Thursday, February 26, 2009

God Is Better Than Drugs, Your Love Has Been Like Holy Hugs

Hey everyone!

I want to start off this edition with some big “thank yous” to those of you that checked on me over the past week since I have not posted a blog. It is really refreshing to hear that you are praying for me. Soon after starting this ministry, God really began to show me how important prayer is in new ways. I never realized how valuable it has been for me and for One Man Revival. I will tell you that when you are sick, you’ll see how much you are appreciated by your local church. When the phone rings and the emails come asking, “Hey, where are you?”, that is when you know you’ve settled into a church that will be your home. Just remember, that love is not just the responsibility of the pastor(s), even though it is very nice when they call and tell you that they are concerned.

I missed a lot this week, but I made one event. On Saturday, I had the chance to see the technical side of my church and how they work their magic. It really wasn’t all that different than any other system, but Perry had a video from the guy that does Life Church online and I tell you that message blessed my soul to know that this ministry is exactly what I am supposed to be doing.

It gave me something to think about with the time I spent trying to rest and recover. I say that with the full knowledge that you never rest with three toddlers running around while you are the only parent in the house. I had time to think about some things that involve the ministry and some destinations that I have to go to during 2009 and beyond.

I had planned to take the series that I had started before I caught the flu bug for several more parts, but God had me trim it down to one more session for now on some notes I read from the book UnChristian. It is really a remarkable book and I’ll give you more information on that in the next couple days.

If you noticed a couple changes, then you have been paying attention to the page. I want to discuss these. First, I have an obsession with church signs and I found this neat little website that you can make your own. It’s so neat. I really like the new banner with the information. I’ll be posting other One Man Revival Internet Ministry signs occasionally if I come up with something witty or I see one out somewhere that makes me happy.

The other change is a touch more serious. When I began the ministry in discussions with my friend Peter Brown, I told him that I really never ever want to ask for donations to do what I love, that being write and talk about God and his love for us. I just struggle with asking people for money. You are to give ten percent to your church and IF YOU CHOOSE TO, you can make additional offerings to other ministries that are worthy. I’m not sitting here saying my ministry isn’t worthy, but I think your first priority is to your home church, period. Anyhow, for now, I have given you a way to help my ministry without reaching for your wallet.

You probably have noticed the WidgetBucks ads that are a part of the page and every time you click on them to look at an item you might be interested in, the ministry receives a few cents. If you buy an item that you look at from the link, the ministry gets a few extra cents. The incentive is that these deals are supposedly the best or close to the best on the internet to get the items. So hopefully by helping you, it helps me. So if you see an item you have interest in, click away. If it’s a good deal, then make a choice for yourself. I sit here knowing that money masters like Dave Ramsey would tell you to buy it wisely, so be wise. Personally, if you have never had a chance and are having financial tough times, Dave Ramsey books or classes might be worth checking out and no, Dave did not pay me to say that.

Anyhow, what I really want to reiterate is thanks. Thanks for praying for my health. Thanks for praying for my ministry. Thanks for praying for my family. We do appreciate the love. Thanks so very much for reading and we should be back to somewhat normal writings until my vacation in late March. That’s another blog for another day.

I love you guys!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Are We Seeking Community, the Freedom to Be Me or Both?

Free To Be Me

During part one of this series, I looked at some problems with a dislike, I’m not even using hatred here, with the church in general by people who are either non-Christian or Christians that have the opinion that life at home on Sunday is better than being in church. Part two established that we become part of something called a body when we do step into a church.

The question then becomes why aren’t people coming? Of all the comments I received from the survey a few weeks back, most viewed the people as snobby, cliquish, or outright hypocritical. So is every church missing the boat on people? Of course not. So I present a case of four probable scenarios that people fall into and then we’ll talk scripturally on how people in the church are supposed to act like. Keep in mind, these scenarios are ones I chose to throw out there and are not the end-all of possible scenarios.

The first scenario involves the person seeking out the church as not all that into the decision. This could take on many forms. The person could only give one shot to each prospective church or go irregularly. I certainly don’t think that you should go and sit in the same place every time you attend, however, probably being consistent in an area might improve your chances on someone taking that stroll over to talk to you. Also, leaving in a hurry is not suggested. I might even go as far as to say don’t wear running shoes. Don’t be ready to leave as the pastor is saying the concluding prayer, even if the football game is involved. I’m not advocating hanging out in your seat like your coming down after a Grateful Dead concert, but walk normally.

