Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Financial Chaos in America

It is likely that more attention has been paid to the delicate balance of America's financial stability in the last 48 hours than at any other time since the Great Depression. Considering the trillions (with a T) of dollars that has been lost due to the collapse of financiers and the record fall of the stock markets, it is no wonder folks are shaken. This unrest is felt throughout our society.

A few thoughts come to my mind. The first thing is...I don't have lots of money, so the upside of that is you can't lose 'lots' of money. Those who have lived the life of luxury in Manhattan-style living are suddenly coming face to face with the realities the common man faces weekly, like living paycheck to paycheck, assuming you are fortunate enough to have a paycheck. Windfall profits and overnight successes are a thing of the past. Our nation is facing less available money, more indebtedness and fewer jobs to answer the needs of this crisis. This thing has the feel of an ominous depression.

This morning, as I watched the President give a briefing on the failure of Congress to pass a 'bailout' bill, I couldn't help but notice how President Bush seemed truly worried. He warned Americans of the downward trend that will only escalate unless some sort of governmental bailout is passed. In truth, even if it passes, we wonder if it is enough to put us back on the road to progress. Or, do we know what progress is at all? I mean...we have become subservient to the lenders of the Far East like Japan and China. That which leads to economic destruction on a personal level will do the same on a national level. One simply cannot live indefinitely on deficit spending. The 'reckoning day' for America has come. So what does that mean?

I believe things will get gradually worse, even if the 'bailout' passes. There are bigger powers at work here. We are too far down the slippery slope of globalism to ever regain our independence and superiority we once held. We are at the mercy of some 'Saviour' to rescue the world...just like the rest of the world is! The days of perplexity mentioned by Christ are here. Men with bright minds are at a loss as to long term answers. The world is ready for the Anti-Christ to step to the forefront with all the answers in hand. When he arrives, the entire world will welcome him for the relief (although temporary) he will bring to all. A man with an answer to our money hurts will be embraced by the nations. We love our money more than we love our principles. We love our riches more than we love God. We love to have our comfort and security, albeit false security, more than we love righteousness. Time will prove these statements to be true. The Anti-Christ will secure power through the wallets of mankind. A number will be assigned...mandatory chipping will be enforced and we will all be happy ever after....almost!

Friend, the only real security is in Jesus Christ. The old hymn says, "On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand!" I hope you and I are more concerned about our relationship with God than we are our bank statement. Invest in God, in the church, in eternal things. Stop worrying over things; things that will pass away and melt when the world is destroyed. The things of God will last forever without the threat of economic meltdown. Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where rust and moth doth not corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal. Heaven's economy is eternally stable.

Have a wonderful day,

Pastor T

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Voting...The Christian Perspective

The right to vote is one of the great privileges of being an American.  We can choose our elected officials with our ballot.  Not only is this a 'right', it is also a tremendous responsibility.  The responsibility is even heavier as we see all that is at stake in the upcoming, Presidential election.


Our nation faces uncertain days ahead.  The threat of global terrorism looms large as Iran accumulates nuclear capability.  Eroding morality floods the television audiences.  Violence, abortion, homosexuality and evil abounds.  It is the day spoken in the Word of God when 'Gross darkness covers the people."

As a Christian we are called to be leaders, influencers, in our communities.  We are the salt and light Jesus mentioned in His teaching.  Voting is one of the easiest and most powerful means of influence.  To 'not' vote is the same as placing a vote for evil.  To cast your ballot in favor of principles embraced by the Word of God is a righteous action.

I ask you to prayerfully think about the millions of babies being murdered in the womb and vote accordingly.  I ask you to think and pray about which leader distinctly declares his faith in God...the God we know as Jehovah and Jesus, and vote accordingly.  Please consider which leader would prayerfully support the nation of Israel without hesitation.  Consider which candidate will stand up, nose to nose, with evil terrorists.  When you go to the polls in November, do so as an advocate for righteousness.

Thank you Lord for allowing us to live in this great nation.  May we humbly seek your favor now and always.   Let me know what you think.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Biker's and Religious Bologna

Welcome to the 100k plus bikers coming into Northwest Arkansas for "Bikes, Blues and BBQ."  There is a constant rumble in front of my home as these two-wheeled machines and their riders congregate for some fun.

Last year I got a motorcycle.  My dear brother Aaron Mahan gave it to me.  (Thank you Aaron)It is a 600 Honda Shadow and it is a honey!  I love to ride that baby and so does Trish.  I am one cool cat when I am cruising down the interstate.  (Ha!  Forty-two and cool?  Hardly!)  Perhaps a tatoo would help!  (Oh please...I'm not getting a tat...relax!!)

I was thinking about how my feelings toward bikers used to be.  Somehow I had chosen to believe...or been taught to think that whiskers, and the funky clothing added up to something close to the devil.  Isn't it amazing how we sterotype people in a spiritual sense?  I think that is called 'judging'.  Anyway, through time I have learned these people are just ordinary people like you and me, only they are wearing their cultural costume of choice...just like a cowboy wears a hat and boots, runners wear nike gear, or a religious sect wears neckties on men and long dresses on women.  

However, the condition of the soul is not determined by the outward appearance.  I know some rough looking bikers who love God with amazing intensity.  Growing churches often have 'Biker Ministries' in their repertoire of ministry.

Don't let the looks fool you.  That is purely religious bologna!  God looks on the heart.  Who knows, one day there may be a Bikes, Blues and BBQ in heaven...only there will be no reason to sing the blues.  One thing for sure, bologna is really good on a BBQ pit!

Think on it!


Monday, September 22, 2008

How to Get Big Muscles in Thirty Days

I remember reading an advertisement touting the title of this blog, when I was but a lad.  At the time the big muscles sounded quite appealing, especially in such a short time.  Every boy that read that could envision himself laden with perky pecks, triumphant triceps, and bountiful biceps.  The problem is you can't get muscles...at least not the kind shown in the ad...in thirty days.  Before you sport big muscles you must first have a dedication to discipline yourself beneath the weights.  Months of proper diet, rest, and exercise...I mean the kind where you drip sweat and turn red in the face, is required.

When folks discuss their desire to rise above sin, to become an effective witness, to renew torn relationships, I am reminded of the dedication needed to build muscle.  Similar dedication is needed for spiritual progress.  There is no secret to it.  Just as in muscles, more people wear their spiritual flab rather than big biceps simply because the work, the pain, the pride swallowing is just too much for them.  It hurts to make progress!  It is hard to make amends!   There is no magic formula or a once read book that will usher one into the halls of spiritual success.  

Friend, your success is found in getting up day after day and pursuing your prize until you are weary to the core and then finding the strength to do it all again the next day.  You either want it badly enough to work in a determined manner...or you don't.  It is that simple.

In a radio address on May 15, 1982, President Ronald Reagan said, "In James Michener's book, The Bridges a Toko-Ri, he writes of an officer waiting through the night for the return of planes to a carrier as dawn is coming on.  And he asks, "Where do we find such men?" Well, we find them where we've always found them.  They are the product of the freest society man has ever known.  They make a commitment to the military - make it freely, because the birthright we share as Americans is worth defending."

Those who rise above and do the extra-ordinary are they who know the extra-ordinary cost that will be involved and are willing to pay it.  I challenge you to rethink your future.  Set some high goals and decide if you have what it takes to get your 'muscles'.  They may not show up today, but with time and persistence...they will show up.  Remember I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  He strengthens me to push the bar upward one more time!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Sword of the Lord

I am remembering an Old Testament story of Gideon and how he fought against all odds with only 300 men of valor.  When they intruded into the enemy camp they broke their pitchers and proclaimed, "The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon."(Judges 7:18)  Throughout the Bible one can trace the Sword of the Lord and its tremendous significance.

For a short Bible study, lets fix our spiritual gaze upon Matthew 10:34.  These letters in red say, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth:  I came not to send peace, but a sword.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."

At first glance one would seem to feel there is some contradiction.  After all, isn't the Prince of Peace coming to bring peace?  What's this sword thing all about?  As you read a couple more verses into the text you find the over-riding meaning, which is to follow Christ...even if it means being at odds with family and friends.  It is the 'First' commandment in stark language.  "Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength."  

So why the Sword?  The sword separates good from evil; righteousness from unrighteous; the holy from the profane.  Notice Hebrews 4:12, "For the word (sword) of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

The Sword of the Lord divides in many area's...here are a few for your consideration:

1.  It separates righteous family members from those who are bent on partying, thievery, and other sins.
2.  It separates men from jobs that are less than upright.  I recall a man who refused to work at a store that sold alcoholic beverages.
3.  It divides relationships that are unwholesome in God's sight.
4.  It cuts into your thoughts that may deviate from the righteous pathway.
5.  It separates men from organizations and destinations that do not align with the Kingdom of God.
6.  It quickly acknowledges the wheat (the positive and good) in our lives, disclosing also the chaff (undesirable, fleshly).
7.  It knows our motives, or intentions and can separate them from our actions.
8.  It separates young people from the yoke of peer pressure.
9.  It cuts preachers loose from tradition and cookie-cutter religion to follow God's heart.
10.  It cuts the tight-wad away from his selfishness to a position of giving freely to the Kingdom work.

