Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Go Name The Animals

I introduced in my blog posting yesterday the truth that YOUR MARRIAGE IS WORTH IT. Now, all this week I want to break down, phrase by phrase, the words God spoke in Genesis 2:24 when He created marriage and officiated the very first wedding. He said,

"FOR THIS CAUSE a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh."

FOR THIS CAUSE - For what cause? For that answer we have to move back in the chapter and capture the context of the story. After creating the world and all that is in it, God looks at his work and utters the words, "It was good!" but after God made Adam out of the dust of the ground, He utters just the opposite. In verse 18 God says, "It is not good!" What was not good? The verse goes on and says this:

"Then the Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone!"

So what wasn't good? The fact that Adam was alone. Now understand that this did not take God by surprise. He created Adam with a need for companionship. That is a God-given trait that we have as humans. And God knew just exactly what would meet that designed need perfectly as seen in the rest of verse 18:

"I will make him a helper suitable for him!"

And who would be that helper perfectly suited to meet Adam's God-given need for companionship? Eve..a wife! So wouldn't you expect the next verse to say that God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and took a rib and from the rib made a woman? But that's not what happens next. First, God gives Adam a task. He is to name all of the animals. It almost doesn't seem to make sense does it? It's as if God is saying, "Adam, you have a designed need for companionship that I made you with and I have just the answer for you - now go name the animals!" Why would God do this? Here's why! Look at verse 20 carefully:

"The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam, THERE WAS NOT FOUND A HELPER SUITABLE FOR HIM!"

It's as if Adam gets done and says to God, "Wow! That was great! You are an amazing Creator! But I have to be honest - as wonderful as all of your creation was as I met each one of them up close and personal, the truth is - I'm still lonely. THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING BETTER!"

And then and only then does God make Eve and bring her to Adam. Why did God have Adam name all of the animals first? I believe it was to show him that in all of his creation, nothing would be as special nor as valuable as Eve - his wife! Men - we need to learn that lesson. In all of God's creation, He has given us nothing (outside of our salvation, of course) more special and more valuable than our wives!! So, let's treat them that way!

So on that day that God created marriage by starting his wedding message in the Garden of Eden with the words, "FOR THIS CAUSE," what was the cause He was speaking of? I believe He was saying this:

"Because I created man with a designed need for companionship and because a wife is the only way that need can be fully met making her his most special and beautiful gift...a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh!"

Tomorrow I will write more about the phrase, "A man shall leave his father and his mother!"

Be sure to also read my other blog entitled, "Hope for Hurting Pastors," at www.hurtingpastor.blogspot.com or email me at skdistler@gmail.com

Monday, November 29, 2010

Your Marriage Is Worth It!

Over the last several weeks I have received phone calls from two different women whose husbands have recently left them. I'm not sure there is much in the way of news that I would rate as worse then the falling apart of a marriage. I know it happens and it happens a lot. I also know that the amount of marriages ending inside the church is on the same level as the amount of marriages ending outside of the church. But of all the things that I could lose - my job, my house, my health - I can think of nothing that would be worse than losing my marriage. It makes me just want to look every husband and every wife right in the eyes and remind them of this:


No, it's not easy...but your marriage is worth it!
Yes, it takes a lot of work...but your marriage is worth it!

Need I remind you that it was G0d - not man or government, or even the church that created this wonderful institution that we call marriage? Remember back in Genesis 2 when God made Eve out of Adam's rib and brought her to him, officiating the first marriage in the garden? Remember what He said on that day in verse 24? He gave the reason for marriage. God Himself said:

"For this cause a man shall leave His father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh!"

Those are some amazing statements. In fact, Jesus repeated the same exact words when He spoke of marriage in the book of Matthew and the Apostle Paul also echoed these same words when he wrote of marriage in the book of Ephesians. In other words, the purpose for marriage never changed. What God intended as the purpose of marriage when He created Adam and Eve was still the purpose of marriage when Jesus walked on the earth; it was still the purpose of marriage during Paul's ministry in the New Testament; and I assure you that it is still the purpose of YOUR marriage today. That makes your marriage worth it!

So important is this statement that I would like to take every day this week to write posts that will break it apart - phrase by phrase. I will do so in this way:

November 30 - "For this cause"

December 1 - "A man shall leave his father and his mother"

December 2 - "And shall cleave to his wife"

December 3 - "And they shall become one flesh"

So, if you are married; if you someday want to be married; if you know someone who is married; if you have ever seen a married person; if you have ever seen a picture of a married person; or if you can say the word "marriage" - be sure to read my posts each day this week!

You can also read my other blog entitled, "Hope For Hurting Pastors" at www.hurtingpastor.blogspot.com or email me at skdistler@gmail.com

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Usually here at "Folks Listen" I only post 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). But beginning this Monday I will have a different post each day for 5 consecutive days on a very important topic. Be sure to read each day November 29th through December 3rd!

And don't forget to read my other blog entitled "Hope For Hurting Pastors" at http://www.hurtingpastor.blogspot.com/

Feel free to leave a comment on either blog (I do moderate comments before they are posted) or email me direct at skdistler@gmail.com

Friday, November 26, 2010

4 Words

I only have four words on this "Black Friday" as I look ahead to Saturday:





Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful For Closed Doors

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Football and turkey with all the trimmings are two pretty good combinations. It's also the start to the holiday season and at our house we use Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving Day to decorate the house for Christmas. I'm still a kid at heart so I still get excited about Christmas time. Usually, the only thing that could make Thanksgiving better would be a snowfall going on outside.

And this Thanksgiving I find myself more thankful than ever. My list of what I am thankful for this year could go on and on on - but the highlights are pretty simple. I am thankful for:

My salvation through Jesus

The Word of God

My wife

My kids

Our parents and extended family

Close friends

My calling as a pastor

The way God has met and is meeting our needs

The daily fingerprints of God in our lives that encourages us

Open doors of opportunities

Closed doors which give us clear direction

The future - after all, for the Christian the best is yet to come!

Be sure to read my other blog entitled "Hope for Hurting Pastors"at www.hurtingpastor.blogspot.com or email me at skdistler@gmail.com

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Church With Vision

During this time of ministry transition my wife and I have been attending a different church each Sunday. It has been very informational and beneficial for me to experience church from the pew rather than just from the platform. This Sunday we attended a church down in Lancaster with some friends. Three qualities really reached out to me during our morning there:

VISION! This church has vision! That was so clear and so exciting. The pastor had a very clear vision for his church and he was doing a tremendous job of presenting that vision to the church as he painted a picture of the future that was producing a passion in that local body today. I loved how he made it clear that their church did not exist simply for them - it existed in order to make an impact in their community and in their world. From a future satellite campus to missions work all over the world - this church was focused on reaching people for Jesus. I loved it because I thoroughly believe that evangelism must be the engine that drives the church.

CREATIVITY! From the moment you hit the entrance to the parking lot of this church you were immediately drawn into the theme of the morning due to the creative displays and settings both outside and inside their campus. There was much to see, hear, touch and experience that made you grab hold of the theme of the morning which was to "Do Something!"

AUTHENTICITY! This place was real! Nothing stuffy! Nothing fake! The pastor was very much a "down to earth" guy with an authentic and transparent personality and speaking style. He was the type of guy you were drawn to and captivated by his presentation. These three elements, vision, creativity and authenticity, made this a place of worship that had a purpose. They weren't just meeting to do church. They were going somewhere. They honestly believed that the church was the hope of the world and they were determined to make their fullest impact on it as a local body. How refreshing.

Now I have to be honest and say that I was a bit uncomfortable with the two "messages from the Lord" that two individuals in the congregation gave during the worship time. They would most likely say that they have the gift of prophecy and that God had given them these messages to declare. As a result, they spoke out loud to the congregation as if God were speaking to them (i.e. "Thus says the Lord," or "I am the Lord your God."). I find it interesting that in a very informal and culturally relevant church, both times they prophesied it appeared that God gave them these messages in a "King James" style of language with a lot of "thy's, thee's and shalt's." Personally, I do not believe that the gift of prophecy today includes receiving direct revelation from God. I believe that when it comes to direct revelation, the Bible contains all that we need to know to do all that God wants us to do.

But aside from those two short interludes, it was a wonderful service. I believe that God has great things in store for this local body. It was great to spend the morning worshipping with them. After all, the local church really is the hope of the world because it is the church that has the only message, the message of Jesus Christ, that can change someone's course for eternity!

Be sure to check out my other blog entitled "Hope For Hurting Pastors" at www.hurtingpastor.blogspot.com. You can also email me at skdistler@gmail.com

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why Can't The Church Be More Like The Confederates?

In my blog posting yesterday I spoke of my recent visit to Gettysburg and the High Water Mark which was the furthest north that the Confederate Army, under the command of Robert E Lee, got during the entire Civil War. Standing at this spot you can look across about a mile long open field. At the other end of this field is a line of woods. On July 3, 1863, General Lee, in an attempt to crush the center of the Federal Army entrenched behind stone walls, ordered 12,000 of his men to march across that field. This attack is now known as Pickett's Charge after the colorful southern general, George Picket, who led his division in this amazing military maneuver.

Though Robert E Lee was certain this plan would work, he was most likely in the minority on this view. In fact, his most prominent advisor, General Longstreet, did his best to talk the southern commander out of this strategy. But at the end of the discussion, Lee stuck with his decision and with his confidence that this battle plan would work.

As I stood where these Confederate soldiers would have waited for the order to begin the assault, I tried to put myself in their mindset. They would be walking across an open field for nearly a mile, having to cross a fence halfway there and then a stone wall which protected the Union soldiers. This walk would take place in the wide open terrain as enemy artillery fire would tear huge holes in their southern lines. Once they reached the fence they would be met by the volley of enemy rifle fire. And if by chance they made it to the stone wall there would be bloody hand to hand combat awaiting them there.

I have to imagine that the vast majority of southern soldiers kneeling in the woods awaiting the orders to advance across that field had to of realize that the likelihood of their dying before making it all the way to the other side and succeeding in breaking the center of the Union line was very likely. So why would they do it? Why would they obey such an order? Why would they walk into the face of such a brutal death? As I thought about those questions, three answers came to my mind:

CONVICTION! These men obviously believed in what they were fighting for. Their cause compelled them to cross that field. Keep in mind, that for the south, this wasn't simply an issue of slavery. They were fighting for their states. They were fighting for their families. They were fighting for what they saw as their rights and against what in their mind was a tyrannical government that was trying to take away those rights. That was the view of the Confederate army and their conviction led them to step out of those woods when the command was given to make Picket's Charge.

COMMITMENT! These men had a strong commitment to their leader, Robert E Lee. Though I have to believe that many of them questioned his strategy in this assault, their commitment to their leader allowed them to make that charge in spite of their fears and in spite of the many sights and sounds of death that would be all around them.

COURAGE! Without question, it took great courage for those men to march across that field and attempt to break the Federal line. No coward would have taken one step out of those woods. These men had courage - even the Union soldiers were amazed at the courage they saw in these brave soldiers.

If only the church of Jesus Christ could have these three words describe us. If only we who are followers of Jesus Christ had such strong CONVICTION in our beliefs about who Jesus was and what He taught that we would obey His every command. If only we had such COMMITMENT to our leader, Jesus Himself, who is the Head of His Church, that we would obey Him even in those times that we don't necessarily understand His commands or when we see His commands as difficult. If only we who carry the name of Jesus would have the COURAGE to face the fiery darts of the enemy, truly believing that the gates of hell cannot prevail against us. If only the Church could be more like the Confederates!

Be sure to read my other blog, "Hope for Hurting Pastors," at www.hurtingpastor.blogspot.com. You can also email me at skdistler@gmail.com.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lessons From the High Water Mark

One thing I have had the opportunity to do is to travel quite a bit through our country and around the world. And in all my travels, I have grown to really love a few places. World-wide, there is no place anywhere that I love visiting more than the Sea of Galilee. I have been there twice and can't wait to go back a third time in the future.

But here in America, my two favorite places I have ever visited are Boothbay Harbor, a quaint town on Maine's coast, and Gettysburg, PA, where on the first 3 days of July in 1863 the bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil took place. Living just 90 minutes from this battlefield over the last 6 years has resulted in my being able to visit this amazing town several times including once again this past weekend. There are many places I love to visit when I am in Gettysburg including:

Luther Seminary where General Buford's Calvary division was the first Union soldiers to arrive at Gettysburg, and though highly outnumbered, were able to hold off the Confederates long enough for reinforcements led by General Reynolds (from Lancaster, PA) to arrive on the scene. Though the Federals were chased out of the actual town of Gettysburg on that first day of battle, Buford's leadership allowed the Union Army to hold the high ground which would prove decisive on the 2nd and 3rd day of battle. Incidentally, General Reynolds was shot and killed in that battle right near Luther Seminary becoming the first officer from either side to die at Gettysburg

Devils Den where Confederate soldiers were able to control the ground. However, many Confederates died in this pile of boulders as Union sharpshooters picked them off from atop of Little Round Top. It was from Devils Den that some of the first photographs showing the horrid picture of war were taken and made available to the public.

The Wheatfield which during the 2nd day of battle changed hands six different times. By nightfall thousands of men from both armies laid dying or severely wounded. Soldiers later would say that there were so many wounded and dead soldiers in the field that one could walk from one end all the way to the other without their feet ever hitting the ground.

The back side of Little Round Top where Colonel Chamberlain, a college professor from the University of Maine, made up the extreme end of the Union line with his men of the 20th Maine. You can go to the exact spot marked by a memorial where he was told that his men must hold their position at all hazards. After a much larger Alabama company had made several attempts to flank the Union army where the men of the 20th Maine were stationed, these Federal soldiers found themselves depleted of both men and ammunition. In order to hold the line, Colonel Chamberlain ordered his men to conduct a heroic bayonet charge down the hill taking the enemy completely by surprise and protecting the Union flank.

But few stops in Gettysburg compare with the the High Water Mark (pictured above). It was here, after a 2.5 hour bombardment from nearly 150 southern canons that could be heard as far away as Harrisburg, that the Union Army fought off 12,000 soldiers, mainly from Virginia, who crossed a mile-wide open field in an attempt to crush the center of the Union line. There is a clump of trees there that is called the High Water Mark because it was the "High Water Mark" for the confederate army being as far north as they would ever get during the entire Civil War.

To stand at that High Water Mark and look out over that open field and try to imagine 12,000 soldiers dressed in grey marching in parade format toward the Union line, facing a barrage of artillery and infantry fire from the Federal Army entrenched behind stone walls is breath-taking. As I processed my weekend in Gettysburg I couldn't help but to conclude, "Why Can't the Church of Jesus Christ be more like the Confederate Army?" In what way, you ask? I'll explain in my blog posting on Friday!

Don't forget to read my other blog, "Hope for Hurting Pastors," at www.blogspot.hurtingpastor.com. You can also email me at skdistler@gmail.com.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Laura and I have decided that it's about time to put our house on the market as we wait to see what ministry assignment God is going to take us to next in His timing. We have loved our house and our neighborhood and neighbors and know that God is already at work orchestrating behind the scenes to bring us together with the next family that will live at 793 Sue Drive in Lititz. Below is a list describing our house. If you know of anyone who might be interested please pass this on to them as well as my email address which is:


793 Sue Drive in Lititz, PA

2217 Square Feet of Living Space

4 Bedrooms/2.5 Baths

1st Floor Family Room with Fireplace

1st Floor Laundry

Breakfast Bar in Kitchen

New Oil Forced Air Furnace

Central A/C

Covered Front Porch

2-Tier Deck Overlooking Back Yard

Wooden Deck Furniture Included

Attached 2-Car Garage With Electric Door openers

Front and Back Storm Doors

Water Softener

Refrigerator; Oven; and Dishwasher Included

Well Water/Public Sewer

Full Unfinished Basement Completely Dry-Locked

Ceiling Fans in Three Bedrooms

Ceiling Fans in Kitchen and Family Room

Most Window Coverings Included

Invisible Dog Fence around Back Yard

Don't forget to check out my other blog entitled "Hope For Hurting Pastors" at www.hurtingpastor.blogspot.com. You can also email me at skdistler@gmailcom

Saturday, November 13, 2010

185,000 "Thank You's"

Today I will go over the 185,000 mark in unique visitors here to my "Folks Listen" blog. This represents visitors from 170 different countries around the world. I find it absolutely amazing that in the day and age in which we live today I can sit in my home in the small town of Lititz, PA and post a blog and have it read by so many people from so many places. So THANK YOU for dropping by "Folks Listen." Along with commenting on my blog, you can also email me at skdistler@gmail.com. Don't forget to check out my newest blog called "Hope For Hurting Pastors" which can be found at www.hurtingpastor.blogspot.com.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm Not Going To Like This Church

Last Sunday we attended a church that was part of a denomination in which, to be honest, I had never experienced a Sunday worship service in prior to that. Now to be even more honest I will tell you that as I drove to the church to meet some friends of ours there, I didn't have "high hopes" that I was going to enjoy it much. How sad it is that we often make up our minds on someone or something due to pre-conceived labels we put on them. To my surprise and delight, just the opposite took place. It was a wonderful morning of worship. Let me summarize some of the aspects of the morning:

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: From the moment we entered the doors there was a very friendly atmosphere in the church. Several people took the time to greet us and introduce themselves to us. The auditorium was brightly lit and inviting and as I looked around I noticed a remarkable balance, as the auditorium filled, of young couples and senior saints. They even gave out free mints as you entered - I took two mints (you know that philosophy, if it's free - take two)!! And afterwards we were approached by many people (again from young couples to senior saints) thanking us for attending and expressing a desire for us to return. They also each spoke very positively about their pastor and their church. It was obvious that these people loved their church.

WORSHIP: The worship that morning was what they would call "blended." However, their definition of "blended" was a very clear dichotomy. There was one segment of modern praise songs that were very good, yet still done in more of a traditional style. Then, later in the service there was another time of singing that was right out of the hymn book. Though my preference would have been for a bit more energy in their worship time, let me stress that I do not believe that style is the main issue when it comes to effective worship. Worship isn't about STYLE it is about TRUTH. That is why I believe that we should never make our style preference an issue. For example, I do not like country music. However, if I were attending a church that had as a worship style nothing but that dreadful country "twang", I could still very much worship as long as the songs were pointing my mind and heart to truth about God. On this Sunday they also had a couple different kid's groups singing as well. You can never go wrong when you put the little ones up front!

PREACHING: The pastor was a very decent communicator. He preached from 2 Corinthians 12 on "The Right Reasons to be in Ministry." Though there was a lot more depth that could have been drawn from the passage he used, his points were very biblical and very practical. I appreciated and was both encouraged and challenged by his message. He also included a good amount of effective illustrations and humor. He also made it very clear several times that salvation came only from personal faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus!

SPECIAL ASPECT: At one point in the service they had an "Anointing Service" for an individual who was facing an 8-hour surgery that week for cancer. The pastor did a wonderful job of explaining and practicing this special time of confession, anointing and prayer as seen in James. 5. I have conducted many anointing services in my ministry, but always in private. It was very refreshing to see this done publicly in front of the church.

But again I go back to this "label game" that we play. The Sunday prior I attended a church that was part of a denomination I would have put my "stamp of approval" on and my wife and I were both very disappointed (go back and read my blog, "Unwanted in Church" from last week for the specifics). This past Sunday I was truly blessed by attending a church that I would have typically avoided because of its "label." Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that all labels are bad. I am simply saying that maybe I (and perhaps you) need to be a little less quick to draw lines and write people off based solely on our pre-conceived "labels." Give it some thought.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Tomorrow is November 11th - It's a holiday. Yes, it is Veteran's Day so let me take this time to say a huge "thank you" to any and all veterans of our nation's military who might happen by this blog for the part you played and the sacrifice you made to keep our country free.

But tomorrow, November 11th, is also a special holiday for another reason - it is my wife, Laura's, birthday. I have always tried to make birthdays for Laura special. A couple years back her birthday fell on a Sunday and so I lined the stage with vases, each containing a single rose. There was one rose for each year of her age. Twice we celebrated her birthday over in Israel - once in Bethlehem and once in Jerusalem.

But this year Laura's b-day comes during a transitional time in our lives so there won't be as much opportunity for the "added specialties." But, that's okay. I can honestly say that I am more in love with my wife now than I ever have been. That has been one of my four main prayers through this time of ministry transition - that God would use this time to allow me to do four things:

Fall more in love with Jesus!
Fall more in love with my wife!
Fall more in love with the local church!
Fall more in love with my calling to be a pastor!

And God has done just that. I am so thankful for Laura and all that she means to me and the support she has been to me. I can't help but think of the words to a D. Morgan print that I bought for her several years ago that is hanging on our living room wall:

One hundred years together
Would surely be too few
For every day all over again
I fall in love with you!

So, if you know my wife (or even if you don't) and you would like to wish her a Happy Birthday on November 11th as well, simply leave a comment here or email me at skdistler@gmail.com and I will be sure she gets it!

Happy Birthday, Laura! I love you!

Monday, November 08, 2010


While I will continue to make regular postings here at "Folks Listen," I am excited to announce a new blog that I have begun entitled, "Hope for Hurting Pastors." The link to this new blog is http://www.hurtingpastor.blogspot.com/.

Recently a friend made arrangements for Laura and I to go see the closing weekend of JOSEPH at the Sight and Sound Theater. What an amazing performance. It especially meant a lot to me because I am studying the life of Joseph in my own personal Bible Study. It is a story about the power of forgiveness and it is just that - a powerful story. But the part of the story that grabbed my heart the most was how Joseph, even during the lowest times of his life, still trusted that God had a plan for him resulting in him being used by God, even during these valleys, to minister and benefit others. For example:

Joseph was sold as a slave into the land of Egypt, yet, he trusted God and was used mightily by the Lord in the lives of Potiphar and his household.

Joseph spent years in prison, yet, even in his chains he trusted God and the Lord used him mightily in the life of the jailer and many other prisoners.

As I have gone through ministry valleys in my life, God has taught me many wonderful lessons. I have learned to trust Him like never before. And I have learned that it is during the challenging times of our lives that God can use us in mighty ways to benefit and encourage others.
Second Corinthians chapter one teaches us that God comforts us in all of our afflictions so that we can then comfort others going through the same afflictions with the same comfort that we received from the Lord. That's what this new blog is all about.

Many pastors have in the past or are currently going through hurts in ministry. That's why so many of them ultimately get out of ministry for good. This new blog is designed for pastors - especially hurting pastors. My prayer is that as I share lessons I have learned as God has comforted me, that the Lord will use this to comfort them and allow them to realize that though ministry has hurts, there still is HOPE!

So drop by this new blog and read some of the lessons I have learned. Be sure to pass this website on to pastors you know - especially if any of them that are hurting in ministry.


Friday, November 05, 2010


Ever since my two trips to Israel, I have fallen in love with the FALAFEL sandwich. What is a FALAFEL sandwich? FALAFEL is a ball made from ground chickpeas and is served in a pita with salads, pickled vegetables and sauces in it as well. It is absolutely amazing.

So this past weekend when my wife and I were in New Jersey we were walking around a mall and noticed that there was a large Jewish population in the area. So I went out to our JEEP and plugged the word "FALAFEL" into my GPS and followed the directions to Ibbs Falafel in Freehold, New Jersey. What a wonderful lunch we had. It made me feel like I was sitting back in the Old city of Jerusalem where I ate the best FALAFEL sandwich I have ever had.

You can also buy FALAFEL at Costco. We have and my wife found a recipie and from it made a pretty mean FALAFEL sandwich herself.

So if you are reading this posting and you live anywhere or know of any place where someone can get a really good FALAFEL sandwich, please post a comment and let me know. If I am ever near that area I will set my GPS so I can enjoy some FALAFEL.

After all, in my book the only sandwich that comes close to comparing with a good FALAFEL would be Liverwurst with Miracle Whip! YUM! YUM!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Unwanted in Church

During this time of ministry transition, Laura and I are attending a different church each week. It is amazing how much you can glean about effective ministry, both positive and negative, by being "the pastor in the pew" for an extended time-frame. This past Sunday we learned a lot on the "negative" side.

We were attending church in northern New Jersey. The parents of a bride that I married a few years back lives over by the Jersey shore. They were going to be away for a week and invited Laura and I to get away for a few days using their beautiful home. It was a wonderful few days for us. When Sunday morning came I found a church on the internet whose website seemed very attractive. I have to be honest, it ended up being one of those very rare Sundays for us where the service was not a blessing.

When we arrived, there was no signage at all to tell us which doors to use. We had no idea where to go and no one else was arriving at the time that we could follow. Fortunately, we guessed right. When we entered the doors a lady who was serving as a greeter stuck a bulletin out in our direction and said, "Here's a bulletin." There was no smile. There was no greeting - just a, "Here's a bulletin."

We stood in the back of the auditorium waiting for the Sunday School class to finish. As we stood there literally dozens of people walked by us. Not only did nobody talk to us, no one even glanced our direction. It was pretty obvious that we were guests by the way we were very "under-dressed." I was 1 of only 2 men I saw that was wearing jeans. However, we did get a few obligatory "handshakes" and "hellos" during the "greeting" time in between two of the songs.

Overall we felt very unwelcomed and unwanted. It is true what they say. First impressions are vital. A first-time guest usually decides within the first 10 minutes of pulling into the church parking lot if they will return or not - even before ever hearing the message. For us last Sunday, the first 10 minutes of our visit at this New Jersey church gave us little to no motivation to return.

But if we were not convinced to avoid returning to this church in our first 10 minutes, the message would have sealed the deal that this was not the church for us. The pastor preached principles with a few scattered verses thrown in but it appeared that the main thrust of his message was to preach against a list of activities that made one "ungodly." In a 40 minute time-frame he preached strongly and loudly against the following:





Gothic Dress

Contemporary Christian Music



But to our amazement, he even preached against having visitors in church. I am not kidding. Now it made sense why we felt like the proverbial "elephant in the room" when we arrived at church. It appears that this church doesn't welcome visitors because they really don't want them. I wish I could tell you I was exaggerating but I'm not.

But even on this Sunday morning in which we saw so much negative about church, God still allowed us to see His fingerprints. During the offertory the piano player played the old worship song entitled, "In His Time." This is a very special song to Laura and I for reasons that I will write about someday in a future blog posting. But it is special enough that we had the song sung at our wedding over 23 years ago. There was one other time in our lives a little over 6 years ago that God again used that song to speak volumes to my wife and I. And even while sitting in church last Sunday in New Jersey feeling very unwelcomed and unwanted, it was as if God was saying to us, "I still want you!"

In His time
In His time
He makes all things beautiful
In His time

Monday, November 01, 2010

Tuesday - Election Day in America

I am looking forward to this Tuesday. It's Election Day in America. I have always been intrigued by politics. I think that is why one of my favorite shows of all time was The West Wing. It was fun for me to watch that show and get an idea of how things work inside the White House.

I know that most people have long since gotten tired of all of the political ads on television. Not me! I love all of that stuff and I can sit for hours at night (if I let myself) and watch all the political pundits on the different TV news networks. So I am really looking forward to Tuesday. I am looking forward to casting my vote and then staying up into the early hours of the morning watching all of the election returns, concession speeches, and victory celebrations.

I can't help but remember my days at Liberty University when election time rolls around. The presidential election during my time at Liberty was the 2nd Reagen election. As you most likely recall, Dr Falwell and the Moral Majority was pretty active back then. I remember Dr Falwell saying many times leading up to that election, even from the pulpit, "I'm not going to tell you who to vote for - you can vote for the Ronald Reagen of your choice!" We use to joke as students and say that Dr Falwell had 4 main sermon themes that the vast majority of the hundreds of messages we heard him preach fit into. They were:

Get Saved!
Get Going!
Don't Quit!

So this Tuesday I will vote! I hope that you will too!