The final three scenarios might have more to do with the church members than you, so please be advised to be patient with them. First, there are some lazy members who have one of the following diseases: Handstuckinpocket, gluedbuttockstochair (this is even more complicated in wooden pews), headinsandybeachdreamland, or the dreaded gottaprayatthealtartolookholyitis. Honestly, some church members are not thinking or are just lazy on certain days, just like everyone else. It’s not you, it is us, the church blind not recognizing the need.

The second of these three also has to do with churchgoer comfort. After people go to a church for a while, they often find a clique. I’ll call it what it is. We (I say this because I’ve done it) get so involved with our buddies talking about how great (or not so great) the pastor’s message or the choir or the worship was that we forget to look around to see needs or new people. There is a comfort in being in an in-crowd and a hesitant discomfort to leave that crowd to talk to anyone. Again, it’s not you, it is us, the social butterflies of the church that haven’t left the cocoon in ages.

The final scenario I’ll cover is shamefully a real scenario. I’ll ask some honest questions first. Are you a popular sinner, meaning that you are well known enough that even you are surprised the church hasn’t fallen in yet? Do you smell bad? Are you well dressed? Have you grown a beard to look like a ZZ Top fan? If you’re a lady, are you a little over perfumed? None of those were very nice questions, but they are real. Why? Once Christians get really comfortable in being a Christian, they tend not to hang out with many sinners. Again, it’s not you personally, but we need to hang out with brothers and sisters in the Lord because it will help us behave better. I don’t know why, but there is this fear about the unknown. The problem is that most Christians forget they were that unknown when they gave their lives to Christ and thanks to someone else, they actually were able to be part of the network of believers.

So non-churchgoers this first half was for you. Don’t fear coming on down to a good local church. We (the church going public) really are trying to do better and be on good behavior so you will come back. We do want you to be part of the family, an equal friend with us, not the whacked out drunken uncle three times removed.

Church going public this second half is for you. This is the way we really are supposed to treat new people as they come in. Don’t feel lectured though. I’m talking to myself as well.

The first thing that I’ll talk about is The Great Commission. Jesus told us to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18). For some reason, too many of us are staying. Staying stuck in our seats. We won’t go across the pew to ask someone if they are new or just even to say hello. If we are so intimidated by the world that we won’t operate on our turf, it really says something about the God we serve. It says we don’t believe what the pastor says. Furthermore, it means we don’t believe what the Bible says.

We’ve become like the Priest and the Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37). We’re so scared that we run away hoping that someone else will take up the slack and care for our visitors. I actually saw a church member ask a visitor where he was visiting from in the Café of our church a couple weeks ago and bought the person a coffee while taking a couple minutes to talk to him. I don’t the person by name, but I really wanted to walk up to the member and pat him on the back for doing what all of us should do. It was a nice gesture and may spark that person to return, not for the free coffee, but for kind fellowship. I do wonder if we told people we’d give them free coffee every week if they’d show up for the service. I’m not talking about Maxwell House, I’m talking Starbucks type stuff. That’s another blog for another day.

Plus, when we say hello, we never know who we’re talking to. Hebrews 13:2 tells us to “not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Sure, a new person could just come and sit in the pew for a while, but you never know, if you are being inviting to the one person who can solve a problem the church has been praying for. That person may be an excellent teacher, a tech genius, or a person who might donate to get that new gymnasium the church has always wanted. I’m not saying that we pursue those things, but you never know who is checking out the local church on any given Sunday.

First Samuel Chapter 16 tells the story of how Samuel, searching for the successor to King Saul, talked to every one of David’s brothers before meeting David and having God tell him that he was the one. David was the youngest and the smallest. He was the least likely candidate to serve and yet he became King and known biblically forever as a “man after God’s own heart.” I remember singer Gary Chapman saying in a Time-Life Christian CD series that he wanted to be “God’s man.” How do we know that we are not entertaining a man or woman that will be a great servant of the King of Kings.

I love Romans 15:5-7 and how it talks of accepting one another.
Rom 15:5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus,
Rom 15:6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rom 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
These verses say some very important things. Verse 5 tells us that God gives us endurance and encouragement to make a spirit of unity. He wants us to last together and lift each other up. Verse 6 talks of being one heart and one mouth, not that we’re saying the same thing, but that we are able to praise God in our own way. Verse 7 tells us to accept each other, just like Christ accepted us. That’s powerful. I remember what I was like when Christ accepted me. It wasn’t pretty. But he took me in anyway, the same way we are to look at new people as they come in to our churches. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us to think about,
Heb 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Heb 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Jesus wants us together! Why? So that we can encourage each other to finish strong together. The Gospel is not to be lived out alone. It is to be lived out in community with other believers. God knows we will need each other to stand strong. I’m taking a class on the armor of God and I learned something this week that I never heard before. I never realized the shields were made for team protection. What I mean by that is that there was a special way that soldiers held their shields together and formed either a straight line or a turtle type shell which made fiery darts not able to penetrate the ranks. As long as they stayed in step together, no one could get in and the ranks could keep moving through the opposition.

