dr. Ben Graham and his wife Candace for having made this particular trip possible. It was historic and momentous to say the very least. So , God bless you pastor. We did have a ball.
May I also highly recommend DC as a family vacation. It’s inspiring and educational and it’s FREE. So take your family and allow them to experience something wonderful. ….and go to the Trump International Hotel and get the bacon…just trust me on the bacon.
Watered Down Soup
My father and mother grew up during the Great Depression. I grew up hearing stories about it. I loved to hear my father tell stories about his early years. He was an amazing man who decided one day that his family would not endure the hardships he endured. He worked hard at everything he did and was successful. He was never rich in worldly goods, but he certainly raised himself above his early childhood poverty.
One of my favorite stories he told was that during the Depression, his mom made a lot of soup. He said “We had a big piece of meat to cook the soup with but we were not allowed to eat the meat. It was for flavor only. One day the neighbors who were worse off than we asked if they could borrow the meat to cook some turnip greens. Of course we were willing to help the neighbors. When they brought the meat back to us, the turnip greens had ruined the meat and now the soup tasted like turnip greens. The neighbors ruined our only bit of flavor. So to get rid of the turnip green taste mom had to water down the soup.” I always thought it was a joke, but my mom told me he was serious.
We are fortunate to have so many choices at our disposal every day, that the idea of that is foreign to us. Actually the idea of having to cook every day and use a piece of meet over and over to get flavor is like a story out of some kind of fiction novel. We can have anything we want, with any kind of topping or flavoring. We can have hot , cold, medium. We can put mustard or mayo or whatever we want on anything. We don’t need used meat.
The problem with this is…we have too many choices for it to be healthy for us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We have a plethora of choices on everything from banks. to sports. to travel. to eating. to lifestyles. We are overwhelmed with choices every day. We are constantly being “sold” something 24/7. You can buy jewelry all night long. Or that next big exercise machine that is guaranteed to give you rock hard abs in 10 days. You can have a mattress delivered to your door and just unbox it and have a wonderful sleep filled night with no joint issues tomorrow. It’s magic….Everything is magic.
But, what have we traded for all the convenience? We see the same thing happening to us in our politics, our media, our churches, our comedy, our entertainment, our education. We can go to concerts, vacations, etc, if we are willing to give up something. The “meat” of our lives is being ruined by the neighbor’s turnip greens.
Now we have “ordained ministers” who are calling for the bible to be re-written to agree with abortion and other social issues of the day. We have any number of theological ideas to satisfy the ever growing hunger of people’s souls. We have lives with ruined meat.
My dad said my grandmother would use beans and potatoes and all sorts of veggies in that soup. But when the meat got ruined, it just did not satisfy any longer. He said that when other people came, my grandmother put more water in the soup so there would be enough to go around. We sadly are living in a tasteless world. Our moral compass has been hijacked by the powers that seek to destroy. They are ruining the meat with a warfare against all that is holy and pure like we have never seen before.
Relevance? Yes we need that. I do not intend to imply that we should not be aware of our surroundings and the social situations we live among. But what price are we willing to pay to be relevant? Many years ago, I was an itinerant evangelist. I had a degree of success at that. I loved what I did. I still love it and miss it. But to be relevant, I was told I had to be seeker sensitive and a long list of other things.
So, I “watered down the soup”. I admit to having omitted far too much meat from the presentation. My desire to be relevant; to succeed; to build; to re-invent myself took the meat to the neighbors. They ruined it. I always had a new visitors evaluation sheet in my bulletin. I wanted to know what we were doing right and how we could fix any problems. One Sunday someone wrote..”You are not Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, or any of those guys. Be Ron Hamm. Be energized by the spirit like you can be. Be what I felt you were supposed to be this morning. The content was good, the jokes were funny, the presentation was flawless, but the meat was missing”. I still have that sheet in my desk. It propelled me back to my roots.
