Another Hero

A few weeks ago I wrote about one of my heroes in ministry. Here is a link to that post. Today, I want to tell you about another one of my heroes. His name is Pastor Mike.

Pastor Mike runs a drug/alcohol/homeless shelter in Columbia, TN called A Place of Hope. He started the facility 12 years ago and has never charged any money for his program. Pastor Mike is also a singer/songwriter. Here is his myspace page.

A couple of years ago Pastor Mike’s assistant called me to set up a time to meet with him over coffee. Until that phone call I had never heard of him, nor A Place of Hope. Pastor Mike and I met at Starbucks, and as soon as we started talking, I knew I had a new friend and a comrade in ministry. I very quickly learned to love Pastor Mike and his heart. Pastor Mike is a recovering alcoholic himself, with over 25 years sobriety. He is one of my heroes. Continue reading

Faith, Politics, and the 2012 Presidential Election (part 3 of 3)

(This is part 3 of a 3 part series on Faith, Politics, and the 2012 Presidential Election. In part 1 I tried to express my concern about evangelical Christians being distracted by one thing – President Obama and the desire to get him out of office – while something more sinister – Governor Mitt Romney – might be on the horizon. In part 2 I outlined the basic belief’s of Mormonism and highlighted how those beliefs are drastically different from Christianity. In this post I want to list some Bible verses and offer some suggestions on what we can do during this election.  Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think regardless if you agree with me or not.)

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What are we to do?

It seems we do not have a good candidate this time around, so what are we to do?

Many people will point to different  Bible passages to try and explain how we should vote. In reality, the Bible says nothing about voting because the Bible was written in non-democratic cultures to people who knew nothing of democracy. The Bible was written to people who lived under kings and queens and emperors. The people had no say in who their rulers where. Often times the rulers were cruel and brutal to the people of God. Yet still, God endorsed governments and commanded His followers to pray for their leaders and as much as possible live under submission to them and at peace with them. It seems to me that the biblical principle was, and is, to influence culture by proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and that through influencing culture you will influence politics; not the other way around. Continue reading

Faith, Politics, and the 2012 Presidential Election (part 2 of 3)

(This is part 2 of a 3 part series on Faith, Politics, and the 2012 Presidential Election. In part 1 I tried to express my concern about evangelical Christians being distracted by one thing – President Obama and the desire to get him out of office – while something more sinister – Governor Mitt Romney – might be on the horizon. I fear that the enemy is faking us out and we are concentrating on the wrong thing. In this post I want to outline some of the basic beliefs of Mormonism and how those beliefs differ from Christianity. I find it interesting that Christians and conservatives attacked the church the Obama’s attended in Chicago but have not even taken the time to educate themselves about the teachings of the LDS Church. Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think regardless if you agree with me or not.)

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I know a person’s faith, or lack of faith, does not disqualify, or qualify, that person for the presidency. I also know while every President to date has claimed to be a Christian, that does not necessarily mean they were Christians or that their Christian faith affected their personal life or public policy or influenced their presidency and the decisions they made in any way at all. I also value the fact that our country strongly believes in freedom of religion and allows people to believe, or not believe, whatever they desire. A person’s faith, or lack thereof, should not be a litmus test of their ability to run for any public office, even the POTUS.

However, what concerns me about Romney’s faith is the deceptiveness of it. He, like other Mormons, wants everyone to believe they are Christians when they are not. At least Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists and Atheists are honest enough to admit they are not Christians. It is easy to point out the differences between those world religions and Christianity. It is easy to have discussions with other world religions because no one is trying to convince anyone they are something they are not.

Not so with Mormonism.

What Mormons believe is hard to pin down and hard to explain because they use the same terminology as Christianity but what they mean by those terms is not the same as what those terms mean in Christianity. Mormonism is deceptive and deception is worse than an out and out lie. I can’t help ask myself if Romney is comfortable about deception when it comes to his faith, what other areas of his life would he be comfortable with deception. I don’t have to agree with my president, but I do have to trust him or her, and I just can’t bring myself to trust Mitt Romney. Continue reading

Faith, Politics, and the 2012 Presidential Election (part 1 of 3)

I started voting during the heart of the Moral Majority movement. The first presidential election in which I was old enough to vote was 1984. It was between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale. I was a freshman in college. I voted for Reagan. I was convinced the United States was a Christian nation and God had a special place and plan for our country (above all other countries except maybe Israel) and Reagan was the obvious choice. Being a Christian meant being patriotic and being patriotic meant being a Republican. I was taught what a politician believed was important and the best way to keep our beloved country Christian was to put as many evangelical Christians in office as possible. Somehow, every election season, the clear evangelical choice seemed to be Republican, or so I was taught. On more than one occasion I heard preachers say they didn’t see how a person could be a Christian and vote Democrat. At the age of 23, during my first pastorate, I remember how shocked I was to find out one of my deacons always voted Democratic. How could that be?