I’ll issue a couple final warnings to those of the church that think this is not their assignment or that they should be heralded if they choose to accept the mission. Philippians 2:3-5 tell us to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility and above your own interests to the needs of others. In doing so, remember to not get an attitude, but to do it like Jesus.

Why do we want to do it like Jesus? Very simple. Like it or not, He is coming back and Lucy, we will have some ‘splaining to do. I’ll let the words of Jesus finish the story.
Mat 25:31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.
Mat 25:32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Mat 25:33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Mat 25:34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
Mat 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
Mat 25:36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
Mat 25:37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
Mat 25:38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
Mat 25:39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
Mat 25:40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Mat 25:41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Mat 25:42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
Mat 25:43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
Mat 25:44 "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
Mat 25:45 "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
Mat 25:46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
I don’t want to be a goat and I don’t want any of you to be goats either. Welcoming people isn’t always taking care of people’s non-spiritual needs, but sometimes those needs have to be met before anything else can be done. I remember a time that I was teaching at a very poor school during my student teaching and my supervising teacher told me to go have breakfast with the kids. I’d eaten, but he told me to just go hang out and eat. I did. I saw several that were talking about their lives with each other and how hard some of the homes were. And they came to school. I thought a couple of these kids deserved A’s for just showing up. Their lives were not the greatest, but they had a need to learn. So do we. We need to learn that everyone needs the love of a savior that can change us all. He may not make our earthly life rich and famous, but He will take us to a heavenly place with streets of gold where people will not thirst or hunger any more. We’ll be singing hallelujahs with the best choir ever. What a worship that will be!

I love you guys!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Part 2: What Body Part Am I? Just Hope You're Not the Buttocks

Audio Adrenaline Lyrics
Never Gonna Be as Big as Jesus Lyrics

Last time, we took a look at some things God hates and a few of your comments about the church. This time, we take a different look.

The comments I got from the hate piece came via email. I also was asked a couple questions. The first person asked me if I am a pastor. I will say that I am not a licensed minister, if that is what you are asking. I am nine hours away from a master’s degree in biblical leadership from Greenville College. My degree is in elementary education, K-8, but I have had experience in ministry thanks to some mature Christians who expected me to step out of the pew after my salvation. For them, I am eternally grateful. Most of them taught me the Great Commission.

Mat 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Mat 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Mat 28:20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

I took this responsibly once I understood it. Hopefully, I am helping to do that with this ministry. So far in just under six months, One Man Revival has been read on three different continents (North America, Europe and Asia). I’m grateful that this ministry could be seen by anyone. I’m always nervous about how things come across in translation, which is why I try to use scripture with everything I am talking about. First, so that it isn’t just my examples, but secondly and more important, by using God’s Word, there is no error. Scripture tells us that God’s Word never returns void (Isaiah 55:11).

The second question I will examine a lot more closely than the first. I was asked if One Man Revival represents a church. The short answer is no. But I’ll give you a long answer to be clearer in what I mean and also to explain how ministries like mine should work.

Webster’s Dictionary has interesting definitions of the word ministry.

MIN'ISTRY, n. [L. ministerium.] The office, duties or functions of a subordinate agent of any kind.
1. Agency; service; aid; interposition; instrumentality.
He directs the affairs of this world by the ordinary of second causes.
2. Ecclesiastical function; agency or service of a minister of the gospel or clergyman in the modern church, or of priests, apostles and evangelists in the ancient. Acts 1. Rom 12. 2 Tim 4. Num 4.
3. Time of ministration; duration of the office of a minister, civil or ecclesiastical.
4. Persons who compose the executive government or the council of a supreme magistrate; the body of ministers of state.
5. Business; employment.

