Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why all the confusion?

It's getting pretty confusing lately.

People whom I love and respect warn about the so-called "Blood Moons". Other people whom I love and respect belittle those who pay any attention to the astrological event.

People whom I love and respect are praising the Pope and his address to Congress this morning. Other people whom I love and respect are pointing at it being a sign of the last days and him being the "False Prophet."

People whom I love and respect point to all the recent earthquakes around the world as signs of the end times. Other people whom I love and respect belittle those who pay attention to these events as naive.

People whom I love and respect look to a so-called "rapture" of the church to escape tribulation. (so called because "rapture" isn't a Bible word) Other people whom I love and respect say that there won't be a rapture to escape tribulation and still others that Christians will endure the tribulation before a rapture.

People whom I love and respect point to all the events in the world that the "last days" are upon us and Jesus will return soon. Other people whom I love and respect dismiss all the so-called signs as unrelated coincidences and accuse those who believe it as having fallen prey to bad eschatological theology.

So here's the deal. I thought we all (followers of Jesus Christ) had the same Spirit; the Spirit of God. How can there be such a great divide among believers as to what to believe?

Each "group" claims spiritual authority as their guide, but are on opposite sides of an issue.  If each group is following the leadership of the Holy Spirit, how can they each be right? How can either be wrong?

To be honest, as a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, this is just downright confusing to me. I certainly don't claim to know all and understand all.

But here's what I DO know for sure: Jesus is coming back!  He said He was and I believe Him. I don't know when, but He did give us some clues so that we wouldn't be caught unaware.

I try to live my life expecting Jesus to come back today, no matter what the day is. I am longing to see His face. I want it to happen before I finish typing this line, but I see that it didn't happen....

I don't want to fall into the trap of belittling or even disrespecting my trusted friends who fall on the other side of an eschatological issue. I fell into that trap several years ago with politics, and I deeply regret it. So, today, I will do what I always do; proclaim Jesus!

God loves you so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for you (in your place to pay for your sins). If you believe that, according to Jesus, Himself, you will be saved. (John 3:16)

Won't you trust Jesus for your salvation today? You don't need a priest, or even a preacher; you can do it all through the One High Priest, Jesus! Call on Him to save you and be prepared for eternity. 

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Karma, Angels, and other Instances of Biblical Ignorance

I am appalled at the number of my FaceBook friends who regularly reference Karma, or talk about becoming angels when we die.

Karma is NOT a Christian concept. It is defined thusly on
(in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.
In American culture, we have the saying, which could be loosely related to Karma, "what goes around, comes around."

In essence, this speaks to a cosmic force that comes back to get you when you do something bad. You certainly won't find the word "karma" in the Bible and you will never find proper reference to God and Karma.  (You might find a reference to a "god" and Karma, but not the Living God.)

There ARE consequences for your actions; this much is true. The Bible says that "the wages of sin is death." But the whole idea of karma is that the universe (which is attributed with some of the characters of God) must keep things in a balance of good/bad. This is a counterfeit of what God has ordained. And remember, ALL religions (other than Judaism and Christianity) are counterfeits created by the devil to deceive and confuse people from worshiping the True and Living God.

Then, we come to the idea of becoming angels when we die. We see this most often when someone passes away and someone (with good intentions) say something like "Heaven needed another angel."  Dear friends, people DO NOT become angels when we die. Angels are created beings that are a whole different class than humans. Angels CANNOT be saved. The angels that sided with Satan will never be redeemed. Jesus died for people, not angels.

There is no indication in the Bible that we will have wings when we get to Heaven. In fact, the Bible talks about the role of angels in Heaven that is separate from the function of the redeemed.   Frankly, WE ARE BETTER than angels!

Why does this make any difference? What is the big deal if people talk about Karma or about becoming angels?

The big deal is that when CHRISTIANS talk about these things, it confuses people. We are called to be light in the darkness. Truth comes from God; lies from from Satan. When we perpetuate lies, we are unwittingly doing the will of the great deceiver. We are called out of the world. We can't just pick and choose what we like from the Bible and what we like from the world.  It's "all or nothing".

Please, followers of Jesus, KNOW THE DIFFERENCE between God's Word and what the world teaches. Please don't "mix and match" to suit your own needs. That's how cults (like Mormonism & Scientology) get started.

