It has been a year and a half since my son’s funeral. I have decided to share some of his wisdom along with some of my own reflections about our life together in a book which was just published. The title of the book is called 30 Years. Sometimes 30 years does not seem long but sometimes it is a lifetime. The following is an excerpt from one of the chapters.
As a preacher, I have had opportunity to preach many funerals. I am certain as long as the Lord allows me to have days, I will have many more opportunities. It does not much matter the age of the person who had passed on, the grieving family always feels that the passing of their loved one is too soon. That is because we can never really prepare ourselves for this kind of loss. Not even if we can see it coming due to extended illness or something of the kind. I often find myself telling families that this pain that we feel is simply the cost of loving people. It is definitely worth it.
At the beginning of this chapter, I included scripture from James 4:13-14 (NIV). “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” I believe that every word of the bible is absolute truth. I also believe that if we would consider the wisdom to be found in it, such as this particular portion, we would not only suffer less but see God more throughout the course of our journey.
Remember in the beginning of this book I shared the dreams that I had for my son even before he was born? Not only did those dreams get destroyed but I also learned that God’s plan for these past 30-years was much greater than anything that I could ever have dreamed! After all, since none of us really know how much time we will be given in this world, how could we possibly come up with any plan that would actually be good? I have learned many things over those 30 years, one of which is that God’s way is the best way, and that life is short.
It turns out that my son was a wise man. He lived life in high gear most every chance he could. He made the most of every opportunity and every relationship he had. He lived well and he even died well. He was a strong man. A great man. He was God’s man! He made the most of the 30 years that God gave him in this world.
The purpose behind writing this book is simply to share a small part of the past 30 Years and prayerfully hope that it might be of some help to others along the way. I pray that anyone who would read this book would be blessed.
In the beginning of August, I wrote a blogpost about the possibility of Another Great Revival in America? In that post, I talked bout the concern for the Body of Christ as a whole and the need for a spiritual awakening! Also, that post talked about the struggles of compromise and shrinking back in the face of persecution and the pressures of the world.
As I continue with that thought but go a little bit deeper, I want to expose a real concern that many either already see and chose to ignore or most likely due to the noise and distraction of the mess that this society has become about cannot see it.
It was a few weeks ago as I was scrolling through social media, I came across a meme that simply stated, “When church is optional for parents it will usually be absent in the lives of the next generation.”
The person who share the meme is a good friend and brother in Christ, Kurt Honican. He not only is a preacher in the local church in Eastern North Carolina, but a man of God who is loved by many. When he posted this meme, he also wrote these words.
“Saw this on a friend’s page and it brought to mind one of my major concerns over the Covid pandemic… will folks become comfortable staying away from the Body of Christ and as a result, negatively alter future generations of the Church?”
Kurt and I have talked a few times about the condition of our congregations since the arrival of this virus. We have each had to make some tough decisions along with our respective church leaders. This is true for every congregation of believers in the world.
In an effort to expand on Kurt’s thoughts and concerns, which are mine as well, I would like to present a reminder to all of us who belong to the body of Christ. A reminder of some responsibilities that we have as disciples of Jesus.
We are charged with the work of making disciples. Not only that, but to “go into all the world” as we find in Mark 16:15. It seems that there is no exception found that would apply to this command.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.” As is found in Romans 12:2. The world is telling everyone be fearful and feel guilty. We are being told that being a disciple of Christ is wrong and not allowed. Our identity in Christ is being challenged and we are not to conform to this pattern. We are to be the salt of the Earth. We are to be different! We are to be the light in this darkness!
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Found in Proverbs 22:6. Many times this part of the scripture is taken and applied falsely. Too many believe that if you just take you children to church that they will always turn to God or that they will always be considered saved.
This is just simply not true. This text is part of a bigger statement about what it means to be a godly person. A godly person is one who has a genuine relationship with God through the grace offered by the blood of Christ! A godly person is one who is totally submitted to the Lordship of Jesus and the Kingdom of God is first in all things. Including our children.
It was that same brother in Christ, Kurt Honican, who years ago was my son’s youth minister, taught that our children are not really our children. “They are God’s children and we are just babysitting”.
I think that he made a great point from a great perspective for all of us who are parents. If we are going to be godly people, godly parents, then we need to make it a priority to bring these children up in the ways of our Lord! After all, we all will give an account for how we raised God’s children in this world!
Those are just three reminders of many about the responsibility we have as disciples of Christ to honor God with every part of our lives. Including how we live in this world while dealing with Covid 19, social unrest, and political strife. Not to mention the life itself which comes with its own dose of stress.
It seems to me that we spend a lot of energy praying about, speaking out about, and even acting when possible against the horrific act of abortion. We do this because we care about the unborn lives that cannot speak for themselves. I pray that we will continue in that effort and that God will have His way in that matter. However, I cannot help but think about our children who have been born into this world.
You know, the ones who live in our homes and eat all our food and spend all our money. Yeah, those children. Well, when it comes to their spiritual lives, they too in a way do not have a voice. They are subject to whatever influence they are born into and continue to be exposed to. They watch the adults in their life intently and begin to imitate.
That means that if there are parents who are not godly parents or even parents who claim Christianity yet never display the life of a disciple before these children. The option is never presented to them and therefore as they reach an age of accountability will have limited to no chance to even consider being a disciple before being sucked into the ways of the world!
I believe that just as taking the physical life of an unborn baby is wrong, so too is robbing any child of the opportunity to choose for themselves everlasting spiritual life! If our children never get to see the life of a genuine disciple of Christ through their parents or grandparents, the likelihood of them genuinely meeting Jesus in a life changing way is diminished at best.
Final thought. I have been involved with and interacted with many congregations. Most of them “smaller” congregations. It seems to me that the concern for all of the smaller churches is that they do not have any young people. The young people either moved away or are going where all the other young people are going which many times is nowhere.
I have often wondered if the reason that some of these churches are in this condition because the older folks failed to do the work over the last generation or two. I am not really trying to point fingers, but I cannot help but think that my generation and older must be responsible for the younger generations not having the desire to know Christ.
This is not a church attendance issue. It is not about going to church every Sunday. It is about knowing Christ in a way that changes lives and saves souls. It is about our children being led into the presence of God and having opportunity to receive His grace! Going to church on Sunday morning is simply evidence of a person’s spiritual health!
I encourage you all, do not allow your children to be innocent by-standers who become victim to the wickedness of this world! Show them the way, the truth, and the life by being genuine disciples of Christ who stay committed no matter what is happening in this world!
If you know me personally, then you already know that my wife and I have been dealing with the loss of our son, Dustin L. Gilmer. He was killed when his van struck a concrete barrier dividing the interstate on which he was driving. This happened just days before his thirtieth birthday. We received a call at around 4:30 am on Friday August 7th, informing us about what had happened just a few hours earlier that morning.
I am unable to explain the shock and overwhelming pain that came over us during that moment. Never in my almost 49 years of life have I ever experienced such a total loss of control of myself. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. I could not even try to stop what was happening and felt completely helpless and destroyed.
It has been about six weeks now since this happened. During that six weeks my family and I had to do what everyone does who loses one they love. We had to identify my son’s body. Then we had to plan a funeral. Then we had to deal with his estate. In the middle of all that, we tried to process and cope with the reality that he was gone and that this in fact was happening in our family.
I feel that I can say that things were and are, even in his death, a bit different for us in that Dustin was born with a disability that caused him to live his life in a wheelchair. He was born with a disability which caused him to break bones really easily. In fact, when he was born the doctor informed me and his mother that he was not expected to live more than five years.
Pam, my wife, and I always felt that there was a good possibility that we would outlive Dustin due to his disability. Even though he was able to fight through the challenges of his disability and earn a great deal of independence, we believed that over time it would catch up to him and begin to take a toll. I prayed about that a lot. I guess for the past thirty years we lived with and dealt with his disability in a way that it simply became a part of who we are, and I guess became normal for us.
I was not a Christian when Dustin was born. However, I did talk to God every now and then. You know, the usual cry out to God when things are really bad. From the day he was born until he, my wife and I all gave our lives to Christ.
Since Dustin was born, my thoughts and payers were everything from why this disability happened to him, my son to “Lord if I could only trade places with him”. I went through just about every emotion I could go through during the first ten or twelve years of his life. Trying to figure out how to cope with my son and his suffering with this disability. During those years and really his entire life, we all learned how to function and be a family who not only suffered together because of the disability, but also to be able to move away from needing answers to our “why us” questions.
Over the years of Dustin’s life, we all learned many valuable lessons about how God works and how he does not work. We were able to grow as Christians and I believe that because of that, we were able to accept that God had allowed this disability and to be able to stand in the fact that God does not make mistakes. Therefore, we began to live in a place that helped us fall in line with what God was doing with Dustin’s life.
So when that day came when I received that phone call at 4:30 am informing me that Dustin was killed in a car wreck, in the middle of that devastating moment, I did not feel the need to ask, “why me?” or “why my son?”.
In the days and weeks after his death, my wife and I got in our truck and drove. I mean we drove for about four days. During that time, I could not stop thinking about all the godly men in the bible that had experienced tragedy. I thought about people like Abraham who was willing to kill his own son trusting that it was God’s plan. I also thought a lot about David who lost his son due to consequences of his own sinful behavior. Yet when God said “no” to his prayer that his son would live, David simply ended his fasting and prayer and continued serving God.
I mostly thought about Job. I continued to think about how much loss he had endured and remained faithful to God. He lost all of his children. Even though he was blessed with more children, I have no doubt that the loss of the first children made a lasting mark. There were plenty more people in the scriptures that I thought about who had suffered loss or tragedy. Yet they continued to be godly people.
I am simply sharing all of this because I think it was important for me to be reminded of the lesson that God had been teaching me for the past thirty years. It was as if God was reminding me by saying, “why not you?”. This is the lesson that was constant throughout the thirty years of my son’s life.
If we think about all the people throughout the history of mankind who were godly people and suffered. We will find many that were used greatly by God for His glory and for His will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven! After all, Hebrews chapter 11 lists many of the “hall of famers” of the Bible. I think it is safe to say that none who were listed there lived without suffering.
Dustin, my son, would be the first to tell anyone that life is not fair. He would be the first one to tell anyone that bad things happen to good people and bad people. And he would also be the first one to tell anyone that in the middle of it all, God is doing something.
You know, 2020 has turned out to be a pretty crappy year for everyone. Like everyone else, I began the year paying a little bit of attention to the impeachment proceedings and wishing that it would be over, and we could move on to talking about something else.