The first definition talks of the primary function. It means a service or aid. I personally like this definition the best because it explains the word perfectly for what I do. I’ll explain that more in a moment. The second definition speaks of the church definition. I really never thought of myself in this definition until a friend spoke to me about it a week or two ago. He called me a “writing evangelist.“ The third breaks down the first two as being comparable. I argue with that comparison on only one front. I have a teaching degree and was a teacher in the school system. I considered my job important, but I felt the intensity of teaching the Gospel when I started working with Sunday school classes. In both you have to prepare, but teaching the Word of God is for eternity, not just to make sure you function well in this life. I always get a nervousness in my belly every time I teach the Word of God. I pray for the right words for people. The fourth definition talks more of a United Nations type position, the minister of a country. I think that we, as Christians, forget about this definition. Why? We don’t want to think of ourselves as being ambassadors of the Gospel message in our daily lives. First, there is the pressure of living up to that standard and the secondly, unfortunately for the world, most of us don’t want that standard every minute of the day. We live in a society that says we should have it our way, not God’s way. The last sees a ministry as a job or where you work. We don’t think a lot about this definition either. One of my pastor friends said this almost in passing, “Your work is your ministry. How you do your job tells people about your life.” It’s so true. God tells us this in Colossians 3:23-24, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” We are not just working for our boss, we are working for The Boss, and I am not talking Bruce Springsteen here.

So while it is very important that I do a great job with my ministry, I am only part of the church, not a church on my own. Jesus is the head of the church, we (meaning all Christians) are part of the body. I think that 1 Corinthians 12 explains this best.

1Co 12:12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.
1Co 12:13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
1Co 12:14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.
1Co 12:15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.
1Co 12:16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.
1Co 12:17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?
1Co 12:18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
1Co 12:19 If they were all one part, where would the body be?
1Co 12:20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
1Co 12:21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!"
1Co 12:22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
1Co 12:23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,
1Co 12:24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it,
1Co 12:25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
1Co 12:26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
1Co 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

As One Man Revival Ministries or as Frank Jenkins, I’m just like you. I accepted Christ and became part of the body. At that moment, when I said yes to Jesus, I became one more man in the revival of what God intends for us here on this planet and for eternity. God has given me decent ability to put sentences together and put my thoughts in an understandable order for you to read. He gave other people better abilities at other things. There are people I know that have better financial understanding than I do. There are others that have wisdom to advise me when I don’t understand a scripture. There are others that have the ability to handle 25 screaming toddlers for eight hours. I barely do well with my three screaming toddlers.

You have a gift to serve. That scripture in Matthew that I gave you in the beginning of this writing is your job once you accept Christ. It doesn’t mean you have to pack your bags and head to Africa or China or downtown Los Angeles, even though it might for some of you. Some of you were given these gifts to serve in your own community. That means that you have a ministry too because you are part of the body. So here is what you do.

1)Take a look around when you are sitting at church or in your community and notice the needs. Clean your ears and listen up. Once you hear something that says, “Hey I can do that!” Go to step 2.

2)Get up and talk to the person in charge. No, that does not mean to tackle your pastor as he comes off the stage from preaching. Have you ever seen church being run by the same six people because no one else will step up and take initiative. Talk to one of them. If they aren’t in charge, I’m fairly certain they will guide you to the right person. They might even hug you along the way. Why? Because you are a blessing lightening their load.

3)Get involved and you will be a minister. A part of the body that is helping people in the church. Remember one thing, though. Be zealous, but don’t overdo it. Don’t forget to still listen while you work. There are people in the church that have wisdom. You may call them senior citizens or the old folks of the church, but these people have been around the mountain a few times and they will share nuggets of their journey that you will carry with you forever. Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

I encourage you to step out of your pew and join the revival. Because as the slogan of my ministry states: A One Man Revival starts with YOU!

I love you guys!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Part 1: Hate, Hate, Hate, God Hates Some Stuff Too

Toby Mac Lyrics
Love Is In The House Lyrics

People always like the picture of God as loving, by your side and taking care of his followers. They don’t like to reference the vengeful, angry God. Remember Moses changing God’s mind not to put a blaze in the step of the Israelites in the desert. No one likes to talk about that.

I’ve heard so many impressions of God that it almost seems funny to me. If you are close to my age, you’ll remember George Burns playing God back in the late 70’s and early 80’s in a pair of films. I’m not sure I want my God as a grumpy old man. Of course, I remember doing a standup routine of God being played by Robin Williams. God being that wacky would scare me as I get older.

But after a week of comments, I heard a lot of comments on people’s views of the church. There were close to 30 comments from different people. The only disappointment I think was that some of you were kind of leery on telling me what you really felt. That’s OK. I do appreciate the comments that I got from people and I really appreciate the push I got from High Calling Blogs and thanks to Marcus’ blog being a counter-point, I think I got even more feedback than I anticipated. So thank you, good people of the internet. I know also that a few of you have promised me some more feedback, so there is still more time. Some of the comments have made me think about how to go and expand this beyond the hate. Most of you gave me very caring thoughts that made me (and continue to do so) think about some other writing ideas to talk about.

