Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Birthday party....

Dear loved ones,
As you well know, we are getting closer to my birthday. Every year there is a celebration in my honor and I think that this year the celebration will be repeated. During this time there are many people shopping for gifts, there are many radio announcements, TV commercials, and in every part of the world everyone is talking that my birthday is getting closer and closer.
It is really very nice to know, that at least once a year, some people think of me. As you know, the celebration of my birthday began many years ago. At first people seemed to understand and be thankful of all that I did for them, but in these times, no one seems to know the reason for the celebration. Family and friends get together and have a lot of fun, but they don't know the meaning of the celebration.
I remember that last year there was a great feast in my honor. The dinner table was full of delicious foods, pastries, fruits, assorted nuts and chocolates. The decorations were exquisite and there were many, many beautifully wrapped gifts. But, do you want to know something? I wasn't invited. I was the guest of honor and they didn't remember to send me an invitation. The party was for me, but when that great day came, I was left outside, they closed the door in my face ..... and I wanted to be with them and share their table. In truth, that didn't surprise me because in the last few years all close their doors to me.

Since I wasn't invited, I decided to enter the party without making any noise. I went in and stood in a corner. They were all drinking; the rest, some who were drunk and telling jokes and laughing at everything. They were having a grand time. To top it all, this big fat man all dressed in red wearing a long white beard entered the room yelling Ho-Ho-Ho! He seemed drunk. He sat on the sofa and all the children ran to him, saying: "Santa Claus, Santa Claus" ... as if the party were in his honor!
At 12 Midnight all the people began to hug each other; I extended my arms waiting for someone to hug me and ... do you know ... no one hugged me. Suddenly they all began to share gifts. They opened them one by one with great expectation. When all had been opened, I looked to see if, maybe, there was one for me.
What would you feel if on your birthday everybody shared gifts and you did not get one? I then understood that I was unwanted at that party and quietly left. Every year it gets worse. People only remember to eat and drink, the gifts, the parties and nobody remembers me.

I would like this to be the Christmas that you allow me to enter into your life. I would like that you recognize the fact that almost two thousand years ago I came to this world to give my life for you, on the cross, to save you.

Today, I only want that you believe this with all your heart. I want to share something with you. As many didn't invite me to their party, I will have my own celebration, a grandiose party that no one has ever imagined, a spectacular party. I'm still making the final arrangements. Today I am sending out many invitations and there is an invitation for you.

I want to know if you wish to attend and I will make a reservation for you and write your name with golden letters in my great guest book. Only those on the guest list will be invited to the party. Those who don't answer the invite, will be left outside. Be prepared because when all is ready you will be part of my great party.See you soon. I Love you! Jesus
P.S. Please share this message with your loved ones, before Christmas.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dancing with God

I received this in my email box, and thought it was too good not to pass on;
When I meditated on the word GUIDANCE, I was drawn to"dance" at the end of the word. I reflected upon how doing God's will is a lot like dancing. When two people try to lead, nothing feels right. The movement doesn't flow with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky. When one person realizes this and lets the other lead, both bodies begin to flow with the music. One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back or by pressing lightly in one direction or another. It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully. The dance takes surrender, willingness, And attentiveness from one person and gentle guidance and skill from the other. My eyes drew back to the word GUIDANCE. When I saw "G," I thought of God, followed by "U" and "I." "God, "U" and "I" dance". God, you, and I dance. This statement is what guidance means to me. As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust that I would get guidance about my life. Once again, I became willing to let God lead. My prayer for you today is that God's blessings and mercies be upon you and your family on this day and everyday. May you abide in Him as He abides in you. Dance together with God, trusting Him to lead and to guide you through each season of your life.
I Hope You Dance !!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pharisees and sin, continued...

Let’s talk about sin, shall we?
In a comment on my "It’s not about Speed" post, The Other Sarah stated:
"Your post left me with the impression that you are saying we are supposed all to live our lives according to our own understanding of what we think it means to "love God and neighbor", and that our understanding can be completely devoid of any concrete, established, moral or spiritual principles."
The statement was in regard to my definition that "there were only two rules; Love and respect God, and love and respect each other. I may be guilty of over simplifying what Jesus was saying, but he did, in fact state:
37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."(Matthew 22)

. Is there more to it? There shouldn’t need to be, but as we are so prone to sin, Jesus gave us many lessons on recognizing and avoiding sin.
We all have a list of things we shouldn’t do, a list of things that are sinful. Stealing, adultery, homicide, cheating, and so on. What if I told you that none of those actions is actually sinful? I’m guessing that some of you are probably getting a little angry, but listen Jesus’ words;
27"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5)

I have read that verse many times, and always read it as saying that in addition to adultery, just looking at another person was a sin also. But that is not what it says. Jesus says that instead, "but I tell you", when you look at another, you commit adultery. What he is saying is that it is not the action, but instead, the idea, that is, the motive, that is the sin. Jesus continues this theme through out his lessons;
21"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment." (Matthew 5)
43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5)
1"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." (Matthew 6)
5"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."(Matthew 6)

16"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."(Matthew 6)
19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also"
. (Matthew 6)
22"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6)
1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
(Matthew 7)

What Jesus was saying is that it is the motive, not the action itself that matters. The motive, lust is what makes adultery, as well as premarital and casual sex, wrong. The act of stealing something is not as much the sin, for in truth, everything belongs to God, but instead it is the motive of greed and coveting that is sinful. When you start breaking down the Commandments and the teachings of Jesus in this way, you see it is all about motives. There are the desirable motives; love, honor and trust in God, love of each other, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, trust, and compassion, to name a few. Some of the undesirable motives would be; lust, greed, pride, hate, anger, impatience, unfaithfulness, and a lack of love and trust in God.

So, even looking at sin from a motivational viewpoint, you might think it doesn’t change anything. Stealing is still stealing, killing is still killing, and so on. But is stealing always a sin? What about the man, with a starving family, who after exhausting every avenue he can think of, steals food to feed his family, is he guilty? Or are those who turned him away, or pretended not to see or hear him guilty? What about the man who takes the lives of a number of men defending his family, village, or even his country, is he guilty? What about the women, locked into a marriage she didn’t choose, to a man who is cold and brutal; if she meets and falls in love with someone else, is she guilty? It is all about motives, friends.

Let’s examine some of the issues of today. I believe abortion is wrong, but what about the teen age girl, who, if her Dad finds out she is pregnant, will get beat, perhaps even killed, because of her mistake? That is an extreme case, but there are girls out there who face that very possibility, if not from a parent, then perhaps from the father of the child, or from a boyfriend who was cheated on. What about victims of rape or incest, who may be traumatized having to carry around a child conceived in terror? There is no easy answer here, but perhaps as Christians, we should put aside our beliefs and judgement, and just reach out in love. The real goal should be trying to ensure that unwanted pregnancies don’t happen.

Pornography is rampant these days, especially on the internet. But what is it about pornography that is a sin? I do not believe that images of nakedness are sinful. In fact, in Genesis, it states:
25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. (Genesis 2)

Even images of sex acts are not necessarily bad. Consider that you can go to the zoo, or watch a National Geographic special where animals are mating. Is it really any different? In truth, it is the lust that occurs when some view these images that is the sin. You look at a picture of a child sitting in a bathtub, and you think "how cute". A pedophile will see that image as porn. Motive. At the fertility clinics, they provide porn to the men who donate. They are helping people who may not have any other chance to conceive a child, so are they sinning by viewing it? In any case, it is not the images themselves that are bad, but the motives for veiwing them, and making them in the first place, that makes them wrong.

Then there is the issue of homosexuality. Anyone who says that people are not born homosexual are just plain wrong. I have read of studies that verify that the brains of men and women work in dramatically different ways. And in a man born homosexual, his brain works like that of a woman does, while in women born homosexual, they work as a man’s does. I have a friend who is gay, someone who grew up trying to fight what he was. And contrary to what some may believe, he did not become gay because of what people believed. It was a part of him for as long as he can remember, he just tried to fight it, which actually led to other consequences. But I must stress, not all homosexuals are homosexual because they were born that way. For some, it is just a choice, born of lust or boredom. For them, it is just about sex. For those who are born homosexual, it is about more. It is often more about love, trust, and commitment than it is about sex. In fact, if you had two people of the same sex, who loved each other deeply, but never had sex, would their relationship still be wrong? What if they only held hands? What if they only kissed? Is it only the act of sex that makes the relationship wrong? My friends, it has nothing to do with the sex. It is all about the motive in the relationship. Love or lust. Right or wrong.