Well, be careful what you wish for. I soon found myself after about three months of adjusting to COVID 19 precautions wishing we could go back and talk about the impeachment hearings! It was not long that I found myself, like everyone else, being overly stressed about the current events going on in the world.
I remember thinking about how I just started a new preaching position at our church and was excited about getting the church to grow and be successful about making disciples for Christ. It all seemed to come to an immediate stand still and I began to have the attitude of how it was not fair or right that our church was being affected like this. Not to mention the affects that it has had on me personally, just as it has on everyone else in the world.
Looking back now, I cannot help but continue to hear the words in my mind, “why not me?”. I think about all the generations over the ages who had to struggle and deal with world changing events. Wars, sicknesses, disasters, political and social issues, loss, and the like. I keep hearing, “why not me?”.
There were many generations since Adam and Eve that experienced a sudden and drastic change in the world which affected their lifestyles and comfort levels. So, the question continues, “why not me?”. Why would I be exempt from any kind of suffering or challenge? I live in the same world as they did. The same world that is contaminated by wickedness and sin since Adam and Eve! Who am I?
So, I must continue to ask myself, “why not me?”. Why shouldn’t I expect to take my turn at suffering and pain? This is the way life has been since the fall of man in the garden! This is the world we live in. God does not make mistakes and He allows suffering at times. So, “why not me?”.
God has brought many great things out of pain and suffering. And all of those things end in God being glorified and many have turned to Him for His saving grace because of the suffering that happens in the lives of His disciples. For the past thirty years, our family bible verse has been Romans 8:18.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
So, I sit and think about the possibilities that God will use my suffering for His glory and for the sake of someone else’s soul! So, “why NOT me?”!
A final thought. I would not want this blog post to be taken as some kind of sad situation entirely. Certainly, it has its share of sadness, maybe m
ore than its share. However, if you knew my son at all, you would know that even though he lived in his wheelchair, he looked at the opportunities for success in his life and always asked the question, “why NOT me?”.
He lived his life well and also died well. I will forever be proud of my son and will forever give God the glory for the blessing that Dustin was for the last thirty years and will continue to always be.To God be the Glory for ever and ever! Amen!
I recently listened to sermon preached by a great brother in Christ, Mentor, and friend. His name is Bob Beltz at Valley Mills Christian Church in Indianapolis, IN. His sermon was powerful and thought provoking at least for me.
He preached from Lamentations and really brought some perspective to the table about where exactly to look when evaluating what we need as a nation, a society, and as the body of Christ.
“Judah has gone into exile under affliction and under harsh servitude; she dwells amoung the nations, but she has found no rest; all her pursuers have overtaken her in the midst of distress.” -Lamentations 1:3
For the past six to eight years I have often thought of America as needing another great revival! What I mean is for those Americans who will readily and maybe even honestly claim to believe in God or call themselves Christians yet seldom or never attend church to return to putting God first in all things.
Often times these Americans will go most of their lives without ever opening God’s Word in the privacy of their own home. Somehow these Americans have fallen into the trap of believing that simply not denying God’s existence is enough to secure a spot in a place we all know as heaven. Not accepting the fact that it does not work that way.
I had often thought that if we would just pray that God would move in a way that brought about a great revival in the hearts of The Church in America then all of the wickedness and wrongdoing that seemed so overwhelming would be defeated.
The problem with that thought was that it was born and motivated by my own spiritual youth and naivety. You see, what I did not have a full grasp on was that revivals are what happen to the believers within the church, those who are actively working within the body of Christ and seeking the Lord. It is The Church that is to be the focus of a revival!
Maybe it is because I was raised in the 70’s and 80’s. Even then Americans were being taught that this nation was a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. Leading me to just assume that all Americans believed in God. At least that was the case in the Midwest where I spent a lot of my childhood.
Maybe I simply assumed that an American revival meant that many if not most would return to the Christian foundation that our forefathers stood on.
The reality of it all is simply that The Church, the body of Christ, are the people who need to be awakened. After all, according to the great commission, it is the responsibility of The Church to go into the world and make disciples!
“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and peach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”” – Mark 16:15-16
To simply pray that God would change the hearts of those who have not accepted His gospel and do nothing else in regard to our neighbor’s salvation is a complete act of deflecting our God given responsibility back on God Himself!
What I have come to realize over the past five or six years is that it is The Church in America that is sick. After all, it is fool hearted to expect people who have never accepted God, His Word, and the Christian life to live according to the Christian way of life! It is The Church, the body of Christ, that has become complacent.
The believers have slowly given in to the pressures of the world and compromised bit by bit. All the while convincing themselves that we are good enough. We sometimes still go to church and sometimes give our tithes. Verbally confirming that we believe in God and even Jesus sometimes. All the while allowing the foundations of the Christian family to be destroyed by the world around us without any effort to actively standing up and call sin what it is. I do not mean in the public houses, I mean within the walls of our families, our own houses and churches. While at the same time, our behavior in society does not reflect what we say we believe.
Somehow the believers, The Church, arrived at a way of life that is complacent and maybe even blending in with the politically correct mindset of the American culture. Most Americans who are Christians will immediately reject the idea of political correctness, however when confronted with an opportunity to stand firm on our Christian principles, we shrink back for fear of offending our family, friends, and neighbors. An example of fearing what the world will percieve about the Christian who is supposed to be about love and kindness.
