Lighthouse May 24, 2020
If there were not a day scheduled for such an event how many of us would take time to reflect on the sacrifices others have made for our well being? When our personal freedoms get threatened then we pay attention but when those freedoms seem to be secured over a period of time we seem to, for some reason, get very involved in our present blessings and forget that the price of freedom is 'eternal vigilance.' sometimes we need to remind ourselves that the enemy is not always from without. As I'm writing this, feast of Christopher Magallanes who was put before a firing squad for his faith, with no trial, I can't help but think of the Christero Movement 'Christo Rey' in Mexico barely 100 years ago when the government used an almost forgotten law to close down all churches and deport any foreign born ministers. How many Christian nations experienced the same thing from within? The French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Spanish, the German Third Reich? Christians in those countries all thought they were safe but lost their freedom in a matter of days. Is that happening again as we witness a number of governors trying to close down churches while every other imaginable business is able to operate? Many who gave their lives in the past did so during epidemics because they were fighting for something greater than their own life, the lives and freedom to worship of their loved ones. It is certainly right that we ought to honor those who paid the ultimate price. I also can't help but think of dad who went down in a plane over France but survived, with a life of pain. As a Democracy we each need to recognize not only our responsibility for protecting our country from without but to also pay attention to what goes on in the current time, whenever that is. I pray you take time to remember our fallen brethren and not see such days as simply a bonus three day weekend. I'd like to leave you with a quote from John Adams in 1776 who said: “It may be the will of Heaven that America shall suffer calamities still more wasting and distresses yet more dreadful. If this is to be the case, it will have this good effect, at least; it will inspire us with many virtues, which we have not, and correct many errors, follies, and vices, which threaten to disturb, dishonor, and destroy us. The furnace of affliction produces refinement, in states as well as individuals. And the the new governments we are assuming, in every part, will require a purification from our vices, and an augmentation of our virtues or there will be no blessings. But I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence; in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe.”
Lighthouse May 3, 2020
Oh, I’m out of ?, I think I’ll run over to store and get some; and while I’m at it I think I’ll go over to this and that place and get these other things. And, while I’m out I might as well get my hair done. And the list goes on. Have you had sufficient time now to think of how blessed we are and how many things, how many services we take for granted? When by a single declaration you find yourself limited to where you can go, what you can do, what might be available you can’t help but wonder. How many of us have looked at the simple act of camping and thought nothing about being to go where and when we wanted? Did we realize the last time we said good bye to grandma at the nursing home might be the last time? Did we really ever imagine there would be a time when we couldn’t go to church even when we wanted to? I know for me it has really been a wake-up call. Not that I don’t already give thanks every day for all the blessings that surround me, but that, overnight, as in a Twilight Zone, they were no longer available. It’s not that they don’t exist but that you can’t have access to them. Never could I dream that as a minister I would not be able to go into a nursing home or hospital to visit a member. Never could I imagine that I should not be able to visit members who were home-bound and maybe had very little family to call on. Never, never, could I imagine that I would plan a church service and my people not be able to come. In all of history those who were sick were the ones quarantined. When there is any level of disaster there has always been felt an even greater need to come before God as a community and seek intercession. That all changed, almost overnight. Am I more aware of how much I have taken for granted? You bet. Again and again and again we are re-encouraged to live the present moment. It all sounds good. We think we are doing just that until we realize we have just been living with the idea in the back of our minds that these people I love, these services I depend on, these people I depend on day to day to round out my life and take care of so many things could, indeed all be gone in an instant. Let us not be afraid each day to express our gratitude for each of those people who make our lives so much better. Let us not be afraid to let our loved ones know it each time we can, that we do love them. Let us not cease to come before our God each day and ‘give thanks, for all things.’
Lighthouse March 24, 2020
ALL THINGS WORK TO THE GOOD OF THOSE WHO BELIEVE
Do you really believe that? That's a hard question when you begin to question why everything around you seems to be going wrong. Then each day it hits closer to home as you realize how everything impacts something else in your life. Then I think of the Word of God reminding me that it rains on the just and the unjust. I think of storms and how much I enjoy them and how there needs to be rain if I want to enjoy the rainbow. How can I not believe that something good will really come from our current crisis? I have already begun to see a number of wonderful fruits from it. Families are telling me of how they are working on some projects together. How that helps build up communication and brings them to know each other and the gifts and talents that are there. I hear of how the sheriff is working to make sure people get meals and the positive image that creates concerning law personnel. I think of how the schools are working to help make sure meals are available and how the ministers are personally working together to distribute food this week. I think of the families who are re-discovering the joy and importance of having family time for prayer. It is truly a time to re-focus on what values we hold or want to hold, to recognize how many of those values slipped away from us and what we need to do to again make sure they remain part of our daily life. Discover the joy you have from different experiences and make a commitment to do what is necessary to maintain such. Do we have a family prayer space, family prayer time that takes precedence over any other distraction. Are we rediscovering how personal interaction, yes, even with its sometimes conflicts, is of greater value that most of the false internet community we have surrounded ourselves with. These are the people you would die for, not those out there in the digital world. Although, I would hope that the digital world does open up an awareness of the many needs out there which our families can be a part of solving. God has blessed us with His Spirit and as such has given all of us gifts to be His Light in the darkness which cannot overcome it. St. Paul calls us to give thanks to God for all things, and he means, all things. He was grateful for being blinded in order to see the light. He was thankful for his many beatings, his shipwrecks, for they all gave him the opportunity to give Glory to God. God is good and he will not abandon us. Let us be a part of the good which He wants to bring from this. This too will pass. Will we be stronger for it? Will we be better Christians? Will we be more a compassionate, merciful people? It is a time for growing. Let us discover the gifts He has given us to serve others. To close I would like to share some words of a founding father, John Adams July 3, 1776: “it may be the will of heaven that America shall suffer calamities still more wasting and distresses yet more dreadful. If this is to be the case, it will have this good effect, at least: it will inspire us with many virtues, which we have not, and correct many errors, follies and vices which threaten to disturb, dishonor, and destroy us. The furnace of affliction produces refinement, in states as well as individuals....it will require purification from our vices, and an augmentation of our virtues or there will be not blessings..'
Also: any senior citizen who should not get in public is welcome to email me with a list of groceries or bring your list with you and we will have a volunteer at Town and Country from 11:00-12:00 Mon.-Fri. To do your shopping for you and bring the groceries to the car.
Lighthouse February 18, 2020
The choice is yours. Do you ever really think about it? You get to make an eternal decision. Of course, if you share in bringing a new individual into the world that is another being who will live forever and ever. But, in regards to yourself, you get to choose where you will spend eternity. It is not just a matter of whether you will exist forever, but where you will spend it. How often I hear people question the wisdom of God saying 'how could He allow such and such to happen?' from the very beginning of His creation of human beings He allowed something to happen which He would not allow Himself to have direct control over, another rational being. He gave humans the right, the freedom to chose whether they would spend eternity with Him or not. Again, in Sirach we hear 'before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him.' And, when Jesus comes he extends that choice not just in terms of doing right or wrong but why. Do we do it out of love of God and neighbor. He tells us that it is not just enough to refrain from killing our neighbor if internally that is what we really want to do. I mean, why would you ultimately want to spend eternity with God if you don't share His values. Really! If God created sex to be so beautiful as to reflect His relationship as Trinity, a total self giving, why would someone try to use it in any way which did not reflect that? That is why Jesus would go on to say ' anyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery.' Anyone who looks at pornography and fantasizes about it has already proven he doesn't want to use this tremendous gift as a reflection of the love of the Trinity. Truly Jesus calls us to go beyond the external keeping of the commandments. One could go their whole life having kept the commandments and yet be a narcissist, self-centered, unable to care about the needs of others. All the commandments are meant more like the boundaries of a ball field. They are warning signs, when broken, that one has gone outside of the game. As Christians, you and I are called to stay actively in the game and grow in our ability to love as Christ loves us. So, yes, the choice is ours. Each day, each action, tells God whether we love others as He does or whether we are wrapped up in ourselves. Do our actions, and our thought reflect a love of the other, or not. To the extent it does tells the all-loving God whether or not we want to be in the game with Him forever.
Lighthouse February 11, 2020
I try, I try, to be positive in these articles but then once in a while something screams for attention that convicts us all. Recently, after the Super Bowl, someone suggested that I take a look at the half-time entertainment. 10 seconds was more than enough. I thought to myself ‘we
just finished Human Trafficking Awareness Month and here millions of Americans are being given a heavy dose of burlesque’. Either we are fooling ourselves about wanting to overcome sex trafficking or we have grown numb to some of its causes. If you were watching the half-time show that far outdid Janet Jackson’s wardrobe failure of a few years ago and found yourself smiling inside at what you saw, you are part of the problem. To begin with football, as great a sport as it is, is a testosterone driven sport. For years the Super Bowl, as with other large crowd events drawing particularly men, has been targeted for extremely high rates of sex trafficking and subsequent arrests. Watching entertainment which by the colors chosen, the wardrobe, the body language, the music which is all driven to heighten this testosterone is nothing short of contributing to the commodification of women, and girls. Rather than contribute to the admiration of women for their beauty, their talent it turns them clearly in to sex objects. I can’t help but wonder, how many men would really appreciate seeing their daughter on that stage and then let them take a walk out into the neighborhood alone with those outfits on? Granted there has long been a male readiness to blame girls who got in trouble while wearing skimpy or suggestive clothing. That has never justified anyone taking advantage of them. But for a major, supposedly family oriented, sports event to deliberately choreograph a show intending to appeal to the weakness of lust in our society seeking to outdo previous years events only demonstrates all the more that we are not serious about eradicating sex-trafficking. If you enjoyed such entertainment do not be surprised when your own daughter disappears into the night to be abused, tortured and become a sex slave. If she does I pray she will be saved but there will be irreparable harm. I pray. You may value every woman as your daughter, your sister. If so, and if you truly enjoy the sport and not such half-time entertainment I pray you will be a voice in making the industry bring about changes so drastically needed. Until then, expect to see an ongoing increase in used, abused, and discarded girls. And women.! If you too enjoy seeing your men enthralled by such shows I feel sorry for you for you too are nothing more than an object in his eyes. May we all have the common sense to look at what we do, at what we support, and ask ourselves if that is really the kind of values we want for ourselves, for our children, and for our country.
Lighthouse January 27, 2020
January 22, 1973 will eventually go down as the most infamous day in American history. Why do I say that? The attack on Ft. Sumter was the beginning of 620,000 deaths in America. Some died to protect the right to own slaves. Some died for the freedom of all. Beyond that there have been 644,000 who have died in all other American conflicts involving the freedom of ourselves and others. That is one and a quarter million Americans fighting for freedom. There was ten times that number of innocent people killed in the Holocaust, some 6 million. Now, multiply that number by 10 and you begin to realize how great our own crime is in killing 60+ million innocent people through abortion. Science is getting more and more clear, as if that's needed, about the undeniable reality that each human life begins at fertilization. Americans have historically shown tremendous willingness to sacrifice life as soldiers, as policemen, as individual heroes in order to save a single human life. How much more does this threat against life demand that heroism from us? This week I will be on the 47th Annual National March for Life in Washington DC with a number of others from this area. It is always a sacrifice for them to make this kind of witness but they ask for your prayers for safety and for success as they look forward to a day when the word 'abortion' will not even be heard. If you have ever had an interest in helping the unborn I encourage you to first of all pray. Support some Pro-life organization, whether it be those fighting abortion or those helping with unplanned pregnancies like Birthright. Participate in giving witness. There will be a pro-life march in Jefferson City on Feb. 1 and an annual Pro-life lobby day in Jefferson City on March 10. Having participated in many of these 47 years I know progress is being made. When I jailed for helping to close the abortion clinic in Cape Girardeau I knew it would be a long battle but I still can't help but pray I will see total success during my lifetime. When we pray to God asking Him to endow people to come up with solutions to the environmental problem; to cancer and other diseases; to world peace I can't help but hear Him say “I sent you 60 million people, each with an unrepeatable gift to contribute to the welbeing of mankind. Where are they at.” it reminds you of the story of the woman whose house was being threatened by a flood. As the waters got to her door a rescue squad came and told her they would take her to a safe shelter. She said 'no' God would help her. As the waters got to the second floor a boat came by and offered to take her to safety and she said 'no' God would help her. Finally a helicopter came and they cut a hole in her roof and she still refused, saying 'God would help.' when she died and went before the Lord she said: 'where were You?' and God simply reminded her of how many times He tried to help through others. Those being aborted are those He has sent to help us.
Lighthouse Jan. 6, 2020
Wow! This Sunday many churches celebrated what we call 'Epiphany', 'the revealing' or 'manifestation'
For Eastern Christians this was originally Christ's birth. For Hispanics
and others this is the time for giving gifts. We talk about 3 kings or 3 astrologers coming from the east to the manger. Whatever they were it gives us a wonderful time for reflecting on the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophesy in chapter 60 where he says 'nations shall walk by your light and kings by your shining radiance...the wealth of nations shall be brought to you. Dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense.' This might be where we get the number 3 from. And then in the Gospel of Matthew we hear how these Magi were led by a star to Bethlehem where they prostrated themselves before the child and offered gold, frankincense and myrrh. It doesn't say that there were only three but does mention three gifts. The fascinating thing that so many astrologers get tied up with is, using our modern tools, trying to ascertain what kind of star could have led them and then seemingly changed course and be directly over the manger. Personally I'm more prone to think of the star as an angel. After all an angel announced to Mary that she would be the mother. Angels appeared to the shepherds to direct them to the stable so is it possible God began using an 'angel of light' way ahead of time to direct these foreigners there. After all, an angel could change directions and be visible to some and not others. In any case the exciting lesson I experience here is the reality that nature, science if you will, leads to God. When the Magi encountered the Christ child they prostrated themselves (getting on both knees and bowing). Once encountering Christ they listened to the word of God and changed directions. That's what an encounter with Christ does for all of us. And while nature is a great manifestation of God and can lead to God, it is not God. How many stop short in their search. They say “I find God in nature.” or worse yet: “I'm scientific and don't need God if there is one.” I would like to leave you with a couple quotes from three modern wisemen who were scientists. One, Louis Pasteur, founder of microbiology and immunology, said: “Posterity will one day laugh at the foolishness of modern materialistic philosophies. The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator. I pray while I am engaged at my work in the laboratory.” and “A little science takes you away from God but more of it takes you to Him.” Albert Einstein said: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” and “The more I study science, the more I believe in God.” or a recently deceased Supreme Court Judge, Antonin Scalia : The body of scientific evidence supporting creation science is as strong as that supporting evolution. In fact, it may be stronger..the evidence for evolution is far less compelling than we have been led to believe. Evolution is not a scientific 'fact,' since it cannot actually be observed in a laboratory. Rather, evolution is merely a scientific theory or 'guess'. It is a very bad guess at that. The scientific problems with evolution are so serious that it could accurately be termed a myth.' or, finally, Werner Heisenberg, father of Quantum Physics,: 'the first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will make you an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass, God is waiting for you.”
Lighthouse Dec. 31, 2019
Last week we spoke about Christmas and how it came to be celebrated where it is, December 25. This week I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year which we mark this week on January 1. So, no, it is not the Chinese Calendar which is seemingly much older as is the Jewish Calendar. No, ours comes from a reform of the Roman Calendar by Julius Caesar which although it added leap days kept getting out of sync with the solar rotation. Pope Gregory the Great introduced today's calendar in 1582 which is off now only 1 day every 3236 years. With that accuracy all the world, including the Chinese adopted it even though it took 300 years before all countries did so. Today the Julian Calendar would be 13 days out of sync. In any case, from my perspective, what we want to look at is that we will be saying January 1, 2020 AD, or anno domini. Why is that important? It's starting point is based on the birth of the most influential person who has ever lived, Jesus Christ. Since 1582 Christians have been writing AD or BC, before Christ. And, just as there is a tremendous struggle in the world, the secular world, to change everything away from a recognition of Jesus. Witness the effort to remove 'In God We Trust' from our money, or the manger scene from to public square, or 'Merry Christmas' from Christmas and replace it with 'season's greetings'. So there is an effort for a number of years now to remove AD from the calendar and call it BCE for before the common era and CE for 'common era'. Common era of what? What is the starting point. If given a chance the world wants to turn everything 180 degrees from any recognition of God. Look at the debate this past week concerning the magazine Christianity Today started by Billy Graham. Frank Graham says it has totally misrepresented what his dad stood for. Or, look at the growing phenomenon of satanism and how they try to have what they call a 'black mass' in total mockery of the Christian mass. I'm afraid we live in an age, when to be politically correct Christians too easily buy into what the culture seems to want. That is why there are interminable polls skewed to make people think this or that is what the majority want. And everyone wants to be in the majority. So, some would ask: does it really matter whether one says AD or CE? On a moral basis, no. Does it really matter whether we say: 'in God we Trust' on our money? Again, on a moral level, no. But, little things matter. Each time Christians allow the secular culture denigrate something which reminds us that God is in our lives we lose out and the next generation has fewer aids to help them remain God centered. So, when you say 'Happy New Year' make it AD, another year of Our Lord, anno domini. Happy New Year!!!
Lighthouse December 24th
Do you have your creche up yet? If not, it’s not too late. We celebrate Jesus as a child until
Feb. 2 and the 3 wise men don’t come until Jan. 6. In any case it is amazing, and yet not, that
so many seem to ask that question. Ever since St. Francis of Assisi first had a live creche,
manger scene, people have been honoring and remembering Jesus, the Son of God, becoming
man, like us in all thing but sin. I guess we feel safe with a child and a certain openness to the
love of God coming as a child. As I thought of my own creche, actually 4 i couldn’t help but
think: what other events in Jesus’ live would we like to portray. If we were to create a diorama,
what scenes would you put in it? Of course at the manger we have the animals representing all
nations. We have the Shepard, the 3 wise men. Would you include the flight into Egypt? The
presentation in the temple? The finding in the temple? His baptism by John? The first miracle at
the wedding in Cana? The feeding of the five thousand? Or how about the miraculous catch of
fish? Or Peter walking on water and reaching out to Jesus? Or, maybe one of the many circles
of healing? Or Jesus showing Peter, James & John his glory with Moses and Elijah? And then,
there is his whole suffering and death which he endured for our salvation. Would you include
any of those scenes? Of course you wouldn’t worship any of them but they would make good
reminders of much of the scripture. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Many don’t
realize it but it goes back to the earliest forms of written communication. Scientists are still
studying the primitive drawings found in a cave in France. The Indians used what we call
pictographs. We refer to the Egyptian picture symbols as hieroglyphics which transformed into
script. Modern people now use all kinds of icons and smiley faces to enhance their texts. So,
pictures, stained glass, statues have all been powerful communication symbols throughout the
ages. And of course, no one would fail to have pictures of their loved ones around. Isn’t it
amazing that immediately after God commanded not to have idols He commanded the
fashioning of two golden angels over the arc of the covenant and had Moses create a bronze
serpent for people to look to when they were bitten by a snake? Actually, to be an idol, one has
to recognize it as such and establish it for that purpose. Anything can be an idol, especially, the
dollar bill in our culture. So, let me encourage you to take delight in your creche. See how it
compares to others. I remember when I was in Mexico I saw many with fish and birds and all
God’s creatures. All creatures great and small must bow to Jesus. Finally, don’t limit your
witness to Jesus in this way, just to Christmas. How can you make Him visually present
throughout the year in your house?