Thursday, September 30, 2010

Be True To Your Clergyman

A Scottish friend sent this message: "I was listening to a Mark Driscoll sermon today. There are things I like about him, and things I don't care for so much. But he said this:

Comparing your pastor of his little flock to the great preachers of the like comparing your wife to another's an act of betrayal.

My take on it?

The prophet Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys said,
Be true to your school
Just like you would to your girl
Be true to your school
Let your colors fly
Be true to your school!

Now, replace "school" with "pastor" and you have the basis for Driscoll's statement.

This all goes back to this exclusive ownership thing that local clubs (and their professional staff) need in order to survive. (A different antecedent for the term "MY sheep"...) I do know this, that fellow who is suffering from comparison to Charles Spurgeon or Robert Schuller or Charles Stanley or whoever needs to look hard at his relationships with the "little flock". In my experience, a true pastoral relationship does not suffer from the sheep hearing a good sermon from somebody else. In fact, that shepherd is usually the first sounding board for what the sheep hears elsewhere. But if that club manager is mainly connecting to people by his Sunday sermons and his management of club programs, he deserves to suffer by comparison. And he should probably develop some more secular job skills, because he may need 'em.

Driscoll is trying to help protect the small club manager's salary. Sort of a fraternal favor, and maybe to a lesser extent, defending his own turf. This is from the same playbook as the sermons which claim that God commands you to tithe to your local religion club. Again, we find a system of clubs trying desperately to hold onto the exclusive rights to a believer's resources so that the club may continue.

It's almost like finding a counselor who stirs up fear and anxiety in his client so that he can maintain his practice of helping the client deal with fear and anxiety. The client stays in the therapeutic process for life and the counselor makes a decent living off of him. When that client dies, get another one and repeat the process. A client who actually gets well enough that he no longer needs the therapist, well that's to be avoided at all cost.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The New Patriarchs

I continue to be amazed at the durability of simple pride among believers. Many have left Christian denominations and clubs after tiring of being ruled over by men and traditions rather than God. And some of those same folks are finding themselves in the latest version of just what they left, only with themselves as the ruling class.

The fashion now is to ask a believer, "Who is your father?" in an effort to find out if he has submitted himself to another man's rule, and if not, to determine his availability to be ruled. While the construct of spiritual fathers is both biblical and IMO a necessary part of our spiritual development, this current twist seems more intent on bringing people under submission to human authority and to cement those relationships-- often with regular cash payments to "dad" as part of the equation. I'm not so sure this is healthy spiritual parenting. A good father holds most precious the day his child is mature and free. Some of the new patriarchs I am seeing are gathering to themselves "children" long past the age to be asking their daddy for permissions and instruction. Jesus warned us not to call anyone "Father", as we have but One. This admonition is ringing in my ears again, for the first time in a long time.

Years ago, I was separated from my children by distance and circumstance, and I was worried sick about my inability to be an active father to them over the miles. I was complaining rather bitterly about this state of things to a dear brother, who looked me in the eye with unaccustomed sternness and said from the Lord, "How dare you think that I am not their father?" In that single sentence, I found myself re-oriented by the Holy Spirit into my right place with my children. God is their father just as he is mine. While I am called to serve them as a father, both physically and spiritually, that role is merely a small reflection of the glorious reality of their True Father. The measure of my success as a father will not be how often my children call me for advice-- or how much they take it. It will not be even in their expressions of love and respect for me. It will be, rather, in how well my children are able to connect with their heavenly Father, carrying their connection with me as a model and an encouragement and a help in walking as eternal sons.

Good fathers raise and release, rather than collect and keep. They save up for their children rather than seeking to have their children support them. They decrease as He increases. They rejoice more in their child's divine sonship than in their own fatherhood. I am blessed in hearing my own natural father, who introduced me to Jesus, refer to me often as "son", but just as often as "brother".

For those of you spiritual fathers who are working hard to lay your lives down for your spiritual children, may God bless you. And may you see those children blossom as true sons of the Most High. For those who are embracing fellowship in your households and neighborhoods, may your table be full! But for those who would in the name of fatherhood gather people to themselves so that they may rule over them, may God eventually make this plain as well.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


A friend posting on a discussion board referred to Jesus as our "Radical-in-Chief".

I like this a lot. Sometimes, we lose sight of just how radical Jesus' teachings are; instead of the confusion and outrage experienced by Jesus' listeners, we seem to have filed the sharp edge off the sword and allow ourselves to nod agreeably with Jesus' words. Perhaps we should look at just how radical our Master is, and how radically different he calls us to be--

Love your enemies.
Well, I don't have anybody really trying to hurt me right now, and if I do, I just get away from them. What do you mean, I should mow the lawn of my next door neighbor, whose kid just beat up my kid?

If someone asks something of you, give it to him without expecting repayment. Well, everybody knows better than to ask to borrow on those terms, so I don't have a problem there. Except for my ungrateful brother-in-law who continues to try to sponge off me and won't get a real job, and about whom I complain regularly to my friends. Technically, I don't "expect repayment", as he never does pay me back, so I think I'm good here...

If a man takes your coat, give him your shirt, too. If a man takes my coat, I let law enforcement handle it. At the very least, I lock up everything else so he doesn't get to me again. I call that "being a good steward".

If a man compels you to travel one mile, go two. As long as the government gives me a tax loophole, I'm taking it. As long as the cops won't ticket me for doing 75 in a 70, I'm setting the cruise on 75.

Lay not up for yourselves treasure on earth.
You're kidding, right? My 410k is not really "treasure", not after that last market crash, anyway. What about my retirement? My kids' college? Who's gonna take care of me if I don't do it myself? Jesus had to be talking to rich people, not me.

Ever wonder why Jesus had enemies? If you hammered away on these things in the church today, I think you would find someone ordering wood and nails for you, too.