Tuesday, April 12, 2016

BEFORE THE REVIVAL...HUMILITY AND REPENTANCE

"...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 
2nd Chronicles 7:14
Have you asked yourself, "Why has this generation in the USA not seen a great revival?" I believe it is closely tied to the fact that we have become too wrapped up in flags and nationalism, in war and warriors, in prideful, unquestioned support of murderous foreign policy.  
The passage I quoted above makes it very clear that for God to bless and anoint, we must first HUMBLE ourselves and TURN FROM OUR WICKED WAYS. And that is something that American believers find so very difficult.
Like so many white churches that sat silently while Jim Crow ruled the day; the church today sits in silent approval of the lies and deceptions that have produced so many wars, including our present Global War of Terror.
Because of cowardice, and an unwillingness to speak for and demand the TRUTH...our country has rushed, over and over again into wars for profit, costing millions of lives and trillions in national treasure.
Only a few, it seems, have the moral courage to speak out that SHOULD come from the knowledge that we are not invested in this world, but the next.
And maybe that's the issue....too many church leaders are overly invested in this world...and this country. They have wrapped their faith in flags and confused service to God with servicing our present government by supporting their calls to war and going along with the glorification of war and the warrior.
For this, they will have to account. And I believe that before any real revival in this country can begin, we will need to humble ourselves and admit our fault in unquestioning supporting wars for profit.
If you want an example of courageous preaching that applies Christian dogma to the practical and real issues of our day, give a listen to the following excerpt from MLK Jr's speech, "A Time To Break Silence", where he talks about the evil of war and why he opposed the Vietnam war...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OC1Ru2p8OfU
His warnings about where our country would end up, should we fail to learn the lessons of Vietnam, are prophetic and damning. 
We have not learned, and we, as leaders of the church, in our unquestioning support of our governments foreign policy and "diplomacy by other means"...in our failure to apply the truth and love of God to the present problems of our nation and its godless foreign policy...must bear a large part of the blame for failing to be what we are called to be....the conscience of the nation.
The press are the eyes and ears of the nation. They have been made blind and deaf, having been bought off by conglomerates that refuse to let the press speak the truth they see.
But, the church is a nations conscience. Without a conscience, the entity is dark and dead. So our nation has grown dark and is in danger of dying altogether for lack of truth, for lack of love, for lack of moral compass....because church leaders across this land have aligned themselves with American foreign policy, with the New World Order, they have made their message null and void.
Why should anyone want to follow a Christ that approves of drone assassinations; looks the other way at torture and rendition; silently approves of our training and equipping of horrific dictatorships that will make way for American business interests at the expense of their own citizens; and cares little for the children of Muslims across the Middle East that are now orphaned and crippled by our foreign policy?
MLK Jr would roll over in his grave could he see what we've become as a nation today. And I think Jesus' is grieved beyond imagining with the way we have squandered the grace and gifts He bestowed on this nation at its outset.
Do you want to see revival in your church and community? Do you desire the full blessing of God? Then unwrap yourself from your flag. Cleanse your mind of the lies and deception that the media has poisoned you with. Seek the truth! Live by the truth!! And be open and willing to let God use you as the hot iron of a loving conscience in your community.
Detach yourself from our present, pugilistic foreign policy. Speak out against your governments atrocities and call this nation to repentance FIRST. Then, with His grace and mercy and forgiveness applied to us, as a nation, then and only then, will He pour out His blessings in full measure.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

On voting...

I've come to believe that anyone casting a vote today (in light of what I now know about the New World Order, Secret Societies, and the matrix created for us by the military-industrial-congressional-thinktank complex) has either no understanding of the world they live in, or has chosen NOT to know.  


Ignorance, whether deliberate or not, is neither Christian nor patriotic.  Pastors would do well to educate their congregations on the true nature of the world we live in and make sure they understand that their true hope...their only hope...is in Jesus.  And that His Kingdom, yet to be revealed, will not be a matter of majority vote.   


