August 2006


I’m going to start out with a disclaimer (don’t you just hate blogs that start that way?).  I guess it’s more of a confession than a disclaimer, but I suppose it could go either way, or both ways.  Anyway, here it is: I’m not a theologian.  Wow, that feels so good to get off my chest.  Yes, I went to seminary.  No, I didn’t study theology.  I studied communications, which is another way of saying I didn’t want to study real hard but still wanted the Master’s Degree.  I don’t know hermeneutics from Herman Munster.  I don’t know Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, or German (from which all the really thick theological books were translated).  I barely know English.  You don’t turn to me if you are thirsty for a deep theological discussion because I’m liable to send you up a very shallow dry creek bed.

But I do have questions, and questions can often lead to something, eh?  My question du jour (that’s French for “of the day” in case you were wondering) is this: can some of the text we pull from Scripture be “cultural truths,” applicable mainly in the culture for which it was written; and some be “universal truths,” applicable to today and tomorrow?  What do I mean by this?  I’m glad you asked. (more…)

Advertisements

For years the dominant focus on Christian living has been on the elimination of sin from our lives…We have put so much emphasis on avoiding evil that we have become blind to the endless opportunities for doing good. We have defined holiness through what we seperate ourselves from rather than what we give ourselves to. I am convinced the great tragedy is not the sins that we commit, but the life we fail to live.

– Erwin McManus
Chasing Daylight

 

B~

For any of you emergent types caught in a non-emergent type church, Grace has written down some survival tips for hanging in there.  Check it out here.

B~

I’ve been out of town for a while, taking my daughter back to college, so I haven’t been on the computer for a few days.  At least not long enought to post anything, as if I had anything to post.  Also, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, as far as reading my favorite bloggers and what you’ve been up to.

But I wanted to make a quick comment.  This morning I was reading Oswald Chambers and he was talking about prayer, and how we should go into our secret prayer rooms and meet God face to face, which is always difficult for me to do since I get distracted so easily.  But his last line caught my attention and and my heart said , “This is what I want.”  Now to make it so.

But if you will swing the door of your life fully open and “pray to your Father who is in the secret place,” every public thing in your life will be marked with the lasting imprint of the presence of God.

Wow.

B~

This is long, real long. It’s not so much the “rest of the story” about church in the Panhandle as much as it is a ramble about doing church in the 60s and 70s. Read if you have time.

The 60s and 70s were a time of upheaval and discontent, on all levels. By the late 60s and early 70s our innocence had been shattered because of the assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy. There were the Kent State shootings, the Viet Nam War, drugs and Woodstock.

I’m going on down to Yasgur’s farm
I’m going to join in a rock n roll band
I’m going to camp out on the land
I’m going to try an get my soul free

Set my soul free. That was what we wanted from the church. In the late 60s The Jesus Movement took off. Of course it was started in California, but it soon would be rocking the nation with a “different” way of worshipping Jesus. Out of the Jesus Movement came performers who were the fore-runners of today’s “contemporary” Christian music artists. But back then there wasn’t as much hype and money. There were such artists as Andrae Crouch, Larry Norman, Evie, Randy Stonehill, Keith Green, Russ Taff, Amy Grant, Petra, and Chuck Girard and Love Song (with one Phil Keaggy). They had long hair and played guitars and sang praises to Jesus. On the Sunset Strip, Arthur Blessitt opened his nightclub and coffee house called “His Place.” There were bumper stickers proclaiming “Jesus is my Bag,” “Honk if you love Jesus,” “Smile, God Loves You,” and “One Way – His Way.” There were little round orange stickers that said we were “Hooked on Jesus,” and “Turned on to Jesus.” And it was all coming into the Panhandle much to the chagrin of traditionalists. (more…)

Growing up in the Panhandle of Texas gives me a different perspective of church than some of you.  Here’s what I mean.  When you grow up in the Bible Belt (and yes, Texas is a part of the Bible Belt, some might even say it’s the Belt Buckle but I doubt that) you grow up in a very Christianized society.  In the Bible Belt, we were the last to turn loose of segregation, the Blue Law, and the last people to streak  long after the fad had peaked.  You didn’t grow your hair long and you didn’t listen to rock and roll.  If you were a Christian, you didn’t smoke, drink or chew.  And you certainly didn’t go with girls who do.  Well, some of us didn’t. 

And church was the same way.  It was conservative, main-stream Christianity and you read from the King James.  The choirs were always full, and when you brought in an evangelist to bring us “revival,” he preached hell fire and damnation. (“If you were to walk out the door tonight and get hit by a truck, where would you spend eternity?  Let me see a show of hands if you prayed the sinner’s prayer with me.  I see that hand.  And that one.  And that one.”) Revivals happened every year, usually twice.  There was the Fall Revival and then the Spring Revival.  And sometimes you had a city wide crusade in the high school football stadium where all the Southern Baptist (SBC) churches came together – but not the Methodist, Church of Christ, or Catholics. (more…)

I want to clear some things up concerning my post on “Wouldn’t That be Cool?” I wasn’t saying that I wanted to START a new church, though that possibility is always there. My post was just me expressing some frustrations on my part with the current church situation I’m in. All of you have made some very valid and interesting comments, and it seems several of you are experiencing the same feelings I’m having. And Ed, you can hijack my blog anytime you feel like it – I’m enjoying reading your thoughts. You said, “I think that the established churches and para church groups are in the trenches, and there may be some trench thinking that goes along with that, but it is those groups that are feeding/housing the homeless, visiting the prisoners, being fathers to the orphans and comforting the widows, and most of the effective ones are more than a generation old.” I agree that some churches ARE in the trenches and being Christ in ways we may never know, but there are a number of churches that have turned inward just to satisfy the “needs and wants” of their own congregation. And the sermons reflect some of that attitude. Last Sunday my pastor started a sermon series on “Becoming a member of the local church” with an emphasis on being a member of our particular fellowship. While I agree that that is very important because of the number of people who just don’t commit (hummingbird Christians is what he called them – flitting from church to church and never landing on any one), it all seemed somewhat self-serving to me. I suppose, because of our size, this kind of sermon has become “necessary” if we are to continue to be self-perpetuating.

But something just struck me. I am writing from the perspective of someone who grew up in the “Bible Belt,” where there is a church on almost every corner. In our little town there is a church of almost every kind, with several from the same denomination. There are even churches BACK-TO-BACK. I would be curious to see if there is a difference in attitude towards church in areas where there isn’t a strong Christian (mainly Conservative Evangelical) influence. It is not uncommon in our state to still hear a prayer before a high school football game or some other public function. Granted it’s becoming less common, but it still happens.

So how about it? Care to give your opinions on if WHERE you live influences your attitude toward modern churches? Ed, I don’t remember where you live though I think I’ve read it on your blog, but I don’t think it’s in the “Bible Belt.” Gary lives in Seattle, A thinker in the Northeast, Bar in California, Karen in my part of the world, Amber and Brian in Ohio, CJ in Alaska, David in California, DaybyDay in Michigan, Trace in New England, Becky in the Midwest, and on and on. If you read this I would love to hear your thoughts. Don’t be a lurker, say something.

B~

Next Page »