The whole issue of motives goes much farther. It is at issue in every aspect of our life. For instance, do you take liberties with your taxes, telling yourself every one else does? What about work, do you "borrow" supplies to use at home, telling yourself that the company has more than enough? And what about using work time to check e-mail, play computer games, or for doing any personal matters? Aren’t each of them theft, as well? We can examine our motives for worshiping. Are we doing because we truly love God? Or are we doing it for our kids, or for the community we get at church, or because our parents expect us to. I know people who go to church for those very reasons, and yet see no wrong in it. Do you really consider all you have as belonging to God? We are called to be good stewards of all we are given, yet when we make our purchases, are we making them out of lust, greed, and covetousness , or out of humbleness and a simple desire to meet our needs? Who among us really needs a 50" plasma TV? Do we really need great big, gas guzzling SUV"s, or would something more economical work just as well? When we give at church, or to charities, do we give out of compassion and generosity, or do we give only what we think we will have left over after satisfying our own "needs"? What about your marriage, or other relationships? Do you strive to truly serve your spouse, or is it "all about you"? Is the time you spend with your kids, and how they are raised based on what is truly best for them, or on what works best for yourself? I could go on and on here. I think if we examine our lives based on motives, we will find we are seriously lacking.

When Jesus gave his life for us, he did so, in part, to abolish that list of "rules" that was in place. It was not because no one could live by them, in fact, many of the Pharisees and prominent Jews of the time lived by the rules. But their motives were impure. Everything they did was for show, for their own pride, and not for God’s glory. Jesus labeled them as they were: hypocrites. Let us not be a church of hypocrites too.

Let me be clear, I am in no way condoning pornography, adultery, theft, or any other behavior. While some of the questions and opinions on today’s issues may be just speculation on my part, the premise of motive instead of law is, in fact, Biblical truth. Read your New Testament, concentrating on the Gospels, and it will be clear. If we, as the Christian church, are to be a positive force in the world today, we need to have motives that are pure. Just like the Pharisees, there are too many Christians, including many very prominent ones, who live according to the "rules", but who’s motives are focused on themselves. It is this reason, perhaps, more than any other, that people turn away from the church. Let us become the church that Christ called us to be; a church of love, forgiveness, and compassion, a church devoid of hate, pride and judgement. This is what we are called to be, friends. This is what I hope and pray for each of us to become. May God bless you all richly, Ken

Monday, November 20, 2006

Tis the Season.....

I recieved the following in an Email and thought it would be good to pass it along, as we enter the Christmas season.

Dear children,

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that
folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I
wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of
you're predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was
actually a time of pagan festival. Really though, I do appreciate being remembered

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be
most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children
of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate
My birth just, GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Now, having said that let Me
go on.

If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow
a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and
snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My
followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town
square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a
holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees.
You can & may remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if
you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching explaining who I am in
relation to you & what each of our tasks were. If you have forgot that one,
look up John 15: 1 - 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My
birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it.

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way
My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers
away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I
know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know
them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing George complaining about the wording
on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him
that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up. It
will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't
afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My
birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and
remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive
him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take
their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless?
Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm
smile it could make the difference. Also, you might consider supporting the
local Hot-Line: they talk with people like that every day.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your
town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them
a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a
"Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop
shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day
they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary,
especially one who takes My love & Good News to those who have never heard
My name. You may already know someone like that.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals & whole families in
your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they
have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them (and I suspect
you don't) buy some food & a few gifts & give them to the Marines, the
Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me & they will make
the delivery for you.

10. Finally if you want to make a statement about your
belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things
in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your
actions that you are one of mine.

P.S Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me &
do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the
list above & get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now
in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you
love and remember, I LOVE YOU. Jesus

Let's remember the "WHO and WHY" of the Christmas season, and how WE can pass it along, instead of worrying about those who won't. God bless each of you, and may we each truly be thankful for all He has provided, this week, and every week.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

It's not about speed...

Well, it appears that I have lost all 10 of my regular readers. I would hope that it is due to the stretch between posts, and not because of differing opinions. I received some rather nasty e-mails after my post on the old laws, and to be honest, I almost walked away from blogging. I expected that many would disagree, but I did not expect the attacks that took place. I do not even know if the writer(s) were a regular reader as they would not sign a name to the letters. But I do know this. Everything I write is Spirit led. And the Spirit is still leading me to write. So, I will continue as I am led, even if it appears that there is no one to read it. I do not believe, though, that I am being led to write for nothing.
My last post, on speed limits, actually had nothing to do with speed limits. You see, the highway I was referring to was actually the road that we, as Christians, are all on together. God created this road to Him so that we could join Him in Heaven. Early on, there were many rules, tolls, fines, and roadblocks that prevented us from getting anywhere. So God sent His son, Jesus, to clear the road for us. People keep missing this point: It doesn't matter who made the rules, charged the tolls and fines, or who put up the roadblocks. When Jesus died, he removed it all. There are no more speed limits. In fact, He said there were only two rules; Love and respect the Maker of the road, and love and respect each other. Oh, and he asked that we help those who stall out on the side of the road. And he asked that we go into the towns along the highway, to tell people about the highway, and to show them how to get on it. Pretty simple,wouldn't you think?
But instead, we have some people, cruising along in stained glass limousines, and stained glass Humvees, each in their own private little group, enforcing rules that are no longer in effect, making people pay tolls and fines, and even setting up roadblocks to stop those they don't think are worthy. They ignore the many cars broken down on the side of the road, and they would never think of leaving the highway to go into the towns. But my, what a pretty view they have with all that stained glass in the windows.
But I have news for you. There is only one Sheriff, and he is the only one with the power to make rules, enforce rules, or to fine us. That would be Jesus. All those trying to enforce what they believe the rules should be will have to answer in the end. For as we judge, so shall we be judged. As we condemn, so shall we be condemned. As we damn, so shall we be damned.
So, as we travel this road together, remember to be courteous to those who are on the road with you. Help those who break down, or get stuck, and get into the towns, and tell everyone how to get onto the highway. That's it. That is what we as Christians are called to do. Period.
So, when I see you on the highway, I'll try to wave. For sure I will smile. And I will see each of you at the end, where we will each finally ditch our vehicles, and join our Lord and Maker in joyous communion. Won't that be a glorious day! God bless each of you, Ken

Friday, November 03, 2006

Do you want to go faster???

The other day I saw a news item about how Texas has raised the speed limit on some of it’s highways to 80 MPH. I gotta tell you, I started drooling. I am one of those people who likes to drive fast. And if the conditions and traffic permit it, I have been known to drive very fast. Now, don’t get me wrong, I generally obey all the rest of the traffic laws; I use my turn signals, I stop (completely!) at stop signs and stop lights, and I yield to traffic moving faster than me. (Yes, that does happen.) But I do speed, I can’t help it. It’s in my blood. I would do it on the racetrack, except that race cars are a rich persons hobby, which I am not.
But what about those drivers are too timid to drive that fast? You know the ones I’m talking about. They putter along doing exactly 55 MPH, even when the limit is 65 or 70 MPH. If you ask them, they will tell you it is safer driving 55, and they may be right. And if they stay in the right lane, as they are supposed to, than there is little effect to the rest of us who want to drive faster. But we all know what happens, don’t we? There are always those who believe that not only is doing 50 or 55 right for them, but it should be right for every one else. So, they plant themselves in the left lane, and effectively force everyone else to drive slow. I have had too many occasions where I’m cruising along in the left lane, when some bonehead in the right lane, going considerably slower, will just randomly pull into the left lane, usually without even using a turn signal. They will then proceed to match the speed of the right lane traffic. So for the next 5 or 10 miles, myself, and everyone else in the left lane will be looking for any opening to get by this so called "highway vigilante", hopefully without getting into an accident. While I tend to get very impatient, and I have been known to mouth the word MORON to them in their rearview mirror, I will not risk trying to get by when there is no opening. But there are always those who will. They will basically force their way past, coming within inches of causing an accident. So, who is right in that situation, the people trying to do the speed limit, or the driver who believes that it is his job to slow everyone down? And what happens when this starts happening at 80 or 90 MPH, as in Texas? And, perhaps more importantly, how do you educate people on how to drive on the speed ways, er, I mean highways, with respect for all their fellow drivers, whether fast, or slow? With the way people drive now, all I see on the horizon is a lot of wrecked vehicles and lost lives. Too bad, I was really thinking how nice Texas could be. God bless you all, Ken

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pharisees, sin and guilt...

This post is one that the Spirit has put on my heart to write, and has been nudging me for some time to get it done. It is also one I have resisted doing, as some of what I have to say will be controversial. I tried to do this in two or three part postings, but it really needs to be all in one. As such, this will easily be the longest post I ever do. So get your bathroom needs out of the way, get some food and snacks, and get yourself comfortable. All set? Let's go then..

Not quite a year ago, I had no idea I would ever have my own blog. I knew a couple of people with blogs that I followed regularly, but I really had no idea that this whole world of blogging existed. Throw in the fact that I am one who likely has little to say, and it would not be something I would have expected myself to be doing. Funny how the Spirit works sometimes, though.

At the time, issues dealing with homosexuality were in the news, almost daily it seemed. Issues concerning the ordination of gay clergy and the issue of gay marriage were at the forefront of the debate. It was on these issues, especially concerning marriage, that I felt myself drawn in. Even to the point of writing a lengthy letter to the editorial section of our newspaper.