The reality is that the believers in these “United” States of America have shrunk back. I remember when I first started full time ministry about fifteen or so years ago. There were some of the older believers in the churches that I was part of who would tell stories about protesting and picketing outside liquor stores and XXX bookstores which had been starting up in their neighborhoods. They had great success in shutting them down. People were also getting saved back then!
“Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”
– James 2:17
I remember at that time I thought to myself, “that doesn’t seem like what God would have us do”. Even though what was being promoted by those businesses was not something that honored God and provided great temptation to sin in the community, I thought that it was a bit aggressive and might have given the wrong impression to the rest of the community about the church. Which is still the mindset of many church leaders today many times.
I look back now and think that I was probably half correct in my thinking. I was correct in thinking that it was a bit aggressive. However, I now see that it was and always is correct to stand up and call sin what it is! Maybe sometimes even when it is or would be perceived as aggressive. I cannot speak to the manner in which those older brethren took action were right or wrong. Only God will judge that.
I will however say that I think that I would rather stand before God and be corrected over the manner in which I stood firm in what is right or wrong than to stand before Him and try to explain why I just stood by and did nothing or said nothing.
I think that only much prayer and fasting will allow us to be in tune with the Holy Spirit as He leads us toward making disciples and bringing in the harvest.
If we would ever be able to surrender to what God is doing, we would be quick to repent, heal, and be made strong. And by we, I mean the believers.
I believe it would be the next great revival in the body of Christ!
We must seek the Lord. We must cry out for spiritual growth and strength to go into a world of wickedness and hurt and simply love people.
I recently read an article written by Andrew Klavan that was published on The Daily Wire. In that article, Klavan is pointing out something that I have been pondering for most of 2020 and maybe even a bit longer. That is this thing called “gaslighting”. What is gaslighting?
This type of manipulation is very subtle, effective, and dangerous. Often times a person who is being gaslighted finds themselves in a serious state of insanity or maybe even worse if there is such a thing.
As a preacher of the gospel and a committed Christian to the faith in which I have surrendered myself to, I find that a healthy pursuit of the truth is absolutely necessary for success as well as survival in this world. After all, the gospel message is all about what is true!
Having said all that, I will say that I find it very hard to accept that since before January 01, 2020, until the date of this writing, August 01,2020, that such a string of catastrophic situations would occur back to back or simultaneously.
It has only been a short seven months and we have and continue to deal with Presidential impeachment hearings, global pandemics, federal and local governmental abuse of powers, social unrest (some may say tyranny), as well as the relentless challenge of any authority, racial tension and riots in our streets, and let’s not forget the audacious attempts to simply erase the entire history of the greatest nation in the world, by force no less!
I personally find it very difficult maybe even impossible for all of these events and happenings to be coincidental. Yes, some are consequences of another, but it all seems to be laced with the idea that there is a “man behind the curtain” pulling all the strings and pushing all the buttons! I cannot bring myself to accept that all of this is just happening without some political agenda driving it all.
I do not pretend to understand all of it. I cannot even begin to start assigning blame or responsibility on any one group or individual as to who might be the puppet master’s in it all. All I know is that I feel that I and every other American citizen who disagrees with any left wing or liberal minded groups are being gaslighted as we speak.
As Klavan pointed out in his article, there are groups of people as well as political groups that are engaging in hatred and discord in an effort to gain leverage and power to push their agenda all the while preaching that it is me or “we the people” that are the one’s that are the haters and dividers!
We now find ourselves in such a position that any pushback or attempt to defend ourselves actually plays right into the hands of those who are attacking America! If I stand firm in who I am as a white Christian man who is also an American Citizen as well as a Preacher of the gospel, the fingers will immediately start pointing, “see, he hates everyone because he won’t agree or fall in line with what we want and believe”!
This scenario plays out in every part of our lives from debating about how we choose or not choose to protect ourselves from a very real and deadly virus all the way to whether or not a person will submit to the regime of the Black Lives Matter movements, Antifa, or any other Socialist/Marxist organization.
What does not seem to matter is what anyone really thinks or believes about any of it. There is simply a steady stream of information being fed to society by the government, media, and all the different groups of people out there. All of it controlled by “the man behind the curtain”. There is no discussion. No attempt to open mindedly understand each other. Simply all there is to remain is chaos and confusion.
Chaos and confusion are what the gaslighter wants. Division and strife are what the socialist/Marxist depends on. As long as the truth is not presented, the crowd is left to wrestle with their own thoughts of what exactly is reality and what is not.
Even when the truth is plain to all, anytime anyone begins to embrace what is real or true, the mob quickly pounces to shut it down and condemn the fact finder as racist scum and told to sit down and shut up, or else.
And because no one else in the crowd who also are being gaslighted, will stand in the face of the lies, neither will anyone else. It is evidence that the gaslighting is working.
The victims are afraid to speak out about any of it for fear of being accused of or maybe revealing to the world their state of insanity. Even though there is no insanity on their part. We are simply being told that 1+1=4. If we object with what we know to be true, we are smacked down and shunned from society and any connection to it!
The insanity lies in the minds of the mob, the gaslighters. They are the ones who have lost touch with reality. They are the ones who are living in a fantasy world filled with hate and discord and calling it social and political progress. Something that no one in their right mind would ever have thought would happen. Yet here we are. Here it is.
