Same Sex Marriage and Adrian Missouri

Like many of you I have been following the Supreme Courts decision and I have been reading numerous articles in its wake. While I am not an expert in all facets of this issue, I do have a few thoughts that I want to share. My main influence is the Bible on this topic (READ THIS To Help) Much of my thinking is about how the recent decision will affect the Church and Christians here in Adrian Missouri and maybe rural Churches everywhere.

1. Homosexuality is not a huge issue. I have been reading numerous polls and surveys. One of them suggested that most Americans believe 25% of the population is homosexual. Yet, on the flip side, less than 6% of the population actually claim to be homosexual. We have been led to believe that a huge number of people are struggling with this issue when the number is much smaller than we imagined. Think of everyone you know and then calculate how many are openly homosexual. I am guessing that in a rural community the numbers are very, very small. It is a real issue, but not as big as the newspapers make us believe.

2. Pornography is a huge issue. It is currently estimated that 90% of males under 30 years of age have viewed it. Many are viewing it as early as 12. Addiction is very high and access is easy. As a result it is ruining marriages, men and Churches. I can think of at least 10 men right now who are struggling. It is important to every Church to keep its eye on the ball. The Church has always had to deal with sexual issues on numerous levels. Be careful not to neglect one area while focusing on another. Satan is crafty.

3. Our Church has been making changes to help with gay marriage issues that might come up. Early this year our leadership decided to no longer have our building as a “public use” facility. We will no longer rent our facilities for functions of the general Adrian community. Our facility will be for the use of our members. The end result is that no one can call the Church and use our facility for gay marriage. We are constantly talking about this issue and praying for God’s direction in our decisions.

4. Same sex marriage numbers will quickly drop. Worldwide numerous homosexual couples have decided to never marry (READ THIS). My prediction is that the issue of same sex marriage will quickly reduce. Part of the reason is because homosexual people have a hole that marriage alone cannot fill. Their need is deeply spiritual and marriage alone will not solve the identity crisis so in time the idea of marriage will hold less joy and hope. [Hasn’t that already happened to many heterosexual couples??] People need a Savior not a partner.

5. Don’t be surprised when non-Believers act like non-Believers. Believers and non-Believers will have enormously different views on these issues. That is expected. People who do not claim Jesus as their savior will do all kinds of ungodly behavior. Our job is not to stand and condemn them, but to offer them the grace of Jesus. Hear me, “I want homosexuals to come to our Church.” Why? Because I want them to hear the message of a Savior. I am not the judge of mankind, I am a messenger of grace.

There is a lot more that could be said, but I wanted to share what I am learning through all that I read, hear and observe. This issue has been going on in several other countries for the last few years and wisdom is coming from their communities for all of us. (LIKE THIS) My final suggestion is that we read our Bibles, listen to God, pray and seek his will in every part of this issue. Be informed and be wise.

Drinking From the Saucer

This poem best describes my past year of life since moving to Missouri.

Drinking From The Saucer
by John Paul Moore

I’ve never made a fortune,
And I’ll never make one now
But it really doesn’t matter
‘Cause I’m happy anyhow

As I go along my journey
I’m reaping better than I’ve sowed
I’m drinking from the saucer
‘Cause my cup has overflowed

I don’t have a lot of riches,
And sometimes the going’s tough
But with kin and friends to love me
I think I’m rich enough

I thank God for the blessings
That His mercy has bestowed
I’m drinking from the saucer
‘Cause my cup has overflowed

He gives me strength and courage
When the way grows steep and rough
I’ll not ask for other blessings for
I’m already blessed enough

May we never be too busy
To help bear another’s load
Then we’ll all be drinking from the saucer
When our cups have overflowed

What I Forgot About Life and Ministry In Missouri

It has been one year exactly since my family crossed the Alaska state line into Canada. Our journey eventually landed us in Adrian Missouri. Adrian is only 30 minutes from my Student Ministry in Urich Missouri and only 45 minutes to my first “fill-time” ministry in Bronaugh Missouri. All of these place are only an hour and a half from Joplin Missouri where I went to college. So in a way, it was a homecoming to me. I came back to my college roots and my fledgling years of ministry. But upon returning to Missouri I had to relearn about life and ministry in the area. Here are a couple of things I had to relearn (In no particular order)

1. Churches are close but most ministries are separate. In Alaska I had a local ministers meeting with all denominations every week. Also, we had a statewide men’s meeting once a year for our brotherhood of Churches. Personally, every minister in our Brotherhood contacted me when I moved to Alaska and I knew every similar Church in a 6 hour radius. Here, I work with 3 other local Churches on 3 or 4 projects each year and we meet sporadically. I have little to no contact with any Churches in our Brotherhood at all. I know there are numerous ones close but they have not contacted me (and I have not contacted them). Ministry feels more individualistic to Churches than to towns or regions. Working together as Churches is a lot harder than Alaska, even with more Churches.

2. Youth Sports dominate people’s lives. I have 4 teenage sons and I know about youth sports from numerous angles. Here in Missouri there is an opportunity to participate in youth sports 7 days a week 365 days a year. I often think that the biggest tool of Satan to lure kids away from Church and from Christ is not drugs or sex, but sports. It is more dangerous because it slowly pulls you away from a supporting faith community into isolation and eventually it leads to apathy. The even more troubling part is that none of the kids around here (including my own) will ever play pro sports (Read THIS). The chances of them getting a college scholarship is pretty small too. (and how much money are you spending in their youth sports to get that scholarship?) The Church must compete with well-intentioned parents to develop the faith of the next generation.

3. Ministry in the summer is hard. In Alaska things get going in the summer. People stay home and enjoy the most beautiful season of the year. They have company come and stay for a week or two that they bring to Church. New people are moving into town and visitors fill the city by the dozens. Summer is exciting for both your personal life but also for the Church. In Missouri it gets hot (real hot) and that makes life miserable in many ways (at least for me). People travel away from town, Church attendance is down and very few people visit. It is a tough time to do ministry.

Those are the biggest things I have been relearning since my return to Missouri. Most of life here is good and ministry is enjoyable but it is a big change to my last several years as a pastor.

Three Lessons From My Move to Missouri One Year Ago

The past year has been full of life lessons but I wanted to share the three biggest concepts that have been reinforced in this year.

1. Following Christ Brings People Together. No matter where I have gone in the world I have a common bond with anyone who follows Jesus. I traveled 4,000 miles to lead a group of people I had barely met with our only connection coming through Christ. Over this last year they have accepted me, welcomed my family and showed all of us love. I think it is easy to forget that being in Jesus Christ makes us a part of a connected group all over the world.

2. People Everywhere Have the Same Struggles. It doesn’t matter whether you live in Alaska or Adrian you still have some of the same basic problems. People everywhere struggle with sin and its effects. Marriages and families are under attack. Pornography destroys relationships. Forgiveness is hard. Sin is ugly, evil is real, and all of us struggle at some point.

3. All People Need Grace. No matter where in the world you live you need love, forgiveness and grace. Once sin creeps into your life you need some way to deal with the destruction it leaves. The alternative is to hold onto your shame, guilt and regret. Grace is the key to freedom. That message is needed in Alaska, Missouri and also in South America and Russia and Kansas City. Our common bond should be used to defeat the sin that seeks to destroy us all as we serve as the messengers of His Grace.

Like I said, I have learned and relearned a lot of things over the past year. These are the big ones that have impacted me again. Hopefully they will bless your life no matter where you live.

One Year Ago

One year ago my family spent today loading up everything we could fit into a Uhaul in Homer Alaska. The next morning we set out on a 4,000 mile journey to Adrian Missouri.

It is hard for me to believe it had been a year already. Time has flown by with the activities at the Church, with sports and all of the usual life events.

God has been good to us the past year as we have been blessed in numerous ways.

Thanks be to God for this past year and I look forward to the next year and all that God has in store for us. Thanks for joining me on this adventure together.

My Favorite Father’s Day Story

With this Sunday being Father’s Day I thought I would share something I enjoy. I ran across this article several years ago while looking for a Father’s Day illustration. It is one of the best pictures I’ve ever seen about fathers. I am told it is from Erma Bombeck in her book, “Family — The Ties that Bind…and Gag!”

One morning my father didn’t get up and go to work. He went to the hospital and died the next day. I hadn’t thought that much about him before. He was just someone who left and came home and seemed glad to see everyone at night. He opened the jar of pickles when no one else could. He was the only one in the house who wasn’t afraid to go into the basement by himself. He cut himself shaving, but no one kissed it or got excited about it. It was understood when it rained, he got the car and brought it around to the door. When anyone was sick, he went out to get the prescription filled. He took lots of pictures…but he was never in them. Whenever I played house, the mother doll had a lot to do. I never knew what to do with the daddy doll, so I had him say, “I’m going off to work now,” and threw him under the bed. The funeral was in our living room and a lot of people came and brought all kinds of good food and cakes. We had never had so much company before. I went to my room and felt under the bed for the daddy doll. When I found him, I dusted him off and put him on my bed. He never did anything. I didn’t know his leaving would hurt so much.

[Repost] Spiritual Checkup

I don’t like to just repost something that someone else has written (I would rather link you to it) but I found these questions extremely helpful. They were written by Chuck Lawless over on Thom Rainer’s blog.

12 Questions for a Spiritual Checkup

1. Do you need to forgive someone? Jesus is clear that if we don’t forgive others, the Father does not forgive us (Matt. 6:14-15). So, while we may think our anger is justified, it only hurts us to stay bitter. The cost, in fact, is serious as it harms our relationship with God.

2. Does your daily talk reflect godliness? It’s hard to read Ephesians 5:4 (“Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving”) without evaluating our daily conversations. If other believers heard everything you said last week, would your witness be strengthened or harmed?

3. Does your budget reflect a commitment to God’s work? I know it sounds trite, but what we give toward God’s work really does have eternal dividends. Any sacrifice so others may know Jesus is no sacrifice at all. Would your checkbook show you prioritize God’s kingdom?

