One lady wrote in to a question and answer forum:
"Dear Sirs, Our preacher said on Easter, that Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think? Sincerely, Bewildered."
"Dear Bewildered, Beat your preacher with a cat-of-nine-tails with 39 heavy strokes, nail him to a cross; hang him in the sun for six hours; run a spear thru his side…put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours and see what happens. Sincerely, Charles."
It's funny the foolishness someone will spout to to shy away from the truth!
Till Next Time!
Monday, 22 March 2010
Do you ever come across anything that makes you wish for once that God was a God of wrath here and now? Or perhaps not that bad but perhaps makes you wish to smack the person around the head with a wet fish?
Well this evening I did. Please let me introduce 'lovegodsway.org' Now I get their intentions and for that I think they are to be praised but the way they are going about it just seems ridiculous. I spend ages trying to find something to confirm my thought that it was a parody but alas not.
According to the site "Homosexuality is a last-ditch effort of the desperate to fit in. We sincerely believe that satan created homosexuality to kill the human race. It is simple biology. There is no breeding through homosexual sex. We believe, also, that he uses music to propagate Homosexuality. Please browse our Gay Music section for further details. We believe that there is a Gay agenda in the Liberal Political Arena. We are here to STOP that message and put an end to the spread of homosexuality."
There are a few things in particular that made me bother to write this post.
'CHANGING HOMOSEXUALS into ORDINARY PEOPLE'. Enough said.
2) Gay bands: There is a list of gay bands which apparently are corrupting our children and turning them gay. There are loads of them but here are my favourites: Coldplay, Frank Sinatra and the Jonas Brothers.
3) The music videos: Here and Here. The fact that they were from 'Funny or Die' made me think that perhaps they were parodies but alas I think that it's only because they are the only website willing to publish such horrors.
4) They are opening a store selling products to make you straight. Now I'm no expert but it seems to me that one cannot cure homosexuality through a special diet!
Let me be clear in case anyone is confused. I believe homosexuality to be a sin, however Christians are called to love and invite people to repent. Items like this make me understand why people think Christians are homophobic idiots. Sometimes the only appropriate reaction is to weep.
Till Next Time!
Last week a gay couple were turned away from a B&B, run by a Christian Lady, Ms Wilkinson, in Cookham. The owners explained that they didn't not agree with Homosexuality so they would not allow them to share a bed but in theory would still be welcome to stay in separate rooms, however another room wasn't available. The gay couple, Michael Black and John Morgan, have reported the matter to the police and are considering seeking legal action.
Well who is in the right? Legally speaking Michael Black and John Morgan seem to be. (I say that without being a lawyer) Derek Munn, director of public affairs, said to the BBC: "Stonewall was delighted when the law changed in 2007 so that lesbian and gay couples could go on their holidays like anyone else. In open and shut cases of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation the law's quite clear - it's illegal for businesses to turn away gay customers or discriminate against them when providing goods or services, and this can't be overridden by personal prejudice."
However, does being on the side of the law make you right? I would argue not. Whether you agree with the views of Ms Wilkinson or not it seems common sense to me that a business owner should have the right to set down their own standards. That is not to say that they they should be able to refuse anyone service but rather that that service may have caveats. I think part of the problem here is the lack of information. If a B&B was allowed to it would make sense that terms of stay would be provided which may include such additions as separate beds for homosexual couples, or unmarried couples, etc.
Furthermore, there seems to be double standards here. Why do the rights the homosexual couple over-ride the rights of Ms Wilkinson? If we as a society say it is wrong to discriminate against people on grounds of ethnicity, sexuality or belief, why do we feel it's acceptable to force a woman to act in conflict with her beliefs on the grounds of not discriminating? Utter foolishness.
The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said: "Whether you agree with the Wilkinsons’ beliefs or not, a diverse society is one that respects diversity of opinion. Surely the world is big enough to let people disagree. Suing someone because you don’t like their beliefs is illiberal, undemocratic and has no place in a free society."
