Saturday, September 13, 2014
Friday, September 12, 2014
Where is holiness?
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 1 Peter 1:14-15In my dotage, I am coming to realize that being serious about your faith is not in the big things, but in the little. Paul says, "If you speak with the tongues of men and angels, but have not love you are a clanging gong." I can not help but paraphrase that to say, "If you avoid adultery but are still a jerk - God's not really glorified that much."
Maybe another way to look at it is this - avoiding the big sins makes you decent, but does in make you holy?
I want to be holy!
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Many people in ministry aspire to be the head pastors, the "cultural architects," the visionary leaders. You know, the starting quarterbacks. Some of us are in that position of top-level leadership. But a lot of us are assistant, youth, or family pastors. Or perhaps volunteers working a day job to stay afloat while giving our time at church. For those primed for the field, we chafe a bit. We are backups but we really wish we were starters. A lot of us feel that we are just biding our time until we get a chance to do what we feel like we are really called to do. Until then we feel like that leader who is above us is in our way.I think this is a good metaphor for much conflict that roils the church these days. Way too many leaders hide behind monikers like "change" to force through things for which consensus ought be built. Most people say that "Well, there are always a few malcontents," and that's true, but does there have to be? You see, leadership, particularly servant leadership, tries to minister to all. Who in the church asks what that malcontent needs to learn?
But isn't this actually a perversion of what it means to be a Christian leader? A Christian leader imitates Christ by giving themselves up for the sake of those around them. We are not called to increase our own power or influence. Our job is to live our calling faithfully — to ensure the flourishing of everyone the Lord brings into our lives.
The apostles were constantly frustrated by those that "diverted" Jesus. The woman that touched the hem of Jesus' garment was considered by the apostles as a distraction, but for Christ she became the point. The apostles tried to shoo away the small children while Christ, again, made them the point.
Not every pastor that steamrolls over a church does so for the sake of personal gain of power or influence. Many do it because they truly believe that the direction they are going is the only way to "save the church." But in doing so they neglect the most important lessons Christ taught. The Pharisees were often right on the law - and yet Christ condemned them. For Christians how we achieve our goals is as important as achieving them.
The mega church rocked by financial and sexual scandal does more damage than good.
Things are more complex than we want them to be.
change grace leadership style
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Related Tags: Remembering 9-11
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
It is basically a worship service where it’s ok to not be ok. I know they should all be like that and what not, but it is an opportunity through the liturgy to provide space for grief.That set me to thinking about how often in this modern age we ignore the bad news that makes us need the good news.
I am reminded of one of the principles of AA:
For those suffering from the disease of alcoholism it seems to be an almost universal truth that before things can get better, they have to get worse -- sometimes a lot worse.The church is in such a hurry to tell us the good news of Christ that we never take the time to explore our need for Christ. We are never allowed to "hit bottom." Christ is presented as the answer to what we perceive as our problem, but we never truly examine the actual problem nor its genuine consequences. Like the alcoholic that thinks his tough boss or cheating wife is the reason for his drinking, we are never confronted directly with our sinfulness - nor its consequences, grief being one of them. To truly find the right we need to come to lament the wrong in us. It needs to be examined.
They call it "hitting bottom"
This is, in fact, an appropriate use of time in the Sunday service.
Sunday services hitting bottom lament
Tuesday, September 09, 2014
If This Happened In The Church Today?
Archbishop Nicholas attended the first Ecumenical Council at Nicaea (325), where he allegedly assailed the heretic Arius. In the middle of his hearing, Arius stood up on his seat in order to be better heard. Enraged by Arius’ denial that Jesus Christ is true God and true man, Archbishop Nicholas strode quickly over to Arius, pulled him down by his beard, and punched him in the face.IF such happened in the church today, do you think he would have "gotten away with it?" Well even St. Nick did not, the story continues:
The scandalized council fathers sprang upon Nicholas, stripped him of his pallium, and threw him in prison for his brutish behavior. That night Nicholas was visited by the Holy Family who loosed his bonds and vested him again in his apostolic garb. The bishops were astonished by this miracle and realized that Nicholas’ anger was righteous. He was honorably restored to his chair—where the aged prelate slept through much of the remaining proceedings.This forces me to wonder if in today's fractious church world, the miracle would have even been noticed, let alone honored. Many church disputes are silly - but righteous anger is clearly a real thing. And I wonder why it takes a miracle to point it out? Why would we let someone's anger blind us to the truth of the reason for their anger?
It is said that anger is a "secondary reaction." That is to say anger is usually expressed when someone is threatened, in pain, maybe depressed. When someone expresses anger - especially when it is someone that is not usually prone to such outbursts - it is incumbent on us to ask "Why?" They might just have a point! What did we do to threaten them to the point where they had to be angry? The righteousness in their anger might not be in some theological point, it might be in our behavior - our dismissal of their heartfelt concerns - our unwillingness to hear them - our uncaring disregard of them generally.
I wonder where the church would be today if before we "jailed" anger, we asked "Why?"
anger church response
Monday, September 08, 2014
The Problem of Personality
This is the troubling reality of the personality-based leadership that encompasses much of American evangelicalism. Often, charisma and dynamic communication skills trump character and integrity as popular appeal wins the day. And for those of us who wish it were otherwise, there is no court of appeal with the authority to hear our case. Replete with positives, this remains one of the great weaknesses of contemporary evangelicalism.It also remains the source of much of the corruption that erupts within the church and so deeply besmirches the name of the Lord.
And don't misunderstand me, institutional system are prone to abuses on the other end of the spectrum, of such much of Christ's ministry was born - certainly the Reformation was born of such, and my church is currently so far from on the straight and narrow as to be laughable. The difference is institution can be fixed. The Catholic Church reformed itself - eventually. I believe the PCUSA will eventually get fixed - though it may not happen in my lifetime. Institutions contain within themselves the mechanisms for reform.
Personality driven ministry does not. Personality driven ministry tends to shoot the messenger of reform - I have seen it happen over and over and over again. Those who see clearly the problems in the church are simply ostracized or outright banished.
The Christian is meant to live in community for these reasons - so too is the church.
church community reform