Monday, June 30, 2008

Contrary to What You've Heard, There Is One Priority Issue Above All Others!

"A woman's constitutional right to choose must be preserved." --- common phrase or variations of the same that are employed by numerous individuals and groups as they advocate the ongoing destruction of unborn children.

It has been said that voters should not approach an election solely on the basis of one issue. Further, candidates need to be assessed on the basis of positions on all issues being addressed in the election process.

It needs to be kept in mind that special groups with highly paid professional lobbyists concentrate on single issues that benefit the group to the exclusion of others -- selfishness and greed par excellence!

The issue that ranks far above all others in terms of importance? Didn't you know? The brutal mutilation and murders of thousands of unborn children every week of the year in a republic that proudly declares each person should have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness! Go ahead -- check the historical documents and see for yourself! But then, with the corruption that has settled in throughout the U. S. during the last half dozen decades, since when do our historical documents have any significant meaning?

The reason why the issue of destroying the unborn is top priority is because of God's view of human life and the systematic destruction of the same. It is considered an abomination in His sight and if we as a nation do not put an end to the grisly practice soon, then He will!

His chastising actions upon our nation thus far have been totally ignored and simply regarded as "quirks" in nature's weather systems, military miscalculations, business uncertainty, economic fluctuations, environmental tumult, etc. Consequently there is no urgent concern expressed that we need to repent of our abominations and sins as a nation and seek the mercy of Almighty God. As obvious as the red rubber ball on the nose of a clown, so is the silence when it comes to a clarion call to repent on the part of spiritual leaders across the land and those who are campaigning for political office. Hey, while most would not admit it, they are accountable to God also and are to set a God-fearing example before the citizens they aspire to lead!

When the Creator of all life Who is the Sustainer of this mighty universe makes His response to the United States' version of "Holocaust" none of us will want to be found within the boundaries of this republic!

Oh, by the way -- if you haven't checked lately, or you have never seen the latest tally, go to A Quick Look at the United States' Massacre Tally! -- see the numbers, and don't forget, one of these days those numbers will stop moving up! Use reverse feature on your browser to come back to this place.

"The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it." --- Jeremiah 18:7-10

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hemorrhaging Continues Unabated!

Membership stands at 98,968, down 473 from the previous year......Membership stands at 166,987, up 172 from the previous year......Membership stands at 74,483, down 1,866 from the previous year......Membership stands at 61,534, down 1,379 from the previous year......Membership stands at 96,927, down 2,016 from the previous year. --- representative membership reports from some annual conferences for end of calendar year 2007

They’re coming in and the results are proving to be the same as it has been for many years. The membership of the United Methodist Church continues to decline by thousands each year!

Some attempt to be optimistic by saying that our losses aren’t as bad as they used to be – that’s as encouraging as telling a patient who is bleeding profusely from an injury, “Good news! You’re not losing blood as much as you were yesterday!” The fact is, unless the bleeding is entirely stopped, the guy will die. It is a given – a full supply of blood is necessary to maintain good health and prolonged life!

Among annual conference reports are those which are initiating detailed and often costly “programs” in an effort to reverse the loss of membership. Such is the case in the W. PA Annual Conference with its “Believe Again!” campaign. If a Washington DC politician wants a guideline on creating a bureaucratic “Frankenstein,” all he has to do is look at the W. PA Annual Conference. One of many “goals” in “Believe Again!” has been reached as of the 2007 annual conference session. A full time assistant for Bishop Thomas Bickerton will begin that interesting position as of July 1, 2008. This will enable the bishop to continue his many world wide travels with a full time assistant “minding the store” on the home front! But then, a lot of traveling here and there is quite possible when you are making over $100,000 per year plus a lot of “perks” to go with it.

Oh, by the way -- the W. PA Annual Conference, where I am an ordained elder, has reported its membership to be 187,441 as of end of 2007 -- DOWN 1,738 from previous year. Worship attendance is down 2,552 from previous year!

Will the very ambitious plans of recovery as intitiated in a number of conferences bring about desired and desperately hoped for results? Not likely – but to see why, we have to cross the Atlantic Ocean to a place called Africa and what is going on with the United Methodist Church there.

There is a choice of simple words to describe what is going on, but let’s use the word, “explosion!” The UMC in Africa is growing rapidly. Probably some have attempted to analyze this over recent years.

Let’s cut through all the technical jargon that would be thrown at us about this situation in Africa – the theories – the speculations, etc. Let’s just simply say that these people (laity, pastors, church leaders) know no better than to believe that the Bible means precisely what has been recorded there by direct influence of the Holy Spirit. And God has been wonderfully blessing because of this.

