Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I have to relate the story of God’s working by picking up the story in the middle, which would make it Sunday morning.  We’ve just finished a “non-revival revival” (not a scheduled series of revival services) or as I liked to dub it, a “ministry sandwich.”  We had Pastor Greg Farrell, and his wife Tina, from Busselton, West Australia here for our annual Marriage Retreat.  “Sandwiched” around this was his preaching our Wednesday night midweek worship service, and then staying over to minister both services yesterday, on Sunday.

Greg and I have been friends for years and enjoyed a wonderful bond of friendship in Christ.  One reason contributing to this is that we share some mutual loves and interests.  We both love to fish.  He has a major leg up on me in this department since he lives right on the ocean, and I am a desert dweller!  We also both love to cook fish as part of our personal and family menu.  In this department it’s probably neck and neck with each of us sharing with the other different ways to prepare and cook fresh fish (the key word here being fresh).  While Greg can actually go out and catch his own fish, stocking his freezer, I have to buy mine at my local fishmonger which supplies excellent product.  The final and most important link in this bond is that we both have a deep love for the Word of God.  I would consider him one of the handful of people that I can sit around with and talk about God’s Word and the inspiration and revelation the Holy Spirit brings. 

This is why I thoroughly enjoyed the richness of the preached Word this week.  On Wednesday night the message from (Ezra 8:21-23) focused on how the God of the Book becomes the God of Experience; a spiritual alchemy which needs to take place in every Christian’s life.  One of the aids available to all of us in this process is the “prayer factor” that Ezra practiced.  Prayer is not just the means of us getting what we want from God, it is also indispensable in theology being translated into reality in our lives.  The Marriage Retreat was truly an outstanding time, and I think one of the largest attendances ever.  Launching everything was Thursday night’s message on Jealousy as the “silent killer” that resides in the selfishness of our hearts.  Friday morning was a very practical message on Greed, or how money affects and cannot be divorced from marriage.   The statistics bear this out that money, or better yet, disharmony on how we view and handle money, is behind the breakdown of many marriages.  Friday night concluded with a masterpiece on the subject of Communication, the quiet achiever.  The word communication literally means “to connect” and it involves a lot more than just words.  In fact, we can speak words without really communicating.  Words account for about 7% of communication.  Real communication is made up of a number of important ingredients, beginning with words, yes, but also involving tone (around 38% of communication), and also gestures (accounting for another 55%).  So, it’s not just what you say, but it’s also how you say it that matters. 

Sunday morning was my first “back-to-back” since my surgery in late June, meaning I was able to be in both the Sunday morning and evening services.  There was such an awesome presence of God, that having missed so many church services was like an elixir to my soul!  This was the middle of the story that I began this article with.  If Pastor Farrell was not preaching, I was almost prepared to give the altar call after the worship and prayer time.  That’s how real and precious it was.  He preached on “Gold Fever” and Rehoboam’s act of replacing Solomon’s gold shields with his bronze shields.  We can hold the shields, they “look” like gold or the real thing, but deep down inside we know there’s something missing.  The wonderful grace of God available is that the “gold” is not all that far away from any of us.  Jesus admonished the lukewarm Laodecian church to “buy of Me gold tried in the fire.”  I don’t think there’s a day that goes by where there isn’t some kind of advertisement on the advisability of buying gold as a means of protecting our assets or future.  Jesus is telling all of us that the “gold” is not far away, we can have it back in our lives, our worship, and our service, if we desire it.

Sunday night we ended the week of ministry with a kind of “unplugged” ministry.  A combination of excellent music, worship, and woven through all of it was truth about God’s reality, and stories that were a wonderful confirmation of that fact.  (Use pictures I sent you).  Like a fine coffee, all of this was a wonderful blend.  The one thing that made all the difference in all of these different settings was a real manifestation of God’s presence.  It is when God shows up that everything changes, people’s lives are helped and transformed, and nothing is impossible!
Monday, August 22, 2011

I know I'm like a proud parent/grandparent but news about what God is doing is never boring!  It's awesome!

Report from Garett King:

Just a quick report. We had our biggest service yet this morning with
109 in attendance & fourteen people praying for salvation. We had rented 20
chairs in anticipation but were still left short.

God is really moving in this area, it is as if we threw the net on the other
side of the boat. After the service we went to the beach and baptized 9 new
converts from the revival.

The seed is sprouting and growing and me, myself, I don't know how!!!
Time to put in the sickle!!!
Thursday, August 18, 2011

God has many ways of blowing our minds with expressions of His grace and power.  Ephesians sums it up by saying, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church.” (Eph.3:20) Yesterday, I was talking to Bob Mecado (“Chaplain Bob”) who told me that the prisoners at Chino State Prison were asking, “How’s Pastor Warner doing?”  They were praying for God’s healing in my foot and post-surgical wound.  I have frequently expressed both in sermons, writings, and conversations my extreme appreciation for those who pray for me; I don’t take it for granted. But, I was really stunned that these guys in prison, whom I never met, “know me” and have been praying for me!

Bobby Mecado is "an" all facilities chaplain for the L.A. Sheriff’s Department.  This happens to be the largest jail in the world, having some 22,000 inmates on any given day.  He is also a volunteer chaplain at the Chino State Prison, and visits many of the facilities throughout the State.  Although he is considered a “non-compensated employee,” he has incredible access to the California penal system, which given his background and testimony, is nothing short of God’s hand and favor working in his life.  This is why he has complete access and freedom to our tape room, since he disseminates our CD’s throughout all the prisons he goes to!  I have a general “two-year rule” in our tape room concerning sermons we make available online etc.  The reason for this is because of my travel schedule and opportunities to preach in many places, I need “fresh” material that has not already been used by pastors in that church or region.  Not so with Chaplain Bob: he can have as many as he wishes, since I don’t have too many “revival meetings” scheduled in the California prisons!  As a result, Pastor Warner is “preaching” God’s Word in all of these facilities: from L.A. County Jail, to Pelican Bay, to Chino, to Corcoran, even to McAlester Prison in Oklahoma.  Because of Bobby’s calling and gifts (and his undeserved expressions of me), I have a “rep” in many of those places.  Pretty amazing in my mind!  Bobby has made his jail ministry motto Joseph’s life and jail experience, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction." (Gen.41:52)

When I was a brand new Christian we’d sing the hymn, “God is moving by His Spirit, moving through all the earth.  Signs and wonders where God moveth, move O Lord, in me.”  That tells us that God is not passive or removed, but God is active in our sin-cursed world.  One of my favorite, reference-point scriptures is (2Chr.16:9) “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”  This especially includes our prison system and those who are incarcerated.  This had better be the case since, according to Charles Colson, when he was released and started to work in prison ministry, there were 329,000 inmates.  Today, there is over 3.3 million!  This should tells us that as a nation and a society we are experiencing a moral and ethical free fall.

It is intriguing to me that a lot of God’s activity and the Bible’s testimony revolves around prisons and jails!?  Who can forget Joseph’s stellar testimony of being sold into slavery in the land of Egypt, eventually finding himself falsely accused and facing trumped-up charges that landed him in jail.  It was part of God’s testing process and forging iron in his soul!  Daniel did time in a pretty unique jail setting which was the lion’s den.  John the Baptist’s faith was purified, if not actually reaching a pinnacle when he ran afoul of an unclean and vindictive woman, Herodias.  Even though he had lost his freedom, he also gained a private audience with King Herod who came as an “audience-of-one” to hear God’s Word through John!  Then, there’s the Apostle Paul’s ministry journey.  It was said that wherever Paul went he experienced either a revival or a riot.  The title of this blog post came from his momentous experience while in jail in Philippi.  God orchestrated for him a “heavenly jail break” beginning with an unwavering testimony as he and Silas were beaten and in stocks yet “praying and singing hymns to God” and listen...the prisoners were listening to them!  This was not because they were humming one of the “Top 40's” of the day, but the undeniable evidence of the Holy Spirit’s power was so very compelling.  This was followed by an earthquake, the prisoners being set free, and the eventual conversion of the jailer and his family.  What an amazing day it was!

