“All Season Response to Life”

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In Philippians Paul counsels, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

He repeats himself immediately – “I will say it again – Rejoice!” (Phil 4.4)

Happiness depends on circumstances; joy depends on Jesus.

So…no matter what…we can…we should…rejoice!

Richard Mayhue writes, “Thankfully, joy is an all-season response to life. Even in the dark times, sorrow enlarges the capacity of the heart for joy. Like a diamond against black velvet, true spiritual joy shines brightest against the darkness of trials, tragedies and testing.”

Read that again…slowly. Maybe one more time? 

I’m stuck on “sorrow enlarges the capacity of the heart for joy.

I want to live in joy…not so eager to have the sorrow that increases the intensity of that joy.

How about you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man, I Miss Prison!

No, Iet don’t miss doing time.

Although there are moments I recall how much time I had to read during my time in Oregon State.

But I miss going behind the walls…whether to counsel, preach, lead Bible quizzing…or any of the other doors of ministry opened by our God.

I’ve not been “in” since early March…

And there is no proverbial light at the end of the tunnel…yet.

So I really enjoy this video of Zach Williams singing…and the pics of the offenders.

Perhaps you will also?

 

To Mask Or Not To Mask?

mask

I  believe the Bible is the Word of God. Period.

But…

Proverbs 11.14 “Where there is no guidance, a people falls; but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

Proverbs 15.22 “Without counsel plans fail; but with many advisors they succeed.”

Proverbs 24.6 “for by wise guidance you can wage your war; and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

I also recognize that Proverbs are principles, not promises.

Which helps to digest those three verses in view of the last few months.

I have some friends who are pretty smart…and are on opposite spectrums regarding masks.

I read people with so many initials after their names they look like thermometers. And they are diametrically opposed concerning masks.

Some of these “experts” have changed their minds.

And too many people are treating those who disagree with everything from pity to hatred.

I’m not going to mention what I am doing regarding masks.

I’ve read too many opinions, arguments, “facts.”

So even though the Word encourages getting counsel; in this matter I’m done.

Well, not quite.

I’m asking The Counselor for wisdom, because James tells me I should – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (1.5)

And however He leads; I won’t mandate that everyone should follow my decision; nor will I look unfavorably at someone who makes another decision.

 

 

Typo Truth

loose-salvationI usually have a question box at the camps at which I speak. A session, or part of sessions, is devoted to tackling the questions submitted.

A couple weeks ago a teen submitted the query in the photo.

We’ll not discuss/argue the answer here.

But I think the kid is on to something!

We should not hold on to our salvation, we should “loose” it…let it run, let it impact, let it shine.

I’m still thinking about the implications…

Where I’ve Been…

So how come I’ve not published in so long?

I’ve posted on facebook but not here.

No single reason.

Part of me tires of the constant bickering whenever anyone shares an opinion about…well…anything or anyone.

Another part wonders if it is worth the time.

And…yeah…there is that laziness thing.

Obviously trying to figure out how to navigate the several weeks of “lock-down.” Wondering, and still wondering, about what my summer will look like as far as camp speaking and travel go.

Wondering what “normal” will look like…and when.

And wondering (as opposed to worrying) about the upcoming fall season.

But in the midst of it all I continue to read, pray, connect (within the limitations).

And I try…try…to rest in the sure fact of God’s sovereignty in all things.

So that’s where I’ve been..and still am.

Epidemic of “Experts”

20200414_134141I recall someone saying or writing, “An expert is someone with a briefcase.”

Sure is no shortage of “experts.”

I am dismayed at the combat being fought over social media.

Not simply the conspiracy folks. Not simply those trying to equate everything to the “end times.” Not simply the party-liners on all sides attacking anyone who doesn’t toe their line.

No, I am more dismayed at the number of friends who are throwing other “experts” at one another. Not merely citing, or quoting, but using someone’s statistics as weapons.

Most of these people are leery of “experts” in other situations; but during the corona craziness they seem to really like “experts,” as long as those “experts” concur with the point that is trying to be made.

I concur that the “experts” often disagree…sometimes in vast ways…

And they have a lot of initials after their names, so they must be smart.

But I wonder at how some of the people I have as facebook friends pick-and-choose their “experts.”

I hope/pray those citing various “experts” have done all they can do to verify the authenticity of the “expert.”

But since some “experts” advocate, for instance, evolution and abortion “rights,” their “expert credentials” don’t automatically mean they are right.

It is certainly okay to have an opinion.

I am simply surprised that many use a host of “experts” to bolster their opinion; and often in a rather harsh manner.

I find myself skipping over a lot of posts simply because another “expert” is being cited.

I do not think there is a vast conspiracy in play.

I do think there is a lot of prejudiced opinions; based on one’s worldview rather than substantiated fact.

But I do ask, if you are hurling grenades of statistics and “expert” opinions at another; chill a bit and be kind… (by the way, the cartoon is one I clipped from a “Leadership” magazine a couple decades ago)

 

I Don’t Know…

I’ve surprisingly refrained from commenting much on the virus crisis.

Why?

Because I don’t know:

  • I don’t know who knew what when
  • I don’t know if there is purposefully information being withheld
  • I don’t know what the next hour will bring, much less weeks or months
  • I don’t know which “expert” knows of what they speak
  • I don’t know if I’ve had, have,  or will get the virus
  • and a host of other “I don’t know”s…

But I do know God is sovereign in the affairs of man.

I do know God will fulfill His purposes for me (us).

I do know I should rest in Him.

I do know I should pray.

And I do know I must redeem the time.

But I don’t know how best to accomplish that.

So I’m asking the Lord for His wisdom.

And trusting.

And trying not to get involved in the squabbling that is rampant on so many subjects.

There are oh so many who seem to know so much more than I.

And that’s cool.

“Jesus, Strong and Kind”

Most things have pluses and minuses.

Things like the internet and social media.

One of the big pluses is that I can learn how to pray specifically for friends, though I’ve not seen those friends for many, many years.

The past several weeks have been colored by friends passing away, going through cancer, and other tough, tough situations.

Just after I learned of the homegoing of another friend, I “stumbled” across this song…God used it to minister strength, grace, and encouragement to me; and I’d be remiss not to pass it on.

Slow Faders…

As I prayed this morning many faces popped into my brain.

Faces of teens and adults with whom I used to minister.

On fire for God. Sharing the Gospel regularly. In some cases going on mission trips. Serving on a staff with which I served also. Seemingly happily married.

Too many faces.

Because they are all walking, at best, inconsistently with the Lord.

Some have walked away from everything spiritual.

Some are on the fringes (at best) of orthodox faith.

Many deny what they used to affirm.

And I’m willing to bet that in every case the “fade” began when they wandered, eased, from reading the Word regularly.

Sure, they might have been influenced by professors (to include at some Christian schools). Sin may have enticed and captured.

But “the blood of Jesus makes us safe; the Word of God makes us sure.”

And to “wander” from the Word is to embark on a journey with a bad end…

Redeemable? Yes.

Easy? No.

When I pray for those of deny; when I pray for those who expose non-biblical stuff; I ask the Lord to do “whatever it takes” to bring them back (or for the first time)  to Christ and the gospel.

And this old Casting Crowns song always goes thru my mind…it is extremely rare for one to “jump” from active faith to no or cancered faith…it is usually a slow walk…away.

“Jack, Get Off Your Hobby Horse” NO!

Yesterday, under a “headline” that read:

NOTICE TO ALL FACEBOOK “FRIENDS” WHO ARE OKAY WITH THE PRACTICE OF HOMOSEXUALITY

I wrote:

Whether you profess to be a follower of Christ or not; be aware that I do not hate homosexuals, transgender et al; nor do I hate rapists or those who kick dogs. BUT I will not be silent or restrained regarding posting about the sin of homosexual BEHAVIOR (as opposed to temptation – which is never sin). You are free to unfollow; delete; or comment in a way that is polite, non-patronizing, etc. The issue is not going away…and this is MY wall and I will use it as I see fit. You may disagree, you may shake your head, but you will be polite or you will be deleted. This includes not only comments to me but also comments to others who comment. Thank you for your expected cooperation.

Today, from a respected friend who used to direct a Bible quiz ministry, I received this question:

Jack, why is this so important to you? Of all the sin and injustices in the world, why is this the one thing you keep calling attention to?

I recognize that not all facebook or blog posts appear in everyone’s feed; nor does everyone read everything written by an individual.

But I’ve answered that question many times; so I’m going to do so now in a lengthy post so I can keep it easily accessible and thus I can post it whenever anyone asks.

