February 23, 2007

Portland Legislator Tries To Ban Clergy From Marrying

Every now and then a piece of legislation is proposed that is so absurd, that it seems like it must certainly be one of those unsubstantiated, internet, urban legends. So when another pastor e-mailed something about L.D. 779 I laughed and thought, "That's ridiculous; that can't be for real." But sports fans, L.D. 779 is for real. It is titled, "An Act To Remove Clergy As Signatories On Marriage Licenses."

This legislation is being sponsored by Boyd Manley (D-Portland). I looked the legislation up and found that it simply takes the current law, which stipulates who may perform weddings in this grand state of ours, and removes any and all references to anyone with any kind of religious affiliation.

If this legislation were to somehow pass, the only people in Maine who could perform weddings would be judges, lawyers and notary publics.

Now, getting real for a minute, I don't know if this is a publicity stunt by Representative Manley or if he is trying to throw some kind of political bone to his homosexual constituents. Either way, this legislation doesn't stand a chance of passing--my opinion--never-the-less, we must take it seriously because history shows us repeatedly that the unthinkable of today, becomes the doable of tomorrow. Remember there was a day when the thought of killing one's baby in-utero was so preposterous that it didn't even get mentioned.

It is never a safe practice to try and assign motive to one's actions but it is probably safe to assume that Manley figures that it is the religious community standing in the way of homosexual marriage (he's correct) and so one way of avoiding that is to remove the religious element from marriage altogether.

Again, I don't believe this Portland Representative is serious as far as thinking it will actually pass, but it is a trial balloon of sorts and if there isn't strong resistance, it will be reappear over and over again until, like so many other social issues that were once forbidden, this will be come the law of the land.

It would behoove the Christian community to let their legislators know what they think of such a godless idea.

How Small Is Your Life?

How small is your life? I don't mean what have you accomplished, or what is your net worth or what kind of trophies have you won or anything like that. I mean, what is the focus of your life?

It's a pretty heavy question I know so let me bring it down to earth, where we live.

Do you read publications like Weekly World News, The National Enquirer, the Star, or People Magazine? I don't mean you scan the paper while waiting to check out at the grocery store or you skim the magazine at the dentist's office but you actually shell out good money for such tripe.

Do you become engrossed by the latest tragedy in the news such that you have to be up on every new detail, skimming channels to get another little tid-bit that some other network may have missed? Are you addicted to any of the "reality" shows that permeate the airwaves of cable and satellite?

Do you find yourself changing appointments, or plans so as not to miss who will be voted off the island this week? Have you ever watched any soap opera for more than 10 minutes?

If you answer yes to any of these--frankly, your life is too small! I'm not talking about some kind of legalism here; everyone needs some blob time; even Jesus escaped leaving the routine of His day behind to get some peace and quiet.

But I am concerned for anyone who lives vicariously through the lives of others. God didn't create you to waste away expending mental and emotional energy on some half wits taking a dare to sleep with scorpions or to be locked in a room with strangers even if it is for a million bucks.

What redeeming value is there in watching some deranged woman swapping places with another man's wife and trying to deal with his children? And Soaps??? Are you really improved by indulging in fake romances--usually sinful--following the travails and crises of those fake relationships from one day or one week to the next? C'mon!

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things." Philip. 4:8

We will all answer for what we do with every second of our lives. Can you handle that?

Faith Matters In Politics

Well the country, no make that the media, is getting its shorts in a knot again because one of the candidates running for President is a Mormon. Even though I was a little boy when John Kennedy was President I still remember the consternation over the fact that he

was Catholic. "Will the Pope be running the country?" was a question posed in the 60's. I'd like to say we have come a long way since then but we haven't.

One night on Fox News the question was asked specifically referring to the Mit Romney. "Should a person's faith matter if they are running for president?" The Fox News panel thought it should not. I disagree strongly.

What a future President believes is absolutely significant for we, the electorate, look to that person to make assessments, evaluations and decisions on our behalf.

Faith, real faith, a faith that means something, is the deepest part of what and who a person is. Real faith shapes a person's convictions and real faith informs every area of consideration such that assessments, evaluations and decisions emanate from one's belief system. You better believe a person's faith is important to their candidacy.

Part of our problem in understanding that, is that we have a cultural aberration which insists that faith is a private matter. In other words, what one believes can be important to them but God forbid that, that person should impose his beliefs on anyone else.

But that is absolutely ludicrous because every decision a person makes emanates forth from what they believe. That doesn't mean that what the person believes is necessarily religious, but what a person believes and what the person does are inseparable.

The other factor that makes it difficult for us to understand this is that we have seen so much hypocrisy from political leaders who pretended to have faith. Ted Kennedy--supposedly a Catholic--for example has been a champion of so many principles that are antithetical to his church that his faith is a joke. But that doesn't mean that every person's faith is irrelevant to their choices.

And so it does the citizenry good to be informed of what exactly a person believes and if their faith is real, it can be a great guide to knowing whether you want to vote for them or not.

Jet Blues--Blues A Common Tune

The airlines have a problem and it's not just Jet blue. You may have heard about the utter atrocity and cruel treatment of some of this airline's customers were kept in custody in the confines of their aircraft for an unbelievable 11 hours before taking off. I'll spare you details of the conditions inside the craft but you can probably imagine that the plane was not equipped for that kind of delay and overwhelmed the planes septic system, its food capabilities and any humane consideration of its passengers.
This was an extreme situation to be sure but no less serious situations are a matter of course on all airlines these days and needs to be addressed legally.
I have personally been held hostage--against my will--on an airplane being forced to sit in a sweltering cabin (aircraft air conditioning does work well when the plane is on the ground) for over two hours waiting to take off. Believe me, I would have rather walked.
David Neeleman-CEO of Jet Blue--has posted a personal apology and action plan on You Tube. I was impressed as his speech was not scripted, and he listed specifics of how and why this will never happen again. Frankly--if I were flying next week, I would choose Jet Blue because you know that in light of this, they will be trying harder--much harder--to win their clients back.
But as I said, the airline industry is in shambles and it's not because of the cost of fuel or the amount of travel. Everyone knows things happen that no can control but it is the perpetual lying the airlines do that puts people over the edge.
I have personally been boarded onto a jet being told the flight was right on time the personnel who boarded us knew the flight was delayed--a long time. I have had my luggage checked in and booking all finished when in fact, the flight had been cancelled long before. As I already mentioned, more than once I have been incarcerated in a sweltering, claustrophobic cabin waiting for a weather clearance out on the tarmac numerous times for longer than is reasonable.
At the end of the day, if the inmates at Gitmo were treated the way passengers are often treated on commercial aircraft, there would be a major uproar by human rights groups across the globe.
It's way past time, that someone starts examining the horrendous and inhumane treatment of passengers on our commercial airlines.
Honesty and consideration aren't just good policies for Christians; they're great policies for business as well.

Freedom of Speech Always Had Limits

You might remember this past year the Westboro Baptist Church out of Kansas which is the scurrilous group of miscreants who--among other things--picket the funerals of our soldiers who have given their lives for our freedom. They display the most deplorable hateful signs you might imagine and all in the name of God.

In response, Sen. David Hastings III, R-Fryeburg, has submitted a bill that would make it a crime to demonstrate, leaflet or protest within 1,000 feet of a funeral for two hours before the service and an hour after. It's a good and necessary law but of course the liberals are crying foul with the hollow screams about freedom of speech. Freedom of speech, my eye!

Freedom of Speech has never been a carte blanche for saying anything anyone wanted to whenever anyone wanted to, wherever anyone wanted to. The Supreme Court of the United States has made that clear in numerous situations.

There is the predictable resistance to such a law expressed in a recent editorial of our local paper. What is so odd about the liberal thought process is that they will snit and fume over such a law because it violates free speech and yet these same people are the first to rip down a crèche in the town square or start crowing when a Christmas carol is sung in the local elementary school. Just how it is that the liberal mind is, more often than not, an ardent protector of what is perverse and disgusting, they tend to forget the hallowed right of free speech when it is edifying or especially when it is religious.

But while I truly appreciate the concern over anything that curtails speech--even offensive speech--there are limits. When such limits are not understood and applied by a progressively unreasonable people, the law must attempt to make them reasonable. And while opponents of decency are fond of castigating government for intruding on the rights of its citizens, it is in fact, according to Romans 13, one of the God ordained reasons for which government even exists.

We shall see, if the wayward and unreasonable will hold sway over the rest of the land prevailing against this good law.

February 16, 2007

Somteimes We Prepare For the Least of Things...

Well as I write, we are being snowed on. I almost forgot what it looked like and that's a good thing. So this morning I pull out my trusty snow blower--my aged snow blower and with only the beginning of the storm underway, I made two passes on my driveway and the transmission froze up.

I look forward to the removal by hand this evening. I should have been better prepared I guess but I just had it serviced last season and it didn't get much use then either. Let's face it; stuff like that happens especially when the timing of it seems especially inopportune.

So the storm is here and I have no intention of running out to the store to stock up on milk and bread among other things.

This always baffles me. Honestly, I think the typical family has enough food in the house to get by for several weeks. Why do so many run out to stock up? When was the last time they were so snow bound, that they were about ready to suffer any privation much less starvation?

So how come we don't prepare like that for the return of the Lord? We know its coming; we know we should prepare; and yet, our lives, for the most part seem to go on pretty much unchanged from the way we were when we first believed. What is up with that?

We take a silly little winter weather alert and panic. Even though winter weather comes every year, without any major hassles yet we still prepare even it only means putting gas in the snow blower and checking the pressure in the tires.

But when it comes to the Day of the Lord, we would rather watch "Left Behind" and talk about a fictional movie then read God's Word and take action like we believe what we supposedly know.

I'll be honest, a winter storm seems immanent; the Lord's return, well not so much. We believe it at a certain level but I don't think we really believe it could be in our life times. I think I do at times, but then probably not really.

Well, the snow is still falling and promises to late into the night. But when I went home for lunch I started my snow blower again: Nothing doing. So I prayed and said "Lord, I need your help here." Not one of the most eloquent prayers to be sure but guess what? I cleared my drive with it--saying, "Thank you Lord." all the way.

Appointment of Adolescent Chaplain is Foolhardy

I read in the Pastor's Weekly Briefing from last week that the Church of God has commissioned its youngest chaplain ever.

This past November, Brian completed his chaplaincy training which consisted of 27 hours of instruction receiving a certificate of completion. If Brian is approved to work in his community he will be the youngest youth chaplain in the nation.

I truly hope for Brian's sake, that he is NOT approved. You see Brian is only 14 years old. And when you look at all the Scriptures pertaining to overseers, shepherds and elders--the words are used interchangeably--Brian simply doesn't meet the Biblical qualifications to do the work of a chaplain if you agree that a chaplain is essentially an elder/pastor.

Of even greater concern is that as a chaplain, this boy--and he is a boy--will become a special target of the enemy which is why the church is urged not to lay hands too quickly on anyone for a position in leadership.

Now none of this means he can't use his gifts for the Lord; nothing would be better but I construe by the use of the word chaplain, what I know about chaplains and again, there isn't a 14 year old born meant to shoulder this kind of responsibility.

It is a disservice to this young man, no matter how gifted he may be, to put one so young out there in the line of fire. In might give you a headline for your denominational letter and Brian may be as sincere as anything, but his church needs to heed its obligation to protect this young boy.

There have been other "childhood evangelists" to have come out of a similar church background and as far as I know they all made ship wreck of their faith. There is a lot to be said for longevity, experience and maturity and someone who has only been around for a bit more than a decade has none. Wisdom in gained in knowing the Scriptures to be sure, but wisdom is the Word of God applied to your life. At 14, you just haven't had the time to put your faith to the test. Hopefully, his elders will see Biblical reason and take this boy out of harm's way.