Read and STUDY your Bible! BE light in the Darkness! Live a life of TRUTH in a world of lies!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Internet Scams

Over the years, I have seen some interesting internet scams. I'm sure you have, too. The past couple of days, someone claiming to be with the "Department of Asian Domain Registration in China" has been trying to get me to answer an email. I've copied it here for your amusement:

Dear Sir/Madam,
About the "immanuelsouthern". We are the department of Asian Domain Registration Service in China. Here I have something to confirm with you. We formally received an application on November 20th, 2014 that a company claimed "CriTony Company" were applying to register "immanuelsouthern" as their Net Brand and some "immanuelsouthern" Asian countries top-level domain names through our firm.
Now we are handling this registration, and after our initial checking, we found the name were similar to your company's, so we need to check with you whether your company has authorized that company to register these names. If you authorized this, we would finish the registration at once. If you did not authorize, please let us know within 7 workdays, so that we could handle this issue better. After the deadline we will unconditionally finish the registration for "CriTony Company" Looking forward to your prompt reply.
(It's very urgent, so please transfer this email to your CEO or appropriate person. Thanks a lot.)  
Best Regards,
Luke Yang
Senior Adviser Manager

Whether or not this is a scammer from China or Nigeria, it really doesn't matter to me.

What does matter to me is the audacity of con artists. I see news stories of people conned out of thousands of dollars. I've seen my own family and friends fall victim to such treachery.

Treachery? Yes. Treachery. The word "con artist" comes from the way a person gains another person's confidence in order to use that trust for unlawful gain.

A couple of years ago, I scammed a scammer and had a whole lot of fun doing it. You can read about it here. In fact, it has been one of my favorite posts here at

Con artists and scammers are like the devil in many respects. Satan will gain your confidence, or at least get you to listen to him, and then BAM! take something away from you.

The Bible says that the devil is like a roaring lion; roaming around looking for someone to devour.  (1 Peter 5:8) It warns us to be alert; be on guard.

We should always be on the alert when it comes to anything out of the ordinary with requests from the internet. If you aren't sure about something, don't just automatically respond to it. If you get a "pop up" on your computer screen, don't just automatically put in your username and password, either. Ask someone. Get someone else's help.

Just like dealing with the devil. No need to try to go it alone; you've got a friend in Jesus!

You do, don't you? That is, you are friend with Jesus, right?  If you aren't, I'd suggest you make friends with Jesus real quick. I guarantee you want to be on HIS side when it's all said and done.  There is a link at the top right hand part of this blog that says, "Do You Know Jesus?" Click on that or right here and it will take you to another link I created just for the purpose of your making friends with Jesus.

And that's no scam!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

When Tolerance is Hate

"Live and let live" - in other words, don't judge. In other words, take care of yourself and let other people worry about themselves.

If we take this to its logical conclusion, it is a message of hate.

These words have been spewed at me whenever I quote the Bible about righteousness, specifically morality, even more specifically, homosexuality.  People say things like, "if you don't want to marry a person of your same sex, then don't do it, but don't tell others they can't." (Live and let live)

On the surface, this is a message of tolerance. But actually, it is a message of hate.  When we apply it to the problem of so-called gay marriage, it is tolerance. If it is applied to the different problem of hunger or poverty or taking care of AIDS patients, the same message would end up sounding like, "live and let die." In other words, I didn't get them into that mess, why should I care about them at all?

I know what you're thinking and my answer is, "Oh yes it IS the same!"

What if we applied the "live and let live" philosophy to children? "Oh, let them play in the street after dark!" "So what if they want to play with a loaded shotgun?" "Live and let live" right?

Certainly not! In those cases, it WOULD be "live and let die!"

Well, what if, as little children, people didn't know right from wrong? What if, by telling them what God has to say about righteousness, morality and sin, they gain insight and perhaps conviction that what they are doing goes against what God has to say about it? What if, by warning them of the consequences of their actions you are actually demonstrating love?

It is my opinion that to remain silent about sin is to show hate. I have friends and relatives who practice homosexuality. I love them enough to tell them what God doesn't approve. It should make no difference at all whether or not I approve; it isn't really about me.

But if I really believe that there are eternal consequences for actions on earth, then out of love I am going to at least mention that fact.

If I didn't care at all, I'd "Live and Let Live."

But, I'm called to love, not just tolerate.

Friday, August 08, 2014

America, Tribulation, and End Times

I've heard many Christians say that America is insignificant or plays no role in end times and the return of Jesus Christ. To that, I honestly have no opinion.

However, it is assumed that America will suffer in the Great Tribulation.  Where does that assumption come from?

Those critical of America's potential involvement in the end times emphasize the fact that the Bible talks about places only in the Middle East and America is irrelevant. If these events only happen in the Middle East, does the persecution from the Great Tribulation only effect those in the Middle East?

Why or why not?