Such is not the case in the United States. We want to redefine God’s boundaries on human sexuality, redefine marriage and redefine what really constitutes a family. In the process we refer to those African United Methodists as being “more conservative” – that’s a bunch of baloney – let’s get it through our thick skulls – those people believe God while we in the United States have placed God on a stool in the corner with a dunce cap on His head and have told Him, “We’ll set the standards on sexual relationships and activity, as well as what marriage and family are all about. Further, we’ll set the record straight that all those so-called “miracles” attributed to you didn’t really happen at all – that’s all a bunch of fairy tale stuff!”

Even professed “evangelicals” have caved in to the pressure in the United States, not wanting to be labeled as being “homophobic” or “mean-spirited.” It’s so much easier to sit down to a table, dialog and say, “We disagree a bit, but we can still work together for the good of the church and exhibit “love” and “respect” for each other’s “positions!”

By the way, anyone out there have some extra gauze to help stop all this bleeding?

And for any from the United Methodist Church in Africa who may stumble into this area – “Brother or sister, keep on taking your stand for God’s revealed truth and the Lord Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation and hope, in spite of the flak you receive from some in the United States UMC or the efforts to hinder and restrict you at General Conference sessions! Remember, Jesus will have the last word on all things – we’ll see how absolutely true that is when He comes back to this chaotic planet!

To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed. Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them; they have no delight in it. --- Jeremaih 6:10

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

We’ve Got It All Wrong - Court Decisions and Constitutional “Rights” Do Not Supersede the Laws and Ordinances of Our Creator!

The 4-3 decision, written by Chief Justice Ronald M. George, rules that even though California’s domestic partnership (DP) laws give same-sex partners “all of the significant legal rights and obligations traditionally associated under state law with the institution of marriage,” the DP scheme violates the California Constitution because of its “failure to designate the official relationship of same-sex couples as marriage.” George writes:
In light of all of these circumstances, we conclude that retention of the traditional definition of marriage does not constitute a state interest sufficiently compelling, under the strict scrutiny equal protection standard, to justify withholding that status from same-sex couples. Accordingly, insofar as the provisions of sections 300 and 308.5 draw a distinction between opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples and exclude the latter from access to the designation of marriage, we conclude these statutes are unconstitutional. --- Part of article by Jan LaRue, Esq. of the Culture and Media Institute
In the midst of the increased calamities this nation is experiencing one would think that there might be a bit of a pause and some soul searching with a pointed question being asked, “Are we doing anything to correct our rebellious ways, seeking true repentance and as a nation, desiring to move to a favorable relationship with our Creator?”

If anything, we seem adamant in rebelling in just about every way possible as conceived by unregenerate minds and hearts.

Worse still is the attitude that our warped interpretation of the constitution gives us the “right” to do just about anything we want to do!

The recent California Supreme Court decision now makes possible for those practicing sodomy and lesbianism to marry – and it allows for these “couples” from anywhere to travel to California and get “married.”

The governor of New York, David Paterson, is setting in motion directives that will result in the recognition of such “marriages” from California, Massachusetts and Canada!

In the meantime we continue to destroy thousands of unborn children on a weekly basis, practice sexual immorality of every possible kind and use the designated day of worship of God as one big day of fun and games!

All this is done with the deadly deception that we have a constitutional “right” to do all these things plus anything else that may invade our minds so saturated with depravity -- a duplication of how it was with humanity in the years preceding the judgment of the flood at the time of Noah.

We are fulfilling to the letter a comment made a long time ago by one of God’s prophets

The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away; the haughty people of the earth languish. The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. --- Isaiah 24:4, 5

It appears more obvious as time moves on that this nation is going to pay a price which is far out of reach in terms of comprehension by our tiny finite minds. It still remains that God is not mocked and if we persist in ignoring the boundaries He has established, then we shall definitely reap as we have chosen to sow rebellion. See Galatians 6 for further details on that!

So one of these days when elected officials and others in positions of wealth and influence -- and even some church leaders begin to raise such questions as, "Why is God doing these things to us?" be prepared to answer that we are now discovering the hard way that our court rulings and so called constitutional "rights" DO NOT supersede the moral laws and ordinances established by the mighty Creator of the heavens and the earth!

"TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting..." --- Daniel 5:27

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fame, Riches, Position and Power Can End Abruptly!

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." --- James 4:13-15

The sudden death of Tim Russert, well known host of “Meet the Press,” has been dominating news events for days since it happened. There have been some minor distractions such as a couple of teams known as Lakers and Celtics doing battle, Tiger Woods’ win of the U. S. Open, antics of some entertainment celebrity, the legality of the “Queen of Mean” in leaving 12 million dollars to her dog, etc.

