Thursday, April 27, 2017

Off Grid Survival and Discipleship ministry



Every so often I see articles about how to prepare for a social collapse and take a moment to consider my preparation level.
With solar power, decent water and food storage, chickens, and a large movie and book library I think other than no interesting or amusing distractions from the Internet I might not even notice for a month or two in warm weather.
Perhaps after about a month in cold weather as I would have to go to fill up my propane.
So depending on season other than Internet and the occasional phone call no real change in my life for about a month or two.
After that I might want to go I to town to get a few convenience foods and propane, but finding fuel gone after Mass looting I would end up connecting up my floor heat to a metal barrel with a fire under it outside my house and shoot/trap a couple of game animals and be fine, although after a few months I might have to cook outside at the fire pit/iron forge after propane ran out.
I figure after about 5-6 months I would start to tire of venison, wild turkey meat and eggs, although I usually have about a 8 months supply of rice and 2-3 year supply of soy sauce I would still be well fed, but begin to tire of my diet.

I think after about a year lack variety in the diet and perhaps by then running out of multivitamins to compensate might result in health issues and I would be forced to become mobile and scavenge other foods, by then most of the crazy should have died down and folks should have got most of the violence out of their systems either by being shot dead for it, or running out of ammo and food due to their impulsive natures and lack of ability to plan ahead.
There is of course the slim possibly a few folks in my area might come over to my place with the expectation that since I still have lights and look well fed they can take by violence what I have.However with all the dysfunctional guys I have had on my property when I was helping addicts and the mentally ill folks I have gained a reputation as being a place to avoid....
Anyway barring the few folks who make it back to my property in the early days of the collapse  I think it likely I won't have to deal with the mass mayhem of the 1st 6 months after a economic or social collapse.
Would be nice if I had a decent well so I could irrigate and grow some crops here as then I could blissfully ignore the outside world for years if I choose, however as my income is pretty low and I have not felt motivated to go earn a lot of money when I lack so little and am fairly content with my situation I doubt I will raise the money for a well anytime soon. There is a river a few miles from here though and I could easily haul water from their as well as collect and store enough rainwater for hygiene, cooking, and drinking for both me and the chickens.

As I watch the news and observe the changes every time I go into town I am struck by how many people are completely dependent on what appears to be a system on the verge of collapse.
Most have no idea how to harvest any kind of food from the land, and fewer still understand the basics of water purification. when the city water shuts off I see a lot of people who will die from dehydration not from lack of water but from the Hershey squirts as they drink untreated water and lack medicine after the stores are looted.
When I moved where I did it was because I both wanted to be near my brother to lend a hand from time to time when his wife was in the hospital and the kids were younger, and because I grew tired of the constant rat race involved with living in densely populated areas. I knew very few people who were not either renting or in debt. Both conditions made regular work a necessity rather than a choice.


 Being able to work from time to time to pay off my property taxes and if I choose a prepaid phone for Internet and phone calls with few other bills I actually need to pay made many things possible. I was able to just take off and go on 3-4 year missions trips, I was able to provide food, shelter and a safe place for those recovering from drugs and alcohol as well as a few with mental illness for many years, without having to do any fund raising or receive even one dime of government money. Often just because I helped enough people folks would randomly throw a few bucks my way or replace a vehicle that broke down from all the miles I put on it carting people around.
Most years I would have guys with mostly drug problems and a few with mental issues stay with me during the warmer months and help them get on their feet. However after being in and around this type of ministry for many years I started to grow a collection of men who either are incapable or have chosen to never become independent enough to move on and support themselves.
I found that this has become a microcosm of our country as a whole. 
More than 50% of our population is now receiving some form of financial aid from the government that is trillions of dollars in debt. As we have continued to enable people to live off the labor of others without the consent of those being leached from our society has developed an entitlement mentality that if left unchecked will result in the mother of all collapses.
I have realized after a couple of years of having mostly men here (with a few notable exceptions) that are unwilling to provide for themselves but look at other peoples tax money and the soft heartedness of other ministries as a career choice. That it is time for Atlas to shrug. 
I still feel a need to help others and show kindness to the poor, but there has to be a line somewhere between helping someone out of a hole, and enabling them to live off other peoples hard work permanently. 
I have tried to instill this lesson by example as well as creating an environment on my land where every resource requires at least some work to be able to use. In the past this helped many as they would learn both a bit of basic work ethic as well as the ability to live within their means and conserve when they had limited resources. Better than 90% learned these lessons and eventually went on to live if not perfect at least better lives. 
Unfortunately there is the other 10% and out of them 1-2% that actually just figured out how to be just functional enough to get a govt check, and when they ran through that due to lack of impulse control learn how to panhandle and beg from places outside my property (I don't allow begging here).

