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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Before the Wall

After church this morning I will travel to downtown Kansas City. It's supposed to rain and storm off-and-on all day, but I need to go to "Celebration at The Station". We've been twice in the seven years we've lived here...amazed how many people I meet who have lived here for decades and have never heard of it...or gone.

I don't think America is, or ever was, "God's country." It has problems too numerous to list...and getting worse.

But it beats the alternatives.

This year the largest traveling Vietnam "wall" is adjacent to Union Station. I will look at specific names there. To my brothers, I say "welcome home." To those who wonder about Vietnam and the conflict, feel free to ask my opinion.

But don't expect war stories. In my experience if you are ever around someone who claims to have been in combat (or prison, there are similarities), and who talks about what it was like a their will probably grow.

I served four years in the Army. Enlisted right out of high school. Long before Jesus captured me.

Did a couple years in Korea...discovered kimchi! Was in Korea when the "Pueblo"  was snatched by the North Koreans. Never thought we'd sell those guys out. We did. Most reading this never heard of the incident...

From Korea to Germany. Was there when the Russians invaded Czechlosvakia. Sent my unit out to the Czech border several days before it happened. Did we have a hunch? Duh.

Then went to Vietnam (with the 11th Armored Cavalry) for the remainder of my enlistment. 

Army was a lot like prison. Learned a lot there; don't wanna go back.

But the dumb decisions I made after the military were not Vietnams fault...or the Armys fault...or even the devils fault.

The decisions were influenced by all those things, and more; but the decisions were not dictated by those things.

I made my choices, my choices made me. It's called personal responsibility.

The most disgusting phrase in English? "It's not my fault." Well, yeah, it is.

We may have a lot of "excuses," but to paraphrase a military saying, "Excuses are like elbows; everyone has a couple."

And our God did not send His Son to die for excuses, but for sins. "There is a way that seems right to a man..."

I'm thankful the Lord sent His Spirit to invade my life in a Texas jail cell in 1974...and that His mercies are new every morning.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Jane and Hillary

On Memorial Day weekend let me ask a question:

What is the similarity between Jane Fonda and Hillary Clinton?


Give up?

They should both have been indicted and, at minimum, incarcerated for their acts of stupidity and treason.

Oh, they won't be. Ms. Fonda has (sort-of) apologized. Forgiveness does not negate punishment. Ms. Clinton will, amazingly, probably be first "lady" (God forbid, but...)

Again, I can understand anyone being "against" whoever the Republicans nominate.

I simply can not fathom why anyone would be "for" Ms. Clinton.

P.S. I realize some readers may know nothing of Jane..she is Henry Fonda's daughter, and while I and thousands of others were fighting in south Vietnam she was in North Vietnam doing photo ops with the enemy as well as donating blood. The Hillary photo refers to Benghanzi...and more damning news is out today...

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Will of God

So easy to preach about - the will of God.

So easy to pray about - "accomplish Your will in my life/in my ministry's life/in my family life

So easy to say, "Lord, let me be in the center of Your will."

But isn't that like saying "let me be a sort of virgin"?

You either is or you ain't.

"The sweet spot of God's will" sounds cool, but is it accurate?

You either is (in His will) or you ain't.

And His will is not about me, but about Him and His kingdom.

"Thy kingdom come" means "my kingdom go."

And Nancy nails it:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Don't Let the Message Fade

Paul Little wrote, "Collapse in the Christian life is seldom a blow-out; it is usually a small, almost imperceptible leak."

I still reel at the events of a couple weeks ago...a well known pastor in St Joseph and a woman I've known for years left their respective spouses and three children each and now live together, seeking divorces. Not only a disgusting pain for the families, but a tragic slap in the face of the gospel and of our Lord.

How did it happen?

No idea as to the details.

But I know it did not have to happen.

I've always enjoyed Casting Crowns. I had the joy of talking with them in NY years ago, and this is my favorite song because it is the most needed song...

I will repost it often, in the hopes/prayers that someone will listen and Spirit of God will use it to prevent that first step...which all too often results in disaster.

Maybe you could to? Or maybe...just maybe...God is trying to speak to you now?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I Echo Billy Graham

Yeah, a rather bold title.

I'm reading Sir David Frost's Billy Graham - Candid Conversations With A Public Man, and enjoying it very much.

The book is a compilation of over 30 years of tv interviews (none of which I recall seeing).

I was blessed to see a Graham crusade in Kansas City, Rochester and Cleveland. The latter was historic as it was the first time Mr. Graham had a "rock" group with him...D C Talk.