Side note: The Christians in Iraq seem to be facing exactly the scenario that is fixed in most people's minds about what the Great Tribulation will look like.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

10 Years with Blogger

Today marks the 10 year anniversary of my blog. It started off as the Goofball Blog, or some such silly nonsense. I finally bit the bullet and bought the domain some time ago.

Looking back over the first year or so, I see that the sort of things I posted on this blog, I now post on Facebook. In fact, Facebook has nearly been the death of this blog, but I still feel a need for it.

So, after 10 years, we're still going. Maybe not as strong as at first, but going nevertheless.

Happy Anniversary,!

Friday, August 01, 2014

7 Year Anniversary

Today marks 7 years that I have been pastor of Immanuel Southern Baptist Church in Wagoner, OK.  My first official service was a Wednesday evening.

Me in my office in March 2008

Previous to being a pastor, I was a missionary with the International Mission Board for more than a decade. I had never pastored before coming to ISBC.

Sally & me playing special music one evening

I've learned a great deal about myself in the past 7 years. I've more aware of my weaknesses and weak tendencies. I've learned a great deal about God; that's for sure.  And I've learned a lot about people; Christians, in particular.

Recently donated box trailer

I've seen God work in this small congregation in wonderful ways. I've seen the devil at work here, too. I've seen self-sacrifice of the dedicated and I've seen the self-serving of the worldly.  Some of the nicest things that have ever been said to me have been said in the past 7 years at this church. Some of the worst things that have ever said to me or about me have been said in the same 7 years at this church.

Our beautiful sanctuary

Sometimes, it seems like it is two steps forward - one step back. Yet God has been faithful through all of my time here. We've had some disastrous experiences with youth leaders. We've gone through several song leaders. We have a hard time getting people to work with very young children. We've faced several major crises that have threatened the life of the church. We are currently experiencing a horrific budget shortfall.

Our first VBS
Our most recent VBS

I've seen a few people get mad and leave the church. Usually, they are mad at me (generally blaming me for something) and cause a lot of problems after the leave (but not as many as they caused when they were here).

Falls Creek 2014

Despite the problems, there are many more wonderful victories. We've seen our youth and children's groups grow from 2 or 3 to 25 each! There were weeks at a time when no one drove our church vans; they are being used 3 or 4 times each week! For the first time in the history of our church, we had our own cabin at our children's camp this year taking a total of 31 people from the church (which includes adults). We are about to build a new Children's Ministry Center next month. We are experiencing growth in all areas of Sunday School and have started 4 or 5 new classes in the past several years. Our Vacation Bible School continues to grow. Our Food Pantry Ministry provides over 140,000 meals per year to needy folks from our community. We've seen many saved and baptized as a result of this ministry. In fact, this past Sunday, I baptized 15 people who had been saved through the pantry, VBS, or one of our camps.

Family baptism

As God allows, we will accomplish a lot for His kingdom in the coming years. We plan on ordaining two men to the Gospel Ministry in October. We have a long range plan which includes outreach to the Hispanic community, community education, and perhaps even partnering with an orphanage in the Middle East. As long as our members continue to seek to serve God and His kingdom, He will continue to use us.

I am grateful for the privilege of pastoring this flock. I do not take it lightly, nor do I take it for granted. It is a great responsibility that God has given me. I am grateful that He has seen fit to use me here.  May God (continue to) bless Immanuel Southern Baptist Church!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Half a Century

Most of my classmates have already done it. My wife has already done it. My best friend, too.

I turned 50 years old today.

Half a century.

Egads! (as my Uncle Bill always used to say)

I didn't really want to, but I didn't have much choice in the matter.

3 months old

Mostly, I'm very happy where I am at 50 years old.  I'm in a very happy marriage and we have two stunningly beautiful godly daughters.  I'm the pastor of a thriving church. I drive a  Jeep AND a convertible (just not at the same time). I have a mortgage-free home!

The parts that I'm not too happy about are: I can't get any publisher interested in my novel; I'm over-weight and out of shape; my eyes are bad, and I have less money now than I did when I was 40.

My best friend, Martin Whipple and me at Little Friend Kindergarten in 1969

I have lived 18,300 days.

By God's grace, most of them have been excellent days!  God is so very good to me. Better than I deserve, actually.

First trip to the Great Wall in 1990

I saw on the news last week, where someone had joined the Senior PGA Tour this year. He had turned 50 two weeks prior.


Sally joined AARP when she turned 50, so I've already been a member for two years. And don't be fooled, I whip out that AARP card at every restaurant, hoping for their discount!

Wedding Day 1992
 Audrey will fly out of our nest in a month. She starts her freshman year at Oklahoma Baptist University August 16.  Emily will start driver's ed in two months.

Many of my classmates are already grandparents. I didn't have my first child until I was 32.

Our last prayer card as missionaries in West Africa 2002

In my 50 years, I've lived in 28 different houses or apartments, not including the hotels and other temporary housing that we used as missionaries. I've visited 29 different countries on 4 continents and have lived in 6 different countries on 3 different continents. I've officially studied (and passed basic proficiency exams) in 6 foreign languages, although I'm sure I couldn't pass those same tests now.

Tibet 2004
 I've been to the uttermost parts of the earth - and back again.

I have friends LITERALLY all around the world.

Preaching in Ukraine in 2011
I consider myself to be rich. Not with with material possessions or monetary wealth, but with the blessings of family and friends. I may not be where I thought I would be 20 or 30 years ago, but I wouldn't change a thing.

I love my wife. I love my children. I love my church.

Sally and me at the Western Wall in Jerusalem - December 2013

God has blessed me abundantly! If there is  anything good, anything noble at all in my life, it is because God has blessed me with it.

Thank you, Father, for making me the richest man on earth!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Memories of Mamou

I knew better, but I did it anyway.

We were living in Mamou, Guinea. That's in West Africa, for the geographically challenged. Wikipedia says it has a population of abut 76,000 people. It was our first post in Africa in 1998.

Life is fairly simple, but very hard. Poverty is rampant and Islam has stifled  practically every aspect of the Fulani culture. The people were oppressed from nearly every side, but because we were in the rain forest, famine wasn't as bad as in other parts of Africa.

We were living in a house that had been home to missionaries for years.  It was a comfortable 5 room house with 2 bathrooms. It had running water (with a 2000 liter storage tank) and electricity. Well, sort of.

Mamou, Guinea - 1998

City electricity was interesting, to say the least. On the standard 220v 50hz system, sometimes it only provided 20-30 volts. Other times, so much current came through that it burst the lightbulbs in our ceiling fans.

Most of the time, we simply didn't have city electricity. The story was that some official had embezzled the money earmarked for a city-sized diesel generator and had fled to France. Since our "regular" electricity came from a hydro-electric generator at the nearby reservoir, we had "good" electricity during the rainy season, which lasted from July to August. After August, we were rationed until all the water ran out of the reservoir until they simply shut off the city supply. The rest of the time, we used a portable gasoline powered generator.

Things would have been better had we owned a diesel power generator, which brings me to my story.

Our helper, Amadou, told us that our trash pit was full and needed to be burned. I should have just let him to it. (mistake number 1)  The pit was about 6x6x12 and was where be put everything from household trash to cut limbs and other debris from the yard.

Our night guard, Ibrahim, used a little kerosene lantern to shine (usually while he slept) during his night duty. I wish I remembered that I bought a gallon or two of kerosene for his lantern (mistake number 2)

I went out to look at the pit. It was indeed full. I looked around for something to light to catch the pit on fire. I found some rags, but they wouldn't  burn.

In my search, I spied my cans of gasoline that we use to run the generator. I figured that I could pour a little bitty teeny tiny amount in the pit and get the fire going. (mistake number 3)

I found a small little cup and poured perhaps a half a cup of gasoline into the pit. I stood back and threw in a lit match. Nothing.

I found a piece of paper or something and lit it and tossed it into the pit. Nothing.

Reasoning that I simply didn't have enough propellent, I poured in two or three more cups of gasoline. (mistake number 4)

I stood back, lit a match, threw it in and was knocked backwards by the explosion that sent burning banana leaves 20 feet into the air.

The explosion was so loud, that it made the pedestrian traffic stop on the national highway below the mountain to stop, look up, and wonder what those crazy white people were up to again.

Amadou told me to let him burn the trash pit the next time. I told him that I thought that was a good idea.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Myth of Marriage Equality

The Homosexual Agenda has seen unprecedented advancement under the current liberal Democratic administration.  This is not a good thing.

Every media outlet has been subverted by messages of "equality"; here in Oklahoma, specifically "marriage equality" because so-called "gay marriage" is illegal here and the Agenda wants to do something about it.

There is currently a media campaign by Freedom Oklahoma pushing for the normalization of gay marriage in Oklahoma.

First of all, there is no such thing as marriage equality or marriage freedom. Homosexuals are simply looking for special rights.

Homosexuals promote a myth that they are being denied the right to marry whom they choose that is supposedly granted to non-gay people. It is a myth because non-gay people do not have the "right" to choose who they want to marry. They are prohibited by laws, conventions, tradition, religion, and common sense from marrying under-aged persons, married people, dead people, multiple people, animals and inanimate objects. And yes, people of the same sex.