This was so woven into his ministry fabric that the sufferings of Christ that set him apart included, “in prisons more frequently.” (2Cor.11:23) Listen, I haven’t even had time to mention his two years in prison at Cesarea, his “house arrest” in Rome etc.  He was obviously no stranger to being locked up.  Isn’t it ironic that some of his masterpieces of Epistles came during these times!  They are referred to as his “prison epistles” and are still blessing people today!

All of this should tell us something about prisoners and prison ministry today.  The Gospel may not change their circumstances (it does not promise a “Get out of jail free” card), but it definitely does and will change their hearts!  (Heb.13:3) reminds us, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”  Celary, this refers first to our persecuted brethren, jailed because of their allegiance to our Lord Jesus Christ.  But, there is also an identification with others in jail that will at least motivate us to pray for them, and if possible get involved in some kind of ministry to them (maybe remembering if we’re not there, its not always because we’re so good...we just never got caught).  Many have learned who their real friends were while doing time in prison.  The other powerful reminder is Jesus’s words in (Mat.25:34-36) “Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.   For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'” This provoked a huge surprise from some of his hearers who said “when did we hear that you were in prison and visited You?”  Jesus set the bar and motive for ministry when He said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” 

So, to the saints in Chino: thanks for remembering me and praying for me.  It means a lot!  I count it a privilege to be on the SAME TEAM with you.  KEEP LISTENING!

Note: I’m not personally familiar with a lot of reputable or longstanding prison ministers, but I can highly recommend Bob & Pat Mecado.  They are the real deal!  Their ministry is not about photo-ops but ministering the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to men and women imprisoned, facing rock bottom, as well as to their family members on the outside.  Their own personal testimonies for Christ are truly awesome.  “Jesus I know, Paul I know...and Bob and Pat I know.”  Plus they listen to me, are teachable, grateful, and are not a “law unto themselves.” 

They can be reached at:
Mecado Ministries Inc.
14519 Rockenbach Street
Baldwin Park, CA 91706
Monday, August 15, 2011

I don’t know who was more excited about yesterday’s service, but there are good odds that it was the Pastor himself, who happens to be me.  It was the first time in six weeks that I’ve been in the pulpit since having surgery on my right ankle for osteomyelitis.  This might account for some “pre-game jitters.”  Like a golfer’s swing, getting my preaching voice back was an issue.  By the grace of God, to use baseball terminology, I was able to “preach a complete game!”

My first official service back just happened to also be a wedding: Tim Fay Georgia Smith (Pastor Smith & Renee’s oldest daughter).  Whenever there is a wedding ceremony as part of our regular worship service, it does change some of the normal dynamics and parameters.  There are time considerations, family and numerous guests along with the Body, but it still creates an important time to preach and teach the Word of God; especially to fulfill the Bible’s admonition to “Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband.” (Heb.13:4) In this case, the message was from (Prov.22:28) “Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set.”  Landmarks refer to boundary lines, especially having to do with property and inheritance.  There is a reminder here that LIFE HAS BOUNDARIES: just trying driving your car while ignoring the “boundaries” of the white or yellow lines...you will hurt yourself or others too.  Well, love and marriage also have boundaries established by God.  That’s why all the talk about “free love” simply doesn’t exist.  Years ago there was a book titled, “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.”  That, my friend, is not love, but is completely ludicrous.  Since this particular verse is mentioned on a number of occasions, I think it means that God knows us as individuals.  It indicates that there’s a tendency in human nature (context is usually for personal gain) and a complicit that is always trying to move God’s boundaries!  This is why the battle to re-define marriage is not a light one which we can’t ignore.  We should never, never give up because simply put: it matters!

The United States’ credit rating is not the only thing that has been downgraded.  There’s what I call a “commitment downgrade” affecting marriage that’s been going on and escalating over the last few decades. This is why a recent headline caught my attention, “Living Together Too Much Commitment For Today’s Couples.”  We’ve been battling the increase and deception of cohabitation for a good while.  It seems that even that commitment is too much today?!  The new relationship agreement that is gaining popularity is called “stayover relationships”.  The article went on to say, “Instead of following a clear path from courtship to marriage, individuals are choosing to engage in romantic ties on their own terms without the guidance of social norms.”  Most particularly, it is not society’s norms that matters, it is God’s Word and guidance for marriage that is under assault today.  Jim Daly (President of Focus on the Family) said, “From television to movies to music, the bonds of matrimony are often lampooned as chains that bind and confine as opposed to the great anchor of stability God intended them to be.”  A number of years back I was at Bally’s gym and a guy out of the clear blue said to me, “I see that you’re doing your time.”  I had no idea at first what he was talking about, but then I realized he had seen my wedding ring and he viewed it more as a life sentence then the huge dividends that loyalty and faithfulness bring in a committed marriage relationship. 

It was the author and radio talk show host, Dennis Prager, who wrote some thought-provoking thoughts in a piece, “If You’re Thinking of Marrying.”  While acknowledging the difficulty of finding the right person to marry he did bring up a number of critical questions to ask/answer before you think of marrying that special someone.  I will resist the temptation of commenting on all of them, but at least think with me about them.

  1. Is the person your best friend or at least becoming so?  It’s easy to find a lover, or get excited about a new person, but one of the single most overlooked questions among couples, especially young ones is this, because over time, friendship is the greatest bond between a couple.

  2. Aside from sex, do you enjoy each other.  Again this sounds trite, but enjoying each other may actually be the single most important characteristic of a happy marriage.

  3. Does the person have a number of good friends and at least one very close friend of the same sex?  It is a very good sign if the person you are thinking of marrying does not have good friends of long duration.  This alone should rule out the person from consideration.

  4. How does the person treat others?  Notice the emphasis here on “others.”  Of course in dating and courtship, they’re always going to try and put their best foot forward toward you.  So, see how he or she treats waitresses, employees, workmates, family members, and people who can do nothing for them.

  5. What problems do the two of you have now, and are trying to suppress?  Here’s a real secret: marrying will not solve any problem you have with the person.

  6. How often do you fight?  No two people are going to experience a conflict-free relationship.  But, if you’re constantly fighting, and conflict-resolution is not part of your maturing experience, then things will escalate and not go away.

  7. Do you share values?  Opposites may attract in the beginning, but like stay together for the long term.  The values that are the most important are those grounded in God’s unshakable Word.   Your mutual commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ is part of the “glue” of a happy and lasting marriage.

  8. Is the person unhappy?  Try and marry a person who is an essentially happy person, because you will need it.  A happy person doesn't always lift up an unhappy person, but an unhappy person tends to bring down a happy person.

  9. What do people you respect think of the person you’re considering marrying?  Yes, I know you think you’re the only person in the world who knows what’s best for you but, the input of people you respect and have experience is something you should listen to.

So what about a little girl’s dream?  I’ve known Georgia Smith (Fay) since she was born, and from her time with her parents in Sierra Leone.  We even had then our special handshake, which I was glad to use as part of their wedding ceremony yesterday!  Earlier in the month I asked her about her upcoming marriage and my role and this is what she wrote me.  Much of it was very humbling and undeserving, but it was from her heart.

“My whole life you have been a 2nd dad.  I’ve gone through a lot in my family and learned to depend on God at a young age.  It’s the only thing that is stable and true, the only thing that kept me sane.  If I didn’t have God, my father, and you, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  Strong men have shaped my life and having you marry me is a dream come true because it sets a standard for me.  I’ve reached a huge mark in my life.  I kept myself pure, funny story: when I went to the Doctor he was flabbergasted when he found out that Tim and myself were virgins.  He said, ‘Who told you this?’ and I replied, ‘God did,’ but it’s a choice you make on your own.  The Doctor just looked stunned and asked to shake my hand because he considered it to be very ‘abnormal.’  I love it!  When I came back to think about you Pastor Warner I think of the fact that you’re not just my pastor but my second daddy.  In Africa we came up with our own hand shake and we always had a good relationship.  Ever since I was younger I said I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL THE DAY PASTOR WARNER MARRIES ME.  It was my dream and now my dream came true!” 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011
“Always a fantastic blessing to hear what God is doing from and through one of your ‘sons in the faith.’”