The other 8% or so have decided that living at homeless ministries and behaving like people do when they are going through withdrawals is normal behavior and adapt just enough to not be a problem other than taking up space and resources that could be used to help others who truly want to be either productive members of society or at least stop being a drain on it.

So now I am faced with the problem of how to best serve my fellow man from this position I am in where I require little to no outside help, but can no longer afford or tolerate those who seem determined to suck either ministry resources or the government tit for life.
 My hope is that this year as I stop accepting any new dysfunctional men and no longer have to spend most of my time trying to prevent my place looking like a crack house.
 I will be able to eventually improve the infrastructure for less wasteful and dysfunctional visitors who wish to come for a short period of time to train for front line missions trips or perhaps provide a temporary place of peace for those who have to work in ministries that involve 24/7/365 living and working with the dysfunctional as well as perhaps teaching some classes or hosting seminars on how to both survive off grid and reduce overhead to get out of debt and help others without needing to beg.

As I notice that many would find the loss of income, or even power for even a week a major catastrophe. I on the other hand were it not for the time I spend on facebook I would not notice the zombie apocalypse for most likely a month and I could ignore it for the next 6. Because of this I am thinking I might have something else to share that is more valuable than only being a place to crash for the most dysfunctional in our broken society.
So as I prepare to enter this new chapter in my life and ministry. I must decide how best to help others. I wrestle with the balance between making sure I am not merely trying to avoid the sacrifice that ministry requires, and wasting the resources that God has given me to steward on those who need to be weaned and grow up.
I still lack some of the wisdom to know how vest to accomplish this, your prayers would be helpful.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Love of the world and things of this world (money, jets, cars, etc) is evidence Gods love is not in a person (1 john 2:15).
Teaching others that following after and seeking wealth is a good way to end up on the wrong side of judgment day especially if you are a teacher or pastor as per James 3:1 and Luke 17:2
Christ did not die for us so we can continue in our sin but that we would be delivered of it. 
The 1st message Christ preached was "repent for the kingdom of God is at hand".
If you can go to a church and never feel any conviction over the sin in your life your listening to meat puppets controlled by demons. 
Consider how you become aware and self conscious of your outward appearance when your the only one wearing jeans and a T shirt at a formal wedding reception, how can you then not be aware of your sin when standing before a perfect and holy God? 
Jeans may be comfortable when your alone or with others in casual dress, just as sin is comfortable when you are alone around others still living in theirs.
If you are near God and/or God is living in you it is impossible to be comfortable to be in your sin, not because God condemns you but because you can not help but be aware of it when you are in the presence of perfect love and perfection himself. 
The very fact that he forgives us when we come to him in all our sin should convict us to repent of it.
If I said i got hit by a train and there was no mark on me you would call me a liar. 
Yet I hear supposed pastors preach all the time they have a personal relationship with Christ and still love the things of this world and teach others to name it and claim it (or blab it and grab it)so they can have their "best life now".
News Flash.... The only way you can have your best life now is if your next life is in hell. Repent!!!!
Jesus Loves you even now in your sin, once you acknowledge him as your Lord and fully commit to give your life to him completely and put aside your fleshly desires to follow after him  (which is what he commands) he promises none can snatch you from his hand. 
If your deluded into thinking that raising your hand at a evangelistic message when asked "do you want Jesus in your heart?" will somehow give you fire insurance while you continue to chase after things of this world I hate to be the one to break it to you but you need to repent and get saved.
 Jesus never told anyone they would be saved by reciting any magic formula or prayer, He did tell everyone to repent and follow him.
It's not a popular message, Jesus did not "coexist" very well with others, he called his top disciple Satan when he was acting on false belief that concerns of this world come first.
 His message was even more unpopular with those that professed to be waiting for him and teaching his word that they organized a lynch mob,hunted him down and got him killed.
   I know the false doctrines are easy on the ears but that way leads to hell. 
Turn from those like Osteen, Duplantis, Copeland and others who promote the idea that worldly wealth  is a measure of holiness or faith rather follow Jesus the very unflashy poor carpenter from Galilee that had no place to rest his head
Remember we are praying to God who came to us as an unmarried homeless man, be wary of doctrines that claim lack of wealth is lack of faith, or encourage you toward earthly riches rather than towards contentment with what God has already given you.

I think Romans 12 said it best in verses 1 and 2;

Monday, July 7, 2014

Phinney Farm Pentecostal Monastery and Traveling Show

Life at the Phinney Farm
It has been a interesting few months up at The Phinney Farm. As I write this 2 of the men are on an evangelism trip to the Rainbow Gathering in the Nevada desert where thousands of people who still think it is 1968 are doing drugs in the desert (a good place to find folks that need Jesus and a good rehab center). Yesterday I got another new disciple coming down from meth and the rest are finally settling in to the routine of living in tents, cooking over a fire, laundry by hand, showers via pump up bug sprayer.
    Normal daily life is a chapter by chapter study of a book of the bible daily with nightly discussion of the chapter we all study and pray about during the day. with the quiet and the lack of distraction there is lots of time for prayer and study.
     Almost every night during our evening discussion we have a doe who likes to attend and listen in. most of the new disciples are amazed as the deer will pause about 15 yards from our discussion area and listen to  whomever is talking. With all the unseasonable rains we have been having the woods are still pretty green and there is good grazing for the deer and wild turkeys (they visit usually at dusk or dawn). As we clean up some of the trash dumped on the property during my absence over the last few years I am finding more signs of larger wildlife (cougar, wolf, coyote, and moose).
    Some of the men who come to me have never spent any real time in the woods and the sounds of the coyotes howling at night and the total lack of city lights can at 1st be a little intimidating but usually after the first few days they start asking how long they are allowed to stay. the idea of a safe enviroment where no gangs, police, or drunks are going to bother you while sleeping is a part of life they have not been able to experience in a long time.
      Every few days I am reminded that the type of life that for me is normal and natural is to many either a grand adventure or something they have only read about in a book or seen on TV. So while for me I find little to comment about in my daily life I often overhear one of the guys calling home and marveling about all the new things they have learned or experienced in the last week.
   My hope is that soon out of the few men I have a few will mature enough to be helpful as staff so I can take on more men.  Currently I have more requests by folks who want to come than I have staff, transport, and tents to accommodate. If you have a moment or two to spare I could use prayer for all 3.
      Currently I only get internet from time to time as I can find a wifi hotspot and the undistracted time to write (pretty rare) so my blog and facebook entrees have been few lately. speaking of which even now I must tend to one of the disciples so until then I remain;
Yours in Christ,
Donald C Phinney

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Health Care / Civil Disobedience

There is a lot of talk about health care these days, especially Obama-care. Lets take a look briefly at a bit of the declaration of Independence;
 
  "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"
         If we look at this document as well as our own constitution we will see that "rights" come from the creator, not the government. Government is established to protect God given rights.
      It would not be much of a logical leap then to understand that if it was not created by God then it is not a right.

    If someone were to say it is my right to have gummy bears and a Iphone and government needs to provide this for me most reasonable people would immediately agree that this person is being childish and needs to go work to earn his own candy and toys.
        If however they were to say that another individual,company or government agency was preventing them from owning or earning the money to buy said Iphone and gummy bears while we might not agree with the persons spending choices most would agree that it is the governments job to protect our FREEDOM to pursue those things.
        Now let us return to health care. Hospitals, doctors, nurses, etc are people and institutions that invested their time and money to provide a service. If we say that the time or work of an individual is the property of the state or another individual without their consent this is called slavery.
      If we make doctors and hospital provide their service for free we are declaring them slaves that are property of the state and the people.
     

     This of course will never work both from a practical viewpoint as well as moral and ethical. It is nearly impossible to force skilled labor, slavery is only really effective with untrained labor and a work force motivated by fear. Not an environment that a heart surgeon or neurosurgeon is likely to perform well under. So if we decide health care is a right and we are not able to provide it by enslaving the care providers the only other way the government can provide it is through taxes.
    This is of course the option Obamacare works under.

However unlike other taxes like income tax, gas tax, cigarette tax, etc. This tax applies to anyone who exists not just those already buying health care. The only way to opt out of this would be to die, and as there are laws against committing suicide there is no legal way to opt out.
     You can choose if you can decide not to drive, not to smoke, and not to earn an taxable income, but you can not legally choose not to die.

Of course according to almost every document and law this country was founded on we should never have to make that choice. We should have the "Right" to exist. Note that life is expressed as a right, not a privilege. You often must pay for privileges  services, and products.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness are rights.
    I do understand we have a problem with people who can not afford medical care showing up at hospitals and demanding services. However they are services they want, not rights. If we force hospitals to treat them (which we do) then we in effect take away the doctor's or the hospital's right to liberty.

