Houston Has a First Amendment Problem


Houston has a First Amendment Problem.

Lawyers  for the city of Houston have subpoenaed sermons of Conservative religious leaders.  Their intent?  To identify Pastors who might have spoken out against an equal rights ordinance approved by the Houston City Council in May of this year.  This ordinance, which bans racial and sexual discrimination in city employment, contracting, housing and public accommodations creates controversy because men and women can utilize public restrooms based upon their gender feelings, not their biological makeup.

Mayor Annise Parker says she only found out recently that the lawyers had requested sermon transcripts.  She claims the request to be overly broad.  However, her Tweet of October 14th hints otherwise:

If the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game. Were instructions given on filling out anti-HERO petition?-A

Fair game Ms. Parker?  Hardly.

According to the IRS, all pastors and churches are banned from “directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”  But, this law doesn’t restrict every type of political speech.

Pastors can educate his parishioners about the issues and can even endorse ballot referenda.  The law only prohibits the pastor from endorsing any particular candidate, as this threatens the revocation of the Church’s tax exempt status.

Leftists cry foul when Churches address the political issues of the day through the lens of God’s Word, believing the men behind the pulpits have overstepped their bounds.  In reality, the issue at hand isn’t one of limiting a Pastor’s speech rights but of a concerted effort to silence those who believe the homosexual/transgender/gender neutral lifestyles an abomination in the sight of God.

The agenda pushed in Houston would allow men and women to use public restrooms of their choice.  Imagine for a moment a typical Sunday morning at Church and little Sarah slips away from Mom and Dad to use the bathroom.  While in the stall, someone else walks in, and when Sara steps up to the sink to wash her hands, she sees the reflection of a man standing behind her.  There’s great potential for the suggested scenario to play out in Churches across America.  “Pat” informs the Pastor he feels like a female, and strolls into the women’s restroom.  In reality, he doesn’t feel like a woman, but instead is a child predator.

It could happen, right?

Senator Ted Cruz delivered his thoughts concerning Houston’s attempt to infringe upon religious liberty:

“Yet as we’ve seen it across the country, our hearts are particularly broken that we are seeing it (religious liberty attacked) here in Houston, Texas. This week, the government of Houston, Texas sent a subpoena to silence prayers. The government of Houston, Texas demanded of the pastors, hand over your sermons to the government. The city of Houston has no power – no legal authority – to silence the church. Caesar has no jurisdiction over the pulpit, and when you subpoena one pastor, you subpoena every pastor.”

The month of October is designated as “Pastor Appreciation Month.”  Continue to pray for those pastors who boldly proclaim the Word of God.  It appears religious liberties continue to come under attack, and those men behind the pulpits are standing in the crosshairs of a Liberal agenda intent on silencing not only the voice of religious liberty but also the voice of truth.

 

 

Purple Penguins? Preposterous and Pathetic


News outlets broke the story that a school district in Nebraska has decided to discard words that identify specific genders.  No more “boys and girls” or “ladies and gentlemen.”  Instead, teachers are encouraged to use terms that are gender inclusive.  A training document developed by Gender Spectrum encourages teachers to say things like ‘calling all readers,’ or ‘hey campers’ or ‘could all of the athletes come here.’  Or, the training material encourages the class to adopt a mascot name like ‘Purple Penguins.’

This is political correctness run amok….

Genesis 1 begins,

In the beginning, God created….

God spoke the words and the universe and everything in it appeared.  Genesis 1:26 and 27 says the following:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground.

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

If one takes time to scour the Bible, not once does God concern Himself with gender inclusiveness.  God expects humanity to embrace the gender of his or her birth.  To choose otherwise implies God made a mistake when knitting together life in the mother’s womb.

But I want to address another concern, one strangely ignored by all of the talking heads discussing this new policy.

What about the penguins?

Has anyone considered the feelings of the penguin?  Primarily, penguins are black and white.  Some sport an additional patch of orange and yellow.  But purple?  Nada.  Where does PETA stand in this controversial move?  Surely calling penguins, purple, offends those birds whose heritage of black and white can be traced to the dawn of Creation.  I can imagine colonies of penguins, waddling downcast, demoralized over the purple designation.  Who will be their advocate?  Will Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton ride snowmobiles into the rookeries and deliver words of consolation?  Our Country bends over backwards to be politically correct, but what about penguin correct?

America has lost its mind.

Oh, and by the way, penguins come in males and females…..

 

Downfall to Grace


Downfall to Grace – By Bryan Ridenour

A light appears in formless void,
A masterpiece of God’s own breath.
Hope springs to life and all is good,
‘Til man rebels and enters death.

