Thursday, December 28, 2017

Re-Issue of “How Value Determines Stewardship” Dec. 28, 2017

          Ten years ago this week I wrote about our need to think more seriously concerning stewardship in the coming year.  The need continues a decade later.  Even more things compete for our time, our money, and our attention than they did a few short years ago.  We need to determine what is really important in our lives and use our resources wisely.  What will actually matter in eternity?  What does God really value?  What should be our true, God-honoring priorities?  These are all questions we need to ask and answer.  What do you truly value the most?


Allen Raynor Weblog: “How Value Determines Stewardship”

(Dec. 26, 2007)

          What gives anything its value?  Who determines what gold, silver, diamonds, pearls or other jewels are worth?  What about other possessions of ours?  Your photo albums may not hardly bring 25 cents at a yard sale but to you they are priceless.  Your home may be a bit run down and nothing too special at all to a realtor or would-be buyer but to you it is where you spent many Christmas times together with your family and, of course, there is the door facing with the markings signifying little Johnny and Suzie’s growth.

          Even precious metals and jewels are only worth what someone will pay.  If people quit buying gold, the price would drop significantly.  What is of great worth to you?  Some have, in essence, sold their soul for various things.  It could be wealth, fame, influence or a number of other things.  The truth is that people place a high value on the things they pursue.

          The value we place on things or people determines our level of stewardship where they are concerned.  A steward is really nothing more than a manager of something or someone.  A “Stewardess,” for instance, or as we know them better today as “flight attendants,” have the task of managing persons on an airplane flight.  The airlines have determined that the customers have enough value they should take good care of them so they might just show up on another flight later on!

          Christians are taught in God’s word to be good stewards over all God has given to their charge.  If you wonder what qualifies, the answer is everything!  We should be good stewards of the earth or environment, our own health and even the health of others where we can, our families, our churches, every position we have, and the list goes on.

          One common mistake we make is in thinking that what we possess is ours.  When we start to think that way the value goes down in our mind.  It is one thing to back into a light pole, but it is another thing to back into the same light pole in your friend’s car!  How about this; it is one thing to rip a dollar bill to shreds but it is another thing to rip to shreds a hundred dollar bill, even though they look exactly the same to a blind man!  The difference is the value we or someone else assign to something.

          How much is your Bible worth?  How much is your church worth?  How much is your pastor worth?  How much is your prayer life worth to you?  The answer to each of these questions is not determined by but rather revealed through our behavior.  We may claim great value, however there is no evidence.  When we stand before God in judgment, I am afraid there is going to be a lot of awkward silence and heads hanging low!

          As we enter into a new year it is a great time to become a better steward of what you have been given charge over.  Men, you need to be better men because you value your wife and family.  Women you need to be better women because you value your family and because God expects it.  Children and teens you need to be better stewards of your lives and not engage in things that will hurt or even kill you, whether you’ve figured that out yet or not.  Church members you need to be better stewards of the church God has given you.  You are stewards of the lost people all around you.  How much do you value them?  Your stewardship will reveal the value you place on these people/things.  How important is money to you?  You say, “not that important.”  Well, it is important to God so maybe you need to give more to Him.  Unfortunately when stewardship is mentioned, money is often the first thing which comes to mind, however it is only one of many things, but still yet important.

          In the coming year let us try and set some specific stewardship goals for ourselves in several specific different areas.  We will never get there unless we plan!  What do you value, and how much?


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Recommended Reading from 2017 (Pt. 3) - Dec. 21, 2017

Sadly, the wonderful holiday of Christmas has been stolen by Satan and the world which Scripture tells us he is “god” over.  He takes all that which is good, that which God created and saw that it was good and corrupts it and mocks God in the process.  The celebration of Christ’s birth has become, ironically the most selfish holiday of the year.  I loved Mike Slaughter’s book Christmas is Not Your Birthday: Experience the Joy of Living and Giving like Jesus.  In this book he shows how mankind has corrupted this wonderful celebration and how believers can take it back.   The book is a challenge for each believer to re-evaluate his/her own lives and their own Christmas celebrations and their own attitudes to see if they measure up to what the Lord intended.

         Many signs point to the end of days.  The world is going about its business just as it has always done and is largely oblivious to the rapidly approaching end of time.  David Jeremiah’s book Is This The End?  Signs of God’s Providence in a Disturbing New World is eye-opening and genuinely helpful.  It will get you excited about what God has in store!  He gives insight on the rapture of the church, the tribulation period, how countries such as Russia fit into end times, and God’s special place for Israel.  The book gives great emphasis to what is going on today in light of Bible prophecy.

          Another great book that helped me understand end times more was The Second Coming of Babylon by Mark Hitchcock.  The book shows the place of resurrected Babylon in end times; as well as traces the history of ancient Babylon, and shows the Scriptural usage of the term “Babylon” especially in the book of Revelation.  It is a book that really is hard to put down after you start reading!  Another great book by Hitchcock that I read this year is called 101 Answers to Questions About Satan, Demons, & Spiritual Warfare.  Many like to focus only on the positive in life and even in their faith.  But, these things are reality and they must be faced.  Satan is real; demons are real; spiritual warfare is real.  Furthermore, these realities are harsh.  They are essential for our focus, attention, and studies.  This book, as the title indicates, is a question and answer book.  Hitchcock states a common question then gives a biblical answer.  The book is packed with great information.  I highly recommend this to all believers.  Keep it as a reference.  Use it to answer the questions that arise in your mind and to answer the questions others ask you.

          Ray Stedman’s book Spiritual Warfare: How to Stand Firm in the Faith is one of the very best on the subject.  People do not understand as well as they should the ongoing realities in the spiritual realm.  We need to understand those things and be ready.  This is a sort of “how to” book on dealing with the warfare we are already engaged in.  We have no choice as believers.  We are already in the battle, the question is, how will we carry out our duty?  This book is great encouragement and filled with wisdom for all believers.

          Heaven should be constantly on the minds of all Christians.  It is our future home/reality.  It may be in your near future and not merely the distant.  Truthfully, even if you have several years ahead of you, it is not too far away.  Many myths and legends exist about Heaven and they have corrupted biblical teaching to a degree many no longer have a clear and realistic view of the literal Heaven.  David Jeremiah helps us understand Heaven better by separating facts from urban legends in his simple book Answers to Your Questions about Heaven.  Use it as a guide, a reference, and to give as a gift.

          Many books come out each year that help people have more confidence in Christianity and the Bible.  This discipline is called “apologetics.”  Many of these books are academic, although there are a significant number that are lay oriented to help the average person defend their faith to their neighbors, friends, co-workers, and extended family.  Os Guinness has an award winning, brilliantly written book called Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.  Guinness calls Christians away from a “cookie cutter” approach to evangelism and sharing of their faith citing the fact that our world is incredibly diverse and we need to embrace that fact and share with each person as individuals and not merely like we were sharing to the masses.  This book will help you re-think how you witness to those around you in a very good and helpful way.  It will also help you see the need to better equip yourself for divine encounters to share your faith.

          A steward is a manager.  Every area of life calls for good management/stewardship.  Money is a particular hang-up for many people.  It is not just about systematically giving to the church and for God’s work, but it is in areas like buying things we cannot afford and things we do not need, accumulation of debt, falling for the world’s lies about “stuff” and possessions.  We are actually called upon to work hard specifically to be able to give more.  Sadly, if anyone works hard they feel entitled to spend it on themselves, but that is not the way the Bible presents stewardship.  I really got a lot out of The Money Challenge: 30 Days of Discovering God’s Design for You and Your Money by Art Rainer.  It will help you see money differently and evaluate your life, your goals, your priorities, spending habits, and desire to give to God’s work.

          This year marked the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  There has been a flood of books that have been released marking the occasion from deep critical works, reference works, biographies of key figures, and laymen-oriented overviews of the historical event.  I enjoyed Erwin Lutzer’s Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation.  It is readable, understandable, and engaging for almost every believer.  Reading this book will go a long way towards helping you understand the monumental significance of this time period in Christian history.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Recommended Reading from 2017 -(Pt. 2) Dec. 20, 2017

This year has been a year of indescribable grief and hurt for our hearts as we lost our youngest son Devin in February.  December 20th would have been his 16th birthday.  Without a doubt, God’s Word has ministered the most to our hearts and brought comfort in ways beyond what we could have imagined.  God has used many authors and books to help us to try and come to terms with such a terrible, terrible loss.  One of the first books we read after our loss was a book passed on to us by a co-worker of my wife.  The book is called Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss.  It almost looks like a children’s book, but it really is not.  It is both simple and deep at the same time.  It gives some good perspective where it is so welcomed.  It is a book that can be read in about 30 minutes and it is time well spent.  For a much more involved and in-depth look at the subject of grief, we greatly benefited from Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller.  The first part of this book is theoretical in that it gives the history of how those from the past have historically viewed grief and dealt with grief.  It moves from there into the more practical and finally ends in the Scriptural in its 325 total pages.  It is a book that will take a person some time to work through but the benefits are significant.

          Another great book that helped me put grief and pain in perspective was Ray Stedman’s book Let God Be God: Life-Changing Truths from the Book of Job.  Job is a difficult book to wade through and most people do not do much more than merely read it from time to time.  Few messages are preached on it and few memorize passages from its pages.  Stedman does as good of job as any author I have ever read at the point of breaking down Job’s meaning into understandable, usable truths.  Like the sub-title indicates, it can be life-changing when we understand more about suffering and pain, Satan’s desires, and God’s ultimate sovereignty.  Understanding Job goes a very long way toward understanding life here on this earth.

          I have always been greatly encouraged and strengthened by reading of the martyrs down through history.  Men and women have been so strong in their faith they have given their lives for the truth of Christ.  This year in our family devotion time we read a new book, which is a fresh perspective on the martyrs by author Bryan Litfin called Early Christian Martyr Stories: An Evangelical Introduction with New Translations.  It was very encouraging to us as we considered again the enormous and unwavering faith of those who came before us.

          I believe the Lord’s Supper is of extreme importance in the life of the church.  Sadly, it has become just another Sunday for people to miss church.  But when you consider what it is and why it is important it is then not so easy to dismiss.  R. C. Sproul has a great little book that is concise in its explanation of this special celebration called What is the Lord’s Supper?  It will help deepen your understanding and appreciation for the sacrifice of our Lord.

          I have argued for many years that legalized abortion is the single most revealing facet of our godless culture.  Many things are bad, but the mass slaughter of our children and the embrace of this culture of death, is incomprehensible.  The Gospel & Abortion, from “The Gospel For Life Series” by Russell Moore and Andrew T. Walker, gives some great insight into the issue and how we as Christians can respond.  The book is concise and a great tool for all believers.  Pornography is another pervasive problem that is far worse than many realize.  It is hard to talk about and often is not talked about by believers.  Another in the Gospel for Life Series is The Gospel & Pornography.  It offers a concise challenge to all believers to consider pornography through the eyes a Scripture and see it as God sees it.         

          I had the privilege of preaching through the Old Testament book of Judges and finishing it earlier this year.  The book describes a wicked and Godless period in Israel’s history where everyone did what was right in their own eyes.  It is exactly that which drew me to preach through the book.  So much of it parallels the United States of America in the modern era.  The most helpful resources I used in my study were Judges: Such A Great Salvation by Dale Ralph Davis, Judges For You, by Timothy Keller both which are great for laymen.  For more depth study, and especially for pastors studying/preaching through Judges, do not miss Daniel Block’s exposition of the book in the New American Commentary Series (NAC).

          This past spring I was able to preach through the Old Testament Book of Ruth on Sunday evenings.  The 4 chapters in the book tell the story of God’s providence in, not only the lives of the individuals – Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz – but of God’s greater work in providing an earthly King, David and an eternal King, Jesus  I found Sinclair Ferguson’s book Faithful God: An Exposition of the Book of Ruth very helpful and insightful.  I also got much from John Piper’s book A Sweet & Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God based on the Book of Ruth.  Dean R. Ulrich’s book From Famine to Fullness: The Gospel According to Ruth was really good at helping me keep this Old Testament book in a New Testament perspective.  For pastors and those who want to study deeper, I was thoroughly blessed by Daniel I. Block’s commentary on Ruth in the New American Commentary (NAC) series.  It is deep and breaks down words and customs in an exhaustive manner.  Probably the best commentary available on Ruth though is Robert L. Hubbard Jr.’s exhaustive commentary (316 pp.) in the New International Commentary Old Testament (NICOT) series.  I found it to be the most helpful tool overall in my study of Ruth.

