Saturday, April 03, 2010
Kack "The King" Kirby
Friday, April 02, 2010
Illuminated Scripture - Good Friday Bonus
The ministry of visiting…it’s what I have the privilege to do.A long time ago I worked with a Board of Deacons at a church that had a simple goal - divide up the congregation and have a Deacon contact, and if members agreed visit, every member of the congregation at least once annually. Every deacon ended up with about 30 households to call upon, so you were looking at less than one "call" a week.
I think it is what pastors and Christian people used to do, what they were expected to do. But something changed in the church.
I had a patient whose wife was an artist, and their situation meant that she was the only one available to care for him. She was struggling with this because she had an artist’s temperament and needed some space and time for herself. She was burning out and needed help. I encouraged her to call one of the local “mega-churches” nearby, thinking that surely they would have a caring person who could come and simply sit with her husband for an hour to give her some respite.
However, when she called, the person in the church office couldn’t seem to understand her request—“No, we don’t have anyone to do that. Are you a member of the church? Is your husband a Christian?—we could send an evangelistic team over. No, that’s not what you want? Well, do you belong to one of our small groups? I could direct you to our small groups pastor and he could take your information and maybe get you connected there, and you could attend a small group meeting and maybe someone in the small group could help you. No, I’m sorry, none of our pastors is available right now. Do you want to make an appointment to meet with one?”
This is Christian “customer service” in today’s church. Press one and get no help at all. Sorry, no option available for “I’m your neighbor who needs some simple human attention.”
The true and living God visits his people. He comes to us. He meets us on our turf. He enters our world. He knocks on our door. He comes personally to sympathize with us and meet our deepest needs. Jesus is the Incarnate One who visits us.
You'd have thought you were asking people to step on hot coals. Many people were simply afraid to call on strangers; some could not find the times, others "did not know what to say" (despite extensive training), and some simply thought it "too intrusive."
There was also a small group of deacons set aside to call on the sick, infirmed, and homebound. They did not have any such issues. When someone had a noticeable "need" such calling was not an issue, but when all appearance were good, well....
And so we can conclude that most people only think the church has much to offer when they are in some state of dire consequence. And yet, as Mike points out, churches are getting less ans less good at doing even that.
But more, how little we think of Jesus when we do not believe that he has something of great consequence to offer anybody, regardless of circumstance.
That's just a shame
Thursday, April 01, 2010
Who Holds Whom?
The life of a believer is not always rosy. I’m quite sorry if you are new to the faith and that surprises or disappoints you. Sometimes the outside world assumes that because we claim to know God personally that we have somehow risen above the stresses of life. That is far from the truth.How often in times of crisis and stress do we struggle to do something, anything, when what we really need to do is rest in the arms of the One who grips us so tightly. We pledge to be more devoted to our devotionals, or prayer more, or go on a missions - we try to hold on to God.
No, the Christian life is filled with strife. At times life is glorious, and at those times we can easily see the hand of our God at work in our lives. Other times, however, life gets to be a bitter battle just to stay afloat. We drift along, sometimes barely holding on to the hand of our Creator.
But we do hold on…and, praise His name, even more than that, He holds on to us. He has never let one of His children go; not one of them has ever been forsaken. [emphasis added]
But what we really need to do is to cease trying so hard, and be held. It's funny, but if we rest in Him, much of the problem resolves without the circumstances changing. Have you ever thought about that - simple perspective matters so much. What seems to be a big problem, when viewed standing on our own to feet, seems very small when resting in the arms of the Lord.
Psalm 46:10 - Cease striving and know that I am God...
Illuminated Scripture - Maundy Thursday
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
...and in the blogosphere in particular, critical responses so frequently are mean. Ad hominem is everywhere. And it makes me wonder, how in the world can Christians keep spouting the claim to “hate the sin but love the sinner” when we so frequently seem unable to “dislike the idea but love the brother or sister who holds it”?Raises and interesting question does it not? Is your blogging loving? Raises a more interesting question, "How do we love a blogger we have never met?
We can certainly do better than we are in blogging, but apart from actual relationship, there are limits. There are a few inherent problems out there. For one thing the anonymity and facelessness of blogging tends to help us forget that there is a person out there writing those things. Secondly, is our ability to divorce ourselves from our own ideas. Ideas do not, of themselves, hurt people - but how we express them and how we respond to those that disagree can in tremendous ways. That means we have to spend some actual time blogging. We need to put thought not just into expressing what we think, but in expressing it in a way that is effective and loving. Finally there is the issue that we tend to think blogging is about our being able to express ourselves. It's not - it's about reaching an audience with our ideas.
Frankly, most of the issues Stackhouse addresses are in comments, not blog posts themselves. Comementers are often by nature troublemakers. If they were capable of argument beyond personal insult they would write a blog rather than comment. How should we respond to such comments - especially when they are aimed at us? I am not sure we do. I think maybe we insert a comment that says something like, "We prefer at this blog to discuss the ideas, not the people that have them." and let the commenters go.
The other thing that it is terribly important to remember - angry commenters are usually angry at some pain they feel. Reaching out can often be effective.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Have to agree, and I think such broadens the definition of profanity quite a bit. Anything that robs the sacred space of its sacredness is profanity. What does this say about watching Hollywood release DVD's in the multi-purpose "sanctuary?" Can a multi-purpose space even be sacred?
Anderson bemoans his generation's lack of appreciation for the sacred.
Sacred space, sacred speech, sacred behavior–our emphasis on intentionality and the universalizing aspect of the Holy Spirit’s presence make adopting such categories…difficult. ”Don’t judge the heart, which is the important part. I can worship God anywhere. Don’t limit him to a building. There’s nothing intrinsic to the words themselves.” Focus too much on externals, and someone will accuse you of adding law to the Gospel–without acknowledging the possibility that as humans, we are changed not only from the inside out, but from the outside in. [emphasis added]I am mindful of my last visit to Westminster in London. The Anglican priests that serve that Abbey devotedly pray every hour with throngs of tourists checking out the graves. The crowd carries on as if nothing was happening. I grew increasingly angry as I stood still, head bowed, attempting to join them in prayer, and was jostled, shoved and otherwise treated as an obstacle to the throng.
Profaning the sacred sends God away from us. He is harder to access because we cannot find the proper mindset. God does not need sacred spaces - WE DO. He made them for us. Think about it.
Monday, March 29, 2010
One comment in particular stuck out for me:
A plurality with no senior pastor is better structured for protection than for expansion. This model is often appealing to those seeking to prevent the repetition of past leadership mistakes, but the perceived safety often carries a trade-off: protection for productivity, and preservation for progress.There is wisdom in noting that such is structured for "protection" but protection is not antithetical to expansion. Admittedly the political necessity of democratic procedure make things move much more slowly, but that why is that bad?
There are two things that I think we should bear in mind.
Firstly, God works on a really long time scale - much longer than our perceptions allow us to truly understand. Having to see "growth" is a highly self-involved insistence. Consider that much we take for granted, The Grand Canyon, the Sierra Nevada...took eons to come to the state of beauty they exhibit - EONS! and they do so as the result of billions of small events none of which truly knows its place in the grand scheme of things.
Frankly, the hubris of demanding to see results is amazing.
The second point is also really about hubris as well. How dare any one individual assume they uniquely know what God has in mind for a church? That individual, like all of us, suffers with sin, and is therefore by definition, often mistaken.
My friends tell me that I have a tendency to believe that I know everything. I actually do, but that is beside the point at the moment. I need other people to check that tendency. When I harness my energy with others - then I can have some confidence that my lower tendencies will be checked.
Humility demands some democratic approach to leadership.