Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tony Bennett at 84 Belts it Out

Tony is a WWII Army veteran who served in Europe, liberating concentration camps. I think he meant every word.

Where are Jackson and Sharpton? #2

President Obama says, "We don't mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back."

Had that statement been made by a Republican about the Democrats my hunch is that the Revs would be all over it as 'racist'. I wonder what Rosa Parks would say to Mr. Obama?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bewitched Believers

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Galatians 3:1-3 KJV

(First off, this isn't a "Halloween" post. If you want to read something about the evils of trick or treating you'll have to go somewhere else. And there are a gazillion places on the web to do that.)

Often I've shared while teaching a tidbit of my personal background and church heritage. While my childhood pastors proclaimed salvation by grace there was always the sense in those churches that behind every corner lurked an evil temptation. So there was always a level of distrust when the church ventured beyond the walls of "the church". Be careful out there...if they don't dot their "i's" or cross there "t's" just like us, chances are there's something bad in the mix.

So, we couldn't participate in certain things at school or in entertainment. Square dancing in PE class required us to have a letter from our parents exempting us. Walt Disney movies (while Walt was still in charge) that were always innocent and tasteful were taboo because the price of admission went to foster the "Hollywood lifestyle" of people like Liz Taylor, etc. At least that's what I heard.

It's taken me forty-plus years to recover from legalistic leanings. Yet I have to confess, buried somewhere deep in my soul are the tendencies to revert to a self-righteous position of condemning things not really addressed in the Scriptures. I fight it regularly, and only by God's grace do I not go back. Such a thought sends chills up my spiritual spine.

One thing I've learned in my years of pastoral ministry is that certain personalities (mine included) are drawn by Phariseeism. You know - the Pharisees were the religious fundamentalists of Jesus' day who said, "We're right and everyone else (including you, Jesus) are wrong." They claimed to be the anointed keepers of the Law.

Within every church, going back to the 1st Century are personalities who either were saved out of legalism or who because of their upbringing are drawn to the idea that the stricter the rules, the holier the life. And inevitably that belief leads to tightening the turniquet around the life of the Spirit in the hearts of believers.

Paul called those in the Galatian churches who had reverted back to grace plus law "bewitched". It's as though they were under a spell. Following Paul's departure from their region, Judaizers - Jews who taught Gentiles that before you could become a Christian you had to first become a Jew by circumcision (ouch) - came into these fledgling churches, pulling out their credentials as teachers, and brought the confusion that legalism brings, especially to those of us with a bent toward that kind of thing.

Here's where I see the Judaizers today. Sure, they're in local churches. Always will be. They've always had their publications. My mom used to subscribe to one and I read it as a kid every week. But with the free soap box (that I am currently using) of the internet, they are just a Google away from anyone's computer. And from the computer their interpretations go directly where? Into our minds.

Graciously the Holy Spirit has been teaching me for 44 years that Christianity brings liberty, not bondage to standards we create that the Creator never intended. Straining at gnats and fixating on the speck in someone else's eye only breeds a negativism that stifles what matters most: loving men and women into the Kingdom of Christ.

"So, be careful little eyes what you see. Be careful little ears what you hear." That was a good lesson from my childhood. At NHC we've determined not to allow Phariseeism in any form to take a foothold among us. And that includes in me as well. Our elders are committed to that. We won't permit ourselves to major on the minors, which is the hallmark of a legalistic spirit.

So, Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1 KJV

(You'll note that for this post I've chosen to use the Authorized Version of the Bible. Sorry, I must have been leaning that direction.)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

You find a way to do the right thing

Students in Hamilton County, TN were told by their school superintendent that a prayer over the PA system at football games would no longer be allowed, due to reaction from the minority who feel freedom of speech does not include talking to God.

So, instead of tucking their collective tails between their legs and forsaking a prayer, the students and student athletes took matters into their own hands. Quite legally.

Read about it here.

Separation of church/state in this country means that the state cannot dictate religion, ie. require anyone to pray, go to church, etc. But the Supreme Court has ruled that the public schools cannot forbid student led activities, such as prayer of this sort.

It's great to see young people not be deterred by the political correctness of anti-religious expression that seems to pervade our government.

There's more than one way to skin that cat.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Where are Jackson and Sharpton?

Juan Williams, a liberal, former Washington Post reporter and writer known for his writings on the Civil Rights movement...and dare I say, a black man... was fired by National Public Radio for having a less than politically correct opinion.

He also appears as a commentator on the FOX news network, not that that has anything to do with his firing.

I've been watching and listening all morning. I've yet to see Jesse or Al pop up blasting NPR for being unfair and calling for a Congressional investigation. (NPR is owned by the US Gov't.)

Jesse and Al, it's not like you to stay silent like this. Where are you?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ed and Edith are losing their pastor (again)

He's been there about 3 years now. Upon his arrival Ed and Edith were among the smiling "We're so glad you're here" congregants who shook his hand after that inaugural sermon. Those early Deacons and committee meetings (that he was required to attend but had no "vote" in any decision making) always seemed respectful of his insights and suggestions.

But, alas, the honeymoon didn't last very long.
He wasn't meeting up with Ed and Edith's expectations.

"Pastor, your sermons tend to be a bit too long." "OK. How long do you think they should be?" "Fifteen minutes should be just about right."

"Pastor, we don't think you should be taking the youth out of town to do missions projects. There are plenty of things to do right here."

"Pastor, if we do missions projects (handicap ramps; storm damage repairs) here for people we'll be taking income out of the hands of local tradesmen."

"Pastor, we think you should only use this version of the Bible when you preach."

"Pastor, don't you think the church grass is getting a bit high?"

"Pastor, you didn't ask the visitors in church to stand and introduce themselves. We like it when you do that." (Never mind that it embarrasses all of them...except maybe vacationing pastors.)

Essentially Ed and Edith and their cohorts had constructed a list of what they found lacking in their pastor.

Not surprisingly "something else" suddenly opened up for their pastor, and he announced his resignation. Ed and Edith were flabbergasted. How could he leave them? It was even said to him that if he left God would "get him".

If you ask the pastor his answer would be, "As quickly as I can". Ask his wife, by the way, what she thinks about their leaving and she just smiles.

Now they're back to square one. Once again Ed and Edith will chair and select the new pastor search committee. Smiles everyone! Smiles!

(And yes, everything above is based on a real story.)

For other posts in my Ed and Edith series click on "Evangelical Ed and Edith" under Labels on the right of this page.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Absolute Power Absolutely Corrupts

There's lots of scary stuff in this article about uncontrolled ego, unabashed materialism and unquestioned authority. Bishop Eddie Long has so many flashing yellow lights going on around him and his "ministry" that even if he wins the lawsuit against him, you have to wonder how people like this can have any credibility.

No wonder the unbelieving world thinks Christians are fools - not for our belief in a crucified, risen, returning Savior - but for blind allegiance to blind leaders. "Jesus" is not a name to be used to satisfy our own lustful passions.

And we're just getting over the wannabe book burner.

Rant over.