Anyway, one passage from the book read today could have been penned by me:

"I'm still nervous when I stand up to preach. I always get tense and nervous and afraid that I may say something that would mislead people. You know, it's a tremendous responsibility to try to tell people how to get to heaven."

Billy said these prophetic words in 1964...

"I believe that when the gospel is preached; however badly...that the Holy Spirit is the communicating agent; that people are not really listening to me after about ten or fifteen minutes if I'm really preaching the gospel.

I think they're listening to another voice inside, the voice of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is applying and communicating.

That's the reason I disagree with the bishop of Woolwich in that we need a new jargon to appeal to this generation.

We don't at all. 

We need the old jargon, the biblical jargon, preached in the power and urgency of the Holy Spirit."

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Short Film Based on Keith Green's "The Prodigal"

While searching for a Keith Green song to post regarding another issue, I stumbled across this 12-minute film built around his song, "The Prodigal."

Along with eleven others, Keith Green died on July 28, 1982, when the Cessna 414 leased by Last Days Ministries crashed after takeoff from the private airstrip located on the LDM property. The small two-engine plane was carrying eleven passengers and the pilot, Don Burmeister, for an aerial tour of the LDM property and the surrounding area. Green and two of his children, three-year-old Josiah and two-year-old Bethany, were on board the plane, along with visiting church planters, John and Dede Smalley and their six children.

My oldest son was named after Keith's Josiah. Back in 1984 there were not too many Josiah's running around!

The movie focuses on the runaway licentious son; and leaves out the legalist stay-at-home son. But it is well done and well worth watching:

A massive Keith Green resource can be found by CLICKING HERE.

Keith caught a lot of flack from a wide variety of "clergy" and other "christians." Though white, he sported a large, unruly afro. He was honest and open about his own struggles. He gave his records and writings away, and did not charge for his concerts (took offerings instead).

He once wrote:

"I repent of ever having recorded one single song and ever having performed one concert if my music, and more importantly --  my life -- has not provoked you into godly jealousy, or to sell out more completely to Jesus!”

Can't imagine anyone not nodding while reading that, but back in his day there was no shortage of "righteous inspectors" just as there is no famine of them now. Reminds me of another group often attacked by these folks...Here's one of their songs that applies to pharasees of every age:

Friday, May 15, 2015

Really? Mark Lowry?

One of the deep and great mysteries of life is how a nut like Mark Lowry could write the words to this song
(with music by Buddy Greene). At the risk of being a dropper of names, I first met Mark while he was a student at Jerry Falwell Tech (a.k.a. Liberty University) and have worked with/for him at various concerts with Family Life Network back in NY. Through FamLife I got to meet Buddy also, and had the immense privilege of having him sit in my office, share coffee and conversation, with our mutual favorite band - the Beatles playing in the background.

Yeah, it's not CHRISTmas, but enjoy:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tick Tock

Thought about correctly, other than people, it's the only irreplaceable commodity.

Jagger and the Stones say it's on our side (it certain is on theirs! Yet another tour! They are playing Kansas City next month..cheapest tickets are about 80 bucks, floor tickets over three the way, my birthday is June 1...just saying...)

Though we talk about it as if we hold it in our hands, DC Talk sang about it slipping into the future.

A friend I've known for decades recently posted this...I have watched it three times...I find it fascinating. Perchance you will also?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Everybody Needs Somebody

I don't even know for sure what tripe is...

No idea what it looks like until now when I googled it.
But I know tripe when I hear it. 

As in, "I love Jesus but I don't need church."

Gaggeth a self-respecting maggot.

Hebrews 10.24,25 still counsels and mandates, "And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near."

We fellowship because it is ordered by our Commander-in-Chief (as opposed to heavenly buddy).

Speaking of "buddy," we fellowship  because even the Lone Ranger had a buddy!

And, as Charles Spurgeon noted, 

"I will not believe that you have tasted of the honey of the gospel if you can eat it all by yourself."

"Love Jesus, Don't Need Church?" Sounds like you are having an affair, and not a committed marriage...

Besides, there's a place for you in the choir:


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

United in Praise, United in Prayer, United in Persecution, United in Sacrifice, United in Gratefulness That We Get To Do What We Get To Do

How'd you like it if your spouse was gone an average of 7 weeks each summer, sometimes with several consecutive weeks?

What if that same spouse had to "work" most Saturdays, and not a few Sundays?

What if that went on...and more...for over three decades?

Of course I write of myself, and my bride Jane.

We met at a camp in KC.

We were apart for several weeks prior to our rehearsal and wedding.

And I've been "on the road" pretty much since.

