Thursday, January 6, 2011

Busy doing and not always serving...

Sometimes I think I have missed it all together...

Like so many other people I get caught up in the doing of life and occupational activities that I forget what's really important. I get busy writing blogs, plotting my calendar, making sure that I keep appointments, planning sermons, reaching out to people that I know need Jesus, and fulfilling all of the other obligations that go along with being a pastor, that I forget what really is important.

I know that I have missed the point of it all when serving God becomes obligation and habit as opposed to being the passion and joy of my life.

I have been a born again Christian since I was seven years old. Nothing ever has been of such benefit and blessing. But sometimes I forget the joy of simply walking with God. Sometimes I forget the love of God that is so encompassing. Sometimes I forget the absolute forgiveness that Jesus paid for and offered to me freely.

It's when I forget these things, or that I get so wrapped up in myself and the doing of the “job” of ministry, that I sense a profound emptiness in my spirit. It's then I know I have missed the point of it all and I have to go back and remind myself of the wonder of who God is in me.

Paul wrote these words that I need to take note of more often, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." (Colossians 3:23-24)

There is no doubt that "stuff" needs to be done. There are schedules to keep and important things to do, but even those things need to be done with a right attitude. And what is that right attitude? Whatever I do, as a part of my "job," needs to always be done out of a heart of love and service to God who has given me more than I could ever count.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Will the real President please stand up?

First let identify myself. I am a gun owning, politically conservative, military supporting, born again Bible thumper. According to current administration I am also a potential terrorist in that I am pro-life and believe in God. (You'll note that I didn't refer to myself as an "anti-abortion" nut. No, I am Bible believing pro-life Christian.)

I hate no one. Nonetheless, I, and others like me, have been accused of hating people because we disagree with some on a variety of issues like abortion, economics, politics, and morality. In my formative years I was taught that I had the right express my views and that right was guaranteed by the Constitution of the US. (I will have to be honest, as hateful as I and others like me have been alleged to be, none of my friends have advocated the death of those they disagree with. Recently a liberal New Hampshire Democrat wished that Sarah Palin had gone down on the plane that crashed recently in Alaska... I think this reprehensible! And this guy wants to elected!?!)

Yes I know that there are those who call themselves Christians who are filled with hate. The Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, comes to mind. I have seen the pictures of their parishioners standing across the street from churches where funerals for the military dead have been held and also the funerals of homosexuals. They hold signs that say "God hates..." Their hatred is far away from the God of scripture who told us to love our neighbor. Jesus, in the parable of the "Good Samaritan," defined a neighbor as someone in need and pointed out that we are to reach out in love and help people meet their needs. The point is that Christians are to love all people, even those we disagree with. I would say to people like the Westboro church, who claim to be Christians, that they need to read the words of Jesus and love their enemies and pray for them.

Now that I have enlightened you as to who I am, I must admit that I am frustrated by much of what I see these days. Recently our President made a statement supporting the building of a Mosque at Ground Zero. ABC News declared that the President was in favor of building the Mosque. ABC News said on their website, "President O'bama seemed to dial back today from his statement of support to build a Mosque..." After reading the tea leaves (...or perhaps it was the tea party leaves...) of the polls he began to "crawfish" away from his original statement of support. In doing so he suggested that Conservatives were the real bad guys because they were trying to strip away the right of Muslims to worship.

The building of the Mosque has never been about freedom to worship. And to the best of my knowledge, no Conservative has suggested any such idea. But the President, trying to extricate himself from his words, did just that. (How do I know that it has never been about the freedom of practicing faith? Other locations have been offered for the building of the Mosque. No one is saying don't build one... they are saying don't build it there.)

However, as the President opened his mouth to favor the building of the Mosque I think he revealed clearly who he really is. Our President, in my opinion, is pro-Muslim and anti-America. (I haven't forgotten the "Blame America/Apology Tour of 2009." Oh yes, and what of Gitmo? I thought he had promised to close its doors. And what of the alleged bow to Kalid Sheikh Mohammed? Can imagine in your wildest dreams Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush bowing to any potentate? It would never happen! Americans bow before no king. And as a Christian I bow before no one but God!)

Frankly, I am not offended that this group of Muslims want to build a Mosque. I do struggle with the location. To me it's a slap in the face of the fallen and the survivors of the twin towers on 9/11.

Try imagining this scenario. Suppose a radical Christian group committed an act of terror against Muslims. (I am not suggesting it, nor would I ever support such an act.) Do you think that Muslims would let any Christian group, even moderate Christians, build a church near the site. The answer is plain, even to mind-numbed liberals, NO! And to be honest, I could understand that and would think it to be insensitive of Christians to suggest such a thing. In fact I would recommend that such action not be done in regard to the feelings and emotions of the survivors.

And yet those who wish to build this Mosque, the followers of the religion of peace and tolerance (Islam) expect they should get what they want any time they want it. There is no regard for the feelings of the families who lost loved ones or anyone else. But the situation even gets easier for them when they have the tacit approval of the President of the United States.

If the Mosque is built the nation will survive and probably soon forget, or simply go on to other matters. It is not something I wish. I say if they want to build a Mosque build it somewhere else. If it is built we won't die and life will move forward on planet earth.

The real question for me doesn't concern the Mosque. The real question that needs to be asked answered is this, "Who is the real Barrack O'bama?"

Some have proclaimed him to be a Christian. For twenty years he sat under the preaching of the racist preacher Jeremiah Wright. Our President sat in a pew each week listening to the questionable preaching of this man and even supported him with his "tithes and offerings." (Couldn't giving money be interpreted as giving tacit approval to the extremist preaching of Mr. Wright?) But when Wright became a political liability and threat to Mr. O'bama's election to the Oval Office, Mr. O'bama threw the good Reverend under the bus for the sake of political expediency. So who is the real Mr. O'bama, is he a follower Reverend Wright or not? And, is it a safe thing to be the friend of our President? Can his friends trust him to remain loyal or are they pawns that can be discarded after their usefulness is gone?

Wednesday, October 18th, the President visited in a private home. There he discussed the economy and told us all that it was improving but would still take more time. I appreciate his honesty to tell us that we are still going to wait a long time for the economy to improve. The 14th of August was the 75th anniversary of the Social Security Act. In the Presidents address he promised that he would protect the nation from the Republicans who wished to privatize Social Security. To my knowledge there is no political will anywhere in Washington to change Social Security. And if there were why would it be a problem... why shouldn't I be trusted to invest a portion of my own money for my retirement. But that is a ranting for another time...

Why is the President bringing up what is essentially an issue that died during the days of "W"'s administration? Is it to cover his own failure to improve the economy? Didn't he promise we would have an unemployment rate of less than eight percent by now? Who is this guy? Is subterfuge and finger pointing his way if covering his own lack of accomplishment? (Wouldn't it be refreshing if a politician were honest, both Republican and Democrats, and own up to those things that have not gone well?)

There are other things that I question. For example he had no problem accusing the Cambridge Police of racism, when no such racism existed. And what of the flying of the Presidents plane over New York to take a few pictures. In a city not fully recovered from 9/11 many of the citizens of the "Big Apple" ran for their lives. I suppose the running of terrified people must have made a great Kodak moment, to say nothing of the cost in dollars for jet fuel. My memory runs to Presidents big weekend, a trip to New York City for a show. The cost was numbered in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for the taxpayers, many of whom the good economic conditions of the stimulus have yet to find them. Just who is this man we have elected?

By now some are thinking, "Preachers should keep their politics to themselves." (Funny I haven't heard anyone say that to Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton.) But I don't see this as a matter of politics. I see it as a matter of honesty and integrity. Weren't these to be the keystones to the way this Administration did business? My friends since the days of the Prophets of old it has been the responsibility of the preacher to point out sin and error and call the nations and their leaders to repentance. That is my job.

If you see this as just a matter of politics, you are welcome to your opinion. And as always you are encouraged to share your point of view.

As for me I would suggest a couple things. First, be active in community and national affairs whether you are a Conservative, a liberal, or somewhere in the middle. In this country we have the right to vote, do so.

Secondly, pray for the President. I didn't say that we all have to agree. But it is imperative that we pray for the man. It is easy to point out error and wrong, and I have done so. But it is another thing to pray for his health, safety, and for wisdom. He interacts on a national and international stage, he needs all the help he can get.

It is clear that I don't agree politically and often morally with Mr. O'bama. No matter what he may be, and we do have the right to ask those questions, I am reminded that he is the President and that there is a massive burden that he carries. Therefore, I pray that God will provide him with wisdom, understanding, and the ability to recognize his failures and take responsibility for his actions.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Just thinking of Dad...

As some of you know, my Dad was a Submariner. He served the navy on several boats including the Nautilus, the Cobbler, the Skipjack, the Dolphin, and the George Bancroft, to name a few. In 1963 Dad had been transferred to the USS Thresher. However, he never served aboard her because he had not yet finished Sub School in Groton, Connecticut. But he was to report to the Thresher as soon he finished.

On April 10th, 1963, the Thresher was lost. All 129 hands perished.

Dad would have been aboard, but God had other plans for his life. That his life had been spared was something I know he never forgot. In may ways it became a driving force in his life to live for Jesus. And because of that determination Dad was able to share Jesus with many sailors, many of whom came to know Christ as Savior.

Every now then I hear from someone who served with Dad in the Navy. They usually say two things about him; 1) He was a man of integrity that you never had to guess his opinion, and 2)He was a man whose faith defined him.

The first was true because of the second. Dad's faith did define him.

Recently I received an email from an old shipmate from the Cobbler...

Hi Steve:
My name is Bob... and it was my privilege to serve aboard Cobbler with your Dad... over the years countless memories have come to mind of those many people with whom I shared those times aboard Cobbler. Your dad holds a special place in that collection.

Your dad and I didn't share a close friendship. But it is impossible to work and live in such confined spaces without gaining insight to other's character. Your dad certainly made it easy for others to read his character and beliefs.

Many was the time... when he would speak openly of his belief in God to me... those words he spoke helped to draw me back to my Christian beliefs.

...Like Paul, I'm sure Ken declared, "for me to live is Christ, to die is gain." I am thankful that your father was a part of my life!

USS Cobbler SS344

My mother reminded me last week that Dad will have been gone three years this October 26th. Even though he is not with us he still speaks and his words are about Jesus!

I love you and miss you Dad. I am looking forward to seeing you again.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Gay Marriage and the Schools

If you don't know it, Gay Marriage is on the November ballot here in Maine. I am not sure how anyone could have missed it. Every time you turn on the radio or the TV there are ad's either pro or con. Emotions are high on both sides and we have been inundated with more information and assaults than I needed, or wished, to hear.

I believe in the Biblical mandate for marriage; a man and a woman. The very fact that I would write such a thing probably angers some. The scripture declares that there are absolutes, there are rights and wrongs that do not change with the whims of society. Gay marriage, according to the word of God, is wrong. For me there is no argument. (By the way, I am allowed by Constitutional guarantee to believe that and express it, no mater what the outcome of the vote. And those who disagree have the same right and I would not deny them that right.)

The thing that really has gotten me is the school issue. The argument has been couched as a matter of respect for unique "Maine families." In other words, families with Gay and Lesbian parents.

I have been commanded to "love my neighbor." It would be wrong to be unkind, ungodly and un-Christ-like, to people whose lives and choices are different than mine. This doesn't mean I can't disagree agreeably with what some choose. That is one of the privileges of being a citizen of the US. It also means that views other than mine should not be forced on me anymore than I have the right to force people to become followers of Christ.

But, isn't the role of the schools to teach reading, writing, math, language and the like, to our children? It is not the role of schools to teach a definition of Marriage. That is the job of the home. Yes, I believe people should be treated respectfully, that is not the question. The question is what should we teach in our schools.

