Monday, March 24, 2008

Of Churches and Belonging

Just over a month ago, I stepped down from preaching at a little church in Arkansas that I had been a part of for 3 years. Why that happened probably will take a whole different post, so let's just leave it that it was time.

Well, this led to a problem Ann and I haven't had much in our lives. We now have no church family, no place we belong on Sundays. It's a weird feeling. We've visited two different churches, went to church with family out of town once, skipped once, and one time I've gotten to preach.

One church we visited was so seeker-sensitive, so concerned about letting us explore the options in an unthreatened manner, that, had I not known one of the multitude of pastors, we would have been lost and completely unnoticed. Another church we attended was so obsessed with raising money to build a gym for the church that they had turned the entire service over to the idea. Even the sermon was a plea for money, indicating that all we truly had to do to spread the Gospel was to build this gym, and people will come! (Incidentally, that only works for Kevin Costner, and remember, the 'he' that Costner got was not who he expected. Watch the movie again.) The church we attended this past Sunday was good. I won't give the preacher a thumbs-up or down. His church supports and loves him, which is good for both sides, but it's hard not to do it myself. The only time in recent memory that I've been able to listen without criticism or nodding off too much to someone else's preaching is when I was doing it too. This church was very welcoming, people were willing to come and talk with us, and people did say they wanted us to come back. It just wasn't home.

One thing that Christians need in church is a sense of it being home, a place where we belong. Not just because we go and sit in the pew, but because our lives are intertwined with those around us. I think that's why some churches are good at reaching people that have no relationship with Christ, but then can't seem to grow as a church. It's not just a matter of getting people something to do in church, but of adjusting our lives to bring in more people. Even in all of our individuality, we need to structure our lives so that we need people. That's where the belonging comes into play. It's not so much a place to belong that we need, but people that we belong with, that is what our hearts are crying out to find.

So, if you have that belonging within the people of God, good! Don't neglect it, and don't lock other people out of it. If you're still looking for it, I pray you'll find those people you belong with that will help you to grow in your faith, to be strengthened to serve, and just to be able to face life...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Ever been confused? Like when you make a decision, then come to regret it, but then be unable to recover from that? I'm dealing with that right now. It's not so much that I regret the decision, as that I had hoped for different results. Anyway, if anybody actually reads this and wants to add your two cents or your story in the comments that'd be great. And anyone with some helpful advice or a job offer or two would also be appreciated.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Multiple posts on one day

In case you're wondering, many of my posts show up the same day because they get saved in mid-thought and then posted later.

Politics--The first shot

Well, tomorrow we should find out if Senator Clinton can beat Senator Obama to face Senator McCain for President.

In history, it was in March that the Romans discovered that Senator Julius couldn't beat Senator Brutus or Senator Cassius for Emperor. (ok, Caesar was a proconsul). It is interesting that Senators tend towards dictators?

Anyway, has anyone noticed the latest problem for the Obama campaign? Supposedly one of his advisers met with a Canadian somebody, and assured them that all of his talk about protectionism and trade was just to get elected.
(Protectionism means placing restrictions or taxes called tariffs on imported goods. The idea is that you tax goods that could be made cheaper outside the home country, to keep local jobs competitive. Figure that the clothes you are wearing were probably made by someone who makes 1/10 what an American worker would make. Add a tax to raise the wholesale costs by a factor of 10, now you can choose to buy American or foreign at the same price.)

Back to the story: Of course, given the jobs that Ohio and other Midwestern states have lost overseas, Senator Obama's campaign has denied saying any such things. However, if it's not just talk, why don't we hear from Senator Obama a definite statement. Something like, "As President, I will withdraw the US from all treaties that prohibit protecting American jobs with tariffs or regulations, including NAFTA"? At least Senator Clinton has, whether foolish or not, stated she supports free trade. Senator Obama seems to be for it some of the time and against it other times.

Side note: It's not NAFTA's fault these jobs went overseas. Remember the runaway earnings and stock values of the late 1990s? Where so many people in America got rich in the stock market? It wasn't just new technology companies that exploded in value, it was old-school businesses. And how? By cutting labor costs to increase their profits. By putting Americans out of work and out of insurance to build factories overseas or across borders without environmental regulations. Who profited? Any of us with mutual funds. All of us who shop at Wal-mart. We did this to ourselves, demanding higher returns from companies we never worked for, for work we never did.

So, now Senator Obama is in the unenviable position of having to be either for or against something. We'll see what he does. And we'll look at him more in later politics posts.

To be fair, Senator McCain isn't having the easiest time right now. Someone has questioned the Constitutionality of him as president, since he wasn't born in the US. However, the US Constitution, Article II, Section 1 states that the president must be either a "Natural-born Citizen," which, by law, children born to US citizen parents are, or have been "a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this constitution." Either way, I think he's covered.

And now, to make sure she isn't left out, Senator Clinton still thinks she should be President. And why not? Well, it could be because she's scary or because after 20 years of Bush-Clinton-Bush, tacking at least 4 more Clinton seems very unlike a representative democracy. Personally, I think she is falling to the secret ballot. That's right, the secret ballot is killing her candidacy. Poll many Americans, and they'll say they don't doubt that a woman can be president. Poll 100 Texans in line tomorrow, and you would not get one to go on camera saying that the President should be male. Then count the votes, and realize that a good 75% of them may think so, but won't vote so.

Aside: Given that the majority of countries that are hostile to the United States are run by extremely sexist regimes or religions (Iran, China, North Korea, Syria, Fundamental Islamic Terror), I don't think that our country would be taken seriously with a female president without fighting more wars than we do now. She'd have to show that she was just as tough as any man, and just as willing to throw you down and kick you. That is one thing, having grown up in Arkansas when Bill was the Gov, I believe Hillary Clinton could do. Which I was I doubt that all of these women who supposedly had affairs with Bill actually did. Either he or they would not have survived.

I almost forgot my fellow Ouachita grad (read it Wash-it-aw), Governor Mike Huckabee. True, he's probably not going to win, but at least he's no quitter like that Mitt Romney fellow! Would Mike have been a good Pres? I don't know. I do know him, and have generally found him to be an honest and reasonable person. Some folks have said that being governor of Arkansas doesn't qualify one to be president, and it would have been interesting to see Huckabee vs. Clinton this fall. She would have been hard-pressed to play that card.

Anyway, whoever wins, it's just a holding pattern. Check back here for updates on:

Doug for President, 2012!!!!!

Drop-in thought

I saw the trailer for the new Indiana Jones movie and was wondering:

If it weren't for sequels, what would John Williams do for money?

Book: Worship in an Age of Anxiety

  This week, I'm wrapping up reading J. Michael Jordan's Worship in an Age of Anxiety . This isn't an assigned review, but a boo...