We need to find the “meat” again. We need to have substance in our lives and families again. We need to establish our families in the faith of our Almighty God. Pentecostals need to be Pentecostal again. Main line denominations need to preach the power of salvation again. We once left church feeling like we had eaten a great meal. We were satiated with the God food that had meat….lots of meat. Preach the word like a dying man to dying men!
I am beginning to write my life story in a few days. I have done much research in my mentor’s journals and my own journal. I no longer want to tell a story. I want to share meat with the reader. I remember as a child sitting at the table after revival service and listening to Harrison Price as he talked to pastors and their families. It was full of meat. How we miss those days.
Don’t loan the meat to the neighbors…..Just grab a big ole piece and hang on. God has not forsaken His church nor this country. He has plenty of wonderful blessings yet for us….
Don’t water down the soup.
Old wine in new wineskin
A few days ago I made a comment on facebook about being amused at some of the things I hear preachers and speakers say. Then I read the comments and am even more amused at the responses.
Having spent the last 60 years of my life living in ministry, I think I might have seen it all and heard it all. Over and over and over again. One generation after another parroting what they previous generation said and did without the same results.
It has been observed that the beginning every denomination was a movement. There is revolutionary fire in a movement. It consumes hearts and minds and emotions. It drives people to sacrifice and go beyond the normal to achieve whatever the revolution’s narrative is.
Then the Movement, and it’s fire reaches the second generation. Those who stand on the shoulders of the pioneers, see the need to organize the movement and make it more manageable. So, they take that fire and put it in a place that will still give warmth, but might no longer consume. The second generation lives off that fire, It constantly says “This is how we came to turn the world upside down. We have that fire in us and we want to make the managed movement take greater strides. We can tell people exactly how to get things done and change lives and communities. Along the way, the movement does have effect and offends the status quo. But mainly, nothing of real import happens.
By the third generation, denomination becomes an institution. It becomes the curator of the movement. It builds monuments to those who dared to revolt. It no longer even attempts to re discover the purpose of it’s parent movement. Now, it has a network of museums in which it houses the “once upon a time”. mentality of historical movement. Yes we have great history. Yes we can point to the effects of our wonderful denomination/institution. I have no quarrel with that. I love history.
By the fourth generation, those who have inherited it, make the decision to rebrand it. How can we perpetuate this blessed institution to the new generations of people. We need to “rebrand” and work toward selling the same product in a different wrapper. So we begin to dismantle the parts of the institution that seem to be a hinderance and add things that will entice a response to what was originally a fire brand movement that consumed entire populations.
In the past two months or so, I have watched numerous live streams of ministries across a broad spectrum of denominations. I have listened to the ideas on how to have a good marriage, how to raise tolerable (not tolerant) kids, how to manage your time in a hurried up world, I have also heard “what the church needs today is….(replay rants of yesteryear ) and hear a faint amen chorus. I have seen the same results from some of the same people who have preached the same stuff for decades. I have watched people shout and dance and sway and yet….much of it seemed hollow. Why? Because it is not causing a re-newal of the movement. It says nothing about re-discovery.
The end result is that we now have the ability to live stream bad theology as well as good. People who used to preach against “those tv preachers who are after your money” can now have their own show…..and ask for your prayerful support. We don’t want “UN prayerful support”. Rebranding now means that we can offer you an hour of amazing Praise and Worship by a band and back up singers, complete with lights and sound, We can offer you a peaceful time Away from those pesky kids who you have had to deal with all week, Just think…..You and I can sit and enjoy the encounter without being interrupted while we miss out seeing our child reacting to the gospel and YOU the parent missing out of the greatest thing that a parent can experience with their child…..Salvation. We go to the really cool kiosk and are told by a bouncy teen that “wow, like you should have seen Johnny give his heart to Christ this morning”.
I was told once that “people like me” were no longer necessary. I was told that people had moved on in their thinking and in their response. I was told “my style” was out dated. I guess that meant that the results were not needed either.
