Verse of the Day

Thursday, December 28

Portland is Strange


You gotta love Portland. It's a town of such contrasts and inconsistencies it makes you smile; just before you puke. Check out the news over Schumacher Furs & Outerwear's leaving downtown Portland. Their reason is the continual protest [see photo] against their product. The owner is quoted as saying, "Our clientele wants us to move. They do not feel safe coming to our store or to downtown," he says. "I do not feel safe coming in my own store."

Now maybe it is just my strange way of looking at things but I wonder if I'd see the same sort of protests on NW Lovejoy would be tolerated by the great open-minded, free-thinking people of Portland. A decade ago, when protestors stood outside the Abortion Clinic with enlarged photos of aborted children they were shooed back by the courts. In downtown Portland would be customers have to force their way through screaming activists.

Those who protest the death of innocents are labeled as terrorists. Consider this quote by Matt Rossell on the allegation that he was part of a terrorist group. "We're law abiding citizens,…In this day and age we know what terrorism is and clearly we are exercising our first amendment rights."

The sad thing is that he's talking about his right to protest the death of animals not humans. Years ago Randy Stonehill wrote a great song that seems to become more poignant with each passing year. In Stop the World he writes, "It's okay to murder babies but we really ought to save the whales."

I don't care what your stand on abortion is. Personally I don't put myself into either the pro-life or pro-choice camp. Both have way too much baggage for my comfort.

What I am intrigued with is how what we consider "valuable" and "worth saving" has somehow gotten skewed. I can't help but wonder if this isn't just one more example of the slide into depravity pictured in Romans 1.

Oh well. Happy New Year! Watch the news and smile…

Peace

Alan

Tuesday, December 19

When Momma's Not Happy; Ain't Nobody Happy

Matthew 1:3 is an often-overlooked verse in the large story of Jesus' birth. "When Herod the king heard this, he was disturbed and troubled, and the whole of Jerusalem with him." But Jerusalem wasn't the only city troubled by this Jesus. Bethlehem is troubled. Soldiers murdered the boys in that town as a way to get rid of Jesus. Nazareth is troubled by Jesus as he returns and grows. Mark records how the citizens "took offence at him" and how "He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them." Mark 6:3,5 NIV. In Luke's account of Jesus' teaching, they were so upset they ran him out of town in an attempt to kill him.

Let's jump head 2000 years and you'll see that today Jesus still disturbs and troubles many towns and cities around our world. Most of us in Oregon remember the Eugene Fire Department's removal of Christmas trees. This year we saw, Sea-Tac Airport take upsetting anyone when it comes to religion. Yet it's a worldwide phenomenon. Lambeth in South London and the Havant Borough Council, United Kingdom have renamed their Christmas lights "celebrity", "winter" or "holiday" lights. Havant council leader Gillette said, "It's Christmas and these are Christmas lights. I don't see any sense in denying this."

Reynoldsburg Ohio "permanently sidelined" the Nativity scene that was donated from a local church. Their reason is that the sage of the modern day era, the attorneys, told them to. Chicago told the Christkinklmarket [Christ child market] that they had to stop advertising The Nativity Story [now that's irony]. Deltona Florida won't let their local artist display paintings in honor of "Black History Month" because they are "too religious". The Christian symbols that are depicted? A pastor, a hat that reads, "I love Jesus"; part of a sign for a storefront church and a bible on a nightstand.

Indian River Community College in Florida wouldn't a let a Christian group show The Passion of the Christ because of their policies against R-rated movies. Yet they had shown on campus Welcome to Sarajevo as well as other questionable skits.

Why does this happen? Let me suggest that it is easy to understand. Jesus is the truth, the way and the life. He is the light and nothing that can overshadow His brilliance and His being. Attempts to reason Him don't work because Jesus makes much more sense than any "rational/humanist" thought. Shouting at Jesus doesn't work because Jesus simple continues to help those in need through His people.

Jesus threatens people by His very presence in the life of His Body. His being among us confronts us with what we don't like to see in ourselves. It makes us aware of things that need to be different and our inability to change our lives. What do you do when you become scared? You run or you fight. Some run into mistaken beliefs about the Crusades and Inquisition while others strive to fight against specific social mores which God's People have historically held to for millennia.

So if you're a follower of Jesus hold tight. If you’re a seeker keep on looking and you'll find Him. And if you're a non-believer looking for more excuses, Merry Christ mass.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1853819,00.html

http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=455&ArticleID=1254739

http://www.dispatch.com/news-story.php?story=229941

http://vociferatu.blogspot.com/2006/12/no-christ-in-christmas-festival.html 4

http://blogcritics.org/archives/2006/11/29/031520.php op-ed piece on the Chicago's action 4

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2006/2/9/152547.shtml

http://www.newsmax.com/adv/marcus/ for the images themselves that are banned

http://www.thefire.org/index.php/article/5128.html?PHPSESSID=1fe02e9a45686026a9979721f0edbb84

Wednesday, November 29

Happy Birthday Mr. Lewis

Borrowing a page from my Classical Presbyterian brother let me add my birthday wishes to Dr. Lewis for his continued influence on those who would follow Jesus.

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Clive....
Happy Birthday to you.

Peace
Alan

Tuesday, November 14

Borat & "the least of these"

So some of us have seen the advertisements for the movie, Borat. It seems to be mildly funny and probably crude. Well here's another take on it that is well worth the reading from
Classical Presbyterian.