As an American citizen I am more than upset about all of it. However, because I am a believer in Jesus as Lord and Savior of all, I must consider the Kingdom of God first and foremost in all of it. So, what does that mean?
Well, as was stated in my previous blogpost, American Christians and These “United” States 2020, The kingdom of God is the priority. That means that I must be about the work of the Kingdom. Which is basically, loving God and loving people. Sounds simple right? Well, not so much.
I personally believe that we are to live the Christian life in such a way that we honor God in all parts of our lives. Good times and bad times. I believe that God has made it clear that there are certain moral and ethical truths which He expects the believer to stand firm on and not shrink back from anything that challenges that.
We find in scripture where the book of Hebrews calls the believer to persevere!
“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” – Hebrews 10:39
What is happening in the “United” States of America today is a direct attack on the very core values of the Christian faith! The very thing that the Christian is to stand firm on. Our core values are the foundation of not only the Body of Christ but this nation as well! We have a duty to stand firm on those values and beliefs, which by the way all are centered on Christ our Lord! See the letter to the Colossians.
Everything that the socialist/Marxist agenda proudly stands for is intended to dismantle the family unit as God Himself had established. All of the acts of the sinful nature which are obvious according to Galatians 5, are now condoned and promoted. At the time of this writing, there are some reports of bibles being burned in Portland, OR in the midst of the rioting in the streets!
If we sit back and say nothing. If we shrink back to our pews and pulpits and preach the “safe” message that the gospel is all about going to heaven and that what goes on in this world is not our concern, I fear that we will be in error at best. It is our responsibility to fight for the morals, truths, and principles of the Kingdom of God!
“your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10
That is how the Lord Jesus taught His disciples to pray! His will be done, on EARTH as it is in heaven! We are charged with stewardship of the gospel! The truth of the word of God! We must not simply shrink back and allow the wickedness in the hearts of those who think the gospel foolishness, 1 Corinthians, to simply destroy what God has established in the world!
It is not a matter of winning or losing a battle against the evils of this world. It is a matter of standing before a Holy God who will evaluate the hearts of each believer. He will call to account the stewardship of each one of us when it comes to the truths with which he entrusted in our charge! Refer to the parable of the talents which can be found in Matthew’s gospel chapter 25.
It is about how much are we willing work in the harvest fields even when they were on fire and being destroyed by the wickedness of the evil one. After all it is those who take the gospel for foolishness who are perishing, again 1 Corinthians, who really are the ones Jesus sent us after when He said to go and make disciples!
“…The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers in to his harvest field.” – Matthew 9:37-38
In today’s world, in these “United” States of America, the Christian is faced with a choice. Either shrink back and allow the gaslighting to lead us into compromising the gospel and the moral foundation that Jesus died for. Or we can stand firm in Christ and stand firm in our convictions, loving God by loving people. That sometimes means speaking truth in the face of wickedness and evil. Often times if not every time it means taking harsh and/or brutal treatment from the enemies, the mobs, the gaslighters.
Here is what I know for a fact. God’s word is indeed absolute truth. His morals and principles are indeed good and trustworthy. Jesus did indeed die and was resurrected from the dead and is now at the right hand of the Father in heaven! These facts alone should be enough for me and every other believe to stand firm in truth.
Call things what they are. Trust in the God in whom we claim to believe! Do not shrink back!
As an American Christian as well as a Preacher of the gospel, I am not only troubled by the current culture in the “United” States of America, but I am challenged by the thoughts about what can or should be done. What should the Christian’s reaction be? What should the American Christian be doing in response to any of it?
First, I will make it known that I first and foremost believe that every Christian around the world should always be about the Lord’s business. The business of making disciples. In that regard, it should be business as usual for the believer. We should be about the work of the Kingdom no matter the climate or culture around us.
Part of the dilemma in my mind is not so much about what we are supposed to be doing as the body of Christ but what could or should be done as Christian Americans. If anything. I have some issues when thinking about how the American believers have always stood firm on the fact that the country was founded on Christian values by Christian men and women.
We have always held those Christian men and women as not only American heroes but also heroes of the faith as well. We celebrate their accomplishments as they literally fought for their and our freedoms as people and as Christians. We for so long, I guess until now, have been proud of the battles and wars that they willingly fought so that they and we could enjoy a nation where we are free to believe what we want to believe. As well as anyone else for that matter.
We look at the men who signed the constitution as great Christian Americans who courageously stood in the face of tyranny and oppression in a forceful way, yet we now look at each other and simply say, we should just keep making disciples and focus on the Kingdom work. Which I agree with. However, I cannot help but ask myself, what if part of the Kingdom work is doing something about the tyranny and injustice that is happening against our freedoms?
I feel that the believers think it possible for that to be part of Kingdom work because we are always saying, “we need more Christians in office”, thinking that it will help preserve our freedoms. After all, isn’t that what we have always celebrated in our founding Christian Americans? Yet somehow, we seem to act as though that should be some other Christian instead of the one looking back in the mirror.
Do we not proudly cry out that “This country was founded on Christian principles; therefore, it is a Christian nation!” But now, when the baton is handed to us, we seem to be silent. We seem to be relying on “the vote”. All I hear is, “wait till November”. Although I still believe in the voting process, I do not trust the ones who are to manage that process.