Indeed, Jesus has come to bring a sword.  When it cuts I hope to be on the side of righteousness.  One day the dividing line will be abundantly clear as Christ separates the 'sheep' from the 'goats'.  Let the sword work for you today.

Be blessed,

Pastor Tim

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Jesus' Two Most Frequently Used Words

Before you read further down to the answer, think about some of the most frequent sayings of Christ.  He spoke much about the resurrection; of hell; of heaven; of the treatment of our fellowman; of forgiveness; of love; of sacrifice; of compassion.  Yet, none of these take the primary seat as being the most frequently used phrase.

Ok...you give up?  It is time for the answer.  Jesus said, "Fear Not" more than any other phrase in your Bible.  The frequency of usage leads us to know the importance of words.  Christ intends for those who follow Him never to become enslaved to fear.  

Fear is that crippling, uncertain feeling about our health, finances, our future etc.  Fear reproduces quickly in our minds and in the minds of those with whom we associate.  Fear is first cousin to unbelief.  God hates unbelief...thus, He must also hate fear.  Perfect love cast out all fear.  I love that verse.  I can mentally see fear getting the 'boot' from the Master.  "Out of the heart and home of my child!"

Fear and worry have no place in our lives.  I recently heard John Hagee in Tulsa, Oklahoma as he eloquently spoke about worry.  He said, "Worry is practical atheism."  A child of God, a believer, does not have to worry.  I encourage you to hear the voice of the Father calling out to you and to your situation...."Fear Not."


Pastor Tim

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

An Arkansas Hurricane

Today is September 3, 2008 and Arkansas is directly under the remains of Hurricane Gustov.  Gustov made landfall in Louisiana yesterday morning.  I have been tracking it on the news as it skirted Cuba several days ago and then intensified as it gulped the warm Gulf waters.  Now inland, the hurricane has been diminished from destructive winds to merely a couple of days of serious rain for us.  In a week, folks will be playing  golf on a sunny day,  scarcely remembering if it was Gusto?, or Gussie?, or Gustov?...and talking about how badly we need rain.

I want to focus on the factors which defuse such a storm from a category 3 or 5, down to a thundershower.  This does not happen all at once, but as the hurricane travels over the terrain, three things occur.  One, it encounters mountain ranges, trees, forests, and cities, all of which subdue the forces of the wind over time.  Second, the storm is perpetually dropping rain and losing energy as it does so.  I am no weatherman, but even I know a cloud can't rain forever. Somewhere down the line it runs out of juice!  Finally, after moving aloft, the storm is destined to run into an opposing weather pattern.  In this case, a cold front moving down from the North is triggering the release of water, as well as taking more energy from the weather system.

I point this out to tell you that at some point in your life you will be in another kind of hurricane...usually an emotional one.  Life's storms are precipitated by heartaches and breaks, disappointments, tragedy, loss, bankruptcy, illness, divorce, etc.  For some, they would likely label these storms a 'Category 10'.  The tears fall like rain while fear thunders in the soul.  Trouble becomes your constant companion.  'Friends' abandon you, evacuating to safer shores and wanting no part of  what is now 'your' storm.  Batton down the hatches baby it's gonna get rough!  The winds blow, the beach erodes, structures and paradigms get blown to kingdom come!  That's the bad part.  But, let me give you some good news.

A hurricane doesn't last forever.  In a few days the sun comes back out.  The hurricane runs into a few barriers of people who say..."Hey I have had worse things than that happen to me and I am still alive!"  Ferocious winds find themselves facing fearless fronts when people say, "Listen, a little love and forgiveness can take care of this."  Not only that, but in time the intensity naturally goes away.  You can't live in a state of utter venom all the time...at least you won't live very long in that state.  Somewhere along the way there must come a bit of acceptance, of release, and hopefully some understanding.  When you understand that everything you hear may not be true and every assumption you make is likely not correct, it tends to take some water out of the clouds.  Lastly, the opponents in your life have a life, or have to get a life, of their own.  Other 'weather patterns' come, either from the North or the South, bringing a chill or a thaw to affect people's angst.  In time, they have to pay attention to their own problems and situations.  Their own kids get sick, their bank account runs dry, they screw up and have their own enemies, etc.  At the end of the day you have to sleep between your own pathetic elbows.  These new front bring changes in attitudes.  When you need forgiveness it is amazing how you suddenly can find it within you to extend the same. 

Let me tell you something.  Life is way too short to live in a hurricane.  I'd much rather encounter an 'Arkansas' Hurricane than a Louisiana or Texas Hurricane.  A  coastal hurricane will rip your roof off.  An Arkansas Hurricane has had some time....some buffers....causing it to lessen in intensity.  The lessening is a lesson we all need to learn.