Thursday, July 26, 2012

Random thoughts from Pastor Mitch: More Intolerance

Random thoughts from Pastor Mitch: More Intolerance

More Intolerance

It is amazing that intolerance continues. How in the world can one think that you should support something or someone who is intolerant? What am I talking about? The Chick-fil-A controversy that is continuing. Who is intolerant? Mayor Rahm Emmanuel of Chicago and Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston. They have both stated that they can not allow a business into their communities that do not support the values of their communities.

Really? Does that mean if the community is opposed to homosexuality, they would not allow a business that supports homosexuality to open and do business? No it doesn't. It means that if you support Christian morality and Christian marriage as the Lord has defined it, then you cannot be in their community. That is just plain wrong!

How dare they use their "power" to stand in the way of free enterprise! Because they support the homosexual agenda, they say that their whole community supports it as well. When will the Christians of Chicago and Boston stand up and say, "No we don't! We are people of God and will stand in full support what He says in His word!" Why are we so afraid to take that stand?

I for one, am disgusted by the mayor of Chicago. He is taking the fine name of the good city and smearing it into the moral filth of shame. He is making it a laughing stock for all the world to see. I pray that Christians will stand up and be counted. God did not give us a spirit of timidity but of power that comes from His Word and through the Holy Spirit.

Onward Christian Soldiers!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Random thoughts from Pastor Mitch: Tolerance and Intolerance

Random thoughts from Pastor Mitch: Tolerance and Intolerance

Tolerance and Intolerance

I was going to continue writing about our trip (which I will pick up later) but instead I feel compelled to write about tolerance, fairness and the heavy hand of Satan. What made me think about these things? It is the situation taking place with Chik-fil-A. There is a major movement going now to not only boycott Chik-fil-A but to keep it from opening stores in communities. Why? Because the CEO Dan Cathy has spoken against same-sex marriages. He is in support of traditional family values. Is that so bad?

According to the proponents of same-sex marriage, homosexual unions and those who are opposed to traditional family values it is. It is a terrible thing for him to say (though in reading reports it is hard to find that Dan Cathy actually said he opposed same-sex marriage - though I wish he would have!) according to these groups. And because he has said that, they propose not only a boycott (which they can do without any problem because that is within their right and the freedoms of the USA) but also trying to drive Chik-fil-A from towns and using government control to keep them from opening other stores (an alderman in Chicago has gone on record saying he would not allow them to open a store in his ward - what? his ward? When did it become his? When did it become his right to use his governmental power in this way?)

Where is tolerance? Same-sex proponents come down hard on Christians for standing on their convictions, proposing boycotts and working to support traditional marriage values and morals. They talk about it being "unloving" and "intolerant" to speak against same-sex marriage. We are told to be more tolerant, loving, caring, etc. But here we see the real agenda. There is no tolerance. There is no love. There is no caring. UNLESS, and this is a big unless, you agree with the same-sex, gay marriage agenda. You cannot speak against it. You cannot stand opposed to it. If you do, then you are wrong, intolerant and terrible.

And now government power is being brought to bear on Chik-fil-A to try to get it to cave and accept the same-sex agenda. Not only accept it but support it and do all it can to move it forward.

This is wrong! It turns my stomach because in the end this is an attack of Satan upon the people of God. Satan is doing all he cane to destroy the morals and values that the Lord has given to the world. Same-sex relationships are wrong. It is against that which the Lord has proclaimed. And it comes, not from God, but from the prince of this world, the devil himself.

This just another attack upon the values and morals that the Lord has given. I, for one, support Chik-fil-A and their stance on traditional family values.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Beginning the Trip-Alton to Chicago.

It has been a week since we returned home from our trip to San Antonio, TX. It was a great trip. On Monday July 9th, we took the train from Alton, IL to Chicago, IL. It was a half hour late arriving at Alton which made us wonder how the entire trip would be. As the axiom goes, "Late trains only get later." We were to arrive in Chicago at 12:30 but we didn't make it till 2:30. There were people on the train who were making close connections to other trains. They talked about trying to hold those trains for them (ones like the Empire Builder which was to leave out at 2 or 2:15. I don't know if they actually made their connections or not.). For us it didn't matter because we were connecting with the City of New Orleans which didn't leave out until 8:00 p.m. on that Monday.

This gave us the chance to see a little of Chicago. Being that we had a sleeper (a compartment of our own!), we were able to use the Metropolitan lounge in Union Station. This meant that we could check in and leave our luggage and carry on bags in a safe place. When we entered the lounge, there almost no one in it. That was probably because the main trains had just left - Texas Eagle, Empire Builder, California Zephyr, and Southwest Chief. Once those are gone, there aren't many left for a while. We checked in, were told to be back by 7:15 p.m. and off we went.

We decided to go for a walk to see the sights and find something to eat. We really wanted someplace where we could sit down and enjoy a meal. The gal in the lounge car on the train had told us of an Italian beef place but it turned out to be a a grab and go place so we didn't go there. We continued our sightseeing and ended up in Grant Park. We went over to Buckingham Fountain. We see it when we drive by but realized it had been quite a while since we actually had gone up to it and looked at it. Took a few pictures (one of which is now my wallpaper on the computer - Penny in front of the fountain). The Taste of Chicago was going to be starting a few days after we left so they were setting up for that.

We wandered on. We walked over to Buddy Guys'.

Buddy is a blues guitarist with a restaurant in Chicago. I had just read his autobiography so I thought it would be fun to go there, get a bite to eat and take in the atmosphere. But they weren't open yet. Didn't open till 5 and it was only a little after 4 (and we still hadn't eaten anything!). Frustrated with striking out twice, we moved on. Maybe we will go back to Buddy Guys some other time. Stomachs rumbling, thirst building, we wandered on. Looking at the sights and hearing the sounds, we enjoyed the ambiance of Chicago. It was good to be there.

We came across Tutto Italiano. As you can imagine, it was an Italian place. But it also had an old rail car (no wheels) sitting next to it. It is right on Congress in downtown. We were surprised when we walked in. It was an old town type of bar, one where you could imagine men like Capone could have come, or at least Old Blue Eyes himself when he came to Chicago. And wonder of all wonders, the place where you sat to eat was in the train car itself! Hurrah!

The meal was very good. The waiter was different but in a good way. We were told that there was a scene in the the movie "The Lake House" that was shot in that very car. That was neat to know. Now we have to watch the movie again to see if we can see the 15 second scene that took 8 hours to shoot.

After supper we wandered back to Union Station. We had taken our leftovers with us, not wanting to waste them> But we wondered how we would ever eat them. So as we walked on, we found a man looking for hand outs from the commuters scurrying to their trains to head home after a day in the office and we gave him the meal. He seemed to appreciate it. I said it was Italian, he asked if it was pizza, when I told him no it was pasta, he really got excited. Must get plenty of pizza. We watched the people rushing in, and soon joined them as we flowed down the escalators into the depths of Union Station. Leaving the rush behind, we headed for the Lounge. After getting all our bags out of storage (and remembering that now we were going to have to tip just about everyone we came in contact with), we found a quite corner and settled in. The Lounge had filled up as the evening trains would be filling soon. The Capital Limited was just loading. Sitting back, we enjoyed the relaxing time in the Lounge waiting for them to call out train for loading.

Soon it was 7:15 and they called out that those passengers with sleeper accommodations on the City of New Orleans could join them at the back gate. The gal from the desk opened the doors and we were off on our grand adventure. The sights, the sounds and the smells of Union train travel came wafting into the Lounge and with excitement (and a smile like that of a kid having the time of his life), we started out for our train.

More to come...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

New Orleans and the Budget

Penny and I are in New Orleans, LA. This city has a lot to offer to people - food, culture, fun, entertainment, more food, more fun - and the list could go on. There are famous restaurants. There are museums. There are shops galore. You want a trinket, you can buy one here. You want a T-shirt, you can buy one here. The Crescent City offers you just about anything you want.

