Thursday, November 18, 2010

A New Life in Parking Lot

This afternoon, I went across the bridge to Pinellas County to attend a business luncheon that featured Attorney David Gibbs III as the guest speaker. There were a number of reasons for me to skip the luncheon. I had already heard David speak a few years ago. I had to drive across the bridge. I had a lot of work to do at the office. However, Dan Shock organized the event and encouraged a number of friends and me to attend. Although I was busy, I went ahead and put the luncheon on my calendar. While there, I found that I was truly blessed to be there.

I could go into detail about how great it was to hear David’s presentation. David is the lead attorney for the Christian Law Association, which was founded by his dad, and he played a prominent role in the Terri Schiavo case. David’s representation of Terri Schiavo’s parents attracted national and international attention. He had the attention of the Governor of Florida, the President, and both houses of Congress. He also presented the Schiavo case to the US Supreme Court. So, it seemed that I was privileged to share lunch with David and hear him speak. David was gracious as he talked about the judge that ruled against him, as well as Michael Schiavo. Among other things, during his presentation David pointed to the scripture in Matthew that notes “whatever you did for the least of these you did for me.”

The greater privilege, however, occurred after the luncheon. During the event a young man came through the door. The room was full of people wearing white shirts, ties, polo shirts and other attire that you would find at a business event. This young man was dressed more casually in overalls. At first I thought he was employed by the church and stopped in for lunch. As people mingled, I had the opportunity to talk to him and learned that he was 25 years old and out of work. I later learned that he was diabetic. I encouraged him not to give up on his job search. I then asked if I could pray for him and put a hand on his shoulder and prayed that he would find work, prayed for his future wife (I noticed he was not wearing a wedding ring), and prayed for his children (I did not think he was a father, but again praying for his future). I also prayed that God would regularly direct his steps. When I was done, he said that the prayer was interesting because he and his girlfriend believed that she might be pregnant.

I talked to a few more people and he stayed nearby. As we left the building, I felt prompted to ask him the critical question. “Stephen, if you died today, are you confident that you will be in heaven.” (or something very similar). He admitted that he was not sure. He talked about people seeming to have it together and being more religious than him. In other words, he was down on himself. I told him how Jesus exposed the religious leaders of the day for appearing clean on the outside, but being filthy on the inside. Then, I asked what does it take for a person to get to heaven. He said, you have to be a good person, and follow Jesus. At that point I stopped him. Those of us who follow Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron and Todd Friel, know that the key words are good person.

Taking advantage of this opportunity, I presented a different twist on the good person test. It appeared that he was being down on himself, so instead of asking “have you ever told a lie” or “how many lies have you told,” I asked him do you know anyone that never told a lie. He said no. So I said that makes us all liars. I asked do you know anyone that never stole or cheated on his test. He said his grandmother (reveals the high level of respect that he has for her). Then I said besides her, anyone else? He said no. Then I asked do you know anyone that has not taken the Lord’s name in vain. He said no. Then I explained to him that I had just taken him through some of the Ten Commandment and that he and I are guilty of breaking all of them and that his grandmother may have broken 8 or 9 of them.

Then, I explained that God punishes sinners and asked if he knew what God did to keep us from going to Hell. He recognized that God sent Jesus to die for us. Then I elaborated on that by pointing out that Jesus was without sin, which is why he was able to die in our place. At that point, Dan came by and he knew exactly what was going on. I told Stephen, that I was reading in Romans 7 how our sinful nature makes us do the things that we don’t want to do and how it makes us fail to do the things that we want to do. After that I told him about Romans 8 and how the Spirit of God empowers us to walk in accordance with the Spirit and put to death our sinful nature. Then, we talked about repentance and putting his faith in Jesus. I asked him, are you ready to repent and put your faith in Jesus. He said yes. Wow! As I was talking, I started to get emotional, my voice was breaking. I turned to Dan and asked if he would pray with Stephen and he did. As Dan prayed, both Stephen and I were in tears.

Indeed, that was an amazing privilege to watch first hand as God added someone else to his Kingdom. Afterwards, Dan and I spent another 20 minutes or so encouraging him to grow in his faith.

Matt. 25:40 The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Two things stood out from this story:

1) How often do we tell someone that we will pray for them. I do it a lot. It is far better to be willing to pray for that person right there.

2) I almost walked away without asking the critical question. He said that was his church and I could have easily assumed he was a Christian.

Friday, October 29, 2010

This Is It and South Brandon's Got Talent




THIS IS IT

Oct. 31 @ 9:15 am and 10:45 am at South Brandon Worship Center
4929 Bell Shoals Road, Valrico, FL
From Pastor Len Harper:
Have you ever been missing something, but you're not exactly sure what it is that you're looking for? But when you find it, you know it, and you say to yourself: "Yes! Yes! This is it!" This has happened to me only a few times in my life: becoming a Christian; meeting my wife Robin; attending seminary; coming to SBWC.

