“Coat of Many Colors” Restores Hope.


Last night Laura and I finished watching the Dolly Parton movie, “Coat of Many Colors”, we recorded on Christmas day. I don’t really do movie reviews because I have seen too few movies. This is not a movie review, but just some thoughts I have had as a result of the movie.

I have never been a Dolly Parton fan, to be honest. I am not really a country western music fan, though I love a few of their songs. For me, Dolly’s best song was redone and perfected by Whitney Houston.

But I have to say I really enjoyed the movie. I particularly enjoyed the fact that Jesus Christ is a major part of the story. The movie boldly proclaims that God came to die for us, to save us. Life is never easy, but it is impossible without the forgiveness and presence of God purchased by the blood of Jesus.

However, my comments will focus more on another message I got from the movie. The flick was originally aired on the NBC network on December 10th. On that airing, it drew 15.6 million viewers, the largest movie audience on any of the TV networks in six years. So well received was the film, NBC listened to demands to rebroadcast it and aired it again on Christmas day.

The movie is not politically correct. It is not religiously tolerant. It is blatantly Christian and has aired twice on a secular television network. Remember, NBC is the network that Donald Wildmon, chairman of American Family Radio, accused of constant “Anti-Christian bigotry” for allowing and showing programs that bash Christianity, particularly Saturday Night Live’s blasphemous depictions of Jesus Christ.

Does this mean that the world is getting better? Does it mean that NBC has repented? No, I am sure they went after the money of advertising brought in by an instant hit.

It does mean that the darker the world, the more effective the light. It reminds me that this world, as much as people resent and hate the idea that Jesus is Lord, starves for the peace and hope He brings. It means that the message is still effective and needed as much now as it was in the first century.

There is much about modern Christianity that the people of the world do not welcome. Honestly, there is some elements of modern Christianity that cause a gnarl in my gut. But we must remember, the hope and peace Jesus brings is needed. His love is craved. His forgiveness is imperative. His light is craved.

coat of many colors


Tough Times and Good News

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One Christian writer addressed the question point blank; “Why do bad things happen to good people.” Other writers have written about it in different terms for centuries upon centuries.

There is a surprising passage that will encourage us in our trials. It fits between Adam and Noah, after Cain killed Abel and well before Job. But it surprisingly has some interesting angles.

Gen 4:25-26 says, “And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.’ To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.

After Cain killed Abel, and that ugly mess (Genesis 4:1-16), another son which was born to Adam and Eve that they names “Seth”. Seth means “put, replacement, or substitute”.

QUOTE

Their first son, the son of promise for redemption through Eve, was disqualified as a murder. The second son, the next in line, was murdered, so he could not be the son of promise. The third son born was, then, a replacement for Abel. Eve says, “God (Elohim) has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.”

I find it interesting that Seth wasn’t given a joyful name, but one that ever reminded him of the failures and loss of his brothers.

Verse 25 has something else interesting in it. “Elohim” is the title of God. It correlates closely with the English word, “God”.

But it is not our God’s name. His name is “Yahweh”.

If there is a clue to Eve’s state of mind as she aged, it is seen here. Previously, when Eve had her first son, she named him Cain.

Genesis 4:1 says, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man (boy child) with the help of the LORD (Yahweh).”

She used the name of God, the intimate title, expressing an intimate relationship. With the birth of Cain, there was a sense of joy and dependence upon God. Eve knew she had sinned, but amidst of the disappointment was an overflowing joy.

Then she and Adam continued to see the consequence of their mistake through life. She saw one son murder another son. She saw tension between her and her husband (as stated by God in Genesis 3:16). She experienced aging, pain, weeds, and heartbreak that she would not have seen if she and her husband had not chosen sin.

Much later she has another son. She said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.”

This time, the moniker she uses for God is His title, “Elohim”, not his intimate name, “Yahweh”. Under the curse of sin as time goes by, Eve appeared to struggle and drift further away from God.

What does it take to drift away from God? Nothing. If you do nothing to maintain an intimate relationship with God, you will drift away from God.

Now, look at verse 26:

“To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.”

Seth grows up, and the family sees another effect of the curse of sin. He and his wife have a son, and the name is very telling. “Enos”, or “Enosh”, mean “feeble, sickly, or weak”.

Enosh wasn’t sickly or weak because he was more sinful than his dad, Seth, or his grandparents, Adam and Eve. He wasn’t sickly because of the sins of his uncles, Cain and Abel.

This is the first time we can see the generational effects of sin on society. It shows us that because of the curse of sin, some people are randomly born with disabilities and/or weaknesses.

If the last part of verse 26 ties to the first part of the verse (which I believe it does), then Seth began the practice of calling upon God because of his sick son.

Seth had every reason to ask, “Lord, why did you make my son sickly?”

The Lord could have responded, “This is the consequence of sin, not my hand. I told Adam and Eve that they would surely experience death if they walked away from me.”

Here is the hidden beauty of this verse. They began calling upon the name of “Yahweh”, the intimate name for God. The birth of a sickly child drew Seth and his family close in dependence upon God. So they began to speak with Him in that relationship.

Why do hard problems come? Sickness? Crisis and what appears to be disaster? Sin is the reason. Both our inherent sin and our choices of sin brings more heartache.

What should our response be to such trouble? We should draw close to God and call upon His name because we understand that we are going to need Him to get through this.

You make the call…kind of…


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If you were a police officer assigned to a school and a young lady refuses to leave the room when asked by several school teachers and workers, what would you do? How would you handle it?

OK, you may want to take a moment to think about that. Granted, the officer had no time to think this specific issue through. However, when assigned to the school, he should have determined within himself the way he would respond to complete disregard to authority. That was what he was there to handle.

Or, you would expect the school to have a standard policy for disregard for authority. Nonetheless, there is no excuse for what happened.

Obviously, the girl had drawn a line in the sand. “You can’t make me do anything! I am staying right here! Whatcha gonna to do about it?”

For those of us who love to work with, and love, youth, this is something for which we are going to have to prepare to face. With eroding home structures, permissive parents who prefer being a friend when kids need parents, and a generation often given to the concept of entitlement, despite the promise of “new discipline techniques” practiced for over 40 years, this will be far too common of an issue. Are we ready?

The authorities have to worry about a spark becoming a flash-fire. One student disrespecting authority in front of other students typically does not bring out the best behavior in the group. The pressure to end such rebellion quickly can blind us to the best solution.

Students, however, can connect the dots better than we give the credit. They can connect the distant consequences to current actions if we, the authorities, simply point it out.

To me, the best approach is to remind the rebellious student that they can win the moment and lose the war. This girl was not going to sit in that chair for the rest of her life. Eventually, she would have given up and left the room. She needed to be reminded that the worse consequences are those unforeseen ones in the future.

At the end of the day, the girl would have been at home. The authorities could have explained to the other students that the girl would eventually leave and the consequences were becoming increasingly worse. There would be a tomorrow. There would be a next week. The girl’s decisions today would impact her life for a long time.

Perhaps a class period would have been ruined. Lesson plans would have stopped until she left. But they were lost anyway, right? But tomorrow the girl would not be there to disrupt.

Once the officer made the confrontation an issue that was going to be settled “here and now”, things turned ugly. Authorities, who are supposed to have a long-term view for education and lessons, failed to reinforce the idea that the long-term approach was more significant. A teaching opportunity was lost and the consequences now are on the other side.

Overcomer vs. Under the Circumstances


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Someone once raised the question, “What is an OVERcomer doing UNDER the circumstances?” Perhaps that question was asked in ignorance.

  • Noah was under the circumstances when he was in the Ark.
  • Gideon was under the circumstances when he surrounded the sizeable Midianite army with only 300 men.
  • David was under the circumstances when he was on the run from a murderous King Saul as God prepared his young heart to be a good king.
  • Daniel and the other Hebrew students were under the circumstance while in captivity in Babylon when God revealed to Daniel the highly esteemed prophecy.
  • Jesus was under the circumstances when He hung on the cross to die for the sins of the whole world.

Think about it. A lump of clay will be under the circumstances while the wise potter presses, squeezes and molds the clay into a useful vessel. “But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8.

When I woke up, the sky was overcast. The weatherman this morning told us the conditions under the clouds. We know that above the clouds it is clear and sunny all the time. But we are under the clouds.

How God uses the circumstances to shape us is His business, not ours. “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” Romans 9:21.

If you are one of God’s children and under the circumstances, trust in the Potter. God will use those for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28). Trust Him.

What it means to have a shepherd (Psalm 23)


It’s been a while since I have blogged. Life gets busy and sometimes the focus is just not there. However, I wanted to share this.

Laura and I have come off a very tough 18 months. Although the love of God’s people was very supporting, the darkness of oppression seemed to be hiding behind every turn. The specifics are not important as much as the refreshing of the Lord.

I needed something. I needed something new and refreshing. I even spent extra time on sermon sites reading sermon after sermon, seeking for that reason for strength that seemed to be evading me.

Laura and I were on our way home from a recreation weekend which helped. On the drive, I asked Laura to read me something; Psalm 23. What is new about that?

I heard again that the Lord was the one responsible for my care.  As such, He takes cares of my needs.

He had plans to give me rest, peace and quiet, and was leading me there.

He gives me complete recovery from the battles. He leads me to what is right because that is just what He is.

Especially in the times that I have to go through the darkest valley, He is there leading me. He is protecting me with the staff and correcting me with the rod.

He never promised me a lack of opposition but promised I would triumph and celebrate before them. He cleans and refreshes me with healing oil. All I need is given to overflowing.

With the care of such a Shepherd, my life, though marked with battles, will be filled with His goodness and mercies until it is complete. And greatest of all, I have His presence as my home forever.

Have you applied the 23 Psalm to your situation?

Movie review of “The Song”


I hope I don’t come across as the guy who can criticize everything that other people are doing for the Kingdom because it doesn’t match up with all my pet beliefs and peeves. However, I can find no justification in endorsing the new faith-based movie, “The Song”.

After viewing it, I was left with one question that haunted me the rest of the night: “Where was Jesus in this?”

The story line of the movie, based upon the life of Solomon in Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon, follows a modern day musician struggling to make his mark in the music world. He was the son of a famous musician (David King), but was told he lacked the passion his father had in delivering a moving song.

While booking small venues in order to work in his craft, Jed King meets a lovely young lady (Rose), and eventually wins her heart. The love story in the first half of this movie is sweet, with biblical wisdom and morality sprinkled throughout. Humor is well placed, and after about half the movie, I was glad I had gone.

A song that Jed wrote for Rose shoots him to the top of the charts and he is soon flying off for concert tours across the world. His opening act, a rebel-hearted girl (Shelby Bale), is attracted to Jed and soon tries to seduce him. Rose will not travel with Jed because she has to tend to their son and her father’s health is failing.

Jed predictably falls to temptation. Rich, successful, with no moral restraints, he finds himself well over his head in sin.

The story of redemptions could have been so beautifully portrayed here, had it been based upon Jesus Christ. Instead, the writers tried to squeeze that in as if greater character and the futility of the sinful life would be enough to restore one who has fallen.

I certainly cannot recommend this movie as an evangelistic tool, or to any unsaved friend. I do find this movie harmless to the believing couple who are looking for an evening of entertainment, and maybe can use a little spark in the relationship.

That is where my disappointment rests. Half of the faith-based movies that I have seen recently try to sneak just enough Jesus Christ in to get our approval, but not enough to challenge one who is seeking real answers in a lost world. Another group of movies are designed to be just a “perfect cheer” to fire up the home team of believers who have already settled the issue of salvation.

Some will say that movies like this are needed to open up dialog between believers and non-believers. Did God not give us enough to begin the dialog? Truth is, we simply are not comfortable getting into that conversation. Unfortunately, neither are most of our movie makers.

Truth is, there is ton of wisdom found in Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon, but it is meaningless and unhelpful apart from the redemptions found in Jesus Christ through His death, burial and resurrection.

Dealing with Ghosts in the Church


Let me begin by clarifying something. I don’t believe in ghosts as taught by historical or cultural fiction. I’m referring to those bothersome complaints or untraceable rumors which plague a church and the ministry of a pastor.

Concerned Church members are bothered by these complaints because if they are serious enough of an issue, the Church will decline. The fear is, before the declines ruins what we have here, perhaps we need to make changes to preserve the Church.

Often, the complainers talk to carriers. The carriers, who are not as bothered by the complaint as much as they fear the changes in the Church, either take the complaints to other carriers or to Church leaders. Often these leaders are the deacons.

By this point, the problem is affecting the Church. It is affecting its ministries, message, unity and fellowship. To deal with the problems at this point is tantamount to putting handcuffs on a ghost.

Let me also be clear about something important. If the allegation are due to a moral or doctrinal issue with the pastor, it should be dealt with aggressively, but with caution. The pastor must be accountable to the congregation for his moral life and the accuracy with which he handles the Word of God. However, whispering and spreading discontentment through the congregation is not how we are instructed to handle this.

Most major issues can be handled easily if the deacons or leaders would meet with the pastor, question him, investigate the charges, and either deal with the error or dismiss the charges publicly.

As far as other complaints, often the deacons or Church leaders are called, or reached through their wives, to address the discontentment about which members are hearing. And often the deacons choose to take action, but they attack the wrong end of the problem. A split frequently occurs in the deacon body between those who are committed to be led by the Truth of the Bible and those who would defend the Church at all costs.

Often, appeals and pleas for those who have complaints to come forward are met with silence and inaction. The word gets around that those who have a problem with the pastor will not, under any circumstance, come forward. The problem with untraceable, unsubstantiated complaints is the spiritual reason they stay hidden.

Satan and His minions know that as long as a complaint is un-addressable, it will appear larger than it really is. It can create more damage in the Church if it remains under the surface so it can eat away at the fellowship like a cancer. That is Satan’s purpose for these kind of problems. Removing the pastor will not correct this problem.

A targeted pastor is handicapped in dealing with the problems because he cannot get to the source to correct any misunderstanding, as forgiveness for any mistake, or address any error in the source.

As a son of a pastor who battled this problem faithfully for over 50 years and now a pastor who sees this continually arising, and as a counselor who sees this particularly plaguing new pastors in established Churches, I have considered this, prayed about it, and spent sleepless nights over it, all the while asking God for wisdom to negotiate these trouble waters. How do you deal with the ghosts in a Church?

  1. Bathe everything in prayer.

Of course, that is a given. “The prayer of a righteous person (or a person made righteous) has great power as it is working (James 5:16b).

It is important to remember that our enemies do not bear flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). The real opposition behind the ghosts is demonic influence which can best be battled, and defeated, through prayer.

  1. Keep the leaders focused on the proper end of the problem.

If the Church leaders/deacons choose to pick up the task of dealing with ghosts, keep them focused on the rumor mongers, both those who whisper and those who welcome and repeat the complaints. The Bible, the only instruction manual for the Church, gives clear directions in dealing with these issues. Any target of a complaint should be able to face his accusers without the shrapnel of gossip (Acts 25:15).

  1. Be sensitive to, and proactive towards, the cold shoulder.

Although the ghosts prefer to remain anonymous, they really point themselves out when they display coldness and dismissal when you try to greet them. Either these are the complainers or the ones who have picked up an offence.

When you observe coldness and dismissal, if you follow the clues, you are closer to the source, and therefore closer to the resolution. You may attempt to address it immediately by asking, “Would you like to have a private word with me?” The response to this question will certainly give you direction in what seemed to be uncharted waters.

Our you may wish to contact the person who is cold later to set up a meeting. Either way, they are no longer hiding in anonymity, and may be more willing to deal with the issues.

  1. Consider that every complaint could have some legitimacy.

Humbly hearing complaints can polish your ministry, alert you to blind spots, fortify your shortcomings and clear up any misunderstandings. Listen humbly and take the complaint to God in prayer for His enlightening direction before you respond.

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).” Opposition sharpens us for further battle. Resistance creates strength and endurance.

Iron never enjoys being sharpened. But we were never promised that we would enjoy being sharpened or being shaped by what the potter allows to pressure us (Isaiah 64:8).

I am eager to hear your comments about this topic.

 

Tim White is pastor of Second Baptist Church of Lamesa, TX. He is a published author and journalist. He can be reached at pastortimwhite@gmail.com.