Whatever happens after November, I am confident that our current culture will only get worse. If one group is elected, things will continue to get worse, if the other is elected, things may explode socially! It seems like we only have a choice between letting the wind blow the fire even bigger or pouring gasoline on the fire to help it grow. It just seems inevitable to me that evil will continue to abide and abound as long as godly people sit back and either deny that it is happening or have the attitude that someone else will do something about it.
Yes, I realize that scripture teaches much about the world being in decay due to sin and the consequences of wickedness. However, I do not know if I believe that it would be God’s will for the believers to just sit on the side of the road and not at least speak out against the ways of the evil one! Our current culture has become such that anyone who disagrees with “the mob”, Christian or not, will be smacked down and shunned from society!
I cannot help but reflect on Galatians 5:19 “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious:…” All throughout the scripture, the prophets, the disciples, the believers, and Jesus stood up and spoke against such things, boldly! Which leaves me with one question. Why not me? Why not the American Christian in 2020? What is hindering the church from their zeal? What is it?
Maybe it is just me. Maybe I am the one who should sit down and be quiet. Maybe I should join the ranks of other Christian Americans and just quietly continue to hold church services and act like the ways of the wicked are not destroying everything that we once considered a blessing from God.
Or maybe it really is me. Maybe I am one whom God is leading to do or say something in the darkness about the acts of the sinful nature, which are obvious! Until now, I have been silent about the goings on in this world publicly because I did not want to contribute to the non-sense. Nor do I want to participate in the loose lipped style of sharing opinions and rants which have no use except to fuel the current climate. Nor would it bring glory to God and His Kingdom. I just wonder if I am the only one of God’s faithful believers that He would lead to follow in the paths of our American forefathers? Or am I simply mistaken about it all?
We Americans have this bad habit of falling into the trap of believing that the worst-case scenario will never happen to us. After all, we are Americans. American Christians for crying out loud! I think we would do well to remind ourselves of the problems that God’s chosen people, the Israelites, had each time they thought too much of themselves simply because God showed them favor.
I guess I just don’t see how we lift up our founding fathers as great American Christians while at the same time conclude that for any or all of us to do the same things that they did for the sake of freedom would not be the right thing to do. Last time I checked; freedom of any kind is always worth fighting for.
I will say for sure, much prayer and fasting is needed.
While realizing that not everyone is a country music fan, specifically what is now known as the “oldies” in country music. Nevertheless, there was once a well-known country music singer/songwriter known as George Jones. He sang and wrote many #1 hits on the country music chart in his day. One in particular comes to mind for the topic of this blog post. It is titled, “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?”.
This song was actually written by Max Barnes and Troy Seals. Jones and his singing it made it a hit toward the later years of his career. The song was simply about an old country music legend wondering about the future of country music. Reminiscing about those who had come before him and participated in making country music great.
“Who’s gonna fill their shoes? Who’s gonna stand that tall?Who’s gonna play the Opry, and the Wabash Cannonball?Who’s gonna give their heart and soul to get to me and you?”
Those are the words of the chorus in that song. It causes me to ponder about other things in life, as it would with anyone else when reflecting on their own career or profession. Me being a Preacher, it makes sense that I would wonder about the church, “who’s gonna fill their shoes”?
In every church congregation, with the exception maybe of some new church plants, there are always those faithful saints who are “the older members”. These are the ones who have, because of their faithfulness, continued the work of the Kingdom of God over the years. They are the reason that the congregation even still exists! Some were there when the congregation first formed and when they built their first church house. Others came along throughout the years.
As a Preacher, I have heard many stories about the histories of the church congregation. Stories of how the men and women on the rolls throughout the history of each congregation worked hard and stood firm in their faith. Testimonies about how the gospel was preached and people were saved and how everyone loved gathering at the church and meeting together.
This past December, I was presented with a gift by my Father. I suppose it is sort of heirloom. I never had the opportunity to meet my Grandfather, as he passed away before I arrived. However, my Father handed me a bible that he and his brother bought for their Father. This bible was given to me for the purpose of reading and passing along in the future.
This bible also got me pondering about the future of the church. I not only mean the local congregation, but the body of Christ as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, in no way do I believe that the Kingdom of God could ever be defeated, die off, or even fade away. What can happen is that the Kingdom of God, the church, can, will and is changing generation after generation.
I still wonder, who is gonna fill their shoes? Who is going to be faithful in the work of the body of Christ? Who is going to be faithful in the work of the local congregation? Who is gonna stand firm in the doctrines of truth and bend like a pine tree in the wind when it comes to loving people? Are their going to be stories told in the future about the faithful Grandparents, Parents, Aunts and Uncles who walked the Christian walk in front of the children of the family which stood as testimony to the work of God in the local congregation?
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “ Here am I. Send me.!”
As we all get back to our daily routines after New Year’s day, I would like to take a moment to point out that most of us are simply going to return to business as usual. This I suspect is much of the reason that resolutions ultimately fade away after a few months.
Sure, we all do our best to “try again” when it comes to those things in life that we believe that we are failing at or cannot seem to get any momentum with. I pray that we all can experience success or progress in our lives. However, I know from experience as well as from God’s Word that life is not always pies and ice cream.
The truth is, life happens. And as long as we are given life to live in this world, I would advise that we all commit to making just one resolution this year. I believe it is the most important resolution a person can make each year.
I came across this message, preached by Charles R. Swindoll. I will simply leave the video here for your enjoyment and pray that it will inspire us all to make the commitment!
I, like many, have been hearing a lot about this “war on Christmas” lately. It seems that for the past several years, this topic almost dominates the social and even political conversations that go on in our society. Everyone from the President of the United States to the fellas at the barber shop is talking about how there is a “war on Christmas”!
After searching though the search engines of the internet to see what might be being said about all of this, and you know that what is on the internet is always trustworthy, I found an enormous amount of political debate about the meaning of Christmas and what should and should not be acceptable forms of celebration during Christmas, often referred to know as the Winter Season or Winter Holidays.
Since I am a Christian and a Preacher, I suspect that most would expect this blog post to be the typical defense against the attack or “war on Christmas”. Well, I am quite sure that most will be disappointed by this post if that is the case.
The entire idea of a “war on Christmas” is almost laughable if you ask me. Especially when looked at from the perspective of the believer, those who call themselves Christian. The Christian is a person who is confident in the truth about Jesus being the Christ. The Christian is a person who is sold out to the absolute truth about the birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary for the purpose of giving Himself as the sacrifice for the sins of all.
For the Christian, the responsibility and expectation given to them as disciples of Jesus is to show the World what God has done in your life. This is how the Christian is to be the witness. Many times in the accounts of the Bible when a person was healed they went everywhere telling everyone about what Jesus did for them! This is what it means to be the witness to the world for the Kingdom of God!
It is not the Christian’s responsibility to prove that God exists. It is not the Christian’s responsibility to prove that Jesus is the Christ. God does not need our proof. It was Jesus Himself that provided evidence to Saul on the road to Damascus.
It was Jesus all throughout the gospel of John that provided proof of His Lordship to the Pharisees and the rest of the Jews. It was God who raised Jesus from the dead and proved to the entirety of existence that He Is!
No, the Christian’s role in the Kingdom of God is to bring glory to the King! We do that by being faithful to what we believe about Him and His plan of salvation to all who likewise believe! Love God and Love people. That is what is to be focused on!
For the Christian, loving God is all about worshiping Him and serving Him as ambassadors! Part of that is taking time to stop and acknowledge that thousands of years ago, a baby was born as a fulfillment of God’s promises! Acknowledging that without this baby, who was God in the flesh, there is no hope for humanity as far as any relationship with our Holy God!
Too many of us are spending all of our time trying to force others who are not believers to accept our ways or traditions at Christmas. I mean, really! Look at Daniel for example; here is a man who was taken from his home, culture, and even an attempt to change his religion/faith was attempted.
Did he put out a bunch of news flyers about a “war on Christianity”? No! He simply continued to be faithful to what he believed about his God. Sure, he was ready to “defend” his actions, although I would look at that as being prepared to give reason for your beliefs!
Where did this idea of a “war on Christmas” begin anyway. Surely the rest of the world is experiencing the same type of social and cultural debates about Christmas and even Christianity. Let me suggest that what is now called the “war on Christmas” is indeed the same as what is referred to as “the war on Christianity”. This has been happening since Adam and Eve were lied to and gave into temptation!
The enemy, Satan NOT PEOPLE, has always been trying to destroy God and the ones that He loves! A few headlines in the news are saying that Donald Trump is winning the war on Christmas, and that we are once again allowed to say “Merry Christmas”. Other articles and blogs show that Henry Ford began a campaign against Christmas in defense of Jewish and other religious holidays being left out back in the 50’s.
As long as we are pointing fingers, why don’t we say that the “war on Christmas” was started by King Herod during the time of Jesus’ birth found in Matthew chapter 2. Or we could blame the King of Egypt who sought to kill all the male babies which, had he been successful, been the end of God’s plan of salvation!
As long as we are blaming, we would have to look at every person who stood in the way of or tried to stand in the way of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus! This is why I say that this so-called “war on Christmas” is laughable. What is happening in society today is nothing new! God’s true enemies have been trying to stop His plans since the beginning of the world! It is a hopeless pursuit on their part.
Let me finish by pointing this out. The only real war that is going on is the war against the faith of human beings. The battle field is in the minds of each person, and the heart/soul be the spoils to the victor!
Therefore, Christian, do not be fooled by the ways of the world as those ways broadcast some absurd propaganda intended to lead everyone to believe that any one person or group of people have the power to change any part of the absolute truth about Christ! NO! Christmas and your celebration of it, is totally up to you!
Our President, the President of the USA, can publicly give society permission to say “Merry Christmas” or some other person which the world gives authority can instruct society NOT to say, “Merry Christmas”. It will not change how I celebrate Christmas.
I personally do not hold ill feelings toward anyone who does not believe what I believe about God. Nor am I offended by anyone who even protests my faith. No, I feel compassion and concern for them. No, it is not that I have no concern about others being offended by my actions, yet when it comes to how I and my household love God and love people, yes, there is a limit to my participation in the manners in which society seems to demand of all of us.
“If it is disagreeable in you sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will sere: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
Christian, do not let the world dictate what you are about at Christmas or any other time. The only way to truly have a Merry Christmas is to love God and love people in a way that honors God and brings glory to the Kingdom of God!