          For pastors, I would recommend The Hardest Sermons You’ll Ever Have to Preach by Bryan Chapell.  The book includes insights for ministering, particularly in the time of death and funerals, to those left behind.  Life is full of tragedy, hurt, and pain and pastors are appointed to help give biblical perspective on what has taken place.  The circumstances covered by the book include such things as sudden deaths, suicide, abortion, murder, death of a child or baby, etc.  Each circumstance has a manuscript of an actual message that was preached upon the occasion discussed. 


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Recommended Reading from 2017 -(Pt. 1)-Dec. 19, 2017

George Barna is a Christian pollster who has been extensively researching and analyzing trends that affect the church, our culture, and morality for decades.  He has written more than fifty books.  I found his book America At The Crossroads: Explosive Trends Shaping America’s Future And What You Can Do About It to be insightful and informative, albeit sobering and discouraging.  About 90 percent of the book is an overview of his research, with analysis, in several categories, such as religious beliefs and behavior, beliefs concerning the Bible, political ideology, beliefs on social issues, priorities, etc.  Then in the last section of the book he deals with the question “What You Can Do.”  Here he explores the importance of being a true follower of Christ, not merely a Christian in name only.

          I read The Gospel & Same-Sex Marriage from “The Gospel For Life Series” by Russell Moore and Andrew T. Walker.  This little book is packed with a lot of good information.  Like all volumes in this series it is concise and to-the-point, but provides the reader with valuable information to refute the claims of our day by mainly affirming what true and biblical marriage really is.  By understanding what it is, one will quickly see what it is not.

          Occasionally, the title of a book intrigues me so much I want to read it.  That is exactly what happened when I first discovered Gregory Koukl’s book The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything that Happens In Between.  In about 200 pages Koukl covers all the bases in a very thought-provoking, insightful manner.  The book is unique in that it holds the interest of someone who has studied the issues of faith for a long time, yet is simple enough to be placed in the hands of a new Christian, a non-believer or even a skeptic.  He covers realities about God, man, the person of Jesus, creation, the cross, and resurrection.

          There are several great books on Heaven.  One of the quickest ways to get excited about what Heaven is really going to be like is to read one of these books that help you understand Heaven better.  One simple and straightforward book on the subject is The Real Heaven: What the Bible Actually Says by Chip Ingram.  It covers all the basics in a simple, easy to follow format.  It pictures the New Heaven and New Earth as well as helps believers understand what happens now after they die, where their loved ones are, etc.

          Surprise Endings: Ten Good Things About Bad Things by Ron Mehl was a part of my daily devotional time for several mornings earlier this year.  The book is not really a devotional book per se but it served that purpose for me.  It is inspiring and encouraging as he takes well-known Scriptural passages and makes modern application to real-life situations.  It was a very enjoyable book to read.  It will give you much encouragement.

          Another book I used during my daily devotional time was Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible, the classic work by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  It is somewhat of a topical arrangement with comment on the book of Psalms.  He shows how the Psalms express the deepest groanings of our hearts.  I found it quite helpful.

          There are lots of books available on the subject of prayer and you might even find a book on fasting on rare occasion; but good books on the subject of biblical meditation are quite rare.  Most of what is available is on the mystic side.  However, I found Robert Morgan’s book Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation to be very helpful, uplifting, challenging, and encouraging.  He gives many verses and ideas as to how we can move beyond merely reading the Scriptures and toward making them a part of our daily lives and walks with the Lord.  The answers are all there in the Bible, we just need to know where to look and how to recognize them when we see them.

          Over the past few years, I have greatly enjoyed the series co-authored by broadcaster Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard.  This year I read Killing Regan: The Violent Assault that Changed a Presidency.  In March 1981 the mentally disturbed John Hinckley Jr. shot President Reagan and nearly took his life.  This event changed the President in several significant ways.  Killing Reagan is a book that shows the character of Ronald Reagan the man in the face of this event.  I have read several biographies of Reagan, but this is like no other.  Like others in the “Killing” series it is extremely well-written and very engaging.

          Former Fox News host Megyn Kelley wrote a book called Settle For More which was very inspiring to me.  The premise for her book is based on a few words which changed her life.  She realized she had settled for less in her life and began a journey of changing those things.  A journey which led her out of the practice of law and into journalism.  Reading this book personally challenged me to work harder in some areas of my life and not give up on certain dreams and goals.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Re-Issue of “Christmas Spirit and Christian Spirit” Dec. 14, 2017

Ten years ago this week I wrote a weblog that expressed my concerns about how Christ is so often absent from Christmas.  The holiday seemingly becomes more about “us” each and every year.  Author Mike Slaughter released a book a couple of years ago that addresses this whole issue in some depth called Christmas is Not Your Birthday.  Christmas has slowly over time, developed an almost cult-like following; especially in America with lavish celebrations often without a single thought of Christ.  How can it be so?  The answer seems to be that Satan has ultimately hijacked the celebration that should be all about Jesus.

Allen Raynor Weblog: Christmas Spirit and Christian Spirit
(Dec. 19, 2007)

          It is December once again; snow and ice have blanketed many parts of the nation recently.  Lights brighten the profile of houses in our neighborhoods and Christmas trees are immaculately decorated in our family rooms.  Sweets are everywhere!  Office parties, church fellowships, parties with friends, and family get-togethers test our will power not to overeat to the max! 
          I have observed that what should be a very celebrative season is often marred by tragic events.  On my way to church this Sunday, for instance, at approximately 8:15 AM I was taken back at how full the parking lot was at Walmart.  I find it incredibly ironic that 9 days before CHRIST mas that America’s largest retailer would be enormously busy, yet only a small crowd gathered for church.  I guess I would expect it if there were a holiday called GIFT mas, but really?  at CHRIST mas of all times? 
          There are several details which make up the overall Christmas story in Scripture.  There is the detail that there was no room in the inn, that Mary was Joseph’s “betrothed” wife, that Jesus was born in a cattle stall, the fact that the baby Jesus was laid in a manger or trough, and also that the wise visitors from the east came and presented Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Most likely Jesus was anywhere from 1 to 3 years old when these wise men paid their visit.  A visit to a local mall today would indicate that this visit by the wise men and the presentation of gifts was the most important part of all.  It would be like paying 50 dollars for an NFL game ticket, paying no attention to the game, ordering a hot dog and drink and calling that the highlight of the day!  When asked about the game, the same person would respond, well I’m not exactly sure who was playing!  Seems ludicrous does it not?  Well, guess what, welcome to the Christmas season in America.
          We have now figured out how to celebrate Christmas without recognition of Christ’s birth, Easter without recognition of His Resurrection, Thanksgiving without thanking God,  Independence day without considering God’s gift of our nation, Memorial Day without remembering God, Labor Day without acknowledging the ability to work as coming from God, Mothers and Fathers Day without any sense of realization that God gave us our parents, need I go on?
          Any worries about Christmas stem from uneasy retailers concerned their profits will be less than expected or hoped for.  Everyone wants a piece of the pie.  You can even stuff  someone’s stocking with Burger King gift certificates; Subway if they are a teeny big more health conscious!  What I will refer to as TV spots with attitude, such as one particular spot for Lexus encourages those who are worried they are not getting what they really want to hurry down to the “Lexus December to Remember” sale going on.  Well aren’t they nice; practically giving away cars just in time for CHRIST mas.  The personal sacrifice on their part is enormous!  I know it was a real toss up for them to decide whether to do this or help the homeless!  I hope they did the right thing!  It really is comical when you think about it.  I was at least pleased recently after purchasing an item at the “Family Christian Store” and being thanked with a “Merry Christmas.”
          Thus far you may have said right on!  Please consider this dear Christian.  In this season of celebration, how many times have you gotten angry with your wife or husband over nothing, maybe even quit speaking for a while?  How about at church; did someone say something mean to you during the finger food fellowship and quietly in your heart you’ve vowed not to speak to them again?  Did the cashier give you back too much change and you somehow forgot to correct him/her?  All these things and more are far from the spirit of Christmas.  In fact, the “Christmas spirit” we often hear about is simply a “Christian spirit.”  A Christian Spirit is something we need throughout every day of the year, not just a few select days in December.  The reason the world can shop without care on Sunday mornings in December, people can pout, act ugly to one another, and succumb to ads which encourage them to spend more money on themselves than others, and a number of other things is because, not only the Christmas spirit is absent, but the Christian Spirit is not there.  What a tragedy!  Even among Christians, we might ask where is it?  Christmas is really a sad holiday if it is nothing more than a padding of retailers pockets, erecting trees, and gorging until we are miserable.  My friends it is so much more.  Please celebrate Jesus Christ this Christmas!  Don’t be fooled by imitations!

In Christ

Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Re-Issue of “Thanksgiving Appetites: Varying in Types and Degrees -Nov. 15, 2017

          Four years ago this month my heart was burdened, as Thanksgiving approached, about those who had little or no spiritual appetites.  As a pastor who works very hard to prepare for every service, it is nothing short of mystifying to me why so many pass up multiple opportunities for spiritual growth.  For years it gnawed at me.  But, I finally realized that the answer was quite simple.  The answer is that some simply do not have the appetite for spiritual growth that others have.  It is very similar to why some fill their plates, devour their food and reach for seconds while others hardly eat anything at all.  It is all tied to the appetite of the person.  My heart grieves for those who waste opportunity after opportunity neglecting what Jesus called “That good part, which will not be taken away” in Luke 10:42.


Allen Raynor Weblog: Thanksgiving Appetites: Varying in Types and Degrees

(Nov. 25, 2013)


          Well it is Thanksgiving time again!  Giving thanks is both a privilege and a discipline for believers.  It is a privilege because we get to receive the joy and honor of doing it and a discipline because we need to do it whether we feel like it or not!  In several places in both the New and Old Testaments there are imperatives to “Give thanks.”  We need never treat these as optional.  But, as we mature in our faith, we will see that the more discipline oriented aspects fade into the sense of delight and privilege we feel at being able to give God thanks!

          The holiday of “Thanksgiving” itself is being lost little by little in some very subtle, and not so subtle, ways.  Retailers have little to sell at Thanksgiving compared to the much more lucrative Christmas season.  Apart from food items and maybe a few decorations there is little about Thanksgiving that translates into dollars.  Instead, they have “cheapened” the holiday by making it a springboard for Christmas.  For several years now we have experienced the phenomenon known as “Black Friday” where retailers open ridiculously early offering great deals and incentives on Christmas merchandise.  I have often complained that it seems they are sending a message that “We cannot wait to get Thanksgiving out of the way and move on to ‘greener’ (no pun intended) pastures.”  But now, it is even worse.  In the last few years, more and more are actually opening on Thanksgiving Day!  They reason that some want to get out of the house and away from cooking, away from football, away from irritating relatives, etc. and would love the opportunity to shop.  Sadly, the executives making these decisions are cozy and warm on Thanksgiving Day with their families while lower level employees with little or no say in the matter are having to for-go time with their families in order to work generating profits for the guys at the top.  It is yet another example of what our culture loves to do and that is push the margins and move the goalposts if they do not like where they are located.  And it further illustrates 1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

          It is the irony of ironies, that we could have a holiday called “CHRISTmas” and then make it about ourselves instead of Christ!  And equally as ironic that we could have a holiday about giving thanks to God and also make that about ourselves!  On the surface the problem seems to be about gluttony of food and of drink and gluttony of entertainment(s).  But I think there is an underlying spiritual reality which causes these other things.  These are mere symptoms of a far greater and deeper problem.

          Not everyone will eat a lot this Thanksgiving.  Those with hardy appetites will eat the most, followed by those with strong to moderate appetites, followed by those with average appetites, then those with smaller appetites.  Finally there will be those who eat virtually nothing because they have little or no appetite, for various reasons, including sickness.  Back a few years ago a lady in the church I pastored at the time had experienced declining health and was ultimately placed in a nursing home.  As her health declined further she got to the point she would not hardly eat a thing.  It turns out after a little research at the time that, medically speaking, I discovered this is a natural prelude to death.  People who are in process of dying have no appetite and food is totally unappealing to them.  Concerned family members gather around and try and coax their loved one to eat through words of encouragement, bringing in special food that they knew was once loved by the family member, or even holding a spoon to the person’s mouth asking them to open and take a bite, much like would be done with a child.  But the underlying problem is that there simply is no appetite!  Food that smells, looks, and tastes good to people with healthy appetites is nauseating to persons without healthy appetites.

          Spiritually speaking, there are people everywhere that are not hungry.  They have no appetite at all for spiritual food.  Family, friends, church members etc. try and coax them to eat.  It may be special events at the church, the allure of a new program/ministry, new pastor, revival meeting, Bible study, etc. but nothing appeals to the appetite they do not have.  Frustration often is felt by those trying to get others to eat thinking they can somehow convince them of their need to eat, or thinking if they just offer an appealing sounding “dish” then they will come and eat and drink like there is no tomorrow.  But it probably is not going to happen because there simply is no appetite.  We all have our favorite foods, but few of our own favorite foods sound good when we have the stomach flu.  The sickness has killed our appetite temporarily.  Spiriual appetites are killed by the sickness/condition the Bible calls “sin.”  In fact, sin is so serious that people are said to be “dead in their trespasses and sins.” (Eph. 2:1-10)  Sin was such a bad sickness, it actually took our “spiritual” lives from us while Satan laughed and gloated.

