Writing a blog is a labor of love; though going through and dealing with the spam is more often just like labor!
It is humbling when I read the comments many have taken the time to make on this site. The vast majority are exceptionally encouraging, the ones not in the “vast majority” fall under the headings of either “spam” or they are just annoying . . . .
First, let me get the “business” part of this post out of the way!
I am writing using WordPress as my blogging platform. I have received nothing less than excellent support and help from the WordPress staff. They have sent me not just the answers to my immediate questions, but they have also included helpful hints on site management and dealing with the dreaded scourge called “spam!” I have yet to figure out a way to minimize the amount of spam which accumulates in my spam filter. Unfortunately, there are far too many legitimate and good comments which may often get thrown out with the spam.
I pay a very nominal fee for a custom URL (“jimgrieme.com”). If my web traffic continues to increase, I may invest in their “Premium” services which add to the cost, but the value is worth the expense. There are other blogging platforms available, yet since I am very pleased with the service and flexibility I receive from WordPress, I am not motivated to look for another service.
Second, to those of you who take the time to read my posts: I have been getting a significant number of Polish readers and allow me to say (using Google translate here; I’m good but not that good!)
Jestem bardzo wdzięczny za tych z Państwa w Polska, którzy czytają mojego bloga. Moim pragnieniem jest, aby jasno komunikować swoje pomysły i fakt, czytasz to pozwala mi wiedzieć, to jest realizowane! Pokornie dziękuję za czytanie! Jestem Pastor i modlę się Pan nadal będzie chronić Ciebie i Twój kraj w tych czasach niepokojów politycznych na kontynencie. Bożego błogosławieństwa na was!
To my Italian readers:
Grazie per aver letto il mio blog! Ho amato il suo paese da quando ero bambino e il mio desiderio è quello di presentare le idee chiare, Dio onorare in un modo che farà la gente a pensare con la mente e il loro cuore. Sono molto grato per il vostro tempo e attenzione! Molte grazie! Benedizioni di Dio!
And of course there have been a few Russian visitors as well!
Добрый день! Пусть наш Господь продолжать покрывать вас Своей благодатью! Спасибо вам большое за прочитав мои мысли я написал здесь! Я возжелал посетить вашу землю с моих дней в колледже – Я изучал Россию, ее земля и ее народ и лелеяли все это! Время, которое вы потратили читаете этот блог отрадно и унизительно. Спасибо вам большое! Джеймс melvinovich.
In my world, I must struggle to find time to write. Many times I will begin with an idea, write as many as two or three pages then end up deleting all I have written! Yet even when I follow this process, I may end up enunciating an idea which will eventually become the main idea of what I finally write. The very act of putting “words on paper” often allows me to solidify my “final” idea!
Now remember, I am a pastor (No, no, I really am a pastor! I realize very well I do not “act” like most pastors act and I’m good with that!) When someone says to me, “You’re not like most pastors!” I interpret this as a compliment! My desire is not to be either crude or rude or even to act like some “unholy teenager with an attitude problem!” My desire is to be real! I struggle with the same things every other person struggles with: money, politics, thoughts and ideas. I sin, I do not break into a Christian hymn when I hit my finger with a hammer and I get frustrated at the number of proverbial “morons” I encounter while driving!
So what’s the difference? Years ago I encountered a person who has demonstrated He truly loves me. He knows all of my weaknesses and my issues. He has given me the ability to be better than who I am. He has forgiven me, changed me, and if there is anything good in me at all, it is because of the person Jesus Christ!
My desire is to write in a manner which is real and fully human. I would like those who take the time to read to actually enjoy yourself and understand the ideas I am communicating. It is my prayer the Lord will use who I am and what I’ve written in such a way as to draw people to Him.
Grace to all of you!
Is there Acceptable Collateral Damage?
The term “collateral damage” was unknown prior to about 1970. The terms specific meaning is tied directly to war and the idea of “elements not directly associated with an intended target being damaged or destroyed as a result of a specific action.” From the first Gulf War until the most recent action in Afghanistan, our military has taken great pains to develop “smart” bombs which are able to pinpoint their targets with a minimum of collateral damage.
A large amount of material, expense and effort is expended to identify what is an appropriate target and what is not. Of course the enemy, knowing America and her allies desire to not harm those deemed to be non-combatants, will often set-in-place their operations in the midst of schools, hospitals and mosques in order to insulate them from attack. Of course, far too often the press overlooks this callous disregard to life and put all the more pressure on those who desire to eradicate the threat.
Perhaps one of the sharpest aspects of the double-edged sword of war is militaries—unless of course they are being utilized by a dictatorship—often find themselves fighting against an antagonistic camera and press as often as an enemy action. Such is the nature of war in our modern milieu.
Christianity is also involved in warfare. Of course, the Bible makes it abundantly clear our warfare is not waged against “flesh and blood” combatants, but rather in the spiritual realm; one unseen and filled not merely with spirits, but with ideas and philosophies. What manifests itself in the physical realm—whether in the form of atrocity, sin, death and immorality—is but a result of what is and has already occurred in the spiritual realm.
One of the scourges of our society is “abortion-on-demand” which has been available since the 1973 Supreme Court ruling. I am unashamedly pro-life; the Bible teaches we are made in God’s image and life begins not merely with conception (which is our only means of observation as humans) but life is something ordained by God who is the Creator of all that lives. As a Christian and a pastor, God expects me to not merely believe this, but also to proclaim this through my life and teaching.
People are a complex mechanism. By God’s design no two of us are alike. We do have commonalities which are measurable across the masses of society (a reason for the existence of the disciplines of psychology, sociology and even history) and these provide us with incredible insight into human nature. If my desire is to communicate the message of Scripture—what Christians refer to as the ‘good news” (Gospel) of God’s love for us and His desires for us—I cannot then ignore the reality of human nature.
One of the most difficult things we are faced with as believers in Jesus Christ is our call to “hate the sin” (action, attitude, idea, and philosophy) but also “love the sinner.” I have heard those outside of Christianity scoff and ridicule this concept; they believe it is impossible to separate the individual from what the individual does (there is a whole economy built on the existence of this concept—this also ensures people will always be “defined” and “enslaved” by their sin and issues as well). Again, I defer to what Jesus taught: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Those who proclaim and claim the name of Jesus Christ are capable of getting “caught up in the emotion of the moment” just like anyone else. The difference between those who have a relationship with Christ and those who do not is this: those who have a relationship with God the Father through the work of Christ have both the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to constantly judge and check their own actions. One of the hardest to remember is that we are to “love the sinner.”
It is far too easy to simply allow hate to season our speech and actions. Standing outside of abortion clinics with signs proclaiming “Abortion is Murder” and the like makes as much sense as standing outside of funeral homes with signs stating “Sin Kills!” Abortion is murder—I agree completely! Yet is it actually loving to paint with such a broad brush that we alienate those who are captives of their own circumstances and decisions? Oh, and let’s not overlook the incredible sense of love fostered by those holding those signs.
Our churches need to communicate they are more of a place of refuge for the hurting and injured rather than a staging point for those with a desire to be “culture warriors.” We are no more in a war with culture than a fish is at war with water! We can battle ideas and philosophies, we can tend to the wounded and we should confront those who actively engage in what the Bible describes as sin. Yet as we do all of these things, we cannot fail to communicate the love by which we are motivated!
Jesus Christ came into this world as a baby. The Lord of Creation, the One who by His very hand created all there is and by His very existence holds all of reality together, came into a world as one of us. He struggled as He grew; He worked in order to provide for food and clothing for Himself and His family. He formed relationships with those around Him and the Bible tells us He grew in “wisdom and stature” with God and people.
His ministry was marked with compassion, healing, confrontation of sin and wrong and ultimately, He proved His love through His action: He died so those who believe in Him might live forever with Him. The reason His words were accepted is because His love was clearly demonstrated; even the crusty Centurion who stood at the foot of His cross when He died stated “surely He was the Son of God.”
If Christians desire people to take us seriously, we are going to have to seriously love them!