It happened again about three years ago. I thought to myself: "Something was missing at SBWC." People's lives aren't being transformed as God wants them to be . . . then I knew "This is it!" People need "Three Steps to Transformation!" This is what I was looking for to easily explain to others what is absolutely necessary for TRANSFORMATION to occur in their life. Most believers do Step 1 (60 %) - Worship faithfully! Some do Step 2 (30 %) - Grow in small (family) groups. Less do Step 3 (15 %) - Serve their community and church. We need all three! Join us this Sunday, as we look at why Step 2 "Grow in Family Groups" is so important to our walk with God. Invite a friend to come with you!




Oct. 31 Sunday @ 7 p.m. “ South Brandon ’s Got Talent!”

Join us for a fun-filled night of comedy, music, talent show, and . . . well, you’ll just have to come to see the rest. Bring a friend!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Lawyer's Calling

At the end of August I had the opportunity/privilege to be the guest speaker at the Christian Chamber in Lakeland. The following are the notes that I used for the presentation. I won't say script because on more than one occasion, I departed from the outline.



No lawyer jokes here
Christian lawyer, oxymoron or contradiction in terms
More than a small handful of us out there.
Cary Gaylord (West Point ’69 and successful Tampa lawyer)

The Christian life is an adventure. I’ve used that line before our Church, and use it again today. You can experience a lot of excitement when you are about the Father’s business.

To be clear, God has not called us to live a life of excitement and adventure. Still, I do feel a certain level of passion and excitement as I strive to grow in my walk with the Lord.

In a few moments, I will explain why. But first, I would like to read a passage from the book of Isaiah Chapter 6.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."
6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"


Verse 5 talks about Isaiah being a man of unclean lips,
That is where I was, coming into the Army
21 years old, graduating from West Point and chasing the coveted Army Ranger Tab

God got my attention as I recovered from the Ranger School injury

Beginning of transformation
Took awhile to get into church
Involvement in small group
teaching Sunday School

1992, left the Army to attend law school
Drawn to group called Christian Legal Society
Although 600 students at law school, we only had about 6-10 members. But during exam time, we had special prayer meetings and our attendance briefly doubled or tripled.

At the end of the 1st year, I was voted as president of the group for the following year
looking back I thought mistake I made; we had a nice Christian club, but we weren’t outreach minded. We did not focus on bringing in other law students, particularly the lost

After graduation another mistake made – primary focus would be on legal career; thus I had no desire to pursue any leadership roles in any church
Thus, I became what I would call a spectator Christian
Faithfully present every Sunday, but not involved in anything beyond that.
Chasing the things of the world during the week.

First I spent two years working for a federal judge in Jacksonville, that was followed by the time spent at a law firm specializing in labor and employment law in downtown Tampa.
Labor and employment law involves legal issues surrounding the employment relationship, including advising and counseling clients on these issues
Nature of Florida law, discrimination and harassment are cases that the courts deal with on a regular basis

Early success
Disability case
whether employer discriminated against employee based on disability
store manager; memory problems due to head injury; store underperformed; claimed needed an asst. mgr
well represented by a Polk County attorney
Court entered summary judgment; assuming all of evidence viewed favorably towards her, she still did not have a case
Harassment case
fast food restaurant; young employees; boy girl; horseplay; claims a couple of touching incidents; including an unwelcome kiss near her ear
summary judgment entered in favor of restaurant
Lessons
documentation is very important; keep good records because if your employment decisions are challenged; you want to demonstrate support for the decision making process
investigate all complaints of harassment; even if you believe that the person complaining tends to cry wolf all the time
Again had early success and there ws definitely a level of excitement associated with that success
As the years went by; I continued to enjoy the work; but I did not enjoy the atmosphere
This was in 2004-2005 time frame when I was really growing in my faith

Earlier mistake; focus on career; avoid church leadership




Then we look at Isaiah 6, and zero in on verse 8, which reads “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said ‘Here I am, Send me!’”

I believe this verse highlights our calling; what is our next step after the Lord tells us that our sins are forgiven . . . at that point we are ready to say “Here I am, Send me”

Before I highlight examples, I want to go back to my first job after law school.
A year before graduating I was interviewed by Judge John H. Moore in Jacksonville
Gator in every corner of the office.
Two strikes
Timing=> worked for Judge Moore the year that Gators were #1 and FSU was #2.

To salute Judge Moore, point to recent history and last 4 years of Tim Tebow, and the things that he accomplished at the University of Florida

Heisman Trophy; two national championships; the Speech

You have to admire his faith

Bible verses on eye black; How many people, Gator fans and opponents, picked up the Bible because of the Bible verses displayed on the eye black
Conversation regarding Eph 2:8-9 “for by grace you have been saved through faith; not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”

God has given Tim Tebow the ability to play football well enough to win the Heisman trophy; and at the UF he has used that gift to share the Gospel w/ anyone who will pay attention

Again, in the words of Isa. “Here I am, Send Me!”

You and I can do the same thing

I am not talking about putting eye black with Bible verses on our faces

What we can do is use our businesses as a platform for ministry

Small group leadership at our church
connecting with families and leading Bible studies (to lead had to be prepared) and that is where the growth kicked in
CBMC
Involvement with this group
Evangelism and discipleship; purposefully, reaching out to the lost and growing and not only converting, but discipling others

With this spiritual growth came the vision of applying this to work
So in 2006, I left the Tampa law firm and my wife and I started our own law practice in Brandon,
The vision that we had was to use our law office as a platform for ministry
Actually, I used the terminology mission and ministry
That through the office we would reach out to the lost and to those who are Christians we would minister to there needs.

