Tim Lester, The Devil?

Wouldn’t you know it? The very Sunday that I fail to take my camera into the service, I miss a great shot. And then I’m stuck with only my phone’s camera to try and take a picture – something it does not do very well indoors. (Well… there to the left is what I was able to get!)

Yes, Tim Lester preached the entire sermon with a stick attached behind him with a drawn face of the Devil – as if Satan was whispering in Tim’s ear. (I’ve often wondered why Tim always cocks his head to the left as if he is attempting to hear something!)

However, I was kind of wondering if maybe the way to see this is sort of like one of those identifying little plastic sticks that you have in a six-pack of vegetable or flowering plants – you know, the stick that identifies what those plants are. So, was the stick really saying that THIS IS THE DEVIL!

No… Tim is one of a kind, and devils are really rather common if you think about it.

 

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Senate Candidate Dan Bongino

Today was the semi-annual meeting of the Maryland State Republican Party, and it was held in Solomons, Maryland. Though I’m midway through my elected term on the county Central Committee, this is not my crowd. Politically speaking it certainly is. But most of these folks are very ‘Type A’ personalities. They love the game of politics and all the aspects of campaigning: signs, stickers, buttons, “button-holing”, arguing, posturing … and dare I say sibling rivalry and in-fighting! I vacillate between finding it immensely amusing or inordinately irritating. But the role of political organization is an honorable and valuable part of American democracy, and so I do it as a calling that found me far more than I found it.

It has been interesting to meet a lot of people who sit in places of power – both in Annapolis and Washington. These are very, very mortal people. Some of them are very fine people, some of them are wannabes, and a few are very troubled people who have gained the world at the expense of their soul. I thought I’d be more impressed with a higher percentage of them than I have been.

But I will tell you that there is one guy I’m totally impressed by, and that is Dan Bongino who is the Republican nominee for United States Senate. He will be squaring off against the incumbent Ben Cardin. Bongino spoke at a luncheon I attended today, and he was amazing in his communication. His word pictures that describe the current situation in America – particularly in economics – are so colorfully illustrative in making complex situations understandable.  He walked through a variety of common sense and workable solutions to an entire host of problems facing America.

Bongino is a bundle of positive energy. He is invigorated by the challenges of problems and the belief that they can be overcome. Having personally grown up in a poor family in New York, and then working eventually with the secret service, he gave up this career at the great personal loss to take on this challenge of running for the Senate.

Actually, my son Jesse is working for the campaign in a volunteer capacity with a team of young guys who are doing research and writing for Dan.

So look for him on the national shows. There is no doubt that this is an uphill battle here in the most blue of states, but Bongino is an impressive fellow whom I think can at least make a race out of this – and so do many pundits around the country.

<As always with political narrative in this blog, I write to remind everyone and anyone that this blog is the opinion only of the author. It represents nothing of the viewpoint of Tri-State Fellowship – which takes no stand or viewpoint upon such matters. Furthermore, all costs associated with this blog are at the expense of the author without any connection to Tri-State Fellowship … not by registration costs or equipment costs, etc.  I have for many years bought my own computers and devices so as to be distanced from any connection.>

Snake Today!

Today I am in far southern Maryland and staying overnight to go to a political convention tomorrow in Solomon’s Island. I’ve never been to this part of the state before, but it is fully as beautiful as I expected it would be.

I got here by early afternoon, as I took a vacation day to go to Point Lookout – which was a huge Civil War Union POW camp (of Confederate soldiers after Gettysburg). None of the buildings remain from that difficult era, though there are varied monuments and a museum. Unfortunately, the museum (I learned) does not open until Memorial Day. Oh well … a bad day of Civil War snooping beats a good day of ……………….. whatever.

The area is filled with many environmental preservation projects and organizations. I followed a nature trail through a tidal marsh and thought, “I wonder how long it will take to see a snake in this place.”  The answer: about three minutes! I’m telling you, nobody can find a snake anywhere and everywhere like I can … they are always just lurking about – the miserable creatures.

Here is a picture for proof … And check some others below it.

Hanging Out With Mitt

Mitt Romney was in nearby Greencastle, PA on Sunday evening for a campaign event hosted by the Franklin County Republican Party. (For those of you who read this from outside this area, Greencastle is about 20 miles north of where I live – just over the Mason-Dixon Line into PA.)

