Archive for June, 2009

I went out to eat with my wife this evening and when the food was done we ended up at the Half-Price Bookstore–which is like a cigarette after s**. Oh, :)

While at the Half-Price Bookstore, I picked up a brand spanking new hard cover copy of the ESV–the latest rage among the neo-Reformed. It sure is pretty.–inside and out; I love it.

Seems there is a lot of conversation lately about the proper use of words and what words we are allowed to use when we speak or preach. Some preachers have been taking a real hit from some who think their words are too, uh, vulgar. I have already blogged about this just a bit; some of you have commented.

Lately, I have been reading the Prophet Ezekiel. I thought you might also enjoy this chapter of Ezekiel, 23,  that I read tonight because it speaks to our time, our day, our culture, and our church. I have left the footnotes intact for your benefit.

Oholah and Oholibah

1The word of the LORD came to me: 2(A) “Son of man, there were(B) two women, the daughters of one mother. 3(C) They played the whore in Egypt;(D) they played the whore in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and their virgin bosoms[a] handled. 4Oholah was the name of the elder and Oholibah the name of her sister.(E) They became mine, and they(F) bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah is(G) Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.

5“Oholah played the whore(H) while she was mine, and(I) she lusted after her lovers(J) the Assyrians, warriors 6clothed in purple,(K) governors and commanders,(L) all of them desirable young men,(M) horsemen riding on horses. 7She bestowed her whoring upon them, the choicest men of Assyria all of them, and she defiled herself with all the idols of everyone after whom she lusted. 8She did not give up her whoring(N) that she had begun in Egypt; for in her youth men had lain with her and handled her virgin bosom and poured out their whoring lust upon her. 9Therefore(O) I delivered her into the hands of her lovers, into the hands of the Assyrians, after whom she lusted. 10(P) These uncovered her nakedness;(Q) they seized her sons and her daughters; and as for her, they killed her with the sword; and she became(R) a byword among women,(S) when judgment had been executed on her.

11(T) “Her sister Oholibah saw this, and she became(U) more corrupt than her sister[b] in her lust and in her whoring, which was worse than that of her sister. 12She lusted after the Assyrians, governors and commanders, warriors clothed in full armor, horsemen riding on horses,(V) all of them desirable young men. 13And I saw that she was defiled; they both took the same way. 14But she carried her whoring further. She saw men(W) portrayed on the wall, the(X) images of(Y) the Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion, 15wearing belts on their waists, with flowing turbans on their heads, all of them having the appearance of officers, a likeness of Babylonians whose native land was Chaldea. 16When she saw them, she lusted after them and(Z) sent messengers to them(AA) in Chaldea. 17And the Babylonians came to her(AB) into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoring lust. And after she was defiled by them,(AC) she turned from them in disgust. 18When she carried on her whoring so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her, as I had turned in disgust from her sister. 19Yet she increased her whoring,(AD) remembering the days of her youth, when she played the whore in the land of Egypt 20and lusted after her paramours there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses. 21Thus you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians handled your bosom and pressed[c] your young breasts.”

22Therefore, O Oholibah, thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I will stir up against you your lovers(AE) from whom you turned in disgust,(AF) and I will bring them against you from every side: 23the Babylonians and all the Chaldeans,(AG) Pekod and Shoa and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them,(AH) desirable young men, governors and commanders all of them, officers and men of renown, all of them riding on horses. 24And they shall come against you from the north[d] with chariots and wagons and a host of peoples.(AI) They shall set themselves against you on every side with buckler, shield, and helmet; and(AJ) I will commit the judgment to them, and(AK) they shall judge you according to their judgments. 25And I will direct my jealousy against you,(AL) that they may deal with you in fury. They shall cut off your nose and your ears, and your survivors shall fall by the sword.(AM) They shall seize your sons and your daughters, and your survivors shall be devoured by fire. 26(AN) They shall also strip you of your clothes and take away your beautiful jewels. 27(AO) Thus I will put an end to your lewdness and(AP) your whoring begun in the land of Egypt, so that you shall not lift up your eyes to them or remember Egypt anymore.

28“For thus says the Lord GOD:(AQ) Behold, I will deliver you into the hands of those whom you hate,(AR) into the hands of those from whom you turned in disgust, 29and(AS) they shall deal with you in hatred and take away all the fruit of your labor(AT) and leave you naked and bare, and(AU) the nakedness of your whoring shall be uncovered. Your lewdness and your whoring 30have brought this upon you, because(AV) you played the whore with the nations and defiled yourself with their idols. 31You have gone the way of your sister;(AW) therefore I will give(AX) her cup into your hand. 32Thus says the Lord GOD:

“You shall drink your sister’s cup
that is deep and large;
you shall be laughed at and held in derision,
for it contains much;
33you will be filled with(AY) drunkenness and sorrow.(AZ) A cup of horror and desolation,
the cup of your sister Samaria;
34(BA) you shall drink it and drain it out,
and gnaw its shards,
and tear your breasts;

for I have spoken, declares the Lord GOD. 35Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because(BB) you have forgotten me and(BC) cast me behind your back, you yourself(BD) must bear the consequences of your lewdness and whoring.”

36The LORD said to me:(BE) “Son of man,(BF) will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Declare to them their abominations. 37For(BG) they have committed adultery,(BH) and blood is on their hands. With their idols they have committed adultery, and they have even(BI) offered up[e] to them for food the children whom they had borne to me. 38Moreover, this they have done to me:(BJ) they have defiled my sanctuary on the same day and(BK) profaned my Sabbaths. 39For when(BL) they had slaughtered their children in sacrifice to their idols, on the same day(BM) they came into my sanctuary to profane it. And behold,(BN) this is what they did in my house. 40They even sent for men to come from afar,(BO) to whom a messenger was sent; and behold, they came. For them you bathed yourself,(BP) painted your eyes,(BQ) and adorned yourself with ornaments. 41You sat on(BR) a stately couch, with a table spread before it(BS) on which you had placed my incense and(BT) my oil. 42The(BU) sound of a carefree multitude was with her; and with men of the common sort, drunkards[f] were brought from the wilderness; and they put(BV) bracelets on the hands of the women, and(BW) beautiful crowns on their heads.

43“Then I said of her who was worn out by adultery, Now they will continue to use her for a whore, even her![g] 44For they have gone in to her, as men go in to a prostitute. Thus they went in to Oholah and to Oholibah, lewd women! 45But righteous men(BX) shall pass judgment on them with the sentence of adulteresses, and with the sentence of women who shed blood, because they are adulteresses, and blood is on their hands.”

46For thus says the Lord GOD:(BY) “Bring up a vast host against them, and make them(BZ) an object of terror and(CA) a plunder. 47(CB) And the host shall stone them and cut them down with their swords.(CC) They shall kill their sons and their daughters, and(CD) burn up their houses. 48(CE) Thus will I put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not commit lewdness as you have done. 49And they shall return your lewdness upon you, and(CF) you shall bear the penalty for your sinful idolatry, and(CG) you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.”

Footnotes:

  1. Ezekiel 23:3" href="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2023&version=47#en-ESV-21011">Ezekiel 23:3 Hebrew nipples; also verses 8, 21
  2. Ezekiel 23:11" href="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2023&version=47#en-ESV-21019">Ezekiel 23:11 Hebrew than she
  3. Ezekiel 23:21" href="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2023&version=47#en-ESV-21029">Ezekiel 23:21 Vulgate, Syriac; Hebrew bosom for the sake of
  4. Ezekiel 23:24" href="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2023&version=47#en-ESV-21032">Ezekiel 23:24 Septuagint; the meaning of the Hebrew word is unknown
  5. Ezekiel 23:37" href="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2023&version=47#en-ESV-21045">Ezekiel 23:37 Or have even made pass through the fire
  6. Ezekiel 23:42" href="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2023&version=47#en-ESV-21050">Ezekiel 23:42 Or Sabeans
  7. Ezekiel 23:43" href="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2023&version=47#en-ESV-21051">Ezekiel 23:43 The meaning of the Hebrew verse is uncertain
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OK…I know there is a lot of…uh…controversy surrounding Mark Driscoll. People don’t like his mouth…they don’t like his Calvinism…they don’t like that he hangs around with the so-called ‘big-wigs’ of the Reform party church, they don’t like that he talks about s** from the pulpit, and much, much more. The guy can’t win. I understand. Driscoll is a complicated kind of fella. Here’s where the irony comes in in this post.