When it comes to main thoughts on the negativity of the church, I did see a few major themes. The first was people were tired of hypocrisy. Believe me, I grow tired of it too, but I think hypocrisy is everywhere. It’s just slightly disturbing coming from the church. The second was that the church is too liturgical, meaning there are just simply too many rules for your liking. I’m going to talk about this in another edition, but I feel slightly confused on whether people meant Biblical rules or rules of the leadership of individual churches, but again, I’ll talk more on that later. The third and final theme that jumped out was that the church had become too political or superficial. I’ve been in churches that feature one or the other and I struggled staying in them long. Thankfully, not every church is like that.

I thought two statements really summed up what I like to do with these churches. One reader said that he liked to use the occasions as teaching tools for his children and learning tools for himself. I love that. Why? Because when we go through crazy stuff anywhere, we need to learn from it. But my friend Josh summed up best why people act so reluctant, “People that don’t want to go will grasp for a reason not to go.” I think that’s the truest statement in all the comments. We will talk about all of this in further editions, so I say this is part 1 of only God knows at this point.

Hate, Hate, Hate, Yes God Hates a Few Things Too

I loved how people were sending me emails trying to guess where I was going with this. I heard a lot about the seven deadly sins. I might do something on that in the future. I got asked the question of God being a loving God wouldn’t hate anything. I say, as comedian John Pinette, “Nay, Nay.”

The book of Proverbs shows us many things that King Solomon learned over his lifetime. I admire Solomon. Solomon was King and showed that he had a heart for it by asking God, not for wealth or concubines, but for wisdom. God made Solomon the smartest man of his time and one of my personal favorite stories was of two women fighting over a baby (1 Kings 3:16-28). Solomon proved whom the mother was by a test. The true mother would want no harm to the child. I always wondered if he ever had problems with ego because he was so smart. Then I read Ecclesiastes. I’ll let you read that on your own.

In Proverbs chapter six, Solomon explains that God hates some stuff. Let’s look at this. We’ll start in verse 16. “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” That’s a tough little list. Let’s break it down piece by piece.

1)Haughty eyes-When I first saw this, I thought of ladies that do that little flutter with their eyes to get what they want. My eldest daughter is three and has it down. It’s really hard to turn her down when she does that. It also makes me want to laugh. But that isn’t exactly what is being talked about here. I like the Amplified version best here, a proud look (the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others). You see this happen in sports all the time. I had a bowling team as a teenager of five guys and we bowled for a championship against this all girl team. All I remember were two of the girls on the team, the first was Angela Caroli, whom every guy thought was the hottest girl in the center and the other was Regina Myers, who was probably the best teen female bowler at the time. After we stomped them the first game, they came back and drubbed us the other two games. We thought it would be so easy after the first game, we flamed out after that. It’s not a scripture verse, but always remember, she who laughs last laughs best. It’s dangerous to judge. Jesus gave us a warning in Matthew 7:3 about this as he said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Let’s not believe we are so good and others are not.

2)A lying tongue-This one is pretty easy. We’ve all met people who love to stretch the truth. Solomon even reaffirms this in Proverbs 12:22, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.“ Even today, the Associated Press released a story about Steelers’ quarterback Ben Rothlesberger telling the media that he had broken ribs during the Super Bowl. The Steelers report no such injury. He stated that he found out this week as he had an MRI done. Unfortunately, there is no mandatory doctor check by the team until April and the ribs should be all healed by then, so we may never know the truth here. However, former coach Bill Cowher was quoted as saying that Ben liked to overindulge in the truth when talking about his injuries while Cowher coached the team.

3)Hands that shed innocent blood-Love or hate George W. Bush, there are people that are always going to hold the Iraq war against the man. Since there has never been any proof of weapons of mass destruction, many doubt that the war was necessary other than to relieve Saddam Hussein of power. Shedding of innocent blood kept the Israelites out of the promised land during the time of Isaiah (Isaiah 1:15, 59:7)

4)A heart that devises wicked schemes-My kids are huge into Disney movies and one of my all-time favorites was Aladdin. The sultan’s trusted assistant Jafar schemed and plotted to overtake and become ruler of the land with the genie and the magic lamp. Of course, in the story, our hero Aladdin saves the day to marry the sultan’s daughter, Jasmine. I often think of the story of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12). David sees Bathsheba and wants her as his wife. One small problem. Her husband. David has his way with her, gets her pregnant then plots to kill her husband by sending him to the front of the battle lines. They pay the ultimate price by the death of the child shortly after its birth.

