random thoughts about life and ministry

Latest

Minimal Thoughts On The Minimum Wage Battle

It’s been a long time since I have posted any thoughts here on my blog, but today seemed like a good day to dive back into the fray. The ongoing battle for “wage justice” and making a “livable wage” caused me to want to add my thoughts to the mix of information on the inter webs. Admittedly the Los Angeles City Council wanting to raise the minimum wage in that city to $15.00 an hour, and the labor unions that originally supported the idea, and now want to be exempted from the law, fed into my desire to comment and should cause everyone to pause and consider what’s going on.

There apparently are a fair amount of people wanting to raise the minimum wage; whether from our federal government, or within city jurisdictions, the governing bodies can tell businesses what they have to pay, as the bare minimum for their labor force. If you were a business owner, would you want someone else deciding how much you have to pay your employees? And if they (governing authorities) can tell you what to pay, how long before they also tell businesses what they can charge for their products and services?

As a young boy, I understood simple economics. If it costs more to produce something, then the costs to purchase goes up. Labor costs are a significant portion of the costs to produce a good or a service. It’s simple if you think about it; but apparently we have lost the ability to think through the consequences of our actions… even if it seems to make sense on the surface.

You can want a higher minimum wage, but you need to know the cost of what you want to purchase will go up, because all labor costs will go up and prices will have to go up to compensate the increases. They claimed it didn’t in Seattle, but they’re lying. I’ve been there and it’s expensive. If you live there, you probably had a raise in pay at your job, because incrementally everything has to adjust upward. If you can make $12.00 an hour to flip burgers, then driving delivery truck must go up as well… after all, we can’t have an entry level job pay the same as a skilled position, can we?

But my pay check is bigger! Yep. And your rent will go up, and your taxes will go up, and that new car price will go up… and on and on.

So here we go again… if I get a raise at my minimum per hour job, then I will make more money and be able to spend more and get ahead!

Perhaps it’s that kind of thinking that keeps you at a minimum pay job? You just do not possess the ability to think through the process of simple economics, and that will always make you susceptible to the government using you as a pawn to accomplish controlling you and others to make you think the government can save you and provide for you.

Has anyone considered what happens when the government runs out of people willing to work to support those who won’t? There are countless examples around the world. Let’s wake up, people!

Just my minimal thoughts on the minimum wage battle.

The Bigger They Are…

I grew up hearing the quote, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall”. While there may be some truth to that quote, I’ve discovered a more accurate quote. It’s important to note here, that I have some experience at falling, as I have in my lifetime fallen from a variety of heights, tripped, and slipped on various surfaces, and at nearly six feet in height, some would say that I qualify for the quote as stated. I know when I was younger, one of my more memorable falls was when I fell flat on my back onto the 40′ flatbed of my semi-trailer, from about 8′ up on a load I was tarping at the time. I know I fell really “hard”, but it honestly didn’t hurt that much when I was in my twenties. So if it didn’t hurt that much, how “hard” could it really be?

What I have found out recently while slipping on some ice while stepping out of my pick up at the Walmart parking lot, and managing to trip over my own pant leg this morning somehow (I’m still trying to figure that out), that it’s not so much “the bigger they are”, as “the older they are”.

Yep, that’s right, I want to suggest that we change that age old adage from “The bigger they are, the harder they fall” to “The older they are, the harder they fall.”

Yes, I know some of you will want to argue this point by addressing that the older we are the more susceptible we are to injury, but isn’t that what a hard fall is about? I ached from both of my recent falls and I can’t help but think we’ve been lied to all these years; the falls are definitely felt more as we age and therefore are HARDER! So here’s to changing that inaccuracy of information fed to young people everywhere. After all, a five foot nothing 85 year old grandmother falling is much harder than a 16 year old falling. If you doubt what I’m saying, go to your local skate park and watch how many times big you people fall and seem to think it’s funny.

Advice To Salesmen #1

I get to deal with a lot of sales people. Today I encountered two sales people. One of them made several mistakes that inspired this first installment of advice to salesmen (applicable also to sales ladies as well).