  • First, for over ten years I’ve been saying the primary questions professing Christians need to ask are: (1) Is the Bible the Word of God? Not “Does the Bible contain the Word of God, but is the Bible the Word of God?  (2) Is there a place called hell where nonChristians spend eternity? (3) Is homosexual behavior sin?
  • It is obvious (to me) that if you say “yes” to the first question; the other two questions are not really necessary.
  • But the reality is that many who say they are Christians proclaim universalism and/or annihilationism; and many say the homosexual behavior is okay. (and, yes, usually…not always…but usually the two go hand-in-hand; in other words if one denies (2) or (3) they usually deny both.
  • So, without making a defense or apologetic here, let me be clear: (1) I believe the last verse in Matthew 25 is true; (2) all the passages that refer to homosexuality as sin are true.
  • As my friend writes, of course there are many other “sin(s) and injustices in the world” that are, by the way, often addressed by me. So why dwell on this issue?
  • Is homosexual behavior “worse” than gluttony, gossip, pride etc. Yes. Because all sexual sin is viewed as sin against the body that the Lord has redeemed (1 Corinthians 6). Which is why if you hear me preach/teach/answer questions on the issue you will hear me say, “Yes, homosexual behavior is sin, just as is premarital sex, extramarital sex, sex with a dog.”
  • But no one, to my knowledge, is being sued for being an adulterer; no one is being sued for sleeping around as a single person.
  • But people…to include ministers…are being sued and otherwise attacked for refusing to cave in to cultural “norms” by holding on to Biblical convictions.
  • A simple current example: In the Missouri prison system (as in all that I know), inmates can marry. Lots of paperwork, lots of hoops, but it can be done. At this point, if Steve wants to marry Tom, the state will allow that, but the state will not force the institutional chaplain to officiate. That chaplain can recruit a chaplain from another prison who feels free to officiate such a wedding. But for how long will this continue? When will Missouri mandate that an institutional chaplain must officiate a “gay” wedding? When will the prison system mandate that chaplains (full time or volunteer) may not refer to homosexual activity as sin? And what will we who hold to such convictions do at that time? That’s for another post.
  • We’ve not had it happen (yet), bu what happens when, at the camp Midland runs, biological male Steve shows up but demands to be called Stevie and be placed into a girls cabin? Obviously (I hope) we will not do that…what happens if he/she/it sues?

So I will keep pointing out that homosexual activity (as opposed to temptation) is sin. I will take the flack as I’m called too focused, homophobic, etc.

And I will be clear…though not all will hear…that I don’t “hate” homosexuals.

By the way, in my bc days I did far too many horrible things; but I never engaged, nor wanted to engage, in homosexual activity, to include the four years I was locked up.

I’m often asked why so many professing Christians are okay with homosexuality?

My opinion? Years ago it was pretty easy to declare that homosexuality was sin because no one knew (or knew that they knew) any homosexuals.

Now virtually everyone has a relative or close friend who is out of the closet.

Thus it is no longer academic.

And thus those whose “conviction” was not, in fact a conviction,” rather than lose a friend, be called judgmental, or have to consider that their gay friend may be enroute to hell (if they still believe in that quaint concept); they are okay…or silent…about the sin.

Another Hager theory, borne out by observation…certainly not in all cases, but in many of which I am aware…professing Christians who are or have engaged in extramarital or premarital sex – or struggle with pornography…are okay with homosexuality…consciously or unconsciously because “hey, if gay is cool; then my sin isn’t really sin!”

And, by the way, this is not academic to me. I have several friends, to include former coworkers in ministry, who are out of the closet. I have a daughter who is currently living a gay lifestyle (Note…I did not type I have a “gay” daughter…there is a difference).

Nothing will change my love for her. But, God enabling, nothing will cause me to waffle on the Word of God for the sake of family peace.

To be clear…I, personally, am grieved by the horrendous amount of money that was expended in the “fight” against gay marriage. Why should I care what the state does? The USofA is not now nor ever has been a “Christian nation.” How many missionaries were underserved, how many went hungry, how many other causes suffered because too many Christians were trying to fight spiritual warfare with mans weapons?

I don’t like it, but I understand homosexuals have rights.

And as long as their rights do not trample mine, all is cool.

But I will never officiate a gay wedding. I will never serve with a ministry or church that is okay with homosexuality.

There are not many mountains upon which I will die. This is one.

So rant, unfollow, shake your head, hate…whatever. It’s cool.

And, just in case I’ve missed offending anyone, I’ll close with this…everytime I hear of another well known speaker, denomination, friend caving into this issue, this is the first thing that pops into my aging brain: