Tom with kids in Kuwait

Tom with kids in Kuwait
Tom with kids in Kuwait

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Christmas Spirit has Left the Building

The Christmas spirit has left the building.  Acrimony has returned to the online world.  People have returned to being divided and divisive.  The love of many has truly grown cold and it seems that we will only listen to what our itching ears want to hear. 

Can we as a nation no longer converse without bitterness?

Our greatest enemy is not ISIS.  It is our own selfishness and cold heartedness and short sightedness.  Where are the men and women who long to preserve the blessings of liberty not only for ourselves but our posterity?

As a pastor and a Christian, I knew this time was coming.  We have it in black and white.  As a Marine officer and an American, it breaks my heart to see us self destruct from our own selfishness. We would rather see this country crumble than give up insisting on our own way.

We must replace politicians with statesmen.
We must replace our vitriolic posts with conversations.
We must be Americans first while cherishing our ethnic roots.
We must respect our authorities while ensuring they are worthy of our respect.

For those of us who profess Christ as Lord and Savior, we must be a light unto the world.

We must be the salt of the earth—a chance for people to have a little taste of God’s goodness in their every encounter with us.

We must be the people who ignore the tactics of the world and choose to love one another over being right every time.

We must be the people ready to spring into action every time and every place where God’s Holy Spirit is being poured out in these last days.

The love of many has grown cold, but we are the few who live by the law of love.

God loved us first and still loves us.  Let us love one another.

Love one another.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Top 10 happenings of 2015

Don’t look now but 2015 is almost in the books.  What do you do when the year is about over?  You recap the highlights, of course.  I have listed the top 10 highlights of 2015 below.

How can you pick the top 10 of anything?  You just have to pick, knowing that you have missed something; but here is the great thing.  You can add what I missed in the comments section at the end of this article.

Let’s start the countdown.

#10 Come home!  This was our year round message.  Some came.  We are still calling.

#9 Tom preached in the local bar.  He went in to put up a poster for the spaghetti supper that would raise money for the Back to Africa mission and ended up proclaiming the good news, witnessing a customer reciting John 3:16, and left with a small offering.   He returned with a few Bibles and Gospels of John a few minutes later for those who might be hungry for the bread of life and thirsty for living water.   All things to all men so that some might be saved—works for me.

#8 Tom and Rick returned to Africa.  This time they trained pastors and church leaders in Kenya and Uganda and shattered part of the leadership model used by senior church leaders, offering instead one given by Jesus.  Are we ready to be the servant of all?

#7 Rain!  We prayed for it.  We got it.  Lakes and ponds are full again.  Welcome to the land of the faithful.  As a result of coming out of a seemingly never ending burn ban, local youth celebrated with hotdogs and marshmallows by a fire after a November football game.

#6  Whosoever Will was unanimously voted the best hymn of all time by the ordained clergy of the Burns Flat CPC.  Whosover will may come!  Okay, it might only be Tom’s favorite but we did, with the help of Kristy Denbo, add a few more songs to the children’s repertoire.   Why yes, the monkeys in the jungle do say, “Thank you, Lord.”

#5 Garrett Stegall in the pulpit—yes, you heard it right.  Garret preached not one, but two sermons in 2015.  He is on tap for yet another message in early 2016.  Mom may get her wish after all.

#4 VBS!  It’s always great.  This year it was scientifically great.  Great job girls!

#3 Disconnect Notices went out throughout Burns Flat during the Walk A Block for Jesus.  Connecting the Disconnected became a local mission in 2014 and got into gear fully in 2015.  There is still much to be done.  And #3A—we did a walk a block in Canute blitzing the town with Gospels of John.

#2 Chewy Tuesdays!  This simple sack lunch has become the epitome of God’s Love in Action.

#1 F4 Revived and Revitalized!  Wow!  What eyes to see the mission field we have with these children that find love in God’s house on Wednesday nights.  What a blessing to have the adults that we need to guide these young ones in the way they should go and do it with love!  What started  a decade ago as a gathering for fellowship and education has become the most important of missions in the life of this church and in this community.

Thank you Lord for trusting your servants with these most worthy assignments and for being your witnesses to your mighty acts!


Don't forget to add your highlights below..


Monday, December 7, 2015

All things being equal...

All things being equal—wait!  Let’s not go any further.

We use the expression casually without ever thinking, that all things are never really equal.  God is above all things.  People trying to make sense out of this world try to do so from an “all things being equal” standpoint.  They are not.

God’s ways and thoughts are higher than our thoughts.  To make sense of the creation without regard for the Creator brings us to confusion not clarity.  Before science fiction and fantasy authors can tell their story, they must first get their audience to suspend their disbelief.  Whether the story is about zombies or aliens or zombie aliens, the author must first get his or her readers to “buy in” to whatever universe must exist for the story to continue.

This can happen with words scrolling across the screen Star Wars style or with a simple, once upon a time; but it must happen or the story never gets off the ground.  That’s the life of the fiction writer.