Diana and Jesse and I went to the dinner, having gotten tickets through the Washington County Republican Central Committee – where I am one of 9 members. I had great fun by posting on my Facebook status line: “Headed out to dinner with Mitt Romney and a few friends…”

OK… there were 600 friends there! And, we were seated back from the front in the third row of about 15 rows of tables!  (This is when you know you’ve arrived!…. or, maybe just been fortunate for some reason.)

As always surrounding these events, the security was rather tight to say the least. There were a lot of big dudes just standing around “watching” everything.

So … people have been asking me if I’m a big Romney guy now. Well, not sure how big I am, but it has grown on me. He certainly hit ALL of the right themes in his speech, and if he can be taken at his word and he is able to accomplish a number of these initiatives, we are going to be better off as a country. I truly believe the country we will have if President Obama is re-elected is one we will not recognize … and will be one that is significantly more hostile to the Gospel message and Christianity within the culture. God will not be undone if that happens, and His grace and sufficiency will prevail for whatever contingencies ensue, but so long as we still have a democratic process, I am going to participate in it in a way that I believe best serves the God-ordained principles of American exceptionalism that also provide the best context for the Gospel. Toward that end, I am not concerned about Romney’s Mormon faith; I am concerned about Obama’s radicalism and connections to some of the most anti-Christian elements to be found in the world today.

I would have much preferred Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, though he did not run. It is my understanding that he is on the short list of those being considered for Vice President. I recently met some very fine evangelical folks from Wisconsin and from Ryan’s district – people who know him and those close to him – and they tell me he is truly squared away with an evangelical faith.

I put together a little video from Sunday night, and if you’d like to see it, here is the link:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150767858458430

I’ve read some local criticism of my committee and how, while the Franklin County folks are getting Karl Rove (2011) and Mitt Romney, we are featuring a defeated state senator (State Chairman Alex Mooney) and a relative unknown (a fellow who is a frontrunner for the next gubernatorial race). Well, we did have Representative Steve King of Iowa last year – a legit big dog in the House. But more than anything, Pennsylvania is a battleground state beyond what we are in Maryland, and Franklin County is seen as a pivotal area – hence the emphasis. I cannot explain that, but that is what is believed by Party activists who research these things.

Whatever, it was an interesting evening.

 

<As always with political narrative in this blog, I write to remind everyone and anyone that this blog is the opinion only of the author. It represents nothing of the viewpoint of Tri-State Fellowship – which takes no stand or viewpoint upon such matters. Furthermore, all costs associated with this blog are at the expense of the author without any connection to Tri-State Fellowship … not by registration costs or equipment costs, etc.  I have for many years bought my own computers and devices so as to be distanced from any connection.>

30 Years Ago Today in Dallas

On this day in 1982 in Dallas, the first of my five boys was born. Nathan arrived in the early evening hours after a tense day of pitocin-induced labor … that was probably overly-administered and did more damage than good, resulting in a C-section baby.  (The other four boys were not … and that’s not a common story … but Diana is not a common lady!)

During the labor, to pass the time, Diana and I were playing a card game that involved quick hands and movements. She was connected to an IV, but still beat me – more proof (as all the boys will tell you) that she is actually the more competitive of the two of us!

After the decision was made to do the surgery and Diana was taken away, I thought they would come and get me, and only THEN start the procedure. NO!  I heard them say from down the hallway, “You can call the husband in now.”  So I figured they would say, “OK, everyone is here, so let’s begin.”  Nope, it was already well in progress as I walked around Diana, whose feet were toward the door. All I noticed out of my side view, as I went to my appointed place by her head, was a lot of red in her direction… and red on the floor. This whole childbirth thing really is very difficult on fathers, you know.

We had seen videos of C-sections in our child-birthing classes, and everyone in the video was having a good time – it was like a party! So we were unprepared when Diana said, “This really, really hurts!”  The anesthesiologist – a fellow a bit lacking in bedside manners – said, “You are feeling something? Honey, they just cut you wide open, I don’t think you are feeling anything!”

At that moment, Diana passed out and her head dropped sideways. The anesthesiologist went into a bit of panic mode. He said to me (about the breathing thing over Diana’s face), “Here, hold this in place, I need both hands.” And he began frantically turning dials and dohickuses. About that time I heard a cry from a few feet away, but all I was thinking was, “OMG, my wife just died!”

Well, as you know, she did not die … but by the time she awoke and we both realized we had a baby, a good several minutes had passed. This experience, along with several other elements, put Diana on a warpath to never have another C-section … and she didn’t!  (Diana is a tough dudette!)

As I went home that night, I remember being so in awe of the whole thing – a day which I recall all these years later as the most surreal experience of my life.

Nathan has been a great guy! He is truly one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. I did not think it was possible that there could be a less sentimental person than myself, but by comparison, Nathan makes me look like a writer for Hallmark’s collection of greeting cards for Valentine’s Day!

Nathan has brought some trauma to our lives! (as do most kids).  There was the cancer-that-wasn’t scare of 1996, the diabetes onset of 1997, and a number of terrifying low blood sugars since then. And one of the great joys of my life was to see him come back from those episodes to win gold medals in high school track and to run in college … and because he was a runner, he met his running wife on the cross country team at Dickinson.

Beyond that, we’ve got Bella and Hudson, and an enormous multi-national business empire – sort of!

Chuck Colson is Gone

The news today is filled with the word that Chuck Colson has passed away at age 80. He was a great voice and thinker for the conservative evangelical movement. Over the years I’ve been much impacted by his speaking and writing.

Chuck had two halves of his life: a first half living for the power and things of this world – only to be imprisoned for his deep role in the Watergate scandal; and a second half living for Christ – having been truly transformed by grace, he was a completely different person in every way.

It will likely be that the world will remember him more for the first half, while the church will remember him for the latter. This alone is a display of grace.

Many of us who listen to Christian radio – such as our local WCRH – will most remember Colson for his morning commentaries called “BreakPoint.”

I get a regular email from Prison Fellowship, and this is what they had to say upon the death of Colson:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that Chuck Colson — our friend, founder, and brother in Christ — has passed away. Though we mourn the loss of a great leader, we rejoice knowing God has welcomed his humble and faithful servant home.

When Chuck Colson left prison, he promised to remember the men who remained behind bars. “I will never forget you guys!” he told them.

And for 36 years, Chuck faithfully kept that promise. In 1976, he founded Prison Fellowship, a ministry dedicated to living out Jesus’ command to remember the incarcerated and share the transformational love of Jesus Christ with them and their families.

“I could never, ever have left prison and accomplished what has been accomplished but for God doing it through me,” Chuck once said.

 

The Devil in the Sound System

I know this seems absolutely silly to those of you who are, say, age 30 and under, but there was a time when absolutely nobody thought of the idea that a church should have a worship team of instrumentalists and vocalists leading a service. Most churches just had a song leader; or in large sanctuaries with a pipe organ (likely made in Hagerstown at the Moller factory), the organ was so loud and so in charge that it was “the leader of the songs – the hymns.”  Some larger churches might also have had an orchestra.

But ALL churches of any size whatsoever had a choir. My first job in a church in 1977 was with a Christian and Missionary Alliance congregation in Cherry Hill, NJ.  I was the choir director there for a year – my final year of college and first year Diana and I were married. The total attendance of that church was about 100 people. In terms of talent, it was one of the best choirs I ever had.

Anyhow, in the old order of doing church, choirs were often the veritable den of iniquity in a church!  It was too frequently a place of gossip and discontent and opinions and egos run amuck! Honestly, I never had many problems as such in the three churches where I weekly did this sort of thing for a period of about 15 years … though one time in Dallas when there was a small controversy about something, I did put a sign on my office door that said “Office of the Department of War.”

I think it was the famed radio preacher of a previous generation – J. Vernon McGee – who said, “When Satan fell, he fell into the choir loft and has been there ever since!”

If that was true of the 1900s, I’d submit that the saying for this century is that “when Satan fell, he fell into the church sound system and has been there ever since!”

Yesterday, I was in the Café service where Todd Seville was sharing some thoughts related to our new series called “Unseen: Exposing the Paranormal” … and he was commenting about the ways in which Satan and his minions may affect the proclamation of the Word in church. One of the things he said was how technical problems seem to happen at the worst times – the power will go off, or something of that nature. When I spoke, I made some further remarks about the topic. All I can say is what I see that happens; and I can tell you without any doubts whatsoever that things like computers and printers break down on Sundays at a rate far beyond what they do on any other day of the week (even though they are more used on those other days).

Well, when it was time for me to speak at the 11:00 iGrow session, I looked around for the wireless microphone that is always up front – having just been used by the 9:30 service speaker that morning. It was not there, and I was then told that it malfunctioned during Chris’ sermon. I heard later that it was unexplainable – that there was a new battery right out of the box just put into it … that the problem was not the switch or anything like that. It just stopped working.

We’ll research it some more. But you have to wonder if the paranormal was not being exposed! Hmm? Who could it be? Hmm? Could it be SATAN?!?  (You also have to be older than 30 to remember “the Church lady” on Saturday Night Live.)