There are times in one’s career or life when more is being asked of us than we ever thought we were capable of. My wife likes to call it “stretching”. These are times when we are being asked to reach further to grasp our potential…to be more than we have been before. To be better than we have been before.

We can respond to these times in one of two ways…

We can respond with fear. We can cling to our comfort zone. We can refuse to grasp the “better” that may lie in front of us…because of the risk involved or the change it requires.

Or…we can embrace it. We can venture into the unknown of what it is that we can make of ourselves or do for ourselves. Reach and grasp that potential reward that may lie out there if we just grasp it.

How do we need to be stretched?


Have They Simply Gone Mad?

I have been watching political discourse in this country for years. The first President I have any memory of was Jimmy Carter. I was 4 when he was inaugurated. So I do not remember much about it.

I have even gone through my phases politically. I, like many others, had a stretch where I was more liberal minded than I am now. I grew out of it eventually. Today I would almost call myself a card carrying Libertarian. I am not down with all Libertarians. And there are parts of the platform I would not agree to. But I am for less government interference, and more freedom any day of the week.

That being said, we are living in a time like I (and I am sure many of you) have never seen before.

It is now apparently ok to riot (read “childish temper tantrum”) in the streets when one’s candidate does not win an election. I use the term riot because that is what it is. These are not protests. What you see, in spite of what the media might call them…are riots…not peaceful demonstrations.

It is enough to make us step back a bit…look at the situation, and ask…”What happened here? Have these people gone mad?”

In my view, the answer is not a simple yes or no. I believe that we have reached a point where this is really no longer about Republicans and Democrats. It isn’t even Conservative versus Liberal. What we are seeing is more like the average people versus the fringes of society. If you want to get down to the least common denominator…its good versus evil.

Now understand…I am not saying that the Republicans are good and the Democrats are evil. I am also not saying that God has taken a side. I do believe that to some extent, the parties have chosen sides in terms of where they stand with God. As you may recall, Democrats literally booed God at their convention in 2012. Fortunately, they decided for their convention in 2016…maybe that was not such a good idea.

But I do believe that the great political divide in this country is not necessarily drawn along party lines. It is much deeper than that.

As Christians, we should not be surprised by these things. The Bible tells us that days would come where men (that can be read to include both genders) would be lovers of self rather than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

Spiritual warfare is very real. Or as the kids say today, “Its a thing.” We are used to seeing it more in terms of individual battles. People endure personal spiritual warfare all the time. However, what I see in our nation today is a spiritual warfare for the soul of America. To understand the significance of this, one need only pay attention to what is being protested and why. We also need to understand with whom people are aligning themselves. I will get into this in more detail in later articles.

Pay attention, see what is happening and judge for yourself. There is a battle for the soul of America…and you and I are a huge part of God’s game plan in it.

So as followers of Christ, how should we respond to what we are seeing?

Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:5 to “have nothing to do” with those types of people. How far should you take this? To draw an example, scripture does not distinctly tell us that we should never drink. However, we as Baptists choose to totally abstain from it. Its in the Baptist Faith and Message. Why do we do this you ask? Alcohol affects our testimony in such a way, that it is best to completely abstain. If a weaker believer or a non-believer sees me with a beer, that will affect my ability to lead them to Christ or disciple them. Also, if I were to become intoxicated, my behavior might cause one to stumble as well. So it is best to avoid it altogether.

The same is true in this situation, if we associate with people who behave in such a violent and vile manner, it can affect or hinder our ability to be used by God. So we need to watch our testimonies.

Paul also instructs Timothy beginning in verse 10 of the same chapter to keep living a Christ like life, and follow the example he and others have set forth for him. But we also need to understand, that in doing so…we should expect to be persecuted for our faith and the stand we take.

Is this not something we see constantly? All you have to do is watch Twitter for a while. People say the most vile things about Christians and the Christian faith. We must be prepared to love those who persecute us…while hating the things they stand for. A hard balance to strike. But that is how God views sin.

To be Christlike, we need to think like Christ. Maybe its the ultimate “What Would Jesus Do?” It is much easier said than done. But we must keep up the good fight of faith.

Pray for those who are blinded to the truth by The Evil One…that the Light of God will reveal truth to their hearts.

Pray that God would have His way in our nation…and let that begin with me and you.



Have They Simply Gone Mad?

Marketing Is Ruining The Internet

I have been using the internet almost since its inception. I remember that the web was relatively young 20 years ago when my wife and I married. We bought our first computer. It sat in the corner of or bedroom and we used it to research and shop for all kinds of stuff.

In time, however, the experience changed. Websites started adding what became known as “popups”. In some cases, you would click a link and multiple windows would pop up without your consent. The page you were shopping on or reading would be covered by all kinds of stuff you did not want to see. You might have to close several windows to get back to your original window…that is unless closing one window unleashed a whole new set of popups. It was maddening!!!

These popups were used for anything from advertising to click bait to simple annoyances. Some malicious websites would use them hoping to get you to click a link that would launch a virus of some kind or a trojan horse. Ironically, these were unleashed in messages telling you your PC was infected with a virus and if you clicked this link you could fix it all.

So some of the greatest developments of that day were extensions or add ons for browsers that blocked these popups. For a period of time, they were very effective and surfing became a much better experience.

Businesses and many non-major news sites have taken on a new strategy, though. Now many websites have built popups into the website that cannot be blocked. So they do not pop up in another tab or window. They get around what triggers the popup blocker. Nothing like clicking a link in Facebook from a friend…starting to read an interesting article…to be interrupted mid-sentence with an ad that appears in front of what you are reading. What do they want? They want you to sign up for their news letter by giving them your email address, which is used to flood your inbox with advertising. They want you to look at a certain item. They want you to know they are running a sale.

The other night I was on a site that popped up an ad for another website. All they wanted was for you to click and go look at their product. So the two buttons on the ad said “Yes, I want to learn more” and “No, I support Hillary”. Really??? First you interrupt my visit to your website…now you want to insult me if I choose to not fall for your click bait!?!

Look!!! I know there is a need to advertise on the web. I know there is a need to get my attention on something you are trying to communicate to me. But popping something up in my surfing experience with you will NEVER get it done. All it does is frustrate the user. And it is so unnecessary. There are ways to accomplish this without hacking off or insulting the potential customer or reader.

I can deal with a banner ad on a site. I should be allowed the option to choose what I click…without being insulted if I choose not to.

I understand the function and purpose of marketing.

But marketers are ruining the internet.

Marketing Is Ruining The Internet

“A Time For Choosing”

Ronald Reagan once gave a speech in support of Barry Goldwater’s Presidential campaign entitled “A Time For Choosing”. It can be found on You Tube and really is a good watch. Its well worth your time.

Today we find ourselves in a much more crucial “Time For Choosing”. If we collectively as Americans make the wrong choice…it will end America and you and I know it.

So last night at the Wells Fargo Center, it was really hard to find an American Flag. Some reports stated that there were none to be found.

However, if you needed a Palestinian Flag…a delegate from Florida had you covered.

Let that sink in for a minute…

Last week in Cleveland…American Flags were everywhere. The stage behind Trump on Thursday was lined with at last 70 of them.

But this week in Philly…none to be found. As a matter of fact, the flags of our enemies were more visible at the national convention of a major political party in the United States.

The New American Communist Party (a.k.a. the Democrats) are no longer the party of JFK and Harry S. Truman.

Think about what that visual image…which is no coincidence…tells us about the status of political discourse in this country.

I am not a “YUUUUUGE” fan of Donald Trump. But I do not question what side he is on.

Wake up America.

“A Time For Choosing”

Thoughts on Orlando

In recent days, the focus of the political world has shifted to a night club in Orlando, where a terrorist walked in and killed 49 and wounded tens of other patrons in what has become the worst terrorist attack since 9/11. I have refrained to this point from writing on this topic because details about the terrorist have continued to creep out. The more we learn about Omar Mateen, the more we realize that this was not just some guy who snapped and sprayed lead all over a night club as some in power would have us believe. This was planned and premeditated. And there were certainly more than 1 person involved. His wife even admits to knowing about it before hand. And apparently she purchased ammo for him.

A few things stand out to me about this event…

A lot is being made of the fact that the night club that was attacked was a gay night club. The truth is, the preferences of the victims are irrelevant. Radical Muslims do not discriminate when it comes to producing bloodbaths. It does appear that Omar Mateen himself was perhaps trying to redeem himself or take revenge for being hurt in a gay relationship. There are stories out there indicating both are potential motives.

Since we are talking about the LGBT thing…can we stop with the bashing of Christians for their opposition to the LGBT lifestyle? There is a massive difference between believing certain choices are wrong…and saying so, and throwing people off of rooftops or putting bullets in their head because of their personal choices. In places like Iran and Syria…this is the punishment Islam prescribes for people who they suspect lead the gay lifestyle. So it is time to stop ignoring the treatment by Radical Islam of the LGBT community…while railing against Christians who oppose the lifestyle…but do no harm to those who live it. It is the definition of hypocrisy and everyone can see right through it.

If you read the mainstream press…you would think that an AR-15 walked in there in its own and mowed down 49 people. The irony comes in when it is pointed out that an AR-15 was not even used in the attack. Even so, the AR-15 seems to always be the firearm that the politicians always go after when any terror attack occurs. One congressman stated last week that the AR-15 fired 700 rounds a minute. Ummm…that is not possible. It is not even an automatic. And how does the math work out on that? My math says that breaks down to 12 rounds a second. I am calling baloney on that. I will have more about the whole gun control facade in an upcoming post.

