and they say we are confusing

i was speaking with a pastor from a southern baptist church the other day about some of the things i do not care for about the modern church, when it hit me that the same thing they push on us about being "confusing," is exactly how they are - they make some of the most confusing statements ever. let me give some examples:

"the priesthood of all believers" - this is so not what they believe, but it is a standard line in many of the "evangelical churches" in our world. they claim that anyone who follows jesus is a "priest." i was speaking with my friend and asked if that meant that anyone in the church could baptize another person, he said "yes, with training." ok, what about weddings? can anyone perform a wedding? he said, "no, that person needs to be ordained as an elder." ok, what about serving communion, can anyone serve communion? "no, that requires the person be an elder." ok, what about preaching, can anyone preach from the pulpit? "no, they would need to be approved by a board of elders" - so i said that what they believed was in a "limited priesthood of some believers." he did not take too kindly to what i was suggesting :)

"the church is open to all people" - this one is my fav, because it is so not what they say. what most churches in american mean is that the church is open to most people who are saved first. when i asked my friend about this, he said that the church was for those who were saved. he said that if you were not saved, you could not be part of "the church." he explained that what they mean is that anyone who is saved is welcomed into the church - so, they say one thing and mean another?

i am sure there are many others, but these are the two we hit on in our conversation.



explain war

can someone explain to me war? why is it needed, and what value does it have? no war in history has every produced peace; let me repeat that for those who might have missed it, no war has ever produced peace. when we look at war stats we are quick to say how many "soldiers" died, but slow to explain the civilian population that dies - in many cases the numbers of innocent civilians that die outnumber the soldiers 100 to 1 - for every soldier that dies, over 100 non-military people are killed; most of them are old men, women of all ages and children - how is that good? how is wiping out a village a good thing? how is taking the life of people who are "just there" a good and right thing?

i was recently speaking with a person who thinks that those numbers and the fact that innocent die are "acceptable." as he said, "if they would not be in the battle field they would not be killed. sometimes during a war the innocent die." WHAT? that just does not connect with me. the battle field is their home, their streets, their neighborhoods. how can "they" move? how can "they" not be in the middle of the battle, when the battle is in their homes?

i think it is easy for us to watch the war on tv and play monday morning quaterback. we then head over to starbucks for a mocha and to talk about how good we are doing, or how bad things are going. but if the war was outside our homes, and there was no starbucks to go too would we have a different point of view? as christians, i believe we must be a voice for peace, for grace, for love. we must be a voice that stand against war, for any reason, and speak for peace. i know that to stand at the pulpit in an american church and say that war is wrong, is seen as "anit-american." but that is ok, we are suppose to be "anti-american" because we are to be for christ and if we are for christ, we stand for peace, love, grace and forgiveness. i am not interested in politics, and i have no interest in the "american christian" church - my walk is with christ, with peace and with love - i operate under peace, and i stand for forgiveness.

i still have not found one scripture in the new testament that supports war, nor one word of jesus that tells us to do violence on another, nor one teaching of the early church that allowed for the taking of human life. if we are to truly see the early church as a role model of our faith, then we should be willing to die for our faith, but not kill for it - it has hurt my heart to know that many of the "christian" leaders claim this to be some kind of "holy war." i believe, and others will disagree, that a christian will not take another life - but would willing go to the lions to stand firm on the teachings of love, grace, peace and forgiveness.



map please

i remember back a few years ago living, for a short time, in vermont. one day while i was out for a drive i stopped to ask for directions. i was looking to go from huntington to burlington. i pulled up to a few elderly gentlemen sitting at the front of the general store (it was norman rockwell for sure). i said, "how do i get to burlington from here?"

and then one of them said, "well, from hear you need to go back to the old oak, the one hit by lightenin' in '55 right before old man wilson died. when you see that old oak - remember the lightenin', not the one that was burnt by the warren twin boys in '63 cause that will bring you out by the wilson farm and that's going the wrong way. once you get to the old oak (lightenin') go just past it about 500 feet then turn right. there is a large stone on the corner so it will be easy to know. you want to go past the reilly farm, and past the mill's milking barn and then turn left. drive far, and keep to the right, soon you will hit the abbot's place and you will need to turn right there. from their, i am not sure but maybe one of the others will know."

just then, three others joined in to correct the old man and give me "better" directions. as i was getting more and more confused one of the kids in the general store came out with a map. on the map was a circle that said "you are here" and a circle around burlington with a note that said "this is where you want to go" - i thank the old guys and went inside. i thanked the young lady behind the counter and asked her how she knew. she told me she over heard the men talking and knew that they got five other people lost in the past three months. she said, "it's easier to give you a map then it is to try to figure out directions from guys who can't remember what they had for breakfast this morning."

where are we heading as an emerging church? where are wee seeking "directions?" will we simply be a modern church with better music, better coffee, younger people and candles? will we be a community that truly looks deep into the doctrine we proclaim or will we proclaim them without giving them a second thought? will we "stroke" the company line and strive to force feed doctrines that scripture can not support? will we stand on traditions and claim they are doctrine? will we use the modern line that "it's God's plan" when we come upon things we can not explain?

it seems to me, in my travels and in my conversations, that many "emerging" communities are not emerging from anything - they are entrenched in modern theology, modern structure, modern vision and modern purpose and this could be because they are being planted by denominations. as emerging people we need to look modernism in the eye, not shake from it, and answer the questions head on - we are not to "repackage" bad theology in cool words to "sell" it to an emerging people - let us be honest, open and direct in our desires to truly look deep into the heart of God. when we do this, we will seek our way and learn to read the map God gives us to help us on our walk - but if all we get are directions, we will get no place but lost.



i voted

well, i just voted. i'm not sure it really matters who i voted for, but i did it anyway. i noticed that in sacramento the democrats and the green party were listed above the republicans - i wonder if there would be screaming if it was reversed? well, i guess that does not matter - i don't live in florida, ohio or any of the other important states - i live in california - where it is assumed what our politics are, the parties think they have the "in" and people vote because they believe their voices can be heard - go figure :)