Archive | April, 2014

Abortion Debate Is Not Going To Go Away

25 Apr

Abortion Debate Is Not Going to Go Away

“All Roads Lead To The Hospital”

25 Apr

     Oh, all roads lead to the hospital.  We’re born here, we get
         sick here, we get well here.  All these big dramatic moments
         and the hospital just gobbles ’em up.  Do you think a hospital
         has memories?  I bet it does.  I bet when I walked in it
         thought “Oh, you again.  You’re the little boy who broke his
         leg in 1966.  Hello, old friend.”  Wow, a talking hospital.
         That would be cool…. (Niles Crane… from the TV series “Frasier”)

Being a big fan of the TV show “Frasier”, I have seen that particular episode multiple times. That particular line from Niles crossed my mind as I was walking through the hallways of Huguley Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas late tonight. As a Pastor nearby, I have lost count of the many times I have walked down those halls.  Tonight, I was there to visit a family who was about to lose their mother. She was in ICU and the outlook wasn’t good. I had been with this family before in a ministerial capacity. Tonight would probably not be the last. We walked into ICU, prayed over the dear mother as she laid in the hospital bed, consoled one another as the nurse explained the bleak outlook. As I have always done, I made sure the family knew how to reach me in the event I was needed before I planned my next visit.

It was quiet as I left the ICU waiting room. But that was okay as many memories were occupying my thoughts. In that same waiting room, I had sat with families whose loved ones had been through emergency surgery. Many times, I met family members for the first time and was able to share Jesus with them.

Walking away from the waiting room, I remembered that the maternity ward was located in the floor just below me. I remember holding many a newborn in their first few days of living. There is a wonder in holding those babies that never grows old. It’s always so precious.

I made my way through the main waiting area at the entrance to the hospital. I remember sitting with Tracy’s family as her first biopsy was performed. At that time, we still had a lot of hope that she would grow old and have grandchildren. That was not to be. I remembered walking with another family through that same waiting room a few years earlier as one lady called her son to inform him that his grandmother had passed away.  A few years later, I would conduct the funeral of the grandfather as well.

A few more steps down the hall and I was by the elevators heading up to another ICU area.  Mrs. Casstevens had been up there and I remember the honor I felt to conduct both her and her husband’s funerals.  Right past those elevators was the emergency room. My goodness, how many times had I been in those rooms. Somebody’s heart attack. Someone injured at a car wreck. Being with a family that found out that the ambulance got there too late and their loved one would not be coming home.

Then I was out in the parking lot. I saw myself in 2008 in that parking lot as I met people coming to see a friend to tell them the friend had gone to be with Jesus.  I had stood out there while others smoked cigarettes at 3 in the morning and I desperately tried to connect with them during a very trying time.

I am nobody special. I have no real superpowers. But I left that parking lot and headed home feeling grateful. God had given me the gift of “being there”. And because of that, I like to think He used me in some small way for His glory.

All roads may not lead to the hospital.  But there are plenty of memories in those places.

Christians Faced With New Dilemma

24 Apr

http://guardianlv.com/2014/04/christians-faced-with-new-dilemma/

THE UNFAIR VIEW OF CHRISTIANITY

15 Apr

Let me see if I got this right. I mean, I’ve been a Christian since I was eight years old. Except for a few hiccups, I’ve tried to follow Jesus as much as my limited selfish condition will allow.  But lately, I have had people explain to me the true definition (at least in their terms) of a Christian and Christianity. And since I consider myself a Christian, they are basically explaining who I am. 

So let me see if I got this right:

We are mean spirited. We spew hatred. We are intolerant. We are hypocrites. We ignore Jesus and don’t have a clue as to who He really is (or, at the very least, we ignore his teachings on love and compassion) and instead use antiquated ideas of sin to judge others unfairly simply because they don’t think like us.  We are racist, chauvinistic, and hate the homosexual with a passion. 

And occasionally, we enjoy kicking puppies and drowning kittens.

Let’s be honest. I know some hypocrites who actively attend church. I know some mean spirited people who are or have been in church leadership.  People are, by nature, sinful.  And many times, whether we bear the title of Christian or not, our mean spiritedness comes out as part of our sin nature. After all, some of the meanest, most hateful emails and Facebook comments I have received have been from those who claim to be against Christianity. They have jumped on me for things I have posted and yet post similar hate filled rhetoric from the other side. I don’t sit around and wonder “who’s the real hypocrite?” They are sinners. I’m a sinner. That nature is going to come out.

And by the way, those who stereotype the Christian faith as being judgmental, intolerant, and mean-spirited would be 100% correct if they were right in their understandings of the teachings of Jesus.

But they only get it partly right.  Jesus DID talk about love and compassion. But that was not all he talked about.

