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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Robert Murray M'Cheyne

Yesterday, I mentioned the bible reading plan of Robert Murray M'Cheyne. I've been reading through the Bible yearly for many years. Last year I started to include my family. So at dinner time I would read to them the Psalms and Proverbs readings from the One Year Bible. M'Cheyne developed a plan a 100 years ago that has an Old and New Testament reading for yourself and for your family. So we've been doing that. Right now we are in Luke and Exodus. Luke's chapters are so long, i often have mercy on the children and don't make them sit in their seats any longer and read Exodus. But we are at the 10 plagues so we've been reading that instead. It also helps that i've been reading from the Message. When Jesus sends the disciples out he tells them not to pack toothbrushes. its the little anachronisms that make all the difference. plus, the message reads aloud very easily. you can download the reading schedule here.

Modernism to Eleven: Is Postmodernism a Myth?

Anyone who can explain away postmodernism with quotes from William Lane Craig and Spinal Tap deserves abundant kudos, back slaps, shout outs, and props. Go read it and link to it.

A quote of Craig's dismissal of PM with a modernist label is deadly.
"Frankly, I don’t confront many students who are postmodernists. For all the faddish talk, I think it’s a myth. Students aren’t generally relativistic and pluralistic, except when it comes to ethics and religion. But that’s not postmodernism, that’s modernism. That’s old-style verificationism, which says things that are verifiable through the five senses are factual, but everything else is just a matter of taste (including ethics and religion). I think it’s a deceit of our age to say that modernism is dead."

The aricle's conclusion is fantastic...

No one seems to be able to intelligibly define what constitutes postmodernism yet almost everyone thinks they “know it when they see it.” The question, though, is why do we assume that the “extra push over the cliff” is anything but a faster, louder version of modernism? How do we even know that modernism has ended? As Nigel Tufnel’s bandmate David St. Hubbins philosophizes when questioned about the end of the band Spinal Tap:

Well, I don't really think that the end can be assessed as of itself as being the end because what does the end feel like? It's like saying when you try to extrapolate the end of the universe, you say, if the universe is indeed infinite, then how - what does that mean? How far is all the way, and then if it stops, what's stopping it, and what's behind what's stopping it? So, what's the end, you know, is my question to you.

Modernism is like Spinal Tap. It doesn’t end. It just gets louder, faster, and cranked to eleven.

Unseen. Unforgotten.

my friend, Pastor Jon, sent me today's link to the Birmingham News. Tons of pictures from their archives during the civil rights movement.
thanks Jon for the tip. what a resource this is.

a poem

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
-- Maya Angelou

Monday, February 27, 2006

Katrina Relief-Word and Deed, Again and Again

Christianity Today tells a story of relief in Pass Christian, Miss.

"The collaboration between Christian groups has impressed Pass Christian's politicians. Christians represent 95 percent of relief volunteers, said Lou Rizzardi, Pass Christian's Ward 1 alderman who coordinates them.

"Faith-based organizations come in here much more organized, ready to go to work," Rizzardi said. "They don't ask for anything." Mennonites re-roofed Trinity Church, an Episcopal congregation. The Assemblies of God donated a huge tent to shelter Crusade volunteers. Pass Christian's largest volunteer presence is Campus Crusade...

At any given time, up to 300 Crusade volunteers are working. About 4,000 have become involved through Crusade recruitment and word of mouth. Crusade welcomes whosoever will: male or female, young adults, retirees, church groups of mixed ages, and their non-Christian friends. Some have returned to help.

Crusade volunteers share the gospel with every family they help. Nonbelievers are far more receptive to the message after seeing faith in action."

Amazing, God-glorifying stuff. This is servant evangelism. My wife did this in October in Waveland, through Willing Hearts, Helping Hands. God's orchestration is evident there too. There are so many stories. I've been reading Exodus to the kids, and God tells Moses, 'I'm gonna do this to Egypt so that the world will know who I am and so you can tell your children who I am and what I did for you.'

The problem of evil sometimes overwhelms me, and then i read this and i read Exodus. the writer concludes, "As the Great Commandment and the Great Commission meet in Pass Christian, what may prove most permanent is the life change among those involved in relief and rebuilding efforts." and i hold onto God. i read Luke 13 tonight, all this reading is part of the McCheyne reading plan, and i've been reading Job too, and Jesus boils it down to, 'you'll all die, but will you die with God or without him?' we'll all suffer, some more horribly than others, that's coming in my next book report, but would we rather suffer alone or with God?

African American History on Stamps

You've got to give the U.S. Post Office credit for this list of all these people and events in American Black History that have been honored on stamps. There are many names I've never heard of, plenty we all know like MLK Jr. but also the obscure.

Here are two examples

BILL PICKETT
William M. “Bill” Pickett invented the cowboy sport of steer wrestling, also called “bulldogging.” Employing a technique he saw ranch dogs use, Pickett would bite the steer’s lip to make it more docile and easier to control. Starring in this event, he and his horse Spradley became a box-office draw in rodeos at home and abroad. Pickett was voted into the National Cowboy and Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1971. This stamp was issued October 18, 1994.

SALEM POOR
Salem Poor earned his place in history during the Battle of Bunker Hill. For his deeds in that battle, he received a commendation extolling him as a “brave and gallant soldier.” He also served elsewhere with the American army during the Revolutionary War, including at Valley Forge. This stamp was issued March 25, 1975.

the T-ball coach

i'm filling out this application and i thought i'd share what i wrote for all other T-ball coaches to use in their volunteer descriptions.

Coaching 5 year olds is exasperating and an experiment in self control and keeping perspective and adjusting expectations as one learns to teach children with home support and children sent there as a babysitting alternative. Attention spans are extremely short to begin with and get shorter depending on maturity. A t-ball coach learns to play all children with goal toward everyone's education and enjoyment. Not only does the coach encourage the distracted but assuages the committed in whom frustration foments. Coaches rejoice in victories relative to the player and minimizes the setbacks. In T-ball the coach makes sure everyone is a winner.

Redick's true colors

he seems like one of us born agains. his tats are bible verses. he was homeschooled in elementary school. unfortunately, the Lord decided he should play for the devil school, Duke. what did that get him? "...after a come-from-ahead loss to eventual champion Connecticut in the national semifinals -- in which Redick missed a crucial late shot -- it was time for a critical re-evaluation of the prodigy's progress." so he matures, even repented..."I regained my passion for basketball," Redick said. "My relationships with my family members were as good as they've ever been -- and my first two years, those were sometimes rocky. I met my girlfriend during that year and regained my spirituality...I try to be humble. I realize that any talent I have is a result of God's blessing. I don't feel the need to [talk trash] as much anymore."
but still, i actually like the buy, but still...
"in the final month of his college career, for headlong pursuit of the one basketball thing J.J. does not have: a national championship...
In the kind of full-circle story that sports seems to produce, it could come down to Duke-Connecticut. That would present the ultimate chance for Redick to measure his growth -- as a player and a person -- since the devastation that followed the loss to the Huskies two years ago.
And what if he missed the big shot a second time against UConn and a title eluded him?"

Well my school will have won another championship. And i wouldn't feel bad for him because he has eternal rewards...

if he does bring my school down in the tourney, i can still like him but abhor his team, coach, school, like i have since laettner stopped us back in '89.

Ravi Zacharias-Defending the Faith in the 21st Century

Roger gives a summary of a recent Ravi talk.

n its questioning of propositional truth and meaning, he suggested it (along with postmodern philosophy in general) is similar to the snake in the garden who asked, “Did God really say…?” In the 21st century, we are defined as not knowing where we are in history and not knowing who we are as humans. He believed this is because of six changes that have taken place:

1) The popularization of the “Death of God,” and the willingness to live with the ramifications.

2) Religious pluralism

3) The power to inform through visual means at the expense of textual.

4) Loss center of cultural molding

5) Loss concept of humanity

6) World power is shifting to a younger generation

Saturday, February 25, 2006

A People's Long Story Fits Fabric Of Nation

An african-american columnist in my state's largest newspaper wishes BHM wasn't necessary. i agree. but it has been necessary for me. there are so many things clamoring for high priority in my life. fortunately, i love history, and i do plenty of americna civil war reading, so researching black history was not a huge shift for me. i think forcing myself to blog on a different topic in black history every day enlarged my world. but in the past, i've also ignored it. and there are sad examples of it being half-heartedly celebrated, as he points out towards the end of his column. he writes, "A picture of the school's smiling multi-cultural director was attached to a poster promoting Black History Month. The promotion mentioned that he would be serving fried chicken that week in the school cafeteria. (I assumed the following week, the brotha would be cutting up watermelon for dessert.)" OUCH!!! This proposal is great though, "Alleyne says information on Benjamin Banneker's clock invention, Charles Drew's expertise on blood plasma, Dr. Benjamin Carson's surgical skills in separating Siamese twins and Martin Luther King's oratory - could easily be melded into the teaching of math, science and English." and these aren't just lists of firsts either, another complaint of BHM being a month of extolling blacks who were the first to do something civilized whites were doing already. i agree with the columnist that this should have been incorporated into my american history, but since it wasn't i'm glad i ahd a month to make it a priority.

