Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Church Etiquette" - Wisdom From A Bygone Age

One of our church members recently brought me an old bulletin from a nearby church that she found stuck away in a book.  It was dated January 10, 1963.  The front of it was entitled “Church Etiquette.”  As I read these, I was amazed at the wisdom in many of these points.   I don't necessarily subscribe to every one of these, but overall I found them to be quite helpful.

We live in a ultra-casual age.  Where people used to dress up for public functions, whether it was work, church, or some kind of other event, but now it's "anything goes."  Actually, I admit that I like some of this.  I often don’t wear a suit and tie to church, and we have members that come in all types of garb.  I would much rather someone come to church in a pair of ratty jeans and a shirt with holes in it than not come to church at all! 

However, somewhere along the line we’ve lost our way in the way we approach meeting with God.  We don’t have a nonchalant God, so we shouldn’t approach him in a nonchalant way!

These points from a bygone age are instructive to me, and I hope they may be to you as well:


1.       COME. Never miss unless absolutely necessary. George Washington's pastor said of him, "No company ever kept him from his church."
2.       COME EARLY. Rushing into service at the last minute is not conducive to true worship, yet often scores of our people will come in after the service has started when they could easily have been on time.
3.       COME WITH THE WHOLE FAMILY. The service is not a convention where a family should merely send a delegate.
4.       TAKE A PLACE TOWARD THE FRONT of the church.  Leave the rear seats for those who of necessity may come late.
5.       BE DEVOUT. The church is not a theater or place of amusement. You come to worship God, not to whisper, lounge, or sleep. If you must talk, talk to God, pray for the preacher.
6.       BE THOUGHTFUL of the comfort of others. Never make a haystack of yourself at the end of the pew and expect others to climb over you to reach a seat.
7.       HELP STRANGERS to follow the service by sharing the hymnal and following the order of service. Always remember that strangers are guests of the church. Treat them with the
same courtesy you would if they should visit in your home.
8.       GIVE A GOOD OFFERING TO GOD. It is one of the highest acts of worship.
9.       NEVER RUSH OUT BEFORE THE BENEDICTION. This is the critical time of the service and someone's future or eternity may depend on your action. After the benediction, remember to stay long enough to speak to and be spoken to.
10.   NEVER STAY AWAY because the church is not perfect. How lonesome you would feel in a perfect church.


"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into courts with praise; be thankful unto Him, and bless name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; His truth endureth to all generations." —Psalm 100:4-5

Following are links to similar posts on this blog:

Monday, October 13, 2014

I'm Writing A Book...Here's How To Get Your Free Copy!

Ina Kae Simpson
In 2007, an elderly lady and her family began attending the church where I serve as deacon.  I noticed right away that Ina Kae Simpson's body may be elderly, but her outlook on life is youthful.  She had and still has such a youthful, buoyant spirit!   Not long after this, a news report on a local television station featured Ina, and I was shocked to learn what my new friend had been through.  In 1998, her husband had been killed in a convenience store robbery by a young man who was high on drugs.  I was amazed to hear the details of her story in the news report.   Not only had she not let the excruciating difficult experience destroy her, but she had recently developed a friendship with the young man who had killed her husband!

Recently, I have been writing an Kindle eBook about Ina Kae's story that should be ready for publication very soon. There's much more to this story than what I've shared above, but I wanted to give my blog readers a "heads-up" on what is coming.  I've enjoyed writing this blog for several years now, but writing a book is a new experience for you.  It's challenging, but very rewarding.  The manuscript is about 3/4 completed, and I hope to have this eBook uploaded to Amazon by Thanksgiving.  The name of this book will be "Grace In Shoe Leather".

The eBook business is exploding right now.  In just the last year, eBook sales have far surpassed traditional book sales on Amazon, which is far and away the top venue in the world for ebooks.  Hundreds of eBooks are uploaded every day, and it's hard for a new author to get noticed.  This is why I'm assembling a team of my blog readers who would be willing to read my book and review it before it comes out to the general public.   If you would like to participate, please send me an email to waynenalljr@gmail.com.  When the book is out, I will gift you a copy.  All I ask is that you read it and post a review within a week. It will be a short read, so this should not be difficult at all.

Once the book is uploaded, I'll be posting excerpts from the book here, so, even if you choose not to participate, stay tuned!

P.S. If you don't have a Kindle, it's no problem!  Amazon has free software that you can download on your computer, tablet, or phone.  I'll send you details via email, once you sign up.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

These 300 Year Old Resolutions Are Still True Today!



Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards


    
Jonathan Edwards (October 5, 1703 – March 22, 1758) was a Christian preacher, philosopher, and theologian. Edwards "is widely acknowledged to be America's most important and original philosophical theologian," and one of America's greatest intellectuals. (Wikipedia) He was one of the leaders during the First Great Awakening and saw some of the first tent revivals in America.

 
Those the words were written almost three hundred years ago (and contain some rather archaic language!), they still challenge us today…

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humble entreat Him, by His grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ's sake. [I will] remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.


  •  Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general.
  • Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.
  • Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
  • Resolved, Never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
  • Resolved, Never to do anything out of revenge.
  • Resolved, Never to speak evil of any one, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.
  • Resolved, To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
  • Resolved, Never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession which I cannot hope God will accept.
  • Resolved, To ask myself, at the end of every day, week, month, and year, wherein I could possibly, in any respect, have done better.
  • Resolved, Never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
  • Resolved, After afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them; what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.
  • Resolved, Always to do that which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Let there be something of benevolence in all that I speak.
Following are links to similar posts on this blog:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

God Can Do Things In Prayer That Are Just So Cool!

God can do things in prayer that are just so cool...

Just this morning, I was praying for a friend of mine and his wife, Kenneth and Glynis Kintsel...a missionary couple who have a ministry to Latin America.  I knew that they were flying out of Miami sometime today to enter a country south of Miami to minister to the church there.  (I'm not going to name the country, but you probably can figure out an island nation that is not very hospitable to Christians.) As I was praying for them, I felt that I should text them to let them know that I was praying for them as they enter a potentially dangerous situation.  After I texted him, I felt compelled to add to my prayer that there not be any problems in customs as they bring important religious material into this country.  I hadn't thought of that (which may seem rather obvious, but it just hadn't occurred to me until that moment.) until I sent the text.

Less than a minute later, my friend called me.  He thanked me for praying for him, and told me that they would be boarding the plane in about ten minutes. He then asked for an additional prayer request...that I pray that they not have any problems in customs with the religious material they were taking to the people of this country!  Exactly what God had just put on my heart to pray for! Wow!  I told him, "Brother, I just prayed this for you seconds ago!"  God is working!

I asked if I could pray with him briefly, and we had a short but sweet time in prayer together.  The Lord brought to my mind an incident in Corrie Ten Boom's account  "The Hiding Place", in which she and her family were taken to concentration camps in Germany during World War II for harboring Jews from the Nazis.  She wanted to bring a Bible into the camp desperately, but had no way of getting it in except that God would simply close the eyes of the guards as she passed by.  So that's what she did.  She prayed and trusted God.  Well...as she was going through the inspection line with her Bible under her thin shirt, there was a big ruckus in front of her as they interrogated another prisoner.  Their attention was drawn to the prisoner, and she just walked through without being touched!  She would use this Bible to bring many to Christ and bring hope to those suffering in wretched conditions at Ravensbrook.

So...I haven't heard yet, but I feel confident that Jesus made the way for them to get the materials in that they needed.

These are not isolated incidents.  I know for a fact that God can do incredible things through prayer that can't be done any other way.  I know this from my own personal experience, and I know it from the experience of many others.

P.S. Please pray for this couple as they minister in this Latin country for the next couple of weeks. Bro. Ken and Sis. Glynis have an awesome ministry that I know that they would love for you to be a part of.  You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter by clicking on the links below:

Kenneth Kintsel's Facebook Page
Glynis Kintsel's Facebook Page
Kintsel's Twitter Account

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Oklahoma Beheading: Let's Call It What It Is!

 I was at work yesterday waiting on customers in what was an unusually slow day.  During one break, I checked my Twitter feed and began to see all these tweets about a woman being beheaded in Oklahoma.  Wow!  This must be a huge story!

So I pop over to the home page of CNN...Nothing

Fox...nothing yet.

ABC, CBS, NBC...Nothing

Must have just happened...

We got busy and I checked back a few hours later...

Well, there it is front page on Fox...fairly detailed article.

CNN...Crickets (you've got to be kidding me!)

ABC, CBS, NBC...Well, there it is...but you have to look for it.

After reading and watching multiple news reports the facts are that a man named Alton Nolen, a 30-year old who recently converted to Islam and who had just been fired from his job, walked into his workplace, attacked a woman with a knife, decapitated her, then began stabbing a second woman.  The second woman no doubt would have been killed except for the heroic effort of company COO Mark Vaughan, who is a reserve county deputy.  Mr. Vaughan was armed (gun control advocates, take notice!) and shot Mr. Nolen several times.

I've noticed three things about the coverage of this story:
  • the slowness of the national media to cover this story
  • the scantness of the coverage that is being provided by everyone but Fox (who, to their credit, was all over it last night),
  • the way it is being covered by the mainstream media (as well as the way that the FBI is handling it.)
One report said that authorities stated that terrorism was not suspected.  Really?

Erin Burnett on CNN asked an Oklahoma authority: "Do you believe it is possible that this is an ISIS copycat attack?" Emphasis was on the word "possible", as if this would be a real stretch to think such a thing.  Really?

Here's something hardly anyone is saying...

Last Sunday, ISIS issued a statement calling on Muslims worldwide to kill civilians of nations who are joining the fight against the Islamic State.  Below is part of that statement, courtesy of The Blaze:

“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European, especially the spiteful and filthy French, or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that joined a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be,” he said.

So, let's try to connect the dots here...
  1. Radical Islamic theology teaches that Muslims are to try to convert "infidels" to Islam.  If they will not be converted, they are to be killed.
  2. Just last Sunday, ISIS commands all Muslims to kill Americans (and other coalition members) in any way they can.  They don't have to have a direct order from ISIS. Just go and kill.
  3. The entire world now knows that ISIS' preferred method of execution is beheading.
  4. A recent convert to Islam in Oklahoma recently changes his name to Jah' Keem Israel on his Facebook page and states that "Amerika...is going to flames" on that page.
  5. News reports say that Nolen has been trying to convert his coworkers to Islam (see #1 above)
  6. When he cannot convert any of his coworkers, Nolen then goes into his former place of business and randomly attacks a woman, beheads her, and then attacks another woman. Certainly the second woman would have been beheaded if not for Mr. Vaughan's actions.
Do you see any connection here?  

And consider this...

The authorities are saying that they are investigating the possibility that he might have been radicalized. The possibility?

I realize that we can't jump to conclusions on things, and the authorities have to be careful and methodical in the way that they do their jobs.  But sometimes the evidence is right there in front of you.  As in a severed head.  

Is there any possibility at all that he hadn't been radicalized?  Where might he have gotten the idea of beheading a woman?  It couldn't possibly be from the news reports of a certain group overseas that delights in beheading people, could it?

Authorities are not treating this as terrorism (at least not yet), because they have an extremely narrow view of what terrorism is.  To them, if he hadn't received a phone call from ISIS telling him to go behead someone, it's not really terrorism.

Well, it is terrorism.  Let's just call it what it really is.

It's significant to me that the killing was random.  He didn't have a grudge against this woman.  Apparently, he didn't even know her at all.  That's what terrorism is.

I'm not writing this to be an alarmist.  My security is in God, not in man.  And as I've written before, we don't need to go around frightened all the time about what might happen to us in these chaotic times.

However, we do need to be prudent.  We do need to realize that a very powerful Islamic group has issued a statement to all Muslim followers, of which there are many here in the U.S., to kill any way they can.

Our government is not taking this terrorist threat as seriously as it should be taken.

Our national media is not taking this as seriously as it should be taken.

I hope that we don't have to have multiple incidents like this before people will wake up.

One very good report that I heard on this was on Greta Van Susteran's interview last night with Walid Phares.  He makes some of these same points and describes the ISIS guidelines for killing Americans I mentioned above. You can watch it here.

Below are links to other articles I've written recently about ISIS and the growing international threats:

The High Cost of Inaction
Is War In Europe Coming?

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Is War In Europe Coming?


So much has happened since I wrote my last post only six days ago. It seems as though the gruesome video posted by ISIS this week of the beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, has captured the attention of the American public and the American press, as nothing else has.  Even many normally "dovish" politicians are beginning to realize the "high cost of inaction including, I hope, our president.  Public sentiment seems to be moving towards a realization (belatedly), that we cannot continue to let these things happen without it eventually coming to the homeland.  However, I am concerned that the only thing that will galvanize public support for a concerted effort to destroy ISIS and other equally dangerous terror groups will be a successful attack on American soil.  I truly hope that's not the case.

 

Meanwhile, though not receiving nearly as much attention here in the U.S., other events in Europe have made war on that continent not unthinkable. Russian President Putin has begun to make moves into Ukraine and has been making provocative statements, such as that he could take Kiev in two weeks if he wanted to.  Someone has stated that not even Adolf Hitler made such blatant provocations before attacking.  War in Europe could be closer than we could imagine.  I have since read a couple of mainstream articles that make this frightfully clear.  They are important and you should read them if you want to understand what's really going on.  One of them is entitled "War In Europe Is Not A Hysterical Idea" written by Anne Applebaum in The Washington Post.  The thing that really got my attention in this article was this quote:

 
In the past few days, Russian troops bearing the flag of a previously unknown country, Novorossiya, have marched across the border of southeastern Ukraine. The Russian Academy of Sciences recently announced it will publish a history of Novorossiya this autumn, presumably tracing its origins back to Catherine the Great. Various maps of Novorossiya are said to be circulating in Moscow.



 

Wow!  She goes on to say that these maps of Novorossiya (or New Russia) include areas of Europe currently not in Russia at all, including all of Ukraine.  This is huge, and it is hardly getting any attention from the mainstream media (except The Washington Post, to their credit). 



 

The other article that caught my attention came out this week in The Wall Street Journal. It is entitled "Deterring A European War."
After writing about the important European NATO summit taking place this year, it recalls the above quote by Vladimir Putin that "if I want, I can take Kiev in two weeks." It then goes on to say this:


 

Such talk may be bluster, but the stealthy seizure of Crimea was supposed to be unthinkable only a few months ago. So was Russia's invasion of eastern Ukraine last month. The problem with calling something unthinkable is that it tends to dull the thinking needed to keep it that way. Europeans also thought the world wars of the last century were unthinkable right up until they broke out.

The authors go on to describe the woeful unpreparedness of most of western European armies to meet the challenge of an aggressive Russia. Great Britain, which has one of the largest armies in Europe, only has 157 tanks! Of NATO's 28 states, only four spend as much as 2% on national defense. As degraded as the American military has become under President Obama, we are in far better position than Europe. And to save Europe again, (as we were called to do 75 years ago) and to secure our own freedom, we would almost certainly have to become involved.
The Wall Street Journal Article goes on to conclude with this paragraph:



The temptation of democracies is to believe that autocrats treasure peace and stability as much as we do. Europeans in particular want to believe that their postwar institutions and economic integration have ended their violent history. But autocrats often prosper from disorder, and they need foreign enemies to feed domestic nationalism. This describes Russia under Mr. Putin, who is Europe's new Bonaparte. His goal is to break NATO, and he'll succeed unless the alliance's leaders respond forcefully to his threat.

 
Finally, I want to express my thanks to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Dr. Albert Mohler for bringing both of these articles to my attention in his daily podcast "The Briefing." If you want to know what's going on, not only in foreign affairs but in American cultural life as seen from a Christian worldview, this is extremely useful. I just found out about these podcasts, and I've already found them to be indispensable.


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Want to read more?  Here are links to similar posts:



A Colossal Failure
A Colossal Failure X 2
While America Sleeps




 

 



 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The High Cost Of Inaction



 


Consider the following scenario:
  •  Rising powers in Europe and Asia with militaristic ambitions begin to gobble up land, while the western world stands idly by.
  • A war-weary public in western Europe and the United States ignore the pretensions of would-be dictators.
  • Isolationism in America reaches a decades-long high.
  • Western leaders, without a clear strategy to deal with multiple crises that begin to envelop the globe, lurch from one policy to another, as one country after another falls victim to fanatical dictators.
  • Thousands, then tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands of innocent people die in military conquests as the west frantically tries to ignore the burgeoning crises.
Am I talking about the world today? It sure sounds like it! However, I'm actually talking about the world in the years just prior to the start of World War II. As a student of history, I've been just as fascinated by how the world got to such a global conflagration as I have been about the war that ensued after the years of 1937-1939.

World War II could and should have been avoided. With resolve and willingness to use military actions, Hitler and the military leaders of Japan could have been defeated in 1937 and 1938 with a small fraction of the blood that would eventually have to be shed. When Hitler gobbled up Austria in 1937 and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939, he was greatly overextended. Germany's economy was far from robust, and his military was not nearly the potent force that it would be just a couple of years later. However, as he conquered countries with no real pushback from western leaders, his appetite for conquest, far from being appeased, was greatly whetted, and his ability to make those conquests was greatly enhanced as he stripped the conquered countries of their resources and their manpower. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands died in 1937 in "The Rape of Nanking" as Japan's militaristic leaders conquer much of China and subject its inhabitants to the "Three All Policy". What were "The Three Alls?" Kill all, burn all, loot all!