Life in These Parts: New Building and Remodel: "We have been very busy the last couple of weeks as we were blessed to find a new and bigger building. Our old building was nice but it was small; just a hall with no facilities, not even a toilet. We were packing in people every week with the children having to sit outside on the steps. It had been like that for some time and we were diligently praying for a new building. - (Guest Blogger Garett King)
Tuesday, August 9, 2011

When I first started writing this blog, “Keeping Your Head In The Game,” and later expanding to a Twitter account, two things were at the forefront.  First, was the inspiration of truth-bringing, and taking advantage of the many opportunities available for communication today.  The second was the parameters I put into place to guide me: it would be Gospel-oriented, Spirit-driven, and culturally relevant, with only limited personal anecdotes.  I do recognize, however, that there are times and places where things intersect: where Kingdom, culture, politics, finances, and righteousness all come together.  It is at these moments that we need to be like those men of Issachar who have understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do.”  So, I’m not stepping outside my calling by giving attention to some of the state of affairs in our nation today.  At the outset, let me make clear, I am not a professional pundit or economist.  What I do bring is a measure of common sense garnered over nearly four decades working with people and being a diligent student of human nature.  This is basically a layman’s look at and lessons from the debt crisis.

President Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States, inaugurated in 1948.  On his desk in the oval office of the White House he had a 2 ½" x 13" sign mounted in a walnut base that read, “The Buck Stops Here.”  This was not just a decorative piece, but it was something he believed and it was an influential part of how he governed.  The etymology behind it came from the slang term, “passing the buck” or passing responsibility for things on to someone else.  He referred to this desk sign in public statements on more than one occasion.  The most memorable might have been his farewell address to the American people in January of 1953.  He spoke to this concept very straight-forward when he said, “The President–whoever he is–has to decide.  He can’t pass the buck to anybody.  No one else can do the deciding for him.  That’s his job.”  I think the reason this stood out so to me is how it runs so completely counter to the current climate in Washington D.C.

I’m speaking specifically to the crisis over the U.S. debt ceiling, and the historic downgrading of America’s credit rating to a AA+ rating from its standard triple A rating.  This is the first time in our nation’s history where this has occurred.  It has Wall Street and markets around the world reeling, and we hear phrases and read headlines like: “Barack-alypse Now,” “Obama-geddon” or “Debt Man Walking.”  President Obama is definitely not the one solely responsible for our current fiasco, but everyone is extremely reluctant to say “The buck stops here” (especially in an election cycle where the spinmeisters are all hard at work).  The headline that caught my attention more than anything and the inspiration behind this piece was, “Capitol Hill’s blame game demonstrates S & P’s disgust.”  The blame game and the finger pointing has kicked in full force.

The age-old adage, “shoot the messenger” seems to be the order of the day in D.C.  There’s plenty of blame to go around, and the list of “culprits” is substantial.  Some people’s strategy is to attack the credibility of the rating agency Standard & Poors.  The President blames Congress or President Bush (how long can they keeping whipping this?).  Congress blames the President.  Democrats blame Republicans, and Republicans blame the Democrats.  The two that really caught my eye was Congressman Barney Frank’s blaming the military, even though defense represents a meager 4% of our nation’s budget.  I’m sure that makes the men and women who are putting their lives in harm’s way feel greatly appreciated.  The other politically-expedient target of the media and many politicians is to blame the Tea Party.  You know, those elected officials who were sent to Washington D.C. largely over concern about our countries’ fiscal policies, and to help put our house in order.  Senator John Kerry called the downgrading of the U.S. credit, “The Tea Party Downgrade.”  This was also echoed by Obama’s advisor David Axelrod on CBS’ “Face The Nation” when he said “The Tea Party brought us to the brink of default.”  Liberal pundits have likened them to suicide bombers and terrorists, saying they were guilty of an act of treason.  Yes, the audacity of these freshmen Congressmen and women to stand on principle and promises to actually cut spending, and institute a policy of fiscal responsibility.  Why, the nerve of them to suggest such a thing!
All this reflects one of the deep pathologies at work in our government from the top down: from Washington D.C. to “Podunk County” anywhere; from the President down to the common man on the street.  Biblically, the trait of passing the buck is as old as man (“it’s the woman You gave me”), and as a result is deeply ingrained in human nature.  If you do a Google search using the two words “Obama - blames,” you get over 6 million hits!  This practice is also one of the tenets of our entitlement culture today, that is more aware and vocal about perceived “rights” while silent about “responsibilities.”  Sadly, this is how Washington operates, which is one of the many reasons Washington and much of the media is so dysfunctional.  One Tea Party critic (Rep. Steve Israel D-NY) said it was the “roadblock Republicans” that forced House Speaker John Boehner to side-step a deal with President Obama.  He said that would’ve prevented the downgrade.  This shows the level of ineptitude in D.C. since the real problem is not the downgrade but the size of the debt and the out-of-control spending!  Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) said the downgrade strengthened his position that America needs fiscal restraint.  “This deal was not a serious attempt to solve our spending and debt problem - it was a political solution meant to kick the can down the road.”