#1 – watch your language. I don’t care how your client talks or how you think they talk, do not assume that your language is more persuasive if you use expletives. You are a professional, or at least it would be nice if you could act like it, when you’re selling your line(s) of product. You are not strengthening your pitch when you assume your client is more convinced by four letter words.

I know some of my subscribers may be wondering why I’m blogging on this subject. Well, it’s a necessary subject that you may want to add your own advice to salesmen in your comments. I’ll return to my regular entries soon.

HOLD!!!

Scripture – Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 

Observation – As the writer reviews the superiority and finality of the sacrifice of Jesus, the conclusion is that we be unwavering in our hope in Him because we are believing in a faithful God who will do what He has promised. 

Application – Applying this verse and the concepts contained in this portion is easy to spiritualize without making it a true part of what is practiced. It’s easy to say “My hope is in Him” but it’s quite another to live it out; especially when I encounter life challenges – sickness, disease, marital problems, parenting struggles, financial problems, and any other trials that attempt to question my faith and hope in if God is really there. 

It’s one thing to say my hope is in Him, but quite another to live it out when I am under full assault. But that is something that, by His grace, He has been teaching me. And that is what caught my attention this morning as I read – that holding fast is not something I just read; it is something that is actively applied in the face of whatever adversity I may face. 

I am thankful that as I have been faced with many of those struggles, that God has helped me to continually put my hope in Him in a very real way. Not seeking my own answers or to run away, but to walk with Him into and through it all.

Prayer – Father, thank You for being faithful to walk through these life challenges with me. I pray for Your continued presence and wisdom to guide me and be my strength. Help me to instruct and encourage others, so they will not grow weary and give up. 

Blind Spots

Scripture – Mark 10:46-52 Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.

Observation – Blind Bart had evidently heard repeated stories of how this Jesus of Nazareth was working miracles and could see that if he could encounter this man, that he too might experience a miracle and no longer be blind. Bart may not have been able to physically see this Jesus, but he could see in his heart, the possibility of healing and being able to see, if only he could meet Him.

When he hears Jesus is nearby, he makes such a ruckus calling out to Him, that the people are telling him to be quiet. It’s his faith in what he couldn’t physically see, that caused him to cry out all the more. It’s important to note here the intensity of this blind man being able to see or perceive the possibility of the miraculous being within earshot of his voice. His cries for mercy are heard and Jesus heals this blind man, and the formerly blind man can now see for himself how to follow this Jesus of Nazareth for himself. Jesus told him to “Go your way; your faith has made you well” but this blind man’s way suddenly became the way to follow this Jesus.

Application – Blind spots… we all have them. When driving a car, we all have had that near miss, when one driver or the other can’t see the other and nearly collide (hopefully just a near miss). As a former truck driver, I learned that I had a lot of blind spots, and had to learn to compensate quickly or have some serious problems (potentially deadly ones). Blind spots are not just physical problems to overcome, but spiritual conditions that we must be willing to present to our Lord.

And that’s what I’m thinking of today as I read about Blind Bart. He had one big problem with blindness, but the folks around him had an even bigger problem, they had this huge blind spot that caused them to not see the possibility for a miracle for this blind man, but only what was “appropriate” or “not embarrassing” for them. That’s why it’s a bigger problem having a blind spot, because most often, we aren’t aware we have them until it’s too late. As a result of their blind spot, they attempted to hush him because they couldn’t see what he could; the possibility to see, if he could just contact this Jesus fella. Their blind spot couldn’t see the potential for a miracle because they only saw the beggar as a burden, not the opportunity for this Jesus fella to set him free.

And I wonder what blind spots I am unaware of? I’m thinking it’s a great opportunity to cry out to this Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, to have mercy upon me. I’m thinking that if he asks me “What do you want Me to do for you?” that I want to respond with, “Jesus, that I might be able to truly see how You see… please open my eyes!” I have an idea that I might first see that I need Him in a deeper way and that He has opportunities around me, where I only saw problems before.