Perhaps this would be a better alternative. Instead of saying we must treat everyone the same, rather we should say that everyone must be treated fairly. Equality doesn't mean uniformity! There also seems to be a very odd trend that when someone disagrees with homosexuality they are Homophobic. Firstly it's a stupid term since I don't know many people that are afraid of homosexuals. Secondly there is a difference between disagreeing with a practice and hating those that do it. For example, I disagree with prostitution but that doesn't mean I hate prostitutes, however neither does that mean that I would let them practice in my B&B (if if owned one).
I was once described by a friend of mine who is a lesbian that I am Homophobic in Theology but not in practice, since I disagreed with homosexuality but welcomed her as a friend. I see what she was getting at yet I believe that this is what all Christians are called to do: To be firm in the truths that God has set before us, yet love those who aren't following his ways. After all this is what God did. As Paul wrote, "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom 5:6-8)
You can read/watch the full story here. or you can read an alternative take here.
Till Next Time!
Friday, 19 March 2010
Thursday, 18 March 2010
Whether you've heard of this project before or not I urge you to keep reading. This is a great project that started just a few years ago selling bottled water to raise money for people who have no access to clean water and are now they are selling a range of products.
Right now however, they are not after your money but your support. So please watch the video, visit their website: www.onedifference.org and become a fan on Facebook.
If you have worries about the company I can personally tell you that it is honest and, as you can see in the video, is supported by big names. It has already done so much but with your help can do more.
It'll just take a moment and will save people from an unnecessary death.
Thank you for taking the time.
Till Next Time!
Monday, 8 March 2010
So, according to the BBC the lost tribe of Israel has been found: the Lemba people of Zimbabwe and South Africa. According to the BBC, "They do not eat pork, they practise male circumcision, they ritually slaughter their animals, some of their men wear skull caps and they put the Star of David on their gravestones." and "Their oral traditions claim that their ancestors were Jews who fled the Holy Land about 2,500 years ago". They also have what they claim to be a replica of the Biblical Ark of the Covenant known as the ngoma lungundu (Pictured above). Amazing in itself yet rather easy to explain away until you read that genetic testing has been done on the priestly clan of the Lemba known as the Buba and have been found to be of Semitic origin, and with a "common ancestor who geneticists say lived about 3,000 years ago somewhere in north Arabia, which is the time of Moses and Aaron when the Jewish priesthood started"!
Rather amazing I think. However we must be careful not to jump to conclusions as there are various other, probably more likely explanations as to their genetics and traditions. That is not to say that it is any less amazing or interesting but rather that we shouldn't be shipping the back to Israel any time soon. (Yes America, I'm talking to you!)
I for one shall remain dubious.
If you want to read the full report go here.
Till Next Time!
Friday, 5 March 2010
Those who know me will probably also know of my disdain for overpaid sportsmen, footballers particularly! Then yesterday to my surprise one of the biggest managers of football today (from what I can tell) appeared to agree with me.
Fabio Capello said, “It’s always the same. Young players, young boys, rich boys, this is the problem. It’s not only here. In Italy, in Germany, in Spain and in every country where football is so important. They have to be an example to the children, for all the fans. For that reason they have to stay careful and sacrifice something in their lives. It will be really important in this last period to be careful in their own lives. I ask them to take no chances.”
Perhaps if their wages were capped at something reasonable people would get into football for love of football and not just for money. Perhaps the rest of the money that the clubs would save could be invested in community projects. Imagine how much that'd be! The Times reports that 'Terry’s basic wage of £160,000 a week is the highest in the squad'. Now let's say then that instead of per week, he gets that per year (personally I'd be very happy with that wage). That would mean that a saving of £8,160,000 P.A. (assuming he gets paid every week), and that's just on one man! The club would benefit as the level of football would improve, at least that's what Capello says, and it means that the clubs wouldn't be in debt all the time. It also means that local communities would be improved by the extra funding available for say sporting facilities, improving the next generation of footballers both in behaviour and ability.
Although I wonder whether he'd agree that that should be applied to managers as well. Perhaps a reasonable basic wage with commission available for club performance. Anyway, I for one certainly hope he gets listened to!
Read the full story in The Times Online
Till Next Time!
Tuesday, 2 March 2010
The following is copied word for word from Per Crucem ad Lucem, who in turn copied it (as you will see) from Rick Floyd. It is a must read, especially if you are, or ever think you may be a minister:
Rick Floyd is a seasoned minister and a very astute theologian who has posted a wonderful and wise reflection on pastoral ministry for ‘newly-minted ministers’. I appreciated it so much that I’m going to re-post it here in its entirety. I reckon that there’s wisdom here that needs to be shared.
‘Too many of our new pastors in the mainline church leave the ministry after a few years. There are many reasons why this happens, but for whatever reason, it is not good. It’s bad for them and bad for the church, and it is bad stewardship to train someone who only serves a short time.
Some of these ministers should never have been ordained in the first place, and the gatekeepers didn’t do their due diligence. Some were lacking the necessary “gifts and graces” for ordained ministry, which doesn’t mean they didn’t have a different and effective ministry in the church.
There are far too many sad situations where a ministry fails for one reason or another, where hopes are shattered, and a young (or not so young) person is saddled with a financially crippling debt for the years in seminary they paid for in loans.
Being a pastor of a church is a hard job. I was one for thirty years. Despite the nonsense being promulgated by the “experts,” faithful pastoring is not a matter of working a certain number of hours (or “units” as they are now sometimes called.) It’s a vocation that takes up most of your waking hours,
When a congregant really needs you, it doesn’t matter whether it is your day off. If you asked me how many seasoned pastors are burned out to one degree or another, I would say, “All of them, if they are really doing their job.” That is why pastors need to exercise radical self-care, pray constantly, and accept the fact, that not being yourself God, you cannot do all that is demanded of you.
Now I readily admit that there is some truth to the whole boundary/take care of yourself/take time for yourself movement. But like all partial truths it is not the whole truth. The church once had a useful word, now much out of favor, for when one piece of the truth gets blown out of proportion. The word is heresy.
One of the modern heresies (but by no means the only one) of the contemporary mainline church, is that you can have something akin to a normal 40 hour a week professional life and be a faithful pastor. It isn’t true. A pastor’s life, and the life of the pastor’s family is necessarily involved in the community of their congregation in season and out of season. Sometimes, even often, it is wonderful; other times it isn’t. That’s the way it goes. It isn’t the Canyon Ranch spa. I often say being a pastor is the best vocation there is, but perhaps the worst job. If you are not called to it, it is something you really don’t want to do.
When I started as a pastor thirty-five years ago I was well trained and well educated and didn’t have a clue what I was really supposed to do. I learned quickly. One of the things I learned was that you have to love your congregants, even the unlovable, of which there are far too many, and who take up a good deal of your time. If and when you find yourself loving them, you know you are on your way to really being a pastor. Some of them you will just never learn to love, and you have to turn them over to God, who does.
I had been a anti-war and civil rights activist in college and seminary, and had gone to jail for my causes, but when I got into the pastorate I learned very quickly that you can’t be a prophet until you have earned the peoples’ trust. This means years of marrying and burying and sitting by sick beds and in hospital rooms.
If you do this well they may be ready to hear hard truths from the pulpit. They may not. Certainly Isaiah’s prophecies fell on deaf ears.
New ministers who have grown up in the church have a leg up, because they know its rhythms and customs, it’s “grandeur and misery.”
But today many of our ministerial candidates haven’t grown up in the church. Some of them turn out to be our best ones, but they are at a disadvantage. They don’t know the church’s music and it’s well-worn liturgies. They don’t know the joys of a community strawberry festival on a warm spring day, or the energy and agony of a capital-funds campaign to get a new boiler.
They often come to seminary or divinity school in a process of self-discovery, which is fine. Most of us did that to one degree or another. I recall from seminary that the ones who knew they wanted to be a minster since the age of six were best avoided, and probably needed therapy.
Now seminary is a good place to learn many useful things, like that David didn’t write all (or perhaps any) of the Psalms, that the Scriptures are thick and have a literary history, and that the heresies we see around us are as old as the church. If one is lucky, you’ll find a mentor or two, and be able to intern in a healthy church who will love you and teach you what it means to be the church.
What seminaries are not good at (because its not really their job) is forming men and women into Christians, much less teach them how to be faithful pastors. Christian formation is primarily the church’s job, not the schools, although they can help out.
There are many fine teachers and students in these schools, and I don’t want in any way to impugn their integrity or their faith.
At the same time, we are seeing too many newly-minted pastors who come to seminary, not only to find themselves, but with a passion for a social cause or causes, which is fine. I certainly had mine. In seminary the flame of their passion is often fanned by others who share it, which is also fine.
But if all you know of the faith is what you learn in divinity school you are at a distinct dis-advantage. And if the main reason you accept a call from a congregation is to promote your passion and cause then your soul is in danger, and so is the life of a congregation.
Because the congregation you go to may or may not share your passions. It can be dangerous either way.
If they agree with most of your views, be they liberal or conservative, the temptation is to self-justification and self-righteousness, and a tendency to see sin and evil as “out there” in your ideological adversaries, and not also in your own heart and soul. Then the great insight expressed by the Reformers’ axiom simul justus et peccator, that we are at the same time justified and sinners, is lost. This danger in the mainline church can exist in some ministers for their entire careers and they will never even now it.
The other temptation is perhaps more dangerous, at least in mainline churches. That is to go to your first congregation where they don’t share your passion for your social cause or causes, and you scold them for it. You do not learn to love them, and they do not learn to love you, and eventually your ministry fails.
Typically we are too polite to ever actually fire anyone (although it does happen), but there are other ways to get you to leave, the best one being to so discourage you that you lose heart and leave. Some, too many, of our new pastors actually seek out this kind of martyrdom, and when they are inevitably cast out, they can then turn and say how stiff-necked and hard-hearted their congregation was. But my sympathy for them is limited. Congregations can be stiff-necked and hard-hearted and even abusive. This is nothing new. Just go read Exodus or First Corinthians.
But congregations can be also be wonderful, supportive, gracious, and long-suffering, especially if they sense you are really trying to be their faithful pastor.
The late great Bill Coffin, a prophet himself, once told a bunch of us young ministers (about 1972) a story (which my version here will be only a loose approximation) about one of his students from Yale.
The young pastor was in hot water for his deeply prophetic views and fiery pulpit pronouncements on social issues (it was Vietnam time, and the nation was deeply divided.) The lay leaders wanted to fire him. As the discussion heated up, one of them, a banker, prominent member and very conservative, stood up and said, “You can’t fire him, he’s our pastor. It’s true that he’s a real pinko, and I can’t stand most of the stuff he says from the pulpit, but when my wife was dying he came to see her every day. He’s staying.” And he did. Bill went on to say that if you are a faithful pastor, your flock will give you great freedom to pursue your passions, be it peace and justice work, or collecting butterflies.
A dear rabbi friend of mine who is well up in his eighties told a bunch of us a powerful story last week. He had been an army chaplain in the Korean War, and, perhaps because of that, he was a firm supporter of the Vietnam War. But when our National Guard opened fire and killed some students who were peacefully protesting the war at Kent State University in 1970, he had a change of heart, and he changed his mind. And on the next High Holy Days in the fall, when he preached to the biggest congregation of the year, he apologized to them and asked them to forgive him, admitting that he had been wrong about the war. This story brought tears to my eyes.
He had been their faithful rabbi by then for fifteen years, and he stayed for another dozen or so. The Vietnam War by 1970 was very unpopular, especially here in what until last December was sometimes called by conservatives “The Peoples Republic of Massachusetts.” I am sure that many of his congregants had been hearing sermons they didn’t agree with for some time. But he had earned the right. And when he finally repented publicly, he was indeed a prophet with the full attention of his people. From then on, when he spoke out against the war, he had every ear.
So at the right time and place you can sometimes be both a prophet and a pastor. But you’d better be a pastor to the people first, because that is your primary calling. If you just want to be a prophet, I suggest you go work for a political action organization’.
Till Next Time!