church nonsense, Jesus

Sigh

This came up in my Facebook feed today:

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With this caption:

“When I die, my kids will never have to wonder why certain books are in my library.” -Nate Pickowicz

It’s just the sort of thing that makes me reluctant.

Even so, I’ll try to never stamp “Pharisaical garbage” on anyone’s book (or Facebook post) because Jesus said,

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

And even Paul said,

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

 

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church nonsense, faith, Jesus, Michigan

Christianity Run Amok

I read a sour post this morning entitled, “The Selfishness of Skipping Church.” It was written by a pastor, a young buck, and it was harsh.

There is a great line in the movie “Remember the Titans” about attitude reflecting leadership, and it makes me wonder whether the problem with church attendance lies there.

As I read, I thought that perhaps some are skipping his church because they are browbeaten at work Monday through Friday and they don’t want to be browbeaten on Sunday, too.

He said skippers are selfish because they aren’t serving. Sometimes I skip so that I can serve. As a female in a Baptist church, I wasn’t allowed to use my gifts for the benefit of the church.  I was relegated to the pews Sunday after Sunday, giving audience to those who had far less Bible knowledge and far less leadership training but far more testosterone.

So I’d get antsy and skip. I’d find the bright places, where boom bands are playing.

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Who wants to be called a selfish sinner in church when they can be out on the streets of Detroit offering a plate of food and a few minutes of conversation and dignity to a homeless man?

My grandma used to say, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

Yes you do, young buck, yes you do.

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church nonsense, Light, war on women

Unveiling

Alaska

The hub read the first two chapters of Job aloud while I sipped my second cup of coffee.  Then he flipped ahead several pages and read the end of the story.

“Don’t worry,” he said.

I recognized those words as a reference to yesterday’s post which, he said, brought Job to mind.

“I know I’ve said it before,” I remarked, “but I’m always struck by the ending. Before Job’s face to face encounter with God – when his ears had heard of Him, but his eyes had not yet seen Him – back when he spoke of things he did not understand, his daughters were not in the party hosting rotation, they were always mere guests.

But after he saw God and spoke with Him face to face, he saw things more clearly. And suddenly his new daughters were named in Scripture and they were given a portion of his inheritance.”

Because once you really know God, you understand the value of women.

Which is why I am disenthralled with pastors who hold so tightly to the mis-teachings and/or mistranslations of Paul when it comes to the role of women in the church. They have heard of God, but they have not seen Him. Their knowledge of Him is limited by their loyalty to the traditions of men.  Like Job, they are going through the motions. And, like Job, I am sure they are sincere in their reverence for God. They just don’t know what they are talking about. Who they are talking about. And I have a hard time sitting in their audiences.

If those pastors had ever really seen Him, they, like Job, would completely change their minds about God’s daughters and give them an equal share of His inheritance – and an equal opportunity to host His parties.

The hub said, “Amen.”

And then he went fishing.

But before he left I told him I am asking God to unveil Himself in a mighty way in Detroit on July 25.

Being a man of action, the hub immediately made the sound of something exploding. “Maybe the statue will be struck by lighting, or disintegrate before their very eyes.”

I, being a woman of contemplation, added, “or maybe He will do the Damascus Road thing – you know, speak to the leaders of the event and ask them why they are persecuting Him.

Whether it is a spectacular external sign like the one with Elijah on Mt. Carmel, or a subtle internal movement like the one in the heart of the thief on the cross, is up to Him.

Either way, or both ways, it will be powerful.

Copyright 2015, Light & life

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church nonsense, Light

Hated, Hounded & Human

“The Jewish leaders hated Paul.  They followed him from town to town and made trouble for him wherever he went.  He would spend weeks, months, or even years in a place teaching about Jesus and then his enemies would show up, get him run out of town, and then stay and attempt to undo what he had taught.

The Christians in the “circumcision group” continued to actively oppose him, too, insisting on adherence to their traditions.  Paul warned Titus about them when he wrote, “For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain… Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth.”  (Titus 1:10-11, 13-14)  I like the way the KJV words verse 14: “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.”