One movie you probably should plan to see is The Nativity Story which was written, for the movie, by a Portland author Mike Rich who also wrote Radio and Finding Forrester. It comes out December 1.


Peace,

Alan

Wednesday, November 1

God sighting and Ads by Google


I ran across a news release about the Jesus' Seminar's traveling dog-and-pony-show that is taking place in Tennessee. I've read some of John Shuck's blogs*, he's the pastor at First Presbyterian of Elizabethton and I'd judge him as one who probably has a question or two about the existence of God let alone Jesus' divinity.

What caught my attention was the side bar of "Ads by Google". I was immediately drawn to the fact that I could apply most of them to the press release in the article. Then I had to wonder if God wasn't trying to say something. You'll find the actual screen shot as separate post "God and Ads by Google.

Kingsport Foreclosures—probably a service the Presbyterian Church may consider when Jesus Seminar type theology [I use that word very loosely] gains full sway.

Kingsport Tn Job—the source of Shuck's next job such as school counselor, office manager or at-large Presbyterian spiritualist.

Bristol Tennessee—Don't really know about the E-bay ad unless it's the Presbytery's method of choice for selling the property that they believe they own.

Bethel Baptist Church and Come Worship with Us—two groups who recognize that those who read articles like this and would even consider going are in need of a valid, life-transforming relationship with Christ Jesus.

Maybe God isn't in the ad placement business but if not then this is one heck of a coincidence. Be of good cheer, those who might be tempted by the pseudo-theology in groups like 1st Presbyterian of Elizabethton and the Jesus Seminar aren't right. They aren't the majority. And their future is just as secure as those who are followers of Jesus.

Peace

Alan
*shuck and jive

This sort of post will raise one's blood pressure

Tuesday, October 17

Teachable Moments and Cats...

Kenton has a couple of things of interest to our community. First is a group of homeless people who, from time-to-time, camp behind our building. It is dark, pretty quiet and nobody usually hassles them. Our neighbors are concerned, rightly so, since they too often leave than desirable items behind. Our Session is concerned due to liability issues and such. Secondly, We have Jasper. Jasper loves us. Jasper loves the homeless people, Jasper loves everyone along Chatham street. Jasper is a cat. Here’s how the two relate.

As Preacher it usually falls to me to move any homeless folks along off of the church grounds. October 6, early in the morning, I started to hear some familiar voices outside the office window. Being on the second floor you can’t see where they usually sleep so I went to the door that overlooks the back and opened it to find four people. From the spread out blanket, pillows, the malt liquor cans on the ground and in the hands of two of the four it was obvious that they’d been there the last night.

Sitting on the ramp onto which the door opened was Jasper. Fat and sassy, he gives off an aura as if he owns the church. Before I could say anything one of the “regulars” explained that they had got kicked out of the place they usually stayed and had nowhere else to go. They were just packing up there stuff. I told them that was fine and that I hoped they found another regular place soon.

I didn’t recognize the woman who was there but as I said goodbye she asked, “Is that the church’s cat?”

All I could say was that “he seemed to think so.”

Then she said, “You know, it slept right with us all night. It’s really a nice cat.”

I smiled and wished them a good day and went about my work.

It was several hours later when it dawned on me that Jasper just may understand ministry better than I did. For Jasper showed these people compassion when I was more concerned with liability issues. Jasper had been “with” them when I tended to see them as a set of problems which I directed toward community resources and with whom I did a lot of intervention.

I’m not setting up a Kenton “dignity village” but the Holy Spirit made it clear to me through Jasper that I needed to engage such people as individuals not a class. Thanks Jasper for being there.

BTW this last Sunday we had to remove Jasper from the sanctuary at least eight times. Why? Because at least one person has a horrible allergy to cats. But the real reason is that Jasper is so vocal that he meows all during worship and we can’t allow “Amen’s” to disturb our stoic and sullen Presbyterian worship [ROTFL]


Peace,

Alan

Monday, September 11

Sacramento Presbyter

Bravery in Sacramento
Sacramento Presbytery took an unprecedented step toward reclaiming the Protestant faith in the actions taken this past Saturday. At a called Presbytery meeting five hours of very difficult dicussion was held on four very difficult and important provisions. All of them passed. They were:

  1. To promote the peace, unity, and purity of our presbytery, we resolve that the Sacramento Presbytery holds that all candidates for ordination, installation, and/or membership in this Presbytery shall comply with all standards for ordination set forth in the Constitution of the (PCUSA) (G-1.0500), or shall be ineligible for ordination, installation, and/or membership.

  2. To promote the peace, unity, and purity of our presbytery, we resolve that the Sacramento Presbytery shall not receive into membership, nor recognize as a member, anyone who has been ordained or installed under a scruple (that is taking exception to any of the ordination standards as set forth in the Constitution of the (PCUSA) (G-1.0500)).

  3. To promote the peace, unity, and purity of our presbytery, we resolve that the Sacramento Presbytery shall honor the protest of every congregation that chooses to exercise its right to withhold its per capita, therefore, only designated congregational per capita funds shall be used to fulfill presbytery per capita obligations, and presbytery per capita assessments shall not be increased to compensate for such protests.

