“The Art of Listening”

Oct 12

“The Art of Listening”

There is a funny story about President Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention to what was said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who came down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” The guests responded with phrases like, “Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir.” It was not until the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Not quite knowing what to say, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming.”  The Bible has a great deal to say about listening. The book of Proverbs personified wisdom as a woman calling us to pay attention and hear her words of advice. “And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth.” (Prov. 5:7, ESV) The wise man also calls upon young people to heed the counsel of their parents. “A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.” (Prov. 13:1). Constantly in the Old Testament, Jehovah calls upon His people to hear His words of warning, instruction, and exhortation. “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel,” God pleads through the prophet Isaiah. (46:3) Today, God wants us to hear the voice of Jesus. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” ( Matt. 17:5) Jesus often preceded His parables or sermons with the exhortation, “Listen to Me” (Mk 7:14). Listening will also improve our relationships with others. Listening will decrease the possibility of misunderstanding, quell anger, and provide understanding into  others’ insights. The Bible says, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (Jas 1:19, NIV) Unfortunately, the divine entreaty is pretty much the opposite of my nature! Too often I am quick to speak and slow to listen. And when that happens the potential is greatly...

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In Need of Another Revolution

Sep 03

In Need of Another Revolution

Today is a special day in history for all Americans. On this day, September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed. It officially marked the end of The American Revolution. Representatives of the United States, Great Britain, Spain and France met to sign this treaty which signified America’s status as a free nation. Britain agreed to formally recognize the independence of its 13 former American colonies. The boundaries of the new republic were agreed upon: Florida north to the Great Lakes and the Atlantic coast west to the Mississippi River. Pilgrims had come to these shores seeking a new life and religious freedom. When King George III refused to grant the colonies political and economic reform he was answered with armed revolution when the first volleys were fired in 1775 in Lexington and Concord. More than a year later, on July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. The 56 patriots who signed the Declaration were God-fearing men. Five times in this historic, founding document God is identified. He is called “nature’s God.” “Creator.” “Judge.” Human rights are identified as “God-given” rights. And it closes by them placing their trust in God “with the firm reliance of Divine Protection.” They soon learned that freedom isn’t free. Five years later 50,000 men had died or were wounded. The financial cost exceeded $400 million in wages for the troops, a considerable sum in those days. The fortunes of many of the Declaration’s singers were wiped out. 12 had their homes ransacked and burned. 5 were captured by the British and tortured as traitors. 2 lost their sons during the war and 2 had their sons captured. And 9 of the signers actually fought in the war and suffered its hardships. Indeed, freedom isn’t free. Sadly our leaders today have strayed from the principles that guided these early Patriots. But our concern is not so much political or economic, but ethical, moral and spiritual. Although our national motto and money says, In God We Trust,” as a nation we have lost trust in Him, His Way, and His Word.” “Here is my Creed, wrote Benjamin Franklin. “I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe. That...

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“What Is Worship?”

Jul 23

“What Is Worship?”

  What is worship? It’s easier to talk about what worship is not. Worship is not music. It is not a program, It is not the money or just time we give and it is not a feeling. While music can be part of worship, it is a language all its own.We like different styles. Traditional or contemporary it doesn’t matter. Music itself is not worship. Music can be a great tool used in our worship. Worship is not doing ‘organized church’ on Sunday mornings. What we bring on Sundays should be an outpouring of our life. Worship does not have a specific start time and stop time based on events. We worship because He Is good, not because we feel good. Our worship should be greater than how we feel. God is greater than how our day is going. He is unchanging. Worship is the response of your heart to an amazing God! The expression of your heart in worship is your language. God sees that. He is focused on what you bring. We are not the audience, He is. Our worship is something we bring to God. Romans 12:1 (NIV) A Living Sacrifice Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Three anchors come out of this verse, demonstrating what worship should be. 1.)God’s mercies touch everything in our lives. It Goes without saying, (HOWEVER I will say it LOUDLY!!:-)…Our God is a GOOD GOD All of the time!” and so we worship Him for His Goodness and Mercy (compassion) upon us. Lamentations 2:22-23 The faithful love of the lord never ends! His mercies never cease.Great is his faithfulness;his mercies begin afresh each morning. 2.)Our bodies should be a living sacrifice. We should strive to be holy and pleasing in what we offer to God every minute of every day; both in our thoughts and in our actions 3.)God does not want pieces or parts. He wants ALL of you. He is not looking for us to make a sacrifice, He wants us to be the sacrifice. Worship is the believer’s response to all He is and...

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“The Birthday Party”

Jul 04

“The Birthday Party”

I’m feeling a bit melancholy on this Saturday morning. I probably shouldn’t feel this way, but I do. It’s a beautiful beginning to the day. It’s a very pleasant 60 degrees on my back porch. The sun is shining. Birds are chirping. Squirrels are scampering about the yard. Why don’t I feel in a celebratory mood? I feel a bit like going to a birthday party honoring someone you have known and loved all your life. They’ve been your friend. Encouraged you. Helped you. And shared many benefits that have blessed your life. But now they’ve changed. Their values are not the same. Their words, attitudes, and actions are such sharp divergence from your earliest memories. So much so you hardly recognize them anymore. They seem happy. They’re celebrating their new-found lifestyle, but it’s hard for you to accept. No, it’s impossible. You still want to go to the party. You still love them. You feel indebted to them. But it’s bittersweet. In some way that’s how I feel on this Independence Day that celebrates our country’s 239th birthday. America has changed. And is changing. And I think not for the better. A recent Rasmussen poll reveals that 67% of Americans feel the country is on “the wrong track.” Only 26% believe we’re headed the right direction. Of course, being on “the wrong track” is rather subjective. No doubt, there are various reasons for that response. For some we’re on the wrong track economically. For others in terms of national defense. Or illegal immigration. Also ranking in the top ten of concerns is political corruption, health care, unemployment and the federal deficit. All of those are legitimate issues, but my greatest concern is that we’re on the wrong track spiritually. Ronald Reagan was right when he said, “If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.” Abraham Lincoln expressed it this way, “It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to own their own independence upon the overruling power of God…and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proved by all history, that those nations only are blest whose God is the Lord.” Sadly,...

