Monday, January 19, 2009

New President

Only four years ago I stood in DC to witness President George Bush's second taking of the oath of office. It was a bitterly cold day and it will remain forever in my mind. I was in awe as I stood among the many monuments and granite landmarks that so ably identify the patriotism of America. I love America. Much has happened in this great land, changing it to a position much the less in unity than it was when I was born, or more distinctly, a century ago.

We have been blessed in this nation. It is my opinion that the blessings have followed a people who have followed righteous principles. Our founders had deep convictions and a respect for God that was more than superficial. Over time those principles have turned from black and white to gray, and with it, there is a price to be paid. That brings me to the inauguration of our 43rd president, Barak Obama.

First let me say that I am obligated scripturally to support as far as I can, and to especially pray for my leaders. This I will do. Barak Obama is my president just like he is yours. It does not matter at all to me the color of his skin. In fact, it is a good thing that we have leadership of an American negro. It causes more dividing walls to fall. We owe a debt of support as Americans regardless of the color of one's skin. He is the leader of our fighting forces and is one of the most powerful men on earth. Yet, with all this I am worried about whether the favor of God will follow him.

President Obama supports abortion. Abortion is not just a catchy word, it defines the murder of unborn innocent children. This sin goes beyond preference as related to politics. God is taking notice. Further, we have a president who supports homosexuality. He is having an openly gay bishop pray at the ceremonies as one of the clergy. Let me tell you God has not changed His mind about this abominable sin that is widely being accepted as an alternative lifestyle. This is why I said we are now the lesser nation.

What is more, I have real questions as to Barak Obama's sincere support of Israel. This too is not a trite matter. Those who support Israel will be blessed and those who oppose them will find themselves in serious trouble. Our nation needs God. We need a George Washington to fall on his knees in the snow (reference to picture) and call out to God for help. I hope Mr. Obama will take a hard stand against the Muslim influence that not only controls the oil (and thus our economy), but also wishes for the demise of Western Civilization as we know it. These threats are real. We did not have a repeat of 9-11 because we had a president who was willing to take the fight to their shores. Anything less will invite trouble...trouble on a scale larger than any of us may be able to believe.

As we receive our new president, I hope you will join me in praying for he and his family. Ask God to bring righteous principles to his mind and righteous men to his side. I pray the next four years will find us stronger, more unified, less afraid to bow to the screaming liberal minds and more ready to accept God's ways.

This land is your land...this land is my land. Let's take responsibility and help undergird the foundations set by Godly men.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Forty Three and Still Tickin'

Today I turned 43 years old. Not a special birthday like a 16th or 21st or 40th etc. This particular birthday hits in the middle of the forties. No big deal, right? Well, actually everyday is a big deal. I have so much to be thankful for. Yet, my perspective on life continues to evolve along the way. Here are some very random thoughts that have been circling through my cloudy brains.

Once you get into your forties you start comparing your life with the average life spans. It makes you want to make the most of every day. But do you make the most of the years ahead? There is a balance to strike between the agility of youth and the wisdom of age. For instance, I am on a basketball team for our church, but I have to one guard my energy for a game, and two, take it a bit easy on the court...I don't want to make the boys look bad! (ha!) The lead in my pants seems to keep me from grabbing the rim as I used to.

This is a great time in life. I have energy enough to do about anything I want to and usually have enough wisdom to know when to say 'when', although there are some who might argue that fact. One of the biggest battles I face is trying to pull myself away from that warm fireplace on a cold day, like today. This, I know, is a sure sign of getting older.

I am fighting the battle of the bulge too! You gotta love that one. I argue with myself over which is the look trim or to enjoy an extra chocolate chip cookie with milk. More often than not, the cookies and milk win out. But hey, all one has to do is trade up a few waist sizes and try not to look too long in the mirror! Sleeping on cookies and milk is bliss my friends and a right of passage for those in their forties.

One more thing. I think back to when I was my children's age, 17 and 19. I recall how I used to think of people who were in their forties. Man, I am embarrassed. I thought they were old, pitiful, washed up, nearly done. But now that I 'r' one, ....well, I don't think I missed it too much to be honest.