Unfortunately, it is also the life of many people living in what they believe is the real world.  They think that all things being equal, this thing or that way is the solution.  All things are not equal.  God reigns.  His law and his love prevail.  Those who go against it are not going to prosper.

We take the walk and profess our faith as Christians and then we break out the world’s rule book and wonder why being a Christian doesn’t seem to change much.  We have a different walk to walk than does the world.  We have become strangers in this world.

To believe that all things being equal, this is how things should work is to suspend our disbelief and live by the rules of the world when we know better.

God wove his wisdom into the fabric of the universe.  Reality for the Christian is God’s wisdom.  Why do we spend so much time trying to make the world’s wisdom work when it is based upon a false reality?

Jesus didn’t come to turn the world upside down.  He came to put us right side up again.

As we continue in this Advent season, let’s get ready to have our world placed right side up again.  Let’s stop suspending our disbelief and believing the story that the world wants to tell.   It’s fiction.  It is time to believe the truth.

God is love.
Real life is in Jesus.
We are to love one another.

Let’s get ready to celebrate the birth of our King into this world and ready to embrace his return and live in the truth in this time in between--a time when the world would have us believe everything but the truth.

All things are not equal.  Let's follow the One who is above all things.

Friday, December 4, 2015

God isn't fixing this--okay, then what should that tell us?

It’s not the New York Times asking, Is God Dead?  It is not the Time Magazine take on the same query.  It is something of a headline that hopes to generate the same sort of controversy and paper sales that the Daily News, a New York City publication, has put forth.

It might sell a few more papers, but God Isn’t Fixing This, is indicative not of the violence in America but of our propensity to need someone or something tangible to blame.

Gun owners, lobbies, legislation, and legislators will be the targets again for a while.  So long as we keep them in our sights, we don’t have to deal with the real issues.

What issues?
We don’t value the sanctity of life.
We like being the most selfish people on the planet.

Yes, this is generalizing, but it is painfully accurate.  We can blame politicians and lobbyists or even God, but we are responsible for the current state of affairs in our nation.

Yes, many Christians pray daily.  Some try very hard to follow the teachings of Jesus.  Some try to love one another, but what the few are doing is not indicative of the direction that the country is heading.  The love of many has truly grown cold.

The history of God’s Chosen People is full of examples of a nation turning away from God time and time again.  We could look at what happened to them and learn or we could just find a target to blame instead.  We have chosen the latter.

So what can we do?

Turn back to God.  Really, what we need to do is turn back to God.

Let’s take the headline and just for the moment assume that it is valid on its face:  God is not fixing this.  The word God presumes some things even outside of the Christian community—all powerful, righteous, holy, just, and some non Christians will even add loving.

Very few picture God as the mean kid with a magnifying glass focusing sunlight on his creation until they burn.  In the premise of God is the understanding that God is good.

So if God is not fixing what is wrong with our country, then maybe, just maybe we are the ones that need to do the fixing.  We need to be the ones to make the course corrections.

These corrections won’t begin with our laws and law makers.  They must begin in our hearts.  We must turn away from the evil and wickedness in the world and turn back to God.  Let’s throw in a Bible term—repent.

We must repent of our wickedness.  We are the most narcissistic society on the planet.  We don’t value life in the womb.  We don’t value lives until a dozen are lost in some mass shooting.  Killing sells video games.  Life seems to be about what we can get for ourselves.

This whole store up treasures in heaven line of thinking falls on deaf American ears.  We have rejected God and still wonder why he isn’t fixing the problems of these horrific shootings that seem to come one after another these days.

Well, we are a special sort of stupid.  We want the benefits of being a godly society without having to be a godly society.

That dog don’t hunt!

We can turn to God—for real and not just in speeches—and he will help us break away from the wickedness that we know in this self gratifying, narcissistic, and blame prone society; or we can do nothing different and expect nothing different.

God isn’t fixing this, but he stands ready to fix it, heal us, heal our land, and bless us more than we can imagine if we will just turn back to him.

Those who currently seek God, his kingdom, and his righteousness are strangers in this world.  We don’t fit into the mainstream.  Our hope is in the Lord and our mission is to bring people to God through the good news of Jesus Christ.

We minister to a godless world.  We get that.  We don’t try to fix blame.  We try to lead people to the One who can fix hearts and lives and lead us to abundant and eternal life.

The answer is Jesus Christ!
The answer is Jesus.
Jesus is the way.

To follow him, we must first stop following the god of this age.  We must repent and give Jesus lordship in our lives.  One day he will reign in this world and we will know nothing but peace and love and righteousness. 

For now, each of us must turn away from the wickedness of the world and accept Jesus into our hearts.  The world will always have trouble, but we must take heart:  Jesus has overcome the world.

Let’s stop blaming God or guns or laws or lawmakers.  Let’s fix the condition of our hearts.

Let’s turn to God and put him first in everything.

God will fix this!  Are you ready to do things his way?