We had raw oysters! I know some of you will freak out about that. You will gag and moan and wonder how could you eat such things? Let me tell you, it was wonderful! We went to an oyster house about 4:30 in the afternoon on Tuesday. The special was buy 18 ounce bud draft and get one free and also the 14 count raw oysters were 1/2 price. So we ordered both. We each had the beer and they brought the oysters. Yum! We finished them off and ordered another 14. And we enjoyed them. How great was that? I must say, it was worth the trip for those. I also had jambalaya at another place which was great. Penny had the fried shrimp which she enjoyed but was getting full. We have to say that they had no clue how to do mac-n-cheese. As Penny said, their poor attempt at it made her Italian blood boil. Also, ask her about her experience at their restroom. 'Nuff said.

We wandered around New Orleans till about 8 and then headed back to the hotel. We watched the NL beat up the AL for a while, and then went to bed. We were probably asleep just as most people were getting started.

As we wandered around the French Quarter, it got me thinking. I thought about the church budget and how we are trying to hammer one out that everyone will be content with. I know that there are various thoughts on this and numerous reasons why it didn't pass (lethargy on the part of many voters for not attending the meeting, a desire to close the school, anger over the splitting of the Preschool from the Daycare, not liking this person or that person who is on the payroll, not caring for what has been done in the past, and the list could go on). I don't believe it is a bloated budget nor do I believe that we are wasting money. I know that the money is there. I also know that the real problem is spiritual and that many of us don't understand or practice good Christian stewardship. But that isn't my point today.

We walked from shop to shop, watching people, avoiding people, amazed at people and I thought, "This is why it is so important for St. Paul's to have the ministry that we do in Troy. IL." What does Troy and New Orleans have in common and how does the budget of St. Paul's effect New Orleans? That is the right question.

I watched a young man, couldn't have been any more than 20, being held up by his "friends." He couldn't stand (it was 5:30 in the evening). They finally sat him down on a bench and he was unable to hold himself upright. They were trying to talk to him but it was as though no one was there. He was so stoned that nothing was working. He couldn't understand them. I saw women dressed in ways that no God-fearing, Christian woman who was trying to follow the way of the Lord should dress. I saw people drinking themselves silly (and headed into the hotel before it go really serious with drinking). I saw decadence that the people in Troy don't see or want to know about. We pretend in Troy that there is no problem with drugs (heroin kills!), drinking or sex. Here in New Orleans, there is no pretending. It is right in front of your face. And it is rubbed into your face.

How does St. Paul's budget change what is happening in New Orleans. We are teaching our children in Sunday School and at St. Paul's school that there is a right way to live your life - according to the values and will of God, not the world. Here in New Orleans, Satan and sin rule. We are teaching our children that the Lord needs to rule their lives. How would you like your daughter to come here and have to sell her body in order to live? How would you like your son to come here and drink himself sick day after day and then begin to live on the street like so many people that sit on the park benches or sleep in the doorways? Can't happen? Of course it can, especially if we in Troy don't do everything within our power to "train the child in the way he/she should go."

It is our task as Christian men and women to use our God-given gifts and resources to do everything in our power to teach the current and the next generation the will of God. Is it cheap? No it isn't. Is it worth it? Sit on a park bench in New Orleans and see the waste of life, the degradation, the sinfulness of the people and ask yourself, "How much is it worth to make sure that each of those young children of God don't end up here or in some other city, including Troy, doing the exact same thing?"

I watch the filth, the sin, the corruption, the rottenness of life here in the French Quarter (I know that there are good places as well - just as there in Troy) and I know that what we are doing is worth every single dollar, no matter how much they add up. And I wonder, "How can anyone say that we should cut our budget? Get rid of staff? Or do anything that is going to cut back on the sharing of the ONLY message that will change the life of the sinner?"

Me, I support the work of St. Paul's 100%. I am behind all that we do and will use every resource I can to make sure that not one of our children end up like that young man on the bench. I pray for our children, our young adults, our adults, our elderly, every single one of our people and ask God to use us to make a difference - one soul at a time -  no matter what the cost.