Wednesday, December 12, 2007

In Defense of the Church

I have been guilty of this. I have been reading a number of writings, whether they be emails websites, books, blogs, or anything else that seem to do this as well. I see it in my industry. I see it in the news. I see forms of it everywhere l look. I wonder if it is an American phenomenon. What is it? Why do we do it? Why don’t we see how damaging it is? Haven’t we as believers seen how wrong it is? I am not sure what it is, as it has so many facets. I see some forms of greed in it. I see some forms of gossip in it. I see some forms of me first in it. I see some form of consumerism in it. I see some forms of selfishness in it. I see so many things in it, I don’t know how to narrow it down to one name, but I do want to narrow it down to the church. I talked a little about it in a previous blog on a book review of “So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore,” and the issue keeps nagging at me to the point that I feel I have to discuss it again.

In the book the main character goes through a transition from a church leader to a home church leader. There are a number of things going on in his church that look corrupt. The main character and his mysterious friend have a number of conversations about the wrongs in the church. Through these conversations the main character concludes that the church is dead and that believers need to move away from it to what God is “really” doing.

Again, I don’t know what to label it as, but I do see a problem here. I am hearing a lot about leaving the church, moving away from the church, switching churches because “this church isn’t meeting my needs,” leaving the church because it “asks too much of me,” complaining about programs and a number of similar issues. You hear a lot about “Jesus isn’t this or that.” You see and hear people say, “Why should I trust my pastor, he is just a man?” You even see certain circles saying “the family, not the church is the center of God’s focus.”

Something seems out of line here. I can’t find it in scripture that says it is okay to be like this. As you can see in my report on Five Fold Ministry, God has an order for the church. Our pastor spoke about the characteristics of the five fold ministry this past Sunday. He laid out the order of the heart of God in each of the ministries. Here I must say that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers run out two overall groups I mentioned above:

1. Programs and the like. These ministries are there to reach the lost, poor, unwanted, needy, children, single moms, drug abusers, and angry people. These ministries are also there to disciple the saints and equip them to continue to grow the bride of Christ.
2. Family. While it is true that God ordained the family and established it (Gen 2:20-25), it is the church (Eph 5:22-33) that is the apple of His eye.

Now, as I write the passage for Ephesians, I come to another thing that has been bothering me. As I said, I can’t put a name on it, but it has answers.

Eph 5:32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Eph 5:33 But also let everyone of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, and the wife that she defers to her husband.

Since the passage describes our marriages as a visual to Christ and the church, He wants to teach us some things. Everyone looks at the marriage lessons when they read this, but did you notice the connection to the church and Jesus? I am sure many of us have to some degree, but I want to talk about this thing that we are all guilty of.

The KJV Bible says it this way:
Eph 5:33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

This talking out about and against the church… When we look at this passage are we all putting ourselves in the brides’ position and revering Christ as we talk about what He loves?

My wife and I have been talking about a story about Noah recently that relates to this topic:

Gen 9:20 And Noah began to be a husbandman. And he planted a vineyard.
Gen 9:21 And he drank of the wine and was drunk. And he was uncovered inside his tent.
Gen 9:22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.
Gen 9:23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders. And they went backwards and covered the nakedness of their father. And their faces were backwards, and they did not see their father's nakedness.

I think this passage teaches us something very important about how we handle our frustrations against the church. In our family what Ham did is called “bleeding down.” Ham is running out to his brothers to tell them about their fathers’ shame. We need to take a lesson from Shem and Japheth. We need to learn not to bleed down to everyone else about what we don’t like about the church. I could say we also need to learn this as parents, co-workers, home schoolers, Boy Scouts, and a number of other areas of life.

It is interesting to look at the rest of the story:

Gen 9:24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and came to know what his younger son had done to him.
Gen 9:25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan. He shall be a servant of servants to his brothers.
Gen 9:26 And he said, Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant.
Gen 9:27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem. And Canaan shall be their servant.

I would say Noah wasn’t too happy about having his shame of the day exposed. It was obvious that Father God wasn’t too happy about it either. As you look through scripture you will see that God validated this curse against Canaan. It is obviously played out though the account of Joshua and Caleb, and then further evidence can be found in 1 Kings 9:20-21. I think we need to learn a few lessons from this, or at least I do.

I think there are other Biblical principles on how to handle matters of frustration with the church. “But we don’t trust our Pastor because he is just a fallen man who is trying to get us to do what he wants” is ringing in my head as you know I am going to suggest talking to the pastor (Page 99 in the book, “So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore”: “We have inherited systems of body life and leadership that result from people trying to find a way to provide for themselves, rather than demonstrating what it is to live in Father’s care. Once ministry becomes a source of income you’ll find yourself manipulating people to serve you rather than Father’s love moving you to serve them.”). Funny, if you work in Sunday school, are a greeter, teacher, or work in any capacity in the church, the pastor trusts you. But I digress… Biblically you are supposed to go to your brother.