5)Feet that are quick to rush to evil-Unfortunately, I’ve known many people in my life that are way too much like this. I’ve known people who like to indulge in heavy drinking that love to tell me how much fun they are having while out drinking with their friends and how boring Christianity is because once you become a Christian, you can’t have fun anymore. Let me see, how much fun is puking my guts up and having a hangover the next morning. That’s fun I’ve always been able to pass on. People never understand how much fun drinking soda or coffee while talking about Jesus with your friends. I still go to sporting events and have a good time while cheering on my team. Life is still fun, it’s just different and totally sober. Proverbs 11:27 drives the point home, “He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.”

6)A false witness that pours out lies-A false witness is a little different than a lying tongue. Again, the Amplified Bible clears this a little better, “A false witness who breathes out lies (even under oath).” At first I thought of the funny Joe Izuzu commercials from the late 80’s, but immediately my wife thought of the sad story near our former home in Florida. Last July, the story of two-year old Kaylee Anthony broke to national media after her mother, Casey, repeatedly lied to authorities about the whereabouts of her little girl. The story had a sad end in late December as the little girl’s remains were found only 15 houses from where they lived. Casey maintains her innocence, but the lies told to this point have not helped her case. It’s not looking good for Casey and she might want to keep Proverbs 19:5 in her mind, “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will not go free.”

7)A man who stirs dissension among brothers-I struggled thinking up good examples of this until I thought about talk shows. People like Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Geraldo Rivera, Sally Jessy Raphael and Jenny Jones came to mind. Magazines like The National Enquirer and news sources like TMZ were other examples. The scriptural examples were even harder. I thought of Judas, but other than the kiss, he wasn’t what I would call a troublemaker. So I had to think for a while and I found something Paul said near the end of Romans. Romans 16:17-18 says, “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people.”

So, you want to hate some stuff. It’s okay. I’ll give you one more set of verses to dwell on. Romans 12:9-21 tells us to have love and respect for others, but verse 9 sums it up well, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

I love you guys!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fireproof-My personal movie review

I finally had the chance to watch the movie that most couples in my church have been raving over since September, Fireproof. For those of you unfamiliar, Fireproof is the story of firefighter Caleb Holt, played by Kirk Cameron, a fire captain that is a hero to everyone, except his spouse Catherine, played by Erin Bethea. The story follows the breakdown of the couple’s marriage and Caleb’s fight to help restore it by changing his attitude and his life.

For me, this movie had so many good points, I struggled with where to begin. The movie showed the relationships around both characters so well. My favorite was the activity between Caleb and his father. The relationship was shown as supportive, but realistic as his father encouraged him, but also called out faults as Caleb worked on the marriage. I loved the honesty between them. The best part of that honesty came toward the end of the movie as Caleb’s dad shared that The Love Dare, the 40 day book that helped Caleb, was what his father wrote down, but that the book was performed on him rather than by him by the father’s wife. Caleb’s mother was shown more as intrusive for most of the movie, but ended by showing the love that she had for both men all along.

The backdrop hero for me in this film is the character of Caleb’s co-worker at the fire station, Michael, played by Ken Bevel. Michael was the Christian foil for Caleb and there were many parts that drew admiration. The scene where he just missed being struck by the train as the company rescued a pair of ladies from a wrecked car was done brilliantly. As he limped around the car, I truly believed that he had been struck and was afraid that I was going to hear about part of an ankle being gone. He was not hurt, but even he showed the reality of being shaken by the near death experience. His consultations with Caleb throughout the movie were sheer magic as he helped Caleb understand how God was working to save the marriage. The scene shocker was the admittance from Michael that he had failed in his first marriage and explanation of why he valued marriage greatly was a great story of redemption. Everyone needs a friend who has had struggles like Michael.

One thing that bothered me a little was the lack of showing Caleb as being at least slightly supportive of Catherine’s need with her mother. Catherine’s mother had a stroke and had not talked for nearly a year and at no point, until the point where Caleb helped get the medical support that she needed, which was nearly the end of the film. I know that it was probably intentional to make Caleb look worse, but realistically, I couldn’t imagine someone not showing at least some concern with Caleb being in the field of fire and rescue. If I want heartless firefighters, I can always turn to Rescue Me, one of the most non-Christian shows about firefighters in history. I just struggled buying it knowing that I was watching a Christian movie.

Overall, I rate this movie as one of my all-time favorites. The movie came off as real, genuine cinema. I sat through the entire two hours and didn’t think about getting up once for refreshments. My wife wasn’t as impressed, but I can say this movie matched the hype given to it. If you are wanting a movie with a happy ending that will bring tears of joy to your eyes, Fireproof is a must see. Yes, as a guy, I can say I cried. It was an awesome romantic story.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Friends That Make Me Never Be the Same and a few sidetrails

God has introduced me to many people in my lifetime. Some have become great friends. Friendship is probably ranked third on the most important relationship list in life, depending upon how you get along with family and God. Friends are something I pray that all of us have because it is awful hard to walk this life without at least a few. I share some of mine today.

I’ve been in Effingham for almost six years now and the first friend I ever made here was at my local Kroger store. I never would’ve pictured the first friend being a guy who would end up bagging my groceries for the next five years, but that’s Ron has been doing. Don’t laugh, that’s a hard job, especially with my two oldest trying to grab the stickers all the time. My kids deem it important to let the entire world know they’ve been Krogering for as long as I can remember. They’ll pass out stickers to anyone strolling by. Ron and I started talking about the Pirates and Cardinals and it developed into other areas. Pretty soon, we joined each other’s MySpaces and he taught me about the fun of Branson and I taught him how funny I can be.

Last Monday, both of us found out bad news. Kroger in Effingham is closing. At the end of February, the store will be gone. It saddened me to think that my Friday ritual of seeing Ron and the other 51 employees would soon be a memory. The economy has been a hard one. As I walked through the store yesterday, I talked with several of the employees and they are pretty upset by the whole thing, as to be expected. Amazingly, Ron was pretty relaxed. He’s looking at his options and on the outside, you can’t tell it’s bothering him. He’s always the professional and I learned why I like him so much. He has such a servant heart. He thinks about the people in front of him rather than himself. I think of the daily stress I have and when things aren’t great, I have a hard time keeping my focus. So as you see, Ron teaches me other things too, like grace.

In my time with God, I talked with him about how unfair it is that these people are being put out of work. He never audibly acknowledges me, but often he gives me other thoughts to think about. The one that crossed my mind was one when I was giving thanks to being able to buy the food at a reduced price as the store is closing. With three kids and a tough economy, money is tight and it was nice to get a break on food. God left me asking myself, “Were you the only one needing the break?” Of course not. I hate seeing these people lose their jobs, but I am thankful that I could stock up on a few things that I know my kids will eat. For some though, it might have made it easier just so they could eat period. That left me with a prayer. Lord, I thank you for the food and I know that you will take care of those 51 families. Thank you.

I’ve been graced with Ron here, but I’ve been graced by my friend Brenda my entire life practically. Amongst all my friends in my life, the only friend I’ve known longer is John Teter. Brenda and I go back to the third grade when I started at Linden School, in 1976. That’s 33 years for those of you that are counting. If you read my blog last week, you know that Brenda taught me how to tie my shoes, but one of the great things she showed me was the most loving family I’ve ever known. I’ve been lucky to know her parents Sharon and Richard the entire time and to be honest, if I could’ve been adopted, I would’ve chosen them to adopt me. I love my mom and I’m lucky to still have her, but for the first time in my life, I saw a mommy and daddy that loved each other and it showed. One of my goals in life is to be half the parent that they demonstrated. Brenda has two brothers as well, Tim and Ronny, and they’re awesome too.

Brenda was one of the first to challenge me as a young adult asking me if I had a relationship with Jesus, probably a couple years before I had one. I had no idea at the time what she was REALLY talking about. One of the great things about Brenda was that she challenged me to be a better person. I occasionally confused that with being pushy, but in retrospect, she was being a bold person. She might be the shortest friend I have, but dynamite does come in small packages. She has seen the good, bad and the ugly Frank. She is my Proverbs 17:17 friend, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother (or a sister) is born for adversity.” Believe me, if anyone knows the adversity of my life, she probably does.

While Brenda may have been the first person to challenge me to be a better person, it was several years later when I finally met someone that motivated me to the next level in my Christianity. While it’s true that my friend Tom Zawacki had a lot to do with my formative years as a baby Christian, it was meeting and working with Randy Jackson that took my walk from milk to meat. Randy and I became friends in 2000 after I spent the first two months at Bible Baptist Church getting my head together. Randy soon invited me to help out with the teen ministry and within a few months, we were almost hanging out daily.