Paul would go into a city and teach, the unbelieving Jewish leaders would soon follow to discredit him and the believing “circumcision group” would further confuse things by insisting on putting new wine into old wineskins.  (Matthew 9:17)

He was opposed from within and without.

Have you ever been opposed from within and without?

When I first started speaking about abstinence I expected to face some opposition from without, but I wasn’t prepared for the vicious opposition I would soon face from within.  I was asked to speak to a certain youth group one evening.  God had given me a message for them that was different from any I had given before or since.  As I was taking it down I asked, “Are you sure, Lord?”  Even though the message was intense, I had never had such a clear sense that I was taking His dictation.  As I gave the message one of the youth leaders (an adult male) began raising objections.  It would have been appropriate for him to pull me aside afterward to share his views but instead he repeatedly interrupted the presentation.  In spite of the interruptions a few of the students seemed to be taking the message to heart.  A few quickly aligned themselves with their leader.    The rest just looked confused.  I handled the objections cordially and then stayed for punch and cookies before hauling my equipment from the basement of the church.

As I wrestled to get my load through the heavy outer doors, none of the youth standing nearby offered to help.  They just stood in a huddle glaring at me.  I drove home grieved that those youth would exude such hate toward a guest in their church – a guest who had come to minister to them.  What grieved me the most was the realization that their attitudes reflected their leadership.  It had been a long day of presentations and I was exhausted when I arrived home but, since I had been away from my computer all day, I decided to quickly check my e-mail before going to bed.  Waiting in my inbox, just itching to pounce, was the worst vitriol – actually the only vitriol – that had ever been leveled against me.  In the time it had taken me to drive home that youth leader’s objections turned from rude to punch-me-in-the-gut ugly.  It sent me reeling for days.  A Christian is capable of writing that?  Or was he one of those guys about whom Jude warned?

For the first and only time I was tempted to quit.  I wondered whether I had been mistaken about my calling.  A few days later I received a beautiful note in the mail.  It was from a seasoned saint who encouraged me with Jesus’ words:  “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”  (Matthew 10:14-15 )

Her timely note reminded me what God had told me the moment of my call to this ministry, “It is not going to be easy.”  Instead of quitting, I resolved to speak all the more.  Shamefully, the man launched a whisper campaign against me, the ripples of which I still occasionally feel today.  The campaign against Paul was on a much larger scale.   The aversion some women have toward him even today are ages old ripples.  You’ll see what I mean.  For now, just keep in mind that those who hated and hounded him were not going to let his words go untwisted.

We’ll start some untwisting tomorrow.”

The above is an excerpt from a Bible study I wrote five years ago.  I am currently converting it to a book for publication.  Thought I’d share a bit of it with you, see if you have anything to say…

Update:  Years later I heard disturbing news about that youth leader, and about the pastor who backed his ugly words.  No wonder the hounds of hell were barking and snarling so viciously.  No wonder God gave me that particular message.

© 2015, The Reluctant Baptist

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church nonsense, life, war on women

Going There Again

Just a quick observation, because it’s time:

Have you noticed that whenever a Mark Driscoll wannabe promulgates misogynistic nonsense he quotes only Paul?

And when a (presumably) well-intentioned pastor preaches on the leadership of men, he too exclusively quotes Paul.

Blogging pastors who warn Christian men against marrying 10 types of women also quote Paul.

And none of them quote Jesus.

Because Jesus didn’t say the stuff Paul said.

Some hard core Pharisees will say that Paul saying it is as good as Jesus saying it.  I know because hard core Pharisees have argued that to me.  But as of yet none of them have told me in a clear, non-convoluted way when Jesus gave Paul that kind of infallible authority.  When He put Paul on par with the Holy Spirit, the Counselor whom He sent to guide us into all truth.

I can show them exactly when He warned us to beware the yeast of the Pharisees.

Paul was well-steeped in the teachings of the Pharisees.  Well-steeped stains are tough to remove, in fact they never come entirely clean.  Old habits die hard.  And so it was with Paul.

Alas, some of the teachings of the Talmud – even the Babylonian Talmud – seeped, steeped and brewed into Paul’s teachings to the church.  And the Talmud, as I hope you know, is not Scripture.

Yep, there I went again.

Someone had to say it.

If you’re new to this blog and you want the full gripefest, you can read Picking Your Paul, Chasing Kings, Passionate About Paul?, Winning the War on Women, Trickle Down JesusGo Anne, Uh oh!You Have Got to Be Kidding Me.

Those ought to hold you for awhile…

© 2015, The Reluctant Baptist

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church nonsense, war on women

Woe to You, Sir!

Ted McGrath, Creative Commons

Ted McGrath, Creative Commons

I was going to write a parody on a ridiculous post:  10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry.  But as I read through some of the many comments it garnered, I decided to go a different route.

Most of the comments zeroed in on #2 – the divorcee.  I have something to say about that, too.  And since comments are closed on the post, I’ll weigh in here:

My first husband divorced me after six years of marriage.  We had a two year old.  His reason for leaving us?  He didn’t want to be married anymore and God wanted him to be happy.   “No,” I said, “God wants you to be a man of integrity, a promise-keeper.”  But with no-fault I had no say.

I lamented that my life was irreparably ruined.  Sin was foisted upon me and there was nothing I could do about it.  And then my friend, to whom I was lamenting, simply said, “God can forgive sin.”  Whoa!  What?  My life isn’t over?  It still felt over.

For years I did not date because I was not sure Scripture allowed me to remarry, so what was the point?  But God showed me through Scripture that He held my ex-husband accountable, not me.  He also showed me that He likes marriage, it was His idea and He would prefer that I rear my daughter in the context of one.  How will she know what a good marriage looks like if I don’t model one?

So I began to open up to the idea.

About that time a male friend mentioned that he would never marry a divorced woman.  Damaged goods and all.  I told him he might miss out on someone really great.  Someone like me.

When I married my first husband, I did not believe in divorce.  My parents were divorced and I knew the pain it causes.  Life with him was not easy but I was committed to sticking it out.  My commitment to the long haul was tested and true.

My first husband, who grew up in a Christian home with parents whose marriage lasted until death did they part, also had his commitment tested.  His commitment failed.

On paper he looked like a solid investment – reared in a Christian home, parents still married.

On paper I looked like a risky investment – reared in a non-Christian home, parents divorced.

And yet his commitment failed and mine did not.

You never know for sure what will come out of a person until marriage squeezes them.  My friend who would never marry a divorced woman is still single these many years later.  If he does find someone to marry, someone who looks good on paper, it is still a gamble.  I think he will have a greater guarantee of success if he marries someone whose commitment to marriage has been tested and proved solid.

The pastor who wrote the post, the one I yesterday called vile, evil or sorely misguided, once again played fast and loose with the Scriptures.  The examples are many.   I pulled this one from the comment section:

Andy, I live in New York State where gay marriage is legal. What happens if you get saved after a gay marriage? Well, you must immediately leave the gay marriage and cease from the sin of homosexuality.

Same thing here. What happens if you get saved after a 2nd marriage? Well, now that you know it’s adultery, you immediately forsake the 2nd “marriage” and cease from the sin of adultery.

John 8:11:
“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

What?  Two wrongs make a right?  Repent from the sin of divorce by committing the sin of divorce?

And don’t go misinterpreting Jesus’s words.  The woman was not married to the man with whom she was committing adultery.

If I could, I would ask that pastor what he would do with David.  David clearly committed adultery with Bathsheba, then married her.  When Nathan finally confronted him, marrying Bathsheba was not on God’s list of grievances:

Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 2 Samuel 12:9

Yes, God hates divorce.  Not for the sake of hating it but because it hurts people.  He also hates judgment and gossip and slander and lies and haughty eyes because those things hurt people, too.  They hurt the people He loves.  Of course He does.

I’ll give Jesus the final word:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”  both from Matthew 23
© The Reluctant Baptist, 2015
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church nonsense, faith

Shameless

A blogging ally commented on my last post with a link.  On the other side of the link was a series of clips from a talk on addiction and shame.  Boy do I wish I had internalized those concepts 25 years ago.  I wish every parent and parent-to-be had them ingrained in their brains and tattooed on their hands.  Even as I write this post, I am pondering how I might incorporate them into the parent workshop I will be giving next month.

The speaker in the clips, John Bradshaw, talked about toxic shame, shamelessness and healthy shame in the context of the family.

But my mind extrapolated it to the church:

“Healthy shame is permission to be human.  It lets you make mistakes.  A [healthy] family [is one] that has a rule that allows people to make mistakes and understands that mistakes are occasions for learning.”

“If you live in a context where you can never make a mistake, what a terrible way to live.  That’s a life without any grace; that’s a life of law; a life of rigidity and legalism.  Grace is riding easy in the harness.  It’s like it’s okay to make mistakes.  We know that humans are going to make mistakes 15% of the time.  And so parents need to know that.  Parents need to quit acting shameless.  When parents acts shameless, they act like they never make a mistake.”

“When parents are shameless, they are also spiritually abusing their children because they are playing God.  One of the healthiest things shame brings you is the realization that you are not God; that you are limited; that you need help.  So healthy shame is an enormously healthy emotion… I think healthy shame is the source of spirituality.  It’s what we used to call humility.  It’s also, interestingly enough for me, a source of creativity and learning.”

John went on to quote something he heard at a conference once:

‘When you think you know you’re right, you’ve killed your creativity.’
“If you think you’re right there will be no new searching for information.  So what healthy shame does is let you know there’s a lot more to learn…”

Ding, ding, ding! That is why I have grown so impatient with dogmatic doctrine.  It is arrogant.  It is shameless.  It believes there is no more to learn.

The evangelical church is all about having a close personal relationship with God, and all the while teaching that God has nothing new to say.  How do you have a vibrant relationship with someone who has nothing new to say?

The church would argue that His complete Word is new to the discoverer, that the canon is closed but the book is open.  They would say that every time we read it we can discover something new.  And that’s great for us, but not so great for God.  If I were God, I’d hate it if my children decided I had no more to say, and therefore stopped listening to me and for me.

The church is not God, the church is limited, the church needs help.

John Bradshaw said children need structure in order to develop a healthy shame.

God, being the perfect parent, gave us structure.  He gave us the Ten Commandments: a short, simple frame work for right behavior and right relationship with Him and with one another.

And then to that open-but-solid structure the Pharisees added the Talmud – which contained so much brick, mortar and plaster that Jesus finally said,

“And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”  Luke 11:46

Then He pared it down to this:

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:37-40

Suffocating people with shame-filled legalism kills their creativity and their spirituality; it defiles many a masterpiece. Which is why, I believe, Jesus told His disciples to “Beware the yeast of the Pharisees.”

And so now I am just going to say it:  What if the writings of Paul are to the New Testament what the Talmud is to the Old Testament?  After all, Paul was well-schooled in the Talmud, and old habits die hard.  Really, really hard.

And what if the church – who stones, shuns and/or silences anyone who questions their dogmatic doctrine – is a stale, shameless parent?  An unwitting ally of the enemy?

Just wondering.

Seema Krishnakumar, Creative Commons

Seema Krishnakumar, Creative Commons

The greatest poem ever known
Is one all poets have outgrown:
The poetry, innate, untold,
Of being only four years old.

Still young enough to be a part
Of Nature’s great impulsive heart,
Born comrade of bird, beast, and tree
And unselfconscious as the bee-

And yet with lovely reason skilled
Each day new paradise to build;
Elate explorer of each sense,
Without dismay, without pretense!

In your unstained transparent eyes
There is no conscience, no surprise:
Life’s queer conundrums you accept,
Your strange divinity still kept.

Being, that now absorbs you, all
Harmonious, unit, integral,
Will shred into perplexing bits,-
Oh, contradictions of the wits!

And Life, that sets all things in rhyme,
may make you poet, too, in time-
But there were days, O tender elf,
When you were Poetry itself!
– Christopher Morley

But there were days, O tender elf, when you were poetry itself!

And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 18:3

© The Reluctant Baptist, 2014

http://salvoesinfaith.wordpress.com/2014/12/28/healing-the-shame-that-binds-you-john-bradshaw-good-stuff-lend-an-ear/

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