Enough of the blame.  More important is a basic understanding of how we got into this fix.  I can tell you it didn’t happen overnight, it has been coming for a generation.  For years, fiscal conservatives have warned against the dangers of out-of-control borrowing and spending.  Current and past Presidents and Congresses have ignored them, rolling up massive national debt.  I read a great article by Ken Connor on “Government In Denial About Natural Laws of Finance?”  It’s not like we couldn’t see this coming.  We are $14.5 trillion in debt, and the spending addicts in the Congress just raised the debt limit!  Our “spend-aholics” on both sides of the aisle keep squeezing the turnip, and are shocked with feigned outrage that the country now finds itself in this predicament.

“Well what on earth did they think was going to happen?  When you continually spend more than you take in and refuse to change your ways, disaster is inevitable.  At some oint the well will run dry, but the bills still have to be paid.  And when they aren’t, your credit rating suffers and your sources of revenue dry up.  You reach the point where you are forced to make adjustments.  It’s not that complicated.  For years, our government appears to have been in denial about the natural laws of money and finance.  But denying that natural laws exist doesn’t suspend their effect.  You can deny the law of gravity, but if you jump off the Empire State building you will soon discover that your personal opinions about the matter are irrelevant.”

And now, we’re going to have the so-called “super committee” to tell us how to get out of this mess, tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction by November 23rd.  The irony is some of these appointing and being appointed helped create this situation!?  Where else but in Washington D.C.!  To put all this Biblically, “that which a man sows, he will also reap.”

So, what needs to happen?  Remember, I am a novice, a nobody.  I am just moving from a common sense, Biblical platform.  A few things stand out in my mind.

  1. Begin with God!  The Scripture formula is “seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”  Haggai’s words resonate to our present circumstances (it has a national context to it also), “Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.  Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.”  (Haggai 1:5-7)

  2. Look at our own heart and lives. While our government has been out-of-control, people themselves have been busy borrowing and spending like fiends.  The NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote,

    “The generation that came of age in the last 50 years will be remembered most for the incredible bounty and freedom it received from its parents and the incredible debt burden and constraints it left on its kids.” Friedman calls this the “clash of generations.”  Charles Colson commented on it by saying, “The greatest generation scrimped and saved; their kids, the boomers, went on a big shopping binge.”

  3. Get rid of some of these knuckle-heads whose spending appetites know no discipline or restraint.  In their place, elect fiscal and social conservatives who will live and stand by their principles.

  4. We need right leadership.  It was grieving to read a headline that said, “White House: No plan, No Specifics, No Strategy, No Responsibility.”  Unlike President Truman’s understanding, the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, echoed what the Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said, that the White House bears no responsibility for the historic downgrade in America’s credit rating.  As I said clearly earlier, the President is not the one entirely responsible by any means, but to claim no responsibility is one of the manifestations of the toxic environment that exists today.

  5. Wean ourselves from the entitlement mentality.  As painful as it might be this, and the accompanying class envy today, is rampant.  Digest this: HALF of American pays NO taxes at all.  Like the Tower of Babel, we’re building our financial tower on a false world view.  Government cannot create jobs; but they can create an atmosphere that encourages or discourages economic growth and recovery.  Get out of the way and let the dynamic entrepreneurial quality of America work and inspire.

