Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Danger of Indecision

Danger of Indecision

On my way to work this morning I was confronted by a bushy tailed creature standing in the middle of the road. He stopped center lane and looked straight at me and then he took a step to the right, then to the left and finally dashed off to the right again as I slowed to allow him to make up his mind. As I continued down the road I saw two dead squirrels and a banana peel.

The two squirrel carcasses were likely there because of indecisiveness. In a time of crisis it is important to make a decision and go with it. They hesitated and it cost them their lives.

Indecisiveness can destroy, just ask any soldier in a firefight. If he makes the right decision he is spared, if he makes the wrong decision he may still recover but if he is indecisive he will surely perish.

Good men are often eliminated from the ranks of leadership, not because they made good or bad decisions, but because they failed to make a decision. You will be honored for making good decisions, you may be forgiven for making poor decisions, but as Neville Chamberlain (Hitler) and Jimmy Carter (hostages) can attest, you will be rejected for being indecisive.

President Obama has a great challenge to solve innumerable problems. The crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, the faltering economy, the tension between the Koreas and in the Middle East; solutions to these problems are elusive and befuddling. If Obama makes the right decision he will be a hero to the American people, if he makes the wrong decision he may lose elections but perhaps retain his respect but if he is indecisive the American people will cast him on the trash heap of historical failures.

Jesus is my Messiah and he was born and he died and he rose again in Israel.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In Defense of Marriage

In Defense of Marriage

Today I celebrate my eighth year married to a lovely lady named Shannon. It has been a wonderful journey. It’s amazing how mountains seem not so steep and valleys not so deep when you are walking with someone you love so dearly. Like all other married couples, we’ve seen some difficult times. We have clung to each other when an adoption fell through and we rejoiced 3 months later when it all fell into place. It was so comforting to have someone to lean heavily upon when my mother died a year ago in April. We’ve been through a few job changes. We sat together in a hospital room for ten days while our son, Kameron, fought off a rare ear infection. I’m so glad Shannon convinced me I could be a ‘father’ once again. We’ve watched some friends die, we’ve watched others marry and still others add to their families. We look back in amazement at what God has done and this gives us courage to look ahead with expectation that he will do even greater things in the years yet to come.

If an alien to earth would sit down and study marriage through television he might think that marriage brings only disrespect and dissatisfaction to those who commit to such a life. I couldn’t disagree more, and neither can Linda Waite who did a scientific study on the consequences of marriage which she published in her book, “The Case for Marriage”. This is what she discovered:

1. Marriage decreases the risk of becoming a victim to domestic violence. Single and divorced women are four or five times more likely to be a victim of violent crimes than married women.

2. Married people live longer and happier lives. Nine of ten married guys aged 48 will make it to age 65 while only 6 of 10 single guys age 48 will make it to 65. Statisticians Bernard Cohen and I-Sing Lee discovered that “having heart disease…reduces a man’s life expectancy by just under six years, while being unmarried chops almost ten years off a man’s life.”

3. Children of divorced parents have a shorter life expectancy than children of parents who stayed together.

4. Some estimates claim married men make as much as 40% more money than single men. Having a wife can be as beneficial to the husband’s salary as a college education.

5. Not only do married couples make more money, they manage their money better and build more wealth over a lifetime than single people do. Married couples about to retire have accumulated on average a total of $410,000 in total assets while singles have accumulated on average only $167,000.

6. Marriage increases sexual faithfulness. Men who cohabitate are four times more likely to cheat than husbands while cohabitating women are eight times more likely to cheat than wives.

7. Married men and women have less psychological issues. They suffer less depression, they have less anxiety and feel less stress in their lives. Studies have indicated that divorced people suffer a much greater incidence of deterioration in mental health and an increase in depression.

8. Statistical studies do not concur with those who claim the single life is a happier life. Forty percent of married couples said they are ‘very happy’ while only 25% of singles made the same claim and only 18% of divorced people claim to be ‘very happy’.

Maggie Gallagher wrote, “Sexual fidelity, an economic union, a parenting alliance, the promise of care that transcends day-to-day emotions: all these are what give a few words mumbled before a clergyman or judge the power to change lives.”

I would add that marriage is so successful and fulfilling because it is an institution sanctioned by God from the beginning of creation as a vehicle for procreation and as a means of fulfilling the relational needs of men and women.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Liar", said the mind to the eye.

“Liar”, said the mind to the eye.

Have you ever experienced something that your mind refused to accept. I was playing softball at age 16 and a fellow twice my size slid into third, spiked my ankle and crushed it in three places. I lay in the dirt in a daze. When I lifted my leg to inspect my injury my whole left foot was dangling off to the left side unattached. I looked and looked and my mind just wouldn’t accept what it was seeing.

I was coaching football at a local high school in the summer of 1985. As I left the school one afternoon I saw a stick moving back and forth in a ditch off the side of the road. I thought surely it’s a young buck rubbing its horns on a small tree. I stopped and looked down in the ditch and my mind wouldn’t believe what my eyes were telling it. A man was there in the ditch, all bloodied and broken. He had been laying there all day after wrecking his motorcycle the night before.

Americans today have an uncanny ability to look truth in the face and call it a lie. Their minds just refuse to accept what they see. Is it wrong to kill and unborn infant? Yes, according to our nation’s laws. A man who kills a pregnant woman will be charged with a double homicide. But a man in a white coat who performs a ‘procedure’ for $500 is admired as a doctor determined to make our world a better place. Our minds refuse to see the ‘murder’, instead we cover our guilt by replacing the term ‘abortion’ with a soft, feel-good term like ‘pro-choice.’

Many have mastered the art of looking into the face of God and declaring that he doesn’t exist because their minds won’t accept what their eyes are seeing. Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” This verse is simply saying that if you look at the creation you can’t help but believe in the Creator. My experience with atheists is that most of them suffer guilt because they are making choices that violate their inner conscience. They have an inner conscience because they were created in the image of God. What better way to live a guiltless life than to declare that the One to whom we are accountable does not exist.

A certain member of my family has embraced the homosexual lifestyle. He is not the typical homosexual in that when asked if he thinks his lifestyle has immoral implications he will agree without hesitation. He is honest enough to admit that what he is doing violates a moral law taught in the Word of God. (See Romans Chapter 1). But many of that persuasion refuse to see the clarity of written truth and will instead rationalize and excuse their behavior with arguments involving genetics and other social deprivations.

We are blinded. The shades on our eyes not only keep the light away but they are so darkened by our own self-justification that we can no longer have a proper perspective of the world in which we live.

Even Christians are now so fearful of being ostracized and ridiculed that many refuse to take a stand for what is right. This fear is paralyzing a whole generation, a gutless group incapable of condemning immorality. I teach high school teen-agers and I’ve never seen so much fear of being disliked and unaccepted. Many are more than willing to sacrifice their moral integrity at the altar of political correctness and multicultural sensitivity. Sadly, most seem to be sinking in a morass of moral confusion. Thank God for that rare one who is confident in what he believes and refuses to compromise for the sake of popularity or acceptance!

God help me to pass on to my children what my parents taught me. Tell the truth no matter the consequences. Retain moral integrity because in the end it is all you really have. Stand for what you believe is right because it is important that you be able to live with yourself even when others reject you. “So then, brothers, stand firm…” and stay loyal to those things which you know to be true.

We Con The World

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Bad News About Pastors

The Bad News About Pastors

Though some think being a pastor is a dream job, it is actually an extremely difficult and stressful occupation. It's not like a thirty minute Sunday sermon earns your salary. It's not a simple one day a week job, answer a few phone calls, count the offering, pay the bills and head to the golf course.

I remember growing up in a small, family church in northwestern Pennsylvania. It seemed every Sunday after church we would gather around the table to eat roast beef, mashed potatoes and more often than not we roasted the preacher. I think a lot of criticism could have been cleared up had we realized just how tough the pastor’s job was.