By the way, we are not sniveling. Neither are we patting ourselves on the back.

The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable.

It is an honor to serve.

Even if it isn't about "our best life now." (Candidly, Joel et al can have their best lives now; I'll get mine when I croak)

As I read the Word, as I study history, as I examine my own life; two words and one pair of words succinctly define the life of a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ:



Great joy

I recognize that the Lord could and would give strength for the journey had I been single for all these years of ministry.

I'm beyond grateful that He gave me Jane...

My letterhead, since day one, has always said "The Ministry of Jack and Jane Hager." Raising four kids and keeping a home and trying to keep me in line have combined to make Jane's life a life of self-denying service.

Just as every life touched through our ministry since 1978 is, however unknowingly, indebted to the men and women who invest financially in our home mission; but those lives are also...unbeknownst to very indebted to Jane.

Yeah...I married up!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Who The Heaven Are You?

I was converted in 1974.

I entered vocational ministry (God can use a donkey, therefore He can use me...there are perhaps some similarities?) in 1978.

I work primarily with teens and inmates. And preach in churches. And camps. And I have a bit of a social media presence.

What do I wish for regarding the Christians with whom I get to work?

Number one...absolutely...whether they are nazarene or baptist:  Assurance of salvation (First John)
Unless and until one has confident assurance of their saving relationship with the Lord Jesus, nothing else matters.

Number two..a growing awareness of their identity in Christ. Too often we listen to the lies of the world, the flesh, the devil. We need, no, we must obliterate the lies by smashing them with the truth of scripture.

Memorizing the Word, particularly verses dealing with who I am "in Christ" is crucial to discipleship. (which is ONE of the reasons I am heavily involved in Bible quizzing with this organization)

And that can be complemented by this magnificent song...

I wish teens..and not a few adults...would use this as their "alarm clock" so that first thing as they tackle a new day they increasing measure, just who the heaven they are!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Song for Mom

I had no relationship with my mother. Our family was dysfunctional before it was trendy. You can't miss what you never had.

However...I've seen my wife "mommy" four children. I've been privileged to meet, know, observe, many women of all ages who embraced all that "mommy" should be, and sacrificially poured themselves into their children.

And this song could/should be sung by all such privileged children to theirs moms:

Get Juices Flowing

Though I concur with virtually all of what you will watch posting this does not mean that I concur with all of the god Rabbi's opinions (he is a messianic jew)...but he is a passionate speaker...

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Half a Century?

In 1978 I had to submit a written sermon for a preaching class in the Bible institute I attended (Christ Unlimited...a division of Kansas City Youth For Christ).

Dr. Al Metsker personally reviewed the message.

And in bold, red letters scrawled across the top of the title page, "DON'T USE DOUBLE NEGATIVES!!!"

The title of my sermon?

"I Can't Get No Satisfaction"

Dr. Al did not apparently realize I was referring to a song well-known by just about anyone with a pulse...

This rendition of the song was recorded in 1965. Fifty years ago. The Stones are going on yet another tour now. They will be in Kansas City in July (by the way my birthday is June 1...just sayin')

Crank the speakers, marvel at how young they look...

Friday, May 8, 2015

Hurry Up and Wait!

I am in Colorado Springs for the Bible Quiz Fellowship annual meeting. In addition to reviewing the tournament held in Pittsburgh two weeks ago, we plan for next year's tourney (here) and discuss a wide variety of subjects related to Bible quizzing, discipleship, and more.

I have been collecting input for the meeting, and was rather stunned to read these words from one of the gentlemen:

"...I think we can get so caught up in prayer and brainstorming
that we sometimes forget we need to act in faith..."

Now of course I do not know what he actually meant by "caught up in prayer" but I do know the Word of God says we are to "pray without ceasing," which I think means it's tough to pray too much..

As I was chewing on this I got a daily email is rather timely and appropriate..

Prayerful waiting on God is indispensable to effective service. Like the time-out in a football game, it enables us to catch our breath and fix new strategy. As we wait for directions, the Lord frees us from the tyranny of the urgent. He shows us the truth about Himself, ourselves, and our tasks. He impresses on our minds the assignments He want us to undertake. The need itself is not the call; the call must come from the God who knows our limitation. "The Lord pities those who fear Him.  For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust" (Psalm 103:13-14). It is not God who loads us until we bend or crack with an ulcer, nervous breakdown, heart attack, or stroke. These come from our inner compulsions coupled with the pressure of circumstances.
Charles Hummel
Tyranny of the Urgent

By the way; if you've not read this little book,
you can get it for a couple bucks here: