Revisting The Christmas Story

Tuesday Musing of a Pastor – December 13, 2016
Revisting The Christmas Story
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Pastor Harold and Laila Bare
Senior Pastor Covenant Church
Charlottesville, VA

Revisiting The Christmas Story

Both Matthew and Luke record the Christmas story, but Matthew’s version is different from Luke’s. Matthew is writing to Jews. He was a Jew. He understood them.
His account leaves out the shepherds. Nose-thumping Jews were not impressed by shepherds, i.e., not likely to believe their stories about angels singing.

Matthew wants to get the facts to record that Jesus’ direct ancestor is Adam.
He traces history for 42 generations back to Abraham. Other records take the history from Abraham to Adam. This record is essential for prophecy to be fulfilled that of the seed of Adam would come redemption.

If you had asked me a few weeks ago, I would have said that Matthew chapter
one includes one of the most boring passages in the Bible. Genealogy is not my fascination. In truth, I have spoken my feelings about this passage being boring, i.e., begat, begat, begat.

Yet, this season demanded another reading. Suddenly I was gripped with the nuances of this listing of “begats”. Sitting up in bed… nighttime reading… quietening my day… preparing to rest… I came wide awake. Yes, I reached for a pen and began to underline in the Bible I was reading. Not “MY” Bible. I do not use that language.
The Bible is God’s word to me.

Verses one and two are all about men. Verse three slides “whose mother was Tamar.”

Back to Genesis 38. Judah had three sons. He finds a wife for the eldest. His son is wicked, and God kills him. Judah tells his second son to take the widow and produce offspring in the heritage of his elder deceased brother. The new groom has fun with the bride but refuses to have children, and God kills him. Judah tells the widow to wait until his youngest son is old enough to be married. He lies. The widow knows Judah is lying, so she takes off her mourning clothes and dresses like a prostitute… but hides her face. Judah thinks it is a roadside stop at a red-light house, i.e., “What is done in Vegas stays in Vegas.” The prostitute insists that Judah give her some pledge until a larger payment arrives. He leaves her with his seal, cord, and staff, i.e., his social security number and personal pin number to his American Express Card.

The prostitute is Judah’s daughter-in-law. She becomes pregnant and gives birth to one of Jesus’ grandpas.

Scripture list more men and then comes to verse 5 “Salmon…of Rahab.” The Israelites are getting ready to invade Canaan after 40 years of wandering. Across Jordan is the formidable city of Jericho with walls so thick and high it is said to be impregnable. Israel must pass Jericho to proceed. Spies are sent to check out the military situation. They end up in the house of a prostitute who sells her body for the pleasure of men to support her family. She hides the spies from the King of Jericho.

Rahab negotiates by saying she knows that the God of Israel is greater than the god of Jericho. She knows Jericho will be conquered. She will spare the lives of the spies if they will spare her life and the lives of her family. See her big heart to care for others? The spies tell her to put a scarlet cord out the window to mark her residence and have all her family in her apartment when the time comes. Scarlet symbolizes blood… salvation. Jericho falls. Rehab and her entire family live.

Allow me, please. I am a romantic. One of those spies might have been named Salmon. As they negotiated, he looked up into beautiful brown eyes and saw her heart. It was a human moment. She suddenly found love, true love, love like she had never experienced. She leaned over and they kissed. He said: “Baby, I am coming back for you.”

Rahab was the mother of Boaz, one of Jesus’ grandpas.

Boaz grew up spoiled by his mother Rahab. His family had become wealthy. He was a rich farmer. He loved God. He loved his employees. His employees loved him, which is a remarkable observation noted in the Bible.

In a hard time in Israel, a man took his family to live in Moab. He was married to Naomi, who must have been quite a looker when younger. While in Moab they had two sons who married. The man and his sons died. Naomi tells her two daughters-in-law she is going back to Israel, and they are free to stay in Moab.

Moab was a tribe resulting from Lot’s daughters getting him drunk, sleeping with him and having babies. One became Ammonites, the other Moabites. Moabite women were so sensual that God gave a specific warning about men of Israel being ensnared by them.

One of Naomi’s daughters-in-law decides she likes the parties of Moab and chooses to go back. The other says she will trade her life and gods of Moab for Naomi’s God and live in Canaan.

They walk home. Poor. Beaten. Hopeless. Folks look out their doors at the two women and are stunned at their desperate situation. Naomi is too old to look for food. Her daughter-in-law Ruth goes out as a poor women and picks up leftover grain after harvest in Boaz’s fields. There was a dignity in the way Ruth carried herself. Her black hair falling softly over her shoulders. Her dress, while modest, had been artfully charmed by hand-sewn flowers. Ruth looked neither right nor left at men who were taking second and third looks at her.

Boaz’s heart was stolen. He made sure she took plenty of food home. From the handfuls, Boaz had instructed to leave in the fields on purpose. He sent the word out that if any man harmed Ruth that that man would answer to Boaz.

Ah…romance. Sweet romance. The rich bachelor arranged for a wedding.

Moabitess Ruth gave Boaz a son, Obed, who was the grandpa of King David, who was a grandpa of Jesus.

Verse 6. King David has many wonderful qualities, but he has a weakness. Maybe he had not cured his lust of times when he was fleeing from Saul and women followed his army, as they have followed stars or leaders for millenniums. He knew better. He was married. He knew his palace was higher than other homes. He knew that out on the palace walls he could see things others could not see. He knew he was supposed to have gone to war.

Down below one of his top 100 soldiers lived with a woman exceedingly beautiful. She was not innocent. She took a bath on her patio maybe by candlelight or with a bright moon shining. She could have hung a curtain. She did not.

She had seen King David from her patio. Just by chance, he would come out while she was having a bath. Maybe that was all. But when David looked, lust ruled out logic. He had Bathsheba come up for a visit. What happens when a married man and married woman who are not married to each other meet in a bedroom. It is a bad plan.

Bathsheba became pregnant. David calls her husband from the war front hoping he will sleep with his wife and think the child is his. The husband is a soldier so loyal that he refuses to go home and stands guard to protect David. David is trapped. He has Bathsheba’s husband put in front of battle and killed.

David takes Bathsheba as his wife and she gives birth. The baby dies. Bathsheba and David have another child and name him Solomon. What began as ugly lust results in a grandpa of Jesus.

Go ahead keep reading the “begats”, and you will come to Verse 16.

“And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”

Yes, we read it with gentleness and beauty. We read it so nice that children sit, listen and are charmed.

Really? Mary was maybe age 13 when betrothed to Joseph. The pledge to be married was so binding only death or divorce could prevent Joseph coming for Mary when she would be maybe 14 or 15 years old. Until Joseph would take her to his house Mary was to remain with her parents and continue to be a virgin.

Mary became pregnant. Crisis! Her parents slipped her out of town to visit a kind cousin who would be compassionate and help protect Mary. While stoning a woman was not typically done in those times, shaming a woman who would violate her pledge to be married was done. If Joseph publicly denounced her, Mary would become trash. No respectable man would have her for a wife. How could a man trust her if she would betray her pledge? If a 15-year-old girl was so lustful to have secret relations with a man/men, she could be no good.

An angel tells “just” Joseph who fears God that the pregnancy is of God. Big leap. Joseph believes. He does not denounce her or have sexual relations with Mary until after Jesus is born.

But do you think that stopped all the whispering? No, the gossips were keeping the news traveling. “He must be possessed,” they would whisper, “to take a girl that would get pregnant before marriage.” Not hard to count nine months. The word was that Joseph had not been to her house during the time when Mary became pregnant. He could not be the father.

Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary are dropped in with the names of 42 men. Five women. Five jaded women in the eyes of sinful man. Five who could have been stoned by the law. Five that in other times and places no respectable man would have given thought to choose as a wife.

Not boring.

Matthew chapter one… the Christmas story is echoed in verse 21 “for he will save his people from their sins.”

Five women with questionable paths helped make the Christmas story. Thirty-seven women not mentioned.

May you have a wonderful Christmas.

Musing….
Pastor Bare
Matthew 1

P.S. Remember that He came looking for you (verse 21).

Give the gift of adventure this Christmas.
I am excited to share with you my first mystery, adventure novel.  Thank you for supporting me in this dream.  I guarantee it will make a wonderful Christmas Gift

Purchase your copy at  BaresEyeView.com.

Thank you for your notes of encouragement as I write the Musings.  If you find them helpful, please feel free to forward to friends and ministers.  No charge as long as you do not sell.

It is a joy to hear from you.

Harold L. Bare, Sr., Ph.D.

Senior Pastor, Covenant Church
www.covenantchurch.net
pastorbare@covenantchurch.net
(434) 953-9065

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About Things Past and Present

Tuesday Musing of a Pastor – December 6, 2016
About Things Past and Present

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Pastor Harold and Laila Bare
Senior Pastor Covenant Church
Charlottesville, VA

About Things Past and Present

December 18th is a red-letter day for Laila and me. Come that day at 2:30 PM, Laila and I were married for the first and last time.

I had seen her about three years previously standing in a cafeteria line at Lee College, now Lee University. We were from two different denominations that the history between them had not been friendly. She had determined that when romance came her way it would not be with a man from my denominational background.

But I was smitten. In good faith and before declaring any intentions I made a trip back home to officially end a high school romance. Back to college with my conscience clear, all plans were focused on convincing Laila that I was the man to be in her life.

She was not an easy sell. Rules for dating were strict. We were only out on Friday and Saturday nights and it had to be double-dating. We were in by 11:30 PM, with a mild exception for Senior Prom. Sunday nights we had to be in by 10:30 PM, and we could not check out, (yes, we had to check-out to leave campus) past 10:00 PM. More than once our esteemed President sang a chorus to push the clock past 10:00 PM before the benediction.  One time it was “At the Cross”—sung 13 times until 10:01 PM.
We still remember.

Complicating the above was a line of demarcation more dramatic than the Mason-Dixon. A road ran through the campus. The boys’ dorms were on the West side of the road. The girls’ dorms were on the East side. At the appointed hour of human keepers of young souls, we were not allowed to be on the other side of the line contrary to our birth gender. No holding hands across the line. No kissing on the line. That line in the road was formidable and divisive, separating romantic souls from physical touch as if a dark angel had dropped a wet blanket upon romance.

More than once, standing at the line or after being on a date, Laila would look at me and say: “I like you, BUT…” and then she would give her speech of detachment… separation… finality… breaking up! The clock would tick past its deadly time. Curfew. She had to go. No time for me to protest. No time for me to appeal.
I would watch her walk tall and dignified into the girls’ dorm with my heart aching.
We had no cell phones. There was no hope of getting back to the dorm and using a quarter on a pay phone to call and plead my love. Other boys would be lined up and waiting for the single phone in our whole dorm.

But morning would come. I was the editor of the college newspaper, and we sold ads to local businesses. Marie’s Florist was a customer. I would call Marie and ask her to send a bouquet of roses to Laila. Our campus was small with only 850 students. Culture rejected writing thank you notes. Laila by courtesy would have to meet me in person over the next few days to thank me for the roses. She would try to make it a time that would lend to brevity and quick closure with other people nearby.
But I would have my plan.

“Thank you for the roses,” she would say.
“How about Friday night?” was my response.

Coupled with my strategy was that there were other men who liked Laila. Those men were talented and promising of a good future. However, the good news is that they were also in my circle of the fraternity or friendship. I approached them one-by-one to ask their intentions toward Laila. Were they thinking of permanent plans? When they shared that they liked her, but that they could not say they were thinking of life together, I negotiated.

“I am interested. Would you as a friend give me territory to press my intentions?”
I would ask more as a statement than a question. And not exactly in those words.

Oddly, Laila gradually came to discover that I was the only one asking her for a date. The reason why, of course, I did not confess until later. After marriage.

There came a day when on the front lawn of the campus I knelt, took her hand and asked her to marry me.

“Get up from there,” she insisted, while traffic was passing by and people were nearby, “before other people see you!”

“I will not get up until you say ‘Yes,'” I responded.

“Yes,” she said, “now get up.”

Her answer was not even sealed with a kiss. In those days it would have been demerits if we had been caught kissing for our engagement in public.

The battle was not over. For whatever reasons Laila broke up with me. She moved home to Petersburg, Virginia, and transferred to what is now Virginia Commonwealth University. I stayed at Lee University for another semester. Once I asked a girl out for a date. We began the evening with her saying: “Let’s have an understanding. I know you are in love with Laila. So let us enjoy the evening as friends.”

A semester was enough. I transferred to Catawba College in Salisbury, NC, which was about 240 miles from Laila. We had not ceased to be in touch, but I was determined to press the romance. Many weekends I hitchhiked to Virginia to see Laila knowing that she was also dating others. Gradually her interest in others narrowed, yet we had issues that were we thought were significant. Oddly, it is now difficult for me to even remember what those issues were.

Once we decided to break up for the second time. I had hitchhiked that weekend. Sunday afternoon Laila was going to drive me across the city to where I could begin my final departure of hitchhiking back to college in NC. She, an only child, asked that we not tell her parents about our breakup. She would tell them later.
They had come to believe that I would be their son-in-law.

Laila asked her mom to ride with us. The ride across the city was conversational with
a BIG ELEPHANT in the room. I drove. Laila sat next to me with her mom beside her.
I pulled the car over and got out. Laila slid into the driver’s seat and rolled the window down. I stood beside the car. We were trying to find the words to finish love. There was an awkward silence while Laila’s mom sat looking out the window on the other side of the car.

Suddenly Laila’s mom spoke firmly, “Laila just kiss him goodbye so we can go!”

Aaah. I never miss an opportunity for those sweet lips. If it was to be the last time it would be a good memory. I went through that window.

I borrowed $400 for a honeymoon to Niagara Falls. We made the trip in a 1959 Silverhawk Studebaker. The years have passed and the Lord has been gracious to us, adding four children, (one with Jesus), nine grandchildren and we look forward to some day being great-grandparents!

Come December 18th, we will be married 50 years. We will renew our vows at 4:00 PM, followed by dinner/reception/fun time in the gymnasium. Friends and family from across the U.S. are coming to share happiness with us.

On Christmas Day after morning worship, Laila has asked that we have a meal with all those who do not have family that would like to join us in the Cafe. Immediately afterward we will leave for 13 days together.

Laila has been the wind in my sails. She has made me a better man that I would have been. She has loved her Jesus on her own. Her part in ministry has been willful and heart-driven.

Once while working on my doctorate I became discouraged and said: “Laila, I am ready to give up.”

She softly responded: “May I ask one question (statement). When we made the sacrifice for you to return to school you told me that God had spoken to you about furthering your education. When did God change his mind?”

We have served Covenant Church 35 years. The leadership and congregation have never needed to be anxious about our marriage. We have never had to seek marriage counseling. We are in love. We have never had to take a sabbatical for spiritual restoration.

When people ask me when the honeymoon will be over I answer: “I will let you know when it happens!”

In the event you consider this Musing self-serving, pause and ask yourself: “How much difference does it make for a man and a woman to be married, in love with each other and committed to serving a congregation as a couple?”

Musing,
Pastor Bare

Give the gift of adventure this Christmas.
I am excited to share with you my first mystery, adventure novel.  Thank you for supporting me in this dream.  I guarantee it will make a wonderful Christmas Gift

Purchase your copy at  BaresEyeView.com.

Thank you for your notes of encouragement as I write the Musings.  If you find them helpful, please feel free to forward to friends and ministers.  No charge as long as you do not sell.

It is a joy to hear from you.

Harold L. Bare, Sr., Ph.D.

Senior Pastor, Covenant Church
www.covenantchurch.net
pastorbare@covenantchurch.net
(434) 953-9065

Trouble

Tuesday Musing of a Pastor – November 29, 2016
Trouble

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Pastor Harold and Laila Bare
Senior Pastor Covenant Church
Charlottesville, VA 

Trouble

Yes, I am a pastor, a veteran pastor of 40 years, and have only pastored two churches.

Yes, I have written a mystery crime novel.

Yes, I know people don not normally associate the two.

Allow me to share the journey.

Our parents were natives of Ashe County, North Carolina. Soon after the fifth child (me) of what would later be nine, the family moved back to Ashe County. Dad had managed to save enough money to pay $600 for 33 acres of flood-ravaged farmland and an old house that had been under water. With boiling water and lye soap, Mom and Dad scrubbed the frame house and moved the family in to welcome the sixth child by the time mom was about age 25.

Our parents were godly folks eking out a living on the farm with one horse and every able body working, and Dad also partnering with his brother in sawmilling and carpentry to supplement income. The country church Dad pastored provided no income.

Sundays were the Lord’s Day. The entire family was off to church. Not a fancy church, but frame building, pot-bellied stove, raw wooden floors, no air-conditioning, raw light bulbs on wires suspended from the ceiling, and outdoor restrooms. In such church settings, we learned Bible that made courses in college elementary. Sermons were chocked full of talk about Israel’s role in latter-day prophecy. We did not question doctrines of being born again, the efficacy of Christ’s death for redemption from sin, and the return of Jesus to “rapture” (take away) the Church (believers) before the establishment of the anti-christ kingdom and years of Great Tribulation. Our faith practiced a changed life after confessing Christ as Lord.

These beliefs I still hold dear and fundamental.

My earliest memories are of Dad being a pastor, a faithful pastor. Mom was right beside him. They did not need marriage counseling and a shelf of books to work out love and romance with eventually nine children. They prayed about needs. They disciplined by scripture. They taught us tithing as a biblical principle, and we witnessed God’s faithfulness to provide for our family.

We did not think of each other or our parents in terms of perfection. We were loved, fed, had a bed and witnessed the humility of our parents before the Almighty God. Discipline was in the context of scripture, including “spare the rod and spoil the child.” But Dad’s lectures about righteousness were more painful than what followed.

When I was age nine Dad and Mom sold the farm to assume a full-time church pastorate. Seven children and parents moved into a parsonage with three small bedrooms. Mom and Dad in one room. Three boys in one room. Four girls in one room. In time two other siblings arrived – Dad left us to think they came from Sears Roebuck (a department store). Pregnancy was not a word said out loud in those days.

The two eldest were sisters and close. Next came two brothers who were close. Then me. Then two sisters who were close. Then a boy and a girl who were close.

I was not neglected, but I did not grow up with a sibling always as my pal. Books were my friend. I loved to read. More than once I skipped school to lie in a bed of pine needles in a forest and read a book. When I would hear the school bell ring I would saunter home with my siblings pretending I had been in school. I suppose we all had enough mischief in us that my siblings kept the secret of my truancy to preserve their innocence.

In high school writing became a hobby. Putting a pencil (we did not have Bic pens) to paper released tensions, gave me a way out of a culture that seemed claustrophobic, and allowed me to travel free to places outside the mountains that surrounded me. I dreamed often of flying up and away. Food, clothing, shelter, love and hope in God were staples. BUT there was a burning desire within me to know and understand the world outside our “closed” community.

Our parents wanted us to have a better education than they had experienced. They were determined each of us would complete high school. Days in a classroom for me were a boring and enduring process until the ninth grade. Robin was a cute and smart girl who challenged me that she would make better grades. My pride was stung. I wanted that pretty girl to see me as a person. The contest was on. That semester changed my life.

Journalism class, writing a column for the local newspaper and working on the yearbook staff prepped me for college. While in college, I was the editor of the college newspaper for two years and on the yearbook staff. I look back at these times and count them joys. More so, writing became a hobby.

Over the years a stack of unpublished writings has grown. Weekly for 40 years I have written and published a Pastor’s Heart newsletter for parishioners. For seven years I have written Tuesday Musings of a Pastor every week. Several books followed: Hell Is War, They Call Me Pentecostal, Month of Sundays, Tabernacle in the Wilderness of Sinai. Research works and proposals accumulated.

You may fish, hunt, golf, have a workshop, et al. My hobby is writing. I will work long hours for days in a row to “buy” a few hours to write. Laila’s gift to me is often creating privacy for me to write.

Years passed. Did you ever hit a speed bump in the road that jarred your teeth? I did.  A person dear greatly disappointed me. I had to decide whether to be angry and waste a lot of time on anger or to take the time of frustration and invest it. I decided it was time to fulfill a life dream.

Laila gave me the idea for a novel. Nights when sleep fled from me I would spend time making sure of my “To Do” list as a pastor and husband and then write.

TROUBLE is the name of the novel I recently published. The second book in the series is written and in the editing process. The third book in the series is in the process of being written. While Trouble is fictional, the series has the flavor of the thirty-three countries I have traveled and diverse cultures that have been a part of my life.

Danger, romance, adventure, sorrow, hope, the evolution of souls seeking truth, and the darkness of evil provide multiple plots around the central and fascinating character named Trouble.

I have always given to you my writings.  Free for encouragement, meditation, ideas, support.  I shall gladly continue to do so.  Your comments motivate me.

Now I am inviting you to join in by going to BaresEyeView.Com and purchasing a copy to read. Below are some of the reviews I have already received.

Trouble would be a wonderful gift for your friends, employees, neighbors, and family.  If you would like to order multiple copies at a reduced rate please email me PastorBare@covenantchurch.net.

Looking forward to hearing from you.  This time I encourage you NOT to stay out of Trouble!

Musing,

Pastor Bare

Philippians 4:8

 

A few endorsements:

“Dr. Harold Bare has accomplished in his very first novel what has taken others years to achieve.  He has created a storyline and list of characters that begs for a sequel.  From the opening paragraph to the final chapter Dr. Bare has the reader eagerly waiting to turn the page to satisfy his or her curiosity of learning more about the character and events being highlighted on the current page, only to find that the scene and storyline has shifted to other intriguing actions.  The author has done an incredible job in weaving several storylines and plots into one captivating novel. Trouble was one of very few books I have read lately that was completed in one setting.  I literally was transfixed to see how the various storylines, involving some of the most diverse and interesting characters, turned out.  The novel itself reflects the author’s profound knowledge of culture, ranging from the Inner City, to the Middle East and to the land of the Navahos.  To anyone who wishes to engage in a most attention-grabbing, thought-provoking, truly enjoyable journey, I highly recommend you read Trouble.” 

– Dr. R. Lamar Vest

 

“…read the entire novel in one sitting… unique, creative plot, each paragraph a delicious intrigue, capturing my attention and heart… a heart-pounding maze of twists and turns that draw you into loving and rooting for Trouble… trouble with Trouble is that Trouble ended! So glad another in the series is coming!”

– Elizabeth Duley, V.P. Duley’s Electric Communications Site Services, INC.

 

“. . . awesome . . . fascinating . . . could not put it down . . . cannot wait to read the next book in the series.”

– Tony Whitehead, President, Startreks Communications

 

“. . . magnificent book. I have read books of this genré by some of the best-known authors, and I would put this book right beside any of them.”

– Homer G. Rhea, Former Editor in Chief, Pathway Press

 

“Harold Bare writes like no other. This novel transports the reader from the drainpipes of New York City to the harbors of Australia, to the wilderness of the Navajo Indians, and to the exotic culture of eastern India, while all the time weaving a gripping trail of “Trouble” that holds you spellbound. I can’t wait for volume II.”

– Dr. Lynn Stone

 

“Dr. Bare delivers a suspenseful narrative for his debut novel, TROUBLE. As the title alludes, a young boy finds himself in the center of trouble. His undisclosed lineage stands to propel him into an international business heist, a cultural showdown, and a decade-long family feud. This book has readers spellbound in a life of shadows”

– Lt. Col. Davina H. Bare, U.S. Army

 

“Trouble is a GREAT read! I found the story compelling with unexpected twists and turns. I enjoy reading on a regular basis, and I found Trouble to be exciting and hard to put down. I look forward to seeing where Dr. Bare takes Trouble next.”

– Dana Carrier, Children’s Pastor

 

“With amazing imagination, the author keeps increasing the suspense in Trouble by continually adding unexpected characters, with rapidly changing plots and locations. I was almost in shock by the surprise ending. Now I can hardly wait for Trouble II.”

– Ruth E. Shira, Educator

 

“I just finished reading this novel and while I am not a regular reader of fiction or novels, I must say that I greatly enjoyed it!  I look forward to further reading and have begun my prayers that Trouble and Stewart will meet!”

– Dennis W. Watkins , Lawyer

 

 

 

Thank you for your notes of encouragement as I write the Musings.  If you find them helpful, please feel free to forward to friends and ministers.  No charge as long as you do not sell.

It is a joy to hear from you.

Harold L. Bare, Sr., Ph.D.

Senior Pastor, Covenant Church
www.covenantchurch.net
pastorbare@covenantchurch.net
(434) 953-9065

Beware the Bubble

Tuesday Musing of a Pastor- November 22, 2016
Beware the Bubble

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Pastor Harold and Laila Bare
Senior Pastor Covenant Church
Charlottesville, VABeware the Bubble

SCID is a hereditary disease that leaves the immune system extremely weak. Ted DeVita and David Vetter were victims of this rare disease. Most of their lives were spent in a sterile environment that became the storyline of a movie “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble” (1976). Living in the bubble was supposed to make sure that germs could not reach them.

I am musing about Christians who are in danger of living in a “bubble” pretending they are safe because of government.

Ours is an extraordinary time. The world is in upheaval. We have learned that media cannot be trusted. We are experiencing a lack of respect for law and order that is described in II Timothy 3. There are wars and rumors of wars. Nations rise and fall. The earth groans. Emotions drive masses to act based on emotions without logic.

The recent election of politicians in the United States has jarred the world. When America hiccups the world gets a headache. There is a scramble internationally to assess the future of American politics, government,  economics, military, and world policy. On American soil, the implication is that FOR and AGAINST are [about] evenly divided with anger on both sides. Secular scholars are scrambling trying to pull a thread of common sense through myriad happenings.

Quiet anger voted and received a mandate. The losing side is angry and not quiet.
The traditional grace of American political elections is history.  Compounding the tension is direct and random violence against law enforcement officers and a resentment of the military.

Issues of sexuality, racism, and unemployment are complicated by rising national debt, a deficit in import/exports, deteriorating infrastructure and a failing school system. Universities and colleges are dominated by liberal professors and executive leadership.

Regrettably, religious voices have casually used the Name of God in liberal ways as if God is indebted to serve personal agendas. “Prayer” is a word used to express emotions without God in the context.  Denominations and popular voices in the religious arena have prophesied and counseled without biblical reference and lacking consistency with Christian tradition.

Religion keeps getting a front page venue with its stock value progressively dropping. The percentage of people going to church is low. The percentage of “Christians” tithing is too embarrassing to share. The number of “Christians” who no longer have a home church seems to be growing. The number of churches that no longer have Sunday Bible study may be greater than the number that does have Bible study.

Isaiah lived in a bubble. He was enamored with the palace and captured by his friendship with Uzziah. He thought he was safe because the king was rich and powerful, and they talked about God and his blessings. Only after Uzziah died did Isaiah’s bubble burst.  It was then he saw the greatness of God (Chapter 6).

To those who believe that government will rescue the Church, beware. Hopefully, abortions will decrease. Hopefully, the government will treat churches and ministers with the fairness of the law. Hopefully, the economy will be stronger. Hopefully, we will address issues of education, poverty, and racism. It is good to hope.

However, we must take note that there have been and are governments that do not revere the God of the Bible that have done/do good works, espouse good causes, and treat the Church with respect. Countries with idol gods, false religions and no gods have good roads, tall buildings, and nice cars and homes. We cannot equate having things as “Christianity” and the Church being Ephesians 5.

My hope is that the church leaders will not be too quick to turn their faith to the government in hopes of a paradise on earth. We must be cautious not to move into a bubble thinking the secular government will glorify the Church. Churches state-sponsored have historically failed.

Practicality suggests that the anger of those who want the government to serve human interests without God will not go away. They will “dig in” and prepare for battle. We may at best have a reprieve, a window or a rare opportunity to press the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

We are wise to remember that when the walls of communism fell there was great optimism for freedom. However, in Russia the people were saying as the walls were coming down that prophecy of long ago was that the freedom would be short-lived. Dare we look at the progressive and growing oppression of Russia?

Perhaps we are in a Ninevah moment of mercy. God may have stretched out his hand in the interest of the unborn and the cause of missions and missionaries. Perhaps God is saving judgment to give an opportunity for revival.

Ezra spoke of a moment of grace as the remnant returned to Jerusalem (Ezra 9:8).

Let us be careful that we do not climb in a man-made bubble and think we are safe. Only the foolish would expect secular government to be the wind in the sails of The Gospel Ship. Satan is not on vacation. Sin has not yet been erased. Hell’s armies are still marching.

We are only safe in the Body of Christ – His Church.

Musing,
Pastor Bare
“Jesus (said), ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Thank you for your notes of encouragement as I write the Musings.  If you find them helpful, please feel free to forward to friends and ministers.  No charge as long as you do not sell.It is a joy to hear from you.

Harold L. Bare, Sr., Ph.D.

Senior Pastor, Covenant Church
www.covenantchurch.net
pastorbare@covenantchurch.net
(434) 953-9065

Careful

Tuesday Musing of a Pastor – November 15, 2016
Careful

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With Sam Yegnazzar of Elam ministries After Morning Worship 

Pastor Harold and Laila Bare
Senior Pastor Covenant Church
Charlottesville, VA

Careful

The election is over. The consequences are not.

The riots that are happening concern me, but they are not a surprise. The riots are a natural consequence of the breakdown in respect for law and order. To be truthful they
are less violent than I expected. Let us hope that social media and mass anger respectfully retreat.

We should pray for things to settle down. Russia’s revolution only empowered the elite
and may have cost 100 million lives. China’s revolution cost perhaps 100 million lives. Arab uprisings have toppled powerful countries. None of the uprisings have current testimonies of better things. Revolutions are revolutions. Revolutions reject and vomit out the old system leaving a vacuum. Those who enter to fill the vacuum are rarely prepared for the instability, and getting a system of government in place takes time.

We must never forget the lessons of the Roman Empire. When Caesar’s rule ended the kingdom divided into a triumvirate. There were nasty battles. Roman against Roman. 

We pray for America to heal and be well. We pray and must each do our part by acting Christ-like. We pray keeping in mind that missionaries around the world will be affected
by social stability in America. We pray knowing that it is the generous hand of America that feeds hundreds of millions of people around the world.

The culture of Pentecostals has been that we are not to be a civilly protesting folk. Much of our literature and tradition has been focused on discouraging marching in protests, striking against employers, or being adversarial to government authority. We have the right to disagree. We do not have a divine right to act out of character to our professed Christian commitment.

Our highest call is to follow Christ and be an ambassador for Christ. In our social and professional life, all things are to be subjugated to our commitment to exalt Christ and be
a servant in His Kingdom. It is incumbent upon us that we be ever conscious sinners only have reason to call us Christians if we act in the role model of Jesus.

Musing about our current situation brings me to a painful confession of recent happenings. For the first time, politics has divided Pentecostals. I specifically refer to this religious group because of the uniqueness of profession that we are guided by the Holy Spirit of Acts 2. 

It is true that all Christian denominations talk about the Holy Spirit. But only Pentecostals/ Charismatics enjoin conversation of being filled with the Spirit and speaking
in other tongues (Acts 2). The profession of “speaking in other tongues” separates this Christian group from other Christian groups because of the empirical evidence of “tongues”. 

The purpose of this musing is not to write a treatise on tongues but to suggest that when a group defines itself by a unique characteristic it is bound to hold itself to the values of the definition or risk losing its argument to be distinctive.

In the context of Jesus promising the Holy Spirit and the affirmation of the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), the inherent purpose of the Holy Spirit is to be a witness for the message of Jesus as Savior. Every conceivable issue, purpose or cause must become secondary to the primary goal. Like Pilgrim’s Progress, a person must keep his eyes on
the Golden Gate. To go/ send the Gospel to all nations becomes the highest priority. 

I fear that too many Pentecostals have muted their message of Jesus by taking up a mantra of social protest. Hours upon hours of talking, fussing, social media and fretting. Divisive comments. Immature postings. Judgmental statements. Friendships lost. In the words of Paul the Apostle, “sounding brass or tinkling cymbal” (I Corinthians 13:1)… Their message of the cross has been lost or has been hidden behind their humanistic protest. They jade the Gospel using scripture to support personal positions. Their “I” has become bigger than their “Christ”.

I fear that we Pentecostals have embarrassed ourselves in the eyes of our neighbors and those who do not fear God. 

It would be wonderful if a convincing argument could be made that my musing is not correct.

My hope is that we will be careful not to put our hopes in government. Frankly, whatever happens, and I hope for the best, my opinion is that the world is morally sick, narcissistic, and best explained by II Timothy 3. My opinion is that antichrist spirits are working desperately to set the stage for a world government. While we hope for the best we must be wise to accept that prophecy will not be detoured.

We can pray for a momentary reprieve, but our best prayers would be placed to ask God to help us act like we have experienced Pentecost and go in the power of the Holy Spirit to tell the whole world Jesus saves. Only in doing so can we justify calling ourselves Pentecostals. We must be careful.

Summarily, let us preach Jesus and the cross. 
Musing,
Pastor Bare
Galatians 6:14

Thank you for your notes of encouragement as I write the Musings.  If you find them helpful, please feel free to forward to friends and ministers.  No charge as long as you do not sell.
It is a joy to hear from you.

Harold L. Bare, Sr., Ph.D.

Senior Pastor, Covenant Church
www.covenantchurch.net
pastorbare@covenantchurch.net
(434) 953-9065

Where To From Here?

Tuesday Musing of a Pastor – November 8, 2016
Where To From Here?

unnamedBrody Kramer, one of my protégés that I am mentoring as a Muser!

Where To From Here?

I write before Election Day not knowing who will be elected.

There is a heaviness in my heart for our country and our world.

A Babylonian spirit has infected world leaders. Satan has taken too many up on a pinnacle and offered them the kingdoms of this world if they will bow down and worship him (Matthew 4:5-6). Lust of the eye (I John 2:16) has prevailed to turn hearts slavishly towards narcissism.

We have witnessed a dramatic turn of social and legal events estranging the church. Professors, judicial authorities, executives, and legislators have manipulated our processes and systems with the direct intent of denying the influence of Christianity in the founding of American government. We are morphing toward a culture openly persecuting Christians.

Yes, it is true that religion is becoming the slave of politicians. Religion is but a tool to serve personal advantage. When religion does not undergird and support the will and lust of human leaders it is relegated to a subservient role and put in archives. How dare religion infringe upon pleasure and man’s right to determine his own destiny in life and in death.

Like a creeping fog, we have swallowed abortion. American lust for pleasure, home of the brave and free, has now entered the wombs of 60,000,000 women to crush life and shed innocent blood. The number of abortions is greater than the population of most countries of the world. Abortion has ended more lives that Hitler did. There is no reconciling of abortion with Christian views based in scripture. For a person to claim Christianity and be pro-abortion is an oxymoronic statement. Flatly, it is not true. It is a lie.

We have slowly seen the slide of biblical marriage giving way to man choosing his own lifestyle and insisting that God approves. To accomplish this demonic shift in culture required social scientists, doctors, and clergy to re-label sin to sickness. From sickness the shift was easily made to DNA, i.e., persons are born with proclivities to certain social behaviors. It is not a sickness. It is the way that God made them. They cannot help it. If they did not create their desires and inclinations then God is responsible for shaping their feelings, opinions, and desires. If God made them live differently than the Bible says so they are exempted from the curse of sin.

Persons who follow sexual lifestyles contrary to scripture are told by self-made authorities and deceptive spirits that their behaviors, while contrary to scripture, are exempted from the category of sins that determine eternal destiny. The false idea that God is tolerant of human behavior and will not punish us for certain social actions or indiscretions is perpetuated, especially when false prophets declare themselves to be self-righteous participants in sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. Like King Manasseh, they become part of the party worshipping flesh.

Slowly, the church is squeezed. Slowly, the lines are drawn. Slow, but surely, those who believe the Bible is the true and authoritative word of God come to be seen as retro, regressive, mentally imbalanced, ignorant, obstructionists and enemies of those who elevate the flesh to god status without a cross.

We are at a dangerous divide. We have sung ourselves into happiness without reading and studying the Bible. We have celebrated religion without praying. We have reduced theology to an esoteric discussion. Research indicates that the average person in America who claims to be Christian is biblically illiterate, i.e., does not know answers to simple Bible questions.

If the executive order stands for transgender bathrooms we foresee architects designing new church buildings with unisex restrooms for one human being at a time – whatever they call themselves.

Ask yourself a simple question: Have you seen pictures of political candidates leaving church after worship on a Sunday and saying by their actions: “I am a servant of the Most High God. This day I have humbled myself to follow Jesus and to serve in fear of Judgment Day.”  Have you heard or seen this?

We may anticipate the government’s requiring churches to register in more formal ways than filing tax reports. Imagine if 340,000 churches in America paid $100 annual fee for registration, totaling $34,000,000., all in the interest of the government offering protection.  When desperation sets in for our federal budget everything that can be
taxed will be taxed.

We may anticipate federal intervention in public school buildings being used for religious worship. For example, a federal executive order could require that fees for churches to use school buildings be based on established local commercial rates, etc.

Currently, the majority of usage of public buildings across America for religious purposes is by Christian groups. If other religions enter this marketplace it will become messy and with legal and security complications.

We may anticipate that security for churches will become a greater risk.

We may anticipate that ministers who speak and write views that are contrary to governmental stance will be persecuted. The method of religious persecution by the government is well established in other countries. The government allows subversive groups to carry out actions independent of the government. The government protests innocence but refuses to seek justice. For example, a mob torches a Christian church. The pastor or congregation is arrested for inciting a riot.

Please know that as I muse on this election morning none of the above is intended to depress or suggest discouragement. My hunch is that the Lord is purifying His Church. My hunch is that the river is dividing once again between the fainthearted and the brave. My hunch is that those who have taken up their cross to follow Jesus will be salt and light. Yet I also suggest that it will be necessary for us to break rank with those who call themselves Christians but who violate the Word of God and deny the efficacy of Jesus Christ as a Redeemer.

I see revival coming! True revival. Born in prayer. Anchored in the Word. Driven by the Spirit.

I am confident that the Church will be the Church. I am confident that Jesus has not altered His plan to build His church (Matthew 16:18) and will not fail to present a glorious Church (Ephesians 5) at His coming (I Corinthians 15).

Musing,
Pastor Bare
It is time for you to act, O Lord; your law is being broken. [Ps. 119:126]

Thank you for your notes of encouragement as I write the Musings.  If you find them helpful, please feel free to forward to friends and ministers.  No charge as long as you do not sell.
It is a joy to hear from you.

Harold L. Bare, Sr., Ph.D.

Senior Pastor, Covenant Church
www.covenantchurch.net
pastorbare@covenantchurch.net
(434) 953-9065

The Problem

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Enjoying the evening at our annual Light Up the Night Festival. 

Tuesday Musing of a Pastor – November 1, 2016

The Problem

What happens when ministers step outside their God-called box? 

Are there consequences when a minister is perceived as serving in a primary role other than the church?

What happens to the minister?

What happens to the minister’s family?

What happens to the congregation?

What happens in the mind of the public?

What happens in the minister’s soul?

We are in a conflict-ridden society. Boundaries are uncertain. There is a political tolerance that is so intolerant, future generations of scholars will mock our culture. It is impossible for anyone to socialize with confidence that they will not offend.

Can we any longer use the word “Indians”?

Can we any longer say “Mr. and Mrs.?”

Can we any longer say “Boy and Girl?”

Can children dress like pilgrims?

A hoe used to be a farm implement for digging in the ground. Now it seems prudent to not use it in a sermon.

From bedtime to waking up, we live with anxiety whether we will have to alter our language, our dress, and/ or our social behavior.

Ministers are not exempt from the pressures of political tolerance and intolerance.

Knowing ancient Greek and Hebrew are not enough. We must be sensitive to culture. 

If we serve a totally homogenous culture with everyone of the same ethnic or cultural background, it would seem that the task of a minister to be culturally relevant and politically safe would be a given. Not so. With television, media and public discourse, the general population is exposed to populist ideas. Cell phones allow even children to know what is trending. 

Let us be more direct with our Musing. What happens when ministers politically position themselves in alignment with certain candidates? What happens when folks in the pews cannot hear what a preacher says about Jesus because of their hearing what he/she says about politics? What happens when the pulpit becomes a political box instead of a place for the Word of God to exalt Jesus Christ?

A lot of questions. Hopefully, many of these questions are rhetorical.

For example, if what people hear from a preacher is primarily a political message, the message of Jesus will be muted or lost. The pulpit will lose its sacredness. If time proves the political message wrong any words about Jesus will also be weakened, or just considered a social or political message. 

The character of the pulpit becomes the character of the minister. The character of the minister is directly related to the message of the minister.

This I know: God cannot be speaking contradictory words through all of the people who are saying they have a word from the Lord. God is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33). God does not double speak (James 1:8-10).

My hunch: six months from now there will be ministers who will be embarrassed to face comments and actions of the past. There will be ministers who will lose favor, lose position, and wish they had preached the Word and left politics to others.

Suggestion: Preach Jesus and the cross. 

You will be safe with Jesus.

This we can do only if we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1, 2; John 15).

Musing,

Pastor Bare

James 1:5

Take It to the Bank

Speaking to our Indian Fellowship Sunday night in honor of their 13th Anniversary.
Do any of you recognize what I’m holding?  Ever used one?
Then you may know the gist of the message!

Tuesdays Musing of a Pastor – October 25, 2016

Take It to the Bank
It is not money of which we speak.

Let us take a deep breath and look into the future.  What can we expect? What is likely to happen? What is the treasure we should “bank”?

Looking ahead we should anticipate social unrest for the coming season. Regardless of which candidate wins the election for President of the United States, the ever-present vitriolic rhetoric has pressed emotions to a boiling point. Brother against Brother. Social order has been violated. Trust has reached  a new low. Confidence in government has been further eroded and ruptured. My hunch is that post-election we will see riots.

If projections are accurate we can expect hefty rises in cost for medical insurance. We are also learning that Obamacare will require persons to have “counseling for end of life,” with further implications of the government’s power to determine who will be treated for terminal illnesses – based on age.

We are told that Medicare and Social Security are destined for Trust Funds to be exhausted in about 15 years while our national debt is rapidly approaching needing 50% of tax revenue to pay interest on federal loans. Social Security will increase by pennies next year with indications that Medicare costs for seniors will increase dramatically. In effect,
a significant decrease in social security benefits to seniors.

Morally we are sinking down the tubes with liberal courts and judges treating unborn children as trash and liberties being granted for people to choose their sexuality…or to choose that they have no sexual preference.

Protests against law enforcement have reached egregious and dangerous levels with the ACLU opposing any attempt for the public to appreciate the military and law enforcement agencies.

Persecution of Christians and Christian organizations is increasing in America. Have you noticed that WWJD bracelets are not in vogue? In our part of the country, folks are wearing fewer coats, shirts, T-shirts that have emblems suggesting Christianity. Too often we see “Christianity” is becoming a blend of cultural ideas that is on a trip somewhere, but not to heaven.

We should not expect the world to operate by the Bible. We should not expect sinners who are lost in their lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, and pride of life (I John 2:16) to operate government by Christian principles.

We should expect that ministers who carry a Bible will preach the truth of God’s Word.
We should expect that when the Church doors open truth will be proclaimed, God will be exalted, and Jesus made the center of all of life.

If we could look through a lens into the future based upon current trajectory I think we would see:

1.   The government making it more difficult for churches to meet in public buildings.
2.  The government charging churches fees (taxes), e.g., for internet use, non-porous
      surfaces, registration as non-profits, law enforcement, citations for violations of
      signage and building codes, etc.
3.  Laws requiring non-taxed properties to be used for public purposes contrary to the doctrinal basis of the individual church.
      doctrinal basis of the individual church.
4.  Lawsuits for churches being discriminatory.
5.  Hate laws that will impose up to prison penalties if ministers preach the Bible about
      sexual behaviors and lifestyles.
6.  Media increasingly becoming the enemy of the church.
7.  Hollywood and media increasing their efforts to make Bible-believing Christians look
      like fools in the eyes of the world.
8. The Church becoming a battleground between liberals and those who believe the Bible
     is true. The world looking on as “Christians” fuss and then making fun of “church”
     fusses.

Sound discouraging? Please, I am not done. Into this darkness will come a holy boldness. God will have a people. A fresh wave of faith not based on prosperity will press back the gates of hell (Matthew 16:18).

Take a fresh look at the revival of Christianity in Iran, China, Middle East (ISIS territory), North Korea, Vietnam, etc. Hell unleashed is fueling revival. Persecution purges and purifies.

My prayer is that we may be among the faithful when Jesus comes.

You can take this to the bank.
Musing,
Pastor Bare
Ephesians 5 (be sure to read the whole chapter)

Thank you for your notes of encouragement as I write the Musings.  If you find them helpful, please feel free to forward to friends and ministers.  No charge as long as you do not sell.
It is a joy to hear from you.

Harold L. Bare, Sr., Ph.D.

Senior Pastor, Covenant Church
www.covenantchurch.net
pastorbare@covenantchurch.net
(434) 953-9065

Time

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Tuesday Musing of a Pastor – October 18, 2016
Time
My youngest brother made a lot of money in his lifetime. An interior designer with God-given talent. He worked for extremely wealthy people, including the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. He was fond of saying about money that it was “only paper.”  

Once he came home for Christmas with a chauffeur driving a stretch limo that had been in the fleet of the President of Mexico. Can you imagine the roof rolled back and a chauffeur driving through a small North Carolina town with my nieces standing up waving to people?

My motto about money is that it can only be spent once. Often when traveling and getting bored with the road I am tempted for a fresh Baby Ruth candy bar. I walk into the store. Read the cholesterol info and look at the price and on both counts decide I will get a bottle of water. 

Actually, when traveling Laila and I usually take a case of water to make sure that we do
not have to buy a bottle at a high price. A case 24 individual bottles of waters cost roughly $4.00. The cost of one bottle of water in a store is $1.49 plus tax, i.e. approximately totaling $36.00 per case plus tax. Figure it for yourself.

Money is money. 

Let us talk about another commodity: TIME.

It is judgmental ion my part, but I am of the opinion that a fair number of folks do not think of time as a commodity to be managed and spent. Like money, time can only be spent one time. Unlike money, it is not paper. 

While time is intangible, it is nevertheless a currency. How time is spent purchases consequences directly correlated with the quality of the investment. 

Money may eventually tell a story about a person’s life. Who they were? What their values were? Whether they were honest? Were they charitable? Did they fear God? But suppose a person is wealthy and no one knows it. Suppose only after the person dies their wealth is discovered. Suppose a person dies and no one ever discovers their “money.”

Time is different. How we spend time shapes our character. The words we use or do not use, our actions, where we go, who we associate with and what we write all develop a composite portrait to others of our inner character. We are spending time shaping our mind and soul. Poor and rich as relates to money may not be relevant to integrity. Fools may be rich or poor in terms of money. But if time is invested in wise ways a person inherits treasures of the heart that are permanent and pure.

The risk factor of a fallen world is that the devil is a thief. What we do with our money is guided by how we spend our time. If we waste time we make foolish choices. In addition,
a fallen world at times drops a log across the road and impedes our progress. We are momentarily arrested with frustration or anger. Discouragement arrives. We have to decide what to do.

A log dropped across my path. A big log. A person I trusted in ministry greatly disappointed me. I had to decide what to do. I decided that instead of wasting time, I would follow Laila’s advice to fulfill a life dream. I decided that nights when sleep would flee I would not beat my pillow to death. I have now finished two mystery crime novels in a hopeful series of four. My studies in criminology and police science have been helpful. International crime is woven into the heart-breaking story of an orphan who does not know that his birth families are fabulously wealthy. He works out his character while living in the streets. In the fourth book, his maternal grandfather will make the journey from wealth and riches to find faith.

“Trouble” is the name of the boy and the series. 

Yesterday Laila and I picked up the first 200 copies. Next week an additional 5,000 come off the press. I did not waste my time. A dream has come true. And, it is a dream that tithe plus 10% to missions are dedicated to the Lord. 

As of October 25 orders may be placed at www.BaresEyeView.com.

My hope and prayer is that when the devil drops logs in your path you will spend time wisely and invest in dreams!

Musing,
Pastor Bare
Philippians 4:8

Thank you for your notes of encouragement as I write the Musings.  If you find them helpful, please feel free to forward to friends and ministers.  No charge as long as you do not sell.
It is a joy to hear from you.

Harold L. Bare, Sr., Ph.D.

Fussing First Cousin To Cussing

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With Deputy Chief Lewis Johnson of the Seminole Nation, Seminole, Ok

Tuesday Musing of a Pastor – October 11, 2016

Fussing First Cousin To Cussing

No word from me on whom to vote for on November 8th
 
The reason why I have no advice about which candidate is that I do not think God has finished putting His finger into the affairs yet. I am waiting with baited breath knowing that November 8th is coming.

Words between many Christians are harsh these days. If the feelings in words were cuss words it would be down low street talk. Fussing that is out of character is a cousin to cussing. Outsiders witness the divisive venom. Satan can take a vacation, while loose mouthed “Christians” do his work of dividing the Body.
 
God is not in the fuss. He cares. He cares about 60,000,000 babies being aborted. He cares about Haiti’s devastation from Hurricane Matthew. He cares about the risk of nuclear weapons in Iran. He cares about the rogue government of North Korea. He cares that China and Russia are militarily showing disrespect for America as a leader of democracy. He cares that the structure of the Biblical family is being legally challenged. He cares that many who call themselves Christians are spending more at Starbucks than they are tithing and giving to God.
 
He cares that about 1/3rd of the world’s population lives in fear without proper food and shelter. He cares that about 2/3rds of the world’s population have no sound Biblical message of Christ. 
 
He cares that about 60% of evangelicals who declare the Bible is absolutely true and Jesus is their Savior also believe that people of other religions have hope of heaven by going their own religious path.
 
When age 14 I left church on a Sunday morning. After lunch, I journeyed into a forest. Desires of life confronted me. What I wanted to do was pulling me in a direction that I feared “No Return.” The consideration was that if I could not refrain from my desires at age 14 how would I have the power to deny worldly pleasures at age 25, 35…you get the picture. 
 
No “big” sins or crimes publicly marked my life. Yet, in my heart darkness was lurking that made me think about the “pleasures of Egypt” (Hebrews 11:27). 
 
I found a stump in the forest. Sat on that stump for a long while that Sunday afternoon. Reconciled that I was a young man torn between two worlds. I concluded that if I did not have the power to “save” myself at age 14 I had no assurance of having such power in future years.
 
I got off that stump and went to church. I did not know if there would be a sermon.  I do not remember the text or subject of the sermon. My mind was made up. When the sermon was over I walked down to the altar, knelt and asked Jesus to be my Savior. 
 
Note carefully, this is not stated in an existential manner. I did not ask him just to save me at age 14. I asked Him to be my Savior. To come into my heart. To walk with me. To go before me. To guard me….protect me…help me to keep my mind pure…to allow me to serve Him, His Kingdom, His Church. 
 
Here I am years later needing to sit on that stump and remind myself that I need a Savior. The way ahead through human eyes looks dark and gloomy. It would be easy to be frightened by our government and our world. It would be easy to become a vocal political proponent. I decline. My calling is to preach the Gospel.
 
I trust you will not consider it arrogant of me to offer a solution to our current dilemma: We the people, need to go out into the forest and sit on a stump until we come to the conclusion that only Jesus Christ can save us. I am absolutely certain that the Holy Spirit is not schizophrenic. If a voice we hear is “prophetic” and yet does not align with the Word of the Lord, we can be assured that it is not from God.   There is one Truth, not many truths. 

We need to sit on that stump until we cut out the fussing and cussing and get back to preaching the gospel. This is our opportunity to demonstrate that we trust God and His Eternal Word.
 
Musing,
Pastor Bare

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).