On this day I thank God for family, friends, basketball, cookies and ibuprophen!

Have a great one,


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wounded Soldiers

Recently a man sat in my office, a minister, and one of several whom I have been honored to counsel with, who had been wounded in his past. He explained to me how he had felt the judgmental glances of others, heard their whispers and would have surrendered his call to ministry, except the call of God kept calling. I listened intently and felt his pain. I felt it because I had been there and done that. Lest you think this an expose to defend sin, you are wrong by a thousand miles. What it is, is an attempt to help others see the need for helping and restoring those ensnared, rather than to default immediately to religious, lynch-mob mentality. Our conversation led to several things that should be revisited within the body of Christ.

Remember this. Whatever happens to the worst of us can easily happen to the best of us. That includes you Saint of God, Sunday School Teacher, Minister, Lay-person, Care-giver, Lawn-clipper, Nursery Worker. While there is no premium on sin and pain, neither is there any shortage of it. We are to avoid sin and overcome it. We should not participate in it to validate grace. Greater grace is to keep us 'from' sin. However, if I read the Word of God reads "All have sinned..." Where did we get the notion we would hold men and women to a standard which is completely unattainable by humanity? Think within your own life...honestly, you struggle with sin. Let me say it a little more plainly...YOU SIN! YES, YOU! You with your nice with your seminary experience, you with your religious titles and positions. All means all. You should admit there are times when you think of people in ways you shouldn't, you lust, you gossip, you backbite, you are jealous, you are full of pride, you lie, you......(fill in the blank.) It is all sin. And if you are man or woman enough to admit you sin, then you should also admit you are not in a position to judge others who have also fallen prey to the same.

Since we sin, who gave us the right to categorize sin? Who said we could place certain values on it? Well, religious groups certainly do. Fellowships of the Pharisee will allow it. Don't think for a minute I am glossing over sin. Brother, it will all send you to hell if it remains unrepented of! When I read verses from the Bible like 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Revelation 21:8 one can easily understand that those who choose not to repent of their sin, including adultery, effeminence, idolatry, drunkards, revilers, extortioners, thieves, fearful, unbelieving, murderers, witches, and liars, will all be forever lost without God in hell. This is a fact. There is much more to learn. God hates pride, He hates backbiters. Consider Romans 1:28-31 where another comprehensive list is located. It adds to the list of the lost, including wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, debaters, whisperers, backbiters, proud, boasters, disobedient to parents, those who will not understand, without natural affection and....get this...the UNMERCIFUL! These are all on a train that is not headed for the gates of pearl.

Since the guy who looks at a woman to lust after her body is just as guilty as the guy who crawls in the sack with her, then we can understand that almost every male with testosterone has had to repent of this sin. It was Jesus who said that lust is the same as adultery. It is just so much easier to poke the eyes out of the one with the visible sin than it is to hammer the guy with lust or the woman who wears out her cell phone gossiping. Is it less sin because it is done in secret? It is all sin!

Here is the good news. God's grace is the anti-venom to the snakebite of sin. It was provided by the Son of God upon the cross. The blood of Jesus cleanseth us from all sin! Faith in Christ removes guilt and even the reminder of past sins. My sin is gone, as is yours!! Let's rejoice! Let's spread the good news! Or, would you rather fish in the Sea of Forgetfulness? Some would. Some like to forget their own iniquity and are more than glad to pick out the faults of others. To forget our own mess is a sin the size of a fence post compared to the committed sin you are trying to point out in others. For this reason Jesus stressed dealing with your own before you pick on the 'mote' in your brother's eye. When I think of the grace I have needed, I have no reason to point out your sin as being greater or smaller. Again, sin is sin!