Our good friend and truth defender Mike Ratliff wrote this the other day at Walk By Faith:

The vast majority of evangelical Christians exist in an extremely shallow spiritual condition. The Church worship they experience is man-focused. The sermons they hear from the pulpit are specifically designed to offend no one. There is little if any mention of sin, the need for repentance or Biblical discipleship. Their shepherds are guilty of being more concerned with numbers rather than the health of the flock. To these ministers, size matters. The larger the better, therefore, they preach vanilla, seeker-sensitive, feel good sermons that attract those who have no use for what the Bible says about sin and its consequences. They design their Sunday morning worship service to entertain the goats rather than to feed the sheep. The flock’s Bible knowledge is rudimentary at best. (My emphasis.)

OK. OK. So everyone, or at least the ‘vast majority’ of those of us who actually have the calling and nerve to stand behind pulpits and preach on Sunday mornings are white-washed here by Mr Ratliff–and, as you can see, our congregations aren’t any better. You know what they say about preachers. Those who can, preach; those who can’t sit in the pews and throw rotten tomatoes. It’s rather easy to do isn’t it Mike? What did the church do before we discovered the Holy Spirit given spiritual gift of blogging?

Then tonight, as if I am not stupid enough, I decided to go to Slice of Laodicea for a quick laugh before bed and I saw this: I’ve Had it with Mark Driscoll and His Mouth (posted by ‘admin’). When I clicked the embedded link it took me here: I’ve had it with Mark Driscoll and his mouth. Now it’s Personal. When I get there, I read this:

My wife told me about a sermon Pilgrim Radio was playing on the radio as she was returning home from the grocery store with our young children in the car. She said that the man preaching (she had no clue who he was) was talking about “prostitutes,” “whores,” and “lesbians” and that he kept using these expressions as if trying to be shocking.

Bingo! My wife who knows very little—if  anything—about Mark Driscoll hit the nail on the head in her evaluation of him.

She then told me that this same man began talking about wives in submission to their husbands and how oftentimes men abuse this. Instead of using an innocuous example to make his point, what did Mark “The Cussing Pastor” Driscoll do? Why, he did what apparently comes so natural for him: Driscoll expounded on such abuse by illustrating an example in which men misuse their wives’ submission by making them watch porn!

Are you kidding me? That’s the best example he could come up with? For crying out loud, my kids were in the car and heard this trash before their mother turned it off. Does this guy’s mind ever come up out of the gutter for air? (Their emphasis.)

Now for the record, I happen to agree that Driscoll’s ’sex sermons’ are, well, dumb. However, you know what? No one is forcing me to listen to them. I also understand that he is speaking to a specific audience.  And, to be sure, I don’t listen to ‘Pilgrim Radio’ so that’s not an issue either. I guess as the adult in my family, I have the right to censor what my children listen to also. We prefer listening to my own recorded sermons and I don’t let my wife go anywhere alone with my children. (*smile*)

What bugs me is that this person, the one hosting ‘DefCon’, gives us no context whatsoever for the words he cites as offensive. Interesting, isn’t it, that those words are offensive in a sermon but not in a blog post? And if it was offensive on the radio, how is less offensive to repost the same words on the internet where it is more likely that children will find them? I might need to put a net nanny on my computer to block DefCon and protect my children! Still, all jesting aside, what is the context of the sermon? Give us a link so we can hear it and see if you have judged Driscoll correctly.

Please, provide some documentation. As it is, this is just hearsay. Without context and documentation, none of us has any clue if you are telling the truth or just randomly attacking someone you don’t like. You mean this was the first time, you who had Pilgrim Radio linked on your blog, that you heard Driscoll at that hour? You mean you didn’t warn your wife before letting her go? I seriously don’t understand why you didn’t just warn your wife ahead of time to avoid that hour of radio broadcasting.

On another note, fact is there are a lot of whores in Scripture. It might be fun to do an entire sermon series on the whores of the Bible. We could talk about The Great Whore in the Revelation; Mary Magdalene; Rahab; Israel (as described by several prophets); the whore that anointed Jesus with her tears; the whore that Jesus saved from a stoning; the whore in the book of Judges who was cut up and mailed out to various parts of Israel; and so on. So many whores, so little time. (Oh, wait, that doesn’t sound right. Strike that last phrase.) Still, I guess if we are to follow the advice of DefCon, then we preachers must leave out a significant part of the Bible’s witness. ATTENTION ALL PREACHERS: Don’t use the word ‘whore’ in sermons because there might be women and children listening whose ears will fall off if they hear such words.

We live in an impure world. There are whores and queers and lesbians and dykes and transsexuals and crossdressers and pedophiles and prostitutes and alcoholics and murderers and thieves…oh, and the list could go on and on and on and on forever ad infinitum. Are you offended by words? Seriously? Then you should hide in a room with ear muffs. These are the very ones Jesus himself spent considerable time with during his earthly life. “The whores all seem to love him, the drunks propose a toast.” Only Rich Mullins could use the word ‘whore’ in a song and have it sound so elegant, so wonderful. (Better break all my Rich Mullins CD’s this weekend.)

I am angry; spittin’ angry. Let me ask you what is worse. Is it worse for a preacher to preach the truth and use words like whore, prostitute, lesbian, and porn (you know, words that Mike Ratliff wants to hear since these are words that describe ’sin’ he believes is missing from most sermons in American churches); or, is it worse to sit behind a computer monitor and blather on criticizing a man called and ordained by Christ to preach the Gospel because he does use words like whore, prostitute, lesbian, and porn?

I guess we’ll just forget about ever preaching from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Song of Solomon, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, the Prophets, The Gospels–ah, we may as well just forget about preaching anything from the Bible because there are all sorts of offensive words in the Bible, words like whore, death, murder, s**, prostitute, and so on and so forth. God once told Ezekiel to cook food over human excrement. What word does God use when he talks about human excrement? (Better throw away my Bible tonight so that I am not offended by God’s use, his own God-breathed use, of the Hebrew word for ‘human excrement.’ (See Ezekiel 4:12.))

So here’s my question, to either Mr Ratliff or DefCon, or anyone else who wants to answer: Are we preachers to be offensive or not? Driscoll clearly offended someone, and yet it was too much. What about the offense of the cross? Can we preach that? Oh, probably not since there were actually, shhhh!, naked people there being crucified. Can you people please make up your minds about what we preachers can and cannot say from the pulpit so that we don’t hurt your precious ears? Could you, like, write up a list of words your itching ears want and don’t want to hear? And Mike, if you are listening, I guess you should start listening to Driscoll. Since you want sermons that are designed to offend someone I’m guessing Mark’s your man!

The ADM’s of the world are fond of throwing out some Scripture on their blogs so as to prove their point. Well, I am a preacher so let me throw out some Scripture too:

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

Preach the Word, he wrote. He didn’t say leave any parts of it out of our sermons–All Scripture is God-breathed; even the parts we find offensive. Like when David’s son had s** with David’s wives in public!  He said ‘preach the whole counsel of God.’ I agree with this conclusion written to a very long essay on this very topic:

So, when we teach the whole counsel of God, we, like Paul, shall emphasize the things unique to Christianity and in the process give godly instruction about living by faith in this sinful world. The “all truth is God’s truth” credo is not helpful in this and often serves as a stumbling block. The question “is it true” is a good one, but inadequate in itself. More important is: did Christ command us to teach this?

Paul told the Ephesian elders: “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable.” He wrote this to Timothy: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2Timothy 3:16). Timothy was also ministering in Ephesus. It is clear that “all Scripture” is profitable and the Christian teacher and preacher should not avoid any of it. Though we may not be able to expound every single verse of the Bible in a lifetime (though surely a worthy goal), we should never avoid a verse or a topic for fear the audience might not like it. The whole counsel of God is relevant, applicable, and needful to every generation in every culture throughout the church age. There will be no situation in which it will be any less “profitable” than it was for those under Paul’s and Timothy’s ministries. May God give us grace, courage, tact, and insight as we set forth to proclaim the whole counsel of God. (Bob DeWay, at Critical Issues Commentary on line. From the essay, “The Whole Counsel of God: We must teach what Christ commanded to be taught; not what people consider “relevant)

Yes. Yes. Yes. Preach on! This is true! That means that occasionally us preachers are going to have to use words like whore, prostitute, lesbian, and porn in sermons because, evidently, even these words were inspired by the Holy Spirit, or, if you prefer, God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). I guess you pew-sitters are gonna have to decide if it is better for those of us who are ordained and called to preach to obey our God’s call or back down in the face of your complaints. You seriously need to read Scripture some time–to your wives and children and yourselves. You need to be offended, and if you are not, I seriously doubt it is the Word of God you are reading.