4. Do you know your neighbors and co-workers? It’s easy to be so “on the go” that we know our neighbors and co-workers on only a superficial basis, if we know them at all – which makes it difficult to share Christ with them. Even our prayer for them is surface-level if we don’t know them.

5. Do you pray regularly for leaders? Regardless of our political positions, we are mandated to pray for those in authority (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Think about those for whom you might pray: school officials, bosses, mayors, governors, the president. Obedience here is especially important in this election season.

6. Do you read more blog posts than you do the Bible? Obviously, I tread softly here, as I’m deeply grateful you’re reading this post. On the other hand, what bloggers have to say is nothing compared to the Word of God.

7. Do you pray only when you have to? Many of us pray more reactively than proactively. Prayer is not in our DNA; it is only our response when we face something we can’t handle. That kind of praying misses the point of being in a relationship with God.

8. If you’re married, does your marriage reflect the love of Jesus for His church? Do you love your spouse sacrificially (Eph. 5:25), to the point of being willing to die? Would your spouse agree with your response to that question?

9. Are you hiding anything? Hiddenness is usually a sign the enemy is winning in one’s life. Then, the anguish of such sin is only deepened by the efforts we expend trying to keep it covered up.

10. Do you really love God’s church? Paul thanked God for the Corinthians at the beginning of his letter to them (1 Cor. 1:4-9) and expressed his love for them in his closing (1 Cor. 16:24). In between, though, he described them as a mess. Only God can give us this kind of love for His bride, especially when the church is problematic.

11. Are you ready to quit? Maybe your church role has drained you to the point you wonder if it’s worth the effort. If your faith is being stretched to its limit, I encourage you to gather prayer partners and talk with friends before giving up.

12. Where do you most need to strengthen your walk with God for the rest of this year? Reading this post will make no difference unless you make an intentional plan to change. Tell us what commitments you are making, and give us the privilege of praying for you.

Ordinary Days

Most of the Bible tells us stories of extraordinary days. The stories pick up with the king’s edict or an angel appearing or the death of someone important. We get an inside look at the high points of people’s lives when they are experiencing close encounters with the divine.

I will be honest with you, it is one of the things I dislike the most about the Bible. The reason I dislike this feature is because most of my days are not extraordinary. Most of my days are filled with eating, sleeping, working, office time and talking with people. I have never been the victim of the king’s edict, seen an angel or had to fill the shoes of a dead prophet. My life is mostly ho-hum and ordinary.

Then I begin to wonder. Maybe life is really the result of a thousand ordinary days. When the extraordinary happens we get to see what was formed in the heart of a person over the daily grind of life. Perhaps character, especially Godly character, is the result of giving my life to God in the ordinary. Then when a big event happens character is revealed and not created.

So today I am living this ordinary day trying to prepare my soul for when God is ready to do something special with my life.

What We Say Behind Closed Doors

Last night the elders of the Church and myself had our regular meeting. We try to meet every other week but it is harder to do in the summer so this was our last meeting for four weeks. Right before the meeting started I got up and walked around the table to close the door. Our meetings are private and we do not want anyone listening in our conversation. Now, I know that this behavior sounds very suspicious so let me explain what happens behind that closed-door.

1. We Share Needs – After we handle a few business items that need to be discussed. I open to floor to any needs that we know. Some of these are known to a large group and some are known only to a couple of people. Some of these are very personal and some are rather generic. This is our time to open up about any issue God has put into our lives or the lives of the congregation we serve.

2. We Try to Get the Whole Story – With there being four of us leading the Church we are able to use our different stories and experiences together. One or two of the men at the table have long-term leadership at the church and have known people for years. A couple of us are fairly new but ask a lot of questions. I know this is hard to believe but often the story one of us has heard does not match what another of us has heard. We are not doing this to gossip, rather we want to know what is really going on in people’s lives. Only in having an accurate account of events can we decide the best way to proceed.

3. We Talk About the Best Way to Help the Situation – This is one of the most interesting parts of the discussion. Each one of us might have a different idea on how to help the situation. For example, one of us might think we need to pay a bill, one of us might think we need to take food and still one of us might think that it is best to do nothing. We talk about these options. What has been done? What could we do? What should we do? What would be the most helpful now and in the long run? What will we do?

4. We Try to Develop an Action Plan – If at all possible we assign duties. One of us will go talk to them and one will call and arrange meals. One of us will pray and the other one will not get involved in this issue. This is not always possible, but sometimes we need to do something very practical.

5. We Pray For God to Work – Last but certainly not least we take the time to have each one of us pray. Each one of us specifically addresses God about one or two of the needs we have discussed. We ask for him to work in the situation, to show us how to help, and to be present in the solutions we are trying to seek.

Last night we sat behind the closed doors for almost two and a half hours. We discussed six needs within our congregation and tried to exhaust all areas of discussion. Not everything was resolved but we took a few steps in the right direction. I cannot give you the details of each situation and the discussion we had about them. Those are private and all four of us know and respect that simple fact. Your secrets are safe with us and that is why I closed the door.