Friday, November 22, 2013

The Fiftieth Anniversary of the passing of two great men:

On November 22, 1963 I was three years old, had no clue what a president was, or how important books would be come in my life.  That forever changed the world.  President John F. Kennedy, who was 46 years old, died a violent death at the hands of Lee Harvey Oswald as the world watched.  On the same day, Clive Staples Lewis, aged 64, and commonly referred to as “C. S. Lewis” died at home of health complications.

Clearly history has been good to both of them; their influences have been felt throughout the past 50 years. For better or worse, Kennedy’s policies on the Viet man war, Cuba, Space, and domestic policies set the stage for where we are today as a nation. C. S. Lewis, who considered himself to be a simple lay theologian, influenced the nation in realms: education, writing, and Christian apology.

Today, we solemnly celebrate the deaths of those two great men who changed the world. I sometimes wonder what the world would be like today if both of these men had lived. Would the world be much different?  I believe that both would have made a significant impact.  JFK was on the verge of some great foreign policy breakthroughs around the world and had his domestic policy been implemented, the landscape of America would have changed in unimaginable but positive ways. Further writing by C. S. Lewis could have illuminated the greatness of Christ by following up on his work, Mere Christianity, or by creating another fictional world.

At the age of 53 I can only look back and wonder what if, but sadly, none of us will never know.
One last question to ponder … If you passed into Heaven today, what will they be saying about you on November 22, 2063?

Monday, November 11, 2013

A tribute to a veteran, father, and friend

As I sit at home this morning, I’m reflecting not only on the Men and Women that have given their lives for our freedom, but also on those that are currently sacrificing to serve in our military.  I’m also reflecting on those that gave and then step so quietly back into our society, to continue their lives as fathers/mothers, sons/daughters, and grandchildren.

As I sit to write this I have to remember that I’m at the place today in the ministry because of one of these wonderful and gracious veterans. In 1953, my father joined the United States Air Force, to serve as a civil engineer and heavy equipment operator.  He would go on to have many different challenges as he served over the next 20 years.  He would be involved in Search & Recuse, Air Force Police, closing bases, and things he just wouldn’t talk about.  I loved to sit for hours and listen to him tell stories about his experiences in countries like Spain, England, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, and even here in the states. 

I was born in 1960 and had the privilege (yes, I do look back at my childhood as a privilege) to travel out of the country twice with my father, once to England when I was 4 and 5 years old, and once to Taiwan when I was 10 and 11 years old. They are both experiences I will never forget. I even enjoyed living at two different Air Force Bases in Michigan, which is an experience that I wish every other young person could have.

Please do not misunderstand me, it was not all great growing up, especially when dad was overseas for 18 months to two years at a time.  As a child you’re not really sure how to process him being gone, you only hold on to the fact that dad loves you and will be home soon.

You’re asking yourself what does that all have to do with now. The places I lived, the people I met, the values I was taught, and the respect I share for others all have a major impact on the Message I share today. Through all this time traveling around the world, and living on bases here at home, one thing remained consistent, no matter where we were, we were attending the Base Chapel or a church in the community.

In 1973 my dad retired from the Air Force as a Technical Sergeant and he continued to teach me the values of life, to respect others, to work hard, to go after your dreams, and to serve God wherever he calls you.   Dad passed away in 2009 at the age of 77 just three days shy of his 78th birthday.  At the grave side the Honor Guard gave a 21 gun salute, they gave the family the folded flag, and they gave a United States Air Force Veteran the Honor he deserved.

In my heart and mind I know that my father sum’s up what a real veteran is:  A man or women that serves their country with honor and distinction for the time they are asked, then serves their family, community, church, and country where asked as life continues. 

With all that being said I can only say on this Veterans Day … Thanks Dad for being willing to serve your country, family, church, and community.

I love and miss you TSgt Donald E. (Gene) Allen, Sr.

From  1969 - 1971 while living with my father who severed in the U. S. Air Force, we lived in Taiwan and went through a couple of major Typhoons, the devastation was unbelievable. My heart is broken today as I hear and read the news that is reporting the death toll in the Philippines could top 10,000. I have several individuals and pastors that I have chatted with from the Philippines on Facebook and LinkedIn over the past several years. Many have reported having great revivals throughout the country; we can only pray that the lives they touched with the Gospel were those that step into eternity this past week.  As I wait to hear from them, I realize there is only three things we can do (1) as a united Church Body we can and must pray (2) give what the Lord lays on our heart to give through the charity of our choice (3) talk about what has happen there in the Philippines with our family and prepare our plan of action in case we ever face similar tragedy.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

You can not remake a classic:

Something’s can’t be re-made:
I recently sat down and watched (for the fifth time) the new Wild, Wild West movie with Will Smith. I realized that even after watching it so many times it still is not as good as the original. Have you noticed that Hollywood is in re-make and re-write mode? They are trying to make the classics we grew up with in the 80’s and 90’s new and improved, and in my opinion some things just need to be left alone and accepted as is …
I was thinking recently of all the movie remakes, and realized that the church is no different. We have begun to accept a lot of the world’s philosophy of what church should look like, what the message should sound like, what the view of the Cross should be, and the acceptance of all beliefs.  Churches can and do re-invent themselves. They can change the worship style, or a new pastor may bring a new teaching or preaching style, or they may make the sanctuary more comfortable. Some even may start serving coffee. I’m not talking about the superficial changes.
I’m talking about the church that has begun to change it CORE BELIEFS, and has walked away from the foundational truth of scripture.  Many churches today have begun to accept an all-inclusiveness belief system.  We see this almost daily on television, in newspapers, and through blog post. Pastors make statements such as “Hell does not exist”, “there may be other ways to Heaven”, “are we sure Christ is the only answer?”, or my favor sell-out statement is “are we sure that is what scripture meant?”  The reality is you CANNOT RE-WRITE SCRIPTURE.  It is a fact of life.  As much as you and sometimes even me would like to rewrite parts, the original is still the best.  It is the God inspired foundational truths from Genesis to Revelation, and even those that have added to it, totally re-written it, or even denied its existence as the Word of God will never change that fact!
Remember, as much as the world wanted Will Smith to be James T. West, the actor Robert Conrad will always be the real Mr. West. The same is true in today of the message of Christ. No matter how much someone wants to change the scripture, the original words of God himself will always remain true.
As I grew up in church and heard the message, it was always the same:
·         Jesus Christ is the living, co-equal Son of God (He is and always will be God) … Co-existing part of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit)
·         Jesus Christ was born of a Virgin
·         He lived a sinless life
·         He willingly went to the Cross at Calvary for my sins (and paid the debt for sin that I, nor anyone else could pay)
·         He conquered death on the third day, as he arose from the grave.
·         He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father, and to be the Judge of my decisions.  He alone will (In HIS all-knowing authority) judge my heart and determine if I spend eternity with HIM in Heaven or separated from him in Hell.
·         Simply, put … without a personal relationship with a Loving Savior named Jesus Christ, and acceptance of what HE did at Calvary, the belief in HIS resurrection, and acknowledgement of these facts, I a person cannot spend eternity in Heaven.

Sad day in American history!

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