Now, I would like to be clear on my views at the time. I have never been what I thought of as homophobic, and actually I have friends who are gay. I have, however, always viewed the homosexual lifestyle as sinful and wrong. I was well aware of all the Bible said in Leviticus and Deuteronomy concerning homosexuality. All of this was on my mind as I sat down to write. In truth, I had no objections to 'civil unions' of gays and lesbians, even if they were legally recognized. I have always believed that you cannot enforce religious beliefs on others. You need only look at countries being run by Muslim extremists to see the end result of that kind of thinking. Christianity is a choice, and to enforce my beliefs on someone else goes against the very core of choosing Christ. Laws should only be about protecting personal freedoms, property, or personal safety, not enforcing moral beliefs.
But I was incensed over the idea of gay marriage. You see, to me, marriage is something sanctioned by, blessed by, and performed in front of God. In the beginning, only churches, not governments, kept track of, and regulated, marriages. So, in my mind, I believed that while the government and courts could define legally what they would recognize as a union, they had no business even trying to tell the church what define’s marriage. It is my belief that only a ceremony performed by actual clergy, and blessed by God, actually constitutes a marriage. All those weddings done at City Hall, or in Las Vegas, are really just legally recognized unions, in that they were not truly performed in front of God, and as such, nor are they blessed by Him. Now, the government and courts had decided that they would legally define marriage, when, in truth, it is the church, and only the church, that should define marriage. And, going back to Leviticus and Deuteronomy, it was very clear what the Bible said about homosexuality. So there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that not only was a church wedding of any kind involving homosexuals wrong, but that it was an insult to God. It would be asking God to not only condone, but to bless a sinful situation. This is what was on my mind as I sat down and prepared to start writing.

But a funny thing happened. As I was ready to write, I heard that whisper, and felt that little push. Those who have felt the Spirit may know what I mean. The whisper was telling me to look at Scripture. So, I opened my bible, instinctively, turning to Leviticus first. There was that whisper again..'No, read what Jesus said..' So I turned to the Gospels and started reading. Jesus talks about the Commandments, and makes a reference to 'sexual immorality', but never actually defines it. I have been advised by more than one person with Theological schooling though, that in the original Greek text, this was referring to the Temple prostitutes of the time. So I kept reading, looking for anything dealing with homosexuality. I was finding nothing at all. Then I saw it. A short little verse that began to change my thinking. But before I tell you about it, let me tell you about Dan.

I have known Dan since we were little kids. Now, growing up, all of us who knew Dan were pretty sure that he was gay. There was no mistaking the feminine mannerisms in him. However, at that time, in the early 70’s, it was not something that was talked about. In fact the term gay was unheard of, instead replaced by much more vile names like faggot, queer, and worse.And, while we didn’t know it at the time, Dan struggled with his identity all through junior and high school. He had many relationships with girls, but they seldom lasted more than a couple weeks. He started drinking, and then moved on to doing drugs, which in itself was not unusual at that time. But then he started secretly meeting with anonymous men for anonymous encounters, and afterwards, turning to more alcohol and drugs to drown the guilt. It became a cycle for him, as we, his friends, watched him self destruct, unsure what was really going on. We did not get the whole story until he came out years later. By then, he had contracted the HIV virus, and numerous complications from his drug and alcohol use. I can state two things as fact with Dan. First, Dan was born homosexual. This was not a choice thing. This was not picked up in his home. His parents were, and still are, active in their church, as was Dan when he was a teen. I have absolutely no doubt that Dan was born homosexual. In fact, science continues to find that there are actual biological differences in the brains of homosexual persons, that they are, in truth, wired that way. Second, the HIV, liver damage, depression, and the rest was not a result of being a homosexual, but was a result of the guilt thrust upon him for being something that he couldn’t help being, something society, at the time, told him was evil and perverted. If society had not labeled what he was as so wicked, he likely would not have ended up abusing alcohol and drugs as he did, and he likely would have been in a long term relationship. Ask yourself, what would Jesus have said to him? Would Jesus have said it was better to live in guilt and shame? Isn’t guilt and shame what keeps many people from being able to worship God? When Jesus died on the cross, it was not just so we would be forgiven, but so that the guilt and shame in all of us, the guilt that keeps us from God, would be removed. Do you remember when, as a child, your parents caught you in a lie. When they questioned you, what was your natural reaction? Didn’t you look away from them, afraid to look them in the eye? It is the same in our relationship with God. We cannot look at him with guilt in our hearts. It is only when guilt is removed that we can truly turn our eyes to our Father. Dan could not change what he was, so he tried to mask the guilt with drugs and alcohol. In the end, it almost destroyed him.

So lets go back to my search. What I found had nothing to do with homosexuality. It actually dealt with the issue of divorce. In Mark 10:5-9, which are verses used quite often to condemn homosexuality, it is written;
"It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
But it is the first part of the verse that I was led to see, "Moses wrote you this law..." The Old Testament does not say a lot about divorce, but what it does say is mostly in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the same texts that ban homosexuality. The implications of that statement by Jesus is that the law concerning divorce came from Moses, not God. So I asked myself; was it possible that the other laws came from Moses also?
First, let’s look at "the law". It is actually two separate laws. The first, the Ten Commandments, we all know came to Moses while he was on the mountain with God. The second part, the Covenant, came later. In the New Testament, when Jesus talks about rules to live by, he talks mostly about the Commandments. Further, in Matthew 15, when Jesus is addressing the issue of uncleanliness, which itself is from the Covenant, Jesus refers to it as a "tradition", rather than a law. In fact, Jesus spends much of his ministry speaking against many of the "laws" of the Covenant, including the laws dealing with cleanliness, fasting, and circumcision. In Matthew 23:4 Jesus says about the Pharisees and the teachers of the law; "They tie up heavy loads on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them". Jesus is laying the fault for the guilt on the Pharisees. Later, in Matthew 23: 13-14, Jesus states; "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to."

He is talking about the guilt the Pharisees piled on the Jews, guilt which kept them from truly worshiping God. Now, if the laws in the Covenant were just, and from God, would Jesus have blamed the Pharisees for the guilt that came from disobeying them?
As I began to consider this, I asked myself why laws would be presented as from God, even if they weren’t. I looked into Leviticus, and at the laws contained in it. There were laws on what food was clean or unclean, laws about infectious diseases, and even mildew. The law that stated a woman could not be touched while she was having her period, or the person who touched her, like the woman herself, would be unclean. People were not allowed to plant a field using two different kinds of seed. People were not to wear clothes made of two different fabrics. Men were not to cut the hair on the side of there heads, or clip their beards. Many of these laws were senseless and petty. But they had one thing in common: a price had to be paid to the temple if they were broken. See, the Levites, having received no share of the land in Israel, were given charge of the temples and ministry. They received their living from the sacrifices and offerings people were required to make. Consider then, that if the people had only the Ten Commandments to obey, the priests might have been living a rather meager life. They had an incentive to find ways to make the people feel guilty. Or, as Jesus said, "They tie up heavy loads on men’s shoulders.."
Of course, in the end, it doesn’t matter whether the laws were given to the people by God, by Moses, or by some other Levites. You see, when Jesus died on the cross, we were given a NEW Covenant, and the old one was erased. I know that some will say we honor God by obeying all His laws, yet, anytime we hold any of the laws from the old covenant over someone, we dishonor Jesus, and the sacrifice of his life, sacrificed so we would not be under the old law. Consider also, that those old covenant laws are a package. You cannot pick and choose which to follow, and which you will not. If you are going to condemn homosexuality, you must condemn those who eat pork, those who eat shrimp, lobster, crab, clams or even catfish. You must condemn anyone who wears clothes made of a cotton/polyester blend, or any other type of blend fabric. Men who cut their hair, or shave their beards will also be condemned. And if by chance, you decide to try to follow all those laws, good luck. And don’t forget to bring your offering to the nearest Jewish temple, because, in fact, you will be living according to Jewish law, not according to Christ’s law. But sadly, too many Christians today still try to live according to the old covenant, and too many churches are only too happy to encourage it. Just like the ancient Jewish priests, certain preachers and evangelists seem make their living off filling people with guilt, shame, and even hate. Yes, the Pharisees are with us, even today.

Now I know that someone out there will tell me that if the old covenant laws are gone, then it would be okay for men to have sex with children, or animals, or a host of other behaviors listed in Leviticus. But that is not so. See, Jesus gave us the laws to live by; love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor (that is, anybody you have contact with) as yourself. He also preached love, forgiveness, and sacrifice above all else. So, if a relationship is grounded in mutual love, even if it is between to people of the same sex, I believe Jesus would not condemn it, and perhaps, would even give it his blessing. And that is the one thing most people miss about homosexuality: it is very often not about sex, but about love. For those whom it is only about lust, whether homosexual or heterosexual, it could be considered sin. That would include "one night stands", prostitution, cyber sex, or the "friends with benefits" thing that seems to be popular these days.. That would especially include those who want to have sex with animals or children. Motive; love versus lust, is the key, and God will know the motive on your heart.
Then there is the one teaching Jesus seems to touch on more that any other: Do not judge others. First, there are the words in Matthew 7; "Do not judge, or you too will be judged..." Then he drives the point home in the encounter with the adulteress woman in John 8. The woman, having been caught in the act of adultery, is brought to Jesus as a test. The law (old covenant, again) says that she must be stoned. Jesus, however, turns the tables on the Pharisees, and tells them that whomever is without sin may cast the first stone. Of course, just like us, they were all sinners, and they knew it. So they all dropped their stones, and walked away. But, here is the good part. Jesus, alone now with this woman, has the authority and the power, as the Son of God, to judge this woman for her sin. Instead he asks her, "Has no one condemned you?" When she affirms that no one has, he says "Then neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more." There is our model. If Jesus refused to judge this guilty woman, who are we to judge anyone, guilty or not?
So that’s my thoughts. I must say, this is certainly not where I started, belief wise, nor where I expected to end up. Interestingly though, it was shortly after I began to study this issue, that I began my journey into blogdom. I felt the stirring to start my own blog, to share my thoughts with anyone who would listen. I also started reading many other blogs. Although most of the blogs I read today I found through links on others, the first ones I found were completely random. And by "coincidence", one of the very first was
Deb’s. Deb is a Christian. She also admits to having Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder, sometimes drinking a little too much, as well as many other of the same flaws that affect us all. Oh, she is also a Lesbian, and like my friend Dan, has known it since she was a little girl. But what really impresses me about this amazing lady, is the fact that out of all the Christian blogs I read, (and I read quite a few), she has one of the most Christ-like attitude I have seen. Even when attacked for her lifestyle by another "Christian", she reached out with love, patience, and forgiveness, even going so far as to allowing her attacker to post his/her views on her (Deb’s) blog. She has been an inspiration as I have tried to understand this whole issue. I believe she is closer to the Christian ideal than myself. Of course, I believe almost all of you are closer to that ideal than myself.
This has taken hours to write. It has gone from one part, to two parts, to three parts, and back to one part. It is the longest post I ever hope (and pray) to have to write. In truth, it could have been much longer. I invite all comments, whether you agree or not, I only ask that you be respectful. Keep in mind, I do not present this as truth, only as something the Spirit has laid on me to put out in front of you. I pray that you will receive the words in the same way I have tried to present them, that is, thoughtfully, and prayerfully .Let me leave you with this one final thought; On my judgement day, as I stand before the throne, I would rather be found guilty of doing like Jesus, and refusing to judge the sinner, than to be like the Pharisee’s, and be guilty of condemning an innocent person. May God bless each of you richly. Ken

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More to come.....

Okay, I have been feeling really dry lately. No words have been coming to me. I have told myself that maybe I just don't have anything to say. However, I know that is not the truth. There is a post I need to write, one that the Spirit has laid on my heart to write for some time. It is one I keep telling myself that the time is not right for. Or that I don't have enough regular readers yet. The truth is, as some will find it controversial, I have just been afraid. But no more. It may take a few more days until I have it right, but it will be done. Keep tuned. God bless each of you. Ken

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11....a world torn apart

Five years ago today, terrorists took the lives of over 2800 innocent people. The deaths of these everyday people caused a ripple effect, first in their own families. Imagine the horror felt when someone realized it was their father or mother, son or daughter, or brother or sister in one of the WTC towers as the planes crashed into them. Or in one of the planes. Or were one of the brave rescue personnel, when the towers came crashing down. Then there were the countless friendships, suddenly gone, in one senseless act of terror. The ripple spread, affecting churches, synagogues, businesses, and schools. It would go on to affect all the rescue, recovery, and clean up personnel. It affected almost every government agency in our country. It affected our economy, as the stock market crashed. It affected the thousand of military personnel who would be called to serve. In the end, it affected each and every one of us, each in a different way.
Today, on this anniversary of sadness and pain, we need to pray for all those affected by this tragedy. However, there is one group of people that we really need to pray for; the Muslim extremists that continue spreading terror today.
One fact that gets missed easily in our anger is that the terrorists that crashed the planes into the WTC towers and the Pentagon truly believed they were doing the right thing. We know what they did was horribly wrong. Their own Koran, their holy book, clearly condemns the taking of innocent lives. And yet they believed they that not only were they right, but that they were doing God’s will. How does this happen, that people get so blinded to the truth, that they commit evil in the name of God?
The answer, of course, is anger. Anger is one of Satan’s fruits. By using anger and hate, the Osama Bin Ladens of the world are able to blind their followers to the truth. Once blinded, these followers become puppets, following whatever command given blindly. This is how Satan truly works; people, believing they’re doing God’s will, but so blinded by anger and hate, that they cannot see that it is actually Satan that they are serving. We must pray for these people, that God would remove the scales from their eyes, and that they would see the truth.
However, it is not just Muslim extremists that are being blinded. Satan is at work in our own church, creating divisions wherever he can. Hear the anger when you listen to certain Christian leaders speak about Muslims, or when certain Pastors talk about homosexuals. You hear the same anger in issues such as abortion and the death penalty. This anger is what keeps the Christian church divided, and keeps the Christian church from being what it truly can be. This anger keeps us at war, and continues to fuel more anger overseas. And as the anger continues to grow, there is only one winner, and it is not God. God sent His Son to teach us love; perhaps we, as the Christian church, need to actually start living the lessons. Perhaps we need to start loving, and showing forgiveness, instead of showing hate and judgement.
So, as you pause and pray for the victims of 9/11 today, pray for the Muslim church, and pray for all the blinded through out the world, that God would lift the veils, take away the hate and anger, and that all will see the Truth that comes only in Jesus. And pray for our own church, that we may lay aside our own anger, put aside our differences, and begin to reach out to the world as one Holy church, united in love, and devoted to serving, through He who has blessed us with so much. May God bless you all, Ken

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Helping hands

Looking out the windows of the bus at all the devastation, it would be easy for some to believe that God was not present during the storm, or that God didn't care about the people whose lives were affected. But I knew He was there, giving them courage and peace, protecting them from the worst. He was also there in the thousands of volunteers that showed up to help clean up.
At first, as we drove on the bus to the site where we would be working, there were no signs that a tornado had come through. Crops were untouched, almost ready for harvest. The houses were undamaged. But, as we drove further, we began to see clues of what was coming. Paper and insulation in the trees. Branches and shingles on the ground. Then we got to ground zero. I was not totally prepared for what I saw. And this had only been an F3 tornado, not an F4 or F5 that they see in the heartland of our country.
While there have been many tornado clean ups in our state, and undoubtably will be countless more, this was the first time I had been a participant in the clean up. The tornado struck outside the small town of Cleveland, just west of St. Peter, and a little over an hour drive away from my relative protection in the suburbs of Minneapolis. A small group from our church decided to drive down and help any way we could. We were among the early arrivals, and were on one of the first busses to leave. One of the first things we saw was a graveyard, in which almost all of the headstones and monuments had been toppled. Some of them were massive, and gave a clue as to the force of the winds that had done this.
We were being taken to a farm owned by George Z., our leader told us. George was lucky in that his house, and most his out buildings had been spared. His sons’, who both lived nearby on farms of their own, had not been so lucky. They had lost their houses, and with them, all the personal stuff we take for granted; pictures, journals, heirlooms, and all the other stuff that makes our houses become homes. The tornado had totally destroyed 29 homes, and severely damaged another 47 homes, which is a pretty large number when you consider how rural it is. At George’s, however, we were there to do field clean up. The fields were full of debris from the storm, and that debris would need to be removed before any work could be done. Those fields of corn and soy beans represented his living, his income for the year.
As we drove onto the property, we began to see what we would be facing. Huge pieces of sheet metal littered the fields, as well as wood, shingles, and branches, some as big as small trees. We were organized into a long line at the edge of the first corn field, and we began to move across it. If we picked up something, the idea is to hand it down the line to the middle, where a tractor with a hay wagon was moving with us, and load it on. If we found any personal stuff, we were to place it in a box, where people would look at it later, and try to find the owners. Now, walking across a cornfield sounds easy. I thought it would be, anyway. But most of the corn had been blown down at about knee high. There were also no rows to follow anymore. So you had to kinda "high step" through the corn, lifting your leg over the tops. It didn’t take long to discover there were muscles I had been neglecting. But I just kept in mind why I was there, and pressed on. In fact, as I told some of my fellow volunteers, people pay big bucks to the gyms for workouts like what we were getting for free. I also kept telling myself that the pain was my friend, but I don’t think I ever really believed it.
In the end, we collected three massive piles of tin roofing and corrugate steel, as well as two equally large piles of wood, and a smaller pile of shingles and such. We were then driven back to town, where we were fed, by more volunteers, a wonderful lunch. As I ate and looked around, I noticed people wearing shirts with the logos of different churches. I saw families that had come together. I saw whites, blacks, Asian, young, old, even Muslims, all brought together to serve people we didn’t know, but who needed us to be there for them. And the truth is, we were all brought together by God, to answer the prayers of those who were devastated by the storm. And while I know that we could not fix everything that was broken by that storm, I know we were able to help, at least a little, as was evident when George, with tears in his eyes, thanked us for all we did. And I knew God was there; in George, in me, and in all of the volunteers who gave up a Saturday to help someone in need. God is indeed glorious! May He bless each of you today, and always. Your brother in Christ, Ken

Monday, August 28, 2006

Vacations...ahhh.... over. Why is it that time off from work goes so fast? We had a wonderful vacation though. We strarted off with a trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where we attended the NASCAR Busch series and Nextel Cup series races. These were our first NASCAR races in person, and we had a blast. It's completely different watching in person. It is also very, very LOUD! We were okay though, as we brought along earplugs. We had a little rain Saturday, but then everything cleared up, and we had a gorgeous rest of the weekend. This most certainly will not be my last race that I attend. After the races, we made a sidetrip to Traverse City, Michigan, to see our friend Deanna. She lives in Michagan's wine country. Yup, that's right, they make wine in Michigan. And not only that, it is actually very good wine. Apparently the two peninsalas in that area are perfect for growing grapes. Lake Michigan keeps the climate from getting too cold, or more importantly, too hot, for growing grapes. We went to two vineyards and sampled the wines they had to offer; Chateau Chantel, and Black Star Farms. Both had wines that were simply outstanding. We ended up bring some wine home with us, as well as some incredible cheese from Black Star. Deanna also took us to an ice cream shop, where, as you are eating your ice cream, you can stand out on a deck and thank the very cows that it came from. Moomers, as it is called, was started by a very small dairy farm. They make some 90 different flavors of ice cream, although not all at the same time. The ice cream is so good, there was a line out the door of the place, on a weeknight. You can just imagine weekends. So, after far too short of time with Deanna, it was time to head home. In an effort to reduce actual driving time, we used the car ferry service across Lake Michigan. Going there, we had boarded at 11:30 at night, and basiclly slept the 4 hours it took to get across. Coming back, it was daylight, so we were able to enjoy the views of the lake as we crossed. There were opportunities to sit in the movie lounge, play bingo, eat at the buffet, or just lay in the sun. I will say, it sure beat driving, especially having to drive through Chicago. So, that was our vacation. I only wish it could have been longer. I would have loved to have time to drive to Kentucky, and visit my good friend, Josh, who is going through seminary. I had also hoped to visit my brother and his family in Cleveland. Sorry guys, maybe next year. For now, it's back to the grind called work. God bless you all, that is all of you who still visit. I will try to catch up, again, with everyones blogs. Again, may God bless each of you richly! Ken ( PS-I added links for the wineries and Moomers in my siderbar, if your interested. )

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Meaning of Life

Many people, through out time, have asked; What am I here for? Is there a meaning to life, and if so, what is it? Those on the journey with Christ understand that there is meaning to life.
For many Christian, it’s as simple as Worship God. That’s it, no more is needed. In Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, (which, by the way, I consider a must read for all Christians), he expands on that, and lists five purposes that God has created us for;
1. You were planned for God’s pleasure.
2. You were formed for God’s family.
3. You were created to become like Christ.
4. You were shaped for serving God.
5. You were made for a mission.
Rick goes on to explain and clarify each point, and how each applies to us in our walk with Christ. Perhaps in the future, I will do a series of posts just on his book. It really is a well written study on purpose, and how it pertains to us. But there is one purpose that is missing, I believe, one purpose that binds them all together. That purpose is really quite simple, and it is there in front of us.
Go back to Genesis. Eve is about to take a bite from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Consider, as she is about to bite into that fruit, that God knows what she is doing, and not only that, He knew she would do it from the moment He created her. After all, He is God. He is all knowing, and all seeing. Consider also, He could have stopped it. He could have struck Eve down, He could have banished the serpent before she was tempted, He could have barricaded the Tree so they could not eat of it. In short, the Fall could have been prevented. Some say it was a test by God, but if God already knew the outcome, and He would, because He is all knowing, after all,than it really isn’t a test, is it? The fact of the matter is, God allowed sin into our lives. This is not to say that God wanted sin in our lives, only that He knew it would happen. But keep in mind, God always has a reason for everything He does. Even when sin happens, God is able to use it for His good.
Now jump ahead a few thousand years. A man named Jesus has appeared on the scene. People are leaving behind their families and jobs to follow him. Jesus spends three years in ministry before fulfilling his ultimate destiny, which was to die for the sins, and the guilt and shame that came with them, of all of us. But why did he need three years before he was hung on the cross? There were prophecies that needed to be fulfilled, but could he not have just called his disciples, done a few miracles, proclaimed himself the Son of God, and been crucified. Why three years? The answer is in Jesus himself. As you read through the scriptures, consider how Jesus is addressed, in particular, by many of the Jewish leaders; Teacher, Rabbi, (which means teacher). And, in fact, that is what Jesus spent the three years doing; teaching. Teaching the disciples, teaching the crowds, teaching using parables, teaching using miracles, even teaching using confrontation with the Pharisees. Jesus was our teacher. If we want to follow Christ, then we must be students. If we want to be like Christ, then we must learn to be teachers. Pretty simple, huh? But there is more.
Why did God create Adam and Eve in the first place? No actual reason is given in Genesis, but the common answer is that we were created to worship, and to commune with God. Now if it was only about worship, God likely would have kept Adam and Eve away from the Tree, and away from sin. They would have worshiped Him forever, free from sin, and all that came with it. But, If God wanted us to commune with Him, consider this. How would Adam and Eve, who literally knew nothing, truly communed with God, who is all knowing and all powerful? It would be much like your relationship with your dog, who worships you, in a sense, but is not much for conversation. I believe that God wanted us educated, educated so that we may be able to converse with Him. Educated in love, compassion, humility, sacrifice, and so on. Any teacher will tell you that the best way to teach someone is through experience. Could this be the reason God allowed sin and evil into our lives? So we could learn how we are supposed to act and feel? This would further explain, and validate, Jesus’ teachings, and his having to die on the cross for us, as the ultimate lesson in sacrificial love. But wait, there’s more.
Jump ahead in Genesis to chapter 11. Man has built a mighty city, with a tower rising to the heavens. God says; "Look, they are one people and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do now will be impossible for them." So He scattered man, and gave them many languages. But consider, could this be our ultimate goal; to learn to work and speak as one again, but with the education in His ways in hearts first?
As I dwelled on this, I began to look at our world and our history in a new way. Man discovers how to smelt iron. We learn how to make tools, but we also learn how to make deadly weapons. Man discovers precious metals such as gold and silver, and precious gems. We are able to craft beautiful jewelry and decorations, but we also fuel the greed in us. Man discovers how to make explosives. A fantastic tool for clearing fields and making roads, also a new, more deadly way to make weapons. The list goes on and on...discoveries in the medical fields, chemicals, nuclear fission...each discovery has benefits, and many times tragic costs. Each it’s own lesson. Then there is mankind itself. We are different colors, different beliefs, different languages and customs. We fight, because we each believe our way is right, our particular group knows what is best. Jesus said to LOVE one another, SERVE one another. Yet it seems all we are capable of is hating one another, using one another, killing one another. This is perhaps the biggest reason that I do not believe the world is going to end any time soon. We have way too much to learn still.
This whole thing has also caused me to look at the way I view things. I now look for lessons in things that are happening in the world. I remember that with God, all things are possible, and that He neither needs our permission, or to tell us first, to do anything. I look at the Muslim world, and the bloody conflicts, and I ask myself, is it possible that God appeared to Mohammed, and that the message he got has been twisted into the violent message that many radical Muslims follow today? That we are supposed to find the common ground that exists with Christians, Jews, and Muslims, that is One Holy God? Are there lessons to be learned in how we deal with the issue of homosexuality? Perhaps lessons in pride when we deal with the issue of Creationism versus Evolution? That perhaps both are right? Before you scream "Heresy" at me, remember, again, that all things are possible in God. It is not that I believe any of these things, but I have come to the realization that they are possible. And if they are possible, then some respect might be due to some of those we persecute. I do believe that there are lessons in stewardship that need to be learned quickly, as they pertain to this earth. We are quickly destroying this planet. At what point does that destruction become irreversible? God promised that He would never destroy man, but nowhere did I read that He would stop us from destroying ourselves. Game over, lesson failed.
We need to learn, individually, and corporately. We need to study, and learn what God truly wants. To do this, study the life and words of Jesus himself. Then, use that knowledge as a guide as you read the rest of the Bible. You may have a few revelations, as I did. (More to come on those later.) Then comes the tricky part. We must teach. We must not be afraid to stand up and tell others what we have learned, even as we remember that we may be wrong. We must put aside pride, and any other sinful feelings that may get in the way. We must be willing to listen to others, and truly contemplate their views. We must truly start thinking of others. Not just others in our family, or in our church. Not just others in our community, or even in our country. No, we must start thinking of all others, worldwide. What effect is our choices making in others lives? Do we really need a gas guzzling SUV, which also pollutes that much more? Do we really need to keep our A/C’s set to such low temps, all in the name of our own comfort? Before you answer, keep in mind that most of the people in the world don’t even have access to A/C. What about all the stuff we buy, then just throw away? And what does it cost others, in terms of their health and safety, to manufacture this stuff? Do you ever ask yourself why so much manufacturing takes place in the Third World these days?
My goal is not to make people feel guilty, but to get people to start thinking. And to start acting like the Christians we claim to be. Change is slow, but we must start changing the way we think. My hope and prayer is that each of us would learn Truth, that we would apply it in our own lives, and that we would share it with each other. May God bless each of you today,

Thursday, July 27, 2006 sure is quiet..

Yawn...oh, hi..when did you walk in? Caught me sitting at the keyboard in a bathrobe. Got up this morning at about 4:30 AM, this after getting to sleep after midnight. Had to get my lovely wife to the airport. See, she and a friend are fortunate enough to be going to Chicago to attend a Joyce Meyers conference, which will also include Darlene Zsech of Hillsongs leading worship. With daughter Jen at STORM Camp, it means 2 1/2 days of peace and relaxation....NOT. I'm still working on getting the car dried out, my MIL is expecting me to trim bushes for her, and then there is this thing called work. So, seeing as my boss does expect me to show up tonight, I better go take a, that IS your cue to leave. Okay, fine..don't...just don't gives me the creeps. God bless you all, Ken

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Do ya miss me??

Okay, so I'm starting to realize that blogging during these summer months is simply not going to work. As I work evenings, I have my mornings and early afternnon to get things done. These last few weeks I have been swamped. There is the lawn, which I have been watering regularly so it doesn't go brown on me. Then, with all the watering, comes mowing every 4-5 days. Then there was the work on my daughter's room, (which included a huge amount of cleaning) to prepare for her coming back from Guatemamla. She did make it back safely, by the way. Another post that never got done...sigh. There was also a brake job, tune up, and oil change to do on my daughter's car, tie rods and brakes to do on mine, gardens that need constant care, trees that needed trimming, and a garage needing cleaning. Then throw in grocery shopping once or twice a week. Did I mention that these are all things I get no help with? Then, last night, I drove my daughters car to work, parked it in the parking lot, and went to work. I have to drive a City vehicle around, so my car is unattended. While I was working, it started raining...hard. Then it really started to rain...harder. After about 20 minutes of downpouring, I got a call from one of my fellow employees. Seems my car was getting submerged. It was up to the bottom of the doors, and rising. So, I drove like a wild man, through a bunch of very submerged intersections, finally arriving back at City Hall. My daughters car, a Saturn, was sitting in what was basiclly a small lake, with water about 8" above the bottom of the doors. I managed to wade to it, get the door open and get in. Amazingly, I was actually able to get it started, though I had to hold the pedal to the floor to keep it running. I got it out of the flooded area, opened the door, and let the water drain for what seemed like 5 minutes. Then came 2 hours of wet vaccing to clean it up as much as possible. Luckily, Jen is gone (again) to STORM Camp this week, so I have a little time to get it back to normal. But what I'm realizing, as I look ahead, is that I am not going to be able to make any substantive posts until fall, at best. I try to prioritize my time, and unfortunately, this blog is not at the top of my list. I am not gone, and I will post when I get the chance, so I hope you will keep checking in. Thanks to those who e-mailed me. I will keep checking in on all of you, and comment when I have time. May God bless you all, Ken

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The message that was...

Okay, so here is the post I meant to do last week, after my opportunity doing the massage in church. Problem was, I wanted to wait until it was posted on our church's website. Our webmeister, however, was on vacation all last week, so it was not updated until this week.
I must admit, I was not totally happy with the way my presentation went. I missed a couple key points, made a couple obvious errors, and also missed a key Scripture reference. Thing was, I had all of these things there in my outline, but with the podium I was using, I could only read the top half of the outline easily. To read the bottom of the outline, I had to almost look straight down, and as such, I kept losing my place. In after thought, maybe I should have just picked up the notes, or perhaps, just gone back, which is something many speakers will do if they miss something.
None of that occured to me as I was speaking, however, and I just kept moving along. Afterwards, even as I mentally reviewed my "obvious" mistakes, I was genuinely suprised by the number of people complimenting me on the message I had done. Perhaps it's true, that we are our own worst critics. Or maybe everyone was just being nice.
In the end, though, all that matters is that the message was given. My only true concern is that the words of that message make some sort of impact on someone. I do not consider myself a preacher. I consider myself a gardener; sometimes I am planting seeds, other times I am watering them. But the credit for any fruits that may come goes only to God. He is the one that causes them to grow. So, if you have the time, and want to listen, go here and click on the July 2nd sermon link. Thanks for being patient, and may God bless each of you. Ken

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Remember me???

It's been awhile since I have done the message at church. I had completely forgotten how much fun it is putting together a sermon that is understandable, relevant, biblical, and that won't put everyone to sleep. I will not guarantee that mine will have any of those attributes. It will be given though. The content has been sort of evolving, as I am in my 5th revision. I write, read it back to myself, pray and contemplate, and then rewrite parts. The problem comes when your mind comes up with a great theme; for me it was 4th of July, obviously. But then, as you pray and follow the lead of the Spirit, your message ends up straying from the theme you planned. In the end, my message has little to do with the actual holiday. But, I believe, I've managed to keep it at least partially relevant to what the holiday is all about. That is all I will say for now. Our church does do Webcasts of the messages, so I am assuming there will be an opportunity, for any of you who dare, to listen to it at your convenience. That's it for now. I apologize for not visiting each of you as much as I would have liked. I have some major catching up to do. God bless you all, and have an awesome, joy filled 4th of July!

Friday, June 16, 2006

How to reach Non- Believers

I get various newletters from different organizations. Many have little or no relevance to "real life" and what we, as Christians, face each day, especially when it comes to bringing people to Christ. I just received this newsletter from an outstanding organization, ChurchGrowth Institute, that really got my attention. It details a way to reach non-believers that is so easy, anyone of us can do it, and have fun also. I have included links in my sidebar for CGI. They also have the Spiritual Gifts Analysis that I have spoken of in the past. Do visit them, and pass this info on to your church leadership. The following is used with permission:

Much has been written in recent years on reaching Seekers. Since Bill Hybels made the term "Seekers" popular, pastors and church growth experts have explored numerous strategies from seeker-targeted to seeker-sensitive churches. We have explored the minds of Unchurched Harry and Mary, revamped our nurseries, changed our music, updated our sermons, and restructured our worship services to be more appealing and inviting to non-Christians seeking answers to spiritual fulfillment. These approaches to restructuring are good. They have helped us reach many people for Christ whom we would not have reached otherwise.
These Seekers we so desperately try to reach are people who are looking to fill the spiritual void in their lives, looking for a spiritual experience, or looking for "spiritual" (not necessarily biblical or Christian) solutions on how to cope in an overly complex and out-of-control world. Most are lost, but some are Christians seeking a more rewarding and fulfilling spiritual experience.
Now think of some of the people who you would love to see come to Christ. If you will stop and write the names of the top seven people you would like to see reached for Christ on the lines below this article will give you a greater understanding how to influence them towards salvation.
While we recognize that Seekers may be Christians or non-Christians, all unsaved or unchurched people are NOT Seekers. An overwhelming majority is NON-Seekers, those who don't really give a rip about spiritual things and would rather you not bring them up either. In fact, most of the people we really wish we could reach for Christ are non-Seekers. To evaluate this claim for yourself, go back to your list of seven people you would like to see reached for Christ. Notice how many are Seekers and how many are non-Seekers. If you are like most Christians, eighty percent or more of the names on your list are non-Seekers.
So what's the point? Seeker-oriented methodology won't work for reaching, or as far as that goes for influencing, non-Seekers in today's culture. Stop and think for a minute of the methods we have used to reach people for Christ in the past two generations. The most recent method of restructuring our churches to make them more "user friendly" is probably the first to come to mind - obviously Seeker-oriented services. But, consider the more widely known methods that we don't even think of as being Seeker-oriented -- like crusades or revival meetings. Who comes to these meetings? Mostly Christians, but other attendees who are not Christians are Seekers, seeking answers to life's ultimate questions. Now think about the traditional Thursday night visitation program. Who do we visit? Non-members - typically Seekers - who visited our church on Sunday morning. On the other hand, look at the program that has probably trained more people in personal evangelism than any other - Evangelism Explosion (EE). You might say EE is not a Seeker-oriented approach. True, but it only works with Seekers. Non-Seekers are incapable of relating to its simple presentation.
Most methods of evangelism that have worked in the past are not working today. The culture has changed but our basic approach has not. In his book, The Bridger Generation, Thom Rainer gives statistics on the portion of each generation that has already been reached for Christ.
Generation Percentage Reached for Christ
Builders (Born before 1946) 65%
Boomers (Born between 1946 and 1964) 35%
Busters (Born between 1964 and 1977) 15%
Bridgers (Born between 1977 and 1994) 4%
These percentages, coupled with the fact that 81 percent of Christians accepted Christ before they were 20 years old, and the youngest Busters and oldest Bridgers are now over 20, indicate that, statistically speaking, we stand very little chance of reaching the majority of the last three generations for Christ. It's easy to blame this failure on a bunch of worldly Christians who really don't care about lost people anymore; but, I don't believe that is so. I believe today's Christians are just as concerned for the salvation of their loved ones as they ever were. The problem is that we continue to use Seeker-oriented methods on non-Seekers and our results are declining.
Take note that in Dr. Rainer's chart, a much greater percentage of the oldest generation (the Builders) have been reached for Christ. A logical conclusion is that they have had many more years for someone to influence them for Christ. However, the greatest reason for their stance is that Seeker-oriented methods worked with the Builder generation. Why? Because that generation had a built-in point of reference to the message of the gospel. Their mental environment allowed for the understanding and acceptance of the gospel because the roots to this message had become part of the foundation of their life. The government and society in general accepted our Christian roots. There was little hostility toward Christianity. That "built in" point of reference to the gospel message has declined with each consecutive generation to near nonexistence in the Bridgers. Let me explain.
Builders were taught Judeo-Christian values from day one from a variety of different sources including society itself. By the time many of them reached adulthood they had been to Sunday school nearly 1,000 times¾and those who were not "church goers" sent their kids. When I was in public school we started every day with Bible reading and prayer. Many Builders were even taught Bible as a subject in high school while many elementary school stories were based on Bible characters. Society supported the Ten Commandments as the foundation for human behavior. We were taught there was definitely a "right" and "wrong"; and it was always wrong to lie in any situation. Don't get me wrong, Builders were no angels, but at least they knew when they were doing wrong and, in most cases, felt guilty about it. What I'm saying is that the culture in which the Builders and many Boomers were raised instilled the values of Christianity in them. Even if they didn't live by these values or agree with them, the values still became part of their very being; part of their life's foundation. Thus, when someone talked to them about religious matters or presented the gospel to them they had a built-in point of reference.
Unfortunately, this built-in point of reference to Christianity has been on a steady decline over the past three generations. Most, if not all, Christian influence has been removed from our public school systems. Hollywood and television has served to form a distorted doctrinal belief for most. There's a whole new mind-set among our younger generations that is critical of Christianity. I could go on forever citing instance after instance of the decline of Christian influence and the rise of humanism, but that's not my purpose. Sometimes when I listen to how some non-Christians think, I have to admit that my mind simply can't comprehend how they could possibly think that way. Then one day it dawned on me, if I can't comprehend the way they think then it stands to reason that they can't comprehend the way I think. The point I am trying to make is until a non-Christian starts seeking some answers, thus becoming a Seeker, a gospel-presentation-only approach to reaching them for Christ is as foreign to them as a computer would be to Moses. They may relate our spiritual emphasis to the "Force" of Star Wars, the "spirits" of Ghost Busters, or the "Boss up there" in Touched by an Angel who is portrayed only as a God of love, but they won't relate it to the need for a righteous savior. How can people relate to the need to be saved from their sins when in the minds of a situation-ethic-based-society sin doesn't exist? Builders were immoral, they knew what sin was, they knew right from wrong, they just choose to do wrong. Many Boomers, the majority of Busters, and almost all of the Bridgers are amoral, that is, they don't know right from wrong.
Have you ever heard, "You can't get a man saved until you get him lost?" Well, you cannot get a non-Seeker "saved" until you turn him or her into a Seeker. Non-Seekers lack the mental environment for accepting the gospel. Therefore, we must change the environment in which they think. To do this we must build trusting relationships with them.
Trusting relationships are the key to reaching people for Christ and bonding them to His church. Research, done by church growth expert Win an Charles Arn, shows that the more relationships an individual has within the church the more apt that individual is to stay in the church, and the fewer relationships an individual has in the church the less apt that individual is to stay in the church. O. J. Bryson calls it "the rule of seven: When a church member has seven close friends in a church, he or she will never leave it." Elmer Towns says, "Relationships are the glue that make people stick to the church." Other research shows that 86 percent of those accepting Christ or joining a church are doing so because of the influence of a friend or a relative (I call it "existing relationships"). The same research concludes that only 2% are influenced to come to church because of advertising (yellow pages, sign, newspapers, etc.), while 6% come because of organized visitation, and 6% coming because of pastoral contact. In essence the more relationships non-Seekers have with those who attend church, the greater the chance the non-Seeker will become more receptive to the gospel. Thus, if I want my unchurched friend to believe in Christ and attend my church, then I must get my friend to establish a trusting relationship with as many of my churched friends as possible.
Here's a tool that one of Delaware's fastest-growing churches is using to reach out to non-Seekers (Red Lion Evangelical Free Church; Jamie Swalm, Jr., Pastor). Red Lion EV Free has grown in average attendance from about 250 to over 600 in only four years. The tool is teams (fellowship groups); the application is called AMEs and RSAs.
What are AMEs and RSAs?
AMEs: Acquaintance Making Events. An AME is an event for the purpose of introducing nonsaved and nonchurched friends to other church members. These events usually take place in larger groups (8 plus), never one on one, and are more formal than not in the sense that they are planned ahead of time and organized. AMEs are social gatherings, picnics, cookouts, parties, hospitality events, afternoon teas, etc. They usually take place outside the church. Their purpose is simple: to help develop a three-way relationship or friendship bridge between you, the nonsaved or nonchurched friend you invite, and the regular members of the group.
AMEs are perfect for helping existing church members develop caring, receptive, redemptive, trusting relationships with outsiders when we remember four basic rules.
1. Be sure to invite your nonsaved and nonchurched friends every time your group has a social function. Most people don't come because we don't invite them. We tend to socialize with the same crowd all the time and forget those outside our comfort zone.
2. Be sensitive to who your friends are. Don't get too churchy or too pushy. AMEs are not for presenting the gospel, but for creating an environment for accepting the gospel. These functions are far less threatening to the non-Seeker when held outside the church.
3. Be sure to mingle and do not ignore the newcomers at social functions. We have a tendency to spend all our time socializing with those we already know and ignore all strangers, beyond being introduced to them. If they feel ignored or don't make new friends they won't come back. Make an extra effort to include them.
4. Be patient. It takes time (sometimes years) to develop relationships that are strong enough for outsiders to feel comfortable with new people. As they become comfortable with your church friends, they will also be more comfortable and receptive to the message of the gospel. Don't give up on your friends. Keep inviting them, even if they do give excuses for why they can't come "this time."
RSAs: Relationship Strengthening Activities. RSAs are any activity for the purpose of developing, cultivating, strengthening, and building trusting relationships between your nonchurched friends and other church members. These activities usually take place in smaller groups (four or less) or one on one and are more informal in the sense that they are less planned and more spontaneous.
After you have met and become acquainted with new people at the AMEs, practice RSAs -- involve them in your daily activities - like you do with any friend. Get their phone numbers and invite them out to dinner or invite them to your home for dinner or dessert. Take them fishing or to a ball game with you. Ask them to go shopping with you. Or, just call them and say, "I'm going to the hardware store, do you need anything or would you like to ride along?"
My wife and her friend, Fran, host a "Make-it, Take-it" night at our house once a week. They invite a group of ladies over to do crafts. (They make it and take it home the same night.) They have brief devotions and prayer before their mid-meeting refreshments. The rest of the time is spent making crafts and getting to know one another. The key to RSAs is to spend time with people to cultivate the relationship. Here again we need to observe a few simple rules.
1. Don't be on the edge of your seat all evening looking for the perfect place to twist the conversation into a presentation of the gospel. If the opportunity or question arises, take advantage of it. If it doesn't, don't worry about it. Just relax and enjoy each other's company. Remember, the goal is not to present the gospel as quickly as possible, but to create an environment for accepting the gospel when it is presented, whether by you or someone else.
2. Be a good witness. Avoid questionable activities such as R-rated or in some cases even PG-rated movies. Don't take your friends any place you wouldn't take Jesus.
3. Don't condemn or belittle your friends lifestyle. If you go to a restaurant and your friend orders a glass of wine, don't get hyper; just order your glass of ice tea and go on with the evening. If your friend is living with open sin, don't make an issue of it. Don't discuss politics. Who knows, your friend may have voted for the guy you think is a jerk. Let the Lord deal with these issues after the person "gets saved."
As mentioned earlier, trust is a very important factor in cultivating these relationships and bonding with people. Charles Handy, in The Hungry Spirit (Broadway Books, 1998), lists 7 principles of trust. Keep these principles in mind when dealing with non-Seekers.
1. "Trust is not blind." To trust someone is to know them. AMEs and RSAs provide an environment conducive of building relationships and trust. In these regular get-togethers, people get to know one another better.
2. "Trust needs boundaries." There are boundaries we cannot cross over in getting to know people. We must not be nosy and must be careful of the questions we ask acquaintances. Typically, the more time you spend with someone, the more comfortable you both are in sharing thoughts, feelings, and so forth with one another.
3. "Trust requires constant learning." We must be open to new ideas and ways to strengthen relationships. We should look for opportunities to learn from our mistakes -- and know when to take action or speak and when not to do so.
4. "Trust is tough." Gaining someone's trust takes time and effort. Trust is hard to regain once broken. Be careful how you use the information you know about someone else; take care not to offend them nor pass on personal information to others in the form of "religious gossip."
5. "Trust needs bonding." We must be willing to spend time with others in different environments -- in fun activities outside the church as well as activities inside the church.
6. "Trust needs touch." In other words, we need to make people feel special. We need to invest time in their lives and have genuine concern for them -- and prove it through our actions.
7. "Trust has to be earned." We must be consistent in our "walk" and "talk." We must prove ourselves worthy of trust.
The key to AMEs and RSAs is to create receptivity in the mind of the non-Seeker by building a bridge between the gospel and their non-Christian foundation. In its truest sense, this form of reaching out to others is Team Evangelism. Individual Christians are no longer charged to go it alone to fulfill the Great Commission. The group works together as a team to support each other, pray for their lost friends, and especially to create the environment of friendship that is needed to bond newcomers with a lasting relationship to Christ and His church. If you want to reach the Seekers and the non-Seekers in your sphere of influence, I challenge you put together teams and encourage the use of AMEs and RSAs in your own church. Remember most people who are non-Christians are also non-Seekers. . . and the best way to turn non-Seekers into Seekers is through the influence of trusting relationships.
There you have it folks, is that easy, or what? Again, pass this on to your church leaders, and let’s start reaching people for Christ. This just so excites me. God bless each of you, Ken

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A two finger response...

Since I started blogging, I have come to realize how many different beliefs, or rather, understanding of beliefs there are in the Christian church as a whole. My first few days of exploring blogdom were in the midst of a storm over not only whether Mormans are or are not Christians, but whether or not those who said they could be were doomed to Hell. I have seen disagreements over the truth of Scripture, pre-destiny versus free will, the right to judge others, homosexuality, and even whether God ordains evil to be in this world. Before blogging, I never realized how many different idealogies there were in the "one body." As such, I am going to be working on some rather lengthy, at least by my standards, posts on some of these issues. You all need to realize that I type with two fingers, and because of that, it takes forever to type these darn things. I used to type almost 70 words per minute....back in high school. (think late 70's) Well, what little talent I had then has left me. What hurts, is that in an attempt not to spend so long writing these, I sometimes leave my messages a little sparse. I want to avoid that with these coming posts. So, with a message for church to prepare, and two or three big posts to try and put into words, it's going to be a little light here for the next couple weeks. You may still see some generic posts, or some stuff I borrow from e-mails, and I certainly will be visting and commenting at your sites. But, alas, there may be a few cobwebs growing here. I'll do my best to keep them cleaned up. God bless you all, Ken

Monday, June 12, 2006

Let's try this again....

This is a second attempt at this meme. I was tagged by Shalee weeks ago, and when I finally did it, Blogger ate my post. So here is a little more abbreviated version, and yes, this time I saved my work before publishing. So, without further ado.....

Come on. Everyone knows we Minnesotans don’t have accents. It’s the rest of the country that does. And for the record, I have never used, nor have I ever heard anyone use, the phrase "ya, you betcha"
Bible book I like best
James; He best put into words the kind of life Christ wanted us to live.
Chore I most don’t care for
Bathroom duty...Yuk
Dog or cat
3 dogs..3 cats
Essential electronics
yes, they are essential! Actually, my computer is the only one I truly could not do without.
Favorite cologne
As my wife is allergic to colognes, I haven’t bought any since mid 80"s.
Gold or silver
Most definately...Gold
Handbag I carry most often
Igloo Playmate cooler
Job titles
Christian, Husband, Dad, Facilities that order
Sixteen year old daughter
Living arrangements
40 year old split entry house
Most admirable trait
I have no admirable traits, to speak of.
Naughtiest childhood behavior
When I was 14, my parents gave my brother and I an old 63 Chevy Impala, which did not run. It was supposed to be something to keep us busy tinkering with, but, unknown to them, we actually got it running. So, we would sneak out at night push it out of the driveway, cruise all night, and then coast it down the hill we lived on and back into the driveway.
Overnight hospital stays
Tonsils, and a stint when I broke my ankle in three places sliding into second......and I was safe, by the way.
Spiders, small enclosed spaces, and heights...but I still want to sky dive!
"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" John F. Kennedy, although I would change it to; Ask not what Jesus can do for you, but what you can do for Jesus!
Methodist is my denomination, but really, I just consider myself a Christian.
Three sisters, two brothers
Time I wake up
I usually wake up at about 7 AM, when my daughter wakes up, but I don’t get out of bed until 7:30 or so.
Unusual talent or skill
none, at all
Vegetable I refuse to eat
Brussel sprouts....I do not even know why these are considered a food
Worst habit
I do tend to drive a little over the speed limit at times...okay, most the time.
X rays
Yes, when I broke my ankle sliding into second base...and I was safe, by the way!
Yummy stuff I cook
I make a Lasagna to die for, Chili, anything on the grill...I am pretty much the cook in our family. Zoo animal I like the most

I tag Pam in Colorado, Jules, and anyone else who wants to play along.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Like a deer in headlights....

Going to be in the Twin Cities July 2nd? I’ve been asked to do the message that day at church. I don’t know how it goes at your church, but at ours, when ever our Pastor takes time off, and there is a guest speaker, the pews appear a little less full. Hopefully this is not an indictment of the speaking abilities of us Lay speakers. So, if you happen to be passing through, I’m sure there will be room.
On a different note, this Friday, our sixteen year old daughter leaves for a month and a half stay in Guatemala. She is going to serve at the orphanage we serve at. Last summer she went with a team for 80 days in Gambia, Africa. This time, although she will be traveling with another team on the way down, she is basically going on her own. She also will be traveling home alone, which means going through customs alone. The good news is she has done this a number of times before, so she pretty much knows the drill. She has also been to Guatemala twice, so she knows what to expect, and also knows many of the boys already. She will be helping in the school they run, as well as doing household chores. Please be in prayer for her, that God will protect her, and keep her focused on Him while she is there. Prayers for my wife and I would also be appreciated. While it is nice to have some “alone time”, it is hard not to worry about our daughter, especially when she is so far away. But we have trust in the Dvoraks to keep her safe, and complete faith in our Lord to protect her. So, we put it in God’s hands.
Thank you in advance for your prayers, and may God bless each of you today, and everyday.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I come before you as a convicted man. Though Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves....well, let me tell you about my neighbors. Of the seven immediate neighbors of ours, we know three of them well, incidently, the three that have lived there the longest. We are somewhat close with two others, and another just moved in. We have met them once, and hope to get to know them better. Of the two remaining neighbors, one we choose not to assocaite with, for the simple reason that they are very, very strange. Paranoid, tape black paper over the windows strange. In a way, they choose not to know any of us. But it is the last neighbor I want to confess about. They live behind us, and though we are only seperated by a 4' chain link fence, we never really have talked to them. I cannot even tell you their names. They have lived there for five years. Their kids would play in the backyard, and my daughter tried to strike up a friendship with their daughter, who is two years younger, without success. The only time I saw the parents out, was when one of them would mow the lawn, which was not very often, once a month, at best. And the way our streets are laid out, it is a six block trek to go around the block and knock on their front door. So, we chose to live and let live. The good thing is that I never gossiped about them (or any of my neighbors, for that matter) with the other neighbors, even though the deteriorating condition of the house and yard invited it. I had noticed last summer, and again this year, that the wife was the only one to mow the lawn now. Last year, I had simply chalked it up to laziness on his part, as he was a very ample kind of guy. This year, I wondered if there had been a divorce, or something. So, I ignored my self imposed rules about snooping, and I asked the neighbors that live next to them; "Did they get divorced, or something?" The answer I got floored me. "No, he died" she told me. I asked when, and she told me that he died two years ago. TWO YEARS AGO. How does someone live next door to someone and not know that they lost a spouse, and a dad? How can I love my neighbor, when I don't even truly know the ones closest to me? And how do I approach this woman with offers to help out with her home and yard, two years after the fact? I am resolving to get to know my neighbors better, even the ones who are sure the government is spying on them. My understanding is that most people these days make no effort to get to know their neighbors. But it should not be like that. How are we to show our love of Christ to others, when we don't even bother to try to meet them. This is the question that convicts me today. My prayer is that we will all reach out to our neighbors, even the ones that are difficult to meet. That we can show God's love through our kindness and compassion. God bless you all, Ken