A host of tributes has been issued, proposals to memorialize Russert in different ways have been made and endless discussions as to his success and effectiveness continue to take place here and there.

What is frequently forgotten in the midst of fame and fortune as well as on the part of the masses of unknowns who have neither fame nor fortune is this:

  • we are sinful mortals each of which is under the sentence of death – Hebrews 9:27 quite bluntly tells us, "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment..." And note also the details of sin being universal – a malady infecting the entire human race in Romans 3.

  • we are prone to take much in life for granted such as expressed in Psalm 49:11 - "Their inner thought is that their houses will continue forever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names." Notice the rather common attitude of one fellow who said to himself, "And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.'" (Luke 12:19).

  • we each stand in need of redemption from our sins -- how more plainly stated can it be than this? "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18).

  • each of us has to choose where our focus is going to be during our life's journey – on Jesus Christ and what He has in mind for us as to the direction our life shall take or self-determined goals and career -- you know, the big "I" calls all the shots! Jesus spelled out success in terms of time and eternity by saying those who come to Him, listen and do what He says are like a wise man who built a house on a foundation of rock, but those who refuse to listen and do not do what He says are like a foolish man who built a house on a foundation of earth – when the storms came and beat upon both houses – one stood and one collapsed – can you guess which one weathered the storm and survived? The lesson is clear – failure to take Jesus Christ and what He has to say seriously with commitment will always result in disaster! See details at Luke 6:47-49

  • each of us will ultimately face Him and our eternal destiny will be determined by Him. We will hear Him saying one of two possible statements to us:
    It will either be:

    "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'" (Matthew 25:23).

    Or it will be

    "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:23).

The wise person will live in this present world in such a manner that when his/her time on earth is terminated he/she can say the same as did an apostle named Paul:

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7, 8)

And when people refer to your passing from time into eternity the highest tribute that can be made is a simple phrase as was said of Abraham – “And he was called the friend of God.” (James 2:23).

Monday, June 16, 2008

I'm Sending "Smokey" To a Seminar on Dismantling Racism!

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, racism is a belief or ideology that all members of each racial group possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially to distinguish it as being either superior or inferior to another racial group or racial groups. The Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines racism as a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular racial group, and that it is also the prejudice based on such a belief. The Macquarie Dictionary defines racism as: "the belief that human races have distinctive characteristics which determine their respective cultures, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule or dominate others." --- references in Wikipedia - the Free Encyclopedia as to how various dictionaries define racism

I've been watching him (actually I'm not sure about his gender) for quite some time now and I'm fully convinced that he is deeply infected with prejudice! So I've decided that he needs to go to one of those session that focus on dismantling this ugly thing of racism in our churches and in our culture.

The W. PA Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church had a series of those events a while back in which all active pastors were REQUIRED to attend and retired pastors were strongly urged to attend also. Maybe they all did -- well, all except one, that is!

But getting back to "Smokey" -- I've got photo proof of his prejudice -- no question about it. Take a look at the hard evidence and see for yourself ----

I call him "Smokey" because he is what we call a smoke bush -- I really don't know what his scientific name is when it comes to bushes, shrubs etc. He's getting his plumes and on a foggy morning he puts on quite a show with the droplets from the fog clinging to the plumes.

But he is very prejudiced -- he doesn't like hemlock trees! See how he has withdrawn from the hemlock to his right? When I planted "Smokey" he was a nice even little round bush. But as he bagan to grow and the neighboring hemlock wanted to be friends as it reached out to him, he concentrated on growing in the opposite direction. He wants nothing to do with "Harry" the hemlock! You see beyond them a couple of different maples and some beech trees -- they don't act like that -- in fact they get along quite well!

So, will a session on racism help "Smokey" get over his problems of being so prejudiced? Not likely, unless somehow you can get to his inner nature and do some changing there. If that happened, he and "Harry" would be the best of friends -- no intentional withdrawing as is now the case!

Actually this is an issue raised in an earlier posting. How is it that within a denomination claiming to be Christian in faith a bunch of bucks is paid to a secular outfit in order to try to solve what is perceived to be racism?

Let's get this straight -- do we not preach and teach that God's grace is sufficient for every need? Is Jesus Christ not powerful enough to heal and transform us in all areas of our lives where we are enslaved to sin and any form of prejudice that is a part of that sin?

What does it mean when we are told in Scripture that if anyone is in Christ that person is a new creature (or creation) with old things passing away and all things becoming new? Does that "being a new creature" apply to everything EXCEPT racial prejudice, so that we have to go to the people of the world -- the so-called "experts" to get delivered from our racism hang-ups?

The apostle Paul was deeply prejudiced against Christians at one time in his life -- so much so that he persecuted them even to the point of death under legal sanction to do so. How do we account for that change in his life wherein he was no longer prejudiced against that group of people? There is no record that he attended some "mandatory" session on racism conducted by some secular organization in the 1st Century!

Maybe it is really so that Paul experienced what a few of us refer to as being "born again!" -- that he knew first hand what it was to be healed of prejudice and to be a new creation in the Lord Jesus Christ. Further, this was solely and totally a miraculous work of God's grace!

Ah, could that be the real church problem? That among some pastors and laity there is no personal experience in being born again? We just ignore that demand issued by Jesus, get upset with anyone who mentions it or talks about it and continue to cling to our prejudices?

By the way, if sometime you are in the Belsano PA area driving through, stop by our place -- we'll provide some refreshments and I'll introduce you to "Smokey" and "Harry" and then we can sit on our comfortable front porch and discuss what is the best way (and only way) to really cure the problem of racism!

Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." --- John 3:3

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. --- 2 Corinthians 5:17

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day 2008 Among W. PA United Methodists -- A Real Touch of Irony!

Grace Clayton, a Methodist in Fairmont WV, inspired the first known church oberservance of the holiday 100 yeas ago this summer – long before it became a nationwide tradition. --- from information released by United Methodist Reporter, June 13, 2008

For the third time in four years the W. PA Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church will conclude with a lengthy ordination service later this morning, Father’s Day, at Grove City College in Grove City PA!

Bishop Thomas Bickerton did not merely suggest that the few hundred pastors of the conference be present at this morning's service adorned in robes and stoles, but has demanded they be present with duplicate demands coming down as well from the superintendents. Under these conditions it is likely that even the death of a pastor would not excuse the pastor from required attendance at the ordination – arrangements by the widow would have to be made to have the deceased pastor pushed down the aisle in his casket in the pastoral procession by the mortician in charge! OK! OK! So this last one is said with a bit of tongue in cheek! But unless you are exposed to the goings-on in the conference, you have no idea how radical the bishop and the cabinet members are when it comes to "laying down the law" to pastors about attending the ordination service, even on Father’s Day! Pastors were told in at least one district that if they had a wedding on June 14th, they were to make sure they got back to the conference in time for the ordination service on Sunday morning!

I had written to the bishop the first year about this grave error on his part and then the second year I included the members of the cabinet as well.

Such a disregard for Father’s Day is totally incomprehensible. But this bishop is not to be ever questioned or remotely challenged in any way by either pastors or laity. His attitude on such an issue can be compared to that fellow who sits on an important seat in a place called the Vatican!

Now here’s the kicker on this – a lady from Bickerton’s home state of West Virginia is credited with initiating the first observance of Father’s Day 100 years ago on July 5, 1908 in Fairmont WV. She was Grace Golden Clayton, a Methodist. Her father was a Methodist minister.

Details about Mrs. Clayton and the roots of observance of Father’s Day are found at the web site of Central United Methodist Church in Fairmont WV. Go to Father's Day -- use reverse feature on your browser to return to this place.

Most would agree that the observance of Father’s Day ranks in terms of importance on an equal level with Mother’s Day – that is all except Bishop Thomas Bickerton and his loyal supporters. Sometimes there is such a thing as blind loyalty – e.g. if a leader says he is going to the top of the Empire State Building in New York City and jump off and all must follow him, they will do it because he simply said to do so – no questioning is permitted – no entertaining of the disturbing thought that just maybe the leader is wrong for once. You know, a Jim Jones type of thing applied in a variety of ways and in different circumstances!

In one letter I asked the bishop if he would pull a stunt like that on Mother’s Day? Realizing I would not get a response, I concluded with, “We both know the answer to that one don’t we?”

So this morning a few hundred pastors of United Methodist churches in western Pennsylvania will be absent for the third time in four years from their pulpits on Father’s Day. Can anyone cite a similar folly today so lacking in respect which involves hundreds of pastors anywhere else within the boundaries of our republic as the debacle which will take place at Grove City College -- any other United Methodist annual conference or any other denomination?

There may be those who in defense of Bishop Bickerton would say that the only week available to hold the conference was the week which ends on Father’s Day, so there was no choice. But there is enough flexibility in scheduling that the whole thing could have been done and wrapped up by Saturday, June 14th! Trying to defend the trashing of Father’s Day by the scheduling of an annual conference session requiring pastors to be absent from their churches flies as well as a Canada goose with both wings broken!

Again, I go on record – I am willing to retract all statements made and issue an apology on my web site and at the blog IF a simple question survey is taken in every United Methodist congregation in W. PA and without any suggestions made by the pastor as to how the bishop and the cabinet want the members to answer. The question is this – “Would you prefer your pastor to be in the pulpit of your church or at annual conference on Father’s Day?”

If 51 percent or more say they want their pastor to be at conference with the bishop, then the apology will be quickly issued. As an aside -- personally I have a lot of confidence in the laity and that they often exhibit more respect for things that count than do those in high positions of authority within church structures – check comparisons on respect and reverence for the holy Scriptures, if you want a good example of contrasts!

The procedure can be done very easily and quickly. All the pastor has to do is ask for a show of hands in each congregation with a couple of ushers doing the count. Then simply send the results (x number want pastor with them on Father’s Day and x number want their pastor to spend Father’s Day with the bishop at annual conference) by email to the W. PA Conference Center located in Cranberry Twp. PA. In fact, that would be a good job to help break in the bishop’s new FULL TIME assistant as of July 1st – let him tally the results!

See how easy it can be done? In the meantime I shall be anxiously waiting to learn of the results of the survey -- remember now, no tampering or putting on the pressure by saying, "This is what the bishop wants!"

In all seriousness, at the very least an apology to every congregation in the W. PA Annual Conference should be issued by the bishop and the cabinet for forcing the pastors to be in attendance at the conference session on Father's Day for three years out of four! But don't hold your breath on this one!

If anything, I'm the bad guy for making a prolonged issue of this due to my marching to the beat of a different Drummer! By the way, I, an ordained elder in the W. PA Annual Conference, will be in the pulpit of my church later this morning and stressing the responsibilities of fatherhood from a Biblical perspective. Why? Because that is where Almighty God wants me to be and about! And then later in the day I shall be sharing the blessings of family members. The details of that family are given in the post just below this one, dated June 13, 2008!

And a PS -- I have probably conducted more Father's Day services than just about any other pastor in the W PA Annual Conference, including the bishop and cabinet members -- in the last 30 years of my ministry before retirement, I served 4 churches in 6 of those years and 3 churches in 24 of those years. I am down now to 1 church during these last 9 years of retirement! And I never missed one Father's Day worship service during those years!

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. --- Ephesians 6:4

Friday, June 13, 2008

55 Years of Honeymooning and Still Counting!

Clayton (age 19) and Jean (age 17) (Botzer) Harriger - June 13, 1953

Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love....... He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD. --- Proverbs 5:18, 19; 18:22

Yes, it's true -- as of today, Jean and I have been honeymooning for 55 years! No, it's not been a quick get-away to Hawaii or Acapulco or wherever the so-called "romantic" places are found that are associated with honeymoon travel packages. But our love for each other is such as I attempt to tell couples who want me to do their marriage ceremonies -- love for one another is somewhat like a rosebud -- not yet fully matured, but as time passes the rose breaks out into full bloom -- in marriage the rose continues to bloom and bloom and bloom (add many more blooms if you want)!

Fifty-five years ago today we violated the standard custom that the groom was not to see his bride before coming down the church aisle to become his wife. Because of a tight schedule between my leaving airman training school near Memphis TN and reporting to Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station in NC, we had to pick up our marriage license on the day of our marriage at the court house in Kittanning PA -- both of us had to appear to get the license.

It was a hot day, but sunny. The wedding was scheduled for 8:00 PM in the evening mainly because the pastor was at the Methodist Annual Conference in Meadville PA, some miles away. He was 20 minutes late getting to the church -- a frantic pianist was just told to keep playing until he arrived.

Finally the ceremony got underway at Monroe Chapel Methodist Church midway between Clarion and Sligo PA on Route 68. And so a young couple who had been dating for 2 years finally became husband and wife. The rose was still in the budding stage!

We left for NC on Monday, June 15th. We got an apartment in New Bern which was about 20 miles from Cherry Point. Jean got a job at a movie theater close to our apartment. Those who were married and living off base did not have to stay on the base with one exception. I drew 60 days of guard duty in October of '53 and spent 3 days on base with 2 days off each cycle.

Even though we were not Christian at the time, God extended a host of mercies of which we were totally unaware -- we now refer to that as experiencing the prevenient grace of God. We were blessed with a son, Richard, nearly 2 years later at the base hospital.

Many, many stories could be told over that span of time as God in mercy brought us eventually to the place where we saw the need to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives. Shortly after that came a clear and specific call to preach God's Word in pastoral ministry. Approximately 21 months after Jesus changed our lives, I was appointed to serve two Methodist Churches in New Castle PA.

