Friday, December 28, 2012


"...the labourer is worthy of his hire..." (from Luke 10:7)

To "cut right to the chase" I learned from Michael Graham on Facebook today that he will not be returning to the airwaves of 96.9 WTKK after the holidays. The station has informed him that last Friday's show was, in fact, his last show there. My son Jon commented that last Friday Michael (and the guests who joined him) talked about it being the last show due to the Mayan "end of the world";and then Jon speculated that maybe there was something symbolic in what they were saying.

I have posted about Michael Graham and his show a few times on this blog. I was very upset when the station took his afternoon drive time slot away in the Fall of 2006 and I was delighted when they restored it to him in the Summer of 2011 after he'd worked just about every shift at the station except for the overnight shift! About 85% of the time, I strongly agreed with Michael who is an outspoken conservative Republican, and about 15% of the time I strongly disagreed with him. I will admit that I didn't like the weird way he could use his evangelical background as both an asset and a liability and as something he seemed to be proud of and ashamed of, simultaneously. Well, Michael won't like this part, but I guess that tends to be typical behavior of what we committed evangelicals call "backsliders". That said, Michael is a nice guy and a talented guy. We met briefly a couple of times and we've exchanged a number of e-mails over the past seven years. I hope he lands a good position soon, and I wish him well. And, honestly, I'd like to see him come back into the evangelical fold!

Monday, December 24, 2012


"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 10:32-33)

I don't live in Leominster (pronounced: LEMON - stir), Mass. and until yesterday I had never heard of the Lahti Jeep dealership. I happened to pick up the free "Leominster Champion" newspaper as I dined at a McDonald's restaurant for breakfast and was truly moved by their advertisement. It wasn't what you'd expect from a car dealership. There was nothing about an "end of the year clearance sale" or "New Jeeps at 1990 prices!" or any of that kind of stuff. Instead, their ad contained a publishing of the poem "One Solitary Life" about the life and significance of Jesus Christ. The heading of the ad was worded, "A Christmas Greeting to all Our Friends". At the bottom of the ad was the line, "May the Life, the Love, and the presence of Jesus Bless your homes this Christmas Season. The Lahti Family."

Now, I might not have been as surprised to see an ad like that in a newspaper in the Springfield, Missouri area where my daughter lives. That area, which I happen to really love, is part of the Bible belt. But in New England and especially in a state like Massachusetts which I'm sure commentator Bill O'Reilly would describe as "secular progressive" it takes real guts to run an ad like that. Frankly, there are some folks who'll see an ad like that and determine they'd never buy a car from such a dealership and they'd encourage their friends to not shop there. In my case, I don't currently live near Leominster, but if I ever do, I'd definitely go there if I were looking to buy a vehicle, and although Leominster is over forty miles from where I currently live, I wouldn't necessarily rule that out!

Thank YOU Lahti family for not being ashamed to publicly proclaim your faith and your love for the Lord Jesus Christ! Merry Christmas! May 2013 be the greatest year your business has ever had!

Friday, December 21, 2012


"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." (2 Peter 3:3-4)

I am no expert on the ancient Mayan calendar, but unless you've been on another planet for the past couple of years you know that the ancient Mayan calendar ENDED on what we know as December 21, 2012. There were some people who honestly expected "the end of the world" on December 21. I did not. I want to briefly explain why I did not. But I also hope to shake up those who (as in the passage above) become jaded by these false predictions, confidently assuming that everything will just continue on for millions and millions of years and there's no sudden climactic intervention of God to take place in human history any time soon.

