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Monthly Archives: July 2014

MARITAL EXPECTATIONS

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We all know divorce is rampant. After 25 years of marriage I was divorced. So you may want to discount what I say about marriage because I have a failed marriage on my record. Or, maybe one with a failed marriage has something to say about marriage. I’m not going to get into any specifics about my previous marriage, just some observations I have made through the years in the marriages of others.

One of the things I believe that starts marriages out on an uphill climb is expectations. Most of us have no idea what we are doing when we are first married. We are attracted to the other person, have good times with them and honestly believe they would make a good life partner. I think in most cases that may even be true, were it not for unrealistic or skewed expectations.

A hundred years ago and in most of all history expectations for marriage were realistic and simple. The wife was trained by her mother to cook, clean and have babies and she fully expected that kind of life and looked forward to it. It was considered one of the highest callings both in and outside of the church. With the nuptials began a life of fulfillment because marriage and raising a family was a lot like the wife expected it to be.

The man expected to be married to a wife who assumed her “role” and he would assume responsibility for most of the things outside of the home including bringing home the bacon. This is the life he expected so marriage and family were also fulfilling for him.

For years we approached marriage with a sense of duty and giving. Now we approach marriage with a sense of entitlement and getting instead of giving. Sometime in the not so distant history something drastically changed. Most men have the same expectations as they always have. They expect to go off to work, make a living and be ultimately responsible for the physical and financial welfare of the family. But someone, and I think we know who, starting lying to the ladies and eventually they believed it. “You can do better than that. You have needs too. Throw off that ball and chain and go out and meet the challenges of the world and show the men you are just as capable.” The ladies also heard, “Your husband must meet your needs.” Of course the new “needs” are built on new expectations that the man will undoubtedly fail at, like:

  • We don’t expect to have financial problems but we go into debt more than any generation in history
  • We expect our spouse to meet our various emotional needs and don’t realize we are emotionally on the edge because of a lifestyle that God never intended for us.
  • We expect our spouse to continue to be as good looking as when they started or as hot as the people on TV
  • We expect our spouse to be as fun and funny as the people at work or as enjoyable as our friend’s spouses
  • We expect our spouses to always agree with us and are greatly offended when they don’t.

In short, we expect the perfect money manager, the perfect personality, increasingly more exciting in bed, to grow better looking with age, a personality that gets better and more fun all the time, meets all of our physical, emotional and intellectual needs (and happily takes responsibility for said needs) and always agrees with us. Oh, and they also let us pretty much do what we want. THAT PERSON DOESN’T EXIST!

And let’s face it, the expectation for the modern women is impossible. She is expected to:

  • Get up early
  • Get the kids ready for school
  • Make their lunches
  • Tidy up the house
  • Make breakfast
  • Listen to her husband’s plans for the day
  • Get herself ready for the day
  • Get to work on time
  • Maybe stop at the daycare on the way
  • Deal with all the drama and challenges at work
  • Have a drink with the girls after work
  • Pick up the kids from daycare
  • Make dinner
  • Help with homework
  • Do laundry and most of the household chores
  • Put the kids to bed
  • Prepare for the next “rewarding” day
  • Oh, and the husband still isn’t done with her yet…

Bottom line: We expect too much of each other. Some of our expectations come from media, some from our upbringing, and some from thin air. But expectations exceed most spouse’s ability to perform.

The cure? Simplify. And maybe a little dose of yesteryear. Life wasn’t all good back then but it wasn’t all that bad either. The less expectations and stress, the better the chances our marriages will make it. Hiccups and curveballs just go better when life is simpler. The more similar our lives are to the past the more solid our marriages become.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2014 in Inspirational

 

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DAN’S MISSIONARY JOURNEYS: OLMOS PRISON, ARGENTINA

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We were headed to Olmos Prison, the largest maximum security prison in Argentina. I was included in a ministry team of around 12 that was to visit and minister at the prison on a Sunday afternoon. I was to be one of the speakers. I couldn’t wait to step into this prison and see firsthand what I had only heard about.  You see, while there are over 3000 of the worst criminals in this prison, hundreds of them have been set free.

Since 1985 there has been revival in Omos prison. It began with a crusade where around 100 prisoners turned to Christ…and they really did! Over time nearly half the prison population professed faith in Jesus. Hundreds of believers live in community with no cell doors and ridiculous privileges on two floors dedicated to former murders, thieves and rapists who have found a new life in Christ. Every night 6 inmates in every cell pray from midnight to six am. There are Bible studies galore, a Bible school, ministry opportunities, revival meetings and, I saw it myself, steak knives. The Spirit of God descended on the worst of the worst and did what He does best: change lives.

Entering the prison was like what one would expect: passports and lots of security. After being cleared we were brought into a large court yard where we were fed lunch…with the prisoners. All around us prisoners who did some nasty stuff were eating a picnic lunch with their families who were allowed in every Sunday afternoon. There were guards but the atmosphere was amazingly laid back. Eventually the prisoners were called to their cells for roll call and they left.

After a good lunch we were allowed to wander anywhere on the two floors dedicated to Christian prisoners and visit, thanks to an interpreter, with the prisoners in their cells. Each cell slept maybe 24 prisoners in bunk beds. They each had a kitchenette and a bathroom. Often 24 hour prayer is offered up day after day in these cells. We heard stories and saw multitudes of tears as inmates told their stories of the past and about their new lives thanks to Jesus.

Then it was chapel time. We all headed to the chapel which seated a couple hundred inmates who sat with their families. I did have my turn at speaking but, I assure you, it was not the highlight. The time began with passionate worship led by an all inmate worship team. The leader was a preacher’s kid gone bad but who came back to the Lord in prison. His wife and kids were there supporting him. The joy of the Lord was all over him in spite of the circumstances. The music was loud and lively. Circles of inmates and (and certain American visitors) were in circles dancing with incredible joy. There were several speakers and lots of prayer. And then more singing and dancing and more prayer. If I recall correctly, the meetings usually last around four hours but seem like minutes.

It’s pretty hard to put into words what I experienced in that prison that day. The wonder of lives being completely changed rose to a new level. The joy of the Lord was intoxicating. The prayer was hot and intense. And, in spite of many serving life sentences, there was hope. Those prisoners were not prisoners at all. They were free…

Here is the English website for the church in Olmos prison:

http://www.olmosclue.org/ingles/index.html

 
 

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WHY DO OVER HALF OUR KIDS LEAVE THE CHURCH?

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Let’s pull our heads out of the sand and admit it: Well over half of our children will leave the church. The statistics have brought sadness for decades and yet the church pretty much keeps doing the same thing and expects the results to change. But they don’t change and even get worse. This is not to make parents of wayward children feel bad. It happened. Keep praying and be an example of a zealous believer to your adult children. But for those of us still with youngins, something has to change.

In the mid 1900’s the youth group and youth ministry became popular and over the next 50+ years has been increasingly “perfected.” One problem though, it hasn’t worked. In fact as we perfect it more the children appear to be more likely to leave the faith. With results like that why doesn’t someone get fired? In the centuries…

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Posted by on July 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

THE FEAR OF GOD

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Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, were all excited about their new role as priests of the Most High. In chapter 10 of Leviticus we read an account that abruptly ended their career. There is speculation but we aren’t completely sure what they did wrong. Verse one says they each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord which He had not commanded them. Apparently they presumed to do something in the line of worship they weren’t commanded to do or perhaps were commanded not to do. One of the obvious things we could talk about in light of this story is how for centuries in Christendom we have added manmade procedures, dogma, rules and regulations to the faith to the point that in some cases our faith bears little resemblance to the Bible. But a bigger problem…

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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Splitting Hairs

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In Joshua chapter 2 we find an unlikely hero of the faith: A prostitute. Joshua sent spies into Jericho and Rahab the harlot hid them from those who would have killed them. The reason? She believed in the one true God and greatly feared Him. Her and her family were rewarded for their act of faith and kindness by being spared when Israel attacked and destroyed the city of Jericho. They were given long term permission to live among God’s people.