Out of this marriage union have been born 5 children, 9 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. The Lord willing, on July 19th I will perform the marriage ceremony of a grandson, Andy. That date will also be birthday #1 for our youngest grandchild, Owen. There is quite an age span among the grandchildren -- the oldest will be 28 this coming November and the youngest, Owen, as mentioned, will be 1 year old on July 19th.

It has made for adventure all the way. But the greatest has been facing each day with the firm assurance that we do not ever walk alone -- our Lord is present always to make a way. He has wonderfully blessed us over these many years, in the best of times as well as in those very trying times.

After honeymooning for 55 years, we can still say to each other, "The best is yet to be!"

I'm 100 per cent sold on marriage as God designed it for male and female -- don't try to expand on that -- Jesus didn't, did He?

And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." --- Matthew 19:4-6

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Well, What Do You Know – Maybe They Are Really Here After All!

Picture of a mountain lion which was hit by a truck on Mill Creek Road east of Altoona, south of State College, between Mt. Union and Huntingdon PA.

There have been frequent denials by the PA State Game Commission that there are any in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. There were some years ago, but now they no longer exist in the state -- that is, according to Game Commission officials. We citizens of Pennsylvania have come to the place where we regard these people on about the same level as our politicians in Harrisburg and with about the same amount of credibility when they speak on certain issues, such as the existence of mountain lions in the Commonwealth. You have to have lived a while in our fair state to fully appreciate that!

So look at the above photo once more -- that really isn't a household tabby cat that guy is holding! So what does one do when Game Commission people tell you one thing and then something comes along that shoots their claim full of more holes than you find in Swiss cheese?

A close friend of mine saw one of those critters walking by his bee boxes a few months back in broad daylight -- maybe he saw an apparition or something -- maybe he was hallucinating or had been out in the sun too long!

But a more tragic denial is taking place within the circles of those who claim to be Christian -- not a mere denial by some officials as to the existence of a very big kitty cat, but denials in relation to One Whose name is Jesus Christ!

Consider this:

  • Denial that He is the virgin-born Son of God -- indeed, God revealed in human form Who walked on the earth He had created a long time ago!

  • Denial that He performed many miracles such as feeding thousands with just a few loaves of bread and a few fish, that He delivered people from deadly sicknesses and raised the dead to life.

  • Denial that He is exclusively the only way of salvation, forgiveness, peace with God and the hope of everlasting life by virtue of His sacrificial death on a Roman cross for all the sins of the entire human race!

  • Denial that He was literally resurrected from the dead, spent 40 days with His followers and then ascended back to heaven to take His place at the right hand of God the Father until His enemies are made to be His footstool -- see Psalm 110.

  • Denial that He will personally return to this planet to take control and rule it as King of kings and Lord of lords.

What will those deniers (pastors as well as laity) do when they discover that Jesus Christ is all and everything the Bible reveals Him to be, including the Judge Who will render the final word on every single one of us human beings as one by one we keep our appointment with Him right on schedule?

No reply will be possible -- no objection -- no excuses accepted -- no finger pointing allowed as to the dilemma being someone else's fault -- no, just a very uncomfortable silence until the words come forth:

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." --- Matthew 7:21-27

So, the next time in church circles you hear some denials concerning what God has plainly revealed in His Word, think of a mountain lion in Pennsylvania that got hit by a truck -- just an imaginary experience according to the PA State Game Commission!

So watch out that you do not become a victim of the disease of denial which has infiltrated the ranks of Christianity!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Flat Toad on the Road!

Image by: Stolz, Gary M – USFWS and courtesy of We For Animals located at

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. --- 1 John 2:15-17

This morning was a very beautiful morning for a walk at 6 AM – bright sunrise – temperature about 63 degrees after yesterday’s high of 91 degrees!

I’m always in the observing and listening mode as I walk along in addition to being in conversation with my Lord.

Often I see deer and listen to the birds – and at times the staccato sounds of woodpeckers who seem to compete as to who can peck the loudest on dead tree trunks.

Today was different for 2 reasons – a young black bear (about 175 lbs. or so) came out on the road ahead of me and walked up the road just ahead of me by about 50 yards or less. He stopped momentarily by a curve in the road and then went into the woods as a car came around the turn toward him.

But the other thing that caught my attention were two toads on the road – both very flat due to being in the direct path of vehicle wheels! These tragic happenings likely happened during the night. Neither of these very flattened creatures were on the road yesterday when I walked.

So it probably was only a few hours before that they had been sitting comfortably on the road surface. The surface had been warmed by yesterday’s 90 degree heat wave. But toads are not at all sensitive to the hazards of moving traffic which has increased on our road due to a detour now in effect. In fact, they are quite indifferent to the hazards of moving on to a highway and find it very easy to settle down on a warm road surface!

We humans sometimes don't do a whole lot better since we can allow ourselves to become desensitized to the hazards of a very deadly world spirit which focuses on self, money and pleasure – see 2 Timothy 3. This thing is like a plague and we become infected very quickly and without much resistance -- that is, unless we have properly prepared our spiritual immune system through disciplines initiated by the Holy Spirit.

But far worse and much more sinister is a malicious spirit which exerts extensive influence within professing Christian circles through denials of the truth revealed by the Holy Spirit in the holy Scriptures!
One warning of such things is given by the apostle Peter in his writings:

But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, beguiling unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, to whom the gloom of darkness is reserved forever. For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through licentiousness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire." 2 Peter 2:12-22

The denials are seen in saying such things as:

  • many, if not all, miracles reported in Scripture did not really take place as stated – there is always a “natural” explanation for these events!

  • Adam and Eve are mythological characters – one of many attempts to try to explain origins – we really evolved from lower life forms through millions of years of time!

  • Jesus Christ had a human father as do we – He spoke of noble things and set an example that we ought to try to imitate and that’s about it – He really wasn’t resurrected from the dead and most certainly isn’t going to return to earth again!

  • we need to forget about going to other countries with the intent of converting those people to Christianity (the mandate as given by Jesus in Matthew 28) – rather, we need to “dialog” with those of other religions and learn from them, while never insisting that Christianity is the only way, etc!

  • that God’s boundaries regarding sexual morality have been realigned and what was formally condemned by way of sexual behavior no longer is! The new convoluted interpretations take you on a wild ride with “wolves in sheep’s clothing” now declaring that God is giving new revelation and insight how we relate sexually to others!

There are a lot of hazards out there, folks – both outside the church as well as inside the church. So watch it or you’ll end up in a worse condition than a toad ¼ inch thick on the road, splattered guts, brains and all!

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. --- Galatians 1:6-9

Monday, June 9, 2008

They Deserve Much, Much Better!

Madison and Trevor with little brother, Owen, who had just been born a few hours earlier on July 19, 2007. Madison turned 5 years old during May 2008 and Trevor will be 7 years old early in July 2008.

Brianna just turned 3 years old in early June 2008.

Shalie will be 7 years old in early September 2008.

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." --- Deuteronomy 6:4-9

As Jean and I will be celebrating 55 years of marriage this Friday, June 13, 2008, a lot of memories will flood our minds. That is a considerable span of time in which a wide variety of experiences have taken place. Out of this we first and foremost give thanks to God for His abundant mercies and the demonstration of His love toward us constantly over these many years.

Many of the memories will involve family -- 5 children and spouses, 9 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. There is a wide span of years in age between the grandkids -- the oldest will be 28 years old this coming November and the youngest, Owen, who is pictured above will be 1 year old come July 19, 2008.

It is these young ones for whom I am increasingly burdened -- what a country they have to grow up in that is becoming more hazardous than a Category 5 hurricane slamming into a coastal area containing a large city!

Stop and think for a moment how the adult generation has so miserably failed these young ones -- they are passing on a republic that is:

  • guilty of widespread idolatry, with money the #1 deity in the lives of millions of U. S. citizens and their leaders! But many other "deities" have a death-grip on a majority of adults in all walks of life as well, ranging from those in high profile political circles, the professions and church circles to the average "Joe" and "Jane" who walk the streets in any city or town.

  • guilty of massive immorality of the most perverted expressions with God's standards for moral behavior receiving a thumbs-down response by the majority!

  • guilty of the destruction of tens of millions of unborn children over a period exceeding 3 1/2 decades so that human life in our republic is no longer considered unique and special as it was in the earlier decades of the 20th Century!

  • the prominent teaching in the educational process that tells our young that we have evolved from lower life forms -- you know, the wriggly things in a pool of slime millions of years ago (add as many millions as you want because it cannot be any more fouled up and misleading than it is now, whether you talk 700 million or a million million or 35 quadrillion.)!

But what our little ones do deserve is this:

  • Adults who will set a holy example by the grace of God in word and deed -- adults who make the will of God the top priority in every day living, regardless of what position they hold in life! After all, failure to do the will of God is to place oneself in a position of condemnation -- Jesus did have a lot to say about that issue.

  • Adults who will provide evidence that Jesus Christ is the living Son of God and the One Who gave His life as a sacrifice for the sins of every human being ever born into this world. Further, that this Jesus is exclusively the only way of salvation, peace with God and hope for time and eternity. No other religious expression can guarantee such things.

  • Adults who unashamedly and without apology believe the volume referred to as the Bible to be the inspired and authoritative Word of God -- the absolute authority on all matters having to do with the Christian faith and the living of that faith in all daily experiences and human relationships in this present world!

The responsibility rests on the head of every single adult -- no exceptions -- God has explicitly revealed that He will hold every adult accountable.

The hard reality is that the majority of adults will not take the responsibility to do what God expects in terms of the nurture and well being of the young.

So it comes down to this -- do you care enough for our young ones to do what God requires or shun that responsibility and pay a price later on that is so horrifying that the human mind cannot begin grasp even a particle of it?

We adults in our family will seek by example and teaching to show the little ones pictured above that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no one can come to the Father except through Him. Further that Jesus has a most glorious plan for their lives here on earth. Unfortunately, they will also be exposed to a big bunch of adults in their growing years who will be setting an example of traveling the broad road which leads to a Devil's Hell!

Homework assignment -- read in Luke 16:19-31 in the New Testament about one man who miserably failed in the responsibilities as outlined above and see the tragic details of the price he paid. Your life might never be the same again!

And Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea." --- Matthew 18:2-6

Friday, June 6, 2008

President B. O? An Unprecedented Nightmare Beginning January 2009!

And the LORD spoke by His servants the prophets, saying, "Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols), therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle.'......... Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides his sin with which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the LORD. --- 2 Kings 21:10-12, 16

It appears to be simply a matter of a few months and our republic will be under the domination of President B. O! Will McCain take the White House? Not likely -- there is something about B. O. that is unlike any person yet who has aspired to be president of the United States.

Think about it -- here's a guy who literally came from out of nowhere -- spent a limited time in the Illinois Legislature -- made it for the U. S. Senate on his first try and was selected (or was it a contrived set up?) as keynote speaker at the Democratic Convention last time around in electing a president with bulk of mass media all goo-goo eyed over this guy! It is inaccurate to call it "charisma" -- it is something more than that -- a kind of "anointing" but obviously not from Almighty God!

How could the election of B. O. to be president be a nightmare for the republic of the United States?

First, he's too young for such a position -- a person in his 40's cannot handle that kind of power and position responsibly. He will abuse this thing of issuing "executive orders" -- that is when a president becomes a dictator and by a stroke of the pen issues orders for things to be done -- the Congress is totally bypassed -- and we've already had too much of that in past administrations! Evidence is overwhelming that persons in their 40's elevated to positions of extensive power have abused that power due to lack of wisdom, common sense and failure to fulfill the responsibility in the fear of God!

The attempt might be made to cite John Kennedy as being in his 40's when elected president and that he was a "good" president. That is open to debate -- and what is definitely known is that Kennedy had raging hormones out of control and literally threw his marriage vows out the window more than a couple of times! God has spelled out what is required in those who govern and Kennedy flunked out on those clear requirements!

Second, B. O. will be regarded as the "Commander in Chief" of the military. It will not help the morale of the military branches of service in knowing a kid is in charge of all operations! Plus the fact that this kid has had no military experience whatsoever. It is easy to get reckless in using the power of the military -- and we've seen that happen in times past also!

Third, all indications are that he will be calling for more taxes under some kind of pretense or other. But then politicians in past decades have been notorious for increased taxes -- and once in a while try to convince us that they are our friends by giving a token "rebate" to help the economy! B. O. will not launch any kind of campaign to reduce the burden of our taxes -- it will still be spend, spend, spend, spend (add as many "spends" as you want!).

Fourth, he will zealously support the deceptive "constitutional right" to mutilate and murder unborn children! Further, B. O. will attempt to remove any and all barriers when it comes to protecting the lives of the unborn -- he will be a major contributor to the ongoing U. S. version of Holocaust! He stonewalled the effort in Illinois to protect the lives of the unborn in the late stages of pregnancy!

Of course what B. O. and all governing powers as well as mainline church groups fail to realize is that God has yet to make His response to a nation which claims that all persons should have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness! Somehow we seem to have adopted the attitude that God isn't paying any attention to the fact that we have destroyed nearly 50 million unborn children since January of 1973!

Cited above is one king from out of the past who was heady with power and thought he could ignore the holy standards which Almighty God has spelled out for the sane, sensible, healthy, peaceful and ongoing survival of a culture. B. O. will prove to be no exception to this!

Do not mistake these comments to be an endorsement for John McCain. Neither major political party has anything significant to offer when it comes to addressing the most serious ethical, moral and spiritual problems which are pulling our nation along a path to sure and certain destruction!

A number of us will be looking for a third party candidate who exhibits qualities needed such as those found in an effective leader known as Joshua a long time ago. Is such a person out there some where who can lead us out of this spiritual chaos in which we presently find ourselves?

"No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." --- Joshua 1:5-8