Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ah, Christmas is Here! Give Like God!

"The gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

Ah, Christmas is here! Praise the Lord! Christmas is here (I hope that you can pick up on the enthusiasm in my fingers as I type this)! Whatever your year has been like up unto this point, it can all be brightened and/or recovered in this time of the year! It truly can.

No, I'm not writing a bunch of "preacher fluff" here. No, I'm not crazy or insane (at least I don't think that I am). It is really quite simple. You see, I have experienced a great gift in my life. Personally, and very intimately, God has changed my life by this gift. He gave me his one and only son, Jesus. The Bible tells me that because I have simply accepted His gift to me, I now am forgiven of my sin(s) (which I know are many), have been placed in Christ Jesus and given His righteousness (as though I have never sinned), have been filled with the Spirit (which guides, convicts, and comforts me), and have been given LIFE! Life abundantly! Life eternally!

This has changed everything! It has changed my perspective. It has changed my motivation. It has changed my direction. It has changed my ambition. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G has been changed! All because God gave!!!

Guess what? We can give too! Although we can't give in the exact way God gave, we can give like God gave! We can give out of sacrificial love:

* A smile to a passer-by.
* A helping hand to the elderly.
* A word of encouragement to the discouraged.
* A hands-up financially to the unemployed.
* A hug to the discouraged.
* A visit to the lonely.
* A gift of food to the hungry.
* A _____________. (You fill in the blank.)

You see, this is Christmas! Ah, Christmas is here! And, giving like God is what Christmas is all about!

God bless you this Christmas! May you experience the fullness of Christmas by giving like God!

Ah, Christmas is Here!

Ah, Christmas is here!
My heart doth now remember!

What gift of life is given and shared
in commemorate awe each December!

For God above looked down in love,
as His majestic gift He gave!

Ah, Christmas is here! Oh, heart rejoice!
His gift was given to save!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

That Which I Hate

"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good." (Romans 12:9)

You command to cling
onto the good of things

and love with genuine flair.

Though for certain things
as evil clings

I find this love not there.

So inasmuch
as your guiding touch

leads me to affection's gate.

Your command is sure
for evil of pure

to be that which I hate!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gospel must Trump Tradition

"I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel." (1 Cor. 9:22b-23a)

I've heard, many times before, that there are moments in life when "you can't see the forest because of the trees". Almost a seeming paradoxical statement, this is a powerful and meaningful truth when grasped. Can such a statement be made regarding tradition in ministry? I think it can be.

Recently, the Southern Baptist Convention president, Bryant Wright, has proposed that the convention look "out of the trees" and consider renaming the convention. A bold move by Mr. Wright. But, could this proposal have gospel merit? I believe that if we are going to be good stewards of the gospel message and continue to be Christ-centered in Great Commission focus, we must, at the very least, consider this proposal.

Dr. Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, expresses sentiments that touch my personal feelings on the matter almost exactly. Mohler writes:

To be honest, I am personally traumatized by the very idea of changing the denomination’s name. I feel an almost physical loss at the very prospect. It is a deeply and unavoidably emotional question for any Southern Baptist whose life is intertwined with the Convention, its work, and its churches.

At the same time, our commitment to the Great Commission and the urgency of the Gospel must exceed our emotional attachments and fears. A responsible movement of Gospel churches — of Baptist churches — must be ready to ask this question and face it fearlessly. We can and will do this together.

The apostle Paul invariably placed importance on doing what was necessary to reach people where they were and in their context. Maybe this is the time that Southern Baptists step out of the forest of tradition and legitimately take the time to look at this issue clearly. The very letters SBC carry powerful connotations--many that emphasize a proud dedication to global missions and others that are painted with hints of early-history racism.

What are we, as Southern Baptists, to do with Wright's proposal? At the very least, may we be willing to step out of the forest of tradition, look at the trees, and decide, in unity, upon the result which most clearly and boldly exalts Jesus before the nations in gospel faithfulness. May we say, along with the apostle Paul, that we, "do all this for the sake of the gospel."