  4. To promote the peace, unity, and purity of our presbytery, we resolve that the Sacramento Presbytery shall take no action to enforce any general trust interest claimed against any property, real or personal, held by an individual congregation within the Sacramento Presbytery.
Nope, they didn't pass by overwhelming majorities and they fly in the face of the "powers-that-be" in Louisville. (See the text of Mr. Kilpatrick's letter at the end of this document).
Of concern to me is that we who support actions such as Sacramento Presbytery need to do a better job explaining just why we believe what we believe. If you check out the comments that follow the article in The Sacramento Bee you'll see what I mean. As I type this there are 16 comments which break down as seven in favor; eight against and one purely personal toward another poster. Actually a total of four of those falls into the somewhat personal category. In those who don't get it are used the words, bigoted, prejudiced and even KKK. They make statements like, "they spent a half-billion dollars trying to keep GLBT people out of their churches." Without any realization that it isn't their church; your church or my church. It's Christ's church and His standards are to be our standards.
We need to let the world understand several things about the ongoing battle within our denomination, and I use the word battle on purpose.
  1. Sexuality is one issue. It is not the major one. It isn't the only one.

  2. The place of leadership for homosexual persons is the issue. It has never been an issue of membership. Since 1975 when the General Assembly first addressed this issue that's been the case any homosexual person was welcome into membership on the same basis as any other sinner, confession of Christ as Lord and Savior.

  3. The goal of the church is not to be a barometer for the world. A barometer does little more than move up and down with the pressure that is around it. It can tell a storm is coming but not whether that storm will kill you. The church stands firm on the Love of Christ.

  4. We who believe that active homosexuals should not be in leadership within Christ's church are the majority. Around our world the Church, that is those who are followers of Christ from Asia, to Latin America, to Africa, and elsewhere (except in the enlightened West) know that this is God's will and desire.

  5. God's love is not a blindly accepting love but a love that challenges and transforms the lives of everyone who is willing to be touched by the hands of Christ. That's why liars become truth-tellers; drug addicts become clean and sober; gays become straight and the adulterer to become faithful. Most won't accept this simply because they do not wish to have their pet sins taken away from them or become accountable for their actions
To do this won't be easy. In fact, many congregations who are brave enough to take a stand like Sacramento Presbytery will end up being put to death by the forces of the progressives. Yet all we can do is seek to continue to share the message of hope that we have in Jesus Christ.
Christian teacher, writer and songsmith John Fischer in Beggar which is on his Dark Horse album sings:

I know where the food is
And it isn't very far away
Doesn't cost much but an empty soul
And the pride that stands in the way

I'm not one who's got it all in place
Telling you what you should do
No I'm just one old hungry beggar
Showing you where I found food




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Office of the General Assembly


September 8, 2006
To Presbytery Stated Clerks
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Dear Colleagues:
I hope all of you are doing well as we begin a new program year in the life of the church. I continue to be grateful for your good leadership in the presbyteries of our church and count it a great blessing to be your friend and colleague in this ministry.
This is a challenging time to be stated clerks. I know that in certain parts of our church there are deep disagreements and anxieties over actions of the 217th General Assembly, ordination standards, the trust clause, and the future of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). So, while it is a challenging time, I believe it is also a time in which our calling to strengthen the ecclesial life of the church and to encourage faithfulness to our Constitution is more crucial than ever.
As our governing bodies deal with these difficult issues, I would remind you of the wise advice given by this year’s General Assembly with near unanimity. The assembly called on all governing bodies, as we face difficult issues, to be engaged in “processes of intensive discernment through worship, community building, study, and collaborative work.” The assembly also encouraged us prior to decision making to engage in the spiritual disciplines of prayer, discernment of the will of God, and seeking to hear God’s voice through the voices of those in our community.
These calls challenge our organizations at all levels to be more than “governing bodies.” We are to seek to transform our lives together so that we are more like the body of Christ, where each part is deeply honored and respected and all seek not so much their own will but the will of Christ, who is the head of the body. Our Form of Government says it well in G-4.0300d, “Presbyterians are not simply to reflect the will of the people, but rather to seek together to find and represent the will of Christ.”
It is this vision that is at the heart of our Constitution. It is why, in part, it is so important for us to remind Presbyterians that faithfulness to the Constitution is critical as we deal with difficult issues in our life together.
I am particularly concerned about proposals that I hear are coming to some of our presbyteries that are not in accord with our Constitution and its authoritative interpretations (which also have the binding authority of the Constitution itself). I hope, in your role as stated clerks, you will join me in reminding Presbyterians that while dissent and advocacy for change are deeply engrained Presbyterian values, no presbytery by any vote margin has the authority to take actions that are not in accord with the Constitution, or to set aside its provisions.
Among the proposals that are of particular concern to me:
  • Actions by a presbytery that in essence set aside the assembly’s authoritative interpretation of G-6.0108 and require subscription to all or specific constitutional standards. Examinations are to be conducted based on constitutional standards established by the whole church, but ordination and installation decisions are to be made by ordaining bodies based on whether “the candidate has departed from essentials of Reformed faith and polity” (G-6.0108b). Authoritative interpretations can be changed by new interpretations from the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission or the assembly itself, and presbyteries may send in overtures seeking such change, but presbyteries cannot set aside, on their own, standards clearly specified in an already adopted authoritative interpretation.

  • Efforts to set “super standards” on the one hand, or to declare that certain standards will not be in force on the other, in the examination of candidates. In our polity, sessions and presbyteries make ordination and installation decisions, and the General Assembly and presbyteries together set the basic standards through the constitutional process. General Assemblies do not make ordaining decisions, and presbyteries cannot add to or take away from standards upon which examinations are based (except by overturing the assembly for constitutional change).

