Category Archives: Just Wondering

Have certain things in life just made you wonder? You know what I mean, those thing that make you go ‘huh?” to yourself as you look at yourself or the world around you. Perhaps it is your foolishness, mine, or others that makes you wonder. How do these musings fit into your faith? I know it certainly make me wonder…

My Favorite Holiday Is…

I guess this is just about my favorite holiday of the year. It is really simple for me because the focus is on being thankful. It began with a group of survivors recognizing God’s merciful grace to sustain the very few of them who survived the year in a desolate and unwelcoming place. Who did they thank, God of course, because they understood who had kept them and then provided for them. They were ill-prepared for what awaited them on these unknown shores. Unlike many of the other colonists from the old world, these new world adventurers mostly came for freedom to worship God in the way they saw fit. Most of them died through their innocence and ignorance of wilderness skills, others from the ravages of disease, and some from their untrusting nature of those who were already living here. Certainly not all of them were saints; few of us truly are. However, they recognized something many of us have forgotten in our “enlightened” age, the grace and care of Almighty God. So, when I sit down to eat the feast laid out before me that was lovingly prepared by others, I pause and quietly remember those pilgrims who stood on this new shore and trusted God to sustain them; and how they gave thanks for His mighty providence in all things big and little.

A psalm. For giving thanks. Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalms 100:1-5 NIV)

Makes one wonder why more folks worldwide do not celebrate a day of thanksgiving to the one who made them…

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Today’s Thoughts – Personal Mediocrity and Situational Ethics

Today’s Thoughts – Personal Mediocrity and Situational Ethics
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 28, 2015

We live in an age of personal mediocrity and situational ethics. So much so that there are those who claim Christ, but who truly have no idea what that means. I was speaking with a young man the other day and we were discussing spirituality. I shared with him the gospel and he responded that he thought a lot of people believe in Jesus because they did good things, treated one another nice, and were basically good people. In fact, he thought of himself as a believer! I challenged him to consider the statement of Jesus himself where he declares that he is the only way, the only truth, and the only life and that no one will ever know God unless it is through him. And where Jesus declared himself God and that one must believe in him to have eternal life or die in their sins. He just kind of blinked at me and then said, “Well we all see Jesus differently.” As we talked further it became evident that he had settled for his own form of spirituality and has stopped investigating it any further because he is satisfied with his mediocrity and situational ethics. He considers himself a believer without ever believing! And herein lays the danger of most Christianity; too many have settled for their own brand of faith instead of what Jesus actually teaches.

At what point is disobedience, disobedience? We live in a day and age whereby everyone wants to define their faith their own way, and this is simply not biblical and in fact spiritually dangerous. The judgment of the Supreme Court on gay marriage makes this quite plain. Far too many who claim Christ does not see it as any big deal and why should they? After all at what point after we have committed adultery, fornication, clipped, cut, marked, and tattooed our body, used booze and recreational drugs, and reinterpreted Scripture to suit our own emotional proclivity of the moment does any spiritual concept have any relevance in one’s life? As I asked before, at what point is disobedience, disobedience? We no longer go to church to worship God, we go to worship ourselves worshiping the god-concept we have constructed to meet our emotional needs. It is shallow at best and heretical at its worst.

When we simply ignore or rewrite what the Bible plainly teaches on the concepts of holy living, we are living dangerously and may have walked away from the true faith once delivered to all the saints. And sadly, we therefore may have doomed future generations from hearing the truth because most folks will settle for spiritual mediocrity and situational ethics. The Israelites did. It makes one wonder.

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Are you listening?

Are you listening?
By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 12, 2015

I like listening in on conversations. Yes, I suppose you could call me an eavesdropper, but really this carries with it so many nasty connotations. I prefer to be known as an observer of people and listening to them is part of the character of someone like me. Why just the other day I was listening to my grandson and wife talking together. He had climbed onto her lap and was enjoying a book with her. She exclaimed, “I like it when you climb into my lap and snuggle with me.” Then I heard him giggle in response and reply, “I like snuggling with you too grandma.” Now, how in the world could anyone not want to overhear that!

I am a fulltime pastor and a part time “recess teacher” during the week at a local elementary school. I have learned by listening in on conversations how many of the children there are neglected, loved, pampered, or encouraged. I have discovered that in fact many of these children who suffer the most in their home-lives do so because no one listens to their conversation; how utterly sad. I have now made it a duty when I am there interacting with them by listening. I have learned lots of important things from them as I do. I have learned of incarcerated parents, drug-addicted siblings, grandparents becoming parents again, childish wishes, inspiring dreams, the wonderful language of play, angry words, and loving acceptance. I have heard a lot while kneeling down to tie shoelaces, putting a Band-Aid on a scrape, or encouraging a newly found monkey-bar skill.

In a world where we text far more than we write letters and even where emails are now “old-fashioned” I have discovered listening again. There is something sweet and wonderful about doing so. While at a local grocery store I listened in as a young couple interacted over what they would buy for dinner that night. It was to be a celebration with her parents over her pregnancy. Heads together as they both pushed their shopping cart down the aisle their conversation was one of joy.

You know, our prayer is to be like that as well. I believe we are to listen far more than we are to talk with God. I think we have forgotten how and what that means. Prayer is not just speaking at God; it is actually pausing and listening to what he wants to say to us as well. Far too often we meander on and on about things we already know the answer to and just keep babbling because we cannot shut up and listen. Perhaps we are afraid of what God might tell us! Jesus told his disciples, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” (Matthew 6:6-7 NIV) The idea here is one of conversation and listening.

