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.
I don’t know if you have seen this video yet, but it is worth a watch. Humanity never ceases to amaze me. Enjoy.
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
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.
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 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.
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.