          As Christians gather to give true “thanksgiving,” “honor,” and “glory” to God for his abundant provisions others will enjoy the externals but miss what it is really all about.  They will do this because they have not the spiritual appetite that others have for the things of God.  This is not meant to be discouraging, but more than anything is meant to be a reminder of the responsibilities we have at the point of showing others why we personally celebrate Thanksgiving.  Lost family members are watching you more closely than you may realize.  Be a good witness to them in the days ahead.  Also, please remember if they have no spiritual appetite then there is nothing they feel they need to satisfy.  We can pray for them that God will create an appetite and we can thank God that we have an appetite and that we can be satisfied by God’s own provision!


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Spiritual Warfare in Sutherland Springs, TX and Beyond - Nov. 9, 2017

          Tragedy is all around us.  In fact, in recent days, one tragedy seems to top another.  Last Sunday we had the worst mass shooting in Texas history when Devin Patrick Kelley walked into First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs and began shooting, killing 26 people and injuring several more.  This came on the heels of the worst mass shooting in American history in Las Vegas when 64 year old Stephen Paddock shot concert goers from a high rise hotel killing 58 and injuring well over 500 others.  In fact 2 out of the 5 deadliest mass shootings in American history have occurred in the last 5 weeks!  Not to mention some smaller scale happenings such as a church shooting in Tennessee, a gunman walking into a Thornton, CO Walmart and killing and injuring people, a man in a rented pickup truck mowing down people on a walking trail in Manhattan, NY etc.  There are a couple of especially notable aspects to these most recent incidents that make them different.  Number 1, the frequency and intensity of these terrible attacks seems undeniably worse, and number 2 it seems the motives in most of these cases are hard to determine; at least much more difficult than in previous terrorist type attacks.

          Many in the media, politicians, and Hollywood believe the answer to violence is further gun control and that the key to stopping Islamic terror attacks is to give more sympathy toward the Muslim world as a type of concession to them because of our previous “unjust” foreign policy. 

          All tragedy in the world stems from the harsh reality that we live in a broken world.  It is sin filled and sin saturated.  What we saw in Sutherland Springs, in particular, is that the comfortable American church has lost touch with the fact that we are at war with the “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly realm” (Eph. 6:12).  In light of our just celebrating the 500th anniversary of the recognized beginning of the Protestant Reformation, allow me to quote Martin Luther from his beloved hymn “A Mighty Fortress is our God.”  The third stanza says “And though this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us.  We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph thro’ us: The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; His rage we can endure; for lo, his doom is sure.”  Martin Luther recognized 500 years ago that spiritual warfare was real and a real obstacle, but also that the power of God was much stronger than anyone or anything Satan could empower to do his dirty work.

          Contrary to what some believe, becoming a Christian does not take you out of the battle.  It does, in fact, put you right into the heart of the battle!  When you are unsaved, you are already doing Satan’s work and he pretty well leaves you alone, but when you declare independence from him and declare allegiance to God, then the real battle begins.  He tries to demoralize, defeat, and destroy Christians.  Every Christian will have Sutherland Springs, TX on their mind this Sunday and Satan is strongly recommending everyone just stay home.

          No one can begin to understand any current events or most of history without understanding the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Ray Stedman insightfully writes “The Gospel of Jesus Christ touches and explains all of history.  It has a clear and consistent worldview, and it provides a framework for every science, every endeavor to investigate reality, and every effort to understand and make sense of all the events of history.” (Ray Stedman; Spiritual Warfare: How to Stand Firm in the Faith; 76)  The world likes to treat the problems and symptoms they see on the surface. But, in contrast to that narrowness of thinking, Christ takes mankind to the very heart of the problem.  Stedman goes on to say “The Gospel is not content simply to treat the symptoms of the human condition.  It offers a radical solution to our fundamental problem.  We often come to Christ asking him to resolve some immediate difficulty in which we find ourselves, like a man with cancer going to a doctor and saying, ‘I have a rash on my arm, Oh, yes, I do have cancer – but don’t bother with that.  Just treat the rash and I’ll be on my way.’  No doctor worthy of his medical degree would honor such a request – and neither does the Great Physician, Jesus Christ.” (Ray Stedman; Spiritual Warfare: How to Stand Firm in the Faith; 76-77)

          One of the Scriptural names given for Satan in the Word is the Greek name “Apollyon” (Rev. 9:11).  The name means “Destroyer.”  Satan does not only disrupt, but he destroys at every opportunity.  He can destroy lives, but He cannot do any more.  The souls of mankind are what he really hungers for.  He could not destroy the souls of people in First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, TX but through the shock and hurt of the circumstances he can successfully turn other souls away from God.  That is certainly his aim.

          Do we need to live in fear that our church is next, or that it is just a matter of time?  We do not have to live in fear.  God has given us a spirt, not of fear, but of peace, and soundness of mind.  We can be confident in our Lord and Savior.  To quote Luther again “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing; were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing; Dost ask who that may be?  Christ Jesus it is He; Lord Sabaoth His name, from age to age the same, and He must win the battle.” 


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor




Wednesday, October 25, 2017

: Re-Issue of “Some Bad Tendencies Common to Churches”-Oct. 25, 2017


          A year and a half ago I wrote concerning some very bad trends or tendencies that are common in churches.  I am even more convinced today than I was then that churches are spiritually handicapping themselves because they have taken their eyes off of Christ, Who is head of His church.  The items I wrote about are not insignificant because they hinder, to one degree or another, the church from doing its work and reflecting the glory of Christ in this dark world.  If the true identity of the church is clouded or hidden altogether, then the church can easily morph into something other than the true church of the Lord Jesus Christ.  In many, many places that is exactly what has happened.  Many churches are majoring on minors and making minors into majors.


Allen Raynor Weblog: “Some Bad Tendencies Common to Churches”

(June 30, 2016)

          The church, in its purest sense, is the most wonderful entity or institution to ever exist.  The desire of the Lord Jesus is “That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:27) The ideally functioning body of Christ, spoken of in Acts 2:41-47, is something everyone should long to be a part of.  But we know there is no such thing as the ideal church in the “here and now” because of us weak and frail, sinful, selfish and self-absorbed human beings that compose the local church.