Now, in 2012, I am told by the same religious right who told me a candidate’s faith was important that a candidate’s faith does not matter, even if their faith is a cult. In fact, I am told, if I vote for the only candidate in the race who claims to be a Protestant instead of the candidate who is proud of his false religion, then I must not be a real conservative, evangelical Christian anymore and the collapse of the nation will be entirely my fault. Somehow or another, in 2012, the only acceptable conservative Christian vote, I am told, is for a practicing, loyal, high-ranking, former bishop in the Mormon Church. I am supposed to ignore Romney’s religion because…

“…we are electing a commander in chief, not a pastor in chief.”

“…we don’t need to elect a Savior; we already have One.” Continue reading

Precursor

In a few days I will begin posting a series of three articles entitled, Faith, Politics, and the 2012 Presidential Elections. I do so with some trepidation. Our country is more divided then I can ever recall. Unfortunately this division has infilterated the church. The enemy has used politics to divide and make us extremely judgmental of one another. At times this judgmental attitude seems to be more directed towards Christians who vote democrat than towards Christians who vote republican. I know the judgmental attitudes go both ways, but it seems more severe towards those who do not vote republican or choose not to vote at all. As for me, I started voting 3rd party several years ago because I believe our 2 party system is in serious need of change. I have half-jokingly told people, “I am a one-issue voter. If you are part of either party I will not vote for you.” An unintended consequence of my voting 3rd party is I have been able to disassociate myself from all the rhetoric and maintain a balance between the extremes. (Here is a blog I posted explaining why I am voting 3rd party.)

My series of posts have more to do with Mitt Romney than Barak Obama. The reason for this is because I feel many sincere Christians have embraced Romney as the “lesser of two evils” without really evaluating him. For whatever reason, many God-fearing believers have not been able to reasonably evaluate and discuss the faith of Mitt Romney and the impact it could have on his presidency. Continue reading

The Christian Bookstore

Have you walked through a Christian Bookstore lately?

Early in my ministry I was a regular at Christians Bookstores. Not hardly a week went by when I did not visit one of the several located in my city. Looking back, the amount of money I spent building up my library was mind-blowing. As a result I had a pretty comprehensive and impressive “Pastor’s Study.” I was  such a good customer at one of the leading Christian Bookstore chains that they gave me my own personal account. I could walk into any of their national stores and get what I wanted and get billed later; and I got at 10% discount to boot!

I loved Christian Bookstores.

When I moved to Arkansas there was a small Christian Bookstore in my town, but the really good ones where an hour away. It was during that time that I started purchasing books through the mail, having them shipped directly to my house was really convenient. Not long after that, I started shopping on-line. For the past year and a half I have had a Kindle. It has been over a year since I actually purchased a real book.

I have not been inside a Christian Bookstore in quite some time.

Yesterday I was looking for a specific item that required me to go to a Christian Bookstore. Continue reading

A Day of Prayer, Not Politics

Today should be a day of prayer not of politics.

Things seem to be unraveling across the Middle East.

Our embassy in Libya was attacked and our ambassador and others were killed.  All embassies are considered the property of their home countries and so an attack on a U.S. embassy is like an attack on U.S. soil.

U.S. embassies in Yemen and Egypt were also attacked.

President Obama is vowing justice and asking Egypt some tough questions.

Governor Romney has politicized the situation, accusing Obama of being weak.

I picked a really bad month to quit listening to talk-radio.

Libya has made some arrests in the attack. Continue reading

Don’t Tell Anyone

After delivering His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), as He was walking toward Capernaum, a man with leprosy approaches Jesus, asking to be made clean (Matthew 8:1-2). Jesus heals the man and then says to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone” (Matthew 8:5).

Why would Jesus not want him to tell everyone?

Jairus[1] was a well known and prominent member of the Jewish community, serving as a leader in the local synagogue. As a leader his primary duties included maintenance of the synagogue building and making sure everything was needed for the worship services. His responsibilities would equate to a trustee in today’s church structure. Jairus had one child, a daughter, nearing the age of twelve, the age a girl became a lady in ancient Jewish custom and eligible for marriage (Luke 8:41-42). These facts make her sickness all the more intense.

As Jesus was walking to Jarius’ house some people came up to them with the sad news that the young girl had died. Jesus said to Jarius, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed” (Luke 8:50). Once in the home, Jesus went into the girl’s room, took her by the hand and said, “‘Talitha koum!’ (which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up’)” (Mark 5:41). The girl got up and walked around and then Jesus gave two commands; He asked that she be given some food, and “ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened” (Luke 8:56). Continue reading