PS-The author at DefCon was complaining because in Driscoll’s sermon, he was talking about porn. Re-read this:

She then told me that this same man began talking about wives in submission to their husbands and how oftentimes men abuse this. Instead of using an innocuous example to make his point, what did Mark “The Cussing Pastor” Driscoll do? Why, he did what apparently comes so natural for him: Driscoll expounded on such abuse by illustrating an example in which men misuse their wives’ submission by making them watch porn!

Are you kidding me? That’s the best example he could come up with? For crying out loud, my kids were in the car and heard this trash before their mother turned it off. Does this guy’s mind ever come up out of the gutter for air? (Their emphasis.)

Again, we have absolutely no context whatsoever for this assessment. Still, I wonder how this is different from this.

When we began dating, I noticed that he would never ever comment about a passing woman or look at an attractive female. In the mall, he deliberately turns his head away from stores that feature immodest and in some cases, pornographic displays. Nothing said, just quick evasive action. That sends a message to a wife that she alone is valued and cherished. (See also the last comment left by ‘Steve.’ I don’t see much difference except that Driscoll is in a pulpit and ‘Steve’ posted on a blog.)

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I don’t very often post sermons here, simply because I really don’t listen to a lot of recorded sermons very often.  The other day, however, I came across s short sermon on Youtube by Greg Boyd entitled “The Pathology of the Religious”.  Boyd draws a lot from his book Repenting of Religion in this sermon (he also has a new book that touches on similar themes called The Myth of a Christian Religion), but the nice thing is that total sermon is less than 20 minutes long (I’m all for brevity when it comes to public speaking!).  I find Boyd’s comparison of a religious person to a clinically sociapathic person to be spot-on.  Please note that when Boyd uses the word “sociopath”, he is actually using it in the clinical sense and not as an ad hominem attack of any sort.  He is simply making the point that just as sociopathic people try to manipulate others by focusing solely on external behavior, a religious person attempts to in essence manipulate God.

I hope they are a blessing to you.

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[Disclaimer or something like it. I realize that such blog posts as the one you are about to read are fraught with danger. Being transparent and honest about our struggles in a public forum exposes one to many dangers. I'm willing to take that risk in this post because I'm convinced that most of you who visit here love me enough to bear with my periodic confessions of weakness without judging me too harshly. Grace and Peace.]

Little League and the Christian Pilgrimage

I am coaching little league this year. We have played 15 games, had two games rained out, and have three remaining on the calendar. My team was an expansion team. Last season, we had enough boys sign up to fill out two rosters of about 12 boys per team. This year, we had so many sign up to play that we filled out three rosters of 12 each. My team consists mostly of first year players, well, first year at this level which is Junior Boys Division One or 13-14 year-olds.

One of the teams in our community had, I believe, 9 returning players and the other team had 7. I have 12 boys, all first year 13 year olds. I love those boys. Managing a little league team is mostly about managing personalities (of the parents too!) and managing the numbers such as pitch count and innings played. At the Junior’s level, play becomes far more competitive. The standings mean something, the score counts, and individual play counts for tournament consideration.

I went into the season, despite what I knew, with a cautious optimism. I hate losing and I thought perhaps if I rubbed enough of that enthusiasm off on my team that they would play harder and faster. I thought, seriously, we could compete-even with the big boys. Through the first 8 games or so I was actually right. We were 5-3. The first game we played was on the road and we crushed them: 17-4. We were, all of us, in a great mood. Love abounded in the dugout that night.

After our eighth game, however, baseball became a chore. We have lost 7 straight games. We have been run-ruled 5 times and we have lost two games in the bottom of the seventh inning after tying or leading in the top of the seventh inning. Currently, in case you cannot add, we are 5-10. I love my team.

During the stretch of 7 consecutive losses things have been rather tough. We lost one player for the last 5 games to a vacation. We lost another young man when he ended up in the hospital because his hemoglobin dropped way below safe levels and needed transfusions and a bone marrow biopsy. Our latest blow was when our starting first baseman broke his finger. We only carry a roster of 12 boys; 3 are out. Things are tough all over for our team. I’m sure these three would rather be playing ball. I love these boys.

