Reflections on George H.W. Bush

bush_prez_0I am quite an admirer of George H.W. Bush (1924-2018), and think of him fondly on the news of his death. I always liked Bush, but when I was younger I was not overly enthusiastic about his leadership.  As time has progressed, my appreciation and respect for him as a leader continued to increase, until he has developed in my mind – for too many reasons to put in this post – as one of my favorite historical leaders.

He produced cooperation.  He was strong against tyranny.  He was compassionate towards the disadvantaged.  He was very human and very American.

Thirty years ago, Bush stated “We need a kinder and gentler nation.”  We needed that cultural challenge then, and it still calls to those who will listen today.

Thanks Billy for not disappointing us

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I joyfully mourn the loss of Billy Graham upon his death today.  As I grew up in the Christian faith, I often heard, “Who is going to be the next Billy Graham?”   Well, there will not be another Billy Graham. That does not mean Graham is set apart as better than the rest of us.  Like Elijah, Graham “was a human being as we are (James 5:17).”

There will not be another Billy Graham because of the dramatic changes in our American culture (future blog to come).  Graham was known as America’s pastor, but America does not want to be pastored anymore.  I studied Graham’s life pretty extensively, and like me, he was not perfect.  Still, Graham knew how to handle earthly power over multiple decades in a way that honored God and lifted the reputation of Christianity.  (The above picture is of Graham and friends on White House lawn in 1950 – he was close to power at such a young age). We are all so grateful this prominent star maintained his morality.

He was committed to evangelism, and turned down lucrative offers in entertainment to stay focused on the ministry.  I particularly admire Graham’s outspoken opposition to nuclear weapons.  In 1979, he spoke against nuclear proliferation at a time when Christians in America almost blindly supported the build up of these weapons.

In Christianity, we are always looking for the next hero, and we are usually disappointed by them somewhere along the way.  Thanks Billy Graham for not disappointing us.

Celebrating 500 Years of Reformation

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On this 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s spark that ignited the Reformation (October 31, 1517), I am so thankful for the courage of reformers like Luther (Germany), John Wycliffe (England) and John Hus (Czech Republic), who stood for access to Scripture and a faith-based salvation.

While I am proud to be a Protestant, I am also thankful for new cooperation between Protestants and Roman Catholics in the 21st Century. We who believe that Jesus is God, need one another.

At CIL, we are neighbors with Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Community. This parish has been so gracious to us, and we love to see them prosper as they lift up the name of Jesus to our community.

Believers are in a perpetual need of reformation. We need the power of the gospel to reform our hearts, habits, and harmful traditions. God help us all to keep thinking, growing and courageously implementing changes led by your Word and Holy Spirit.

Reflections on the Afghanistan War

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I still remember the vivid emotions I felt leaving a church service in 2001, when I heard the United States invaded Afghanistan.  An alarmed friend asked out loud, “What does this mean?”  Her husband soberly responded, “We are at war, honey.”   In that moment, I felt like life as I knew it would permanently change.  But, it did not.

For the last 16 years our soldiers have died in Afghanistan (and Iraq), and my life has proceeded in comfort.  During the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009, I do not remember meaningful public discussion on the validity of fighting a two-front war overseas while so many were hurting domestically.

Barak Obama campaigned on the position of pulling out of Afghanistan. Donald Trump was more ambiguous on his plans, but there was hope that he would end our longest war (and he may still). I believe both wanted to end the war, but obviously there is more information received as president that changed both of their intentions.  We discovered on August 21, 2017, that the Afghanistan War will continue with a new strategy.

With my limited knowledge in this area, I have concluded a few things:

  • This war has been so long because the average American does not feel the impact of the war on their lifestyle.
  • When a nation topples a government, that country must be prepared to keep military personal their 100 years. That is something to consider before the next military invasion to uproot a government. This is a concern for Iran, North Korea and Syria. Yet, the United States and allies may have no other choice when it comes to those troubled regimes.
  • For democracy to succeed, a revolution of values has to occur in people’s hearts. We cannot export our values as easily as we had hoped after the Cold War ended. It may take many decades for an idea to germinate in a culture before a people group rises up in defiance for lasting change. It is not enough to win freedom; it is a continual struggle to maintain freedom.  The United State has 241 years of history that proves this struggle is necessary.
  • The fallen soldiers and disabled veterans, and their families, deserve for the Afghanistan War to reach resolution.

My prayer is for our soldiers to come home soon, and for Afghanistan to thrive as a place of freedom and security. I do not know if both are possible, so I will support my country in the path it chooses militarily, as much as my conscious allows me to.

Though good men and women participate in them, war is a manifestation of evil.  Through the future rule of Jesus, there will come a day when all war ends!  Praise be to His name!

Advent begins this Sunday (Nov. 27)

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After enjoying Thanksgiving, let’s gather this Sunday in anticipation of what God is going to do. We’d love to meet your visiting family, and believe God’s Word will speak to them, as well as to us, as I preach from Romans 13:1-14. It will be a blessing to enjoy a Family Sunday together.

ADVENT, a word with Latin roots, means “coming.”   Advent designates a period before Christmas when Christians prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. This practice began in the church over sixteen hundred years ago! Sermons focused on the wonder of the Incarnation. By the Middle Ages four Sundays had become the standard length of the Advent season. Since then, Advent has been considered the beginning of the church year.

This Sunday at CIL we begin our fifth year anticipating the celebration of Christmas by preparing our hearts through the season of Advent.

Here are our themes:
November 27            Anticipate
December 4               Prepare
December 11              Rejoice
December 18             Adore

These themes will prepare us for a Jesus-centered Christmas!  We will gather on Christmas Eve at 3pm and 4:30pm for services that welcome the Lord Jesus fully into our lives and church.

Also, we are collecting items for the Christmas Blessing this Sunday through Christmas Eve. Items needed: Coats (new or in good condition) Hats, Gloves, Scarves, Socks, Blankets, (new or in good condition) Sleeping Bags, Individually wrapped candy, Fruit Snacks, Peanut butter, or Cheese crackers, Little Debbie Snack Cakes, Chapstick, Cough drops, Pocket Pack Kleenex, Band-aids, Feminine Products, $5 McDonald gift cards.