Supreme Court Upholds Allowing Christian Prayers at City Council Meetings

Supreme Court Upholds Allowing Christian Prayers at City Council Meetings

A narrowly divided Supreme Court upheld decidedly Christian prayers at the start of local council meetings Monday, declaring them in line with long national traditions although the country has grown more religiously diverse.

Yes, our country is increasingly diverse, and we should respect that diversity, but I think this is a victory for the American people. 

What do you think?  Take this poll over at the Longmont Times-Call, and see what other people think.

 

How Safe Is Longmont?

Longmont seems to be in the news a lot in Colorado, but often for the wrong reasons. A few weeks ago a man stole a car in Longmont and led police on a high speed chase. This week a meth flop house was raided and shut down. There have been fatal stabbings and shootings. One can easily get the impression that Longmont is not a safe place to live.

One of my favorite features in the Longmont Times-Call is Johnny St Vrain, a column where readers can email in questions and get answers about anything Longmont.

One writer recently wrote in concerned about the question of public safety in Longmont. Check out that article here. The long and short of it?: Despite the bad press, Longmont is one of the safest places to live in the State of Colorado.

Here's a highlight from the article:

Longmont is statistically one of the safest cities in Colorado, a fact the Times-Call has reported. In December 2011, the city was named the second safest city in Colorado, based research by the magazine CQ. Last year, the Times-Call reported that major crime rates in Longmont have dropped 48 percent in the past decade, based on Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation numbers.

I have always felt safe in Longmont. This is a city of 90,000 people where if a bicycle gets stolen they report it in the newspaper! That says a lot about the city right there! In other places I've lived, I've had my house broken into, I've been mugged, robbed, assaulted – I even had a bicycle stolen, but those things didn't count as “news” in those places. Safe to say that Longmont's pretty safe.

How safe do you feel in Longmont?

 

High Speed Chase This Morning Started in Longmont

This morning a car was stolen at a gas station just down the street from where we live. The scary part is that the stolen car had a 4 year old boy in the backseat, who was taken for a ride until the driver ditched that car and hijacked another one near DIA, pulling a woman out of her van.
Scary that something like this would happen so close to home. The 4 year old is safe, but we pray for him and his parents after such a terrible emotional stress.

The Longmont Times Call posted an article with more info about what happened.

 

A Message from Ukraine

Maybe you have heard about what’s happening in Ukraine – where upwards of 25,000 people have taken to the streets in anti-government protests. 

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A friend of mine who is a pastor in Ukraine spoke at our church here in Longmont a few months ago (click here to watch that video), and today I asked him to write a brief synopsis on what is going on in Ukraine and how we can be praying for them. Here is what he wrote:

“And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it…” 1 Cor. 12:26

You may have seen in the news recently that Ukraine, a former Soviet republic sandwiched between Russia and the European Union, is in the middle of massive street protests.  These protests were originally in reaction to the president breaking his promise to sign an association agreement with the EU.  People were angry and began to protest on the main square of the capital, Kiev.  After a few days on Nov. 30th, the president tried to end the protest with a massive show of violence, sending out special forces and riot police to beat peaceful protesters with batons.  They struck in the middle of the night when the fewest number of protesters were there to resist.  They beat both men and women indiscriminately and savagely, though the protesters posed no threat.  The president hoped that he would be able to put a stop to the people calling him to accountability for his broken promises.  He was wrong.  The reaction was the opposite and the next day many more people joined the protest.  This became no longer primarily a question of economics or which countries to build alliances with, but an outcry against human rights abuses, violence and oppression.  
Last night the president sent in troops and police again to try to clear the main square, though with more restraint as far as violence goes.  They attack began around 1:30am local time, again when there were less protesters to resist.  Many believers across Ukraine began praying.  We called each other, sent texts, waking one another up to stand before our mighty God and Savior and ask for Him to intervene.  It looked like this was the end of the protest and there was a thin line of protesters holding back a flood of riot police.  But then little by little people flocked to the square from all over Kiev in the middle of the night.  Soon the numbers were even.  Then the protesters were the majority.  By a miracle of the grace of God and in response to the prayers of His people, the protesters endured through the night and are still there.  The morning found a renewed protest and masses flocked to rebuild the barricades the police and special forces had torn down during the night.  
But the conflict is not over.  Tonight promises to be an important and difficult night on Independence Square in Kiev.  The protesters are more organized now, talking about organizing shifts for the night watch, but even then it will not be easy.  Also, the temperatures dipped down to almost 5F during the night last night.  Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ, including many pastors, are on the main square and will spend the night there ministering to the people and praying for God’s protection and peace and that His justice would triumph.  Near the beginning of the protests, some pastors set up an inter-denominational prayer tent on the square and people are coming to pray and even receiving Christ during this difficult time!  
The Word of God calls us to stand in unity and solidarity with both our brothers and sisters in Christ and with the oppressed and weak.  In this case, there is great overlap in those two categories.  I would beg you to stand together with the church in Ukraine before God and intercede at this pivotal moment in the nation’s history.  

