Thursday, December 31, 2009

End Well

To start the New Year off right, the best tactic is to end the old year right. Procrastination is the enemy of good intentions. By starting now to implement the kinds of actions you want to practice in 2010, you get a head start and begin to practice the skills and habits desired for the next year. Any time is a good time to change, but many start the New Year with Resolutions. The problem of course is that few of them are kept. Rather than making New Year's Resolutions, I begin each year with some thoughtful goals I want to achieve in the coming year.

I like to think in several categories; spiritual, family, health, finances, personal development, etc. I then decide what I need to change or do in order to go to the next level in that category. For example, spiritually to grow to be more of the man God wants me to be, I know that prayer, Bible reading, meditation, etc will be required. Am I practicing the spiritual disciplines that will build the qualities into my life that will result in the spiritual life I desire?

Financially, am I preparing appropriately for the future? In my younger years, I made it a priority to get out of credit card debt using credit only for the big ticket items like a house and car. In addition, am I working on an emergency fund and saving the percentage of my income that will prepare for my future and more importantly, provide for my wife if something happens to me and I can no longer care for her? Obviously, tithing comes off the top and is paid monthly. I fail to understand why ministers struggle with the concept of tithing. My financial journey began when I had nothing. Putting God first must include finances. "Where your treasure is there will your heart be also."

By making December a month of reflection on these and other issues, I get started before the New Year and begin to plan and act in ways that will carry over into 2010. When I end well, it is much more natural to begin well. It is never too late to start. Above all, always remember, "We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God's purpose prevails." Proverbs 19:21 In the words of one of my heroes of the faith, "Pray like everything depends on God, and work like everything depends on you." Work at the little things and the big things will come into line.

Have a great 2010!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Leadership and Freezing Rain

Traveling to one of our churches this morning, we came across several accidents due to the freezing rain. Crumpled cars, backed up traffic, and the State Police forced us to turn around and head back home. A leadership lesson came out of the experience.

As leaders, we are expected to be out front, aggressively demonstrating by example the path that lies ahead. The vision pulls us forward toward the preferred future the Lord has for us. Caution can be thrown to the wind when motivated to be all we can be. This places leaders in an awkward position. Leading the way not only provides great opportunities for success, it also provides great opportunities for loosing control and spinning out, resulting in unintended disaster.

As leaders, we need to be aggressively pursuing the path laid out by the Lord. We must also keep a watchful eye for potential pitfalls and slick spots. Never get to the place where you believe you cannot fall into temptation. There are too many great leaders of the past and present that have experienced the trauma of the unexpected. Be the leader God has called you to be and keep a watchful eye on the dangers that lie ahead. Bridges may freeze before road surfaces.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Here I am, sitting in my daughters home, feeling both blessed and melancholy. Blessed because of the abundant gracious gifts from the hands of the Father. Family, friends, faith community, food :), festivities, etc., the list seems endless as I "count my many blessings, name them one by one" (that should take some of us back a few years to 'song services' of yesteryear). I recognize that through no merit of my own, my God has supplied all my needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

I am also melancholy. This week has been difficult for many of our friends and loved ones. Pastor Matson from Luzerne passed away this week as did Pastor Cindy from CLC, Bensalem and Pastor Dwan lost his brother. I have been praying for many fighting cancer and other ailments that are life challenges. I am also feeling the loss of my mother who went to be with the Lord over ten years ago. I find that from time to time, my sadness at her loss returns. Of course, I would not want to bring her back from her heavenly reward, but I still miss her.

Times of celebration, like Thanksgiving, are opportunities to rejoice, but they also are reminders of the struggle we face as well as the victories received. So often, we highlight the victories and neglect to reference the battles. I am reminded of the verse from the Psalms which states, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers them out of them all."

This year, the turkey was delicious, but the greatest is in knowing that God is faithful in the good times and in the bad. I am thankful that the Lord will be that friend that will never leave or forsake me, and you.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Why is it so difficult to reach people for Christ in America today? Why does it take so long for some of our friends and neighbors to see Jesus in us and come to receive Him as Lord? Why can we hear of multitudes of people responding to an invitation to come to Christ in some other nations of the world but seldom here in the USA?
Perhaps our friends see our inconsistencies and hypocrisy and reject Jesus because of our lack of character. It may be blamed on a previous “bad experience” in church. It may be due to our neglect of prayer and intercession on their behalf. All of these, without a doubt, contribute to the moral decline of America in general and the responsiveness of those we love and pray for in particular.

In addition to these, I am becoming more and more convinced that people in our culture are more difficult to reach than most others in the world. In part, the reason includes the fact that our culture has embraced the postmodern rejection of meta-narrative along with moral relativism, religious pluralism, and individual liberty. Creativity and innovation are a higher value to most than stability, continuity, and tradition. Everyone’s reality is defined by the individual rather than by an outside standard or authority. One author declared, “Reality has confronted imagination, and reality has lost.”

Recently, Marjie and I viewed a National Geographic documentary called “Monsters of the Deep.” Allegedly, the story was about the life journey of a pre-historic sea creature. The 45 minute film was approximately 90% computer generated animation depicting the conditions this little creature experienced from birth to death along with its adventures of escaping from the predators until finally experiencing a natural death. The entire story was so life like that one could easily assume the film depicted the actual life of this creature. However, the truth is that archaeologists found the skeletal remains of an animal with a shark tooth embedded in a bone, and from that one finding, the story was created known as “Monsters of the Deep.” Interesting! Educational? Never mind, if it is true or not. Imagination developed a story based on very little evidence but depicted it in a most believable way.

This is the context of our culture and how people get their information and how they form their views of the world around us. Their belief system is influenced by many such visual and audio presentations, usually without their critiquing the reality of what has been communicated.

What does this have to do with faith in Christ? Everything! As Christians, we deal with reality. The foundation of our faith is not based on imagination or virtual reality. It is founded on the historical fact of Jesus actual birth, life, death, and resurrection from the dead, and ascension into heaven. It calls for total commitment to a God who must be trusted and believed in as the Lord of all and Savior through his atoning sacrifice on the cross. Total, absolute commitment to the Creator of the universe is not what people are normally looking for. That would cost and require too much.
Here is my question: How can we communicate this greatest of all messages in a more creative, imaginative manner without compromising the truth of God’s Word? What have you done to spark people’s imagination through creative means in your church or ministry?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Utterance Gifts

Pentecostals are noted for belief in the current relevance of utterance gifts that are distributed by the Holy Spirit. When exercised within the context of the gathering of believers, the object is to allow for their expression without allowing for "wild fire" to take over and hijack the service by being dominated by personalities and personal agendas rather the edification of the body of Christ. Every pastor has struggled with how to encourage the appropriate use of these gifts without encouraging the misuse of these gifts.

The AG leadership has recently published three resources that I highly recommend to you for personal study as well as potential study by the people in the local congregation. All three are short and very readable but direct and helpful. I encourage each of our pastors to consider how one or more of these might assist in the healthy development of the saint's use of the utterance gifts. These can be purchased from GPH or call headquarters in Springfield. They are...

1. When the Spirit Speaks, by Warren Bullock,
2. Living in the Spirit, by George O. Wood, and
3. Divine Order, compiled by Randy Hurst

I trust these will be an asset to you in teaching and training your people in the proper use of the gifts of the Spirit.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Eurasia Experience

We just completed our Ministers Enrichment yesterday morning at the Philip Bongiorno Conference Center in Carlisle, PA. Many expressed the impact the week had upon their lives and their renewed passion of reaching our world for Christ. I would like to invite you to share what was most meaningful to you. Was it...

1. The worship and prayer time,
2. Huldah Buntain,
3. One of Omar Beiler's messages,
4. One of the workshops,
5. The amazing meals,
6. The Eurasia Experience itself on Tuesday evening,
7. Interacting with friends, or
8. Something else you want to reference?

If you were not able to be with us, you missed a good one. (I hope they all are, of course.) Perhaps you would want to comment on something that particularly impacted you heart.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

G-20 Summit

All eyes interested and concerned about the current global economic issues will be directed to our own Steel City on September 24-25. Appropriately, leaders of the top twenty economic nations of our world will gather for discussion, planning, and collaboration on next steps in dealing with the financial challenges now being faced.

There are three points I would like to make on this blog.

First, prayer for our leaders is called for in Scripture and this provides an opportunity to exercise the God-given mandate around a specific issue that has very practical implications. If we as believers can't be motivated to pray for our President and other leaders of the world during this event, I doubt much short of a threat of war or terrorist attacks will prompt us to action. Therefore, I encourage us to take some time on these two days to petition the Lord for protection, wisdom, and His favor during these gatherings. These leaders may or may not seek the Lord's guidance, but we can pray for that for them regardless.

Second, a reminder is in order that the kingdom of God is not dependent on the economic conditions of the world. While we all realize that fact, we sometimes allow the news media's reports to give far to much influence on the way we think of our work and service for the Kingdom of God. Nations rise and fall, but the promise of our Lord remains that He will build His Church.

Third, when was the last time your family had an economic summit? Perhaps I could ask it this way: Is your financial house in order? Finances are tough for many in our nation and that is true for those of us in ministry as well as those in secular employment. Do all you can to eliminate debt. Credit card debt is the worst method of financing family needs. We must all take personal responsibility for our finances. If we want God's favor on our finances, we should be Scriptural and give the Lord our best, not our left overs.

May God grant His blessing and favor as we seek first His Kingdom. He will add all these other things to us as well.