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“I’m Coming Out!”

Jul 02

“I’m Coming Out!”

“Nobody can control or define our identities unless we let them, and so I chose to come out and to define myself – nothing more.” These words are by Bradley Manning, who now identifies himself as female named Chelsea.  Manning is serving 35 years in prison for espionage and has demanded “gender confirming healthcare” from the federal prison system. Manning’s words express the current social trend toward personal self-expression and identity definition by homosexuals, bisexuals, lesbians, pansexuals, and transgenders In fact, re-identification knows no boundaries. Rachel Dolezol, a Caucasian woman from Spokane, Washington, was recently exposed as posing as an African-American woman.  She is an activist and was President of her local NAACP chapter.  Her ethnicity is German and Czech.  She is being called “transracial” and says, “I identify as a black woman.” A man named Chris identifies as disabled, and confines himself to a wheelchair, although he is able-bodied.  “I feel like I have the wrong body.  I identity as a guy in a wheelchair.” Believe it or not, there are actually people who identify as being animals.  They’re called “otherkin,” which refers to being born into the wrong body.  Not just body parts, but the wrong species! So, I decided it’s time I “come out” and publicly define my identity. (1) I am a homo sapien.  A human being.  I’m not an animal.  I did not evolve from a chimpanzee or pond scum.  I’m a part of the human race that God created on the sixth day of creation (Gen. 1:26). (2) I am a male.  In the beginning God created  them male and female. (Gen 1:27).  There are only two genders.  And God made me a male.  He “formed my inward parts; (and God) knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” (Ps 29:13) (3) I am created in the image of God.  I’m  not a “little god.”  But I’m a “partaker of the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4).  I have a spirit given to me by God and when I die I will return to God (Eccl. 12:7).  My body is only a shell to house the soul.  I will live on in eternity. (4) I am a Christian.  I’ve been born-again.  I’m a Believer.  I...

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“Are we In Danger of Losing Our Religious Freedom?”

Jun 30

“Are we In Danger of Losing Our Religious Freedom?”

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s narrow 5-4 decision to legalize same-sex marriage, there have been a rash of predictions and dire warnings about the impact this will have on religious freedom. The majority opinion seeks to appease such fears. “Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.” However, in his dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote, “Today’s decision, for example, creates serious questions about religious liberty,” Also dissenting was Judge Clarence Thomas who opined, ” Aside from undermining the political processes that protect our liberty, the majority’s decision threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect.” There have been numerous newspaper articles, facebook posts, blogs and examples given from other countries that suggest our religious freedom is going to be restricted. Everything from muzzling the mouths of preachers who dare to condemn homosexuality, to churches losing their tax-exempt status, to actual fines or imprisonment are suggested possible consequences. The truth is no one, not even the legal scholars, can predict with certainly the potential fallout from this ruling. However, let me suggest that religious freedom is NOT going to be restricted for true disciples of Christ. How can I know that? Because our real “religious freedom”is not based on the United States Constitution. It is founded in our faith in Christ in obedience to His Word. Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Jn 8:32). Jesus’ words were spoken to the Jewish people who were in Roman bondage. Politically and socially they were fettered with certain restrictions. Yet, Jesus’ focus was on spiritual freedom. He further elaborated by affirming this divine Truth. “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin...

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“Thoughts on Memorial Day”

May 25

“Thoughts on Memorial Day”

“Memory is the way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose” ~ Kevin Arnold. As I sit here in the early morning , sipping a cup of  coffee, I am alone with my memories on this Memorial Day. Memory can be a wonderful blessing. It can bring smiles, laughter or even tears of joy as we look at pictures, share stories, or just think about the good times of by gone days. I remember as a boy going the cemetery in the  mid-western community of Mansfield, Ohio, , on Memorial Day. There my Great Grandfather, Arnold Lemon, and an Uncle Jack, both I never knew, were buried. My Grandmother, like many of the older generation, always called it Decoration Day. I recall seeing her gently putting flowers on the grave. Moments of silence. A memory shared. A tear wiped away. Unfortunately with Memorial Day sales, backyard bar-b-ques, and various sporting events, the history and significance of Memorial Day is lost on many of this generation. It’s good to remember why we have Memorial Day. It is a national holiday to honor those who have given their lives in war. There is no clear record when or where this holiday began. Over two dozen cities and towns lay claim to the birth place of Memorial Day. There is evidence that women’s groups in the South began decorating the graves of Confederate Soldiers before the end of the Civil War. Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by General John Logan and first observed May 30, 1868. In 1971 Congress changed the official celebration to the last Monday in May. It has become in time not only to honor those killed in war, but to remember all of our loved ones who have died. My wife Kim and I live in the Pacific Northwest, and each Memorial Day weekend Kim and her Mother, Sister and  sometimes myself and our granddaughters   visit the grave of Kim’s Dad Robert Anderson, who was a Signalman in the Navy in WWII.  Our parents, grandparents, and siblings that have passed on hold a special place in our hearts. These relatives and other...

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