We spent most of our days together. I was working midnights at SunTrust bank, so after a few hours sleep, I was fresh and ready to go meet the rest of the day he had going. In truth, there were times in 2001 and early 2002 where Randy and I probably spent more time together than he did with his wife, Julie. Randy had such passion for the teens he was ministering to that he spent his time doing that. As a single guy at the time, I had nowhere to be, so I was glad to be his partner. I saw so many teens grow in that time. I also saw my waistline grow too. One thing about our time, Randy and I always found a great restaurant to debrief and discuss next moves.

The church saw how much he was working and started talking about slowing down a little. We were trying to keep up with 130 teenagers. That’s a hard job no matter who you are. And I don’t care how good looking I really am, I’d always tease Randy at that point to go home because we both knew Julie was better looking than I am. That was what gave me such respect for Julie. She truly understood God’s mission for her husband and she tried to cut Randy slack. This aside is for all the ladies and gentlemen that have a spouse that has a passion to their ministry. Please give your spouse a little grace when they are busting out a busy time in their ministry. There are times when the ministry has to be worked a little harder. I know there are messed up people out there that might try to tempt them, but please have some faith that 99% will come home and you will reap the reward. For Randy and Julie, 2002 rang in a boy. He did get that job to slow down a little. He got a head pastor’s job in Tennessee and I got married and my life accelerated. Now I have three kids too. Both of us have two girls and a boy. How about that?

Finally, my friend Alvin was the friend that accidently started me on that journey with Christ. I knew Alvin went to church and I didn’t. He just started taking me to concerts and showing me great Christian music and artists. I say accidently because I don’t think he was thinking so much about getting me to Christ when we started hanging out. Our two other closest friends, Kevin and Chris had moved to Pittsburgh and started at the Art Institute and we just started going places on the weekends. But by the second concert, I think Alvin realized I needed Christ and then began intentionally helping me pursue that without much of a push because I realized I needed something more too.

So why did I tell you these stories about my friends? Not so much to put them on a pedestal, but to show you that you won’t meet every Christian friend at church. When I meet new people, it’s not my intention to show them my church, but to show them Jesus. Proverbs 27:17 tells us that as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Hopefully, no matter when you make a friend, the friend should be making you a better person. I’m sure you’ve met people who bring you down. I tell you, run from those people. Mike Murdock once said, “Never go where you are tolerated, go where you are celebrated.” I may not agree with everything the man says, but I’ve always liked this when you pick friends. I want people in my life that are happy to see me and want to bring life to my life. If I want to be brought down, I can turn on the news.

The other thing about friendship for me is that in physical distance, they are closer than family. My mom lives in Florida, my dad in New Jersey and we’re here in Illinois. I have friends all over the country and after a few years here, we are developing friends here in the state of Lincoln’s birth. That’s a good thing. Our families can’t always get in the car and come help us, so with three kids and no life, you see how important friendship becomes. It’s why I love Proverbs 27:10, “Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father, and do not go to your brother’s house when disaster strikes you-better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.”

I want to be intentional in meeting with God. People think it’s become cliché to say “Jesus is my best friend”, but honestly don’t we want to have that friendship with Him. In Exodus 33, the Lord came down in the clouds to talk to the Israelites. Verses 10-11 say, “Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent (Moses’), they all stood and worshipped, each at the entrance to his tent. The Lod would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” I’ve met many friends in my life and I’m grateful for all of them, but that is one friendship I long for; a face to face with Jesus.

I love you guys!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hate, Hate, Hate, The Epilogue

OK gang, I have a challenge for all of you. If you accept the challenge, please post your response below or at my email

Here's the challenge. I have heard from a couple people this week how they are not fans of the church, think the church is a crutch or have not attended church in a very long time. I actually had one person say they hated the church. I think hate is a strong word, but I'll go with it. Personally, I think irritation might be more appropriate. However, this is a two-part question

1) For non-Christians, what makes you not like the church, have irritation with the church or keep you from coming to church? What might give you an inclination to come?

2)For Christians, what are things that bug or irritate you about the church (not your own specifically, but in general)? What would you like to see the church do to help you bring your Christian or non-Christian friends?

I am taking all these answers and will discuss some of these in the future. I will let you know that the first one I will be using some of these is called Hate, Hate, Hate, God Hates a Few Things Too. I am setting a deadline of next Sunday to give me your thoughts and I'll be writing that one on February 9th. I will have other commentaries this week, Lord willing.

I love you guys!