A big part of managing a little league baseball team is in managing personalities and egos. Some kids are ‘better’ than others; some are not. Some kids think they ‘deserve’ to play more than others; others are happy to be on a team. Some kids’ parents think their children’s, well, let’s just say their kids never make an error or throw the ball in the dirt or strike out with the bases loaded; most do not. Some kids are natural born pessimists (and have inherited it honestly); many have no idea what it means to quit until the umpire says ‘you’re out!’ or the sun goes down or the last inning is played or the last ball is lost over the fence. I love those kids.

I love those kids who have no quit in them, who play hard regardless of how poorly ‘we’ play. I love those kids who keep on laughing even when we are crushed by a lopsided score. I love those kids who keep on going up to bat after striking out 20 straight times. I love those kids who still think we can win even when the opposing coach has his players stealing home despite the fact that he is already winning by 8 runs. I love those boys who hustle off the field because ‘it’s our turn to bat!’ I love those boys who turn their hats inside out and believe, even though batters 7, 8, and 9 are coming up and we need 9 runs in order not to be run-ruled, that we have a shot at the win. I love those who get really angry with me when they have to sit because I need to get other players fielding time (per little league rules). I love those boys, pitchers, who want the ball when we are playing the toughest team in the league. I love those boys who hate losing even though that is all that seems to happen. I love those boys who hustle out a foul ball and don’t stop running until blue says, “Foul!” I love those boys who, after a crushing defeat, still have the nerve to run up to their teammates after the game and tackle them in the grass. I love those boys.

I love those boys who know what it means to win and never take it for granted because those are the boys who never quit. They never stop running, catching, throwing, and hitting. Nor do they stop smiling, laughing, and loving. They pick up their teammates when they’re down. They show up at the next game with a clean uniform, a glove, a smile, and a ‘where do you need me to play tonight, coach?’ I love those boys.

These are the ones who continue to believe we can win even when all external indicators point in exactly the opposition direction.

It is terribly difficult to want to show up for three more games when all outward appearances seem to be dictating that we will end our season, at best, 6-12 or 6-14 if we make up two rain-outs. It’s difficult to show up for three more games when you know you are going to be stuck in the outfield for 21-35 more innings. Baseball will break your heart, said A. Bart Giamatti. And even though I’m no fan of the late Giamatti (he banned Pete Rose from baseball), I agree with him 100%. It’s hard to find passion in something that continues to beat you down, game after game, inning after inning, pitch after pitch. How I love those boys who find a way to keep going back on that field that continues to break their hearts; those boys who continue working on their game and making every play even when the team is losing.

It’s terribly difficult to want to coach when there are some around who don’t think it even worth the effort. It’s terribly difficult to love those who are natural born pessimists, but as a manager I am called to do so anyhow. It’s easy to coach the lovable, the excitable, the manageable, the hard-worker, the player; the winners. It’s terribly difficult to coach the perpetually negative; the losers. Anyone would want to coach Derek Jeter; not too many would want to coach Barry Bonds.

And it’s like that in our pilgrimage too. It’s easy to love the lovable. Not so easy to love the unlovable.

I can love those folks who crank out an enthusiastic ‘Great sermon Pastor!’ all day long. It is much harder to love those who show up but never uncross their arms or wipe the scowl off their face or sing a song or even say hello or are more interested in where to go for lunch than they are about the call to put feet to faith.

I have to be honest: I’m not there yet. I am a complete failure in that regard. I know I should. I know the Spirit enables me. I know they need to be loved. But Oh, God it is so difficult. It is so hard to love those who know better and act worse. It’s terribly difficult to love those who show up at board meetings but won’t show up for worship. It’s hard to love those who do not love you. Seriously. It is beyond imagination hard.

Love is such a strange thing. If I love those contrary people…am I not giving up my rights? Am I not allowing my ego to be destroyed? What about my pride? I happen to know for a fact that I am right. Oh God this twisting inside me is killing me. I want so badly for God to do what is right and yet the only thing that seems to be making progress is the weakness that is pushing me closer and closer to the edge of a breakdown.

I keep telling God, “God, why won’t you do what is right?” And all I keep hearing him say in response is, “Why are you not loving my people? Those people, yes, those people.” “I am unworthy-how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth” (Job 40:4). Or, maybe it’s, “I am unwilling-why should I? I clench my teeth and harden my heart.”

Jesus could have said anything else to us; frankly I wish he had. He could have given us any other command or any other idea or any other teaching or any other way of demonstration. But he didn’t. He didn’t. He didn’t. The one he gave is the one that is killing me, killing us, killing the church because it is the one that is daily refused, especially here in the blog world, to be practiced.

“Love one another.”

He didn’t tell us to discriminate or separate the church into groups of sheep and goats and only love the lovely.

“Love one another.”

Die to your life; kill your pride. Love those he loved. Love those he died for. Feed his sheep. Lord, do you know what you are asking?

“Love one another.”

Lord, isn’t there some other way for me to show you that I love you? Can’t I memorize a book of the Bible instead? Isn’t a clanging cymbal a nice thing at times?

“Love one another.”

Lord, I can’t. They have hurt me. It’s a matter of principle. What about truth? What about right? Lord why do you seem to care more about their feelings than mine?

“Love one another.”

Lord, you are killing me. I’m dying here. I can’t breathe. I have no strength to do what you are asking.

“Love one another.”

Lord, they don’t. They make no effort. They don’t even care if I love them. They are sinning.

“Love one another.”

Lord, have mercy. Isn’t there some other way? How about if I serve poor people? Or give my body to save a dying person? How about if I preach a sermon in Greek? How about if I explain in great detail your Scriptures and defend truth?

“Love one another.”

“Love one another.”

______________________

See you at the field, thursday evening. I’ll be there. Managing. Coaching. Loving…all my boys.

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(or today’s “fish in a barrel” moment )

It wasn’t the main point of the post, but this still jumped out at me.  While dumping on Ekklesia Detroit Church regarding another issue, Ken the “editor” at C?N irrelevantly noted: “It seems they’ve also found time to interview Satan as well.”

Granted, that sentence has no explicit statement that Ken the editor thinks that the Satan interview video is a bad thing.  But given the track record at C?N (that nothing good can come out of Nazareth those that they criticize), and given the overall tone of the rest of the post, it’s very much within the realm of probability that Ken the editor thinks it’s a bad thing.

And frankly, I have to agree.  A video portraying Satan and his views on Christianity and the Church has no place in our faith.  Why, if we’re not careful, someone will write an entire book with this premise.  And then respected “Christian” actors will create plays based on the book.  And then “Christians” will claim to “learn” from these demonic resources.

It’s the beginning of the end, people.

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Just a quick update to let you know that apparently Pastor/Teacher/Theologian Silva is not without a sense of humor. He posted this at SOL: Martin Luther Says No…To Women Pastors. (You can do your own work tracing it back to Apprising ?.)

I’m glad Pastor/Teacher/Theologian/Father/Rev/Prophet is not without a sense of irony. I wonder how he will explain to his board of directors his affiliation with a certain blogger who is anything but in compliance with Martin Luther after making that post.

Seriously.

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Last weekend at my local congregation here in Indiana, our sermon topic was on “From Legalism to Liberty” – part of an expositional series going through 1 Corinthians.  Pastor Steve Reeves had a number of excellent observations (other than the ones that pertained to me, of course!).  Actually, I would say his comments pertain to a large number of topics we discuss here – and to all parties involved.

For me, one way you can tell if you heard a good sermon – if you’re still pondering application to your own life a week/month/year later, it was a good sermon.  And for me, this was one…

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We Have a ProblemAs I read this, I wonder which will be more insuffrable – the movement, in and of itself, or SoL, CR?N & Company chanting “I told you so” with this on the masthead in parallel?

To those of you who I told you so – I told you so.  But I’m not all that happy about my ‘vindication’.

To those of you who also told us so, you were right.  It didn’t take rocket science to see it was coming.  Let’s try to handle this one a bit better than we did the question of homosexuality…

K?

Any bets on when this shows up in the ODM world?

[HT: FARK]

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A couple of weeks ago, and old friend of mine introduced me to a YouTube fad of “literal videos”, which has given me a good number of laughs, whether it was looking back at the cheesiness of the 60’s

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Or the 80’s

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As I’ve thought about this on and off (honestly far more off than on) since then, I’ve thought of them as potentially a metaphor for how any approach to Scripture when over-applied – be it literalism, intellectualism, historicism, philosiphism, etc. – tends to sanitize it and take the impact of the story, itself, away.

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May you all be blessed today and this weekend. My prayer is that you’re never lonely.

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