Mat 18:15 But if your brother shall trespass against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
Mat 18:16 But if he will not hear you, take one or two more with you, so that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
Mat 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he neglects to hear the church, let him be to you as a heathen and a tax-collector.

This is a serious matter. The church is the bride of Christ. To abuse it outwardly as many have done is wrong. To abuse it outwardly without trying to communicate what you see is nothing less than gossip. Jesus makes another statement which is very important and applies to this matter very well.

Mat 12:25 And Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation. And every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.

Jesus knows our thoughts on the church. We have to ask ourselves if we are dividing the house. Many times we are the problem, though, and that is why He gave us teachings like:

Mat 7:1 Judge not, that you may not be judged.
Mat 7:2 For with whatever judgment you judge, you shall be judged; and with whatever measure you measure out, it shall be measured to you again.
Mat 7:3 And why do you look on the splinter that is in your brother's eye, but do not consider the beam that is in your own eye?
Mat 7:4 Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull the splinter out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye?
Mat 7:5 Hypocrite! First cast the beam out of your own eye, and then you shall see clearly to cast the splinter out of your brother's eye.

I am not calling anyone a hypocrite. I do this as well as anyone else. We all fall into hypocrisy at times. I just don’t want anyone to fall into it when it comes to talking about the church.

Friday, December 7, 2007

My Hero Dies Well

I am sure many of you know Evel Knievel died.  This was sad for me and I have to say I almost cried.  There is a lot I want to say about the passing of this guy that affected me, and I don't know where to start.  I guess I have to go to the beginning.

My dad used to race motorcycles.  I loved (and still do, though I was never able to get into it, but if someone wanted to get me a Christmas present I would love a Yamaha YZ250F) EVERYTHING motorcycles.  I loved to go to his races.  A few of the few (you can tell my childhood hero was Evel Knievel, I have had so many concussions, I don't remember most of my youth) childhood memories I have are memories of going to either an ice race or a trials competition and loving every minute of it. 

I was very young then.  I must have been three years old or so.  I don't think I knew how to talk.  I just replied to everyone in motorcycle sounds.  Then one night as I was in the house playing with my Evel Knievel Toys (of which I had all of them) HE called!  My walkie talkie buzzed in and it was ACTUALLY Evel Knievel calling from "Canifonia"!  It was the most exciting moment of my life.  I talked to Evel Knievel and told him all about my jumps and how I was going to do everything he did.  I was so excited.  The only bummer was that my dad had to go to the bathroom so he missed the entire call.....

Well, I often acted like Evel Knievel as I grew up.  I was a psychotic BMX freestyler and racer.  At 10, I was one of the first people ever recorded to jump out of a bowl at a skatepark.  I was challenging guys twice my age to go bigger.  I may have to dig up some pictures of those times for you.

In 1997 I cememted my likeness of Evel.  I broke my neck at a BMX race.  I thought of him as I was i the hospital.  My sister had put the tv on for me and the BMX freestyle X Games were on.  I laid there thinking how Evel paved the way for me and how  was one of the front runners of the sport.  I actually got to thinking of how Evel cheated death and paralysis so I knew God was going to take care of me.  It was a stretch, but I knew He was going to take care of me no matter what.

Three years ago a movie came out on tv about the life of Evel.  One of my buddies copied it for me, but I have still not watched it.  I didn't want to wreck my image of him.  I had heard what sort of man he was and I wanted to think of him as I knew him.  Somewhere along my life I saw a special on Robbie Knievel and how messed up in his heart he is right now.  In this show Robbie and his dad talked on the  phone together.  It didn't look at all like my phone call with him.  Robbie got off the phone bitter and angry.

Well, this brings us to the news of Evel's death.  Why was I so sad?  It impacted me that one of my few heroes in life had finally passed.  I think that was tough.  It dawned on me that he, for a long time rejected Christ.  I actually did cry about the passing of Evel Knievel over this thought.

I called Andrea to tell her about it.  She was sympathetic.  I think she knew it was one of the few heroes I have ever had.

Well, a few minutes later I turned on the radio i my car.  This is how cool God is!  The local Christian talk show was playing the recent testimony of Evel Knievel!!!  God reminded me of a lot of things about hope, and how the story is not always finished in those few minutes.  I will save that for another blog, but I would like to leave you some of the highlights of his career.

Evel Knievel Accepts Christ

Seven Greyhound Buses

14 Greyhound Buses

13 Mack Trucks

Caesar's Palace

Snake River Canyon


11 Mack Trucks

Fifty Stacked Cars

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Is it riding season yet???


Because I am ready to go.