Friday, February 24, 2006

the emerging church of the late 1800s

Warner believed that it was possible for Christians to live together in the unity that comes when God’s love is present in people’s hearts. At the Beaver Dam meeting he stood up to say that he was forever finished with all religious groups that divided Christian people from each other. From then on, he said, he would be part of God’s church (or, the Church of God) and not others…

Early Church of God people were very determined not to be organized like the churches of their day. So they did not have church buildings and congregations as we do today. Instead they often met outdoors in what were called “brush arbors” when the weather permitted them to be outside...

Unfortunately, the early Church of God was still captive to its era. What started out as a movement to call all Christians into life together, ended up being another denomination (though even today, with their int’l headquarters and everything, most deny it is a denomination). In fact, I remember several people in the Church of God who had a difficult time recognizing the faith of Christians in denominational churches. Instead of being a beacon of unity, much of the Church of God became another division… If you didn’t see the evil of denominations, so the logic went, you obviously did not have the Spirit of God!....

The emerging church runs the same risk today, except it is not likely a unifying theological system which will dominate the movement. Rather, the risk is the treatment of theology within the emerging church becoming universal. While I personally share the value of openness to theological questions with my emerging church brethren (that’s right, I said brethren… but I include the sisthren, too :D ), we run the risk of dividing the Church once again if we make that openness a defining trait of true or good Christians. In valuing the mystery of God, we could easily divide the Church yet again by creating a group identified not simply by their love and pursuit of Jesus Christ but by a theological construct valuing mystery and charity (both extremely good things in my opinion) over propositions. Propositionally-based Christians can still pursue Jesus. That’s what most Christians were during the entire Modern era....


A part of the history not dealt with in the article I linked to was the power of the Spirit in the early Church of God movement. They were basically Charismatic without the speaking in tongues. Healings, words of knowledge, prophecy… these things were prominent at one time in the Church of God. But a fear of the Charismatics taking over, due to the Church of God’s loose structure, led many to disdain the works of the Spirit which were more extraordinary and could be described as “manifestations” of the Spirit’s power.

The emerging church also runs the risk of minimizing the power of the Spirit. In an effort to be relevant and shed unnecessarily offensive parts of the church today, we risk shedding the necessary offensive parts of the church. There are some. We cannot escape the weirdness of someone being healed. If we pray for it, we better believe that God at least might actually heal! If we ask God to speak to us, we better understand that God could speak and give us knowledge, wisdom, prophecy for today. (Please note I use prophecy not in the sense of telling future events, but prophetic wisdom for today)...




There's even better stuff in this article about racism and feminism, but then you wouldn't make the effort to go and read the entire article.

Missions Incredible-Korean church

Christianity Today Magazine has an amzing article on "majority world" missionaries.

"But more than that, mission scholars agree that Koreans are a potent vanguard for an emerging missionary movement that is about to eclipse centuries of Western-dominated Protestant missions. They call it the "majority-world" mission movement. They say this new term—"majority world"—is necessary to replace the aging terms "third world" and "developing world." The radical change in Protestant missions is forcing scholars and missionaries to create new ways of talking about the global scene.

The global majority (5.2 billion people) live in less developed nations. Of the world's 6.4 billion people, less than 18 percent live in developed nations. Scholars say the church's future in large measure rests in the hands of the global majority.

"The day of Western missionary dominance is over, not because Western missionaries have died off," says Scott Moreau, chair of intercultural studies at Wheaton College (Illinois), "but because the rest of the world has caught the vision and is engaged and energized."

Also see, the Korea Research Institute for Missions

Modern Slavery

"The June 2005 U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons (“TIP”) Report estimates that between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year and that minors comprise up to 50% of that total number. The organization Free the Slaves suggests that there are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world. The F.B.I. suggests that human trafficking generates an estimated $9.5 billion in annual revenue."

the details get more graphic after this.

please educate yourself about modern slavery at some of these sites.
International Justice Mission
World Vision and their, Child Sex Tourism Prevention Project
and
Justice for Children whose history is recent, "In September 2002, JFCI Co-Founders Rob Morris, Lamont Hiebert and Desirea Rodgers went on an exploratory trip to SE Asia to determine how they could serve in the fight against child sex trafficking. In brothels, they saw young children being sold for sex and in safehomes they witnessed the miracle of restoration as they sang and danced with sex trafficking survivors. The goal of this and subsequent trips was not to “reinvent the wheel” but to find out where the greatest needs were and how they could be most helpful in filling those needs."

Hamas in its own words

"In January 2006 the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas won almost two-thirds of the seats in the Palestinian Authority parliamentary elections. The Hamas charter calls for the extermination of Jews as well as the destruction of Israel as an Islamic necessity. On this page you can view Hamas election statements and music videos - including from after the election - which make it clear that its goal remains the destruction of Israel, and that the preferred means it chooses is continued 'resistance' and Jihad, the PA euphemisms for terrorism."

Churches in Iraq Subjected to Synchronized Terrorism

MEMRI is a new source to me. The acronym stands for the Middle East Media Research Institute. Highlights from this article include some comments on the cartoon debacle.

"The bombing of seven churches in seven quarters of two large cities - Baghdad and Kirkuk - simultaneously is a well-planned and well-executed terrorist act...Christian spokesmen maintain that the motive behind the bombings is to spread sedition (fitna) in the country, which could lead to a civil war, one of al-Zarqawi's stated goals. They accuse "Arab fanatics" whose bombing and whose "daily threats, kidnappings [and] discrimination" aim to "drive the Christian community out of Iraq."
There are also Christian spokesmen who suggest that there might be some linkage between the bombings of the churches and the publication in Denmark and, subsequently in Norway and other European countries, of the offensive caricatures of Prophet Mohammad. However, Msgr. Rabban al Qas , the Chaldean Bishop of Amadiyah and Erbil (Kurdistan), discounts the linkage because, according to him, it takes weeks to plan such a synchronized attack and to prepare the car bombs...Writing about the "Shameful Aggression against the Iraqi Christians" in the independent electronic daily Sot al-Iraq, Aziz al-Haj, a former leader of the Iraqi Communist Party, blamed the Islamists for spreading a religious culture that permits the killing of what they refer to as the apostates. "The pursuing of the Christians since the fall of Saddam and the chain of attacks against the churches," wrote al-Haj, has been done because of religious hatred to all other religions. Al-Haj finds similar roots of hatred in "the besieging of Christians, and Christian women in particular" by the supporters of the young extremist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, first in al-Sadr City and later in the city of Basra, which caused hundreds of Christians to leave.

After highlighting Christian contributions throughout the history of Iraq, al-Haj finds a similar pattern in what is happening in Iraq and in what is happening in other Arab countries in terms of restrictions and discriminations against other religions. He gives the examples of the Copts in Egypt, the Southerners in Sudan, including the raping of their women, and finally the criminal role of the Zarqawis who blow up mosques as well as churches. In a subsequent article, Aziz al-Haj laments the attempts by Islamists to turn the issue of the caricatures of Prophet Mohammad into a struggle with Christianity and Christians, implicitly encouraged by governments which seek to divert attention from internal disasters. Al-Haj suspects that the participation of Muslim clerics and intellectuals as well as a number of major Islamic organizations in conferences about "the dialogue of civilizations" is nothing more than "devious methods to conceal the Islamic rancor toward Christianity and Judaism and toward the Western civilization which is centered in the countries of the west."

Damages claim for abortion twin

BBC NEWS reports on a nauseating lawsuit..."A mother is hoping to win £250,000 in compensation after her twin daughter survived an abortion four years ago..."She has the financial burden of care, upbringing and aliment of Jayde. She suffers an impediment in her ability to obtain employment in consequence of her care for the child."..."I have got a child now that I wasn't planning to have and I believe the hospital should take some responsibility for that," she said...The health trust is defending the action, claiming that after the abortion the doctor "checked the cavity of the uterus and could feel no further products of conception."

why didn't she put the child up for adoption if she didn't want it so bad?
we humans have an amazing ability to live indenial. when we want to kill a fellow human with governmental support we have to tell ourselves that the human isn't human. a baby is a "product of conception." of course, we all are.

Smart Mom Blog

My wife has started blogging at the Smart Mom Blog. Not only is she a stunningly beautiful, extremely intelligent woman, she's a smart mom too. God is good to me.

Christian lessons from black history

The Asbury Park Press Online runs an article on a New Jersey church called The Church of Grace and Peace.

"Associate Pastor Anthony Aquilino, who organized the program, said his church has held other Black History Month events in the past, focusing on the civil rights movement and achievements of black Americans. This year, the church focused on the impact the Christian faith had from early slave times through the civil rights movement, he said.

"Many historians, black and white, credit the Christian faith of the slaves as being the single most important factor in unifying and sustaining them as a people," said Aquilino, the church's drama director.

Among the presentations was a re-enactment of an 18th-century slave narrative. Olaudah Equiano, who was captured at age 11 and brought on a slave ship to America, would eventually purchase his freedom. At the age of 44, he wrote his autobiography, which would inspire Frederick Douglass nearly 100 years later.

Equiano, played by Andre Fergus, stood before the congregation and recounted his journey aboard a slave ship. He also talked of his Christian faith, from which he drew strength.

"God tells us the oppressor and the oppressed are both in his hands. And if these are not the poor, the broken, the blind, the captive, the bruised, which our savior speaks of, who are they?" Equiano said."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

My talk at UConn tonight

Mat invited me to speak at the UConn Intervarsity Fellowship tonight. If you ever get the invitation, go for it, they feed you, they give you T-shirts, you laugh, you cry, you worship with a passionate praise team...it's better than Cats.

This is the talk i gave. it's a reworking of stuff i posted in the past few weeks...


WAYS THE BIBLE WOULD BE DIFFERENT IF WRITTEN BY
COLLEGE STUDENTS
* The Last Supper would have been eaten the next morning - cold.
* The Ten Commandments are actually only five, double-spaced, and written in a large font.
* New edition every two years in order to limit reselling.
* Paul's letter to the Romans becomes Paul's e-mail to abuse@romans.gov.
* Reason Cain killed Abel: They were roommates.
* Reason why Moses and followers walked in desert for 40 years: They didn't want to ask directions and look like Freshmen.
* Instead of God creating the world in six days and resting on the seventh, he would have put it off until the night before it was due and then pulled an all-nighter


A student-athlete walks into his Prof’s office, closes the door and sits down uncomfortably. “Prof, I have a problem. Unless I bring my grade up to a C, I’ll end up on academic probation, and I won’t be allowed to play…Is there anything I can do to bring up my grade? Any extra credit project? You know, anything you need done? Around the house? Heavy lifting? Painting?”
“Anything?” asks the prof.
“Yes, anything that could bring my grade up.”
“How about studying?”


My desire tonight is to encourage you all. To assure you that God is good. That his love letter is really trustworthy. That Jesus is faithful even when we are not. That the Holy Spirit is always available and always at work. And to promote more kissing in your group!!!!

Hypocrisy
Matthew 7:4-5 (New International Version)
4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

I spent my freshman year at a Christian college on the North Shore of Cape Cod. I wanted to pursue my biology studies under Christian professors and experience dorm life with Christians. Unfortunately for me, I was expecting Christian camp, not Christian college. I was disillusioned that the kids drank and smoke and swore and fooled around with their girlfriends. I expected an environment of exhortation and encouragement where people like me could stay on the higher path. To make matters worse, my excellent Ecology professor taught us about human evolution. I wouldn’t say he advocated it, but it wasn’t his job to discuss biblical interpretation. On top of this, I felt I was sequestered from the world. I came up through the public education system and had been surrounded by people who weren’t like me religiously, ethnically, scholastically, or economically. My Christian college was a straitjacket of all those except for a few of us who were poor and a few Africans.

By winter break I had sent in my application to UConn and was accepted before Spring Break. I reasoned I could get the same debauchery (with honesty and vigor) and evolutionary biology for a third of the price. I felt surrounded by Christian posers, it was an immature perspective, and I wanted to be around honest sinners. At least I could offer them Jesus.

I also figured, why not heap it on thick and requested the dorm complex at UConn with the most debauched reputation. The Jungle. This is when the Guns-N-Roses song “Welcome to the Jungle” was very popular. Several students like to demonstrate their brilliance every fall by aiming their speakers into the Jungle’s quad and turning up the volume, plenty of evidence against an intellectual straitjacket.

Alcohol

Romans 13:12-14 (New International Version)
12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

There's a reason laws were written to discourage alcohol consumption for those under 21 years of age. Young adults grow into the concept of subtlety. Usually life is lived in extremes. There are many positives to this, but when it comes to drinking, having a beer is a difficult concept. Getting drunk is a simple concept. Since the youth culture esteems extremes, heavy drinkers achieve a high social status. Because my higher value on being a cheapskate overrode high social status via drunkenness I didn't imbibe as much as my friends. I was limited to free or really cheap beer. But when I came across it, I imbibed with abandon. Perhaps my German and Irish DNA saved me from of the typical reactions to drunkenness that my friends suffered, vomiting and black outs, but also left me, perhaps, with a tendency toward alcoholism. After 2 years in the UConn party world, I found myself drunk the night before a test. I realized, by the grace of God, that I had lost control to alcohol. So I quit drinking alcohol altogether. I never drank a drop for the next 10 years. Due to a variety of factors I tried it again. I drink in moderation now. When I feel rich enough at the grocery store after my family has enough food for the week and there is money left, I will buy wine or beer and milk it for a long time. I don't think alcohol is evil. Like money, its the love of it that is the root of all sorts of evil. As an adult, alcohol, for me, is part for the pleasure of a time with good company and good food and good conversation. As a youth it was the end and not a means. It was an idol. Alcohol is for the mature, not the immature. If you are under 21 save yourself the trouble and prove that wisdom is right like Jesus said.

Luke 7:33-35 (New International Reader's Version)
33 "That is how it has been with John the Baptist. When he came to you, he didn't eat bread or drink wine. And you say, 'He has a demon.' 34 But when the Son of Man came, he ate and drank as you do. And you say, 'This fellow is always eating and drinking far too much. He's a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' 35 All who follow wisdom prove that wisdom is right."

Freedom and Grace

Ephesians 2:1-10 (New International Version)
1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

For whatever reason, most likely my sinfulness, i entered a rut of considering myself unworthy of answered prayer (true) unless i was a good boy (false). so i entered this weird religious performance cycle of sin - guilt - need - recommitment - good works - sin .... and my wonderful Intervarsity staff person decided to start a special education Bible study for me, my roommate, and another student and affirmed to us over and over God's love and grace. i responded in that typical immature way by having less guilt about the more sinning. i turned it into an i can do it all, sin and security thing. what Father also did was develop a genuine love relationship between us through this. i wasn't performing for Him.
As evidence of my embrace of grace my roommate and I started Thursday night bible study right after dinner, before people went out to the clubs and parties. It was John and Geoff’s excellent Bible study, AKA bibles and beer. We wanted people to feel comfortable bringing their genuine selves to Jesus. And they did. No one got converted out of this however.
As i grew in grace and out of legalism i relaxed in my formalism in praise. a campus group doesn't usually have hymnals and organs. in fact the song leaders sounded alot like my youth group's band. but where i grew up, the youth's band style was abandoned in big church. i also found out some churches also had bands in their big church. this worship was emotional and physical. don't get me wrong, the hymn "and can it be" brings tears to my eyes. and i love belting it out. but i found freedom in college to include in my praise clapping (just like camp and youth group) and kneeling and hand raising and unashamed out of key singing. i also encountered in IV charismatics. and then i ended up at a vineyard my senior year.

but there's a cautionary note at this point of the story. i returned to campus after my co-op and the group had fallen under the spell of someone off campus who offered many answers. and instead of pointing people to the leading of the Holy Spirit he pointed to himself and his systems and structures and guidance. he not only considered himself a shepherd in the kingdom but also a general. one night's fellowship consisted of watching a movie together. i think it was a John Wayne movie, it was a WW2 movie, perhaps the Sands of Iwo Jima. he kept pointing out to us how the church needs to be like an army unit with unfailing commitment to their commander, specifically him, not Jesus. i had already tried to confront him on the legalism i was perceiving but had gotten nowhere, plus all my friends were in this group happily. they thought i was nuts to think the emperor didn't have clothes on. at the end of the movie we ate snacks that everyone brought. and the last straw fell for me. he casually complimented the group on bringing so many tasty things as he had been in another group that never brought food that he liked. i concluded this guy really believes its all about him. he considers himself our intermediary between us and God. my stomach knotted up. i loved grace so much i knew i couldn't be a part anymore. so i stopped attending. i stayed in touch with all my friends but refused to join them at his house.

at one point i was sick of my acting and told Father i wouldn't be talking to Him in the mornings or reading His love letter to me so i could pursue earthly pleasure. i missed Him. after some period of time, more than a week, less than a month, i broke down and started talking to Him again. i told Him how much i missed Him. and as I talked to him an acquaintance from church back home happened to be driving by on campus. he stopped and offered me a ride. i didn't need a ride but unknowingly he showed me the love and grace of Father. i understood Father had choreographed a visit as i prayed. a visit that offered me something instead of demanding something. i was ecstatic for the rest of my walk. He still loved me. my pet sin didn't end that day. eventually i did change direction on that one. but grace is so cool.

God used that whole experience to demonstrate his grace to me and prepare me for some heavy encounters with other intervarsity leaders who embraced the heavy shepherding model. it shipwrecked some people's faith. they couldn't perform. they gave up. i recommend my friend anton's site to learn more, especially if you think Jesus' yoke is awfully heavy. it's not. it's easy and light.

Love
1 Corinthians 7:8-10 (New International Version)
8Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Why date? I dated women inside and outside of the kingdom. If you aren't ready to marry anytime soon, just make friends with people. You will get to know women so much better if you aren't focused on the making a move on them. Whenever I jumped out of the dating pool, either by conviction from the Lord or from another broken heart and membership in the "He-man Woman Haters Club" I had friendships with women that were so normal. Raging hormones bring on a form of psychosis anyway so you never date the normal version of a person that you didn't know until a few months after you marry.

I met my wife on an IVCF missions trip to Jackson Mississippi where we served under John Perkins and his ministry, Voice of Calvary. We both thought each other attractive and made a casual friendship. I didn't see her again until our schools did joint meetings sporadically. When I did a Co-op 2 years later by her school I got to know her and all her friends. Yet attraction never became romance then either. When I graduated and went to work at the same business, but now as an employee and able to provide for a wife I then began to court her. When i thought I had convinced her to date me she made me read a book called Dating with Integrity which, ironically, is from the same people as our homeschool curriculum. I hated the book. But she wanted to protect her heart. The book described courtship while calling it dating and it ruled out kissing! I was traumatized. But I was sure this was the woman for me, until I broke up with her. Needless to say, it was a breakup though without any moral regrets. After a month we decided to try again and were engaged a month after re-courting and married 6 months after that. We've been blissfully married 11 and a half years and have three children.

The woman I had to pursue and honor and cherish and interact with as a sister in Christ's family was the woman I finally was allowed to interact as a husband with in all that role’s forms of intimacy after the wedding ceremony. All the women I "dated" got the intimacy without a wedding. It came before the ceremony and ended in disaster. But the woman I respected as a sister was the one with whom I could properly share intimacy.

# Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.
# 1 Corinthians 16:20 All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
# 2 Corinthians 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
# 1 Thessalonians 5:26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
# 1 Peter 5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

I conclude from these verses, let’s start kissing the Christian way.

God redeems what I waste. He also rewards when I’m faithful. Both ways are painful, but it’s the difference between dumb accident pain and hard physical training pain. The pain after I finished an 11.5 mile race was sweet, unlike the pain of chopping my fingertip off with an axe. You learn from both, but they don’t both make you feel stupid.

Myths behind Rosa Parks

Kathleen Cleaver, if you need refreshing, see yesterday's blog entry, spoke atConnecticut College. the myth is that Ms. Parks was so tired from her long hard day as a seamstress, she wouldn't rise and accidentally started the Civil Rights movement. She was tired, but not the physical kind.

Wikipedia shares the real story in her own words, "During a 1956 radio interview with Sydney Rogers in West Oakland several months after her arrest, when asked why she had decided not to vacate her bus seat, Parks said, "I would have to know for once and for all what rights I had as a human being and a citizen of Montgomery, Alabama."

Parks also detailed her motivation in her autobiography, My Story

People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in."

But she didn't appear out of the blue. She was the secretary of the local NAACP chapter. her role model was Septima Clark, from South Carolina who, "work[ed] to establish citizenship schools throughout the 11 states of the Deep South. When legislation called for Americans to be able to read and interpret portions of the Constitution in order to register to vote, Mrs. Clark devoted her time to teaching these skills to thousands of southern blacks. Based on her experiences at the Highlander Folk School near Chattanooga, Tennessee, the citizenship schools were formed to teach blacks to read, write and understand the basic structure of the government." the chapter had been waiting for the best political opportunity to bring this unjust humiliation to court. Boycotts were already planned. Well, she was arrested Thurs Dec 1, 1955. By midnight the next day flyers were printed up by and for the black community of Montgomery Ala. for a one day bus boycott. when the local newspaper found out, they put it on the front page, which got the message out to all the rest of the black community who didn't get the flyer. the local police thoguht to escort the buses in case there was trouble which only helped to scare off any blacks who thougth they'd ride anyway. it was so successful that at a rally monday night, the black community decided to continue the boycott. not only were teh bus companies losing money but the downtown merchants no longer had the foot traffic in the weeks before Christmas. The bus companies depended on the black population for 60% of their business. the bus companies thought they'd punish the community by not driving lines through black neighborhoods anymore. but they only succeeded in removing the temptation for those who missed the convenience. then the city council decided to harass black drivers with multiple traffic violations. then people thought firebombing homes would work.

somehow the montgomery grand jury concluded that the boycott was illegal and they issued arrest warrants for 115 people, one of whom was Martin Luther King Jr. this brought even more negative press from around the world. eventually only MLK went to trial and he was convicted of a misdemeanor, and his fine was paid. a year later, the courts ordered the city to desegregate the buses. the boycott had lasted 382 days.

Rosa and her husband could no longer find work in the city and ended up in Detroit where her brother lived.

The Four F's Of Finding A Church

Pastor Jon is a friend, who has a nice blog. and this link is a great example of that.
Fit, Fed, Fellows, Fruit

Christian Responses to Homosexuality

From a new blog,Evangelical Resources, by Michael Hamblin who writes, "However, my experience was that the individuals who were the most steeped in postmodern and emerging thought were the most hesitant about engaging with the homosexual community. They were the ones who were the most ‘conservative’ in how to go about reaching out so as to avoid being offensive, nearly to the point of paralysis. While I have an intimate understanding of the sensibilities of postmodern and emerging Christians in how they relate to the culture, I am hesitant to identify with emerging Christianity precisely because this sort of disconnect is too common."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Eldridge Cleaver

In 1986,Reason magazine interviewed this man. If you don't know who he is, you might be like me, a mid-30's white man.

"Cleaver burst upon the national scene in 1968 with the publication of Soul on Ice, a collection of his prison writings. Hip, revolutionary, and teeming with hatred for "everything American—including baseball and hot dogs, " Soul on Ice became the Bible of Black Power and Eldridge Cleaver the intellectuals' favorite black radical.

The Black Panthers' early rhetoric had been decentralist, but the organization soon degenerated into Maoist politics and senseless violence. On April 6, 1968, Cleaver participated in a shootout with Oakland police—'60s legend has it that three carloads of Panthers were ambushed while Cleaver was urinating in a side street—in which 17-year-old Black Panther Bobby Hutton was killed. (Cleaver offers a different version of these events below.)

To avoid being sent back to prison for his part in the Hutton shootout, Cleaver skipped the country, taking refuge in Cuba. He spent the next seven years wandering through the communist world, with sojourns in Algeria, North Korea, China, and the Soviet Union before finally settling in France. But in 1975, homesick and deeply disillusioned with revolutionary politics, Eldridge Cleaver came home. "Pig power in America was infuriating," he wrote upon his return. "But pig power in the communist framework was awesome and unaccountable."

The repatriated Cleaver was denounced by his former comrades as an apostate, a turncoat, even an FBI informer. His conversion to Christianity and anticommunist pronouncements combined to give him a right-wing reputation—a reputation, as this interview makes clear, that is a far cry from the truth. Eldridge Cleaver lives today in a modest apartment in Berkeley, California, where he is hard at work writing a history of the '60s. A large American flag flies from his front porch. His wife, Kathleen, his partner in exile, is a student at Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut, where she lives with the couple's children, Jodu and Maceo."

i hope you are enticed to read the rest of the interview.
he died in 1998, CNN obit, "Cleaver became a born-again Christian, embraced anti-communism and made an unsuccessful run for the GOP nomination for a Senate seat in California. He said his "red fighting" was born from his experiences in communist countries during his years on the run.

"I have taken an oath in my heart to oppose communism until the day I die," Cleaver told interviewers during his congressional campaign.

In a 1986 interview with the Associated Press, Cleaver explained his many life transformations.

"Everybody changes, not just me," he said. "I was pulled over in my car with my secretary for a traffic thing, and one of the officers walked up to the car and saw me sitting inside. He took off his hat and said, 'Hey, Eldridge, remember me?'"

"He used to be a Panther," Cleaver said. "It was hard to believe." "

Wikipedia notes one transformation that intrigues me,
"Cleaver experienced a Christian rebirth – became "born again" during his year of isolation, while living underground...In the mid-1980s, Cleaver became addicted to crack cocaine. In 1992 he was convicted of cocaine possession and burglary. In 1994, after nearly dying in a cocaine-related assault, he kicked his addiction and returned to Christianity."

another interview at Frontline revealed to me Tupac Shakur's relationship with the Black Panthers, his parents were members. Tupac was a "cub." Cleaver says, "I regret the way that the Party was repressed because it left a lot of unfinished business because we had planned to make a transition to the political arena and we would have been able to transmute that violence and that legacy into legitimate and peaceful channels. As it was they chopped off the head and left the body there armed. That's why all these young bloods out there now, they've got the rhetoric but without the political direction and they've got the guns."

There is a brief history of the Black Panther party at the marxist.org site.

I got to this topic because i went to a lecture by Eldridge's ex-wife, Kathleen Neal Cleaver, yesterday. She spoke on the myth of Rosa Parks, which i'll have to post my notes on in a couple days.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

read around the world

hit counters are dangerous things. if you are in a country where you shouldn't be reading this, my hit counter knows where you are. i'm assuming most of my hits are not anonymous web crawlers. but i really want you to leave a comment to say hello, or what you like/hate regarding this blog. i used to have a regular reader in Hawaii and in florida. i have some in the midwest. i have some canadian readers. i have some germans and danes, africans, middle easterners, asians, aussies, and kiwis. would any of you be willing to comment at this post and say hello? perhaps i'm not controversial enough to provoke comments, but my desire is to share my journey with God with the world.

update on persecution in India

The article is very interesting but this quote floors me. I think this is what James means in his epistle.
"When Gladys Staines extended forgiveness to the men who burned alive her husband and two sons, her action captured the hearts of millions—and many turned to the Lord as a result. In my experience people often reject Jesus because of what they encounter in Christians, not because of what they encounter in the Word of God. If the Church in India authentically represents Jesus Christ, I believe the whole nation will follow Him."

Lisa Tolliver: Prerequisite stopover during African American History Month: The Underground Railroad. All aboard!

an amazing blog full of links regarding the UR. get educated.

John Jasper - the Great Slave Preacher

CAMPONTHIS: John Jasper - the Great Slave Preacher
...ordinary man; extraordinary God

Black Scientists

I'm a scientist. I work with black scientists. The blogger is a black physicist. He is very interesting, especially in his interactions with a racist/male chauvinist commenter.

BHM: Necessary and Compelling Reasons to Celebrate It

Victor Lana journals onBlack History Month: Necessary and Compelling Reasons to Celebrate It. I noticed that my BHM entries don't link to blogs but to static sites. That tells me that none of the blogs i normally peruse care about BHM. So i used google's blog search. it seems most bloggers are talking about the point of BHM and the history. another depressing thing for me is that most of the blogs that looked interesting were by white people. alot of blogs were anti-BHM too. i like what Victor writes, "I can expect that some of the same people (crying over not enough hullabaloo over Columbus Day, St. Patrick’s Day, or even Arbor Day) who were annoyed about Dr. King’s day will be livid about this month long celebration. I can hear the questions: “Why do we have a Black History Month? What about Polish history? Danish history? Greek history?”

The answer, gentle readers, is very obvious. None of these other nationalities were ever brought to this country as slaves. After being captured in their native Africa, blacks were chained in the bottom of boats and brought here as a commodity. They were bought and sold with no regard for separating them from families or friends. These people were then forced into arduous service, unmercifully treated, and made to feel as if they were not any better than the master’s horse or plow. Their children were not educated, for the masters knew this would lead to revolt, and oftentimes were purposely taken away from their parents and sold as a way to break the spirit...I think all parents should discuss their heritage with their children, but it is imperative to also focus on people different than ourselves. It is absurd to think about establishing a “White History Month” simply because for most of our lifetimes, that was the only history being taught every month of the school year. The truth is that black history was hardly recognized let alone taught in a serious manner. Establishing February as Black History Month was a way to get school children to learn about the amazing black Americans who have done so much for their country and its culture: George Washington Carver, Fredrick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Dred Scott, Dr. Charles Drew, Louis Armstrong, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Bunche, Thurgood Marshall, Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Sidney Poitier, Paul Robeson, Rosa Parks, Arthur Ashe, Henry (Hank) Aaron, and so many, many more."

i got my inspiration when i was sick last month. i was stuck on the couch trying with nothing to read except for a book i didn't like after the first 100 pages. but the next 50 or so captured me. so despite 1 dimensional characters and over the top plot lines and poor dialogue, an enthralling story line held me. Dominion, by Randy Alcorn, a white guy, is about, " Clarence Abernathy, an Oregon columnist and suburban middle-class black, is dragged into a world of inner-city gangs, drugs, violence and racial conflict. Clarence's anger at injustices he cannot control pulls him onto turf that becomes more dangerous by the moment. Encouraged by fellow columnist Jake Woods, Clarence forges an unlikely partnership with Ollie Chandler, a white homicide detective. As the case unfolds questions of racial prejudice and misunderstanding rise to the surface. As unseen eyes watch from above, the urban terror that has robbed Clarence of loved ones and uprooted his faith in God now threatens to unleash its deadly violence on him."

Alcorn tells us, "When I was asked by Christian Book Distributers to explain why I wrote this book, I said, "Jesus told parables, because truths we miss or resist in nonfiction penetrate us when they emerge from a story. As I researched this novel, I heard many powerful stories from professional football superstars, inner-city pastors, gang members, homicide detectives and countless others. As I wove together Dominion's story-line, I asked God to make it an engaging mystery with an eternal impact. Researching and writing this book changed my life. I hope and pray that reading it changes yours."

i can say the book had an impact on me.

Alcorn continues, "I spent a lot of time with black men and women in the background research for Dominion, relying heavily on their personal accounts and paying particular attention to the recurring stories-e.g. nearly every black man would independently tell me stories about elevators, stop lights, being followed by mall security and so on. So I integrated such stories into the book. I also read a large number, at least sixty, books by and about African Americans. I asked God to give me insight, as it was way beyond me as a suburban white to write with a black viewpoint character. Very difficult, but very rewarding-hope I never forget what I learned.

* More than Equals, Spencer Perkins & Chris Rice
* Breaking Down Walls, Washington & Kehrein
* Resurrecting Hope, John Perkins
* Real Hope in Chicago, Gordon
* Free at Last? Ellis
* Black Man's Religion, Usry & Keener
* He's My Brother, Perkins & Tarrants
* Let's Get to Know Each Other, Dr. Tony Evans"

his scenes in heaven were the most captivating for me. he does a great job portraying heaven. and his scenes of quiet discrimination and soliloquies on black american accomplishments got me realizing i know so little. hence, i'm committed to blogging on BHM this month as an attempt to overcome my ignorance.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Dark Days - documentary

Somehow i read this movie review by Ebert of Dark Daysand i read the Orwell book he was reminded of before the movie finally arrived in my mail slot. I'm noticing a theme in these books i read and movies i watch. This is a movie about homeless people who live in an abandoned railroad tunnel. Its an underground shanty town. And there is a small civilization there. i realized i'm fascinated by the ability of communities of humans to seek order in even the most desparate circumstances. Whether its the slaves on a wicked owner's plantation in Uncle Tom's Cabin, or unjustly imprisoned political victims in the gulags, or the anti-human culture of Mao and Stalin where people kept hoping to dehumanize themselves for only a day longer until they can bring change. There is something in all of us, and adversity, the problem of evil, brings it out.

William Seymour

William Seymour is highlighted at a blog new to me by charismatic pastor Paul Grabill at State College AoG. His blog is Beside the Point.
He notes that this is the 100th anniversary of the Azusa St. Revival and wants to honor pastor Seymour. A brief biography from here says (italics are mine),

Born on May 2, 1870 in Centerville (St. Mary Parish), Louisiana, his parents had been slaves and his father fought with the Union Army during the US Civil War. Seymour was reared in poverty and began traveling at a young age—living in Memphis, St. Louis, and Indianapolis. At age 25, he worked as a waiter for some of the most upscale restaurants and hotels in Indianapolis.

It was in Indianapolis that Seymour personally accepted Jesus Christ, although during childhood he was affiliated with the Baptist Church and the Roman Catholic Church. (He was christened in the Catholic tradition on September 4, 1870, at the Church of the Assumption in Franklin, Louisiana.) Upon his adult conversion in Indianapolis he joined the Simpson Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church and became firmly established in the rising Holiness movement. A few years later, while living in Cincinnati, Ohio, he received a deeper spiritual experience and testified of being “wholly sanctified.” There he joined the Church of God Restoration Movement, also known as The Evening Light movement. This group taught that a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit would precede the return of Christ, and they were committed to a radical holiness doctrine and promoted Christian unity and racial reconciliation.

In 1905 Seymour moved to Houston, Texas, in search of relatives. He attended a black holiness congregation pastored by Lucy Farrow, and soon he served as interim pastor when Farrow moved to Kansas City to work in the home of Charles Fox Parham. Later that year, Farrow returned to Houston and testified of her baptism with the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. Soon afterward, Charles Fox Parham relocated his ministry to Houston and taught Bible training classes. Seymour faithfully attended these classes despite segregation laws of the time, which forced him to sit in the hallway while listening to Parham and others teach. Seymour was not even permitted to pray with others while seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Nonetheless, Parham later noted that Seymour could recite word-for-word the teachings he learned while sitting under Parham’s ministry.

there are more details on Seymour's life here.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

why a youth pastor?

The BolgBlog replies as to why the emerging church doesn't look for youth pastors. its short enough to quote in full... "Recently I have had requests to help someone in a job search for a youth pastor position in an Emerging Church. I had to respond, that, as far as I can tell, that position does not translate into the emerging church. Yes, the position exists in the large seeker- oriented church with their various youth and young adult services. However, given the high commitment in emerging churches to training within the family structure, to all-age meetings where possible, to facilitation of participation rather than creating church for 'them', and to flat leadership over hierarchy, the youth pastor position does not continue into emerging churches, in the traditional sense of the term. Just as with the role of senior pastor, the role of youth pastor does not play a role in the churches of postmodernity..."

also see the post church as mall...

This student said, "Fifteen years ago, I took a church growth class, and you said I needed to create a church that looks like the culture, and that culture was the shopping mall. Now you are saying we need to create churches that are unlike the shopping mall, as these are too consumeristic -- what gives?"
...
The church growth movement, as most other movements within Christendom, advocated an attractional (come-to-us) as opposed to a missional engagement with the culture (go-to-them). For that reason, in the 1990s, we said build the best mall you can...

Today, for missional reasons and for the critiques listed above, we no longer advocate mall-building. Unless, of course, it has a cine-plex :)

the eBay atheist

the eBay atheist has sold his services to some believers from Off the Map (motto: helping Christians be normal) to explore churches and give an outsider perspective to those of us who may be entrenched in the American Christian ghetto. this is extremely fascinating.

H. B. Stowe preaches it

And now, men and women of America, is this a thing to be trifled with, apologized for, and passed over in silence? Farmers of Massachusetts, of New Hampshire, of Vermont, of Connecticut, who read this book by the blaze of your winter-evening fire, - strong-hearted, generous sailors and ship-owners of Maine, - is this a thing for you to countenance and encourage? Brave and generous men of New York, farmers of rich and joyous Ohio, and ye of the wide prairie states, - answer, is this a thing for you to protect and countenance? And you, mothers of America, - you who have learned, by the cradles of your own children, to love and feel for all mankind, - by the sacred love you bear your child; by your joy in his beautiful, spotless infancy; by the motherly pity and tenderness with which you guide his growing years; by the anxieties of his education; by the prayers you breathe for his soul's eternal good; - I beseech you, pity the mother who has all your affections, and not one legal right to protect, guide, or educate, the child of her bosom! By the sick hour of your child; by those dying eyes, which you can never forget; by those last cries, that wrung your heart when you could neither help nor save; by the desolation of that empty cradle, that silent nursery, - I beseech you, pity those mothers that are constantly made childless by the American slave-trade! And say, mothers of America, is this a thing to be defended, sympathized with, passed over in silence?

Do you say that the people of the free state have nothing to do with it, and can do nothing? Would to God this were true! But it is not true. The people of the free states have defended, encouraged, and participated; and are more guilty for it, before God, than the South, in that they have not the apology of education or custom.

If the mothers of the free states had all felt as they should, in times past, the sons of the free states would not have been the holders, and, proverbially, the hardest masters of slaves; the sons of the free states would not have connived at the extension of slavery, in our national body; the sons of the free states would not, as they do, trade the souls and bodies of men as an equivalent to money, in their mercantile dealings. There are multitudes of slaves temporarily owned, and sold again, by merchants in northern cities; and shall the whole guilt or obloquy of slavery fall only on the South?

Northern men, northern mothers, northern Christians, have something more to do than denounce their brethren at the South; they have to look to the evil among themselves.

But, what can any individual do? Of that, every individual can judge. There is one thing that every individual can do, - they can see to it that they feel right. An atmosphere of sympathetic influence encircles every human being; and the man or woman who feels strongly, healthily and justly, on the great interests of humanity, is a constant benefactor to the human race. See, then, to your sympathies in this matter! Are they in harmony with the sympathies of Christ? or are they swayed and perverted by the sophistries of worldly policy?

Christian men and women of the North! still further, - you have another power; you can pray! Do you believe in prayer? or has it become an indistinct apostolic tradition? You pray for the heathen abroad; pray also for the heathen at home. And pray for those distressed Christians whose whole chance of religious improvement is an accident of trade and sale; from whom any adherence to the morals of Christianity is, in many cases, an impossibility, unless they have given them, from above, the courage and grace of martyrdom.

But, still more. On the shores of our free states are emerging the poor, shattered, broken remnants of families, - men and women, escaped, by miraculous providences from the surges of slavery, - feeble in knowledge, and, in many cases, infirm in moral constitution, from a system which confounds and confuses every principle of Christianity and morality. They come to seek a refuge among you; they come to seek education, knowledge, Christianity.

What do you owe to these poor unfortunates, oh Christians? Does not every American Christian owe to the African race some effort at reparation for the wrongs that the American nation has brought upon them? Shall the doors of churches and school-houses be shut upon them? Shall states arise and shake them out? Shall the church of Christ hear in silence the taunt that is thrown at them, and shrink away from the helpless hand that they stretch out; and, by her silence, encourage the cruelty that would chase them from our borders? If it must be so, it will be a mournful spectacle. If it must be so, the country will have reason to tremble, when it remembers that the fate of nations is in the hands of One who is very pitiful, and of tender compassion.

Do you say, "We don't want them here; let them go to Africa"?

That the providence of God has provided a refuge in Africa, is, indeed, a great and noticeable fact; but that is no reason why the church of Christ should throw off that responsibility to this outcast race which her profession demands of her.

To fill up Liberia with an ignorant, inexperienced, half-barbarized race, just escaped from the chains of slavery, would be only to prolong, for ages, the period of struggle and conflict which attends the inception of new enterprises. Let the church of the north receive these poor sufferers in the spirit of Christ; receive them to the educating advantages of Christian republican society and schools, until they have attained to somewhat of a moral and intellectual maturity, and then assist them in their passage to those shores, where they may put in practice the lessons they have learned in America....

This is an age of the world when nations are trembling and convulsed. A mighty influence is abroad, surging and heaving the world, as with an earthquake. And is America safe? Every nation that carries in its bosom great and unredressed injustice has in it the elements of this last convulsion.

For what is this mighty influence thus rousing in all nations and languages those groanings that cannot be uttered, for man's freedom and equality?

O, Church of Christ, read the signs of the times! Is not this power the spirit of Him whose kingdom is yet to come, and whose will to be done on earth as it is in heaven?

But who may abide the day of his appearing? "for that day shall burn as an oven: and he shall appear as a swift witness against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger in his right: and he shall break in pieces the oppressor."

Are not these dread words for a nation bearing in her bosom so mighty an injustice? Christians! every time that you pray that the kingdom of Christ may come, can you forget that prophecy associates, in dread fellowship, the day of vengeance with the year of his redeemed?

A day of grace is yet held out to us. Both North and South have been guilty before God; and the Christian church has a heavy account to answer. Not by combining together, to protect injustice and cruelty, and making a common capital of sin, is this Union to be saved, - but by repentance, justice and mercy; for, not surer is the eternal law by which the millstone sinks in the ocean, than that stronger law, by which injustice and cruelty shall bring on nations the wrath of Almighty God!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Friday, February 17, 2006

An Overview of Black History

A friend recently asked me if I'm being a racist by blogging on black history. he wanted to know why i shouldn't call this a series on American history? i replied that i never learned this stuff in my american history education. then i listed a few names and books that i've recently blogged on. he thought he might add Uncle Tom's Cabin to his booklist. read it online. visit the historic site. at least you can't be imprisoned for owning a copy as in 1857 when Sam Green, a free black was sentenced to 10 years in jail by the state of Maryland when the book and a map of Canada were found in his home. More nuggets like this can be found here.

this is all prelude to today's link at the top which i got to from the WEB Dubois learning senter page from yesterday.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

free theology classes online

I like free mp3's

BEFRIENDING BUDDHISTS

"I am a flight attendant by trade, as well as a teacher of English. For seven years, I taught English to Thai Buddhist monks living in North America. This blog chronicles my journey into the Buddhist world."
This sounds pretty neat.

W.E.B. DuBois

W.E.B. DuBois learning center is a place to start.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Founder of the AME church

"Richard Allen and his associate Absalom Jones were the leaders of the black Methodist community in Philadelphia in 1793 when a yellow fever epidemic broke out. Many people, black and white, were dying. Hundreds more fled the city. City officials approached Allen and asked if the black community could help serve as nurses to the suffering and help bury the dead.

Allen and Jones recognized the racism inherent in the request: asking black folks to do the risky, dirty work for whites. But they consented—partly from compassion and partly to show the white community, in one more way, the moral and spiritual equality of blacks."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Christians heave sigh of relief as Kumbh ends peacefully - India News - Webindia123.com

It seems the persecution i mentioned earlier didn't happen and things have turned out well for the Kingdom of God in India. The Indian blogger, Chandrakant Chavada, who expressed confidence in this whole situation only has more awesome reports of God's move in his nation.

don't read this

unless you have a thick skin. i thought it was funny.

"We’ve had some good input lately on why we’re not seeing church planting movement in the developing world to the same degree we’re seeing in the global south.

If that’s the case we need to find something to do while nothing’s happening.

Here’s 20 suggestions of what to do while we’re not multiplying churches.

1. Call yourself an apostle. Have some business cards printed. Hand them around.

2. Throw lots of money at subsidizing unhealthy, declining churches.

3. Throw money at “experimental missional initiatives” and never evaluate their effectiveness.

4. Set goals for multiplying new churches but don’t make it clear who is responsible.

5. Make someone responsible but don’t give them any real authority, discretionary time or sufficient funding. Change the appointment every two years. After ten years, save money by retiring the position and making everyone responsible.

6. Appoint a committee to undertake a study and write a report for the leadership group. Wait three years, then do it again.

7. Hire a consultant to undertake a study and write a report. Wait three years then do it again.

8. Appoint the wrong people to plant churches. When they fall over say, “Church planting doesn’t work.”

9. When you see a healthy church plant say, “Yes it’s growing but it’s not really a Reformed/Baptist/Assemblies of God/Presbyterian/Methodist/New Vine/etc (choose one) church.”

10. Require pioneering leaders to be theologically trained before they can plant a church.

11. Throw your best leaders at your biggest problems, not at your greatest opportunities.

12. Watch pioneering leaders exit your movement and comment on their lack of commitment.

13. Reward pioneering leaders with promotion. Get them away from the front line. Harness their drive to keep the institutional wheels turning.

14. In the 1960’s change the word “missions” to “mission”. To usher in the new millennium change “mission” to “missional” . Around 2010 plan to change “missional” to “postmissional”.

