Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Root of Discouragement

Discouragement can come from a variety of causes. In a special called business meeting, the church voted 18 to 6 to approve a small group ministry. There was much discussion, including many questions.

There were those who felt the wording in the ministry overview, leadership guide, and small group guide were too harsh. Maybe they are right. That was not cause for discouragement.

One or more questioned the need for such a ministry. After all, we already have Sunday School. At least one wondered why we needed to make it a ministry of the church… Why can't folks just do it without it being an official ministry of the church? Those were not cause for discouragement.

More than one expressed their feeling that the overview and guides showed a ministry that was too demanding on people, requiring too much of them. At least one felt that the ministry would create a "church with the church." Those were not cause for discouragement.

All of those and some others were genuine concerns and questions. We not only expected it, but we hoped for it. We need to know how what we have been working on for many months is perceived by others and where we have fallen short in our expression of the ministry. Apathy, manifested by no questions or discussion would have been extremely discouraging.

The cause for discouragement boils down to this: It was stated, more than once, that we believed God was leading us to do this as a means of making disciples and building up the small corner of His kingdom and His Church known as Kitsap Lake Baptist Church. Yet, it did not make a difference to those who were opposed* to it. They might as well have said, "Let's leave God out of this." That church members I love and have known for nearly seven years would behave that way in the heat of the moment was not the discouragement either. That Satan could maintain such a foothold within the body of Christ…that is discouraging!

I am the Pastor and part of my job is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. Equipping them includes making them aware of the enemy's activity and being on guard against it. So now, Satan is accusing me of being a failure. But, I recognize the discouragement is from the evil one and I choose to rejoice that God is doing something among us which Satan is actively trying to stop!

Finally, 75% of those who voted were openly in favor of it. A number of them expressed their belief that it would grow the church and help bind us together as a church family. That was very encouraging!

*Note: There is a difference between having questions and being opposed. Neither are bad in and of themselves, but there is a difference. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

We Have Been Preparing for "The Big One"

Extrapolating information from the census bureau, the current population of California is estimated at approximately 38 million people. That is a lot of people. It is nearly 12 million more than the second most populated state of Texas, and almost twice the population of New York with the third highest. It is also a huge variety of people. Some have made our nation a better place and some have made it a worse place.

What if the Big One hit (you know, the big earthquake that is long overdue and causes special effects gurus to get all giddy just thinking about it) without warning and it was bigger than anyone every expected? What if all those border lines on maps were actually fault lines and the Big One caused the entire geographic entity known as California to separate from the other contiguous forty-seven states, becoming the floor of the Pacific Ocean's expansion eastward? Thirty-eight million people gone.

How many of them would we miss? Would our nation be any worse off? After all, there would be no recovery efforts, no disaster relief, and no epidemics spreading to the rest of us because the Golden State and all its contents would be gone—sealed under numerous thermoclines of cold salt water. And just think: The federal government would no longer have the financial burden of the federally maintain items such as prisons, interstates, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, etc.

Apart from the personal loss of irreplaceable loved ones, the nation as a whole would move on. Some places would even thrive. After all, someone has to take up the slack when we lose Hollywood, the Central California bread basket, numerous military installations, Yosemite, and the Dodgers. Las Vegas alone would probably grow ten-fold, building enumerable beach front resorts and amusement parks to compliment its current money magnets.

Oh, sure, some of you are thinking, "How can you be so callous about the loss of 38 million people? Don't you have a heart?" Of course I do but, trust me, we will get over it. We have been hardening our hearts and consciences for this loss since January 22, 1973. Forty years of ignoring, defending, and even funding the loss of 55 million human lives has left us in great shape to ignore this smaller sum. So we really shouldn't get all worked up over the potential loss of another 38 million, should we?

Yesterday, January 22, 2013 marked the fortieth anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, legalizing abortion in the U.S.A. and there have been over 55 million "legal" abortions* since then. 55 million. FIFTY-FIVE MILLION!!! Those are people…babies who were never given a choice…EVER! And we sing and say, "God bless America!" Can anyone come up with 55 million reasons that are each more important than each of the more than 55 million completely innocent individuals we have murdered? I have not been able to come up with even one.

Out of deference to all the precious citizens of California, my home state and my daughter's current state, I would suggest that we could substitute the states of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, and Indiana. There probably isn't a remotely feasible scenario that would wipe them out at the same time, leaving the rest of the nation in tact but their combined populations would be pretty close to California's, and I don't think I have any close relatives in those states so… Oh, wait…some of you do have relatives in one or more of those states. Actually, I doubt there is any possible combination of states by which we could make this less personal (and I'm sure not going to include Washington State). But we can try. We've spent forty years trying to convince ourselves that it isn't personal.

That we do not sense a nationwide shame only increases the reality of that shame.

*The abortion count is based on data compiled by the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights. (

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Ended In The Twilight Zone

It really wasn't a bad year. In fact, it had some remarkable moments. Among them:
  • We were able to see all of our kids at least three times, including Christmas.
  • There was a Pixar Animation cruise.
  • Alison surprised us (not easy to do) by appearing on our anniversary (and we got to meet her boyfriend, Shane).
  • All of the planned outdoor work, including the extra projects, was finished before the end of Summer.
  • The Seahawks are in the playoffs!
There were also some sad moments. I lost three uncles (all of my mom's brothers) within six weeks.

There was a major stressful event: Mom had open heart surgery one week before Christmas (she's doing well).

But there was one event at the end of the year that transported it into The Twilight Zone. (cue music)

While decorating the house for Christmas, it became clear that we needed to move the iRobot vacuum cleaner upstairs so it would not eat the faux snow of the Christmas village or try to stuff itself with the Christmas tree skirt (both occurred in 2011). So, the Hoover went downstairs and the iRobot went upstairs. I set two "sentries" in order to keep it from roaming into the two guest rooms or the den and just focus its efforts on the master bedroom area. Here is where it started to get weird. I started it (a difficult process requiring the pressing of the center "clean" button), it backed away from its docking station, turned right and immediately bumped into the cedar chest. No problem because it is programmed to navigate around obstacles so it began to test the territory for open space in which to run and clean. Having found a clear path, it quickly moved forward…limping.

Yes, it was LIMPING!

I pressed the "clean" button to stop it and then the "dock" button. Instead of moving forward, it said, "Please, clean the dirty brushes." Really, it said that. In the nearly five years we have had that machine, it has never said a word. Now, we move it from its normal spot and it starts limping and talking! I'm not sure if it was ordering me around or just whining but it wouldn't run so I cleaned the brushes and started it again. It was still limping. I figure if dog-to-human years are 7-1, then perhaps robotic-vacuum-cleaner-to-human years are 15-1 and it has a right to limp. But on the next scheduled cleaning (yes, it runs on a schedule), it just sat there. When I tried to manually start it, it gave the same "clean the dirty brushes" routine. I did it again and started it. It limped and stopped. Then it said, "Please, clean the right wheel and remove any debris."


I spent over an hour taking that machine apart and cleaning everything. Upon reassembly, it still limped but seemed to work okay otherwise. Now all the decorations are put up for the next eleven months so I decided to take the iRobot back to its accustomed hiding spot downstairs under the china cabinet. 

Now it runs perfectly again! No limping. No talking.

It didn't even say, "Thank you!" But that carpet had better be clean when we come home from church on Wednesday night or we're going to have words.