  • Establishing answers that are required of candidates for installation and ordination, or determining in advance answers that will be unacceptable. Ordaining bodies may determine questions they wish to ask of candidates, but their answers are to be judged on a case-by-case basis, based on the standards set by the Constitution.

  • Proposals to grant congregations – based on a super majority vote or other criteria – to leave the denomination with their property in the event of schism. The General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission case, Strong and Bagby v. Synod of the Mid-South, makes it very clear that presbyteries are the body of original decision-making in all matters related to dismissing, dissolving, or transferring congregations and cannot delegate that authority to a session or congregation. This is to be done on a case-by-case basis, based on the criteria in G-8 and especially the standard that any such action should be for the benefit of the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

  • Actions to restrict presbyteries from fulfilling their G-9.0404d responsibilities to transmit their per capita assessments to synods and General Assembly. The authoritative interpretation by the 211th General Assembly (1999) of G-9.0404d made it clear that the payment of per capita to higher governing bodies is a presbytery responsibility “as long as it has funds available,” and cannot be contravened because certain sessions wish to have funds withheld. Presbyteries do not have the authority to change those provisions without seeking an amendment or new interpretation of the Constitution.

  • Mandates that presbyteries seek to place on sessions for procedures or content for the examination of candidates to be elders or deacons beyond those specified in the Constitution or its authoritative interpretations. One ordaining body does not have the authority to impose on another ordaining body particular requirements greater than those in the Constitution. The most recent authoritative interpretation of G-6.0108 by the 217th General Assembly recognizes the historic duty of each governing body to examine its own members and apply the constitutional standards in that process.

The Office of the General Assembly has worked to provide you with additional assistance related to the concerns raised in this letter, including recent advisory opinions (#18 on Discernment in Examining Bodies and #19 on the Trust Clause) and a constitutional musing (#11 on Examining Officers). They are available online at www.pcusa.org/constitutionalservices. I hope you find them to be helpful resources.
Yes these are difficult days for many of you. But it is in times like this that we most need to seek the spirit and mind of Christ and to be faithful to our Constitution, as we seek to build up the church in faithfulness to its Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
May God’s richest blessings be with you, your presbyteries, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Grace and peace,

Clifton Kirkpatrick
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

cc. Synod Stated Clerks
Presbytery and Synod Executives


Thursday, August 31


I'm back from Hawai'i, part fun and part sadness, as we left our youngest over there to attend the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. Go Warriors!!

Part of me is still on Hawai'i time and part of me is focused on a wedding this weekend; Kenton's Fellowship Camp next weekend and a trip to England at the end of the month for the same wedding celebration. Yet the rest of the world won't hold still so here's where my thinking has been lately.

First off if you haven't read what has been going on with Kirk of the Hills in Tulsa you need to check out Tom's Blog http://tomgrayofthekirk.blogspot.com/2006/08/meeting.html . This is the one from Thursday so to get the whole story you'll have to read a few before as well. Their discussion with Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery is far from over I am certain but nonetheless they took a major step with their move to disaffiliate themselves with the PCUSA.

My take on this is that I am sorry that the Kirk left. We've lost a great witness to the gospel within our denomination. But I can understand why they left. I do not know Tom personally but I am sure that their leaving was in no way meant to be a slap at those who remained. It was the difficult way that they believe God was leading them to take. For that I can only give thanks to God.

It would have been easier for Tom to just go on being a "big steeple church" and ignore Presbytery. They could have designated their money, started an outside foundation separate from the denomination and been a law unto themselves. Yes, Hollywood Presbyterian and the fantastic[1] actions of the Presbytery would be in the background but they would be pretty much on their own. They would keep growing mostly because they would be disaffiliated from the denomination even though they were still "part of it".

This is Kenton's issue. It would be easier to just keep on doing what we're doing. It would be easier to minister to our older members and not really worry about those around us. It would be easier to keep on designating our money to causes that honor Jesus. And in 12 years I could simply retire and totally ignore the Presbytery.

But is easier what God expect of us?
If easier was better Jesus wouldn't have been:
conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.[2]

If easier was better Calvin would have been a Roman Catholic Priest.

So Kenton will start asking itself if God is leading them down an easy pathway or a difficult pathway. I and the two elders who attended New Wineskins want our Session and perhaps our congregation to see the DVD of Dr. Robert Gagnon's talk and Rev. Carmen Flower sermon. I hope that they heard the truth about what she said about how New Wineskins would be meeting even in the PUP report hadn't passed. That's not an exact quote but its pretty close.

We will spend some time in the exciting world of property and corporation law as we look at the "Articles of Incorporation" and our by-laws. We will consider where they do and don't mesh and what needs to be changed to reflect a better way of doing ministry in 2006. We'll also do the other business like membership, reports and the rest.

Personal Note:

It hit me on vacation. As I left my devotional guide on Hawaiian Airlines (sorry Ken) I started doing some of my own refection and meditation on God's word and the years of serving Christ. I decided I was more content in the early days of the Jesus Movement in Berkeley and Richmond than in the world of the denomination. I was Presbyterian but I was in a evangelical and Jesus loving church not a denominationally stale one.

I reflected how the times I felt revived at Presbyterian gatherings was at the Evangelical pastor's conference at Mo-Kan and a Presbyterian evangelism conference in Dallas Texas. I remember excitement at being a commissioner to GA in Biloxi and of serving as a Hunger Action Enabler for Nevada Presbytery. But those were a different sort of excitement. They resurrected my political science background and weren't all that spiritually fulfilling in the long run.