15. Agree to plant new churches when: (a) You’re large enough (b) You’re healthy enough (c) You have the leaders to give away (d) You have the money to spare (e) God has clearly shown you it’s time (f) When the cow jumps over the moon (g) Any or all of the above.

16. Run workshops on church planting. Hold conferences on church planting. Offer a course at your theological college on church planting. Do nothing to follow up the people who show an interest. Make sure only experts like me get to teach. Keep the practitioners away from the students. Keep the students in the classroom.

17. Grow your church, its facilities, staff and budget as BIG as you can. Let your vision stop at your car park. Let church history end with you. Let the Kingdom dream die.

18. Set ridiculous but catchy sounding goals like 500 in 5 years, or 2,000 by 2,000. Three years after the target date expires set new goals. Don’t forget to change the dates!

19. Modernize your theology then PostModernize your theology. Remove evangelism and church planting from the centre of God’s mission in the world. When decline hits make sure the paid professionals are the last to feel the pinch.

20. Lastly, set up a blog on church planting. Link to other bloggers on church planting. They link to you. Add smoke and mirrors."

Codependency and Control:The Faustian Covenant

Codependency and Control:The Faustian Covenant is an excellent summary of, well, codependency and control, with tons of recommended books and links. Lately, i've been enjoying Diane's blog at crossroads:where faith and inquiry meet. her newest post looks at the same topic in terms of dictators like Hitler. i suggested she read up on Mao.

Is the Supreme Court Really Supreme?

Abe Lincoln, although white, is an important part of BHM.
Colson writes, "Lincoln saw Dred Scott as an outrage, in part because the Court claimed authority to decide for the other branches of government once and for all what the Constitution required. In so doing, it placed the other branches in a position of inferiority and subservience, something the founders specifically rejected.

As president, Lincoln ignored Dred Scott. His administration treated free blacks as citizens, issuing them passports and other documents. In open defiance of the court ruling, he signed legislation that restricted slavery in the western territories."

Monday, February 13, 2006

Sojourner Truth

I'm not satisfied with Sojourner Truth's representation on the net. Sojourner Truth Biography Page says,
"In the 1820s, when still quite a young woman, she escaped from her New York owner after being brutally treated and sold away from her family. By the 1840s, Truth had become a powerful speaker against slavery, often moving her audiences to tears and exclamations of horror with her firsthand accounts of what many of her black brethren and sisters were enduring at the hands of cruel masters. She would tell listeners of how some slaves were kept cowed and afraid to act by beatings, sometimes with spiked sticks and chains; she herself, as a teenager, had been taken into the barn by her master one afternoon for absolutely no reason and tied up by the wrists. Then he tore the shirt from her back and whipped her with a bundle of sticks until her back bled. In a voice contemporaries described as rich and deep, she described how she refused to give him the satisfaction of screaming, by clenching her fists so hard her fingernails drew blood from her palms.
She also spoke of the living conditions many slaves were forced to endure, crowded together into cabins with no privacy, overworked, fed scraps in many cases, and clothed in threadbare hand-me-downs. Her audiences must have felt the shame as Truth recalled the auction block, upon which men and women alike were frequently forced to strip and stand before potential buyers, who would search their bodies for marks of the whip or of wrist or leg irons, the presence of which would indicate the slave had been frequently punished. The slaves would be forced to endure impersonal and degrading inspections of their teeth, muscles, and other body parts, depending on what the buyer was looking for in the purchase."

Notice it wasn't a southern abuser but a New Yorker. It confirms that slavery dehumanizes the slave as well as the slave owner.

I guess the best resource would be her autobiogaphy.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

ekklesia-a reformed Baptist who breaks the stereotype

This is a long post, but its shorter than the 5 articles i'm condensing.

He loves the form of the church though admits its lack of description in the Bible.
"Some people refuse to be a vital part of a congregation of Christians. They feel they are 'giving up their liberty' when they officially join a group of Christians and submit to their love and discipline. What liberty do they give up? Do they have the liberty to divorce themselves from 'the people of Christ' in their locality and not meet and worship with them? I don't think so. I am spiritually joined to all those who are also joined to Christ our common Lord. Every member of His body is my brother or sister. Do the NTS tell me to do certain things that can only be done by my being a member of a gathered group of His sheep? Yes. Do I have the liberty to be a spiritual lone wolf responsible to no other human beings? Where do the NTS give me the liberty to think and act as if I owe nothing to the ekklesia of Christ in my area? What do the many "one another" passages mean unless I am associated with other sheep?

Should a group of Christ's sheep, if they grow in numbers, call a man to act as their pastor? I would say, in most cases, "Yes," even though we do not have any examples in the NTS of any ekklesia either calling or ordaining a pastor. I remember the first Baptist ordination service that I attended. The chairman kept waving the Bible and saying, "We Baptists go by the Book." However, the man never once opened the Book to justify a single thing that we did. Should believers organize into a 'visible' group, write a constitution, vote to receive people into their fellowship who show evidence of conversion, and vote to dismiss members who live in deliberate disobedience to the beliefs of the group. I would say 'yes' to all of these things. However, I must add, I do not have a text of Scripture to prove any of those things and the fact I do not have a text does not bother me at all.

I can hear the institutionalist cocking his guns. You see, his whole position is built on believing that the NTS give us a clear outline of how to organize a true ekklesia, how it should be operated, what kind of government it should follow, who should be in charge, and how it should worship. In this person's mind it is inconceivable that there is no clear form of church government in the NTS. I believe there are clear principles but few absolutes. One thing I am sure aboutthere is no role model institutional ekklesia in the NTS. Such a statement is viewed as "doubting the sufficiency of the Word of God." I call this the 'true church syndrome.' It is a giant myth. There simply is no one clear role model institutional church in the NTS. A lot of the things that every group of believers does "in their church" is based on pure pragmatism and there is nothing at all wrong with that as long as none of it contradicts Scripture."


But he rails against the institutional church.

"The Plymouth Brethren magnify the universal/invisible concept. They insist the ekklesia is 'an organism' and not an 'organization.' They have no church membership (on paper), and no 'ordained clergyman.' Roman Catholicism and Landmark Baptists emphasize the local/visible concept of ekklesia. In their view the ekklesia is a visible physical organization, instead of an invisible organism, instituted by Christ and left in control of duly authorized leaders here on earth. Landmark Baptists call the universal ekklesia concept the 'doctrine of the great spiritual whore,' and Rome insists that one of the four marks of 'one the true church' is that the true church is 'visible.'" previous article

"In this Roman view, the only criterion that establishes who is truly called of God is the individual's relationship to the authority vested in the local church. This mentality cannot help but treat the local church as Christ's true and only Vicar on earth. Since this view usually insists that the "authority" is in the elders (often only one, the pastor), the end result means the pastor is Christ's Vicar. In such a system the "Lord of the church" is really the pastor.

The New Testament Scriptures will not allow us to separate the work of the Spirit and the Church of Christ in this way, but the institutionalist is often forced to do this very thing. It is local church order and authority that concerns him. He is more concerned with the "church" (institution) than he is with the obvious and genuine work of the Holy Spirit (the reality of God's presence in people).

In the eyes of the institutionalist, the worst sins are those that challenge the "duly authorized" forms, ceremonies, traditions, or leadership of "Christ's duly authorized Church." It does not matter how powerfully the Holy Spirit of God is applying the truth to hearts, the institutionalist only recognizes the outward form and order. It is easy to see why an institutionalist must become a legalist regardless of how hard he tries to avoid it. What the Scriptures call love and tolerance, the institutionalist must view as compromise with clear truth (his system). It is tragic but true. It is tragic because some great and Godly men have sincerely shed their blood and destroyed churches over secondary principles and thought they were doing God a favor even while they swung the sword in "holy zeal" for the "cause of truth."

An illustration of the inability of the institutionalist to accept the work of God's Spirit outside the "duly authorized" local church was the "scandal" created by George Whitfield when he had communion in the open field and many pastors from various denominational backgrounds helped to serve it. Thousands attended and revival took place in the fields but many said, "It cannot be of God," because it was not under the control and authority of any institutional church. A true institutionalist had no choice but to denounce Whitfield and refuse to have anything to do with his "free lance" ministry. Would to God that He would raise up some more freelance rebels like Whitfield and William Carey in our day. John Bunyan was hated and denounced by the Baptists because he refused to make baptism necessary for "church communion." Baptist publishers are still condemning his article "Differences in Judgment About Water Baptism No Bar To Communion."

If you had been a hostage several years ago in Iran and once a month all of the Christians had been allowed to get together for one hour, would you have considered it proper to take bread and wine and have a remembrance service of the blessed Savior? Or would you have refused because some of those participating had never been immersed? Would you have insisted that the Lord's Table is really the local church's table and since this group of believers was not a "duly authorized" church you therefore could not participate? Would such a service be un-biblical if there had been no "ordained elder" present to "consecrate" the elements?