February 09, 2007

Freedom of Speech? God Bless America...

One of the many blessings we enjoy in this great land of ours is the hallowed right of freedom of speech. Under that precious constitutional right, we can hear all manner of vulgarity, gutter language and sexual obscenity not to mention the chronic blasphemy and abuse of the holy name of God. Because of men and women who have given their lives for our freedoms, we can walk into any video store and avail ourselves of pornography and we even have the privilege of funding "artists" with our tax dollars who smear themselves with chocolate or display homosexual erotica in a gallery attended by school children. Thank God for our right of free speech--but it does have its limits!

Ask Anthony Mirto and Ernest Simpson, two vile characters who belong to the Gideons and spend their leisure time handing out Bibles in public areas of this wonderful land of ours.

Mirto and Simpson were arrested and jailed for handing out Bibles on a public sidewalk in Florida. School officials summonsed police even though they were not on school grounds.

"Neither man entered school grounds," the law firm said. "After the school's principal called police, a Monroe County sheriff's officer asked the men to leave immediately or face trespassing charges. As the men prepared to leave, the officer decided to arrest both individuals." World Net Daily reported.

Now, once again, the circumstances of the situation are being disputed. The officer says one thing, the two men another. If the story changes and they were in fact arrested on school property, I will clarify the story in a later commentary.

What we do know is that this kind of harassment and violation of Christian's rights is common place. I have experienced first hand such intimidation and violation of my rights as an American. But because I am an American, I will press for my rights even as the apostle Paul did when deprived of his rights as a citizen of Rome.

"Now when day came, the chief magistrates sent their policemen, saying, "Release those men." And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, "The chief magistrates have sent to release you. Now therefore, come out and go in peace." But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us in public without trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they sending us away secretly? No indeed! But let them come themselves and bring us out." Acts 16:35-37

Paul wasn't letting them off the hook. He wanted it known that they had their rights as Roman citizens violated and weren't going to help them cover it up.

Yes we know this is what we can expect; and NO we don't have to roll over and take it. Until this nation of laws of ours makes it illegal to do what we do, we will and must press for the same rights as anyone else.

Imam Opens Democrat's Winter Meeting In Prayer

Listening to the news one day last week I heard about some Democratic National Committee winter meeting in Michigan being kicked off with an Islamic prayer.

"With heads bowed reverently, Democrats were led in prayer yesterday by a Muslim imam who essentially asked Allah to assist in converting the party members to Islam according to a scholar and author." Reported the World Net Daily.

I tracked it down and retrieved the actual prayer. I was relieved that the story was definitely over-hyped even if utterly inappropriate. Here is the prayer for your listening pleasure.

"In the name of God the most merciful, the most compassionate. We thank you, God, to bless us among your creations. We thank you, God, to make us as a great nation. We thank you God, to send us your messages through our father Abraham and Moses and Jesus and Muhammad. Through you, God, we unite. So guide us to the right path. The path of the people you bless, not the path of the people you doom. Help us God to liberate and fill this earth with justice and peace and love and equality. And help us to stop the war and violence, and oppression and occupation. Amen."

While utterly inappropriate, conservatives and Christians do the cause no favor by sensationalizing points that will not be understood by any but the most studied in the particulars of Islam.

The prayer is offensive to me as a Christian because it places Jesus--the one I view as God incarnate--on the same plain as Abraham, Moses and Muhammad--mere men who all died because of sin's penalty.

Can you imagine though the Government of Iraq inviting me to open a meeting of theirs in prayer and I pray, "Thank you Lord Jesus Christ--Immanuel--God With Us, for showing that you are Very God and for sending Abraham, Moses and Allah; mere servants of Yours, the only True God, Most High."

Besides being factually incorrect, the prayer would be blasphemous to a good Muslim and the death sentence would be on my head.

That is what was wrong with the Imam praying as He did, and praying at all with representatives of our nation. Can you imagine the Dems asking a Christian--a real Christian--to pray opening their meeting? They do all they can to marginalize us, and to silence us.

Yet again, the wayward leaders of this nation are signing our death warrants--for God will not be mocked. If it seems this nation of ours has lost its mind--in a very real sense it has. For when one loses touch with its Creator, it has lost touch with reality. I call that insanity.

February 04, 2007

The "News" Isn't!

If "no news, is good news" then there's good news abounding these days!

I am a news junky or at least used to be. Keeping abreast of the times of our day is what enables me to preach the way I do relating God's wisdom to our world--our real world that is profoundly messed up.

When FOX News came in to my life I was elated. A broadcast on world and local affairs that actually gave a semblance of balance from the highly biased and godlessly slanted reporting of the past when the networks ruled the airwaves was a god send.

I even broke down and procured cable TV almost solely for the alternative news that came with Fox. But alas, there is a change a foot.

Watching the news these days--any news including Fox--is like waiting in line at the grocery store and perusing the tabloids to see what movie star is having a baby or having a break down.

Somewhere along the line, Fox News has lost its focus on real news and is catering to the lowest common denominator of human intellect and curiosity.

Anna Nicole Smith's tragedy was and still is covered beyond importance and frankly, bore little importance even when she lost her son. It was important to her; not the world.

John Gibson used to be fairly articulate bringing important stories to the fore. Recently though his big grabber was for a story on American Idol. And it was a long story.

When a Press conference is convened for something which might be legitimate news, Fox covers it round the clock--no matter the information is irrelevant!

Bill O'Reilly now features a "body language expert" analyzing one of his recent guests or O'Reilly himself. Body language is fun as a party novelty but it isn't science.

Tune in now and I think you'll still find Greta Van Susteren combing the beaches of Aruba.

I think Rosie and Donald and Barbara still pop up now and again but occupied the airwaves with nothing but useless tripe. The original story warranted no coverage whatsoever except to the mentally impaired who have very small lives and even smaller I Q's

Paul said, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephes. 4:29

I know the news isn't what he was talking about but the point needs to be taken; is this useful, is it building me up; will it help me to help someone else. At least for starters--give it a try.

For Christians in Burma, Faith Means Something

Imagine a country where religious freedom is stipulated in the constitution but the reality of it is vastly different.

The Constitution of Burma stipulates that ‘the national race shall enjoy the freedom to profess their religion provided that the enjoyment of any such freedom does not offend the laws or the public interest’.

That wording caught my attention as it seems eerily similar to the stated philosophy of our nation's current policy concerning Christianity and Christian rights. All religious activities are closely monitored and restricted in Burma because, "in the past, religious minorities have been politically active and…because the regime tends to view religious freedom in the context of threats to national unity."

It is that last statement that really opens my eyes for what is the primary complaint these days from our political liberals concerning Christians who have the temerity to carry their faith into the work place especially if it's a political work place? "If it wasn't for those blasted Christians, the world would be at peace, our educational establishment would be stellar, the atmosphere would be cleansed of green house gases, everyone would be making $75,000 a year and our cars would be getting 40 miles to the gallon." Pardon my sarcasm…

Another element of the situation in Burma is, again, eerily similar to our nation.

Where there used to be crosses on mountaintops, symbolizing the faith of the people, none remain. The last cross in Chin State was torn down in 2001. The children of Christians are taken from their families and put into Buddhist monasteries where the children learn to be monks. The parents are not told where their children are taken and of course it always so the children will receive a better education. The parents never see the children again.

In so many ways, the good old U.S. of A. is only a step or two behind so many countries where Christianity is effectively outlawed yet the boast of many of the nations is that they are tolerant and guarantee religious freedom to all.

We are the proverbial frog in the kettle oblivious to the rising temperature of the water in which we are lazily doing the back stroke concerned about the heels on our shoes and whether our socks match our clothes.

Sad thing is, I don't think anything is going to change--and I am referring to the "Church."