New Blog Site

Hey Everyone,

I am grateful and humbled for how many people follow my blog and send me notes of encouragement. I am trying to take my social media skills to another level. Part of that is developing my own website, complete with my blog. So, I am in the process of closing down all my blogs and moving them all to one place. That place is www.profrevkev.com. Once at that site, you will see a heading titled “blog.” That is where my blog will be. When you get a chance, go there and sign up to receive notices from that blog. Here is a direct link to the blog site.

Thanks again for your support and encouragement.

Absolute Truth

TruthEarlier this week I spent a day teaching a class to doctoral students titled, “Ethics in a Global Society.” I brought up the fact that the bottom line to any ethical system can be summarized by Jesus’ words, “Treat others as you want them to treat you” (Matthew 7:12) and how some form of the Golden Rule is found in every major world religion. The Golden Rule applies to ethics at every level, local or global.

I also stated that it is difficult to consistently be ethical without a belief in absolute truth. A student then asked me if I believed in absolute truth. I answered, “Yes I do. But I am not so sure how much absolute truth I actually know.”

That type of admission troubles some people. Continue reading

Random Thoughts on Social Issues

There was another mass shooting recently, and following a well established pattern, pundits started debated gun control issues. Here are my thoughts:

  • The solution to gun violence is not more unenforceable gun control regulations. If we can’t enforce the regulations we already have, what makes us thing we can enforce more regulations?
  • But neither is the solution to gun violence more guns on the streets and in our neighborhoods. Somehow we have to change our attitudes about guns, violence, and the sanctity of all human life.
  • Speaking of gun control advocates, it troubles me deeply that some of the biggest supporters of more guns, and some of the biggest purchasers of guns and ammo, are Christians who claim to believe in a sovereign God and a God of grace and mercy. And for clarification, by “guns” I do not mean guns for hunting, but guns for protection. I don’t know what the stats are, but I think it would be surprising how many NRA members are bible loving, Jesus serving, evangelical Christians.
  • The only thing that troubles more (in this issue) is when I see pictures of the American flag, guns, and a Bible all wrapped up together. In my opinion, this is very scary.

There was another terrorist attack. This time at a mall in Kenya, and it is being reported that some of the terrorist were Americans. All were radical muslims.

  • While I personally believe the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, and despise this type of violence, I do wish they would be more vocal in their opposition. Unfortunately, Islam is being defined by the violent minority.
  • The main target of this attack were Christians and non-Muslims.
  • Christians are being persecuted at an alarming rate around the world.

More aspects of the Affordable Care Act are set to begin October 1st. The Republican party wants to defund Obamacare. Thus, we are a week away from a potential government shutdown.

  • It is my understanding if the government did shut down, it would not affect the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
  • In other words, all a shut-down will do is hurt the middle class and working class of our country. It will not hurt our representatives in Congress because they will continue to get their paychecks, and it will not stop the implementation of Obamacare.
  • The Supreme Court has ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. Obamacare is not going anywhere. It is the law of the land. The Republicans need to get over it and figure out a way to make it better.

The House recently voted to cut back on the SNAP (food stamp) program.

  • Fortunately it only represents about a 5% cut.
  • I wish the Republicans would have just as eagerly try to 5% across the board. But as usual, the first place to make cuts is against the most vulnerable. The main reason for this is that the vulnerable do not represent a voting block and so cutting back on them does not affect elections. This is sad.
  • Thankfully, the Senate will not pass these cuts, and or the attempt to defund Obamacare. It is all political theater.
  • Meanwhile, our economy is suffering.

Racial reconciliation in our country has gone backwards since the election of Pres. Obama. This has been my hunch, but I had lunch today with a black pastor that has been on the front lines of civil rights for 32 years. Our conversation confirmed my hunch. I am committed to spending my life fighting all forms of racism in our country.

What are your thoughts on all these issues?

More of My Thoughts on Syria

india1Question: If, as I stated in my last post, my mission in life is to proclaim the kingdom of God; and if my allegiance to God’s kingdom supersedes my allegiance to any political ideology; does that mean I have the responsibility to think about how my country’s decisions affect believers of other countries that could be harmed because of the actions of my country?

I think the answer is yes, and that affects how I view the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Palestine, and now Syria.

I have several friends who grew up as Christians in Baghdad. Their families had to flee because of religious persecution. Persecution that got worse once the United States got involved.

Everyone agrees, even my Iraqi friends, that Saddam was a bad guy. But under his regime there was a degree of religious freedom that evaporated when he was toppled. Here is my understanding from Christians who lived there during that time: Saddam used Islam to his favor. But he was such a bad guy that he controlled most of the fractions within Islam with an iron fist. In other words, if he told the Taliban to leave Christians alone, they were left alone. Saddam used Christians in his country, especially in Baghdad, because they were highly educated, good citizens, and excellent businessmen. Saddam even had Christians in his cabinet. Continue reading

My Thoughts on Syria

Our country is on the verge of a decision concerning Syria. After much thought and prayer, and following the situation as closely as I have time, here are my thoughts. These thoughts are not just on Syria, but war in general and what I believe my attitude should be. Please understand these are my thoughts and how I feel. In this post I am refusing to say things like, “Christians need to…”; “Believers need to…”; etc, etc, etc. I am not speaking for Christians nor for Christianity. This is just simply how I believe at this moment in time. I am a work in progress and so I reserve the right to grow and change. I am going to speak with bullet points because I know my thoughts are somewhat random.

  • In the past, based on my interpretation and application of conservative Christianity and conservative politics, I have been far too quick to rush into war (or armed conflict) because “we are right” and everyone else in the world is “wrong.” I bought into a conservative understanding of “American exceptionalism” and wrapped my Christianity up in Nationalism. I was wrong, and have confessed those attitudes and beliefs as a sin based on a biblical principle found in Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”
  • I am becoming more and more convinced that my mission on earth is to proclaim the kingdom of God, and that doing so puts me more and more at odds with my government. I felt this way long before the present administration. If you have been following my blog for any length of time then you know I do not support either political party. In fact, I believe, my allegiance to God’s kingdom prohibits me from aligning myself to closely to any political ideology.  Continue reading

I Just Have to Unload

I can’t stand it anymore. I have to get it off my chest. I have to unload.

I am amazed at how Republicans, who are usually in a hurry to bomb someone (or something) in the Middle East, are now placing hurdles and requirements on Pres. Obama that they would have (and they did) fussed and fumed about if the Democrats would have (and they did) required the same of Pres. Bush.

I am amazed at how Democrats, who are usually satisfied with doing nothing, have now all become war hawks and want to give Pres. Obama power and authority to freely do what they fussed and fumed about Pres. Bush doing.

I am amazed at the level of hypocrisy I see in our government.

It is obvious to me that the goal of politics is not doing what is best for the country but doing whatever it takes to destroy one party so your party can remain in power.

It is deplorable and reprehensible.

And just in case you are wondering, I do not think we need to attack Syria. It is a civil war and we should stay out.

I feel better now.

What do you think?

And in other news, I do not believe Ariel Castro committed suicide. Something tells me that jailhouse justice got its due.

Enjoy the rest of your day.

Pastoral Burnout

I recently posted two articles on Facebook about the difficulties of pastoral ministry. The first article was titled Statistics On Pastors. The second was titled, Clergy at Higher Risk of Depression and Anxiety. I meet weekly with a group of pastors and these articles were part of our discussions recently. All of this got me thinking about a chapter I wrote in a book a few years ago. The title of the book was, Nelson’s Church Leader’s Manual. My chapter title was “Dealing with Burnout.” Please take the time to read this and pass it on to all of your pastor friends (and enemies).

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burnout 2One Sunday morning a pastor friend of mine stepped behind the pulpit to delivery his weekly homily. Up to that point it had been a normal Sunday. The choir sang, announcements were made, and an offering was taken. My friend stood poised and opened his Bible to begin his sermon when something happened that shocked the entire congregation. He paused, as if searching for his prepared remarks, and then said, “I have had enough. I can’t take it anymore. I quit.” He then walked down the center aisle and out the building, never to pastor again.

When I first heard about my friend, I felt sad and a little sorry. However, I must admit, there was a part of me that also felt admiration. I small part of me thought, “Wow. I wish I had the courage to do that!” I dare say I am not alone. I bet a lot of church leaders have fantasized about telling the congregation how they really feel and then exiting the building.

I have no doubt that what caused my friend to do what he did, and what caused me to think what I thought, was burnout. Burnout is when you are emotionally, spiritually, and physically exhausted as a result of prolonged stress from feeling overwhelmed, under-capable, and unappreciated. Burnout is the job hazard of pastoral ministry. Burnout reduces your productivity, saps your energy, and robs you of the joy and motivation that led you into ministry in the first place. Everyone has a bad day now and then; and everyone periodically feels overwhelmed and under-appreciated. But burnout is when you feel that way for a prolonged period of time. Continue reading