But that isn’t the last time in the Bible we hear about Rahab. In Hebrews chapter 11, the great faith hall of fame chapter, so called, mentions Rahab too. She is honored for faith with the likes of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses and others. Huh? A prostitute…and Moses in the same list of the faithful? Jesus said the tax collectors and sinners will enter the kingdom of heaven before and instead of Jews who knew all the right stuff. Apparently old things really do pass away when one turns to faith in God. Our sins are removed and tossed away as far as the east is from the west…and it doesn’t get any farther than that!

The story of Rahab gives me an excuse to address something I have been pondering for the past several years. I have come to the conclusion it is not all about our perfect doctrines. Supposedly there are over 38,000 Christian denominations worldwide. Incredible. There was supposed to be one. Many if not most of these denominations’ beliefs differ from each other. So who are the Christians? Who are the imposters? Is it possible for someone else to be a God pleasing Christian if they believe different than we? Oh, we shudder at the thought!

There are those who will read my blogs, or another’s, or a book and agree and be challenged or edified by what is said. But if their radar detects something not quite like what they believe, look out! All of the sudden all that was written previously is in question, not to mention the author’s entire ministry, because they don’t believe the same.

There are ministries who blast ministers of the gospel as false teachers and false prophets because of a difference of opinion. With 38,000 denominations, isn’t there an off chance that we could be wrong about something, and the other guy right? The search for truth doesn’t end in our 20’s or when we become believers. It lasts the rest of our lives. And, if we are humble enough and are truly seeking the  truth, we will likely change our opinion about some doctrines at different times in our lives. What are the chances we landed everything right at the beginning of our journey?

A couple years ago I studied the history of beliefs about eschatology, the end times, since soon after the apostles all died. The beliefs for the past many centuries differed greatly. And yet most of the believers who held beliefs that most of us today would never adhere to, were committed, God loving Christians, and will likely be rewarded as such. The fruit of their lives was more important.

The revivalists George Whitfield and John Wesley were contemporaries of each other. Yet their theology couldn’t have been more different. And make no mistake, they were very convinced the other was very, very wrong. Yet the Spirit of God was poured out on both of their ministries big time. Thousands repented and were converted. Now one of them likely had more truth than the other. But apparently God got over it.

To be sure, it is important to believe the right things and be in continual pursuit of truth. And certainly there are certain doctrines that we must hold sacred. But not all of them. I have the sneaking suspicion that humility, love for God and the fruit of the spirit may be more important than splitting hairs about this or that doctrine. Are we doctrine lovers or God lovers? Are we doctrine lovers or neighbor lovers?

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2014 in Blogging Through the Bible, Joshua

 

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THE BLIND LEADING THE SEEING

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“You shall not follow a crowd to do evil.” Tucked back in the Pentateuch there are wonderful little gems to live by. Few of us would argue with the above command, agreeing it is a good idea not to be led by an evil crowd. But there is a crowd that is leading us more than ever in history, and it is often very evil. And yes, we are being led by it. That crowd leading us is our culture. Now some parts of culture can be benign and good, or at least not that bad. But who can deny that some parts of our culture are evil?

Up until around 100 years ago culture was what it was but Christians could and did easily refuse to follow the lead of the world. Sure, there has always been sin and temptation and there always have been those who dove right…

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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

DAN’S MISSIONARY JOURNEYS: IN TROUBLE WITH THE LAW

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Heather and I are continuing on our mission trip in Northwest India along the Pakistan Border. The Christian population is one tenth of one percent. Few know who Jesus is and the great salvation He offers to sinners. Hindus have very little peace as they offer gifts and sacrifices to millions of Gods hoping to appease them. It is illegal to spread the gospel and it is illegal to convert and become a Christian.

For two successful nights Mark Anderson preached good news, healed the sick and cast out demons. Many came to Christ, many were healed and many demons fled. But not all demons left the scene. The local militant Hindus were not happy with what we were doing and were making a scene. There were threats of violence for the third night and the authorities didn’t want that.

On the third day it was my turn to address a gathering of Pastors and Christian workers from all over Northern India. We had a space rented in an average hotel and I guess there was around one hundred twenty present. I preached and taught for around an hour with an able interpreter. Near the end I saw one of the local pastors come in from the back and give me the “time out” signal. I didn’t think much of it and finished my message and then prayed with a ministry time. What I didn’t know is there were police outside of the hotel not happy and had our number.

As soon as I finished I was taken aside and told we have to leave immediately. We had been summoned to the Foreign Affairs Department which had an office in town. We got in a car and had to stop by the hotel for passports. The police were there waiting for us. Because we were on our way to the Foreign Affairs Building they let us go. We arrived at a poorly maintained compound that looked very government like. An interpreter went in and checked us in. We remained in the car for a very long time. Finally we were told to go in. We were taken to what can best be called an interrogation room. It was green, had a table in the middle of it and a light and fan that did not work. It was beastly hot in there.

As I recall there were three or four that questioned us for a long time. Of course many of the basic questions were first. Then things about why we were here, were we involved in that evil crusade, our Christian history, etc. I blatantly told them I was a believer in Jesus Christ with no apology. There was silence and the authorities looked at each other like they found a guilty one in their midst. After what seemed to be hours we were told to remain in the room and the interrogators all left to talk among themselves. In about a half hour they returned. The main guy walked up to me as I stood and pointed his finger at my chest. With an interpreter He said, “You return to your hotel and stay there until you leave Sunday morning.” It was Thursday. So we were under hotel arrest until Sunday which was our scheduled time to leave. I was a little relieved because I sure didn’t want to end up in some Indian jail.

Thankfully the hotel had a restaurant so we could eat. We wandered around for the three days and pretty much memorized every nook and cranny. We were checked on regularly by the police. The hotel staff was friendly before but not so much now. Amazingly the crusade was not shut down in spite of violence, stones and gunfire. We were the prayer support back at the hotel. On Sunday morning at 7:30am there was a knock at our door. Time to leave the area. A picture was taken of us before we left. As we travelled down the road a phone call came in to the driver to confirm we had left the jurisdiction.

The entire situation was a little intimidating as we never knew what the Indian authorities were thinking and what they would do next. We just knew it sure wasn’t the good old USA. But the gospel of Jesus Christ came to the area and the few churches all grew in numbers. Many lost had been found. Mission accomplished, we would do it again.

 
 

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AN ARMY IS RISING UP

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In Leviticus chapter 18 God commands Israel to be different. In verses two and three He tells them to not do according to the land of Egypt from which they were delivered nor do according to the land of Canaan whom He commanded Israel to completely destroy because of their sins. Both Egypt and Canaan were judged because of the way they lived so what could possibly have been appealing about their ways to Israel? Well, apparently plenty. The rest of the Old Testament speaks of Israel’s waffling between the ways of God and the ways of the world. Eventually God had enough and judged Israel too.

Later in the chapter God speaks of the things that the nations of the world were doing as being something that defiled the land. God actually saw the land as defiled because of sin. He goes on saying the land therefore vomits out…

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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS

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The book of Joshua begins with God having a kind of motivational talk with the new leader of Israel, Joshua. He begins by telling them about all the success they can expect. He promises to not leave them nor forsake them. And then He says this:

  • 1:6 Be strong and of good courage
  • 1:7 Only be strong and very courageous
  • 1:9 Be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you
  • 1:18 Only be strong and of good courage

I have met Christians who are strong and courageous. They inspire me. Throw anything at them and they figure out how to have faith anyway and glorify God it the situation. I’ve also met the other kind of Christians. The simplest trial has them curled up in ball bemoaning the fact that things aren’t going their way and why is God so mean to me? Of course things don’t always go our way. Since when is life without difficulties and challenges? I know pretty well what trials are and no one says we have to like them. Lots of times they just plain stink and we may even have to curl up in a ball for a moment. But God is still God and He is still enthroned as the Almighty, Great I AM and Ancient of days. We can still trust Him.

The devil and the world are having their way with believers and intimidating them. Sometimes we act like the cowardly lion with no courage at all.  In the face of physically superior enemies God said to Joshua, be strong and courageous. Our enemies in the flesh and in the spirit are no greater than Joshua’s and our God is just as much God now as He was them. His message to us is the same too: Arise, shine, for your light has come! Be strong and courageous. He will never leave you nor forsake you. If God is for us, who can be against us? For of Him and through Him and To Him are all things. He is the ever-present help in the time of trouble. He is the rock that is higher than I. He is my shelter and my stronghold, my high tower and my refuge. He is God, and there is no other. What He says is true and forever trustworthy. His promises are yes and amen and can be counted on now and forever.