Let an old man share a lesson with you. People respond to any movement that will give them hope. They are hungry for the real. People need to encounter the Lord of the complete. We want to rejoice in the institution. I’m not singling out any particular one. I have studied and been part of more than one. People NEED the fire of compassion that drives them to get out of their comfort zone. They need to be part of something that is alive and thriving. I am an older man, but that fire I was told was no longer needed has never gone out. It can’t be extinguished. We used to sing an old song. “It’s all over me and it’s keeping me alive”. Maybe it’s a stretch, but we knew that fire well.
I guess the person who shared with me that I (my ministry) was no longer needed or valid was right in the light of those who are in charge of the museum. I suppose relics are to be seen and not heard.
A couple of weeks ago, a young pastor of a large church, completed suicide. People were all aghast and worried. But, like every news cycle of our day, it had a 48 hour effect and we were back to normal. We knew that college football was kicking off. We pushed suicide to the back of our minds and began the cycle all over again.
Stop trying to “rebrand” the wonderful works of God. Re-Discover the FIRE of the Movement. Have it be said of you….’They that have turned the world upside down have come hither also”. Don’t settle for less.
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.
My dad is teaching me.
My grandson, Jonathan and I were driving to baseball practice lately. He loves baseball. He is the kid who comes out of the dug-out with his bat raised like William Wallace in Braveheart. He confidently steps up to the plate and kicks the dust off his cleats and looks the pitcher in the eye as if to say “I’m gonna knock this one out of the park”. He raises your spirit with that raised bat and his attitude is simply inspiring. He doesn’t usually get a hit…..seldom. He was awarded the last game ball simply because his attitude was amazing.
He comes back to the dug-out with that bat still raised and says ” I know what I did wrong and I will get better next time”. If you meet this kid, you fall immediately in love with him. He has a mind like a trap and nothing gets passed him. He was recently chosen in his school to speak to the astronauts on the space station. His question “can you see more stars from up there or is it about the same?” He loves looking through his telescope.
So, on this particular day we were driving along in my convertible with the top down just enjoying hanging out. He likes that he is now tall enough to sit in the front without a car seat. He puts his arm up on the arm rest and we are just two guys chillin. I casually asked him a question. I asked.”Jonathan, what are you working on right now?”. I always know he is busy doing something.
He looked at me with his big blue eyes and said “Well, Pop, I have been doing some wood work. I want to build a table and some things for the outdoors around the fire pit. ” He is eight! I never want to discourage him so I asked “So are you using the saw and hammer and those things?” He looked at me with a puzzled look, like how could you build a table without using those tools.
Then he said something that has been with me since that day. He said “My dad is teaching me.” I have to admit I got a bit choked up. I remember spending time with my sons, teaching them how to use tools. He went on to explain how “his dad” was this great builder and was teaching him how to use safety first. He had his own safety glasses that he and his dad bought together at Lowe’s. He told me he was learning basic skills with a tape measure and how to cut wood with a hand saw and keep it on the marked line. He gave me a fully detailed description of all he was learning. I was overwhelmed with joy.
He then said “My dad told me that your dad taught you and you taught my dad and that this was part of who we are. My dad said that one day I will probably have a little boy and I will teach him.” Then he rocked my world. He said “My dad is teaching me about God. He is teaching me about heaven and how to be a good person. He is teaching me everything he knows about growing up to be a man.”
By this time I was fighting back the tears. I know my son. My grand son could have no better teacher on this earth. And my grandson felt pride in saying. “My dad is teaching me”. How those words fill me with hope and gratitude.
Since then I have thought about all the things my dad taught me. He did indeed teach me wood working and building. Our last time together on earth was building in a garage and making a big room and bath room out of it. We loved those times together. And while he taught me of wood and tape measures and hammers and saws, he taught ME about Jesus and what it means to be a man. He taught me to respect my mother, my wife, my children, my president(right or wrong) and how to provide for those I love.
I know we have some serious problems in this world. I know the government, the schools, the church, could all do a better job at teaching our children. But I think the real issue is that we don’t have enough fathers teaching their sons about real things. It’s fine to teach them about throwing a ball , or running fast, or being a musician (well maybe not that). But it’s time for us to hear words that are more solid from children. We need to hear them say “My dad is teaching me”. And that needs to be a good thing…not a bad thing.
