Billy Graham’s Final Message to America

Folks, this was NOT what I’d expected.  You have to watch this!

Billy-Graham1

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God Comes Before My Wife and Other Stupid Statements

I discovered Credo House online today and read an article from 2009.  The title of this piece really grabbed me! 🙂 It’s a very honest article.  Make sure you read the COMMENTS that erupted from folks who read the article.   I thought it was interesting how some people think that God = ministry and ministry = God.  In all things, God comes first.  Is that true, too, for one’s ministry?  Read on.

“God Comes Before My Wife” . . . And Other Stupid Statements

by C. Michael Patton

Here is a question I recieved from someone as a follow-up to my last blog.

Question:

I have a deep love for the lady who I’ve been dating and I’m getting set to pop the question to her.

I love apologetics. You know that. I love teaching it as well. However, apologetics is not God. It is not the gospel. No one’s ministry is God. I have told my Princess repeatedly that God will always be #1. She must be second place. I must put her before that without putting her before God. How can I teach and defend the gospel if I am not living it? Part of living it means giving my wife the proper place in my world.

So while I’m on that, let me ask you how you make a division. How do you keep up a life of study properly with a life of marriage? I know if I give all of my attention to study, well she’s deprived and that’s not right. On the other hand, if all I do is give her attention, well we don’t eat. I have to do both. I’d like your insight.

Answer:

Let me start by saying that Kristie and I love each other deeply and we are totally committed to each other. However, we have not had a “good” marriage by any stretch. I am not sure I should be saying this. Not because Kristie would not approve, but because it exposes something that causes me a great deal of shame to reveal. I wish that I could say that I had even a typically decent marriage, but I don’t think this is the case.

Kristie and I are worlds apart. Not only in personality, but spiritually as well. Well, let me qualify this some. I am not saying that one of us is super spiritual while the other is a dud, but that we are different. Kristie has never resented my ministry and has, at times, served as an encouragement. But she is not that interested in what I do. Theology is not her thing. The same is true for me with regard to her priorities. Sometimes it feels as if we are like magnets turned the wrong way. Our relationship is, for lack of a better word, clumsy. We have good chemistry in a very real way (which I am so thankful for), but, from a human standpoint, we are not a “match made in heaven.”

There is a lot more that can be said.

I don’t, at this point in my life, have a nice red bow that is coming in the form of a “but…” I am just giving you some of the background so you can understand my answer. If Kristie and I were to allow our relationship to go in a direction that “seems” natural, I think we would drift completely apart, she in her world, and I in mine. I could very easily say to myself that my work and ministry are far more productive than the treadmill of problems that come by way of my marriage. My ministry could easily get separated from my marriage and become the de factopriority of my day (and it sometimes does when I am in one of “those” moods).

However, I would say from experience that if your marriage is not going well,nothing is going well. Your ministry, insights, and everything else will suffer when your wife is not your priority. And if it does not, then that may be an even bigger problem: apathy. Apathy toward your marital relationship. Solution: Redirect all passion to ministry. What a terrible place to be. Understandable, but terrible.

“But, but, I am doing so much good in ministry. I suck at marriage.” I know how it feels, but don’t separate the two. Your marriage is and should always be your first and foremost ministry. Even if it is not as “successful” as your other pursuits, don’t compare them. Before God, you are called to love her and give yourself up for her as Christ did the church, even if you are worlds apart. Christ and the church were worlds apart, too.

(Sheesh…what self-therapy here.)

“But what if my wife keeps me from ministry? What if she only serves as massive speed bumps to my ‘calling’?”

I try to keep this in mind: God does not really need me. As much as I like to think I am significant (i.e., if I don’t get this blog done, this class taught, this person’s theology corrected, who will?), my family must come first. It is so easy to forget this or to become bitter towards your wife. There is a reason why we are told to treat them tenderly.

Your passions should not be divided, but they often will be. When it comes to the big decisions, always choose your family. When it comes to the big decisions,always choose your family. When it comes to the big decisions, always choose your family. That is something, I believe, you will not regret on your death bed. God has numerous ways to get done that which we felt like we were supposed to. If you are married, your primary area of service is your wife.

“But who comes first, God or my wife?”

Not a good way to put it. Not good at all. It is like saying, what comes first, God’s commandments or God himself. Most certainly, there are times when you will have to follow God rather than your wife, but this is not saying that God will ever call on you to neglect your responsibility to love her in order to serve him. While it is true that you put God first, I don’t know how to separate that from putting your wife first. In other words, you put your wife first precisely because you put God first.

For those of you who have a passion for ministry, do not separate this from your passion for your family. Don’t become bitter, apathetic, or dismissive towards the wife that God has given to you. She is your first ministry. If you do well with her, you have done better than one who writes, speaks, blogs, and preaches for God to the neglect of his wife.

As hard as it is for me to say, if your ministry is not providing for your family, find something that will.

http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2009/12/god-comes-before-my-wife-and-other-stupid-statements/

Giving Kids the Gift of FREE Time

The-Space-Between-The-Luxury-of-Discovering-Your-Own-Happiness-300x300

http://my-little-poppies.com/the-space-between-the-luxury-of-discovering-your-own-happiness/

We officially started homeschooling  when my daughter was 7 1/2 years old.  Having, myself, been a product of private education, I naturally assumed that traditional education would be the best track for us.  We went down that track and it was dismal and soul-destroying.  It was only when I read, in a homeschooling book, that parents should observe what their children choose to do when they are free to do what they choose, that I suddenly woke up!  I noticed how much my daughter loved illustrating.  Her math notebook was full of drawings, portraits, fonts, fancy writing, and  imaginative creations.  So I started giving her more opportunities to just draw, read picture books with amazing illustrations, and talk to me about what she noticed, liked, and disliked about each illustrator’s style.  Whenever she didn’t HAVE to do a lesson or study a subject, she reached for her pencil or crayons or felt pens.

Today, she is studying to be a graphic designer and illustrator.  This is why I loved reading the above-mentioned article.  Its truth resonated with me.  Children are losing touch with their imaginative inner life because of the constant entertainment and clamor of technology, and the over-subscription to extra classes and extra-curricular activities.  What might it be like for them to actually have chunks of time with nothing scheduled for them to do?  Try it and see what you discover! 🙂

Romeo and Juliet – Forbidden Love at the Court

Romeo and Juliet Court Theatre

When people think about Shakespearean plays, they usually think “boring”, “too long”, and “hard to follow”. The combination of arcane language and obscure similes and metaphors make Shakespearean English sound like a foreign language. Finding the true emotion behind the words becomes a challenge when one cannot decipher what the words mean! Consequently, viewers can’t relate to the characters or their circumstances. Also, in many Shakespearean plays, actors tend to declaim their lines like a speech instead of just “talking” with each other. This lack of naturalness makes the audience switch off since the chasm between the text and felt experience seems unbridgeable.

The Court Theatre’s current production of Romeo and Juliet definitively smashes all of those negative preconceptions to bits so that people leave the theatre raving about the play, and exclaiming, “Wow!!! It was so much better than I thought!”

Here are the reasons the play deserves its laurels:

1) Stand-out performances – The actors are extremely well-cast. Romeo (Cameron Douglas) has the verve, high spirits, and passion of West Side Story’s Tony. Cameron Douglas is a superbly versatile actor. He never overplays his part but is always consistently true to character. He depicts Romeo as a young, eager, enthusiastic lover full of bright-eyed zest for a newfound love. Watching him evolve from young buck to depressed and suicidal lover was amazing.

Newcomer to the Court, Natasha Daniel, who plays Juliet, was feisty, feminine, and vulnerable, delivering a performance that was full of pathos, tenderness, and strength.

Bawdy Mercutio (Jonathan Martin) was electric and seemed to relish his role as the ribald, witty, cynical, fiery friend and confidant of Romeo. Romeo describes Mercutio as “A gentleman, that loves to hear himself talk and will speak more in a minute than he will stand to in a month.” Jonathan Martin’s fluency in the language saw him rattle off his lines with lightning speed as though Shakespearean English were his native tongue. Impressive!

Yvonne Martin, as the nurse, was flawless. Like very expensive wine, she only gets better with age.

Tom Trevella (Capulet) and Kim Garrett (Lady Capulet) have a way of demanding your attention when they come onstage so that it is impossible for your attention to wander. Their facial expressions, posture, tone of voice, etc. convey the distilled intensity of their emotions. Such a pleasure to witness professionals doing what they do best and obviously loving it! Even the minor characters, like the page who played Peter (Jack Marshall), were well-cast.

2) The actors obviously put in a lot of work to understand what their lines were meant to convey. As a result, they could converse naturally and fluently with one another, communicating the meaning of their words through their actions. Even if you don’t understand the arcane language they use, you are always aware of what they mean. Tremendous help when watching a Shakespearean play.

3) The play was skilfully edited down to 2.5 hours. Without any editing, it would have run for 3.5 hours, which would have been a real test for modern-day attention spans. Even at 2.5 hours, time flew by so quickly, you weren’t aware of the length of time you were in the theatre. Thoughtfulness and skill in the “literary surgery” was evident and welcome.

4) Attention to detail was brilliant. Costumes were luscious and opulent. The set was cleverly designed and versatile. Having an actual balcony for the famed balcony scene, was a real treat. Lastly, small gestures like the courtly hand-to-heart bow given by the players to each other every time they moved a piece of furniture on stage, added grace, elegance, and cohesion to the production.

5) Ross Gumbley’s direction was, as always, superb. As the audience, you sense that nothing was left to chance, and that everything that could have been done to guarantee the pleasure and ensure the comprehension of the viewing audience was done.

The play is filled with humor, passion, youthful vitality, pathos, and drama.

BRAVO, Court Theatre!!!  With productions like this, you could very well create a new fan base for the Bard!

Romeo and Juliet

May 20 – June 30, 2015

The Court Theatre, Bernard Street, Addington, Christchurch, NZ

https://courttheatre.org.nz/show/romeo-and-juliet/

Implications of Obama’s Anti-Israel Stance

I am mystified as to why Obama, in contrast to the U.S. Presidents before him, has taken an active dislike to Israel and seems to favor cooperating with Israel’s more violent and unstable neighbors.  How do the American people feel about this?  I recently asked a visiting American speaker this very question.  He replied that most Americans are not in favor of Obama’s policy towards Israel but resist criticizing him for fear of appearing racist.  So, for the sake of avoiding criticism, Americans might just lose their only true democratic ally in the Middle East!  Does this mean that America has any healthier / safer / kinder choices of allies in that part of the world???  Ummm….next question?!!!

Check out what Bassam Tawil of the Gatestone Institute’s International Policy Council has to say about it:

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5435/obama-war-israel

http://likud.nl/wp-content/uploads-plikud01/2001/01/israelwantspeace.jpg

And here’s what Joel Rosenberg, author and communications strategist, has to say about it:

What Are The Implications If Obama Breaks With Israel?

April 01, 2015 | Joel C. Rosenberg

Is a divorce coming between the President of the United States and the State of Israel?

http://www.conservativefifty.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/netanyahu2.jpg

Once, it would have been almost preposterous even to ask such a question. Today, however, it feels like it’s a matter of “when,” not “if” Mr. Obama will formally abandon American support for the Jewish State. And the situation is rapidly going from bad to worse.

Readers of this blog may recall that I posted this column on January 14, 2015: “Will President Obama abandon or fully turn against Israel in last two years in office, amidst ISIS & Iran threats? Exclusive poll results.” According an exclusive poll I commissioned late last year, a remarkable 47.4% of Americans fear the President will turn against Israel soon given that he won’t ever face the voters again. I suspect the number would be much higher today

As I traveled through the U.S. in January and February on The Third Target book tour speaking to Christian audiences and meeting with Evangelical leaders, I found many who are becoming deeply concerned that an historic and disastrous break is coming. Speaking at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention recently, I raised this question: “What if America is not simply entering a season of strained relations with Israel, but we are heading towards total American abandonment of the Jewish State?”

Consider just a handful of headlines published since I gave that speech:

-U.S. could abandon Israel at the U.N. (CNN)
-Washington threatens to abandon Israel at UN (The Times of London)
-TV report: Obama left PM ‘with impression US will abandon Israel at UN’ (Times of Israel)
-The U.S.-Israel relationship is at “the lowest point in the alliance that diplomatic sages can recall.” (New York Times)
-For an American President, or Congress, or the American people to turn against Israel and the Jewish people would be more than bad policy or unfortunate politics. -According to Bible prophecy, such moves would pose an existential threat to the future of the United States.

In Genesis 12:1-3, the Lord God vows that He will bless those who bless Israel and the Jewish people, and curse those who curse them.

In Joel 3:2, the Lord God warns that He will bring into judgment “all the nations” who “divide My land,” the Land of Israel.

In Ezekiel 38-39, the Lord God warns that a group of nations led by Russia (Magog) and Iran (Persia) will form an alliance and attack Israel in the “last days,” andthat no nation will come to Israel’s defense — indeed, Israel will be abandoned by all of its friends and allies when this terrible moment occurs.

What’s more, in Zechariah 12:2-3, the Lord God warns that the nations will become intoxicated and start “reeling” with the desire to conquer and control Jerusalem and that “it will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.”

In Zechariah 14:1-2, the Lord God warns that “a day is coming” when “I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle” and “then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations.”

Also in Revelation 16, the Lord God warns that all nations will not simply abandon Israel but will eventually actively turn violent towards Israel and attack Israel and the Jewish people in the End of Days (the Battle of Har Meggido, the Mountain of Meggido, also known as the Battle of Armageddon).

As noted at the NRB Convention, “the Bible teaches us that all nations will turn against Israel in the last days — and all nations will face judgment for it — but woe into us if it happens on our watch.”

Have we come to that fateful moment? Not quite yet, but we are getting dangerously close. Even though 70% of Americans see Israel favorably and support Israel, we are watching the President:

-negotiate an incredibly dangerous nuclear deal with Iran
-refuse to share the precise details of this deal with Israel, America’s most faithful and trusted ally in the region
-treat the Israeli Prime Minister nearly as persona non grata
-send the VP and Secretary of State out of country to avoid seeing the Prime Minister
-send his political strategists and operatives to defeat the Prime Minister and his party in Israel’s recent elections
-seem to threaten revenge because the PM won reelection
-threaten to abandon Israel at the UN and allow anti-Israel resolutions to pass without an American veto
-threaten to force Israel to divide Jerusalem and roll back to her pre-1967 borders or face severe international consequences
-and now declassify details of Israel’s top secret nuclear program in what is being described as an “unprecedented move”

This is the most dangerous moment in the 67-year history of the U.S.-Israel relationship. What do the next two years hold? I cannot say for sure. I’m praying for the President and his top advisors to back off, turn from this dangerous path and find common ground with Israel, despite policy and personality differences. The Bible has many stories of the God of Israel changing the hearts of lost or confused or proud or rebellious leaders, including leaders of Israel. Will you join me in praying for healing in this relationship between the President and the leaders and people of Israel?

But this much I know: on top of all America’s national challenges and sins, including 58 million abortions, we dare not also abandon or turn against Israel and the Jewish people. If we do, we will seal our fate and face the judgment of God.

http://www.unomaha.edu/israelcenter/img/jerusalem_israel.jpg

Lastly, Arlene Kushner, who is a journalist/writer based in israel, weighs in.  She has a sharp, incisive blog worth following: http://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/

Arlene Kushner