    If we tax everyone who exists and jail them if they don't pay (obamacare does this with 1000s of new IRS agents hired solely for this purpose) then we deny both the RIGHT to life and liberty.
    The only solution in keeping with our God given rights is to allow doctors and medical providers the choice to provide or not provide as they see fit. Patrick Henry did not proclaim "give me liberty or give me health care" 

    Compassion, Charity, and Service are not rights. We would desire everyone would both give and receive these freely and people would be so selfless as to offer help to those in need, however it is tyranny to demand this under the penalty of law.
     We are a constitutional republic, not a democracy if the
mob decides it wants to rob little joey of his big bag of gummy bears and take his Iphone (or tap, spy, and survail him through it) we have a constitution and bill of rights in place to prevent them. Little joey has the right to gun the little bastards down if they try it (2nd amendment).
   

Right now as we speak you can go to almost any highway and watch that within a 24 hour period a armored DHS, Police, ATF, or NATO vehicle roll by.
The government knows that forcing this Obama-nation upon us will not sit well with free men and is taking measures to force it on us at gun point. Because even though the ignorant masses that vote for free handouts did not read or value the very laws that
founded this country those in power have read them (our current president is supposed to be a expert on the
constitution) has and is afraid we will read our declaration of Independence which says....

    "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government," 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Drug testing for food stamps

Recently there has been even more movement in the direction of requiring drug testing to receive food-stamps. (http://goo.gl/WB38xv).
Many would argue that legal drugs as well as some food items might test positive and deny you your benefits. The same could also be said for opiates like heroin, they are also used to relieve pain. However if you test positive for opiates on a drug test your CDL license will get yanked, and at many jobs you will be fired. 
The way it works in a FREE society is if you receive funds from someone they do have the right to dictate the terms. If I want to drink, smoke and party I have that right until someone pays me not to. I am all for making all drugs, food and medicine legal (ideally with proper warning labels). However if you receive a check or compensation from either the government, company, or private individual they should have the right to place whatever conditions they wish on the compensation as long as they are stated up front.
I have worked places where I was not able to eat any poppy seed muffins as they could taint a pee test. I knew this before I took the job but deemed the sacrifice of a good lemon/poppy seed muffin in the morning with coffee worth the wages I could earn. 
Government aid is no different. Food Stamps, SSI, medicare, medicade, etc are not rights. We have the choice to except them or not. For most of the history of this nation most of these things did not exist as we were not trying to create a socialistic state but a constitutional republic where we had the right to pursue happiness. 
   The founding fathers never intended the government to become so large as to become responsible for providing for everyone's happiness, health, food, shelter, or any of the other things free men can provide for themselves when the government gets out of their way and does not regulate or tax them excessively.
    One of the reasons so many are on food stamps (about 1/7th of the population last time I checked) is because the government has nearly regulated and taxed small business out of existence. The number of news stories on things like police closing down kids lemonade stands for not having a permit (http://bit.ly/15N4FJQ) or requiring every small business to pay so much money in taxes or in the new health care they are forced to close or lay people off (http://bit.ly/15N4IVP) are now so many it should be obvious how bad this nations experiments in socialism are failing.
      The Bible says in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”
I realize many do not hold God’s word to be the standard and one of our founding principles is freedom of religion but even common sense would dictate only so many people can ride in the wagon per people pulling it. If we reward laziness and steal from those trying to work and provide jobs and services to our society then soon everyone will be poor waiting for the next working person to rob with excessive taxation.
     Requiring drug testing as well as making people who receive benefits from the government seek work or do things to make themselves more attractive to employers is a good 1st step. Even better would be reducing taxes but both the reduction of government programs and the reduction of taxes are needed if we hope to be a free country again.
   If we cut all programs overnight there would be massive civil unrest as much of our population still needs weened from the government tit, but perhaps these 1st steps of drug testing and making people prove they are looking for work are a first step to turning this country from a nation of dependent children into a nation of free men and women yet again.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Why the change of Linux distribution?