There is an art to listening. This is what my uncle used to tell me. Then he would pat my shoulder and remark, “It means Art should be quite and listen!” (Of course he meant me.) My mother used to ask us over and over, “Are you listening to me?” or “You haven’t heard a single word I’ve said!” She knew listening was important too. Not that everything everyone says is important because it surely is not, but I learned when my mother spoke, you listened.

Yes we should actively listen to others, but we should also listen to God more importantly. Psalm 81 is all about how we should listen to God more, which is kind of interesting because we read in many of the Psalms how the writer is often crying out for God to listen to him! Doesn’t God already hear us and know about our circumstance? I guess we are like children who want attention fast and we think we get it quickest by crying out as loud as we can! Jesus told his followers, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.” (Luke 8:17-18 NIV) In fact Jesus would later respond that “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” (Luke 8:21 NIV) I guess listening to God is very important indeed. This is why he would teach, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27 NIV) And like James, Jesus’ brother, I believe “everyone should be quick to listen” and “slow to speak”!

Now, did you hear what I just told you?

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Just Wondering…

Just Wondering…

By Pastor Lee Hemen

August 24, 2014

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16 NIV)

I was just wondering, how holy is holy for you? Here’s what I mean by this: Suppose God just all of a sudden decided to go against the promise of his word and only give you partial cleansing for your halfhearted confession? Would you want that for the forgiveness of your sins? You know what I mean, God would say something like, “Okay, here’s just a little bit of cleansing since you weren’t really sincere.” Would we like that? Would we want that? We would not commit ourselves to him if he only partially cleansed us, why would we? Yet we expect and demand that God only accept our partial obedience. How much rebellion becomes total disobedience? Do you seriously think God just winks, nods, and then smiles at your little rebellion? Christians who think they can play games with God will discover they misread the rule book. A little rebellion is a whole lot of sin. So, how holy is holy for you? For God it means complete obedience. Makes one wonder…

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Just Wondering…

Just Wondering…

By Pastor Lee Hemen

July 20, 2014

 

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8 NIV)

 

I have always wondered how bad things have to get before we get it. Here’s what I mean: The Scriptures teach us over and over that we reap what we sow, so, if we are constantly being thwarted in what we are doing, whether it is for fun, sport, or a hobby; perhaps we are reaping what we’ve sown? If we face consistent struggles in what we plan, in what we invest our time, talent, and treasure in, instead of God’s kingdom, what does that say about our willingness to learn from God? I find it amusing and often kind of mystifying how when things go good we tend to think everything is okay dokey with God in what we are doing; even if we know it takes us away from being obedient to him. How can that be? Then, when things go haywire or contrary to our wonderful planning we fail to equate the lousy outcome with reaping what we have sown. God is not mocked no matter how hard we try to justify the outcome. A person reaps what they sow in life. If we continually think we are being blessed when nothing adverse happens, yet ignore the times when God is truly trying to get our attention, we may find that we may not like the final outcome. Perhaps when things are going kind of funky we need to ask the Lord what he is trying to teach us. Perhaps we are reaping what we’ve sown. Makes one wonder…

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Just Wondering…

Just Wondering…

By Pastor Lee Hemen’

July 19, 2014

 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness… (Matthew 6:33 NIV) For we know that our old self was crucified with him… (Romans 6:6 NIV) You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds… (Ephesians 4:22-23 NIV) Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace… (1 Peter 4:10 NIV) The greatest among you will be your servant. (Matthew 23:11 NIV)

 

What is up with all the “selfies” people take? What does this say about us? We go to different places and then stick a cell phone in our own faces, snap an intimate shot of our facial imperfections and nose hair to share with thousands of others. We cannot even see what is behind us because the whole focus of the picture is us! I am not speaking to the world here but to believers who say they love Jesus and want to live for him. Could this modern-day electronic digital affliction be problematic of what we have allowed society to implant in us? Perhaps this is true. If we take the snapshot selfishness into our church membership, our relationship with Christ, or our spiritual growth what we will end up with is a lot of the focus being on us instead of the big picture – namely God’s kingdom. Couldn’t we take one picture of our nose hairs and simply lie to others about where we are in our selfies? Are we so focused on ourselves that we do not serve, we do not seek ways to grow God’s kingdom, or we have become static in our spirituality? Perhaps we need to take the cell phone out of our faces and take a snapshot of our lives in Christ instead. Would we like the hairs and imperfects we would see there? If so, then what will you do about taking so many selfies instead of sacrificially serving the Savior? Makes one wonder…

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Just Wondering…

Just Wondering…
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 15, 2014

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NIV

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

I was just wondering, why we don’t live the transformed lives in the Lord we are supposed to? Notice dear reader what Paul is sharing with us here. We who have placed our faith and trust in the One who brings “freedom” and whereby our faces are unveiled before him, are being transformed. We are not being transformed into ourselves, our old sin nature, nor our wretched past. We are being transformed into “his image”. If this is true why are you not living like it right now? Your transformation is not some day when you die, pie-in-the-sky, me oh my! It is a moment by moment occurrence. Why do you continually go back to the trash-heap of your old life? When you go to a fine restaurant do you enjoy the meal and then head for the dumpster outback? Do you wear your brand new garments and never wash them? Do you rub yourself with the filth you find in the gutter after taking your daily shower? Now before you answer, think for a moment how you treat your life in the Lord. We are free in Christ who saved us. We are free from a life of regulation or our own striving to get into heaven because of his grace, but our freedom does not mean we are to live eating refuse, to wear filthy rags, or to continually return to the muck of the world and wallow in it. As Paul would admonish, “be transformed”! If you say you love Jesus but live like hell, what does that display to the world? Certainly not a transformed life. Your glory is not to be found in the dirt of this world but rather in the transforming presence of your Savior. Makes one wonder…

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