Then it dawned on me that perhaps I understood why Tom and others will take the congregations they serve down the difficult journey. Maybe they, like me, want to be part of a denomination and Presbytery where God's word and not political correctness[3] is the final authority. Perhaps they want a place where you aren't viewed as a theological throw-back, hick, or heretic if you pray in the name of the "Father". Or where you can talk about what Jesus means to you and not be looked at as if you'd passed gas in a concert and a place where one can talk about loving Jesus and be understood and appreciated.

So we will keep on keeping on. We will serve Jesus and follow where we believe He is leading us. We will remain true to Christ's Word, as revealed in the books of the Old and New Testament (not some sort of warm-fuzzy feelings of what we'd like to think is true) and let the chips fall where they may.

Peace

Alan


[1] You'll have to ask me about the joke.

[2] Apostles Creed

[3] I'm not talking about being considerate but the overboard "pc" stuff that is present in most Presbyterian meetings.

Thursday, August 3

Smoking #2 Are you kidding me?

Oh my goodness…. Do you know what brought down President Nixon? It was his failure to admit that he had interfered with the investigation. Do you know what made President Clinton a joke? It was the fact that everyone one knew he was lying and he just wouldn't own up to it. Now we have Davis Perkins explanation as to why the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation trying to explain publishing Griffen's book by saying, "the arguments supporting those claims merit careful consideration by serious-minded Christians and Americans concerned with truth and the meaning of their faith."

Did Perkins even read the "Venus Project" website in which Griffen explains where he got his interesting view of 9/11? And so more than 1/3rd of Americans polled believed that "federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them" that out of 1,010 people polled. I imagine a third of the people believe we never landed on the moon; that Area 51 hid aliens; that the National Enquirer is a legitimate news source; and that WWF is actually real. It doesn't mean that they are right. It just means that a third of them don't quite get it.

It seems after reading Griffen's own statements as to how he became convinced of the governments involvement that he is at best an example of what it means to allow free speech in the US and at worse someone who probably wears tin-foil hats to keep the NRO from reading his mind at night.

If the PPC would just admit that it was a dumb decision and take the hit they'd find a lot more people respecting them the next time they want to publish something of laughable theology.

Peace
Alan

Wednesday, August 2

FIle under "What are they smoking?"


Not having written for a while I was intrigued with a couple of items which passed through the web pipeline and across my desk. The first is Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Push the "About us" button and you'll read the following: Building on the Reformed tradition, the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation seeks to glorify God by contributing to the spiritual and intellectual vitality of Christ's church. To that end, PPC publishes resources that advance religious scholarship, stimulate conversation about moral values, and inspire faithful living."

I would suggest they amend it to read "Ignoring our Reformed tradition, the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation seeks to undermine the spiritual and intellectual vitality of Christ's church. To that end, PPC publishes resources that advance speculative (at best) religious scholarship, push aside traditional moral values, and seek to derail any sense of faithfulness in following Jesus." Need an example? Just check out the new book which they will publish "Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11: A Call to Reflection and Action" by David Ray Griffen. Is it any wonder why our denomination is in crisis?

The second was a note from a site called beyonmarriage.org which is scary simply because the people who are signatories to their agenda actually believe this c%$p. I am afraid the Washington office of our beloved church will get hold of this and seek to add our denomination's voice to the abomination presented in their agenda.

Is that too harsh? Not at all, at least it isn't a whip declaring God's house to be a house of prayer and not sexual immorality (bet I hear about that last comment).

Peace.

Alan

Tuesday, July 18

Tulsa Time

Tomorrow morning early… did I say early? We, I and two elders, head off to the warm country of Oklahoma to try to discern what is to happen within the Presbyterian Church.

Kenton's Session endorsed the New Wineskins proposal a couple of months ago. We've read material, prayed about what is going on and chose to step out in faith and we believe obedience.

What will happen? I honestly don't have a clue. What I hope happens is that God shows up and those of us who are there are captured by God's vision for His Holiness and what it means to follow His Son.  In fact, that's what I expect to happen.  

What will that mean for our little spot in the kingdom here in North Portland?  I honestly don't have a clue. I imagine we will be challenged by the Holy Spirit to meet the needs of the world around us and preach Christ. DUH!! I also hope that those of us there will be able to express what God has done in and with us to those who weren't able to be there.

What do YOU need to do?  Pray for us. Pray for God to be in the details, the worship, and the working groups. Pray for the Holy Spirit to show up in power. Pray for us to see God's vision with a clarity that can be explained to the greater church.

Peace
Alan

Monday, July 3

Listen up Ladies

Listen up Ladies
Check out the Chicago Sun-Times article and then look for the information that you'll see around Kenton for your own Women of Faith conference. More information may be obtained from Pat Wheeler. The dates for Portland are October 13-14.

Monday, June 19

Learning from the MLP

WOW. I never thought I'd get so much from a MLP* sermon but as Bear Ride reminisced about returning to her family homestead I couldn't help but notice how her observations gave to me a real theological treat as well.

In her discussion about Butterfield she mentions a store called "Butterfield Bible and Bait". She wrote, "Right here, in Butterfield, I knew that somewhere between the Bibles and the bait - a truly peculiar interpretation of the Gospel was taking shape: half a verse here and half a verse there – and pretty soon, voila! They had knit themselves a nice little theology and a dandy set of life’s priorities. …Might not actually bear any semblance to the core values of our faith or even a peripheral theme therein…but there you have it… ever-so-carefully gleaned from random portions of scripture: life’s priorities brought to you by those who 'Ran the Store': fishing and capitalism."

Thank you Ms. Ride because that's exactly how I view the liberals of the PCUSA. A peculiar interpretation of the Gospel is what the soc/libs* offer us in this sermon. You see it in hercomment that "everyone is in God's family – right now" forgetting that just moments before Ride shared how Jesus pronounced woe on the hypocrites of His own Judaism. Jesus told a sinner, "go and sin no more" but her sin doesn't really matter because she is part of the "everyone is included – right now ". When the rich man walked away saddened. Jesus didn't chase him down because it really didn't matter if the man "sold all he had, gave to the poor and came and followed Jesus" because according to Ride's peculiar interpretation of the Gospel he also is included – right now.

Perhaps in later sermon Ms. Ride can explain how someone who said the rich would have a better than difficult time entering into God's Kingdom can be included – right now. I really already know the answer—God's grace. But it is peculiar interpretation of God's Grace. He may be included –right now but this man should still boycott Caterpillar, McDonalds and the other latest and greatest movements of the non-capitalists of the PCUSA.

Perhaps I should add the quote Dr. King's that Ride uses to support the fact that it's time for those who stand for the "orthodox and biblical" understanding of God's People, the Church [yes capital 'C']

Dr. King wrote,“There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period when the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed.
In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles or popular opinion (promoting an agenda that goes along with the gay agenda to get along in this world); it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town the power structure (denominational leadership and committees) got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being ‘disturbers of the peace’ and ‘outside agitators.’ (such as filing nuisance disciplinary charges) But they went on with the conviction that they were a ‘colony of heaven’ and had to obey God rather than any human voice. They were small in number but great in commitment (New Wineskins 100+ endorsing congregations)…I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour.” (Emphasis and parenthetical statements are mine not Dr. King's)

I am certain that Ms. Ride will take issue with my use of her own words but it seems a far more peculiar take on the Gospel that comes from the mouths of those who are liberals than those who stand with the historical convictions of Christ's people and with the worldwide witness to Jesus.

Peace,
Alan


*MLP More Light Presbyterians
*soc/libs = Social-Liberals who describe themselves as "progressives"


Corrected June 22, 2006

Monday, June 12

General Assembly Info.

Just a quick note to those with broadband and an interest in the upcoming General Assembly. The plenary sessions can be viewed with streaming video. Here's the link to the GA Docket and to a general page with the notification on the video.

Pray for the meeting, watch the meeting and then pray some more.

Wednesday, May 31

Sometimes We Get it Right

If you'd read any of my blogs or know me you understand that I have some issues with the Presbyterian Church (USA) as a denomination. Admit the short-comings there are some things we do well and one of them is disaster relief. I was pleased to see the article about how our OGHS [One Great Hour of Sharing] money is already on the ground helping those who have suffered through the earthquake in Indonesia.  I hope you read it and keep those who grieve, who have survived and those who are helping in your prayers.

Alan

Saturday, May 27

It just might work...

Hope you'll read these two stories. The first is Berkeley's great article on the word games being played in preparation for General Assembly. The second, is about a New York court case concerning adultery. Now here's the great news for former pastor Tewell. He can simply claim that it's not against the Book of Order because he doesn't consider his seeking after other women a sin.
Heck, I know half a dozen former pastors, many I considered good friends, who could get back in the denomination in a heartbeat if the ACC definition stands. Perhaps we should patent this idea and see if we can't sell it to our Roman Catholic brothers who are facing a whole bunch of grief over ordained staff who have preyed on others.
It's a thought…

Friday, May 26

Teaching Tolerance in Portland: the Progressive style...

Ten thousand plus websites come up when you search "teaching tolerance" and Portland. Let Google search for "teach tolerance" and Portland and it drops to 1,300. Either way there are resources galore for those who are so inclined. But apparently they were lost on one poor progressive soul in front of Cleveland High School this May.
Those Gideons who were at Cleveland were on the public sidewalk offering students a copy of the New Testament as they left school for the day. As usual, some took it and others didn't. Into this story enters our would-be progressive hero/savior.
As I was told it, a truck pulled up with a man in it. He parked waiting for his children. My Gideon friend told me that he thought the guy could be trouble but he just went on with his distribution. After a while the man got out of his truck and went into the school to pick up his kids. He returned with the children, walking past the Gideon who offered a copy of the scripture to his children. His children got in the truck. He got in the truck and after a few minutes got back out of the truck to confront the Gideon.  
It wasn't a physical assault but from what I gathered in talking with the Gideon in question it was very unsettling and somewhat threatening.  Now I don't have a transcript of the conversation but I believe it was along the lines of;
Progressive "I don't think you should be here."
Gideon "I'm on the public sidewalk and it's my constitutional right."
Progressive "I don't think you should be here." “I think you should move!”
If you copy and paste the above three lines repeatedly I think you'll have the feel for the depth of the constitutional and philosophical argument being put forth by this progressively-minded Portlander.
The best was yet to come, for as our hero finally returned to his truck and drove his children, now safe from the horrors of God's Word, off into the sunset, across the back of the pickup's canopy was a large "peace symbol" and the words, "Teach Tolerance"…
And they say the church is full of hypocrites. LOL!


Saturday, May 6

Immigration Reform for Believers

Immigration is a "hot button" issue today. Followers of Jesus are torn by the "christians" armed and waiting to report illegal's crossing the boarder to those who place water along their paths in order to keep them alive. The issue of amnesty, work visas and the like is a long, complicated and not really all that exciting a topic. However the Huntsville Times, ' Doug Mendenhall has a great vision on the topic. I urge you to take a read.

Friday, April 14

Playing with Legos


This is one of those links I could be filed in a lot of places. But it's here because it seems to hold some fun and promise for us right now. Enjoy!

So this Easter you have made a promise to read the bible more. Good for you! But, you don't like to read. In fact, the last thing you've read cover-to-cover was a comic book. Well have I got the place for you. Check out www.thebricktestament.com and you'll discover just how creative some people can be with telling the story of Scripture.
Who knows you may start searching for your own bricks and start working the story of how you met Jesus.

Peace
Red Cleric

Friday, March 31

Di coding Di Vinci

On May 19th the church will come under the influence and questions of those who have fallen head-long into the DaVinci Code trap. I've read the book. It's not bad but it's not great and it certainly isn't anywhere close to historically accurate.

With this in mind bookmark this page because Ben Witherington III has done a great job in confronting the myths about Scriptures which Dan Brown has foisted on an unaware public. What should the church do with the book and movie? Perhaps like me you'll wait till it comes out on DVD and then watch it.

Red Cleric

Tuesday, March 28


It's sort of like Goldfinger... but without the smokescreen

Remember the cool Aston Martin Bond drove in that 1964 classic. I know this 11 year-old wanted a car with all the cool gadgets and weaponry "Q" could stuff into it.

If you believe the UCC (United Church of Christ) "Q" has become a fundy, bringing his technological innovation to those churches not as progressive as themselves. The UCC have created a church as make-believe and transparently phony as rear-screen projection in the 1960's.

"The Ad the Networks don't want you to see" is how they are promoting it on their site. Having downloaded and watched it I considered my response, when I read Jim Berkley's comments who summed up my thoughts for me. So read his blog and understand that all I can add to it is "ditto."

Saturday, March 4

Angela Davis all over again

So the Redwoods Presbytery has decided that Rev. [I use the title loosely] Spahr acted in accord with her conscience when she participated in two marriages involving gay couples. That's fantastic!*
Let me get this straight…if a pastor feels that in hers/his conscience it's okay to do something that is contrary to the Book of Order and the Confession? Gee whiz, that's great news. Not only can liberals ordain gays and boycott McDonald's, but the evangelical's can refuse to ordain women or baptize infants.
Isn't it wonderful how our denomination has become more and more like those we regard as less enlightened than us, like the Southern Baptist? (Just kidding Mike, and Cork).
I think it's fair to say that this decision, if it stands and it probably will, has paved the way for pastoral choices that go far beyond anything ever thought of. I hope you read the comment by Redwoods Presbytery's attorney, "You have a situation where any minister anywhere can claim, 'My conscience tells me I can sleep with a 16-year old girl outside my marriage vows,' and who's to question his conscience?" Of course, the correct response to this would be "child abuse". I can hear a pastor arguing that it's not even "sexual harassment" after all the Book of Order doesn't say I can't sleep with adults other than my spouse does it?
But, the church has dwelt too long on sex as the deciding issue. Perhaps a session merely needs to decide that G-8.02091 *violates their conscience and that the building into which their families had poured their life was not owned by the Presbytery.
Perhaps I've even found my way out of the financial quagmire that the medical aspect of the Board of Pensions has forced our church. I can simply, and with all honesty declare that G-14.0506b* violates my conscience because of its unfair and unequal application to all ordained clergy of the PC (USA). Hope they're ready for this
Red Cleric

Wednesday, March 1

Lent and the Word of God


I thought it wonderful to read this blurb from Pope Benedict the XVI. It is a statement that all followers of Jesus can get understand and say "Amen!" too. Sadly there will be more people who "give up" something for Lent than who "add to" their spiritual health.

"Speaking to a crowd of about 12,000 people in St. Peter's Square on Ash Wednesday, the Holy Father added to his prepared text with an extemporaneous meditation on the significance of Lent. He said that the Christian's life must be nourished by God's Word, which is always alive and true. During this penitential season, he recommended that the faithful rely on the Gospel to "reinforce your conscience with the truth," and thus "reject the lies that poison mankind and give rise to all evils."[1]


Don't let Lent overwhelm you with all the usual stuff of springtime. Instead make time to prepare your heart to meet Christ in new and enriching ways. And as His Holiness says, there is no better way than to be overwhelmed by God's Word.


Peace

Red Cleric

Monday, February 20

What's Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander...or is it?

What's good for the goose is good for the gander...or is it?

Here's a suggestion that would never fly, probably should never be tried, might get myself in hot water with an entire world religion but here goes.

What if the US decided to replicate the religious freedom of it staunch ally in our War on Terrorism, Saudi Arabia?

What would happen in this fine nation of ours? What would happen to our tradition and lately, IMHO, recent religion of 'tolerance beyond sense'?