Blessed is the preacher who has a considerate and cooperative board. One board member prayed, “Lord, you keep the pastor humble and we will keep him poor.” I read from very troubling statistics I’d like to share from The Church Mafia website:

The bad news is this: pastors today are faced with more stress, more problems and more challenges than ever before. Statistics today are frightening. More and more pastors are leaving the ministry. Why? Because they are human, and can't everything that everyone expects them to be. We, the church, are expecting pastors to be many things that they aren't called to be. Instead of allowing God to define their ministry, we've created our own definition. This definition takes him from being our spiritual leader and protector, and made the pastor into our baby sitter and servant. Take a look at these alarming statistics:

Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention in their churches.

Four thousand new churches begin each year, but over seven thousand churches close.

Fifty percent of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.

Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.

Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.

Eighty-five percent of pastors said their greatest problem is they are sick and tired of dealing with problem people, such as disgruntled elders, deacons, worship leaders, worship teams, board members, and associate pastors. Ninety percent said the hardest thing about ministry is dealing with uncooperative people.

Seventy percent of pastors feel grossly underpaid.

Eighty percent of pastors' spouses feel their spouse is overworked.

Eighty percent of pastor' wives feel left out and unappreciated by the church members.

Eighty percent of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.

Eighty percent of pastors' wives feel pressured to do things and be something in the church that they are really not.

The majority of pastor's wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.

The bad news is that your pastor, like pastors everywhere is at risk of becoming just another statistic. He is expected to do so much, be so much, and give so much that many times there is nothing left for him. We, the church, can't afford to keep losing pastors to burnout and contention. What Can You Do?

If you have a pastor who loves his sheep and preaches the truth…please love him and pray much for him and try to have reasonable expectations for him.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cutting our Throats with the Blade of Political Correctness

Cutting our throats with the blade of Political Correctness

My brother and I were discussing the election of President Obama and we were searching for an answer as to why his ratings are so low. 42% of Americans strongly disapprove of his performance while 25% of Americans strongly approve. It was the 25% figure that had us so perplexed.

President Obama seems to have no solution to the economy. The clouds on the horizon of the economic front are darker than ever. He has bashed BP for the oil crisis in the gulf, perhaps with some justification, but threatening litigation before even visiting the scene of the crime or offering any alternatives to BP’s failures seems impetuous and juvenile.

President Obama’s foreign policy in a nutshell seems to go along the lines of something like this, “embrace our former enemies and kick our former friends.” This hints of an astounding naiveness that endangers Americans. Israel has always been able to depend on the friendship of at least one nation but not any longer. North Korea is brazen in their defiance as they bully the South Koreans. Palestinian activists who resist Israel are emboldened by what they perceive as support from the sitting president.

There is wafting from the Obama administration the stench of political corruption. Andrew Romanoff of Colorado and Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania have voiced accusations of job offers in return for concessions to opposing candidates. 42% of Americans strongly disapprove of Obama’s presidency because he promised change but he seems dedicated to importing Chicago style politics to Washington and that’s not the type of change he was selling. Many are waking up to the fact they’ve been sold a bill of goods.

Obama unwisely sacrificed the state of Arizona on the altar of appeasement. In order to satisfy our southern neighbors he sacrificed his own people. Americans are very disturbed to see hard-working American citizens stepped on while the red carpet is unfurled for more and more illegal immigrants and the laws of our land are trampled by government officials more interested in winning the next election than defending the constitutional rights of American citizens.

Terrorists disguised as ‘peace activists’ board flotillas bound for Gaza and chant, “we will enter Gaza or die as martyrs” and President Obama has no sympathy at all for a nation attempting to protect itself from weapons being smuggled into the area. Iran fights Israel through a proxy army called Hezbollah. At some point Obama will have to declare loyalty to Israel or to Iran but neutrality will not be an option.

Is Obama still on the learning curve? These issues demand immediate response and afford little time for someone learning on the job. Can it be that we have an administration excellent in the area of campaigning but incompetent in the realm of governing? It’s all unraveling quickly and Americans are waiting for Obama to keep his promise and reveal himself as the ‘great unifier’.

So why does every fourth American blindly support this administration? Is it because they are not paying attention? The political and economic health of our country is very low on their priority list. It falls far below the winner of American Idol and Dancing with the Stars.

Frank Furedi is the author of “Where Have All The Intellectuals Gone.” Furedi observes a time in the past when people were more involved. “When people want to be included they don't wait for an invitation; they kick the door down, they demand to be let in …something very different is happening today,” says Furedi. “people are being included for the sake of inclusion, rather than for anything worthwhile. It is the act of inclusion that matters…”

For many, the most important thing about President Obama is not the substance of his beliefs or his character, it’s the act of a nation satisfying its desire for inclusion. Can we now expect a succession of presidents who are elected because of certain physical or gender traits rather than what Martin Luther King saw as something much more important…”the content of their character”?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

When Friends Walk Away

Israel is about the size of New Jersey. It’s so small it reminds me of a mouse (Israel) surrounded by huge elephants (Iran, Turkey, Iraq, etc.) So, why is such a mite of a country so hated and despised by so many bullies? Do they feel threatened? Has Israel been aggressive in trying to conquer neighboring lands? It would seem that a country with a “leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone” attitude would simply be ignored. But, not so. This small, non-aggressive nation is hated passionately by its neighbors.

Is the hatred caused by political differences? Are those countries threatened by Israel’s democratic views? Israel, unlike its stronger western ally, has not tried to export democracy to its theocratic neighbors. Are the neighbors of Israel lusting after an overabundance of natural resources? Seems Israel is the only one in the neighborhood who doesn’t benefit from an overabundance of oil.

Is the hatred cause by differing ideologies in religion? Perhaps the real hatred has historical roots that go much deeper than most people care to consider. Is the continuous friction between Israel and its neighbors simply a continuation of a family feud that began between the two sons of Abraham? Time seems to eventually heal all family wounds but not this one. This family feud is perpetual and everlasting. All of our former presidents, especially Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton wanted desperately to find a solution to the problem of peace in the Middle East but all have been unsuccessful.

Now, after the provocateurs of Israel, disguised as a flotilla conducting a human rights mission, had two clear objectives: they were determined to break the Israeli naval blockade even if it meant martyrdom and they were determined to create a public relations nightmare for Israel if they attempted to stop them. It has been quickly discovered that many of the participants were members of terrorist organizations from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait, etc. As the facts are slowly revealed I believe that Israel will be able to build a case for vindicating their actions. One of the organizers of the ‘humanitarian mission’ was more honest about the true intent of the mission, “"this mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it's about breaking Israel's siege."

Why are so many nations piling on? Is it because, unlike Jimmy Carter who was more timid and passive in his opposition to Israel, we now have a president who is blatantly anti-Israel and carefully pro-Islam? His failure to offer open support to Israel has emboldened the enemies of Israel and created increased instability in the Middle East. Obama would come closer to bringing peace to the area if he embraced the policy of Ronald Reagan who believed that the road to peace was better achieved by “carrying a bigger stick than your enemy.”

I am astonished that North Korea can blow a South Korean vessel to bits and no one seems to notice. Israel demonstrates its determination to protect itself from enemies who have voiced their determination to utterly destroy them and they get buried by an avalanche of opposition. How must it feel to stand alone against the U.N. and the world? Even your best friend since your inception as a nation now seems to be deserting you.

Obama has demonstrated incompetence in multiple areas. He has no solution to the economic crisis that is bringing massive unemployment and discomfort to the American masses. It has been six weeks since the oil disaster began in the Gulf of Mexico and our Juvenile in Chief can only point fingers as BP while offering no suggestions for a solution to the problem. I’m not sure the aggression of North Korea is even on his radar. Obama’s Muslim friends throughout the world hate Israel but here is a memo Obama needs to read, “There are millions and millions of Christian Americans who love Israel and will remain loyal to her belief that she has a right to exist as a nation!” Our president is thinking poorly if he thinks it’s more beneficial for him to make friends with those who hate us rather than make friends with his own constituents.