Wednesday, July 28, 2010


The title of this post is actually intended for me rather than anyone who may stumble across it. There is a need within me to wade out into some deeper waters than have run through here for quite some time, and I know there will be a ruffled feather or two. The key for me though is to try my best to avoid all political correctness and just let 'er rip. My only real political ties are to the Kingdom anyway, so I won't be betraying any allegiances or sneaking 'round under the cover of night.
You see, I just got through watching yet another video report about the plight of a homosexual youth who has experienced discrimination at the hands of someone in the faceless establishment. It was not a case of physical violence, thankfully, because that stuff is a crime against all of us. Rather this was a crime against someone's rights and their expectations of how their life should play out in a just society. The details are not truly important to what I am going to write, but if you want to check it out just click the link. The point of this post is not to try this case in a one man courtroom, but rather to look at the bigger mosaic of which this is just a piece. The place that homosexuality has won in our society and collective thinking continues to expand to the point where stories like this are not really about the valiant struggle of the downtrodden. They are stories about the twisted, conservative minds that will not yield to the onslaught. If you do click the link you will find it very difficult to miss the long panning shot of the street sign in a small town which I am certain is not the focal point of anyone else in the town but those who are visiting journalists looking for an angle. The street sign is 'Church Street'. Wow, not to hard to miss the bias in this story from that point on is it? I actually went on Google Earth and Google Maps to find this street and sure enough, there it is. The only problem I have with this is that the context is way off. The school that is in the law suit with the young woman is her former high school 340 kilometers north in Fulton, Mississippi, while the street sign is in the town of Wesson where she now lives. No mention of that as they pan by the sign, nor any panning across the street sign for Martin Luther King Drive which is actually in the same town as the school. I guess it pays to do your own "Digg"-ing instead of letting someone else blindly link it for you, eh?
I don't actually mind the dig at the church that much. In reality they should know that it is the church that stands against this rising tide. The church does stand against the tide of broken sexuality and homosexuality along with all the other hellish things that are devouring humanity. The real church that is. I'm not even going to go into all the politics circling around the North American church like toilet water. The bible is far more plain than we like, and leaves us no place to hide in the face of those who do not like what it says. Honestly this post is about those things we don't like. It is about the things I don't like. The word of God is a mirror, and anyone who takes a good long look will come away with a burning desire for a Merle Norman makeover. We are just downright ugly. Nobody likes that. I don't like that.
There are many things in my life that I would love to just paint over. It would be even better if I could get a whole bunch of people to agree with my point of view, people who would tell me that it is okay to be the way I am. People who had huge legal warchests like the ACLU wouldn't hurt either. It would have been great if I could have gone to them when those church folk confronted me on my addictions. I could have hung that church, that pastor, that truth out to dry, and even made a few bucks along the way. What right did they have to say that my addiction was wrong? What right did they have to say that it was destructive? What right did they have to say that I couldn't lead a simple little thing like an artist's group? What right did they have? They didn't have any right, except that which scripture gave them. It didn't matter whether they handled the whole thing correctly or not, scripture stood as the final authority on the matter. That meant my only option was to accept what it said, and deal with the excruciating work of letting the sword have its way, or slap a fig leaf on and run like hell the other way. There was no other way.
Of course I just had an addiction. Homosexuality is a genetic predisposition these days. Hmm. After a 43 year lifetime of dealing with a highly addictive nature I would beg to argue that addiction is also a genetic predisposition. Of course that all winds down a very slippery path, so I will leave that for you to ponder as you wish. The bedrock I want to set this on is the word of God. In the scripture I see no debates over what is sin and what is not. If there were such debates it would take a crane to lift the book for all the pages it would fill, kind of like what you would have if you had to move the ACLU's files to a new office. What I do is sin, and what you do is sin. Period. No one would tell me that it is ok to continue on in a lifestyle that will ultimately destroy me. I say ultimately because it may be possible to escape any kind of devastating ramifications in this life, but we are talking scripture here, and it makes it very clear that there will be a reckoning for all of us. It would be wrong of me to tell someone that they can deny God and go their way just because their urge to follow that path is so incredibly overwhelming, or even if there is no urge against a God they do not even know. It would be wrong of me to hide God from them simply because it will introduce them to a battle they didn't even know they were in in the first place.
Like I said early on, I don't like looking in that mirror. That is until I see the other face reflected back at me, the face of Jesus. The face of the one who died to stand at my side in this battle. The one who lives to see me redeemed from all that would devour me. How dare I rob someone of the presence of the God of all the universe standing at their side in the fight for their life? Just because I don't want them to be offended? Or perhaps just because I don't want to be offended? This is so much broader than just homosexuality. This is the battle we are in every day. Fighting our way through the fiery darts to make someone else aware of the deadly siege they are right in the middle of. Maybe we would be more effective if people saw our armor instead of just another person riddled with bloodied darts. Don't forget, Christ IS our armor!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The In Between Times

The title for this post is a suggestion of where I am right now in many ways. Physically I am in between trips to the commode as I and my wife struggle through a bout of Cheung Po Tsai's revenge. At my age I am pretty certain I am somewhere in the middle of my life if I make it past 80. Spiritually I am in the in between spaces as well. There is not a lot of flash and splash right now, and in many ways it feels like a bit of a lull before something happens, one way or the other. This is giving someone who spends a lot of time in contemplation a lot of time to contemplate. The place that I am in has also formed the materials for the framework of my ruminations. There has been a lot of searching about what all this is really about. Like a man on a journey I have reached a point where I am wondering if I really want to be carrying as much stuff around as I have been. This has certainly been true in a materialistic/financial sense, because our move to HK had very little to do with fiscal reasoning as do any of the future options we have considered possible (That is up to Dad of course!). It is also true in a spiritual sense. The baggage of things that I have hung on to need to fall away if they serve no needful purpose. I am not a man of many options in life, so everything needs to be considered from a very pragmatic view. When you feel yourself heading swiftly for the eye of the needle you really reconsider what you have a grip on, and what has a grip on you. Either way it will be ripped off when you go through, and if you are hanging on then part of you will be ripped off as well. Not fun.
Much of what is falling away is the stuff that has been flapping in the breeze anyway, but has remained attached because there was a lack of desire in doing away with it with such a finality. You know the things that we say we don't believe in and yet that lack of belief doesn't really manifest in any tangible way in our lives? These are the things that are flapping around like the tattered remnants of sails and rigging after a storm. Their substance was tested by the tempest and found wanting, but what if I just might need them for some reason in the future? What if I liked how my boat looked with all that beautiful canvas stretching in the wind? What if someone else said they liked those sails, and that they too had ones just like them? What do I do?
I haven't had any inclination to fix those particular sails. All they have been doing is hanging on and bashing against my ship. The noise has raised a few eyebrows, as have the dings, dents, and scrapes on the hull.
Time for a reality check. The sails and rigging I am referring to are my beliefs in the fabric of the church. The beliefs that I used to hold regarding big names and big events. This is a sacred cow in North America, as anyone who has raised a voice about it can attest. Right from the Emergent Church to the pulpits of the TV preachers there will be an immediate line of defense formed if someone confronts the dynamism of the dynamic one at the front, or on the cover of the book or CD, or the conference brochure, or website. There will be a deep loyalty and scriptural reasoning behind every rebuttal. There would have been from me as well not that long ago. I had my favorite preachers, and in fact the daughter of one of them is actually an acquaintance of my wife's here in HK (too weird). I had my favorite musicians who were just sooooo anointed. There were authors whom I felt were way ahead of all the others.
Not any more. I want to cut this off of me. I am tired of its useless bashing against my mind and spirit.
The realization I had today was that this is much of what has been hindering the body of Christ in the west. How on earth are we going to see an effective body rise to meet the challenges of the days we live in when we continually abdicate our place in the body to someone with "credentials" and fashion sense? What do they have on the guy down the aisle from me? What do they have over anyone else in your local body? Nothing really, but the position that we give them. Who questions what they are being taught. I see so many notebooks out, but when I have been able to peek at the contents it is just a shorthand of the message being given. Dictation basically. Where is the critical testing of these messages, and more importantly the lives behind them, that the church was commended for by the resurrected Lord? Many will say that we know these people because they have been recommended by other people, but who has really spent any time with them? The star culture we have nurtured puts up a near impenetrable wall around those who being allowed to speak to thousands, and if something goes wrong they run off and huddle away by themselves while the spokesperson tells you the latest filtered news. Filtered because,"YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!" (read: Nicholson in A Few Good Men).
Where also is the testing of the people like me out in the pews, chairs, or bar stools? If I am too never leave the nursery, and always live in the shadow of these "greats" where is my sense of personal destiny and purpose? If I am meant to just sit and consume these pre-chewed meals, not cause any waves, definitely not ask any hard questions how will I find a path to a meaningful maturity? At best I may become a respected servant of a Sunday morning machine at some church down the street.
The funny thing is that most of these voices are telling us that we need to be the effective salt and light in our world, but not at the expense of their position, airmiles, or general thunder. Just ask yourself how easily one of those people will relinquish their death grip on that sacred conch called the microphone. This is when you see that they really don't trust you not to screw things up for themselves and everybody else. My question to that is why is it that if they are called to train and equip me, and I have been under their weekly tutelage, why can I not be trusted with what I might say? Anyone else out there asking that question??? I am not a dynamic speaker, nor do I covet the sacred conch, but the question remains. You may be trusted to speak to a small group in a cell church setting, but don't you think about striding up those stairs to the platform and give forth on a Sunday morning.
Enough ranting, now for the practical aspect of this for me. Cutting this stuff free in my life will look like honoring and respecting each member of the body equally. Considering whatever gift, message, etc. as equally worthy of consideration as anyone else. Testing each person by the Holy Spirit rather than just taking someone's word for it. Enjoy messages, music, fellowship and other things by His guidance as well. Encouraging every seed no matter where it has fallen. Finally, it will also include the possibility of more of these rants, because if I truly believe this stuff then what I would have to say by the guidance of the Spirit would be as beneficial as what Paul said when he spoke this same message to the Corinthians. Look it up for yourselves:

1 Cor 1: 12What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ." 13Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.
and again (must be important, huh?)
1Cor 3: 1Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men?

5What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Frustrated Again

I don't know about you, but I get regular cycles of frustration. They are not at all predictable. They are not at all fun. They are the kind of thing that I think, in the good times, should be so easy to avoid, and yet here I am.....again. They are also not connected to being in ministry, because even when I was working 9 to 5 those cycles still appeared.
It becomes a time when I feel like I am tied to a dart board and the enemy can just hurl away with the darts. I feel like I am a million miles away from the Father. I feel like lifting my eyes to heaven is like lifting weights with my eyelids. I feel like I am failing.
There was a program on TV tonight, and it was an interview with Che Ahn. I have never seen him before, but I have heard the testimonies like his before. The power testimonies. You know the ones. They get you all charged up on God and then you end up wondering," Where is that power in my life?". The cycles I go through have a lot to do with exactly this phenomenon. After a while I will finally tell myself that the Father loves me. He is using my life for His glory as He sees fit. This brings on a long period of joy and overcoming, but after another season of seeing the sick unhealed, ineffectual preaching, no real prophetic insights, it begins to get a bit depressing. All it takes then is to hear one of these testimonies or even to remember them. he wheels begin to come off.
I talked to a fellow man of faith who is doing spectacular things for the kingdom in a difficult place. I would have thought that he would have "arrived" in the circles of those who go out to preach the kingdom. During a time of prayer for him and his wife he asked if we could pray for the power of the Spirit for him. He desired to see healing for people rather than just sending them to the hospitals. Of course they were supplying the funds and transport for the people to go, but he still felt that acute lack in his testimony. I know how he feels. I hold on to promises that have not yet seen their fulfillment. There are many more things I want to see by the hand of my Father than what I am seeing these days.
I guess that is all I have to say for now, except that the picture below reflects the fact that I still believe for more.