I wonder what your blind spot is? I wonder if today you might call out to Jesus and ask Him to heal your blindness? Perhaps you have a hard time seeing Him for who He is, or seeing His ability to influence and change your perceptions and be able to have faith again for who He is and to know a God who truly loves you? Whatever your blind spot, Jesus is near, and He is able to help you see again. It might be scary to see, but the wonder of following Him is so worth it. He loves you just the way you are. Call out to Him and don’t be embarrassed or afraid. He will open your eyes and help you see the hope and opportunities all around you, because He loves you too much, to leave you where you are.

Prayer – Father, I thank You, today, for the continual work of Your Holy Spirit, to open my eyes to see. Not only to see enough to be able to get by, but to continually help me recognize those blind spots; those places I can’t see or perceive Your ability or Your heart to open my eyes to Your ability and Your possibilities. May I press into calling out for Your healing of my blind spots and may You, by Your Spirit, use these words to address some blind spots in others, so they may see Your ability and call on You to help them, as well.

The Spiritual Snooze Alarm… Fasting and the Season of Lent

Lenten Season Information

What Is Lent?

Lent is a season of soul-searching and repentance. It is a season for reflection and taking stock. Lent originated in the very earliest days of the Church as a preparatory time for Easter, when the faithful rededicated themselves and when converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism. By observing the forty days of Lent, the individual Christian imitates Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days. All churches that have a continuous history extending before AD 1500 observe Lent. The ancient church that wrote, collected, canonized, and propagated the New Testament also observed Lent, believing it to be a commandment from the apostles.

Lent began in the apostolic era and was universal in the ancient church. For this reason, Lent is observed by the various Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, and Anglican denominations, by Roman Catholics, and by Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Why Many Churches Do Not Observe Lent

In the 16th century, many Anabaptists discarded all Christian holy days, on the theory that they were Roman innovations. That was their best information at the time, but today we know that they were wrong. In the late nineteenth century, ancient Christian documents came to light. The Didache from the first century, the Apostolic Constitutions from the third century, and the diaries of Egeria of the fourth century; all which give evidence of the Christian calendar and holy days. The Didache and the Apostolic Constitutions were written in the east, which denies it ever recognized the institution of the papacy. Egeria was a Spanish nun, but her writings also describe practices in the east. All of these documents came to light 300 years after it was too late for the groups who had already discarded Christian holy days.

When Is Lent?

Lent starts every year on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday 2014 falls on March 5, 2014, and Holy Saturday 2014 falls on April 19, 2014.

What Should We Do?

I believe the early church understood the value of fasting and prayer; not as an option given by Jesus; but as an expectation. Jesus did not say “if you fast” but “when you fast”. The Lenten season includes fasting and as the pastor of our fellowship, I am calling our church family to fast during the season of Lent.

Observing Lent

Lent is a forty-day period before Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday. We skip Sundays when we count the forty days, because Sundays commemorate the Resurrection.

How Do We fast And What Do We Fast?

To fast, just omit an item or two from your diet—something that you would normally eat during the course of the day. Some people eliminate meat, some a very desirable item of the daily diet like coffee or soda, while others identify specific items that will help them throughout the day/week, to be reminded to pray by every time they want that item, they begin to pray. One year I fasted from talk radio. I know that sounds funny, but my drive time became a prayer time. I was reminded to pray, every time I wanted to turn on the radio. So it doesn’t have to be something you don’t eat, in order to be a fasting item. Every time you get an appetite for those items, you will be reminded of your fast and that will remind you of the reason for your fast, and you can pray instead of eating. This can have immense spiritual benefit. You are simply using your belly or your habits as a spiritual snooze-alarm.

Let’s enter into the season of Lent with a desire to draw near to Jesus and seek His will and direction.

Pastor Kenny

Favor Shield

It may sound like a corny title, but it really should sound like a super power… because it is! I pray that this entry ministers to you as much as it blessed me today.

Scripture – Psalm 3:3 But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, 
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.

Psalm 5:12 For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
 With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield;
 My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
 Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, 
And with my song I will praise Him.

Observation – “God is a shield for me”, David writes. Did David know something about shields? Yes, he did! As a soldier, he knew how a shield could protect him and how to use one. Not only that, he probably understood the value of many shields brought together and how they could shield one another. He no doubt had experienced the shields of other protecting him.

The cross reference of Psalm 3:3 referred to Psalm 5:12 and Psalm 28:7. From these verses I can observe that God is a Shield for me and that shield is glorious and lifts me up, especially when I am cast down or feeling overwhelmed by the many people or issues I am facing.

Psalm 5:12 shows me that He blesses the righteous. I may not “feel” righteous, but my righteousness is in Christ, not in my performance. My shield is His favor. This is an expression of His grace toward me! Since the definition of grace is the Spirit of God moving on the spirit of man, to help that man walk in a way that God can favor; His grace, His favor, is a shield that surrounds me!

Psalm 28:7 again says the Lord is my strength and my shield! But this shows me that this shield, this favor, this grace, is activated by my trusting in Him and seeing His help as a result of my trust. The natural outflow of His favor and His grace is to rejoice and to sing!

Application – The favor of the Lord is a shield that surrounds me as I actively trust in Him and walk in His righteousness. While it is certainly Biblical to pray for “a hedge of protection” (I have recently heard people complaining about the “hedge of protection” prayers often prayed for others as being unbiblical – look it up… it’s not unbiblical), I love the imagery and the interconnectedness of His favor, His shield, and His grace related to my trusting Him. This trust requires believing I am righteous enough to receive from Him. Thankfully, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, my righteousness comes from His ability (MY TRUSTING HIM) and thereby activates a shield that surrounds me, to further lead me in a way that He can favor (HIS GRACE IS MY SHIELD).

Do you see it? His grace is Him actively helping you to walk in a way that He can favor you! The first step in this process is trusting in His salvation, His payment for your sins! That, His salvation, is Him shielding you from the penalty and payment for sin! He is leading you to that place of recognizing your need of His salvation purchased with the blood of Jesus on the cross. But it doesn’t stop there! He continues to lead you in ways that He can favor, to be a shield to you because He loves you and wants you to know Him. Trust Him and activate His shield around you! You may be facing overwhelming issues and problems today. Look to Him and trust in Him and activate His Favor Shield around you. He will be found faithful to minister to you today

Prayer – Father, thank You for this word today! It is an amazing encouragement to me and I pray You would use it to help others as well.

Resolution or Revolution?

Too often we make resolutions with only ideas and goals in mind. The Apostle Paul said “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Resolutions attempt to improve ourselves separate from God. When I recognize that the need is transformation and renewing of my old mind and my old habits, I must look to God, because the goal is not self improvement, but proving that the will of God is good, acceptable, and perfect, so that others may know Him and have hope in the midst of their own lives. This is beyond my ability to manufacture. It’s not that there isn’t action needed; it’s that the action must be Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered.

A friend once wrote “This year will not be a year of resolutions instead I am aiming for a revolution in my heart. Let it turn more full to God every day.” – Jason Vanbuskirk

I agree with that! What’s needed is not more resolve but an overthrow of my old man. This cannot happen unless I “present myself as a living sacrifice, by God’s mercy, with the aim of proving His good, acceptable, and perfect will”. This we are told, is a reasonable exercise of putting the proper value or worth on God (worth-ship/worship)

The easiest thing for me to do is to conform to this world. God thinks much higher and values us way more than that! He invites us to transformation! Ask Him to help you be transformed to prove His will in 2014. It will take discipline, but includes His power to help in our time of need.

I have renewed my seeking God’s leading and help to have a New Year’s Revolution in my life. Will their be specific actions and goals? Yep! But the main purpose will be to know Him more and to walk in His will in my everyday life. I hope you will do more than resolve a few things and instead have a revolt against the old man and embrace the opportunity to be a new creation in Christ! (2 Corinthians 5:17)