In the last few months there has been a lot of progress in the linux world. As windows becomes both more feature rich as well as slow and buggy the more full featured Linux distributions have been released to both match and exceed offering from the MS camp (7,8,RT, etc).
I have been using Ubuntu Linux and installing it on most of the computers I work on for at least 8 years now, but now that Ubuntu has been mirroring windows by adding more features to it's OS at the expense of speed I am beginning to explore other options.
I still like Ubuntu for it's robust support and all the extras it comes with, as well as the ease of use for beginners, and the fact that it does not get viruses and still runs faster and with less issues than windows. However I often work with older equipment and as ubuntu grows, much of the equipment I work with does not.
Much of the work I do is on computers for ministries and churches where there is no budget, and people donate their old computers rather than new ones (AKA "Last Fruits")
I remember back in the days before Ubuntu was popular I used to use Puppy Linux a lot. The biggest issue I had with it then as well as now was support for wireless cards. More often than not it was a nightmare to get all the hardware to work. On the plus side it was screaming fast so fast it made XP look silly even when puppy was running on a computer with 1/4 the ram and 1/16th of the CPU speed.
But lets return to current day. After nearly 8 years of ubuntu and it's derivatives like Mint, lubuntu, kubuntu, and others have made it so that you can install on almost any system and it just runs without having to search for drivers and special instructions to get all your hardware working.
 However the standard ubuntu has gotten slowly more bloated with it's unity interface and other improvements. Currently stock Ubuntu is running just a hair faster than stock XP (although XP needs a virus scanner and ubuntu does not so in practice ubuntu is still a lot faster).
The wonderful thing is that while windows only gets more bloated and develops more security holes Linux forks. There are now 1000s of different versions of Linux available (Ubuntu and Android being the largest).
 A good way to understand this if you are familiar only with the Microsoft and Apple world would be to remember back to the days of D.O.S. and Windows 3.1. windows was a program you would load on DOS and as new versions of windows came out they bundled them together.
   IBM also came out with a product called OS2 Warp which was IBMs failed attempt to compete with microsoft after they had already taken most of the home PC market. OS2 was just another GUI that sat on top of DOS so you had a desktop, mouse, and a nice graphical interface to keep you from having to type commands at the DOS prompt.
    Now I mention this because back years and years ago before Bill Gates was even a gleam in his fathers eye Unix was running computers around the world, and even after DOS was invented it was and still is the operating system of choice for servers and larger computers. Unlike DOS which could only run one program at a time and had to rely on windows sitting on top of it to multitask. Linux could multi task and multi thread better and faster than even modern day versions of windows back as far as the late 1960s.
     The only reason that DOS and Windows exist is that most computer nerds seemed to miss the idea that the average Joe wants an easy to use system that has a point and click interface. So for years windows ruled the roost.
     All this has changed. in the last 15 years. Development on graphic user interfaces that sit on top of linux/unix/gnu (essentially the same but with minor differences and licenses) have exploded and in the last 8 have pretty much caught up and surpassed windows in usability.
   A good example of this is one of the places I volunteer my time at The Lord's Ranch a combination missions training center/drug rehab. In the past when I lived in town there would be a computer in the office running windows xp or vista that would crash no less than once a month (and at times weekly). Multiple users most with little training, a staff that rotates often, and no budget made it a IS support nightmare. Often the newest staff member would refuse direction and click on every virus infected link that came in an email.
     About 8 years ago I installed Ubuntu and while I get the occasional call because from time to time someone who is new to the system needs instruction, or there is to much stuff accumulating on the hard drive that needs cleaned out. I have had few calls and no crashes or viruses in 8 years.
     Ubuntu is just one version of linux, as I mentioned just like windows sits on top of DOS Ubuntu is pretty much the Unity interface sitting on top of Linux. Just like the android interface, or the Mac interface does (Mac is sitting on BSD Linux a slightly different version).
     All these different versions of linux/unix all have one big thing in common. Rather than sitting on top of DOS or a microsoft core they sit on a linux/unix core that is developed and improved by a massive world wide user base rather than just the resources of one company and has a good 20 year head start on development.
     In the past I would go from place to place fixing windows computers, have my phone continually ringing, have massive phone bills and nearly no personal time at all that did not involve someone calling me for tech support. I even remember at one time totally loosing it as I smashed my cell phone on the pavement of my dad's driveway after nearly 120 hours of people calling for tech support in a week.
     Now I find myself with vast amounts of free time to go camping, ride my motorcycle and read. I still service about the same number of computers. I reactivated my cell phone (and even have the number listed on the web).
   For the last 6 years I have refused to help windows users to do anything other than switch to a Linux distribution (usually Ubuntu). Now I am considering moving away from Ubuntu because while it is still very stable they have added so many features, bells, and whistles that it runs slow on old single and dual core CPUs with under 2 gigs of RAM.
    I find now that with the slow donated cast off computers I find in ministry as well as some of these interesting computers that cost under $100 and fit in your hand the trick is yet again to get more speed at the cost of some of the eye candy of the newer GUIs. So in the coming months you will start hearing more and more from me about other linux distributions.
  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

But it's all about relationship brother !!!!!

Not to be boastful, but I have read the bible cover to cover more times than I can count. I have spent the time to look up every word in the old testiment in the strong's as well as the Brown Driver Briggs and done looked up every word in the new testiment in the Strongs and most of them in the thayers as well.
Again I say this not to be boastful or to seek aproval for my use of snowed in winters up in the woods north of spokane and other cold miserable places, but to add weight to the following point.
    The word "relationship" is rarely used when talking about how man is to relate to God in The Bible.
Words like "obey", "follow", "listen", and "sacrifice" are however used often.  So one might wonder why we hear phrases like "It's all about relationship" so often in western European and American churches. Statistics are not my strong point as I always hated algebra and solving for "x" However a quick glance at google tells me that most of the surveys they have done point to a better than 60% female population in churches.
     Back in the 1800s this resulted in the women's temperance movement and got the communion wine replaced with grape juice as men rather than going to church were getting drunk and shooting up the town. Had The Church been primarily men we would most likely have more beer, sporting events, fishing and hunting in our churches. However instead of the gospel according to Bud Lite we have endless drivel about relationship, church plays, bake sales, and the like.
     To a certain extent any of these things is not evil in itself, but the problem is like many things of the world they have a tendency to distract from the true purpose of the regular gathering of the saints, and unfortunately in many cases weave there way into the teaching of The Word.
     A good example of this is the situation I find myself in this weekend. tomorrow is Easter and I am currently camping outside the town of quartzsite AZ. I know that any church I am likely to visit tomorrow will have eggs, bunnies and other trappings of the pagan spring fertility rituals.
      Because most western churches are "all about relationship" and have little to do with God's Word or the truth they will value the relationships between people more than the COMMANDMENTS in The Word of God. I can hear the same cries I hear around December of "but it's all for the children" already. To which I always reply with Mark 9:42 and ask if they have a millstone handy. Teaching kids to celebrate paganism and lying to them about mythical bunnies and fat elves could land a person in a hot place (rev 21:8).
     When we place "relationship" as the primary goal of the church we more often than not sacrifice things like obedience to God's word and truth on it's altar. The fear of offending people or causing a stir in the group become more important than offending an almighty God.
    So while it is important that we Know God, and we remain his faithful bride, it is not all about relationship. It is however about obedience to his commands, faithfulness, and surrender to HIS will. He commands us to lay down our lives and die to our own desires. He commands that we turn from the things of this world and back to him (aka repentance).
      If there is any relationship that is most important it would have to be the one between God and man. What kind of relationship could there possibly be between a holy God and a man who would place social acceptance, domestic harmony, and financial gain before the maker heaven and earth other than Judge and condemned.
     As for the pastors who should know better (Titus 1: 9) and continue to condone and even encourage the celebration of pagan holidays in your churches. Is the added revenue from the tithes of those seeking tickled ears and feel good messages worth the eternal fires of hell? Read James 3:1 and consider that there just might be a little bit hotter section of hell reserved for teachers that would lead God's people astray ( Yes God's not yours in spite of your continued bragging on the head count).
    When you step into the pulpit and begin to teach God's word do you even feel the weight and conviction of The Holy Spirit anymore? Are you even remotely aware the magnitude of the responsibility of leading poorly or deceitfully for financial gain? It is not to late repent and confess your sin to your congregation tomorrow morning before they chase after bunnies and eggs. before one more child you must give account of before God is lead astray or adult is taught that compromise with the world is acceptable.
      I do not envy the Job of most pastors. I remember my time working in community churches and around boards. I still get a tick from time to time when the words "board" and "meeting" are mentioned in the same sentence. The amount of times I prayed the prayer of moses ("if I have found favor in your sight kill me now") before a board meeting. The temptation is to try to become the politician rather than the mouth piece of God (1 pet 4:11).
     I often think at times God sent me to minister to a Taliban controlled village in south west Kazakhstan in response to my prayers before church board meetings. God has a sense of humor and delivered me from both board meetings and certain death and for this reason I can say with confidence you can rely on him when placing his commands over relationships in the church. Love those around you, but place obedience to God and his will 1st in all things. Original recipe is much better than extra crispy and if you really love them you should be more concerned with their eternal destination than their momentary irritation with you for banning the bunny.
      May the Lord greet you with "well done good and faithful servant" when he comes.
Yours in Christ,
Donald C Phinney