Saturday, July 30, 2011

This Wretched One

Grace loomed eagerly beyond
what my heart defined, deserved.

Lord, how could Your Spirit find a home
in a cell of repeat offense--so disturbed?

Yet the righteous Christ, O great foundation,
merits perfect mercy from above.

For this wretched one, my sure salvation,
by faith is found in love!

My guilt is now addressed as innocence
where my shame was always resident.

A heart of flesh has now replaced
the heart of stone which was unbent.

And sin's pangs are now unraveled
with no former stitches seen.

For this wretched one, once found in mire,
in Christ is now made clean!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Of Baptisms and Record Books

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27)

Greeted by "size-up" handshakes and questions of attendance
with no concern of the Spirit's descent,

I talk amongst my peers of God-called men--
who just happen to wonder about such things.

Which church is the biggest? Which church sign is the brightest?
Which is now teaching Zumba classes and which crowd's the largest?

While widows in nursing homes live another week unvisited
by men who just happen to wonder about such things.

The bulletin recognizes a jump in small group participation--
due to a class that teaches money management & wealth administration.

While the orphan down the road is yet again rejected
and the Father promises to provide our daily bread.

The annual report in the associational meeting
recognizes baptisms by number, with no regard to names or meaning.

I wonder when so many souls became numbers?
Some point to the book of Acts and the Gospels for support.

During all the record keeping and hand shaking,
is there something that God's church is forsaking?

Is the savior a numerical Jesus?
Is heaven an accounting firm?

People who are processed often fall through the cracks
when ministry is often discarded as menial tasks.

And the song of chalkboard baptisms and ink-filled record books
plays over the call to true religion once again.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Do You Remember Mr. Greed?

Do you remember Mr. Greed?
Some say he can still be seen!

He lurks around on the tips of his toes--
at least that is how the story goes.

He whispers words like "more" and "mine"
and his lyrics of discontentment are pleasant rhyme.

He shows up most often during times of giving.
He thinks that the satisfied are no longer living.

He shows up in the malls and stores,
while children starve in the streets of the hungry poor.

He shows up in impoverished, dictated nations
and steals for the tyrannical administrations.

Yet, he spends most of his time within the church.
Closing open wallets and open hearts--as he does his lurch.

He knows the needs of this world that he has roamed;
yet, he encourages church members to build their kingdoms at home.

So if you pass the offering plate in worship,
he'll remind you that it is your money--earned by hardship.

Some have even come to conspire
that he preaches in pulpits wearing Armani attire!

He shows up on Christian television programming,
preaching an easy Jesus and confidently smiling.

He never runs out of things to do,
as long as he has the focus on you.

Do you remember Mr. Greed?
Some say he can still be seen!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Oh Sweet Aspartame!

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles." (Hebrews 12:1)

A poem of the hypocritical attractions of sin and the hypocrites that are born from washing the outside of the tomb while inwardly being full of dead man's bones.

Oh Sweet Aspartame!

I've given up sugar,
seems so long ago!

The taste was so sweet
but round my waist it did show.

So, I've instead taken to aspartame--
now my flirtation is hidden by the word "diet".

I'm satisfied with an indulgence
that I now can keep nice and quiet.

O Sweet Aspartame!
How lovely your name!

How addicted is this man!
You're my sin in a can!

Publicly I've learned
to my sugary sinfulness spurn--

While privately I do linger
in the things that do hinder.

Oh Sweet Aspartame!

Gospel Song

Salvation's call
and Gospel song

Touch chained hearts
of sin-bound trepidation.

The shackles then fall
from hearts freed by mercy's prong,

Now moved by love
to save the nations!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Freedom Fire

Briefly upon our calendars
exists this honored day

That is etched upon our memory
by sacrifice of life--our freedom parlay!

In faith that precious freedom
vanish not into the mire

We lay all back on the table
to uphold this freedom fire!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Church of Look Like Us

"I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some."
(1 Corinthians 9:22)

There is a church that causes quite a fuss.
They call themselves the church of “Look Like Us”.

They have many things for you to do,
As long as you don’t look like you.