Consider Matthew 18:15:

 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone….If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you….If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.”

These are the words of Jesus Himself and they teach us some things about Him.

1.) Sin is a real thing and not just a matter of someone’s perspective. And Jesus called it what it was. Like it or not, there are black and white issues of right and wrong.

2.) We are commanded by Jesus to confront sin. And when we confront sin, it’s usually not meant with a pleasant response. That is also true when Christians confront other Christians. We cannot give sin a pass. Now, I firmly believe that when it comes to the non-Christian, the only thing they should be confronted on is the sin of rejecting the Lordship of Christ in their lives. But in the same manner, I cannot confront someone on this if I sit idly back and allow it to become an acceptable lifestyle. That would most definitely make me a hypocrite.

Look closely at Matthew 18:15. If Jesus was willing to confront sin and even encouraged the church to withdraw from people who would not agree with the very nature of in, couldn’t he easily labeled as a mean-spirited, intolerant, hypocrite?. But we all know that’s not true. However, he did believe that sin was real and should be confronted.

Why did He teach these things? Because He was, in fact, loving and compassionate.

There is nothing more loving and compassionate than to try and stop someone from ruining his life. \We have to be pretty cold hearted to watch people carry on in a destructive lifestyle and dismiss it with a casual, “Who am I to judge? If that’s what they feel is right, then it’s right for them.”

Jesus has so much love and compassion for every single person, He simply will not stand by idly and watch a person cause pain and heartache to others, fall far short of his or her potential, and worst of all, spend eternity in Hell.

That’s why Jesus came to earth in the first place, to save the human racefrom the pain of sin. And that’s why we are commanded to confront sin and help people change their destructive ways. But our motivation also must be love and compassion. If we lose sight of that, then our efforts eventually will become mean-spirited, intolerant, and judgmental.

And we don’t want to fall into the old stereotype, and give liberals credibility, do we? 

Then they might believe we actually enjoy kicking puppies and drowning kittens! (which for the record I don’t.

A VERY FRUITFUL TIME

7 Apr

It seemed the only natural thing to do. God had given me as Pastor a vision for our church partnering with a Tanzanian pastor. I had met Jeremiah Motomoto on a trip in 2012 to Tanzania.

Motomoto is a name that means “Fire-fire”. And when you see that man preaching, even if you don’t understand the language that he is speaking, you catch that he has a fire of the Holy Spirit inside. When you consider the fact that he was raised by pagan parents and often beat by his own father for his belief in Jesus and never once abandoned that faith, you have more appreciation for the fire inside. When you realize that he is respected all over his country for the work that he does, you cannot help but admire the fire inside. When you consider the fact that the man has planted 30 churches, you have no doubt that there is a fire inside.

But I could not help but wonder something. Our plan was to bring him to America for two weeks. Let the people in my church meet. Let them see his passion. But I began to wonder. Would that fire that is inside the visible to those in the United States when one considers the language and culture barriers? Would they see in Texas what we saw in Africa? I just wasn’t sure. But I had promised my friend, the African pastor, evangelist, and church planter, that I would bring him to the United States. And I believe that a promise made needs to be a promise kept.

So, on March 26, my friend Jeremiah Motomoto touched feet on American soil. Even better, he touched feet on Texas soil. I could not help but chuckle a little as his eyes took in the large interstate after we left the airport. I had to laugh as he tried American food for the first time. I remembered myself and all of the amazement I felt as I account his culture for the first time in 2005.

He spoke to the senior adults at my church the next day. He read from a script that he had written which contained his testimony. Most of it was struggling with the language but my people understood and were touched. Still, I wonder, what would it be like when he preached? I had been enthralled with his preaching in Tanzania. Would it be the same in America?

On Friday, we gathered at a house and he reunited many with whom he had spent much time with on previous trips to Tanzania. Still, I wondered, what would it be like when he preached? He was smiling, cracking jokes, enjoying the food. But, he had yet to get behind the pulpit.

Then Sunday morning came.

I introduced his interpreter. A good friend of mine and a good friend of the church. A man who was local. But also, a man of African descent. Then, I introduced Motomoto. The entire room fell silent as he switched the microphone to the “on” position.

And the fire came. A fire that can only come from the Holy Spirit! A fire that burned with the love of Jesus! A fire that showed his love for the people of his country. A fire that showed his love for the lost anywhere in the world.

And once again, I was touched. What’s again, I was mesmerized as he preached. What’s again, I was impacted by this man who was obedient to the Holy Spirit and delivered fire in his preaching.

He will talk of the future, no doubt, about how he will never forget his trip to America. He will never forget the things he saw. He will never forget the things that God told him.

And neither will we.