Fibro fog, pain, writing sandwiched in between. Quotes. Sermon notes. Encouragement.
|Here's a story that hit my inbox this morning:
"PFC Brendan Schweigart was helping retrieve a tank in Iraq when he was shot by an enemy sniper. The bullet missed his vital organs, however, because he kept a Bible over his heart." http://www.thecronline.com/news_article.php?nid=2899&ndate=12/08/2007
Sounds like a miracle.
Have you heard about this one?
"The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association of the United Methodist Church filed a federal lawsuit Saturday against New Jersey officials. The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights has threatened to prosecute the Camp Meeting Association for adhering to its deeply held religious beliefs. State officials launched an investigation after the Christian organization refused to allow a same-sex civil union ceremony at one of its worship facilities." http://www.thecronline.com/news_article.php?nid=2903&ndate=14/08/2007
What do you think? Should this religious organization have the right to decide who is married on its private property?
When I worked at a church in Texas, the priests and ministers in the area had an agreement with each other - a covenant, actually - that they would not marry anyone without first insisting the couple go through at least six pre-marital counseling sessions. Often times, we would get phone calls from couples in a panic because their own church would not marry them in a hurry. I had to explain that all of the area churches were in agreement on this. It made some couples mad.
One couple tried to get around these requirements by just calling to ask if they could rent our facilities. I asked what the purpose of their meeting was, since our churh would not rent the facilities for something that went against the church beliefs. They explained that they wanted to have a wedding, but they didn't want or need our pastor for the ceremony. I explained that even if they were going to use another pastor or a justice of the peace, the requirements were the same. The couple had to go through six counseling sessions in order to use our church for a wedding. They were not pleased.
Here are some more questions. Do you think the state would have gotten involved in this if it was just a case of the church requiring pre-marital counseling? Would they have gotten involved if the church's doctrine said it would not marry anyone who had not been baptized? Or did the state only get involved because the church refused to allow a wedding of a same-sex couple?
"To read Jesus is to see one who was intolerant of empty religion and self-righteous hypocrisy and treated with tenderness the sinful and broken. The modern church has been far too tolerant of sin, hypocrisy and corruption among its leaders while proclaiming judgment on the masses." http://www.thecronline.com/mag_article.php?mid=1108&mname=August
Boy that's the truth. In our church in Florida, there were quite a few active leaders whose children were living with their partners. One leader's son and girlfriend got pregnant, and they made no plans to get married. But they did expect their church friends to celebrate with them. A few months after their son was born, I was asked to substitute for the 20-something Sunday school teacher for a few weeks while she vacationed. Before she left, she explained that there were parts of the lessons that she was skipping because they would upset the class.
Know what one of the lessons was that she intended to skip? It was all about the fact that God intended intimate relations to take place in a marriage only.
I do think that couple should have still had the love and support of the church members, but not as if they had done nothing wrong. They had, but God forgives and so should the church. The part that was wrong was that no one ever confronted them about what had happened. No one suggested that they should make things right by getting married either.
And what's worse... There was a neighbor girl who was not a member of the church who also ended up having a baby out of wedlock. One day, I was in the church picking up some supplies when I heard a group of older women talking about that neighbor girl. They were talking downright nasty about her. Well...most of you know me by now. I had to put my two cents worth into that discussion. I simply asked why it was a sin for someone outside the church to err in that way, and not for someone within the church. Later on, one of the more gentle ladies admitted that she struggled with that very question, but she also knew that the father and mother of the young man with the new baby gave lots and lots of money to the church and she didn't want them to get angry and take their tithes away. What?!?!?!?
I guess I've always been vocal about things of this sort. I was probably only about 20 myself when I asked a preacher why the church preached a message that the rich folks in the church could be comfortable with, instead of preaching truth.
By the way... Here's what I wrote at Gather.com today: