Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Life is ridiculous.

I know someone who was in a place he knew he shouldn't be, and a man with a mask and a gun ripped him off. But he knew the guy and called his name. Now the thief is running for his life from the people who owned what he stole, and this guy is in fear for his life because the thief knows he knows who he is.

And it's all nasty kids playing gangster with real guns and real hit men chasing other kids playing gangster.

The goalposts are gone, while we inflict pain and misery on one another. All we wanted was a little security, a little adventure, a little pleasure and a little love. When the goalposts are gone, the dream dies and is replaced with alternative dreams that trade the promise of thrills for the high risk of death, the hope of fulfillment for the certainty of misery, the prospect of riches and security for the inevitability of losing it all.

In the midst of all of this, we have to learn how to cope. Some problems are short-term, trivial things. Other problems repeat themselves or go on and on with no sunrise on the horizon.

I want to attempt something many other people have gone after - a key to the problem of evil. But not just any old generic problem of evil. I want to look at the problem that plagues us in the long term, whether it's the ever present reality of people who live to victimize other people, or the personal challenges of affliction and never-ending problems of life that offer no ready solutions. On the way, I'd like to tell some stories, probe some beliefs, make at least some attempt to find answers.

Maybe it's not worth the trouble, but I want to try.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Seventh Thing that's Wrong

Ken Eckerty has posted a website entitled "Why I left the Organized Church" (http://www.savior-of-all.com/organized.html). It gives 10 or more reasons, and I'd like to take them on. The seventh thing that's wrong:

Unbiblical preeminence of the pastor or elder's board that rules rather than serving.

Just at a time when servant leadership, once a theme in the Christian faith, is infiltrating the business world, the church continues to struggle with power politics. In fact, the CEO model from business is infiltrating the church, turning congregational government into executive leadership that sometimes leaves the average church member thinking that the pastor and elders board are just there to push them around. When that happens, it's a tragedy.

But I know pastors. A lot of them. And I have rarely met one who did not have a servant's heart and a sincere desire to minister to the flock rather than dominate it. Perception and reality are sometimes at odds, though, and those pastors who long to serve but are seen as ruling instead need to look at what they are doing and fix it.

Which leads me to ask church leaders: Are you leading because of the rush it gives you or because you are truly willing to sacrifice and serve? If your desire is to serve, is the congregation's perception of you the same as your desire?

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Sixth Thing that's Wrong

Ken Eckerty has posted a website entitled "Why I left the Organized Church" (http://www.savior-of-all.com/organized.html). It gives 10 or more reasons, and I'd like to take them on. The sixth thing that's wrong:

Emphasis on old Covenant law, especially tithing, that breeds guilt.

Christianity is a faith based on liberty, yet its members have declared Jesus Christ to be Lord. That creates a unique tension. Can those who obey also be free? Some Christians assume that freedom in Christ is just a new version of living by the rules. Thus they serve up heavy doses of Israel's law, modified it somewhat to match the teaching of Jesus. They fail to understand that, for the Christian, the law is internalized. It's not a matter of obeying rules but actually of being new people whose desire is to find the pattern of life Jesus set out for them. Learning to be new people is not a matter of figuring out the rules and then obeying them. It's a matter of discovering that new life in Jesus means that our whole approach to life has changed, that we actually want to be like Jesus.

The tithing issue is a challenge to churches. The tithe in Israel's faith before Jesus was set within the rules, and it ensured at steady income to keep the temple and priesthood operating. If churches say that giving is no longer a rule, they risk not getting the income. So some of them drag out the tithe and make it a Christian rule, alienating those who reject the notion that going to church means you have to pay for the privilege. Christian giving isn't supposed to be anything like that. If you belong to Jesus, all you have belongs to him too. He's given it to you to use, so giving is nothing more than a grateful response to his goodness. Churches need not fear if they drop the tithing rule. Those who love Jesus and his work will give to it. Those who don't want to give should be able to worship for free. The tithe is not the price of admission.

Which leads me to ask the church: Have we forgotten liberty because we so much want our people to do the right thing? Have we introduced Christian rules as a substitute for Christian transformation?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Fifth Thing that's Wrong

Ken Eckerty has posted a website entitled "Why I left the Organized Church" (http://www.savior-of-all.com/organized.html). It gives 10 or more reasons, and I'd like to take them on. The fifth thing that's wrong:

Activities and ministries that replace our first love of Christ.

Churches are busy places, full of programs for this and activities for that generally have a rationale within their larger missions. But activity can easily become disconnected from the purpose for which they were created. Activities can substitute for spiritual growth and depth. Activities can be a real obstacle to contemplation that needs peace and calm.

More seriously, some churches measure their effectiveness by the extensiveness and variety of their programming. As long as everyone is busy and happy, the church is doing its job. Of course, these busy and happy church members are also immature in their faith.

Which leads me to ask the church: Is our main focus on carrying out the Great Commission - making disciples, baptising them and teaching them? Are we interested in genune spirituality or great programming?