A garden spot pre-planned by God,
A place for mankind’s birth from dust.
Plenteous garden, bountiful delight,
One tree denied, to obey a must.

Harmonic peace, mankind and creature,
Evening walks with Holy God.
The Milky Way and constellations,
Pathways where the angels trod.

No weeds to pluck or thorns to prune,
No fear of dark or fevered brow.
A test put forth from God’s creation,
A choice to make is proffered now.

The serpent’s guile, man’s tempting snare,
The fruit enticing wanton eyes.
Taste forbidden, truth forgotten,
Paradise lost, a swallowed lie.

Homeless now, despairing couple,
The naked truth they now must face.
The garden’s glory bleak and faded,
All hope is lost…No! ‘Tis God’s grace.

A sacrificial skin to cover,
Faultless blood for mankind’s sin.
A picture of Christ’s blood atoning,
Paradise found now once again.

To Whom a Rose is Due


To Whom a Rose is Due

by Bryan Ridenour

B’side laughing brook, ‘neath yon willow tree,
There flourishes a rose quite exquisite
A glorious red, one’s breath doth take,
Its splendor, a couple did visit.

The boughs of the willow, guard blooming delight,
From those seeking nature’s repose.
But one day a man with his lady beside,
Took refuge, discov’ring the rose.

A beauty so rare, none else can compare,
Carnelian blush, aglowing.
Admiring the bloom, in the safe willow’s tomb,
A masterful gift unfolding.

Examining the petals, the stem, and the thorns,
Incomparable, flawless in form.
Slipping out from the tree, in the cool eve’ning breeze,
A commitment of love now is born.

The man dropped to his knee, and with one simple plea,
Begged her hand in a marriage endeavor,
With an affirmative kiss, oh the joy, oh the bliss,
They would now spend their whole life together.

Now the man knew in truth, that the most comely of flow’rs,
Strolled beside, and for her he did fall.
Sprinting back to the tree, he dropped down to one knee,
Picking the rose for the fairest of all.

Thank God for Krispy Kreme


Every year I select one of the schools our teens from church attend, and I participate in “See You at the Pole,” joining in solidarity as Christian teenagers pray for their school, teachers, state and Country. Yesterday, I attended a small town school as kids from this rural district have started coming to Church within the past year.

When I walked up to the gathering area, the FCA Sponsor greeted me with a friendly smile and we chatted about the Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s Chapter at both the Junior and Senior High’s and about the impact these groups are having on campus. To entice students to roll out of bed early on Friday mornings, the club offers donuts and juice.  The FCA Sponsor told me a humorous little story about a student’s recent visit to FCA.  This student commented to the Sponsor that he

“Didn’t come for any Jesus…I just came for the donuts.”

I love the honesty. However, God uses donuts.

The Apostle Paul said the following:

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.”  I Corinthians 9:19

What does it mean to “become all things to all people?” Simply put, Paul meant that he would use their own (Jews and Gentiles) beliefs and ways to show them the truth.  So, to a religious Jew he would use the law to speak to them, to a Gentile he would use his conscience and culture.  Paul met people where they were and pointed them to Christ, ministering without compromising his own faith and convictions.  If Paul felt it important to present a person with a donut to spark a conversation about Christ, so be it.

The young man visiting FCA for the doughnuts doesn’t realize:

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

Whenever he attends the Friday morning meeting with only a glazed Krispy Kreme in mind, he’s hearing the Word of God proclaimed by a fellow classmate or guest speaker. God promises,

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

So, young man, keep coming for donuts and God just might grab your heart.

Thank God for Krispy Kreme…..

Walk Off the Wait


As I stood in line at a local discount store, I glanced at the magazine covers while waiting to checkout.  One title caught my eye, “Walk Off the Weight.”  I couldn’t help but smile.  I should’ve written the article.  Over the past 5 months, by way of diet and exercise, I’ve trimmed down 25 pounds.  My exercise of choice?  Walking.

Many people enjoy gym memberships; others enjoy running multiple k’s.  Walking briskly accomplishes the same goal without all the huffing and puffing.  A vigorous walk triggers a heart rate increase, and as mentioned earlier, coupled with a sensible diet, the weight melts away.

When reading the magazine cover, I also considered changing the word “weight” to “wait.”  That statement made much sense to me as well.

Psalm 27:14 reads,

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Many wrongly interpret the verse, thinking “wait upon the Lord” means to put life on hold, and “wait” for God to move.  On the contrary, the word “wait” means to continue serving in the manner of a waitress or waiter in a restaurant.  A good server keeps careful watch over her tables, ready to meet the needs of the patron as they arise.  The server faithfully works in this capacity unless the manager directs otherwise.

When encouraged to “wait upon the Lord,” continue serving Him faithfully until He changes the course of your life, opening and closing doors as He sees fit.  Therefore, keep walking while your waiting.

Now get out there, and “Walk off the Wait.”

Black Life is Human Life


The news isn’t good in Missouri.

There are mass protests growing around the Country responding to the shooting of Michael Brown involving a Ferguson, MO police officer.  It’s a tragic situation for all involved.  Though eye witness accounts contradict, the truth remains, a young black man died in the prime of his life and a police officer will bear the life long pain of pulling the trigger, justified or not.

Of course racial tensions are high.  One protestor in NYC held a sign saying,

“Black Life is Human Life.”

(Sadly, America’s racial tension has been stoked by the current Presidential Administration….but that’s another blog for another day.)  However, I do want to address,

“Black Life is Human Life.”

Of course it is!!!!  There’s only one race, the human race.  Every human breathing on the planet is created in the image of God.  So my question is, where’s the outrage from the African American community over abortion?  Do they not know the history? Margaret Sanger encouraged abortion in the lower income communities to destroy

“…human weeds,’ ‘reckless breeders,’ ‘spawning… human beings who never should have been born.” 

Who were these blights upon society in her view?  Blacks and poor people.  She also said,

“We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”

If protests were every warranted by the African American community it would be outside every Planned Parenthood in America.   Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in America, with 78% of the clinics operating in minority communities.  Blacks make up 12% of the population, but 35% of the abortions in America.

Planned Parenthood is the real racist and the black community remains strangely silent.

 

 

 

Flea Market and Garage Sale Flipping


For the last several months, I’ve been hooked on shows like “American Pickers,” “Flea Market Flip,” “Junk Gypsies” and “Market Warriors.”  I’m especially impressed by the repurposing of items no longer deemed valuable for their original purpose.   My wife also enjoys these shows and we’ve decided that we are going to try fixing up and repurposing items we snag at garage sales.

The first was an old chair that needed a fresh coat of paint and reupholstering.

Here are pictures:

If you have interest in buying the chair, the cost is $50 plus $40 for shipping/handling.  I receive Paypal payments only through brvan71@yahoo.com.  (Yes, that’s a v and not a y)

God bless and thanks for looking!

Bryan

prezebra zebra1 zebra2 zebra3

What’s Wrong With Our Military?


Daily news reports continue to confirm our Country’s declining on all levels.  Scandals rock the Obama Administration, and still almost half of America supports the President and his agenda.  One of the most recent aspersions to make waves involves the Internal Revenue Service and its practice of targeting groups with ideologies different from those occupying the White House.  It has come to light that email correspondence between Lois Lerner and other top administrative officials “mysteriously” disappeared because of an untimely hard drive crash.  If you believe that, I’ve got ocean front property in Wyoming, and I’m looking for investors….

Anyway, on the evening of June 23rd, a House Committee called IRS Commissioner Koskinen to testify for a second time about “email gate.”  Before launching into the interrogation, Darrell Issa ordered the Commissioner to raise his right hand to take the oath.  Issa asked,

“Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…..”

The Commissioner replied,

“I do.”

Issa omitted the most important phrase of the oath,

“…so help me God.”

And therein lies America’s problem.

A recent article online interested me.  The piece highlighted cases of moral failure in the military and the efforts to stem the lapses in principled judgment.  In February of this year (2014), Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed concern over rising instances of ethical problems in the military and ordered service leaders to add urgency to their drive to ensure “moral character and moral courage” on the heels of more than a decade of war.

Moral character?  Moral courage?  Those are absolute virtues of necessity in our nation’s armed forces.  However, the current climate propagated by our current Commander in Chief sets the stage for morality to nosedive.

Fox News Contributor Todd Starnes has identified the problem plaguing our military.  It’s the concerted effort to kick God from our nation’s military installations.  In an article entitled, “Pentagon Grilled About Christians In Military” he reports about instances of Christianity coming under attack in the ranks of our Country’s servicemen and women.  Some of the complaints registered include:

- A Navy directive that banned Bibles at Walter Reed Hospital

- An Army email that listed prominent Christian ministries like the Family Research Council and America Family Association as “domestic hate groups.”

- An Army Reserve program that listed Evangelical Christians and Catholics as examples of religious extremism

- The Air Force banning the word ‘God’ from an Air Force patch logo – even though the reference had no religious connotation

Obviously, Hagel fails to realize that when God’s kicked to the curb, the world goes to “hell in a hand basket.”  The Bible expressly teaches that when Godly leadership ceases to exist, everyone does “what’s right in his own eyes.”  Sadly, what man considers right often contradicts the teaching of God’s Word, falling miserably short of God’s ideal for humanity.  If one strips God from the military, then this Country’s leaders shouldn’t be shocked at a precipitous dip in the moral and ethical behavior of our nation’s soldiers.

The following dialogue from one of my favorite movies (Remember the Titans) identifies the problem plaguing our military:

Bertier : Listen, I’m Gerry, you’re Julius. Let’s just get some particulars and get this over with.

Big Ju: Particulars? Man, no matter what I tell you, you ain’t never gonna know nothing about me.

Bertier: Listen, I ain’t running any more of these three-a-days

Big Ju: Well, what I’ve got to say, you really don’t wanna hear ‘cuz honesty ain’t too high upon your people’s priorities.

Bertier: Honesty? You want honesty? Honestly, I think you’re nothing. Nothing but a pure waste of God-given talent. You don’t listen to nobody, man! Not even Doc or Boone! Shiver push on the line everytime and you blow right past ‘em! Push ‘em, pull ‘em, do something! You run over everyone in this league, and everytime you do you leave one of your teammates hanging out to dry, me in particular!

Big Ju: Why should I give a hoot about you, huh? Or anyone else out there? You wanna talk about the ways you’re the captain?

Bertier: Right.

Big Ju: You got a job?

Bertier: I’ve got a job.

Big Ju: You been doing your job?

Bertier: I’ve been doing my job.

Big Ju: Then why don’t you tell your white buddies to block for Rev better? Because they have not blocked for him worth a blood nickel, and you know it! Nobody plays. Yourself included. I’m supposed to wear myself out for the team? What team? Nah, nah what I’m gonna do is look out for myself and I’ma get mine.

Bertier: See man, that’s the worst attitude I ever heard.

Big Ju: Attitude reflects leadership, captain.

Attitude reflects leadership, Mr. Hagel.  Attitude reflects leadership.

 

Embarrassing Moments


It’s just a part of our human nature to become embarrassed occasionally.  Probably my most embarrassing moment transpired on a mission trip about 15 years ago.

I was serving as a bi-vocational music and youth pastor at the time, and my wife, my pastor, and I chaperoned a group of teenagers to Houston, Texas, spending a week in the inner city ministering to kids.  In a joint effort with other teenagers from our Church’s Association, we conducted a morning VBS in an area of Houston primarily populated by Hispanics.  My second language is pig Latin, so I enjoyed learning a new Spanish word or phrase each day, and the kids seemed to get a kick out of me trying to speak their language.

One day, as we wrapped up Vacation Bible School, all of the kids gathered in the sanctuary for a departing puppet show.  I thought it might be appropriate to learn the word for puppets, so I inquired of a small child.  As the kids streamed in to the worship center, I screamed at the top of my lungs,

“We’re getting ready to have a puppet show!”

substituting the English word “puppet” with its Spanish equivalent….

Or so I thought.

At the conclusion of the puppet performance, and as the kids filed out to load up on the church vans, a young girl tugged on my arm and said,

“I don’t think that word means what you think it means.”

She scampered off to ask her mom.  She came back with a shy smile and informed me I had been yelling for a “topless ladies show.”

I was mortified.

I’ll never live that down.

Recently, comedian Sarah Silverman shared something that embarrasses her.  As a pro-choice woman she’s embarrassed that she hasn’t had an abortion.

You read correctly.

In an interview with Bill Maher she said,

“…I don’t like to admit this…I’ve never had an abortion….”

As a staunch defender of the pro-choice movement, she felt guilty about championing a procedure, she herself had never experienced.

Our society’s so screwed up.  It used to be taboo to admit our downfalls publicly, to share about those moments of caving to temptation for fear of people shunning us or branding us with a scarlet letter.  Now it appears to be in vogue to express apologies for being moral.

People wonder why kids go on shooting rampages, blaming guns, the NRA, and now mental health.  In most cases of violence or in the choice of a woman to discard, like trash, the baby growing in her womb, the issue isn’t a mental one…but a matter of the heart.  America’s moral compass has broken, and we’re guilty of doing that, which God warned us against,

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”  Isaiah 5:20

Our Country’s push to be tolerant only shoves us closer to the precipice of God’s judgment.  Our Country’s insistence on being politically correct only drives a deeper wedge between the propagation of Liberal ideologies and Conservative family values.  America’s banned the Bible from the public sphere and embraced a “feel good” religion known as moral relativism.  It’s not a new invention of modern time; in fact the book of Judges ends in this manner,

“In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” Judges 21:25

There’s a problem with that philosophy.  Our own eyes deceive us.  And where those around us occasionally express an “evolved” view about behaviors once universally categorized as sin, God’s Word does no such thing.  How His heart must break when a woman apologizes for NOT having an abortion.  America’s in a mess of its own making.

America needs revival.