However, the peoples of the west were understandably weary of war. The Great War (as World War I was known at the time) wiped out a generation of young men in Europe, leaving thousands of widows and children to fend for themselves. America as well as Europe was recovering from the Great Depression, and isolationism in this country was popular as the American people saw European and Asian events as something vaguely interesting but not really relevant to their day-to-day struggle to get by. The U.S. military was a skeleton of what it had been a few short years earlier.

As I write this seventy-five years to the day from the beginning of World War II on September 1, 1939, I am amazed and troubled by the similarity between the world of that day and the world of the summer of 2014. Consider these troubling facts:


 
  • Vladamir Putin of Russia earlier this year gobbled up the Crimea while the west stood idly by. After months of agitation by Russian separatists in Ukraine, including the shooting down of a commercial jet, Putin has invaded eastern Ukraine just this week. This is eerily similar to the

    manufactured "Sudeten Crisis" of 1938, in which Hitler's henchmen in the Sudetenland (the German-speaking portion of Czechoslovakia) agitated for months before Hitler moved in to "liberate" that area of Czechoslovakia in October of that year. We have imposed sanctions on Russia and made grand speeches, but this seems to mean as much to Putin as British Prime Minister Chamberlain's appeasement strategy did in the late 30's to Hitler.
  • The U.S. government under President Obama has tried it's best to ignore the Syrian crisis for three years. However, it has become increasingly apparent that the cost of this inaction is and will be astonishingly high. After completely withdrawing our presence in nearby Iraq in 2011 and drawing "red lines" against the Syrian genocidal leader Assad, then demurring to follow up when Assad boldly steps over them, an even greater menace has appeared on the scene. Had the U.S. stepped in three or even two years ago, ISIS could have been stopped before it ever really got started. However this new threat, which actually has been building under the radar for several years, has burst upon the world stage with savagery which has shocked the world, as it rapes, murders, pillages, and beheads in its quest to build an Islamic Caliphate in Iraq and Syria and eventually the greater Middle East. Meanwhile, the President of the United States plays multiple rounds of golf and attends fund-raiser after fund-raiser, taking time out briefly in between to consult with his advisors on the burgeoning crises. His candid admission last week that we don't have a strategy to deal with ISIS has even left members of his own party aghast at his "too cautious" approach, as Sen. Dianne Feinstein expressed. (See this astonishing NBC report, which really nails it.)
  • Flying under the radar at the moment, but possibly the biggest threat of all, is the Muslim Shiite government of Iran's rapid move towards acquiring nuclear weapons. Its leaders, who are just as fanatical in their own way as the ISIS militants, have vowed to destroy "The Little Satan" of Israel and "The Big Satan" of America. We refuse to take them at their word at our peril.
  • Israel, America's staunchest ally in the war-torn Middle East, and the only stable democracy, has seen its once-close ally the United States virtually abandon it as it deals with the Iranian government-backed Hamas terrorists who control the Gaza Strip.
  • Under the Obama administration, the U.S. military is rapidly reducing its footprint in the world and will soon be at pre-World War II levels. Much of the war-weary American public supports this drawdown, as isolationism attains the levels not seen since the days before Pearl Harbor.
Am I saying that I think that we are on the brink of a World War 3? No, but I am saying that it seems to me that we are seeing a similar set of circumstances now that resulted in a world conflict then. Then as now, appeasing tyrants never works. Then as now, the cost of inaction is exponentially greater than the cost of bold and thoughtful action. Then as now, irresolution in our leaders brings on contempt and scorn from our enemies, and emboldens them to take even greater steps towards conquest.

What happens next? Well, of course, no one knows. However, through our "lead from behind" policy of inaction, we have largely lost our best and least costly options. It is not too late for world leaders take a resolute stand against these growing menaces (as British Prime Minister David Cameron has done in stark contrast to President Obama).

As I have written before, although I look upon these things with concern, I do not despair. As a Christian, I know what the last page of the book will be! Christ will be the final victor in the end, when He closes the pages of history after a time of tribulation that will make the world wars of the 20th century like a picnic in the park. I don't write these things to needlessly alarm of frighten anyone. However, I believe that we need to prepare ourselves for tough times ahead.


P.S.  After I wrote this post, I went back and looked at what I wrote last year about these things.  I wish that I could have written today that things have turned around since then, but instead I've had to write that we are only further down the road towards a possible world-wide conflagration than we were then.  You can read what I wrote here:

A Colossal Failure
A Colossal Failure X 2
While America Sleeps


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