They’ll teach you how to dress and sing—
And to argue over petty things.

But beware! They’ll throw you underneath the bus,
If you look like you and not “like us”.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Tale of Too Good Tess

"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain." (Proverbs 31:30)

Too good Tess would dare suggest
she was simply too good for all

Too good to meet, too good to greet
Too good to say words like "ain't" and "y'all"

A mirror carrier by trade
a make-up surgeon made

Only the best for too good Tess
all else was lesser grade

She often stared in mirrors
while striking different poses

She often picked out others' blemishes
from their feet up to their noses

A happy day it was for her
when she modeled for the story

But better yet she took a bet
to show off all her glory

Too good Tess sought to impress
and turn the heads of surface

But as she did she formed regrets
and wondered of her purpose

And as she struggled all alone
she thought of all the moments

When others tried to care for her
but never lived up to her judgments

Too good Tess as a story told
can speak for many others

That sought the lust of many men
but left heartbroken mothers

Friday, April 29, 2011

Serendipitous Design

It was serendipitous design
when you became mine--

God's ordination of all through our choices.

Oh such luck to have met
while the plans had been set.

This heavenly foundation was laid right before us.

So we bobbed and we weaved
as His plan was believed.

In our "yeses" and "nos" we decided.

Oh, such fortune to have met!
The table was set.

God directed our path and our words had been guided.

It was a stumbling in grace--
a reach for holiness.

We prayed that His will we would find.

Your hand now is in mine.
We've been tested by time.

Oh delight, this serendipitous design!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I, and this Band of Soldiers!

"As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,and his form beyond that of the children of mankind."(Isaiah 52:14)

Why this knock upon my door?
Out of sleep, I'm called to service on my feet!

I prepare to do what must be done,
before the rising of the sun.

Therefore, angrily I hurry in haste--
with a still slumbering scowl upon my face.

Self-justified in my contempt of this one
who claims to be God's own Son.

So whip I bring--and other things--
to scourge this rebel here before us.

Together now, we'll beat Him down--
I, and this Band of Soldiers!


Looking back today to demonstrated grace--
when Jesus bled in substitutionary place.

I cringe at such an awesome thought--
my heart can hardly trace!

Twas my pain! My shame! My cross! My place!
Yet, He carried it as His!

I bring a Bible in my hand and songs I sing--
to Jesus who risen lives!

And, as I stand at Easter sunrise now--
awake early from my own sleep.

I come in sorrow to rejoice,
for You have called me to my feet!

I now stand upon the Rock--
my salvation in Him victorious!

I gaze out now among these ransomed ones--
I, and this Band of Soldiers!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What a Stumble Knows of Grace

If not for a stumbling step or two,
would grace be only a remembered kiss?

Yet the needy and hungry few,
call it such sweet and undeserved bliss!

For what doth perfection know of grace?
Do not the full have no need for food?

It settles far from recompense
and trusts its own payment true.

But prideful hearts shall condemn
their own lofty and self-righteous pace.

And only those with brokenness find
what a stumble knows of grace!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Let My Little One Breathe

A New Year now has just begun
in time to meet my ready son

Wife in bed with nurse by side
a doctor makes ready for daddy's pride

A push or two and then repeat
at first his head and then his feet

My son born new has been received
Alas I pray, "Let my little one breathe."

Yet mere weeks now see him flown away
Watching still with no words to say

In my soul I stop to pray,
"Let my little one breathe."

Machines and beeps as baby sleeps
while oxygen does ugly tales conceive

With his color back I see it is Jack
And yet still pray, "Let my little one breathe."

In days ahead and years to come
my prayers go forward for my little one

That deeper still is more than seen
when even truth oft speaks falsities

So see beyond the surface son
and take the hand of the Risen One

One day I hope you receive him son
For birth anew I pray, "Let my little one breathe."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Have We Lost our Financial Minds?!?

"The borrower is slave to the lender." (Proverbs 22:7)

No beating around the "financial bush" with this post. No clever introductions. No watered down feel good grabber to read here. Just truth. I invite you to read at your own risk.

