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Friday, July 31, 2009

"Don't Beer Me, Bro!"

Well, are race relations bright and beautiful now that President Obama, Professor Gates, and Sergeant Crowley met for beer at the White House? I wonder if the president suggested the prof and the officer could have defused the unfortunate incident earlier—in Cambridge—if they had shared a couple of beers on the professor’s front porch.

Some police officers carry teddy bears or other stuffed animals in their cars to give to children traumatized by a traffic accident or a crime. The cuddly animals seem to calm the children. If we push President Obama’s strategy very far, we can see where police officers might calm emotionally charged situations by carrying bubblies in their cars alongside cuddlies. Law enforcement officers might never have to struggle with lawbreakers and our jails would not be overcrowded if both could just get along over a few beers.

This is tongue-in-cheek writing, of course. I am really disturbed by the example the president set for our nation’s children. By holding the beer summit he was sending the wrong messages to children. The message is that drinking alcohol is not only normal but also a great way to solve problems. As a Christian who doesn’t drink alcoholic beverages, I object to the president’s action.

If the beer-sharing strategy takes hold among our law-enforcement agencies, I can picture a recovering alcoholic about to be arrested pleading, “Don’t beer me, bro!”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Be Hopeful!

Times were tough in Judah, very tough, when the prophet Jeremiah lived. The nation’s moral and spiritual condition offended God, and her enemy was poised to strike and destroy her. Appalled by what he saw around him and alarmed by the disaster that lay ahead, Jeremiah told it like it was. Understandably, his heart ached, but he preached through his tears and acquired the nickname, “the weeping prophet.”

Political and religious leaders despised Jeremiah’s messages. They would have preferred feel-good, lighthearted messages. They certainly didn’t want to hear the nation had offended God and would soon suffer the heavy consequences of her sinning. Is history repeating itself? How popular are the few truth-sayers who contradict today’s smooth-sayers?

Let’s face it, our nation needs a moral and spiritual revival, and those of us who are willing to admit this fact may need an infusion of hope—not the Washington brand of hope but the biblical kind. We need the kind of hope that Jeremiah maintained in the bleakest period of Judah’s history. He announced to his countrymen: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is in the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when the heat comes, but his leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7, 8).

Down with despair! Up with hope!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Confusing the Signs

According to an apocryphal story, a state patrol officer pulled over an elderly motorist on I-25. “You were driving too slowly,” the officer explained. “The speed limit is 75, but you were doing only 25.”

“But, Officer, right there the sign says ’25,’ and that’s what I was doing.”

The officer responded. “That sign identifies the highway, not the speed limit. The posted speed limit is 75.”

Looking at the motorist’s three elderly passengers, the officer observed, “Your passengers look terrified and frozen. How do you account for that?”

“Well, Officer, I guess it’s because we just turned onto this highway from Highway 115.”

Confusing the signs is never a good thing on a highway, and it is never a good thing in Bible interpretation. The signs Jesus gave in Matthew 24 as precursors to His coming at the end of the age (v. 3) can easily be misinterpreted as signs that must precede the Rapture. But Jesus was speaking to His disciples (Jews) about end-time events affecting Israel prior to His return to earth to establish the messianic kingdom.

I am convinced the Rapture could occur at any time, sans signs! If you want a detailed explanation, you can purchase my 49-page booklet, Rethinking Popular Beliefs About the End Times, for $5 (postage included). If you are interested, e-mail me at and request my address.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Picky or Perceptive?

You might think I’m picky. Maybe I am. But when it comes to picking a church, I look first and foremost for one that has solid Bible preaching with life application. I also look for one with caring people. Frankly, it bothers me if people greet one another only when the pastor or worship leader says, “Now let’s take a couple of minutes to greet one another” Big deal—saying hello to visitors only when commanded to do so is meaningless. How about greeting visitors with a smile and a friendly greeting before the service and after the service?

It may be picky to evaluate (I didn’t say “judge) a church’s caring for others by additional criteria:

(1) Does the pastor or any member of the church call or write to visitors to let them know their visit was appreciated?

(2) Does the pastor or any member of the congregation follow up with visitors with an offer to provide information about the church’s beliefs and programs?

(3) Does the pastor or any member of the congregation show concern when a person is sick, injured, hospitalized, or experiencing some other trial?

(4) Does the pastor or any member of the congregation express concern when a churchgoer is absent for several Sundays?

Perhaps my standards are somewhat high. In the 50 years I served as a pastor, I followed the four practices I listed. Am I wrong to expect others to follow them? Am I picky and old-fashioned, or am I expressing what is on your mind too?