The first thing that would happen is that 1209 mosques would close their doors. Why, because those in Saudi Arabia who are not Muslims aren't allowed to have public places of worship. A report from the US Department of State in 2005 (the link to the site is below) says, "There exist no synagogues or churches in the country, and, while there have been no specific reports of physical violence against, or harassment of Jewish people, there have been numerous reports of violence against and harassment of Christians."* *From the same report, "The Government prohibited the public practice of non-Muslim religions. In general, non-Muslims are able to worship privately, but must exercise great discretion to avoid attracting attention". And, "There were cases in which the Government arrested and detained Christians, at times for holding services and at times apparently arbitrarily"*

Any fairness in the tort provision of U.S. law would also be changed. For example the Muslim family killed by a Christian drunk driver would only be eligible to receive 50% of what would usually be rewarded and if the wife, sister or other female was the plaintiff only 25% of that. This too from the report.

"According to the country's Hanbali interpretation of Shari'a, once fault is determined by a court, a Muslim male receives 100 percent of the amount of compensation determined, a male Jew or Christian received 50 percent, and all others (including Hindus) received 1/16 of the amount a male Muslim receives. Women receive 50 percent of what males receive in each of these categories."**

There would be no teaching of Islam in public schools and it wouldn't matter if the Saudi Royal Prince gave 20 million to Harvard and Georgetown University. What's more New York City Schools wouldn't be able to set aside a room for the Muslim students to pray during Ramadan[1] In fact, the courts in the US would be able to hold suspect or to deny any Muslim witness or testimony in a court of law. "Under the Hanbali interpretation of Shari'a law, judges may discount the testimony of persons who are not practicing Muslims or who do not adhere to the correct doctrine."*

Not only would there not be teaching of Islam but there would be mandatory teaching of Christianity in all schools. Any Koran brought, published or found in the nation could be confiscated and there would be a group of "citizen vigilantes" whose job it would be to make sure the dominant Christian faith was being supported and adhered too, I believe they are called Mutawwa'in. Like France, it would be illegal to wear a head scarf, or any outward indication of one's Islamic faith, just as it is illegal to wear a cross in the Kingdom.

So what am I getting at? In this day-and-age of seeking "level playing fields" in international markets doesn't it make sense to level the playing fields in other areas as well? NAFTA, the first Bush's proposal, is aimed at brining the US, Mexico and Canada together as tariffs are phased out over 14 years. There have been talks from both parties about the "dumping" of various parts, items and the like from Japan, China and others. Why haven't we considered a "social" leveling of the playing field? The powers that be would point to our "freedoms" but IMHO I want to suggest that we're much more interested in maintaining our importation of Saudi oil than we are in standing up for human rights or supporting our own beliefs.

No! The US is not, never really has been and never will be a "Christian nation" nor should it. I that were the intention of the followers of Jesus Christ we would be rioting and burning over depictions of Jesus in the East End of London.[2] We accept that our Lord will be humiliated today, even as he was during his mockery of a trial and on the cross. For we believe that Jesus "emptied himself" [Philippians 2] and took on a form of a human.

No! We won't riot. We won't even try to interfere with the rights of those who like to strip the followers of Jesus of the same rights they enjoy. The reason, is that most who are followers of Jesus here in the United States recognize that God's Kingdom, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, not Allah will come



[1] http://www.becketfund.org/index.php/article/179.html accessed 2/20/06 The Becket Fund served as a support of NYC's schools to allow a time of prayer. This was over an against an ACLU concern.

Tuesday, February 14

Did you ever wonder about..

  • Why we drive on parkways and park on driveways?
  • Why the third hand on the watch called the second hand?
  • Why does "fat chance" and "slim chance" mean the same thing?
  • Why are they called "stands" when they are made for sitting?
  • Why is it called "after dark" when it really is "after light"?
  • How come abbreviated is such a long word?
  • Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’?"

The bible study tonight will start looking at Mark 2. It’s a three part passage with verses 1-12 being about a man who is brought to Jesus by four others guys and Jesus heals him after telling him he is forgiven.

The second section (vv. 13-17) deals with a tax-collector, sort of a Roman casual laborer, named Levi. He is called by Jesus to follow and he does. It seems from the story that not everyone is happy with that choice or with the fact that Jesus would even want to be around someone like that.

The third (vv. 1-28) continues the controversy which began in the first section. It builds on this uneasiness of Jesus, who ignored the “law” when it came to theology and the company he kept. Now it begins to move into the sphere of “decorum” and seemingly unflattering if not flaunting of God’s law.

I started off with the humor because we need to exercise a bit of caution when we start to pick a fight with the Jewish leaders who seemingly attack Jesus. I’m sure most of say, “I would never have done anything like that!” or “I’d never claimed Jesus was possessed!” Yet before we make such a statement perhaps we should look at those humorous misstatements that are part and parcel of our everyday life.

We are walking contradictions. We claim we’re free from Sin but we still sin. We say there is no racial, gender, or class difference in Jesus yet insists in worship in a style and language that is comfortable and fairly predictable. We may say one thing but the way we live shouts something else entirely.

A strong believer in a church who was more liberal [progressive is the new PC* term] than their pastor and after several years they felt they needed to be in a congregation that shared their values. Living in an ethnic part of their city with many friends who were people of color can you guess what they did? They joined the big “white” church in town where there were people of color, to be sure; but they were our type of “people of color”.


  • How sick are you?
  • Do you even know you are sick?
  • Do you think your spouse, child, teacher, boss, parent, co-worker, neighbor in the pew, or person down the street is sicker than you are?
  • Are you sure?

Don’t miss out on the healing Jesus brings by misdiagnosing your own state of wellness after all didn’t someone say, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do.”**



*PC=Politically Correct

** Mark 2:17