Believing Dr. Ford; Supporting Judge Kavanaugh

“He pled the cause of the poor and needy, then it was well.  Is not this what it means to know the Lord?” (Jeremiah 22:16).

People base their politics on their values, their beliefs.  What they truly believe.

In the current event taking over all the news–the crisis du jour of the Trump years–Dr. Christine Blasey Ford went before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday to charge Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh with sexual assault when she was 15 and he 17.  That was some 35 years ago.   She was “100 percent sure it was Kavanaugh.”  Speaking in his own defense later in the day, he was just as certain she was mistaken.  She may have been assaulted, said he, but not by him.

Shortly thereafter, I asked Facebook friends for a simple yes or no response to this: “Do you believe Dr. Ford?”  As of this moment, less than 24 hours later, I have received 464 answers.  The overwhelming majority say “No.”  Some go into detail on their answer, unable to render a simple yes or no.

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Why step one to the Christian life is humility

At that time the disciples came to Jesus saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 18:1-4)

There is a reason the Lord makes humility step one to living for Him.

He is going to be asking a lot from you, more in fact that you will think you can humanly give.  Unless you have humbled yourself before Him and received what He has for you, you will balk at the demands, insist on your own rights, and insert your own methodology.  In so doing, you will mess it all up.

Be humble or go home.

Only the humble can pull this off.

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How to measure the effectiveness of your ministry

“Blessed is he who endures.” — James 1:12

Often, at the start of the first service for a protracted meeting –revival, prayer conference, deacons retreat, Bible study, whatever–I’ll say, “Now, everyone wonders at the end of a meeting, what was accomplished. Did we get our money’s worth?

“It’s a good question.  And I want you to know that there’s a way to tell.”

“I want to tell you how to measure the effectiveness of this meeting.  There are several principles. Some of you may want to write this down.”

“First principle: Wait a hundred years…..  And I don’t know what the other principles are.”

It’s a light-hearted way to make a valid point.  Please read on.

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Scripture’s cure for anxiety

“Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you” (Psalm 116:7).

Want to see anxiety demonstrated?  Get on any highway in the country during morning rush hour traffic.  One out of every ten drivers is either running late, in a hurry, under the gun from the boss or the school kids, and taking it out on every other motorist on the road.  They’re not wicked, just stressed.

They’re anxious.

A friend wrote to thank me for an article on depression.  “I’m not really depressed,” he said, “but anxious.  I have a lot of problem with anxiety.”

I could write a book on that subject myself.  (A friend, Dr. Larry Kennedy–now in Heaven and a member of the great cloud of witnesses–did just that.  I told him he might have thought of a more uplifting title than Down With Anxiety, but he felt the play on words worked.)

I’ve been anxious.  It seems to go with the job of pastor.

Ask any pastor how well he sleeps on Saturday night.

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10 things Christians do not ask the world

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the world, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful”  (Psalm 1:1). 

“The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him…” I Corinthians 2:14

Around Easter or Christmastime polls, surveys, and magazine articles all indicate the world has given up on Jesus, on God, on Christians, on the church, or on preachers.  But let not your heart be troubled, Christ-follower.

We may as well ask a blind man what he thinks of the sunrise I enjoyed this morning, a deaf person how they appreciated the symphony, or my unbelieving neighbor what he thought of my sermon last Sunday.

The world is lost.  Never lose sight of that, follower of Jesus Christ. So, we should not be asking it for direction or seeking its counsel. When the disciples told Jesus the Pharisees were offended by Him, he said, “Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind.”  (Matthew 15:12,14)

And yet, how often do we hear of people polling the neighborhood of a designated area to find out what people see as their greatest need, what they would like most from a church, or why they no longer go to church. Then, they build a church program around the results of their poll.  What’s wrong with this picture?

They are called ‘lost’ for a reason. (See Luke 15.)

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Listen to the experts, but don’t take it to the bank.

“How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?  When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). 

Someone said to me, “He may be an atheist but he has a Ph.D. in Greek and has studied the Scriptures in their original languages.  That gives his views a great deal of weight.”

I laughed.  And so did “Someone” on the royal throne (see Psalm 2).

On the back of a book on prayer, a blurb described the pastor/author as an expert on prayer. I’m not sure why that offended me.  I felt as if one of my five siblings had announced that he/she was an expert in communicating with our parents. “What’s so hard about that?” I would have replied.  “They love us and are always available.”

I don’t know. Perhaps it’s just anyone calling himself an expert that bothers me.

I have read that FDR had an innate distrust of anyone called an expert. It’s not a bad philosophy.

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Some hurts of this life are so deep they never diminish with time

On our blog, I had given ten suggestions for helping people navigate the transitions of life.  Number 10’s suggestion was to laugh every day.  And that brought a private note from my friend Anne.

“This reminded me of something I did thirty-three years ago,” she said.

Anne had been pregnant, almost in her sixth month, when the doctors diagnosed the baby with a condition called anencephaly.  The news was devastating.

Anne explains that for a fetus to be “anencephalic” means no brain or the brain grows outside the skull.  Of course, it’s incompatible with life. Anne explained that it forms very early, often before the woman even knows she is pregnant.

They had named the baby girl Amy.  They often prayed for her–still in the womb, of course–along with her two older brothers.

“Such babies are often extra active in the womb,” Anne told me, which only adds to the mother’s pain and the cruelty of the condition.  Even so, Anne says, “I relished each time Baby Amy turned or kicked since I knew my time with her would be limited.”

As if that wasn’t enough…

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You’re going through a transition: What to do.

The Lord is my Rock.  Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.  Shelter me under the Rock.  (found all through the Psalms)

You’ve just been released from one job (position, place of service, ministry, etc) and you are preparing for the next one.  What to do in the meantime?

You’ve lost your spouse of many years, whether by death or divorce or something else.  What do you do until the way opens up before you?

You’ve moved from the only home you ever knew to a new city/country, and you’re finding it difficult.  What now?

Keep your eye on the Rock.

Changes can be hard.  But they can be lifegiving and life-altering.

Life is about change.  Anyone who does not like change is going to have a lot of trouble in this life.  Any Christian who cannot handle change is going to have trouble following the Lord Jesus.

Here are our top ten suggestions to you on how to make the most of the transition time…

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What “acting on faith” involves

“For we walk by faith, not by sight” ( 2 Corinthians 5:7).

A friend said, “I have atheist buddies who say they live by science.  They like a lot of things about Christianity and what we do at church, but they just can’t do faith.”

I replied to her, “They may think that, but it’s not so.  They do a thousand things a day by faith, just like all the rest of us.  If they get in a car and drive on the interstate, they are showing great faith in the people who build and maintain the highways and the motorists all around them, none of whom they know.  If they eat in a restaurant, they are demonstrating faith in those who prepare the food, people whom presumably they do not know and will never meet.  And yet they open wide and swallow. They go to a doctor, he diagnoses something they never heard of, writes a prescription they cannot read which they take to the pharmacy.  They may never see the pharmacist who chooses what goes into the pill bottle, but when they get home, they do what the rest of us do–pop a pill or two in our mouth and wash it down with water.  It’s all of faith!”

We all live by faith, believer or not.

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Letting others do our thinking

“My wife handles the religion in our family.  Talk to her.”  –A man in Luling, LA giving his young pastor the brushoff when I tried to introduce the matter of his relationship to Christ

Who handles the big things in your family?

The old joke goes: “When my wife and I got married, we decided I would handle the big things in life and she would take care of the little things, like where we lived, the house we would buy, the car we drive, and such.  It’s worked well. And, so far, over these 40 years, there have not been any big things.”

I told a group of Facebook friends I was reading James Comey’s book “A Higher Loyalty,” about his years in government, first as a U.S.Attorney and then Director of the F.B.I.  It’s a fascinating book and contains much worth retaining. (Although, admittedly, it can be boring in places.)

Because the man is controversial, the book has been attacked and disputed from the Trump team and his supporters.

The reaction of Facebookers was along party lines.

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