Unresolved

Hat tip to Dan Edelen for pointing me to the irrelevant and funny blog, Letters From Kamp Krusty. Brant is a riot, and insightful at the same time.
Go read this powerful post for a taste of him serious side. (Then go back to the main blog for more irreverent things like a sentimental cover of the infamous YouTube video of the “Flea Market Montgomery.” ad. You know, it’s just like a mini-mall.)
From the ‘Unresolved’ post:

I read “look what our church is doing” accounts in newsletters, but don’t hear the invariably messy follow-ups. We get the “victory” stories over sin and depravity, but no one publishes books called, Wups, I’m Totally Messed Again. Yet, that’s where the stories of my actual life are. We don’t like our stories open-ended. So we clean up our stories, and act like they’re finished.
They’re not.

Good stuff.

Ezekiel – Chapter 37

Ezekiel 37:3 – I like Ezekiel’s ‘safe’ answer here. “Can the bones live?” Says God. “God, you know.” says Ezekiel. 🙂
Ezekiel 37:7-14 – From dry bones, to dead bodies to a live army of men. A metaphor for the church to come. Dead, hope lost, cut off from God (Ezekiel 37:11) to alive, filled with His Spirit and and His (Ezekiel 37:14). Much has been written about this passage, I can’t really add to it. But it is a good reminder for me that I was dead, but now I live. I was separate, but now I’m joined with Him. I was lost, but now I’m found. I too easily look at my present failings and see my self as I was, not as God sees me now.
Ezekiel 37:15-19 – As was once done for Israel, if it could only be done for Christianity, or at least the Restoration movement. A stick for the ICOC, for the mainline churches of Christ, for the Christian Churches and others merged onto one.
Ezekiel 37:24-28 – The irony for the modern church is that it seems that in this passage of prophesy for the nation of Israel, there’s prophesy for the church to come as well. As Israel will be one, the church would be one. What what God has brought together, man has chosen to separate. God said of the reunited Israel, in verse 28:

Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.

Now that we have fragmented & divided God’s people into smaller and smaller groups, how will the nations know that He is God unless we work to unite again?

Ezekiel – Chapter 35-36

Ezekiel 36:7 – After all this judgement and wrath, this paragraph reads like more is coming. And then this:

Therefore thus says the Lord God: I swear that the nations that are all around you shall themselves suffer reproach.

And He goes on:

But you, O mountains of Israel, shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people Israel, for they will soon come home. For behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. And I will multiply people on you, the whole house of Israel, all of it. The cities shall be inhabited and the waste places rebuilt. And I will multiply on you man and beast, and they shall multiply and be fruitful. And I will cause you to be inhabited as in your former times, and will do more good to you than ever before. Then you will know that I am the Lord. I will let people walk on you, even my people Israel. And they shall possess you, and you shall be their inheritance, and you shall no longer bereave them of children. Thus says the Lord God: Because they say to you, ‘You devour people, and you bereave your nation of children,’ therefore you shall no longer devour people and no longer bereave your nation of children, declares the Lord God. And I will not let you hear anymore the reproach of the nations, and you shall no longer bear the disgrace of the peoples and no longer cause your nation to stumble, declares the Lord God.”

Ezekiel 36:8-15

Ezekiel 36:22 – But God is not acting for their sake, but for His name’s sake. On the face it sounds selfish, acting for himself and not for them, however God understand that His reputation is more valuable than their short term welfare. It is His reputation that will allow the salvation of mankind. It is His reputation that will draw men to Him. If He allows man to damage it, that will prevent Him from having a relationship with some of them. Those relationships are more valuable than Israel’s welfare at that time.
It is not that God doesn’t love them. Although it’s not state explicitly here, His love is stated many times in many other places. It’s simply that His concern for His name is of greater importance than His love for them. They need to understand that as well, to humble them and that they would not dismiss their former sin (Ezekiel 36:32). God is not dismissing their sin because of them, but because of Him.
For me, this gives me a sense of security. I worship a God who’s is love. Not because of me or any great man, but because it is who He is. He doesn’t shower His love on me because He thins something of me, but because He has to be who He is, and He is love. Thanks goodness, because assuming He could be fooled into thinking I was something great, He’s figure it out eventually. Then if it was for my sake, he’s leave me. But it’s for His, and in that I can be secure.

Codepoke on The Fruit of the Vine

Codepoke is doing a series on communion at his blog that’s thought provoking.
The most recent post focused on the Wine as the blood and blood as life. This struck me as I read it today:

We take into our bodies the very life of the Lord Jesus. All the pagan rituals of blood drinking pale and fail before this truth of Christ’s Life poured out for us, on us, and even into us. The Life is in the Blood, and in the Lord’s Supper we join in the communion of His Life.

Letter to The Week Magazine

I enjoy The Week Magazine, especially sections like it’s Good Week For/Bad Week For and Only in America.
In this week’s issue, however, the Only In America section had the following, one sided and inaccurate portrayal of a church’s apparent insensitivity:

A Texas mega-church canceled a veteran’s memorial service after learning the deceased was gay. The Rev. Gary Simons of High Point Church initially approved the service to honor Cecil Sinclair, who served in the first Gulf War and recently died, at 46, following heart surgery. Twenty-four hours before the service, however, Simons changed his mind after learning of Sinclair’s sexuality. The decision was “not based on hatred, not based on discrimination, but based on principle,” Simon’s said. “It’s not that we didn’t love the family.”

The basic facts here – that the church offered their building and then rescinded that offer the day before after learning he was gay – are true. But there were many details left out that show how the church’s decision was the right one under the circumstances.
I wrote the following letter to the editor to clarify. I don’t expect it to be published as The Week only publishes letters 2-3 times per year.

I read with disappointment the short paragraph detailing High Point Church’s decision to cancel a memorial service for a gay man 24 hours before it was scheduled to happen. On the surface, this seems to be a blatant example of religious bigotry, but a simple visit to the church’s web site reveals the other side of the story.
Yes, it is true that the church (the entire staff, not simply Rev. Simon’s, as you reported) rescinded their offer to host a memorial service after learning he was gay. However, it wasn’t simply the fact that he was gay that lead to that decision. It was upon seeing the inappropriate photographs of men toughing each other’s genitalia provided to the church staff for a video presentation, learning that an associate of an openly gay choir to officiate and learning that there would be an open mike for sharing that they concluded that this would be an event not simply remembering the man, but celebrating the homosexual lifestyle.
From the High Point Statement:

Allowing an openly homosexual service in our facility would condone homosexuality as a lifestyle. While we open our doors to everyone, including homosexuals who desire a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ, we cannot and will not allow our sanctuary to be used by outside organizations or individuals who want to flaunt or glorify any immoral lifestyle. We cannot condone what the Word of God condemns.

Other facts left out of your article:

  • The church secured and paid for an alternate location for the service, which the family declined.
  • The church went ahead and produced the video, minus the inappropriate images, and provided it to the family.
  • The church prepared and delivered food for the family and one hundred relatives and friends.
  • Several church staff members went to the memorial service in support of the family (where their initial concerns about the tone of the service were confirmed).

Certainly, there are examples of “Christians” acting in unChristlike ways toward homosexuals, but this was not one of them. Too many highly visible men and women have made hateful statements, not only against homosexual behaviour, but against homosexual people. None of this changes the fact that God in the Bible speaks clearly against homosexual behaviour, as it does against any sex outside the context of marriage as well as lying, stealing, murder and many other things. A church claiming God’s name and representing Him on Earth, must stand for the things He stands for and against the things He stands against. This is what High Point Church was doing.
It seems that High Point Church was put in a compromising, no win position where someone was going to get hurt either way. It made the tough, but proper, choice of sticking true to the principles of scripture by both prohibiting the celebration of sin within their walls while providing for the family in other ways.

Taking the Wheels Off


We just got back from a family camping trip this week. We went to Illinois for Maria’s family reunion. We took the girls bikes so they could run around the campground and not drive us nuts at the campsite. 🙂
Audrey still rode with training wheels, but most of the other kids didn’t. That meant she could keep up as well and felt a little left out. She asked me to take her training wheel off, so I did. I figured that she’d want them back on and sure enough, within the hour she did. It just seemed too hard. So back on they went.
The next day, as evening approached and it was time to go to bed, Audrey came over and we had this conversation:
“Daddy?”
“Yes Audrey.”
“While I’m sleeping tonight can you secretly take my training wheels off?”
(Trying not to snicker) “Why, do you think if you don’t notice they’re gone that you’ll be able to do it?” (Never mind that the bike won’t stand up without them.)
“I know I can do it, Daddy! Please?”
“OK”
So, while she was asleep, the training wheels came off. The next day, she picked up her bike and pushed it over to the campground road. I was sitting watching her between the campers from my lawn chair, ready to go my Daddy duty and run behind the bike to help her if she needed it.
She got on the bike and started riding, disappearing behind her uncle’s pickup truck. Not bad, I though. Then she reappeared on the other side of the truck, still riding! Wow. She disappeared again behind a camper and I went and got the camera. When I got back to the road, she was a couple of hundred yards away, still riding. It was if she had known how to ride all along. That picture was taken as she came riding back. I couldn’t stop laughing about it.
There’s a lesson in there somewhere about acting on faith or determination or confidence or something, but the story alone is good enough for me.

Ezekiel – Chapter 34

Now that the kids are in school (I just saw Jessica off to her first day of middle school. Yikes.), I’m going to try to get back into more regular morning QTs between Jessica getting on the bus and me going to work.
Ezekiel 34:1-6 – A warning to those who would be shepherds: God takes this role seriously. You are to take care of his people. Your position is not one of prestige, power and privilege. You are God’s servant. You can hear the disappointment and hurt in God’s voice in verse 6:

My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 – God will do what the shepherds have failed to do – he with gather them, reuse them and feed them. But notice the end of verse 16 (emphasis mine):

I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

Not only does God stand against the shepherd who grew fat while the sheep were neglected, he stands against the fat sheep who took more than their fair share. This is continued in Ezekiel 34:17-24. A scary principal for those of us in a wealthy nation.
Ezekiel 34:23 – “And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.” The promise of Jesus. Take note, Jesus the shepherd. Protector. Provider. Caretaker. Not the picture I see in mind usually. I see Jesus the task master. The disciple.
Ezekiel 34:30 – “And they shall know that I am the Lord their God …” A recurring theme in Ezekiel, “they shall know”. But there are two ways, in tension with one another, that the people will know that He is God. One, through is judgement, wrath and power displayed. Two, as seen here, through his provision and compassion.
Ezekiel 34:31 – “And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord God.”” Cool.

Happy Lefties Day

Greg KB alerted me that today is International Lefthanders Day. Never heard of it? Me neither, but it’s been celebrated since 1976, according to Wikipedia:

August 13 is designated International Lefthanders Day by Lefthanders International. It was first observed 13 August 1976. As its name suggests, it is meant to promote awareness of the inconveniences facing left-handers in a predominantly right-handed world.

So, this is for Audrey, my youngest at 8, who’s a lefty and her great grandma Liz who is as well. Happy Lefthanders Day!

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