I have long maintained that to permit same-sex marriage is to create a slippery slope into total moral depravity. That was proven to be fact immediately after the US Supreme Court ruled on gay marriage. Both pedophilia and bestiality groups demanded marriage rights for themselves.

Second of all, yes, I understand it isn't quite the same, but what would public outcry be if some group wanted to normalize something else and started a media campaign to do it? Say, meth makers. Or prostitution. Or marijuana? Gay marriage is currently illegal in Oklahoma. Other than financial gain, why do media outlets advertise for something that is illegal?  Fear of being called a homophobe?

Third of all, why do people who do not want a traditional relationship want traditional marriage?  I don't get that one at all.

Now, before you start labeling me bigot or homophobe, just keep your intolerant comments to yourself. There is no hate in my heart, except for the hate of the sin of disobedience. I do not hate gay people.  I'm not trying to keep anyone from doing anything that is legal or permissible. Without apology I am opposing the advancement of something that is counter-intuitive and  detrimental to the moral well-being of my culture.

I maintain that homosexuals do not want equal rights; they want special rights.

Monday, April 28, 2014

FaceBook Friends and Former Friends

I just glanced through the "suggested friends" or "people you may know" list on FaceBook.

I am a bit melancholy now.

I saw several people who used to be friends, but have defriended me for whatever reason. There were more than I care to admit.

Some of the people I was aware that they had defriended me. It was a surprise to see some folks, whom I thought I was friends with, on that list.

Some of the folks are former church members who left the church and defriended me because someone who got mad at me for some reason or another told them to and they obeyed.

Some are people who defriended me because they disagree with my politics or religion or both.

Some, well, I have no idea why they defriended me.

It wouldn't be so bad if they were people that I'd met on the internet, but these were people I know in real life. Some of whom I performed their wedding.

Pride is a horrible thing. I apologize if I hurt your feelings, but I won't apologize for my faith or taking a stand for what I believe.

I'm certainly not going to defriend someone because I disagree with their politics!

FaceBook is a strange, strange thing.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Weather Forecasts & Jesus' Return

I watch KOTV for my weather news from the Tulsa TV market.  I really like their weather team, Travis Meyer, Alan Crone, Dick Faurot, and Mike Grogan. I trust these guys.

I know they do their very best to create accurate forecasts and present the public with up-to-the-minute updates when severe weather approaches. It's hard to do it, too, because weather predicting isn't an exact science; things change.

Take today, for instance. They've been telling us for the past several days that there is a good chance of severe storms this afternoon.  They've shown us graphics about it, blogged about it, and posted updates on Facebook and Twitter.

They really want us to take this seriously.  And, as an Okie, it "feels" stormy today.

(While I was typing the second paragraph, the National Weather Center in Tulsa issued a tornado watch for my area)

Last week, they told us all week about a storm that was coming in that would bring rain to our area. They showed us radar images from the storm that was still out over the Pacific. They presented us different frontal models several days in advance. The morning it was supposed to storm that afternoon, it was unbelievable that it was going to rain that afternoon. It was bright, sun shiny, and not a cloud in the sky.

Yet, because it was from the News On 6 WeatherTeam, I prepared for rain.  AND RAIN IT DID!!!!  A certified frog strangler.

It got me to thinking.

Why do people believe a forecast for rain and make plans around it, but completely ignore the words of Jesus where He says He's coming back to Earth?

Some people have made some fancy charts and others have erroneously predicted the exact date (which Jesus said would be fruitless to do), yet the "prediction" that He will return stands.

Some people humorously argue that if He hasn't come back already, what makes you think He's coming back?  That's like saying "it hasn't snowed yet this year, what makes you think it is going to snow?" (or rain, or get to 100ยบ, or etc)

So far, we've had all the time in the world to prepare for the return of Christ. There are signs exactly according to the Bible that we are getting close, yet people treat it those predictions worse than promises from a disgraced politician.

Folks, it's getting close. I don't know when exactly, but, if we can look at the sky and know it's going to rain, we ought to be able to look at the signs that the Bible lists and know that it won't be long until Jesus returns.

Are you ready?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Earthquakes in Oklahoma

There have been clusters of earthquakes in Oklahoma. Some say it's due to fracking. I don't think so.

For what it's worth, here are today's earthquake maps for northcentral Oklahoma and Southern California. 

Life-sized Tonka Toy

When I was a little boy, I had a vast collection of Tonka Toys. One of my favorites, was my Jeep Cherokee.

After all these years, it is a dream come true!

Growing Up

Emily and I spent a little time with her behind the wheel yesterday. She's only 14 1/2, but I figure the more experience she can get, the better!  She's growing up too fast.