          There seems to be a handful of tendencies or traps into which churches are prone to fall.  Each of these hurt the purpose and witness of the body of Christ in the world.  They may seem minor, but they are far more major than we realize.  The church is to reflect the light and glory of it’s Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but if it is not very careful, it takes on many unfortunate characteristics of the dark world in which it exists.

          Churches have the tendency to become a “museum of saints.”  The “saved” may be seen as, not unlike, a collection of “trophies” celebrating past programs, initiatives, or the tenure/ministry of a former pastor.  The past may be elevated and glorified and there is little talk about the future.  Past pastors, past staff members, past programs, past Sunday School attendance, past church attendance, past youth groups, past music programs, past building programs, past church planting efforts, etc.  I once had a key leader, in the church in which I was serving at the time, brag to me about how active the church had been in church planting.  He said it had started several mission churches.  But, the most recent one had been more than 75 years earlier!  Churches with longer histories have greater tendencies to become museums for saints where “the past” rules.

          Churches have the tendency to become a “business.”  There are easy-to-see reasons for why this often happens.  Without becoming “incorporated” churches have been advised they are putting themselves at risk and most churches have done so.  However, the downside of this is that it causes churches to claim a status that is actually “inconsistent” with its purpose for existence.  Compliance with certain laws tend to contribute to a looming/hovering threat that the church might lose it’s “tax exempt” status.  It is often portrayed, and even feared as being a worst-case-scenario perhaps even worse than disobedience to God!  The body of Christ (the church) above all else, is to be separate from the world.  It will never attract the world by being like the world.  It will only attract it by being different.  In a multitude of ways, the typical 21st -century church sadly functions far-too-much like a business.  Issues related to insurance, payroll, copy machine contracts, utilities, office supplies, policies and procedures, profits and losses, contract negotiations, compliance issues, and much more are consistent with the business world.  But, as much as possible those things have got to be seen as veritable tools to help with the real purpose of the church and not ever become a “driving” or “controlling” force.  In this area, it is very easy to get the “horse” and “cart” reversed and indeed many churches have done so.

          Churches have the tendency to become “banks.”  When people give their tithes and offerings they are giving it out of obedience to God for the work of ministry.  Some are doing so quite sacrificially.  Some churches accumulate tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars, without using it for the work of ministry.  The idea of “hoarding” is far from the minds of most churches, but it still happens.  One church business meeting I was a part of several years ago had a lengthy discussion of banks and institutions and how the church could make the most interest off “their” money.  It does not seem this is what God intended to be done with tithes and offerings, but it sounds a lot like the poor steward in Jesus’ parable of the talents (Mat. 25:14-30).  There are two types of investment – one is in the world and the other is in kingdom work.  The point Jesus stressed was the importance of investing “talents” in kingdom work, not burying it in the ground or in a bank account.  What often happens is that churches see assets like property, buildings, bonds, CD’s, savings, large checking accounts, designated funds, etc. as “security.”  But it gives a “false” sense of security at best.  At worst it facilitates disobedience.  Churches are to be “channels” whereby all money given is used for the work of ministry.

          Churches have the tendency to become social clubs or country clubs.  It is what Thom Rainer terms “churchianity” as opposed to “Christianity” in his book I Will: 9 Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian.  Practicing “churchianity” is when I make it all about me – my likes and dislikes, my taste in music, my desired temperature for the building, my color for the new carpet, my method for doing youth ministry, my way to do Sunday School or small groups, my way to run the kitchen, my way to do children’s ministry, my style of preaching, my, my, my . . .  Whether knowingly or unknowingly, many simply expect comfort and satisfaction with their church and if they are not receiving it, they will either stop coming or, take their “business” elsewhere to another church until they find what they are looking for and that which brings them the comfort and satisfaction they desire.  This is NOT Christianity, but rather “churchianity.  The church is the place where we, as the body, unite for worship and to sharpen our spiritual axes and then head back out to the work of ministry!  In the early twentieth-century, evangelist Billy Sunday famously said “The church is not a dormitory for sleepers, it is an institution for workers; it is not a rest camp, it is a front line trench.”  Sadly, local bodies have many members practicing “churchianity” and not “Christianity;” therefore, many churches much more closely resemble social clubs or country clubs than New Testament churches.

          There are plenty of other tendencies that harm the church, but these are but a few I have observed in my years of service as a pastor.  The best, and perhaps only way, to put these problems/tendencies to bed is to get back to God’s revealed Word.  The Latin expression “Ad Fontes” which means “Back to the sources” was the battle cry of The Renaissance period where there was a sharply renewed interest in the first principles and sources of truth and knowledge.  There was widespread belief that they had drifted away from their solid, and former, foundation.  What we need in the church of the 21st Century is a “Renaissance” by getting back to the source – the Bible -  and see how we can be a better, more “New Testament” grounded, church.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Re-Issue of “The Question of God’s Justice in the Face of Growing Evil”-Oct. 12, 2017

Two years ago this month I wrote about the age-old struggle believers have to try and understand why God allows evil to seemingly prosper in this world.  Often God seems silent while people struggle, hurt, and search for answers.  This is certainly true when we consider the recent mass-shooting in Law Vegas.  But, even greater than that one single event is the struggle to understand why God allows day to day immorality to be the rule and traditional Christian morality to be increasingly the exception.  The Prophet Habakkuk wrestled with God on these questions as he tried to understand the justice of God.


Allen Raynor Weblog: The Question of God’s Justice

in the Face of Growing Evil

(Oct. 8, 2015)


          These are trying times for Christians.  If you are like me, you have probably seen more ungodly and sinful things happen in just the last 6 months than you perhaps believed you would ever see in your lifetime.  There is no need to rehash all those things here.  Believers know what the Bible teaches and what Christianity has stood for its entire 2000 year existence.  Further, we know what God has said from the very beginning going back to His creation of the world.  So, in light of those things, why do the wicked seem to be winning?  Why is sin celebrated and seemingly every evil cause championed from the President, to some candidates running for President, to many members of Congress, to judges, governors, mayors, the Hollywood community, and other influential leaders?  Is the situation really new or does it only seem new since it is beyond the scope of what we have personally known?  Will we experience any relief from all that is happening?  How best should we process these things?

          The Prophet Habakkuk struggled to understand seeming contradictions within the framework of God’s justice.  He grappled with how the God of love could allow perceived injustice and even go so far as to use unjust people for His purposes.  The theological question of “theodicy” is explored in the 3 short chapters of the Book of Habakkuk.  Theodicy seeks to answer the question “Is God just?”  When things happen that appear to contradict what we know about the justice of God; how then can we continue to believe He is just in all His ways?

          He asks God a first question and then a second.  He is reverential in the manner in which he asks, but still feels the compelling need to ask.  His questions and God’s responses leave us with some important implications about God and how He works.  First; personal faith can lead to powerful problems.  Having faith does not answer every question.  In fact, there are times where it creates even more questions.  Faith is trusting when we do not know everything.  Second; the response believers should have in the face of evil is trust.  Trust is not always easy and often seems to be against our natures.  Third; thinking rationally cannot penetrate all the mysteries of evil.  But it is faith that strengthens us in the face of great evil.

          One popular myth says that when you trust Christ as your Savior, all your problems will vanish.  The truth is, your biggest problem has gone away, but many of the smaller problems remain.  However, the way you view those problems and the perceived weight of those problems will, almost certainly, change.  Problems are a part of life.  Even evil itself is a nasty reality.  Sometimes we feel like echoing David’s words in Psalm 22:1 where he cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”  Many apply this to America, believing God has somehow turned His back on us.  But, something we must always keep in mind is that nations, countries, and all geographical territories for that matter, are relatively inconsequential to God.  His eternal plans are about bringing a people unto Himself, saving them from the wrath that will befall this world.  The fate of every nation is exactly the same.  They all will cease to exist sooner or later.  There are no countries, as we understand them, within the Kingdom of God.  So often the big picture is lost because of the glaring light of the little picture.  Our view of the whole forest is obstructed by the thousands of trees all around us.

          Mankind has no shortage of advice as he grapples with the ability to understand the world in which he lives in rational terms.  The folly of man is seen in Job as one by one Job’s friends offer their insights, but in the end these are truths only known to God.  Mankind has always been afraid to utter the words “I don’t know.”  But we ought not be so frightened to defer to our God, Who is omniscient.

          From Habakkuk’s vantage point, God seemed indifferent.  How could God allow the wicked Babylonians to lay a hand on God’s chosen people?  It seemed exploitative and certainly unjust.  But God used the wicked all throughout the course of biblical history to accomplish His ultimate purposes.  This will be true right up until the end.  In the Book of Revelation, evil will do what evil does right up until the point God destroys it once and for all.  We naturally ask why God will allow the things described in Revelation to actually take place.  After all, He could prevent them and all could happen in a different way.  God has voluntarily bound Himself to His Word and He is glorified in the proclamation and execution of all He has declared to be true.  If he altered anything, the most fundamental truth of Christianity, the reliability of His Word, would be destroyed.  Therefore truth is held as a higher priority than satisfying the passing daily desires of mankind.  Besides all of that, mankind only has in view 1 piece of a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle by which to understand God’s ultimate plan.  But, he has described for us what the final picture, when assembled, will look like and he has promised that there will be a day when it will be fully assembled.  That picture is described in Revelation 21 and 22.

          In Hab. 2:4, God tells the prophet, “The just shall live by his faith.”  If we trust God, we must live by faith.  How do you trust anyone or anything?  It is a voluntary commitment, just like making a wedding vow.  It is saying I consciously commit myself to trusting/having faith in you.  It is no different when it comes to God.  We must determine that, even though evil is rampant and the foundations of this world are shaking and will soon crumble, our trust is in the Lord.

          In the end, Habakkuk makes one of the most pointed and beautiful confessions of faith in all the Bible (3:17-19) but it did not come apart from much mental anguish.  Commentator John Currid writes “At the close of the book we see no complaints by the prophet.  He now understands.  So what we see is Habakkuk’s pure, unadulterated joy and triumphal singing to the sovereign God of Israel.” (John Currid; The Expectant Prophet: Habakkuk Simply Explained; 136)  He finally came to understand that no matter what happens on this earth, God will deliver His people, not necessarily from the discomfort of today but for His glory for all eternity.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Murder Begins in the Heart - Oct. 4, 2017

In a world where terrorism, murder, and even mass-murder are common place it takes a lot to shock us anymore.  But the murderous acts of Stephen Paddock (64) on last Sunday evening at a concert in Las Vegas leaves people scratching their heads.  Something like this only makes any sense at all if one can put it into some sort of context.  In recent years, Islamic terrorists have been behind much of the chaos and losses of life in this world.  But, as of yet there is no clear ties to I.S.I.S., Al-Qaida or any such radical group.  There may never be any such links established. Paddock does not, based on what we currently know, fit any sort of standard criminal or terrorist profile. 

          Many want to blame guns, as they commonly do.  According to some the answer is, generally speaking, more laws, more gun control, and more governmental oversight.  But is that the answer?  Problems reveal themselves through signs and symptoms that sometimes are hard to diagnose.  Whether it is your car, a household appliance, or your health, the symptoms tell you there is an underlying cause for the display of the symptoms such as a funny noise, a strange smell, or some type of pain.  Treating symptoms does not correct the root of the problem.

          People have been killing people ever since Cain slew his brother Abel in Genesis 4. Abel was not only the first person ever murdered, but was actually the first person to ever die at all.  It is quite revealing that the first ever human death was by murder.  What a foreshadowing of things to come.  Presumably Cain murdered Abel by hitting him over the head with a rock.  When God confronted him about the act he displayed a serious heart problem. Cain was sullen toward God, and even implicitly blamed Him because He did not accept his heartless offering of grain.  God, however laid the blame for the wicked, selfish, unthinkable, murderous deed at the feet of Cain because of the malice harbored in his heart, for all appearances at Abel, but more accurately at God.

          Down through history the number of actual murders, if known, would be staggering.  The truth we do know is that there are over 25 thousand murders just in the United States each year.  That is an average of almost 70 per day.  Murder is so common place that some murders do not even make the local news.  The only murders that make national news are ones involving someone famous, ones involving large numbers of people, or ones with strange or exotic twists.  Sadly, murder is a part of life and has been since very shortly after sin entered the world.

         The Scriptures are clear that Satan is a liar, a thief, and a murderer and has been so from the beginning.  He mocks God through pitting man (God’s creation made in His own image) against fellow man.  He works through both precise targeting as well as broad.  He seeks to kill an individual, a nation, or even the whole world if possible.