Now to the point: Our nation now carries an excess of $14 trillion of debt! Not billion. Trillion! To clarify the magnitude of this debt, lets take the total national debt
($14,171,000,000,000) and divide it by the number of American citizens (an estimated 310,000,000). The leaves American citizens holding a $45,700 share of national debt! Startling, isn't it? Here is another astonishing fact: The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $4.09 billion per day since September 28, 2007!

Does that make your stomach knot up? It should. Listen folks, regardless of what the media pundits may say (or fail to say) about our economy, debt simply does not disappear. And we think the state of Wisconsin is in bad shape? Wisconsin doesn't even scratch the surface of what is happening nationally.

So what does our federal government do in light of this massive, ever growing debt? Get this--they PRINT MORE MONEY!!! Print. Print. Print. And, print some more! They do nothing to stop the bleeding. This amount of growing debt simply has no politically correct solution. So, our government leaders just do nothing. And with every cartridge of ink that dries on newly printed currency, the value of the dollar continues to decline. It declines the purchasing power of every hard working American's dollar. It declines the value of American currency on a global scale. It makes it more expensive to import oil, drives up the price of gasoline, and leaves the American consumer footing the bill.

Without question, we live in a day and time where people are depending on the government for their welfare more than any time in our history. A handout here. A bailout there. Life is supposed to be easy. And when it's not, the government MUST step up and do something about it. "Feed me Seymore!" Our appetite for ease and politically correct thinking is slowly growing into a financial killing machine! And the appetite for more grows with each feeding.

What about the consequences? We simply don't like to consider consequences. But, make no mistake about it. There are consequences of such a floundering way of governing. I'm no economics expert. I'm no dooms day theorist. I simply call it like I see it. With that in mind, let me encourage you to take a few simple steps in your personal life:

1) Save more, spend less.Our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents knew much more about how to handle money than we do today. They have been through the hard times before. We need to learn from them.

2) Stop incurring new debts. (cut up the credit cards and only buy what you can buy with the cash you have in hand) (i.e. don't finance anymore new cars, don't take out any new installments for home improvements--fix it one room at a time and save until you can fix the next room, etc.)

3) Strive to pay off existing debts as soon as possible. (paying minimum payments on the largest balance and focusing the rest on paying off all of the smaller debts until you can focus 100% of the payment on the higher balances--this is known by many as the "debt snowball method")

I hope that we take this information seriously, on both a national and personal scale. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. And remember, "the borrower is slave to the lender." (Proverbs 22:7)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pursuing the "Perfect" Preacher

"The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task." ( 1 Timothy 3:1)

I must confess that being a pastor is not as easy as some make it out to be (or believe it to be). Yet, being a pastor is the most fulfilling and rewarding office to which I have ever aspired. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 is one of the standard passages that lists out the certain qualifications for the office of pastor. Here are the characteristics found in that passage:

1) Above Reproach

2) Husband of One Wife

3) Sober-Minded

4) Self-controlled

5) Respectable

6) Hospitable

7) Able to Teach

8) Not a Drunkard

9) Not Violent

10) Not Quarrelsome

11) Not a Lover of Money

12) Dignified in Managing Household Well

13) Demonstrate a Maturity in Walk with God

14) Good Reputation


Being aware of these things, it must be said that "perfection" is not found anywhere on the list. Expectant congregations, the general public, and the preacher himself should understand that grace is also needed by the pastor. One of the greatest myths in ministry is that "the preacher never sins". _____________________________________________________________________________________

I am a preacher and I still...

1) get angry on occasion

2) get tempted by worldly materialism

3) get frustrated enough to let an explicative fly on occasion

4) get absolutely flabbergasted as to how I'm going to get my 3 children to obey their mother and me without having to beat them into submission.

5) get tempted by all of the overbearing, massive amounts of sexual immorality in our world

6) get the opportunity to be a blessing to a needy individual(s) and fail to see it until it is too late to help

7) get concerned about the economic problems that potentially could have negative consequences on my "retirement" plans

The list could go on and on. I guess what I'm trying to say is that there is NO SUCH THING as the "PERFECT PREACHER".

If you are a church member, you need to be aware that your preacher will be tempted. He will be pressed to the point of anger. He will have bad days. He will be tempted by immorality. He will be tempted by material things.

However, he must demonstrate the temperance and self-control to resist all of these.

Give your preacher grace and mercy. Give him your support. Give him your prayers. And in the process, hold him to a high-degree of God honoring accountability. Yet, never never never expect him to be perfect.

If you are a preacher, you need to be reminded that you WILL NOT BE PERFECT. And, trying to portray yourself in a light of perfection will not lead down a smooth road in ministry. Hypocrisy is a sin too. We all have much room to grow in holiness as we are being molded into the usable instruments that God desires for us to be.

Monday, February 28, 2011

My Heart Already Knows

That little smile--
Gives that glimmer in your eye.

Such a pretty smile!
Can I stare for a while?

My eyes just confirm
what my heart already knows.

When you look my way
I still can't find the words to say.

Even though I may try,
they just slip right on by.

Words are never good enough to say
what my heart already knows!

After all these years--
thru all the laughter and tears.

I still see you and love you.
I can't stop thinking of you.

I see that you still love me too--
and my heart already knows.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thorns of Grace

Ephesians 2:8

Formerly fraught with callousness
which wrought my inward lend

Me and me, please more of me,
I called myself my friend

Content with I am good enough
as mirrors lie to face

Surprised to find it You, not I,
when pricked by thorns of grace

Oh wretched flesh which sought my aim
and purpose felt in sin

I drew once back for it did bleed
that woeful hardened skin

Oh thorns of grace did tear apart
mine epidermal trust of me

Need of You revealed thru painful yield
which caused my eyes to see

But what I found, from surface down,
as my tryst with You took place

Those wounds were sweet and my salvation complete
when pierced by Your thorns of grace!

Monday, February 14, 2011

What a Valentine could Never Say

To my beautiful bride and friend...

In depth of thought it seems this day--
that comes once round per year and slips away.

Try as much to utter words, a phrase,
to write them down in proud display.

But pen upon my paper write not down
what eloquent hearts do relay.

So try, I may, this day to convey
what a Valentine could never say.

It is a wordless feeling of love undefined,
not written for our joy sublime.

Yet, it is felt in depth of heart today--
what a Valentine could never say.

Worth dying for. Worth crying for.
Worth swimming deepest seas.

Worth more than money buys. Worth more than bluest skies.
Worth the weakness I still feel in my knees.

Although no description quite fits and words evade
this feeling left unportrayed,

It still burns deep in my soul for you, all year long for you--
what a Valentine could never say.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Certain Someone Comes

At wake time's morn' again I rise,
slow and heavy are my eyes.

A knock upon the bedroom door I hear--
a certain someone comes.

She is four of age and beautiful--
her world a stage and wonderful.

My heart her warmth will welcome near--
a certain someone comes.

Smell the morning caffeine brew
and my slumbering stomach dreams of breakfast too.

A familiar smile from a loving bride--
a certain someone comes.

My wife through seven years of morning suns;
I praise the Lord for each one of them.

Her faithful love erases fears--
a certain someone comes.

Still more from this boy of blonde and blue
that rocks to and fro and drinks his juice.

Just a glance and smile will do--
a certain someone comes.

What comes today I do not know for sure;
whatever comes I will endure.

I'll make it for my hope is secure--
a certain someone will come.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Where Men are no Longer Men

Clarity, oh Lord, this for I ask
as I reflect upon this then--

where stood once strong has now turned along
where men are no longer men.

Game and chase and play and fun
have come to hearts therein--

forgotten are the sacred absolutes
where men are no longer men.

Easy and plenty, song and drink--for this I should not think!

Mindful not of what costs such passivity pays
and so suffer future children kin--

just more game and chase and play and fun
where men are no longer men.

Lord, with clarity, now for I ask again
find me not abiding round where men are no longer men!