Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Spiritual Fatherhood

"For though you might have 10,000 instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel." (I Corinthians 4:15)

About 6 years ago I ran across a book written by Dr. Mark Hanby called, "You Have Not Many Fathers". When I read it then I knew the truths of that book had been and always would be an integral part of my life and calling. With every passing year since then, that awareness just gets stronger. What is the essence of this book, you ask? For me its most basic essence is this; as a pastor I can opt for the clean, easy, passionless, "professional", patronizing, pitiful, minimal, hireling, lazy path of "ministering" to people or I could take up a cross, die daily and be a father in the Spirit to those I have begotten through the gospel. I have chosen the latter.

It hurts and it is exhausting but if I want people to hear the words I speak and take them to be the very words of God which will work in them to set them free, I must be a father and not just "live-in" boyfriend. This is the basis of ministry that the Apostle Paul chose and described in I Thessalonians 2:1-20, " recall our hardship, how working night and day....we proclaimed to you the gospel of we exhorted...each one of you as a father would his own children... and for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the Word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God...".

A few days ago, I looked into the empty eyes of a young man and wondered, "Where is this boy's father?" And then another thought struck me like a lightning bolt, "Is there a Spiritual Father in this boy's life?" While I am not at liberty to describe the remainder of that encounter, I can tell you that it occurs to me that the Ameican church has gleefully infant baptized, confirmed, lead 'em to the altar to "get saved", had 'em sign cards, promised 'em heaven when they die and left hundreds of thousands of spiritual babies left without spiritual fathers to raise them to maturity, perfection in Christ and full spiritual potential. Why? Because fatherhood is hard work.

Pardon me while I weep.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Power to the People at the Pump

The free market system of America works in a far reaching, complex, yet amazingly effective way. It's called the law of supply and demand. I won't take the time here to define it; Google it, or look it up in a high school social studies book. Today's high prices at the pump reflect, in part, the sky-rocketing demand of our market and the bloating demand in China where everyday citizens are discovering the miracle of the internal combustion engine by the tens of thousands every week.

The oil producers, domestic and foriegn, simply see that the demand is pushing the supply and the demand shows no sign in slowing down. 2 plus 2 for them equals setting the price for a barrel of oil at whatever they deem reasonable. If the demand shows no sign of diminishing, they will smile and add another dollar to the price of their barrel. If the demand effectively and steadily slows down, they will frown, hold and or drop the price of that precious barrel of oil.

For me, the message of the Kingdom of God makes everything, and I do mean everything, spiritual in nature. Even the price of gas. And since it is, a pastor ought to speak something from the heart of God to this issue. Some pastors won't and since this is America, they have the right to be wrong. I, however, will not be silent.

I am calling on anyone and everyone who will listen to join me in sending a simple and strong message to the oil companies. DO NOT BUY GASOLINE ON SUNDAYS. I'm a dreamer, and in my dream I ask, what if millions and millions of people all across the nation just simply stopped buying gas on Sundays. One day of demand evaporates from the balance sheet by the millions of gallons. Sound interesting to you? What have you got to lose? Let's try...........let's see those fists raised in the air and shout, "Power to the people at the pump".

Saturday, September 03, 2005

For God So Loved New Orleans He Sent His Son, Not a Hurricane

Whenever human suffering reaches the level of what we are all witnessing on the Gulf Coast I am brought again to the reason I am called to be the pastor/teacher/spiritual father that I am called to be. These events bring out the best and the worst of everyone involved and these events nearly always bring out the Christian obsession with the notion that this must be the judgement of God.

The Christian and Church "mind" of 2005 is in desparate need of being renewed by the power of the Word of God. I can think of no better example of this need for renewal than to read again the most basic of Sunday School scriptures (not to mention the most advertised scripture at televised sports venues); John 3:16. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotton Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."

Hold on now, some of you did not even bother to read my quote of this familiar passage. You breezed over it. If so, stop now and read it slowly and drink in the potential revelation. In fact, it would be helpful to pull out your favorite Bible and open to that famous chapter because I want to draw you in to the message of the Kingdom of God inherent in these Words.

Before I do that, however, lets review the events of the past week. Hurricane Katrina has unleashed an unparalleled fury on the states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Lousiana. New Orleans in particular has suffered in an, as of yet, unmeasured manner. Having visited all these places first hand and now looking at the pictures flooding the airways, I am, as most viewers, stunned by the magnitude of the damage. Senator Trent Lott, who lost his home in Mississippi, said it well, "My home has survived 150 years of the worst of Mother Nature's fury. But this was the storm it could not survive."

At the risk of drawing on a cliche I beg of you reading this, "What would Jesus do?" Well, if He was not personally present to raise the dead and heal the sick He would most certainly be beset by questions by His followers and curiousity seekers. Questions like, "Who sinned that this tragedy should be put upon these people?" (John 9:2). His answer? "This has nothing to do with sin, but it has to do with the potential of the works of the Kingdom of God being brought to bear on the situation." (John 9:3).

I am amazed at how quickly and easily some evangelical Christians swerve away from the Spirit of Christ and immediately lay their template of God's "end-time" ticked off nature on these historic moments of massive human suffering. I have already heard with my ears and I can sense in my spirit, the eagar teaching and reaching to put this horrible time into the hands of God's judgement, especially on "sin-city", New Orleans.

I wish I had 10,000 billboards, 1000 newspaper headlines, 500 radio stations, 250 television programs to shout to the world, "God's love over-rides His reported 'need' to kill and destroy." Any Christian, whether they are everyday people or extravegant end-times theorists who imply that God intentionally did this to 'get our attention', is sadly and tragically dysfunctional at best and massively deceived and deceitful at worst.

To be as simple and to the point as I can, part of the reason for the scope of this hurricane's fury is the fact that we have for scores of years, built and populated areas prone to hurricanes. When I visited New Orleans five years ago, a horse and buggy tour guide flatly told us that his beloved city was built below sea-level and if a catagory 4 hurricane ever hit the Big Easy, they were finished. Why does this need to be stated? Because too many people are missing this simple fact. As surely as my life is severly impacted every January by ear stinging, toe numbing cold, and that every year many vulnerable people in Wisconsin die of exposure and sickness due to the severe winters, so living on the Gulf Coast in Hurricane season is risky. Harsh reality? Yes! God's judgement in "these end-times"? NO!!!!!!

Why am I passionate about this? Because for too long too many other voices have dominated the spiritual environment and an evil assumption about the character of my Father in Heaven has
been spread. It is time for someone to have the billboards, articles and media that I mentioned earlier to set the record RIGHT.

Go back to John 3:16, read it again, and now drop down to the next verse; "For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him." I am not so naive as to miss the reality that humans have a miserable ability to behave like animals. But what has to happen in the focus and mind set of the Christian is a revelation of the complete, unrestrained, passionate, all-consuming love of God to reclaim, restore, rebuild and completely heal the human condition through the actions of His Son, His Kingship and the expression of His Kingdom coming through the annointed, Spirit empowered people of God in the Church.

We must be about announcing the GOOD NEWS of the Kingdom of God, not the sick and anemic bad news of the end of the world and God's need to let off a little steam by murdering vulnerable coastal dwellers. If you join me in this passion, then please do 2 things: 1st, contact Samaritan's Purse at or the Salvation Army at to contribute any amount, great or small. 2nd, do what you can to silence and replace and all "Christian" voices who gleefully and ignorantly assign this misery as God's judgement for the end-times. Let me hear from you if you join me in this passion.