Last Post of “Ron’s Reflections”

RM Logo 500“Ron’s Reflections” has a new address: http://redemptionministry.org . Along with the new location will be a new blog name: Redemption Ministry. The address is: http://redemptionministry.org/blog/ . It can be accessed through the Redemption Ministry (RM) website or directly by the previous link.

My goal, desire, and prayer through God’s providence in my life and ministry (My unique experiences as pastor) is to “Comfort others with the comfort by which I have been comforted by God” (2 Cor 1:3-7). I’m asking God to help me find hurting, wounded, and struggling ministers so I can (If He so allows) help them through the unique trials ministers face. Here are a few of the resources from Redemption Ministry…

You are not alone.” Testimonies given to RM from Junior Hill, Rick Lance, Mike McLemore and others with more to come (GW).

Healing For Hurting Ministers.” This is a process I’ve relied on for years during my difficult times as a pastor (Minister Resources).

Helping Staff Reconcile.” For when there are problems between staff at a church (Church Resources).

How you can pray if you are so led…

For God to be glorified through Redemption Ministry,

For God to “make the connections” with ministers and churches to encourage and help as He wills,

For a project I’m working on titled, “Dancing In The Dungeon.”

I close this blog address with “I Asked The Lord That I Might Grow

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More People Should Blush…

Blushing“We used to blush when we were ashamed, now wer’re ashamed when we blush” (Vance Havner).

It is written in Jeremiah 6:15, “They did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall…”

From Isaiah 5:20, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

Last it is found in Romans 1:32, “Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things (Sin described in 1:29-31) deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

Today’s “normal” used to cause people to blush. Now those who blush are viewed as prudes by the politically correct. Consider a few things that at used to cause blushing, but now are badges of honor from a debased culture just related to one area… marriage.

Sex before and/or outside marriage… Living with a person in place of marriage… Same sex marriage… Having children proudly before or outside marriage. Note: And many who call themselves Christians do these things!

Worse is the gradual acceptance of these things by an increasing majority of Americans… including those in the church. At the same time, preachers proclaim health, wealth, and prosperity rather than sound doctrine. Christians fight and split over minor doctrinal points rather than exemplifying love, grace, and mercy toward each other. It seems fewer and fewer people blush anymore…

These things burden the heart of the faithful who agree with what the Prophet wrote in Habakkuk 1:2-4…

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and You will not hear? Or cry to You “Violence!” and You will not save? 3 Why do You make me see iniquity, and why do You idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. 4 So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.  For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.

Death Row Diary

Bill PoyckSome people know when they will die… down to the minute. Such is the case of those on death row. With them what is important is different from those of us who live as if we are immortal.

Recently I found a blog where the sister of a death row inmate posted letters he wrote leading up to the date of his execution. It is titled… Death Row Diary and gives a perspective most of us never consider from a man named William Van Poyck who was executed on June 12, 2013 after being sentenced for murder in 1988.

He wrote about how everything suddenly became trivial after Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed his death warrant:

I’ve already thrown or given away 95% of my personal property, the stuff that for years seemed so important. All those great books I’ll never get to read; reams and reams of legal work I’ve been dragging around, and studying, for two decades and which has suddenly lost its relevance.

My magazines and newspapers stack up unread; I have little appetite to waste valuable, irreplaceable hours reading up on current events. Does it really matter to me now what’s happening in the Middle East, or on Wall Street, or how my Miami Dolphins are looking for the upcoming new season? What’s the point? Ditto the TV; I’m uninterested in wasting time watching programs that now mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.

The other day I caught myself reaching for my daily vitamin. Really?, I wondered, as the absurdity hit me. Likewise, after 40 years of working out religiously, that’s out the window now. Again, what’s the point? Now, every decision about how to spend the next hour reminds me of Elaine in that “Seinfeld” episode where she had to constantly evaluate whether her boyfriends were really “sponge worthy.”

Question: What is really important? Especially since none of us are guaranteed another year… month… week… day… hour… or second! Thus Jesus said… “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Mt 24:44). Who cares about gas prices… when people are entering eternity without Jesus? What really matters when at any second we slip from now into eternity and stand before God? What is REALLY important?

The Puritans used to say, “Remember death.” It was their way of remembering to live each day of life to its fullest for the glory of God. Paul wrote the same thought in Eph 5:15 “Look carefully then how you walk (Live), not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

What Non Christians Think About Christians

hypo-saintThis should be read by every believer who cares about the lost (From Thom Rainer, Click here). It is how one non-Christian sees Christians and their conduct. Convicting!

On Being Selfish, Not Really Interested in Others

I remember a rather outspoken evangelical Christian young woman I worked with – I’d just moved to town, and we went to a movie together. Each week she invited me to her church, and I didn’t want to offend her by saying “No thanks.” As it was, I had Buddhist activities one Sunday and I was mentoring a young girl two other Sundays, but that theoretically left a Sunday open. We only worked together for 3 months, and it never worked out. I went to a different job.

She showed up there one night, and jumped right to the church invite. No “Hey, how’ve you been? Haven’t seen you in a while!” Nope – just “Do you want to come to church with me this weekend?” Since I was on to her game, I decided to play. I said, “Sure, I’ll go to church with you, because I’m interested in seeing what you’re interested in. That’s what friends do, after all. And I’m sure you’ll want to come with me to a Buddhist meeting to see what I’m interested in, right?”

“Oh no!” she replied. “I just love the Lord so much!”

“Well,” I said, “then there’s no point in me going to your church because I’m not interested in either becoming a Christian or joining your church.” I never saw her again.

That’s how far Christian friendship extends – I’ve seen it over and over and over. Christians look at everyone else as if they’ve got targets painted on their foreheads. Nobody likes being hunted down or treated like someone else’s project. We don’t need to drop all our beliefs just to accept yours, and we don’t need to become more like you just to be acceptable people, worthy of being regarded as people instead of targets. Love does not seek to create clones of itself. Selfishness does.

On Being Self-centered and Judgmental

Keep your religious beliefs to yourself. If I have any interest in what you believe, I’ll ask you. And if I don’t ask you, then go right ahead and assume that your “witnessing” will be unwelcome. I’m sure that you like whatever you believe very much, and I’m very happy that you like it. However, just as your favorite flavor of ice cream is not necessarily going to be mine, I wish you would assume that I’m just as content with my own beliefs (or lack thereof) as you are with yours. Why not ask me first what *I* believe? Why not show an interest in what’s interesting to me instead of expecting me to always be interested in what YOU’RE interested in? Christians are so selfish and self-centered! Tell me – when was the last time an atheist rang your doorbell to tell you about his worldview? The reason the world hates Christians is because they behave badly, they’re rude, boorish, arrogant, conceited, full of themselves, ignorant, and judgmental. Go ahead – accuse me of being judgmental now. Doesn’t matter – I don’t claim to follow a belief system that has actual rules AGAINST being judgmental, so it’s *fine* for me to be!

On Being Unwilling to Develop True Friendships with Non-Christians

As a mother of young children in a homeschooling environment, we found ourselves surrounded by Christians. Of course, the kids would become friends and we moms would chat while they played. Without a single exception, this “acquaintanceship” only progressed to the point that I had to make it clear that no, I would not acceptjesusasmypersonalsavior, and no, I would not be attending their church. Then the Christians never called again, and I was left to explain to my sad children why their new friends wouldn’t be playing with them any more.

When my son was just 6, the boys down the street told him he was not allowed to play with them because he wasn’t a Christian. I went down to see what was going on (because my 4-yr-old daughter was going to go down there and teach those boys a lesson!) and I confirmed that what my son had reported was indeed what they’d said. And the mother of one was right out in the front yard, 25 feet from me, pretending to be very focused on trimming some plants. She never said a word.

Finally, the 6-yr-old girl across the street told my kids, ages 7 and 9, that if they weren’t Christians, they would be going to hell. She certainly learned the “Good News”. And you Christians wonder why we non-Christians avoid you?? HINT: It’s not because we’re intimidated by your awesomeness and are just sitting here, pining for you, wishing you would like us. We already know you don’t.

And we wonder why people won’t listen to the message of the cross! Too many “Christians” are not living out the message of Christ.

So We’ve Arrived?

flat-earthWhat do you believe today that you did not believe 10 or 20 years ago? At one time everyone KNEW the earth was flat. At one time everyone KNEW the earth was the center of the universe. What do you KNOW today? Now, for contemplation…

Do we think somehow we have arrived today, that the popular opinions and values of our time are not going to look just as ridiculous in 100 years or so (As those from 100 years ago look to us)? Who can tell us what is right, what is noble, and what is good? The answer is nobody, unless there is somebody outside of us and above us and outside of time who can come and tell us what is good and noble and true.

I have a family member who once believed… because their pastor preached it… that a certain race of people could not be saved because of “The Curse of Ham.” Today I hear that and think… “God love ’em. They just missed it on that one!” But then I wonder… what will my great-grandchildren look at about my beliefs and say… “God love Pops… He loved Jesus but missed it on that one!”

Only the person who trusts The One who is outside us and rightly contradicts us will ever find and embrace genuine truth. Just because a majority of people today believe something is just (For example: Same-sex marriage or abortion) does not mean it is right. And just because we ourselves believe something to be true does not mean it IS true.

It boils down to this. Truth is not a philosophy or idea, ultimate truth is a person… Jesus Christ who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man goes to The Father but by Me…” (John 14:6).

Why Do So Many Snap?

SnappedRecently I read an article by David Kupelian about the increasing number of people who are “snapping” as a result of stress (CLICK HERE to read it). Consider a few quotes below…

Suicide has surpassed car crashes as the leading  cause of injury death for Americans. Even more disturbing, in the world’s  greatest military, more U.S. soldiers died  last year by suicide than in combat. One-third of the nation’s employees  suffer chronic debilitating stress, and more than half of all “millennials” (18 to 33 year olds) experience a level of stress  that keeps them awake at night, including large numbers diagnosed with  depression or anxiety disorder. 11 percent of all Americans aged 12 and older are currently taking SSRI  antidepressants – those highly controversial, mood-altering psychiatric drugs  with the FDA’s “suicidality” warning label and alarming  correlation with school shooters.

“Life is difficult,” wrote psychiatrist M. Scott Peck at the outset of his  international best-seller, “The Road Less Traveled.” Stress, difficulties,  disappointments, accidents, disease, misfortune, cruelty, betrayal – they’re  unavoidable in this life.

Yet, during eras when society and families are stable, unified and  fundamentally decent and moral (Emphasis mine. RE) – as, say, America during the 1950s – the stress  level for each person is minimized, or at least not compounded by a perverse  society. Conversely, when… we have widespread family  breakdown, a depraved culture that mocks traditional moral values, a chaotic  economy and disintegrating monetary system and a power-mad government dominated  by demagogues and sociopaths, the normal stresses of life are greatly  multiplied.

Thus it has come to pass that America, long the hope of the world, has grown  increasingly dispirited and angry, which in turn breeds anxiety, fear,  confusion, hopelessness and depression.

And thus one writer’s evaluation of why so many people are angry in America and prone to snap. So could it be there is a correlation between broken homes… absent fathers… destruction of the family unit through same-sex marriage and the killing of millions of unborn babies and the anger of so many who snap? Yes, there is a direct link between a nation that turns away from God that always results in societal chaos of every kind. Why? Paul writes this in Romans 1:18 ff… (Vss 28-32 describe America’s “Snapping”).

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness & unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 21 Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, & their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man & birds & animals & reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie & worshiped & served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Nitty Gritty Pastor/Church Relations

squabble_sheepEvery year in the Southern Baptist Convention 1,000+ pastors are terminated (Those are the ones reported). Of that number, 45% do not return to vocational ministry. Then there are many churches that fight, then split… and split… and split. People get their feelings hurt, leave that church for another one or quit going to church at all. All that should grieve our hearts!

The Chairman of a Pastor Search Team once told me, “I’ve come to the conclusion there isn’t a church anywhere that doesn’t have problems!” A denominational worker recently said, Every pastor in every church has problems.” Both times deep in my soul I thought, “And it shouldn’t be that way!”  Sadly, my personal experience is that both men were more right than I’d like to admit.

I suggest Christians are not having a more positive impact nationally because they have abandoned John 13:35, “All people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” It is rare Christians live out Eph 4:31, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

After reflecting on 23 years of serving as pastor, I’ve come to a few conclusions for the future if God so allows:

If there’s a disagreement of any kind with anyone, no one leaves. Work through it from an attitude of love, grace, mercy, and compassion (Ro 12:18),

Do NOT let situations fester. As soon as they are known, address them!

Always have restoration as the unwavering goal in all disagreements (Gal 6:1-2),

Operate from the perspective of love, humility, and forgiveness regardless of the situation (1 Cor 13:4-8A),

Ignore ALL gossip. Only believe what a person actually tells you themselves,

Refuse to let anyone be anonymous with accusations (“Some people told me,” or “Someone told me in confidence,” or “I can’t say who said this, BUT…”). If our criminal justice system allows the accused to confront his accusers, shouldn’t the church at least do the same?

Finally, if people refuse to work toward reconciliation, forgiveness, and restoration… as an absolute last resort follow Titus 3:10-11, Romans 16:17, 2 Thess 3:14-15.

Written from boots on the ground…