All of that being said…we really are learning more and more about this administration with each one of these terrorist attacks. I am willing to call it what it is…unlike the administration. Say it with me Mr. President…”Islamic Terrorism”. So the transcript of the 911 call was released. With certain text omitted. Then it was re-released with the word “God” substituted for “Allah”. It reads like a Christian shot up the place. Why? What is the purpose? Who is this administration trying to protect? They are basically erasing what we know is already there…and insulting our intelligence in the process. Does it not appear that they are trying to protect the terrorists? When did the Justice Department become the point of attack for protecting and justifying criminals? But that is exactly what is happening.

My friends, whether we like it or not, whether we are willing to accept it or not…war has been declared on us. At this point it really does not matter if we take the battle to the opponent or not. The battle is already being brought to us. My father always told me, “Jason, I had better not ever hear of you starting a fight, but if a fight is brought to you…you sure as heck had better finish it.”

It is high time that someone step forward and ask this administration without relenting…”Who are you for?” It is time someone demand a straight answer. When all of this started to escalate with the birth of ISIS…the White House talked like they were for the American people…and acted the exact opposite. Now…they do not even attempt to hide their support for the enemy. It is time for accountability. It is time…to put America FIRST!!!

Thoughts on Orlando

Does That Really Matter?

I recently had a conversation with a brother in the faith that took an interesting twist. My friend recently had a conversation in which the other person was relating why he and his wife left our church. He told him that they left our church because a deacon served the Lord’s Supper…while wearing blue jeans.

Now I was not surprised by this. I knew the individual who made the statement. If I could pick three people who would say something like that…this individual would be on the list.

One thing it made me do…was think. It made me think about why I completely disagree with that preference. And it is a preference.

There are those who are very traditional in their view of how the ordinances of the church are to be administered. I understand it. I respect it.

Many of us were raised on the traditions of the church. We were always taught that we dress our best on Sunday. The reason was always that we give our best to The Lord…

I get that. I really do. But have we ever really stopped to ask ourselves why it is that we stick blindly to those traditions that we grew up with? The truth is…if we truly believe something, we need to understand why we believe it. Trust me, the next generation will not simply accept “because we have always done it that way” as a legitimate answer. If we do not understand why we believe what we believe, how do we think we will ever convince anyone else of what we believe?

I really think those among us who are stuck in neutral when it comes to how we “do church”, are missing some things that shift the paradigm of how we see church as a whole.

The Bible does tell us that we are to “give our best” to the Lord. However, Jesus himself also taught about how we are to treat people who are not dressed as nicely and who cannot do anything for us. We are to show no preference to anyone. We are not to be a “respecter of persons”.

What did Jesus wear when He instituted the Lord’s Supper? That’s right…His everyday robe. There were no special robes that were to be worn when Jesus administered the first Lord’s Supper. Pretty good indication that He really didn’t care about that aspect of the procedure.

Somewhere along the way, I fear that we have lost perspective on what it is we are actually trying to accomplish. The mission of the church is threefold.

1) Create a haven and a refuge for the saints where they can minister to and comfort one another and build one another up.

2) To equip the saint for ministry and outreach to the community around them. For some this may extend across borders to other parts of the world.

3) To bring glory to God in all they do.

If we can put aside the petty things that do not really matter when it comes to building the Kingdom…perhaps we can focus on the message and the mission that we are called to. It is the effectiveness of ministry that matters. May we be effective for Jesus.

Does That Really Matter?

Listen To The Word

Few things move me like music.

If you want to see me turn into a weepy mess…just put the right song on at the right time. Praise music at times has a tendency to cut me to the core. I love to sing. However, many times I find myself worshiping by just listening to others doing so. On Wednesday nights in the student worship services…I rarely sing. I typically just listen to the students as they worship.

One of my favorite artists is a group called Shane and Shane. You might be familiar with some of their music. They have recorded songs like “The Answer” and “Though You Slay Me”. They are one of the groups I would really love to see live some day.

In 2002, Shane and Shane produced an album called “Psalms”. In this project, Shane and Shane wrote songs directly from scripture. Most of these came from the Psalms. They published a second volume in 2015.

Recently, a friend of mine who knows me well said to me while setting up for a praise and worship service out of town, “You like Shane and Shane. You need to listen RIGHT NOW to ’Psalm 46’. It will change your life.” So I sat down with my phone and downloaded it. When I finally got to listen to it later with proper attention to the words…I was a weepy mess. God had pierced me with that song in a way that simple reading would never have.

And it was straight from The Word.

That got me to thinking about a way to study God’s word through music.

Understand that music is not a substitute for the reading of The Word. But it can be a clarifier…an aid, if you will.

I have started with songs written straight from scripture. I listen to them and then study with my Bible what God is trying to say to me through that passage. Another good example of such a song is “Psalm 112” by 4Him. “Blessed is he who fears the Lord…who finds delight in His command.”

People often struggle with topics or series for Bible study. This was just a thought that I had come up with. In a season in my life when I really need to grasp the provision and power of God…this really seems to be a good approach to Bible study for me at this time.

Maybe you want to join me.

Listen To The Word