WORDS MATTER

An “Opinion” piece was published in USA Today June 29 under the headline:

What closeted LGBTQ youth should know

It was written by Josh Rivera who is the “Opinion NOW” editor for the paper, and a homosexual.

I won’t discuss the merits or lack thereof; but I do want to simply insert a couple clips from it for your thoughtful reading:

“The only choice in this situation is when to face the world with your truth.”

Here’s the other:

“I worry about my community and it pains me to write this, because living your truth shouldn’t place a target on your back.”

Do you see it?

Words matter.

When I read this late last night I shook my head…not at the overall content nor the thesis of the article…but rather something else.

Do you see it?

I’ll just leave this here for now…

What’s So Special About CLBC?

If you’ve been around me any length of time, you’ve heard me talk about Crescent Lake Bible Camp in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

After four decades of speaking at camps across the Nation, CLBC remains my favorite. In fact it’s where I am as I write this article.

The pictures are worth zillions of words and show in part how beautiful the place is. I say in part because like most things in life unless you’ve experienced it you are just kind of guessing.

But there’s more to it than the physical beauty… There’s more to it than the phenomenal staff…

I cannot adequately describe it. I certainly can’t explain it. But it is here.

I’ve seen things happen here that didn’t happen anywhere else. I feel very close to thinking I should take my shoes off when I get on the grounds. I know everything belongs to God but there’s something unique, indescribable, and challenging about CLBC.

And my hunch is it begins and continues because of two men who knelt on the grounds of what would become the camp in a time of economic depression and asked…begged…God to do what was seemingly impossible and He did and He does and He will.

And I am humbled, blessed and excited that I get to be part of the ongoing mi

racle of Crescent Lake Bible Camp.

Woke Up This Morning with my mind…

Many years ago I attended my first “Cathedrals” concert.

I did not want to go. I knew they were “country.” This was not at the top of my list of enjoyable music…

But I had to go. I was on staff of Family Life Ministries/Network; and we were hosting them at a venue in Elmira, NY.

Got there early, but as it was a “union house” we Family Lifers couldn’t help unload and set up. So I just stood around (I really love having nothing to do).

One of the union guys was basically a curtain-puller. As I said “hi” to him he gruffly replied, and I smelled the booze on his breath.

A bit later the Cathedrals did a sound check. Ernie Haase was new to the group (as mentioned, this was a long time ago…maybe at least 20  years?). The rest of the singers left, but Ernie stuck around with the sound techs.

I had to go to one of our vehicles, and as I returned I came back stage and discovered Ernie sitting next to the aforementioned curtain-puller, with his left arm around the guys shoulders, as his right hand held a pocket New Testament. Ernie was sharing the gospel.

My immediate thought?

“I don’t give a flying rip what you sing in what style, I’m a huge fan of at least one Cathedral.”

During the concert they sang this song…the song that was in my head as I woke this Tuesday morn.

Memories. At least two of the Cathedrals are dead. Ernie has his own group (Signature Sound?) I’m no longer on Family Life staff.

But…oh, what a Savior!

I wonder if those guys who chopped the Bible up into chapters and verses had any clue of the potential negative aspect of that project?

cut-and-paste1Obviously their efforts make it easier for us to find stuff (Bible quizzing would be rather difficult with chapter/verse structure, for instance).

But it also eases the opportunity to yank things out of context (Phil 4.13 and Matt 6.33 for examples)

But methinks the most dangerous and destructive example is found in what we designate Ephesians 2.8-10.

As a reminder…here is 2.8,9:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Wondrous truth! Glorious verses!

And they are all about God, His working, His “part” if you will.

Then comes verse 10:

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Oops! Now it’s about me…my responsibility to cooperate and activate what God has given me.

It’s that offensive, to many, word:  w o r k s

People who have been converted out of “works-based-salvation” churchs (Catholicism, various “protestant” churches) appear paranoid about linking works to salvation in any way.

But…grace works.

And that’s still not us, because “it is God who is at work within you both to desire to do and to do His good pleasure.”

Or, to put it another way (since are are to “examine ourselves to see whether we be in the faith”):

“No fruit, no shoot, no root.”

 

EVERYone is “wonderfully made”…and..”forgetting those things that are behind and straining forth…”

As anyone who knows me or reads my facebook knows, I am obsessed with the sound track of “The Greatest Showman.”

I took my bride to see the movie, doing the sacrificial husband thing. In my mind any movie without tenseness and/or body count is not worth seeing.

Though I thought I’d sleep through part of the movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it…

But..like so many others, I’m absolutely enthralled by the soundtrack; particularly by two songs.

“This Is Me” has, unfortunately, been adopted by the GLBTetc crowd; apparently to complement “Born This Way.”

I’d like to change a couple words, but the song and lyrics are great in and of themselves.

Here it is, direct from the film:

The other song is “From Now On.” I don’t think I’m the only Jesus-follower who immediately thinks of “…forgetting those things that are behind and straining for the things that are ahead..” when the music is heard. The song flat preaches.

Here it is with the lyrics:

And here it is from the movie (with Japanese subtitles; I can’t locate another one)

And, finally, here is a clip from the “greenlight” session when the cast was presenting the music before the money guys…and Hugh Jackman, who had just had throat surgery, was NOT supposed to sing…he couldn’t be silent…

 

What A Riot…

No, it wasn’t a really bad riot.CROSSROADS

But last month there was a riot at Crossroads Correctional, a maximum-security prison forty-five minutes from my home. This is one of the institutions that I preach in regularly, and have for almost a decade.

You may read a news report about the event by CLICKING HERE.

On April 1 all the Missouri prisons went “smoke-free.” Some say this contributed to this particular riot. Perhaps.

But Crossroads, like all Missouri prisons (and most country-wide) is tremendously understaffed. Thus many programs and activities are curtailed. Several years ago Crossroads officials shut down all weekend activities. Since then “Christian call-out” (church) is, for most, on Wednesday mornings.

It is reported there were no serious  injuries during the event.

But the prison was “locked-down,” and it remains that way as I type.

All programs (from Narcanon to GED to various group therapy sessions to WICCA to Islam to Christian etc) are shut down.

The chaplain told me this afternoon there is no projected date for things to change.

I’d ask you to pray that God would literally and figuratively open doors for ministry behind the walls of Crossroads. Pray for peace in a place that is always tense, and I’m certain is even more “tight” now.

Pray for the brothers-in-Christ doing time (as well as Christian correctional officers) to use this dark time to shine brightly and vocally for the Lord Jesus and His gospel.

Thank you!

crossroad

 

A New “Invitation” Song???

Okay, let’s lay aside any arguments, discussions, controversies we could discuss regarding the appropriateness, technique, or alleged manipulation as to whether or not “invitations” are valid, appropriate, godly.

Let’s hypothesize that we are in favor of invitations (presented properly, which is another discussion)…

Nothing wrong with using “Just As I Am” or other tunes.

But am I the only one who thinks “From Now On” from the movie “The Greatest Showman” wouldn’t be good? Yeah, maybe tough for we mere mortals to sing (Hugh Jackman is incredible)…but the words…the words…the words…

Pardon the subtitles; I couldn’t find a full version without them…crank the speakers, listen/watch. Whatcha think???

Venting

Just because something is old, it’s not necessarily good.

Just because something is new, it’s not necessarily bad.

This applies to music, whether secular or Christian. It applies to Christian methodology. It applies to Christian books. It is applicable to everything.

I will forego explaining what spawned this vent…