Examples

Employment case; discussing the case with a gentleman who lost his job it hit him really hard; some of us get very wrapped up in our work and it really defines us;

on one occasion he came to my office with his sister; on another he came with his mother

on his last visit he started talking about reading a book, sounded like a devotional; to encourage himself while he was feeling down; then he started talking about visiting different churches; at that meeting I had no intention on getting in a religious discussion; but he said something that really sparked a conversation that lead me to discussing different scriptures

I started talking about 1st Cor.; and from there I started talking about Acts. Then I would pause and note, that I am really an attorney and not a pastor.

I knew he was listening
He called me back

Woman came to my office; serious marital problems; concerned about her daughter
after over an hour of listening to her story, I was very direct and said as her, you need to pray for your daughter; but for your prayers to be effective your relationship with the Lord must be right

Then I went to my office; returned to the conference room and handed her a gospel of John;

I also encouraged her to call a lady at my church, who is good at counseling individuals with emotional needs and I also invited her to my church

This is a woman who has almost no spiritual background; her husband resisted her efforts to go to Church; and approximately 2 weeks later she showed up at our church.



Recent adoption case at Polk County Courthouse

young lady wanted her husband to become the adopted father of her daughter;
to adopt, you have to let the father know; we could not reach him, deployed to Afghanistan with Nat Guard

called into court
thought Judge might have challenged us; Judge reviewed filed; we had everything that we needed

granted the adoption; the mother was in tears; her attorney the Army guy was almost in tears as well.

Few other similar stories; I will confess right now, as there are great opportunities to witness to others, discuss my faith, there are missed opportunities as well.

Over the last few years I’ve realized that the investment in the lives of others is worth it;

Jesus told us to “To therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Matt. 28:19

I am involved in a number of ministries in the business community; but my favorite is CBMC

Every Wednesday morning meeting with a group of men at the Village Inn

As a result of these meetings, witnessing first hand the transformation in their lives

Eric has been with us for four years
he is in his 60s. Has a son my age;
grandchildren

he said for a long time he was afraid to read the Bible; not unusual; I believe most American Christians are that way

Now he studies it; he prepares for our lessons; and he is excited about the growth in his life

Dan – who is in his mid to late 30s
he joined us 4 years ago; in a wheelchair; when he joined us he had a hunger to seek God;

watched him move from a wheelchair; to a walker; and to a cane; to now he is on his feet

He has risen up to become a leader in our group;
Followed me as the Chair of Tampa Bay Leadership Prayer Breakfast;

Major role in success of last breakfast; prior events averaged about 500 attendees; he lead our team to bring 1000 attendees to the Joe Gibbs Breakfast

My thing is I love doing Bible Study. I love opening up the Bible and watching it change the lives of others
I’ve concluded that seminary is not for me.
God, has me right where he wants me . . . where I am able to reach people that would not be reached by the pastors at my church.

Again, you can use your work; your businesses to make a difference for the Kingdom of God

You do not have to be the one who approaches people and ask them if they are going to heaven; and you don’t have to be the one who leads Bible Studies,

Rom. 12:4 “for just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function.

v.6 And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly; if prophecy according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches in teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives with liberality; he who leads with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Many of you have already taken that step to make a difference for the Kingdom of God; for those of you who haven’t I encourage you to consider what gifts have God given you and think of how they can be used to glorify God in the workplace.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rich's Fundraising Effort: Pocket Testament League

The easy way to share your faith on the golf course.


On September 27, 2010 I will be participating in the 3rd annual 100 Hole Golf Marathon for The Pocket Testament League. I am doing this because I believe in the power of God’s Word and how the Pocket Testament League is helping to distribute the Gospel of John to its Membership of over 230,000 people who have committed to Read, Carry and Share the Gospel of John on a daily basis.

The Pocket Testament League has been helping followers of Christ develop a lifestyle of sharing their faith on a daily basis since 1893. Currently the vision of the League is to build the largest, most effective and cost-efficient force for one-on-one evangelism in the history of the World. Last year, members of the League were able to share the good news of Jesus with just under one million people!

Contributions are tax-deductible. Simply mark the appropriate box below:

___$1.00 per hole ____$3.00 per hole _____$5.00 per hole

_____$10.00/ hole Other_________ (write in)

You can send a check made payable to: The Pocket Testament League and mail to the address below:

Rich Bradford

Bradford & Bradford, P.A.

150 E. Bloomingdale Ave., Suite 196

Brandon, FL 33511

OR

Click here to make your payment online: http://www.pocketpower.org/appeal/1009-APP/GOLF-FL

Make sure you click “Donate Now” with your amount and then enter 1009-APP/GOLF-FL in the Offer Code

OR

You can send a reply email stating your pledge amount to: rich@bradfordfirm.com or fsusma@verizon.net

I want to personally thank you for the friendship we have. Any support will be greatly appreciated as I know this may have been a difficult year for some.