If I gave a thorough Biblical explanation of why I believe Jesus Christ will literally and dramatically return to this planet and why I believe all human beings are accountable to Him, it would probably take a book length document. I suspect it would take at least 150 pages and probably more. So, this will not be thorough and exhaustive. This will just scratch the surface. It is true that for centuries people have arisen setting dates for "the end of the world" and the Second Coming of Jesue Christ. A group called the "Millerites" in the 1840s did exactly that. As I recall, Miller was a Baptist minister in the northeast. He and his followers went to a mountain top in white robes expecting to meet and greet Jesus. They were sorely disappointed, but some of them did not give up. From that group emerged the "Adventist movement" from which we get the Advent Christian Church and the much larger Seventh Day Adventist Cburch. I recall that in 1975, a man named Charles Taylor predicted "the Rapture of the church", that is, the day when Jesus Christ would "catch up" or "rapture" his Church to be with Him and then begin Seven years of Tribuation on the earth. A date was set for September of 1975, which of course turned out to be wrong. In 1988, a man named Edgar Whisenaunt wrote a much read booklet entiled, "88 Reasons Why Jesus Christ Returns in 1988". He predicted the Rapture to take place on September 12 or 13 of 1988. Of course, he was wrong. Amazingly, Whisenaunt came out with another booklet in 1989 arguing that his calculations were off by a year, but that Jesus would definitely return in 1989. Very few of those booklets were distributed! In much more recent times, Harold Camping, for years the Director of "Family Radio" and for years an active Member of the Christian Reformed Church, set a date for the rapture to take place in May of 2011 and later recalculated to October 2011.

These foolish men forgot that the Bible clearly teaches that no one knows the day or hour of the Lord's return.

"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36)

Now, I know this will sound very arrogant, but the Mayan calendar thing is just pagan conjecture and I'd never pay any attention to such matters, anyway. But, briefly, there is solid New Testament of a "Rature" of the Church and a "Revelation" of Jesus Christ- that is, Jesus Christ literally and physically returning to planet earth at least seven years after the Rapture of the Church takes place. I know this stuff is never taught in "liberal mainline Protestant" churches who consider all of it to be complete nonsense. Such churches teach, for example, that the Book of Revelation is not a book of primarily prophecy about the future but is a Book which speaks in mysterious language about goings on in the Roman Empire of the First Century and has nothing to do with the future. Listen, some of Revelation is about the Roman Empire and the First Century but most of it is not. Churches like the Roman Catholic Church teach that a lot of what is in Revelation is about the future but then go on to make virtually all of it totally symbolic and allegorical and not in any way, shape or form literal. If you carefully read I Thessalonians chapter 4, and I Corinthians chapter 15, you can absolutely see "the Rapture of the Church" there. No, the word Rapture is never used in the Bible, that's true. Neither is the word "Trinity", for that matter. Yet, the idea of the true Believers being "caught up" to be with the Lord and taken out of the world is very Biblical. Most evangelicals believe in a coming Seven year Tribulation period to follow The Rapture. That comes from the Book of Daniel, chapter 9 where it speaks of "70 Weeks". Those "Weeks" are not weeks of days; they are,in fact, weeks of years. Sixty-nine of them have happened. Sixty-nine of them have taken place. One has not. It's the "Seventieth Week of Daniel" and it will be the coming Seven Year Tribulation Period. I urge you to also check out Matthew chapters 24 and 25, Mark chapter 13, Luke chapter 21, and 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, as well as the entire Book of Revelation. Before you roll your eyes, take the time. Make the time. Read this stuff. Read it prayerfully. Say, "Lord, show me if this stuff is really true. Show me if You are really going to return to this planet." See what happens.

I know the Rapture has not yet taken place and I know there will be at least seven years to follow the Rapture. That's a big part of why I was not worried about Dec. 21. That's also why most evangelicals do not believe the world will be destroyed in a nuclear least not prior to that Seven Year Tribulation period. If you've ever seen "Thirteen Days", you know that in late 1962 the word came very, very close to total nuclear annihilation. Listen, we came within a whisker of it, but God did not allow it!

Again, this is not an exhaustive treatise! This is just an extremely brief document! But the Second Coming will take place. We don't know the day or the hour, but it will! In the late 1800s and very early 1900s, fiery evangelical preachers were preaching this stuff and were laughed to scorn! These preachers said that Israel would become a political nation in the middle east; that multitude of Jews would return there; that the City of Jerusalem would become an all Israeli city; that this would prove the validity of these end time prophecies. Incidentally, this does not mean that whatever the nation of Israel does is always right. Sometimes, the nation of Israel is dead wrong in its policies! But God has decreed that Israel be a political nation there in "Palestine" and that Israel control Jerusalem. And God has decreed that one day Jesus Christ will physically, literally return to the Mount of Olives and that this will literally freak out everyone, Jew and Gentile alike!