Hmm, I wonder...if I raise my own debt ceiling will it end my crisis?  Yeah, I didn't think so.  It doesn't work on an individual level, and over time as we’re discovering, it doesn't work on a national level either!
Friday, August 5, 2011

It is a well-documented fact that men and women are very different!  This difference is frequently at the heart of jokes, anecdotes and plenty of good-natured ribbings.  The truth is that there are actual physical, emotional, mental and relational differences that have been observed and can be quantified.  There are actual differences in the way women’s and men’s brains are structured and the way they react to events and stimuli.  This is what has given birth to various “man-isms” that we've heard over the years that have taken on cliche-status.  The reason something becomes a cliché is because it contains a certain degree of truth!  One such man-ism is that “men hate asking for directions.”  They will drive out of their way for miles rather than stop and simply ask for directions.  As a man, we don’t always like to be asked or corrected in these areas.  We have a ready answer, “Of course I know where I’m going!”  I have a friend who told me that once he actually ended up in another State because of this quality (he told me it “cured” him).  Closely related to this is men don’t like to read the instructions. Sure, I know how this works, or how to put it together, why do you have to ask?”

Call me delusional (it’s actually pride), but I thought that I was somehow above the fray, and had moved beyond mere clichés in my actions.  Well, I had a little wake-up call last week!  For almost three years I’ve driven a Volkswagen Passat station wagon (there’s another story here: the transformation of Pastor Warner into driving a “soccer mom” car).  The car has actually grown on me, where now I kind of like it, especially when I have to fill up the gas tank.  My only complaint was the air conditioning that wasn’t really that good, and it took a long time to cool the car down and make it comfortable, which is a big deal in Tucson summers.  This was all true in my mind until last Sunday when I was coming home from church.  Leonard Gastelum was driving, and he started looking at the various buttons on the console, and pushed what turns out to be the  re-circulating button and voilà...much cooler air!  It turns out I had been trying to cool the car using outside air (really hot) instead of re-circulating the already cooler air in the car.  All this was confirmed and reinforced when we read the car’s instruction manual.  You know...that big, thick book that comes with the car when you buy it.  Yeah, that book.  The one I never took the time to read, and now it’s almost two weeks shy of having the car for three years!?

Sometimes things in life can be simplified to this: read the instructions!  The Bible is God’s instruction manual for all of life!  It’s not all that complicated, really.  John spells this out, “As he spake these words, many believed on him.  Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Jn.8:30-32) Discipleship is about sticking and following His manual.  If that is not enough, then what about “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.” (Jn.13:17)  Oh, if we want to go back even farther, didn’t God tell Joshua what was the key to success?  It was not attending the latest Tony Robbins success seminar, or developing a positive mental attitude (PMA) because “your altitude is determined by your attitude.”  Instead, “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” (Josh.1:8)NLT 

The Book of Proverbs, the book dedicated to wisdom or skillful living, emphasizes this as the bottom line. “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments [read & follow the instructions], for this is the whole duty of man.” (Eccl.12:13) The dividing line between the wise and the foolish boils down over and over again to those willing to listen to and receive instruction and discipline, and those who are not.  The opening chapter of Proverbs sets the stage to all that is going to follow:

"I called you so often, but you wouldn't come.  I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.  You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered.  So I will laugh when you are in trouble!  I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you.  "When they cry for help, I will not answer.  Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.  For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear the Lord.  They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them.  Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their own schemes.  For simpletons turn away from me—to death.  Fools are destroyed by their own complacency. But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm."  (Prov.1:24-33)NLT

If we want the favor of God in our lives, then we must learn to seek and value (pay attention) His counsel, instruction, discipline and correction, and keep from becoming complacent.  Otherwise, as I discovered, your car doesn’t cool off like you’d like in the middle of the summer!  Instead, now, I’m definitely a lot cooler in less amount of time. This certainly makes August in Tucson a lot more enjoyable.  Plus, in the future I’m determined to take the time and effort to read the manual!  This is true whether you’re a man, a woman, young, old, no matter what your ethnicity or background.  It’s pretty simple, God’s put it all in His Word to help us, so He can bless us, and we can glorify Him by fulfilling our potential.

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