The body of Christ is an army. Together we fight a common enemy. That enemy is not our brother or sister. Once in a while a brother or sister takes a hit, they succumb to sin, they fall short, they mess up, they get shot, they take a drink or a snort. Sometimes full blown Christians say a bad word or think a bad thought or give in to a sin they truly hate. But that does not mean they are worthless, nor does it give us the right to issue a death sentence. They should not have to fear taking a bullet in the temple from the very people they were trying to protect for years. Talk about sinful! I have watched Christians, in an attempt to settle a score, actually lie to make a bad story worse! They felt justified since their fellow soldier had sinned. I also witnessed Christians, in the name of 'righteousness', become so angry and bitter that they self-destructed...all in the name of vindication. I have watched so called Christians stoop to the point of using their own children as pawns to try to get 'even' with someone who had hurt them. The hurts that really need attention are the ones that hurt God's heart and the ones that wound our fellow soldiers.

Wounded soldiers are to be helped from the battle front. Restoration and the idea of making something that is broken, brand new again, is a Bible doctrine. It is God who makes all things new, but He uses the tools of human compassion to get it done. Wounded soldiers need a time away, a time to rest, a time to heal, a time to be bound up with love and prayer and wise counsel. The discipline will be part of the picture. God's law demands it. There are wages and consequences to sin and lawlessness. One day, when the broken has been healed, they can go back to the front lines and help others who are hurting. They will be able to tell by the look in your eye that they do not have to fear you because you have scars of your own. Heal the wounded soldier. If your religion is more about judging than healing, you probably aren't on the side of Jesus. I recall my Captain saying to one who was seriously wounded... "Go and sin no more!"

If you are a wounded soldier, I promise to help you in any way that I can. I will pray with you, listen to you, forgive you and help you get back to the front lines. Reconciliation and redemption are key words from the book we call the Bible. One of my life goals is to practice this kind of grace.

Thank you for reading. If you have been helped when you were wounded, share your story.

Pastor Tim Estes

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Pansy Parents

I am writing this with a blend of sadness and anger in my spirit. Sad, because of the end result of children who are left to their own way, as the scripture says. And, angry at the parents who have abandoned the old fashioned ways of disciplining children. I call them 'Pansy Parents' because they have become whimpy and spineless in one of the most difficult endeavors on earth...parenting.

When God calls us to be parents we are called to teach the original boundaries of right and wrong. If we do a good job as a teacher in the home, it is likely that our children will not have to be taught boundaries by juvenile officers or worse, a warden of the penitentiary. Pansy Parents are creating an epidemic that is being reaped in this generation, and will be exponentially worse in the next.

God's Word speaks clearly about the need for corporal punishment in bringing up children. The pain placed with love, on the backside, will prevent pains of imprisonment and trouble with employers, etc. Let me spell that out further for the 'Pansies' who have given in to the idea of telling their children to do something and then 'counting to three' or, more likely, a hundred and three before getting angry and shouting at the top of their lungs, before their kids even think about paying attention. When we raise our children according to God's plan, we will eliminate the delinquency we are producing in our society.

Good parents have to do things they don't enjoy doing. (Stop and re-read that first line.) Seriously, if you are going to do half a job at being a good parent you are headed for a showdown. Let me review along with you a few principles that will help you in raising kids. 1. Discipline with love - The reason you spank and discipline children is because you love them. It is not love to allow your kids to run unchecked. It is not love to say, "I love them too much to hurt them." In truth, to fail to discipline is the surest way to bring hurt to your children. Never let anger be the thing that pushes you to discipline. You may feel anger, but the administration of punishment should only be done when you are calm, cool and have collected yourself to the point you can explain calmly why you are punishing. 2. Punishment should be hard enough to hurt, but not so hard that you bring long term physical harm. The goal is just to bring the child to remorse. He learns that the pain of doing something against his will is much less than the pain he will endure when you punish he makes a decision to do the right thing and obey. 3. Your rules must be clearly spelled out, along with why they are good for them - You owe it to your children to tell them why the rule is made. They may not agree with you nor want to follow it, but at least they will know you have reasons for enforcing the boundaries. 4. Punish Consistently - This is perhaps the most important rule. It does little good to enforce the rules one day...or just when you are mad....or only when you yell....or on Saturdays...or only when company comes...etc. When a child has been given boundaries and you are certain they understand what you are expecting of them, then as a parent you must be faithful to make the rule stick everytime, all the time. Consistent discipline says to the child, 'Right and Wrong have consequences all the time.' To discipline otherwise teaches situational ethics. 5. Discipline must be done in a firm but settled tone - Be very aware of the tone you use when disciplining. You should not be screaming and yelling. This is more of a 'matter of fact' situation. "You broke the rules, knowing the punishment for your violation, so you are going to pay the price for it." This is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children. They will thank you one day for it.

Sometimes parents mean well and start down the road of discipline, then they fail to stay with it. You must maintain the momentum of doing right. Children are smart...they will figure you out! Then, when they figure you out, they will control you instead of you controlling them! Sometimes, especially in strong willed children, parents give up too quickly. For instance, you tell little Johnny to sit down in the chair for ten minutes for disobeying you. In three minutes he gets up. At that point you have a choice to make. If you ignore him and let him go play, you tell him that your word is meaningless and that there are no consequences for his actions. On the other hand, if you reinforce the command to stay put for ten minutes, now you remind him to get back into the chair or else he will be punished. Two more minutes go by and Johnny gets up again. He is testing you to see if you mean what you say. Now you must punish him. Simply remind him of the rule. "Johnny I told you to sit in the chair for ten minutes. You did not do it and now I have to keep my word and spank you. You disobeyed me and now you get a spanking. Do you understand?" Then you spank him matter of factly. Then you set him back on the chair and tell him he will sit there for ten minutes and if he gets up without permission, he will be punished again. If he gets up again, at any time, you spank him immediately.....and do this as many times as it takes. Be sure you don't get mad in the process. You are God's gift to this child. Continue to inflict pain on the buttocks. Either spank with your hand or with a light switch or strap. Be sure you are not bruising the child. There may be light bruising after several repeated spankings, but there should NEVER be deep bruising and the child should NEVER be struck in the face or other parts of the body. These spankings have to be kept up until you win. It may take two times or twenty-two times. This is where parents turn to pansies. They spank three times and then give in to little Johnny on the sixth time. Guess what? You just wasted your time and you have made real discipline ten times more difficult the next time. You must win the battle with your child. When you win the battle of the wills at an early age (don't spank until a child is old enough to understand right and wrong...approx 3 yrs. Spankings should be age appropriate, as far as severity.) you will not have to discipline nearly as much overall as the person who is inconsistent, or waits until they 'boil' before they act. When you win his will, the child knows that you mean business when you say no. Boundaries are then respected and that will pay dividends in his adult life as well.

Dads and moms need to be on the same page with this. This is something I try to bring up in pre-marriage counseling because it can be a problem if parents have different ideas. Dr. Spock has done our generation a severe dis-service. You cannot always 'just talk' to your kids. If we spare the rod, the child will be spoiled or ruined. This is a fact. Just look at all the jails we have built in the US during the last fifteen years. We can't build prisons fast enough to keep up with the spawn of evil going on in the homes of 'Pansy Parents'. This is just the tip of the iceberg. To fail to tell a child no, concerning obedience, curfews, porn, drugs, alcohol, and evil influences is setting them and yourself up for trouble and pain. Bottom line is, our nation's greatest generation was raised by parents who busted the tailends of their kids. Great homes and great nations require the necessary factor of respect, through discipline.

A bus driver, who had driven a school bus for 30 plus years, told me that when he started driving the bus he kept a paddle above the dash. If a child acted out, he would pull the bus over and paddle the child instantly. He said he almost never had any trouble on that bus. More than that, the children knew when they got home the parents would back up the bus driver by generally giving the child 'another' whipping. But before he retired he said, "Now days, if you paddle a child the parent will meet you at the school wanting to fight with you for paddling little Johnny."

In summation, either you cause the child to cry when they are young, or I promise you, you will cry as you watch the destruction of your kids. It is that simple! You either get involved, and enforce discipline or you will get to go visit them in jail one day or help them through detox centers or worse...bury them! I am speaking out at the epidemic in hopes that some parent will read this and avoid the tears of tomorrow. If that happens, my time has been well spent. It is time to be strong, put on your game face, break out grandma's razor strop or cut a peach tree limb and get back to the business of raising children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. When they are strong, profitable, balanced, loving citizens, you will have years to enjoy the return of excellent years. I wish you well.

Pastor Tim