          Mankind has killed one another in a multitude of ways down through history.  In fact, it would be hard to find any type of object that has not been used by someone to kill another person at some point in history.  Today people are poisoned, strangled, smothered, stabbed, shot, ran over, blown up, burned to death, bludgeoned, etc.  While these may appear separate things there is a common thread that runs through them all.  

          In Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus taught that murder begins in the heart.  It begins with hatred.  Hatred of man/men cannot coexist with love for God.  Hatred of man/men is fixation on one’s own evil desires which have already replaced God in a person’s life.  James wrote that “Each one is tempted [to sin] when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is gull-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15)  The first thing a murderer hates is God’s Word which teaches Him to love his fellow man.  The Apostle John writes in 1 John 4:7-8 “Beloved let us love one another, for love is of God and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  Murder is the antithesis of love.  Murder is sticking one’s finger in the very eye of God and mocking Him and His creation (mankind made in the image and likeness of God).  To commit murder on a mass-scale such as we see in Las Vegas only shows how deeply embittered Paddock’s heart really was toward His Creator.

          When secular, worldly minded, politically motivated politicians and individuals call for tougher laws, gun control, etc. after a mass-shooting they are merely falling back on what they think they know.  They believe that man’s laws can control human behavior.  Not even God’s laws have controlled human behavior, how much more weak, frail, ineffective, and pathetic are man’s laws.  Criminals have no respect for God’s laws, so it would be ridiculous to think they would somehow respect man’s laws.  Murder has always been against the law, but the numbers of murders are incalculable.  God gave to Moses, carved in stone tablets, the commandment “Thou Shall Not Murder,” at Sinai but it has not stopped millions upon millions of homicides worldwide over the last few millennia.

          Murder is a symptom fueled by hatred and the only cure is a personal relationship with God the Creator.  The wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, wrote “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.” (Ecc. 12:13)  This verse applies to Stephen Paddock, Hitler, you, and me all equally.  He goes on to write in the next verse “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (vs. 14)   No matter who we are and no matter what we have done we will stand before God in judgment and we are told “Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”  Only then will there be no more murder.  “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20)


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The NFL, the Media, and Selective Outrage-Sept. 28, 2017

The biggest story of the past few days has to do with the National Football League and a number of players taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem, or in the case of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the whole team minus one, staying in the locker room until after it was over.

          I was struck last Sunday that this made such huge headlines, especially when other things of a far more disturbing nature were going on in this country, such as a shooting at a church in Tennessee by a Sudanese immigrant. Melanie Smith, 39 was shot and killed in her own church parking lot by a gunman.  It is unthinkable that such a safe place became so violent.  But the disproportional coverage by the media is nothing new.  Former CBS Newsman Bernard Goldberg and author of several books about media bias has been fond of saying for years “We live in the United States of Entertainment” and his words have been proven many times over and were proven yet again this past weekend.

          The big story; the real scandal in the NFL for serious journalists, should be the selective enforcement of rules by the league.  But, that is not what is being reported.  The NFL has strict and detailed policies regarding player conduct and demeanor during the playing of the National Anthem.  Those rules have been violated in recent seasons by a few players, but blatantly, and in mass, on Sunday by more than 200 players.  Mike Tomlin, Head Coach of the Steelers, heavily pressured his whole team to stay in the locker room and even made it clear in a press conference afterwards that he was disappointed with offensive tackle, former army ranger, and Bronze Star recipient Alejandro Villanueva for going out of the players tunnel and standing with hand over heart for the playing of the national anthem.  So, there is a price to be paid for freedom of expression.  Taking a stand has often proven costly; however what we have seen for many years is that it consistently cuts only one way.  Liberal causes, can and should, be championed even if they violate the rules or the law, but conservative causes cannot and should not be championed even if they are within the bounds of the rules and the law.

          NFL players got in trouble for wearing items and slogans on their uniforms in commemoration of 9/11 and the reasoning given by the NFL was that it was not a place to make political statements, especially those that some might deem offensive.  Quarterback Tim Tebow faced a media firestorm and tremendous backlash for taking a knee in respect for God and giving thanks. Editorials lambasted him for bringing his “religion” and/or “personal beliefs” to football.  Football, they said was a job, a sport, a pastime; anything but a place to express any personal views.

          Ratings are down for the NFL by significant margins.  Providers such as Direct TV are offering partial refunds to subscribers of their NFL package.  When the NFL goes to negotiate contracts with cable and satellite providers for next season they will be in a weak position and stand to lose millions of dollars.  People are vowing to not watch the rest of the season, not purchase NFL merchandise and, in some cases, are burning their hats and jerseys of their favorite teams.  Fans are outraged that these overpaid athletes and coaches are ruining a game they love by politicizing it.

          Many people who work for meager wages come home from work and watch football. They also spend part of their weekend watching just so they do not have to watch nauseating political talk on one of the 24/7 news channels.  These people love their country, their Lord, and are thankful for what they have because of the opportunities provided by this great country.  Allowing a place for politics in the NFL, in and of itself, is enough to infuriate great numbers, but when the particular political expression takes the form of not respecting the flag it touches a nerve with vast numbers of Americans.  Historically, even when people vigorously disagreed they would both stand side by side and salute the flag of America.  Now, that is changing in a very disturbing, high profile sort of way.

          Frankly, many have made a conscious choice to reduce or eliminate following national news because it is so depressing and upsetting.  Sports have been one of the favorite escapes, but now that world has not only been invaded, it has been stormed with no apology.  The NFL Commissioner has never really demonstrated a conscious in any of the controversial matters of recent years involving the league, and is not really showing one here.  He seems to be pulled in the direction of the most politically correct way of thinking. 

          One positive in all this is that many Americans are being forced to re-evaluate their priorities in life.  Many are already stating on social media that they can live without football and that compared to the freedom of living in America it is a small price to pay to turn off their televisions or watch something else. 

          There is nothing that is immune from the creep of political correctness.  It has been attacking institutions and individuals for years and will continue to do so.  Now you are seeing pressure in areas you thought were immune, but nothing is really immune. The fact that the church shooting in Tennessee got so little coverage and the NFL controversy got so much is quite telling.  Christians and conservative Americans will face more and more pressure to conform and if they do not do so there will be a severe price to be paid.  It is time to stick to what you believe and be ready and willing to back it up with facts and truth.  It is not a time for weak patriotism, weak Christians, or weak minds.  It is a time for strength, courage, and resolve.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor