Monday, May 25, 2009

Jon and Kate - Is it too late?

I'm not sure how many of you have been following the saga of Jon and Kate Gosselin, but my family has been hooked this Memorial Day weekend on the JnK marathon. In case you are unfamiliar with JnK, five years ago they became parents of sextuplets and from that moment on they have been their own unique version of the Truman Show. America has watched as the kids grew, celebrated birthdays and learned to use the potty on Jon and Kate Plus 8. It seems that few details have been lost as the good, bad and ugly has been captured on film. Now, they are experiencing a very public squabble (as my grandfather used to say), a squabble that could easily lead to a very public and bitter divorce.

It seems that Jon has been feeling neglected, unloved and unfulfilled for some time. So much so that he was photographed with another (much younger) woman catting around on the town in the wee hours of the morn at 2 a.m. This occurred while Kate was on her recent book tour - one of many public engagements on her calendar. So, let me share several thoughts from my perspective.

First, JnK both claim to be Christ followers. I will not dismiss their claim as I have little or no basis to do so. Rather, I will say that when two people are Christians and are intent upon His will being done, there is no marital difficulty that cannot be overcome. Notice I said "two people" intent upon His will. That is the essential element when a marriage is crumbling because as Jesus says, "a house divided will not stand" (Mk. 3:25). In far too many cases when engaged in marital counseling, I find that only one really cares for the marriage to work. If this cannot be overcome, the time spent counseling is of less value than last week's newspapers. When two want it to work out, and those two are believers in Jesus Christ, it is never too late.

Second, JnK are examples of a torturous cycle present in every marriage I have ever witnessed on life support. They have the classic love/respect problem and seem totally oblivious to it. Ephesians 5:33 says a husband must "love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." One only need watch one episode of JnK to see that Jon isn't very loving and Kate certainly does not respect her man. Hence, the vicious cycle is played out before approximately 4 million viewers each week. Jon shows Kate no love and she shows him no respect, so he continues to show no love and she escalates a lack of respect. For their marriage to survive, the cycle must be broken and both will be required to work hard to break it. With God all things are possible so never should it be seen as hopelessly impossible to break the cycle. Quality Christian marital counseling in this area would be of benefit to these two before it's too late.

Third, perhaps it is time that the marriage and children take precedence over the TV show and the resulting fame and fortune. You say, "but how will they live since their livelihood comes from the TV?" Good question, but there are many large families who live happy, productive lives on incomes much smaller who never stand in the limelight. To sacrifice the marriage on the altar of fame and fortune is not an acceptable alternative. However, it appears that giving up the show is most definitely not an option for JnK; but if their marriage collapses, the show may give them up. As Raegan, my 14 year old, said "nobody wants to watch a dysfunctional family for very long." With the growing weirdness of the American public perhaps this isn't true, but I can tell you one family of five who will quickly tune it out because it will be too late then.

Fourth, and this will sound harsh, but maybe a little more selflessness is needed for the marriage to survive. Jon expressed in a recent People Magazine article that he "got married at 22, had twins at 23 and the sextuplets at 27. I wouldn't have it any other way but I never went out in my 20's." Well boo hoo, my tears are falling for you... NOT! Jon needs to man up and assume the responsibility he has been given. He does not have the option of being a playboy on the town and being a good daddy. The two do not mix. His 8 responsibilities (plus Kate) demand he live a selfless life and put away childish things. We are in the shape we are in as a nation partly because too many men who have the ability to father children seem to have an inability to be anything but selfish jerks! I realize I'm speaking against my own gender here, but with great responsibility comes great sacrifice. Come on Jon, get it together. Take off the cool shades, put aside the sports car, and honor the vows you made before God to your bride before it's too late!

And Kate, lighten up a little! I know your personality drives you to be the critical woman who tends to nag her husband all the time but this can be overcome. Berating and snapping at Jon does not a lovely marriage make. Chill out and take a deep breath every now and then. You will enjoy life much more if you do.

Finally, JnK need our prayers. As fellow believers we are all subject to sin in our lives. No follower of Christ is immune to attack. When we say "that could never happen to me" we've made a strategic error and are playing into the adversaries hands. The public demise of JnK would cause the children to suffer, but even more importantly, it would broadcast a bad witness for the cause of Christ. For these reasons, and many more, may we as fellow believers pray for the survival of their marriage. I am convinced there are few things on this earth that gives God more glory than two people wholly committed to Christ in a loving marriage. May that be the end result for Jon and Kate because it's not too late!

Remember... Never yield your shield; Stay in the battle.

In Christ alone,


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Missions Moment...

I am at an IMB trustee meeting and have just spent the last two hours with 8 new missionary couples headed overseas. Three are middle age and the others are in their mid-20's or so. Truly beautiful, gifted, awesome men and women with hearts burning for those in Poland, Spain, London, and other foreign European areas. Several things jumped out at me tonight -

1. They were obediently following the will of God. They have been called to serve in missions and were being obedient in every way. They were giving up promising careers of worldly reward for a more promising service and eternal rewards. They will not regret it.

2. More than one stated in their testimony that they had grown up in Christian homes but came to the place where they had to own their faith and not live off their parents coattails of faith anymore. This usually was the crisis moment God used to transition them to His call. He works like that if we pay attention. I remember when he did it in my life and Andi and I decided our faith had to be our own and it had to be real. It was scary but it was the best road to travel. Is your faith your own?

3. Finally, one young lady mentioned that before she was ever born, when her parents thought their nest was full, her mother was challenged to pray that God would raise up one of her children to be a missionary. She began praying. After that a third daughter was born, I met the answer to her mother's prayers tonight. She and her husband are moving to Poland. Okay, will you pray for God to raise up a missionary in your home? I'm going to, why not join me.

It's been a long and rewarding day.

Never yield your shield; Stay in the battle.

In Christ alone,


Monday, May 18, 2009

IMB Meeting...

I am on my way to two days of trustee meetings in Denver, CO for the Inteernational Mission Board. It will be a packed couple of days. We will elect new officers, continue working on the structural reorganization, meet new missionary candidates, approve/disapprove other potential candidates. We will also hear a report on the state of missions globally from the president and I will attend a special international accounting sub-committee meeting (wonder why the put me on this). It will be a packed time of meetings and discussion. Please pray we accomplish all we should.

Regarding my last post on preaching - I strongly believe there to be an emptiness in most pulpits in America. For many, a watered down version of the Gospel that promotes easy believism and no change is the norm. However, you don't want me to write about preaching too much and I'd rather write about other matters myself. So, be watching for what comes next.

Have a great week. And remember, Never yield your shield; Stay in the battle.

In Christ alone,


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Emptiness of the American Pulpit...

Preaching is my calling. I understand that it is not simply preaching alone. I am called to pastor a local congregation of believers, oversee a thriving church administration, stay focused upon the spiritual growth and development of those who sit under my leadership, engage in the Great Commission call to make disciples, fulfill my prayer responsibilities, participate in ongoing personal development, stay current with the times in which God has placed me, prepare multiple sermons a week but most definitely to preach. So as I say, preaching is my calling. If I could not preach the truth of God's Word I would feel a vast expanse of emptiness in my life. Not because I would miss the public recognition of standing before people every week or the satisfaction of hearing myself talk (I laugh at that thought as I am my harshest critic). But if I could not preach I would be denying God's purpose for my life, suppressing what I have been created to do, and failing to live out God's will for me in Christ Jesus. I am a preacher!

So what is the purpose of this post? Over the past 10-15 years as I have studied preaching, read numerous books on the subject of preaching, attended many conferences where some preached and others dabbled at it, and as I have hopefully developed as a preacher myself, I have come to a conclusion in light of the increasing decline of the church in America - there is an emptiness in the American pulpit of alarming proportion. Where is that voice of authority calling people from a life of sin to the joy of living for Christ? What happened to those mighty men of God who would stand against the culture and declare "thus says the Lord!"? Where have the preachers in the vein of Spurgeon, Moody, Lee, Olford, Lloyd-Jones, Criswell, Falwell, Rogers, and Graham gone? I contend that one of the key reasons the Southern Baptist Convention – a Convention with a rich history of vitality from its pulpits – is in decline is due to an increasing emptiness in the pulpit. It is an emptiness that no longer challenges the declining morality in America but passively sits by watching this country slide down the slippery slope of pluralism and religious anarchy. It is an emptiness that is filling a religious void in awakened sinners but failing to call for true repentance and conversion. It is an emptiness that is spreading and must be remedied if we are to play a role in seeing spiritual awakening in this country once again.

Therefore, over the next several weeks I will be particularly self-indulgent (and somewhat opinionated) as I will be writing about preaching. I will examine the call to preach, the conviction necessary to preach, and the authority for preaching. I will talk about the necessity of precision in the pulpit coupled with passion and boldness. I will also share my thoughts regarding steadfastness, maintaining focus, and how to engage a desperate culture with a word from a desperate heart!

I hope you stay tuned and don’t cease to stop by Psa7872 because you feel this won’t speak to your situation in life. I realize most who read this blog are not called to preach from a pulpit but every Christ follower is called to “preach” in their walk of life. So hang around and I am convinced we can all learn something together.

Remember... Never yield your shield; Stay in the battle!

In Christ alone,


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pleasing Faith...

I remember leading God’s people to do a spiritual gifts assessment at a previous church. There was a buzz of excitement as each person worked their way through the list of questions to determine the gifts they had divinely received from God. When the tallies were completed and the results provided to the participants an interesting statistic emerged. Over 80% of the participants had the spiritual gift of faith. Wow, talk about an opportunity to do something great for the Kingdom! However, a small problem (I use the word small loosely here) also became evident – well over 90% of those who professed to have the spiritual gift of faith exhibited no evidence that they were regularly exercising their gift in any tangible form. Uh, forget what I said a moment ago about impacting the Kingdom by all the faithful.

I heard recently about a Chinese pastor who was returning home from a visit to America. When he arrived back in China and was giving his report to some fellow pastors he said, “It’s amazing how much the churches in America are able to accomplish without God.” In other words, he witnessed a great deal of hard work but little dependence upon God. Faith demands dependence upon God! It is believing God and taking Him at His word. It is trusting in God to do the incredible to achieve the impossible with power that is supernatural for His eternal glory! Faith is singularly pleasing to our Father in Heaven. In fact the Bible teaches us that "without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Heb. 11:6). So how pleasing is your faith today? What are you trying to accomplish on your own to the exclusion of God? Why not please God right this moment by drawing near to Him in faith and spending time with him in prayer.

And if you desire a little deeper emphasis on how pleasing real faith is to God, why not read Hebrews 11 and highlight or underline every occurrence of the word “faith” found in the chapter. See how many you come up with and you’ll understand more fully how important faith is to God.

Remember... Never yield your shield; Stay in the battle.

In Christ alone,