Rich

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I Will Help You

I Will Help You

See, I am concerned for you and I will come to help you. Ezekiel 36:9

The children of Israel were struggling. They were conquered by a vicious enemy. Their families were torn apart. Many lives were lost, as well as their homes and property. The majority of them were living in exile in a foreign land. In shock, they wondered about their future.

The Lord speaks, through the prophet Ezekiel. The chapters leading to thirty six paint a dark picture. Yet, there is hope. The Lord knows they are suffering. He is aware of their hard times. In response, to their suffering, he lets them know that he is concerned. The God who created the universe, who holds everything together, is concerned about the children of Israel. He feels this way because he truly loves his children. As such, he will pour his love out on his children.

Similar to the time, many generations prior to Ezekiel, the Lord heard the cries of the children and he gave them Moses to deliver them from bondage at the hands of the Egyptians. In the text, the promise is similar. He says he is concerned for them and he will come to help them. He does the same today. We are reminded that to those who received Him [Jesus] to those who believe in His name, He gives the right to become children of God. John 1:12. Then the gospel of Matthew finishes with a promise stating that [He] will be with us always. Matt. 28:20.

Even in the midst of trouble and calamity, we can turn to the Lord for strength and encouragement. He promises to express his concern for us and to come to help us. Lord, thank you for your many promises. Thank you for being with us now, and through the end of this age. Help me to love you more with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. In Jesus name.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Devotional on Revival

The following is not my work. It came from my friend's mentor, whom we know as Papa Roy.



A Touch of Encouragement-REVIVAL! It Can Happen Again!

God desires to wonderfully revive and equip His church today.
Therefore it is our goal to challenge God's people about the spiritual value of child-like faith, deep humility and united prayer as the essential elements in preparing our hearts to experience God's reviving presence. God delights to use the faith-filled prayers of frail and needy people to birth great things into the earth. Remember, the strategy of prayer is God's sovereign design and not the human efforts of overly ambitious men. The inspired Word of God repeatedly exhorts us to pray in cooperation with God's kingdom purposes. (D. Smithers)
Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts; look down from heaven and see, and visit this vine. (Psalm 80:14)
This psalm most likely represents the prayer of a man in the Southern Kingdom for his alienated brothers in the north. He sets aside tribal rivalries and prays earnestly for God to take care of those who are perishing because of the enemy. When revival comes, God's people set aside petty differences and love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We do not set aside the essentials of the gospel, such as justification by faith alone in Christ alone. But we set aside our pride over being right on minor points of doctrine and practice. Genuine unity glorifies God. (S. J. Cole)

God will never leave you, but there are times when He may need to withhold His power and blessing because of sin in your life. Are you in need of God's restoration? He hears the prayer of revival. Ask Him to clean your heart.
.Depending on His grace.
Papa Roy ><> ><> ><>
August 21, 2010
In God we trust

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Devotional on Worship

I received this devotional from a gentleman known as Papa Roy entitled Worship. Enjoy.

Good morning, amazing grace! how sweet the sound!
Responding to greatness!

The writer is expressing his attitude before the Lord in worship and adoration. He is extolling the majesty of God, the Kingship, and the Creator of all mankind. In light of all this, he then goes on to say, "O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker." Kneeling and bowing down before the Lord was the most natural thing in the world to do for David. When we kneel before the Lord, we arise differently. We lay our prayers and requests before the Lord in prayer, bowing down before Him and seeking His guidance and help. He sees the humility of our humble heart; He sees our desires and grants our requests. (M. McDonald)

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. (Psalm 95:6)

It is this that is to be expressed in worship: praise and thanksgiving to God for the personal knowledge we have of him. He is our God, he is our Maker. We have also come out of a distant relationship into a personal relationship with our God. That ought to awaken the love of our heart. We have experienced his Shepherd's care over us as the sheep of his hand, the people of his pasture. That constitutes worship: singing and praying, not artificially, not perfunctorily, but genuinely expressing praise unto God. (R. Stedman)

The greatness of God is the answer to the smallness of man. When you see great sin and great disappointment or when you have a great burden to carry, remember that you are worshiping a great God. As you kneel before Him, He becomes even greater.


Depending on His grace.
Papa Roy ><> ><> ><>
August 18, 2010
In God we trust


p.s. Papa Roy has a website, but I believe that it has been a year or so since he has updated his devotionals. I can say that what I have read has been encouraging.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Cry of Our Savior

I had the opportunity to join 6 other men from my Church in presenting the last words of Christ at our Good Friday service. Presently, none of us are serving as pastors. Still, the Lord used us to bless our congregation. I was the fourth speaker and the following is the message that I delivered on Friday evening.


THE CRY OF OUR SAVIOR

Matt. 27:45-47
Now, about the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying “Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani?” that is My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me. And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah.”

The soldiers and religious leaders missed it. In that cry, Jesus was not calling to Elijah. He was crying out to his Father. And this cry was made on our behalf.

What would make the Savior cry? There are a number of places where the Savior cried, but the cry on the cross was different. The cry on the cross was emotional and it showed the anguish that he felt on the cross. The anguish was so deep that the Matthew and Mark wrote it in his native language – Aramaic.