Some institutionalist cringe at the clear implications of their position when it is worked out in real life, but the true institutionalist will say without shame, "Amen!" I might say that the latter is the one being honest with his presuppositions. All "true" Reformed Baptists hold that there is no "authority" outside the local church. They would never say there is no salvation outside the church, but their basic mentality and view of authority is Roman Catholic. As already mentioned, all you have to do is replace the word salvation with the word authority in the quotation from Warfield and you have the view vehemently preached and practiced by many Baptists today. Often I have heard young zealots denounce what appeared to be a real movement of God's Spirit simply because the group or man was not "under the authority of a local church." If Christ established a clear institutional role model church, then the young zealots may be correct and I am fighting against God's clear truth."

i know no one reads blog posts this long but i think the emergent revolutionary heartily agrees with this problem,
"(3) The authority is always in the office and often has little or nothing to do with either the ability or character of the individual. A general who is an idiot has as much authority as a genius. The Pope or pastor has the full 'authority of his office' regardless of whether he is capable or not. Rome is not the only religious organization with egg on its face because of either stupidity or tyranny being 'clothed with Divine authority.'"

further on he says,
"The obvious question is, "What do the Scriptures say?" Our answer will always be determined by our basic presuppositions concerning the nature and function of the church. The New Testament Scriptures are not abundantly clear on this subject. The Apostles do not give us a role model institutional church. It gives us basic principles. Neither a Roman Catholic nor a Puritan would view leadership and authority in the ekklesia of Christ the same way an Anabaptist would. Rome believes that Christ 'founded a church' and endowed it with the authority to be His sole representative on earth. Outside of that church there is neither salvation nor authority. The Pope, as the head of the Roman system, is Christ's Vicar on earth. The man in control, the Pope, regardless of who he may be, is infallible in his pronouncements and is responsible to no human authority. He has this authority purely on the grounds of his office. Whenever we view the church as primarily an institution endowed with exclusive authority because it has been 'duly authorized and constituted' by God, we have already taken the first step toward the Roman Catholic view of authority....


(1) Both the membership in a congregation and the individual's relationship with the leaders must be based on mutual consent. Our only weapons or bands that bind people are truth and love.

(2) There should always be a plurality of leadership to avoid the ever-present danger of popery.

(3) Leaders must be accountable to someone beside themselves. Every human being should be responsible in some way to other human beings. This is not possible if we reject both congregationalism and a Presbytery. To reject both of these things is to literally create an untouchable pope and make real accountability impossible.

(4) However, plurality and equality are two different things. Equality of eldership is a figment of idealistic imagination. Every congregation has one pastor whether it admits to that fact or not. Every group, whether in the secular world, the religious world, or in the animal barn yard has a 'pecking order.' A congregation with two 'equal' pastors is like a wife with two husbands.

The pastor's submission to both the church and the other elders is in no way contrary to what I just said. Likewise, the pastor being the spiritual leader is not inconsistent with his being under human authority. A true pastor is both the leader and a servant at the same time. There is equality of eldership in that the pastor gets one vote in the elder's meeting. If he gets outvoted, then he submits. However, there is not equality in ministry and gifts, especially in preaching. Likewise, each elder does not get equal time every time he disagrees with something the pastor preached. The preaching pastor exerts by far the most influence in a congregation but must not have any more raw authority than anyone else.

(5) One man being recognized and accepted as the pastor in no way destroys the priesthood of believers. We strongly affirm that every believer is a priest before God and called to minister with the pastor. However, their respective ministries are not the same. Every believer is not a preacher anymore than every pastor is an apostle. The 'priesthood of believers' must not become the 'priesthood of preachers.' The fact that all believers are priests before God does not mean that all believers are leaders before men...


(7) We must not confuse responsibility with authority or raw power. The NT Scriptures do not in any sense emphasize 'office and authority.' They speak of people, gifts, and responsibility. Eldership is not an office as much as it is a function, just as the church is more a spiritual organism than it is a physical institution. The church has distinct institutional functions, just as a pastor has 'official duties.' However, when the emphasis is placed first on the 'institution' and the 'office,' we are starting at the wrong end. A leader that continually reminds us that he has 'authority' is really proving that he has no God-given authority at all. His constant exhortations to "submit to God's duly-authorized elder" prove that he is not a true leader of Christ's sheep. He is a thief who is attempting to drive the sheep away from Christ and draw them unto himself.

(8) A true leader has several clear marks. First, he has followers. Anyone who thinks he is a leader need only turn around and see if anyone is there. If no one is following, then the person is not a leader. However, that is not enough for the Christian. All leaders do not lead us in the same direction or to the same place. The test of a true Christian leader is whether he is first a follower himself and if he is following the right Person. A Christian leader cannot say, 'Follow me,' unless he finishes the statement, 'as I follow Christ.' We dare not say, 'Do this because I have authority to make you do it.' We must say, "Do this because your Lord, in this text of Scripture, has commanded you." In one sense, we have no followers of ourselves. We are all followers of the Lamb. Leaders are merely pilgrims helping other pilgrims following the same Lord. "

in the 4th article he states
"If, by the word church you mean a physical organization that was organized and operated exactly like yours, or, put another way, if you mean that Christ established a specific organization that would perpetuate itself and gave that one organization and its leaders the 'duly authorized authority' to be His vicar on earth, then the answer is an emphatic NO—Christ did not 'found, institute, or establish,' that kind of an organized institution with that kind of authority. He did begin to save a people and give those people His Holy Spirit. He also gave Apostles to guide them as well as begin the job of evangelizing the world with the gospel. The same Apostles were inspired to write epistles that gave those people (and us today) principles and guidelines on how to get along with each other as they served their one Lord. However, He did not 'institute' a physical organization and 'endow it with authority' to be His vicar on earth. That is pure Romanism regardless of what label you put on it."
he continues
"My philosophy teacher in college once said, "A philosopher is a blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black cat, that is not there." In our present discussion, I believe 'the black cat that isn't there' in the Scripture is the clear role model of the physical organization that men call the true New Testament Church when referring to a local assembly (their own) of believers. There just is no such animal in the New Testament Scriptures. I totally reject the two basic assumptions mentioned at the beginning of this article. The institutionalist is wholeheartedly convinced that he has found the cat that is not there.

I have added a little to that philosophy teacher's bit of wisdom. I have found that the most narrow-minded separatists are the people who sincerely believe that they have actually caught the cat that is not there. They really believe that their particular church is in all points like the one 'true N.T. role model church established by Christ' and found in the New Testament Scriptures! These people usually accuse all who disagree with them of rejecting the authority of the Word of God and following 'pragmatism and expediency.' Sometimes we rebels are granted the license of pure ignorance or stupidity. However, the usual charge is deliberate unbelief in 'God's clearly revealed truth.'

The 'true N. T. church' mind-set will always bear the same fruit. There will be a near total emphasis on the local church as an organization and a neglect of the Christian community as a whole. The consuming passion will be to have the right kind of officers exercising total authority and control. There will always be a wide gap between the leaders (usually called elders) and the ordinary Christians (usually called lay persons), and only the 'duly authorized officers' are capable of doing anything spiritual. Wherever these things take a hold, a church will move toward a Roman Catholic concept of authority. "

and more
"A strong Baptist once said to me, "Show me one instance in the N.T. Scriptures where a person joined a local church before he was baptized as a believer." I replied, "You show me one instance in the New Testament Scriptures where someone joined a local church after he was baptized as a believer." I told the man that his question was a nonsense question and the answer would prove absolutely nothing since he was using a 'joining the church' concept that is not found in the N.T. Scriptures. Believers did not 'join' the church; they were in the church the moment they were born of God! Christ's Church existed before any institution was organized."

he concludes
"There are many conscientious Christians in rigid, institutional congregations that are sick of the 'we four/no more' mentality that has destroyed any meaningful fellowship with other believers because 'these people are not really in our camp.' These Christians are tired of seeing the Arminians get all the converts while their own local church efforts consists of witnessing Calvinism and 'true church' doctrine to these 'immature and untaught victims of easy-believism.' I believe I speak to many hearts that long to see sinners saved and changed in their own assembly, instead of wistfully seeing it happen in other places—and bravely trying, in vain, to justify why it is not happening in their own assembly. Is your heart and conscience asking the following question: "If our church has the most truth and the only true biblical authority, why doesn't God use us to save His true sheep instead of using those people that we are constantly opposing and criticizing?"

Maybe the answer to that question is far more obvious that many of us have been willing to admit. Maybe the people and churches that have been criticized for not preaching 'the true gospel' have at least faithfully preached the gospel as they understood it. Is it not a fact that these people preach the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as the only way to be saved, and do they not also urge sinners to flee to Him for salvation? Must we not also admit that many of our 'true New Testament churches' have made the establishing of 'the one true institutional church' to be the primary goal of their preaching and practice? And is it not also tragically true that these same 'true' churches have miserably failed to (1) preach the gospel to the sinners in their own immediate area, or (2) heal and help the wounded sheep under their own care?

I do not attend your church and therefore have neither the right nor the ability to judge it. However, you have both the ability and the responsibility before God to judge whether your church is more interested in the souls of men, or if its primary concern is the 'authority' of the church and its leadership! You are responsible to your Lord to judge if your church exhibits the love of Christ, the fruits of the Spirit, and is genuinely interested in people, or whether your church is primarily interested in church order, the authority of the elders, and criticizing everyone for 'false evangelism' while you have no real evangelistic effort to reach the lost."