No, Iam not setting any dates or going up on any mountains wearing a white robe. But, yes, I am "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;" as Titus 2:13 says! Will it happen during my lifetime? Only God knows, but this 58-year-old does indeed consider that a possibility!

Monday, December 17, 2012


"while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18)

President Obama's address in Newtown, Connecticut last night was outstanding. I did not vote for him either time. I have strongly disagreed with the President and have soundly criticized him on numerous occasions. I was pleasantly surprised at HOW well done that address was. I particularly appreciated the very fine use of Scripture from 2 Corinthians 4 and 5 regarding eternal life and Heaven, as well as the reference to Jesus saying, "Let the little children come to me". I fear many detractors will see these references as pandering to the religious or as just trying to placate people. I did not receive or perceive this that way at all. I was pleased with President Obama truly being Presidential and bringing the appropriate words. The media is focusing on his inference to gun control in that speech, and yes it was there. And, as much as I'm a big Second Amendment person, I see no problem with banning military style assault weapons. But it's the proper and appropriate usage of Scripture and references to Jesus in a "secular public" setting that delighted me. Mr. President, may we see more of that sort of thing. And, if you'll draw more strength and comfort from Scripture and pass that along to the citizens, I see that as a very good thing, indeed.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


"Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." (Matthew 2:16-18)

This past Thursday night as I was driving along Route 2 heading east from Westminster, Massachusetts to Route 95 I noticed an exit sign for "Newtown Road". That's nowhere near Connecticut, but the word "Newtown" triggered a memory. I remembered that Newtown is a town in Fairfield County, Connecticut just outside Danbury. I can recall driving through it a few times. That part of Connecticut contains some pleasant memories for me. There's a large Assemblies of God church in Brookfield, just outside Danbury. I was Ordained there in 1985. Through the years, I've been to a number of church-related events in the Danbury, CT area; staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, etc. How shocking and stunning it was to hear the news of the shootings on the radio the next morning. I can't help but wonder why Newtown, Connecticut came so vividly into my mind on Thursday night, just hours before the massacre. Sadly, now when I think of Newtown, I don't think I'll be remembering pleasant spiritual experiences. No, my first thought will be of the horrific shcool killings.

Many of you know I'm not pastoring at the moment. I loved most of pastoring, and most of the whole experience of being part of the clergy. Honestly, the part I least liked was trying to cope with events such as this terrible crime of little kids being massacred. Of course, all the atheists and God-haters love to throw in the faces of Believers that, "there is no God or this would not have happened"; or even worse, "God is cruel, doesn't care, and caused those kids to be murdered". Then there's also the famous, "God is weak and can't do anything about evil" line, and finally, "this proves it does no good to pray". While I don't agree with any of those comments, I will admit that the mass murder of (mostly) children does leave me speechless. There are simply no words that are adequate to express how evil and senseless these killings were. I can certainly quote some Bible passages and put my arm around grieving people, but there is no way I nor anyone can bring back lost loved ones or remove the devastating pain and loss. I'm one who frankly did a very good job conducting funeral services. It's one thing to eulogize a Godly 90-year-old who died peacefully in his sleep, but it's frankly another to make sense of a 6-year-old being shot dead. I can't imagine what I would say at such a funeral service; honestly. I am not a fan of President Obama, but his words to the nation just a short time after learning of the shootings were powerful and well said.

One thing's for sure. Things will never be the same for that Town, that school, and those grieving families. The Bible passage I quoted above comes from the Christmas story in Matthew's Gospel. It's a portion of the Christmas story that is usually left out of Christmas pagents and Christmas songs. It's one we don't like to think about. That passage speaks of what the Roman Catholic Church calls, "The Feast of the Holy Innocents". King Herod the Great was so jealous of the possibility that a future "King of the Jews" was born in the Bethlehem area that he had all male children age two and under slaughtered. It made about as much sense as the killings in Newtown did. I realize many believe that story is just a "myth" or "fable" to add drama to the Christmas story. I don't believe that. Just like that killings in Newtown, it can leave you wondering about a loving God, fairness, justice, etc. Yes, as a famous Rabbi from Natick, Massachusetts has often reminded us, "Bad things happen to good people".

Experiencing an evil event such as either one of these slaughters of little children will make some people forever better, but can be an opportunity for great spiritual growth. Several decades ago, an affluent Sharon, Massachusetts mom came home to her find her 9-year-old daughter and her maid both dead in the family swimming pool...their bodies floating there. Neighbors said they'd never heard screams such as Patti, the mom screamed that day. It was later theorized that the child had been trying to teach the maid to swim. That terrible tragedy led to the parents, David and Patti searching for God and coming into a very deep commitment to God and relationship with Him. A number of years later, Patti was a layleader doing children's ministry at a large church were I served as a staff pastor. She referred to that 9-year-old child she'd lost as "my little angel who brought me to the Lord". It is my prayer that as terrible and senseless as this massacre is, ultimately there will be many "David and Pattis" who emerge victorious and Godly in its aftermath.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


"So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, 'Get up, get out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city!' But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking." (Genesis 19:14 New King James Version)

Some things are, well, just not a laughing matter. That would be true of the situation going on that's described in the Biblical passage which the above verse is taken from. It's the place where God is about to rain down fire and brimstone and destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham's nephew Lot was trying to tell his sons-in-law to join him and several others in fleeing the city of Sodom before the wrath of God was unleashed. His sons-in-law did not join Lot and the others. Scripture tells us they thought he was joking! And, a few days ago, a couple of popular Australian disc jockeys called the King Edward VII Hospital in England pretending to be from the royal family and trying to get information about Kate Middleton. Jacintha Saldanha was at the hospital switchboard at the time. She was completely taken in by the hoaxters. Over the air, she transferred them to Kate's Ward. Jacintha Saldanha, originally from India, was married with two grown daughters. She'd worked as a nurse and had a good reputation. Jacintha Saldanha was made a laughingstock of in front of a lot of Australian radio listeners, but also in front of the British press and in front of the world on the internet.

Shortly thereafter, Jacintha Saldanha was found unconscious near King Edward VII Hospital. Her death was a suicide.

I know. I know. The woman's reaction seems a bit extreme. Was it, really? Had she lived for another thirty years, her obituary would have identified her as the poor fool duped by Australian radio pranksters in 2012. She was never going to live this down. And, we don't know what else may have been going on in her life over the past weeks and months. Trust me, she may have seemed fine, but she could have been enduring deep mental and emotional pain that nobody else even recognized and perhaps that stupid prank phone call and the shame and embarrassment of it was just the last straw for her.

I know Andy Williams' song proclaims, "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" but it isn't for everybody. Without going into detail, I'd skip this Christmas in a heartbeat. Of course, I'm not opposed to celebrating the birth of the Christ Child! But it's so much of the materialism and expectations and junk that I'm honestly having a very hard time facing this year. And, don't even get me started on that prankster stuff! So many people like to laugh at others' expense. Listen, I'm ashamed to admit, I've done it. But, again, some things are just not a laughing matter. A friend told me of a man he knows who is big and strong, balding, always wears a hat, and is very sensitive. Just yesterday in a public setting, a prankster sneaked up aside of the big, hatted man and tried to grab his hat. The prankster's intent was to humiliate the big man for his hair loss. The big man who is sort of a gentle giant instantly backhanded the prankster who flew backwards and fell. There's one prankster who won't do that again!

Keep in mind: you don't know what people are going through! There's nothing wrong with humor, but be careful! Some things are just not a laughing matter. This time fourteen years ago a much loved church attender of the Framingham church I used to pastor disconnected the airbags in his late model Lincoln and drove the car at high speed into a giant tree on Edmands Road on Framingham's north side. Yes, it was a suicide. It was a Christmastime suicide. Just a few days before that, he called me and said, "Pastor, I want you to know that everything's O.K.!"

Everything wasn't O.K. I didn't pick up on it. Nobody did. What a needless tragedy.

So this Christmas season, will ya do me a favor?


and Think

and remember that not everything is a laughing matter.

And please notice people and be concerned for people.