Two things in the first chapter stand out as keys to being strong and courageous. One is in verse 8:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

We cannot expect to be strong and courageous without being strong in His Word. Mediate and repeat the words of God. Eventually we will believe them more than the words of the world or the devil. Day and night, eat them and drink them. Listen to them and memorize them. And, above all, obey them. Then, even though the trials will come, your way will be prosperous in ways that matter.

Secondly is the reminder that God is with us. When, because of time spent with Him, we begin to see Him who is invisible, the visible no longer intimidates or sways us. Our God is more real to us than mere earthly things and trials. Our affections are on things above, not on things of the earth. We co-labor with Him and are seated in the heavenly places with Christ. We are filled with the Holy Spirit. What can man, the world or the devil do to us?

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2014 in Joshua

 

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DAN’S MISSIONARY JOURNEYS: INDIA 3

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We were traveling in Northern India where the population was less than one tenth of one percent Christian and many were downright hostile to the gospel. Anti-conversion laws were in place forbidding the spreading of the gospel. But that is exactly what we were there for. We were greatly blessed to be traveling with Mark Anderson Ministries and this was familiar turf for them. A large part of their ministry is bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to thousands who have no idea who Jesus is. I heard a story of a believer in the area asking a local Hindu if he knew Jesus. The Hindu responded, does he live in this village? He had no idea who the believer was talking about.

We travelled from north central India 9 hours to northwest India right on the Pakistan border. The usual sights of a third world country greeted us in every town. Some of the sights were unique to India like large, graven images alongside the road for your worshipping convenience. It was interesting to see the beasts of burdens of choice went from mules to mules and camels running down the road with pulling a cart along with the cars. Poverty was everywhere. And in India, people are everywhere. No matter where I have been in India I have always been struck by how many people there are and how few of them know our wonderful savior, Jesus.

We arrived at our destination and checked into a reasonably decent hotel. We had received permission to hold a crusade on private land right downtown. Posters were up advertising it and we wondered if all the publicity was going to bring people, militant Hindus, or both. We visited the crusade site and, because of lots of rain in this normally arid area, the stage area was under water and quick plans had to be made for a new stage on a different part of the land. The next day was show time.

We arrived the next day and set up. People were arriving by the hundreds which was a good sign there may be thousands by the last night. Some good gospel songs in Hindi were offered and all the Hindus in the crowd seemed to enjoy them thoroughly. A local Hindu governmental official offered greetings and welcomed us. An offering was taken and I was shocked to see all the Hindus dropping money in the buckets. But they are used to giving to their gods and they consider Jesus another god.

Then Mark began to preach. He knows what to preach in situations like this and went at it with the gospel of good news. For people who worship millions of gods and spend their lives trying to pacify those angry gods, the loving gospel of God so loved the world that He gave His only Son is truly good news. There prayer for salvation and hundreds responded. Then there was a massive prayer for healing and the crowd really began to stir. People all over the place were receiving healing of everything imaginable. We were on stage waiting for our time to pray for the lines of people that would soon be before us for prayer. What a sight! A beautiful young woman dressed equally as nice made her way through the crowd and planted herself right in front of the stage. Suddenly she dropped onto the dirt and started writhing like a snake and getting dirtier by the minute. Mark just left her to manifest the demons and watched. This went on for a little while and then she began to calm down and just laid there. Testimonies began on the stage of various healings and salvations and eventually this woman made her way up on stage. She testified of years of bondage to demons and how she had just been set free. What a beautiful thing to see chains break before our very eyes.

The time came for us to pray with long lines of people who wanted to give their lives to Jesus and for those who still wanted healing. It was a long night complicated by more rain but no one left. Everyone and everything was soaked but the hunger for this God who forgives was stronger than the shivers or the mud. Four nights of this were planned but we were about to be confronted by an angry devil.

 
 

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