We all know that Jesus suffered a brutal and painful beating at the hands of the Roman soldiers. We also can imagine the pain that he felt when he was being nailed to the cross. But that was not the reason for the cry.

This cry was directed straight to the Father. To understand why he cried out that way, we need to take another look at verse 45, which reads from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. This was a supernatural event.

Based on the Jewish system for keeping time in that era, the darkness fell at noon and continued until 3 pm.

Some would try to explain away different events in the Bible, by suggesting maybe it was a really cloudy day; or maybe there was a solar eclipse that day. Make no mistake about it, that God was the one who made darkness fall at midday. God’s hand was on the event. The scripture reads that it is God who will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. Amos. 8:9

Why did this happen? It was at this point that God the Father, turned his back on Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

It was at this point, as prophesied by Isaiah that the Lord placed our iniquities upon Him. Is. 53:6.

Before this, the Son always walked with the Father. The Son was always in communion with the Father. As a youth, Jesus told Mary and Joseph that he was about His Father’s Business. Later he said, I and the Father are one. If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. The relationship between Jesus and the Father was the closest that you can imagine.

So, now at this point in history, the one who was always with the Father is now, separated from the Father. So, he cried, Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani.

To understand why the Father would turn his back on his Son, we must consider God’s nature

We know that God is good. God is very good.
We also know that God is love. Because of His love, we know that he has a passionate love for each and every one of us. God is also Holy. Holy, Holy, Holy. He is just and righteous. Because he is Holy he hates sin.

Isaiah tells us that our iniquities separate us from our God. Because of our sins, He has hid his face from ours. Is. 59:2.

But on the cross, Jesus stepped in our place. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us. 2 Cor. 5:21. With Jesus bearing our sins on the cross, the mysterious darkness covered the land, in the middle of the day. It was at that point, that God turned his back on his Son. And it was that separation that caused the Son, our Savior to cry out, Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani.

Jesus cried out in this manner so we won’t have to. He cried in our place. He stood in our place to bear God’s wrath.

Many of us have already put our trust in Christ. For those who haven’t, you should consider a different cry. A cry of repentance.

The cry could be very simple, in your own words. There are also many examples in scripture. Father have mercy on me a sinner. Or in the words of David, Father against you and you alone have I sinned.

Or you could cry out in your own words, representing a heart felt repentance and placing your trust in the Savior.

If you have not turned to God in repentance and put your trust in Christ, I urge you to do it tonight.

It is better for you to cry out for mercy tonight than to wait until Judgment Day when it is too late, and you will be forced to cry, My God my God, why have you forsaken me.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Keith Olbermann Mocks Biblical Worldview

There is no surprise here. In Keith Olbermann's world, if you have a high view of scripture, you may not have a very high IQ. To Keith, if you go to church more than twice a year, you may have mental issues. I found the following excerpt of Mr. Olbermann's words of wisdom at the Crosstalk Blog:


Olbermann Mocks Creationists
And now, the second of tonight’s “Quick Comments,” and a mind may be a terrible thing to waste, but if you waste 15 million of them, apparently you get Texas. If a University of Texas poll is correct, that is how many Texans – 60 percent of the population – either believe humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time, or are not sure. Oh, this gets much worse. Evolution does okay in Texas – 68 percent believe in it with or without the, quote, “guiding hand from God.” Human evolution? Not so much. Fifty percent with or without.

I’d love to be able to pin this on political affiliation, but it’s almost a tie – 51 percent of Democrats said they either never go to church or only go once or twice a year; 45 percent of Republicans said they either never go to church or only go once or twice a year. When pollsters asked Texans if they disagreed or agreed with the statement, “God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago,” 38 percent of Texans agreed. Okay, the joke that goes with that statistic is so obvious, I’ll just skip it. Conclusion: Ultimately, Texas may not have to secede from the union, it may just collectively drop off like a vestigial tail.




Mr. Olbermann's comments are telling. He was surprised to find that members of his political party actually go to church or believe that God created man in his own image. Mr. Olbermann, there is more to life than politics. Perhaps one day the Lord will open your eyes and you will repent and put your trust in the Savior.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

He Makes All Things New

Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. – Is. 43:18-19 (See also Phil. 3:10-14).

At the beginning of the year our pastor challenged the King’s Men (male leadership at South Brandon Worship Center) to take a close look at this passage as we began a period of prayer and fasting. About a week or so later, I saw that Derek Maul, a local writer for the Brandon News/Tampa Tribune, also was studying the same passage with the men’s group at his church. As I studied the passage, I made the following notes below. Also, listen to the music below from Hezekiah Walker, entitled “Moving Forward.”

Remember ye not the former things
-Do not allow guilt, disappointment, defects to hold you down.
-Do receive correction; gain understanding; walk in obedience, move forward
-Do not let your past hold you back
- - Too often we allow circumstances to hold us back
-Focus on the calling of God on your life

Behold I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth
-God is moving
-He is at work advancing His Kingdom
-He wants us to see where he is working and join him in his work (from reading Henry Blackaby Experiencing God)
-Again, don’t be weighed down by the past because God is doing something right now.
- In the midst of this bad economy and tragedy in Haiti, God is moving. He is making all things new!

