Monday, December 13, 2010

A Most Gracious Lady

It is that time of the year again. This morning I received my first "Twelve Days of Christmas" gift from my darling wife. One of her delights is presenting our grandchildren, our mothers, and me with gifts each of the twelve days leading up to Christmas. She is already collecting those gifts for next year and beyond. She has cardboard file boxes labeled with each name. We have ten grandchildren, so there are thirteen of us she prepares for.

I've never known anyone who enjoys giving more than Diane. She is rentless in her approach to this project which she doesn't accomplish in a vacuum. She continues to work long hours as a surgical nurse, teaches a class at the prison on Monday nights, sings in the ensemble at church, teaches a children's Sunday School class, cooks, cleans house, and remains a great example of a wife, mother, and Pastor's wife.

I often hear a man complain about his wife's laziness, but I'm telling you my wife still has enough energy for any two people. She can work me into the ground any day, and she seldom complains.

Her gracious spirit is recognized by those she welcomes into our home, and into her life. Her children know that she cares deeply for them, and the grandchildren never doubt her affection for them. Those quasi family members who've been unofficially adopted into our family also quickly recognize her gracious spirit. She has such a capacity for giving of herself to others, that only the most self-centered of people do not appreciate her.

During this Christmas Season, I'm most thankful for the Savior given so that I might enjoy eternal life, and live my life on this earth to its utmost. I'm thankful, secondly, for the life partner given to me that I might not walk alone through the days of my life, but have a soul mate who genuinely cares about me. My wife, Diane, is beyond an individual, she is a vital part of me.

I wish for each of my friends that they could find such a life-partner with whom to share their walk through life. If your spouse is such a partner, tell her/him today that you love and appreciate him/her. I assure you, it is a great and rare treasure to share your life with a person of graciousness.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Those Who Serve and The Families Who Love Them Deserve Our Gratitude

Today I received an email which touched my heart. I do not know if the event actually happened, nor do I know the author of the piece, but it reflects the high esteem with which those currently serving in our military are held. Such has not always been the case. As we returned from Vietnam, many of us were called horrific names, and treated with disdain by large segments of society. However, that treatment has not diminished our pride at having served, and our love of America and what she stands for.

The events of 9 -11 have re-invigorated the national pride in, and appreciation of, those who selflessly serve in "Harm's Way."

As I read the following piece, I was reduced to tears and reminded of the Graciousness of our Dear Lord in us this ",,,land of the free and home of the brave."

Recently I saw a young person acting in such a way as to be disrespectful during the playing of the National Anthem. Unfortunately, I expressed my anger to the young man. I had to apologize because he obviously was ignorant of the real meaning of that song of liberty and why it holds such an important place in the lives of those who have served. I should have gently shared with him my personal feelings about the flag and what it represents without remonstrating against him.

Three things I will not tolerate disrespect toward: (1) My God. (2) My Family. (3) My Flag.

Children and youth need be reminded continually of the cost of their freedom. The following account could very well have occured, I hope it did.

An airline pilot writes:
My lead flight attendant came to me and said, "We have an H.R. on this flight." (H.R. stands for human remains.) "Are they military?"
I asked.

'Yes', she said.

'Is there an escort?' I asked.

'Yes, I already assigned him a seat'.

'Would you please tell him to come to the flight deck.
You can board him early," I said..

A short while later, a young army sergeant entered the flight deck.
He was the image of the perfectly dressed soldier.
He introduced himself and I asked him about his soldier.
The escorts of these fallen soldiers talk about them as if they are still alive and still with us.

'My soldier is on his way back to Virginia ,' he said.

He proceeded to answer my questions, but offered no words.

I asked him if there was anything I could do for him and he said no.
I told him that he had the toughest job in the military and that I appreciated the work that he does for the families of our fallen soldiers.

The first officer and I got up out of our seats to shake his hand.
He left the flight deck to find his seat.

We completed our preflight checks, pushed back and performed an uneventful departure.

About 30 minutes into our flight I received a call from the lead flight attendant in the cabin.

'I just found out the family of the soldier we are carrying, is on board', she said.
She then proceeded to tell me that the father, mother, wife and 2-year old daughter were escorting their son, husband, and father home.
The family was upset because they were unable to see the container that the soldier was in before we left.
We were on our way to a major hub at which the family was going to wait four hours for the connecting flight home to Virginia .

The father of the soldier told the flight attendant that knowing his son was below him in the cargo compartment and being unable to see him was too much for him and the family to bear. He had asked the flight attendant if there was anything that could be done to allow them to see him upon our arrival. The family wanted to be outside by the cargo door to watch the soldier being taken off the airplane.. I could hear the desperation in the flight attendants voice when she asked me if there was anything I could do.. 'I'm on it', I said. I told her that I would get back to her.

Airborne communication with my company normally occurs in the form of e-mail like messages.
I decided to bypass this system and contact my flight dispatcher directly on a secondary radio.

There is a radio operator in the operations control center who connects you to the telephone of the dispatcher.

I was in direct contact with the dispatcher. I explained the situation I had on board with the family and what it was the family wanted.
He said he understood and that he would get back to me.

Two hours went by and I had not heard from the dispatcher. We were going to get busy soon and I needed to know what to tell the family. I sent a text message asking for an update.

I saved the return message from the dispatcher and the following is the text:
Captain, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. There is policy on this now and I had to check on a few things. Upon your arrival a dedicated escort team will meet the aircraft.
The team will escort the family to the ramp and plane side. A van will be used to load the remains with a secondary van for the family. The family will be taken to their departure area and escorted into the terminal where the remains can be seen on the ramp.

It is a private area for the family only.
When the connecting aircraft arrives, the family will be escorted onto the ramp and plane side to watch the remains being loaded for the final leg home. Captain, most of us here in flight control are veterans. Please pass our condolences on to the family. Thanks.'

I sent a message back telling flight control thanks for a good job.
I printed out the message and gave it to the lead flight attendant to pass on to the father.
The lead flight attendant was very thankful and told me, 'You have no idea how much this will mean to them.'

Things started getting busy for the descent, approach and landing. After landing, we cleared the runway and taxied to the ramp area. The ramp is huge with 15 gates on either side of the alleyway. It is always a busy area with aircraft maneuvering every which way to enter and exit. When we entered the ramp and checked in with the ramp controller, we were told that all traffic was being held for us.

'There is a team in place to meet the aircraft', we were told. It looked like it was all coming together, then I realized that once we turned the seat belt sign off, everyone would stand up at once and delay the family from getting off the airplane. As we approached our gate, I asked the copilot to tell the ramp controller we were going to stop short of the gate to make an announcement to the passengers. He did that and the ramp controller said, 'Take your time.'

I stopped the aircraft and set the parking brake.
I pushed the public address button and said, 'Ladies and gentleman, this is your Captain speaking I have stopped short of our gate to make a special announcement. We have a passenger on board who deserves our honor and respect. His Name is Private XXXXXX, a soldier who recently lost his life Private XXXXXX is under your feet in the cargo hold.

Escorting him today is Army Sergeant XXXXXXX. Also, on board are his father, mother, wife, and daughter. Your entire flight crew is asking for all passengers to remain in their seats to allow the family to exit the aircraft first. Thank you.'

We continued the turn to the gate, came to a stop and started our shutdown procedures.

A couple of minutes later I opened the cockpit door. I found the two forward flight attendants crying, something you just do not see. I was told that after we came to a stop, every passenger on the aircraft stayed in their seats, waiting for the family to exit the aircraft.

When the family got up and gathered their things, a passenger slowly started to clap his hands. Moments later more passengers joined in and soon the entire aircraft was clapping. Words of 'God Bless You', I'm sorry, thank you, be proud, and other kind words were uttered to the family as they made their way down the aisle and out of the airplane. They were escorted down to the ramp to finally be with their loved one.

Many of the passengers disembarking thanked me for the announcement I had made.
They were just words, I told them, I could say them over and over again, but nothing I say will bring back that brave soldier.

I respectfully ask that all of you reflect on this event and the sacrifices that millions of our men and women have made to ensure our freedom and safety in these United States of AMERICA .

Foot note:
As a Viet Nam Veteran I can only think of all the veterans including the ones that rode below the deck on their way home and how they we were treated.

When I read things like this I am proud that our country has not turned their backs on our soldiers returning from the various war zones today and give them the respect they so deserve.

I know everyone who has served their country who reads this will have tears in their eyes, including me.

Please pray for those you know in our military services.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Being Wise As Serpents

Jesus, speaking to those He was sending out in His name, said in Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be as wise as serpents, and as harmless as doves.”

Most genuine Believers have little trouble being as harmless as doves, where we seem the most inept is in being wise as serpents. Time and again I see well-meaning Believers taken in by lying and scheming individuals whose sole purpose is to either advance or defend themselves. The naivete and gullibility of these Believers do great harm to the cause of Christ, because they often step in prop up those who God seems to be bringing pressure upon.

This unwillingness to see people as they truly are, is not a Godly trait, even though worldly church members, and unbelievers seem to look with favor upon such actions as being really Christian. No where did Christ excuse lying and misrepresentation, and we must be careful lest we appear to approve of an ungodly lifestyle in the name of trying to “love” one. Such apparent approval is taken as affirmation by those in error to continue their destructive ways.

While one receiving such perceived affirmation might sense within himself, or herself, that living together is wrong, he is apt to justify it because it seems accepted by a Believer. Though cohabitation is by no means the only example of such, it is the most commonly and openly practiced lifestyle which hits at the very foundation of Christ’s teachings.

A Genuine Believer should never be cruel or unjust, but he should confront those with whom he has influence about the error. Such confrontation is not to condemn, but rather to encourage such a one to turn from the destructive path he/she has chosen.

No one need stay in the miry pit of destruction. It is a choice, but God is faithful in that He will provide a way of escape should one so choose. That escape is based upon the finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary and must be taken at such time as God is calling to the individual.

Let us be faithful to warn the wayward, encourage the weak, and lift up the fallen even as we learn to recognize lying lips lest we inadvertently affirm them in their error.

© 2010 Mike Rasberry

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Don't Be Deceived

I agree with Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council about the probability of highly placed homosexuals in the Bush presidency undermined the social agenda most conservatives thought they were voting for when President Bush was elected.

The admission of Ken Mehlman that he is homosexual serves to inform us that there are powerful forces influencing those we elect to office. Add to that the recently stated position of former First Lady, Laura Bush, supporting abortion and same sex marriage; and you have a receipt for complacency at the very highest levels of a supposedly conservative government.

Such revelations should not surprise us, when we look at the backgrounds of these individuals. Mehlman has long been "outed" numerous times by various individuals, but the denials always seemed sufficient to placate us. Mrs. Bush is steeped in the dogma of liberal United Methodist theology, and though both she and her husband give kudos to conservative evangelicalism, their feel good Christianity continually seemed too accepting of clear error.

President Bush was the right man at the right time to lead our country through the turbulent times of post 9-11. However, he was never a genuine social or fiscal conservative. His tax cuts now appear to have been little more than an attempt to appease conservatives while diverting attention from his agenda of ever expanding government.

Let us not believe the power brokers as they promise a new day for conservatism. Consummate shape-shifter, John McCain, has been re-elected in Arizona on the heels of a challenge by an even more duplicitous candidate than he. Those presenting themselves for service often seem so flawed, the electorate is forced into the "better the devil I know, than the devil I don't" approach.

The crying need of today is for men and women of character to present themselves for service as genuine statesmen willing to stand for right even should it mean defeat, rather than compromise. I believe those individuals can be found in the local conservative evangelical churches of America. Most seem reticent to offer themselves, all the while bemoaning the paucity of men and women of character serving. The time has come for men and women to accept the call to political service and give themselves in service to God through government.

Now, please do think this will solve the problems we face as a nation. The solution to those problems cannot be found in and through government. The real problem is one of shallowness of walk within the New Testament churches of America. Should the genuine Believers once again turn their faces toward Calvary, and walk in the spirit of Calvary, I believe God would bring healing to the land, and those wolves in sheep's clothing would be exposed before they attained such positions of power and influence.

I do, however, believe that God calls men to government, just as He calls men as policemen, doctors, preachers, teachers, and roustabouts. Let us pray for those with His call upon them to present themselves for service to the citizenry of this land.

© 2010 Mike Rasberry

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mount Vesuvius

At noon on August 24, 79 A.D. the decadent pleasure of the Roman city, Pompeii, came to an end. As the peak of Mount Vesuvius erupted covering the city with fifteen feet of flowing lava and ash, lethal gas belched from the volcano’s innards killed those attempting to hide in cellars and stone buildings.

Wealthy Romans vacationing in the idyllic resort doubtless anticipated a winning evening at the prominent gambling establishments, or perhaps a visit to one or more of the numerous brothels in the city. Probably none would have anticipated that death was already knocking at life’s door. They were people who lived for the moment with little regard for the eternal consequences of their life styles.

Suddenly fear gripped the area as a monstrous noise muted everything else, and the only thought became self-preservation.

The events of Pompeii remind me of the admonition of Peter to his readers in 2 Peter chapter three, that the “Day of The Lord” will come upon the unprepared world at a time when they least expect it. It will come at a time when scoffers willfully ignore the historical facts of Scripture, and disdain the free gift of salvation. Then as the dreadful “Day of The Lord” unveils itself fear will drive men to hide in basements, but there shall no shelter be found from the fervent heat of God’s Divine judgement.

You and I, who believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God, ought be impressed by that Word toward a new sense of urgency in offering the only shelter which will stand against that dreadful day, the shelter which is Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son.

The decadence and unbelief of this age are demonstrated time and again by the willful disregard for Godly principles of living even among those who know His truth and profess to be His children. I find it difficult to believe that those of that era could surpass the degradation and unmitigated filthiness of contemporary citizens of this earth. Which belief leads me to anticipate His soon return, and stirs my heart to communicate His way of deliverance to as many as possible.

Have you shared the saving grace of Jesus Christ personally with someone recently? If not, don’t you think it is high time you are about the primary business to which He has called you?

© 2010 Mike Rasberry

Our Miss Brooks

I recently watched a movie with Richard Crenna and was reminded of his role as Walter Denton in the 1950's television comedy “Our Miss Brooks." Contemporary television and radio listeners would be surprised popularity of the program to the viewers and listeners of yesteryear

Such nostalgic thoughts bring to mind the more simple days of my childhood. I remember gathering tiny daisies as we children walked and played in the pasture on a springtime Sunday afternoon while searching for, and exultantly finding, flint arrowheads around the spring used by my grandparents for drinking water. Those treasures stirred our fertile imaginations to myriad scenarios which might have resulted in the objects being left behind by those almost mythical visitors of years long gone.

Today’s life, though complex in its components, retains an aura of simplicity when one decides to live his life in accordance with the purpose and plan of God for His life. I’m convinced that God still wants His followers to avoid the frenetic lifestyle adopted by the world, in order to enjoy the great blessings inherent in living during these exciting days. “Taking time to smell the roses” can be more than a cliche.

Over and over, I’m told by professing Believers that they simply do not have time to meet privately and purposefully with Holy God. Between working overtime, extra jobs, children’s activities, school responsibilities, family demands, and even church commitments; little remains for that One who left the glories of heaven, walked the dusty roads of that little Palestinian country, faced unspeakable torment on Calvary’s Tree, and paid the penalty for our sins.

In Psalms 46: 9-11 the psalmist reminds us that Holy God is in charge. It is He we’re told who, “.. makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.” Then God has the psalmist tell us, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

All our energy and effort cannot affect change, except that which is ordained by Holy God. Why do we scurry around like frightened mice, going first this way and then that; rather than purposing to be still awhile with the one in whose hand our future lies? He wants us to rest in Him. He declares in verse 11, “The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.”

Life is really quite simple. Spend enough time with God to know what His will is for one’s life. Then, by faith, act on His will. I’m convinced that much of what we do is NOT God’s will, and therefore we are often overwhelmed by the circumstances of life. “Be still and know that I am God” remains a necessity for the effective rest that God provides.

© 2010 Mike Rasberry

Monday, July 26, 2010


Though I embrace the phrase “eternal security,” I have many problems with the interpretation of it. Many seem to believe they can make an emotional commitment to Jesus Christ, subsequently fall into sin, live in that sin without repentance, and rely upon the eternality of Christ’s finished work of redemption as assurance of their salvation. Such a position, I believe, is a prostitution of the phrase “eternal security.”

Paul, in First Corinthians 6: 9ff clearly demonstrates that one’s conduct is a reflection of his relationship to Holy God when he declares, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Time and again, I find people whose present conduct is diametrically opposite that which Scripture says should be reflected by the child of God, yet they believe their conduct is inconsequential as it relates to their relationship to God because they believe in “eternal security.”

Now, please do not begin to associate me with Pelagianism which asserts that one can lose his salvation, and that such salvation is dependent upon human works. I certainly do not believe Scripture teaches such. I believe Scripture teaches that one’s salvation is wholly dependent upon the finished work Jesus Christ, and that man’s corrupt nature can never affect such merit as to be acceptable to God until by God’s own grace, he has been born again into the family of God. It is a work wholly of God, independent of any merit of man.

Having said that, however, I wish to further develop the theme that one’s conduct necessarily reflects God’s holiness. The writer of Hebrews states in 12:14, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” There can be no doubt that those who see God will live holy lives, if one accepts the veracity of God’s Word.

So, the question comes, “What about our failures?” The clear fact is you and I will fail. We will sin, and some of our sin will be extremely socially and governmentally repugnant. Does that mean one is not saved? Not necessarily.

The example of David is, I believe, instructive for us. David committed an abominable sin. Not only did he commit adultery, he murdered to cover it up. Yet, David is called “a man after God’s own heart.” How can this be consistent with the thesis I’ve presented?

David’s sin wreaked great pain upon him and his family, but the faithful servant of God, Nathan, confronted David with his sin, and he was broken over it. He repented and accepted God’s chastisement as well as, His forgiveness, after which God demonstrated that forgiveness by elevating Solomon, David’s son by Bathsheba, to the throne.

The missing element in contemporary church life is genuine repentance. 1 John 1:9 is written to Believers who have stumbled along the way, and like David, desire restoration. However, the preponderance of people today seems to believe that one can simply continue on without such a sense of remorse which leads to repentance as long as he believes in eternal security. The hard cold fact is that “eternal security” does not mean that one can make a commitment to Christ, then live an unholy life and be justified before Holy God.

If there is no remorse over one’s sin when confronted with the evidence of that sin, and no conviction by God’s Holy Spirit that one is out of God’s will for his life, then he probably is not genuinely converted. He is probably one of that group who when the disciples inquired as to why they no longer walked with them, Christ replied that they were no longer with them because they were really never a part of them.

Do you have loved ones or friends, who have turned aside from the path of righteousness and seem oblivious to the demands of God on their lives? If so, it is incumbent upon you to begin to treat them as lost people that they might be saved before it is too late. Pray for their salvation, confront them with their error, and don’t attempt to cover over their condition lest you encourage them in that error.

Time and again people tell me that they fear such direct confrontation will drive their loved ones farther away. I remember Vance Havner saying, “How far are you going to drive a lost man? Hell number two? Hell number three?”

Listen, dear friends, Believers must not place the imprimatur of approval upon the aberrant lifestyles of contemporary society. Drunkenness, cohabitation, drug abuse, pornography, sexual deviancy, homosexuality, idleness, and promiscuity are leading to broken homes, multiple marriages, slothfulness, and financial irresponsibility. All of which are contrary to the holy life God requires.

One’s belief in “eternal security” is not enough. One must be converted by a supernatural work of God which affects such a change that he attempts to live a life which honors God and reflects His handiwork.

© 2010 Mike Rasberry

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Keeping God's Appointments

Recently I read Anita Onarecker Wood's thought provoking book, "Divine Appointment, Our Journey to the Bridge;" in which she gives an overview of her life with her late husband which culminated with a grand event on a bridge in Texas.

That book reminded me of a message I have preached entitled, "Your Story," in which I attempt to help people see that God is at work behind the scenes to bring about scenarios where He will receive glory and people will see His handiwork in the lives of His people.

Last Night, as I was traveling along a four-lane divided highway, I passed an automobile alongside the road with a flat tire. Another vehicle was stopped and I continued on at the speed limit for about a quarter of a mile until I felt an overwhelming urge in my spirit to go back. I discovered, upon my return, that the situation was in hand and all I could offer was encouragement and some light. Nothing dramatic happened. I don't know why God wanted me to turn around and go back, and I may never know until I reach His side in Glory. However, I do know I was strengthened by my act of obedience to His tug upon my heart.

It might be that our most important act is not one in which someone is dramatically saved, or delivered from some dread event. It might just be that the most important thing we can do at any given moment is simply obey the still small voice of Him who guides us, even when we don't see the purpose or necessity of doing so. Samuel told King Saul that obedience is better than sacrifice, and I think the churches of our nation would be stronger if we would begin once more to listen carefully for that voice of direction which indicates our complete trust in Him who died for us.

The Apostle Paul had a grand plan to evangelize a particular geographical area, but he testified that God prohibited his going there. Sometimes we might substitute the very good for God's very best when we commit ourselves to a course of action which, while commendable, is not God's best for us at that time.

The great question then in one's mind should be, "What would You have me do, Lord?" Even waiting for His direction is often within His divine plan. So while we wait, we demonstrate trust in Him and His willingness to communicate His will to us. The Jewish vagabonds had wandered for forty years and then were to told to camp and wait across the swollen River Jordan from the land of promise. They were not told to build boats, bridges, or dams; but to wait.

I don't know why God acts in the ways He has chosen, but I trust Him to do that which is best for me and mine in every situation. When I remember that, I'm less inclined toward anger, frustration, fear, and aggravation. I'm more inclined toward peace, joy, and genuine happiness. Should He want me to turn around on a dark road and investigate a situation, I'll experience less than His best for me if I don't obey. My responsibility is to discern and do His will while leaving the results and consequences up to Him.

© 2010 Mike Rasberry

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

A Treatise on Liberals' Desire to Regulate Hate Speech

A recent article states that a coalition of more than 30 organizations argue in a letter to the FCC that the Internet has made it harder for the public to separate the facts from bigotry masquerading as news. Therefore, they conclude the FCC should begin to regulate "hate" speech.

Several problems leap out at you as you consider this, not the least of which is who will determine just what "hate" speech is. These mostly left wing organizations decry the fact that information is readily available, and that elitists are now unable to carefully sanitize that information before it reaches the ears of the great unwashed.

After observing the media for about fifty-five years, I've come to believe that anyone who differs with an opinion of one holding an instrument of communication is generally considered a hateful person if he forcefully presents his dissenting argument.

Today we have hate laws which portend to protect those unable to protect themselves because of the inveterate hatred of their enemies. Such laws mete out a harsher punishment for those found guilty of inflicting pain upon individuals because of hatred for their class, culture, moral position, or sexual preference. Such laws are probably unconstitutional at the least and counter productive besides.

Now comes the thought police to ascertain if I'm acting with hatred toward a group when I say homosexuality is a sin in God's eyes according to my understanding of Scripture. Never mind that my purpose is not to demean, but rather to inform with the hope that one or more will repent of that position and turn to Christ for saving grace.

Religious and political speech are unconditionally protected by the Constitution of the United States of America. The Supreme Court has affirmed such in case after case over the course of the last two hundred thirty years, but come now those established liberal elitists who believe they can determine the thought process of those who write and speak to the masses.

Should you and I not unequivocally reject those who advocate such positions, we will one day find ourselves or our progeny without those freedoms we have cherished, espoused, and died for throughout the course of our country's history. It is no longer enough to sit idly by and whisper among ourselves at the park bench, or the barber shop. We must aggressively confront such error by speaking out, writing companies which underwrite such groups, and contacting our representatives. We ought do those things, even though it requires no little amount of effort on our part. It is both time consuming, and emotionally draining as one navigates the channels which insulate corporate decision makers and governmental representatives, but it is essential.

Rise up!! Leave the ballgames, the videos, and Facebook for a season in order to make your voice known, and do so repeatedly. They expect you and me to quickly lose our enthusiasm for such mundane activity, but we dare not!!

And please remember, this is always a spiritual battle. The prince of this world system does not want people free to share the hope of eternal life possible through Jesus Christ. He knows his time is rapidly drawing to a close, and he seems to be marshaling his forces in an attempt to prevent the light of the world from shining in the darkness of his domain.

© 2010 Mike Rasberry

Monday, May 24, 2010

A New Start for a Troubled Marriage

Sunday, May 30 is a momentous moment in the life of Bay Springs Baptist Church. We will celebrate the re-marriage of a couple whose relationship become so estranged that it finally culminated in divorce.

This couple first began to treat each other with indifference, then frustration, and on to antagonism. They really didn't dislike one another, they just felt better when there was a wall of distance between them.

However, something happened as they traveled life's journey. At some point one or both began to realize that God wanted them to investigate the possibility of starting over. The man came to realize that he had never given himself completely to Christ and was born again. The woman realized that she was not allowing Christ to be the boss of her life, and she committed her life to live for Him. Then God showed them that their divorce has been all about self. Couching their decisions in noble sounding declarations no longer seemed satisfactory.

God taught them that He views marriage as permanent, and they sought help to learn how to more effectively relate to one another as unto God Himself. They learned that one's primary purpose to so cultivate a heart that seeks after God, regardless of what one's partner does.

Now they are coming before God and His people and confessing their past individual and collective failure and dedicating their lives to God and one another.

I know several couples who need to begin again. It starts with each individual making a decision to turning his, or her, heart toward God, and making the commitment to God to so live as to reflect God in all their doings.

Each individual believes his/her situation is unique. It is not. Others have walked the same path and succeeded. There is no justification for failure in the marriage relationship. God loves marriage and hates divorce, so those who marry have the blessing of God upon their lives when they start.

I'm thankful to see what God has done in the life of both these fine people who are beginning again this weekend. Lord, I ask you to go before them and drive the hornet of opposition from their path even as you teach them the consummate joy of relying on you.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Believers and The New World Order

President Obama on Saturday offered a glimpse of a new national security doctrine that distances his administration from the policy of preemptive war, emphasizing global institutions and America's role in promoting democratic values. During the address the President seemed to subtly promote the concept of global unity reminiscent of George Herbert W. Bush's "New World Order."

Presidents have lately seemed intent on building a global order which would erase nationalism and create a Utopian Society where everyone is a citizen of the world. Such a concept is not new. Empires have sought to rule the world through conquest throughout recorded history. Nor is it an antiquated notion. Adherents of communism viewed it as a vehicle for world dominion.

Chinese Communist leaders have seemingly discarded communism for capitalism and seem intent on dominating the world through finances. Japan turned her aggressive militaristic nature to economic policy and made enormous gains until the house of cards fell before she could bring the feat off.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise when powerful leaders to look at the world as another challenge to conquer. It certainly is no surprise to Evangelical Christian Believers. Scripture describes the end times as a time when powerful men will ascend to positions of influence and power unmatched in human history. Genuine Believers understand that the energizing force behind such men is nothing less then the prince of this world system, the enemy of God and all those who call upon the name of the Lord.

We do not fear these men; because we, who are genuine Believers, serve the God of Glory under whose dominion the prince of this world system is allowed to operate for a season. We know that at the end of the season, God will ultimately and finally overthrow him and those who have faithfully followed Christ will reign with Him for all eternity, while the enemy and his followers will wallow in a godless, lightless, friendless, comfortless, and never ending hell.

© 2010 Mike Rasberry

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Difference in First Ladies

First Lady Michelle Obama simply does not measure up in the class category when it comes to formal dress. This particular outfit looks cheap and demeaning. Of course, the attempt at provocative dress might be an attempt to distract eyes from the seething anger emanating from those eyes, and the set of her jaw.

Maybe she doesn't speak Spanish, because they are entertaining the President of Mexico and his wife on this occasion.

Laura Bush appears genteel and discrete in her gown at a WH Christmas party during the Bush years.

The extreme difference in poise and style is evident in the two photos.

Michelle Obama's seeming attempt at provocative appears to deteriorate to the edge of vulgarity. A few lessons in decorum would appear to be in order.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Turn up The Heat

When I was a child I enjoyed taking crayons and dropping them into a pot to see what colors I could devise. As I dreamed of creating an unique color, I learned that too much heat would boil away some of the properties of the crayons and leave my new creation brittle and unuseable. I also learned that too little heat would not allow the colors to flow together and blend. The great melting pot of America is struggling today with just how much heat to apply so that those coming to America can blend in such a way as to add to the whole without becoming an unuseable monstrosity.

Yesterday four students were sent home from a school in the San Francisco Bay area for wearing shirts with an American flag on them. They were sent home because children of Mexican descent felt it was their day to express their heritage, and the four were disrespecting “Cinco De Mayo.”

Folks, this is serious business. We seem to have failed those from other nations who have immigrated by not teaching them that America is more than just a meal ticket. The American flag should be proudly flown in the midst of their celebrations. They should understand the policies and loyalties which have contributed to the wealth and freedom they seek here. Their fathers left Mexico seeking a better way of life, or chose to stay when annexation took place. Either way, they are American by choice.

I often wondered about the other large countries of the world why they could not develop, then I discovered that most are hamstrung by language barriers. India has several large states, each with its own language. Canada is wracked by language chaos, with French and English competing, and even China with its strong central government has struggled with the hundreds of unique dialects employed throughout the country.

American has grown because she is the great melting pot, with colors and languages blending their unique attributes into the whole to make a beautiful mosaic where all our lives are richer and more full. However, contemporary officialdom seems intent preventing that mosaic from growing. Policies and laws seemingly designed to prevent the assimilation of other cultures into ours are dividing us according to language, race, and heritage.

Yes, there is a distinct American culture which has been molded by that very melting pot, and those who come here to live should come with the purpose becoming a part of that culture. Poles, Italians, Chinese, Mexican, Navajo, French, African, and from around the globe they have come; making us the pre-imminent nation of the world. But these coming in this era are hyphenated Americans; not attempting to become part of the melting pot, they want to carve out a section of the country for their own where they can maintain the same culture, language, and customs of their native lands.

The most egregious perpetrator of this deadly policy is the public school system which seems to delight in teaching every cultural anomaly except that of the founders of the Country. Students can tell you about Black History Month and Hispanic culture even while they are unable to explain the Bill of Rights, or tell why our forefathers established this great government.

We has best awaken to the danger facing us here in the United States. Celebrate “Cinco de Mayo” but do it proudly under the banner of the Stars and Stripes. This is not Mexico. This is America. The heat needs be turned up a little on our melting pot in order for us to blend more evenly, so that we might continue to become a mosaic of freedom and opportunity for the nations of the world to aspire to.

© 2010 Mike Rasberry

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Time is Right: Dissolve the State Conventions

On February 27, 2007 I published an article questioning the need for both State Conventions and Associations, alluding to possibility of state conventions as inefficient anachronisms.

Today I want to revisit that topic and examine the purpose of state conventions and associations.

Associations have traditionally been the guardian of doctrinal integrity. Associations, which are generally organized geographically, are near autonomous entities subject to the executive board which is comprised of representatives of the local member churches. They may have an executive whose purpose it is to implement the work authorized by the body.

Membership is expanded when a local church petitions to join the association, and after examination by those so authorized, the local assembly is accepted into the fellowship of the association, or has its petition rejected. Such rejection is ordinarily based on doctrinal weakness or heresy. Should the church be accepted, the customary practice is to place the church under watch care for a period of time in order to observe the faith and practice of that church.

Should such a church have its petition rejected, a committee is usually appointed to work with the church to ascertain if it desires to conform to the requirements of the association. Such work can continue until such time as the committee determines it is ready to once again petition the association or decides the church is not serious enough about becoming a member to change the doctrine and/or practice deemed unacceptable.

Associational churches can be disciplined by the association for matters of doctrine and/or practice by placing them on probation and/or withdrawing fellowship from them; a practice tantamount to expulsion.

Recently local associations seem to have evolved more into the establishing of programs. Such actions appear in some instances to be in competition with the local churches. The Birmingham Baptist Association provides opportunities for individuals to sign up for twenty-nine different programs and to give directly to the Association. That seems to violate the spirit of the Association as being an instrument of the local churches. Should the association become self-sufficient, that is not dependent upon the gifts of the local churches, it could become an entity apart and follow the course of such institutions as Baylor University, or Mercer University; which voted to divorce themselves from the local entities which owned them and stole the property, influence, and good will of Southern Baptists in their respective states.

I believe the preponderance of gifts should come through the local church, and not from disaffected church members looking for an avenue to advance pet causes in defiance of the local church leadership.

While state conventions have served Southern Baptists well, by providing a venue by which churches from disparate points of the state could work together on mission projects, training, and ministry; contemporary communication and transportation allow the local associations to do every thing the state conventions do. State conventions, especially in the Deep South, now seem to spend more time promoting projects than anything else. Untold millions of dollars of missions monies are absorbed in the bureaucratic morass of the state convention.

Why local churches need a state convention to convince them to utilize a particular program, or participate in a particular activity escapes me. The local church needs a resource entity which is available lend its expertise to a particular need, not someone to try to convince the local church to follow a particular path of ministry. Neither the state convention, nor the association have the responsibility to “care for” the local churches. Local pastors do not need a “pastor to pastors” to serve as an associational executive.

The local church is responsible for setting an agenda to minister to its unique congregation and community. That is made easier by having assurance that a sister church is ministering effectively in an adjoining community, and throughout the state.

Time and again pastors are requested to turn in the names of leaders to the association and/or state convention so that those entities might communicate directly with church members. As a pastor, I don’t want those entities communicating directly with the members of the local church. If the pastor and church leadership have a plan for reaching their Jerusalem, they shouldn’t have to spend time defending their plan against one put forth by the state convention or association. The state conventions and associations work for the local churches, and it is unethical to by pass the local church leadership to promote a different agenda. Sometimes the associational executive acts as if he is an employee of the state convention. That was, in fact, the case in Louisiana until just a few short years ago.

I believe the time has come to dissolve the state conventions, thereby increasing the amount of funds available for mission efforts, and making the association a more effective entity. State executives and staff are certain to oppose any attempt minimize their position in the convention hierarchy (Baptists don’t have a hierarchy right?), but there is reformation in the air, and now is the time to act.

© 2010 Mike Rasberry

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cohabitation is a Blight on the Christian Church

The crass statements of my youth justifying premarital sex like, “Never buy a car before you try it out,” have given way to socially acceptable cohabitation in the name of protecting the institution of marriage. Time and again the reason is given by both the couple and their supportive parents that they need to make sure they can make it before entering into the permanence of marriage.

This attitude, especially among Believers, demonstrates a total lack of understanding of God’s plan and leadership. When two Believers come together as one, they should have a sense of God’s working in their lives, and that alone should be enough to help them maintain their commitment through the inevitable tough times.

Dr. Albert Mohler Jr., President of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Ky; said in a recent article, “Many young adults tend to believe they are wise to try living together before committing to marriage, but actually they are undermining the institution they hope to protect.”

Dr. Mohler went on to say, "They do not know that what they are actually doing is undoing marriage. They miss the central logic of marriage as an institution of permanence."

That marriage is a gift of God is fundamental to Christian belief, yet there seems little practical difference between those who claim to be Believers and those who do not. Not only do young people openly engage in such behavior, but parents and extended family often seem to facilitate it. Even the local body of Believers known as the church seems little inclined to deal with her members who adopt such lifestyles lest someone be offended.

I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Mohler’s assertion that cohabitation weakens marriage. I also believe that weakened marriage weakens the Christian message. However, I see little opportunity to combat the problem as long as the local body of Believers refuses to see cohabitation as an affront to Holy God. When the local assembly begins to deal with those who claim to be Believers, yet live their lives as if God’s Word and way is unimportant, I believe there will arise a dedicated, disciplined, and Spirit-filled church where the power of God is evident and the influence of the church is expanded.

© 2010 Mike Rasberry

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pondering John McCain & Regulations

John McCain is a true hero. He survived as a POW without compromising. I wish he had carried that same dogma into his political career.

Conservatives understood that McCain was only a "lukewarm" presidential candidate because he was the consummate fence-straddler. Now, he is proving that the country is probably better off with Obama as President. At least, with Obama, we know he is a far left ideologue. We are alert to his every move and can oppose him, because there is little subtly in his approach.

McCain, however, is a different matter. He seems never to have seen an industry, or product, which doesn't need government regulation. He appears to search for new items to regulate. Now he wants to regulate food supplements. All one needs see is the result of government regulation on other products, to recognize the inherent danger here.

Now some are going to say, "But Mike, these things need regulation. They affect our health." I have no problem with "truth in advertising, or accuracy in labeling." However, most of the medicines I was raised on, the same things my mother who is now eighty-four was raised on, and her mother, who lived to the age of ninety-eight, was raised on have been regulated out of our reach.

The sulfur mixed with a molasses was an effective antidote to the red bugs, or chiggers outside the deep South, fleas, and ticks. The penicillin tablets, crushed and mixed with the molasses, fought the infections we contracted as we stepped on rusty nails, and cut ourselves with broken bottles. The Paregoric, also mixed with molasses, helped young children suffering from intestinal disorders and teen girls with menstrual cramps, and was an effective toothache remedy. None of these items are available anymore except through prescription which naturally requires a doctor visit, and trip to the local Walmart Drug store. Can anyone say, "Unnecessary additional costs?"

Now this wolf in sheep's clothing, McCain, desires to regulate even more of our lives. I say, "Enough Already!" Write another memoir, take a fact finding trip to Australia, hike the Grand Canyon, you'll still get paid well by the taxpayer. Just leave our personal lives alone. NO MORE REGULATIONS!!!

© 2010 Mike Rasberry

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wasted Years

This morning I received word that my cousin lies on a hospital bed in Covington, Louisiana near death. Little can be done for him because a lifetime of profligate living has utterly destroyed his body. But there's more to this story than that.

You see, Tommy's skill with people coupled with his innate intelligence allowed him to ride the crest of success at an early age. However, those same attributes, never harnessed by submission to Holy God, led him to experiment with mind altering drugs. Drugs, and later, Alcohol became his obsession, his reason for living. They were cruel masters, unwilling to share their slave with family or friends. Going for months on end without contacting those who loved and prayed for him; this wasting shell of his former self would eventually show up needing help.

The song, "Wasted Years" has never seemed more poignant than this morning.

Wasted years wasted years oh how foolish,
As you walk on in darkness and fear,
Turn around turn around God is calling,
He's calling you from a life of wasted years,
As you wondered along on life's pathways,
Have you lived without love a life of fear,
Have you searched for life's great hidden meaning,
Or is your life filled with long wasted years,
Wasted years wasted years oh how foolish,
As you walk on in darkness and fear,
Turn around turn around God is calling,
He's calling you from a life of wasted years,
He's calling you from a life of wasted years

Each time I ponder the potential of a young man filled with energy, strength, and intelligence who has wasted his life; I remember that Holy God died for just such as he. Oh that he would have exercised his talents and gifts in the pursuit of holy living as the bond slave of Jesus Christ rather than those harsh taskmasters who robbed him of all his productive initiative.

Wasted years. I find myself wondering if I did enough to demonstrate love and compassion to him. Time and again I pleaded with him to give himself to Christ, and every time he acknowledged his need, yet never seemed able to trust Christ enough when the pangs of desire for his one true love, alcohol, stirred his being.

Young men, I plead with you. Reject the alluring advances of that strange lady alcohol as she flits her skirts in her most seductive manner, lest one day you awaken to discover that you, too, have wasted the most productive years of your life.

Lady Alcohol is an unnatural lover, unable to satisfy the cravings for love, companionship, and accomplishment. Her promising enticements serve only to fuel the senses for more and more. Promising much, but delivering nothing more than "Wasted Years."

Turn today to The Lord. Psalm 103:12 says, "As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us."

© 2010 Mike Rasberry

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Mount Vernon Statement

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council reports that than 100 conservative leaders joined together today to celebrate the release of the Mount Vernon Statement -- a document he believes has reaffirmed conservative commitment to Constitutional Conservatism and the principles of the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I wonder if the document goes far enough. At first blush it appears more nuanced than substantive. Perhaps, however, I'm being too critical. I'm actually looking for genuine conservatives, of which Tony Perkins certainly is one, to explain in plain English just what the "pursuit of happiness" means and the limitations to such a statement.

The document states, "The conservatism of the Declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature's God. It defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It traces authority to the consent of the governed. It recognizes man's self-interest but also his capacity for virtue." In the 18th Century this was a clearly understood statement, which met with little equivocation, even by unbelievers. In this contemporary, pluralistic society such terms need defining.

While I agree with the intent of those who formulated the statement, it appears to not be so notable a statement as to create even angst amongst those who are the enemies of traditional constitutional government. Not one of these signers need fear the loss of position, property, or prestige over the signing of such an innocuous statement.

I believe the time has come for bold leadership in America. The kind of leadership which, in the tradition of the founding fathers, risks everything for the purpose of restoring our constitutional government.

While I will sign the agreement, I believe it to be far short of what is needed.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Memories of My Childhood

During my second year of elementary school, my family moved atop what was known as "Crocker Hill," so named because Mr. Joe Crocker and his family lived on the East side of the red clay road at the top of the steep hill. We lived across the road from the Crockers in a three-room house with a pantry and another little bitty house out back.

The house was "L" shaped with a door opening into the front room which served as both a bedroom for my parents and our living room. It was that room which became the center of attention on Saturday Nights when the Crockers would come over and my Mother's parents would come up the hill to eat chili and watch wrestling. I still remember Mrs. Crocker yelling at those referees for allowing "Gorgeous George" to be treated so badly by other wrestlers.

Next to the front room was the room shared by my sister Sue and me, until I was moved into the pantry behind the kitchen. Aunt Eunice Ivey stayed with us at one time because my Mom was working and my Dad was driving a truck, so she stayed in the room with Sue and me, also.

Behind our room was the kitchen. It housed the refrigerator, a pot-bellied wood heater, a butane fired stove, and our eating table. The pantry was a small room about six feet wide and about ten feet long.

A door opened to the outside from the kitchen and down several concrete steps was a huge oak tree right in the "L" of the house. The exposed roots made a great playground as I imagined myself a character in the Dick Tracy comic strip, or Sunset Carson, or Johnny Mack Brown, or any number of other contemporary heroes. Hour upon hour was consumed playing with or without my sister on those roots.

I regret that my grandchildren and their contemporaries have not learned to enjoy the roots of a tree. Electronic gadgets have opened new vistas for their exploration, but I doubt they'll be happier than I was as a child. My parents did not have much in the way of material things to give us, but what they did give us has remained with me these sixty plus years-- the memories of childhood.

Today, while pondering the financial pressure parents bring upon themselves in order to give their children a better life than they had, I wonder if the children could possibly be more fulfilled and content than I, or if those "gadgets" bought to satisfy their cravings to conform will prove as worthwhile as those hours on the roots of that old oak tree.

Aah--The memories of childhood.

© 2010 Mike Rasberry

Continuing Erosion of Personal Freedoms by Police Entities

A recent article entitled "Police want backdoor to Web users' private data" by Declan McCullagh reveals the potential for the continuing surreptitious erosion of personal individual rights by governmental entities which seem to believe they alone are capable of protecting us from ourselves.

Government has two primary constitutional responsibilities: (1) Protect the citizenry from foreign powers who would overthrow our form of government. (2) Maintain domestic judicial order so that the citizenry can develop their resources to their greatest capability without oppressive interference from the authorities who maintain such. That is all government is needed for.

We do NOT need government to make sure we have health insurance, or food, or clothing. Nor do we need government to protect us from ourselves by limiting those activities which some entity might consider dangerous.

Seat belt laws are an example of government's intrusion into the personal lifestyles of individuals. While seat belts are obviously beneficial, they are also detrimental in some instances and downright ridiculous in others. My grandchildren are certainly not nearly as comfortable on trips as my own children were who were provided a bed in the floor board and allowed to sleep in an unrestrained position during trips. Seat belts were already becoming accepted as a safety factor when government decided to require everyone everywhere to wear them. While the transition to seat belt use would have taken longer, I believe it would have occurred nonetheless.

Bleeding heart elitists, the hoi oligoi, believing they know what is best for the hoi polloi, the great unwashed masses, seem obsessed with implementing more and more rules in the name of safety, security, and the general welfare. Such rules, once enacted, become simply another tool by which the commoners can be controlled. Control, it seems, is more important than any genuine benefit.

All of which leads us to the topic at hand. I am a strong proponent of the police in general. They have an often thankless profession, and must deal continually with the lowest class of society, the criminal. As the criminal cleverly devises ways to gain an advantage through deceit, theft, or subterfuge, the police must be prepared to react to each new invention of the criminal's diabolic mind. Yet, there must be limitations on their freedom to access the private information of the citizenry. Taking the time to obtain a paper warrant before accessing private information might indeed allow some criminals to escape. No system is failure proof. However, laid alongside the right of private law abiding citizens to protect their information, it is no contest. We must err on the side of freedom, or we will eventually err on the side of totalitarianism.

Only the most naive believe they can prevent private information being disseminated in this the information age. However, to authorize what amounts to warrantless intrusion into one's personal affairs is nothing less than an abdication of personal responsibility. Few who acquiesce to these procedures would allow the forcible search of their homes by police without a bonafide warrant, nothing less should be demanded of the electronic media.

You and I should contact our congressional delegations posthaste to inform them of our opposition to such procedures, lest they be inserted into innocuous appearing bills without raising a stir, or worse be enacted as administrative decisions by pompous bureaucratic aides.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Stoney Hearted People

Jesus told a parable of the soil where good seed falls on rocky ground. It is able to germinate but the soil is not sufficient enough to allow it to grow. One’s hearts can be like this kind of soil. He has a desire to do right but fails to grow because he has no depth of commitment. When difficulty comes, he wilts under the pressure. He is one who has based his understanding of Christ on an emotional experience. His faith is wholly experiential and not based upon Biblical doctrine. He is wont to say, "Doctrine doesn’t matter as long as you love Jesus."

Jesus said, “If one loves Him, he will keep His commandments.” One’s doctrine, or theology, must be in harmony with God’s Word. In another place Jesus said, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” The one who bases his relationship to God upon experience alone, is doctrinally unstable with shallow roots, so that when the experiences of life seem set against him, he is easily drawn away by the false teachings of the Evil One.

The Late Dr. Adrian Rogers often called these people, “Alka-Seltzer” people. They are people of fizz, warm and emotional, who respond easily to emotional appeals, but they are shallow, superficial, and rootless. They only want to be happy and will follow what ever seems to make them so, even if it is only temporary.

Churches are full of stony-hearted people. They simply do not understand the demands of the cross, nor do they desire to understand it. At the first sign of difficulty, they look for something else; something which will entertain them of make them feel good. They want an easy Christianity without trials.

Are you one of these? Are you like the rich young ruler who went away sorrowfully when he learned the real demands of the Gospel? Do you hunger and thirst to understand the basis of God’s great love for you, or are you one who simply bases your faith upon a series of experiences. If you are, I say to you this morning, "Repent! Ask God to take away your stony heart, and the Bible promises he will give you a heart of flesh.” A heart which will be able to learn and allow you to base your faith upon His Word.

© 2010 Mike Rasberry

Monday, January 18, 2010

Genuine Fellowship

The missing element in the contemporary church is the real fellowship so evident in the early church. The warmth and sweetness of their fellowship demonstrated the “oneness” of body which the church exemplifies. Their possessions were not considered goods to be protected, cherished, and hoarded. Rather they were treated as tools to be utilized for the common good.

This was not Communism where government pooled resources and doled them out equally to all, but rather a voluntary recognition that God had blessed them with everything they possessed and they were simply the caretakers. Brothers and sisters in Christ experienced the generosity of one another as genuine family. There was no recrimination for those who had need and no hesitancy on the part of those who had plenty.

A tangible result of that attitude of fellowship was that they had great power in witnessing and uncountable numbers were added to the church. That we have lost that is evident in the fact that we often sit in a worship service and know little of the affairs of those around us. We go to our homes, and watch football, or play games without involving ourselves in the lives of those with whom worship. Throughout the busy week little social interaction takes place outside a few close friends and family. How can one approach a virtual stranger and share his fears, joys, and concerns? Must the church remain an impassive body unresponsive to the genuine needs of brothers and sisters in Christ simply because we choose not to engage them on a personal and intimate level?

I believe church should have a reputation as a safe harbor where truth is presented in love by caring people genuinely interested in the general welfare. Rather, it is often represented as a cold body which rejects the imperfect. Strife, bickering, unforgiveness, and jealousy within the body give the lie to the message that Christ can meet one’s needs and lift his burdens, because what he sees in the church is no different than what he experiences at home and at work.

So the world asks, “Why do you claim that Christ is the answer? Your life is little different than ours, and we can sleep late on Sunday Mornings.”

The missing element, I believe, is genuine fellowship, and the only way we’re going to reverse the trend toward irrelevance in the local church is for those who claim Christ as Lord, to begin opening themselves in a vulnerable way to others so that the world might see genuine fellowship in us. Will you commit yourself to expanding your area of genuine concern by involving yourself with someone within the body who you don’t know much about? Invite them to your home for dinner, or coffee and cake. Choose this day to grow the fellowship within your local assembly so that the world will know you are different.

© 2010 Mike Rasberry

Thursday, January 14, 2010

We All Need A Tree

Sometimes we all need help remembering that God never intended us to carry our burdens and to distribute them to those we love. I was sent an email with the following link which says it much better than I.