Please pray for the following points:
1. Not against any party or person per se, but for the nation of Ukraine, that God would pour out His blessing and mercy on this people.

2. That God, who is not a God of disorder, but of peace (1 Cor 14:33) would establish His peace, order and justice in this land.

3. That God, who hates the hands that shed innocent blood (Pr. 6:17) would protect the people from violence and bloodshed, regardless of political affiliation.

4. That God would bless those currently in power by bringing them to repentance and the knowledge of Him and that they would rule in submission to God and turn from their wickedness, that we might live quietly and peaceably. (2 Tim. 2:2)

5. That the people would not be cursed in turning their hope to yet another man or political party in this time of trouble, but would be blessed by putting their hope in the Lord. (Jer. 17:5-7)

6. That the true enemy of man, Satan, who desires to steal, kill and destroy, would be cast down and that his plots would not prevail. (Eph. 6:12)

7. That, as our Lord Himself taught us to pray, the kingdom of God would come and His will be done on earth as in heaven. (Mt. 6:10)

Thank you for standing together as one body with your brothers and sisters in Ukraine.  God bless you and God bless the people of Ukraine!

Obligatory Post Bemoaning Black Friday

As a pastor, there are a few things you are expected to blog about at Thanksgiving:

  • Thanksgiving is the best holiday ever.
  • Black Friday is the worst thing that has ever happened, ever. It is the epitome of American consumerism encroaching on family.

This week, the Longmont Times-Call ran an article about a woman who is heading up an initiative to take turkey sandwiches to employees of businesses that are open for sales on Thanksgiving day. Nice, right? Well, the lady heading it up also mentions in the article that she is planning to take her family out to eat at a restaurant on Thanksgiving day, so they can spend time together rather than spending the day cooking. Um… is she the only one who doesn’t see the irony in that? In the comments section, she claims that the difference is that retail workers ‘have to be there on Thanksgiving even though they would rather be with their families.’ I guess the restaurant workers are at work by choice on Thanksgiving day…and wouldn’t rather be home with their families?

Here’s my take on Black Friday – sales are awesome. But we should limit this whole thing to the internet. That way everyone can stay home with their families, and we can all get great prices on stuff without having to leave the house or wait in line in the cold at night. I think it would be a win-win.

Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. (Psalm 9:1)

In case I forgot to mention it: Thanksgiving is the best holiday ever.

Article in the Longmont Times-Call about Project Greatest Gift

Article in the Longmont Times-Call about Project Greatest Gift

Last week I wrote a post about an initiative that White Fields Community Church is doing to bless children in foster care at Christmastime. 

The Longmont Times-Call newspaper featured Project Greatest Gift and some other Longmont holiday initiatives in this article.

Longmont Church Officials Face Charges In Assault Case

What happened at VineLife is grievous, and the worst kind of offense. In a place where people, especially youth, should be safe, an offense like this is especially terrible.
What makes it worse in this case is that pastors and elders were involved in covering up the situation and not reporting it to police.
There is biblical precedent for dealing with things internally rather than going to court, but I believe this regards civil disputes rather than crimes, especially felonies.
The other thing this story brings to awareness for pastors and church leaders is the fact that pastors, like teachers, are mandatory reporters. A friend of mine who works at a school was recently held responsible before the law because he heard a rumor, investigated it himself, was convinced that nothing had happened – yet did not report it to police. That’s against the law. Pastors in America need to keep that in mind – and we must never cover up crimes. This all falls under the category of respecting the authorities that God has placed over us and the laws of the land in which we live (Romans 13).