Q:God where are you working in my home? Church? Community? Business?

Shall ye not know it?
-Keep your eyes open to what God is doing
-God’s love for us is deep
-He commands us to love Him. With all our heart, soul, mind, strength
-He commands us to love our neighbor
-Jesus came to seek and save the lost
-He instructed us to go and make disciples

Q:How do you see God showing his love? If you don’t know, ask.
Q:What has God called you to accomplish? If you don’t know, ask.

I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert

-God will open up a path
-He will make a way to accomplish (through us) what He wants us to do
-Listen to Him; Listen to His Son (behold my Son, in whom I am well pleased); Listen to His Holy Spirit
-God is moving; God is at work; Listen to Him; Follow Him


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No Void Returns




Almost four years ago, I met with two others on a monthly basis to coordinate a Business Leaders’ Luncheon to be held in conjunction with the 2007 Luis Palau Festival in Tampa. We met for breakfast at the same restaurant and usually had the same server. During one of our earlier meetings, I had handed a server a Gospel of John that is distributed through the Pocket Testament League. Since our last meeting, in February 2007, I do not recall returning to that restaurant, but my friend Hal would drop in from time to time. This morning Hal told me that the same server is still there. I was surprised and encouraged when he told me that she frequently asks him how I am doing. That small gesture from nearly four years ago certainly made a lasting impression.

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. Is. 55:11

Friday, January 15, 2010

Some Good News from Haiti
















The following came from my good friend, Pastor Ken Ackerman. He is our Outreach/Missions Pastor at South Brandon Worship Center:

Thank you Lord Jesus for your faithfulness and protection of those we love.

I have confirmation from 2 sources that all the children in the orphanage are OK. The back wall around the orphanage fell down and there might be some other structural damages to the buildings.

One source has spoke to Pastor Lucien directly and he is OK as well.

I have wept again over this good news. I am overwhelmed right now with appreciation and relief. Thank you Lord Jesus for your grace.

Lord bring healing to the land of Haiti.

Ken
Luke 4:18


PS: If you wish to make a donation for relief, please make your check to :

South Brandon Worship Center (Haiti Fund)
4929 Bell Shoals Rd
Valrico, FL. 33596



Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Prayers for Children in Haiti








From Pastor Cindy Ackerman:
As you know, a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. The epicenter was only 10 miles southwest of Port-Au-Prince. The Ambassadors of Jesus Children's Home and Church is located about 2 miles north of the international airport in what we would consider to be suburban Port-Au-Prince. As of this moment, we have been unable to reach Pastor Lucien or anyone else in the orphanage or church. However, our Lord Jesus Christ is fully aware of what is happening. Your prayers are critical at this time. If you are not in a group that is meeting tonight, (Men Who Want More, Ladies Leadership, Girlfriends in God or Youth) please join Pastor Ken in the worship center at 7:00 pm for prayer. The groups who are meeting will also be praying for Haiti.

Ambassadors of Jesus is our sister church, and I can personally assure you that they regularly pray for us. Now it is our great privilege and honor to pray for them. I look forward to the testimonies of God's great power, mercy and love!



From Pastor Ken Ackerman:

Dear Brothers and Sisters of South Brandon ,

I am sure you are aware of the tragedy that occurred in Port au Prince, Haiti . I have wept over the horribleness of all this. The suffering is more than I can imagine. I still hold on by faith and know that the Lord loves these people even more than we do. Please join with me tonight at 7 p.m. in the Worship Center to pray for Haiti and the orphanage that we support there. For those of you who are already meeting tonight, please include them in your prayers. I have attached a prayer outline for all of us to pray.

I have not been able to get through to Pastor Lucien to asses the possible damage to the orphanage, but I am sure this area of Port au Prince was affected gravely. The Lord reminded me that our relationship goes much further than just the orphanage, and I am recalling and praying for many people that I have come to know and love throughout the country.

I am asking you all to come to action now.

Please start praying for all the Haitian people affected.

Ask the Lord to have good come out of this tragedy. Pray that the world's awareness of Haiti 's needs will come into more light now. In the name of Jesus, I am asking for all countries of the world to respond to Haiti .

Please pray about giving to our Haitian relief fund that starts on Sunday. Your checks can be made to SBWC – please indicate “For Haiti ” in the memo section.

Pray that the food I shipped on Monday arrived by Tuesday before the quake.

I will keep you informed as I get more information.

Lord, please help our people!, PLEASE PROTECT THE CHILDREN

In His Name,
Pastor Ken
Luke 4:18

Prayer Guide for Haiti

The Ambassadors of Jesus Ministry , led by Apostle Lucien Almanord is closely united with South Brandon Worship Center . We are spiritual partners in the advancement of the Kingdom of God . Pastor Lucien has been in our pulpit many times, and many of our members have been to Haiti on a variety of mission adventures. Pastors Ken and Chuck have preached in Pastor Lucien’s church. Our bond is a strong one. It is our duty, privilege and great honor to intercede for them in this time of great need and devastation in Haiti . This morning as I was praying, I began to sing and weep over the nation as the images of the crushed and broken buildings came to mind. In my worship time, I declared God’s faithfulness, mercy and love to the nation of Haiti and especially the children and workers of the Ambassadors of Jesus. So as you pray ask the Lord for:

1. Mercy and compassion. Lamentations 3:22-24

2. Aid and assistance from the Church and the nations. Isaiah 58:6-12 and Isaiah60.

3. Salvation and cleansing of the people and the land. Romans 8:28, 2 Corinthians 6:2 and 2 Chronicles 7:14

4. Healing and Deliverance. 2 Timothy 1:7 Ephesians 6:10-18

5. Faith and Hope. Matthew 17:20, Mark 10:27,Psalm 33: 18-22 , Psalm 126, Psalm 34 and 1 Thess. 5:8-11

6. An Army of Intercessors: Luke 18:1-8

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Notes from Lifework Leadership Integrity Case Study

This morning I had the opportunity and privilege to participate in Lifework Leadership - Tampa Bay's session on integrity. Below are some of the notes that I used in this morning's presentation. I will probably come back to edit these notes because there were other thoughts worth sharing, that I did not have the opportunity to address given the time limit of the presentation.

Views regarding values, character, integrity shaped at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. With the exception of Army Ranger School (which I did not finish), West Point was the toughest thing that I did in my life. At West Point I was challenged physically, mentally, and still had to maintain a level of military bearing. As a plebe or freshman, I had to endure boxing, where I employed the strategy of trying to injure the other guys hands with my head. Then there was gymnastics where I was certainly not the most coordinated person in the world. During competitions/Olympics, you would see the athletes scoring 8s, 9s, etc. At West Point the instructors usually gave me a low 2 or a high 2. And there was swimming, where they made us swim 500 meters, in full BDUs with boots. I think it took me the entire class time to complete that task.

West Point’s motto is Duty, Honor & Country. During time there between 1982-1986 I sat through many lectures and discussions on the subject. About a year or two before passing away, General Douglas MacArthur delivered one of his most famous speeches at West Point, which began by quoting the motto Duty, Honor, Country. This was a speech that he delivered with passion, and no notes. We did not have to memorize the entire speech, but there is one memorable excerpt that we were required to recite.

Duty, Honor, Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to
be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.


West Point’s definition of duty is doing what ought to be done, when it should be done, without being told to do so, and with a spirit of service.
-- This is taught from a gradual process beginning with following orders at the lowest level, and moving to leading people and giving instruction.
-- Lots of time invested in teaching cadets how to understand this concept of duty.

The other aspect is instruction on honor. At West Point, the cadets are required to live by an honor code, which is: A cadet will not lie, cheat or steal, nor tolerate those who do.
-- Like duty, a significant amount of time is spent in lectures and small group instruction learning about these concepts.
-- At West Point, honor is taking very seriously.
-- A cadet who is caught violating the honor code will get kicked out of the academy.
--- This is a system that is run by cadets, not by the officers. However, built into the system, the West Point Superintendent (a 3 star general) will review each case before a final determination is made by the Academy as to whether a cadet is separated. There is also a procedure that would allow a cadet to have his case reviewed by the Secretary of the Army. The Superintendent and Secretary rarely overturned a decision to separate a cadet for an honor violation.

Then there is also the Cadet Prayer. There was a time when West Point cadets had to memorize this prayer, but that was no longer a requirement when in the early 1970s, due to a Supreme Court decision, West Point had to abandon mandatory chapel. I did not memorize the cadet prayer, but there is one line that stands out.

Make us to choose the harder right than the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole truth can be won.


These views also spill over in the Army, where things like honor, duty, integrity, courage and respect are taught to soldiers.

Looking back I definitely see the importance of these concepts both at the academy and in the Army. Unfortunately, there is one component that is missing. For West Point and the Army to produce leaders with integrity, the faith component is essential. To me a relationship God is the one thing that would allow a person to be able to hold onto his/her integrity in difficult situations. There were many times instances in which honorable men, including West Pointers, who encountered moral failure in difficult situations. Faith is certainly encouraged in the military, but there are limits because of we live under this concept of separation of church and state. Indeed, when West Point had to abandon mandatory chapel, the administration asked how are we going to instruct the cadets on integrity. Of course, it does not work unless the individual is willing to yield himself/herself to the Lord. Otherwise, you have someone who is mechanically following a set of rules, without purpose. That is the problem with religion and legalism.

In the military, as many know you have the chain of command. Privates, report to Sergeants, who report to First Sergeant, Sergeant Major, Lieutenants, Captains, etc.

With my West Point background and also having a father who served in the Army, I understood respecting the chain of command. It was not in my nature to ignore or contradict those in authority over me. Still, during my time in the military I was confronted with challenges that made me question whether I was doing the right thing.


Fort Benning – School of Americas Story
Multiple units were located at Fort Benning for training, including the US Army School of Americas(“USARSA” aka SOA). At USARSA, Latin-American allied nations would send their soldiers to Fort Benning for training American style. In 1988, I was temporarily assigned to USARSA to assist in the training of Salvadoran Officer Candidates. In El Salvador, officers normally come from their military academy. The class had a total of 81 officer candidates and lasted about 6 months. Working with me were 2 other American officers and 3 Salvadoran officers. About ¾ through the course, there was discussion about sending some of these candidates home because it was felt that they were not meeting the challenges of the training. This challenge was raised by the 3 Salvadoran officers. Some of us however, were skeptical and suspected this was an attempt to railroad some of the officer candidates out of the course.

The challenge presented to us was whether we should concede to the findings of the Salvadoran officers, thus failing the group of about 6 candidates or should we object. We interviewed the questionable candidates and decided that 3 should stay and conceded that 3 should be dismissed. Instead of a decision being made at our level, a formal conference was held with Salvadoran and American senior officers (around the rank of colonel). Long story short, we advocated on behalf of the 3 that we believed should remain in the course and they were allowed to stay.

Approximately, 2 weeks later, I was confronted by an American colonel (also a West Point graduate) who was not happy with how the conference went. He accused us of being poor hosts because we all 3 American officers contradicted the opinions of the 3 Salvadoran officers.


South American Story

A few years later, I was stationed in Panama. A platoon of about 30 American soldiers went to South America for joint training with a South American airborne battalion (approximately 500 soldiers). I was required to lead a team of approximately 10 soldiers to provide service support for the training – i.e., we provided cooks, medics, maintenance support, and ammunition. As part of the exercise, the South American army used some of our materials including ammunition. We probably used about 2/3 of the ammunition that was allocated for this particular training exercise. Thus, for accountability purposes we were required to send the remaining ammunition home. The American colonel that was in charge of this exercise wanted to do a favor for the South American colonel that commanded the airborne battalion. He wanted to let him have the remaining ammunition for their own training exercises. Although may not seem like a big thing, in the 1980s and 1990s, the Army was very serious about ammunition. There was always a requirement to keep an accurate count of ammunition used and ammunition available. The challenge here was do I say yes sir to colonel and let the extra ammunition stay in South America. I told the colonel no. He was disappointed, as well as his South American counterpart. From my observation, maintaining accountability with ammunition was a serious business. The colonel asked me to break the rules to do a favor for his counterpart. Also, if I did the alternative, I would have to face the soldiers and tell them that it is okay to bend the rules because the colonel said so.



Law Practice
It goes without saying that I strive to conduct myself with integrity with respect to the practice of law. Regarding the cases, I try to be upfront with clients and potential clients so that they do not get a false sense of security. I try to present them with both the strengths and weaknesses of their case. If I believe that chances for success are not there, I try to explain that as early as possible. Again, I do not want to give my clients false hope or waste their time, and money.

I admit that I do not get things right all the time. Still, I try to do my best to conduct myself with integrity in the legal practice. People respect that, and more importantly, it reflects well on my witness to others.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Brit Hume Thrown to the Lions . . . But He is Right (Tiger's Confession Part 2)

Here is another post on the Tiger Woods saga. During a panel on Fox News, the question of Tiger's return to the PGA Tour was discussed. Brit Hume suggested that Tiger will recover as a golfer, but he will not be able to save his family (more later). Hume suggested that Tiger should abandon Buddhism and embrace Christianity.




Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether he can recover as a person I think is a very open question, and it's a tragic situation for him. I think he's lost his family, it's not clear to me if he'll be able to have a relationship with his children, but the Tiger Woods that emerges once the news value dies out of this scandal -- the extent to which he can recover -- seems to me to depend on his faith. He's said to be a Buddhist; I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, 'Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.'"





While Brit's statement was direct, and commendable, I am not sure he was direct enough. Some may ask how can you be more direct than what Brit Hume stated. In part, I would direct the reader to my post below entitled "Tiger's Confession." I would further note that there is a difference between simply going to Church on Sunday and turning to the Christian faith, as opposed to truly walking it out. Tiger not only needs to follow Brit's suggestion. He needs to find someone to be a Paul to him and help him truly grow in his faith. A few weeks ago, Herm Edwards added his take, which lines up with something that I posted here a while back. (See "Need for Accountability")



Britt Hume is telling Tiger to follow Jesus, and Herm Edwards is telling him to choose the right friends. These are messages that Americans do not like to hear. If anyone is paying attention, I am sure that both Herm Edwards and Brit Hume will draw criticism . . . for telling the truth.


Last thought. On a side note, I believe that it is possible for Tiger to reconnect with his family. It will be difficult, but he can salvage his marriage. I recommend watching "Fireproof" and going through the 40-day "Love Dare." Despite his many mistakes, supernatural transformation is possible.

Edit: 1/5/09 - First point. I've always enjoyed watching Tiger Woods golf since he began his career in the mid 1990s. I also followed the bio on how his dad spent time investing in his life to make him a great golfer. Against that background, it has always been my personal take that he should stay out of the Buddhist Temples. In essense, Brit Hume hit the nail on its head. Next, take a look at Ray Comfort's observations on Brit's Advice to Tiger Woods.

Edit:

And the lions are showing their teeth. Guess who just was added to the prayer list.

See: Ann Coulter's "If You Can Find a Better Deal, Take It!" She is close but off on a few comments, but in the ballpark.