Democracy...even the ideal democratic republic...is still the antithesis of the Kingdom of God.  Any love of country, if it is not God's Kingdom,  is love stolen from that which belongs to God.  To pin your hope on any man, other than Jesus, is sheer nonsense, foolishness and a waste of one's short time on this earth.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Cult of War and The Warrior

Let me say, upfront, that I am not a pacifist.

I served in the United States Navy for 20 years, as a Hospital Corpsman.  I loved the Navy, loved being a Corpsman and was honored to be selected to wear the anchors of a Chief Petty Officer.  I believe strongly in the defense of our nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic, or I would not have enlisted and reenlisted twice during my career.  But, I retired from service four years earlier than I had to as a Chief and ten years earlier than planned.  The reason I left is partly the reason and motivation for this post.  The other part of my motivation is my growing concern over the ever increasing, insidiously sly cult of the warrior and war that has inserted itself into our churches today, under the guise of Christian patriotism.
 
Its not difficult to understand our national preoccupation with war and all things military.  Our nation was born in war and we have yet to know a generation that didn't know and participate in conflict. 

In many ways, we, the United States of America, have become the modern day equivalent of ancient Rome and its Legions.  Like ancient Rome, our troops are spread about the four corners of the world, attempting to keep a modern Pax Romana (Peace by Force).  Like ancient Rome, while many nations would prefer we were not there, they have come to depend upon us for security (albeit, a security that comes with a price).  Like ancient Rome much of our economy has become dependent upon the economic stimulus of a massive military-industrial-congressional complex. 

And just like the warrior society of Rome, we revere and esteem the role of the military professional and what we believe it says about our culture, our goals, our character.  We speak of the "best and brightest" that serve...about the "greatest generation"...how "all gave some, but some gave all"... all of which carries the notion that there is no greater form of service or sacrifice than signing up for military service and giving your life for your country, for freedom, for democracy, for the sake of your brothers in arms. 

Retailers offer special incentives and discounts to active duty military members, we have two national holidays recognizing the veterans service, we even have two national banks specifically designed for military members.

We have the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars that constantly lobby (and rightly so) on behalf of military members, active and retired, ensuring they receive the benefits they have earned and deserve.  And, we have a dozen or more groups that have been set up to aide military members in duress, such as the Wounded Warriors.  One of the largest health care organizations in the world is the VA (Veterans Assistance) who's primary goal is the care and treatment of sick, injured, wounded and disabled veterans.

References to the military and military paraphernalia can be found everywhere in our society.  We have fashion designs that take their cue from military uniforms.  We have toys and games for children and adults...everything from GI Joe dolls, to Battleship board games and first person shooter video games and paintball tournaments involving hundreds, event thousands of participants, recreating battlefield scenarios past and future.  Even professional sports teams don uniforms with camouflage in honor of our veterans and have military "fly-bys" at the start of games, along with color guards and military members singing the national anthem or God Bless America. 

Hollywood pumps out new war movies and made for tv stories of American war heroes and their adventures and noble sacrifice almost monthly.  And of course, national and local tv newsrooms and YouTube are replete with stories, commercials and videos of heartwarming homecomings and somber funerals and remembrances for "fallen heroes".  


Don't get me wrong.  I am all for rendering honor to whom honor is due and taking care of those who willingly step up to serve our country.  However,  I am beginning to wonder, has this pre-occupation with war and the warrior crossed a line from tribute and honor to cult worship? 


In particular, as a Christian, I wonder if our constant elevation of the American warrior and war, has adulterated our faith?  Have we become blind to the facts that indicate our involvement in some wars may have been, at best, muddled...or, at worst, outright nonsense and illegal.  Has our blanket American-Evangelical support of war and the warrior somehow made us callous or deaf toward those who speak up for peaceful solutions and who have suggested that, perhaps, our justifications for war may be wrong...even lies.  Has it made us unsympathetic, perhaps even racist, toward those upon whom we have inflicted great pain and loss as a result of war?


Biblically, there are no commands in the bible forbidding the follower of God from taking up the profession of arms.  In fact, when confronted by a soldier and asked how he might make his way to the Kingdom of God, Jesus did not tell them they had to leave their profession.  He did, however, forbid the unauthorized use or abuse of power.

"Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, 'And what about us, what shall we do?' And he said to them, 'Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.'"
                                                                      Luke 3:14

The bible is replete with references to war and the warrior, and often describing God in warrior terminology.  Ultimately, God in Christ, will lead His "army" against Satan, the Antichrist and their horde in the final Battle of Armageddon.

But, does that mean all wars have the blessing of God? 

Does that mean whatever a soldier does in war, also has His blessing? 

Of course not.  Could a Nazi soldier claim righteousness as he is hauling off Jews to the death camps?   Could the American soldiers massacring Vietnamese villagers at Mei Lai claim that they were just in their cause?  It is obvious that war can be filled with wrongs and atrocity. 


So, when is war wrong, and when should Christians begin to question being a part of it?


That is a deeply personal question, but one every Christian in this warrior nation needs to ask, needs to think deeply about, and MUST answer, honestly and sincerely.


I recall a scene from Shakespeare's "Henry V".  King Henry is moving among his troops incognito the night before a great battle.  In a conversation with one of his soldiers a question is asked, whether a soldier who commits a crime in war is responsible, or is the King responsible, since it was the King that willed them to war?  King Henry reveals the folly of their reasoning by suggesting that if they are correct, then a son, who commits a crime while on the business of his father, should not be held liable, but the father should, since it was the father that sent the son out.  Of course the soldiers then see the flaw in their reasoning.  Henry V then adds these great words...


 "Every man's duty is to his King; but, every man's soul is his own."


I believe that as citizens of any country, if we are to enjoy its benefits, we have a Christian duty and obligation to serve in the protection of that country we call home.  But, I believe even more strongly that if called to war, that war must be righteous, our reasoning sound and true, our cause just, and our methods moral and reasonable.

Have our recent, modern "adventures" in war met that criteria? 

There was a time when I would have answered that question with an unapologetic, resounding "Yes!"   Of course we're right.  Of course, we are the good guys...the cavalry come to the rescue of freedom and democracy around the globe.  We, as our Navy recruiting ads suggest, are a "Force For Good".  But, I was to eventually learn that I was being na├»ve.   For example...

WWII:
We are now learning that our government had advanced intel that the Japanese were planning to attack Pearl Harbor and kept that intel from the CO of Pearl.  We also know now that our policies and diplomacy with Japan was designed to provoke an attack.  Convenient and unusual that none of the carriers (which would be critical to winning the Pacific war) were in Pearl during the attack Sunday morning.

Vietnam:
We now know that the attack of the USS Maddox was a fiction.  And, that the US was buzzing N. Vietnam with U-boats, provoking an attack.  We also learn that the N. Vietnamese had extended diplomatic hands to the US when they attempted to unshackle themselves from the French.  The N. Vietnamese had never liked China and their form of communism was nothing at all like Chinese or Soviet communism.  We learn that every effort to establish relations with the US and make peace was rebuffed by the US and that this information was kept from the public.

USS Liberty:
Attacked by the Israelis during the Arab/Israeli war, the USS Liberty, a US Spy ship observing the war, was denied air support by direct order of the POTUS.  It was bombed, strafed, shot and torpedoed over a period of nearly two hours without any aide rendered by the nearby carrier task group.  Only the courage and skill at damage control of the US Navy sailor saved her from going down, as the POTUS desired.  And why?   To draw the US into the war in support of Israel and create a US military presence in the Middle East region.

Operation Northwoods:
Designed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and signed off by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Lyman Lemnitzer, this plan involved faking attacks on US soil and US airlines, faking deaths and burials, remotely controlling an airplane made to look like a commercial aircraft and faking an attack by Cubans using our own planes, all designed to foment public support for an all-out attack on Cuba.

9/11:
How do three modern steel and concrete skyscrapers fall into their own footprint from fires?   How do four "known-to-be-hijacked" commercial airliners get to fly for over an hour without military intercept and 3 of the 4 hit their intended targets?  Why did the POTUS sit in an elementary school classroom reading listening to school kids read a book when he already knew we were "under attack"?   Why did it take public pressure to create the 9/11 Commission and why was it so under-funded, rife with conflict of interest and designed to fail?   And why did we use it as an excuse to invade Iraq and Afghanistan when the supposed hijacker-terrorists were Saudis?

9/11 Fallout:
Rendition, Torture, Black Prisons, GTMO, extremely high civilian/enemy combatant death ratios, the dismantling of cultures and leaving nations stripped of leadership and means to secure peace (consequently leaving them open to the abuses of war lords and profiteers).  All this came as a result of 9/11.
.
Global War on Terror:
It has given rise to Al Quada, the Taliban, El Shabbat, ISIS and ISIL, has now justified the killing of enemy combatants remotely with drone missiles (illegal, immoral and against international law and rules of war, not to mention unconstitutional).  We've even used drones to kill American citizens...merely for being "suspected" terrorists or terrorist sympathizers, without due process. 

And lets not forget about the damage done here at home:  the shredding of the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Rule of Law in favor of a police state; and economy based on war; a society that lives in fear of our neighbors and is willing to trade freedom for security;  the militarization of local law enforcement;  the silencing of dissent.


I'm gonna' catch hell for this, but it must be said...


I was a Hospital Corpsman and proud of my rate, my service and my country. But, I have come to the same stark realization that MajGen Smedley Butler, USMC did. 


A two-time recipient of the Medal of Honor, MajGen Butler was a Marine's Marine. A man of courage, honor, integrity, of dedication to country and deep convictions. He declared what he had learned in his years of civilian service that followed his military career, at a meeting of the American Legion, that "War Is A Racket". He went on the declare that he was nothing more than high priced muscle for American corporations.


In my investigation into 9/11, I came to realize, as did Butler, that I wasn't actually fighing to defend freedom and democracy, nor was I fighting to defend the Constitution. These were the noble causes they "sold" to me. What I WAS fighting for was our economy. What I was lending my service to wasn't my government or my country, but a shadow government owned by bankers and corporate industrialists, who were making trillions of dollars off my honor and service, as well as the service of my enemies (you see, they fund and sell weapons to both sides, ensuring their profits).


Not only was war a racket, but it has become THE cult following of Americans of every race and creed. War and the Warrior are worshipped, praised and venerated in this country, like no other, save ancient Rome. We have become the very thing that Eisenhower warned us about.


There used to be a time when I would stand a little taller when someone said to me, "Thanks for your service, sailor." Now, it just leaves me heartsick that people still buy into the lies of our own government and into the mythos of the noble American warrior.


The fact is, the military service has just as many bad eggs as the civilian sector. Not all are the heroes the media wants you to believe. Most, if they're honest, would tell you that the primary motivator for joining (particularly re-enlisting) is economic. They need the pay and benefits that military service provides. Many, if they had the courage to admit it, don't really believe we're "fighting the good fight" anymore, have their doubts about 9/11, but don't see any financial benefit to leaving the service.


And if heroic means showing up on time, doing your job well and safely, and being willing to sacrifice time with your family, well then, most are, I suppose. But, truly, for the majority, military service is about as dangerous as driving down the Interstate at rush hour...and most civilians run that gauntlet daily. Most of us are involved in the "support and admin" end of things....in the rear with the gear...and of the 7% of the population that serves, perhaps less than 1% actually spend time at the front and even fewer see combat and face the bullets or bomb of the enemy.


For my money, there are some more deserving "heroes" out there, in our civilian work-force. I know many heroic police officers, firemen, ambulance workers, doctors, nurses.....teachers....promoters of peace?! Why don't we celebrate their heroism with the same level of awe and veneration we give to military service members? Why? Because their contributions don't pay out in the trillions of dollars, thats why. As stated, corporations and bankers create, finance and run our wars, on both ends, and they pump billions into the media to maintain a mythical awe of war and the warrior, in order to maintain a steady stream of volunteers to fight their wars, and to ensure public support of those wars.


Veterans day used to called Armistace Day...a celebration of the "end" of war and a time of thanks for the peace (short lived as it was) that came at the end of WWI. But today, its all about a celebration of the warrior and their noble sacrifice...its about pumping the well of patriotism and stirring anger and hatred for whatever the enemy of choice is. It has become,in short, big business.  Just recently we learned that the Pentagon was paying the NFL millions of dollars to support the military during the broadcast of their games.

http://www.sbnation.com/2015/11/4/9670302/nfl-paid-patriotism-troops-mcain-flake-report-million


Now that I'm "awake" to the truth of war and the war machine we have become, I am no longer comfortable with people telling me "Thank-you, for your service." It only reminds me now of the fool I was for volunteering. It only pains me to recall the years of effort, sweat and sacrifice I put in for a lie.   And it shames me to realize what this once great country has become....a giant war machine not only creating and fighting wars, but providing weaponry to just about every army/navy/airforce out there, friend and foe alike.


Do you want to thank me, as a veteran? Then do me a favor....investigate 9/11...do your due diligence and learn the truth about what it is you're either serving or supporting. Don't go on glibly repeating a phrase that does nothing more than support "business as usual" for the military-industrial-congressional complex.


Do yourself the favor, and wake up!

Knowing what I now know, I couldn't possibly remain in uniform, as a patriot.  And I most certainly could not remain a part of military service as a follower of Christ given the facts that our wars were not righteous and honorable, but based on lies and, therefore, illegal and unjust.


Understanding this I have become increasingly disappointed, irritated and frustrated with churches that continued to believe and support those lies from our pulpits, promoting war (particularly where it is us vs Muslim extremism  -- the new "Crusade"), elevating the role of military service members to the status of holy warriors, all in a Global War of Terror that is illegal and immoral and being conducted in a manner that is unconstitutional, without congressional approval or oversight and breaking international and Constitutional law.  No wonder the Muslims hate us!


I've come to the conclusion that US churches (primarily Evangelical churches) have equated military service with service to God, and exchanged true faith in Christ with patriotism and faith in our government and democracy. 

I believe we have, indeed, crossed a line from honoring military service to idolizing it.  Not because it is true and just...but, because it supports our way of life; because it strengthens our twisted notions of freedom and democracy;  because it justifies the incredible costs in national treasure and blood we have and continue to pay; and, primarily, because it massages our egos and our national pride, providing us with a quasi-moral grounds upon which to stand and justify our arrogance and our violence. 


The problem is the churches do not recognize the shifting sands of lies they have built this cult of war and the warrior upon.  For as the truth about our wars and warfare come out...as the public begins to learn and awaken to the reality of our situation...the US Evangelical church (just as I was, personally, when I was awakened) is going to be put through a lot of humbling. 

But, this is a good thing...and necessary. 

It is not easy admitting you were wrong.  It is often painful to face the facts and the truth about what you have become.  And, it takes a lot of moral courage to then make the decisions necessary to correct wrong behavior, wrong thinking, and wrong worship.

But, that courage is available, in the Holy Spirit, if you will but humbly bend the knee to truth (all truth is from God) and submit to the  pricking of your conscience that comes with every question about 9/11 and our culture of, by and for war. 

I don't believe it has to, necessarily, mean becoming a pacifist.  But, one does need to be far more discerning about when to choose the path of war and when to sign up for military service.  For certain, we must choose NOT to build our economy on the basis and outcome of war.

I believe the US church can and must make this change and promote this change, if it ever hopes to remain relevant and effective for the Kingdom of God.   We must stop wrapping our faith in flags and human politics that establish rule by man.  We need to wrap ourselves in the Truth of His Word, the Truth of who we are, where we're at and how we got here.  And, we must surrender to the Will of a God of love, to the power of His Holy Spirit, and we need to start building up a people ready and fit for the Kingdom of God.

Take the time to listen to Martin Luther King Jr's speech "A Time To Break Silence", about the Vietnam war and his prophetic warning about what this nation will become, if we do not heed the lessons learned from Vietnam.  I believe that we, unfortunately, have seen that prophetic word come true.

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkatimetobreaksilence.htm

God bless you in your pursuit of Truth and the goal of Christlikeness in all you do, and in your decisions that involve the taking up of arms and the use of violence against another human being.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sleepovers and Protecting Our Children's Hearts

A few weeks back there was a lot fuss about allowing our children to attend sleepovers.  Some were adamant that given the state of the world, they would never allow their kids to attend a sleepover at a non-believers home.  But, they were OK with their kids friends staying at their home overnight.

 Here's the deal...by keeping our children from others and requiring that all sleepovers be at our homes, we are sending the message that we don't trust anyone but us...and yet, expect others to trust us with their children. Isn't that hypocritical?

Another point: during the time of the first church, Rome's influence was everywhere. Roman Gods and pagan ceremonies, including ritual sex with prostitutes, were open and available for all to see. How did early Christian parents protect their children from such influences. You can't hide their little eyes 100% of the time.

You can, however, infuse them with God's Word and pray for their infilling of the Holy Spirit such that they are armored up against those influences. That, in fact, they are able to influence their world around them more than be influenced by it.

It comes down to "knowing" and trusting what you know.

You need to KNOW God, His Word, the Holy Spirit...and trust them IN you.

You need to KNOW your friends, neighbors, family and trust your instincts, intuition and the prompting of the Holy Spirit about them.

You need to KNOW the ways and means of the enemy, to anticipate his moves and strategies...to pray against them and trust the Holy Spirit's influence in your life when making your moves.

When things go wrong (as they often do) you need to KNOW God's grace and trust in His ability to see you and your children thru it. There may be scars, but scars are stories. And stories of grace, forgiveness, mercy and redemption are what the world needs more than anything today...to give them hope.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Faith Wrapped In Flags

There are no flags in heaven, except the banner of HIS love.


We, the church, need to stop wrapping our faith in flags (of any nation, state or cause) and stop being cheerleaders for systems, nations and gov'ts that have all failed in many ways, and are all doomed to fail ultimately, when they bend their knee to antichrist.


There will be no "American Christians" in heaven...there will be no "Canadian Christians"...there will only be "Christians". So, lets stop separating ourselves by flags and unite under the banner of His love!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Pruning and Thinning of The Disciple of Christ

"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.…
John 15:1-2

On any early winters day, go out to your nearest orchard and what will you see.  At first glance, it may look like madmen have attempted to destroy the trees.  Branches and limbs have been removed to the point of leaving the trees with what seems like the barest of form.  But, those who understand know, it is pruning time.

The good orchardist knows that in order to get the best crop he has to trim those trees down to their essentials.  He knows, by experience and training, exactly what should be removed and what should be kept, and in his mind he has a vision for those trees...and a hope for the crop to come.

In time, as the trees bud, bloom and begin to fruit, you will again see the orchardist move among his trees, thinning out the small and unessential fruit, spacing what remains in order to maximize its potential.

As the orchardist must pare their crop to ensure a harvest, so too, God is constantly at work in the life of His disciple, paring and pruning, shaping and thinning, removing that which hinders growth and/or diminishes the harvest He expects.

As the light of God shines upon us, He reveals those wasteful things that interfere with our progress into the image of Christ:  old habits of the past life;  ways of the flesh; and traits that hinder, such as impatience, resentment, doubt, fear, pride, envy.  All these things He prunes away or thins out by the ordering of events in our lives that both bring them to the surface and allow us the opportunity to shed them by way of repentant hearts and changed lives.  And if necessary, God may even enact His severe mercy and unilaterally remove things, even people from our lives, if they are interfering with our growth and fruitfulness...if they've become an idol in our life.

Pruning and thinning is never easy and often misunderstood.  But, don't try to explain it.  Don't try to defend it.  Those that know and love you and God, don't need the explanation.  Those that don't know you or God will never understand.

Do you feel as though you are being stripped and emptied...thinned out and pruned to the bone?  Rejoice!  God is at work in your life, removing all that distracts and diminishes, in order that you might one day know His abundant fruitfulness and experience a spiritual harvest of plenty.  Humbly submit...surrender to His loving hand and relinquish that which He desires to be removed.  Then, and only then, will you enjoy the bounty and fruitfulness He has planned and which your true heart desires.

God bless you thru your pruning and thinning times, looking ahead to the joy set before you in a bountiful, fruit-filled harvest.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My Little Old Church

I was saved in a little Pentecostal church in Keremeos, B.C., Canada.  Elim Tabernacle, an affiliate of the PAOC, was home to at least 50-60 congregational members.  There were no light shows, no dry ice smoke machines, no children's church, and no latte's at the entrance.  It was a simple, plain church, with hardwood pews and plain ordinary folk  (mostly farmers) who loved God, His Word and each other.

The music ministry team consisted primarily of two old married couples, the Millers and Rodmans, who played the piano, organ, accordion, violin and an assortment of brass instruments.   Often they were joined by the pastors and their wives and/or children, if they played.  They weren't exceptional musicians.  By any standard, they were  "rough".   I often recall how Mr. Rodman's violin wouldn't so much as "hit" a note, as slide into it.  But they all played from the heart and to honor their Lord.  They were willing and able, and God blessed us by anointing their heartfelt efforts.   

There weren't a lot of contemporary songs in our worship time.  Mostly the old hymns and revival choruses, which everyone knew and everyone sang (or, at least made a joyful noise to).  Occasionally, as a treat, a member or guest would honor us with something more contemporary.  But, we would always go back to the hymns that regaled the Master and life with Him and which we all could sing to. 

The most beautiful worship, in my mind, was when the instruments stopped, the leader turned off the mike and the congregation took over.  You could feel the waves of the Holy Spirit moving thru the congregation as all were one in songs of praise.  There were times when I imagined that this is what it must have been like on that Day of Pentecost in Acts 1, when all were together in one accord and the Holy Spirit fell upon all with tongues of fire.
 
Our pastors (I sat under two couples:  Stan and Pauline McNutt and Victor and Kathleen Payne) didn't use a lot of Power Point, YouTube or slick videos. In fact, they rarely, if ever, used the overhead projector that was used to project the worship choruses and hymns.  Such was the technological prowess of our fellowship. 

Pastor McNutt and Payne kept their messages simple and biblical. Usually a three point sermon, with a few anecdotal stories to bring home the point.  But, the stories never outweighed the scripture.  The bible was central and you came away with a greater appreciation for the contemporariness of the Word and why we need it so much.  Moreover, and most importantly, there was the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their preaching.  It was very real, very powerful, from the heart and kept us all humble and receptive.

With few exceptions, the service would end in an altar call.  There was no dropping heads and silent raising of hands for prayer.  If you wanted to get saved, or be prayed for, you got up out of your pew and made your way to the altar...in front of everyone.   This kept people serious about their needs for prayer and for God.  In our church, there was no hiding your faith or needs.  And once they made their way to the front, almost everyone else got up to pray with them.  We bore one another's burdens.
 
After Sunday morning service, we sometimes gathered in the church basement for potluck. That's where the real fellowship happened. "Small groups" weren't organized so much as they just "happened", naturally, out of shared interests and needs.

 
Sunday evenings were the worship services. 30-45 minutes of worship and praise, followed by a testimony or the completion of pastor's message from that morning and ending in prayer at the front of the church that could go on for an hour or more. Coffee and desserts followed, again in the church basement. More fellowship. And there were always the stragglers, staying behind at the altar to pray for that extra blessing, for guidance, for anointing, for healing and comfort.

Our pastors were not rich, by any means.  And their days were often filled with visiting the sick and home-ridden, or sorting out the occasional rift between members.  They were involved in the community and kept the pulse of the valley.  And of course, there were the weddings and funerals. 


Our pastor's wives and children supported them, even if they didn't always live up to the "perfection" some thought they should represent.  They were transparent and humble and mostly joyful and glad to be there.  I never got the impression that either the McNutts or the Paynes were using Elim as a stepping stone to some bigger, wealthier church.  They loved us and loved Keremeos and the people in the Similkameen Valley.

 
Elim was a simple, humble country church, filled with simple, humble loving folk and pastored by equally humble and loving pastors.  I loved it...I miss it.  And I hope to one day pastor a church just like it.