I hold a "Christian world view." It is not allowed to be taught in public schools. I'm OK with that. But don't give someone else the right to promote a "world view" in our schools when others, like Christians, are denied that same opportunity.

I have heard some of our kids read, many of them can't. I have talked to some of our kids about basic US history. It's disturbing to talk with kids who cannot tell you who Dred Scott was or what Thomas Jefferson did. It's time to teach "reading, writing and arithmetic" and let the "world views"be taught at home, remembering to always treat others with respect no matter where they come from. Jesus said, "Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you."

Let schools be schools!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Prayer for one Another

It's been a while since I have written a blog. There is has been very little response to most of what I have written. And that's OK. It remains a forum for me to share my thoughts and hear yours.

I once heard a Preacher say that "prayer is not just a thing, it is the main thing." In churches we have so many priorities. We must evangelize, that is share with people the love of Christ and how He can change their lives to something better. There is the priority of fellowship, for Christians to know and love each other. There is a priority of Bible study, knowing and applying accurately the principles of God's word to life. There is always some priority that calls to us.

The Preacher was right. Prayer must be our real priority. Out of prayer we discover what God's priorities are. Out of prayer our evangelism is enhanced. Out of prayer our fellowship grows. Out of prayer we understand more clearly the scripture. It begins and ends with prayer.

Recently I felt led of God to devote one day a week to praying. It has been both uplifting and a struggle. It has been uplifting that because I sense the empowerment of God in my life loosed by prayer. But it has also been a struggle. A couple of things come to mind here. First, it's a struggle to keep less important items on my agenda from taking priority over my prayer time. Secondly, it has challenged me to look more deeply at my own commitment and begin to deal with my own inconsistencies in my walk with God.

How important is prayer to you? Are you willing to spend a day with God? We all have jobs and responsibilities, I am not suggesting that people quit their jobs to pray. Rather, take some time during your day, perhaps lunch or your break, and spend time praying for God's direction and leadership in your life. Ask God to reveal areas where you need to grow. Ask God to challenge you to become more like Him.

Prayer is not just a thing, it is the main thing.

Monday, August 3, 2009


I love to sing, though I am not very good at it. There are many people who sing well and whose voices are a blessing to the ears. Then there is mine. But this blog is not intended to become a commentary on my ability to sing. I am not sure my ego could withstand the blows.

Instead, I want to talk about worship. God is our audience and our hearts are the tools that reflect the love we have for Him. Though God is the audience, we too are often blessed as we experience God.

Sometimes worship comes in the form of singing and other times it takes on different forms. So, when it comes to worship what kinds of things have been a blessing to you as you worshiped God? Or maybe you remember a time when in worship you experienced God and His joy. Perhaps, you would be willing to share it with us.

I eagerly await you comments.

Pastor Steve

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day

Yesterday was Memorial Day. It is, as you know, a day we set aside as a nation to commemorate those who have given their lives to insure that the United States remains free. It is a day of remembrance and recognition of the high cost of freedom.
Some years ago I heard a Preacher say that freedom was a "bloody" purchase. I suppose I hadn't really thought of it those terms before. But, I believe he was right. Freedom for the US began in the hearts and minds of those who met in Philadelphia. The purchase was paid for by men who went to the battlefield and died. Over and over again the cost of freedom has been the life's blood of those willing to give their lives. Our nation has been involved in many wars and conflicts literally all over the world. Each time men and women died. The cost has never been cheap.
Yesterday, I listened to the names of the of our Servicemen and Women who died this last year in the service of our country as they were read. I was struck by the ages of the deceased. Most of them were under 25 years of age. They were sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, and friends and family of the United States of America. They were our sons and daughters, and they gave their blood for freedom.
To everyone of them a debt of thanks is owed that we can never fully repay. To each of their families we mourn with you at your loss. But know this, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else our they were sent, their sacrifice did not go unnoticed. I for one thank you, because I am free.