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 (NASB)
Often times in bible studies and just casual conversation, I hear people bring up the topic of discerning when to give to those who ask. Usually this question refers to those who are seen on the street holding the cardboard sign which is intended to explain their situation. Other times, people will call or arrive at the church office wanting some assistance with something.
I personally believe that this “dilemma” is born out of a torn heart. Many Christians genuinely want to help those in need. I mean, if we are genuine Christians, then it would be in our hearts to show love and compassion for the needy. On the other hand, Christians are people and people don’t like to be taken advantage of. When it does happen, and it seems to happen often, it king of leaves a bad taste in our mouths.
Some respond by cutting off all benevolence to anyone, after all that would only be fair and safe, right? Others take the attitude that they will just give what they can always, leaving the receiver in God’s hands. Many leadership meetings at churches have been spent discussing this matter. Ultimately, churches and Christians alike really want to help those in need and minister to them, yet at the same time do not wish to be taken advantage of and allow some to steal from them.
As I address this issue, let me make it clear that I personally to not have a concrete, “this is what to do” answer. What follows is just my two cents. I pray that it is helpful.
First, we see in John 13:35, among many other places in Scripture that the Christian is one who loves others. In fact, that is how we are to be distinguished from the rest of the world. Jesus even taught that we are to love God and love others. I will submit that loving God and loving others is not something that the Christian strives to get better at and achieve, rather it is what is in us. It is who we are.
The Christian is one whom in the Holy Spirit has taken up residence. Even though the trinity cannot be explained completely, we can know that the three are one. Therefore, since God is love,
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:7-8 (NASB)
and the Spirit of God is God, then we can conclude that love is in the believer. This is why the Christian has this “dilemma” in our hearts when it comes to showing love and compassion to those who present themselves in need. I think that the first point of focus would be with self. We Christians would do good to ask ourselves, who is making the decision as to whether or not a person is genuinely in need or not?
The question that we usually ask ourselves almost immediately is, does this person really need help? Or, is this person being honest, or are they just making up a story to get the help they are asking about? My not so favorite one that some have asked is, how do I know they won’t go buy drugs or alcohol with what I give them?
To 99% of the people in the world, it seems that those questions are legitimate questions. However, for the Christian, we must remember that since the Spirit of God is living in us, our approach may be different. I am not saying that it is wrong to think about those questions, however, I am saying that they should not be out guide to reach the conclusion to the “dilemma”.
Second point. I do not think that the Christian is “obligated” to give to everyone who presents a need. The scripture is clear that we are to help others when we have opportunity and the means. Along with that, I will submit that the Christian has a responsibility to be good stewards of that which God has entrusted in their care.
I do not believe that God desires for the Christian to be taken advantage of. Nor do I believe that God desires the Christian to be taken for a fool. After all, we are ambassadors for the Kingdom of God to this world. We must look at benevolence of any kind as an investment. An investment in the work of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus taught a lesson using a parable about a wealthy man leaving his wealth in the care of three men. Each having the same responsibility. Two were successful, the other failed. The two that succeeded increased the wealth of the Kingdom because they feared their master and thought to do what he would want them to do. The third, on the other hand, was more afraid of failure than the master. He did what he thought was best and did not consider what the master would have him do.
The same is true here for the Christian. The Master, our Lord, has given us His valuables. We have the responsibility to be stewards of that wealth. That wealth, by the way, is His love, the gospel of Christ, Salvation. This should lead us to the question, why does the scripture teach us to give when we can give?
I often try to insert into those conversations about this matter the answer to that question. At least what I believe to be the answer. It is two-fold really. First, but not foremost, the scripture teaches us to give because that is what love is. If love resides in a person, then compassion will rise to the surface. Second, and foremost, the scripture tells us to give because of John 13:35. The world will know the Christian because of the way we love.
As far as knowing when not to give or be taken advantage of. I often think about Acts chapter 3.
“But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” Acts 3:6 (NASB)
Here Peter and John were presented with a man in need. It so happened that this man had a genuine need. However, they did not give the man what he asked for. Instead, they invested in the Kingdom of God by giving him what was most valuable. The result was that the crippled man encountered God and the world around them was impacted greatly by the witness! If you don’t believe me, go read it for yourself.
The point that I am getting at here is this. There are times to give and there are times not to give, that is when it comes to the things of this world. When it comes to giving the love of God, there is never a time not to give. For the Christian, the key is to seek guidance from the Master. “What would Jesus do?” even though that has become a cliché, it still rings true.
The letter to the Galatians instructs us to keep in step with the Spirit. That means that we are not making the decisions. I know, that is hard to accept, but it is the way the Master set in place. The Holy Spirit will guide us away from poor investments with the Master’s wealth, and make us aware of the good investment opportunities for the Kingdom of God.
I hope I have explained this well enough that you all can see that it is a matter of making disciples in everything we do. We help the needy in hopes that they will encounter God and His Kingdom, whether they are Christians or not. We help the Christians who are in need for the purpose of getting them back in the Kingdom work force, and we help those who are not Christians for the purpose of exposing them to the love of God! So, we must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit when it comes to helping the needy in this world.
Oh, one last thing. God does not expect nor desire anyone to become needy for the sake of helping those in need. Give what you can, when you can. If you have not the means, seek the Lord for other ways to help. Peter and John told the crippled man, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give you.” Acts 3:6. If we genuinely have the Spirit of God living in us, then we always have something to give.
We should offer that whether it is received or not.