My dad was my mentor. He taught me how to study the bible. He taught me how to preach a funeral. He taught me that the greatest commodity on earth is love. Love that is a verb, not just an emotion. But more importantly, he would point me to the Lord and say, “He can and will teach you more than I ever could. Listen to Him and follow him.”
“My dad is teaching me……everyday”.
Reunions are interesting events. They are held for all manner of reasons. High School, College, Family, Work, Military, Church…on and on.
This past weekend I attended a reunion. It was actually the International Assembly of the Church of God of Prophecy. This was the denomination I grew up in and was an official in for many years. I began working as a child missionary/evangelist with a well known Missionary/Evangelist , Harrison E. Price. I traveled the country and much of the world with him. We organized churches and did revival campaigns in amazing places. I am in the early stages of writing my life story. In the story of my life, this denomination is central to who I am and what I have become.
The two days I spent in Chattanooga were fun and humbling. I have not attended one of these for the past 20 years. So, I had no idea what was in store for me. I knew I wanted to hear the Bahama Brass Band play live again. I was not disappointed. They continue to be what they have always been. You cannot hear this band without wanting to pick your feet up and march. They inspire inclusion. I brought them to New Orleans once and we did a parade down Bourbon St. The bars emptied and people were joining in. The crowd who marched with us gave away 150,000 gospel tracts telling the story of Jesus. It was a wonderful time. So they are dear to my heart. I loved every moment of their performance.
Then I began to see people who I had not seen in decades. Amazingly they remembered me from some meeting or other. We laughed about old times, and shared stories about where we had been and what life had handed us. Many times I was humbled by the stories of how my ministry had touched the lives of people far and wide. It’s always pleasant to hear, “You were a blessing to my family”. I was indeed grateful to know I had an influence in helping someone along life’s pathway.
One brother in particular was from Seattle. I did not remember him at all until he told me the story of how his father had accepted Christ in one of my revivals there many years ago. His father had passed and the family were all thankful that he had made that peace with God. They knew he left for a heavenly eternity. I began to recall that meeting and that experience with that man. He changed my life as much as I changed his. Now his son shared with me that at least one man was in his heavenly home because I had flown across the country and presented the gospel to that group for that week of my life.
Reunions are about the years of our existence. We are able to synopsize the decades with ease because our lives are not about one day or one week or one month or one year, but the continuing flow of our contributions . I can’t remember how many times I was asked, “so how are things”? My answer was generally predicated as to the memory of the person asking the question. If I had had regular contact with that person, I knew how to answer. If I had not crossed paths with them in ages, then my answer was a bit more generalized.
Over all we like to go to these events to remind ourselves of our past and reconnect with people who at one time in our lives, figured prominently. Now, maybe not so much, but it is good to see them again.
I attended my 50th High School reunion a few years back and my wife and I sat at the table with the girls who were cheerleaders during those HS years. They were pulling up their pant legs and comparing the scars where they had had knee replacements. It was kind of funny. Those legs that once jumped and bounced and climbed now were showing the signs of the damage that had been done in their youth.
This week end, I didn’t see cheerleaders showing scars of physical damage, but I did see the results of people who had lived lives. I saw some who had been hit hard with damage. Some who had children born with special needs. Some who had tried to follow the path of their parents dreams and had found it empty. I saw people who had weathered storms. I saw people who had been drafted into the military and had seen war on a grand scale. I saw those who had drifted from the biblical theory they once espoused. I saw those who had tried and failed; some who had tried and succeeded; some who had simply gone along with the flow.
But mostly I saw people who had hope. They all still held on to the idea that we got this far and we will keep on going. They all could still laugh and hug necks and take pictures together. They could remember the good times and the bad and know that nothing can kill the spirit of brother hood when it is forged in the flames of friendship.
This was a good reunion. I enjoyed it because it helped me to know that we are not alone as long as we hold memories dear. As long as our dreams still have some spark left. We go on…
Until the next reunion…….keep moving forward.