Tag Archives: moral

The Church of Dry Bones

Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”  Ezekiel 37:4-6

Dry BonesEzekiel’s “Valley of Dry Bones” can represent a lot of things beyond just the exiled Hebrew people of his time. It can represent the state of our souls prior to salvation, the spiritual state of most nations today (maybe especially including the U.S.), or it can symbolize churches. For our purposes here, let’s take up the latter.

You know I believe in the church, right? I believe it is God’s unbelievable and completely unorthodox (is it OK to call the church unorthodox?) plan to reconcile a lost and broken world to Himself.  First, He created us in His image with the free will to choose a relationship with Him or not. Then He sent His son (the Word become flesh) to atone for all of our wrong choices and rebellion in order that we, His regenerate people, might be reconciled to Him. And then, He sent His Spirit to fill His people (His church) and to work through them to continue to bring lost sons and daughters to Him. I believe that has always been His plan and that it will succeed, just as scripture foretells. That is the meta-narrative underlying all of the churches’ successes and failures and seasons of triumph and seasons of brokenness.

But it is against that greater backdrop that Ezekiel’s valley …

Culture Wars: Defining the Win

Tuesday Re-mix:

The Lord is at your right hand;
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.  
Psalm 110:5-6

If you have been here at Church Whisperer very long at all, you already know I have some issues with what we call the “culture wars”.  Specifically, I get a little twisted out of shape sometimes about the church’s role in those culture wars.  Here is another angle on that issue. [RANT WARNING]

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image18479312I wonder if those of us who expend an extraordinary amount of time and energy and resources on “fighting the culture wars”, i.e., engaged in heated debate with those outside the church over moral issues and trying to legislate morality so that non-Christians everywhere will start acting more like Christians,…I wonder if we have defined in our own minds what, exactly, “winning” this war would look like?  What is the objective?

Is the objective to somehow force non-believers to act like believers, i.e., to conform to God’s standards of behavior irrespective of their beliefs about God?  Is that a “win”?  Or maybe the objective is just to have warned them in advance of their ultimate judgment, so that we have the satisfaction of being right, even when it means they suffer unspeakable judgment?

If it is the former, then I think you see the fallacy.  Having a bunch of people walking around ACTING like Christians (conforming to God’s standards of behavior) will probably make for a more peaceful world in the short term, but it would do nothing to spare non-believers from the eternal fate which awaits them.  If it is the latter, then we have a problem there as well.  When we bash people over the heads with …

Dealing with Secret Sin…In Community

Tuesday Re-mix –

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

Step 4: We make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

[I am using these Tuesday Re-mixes for a few weeks to think (again) about addiction to self-reliance and how that addiction is one of the biggest challenges to genuine community which we face in the American church culture.]

It was several years ago when a back injury made me finally give up my yardwork.  That was a difficult thing for me.  I actually enjoy yardwork…in my own yard, anyway.  So it was difficult for me to let someone else do it.  It is MY yard, and I know all of its nooks and crannies and secrets, and I certainly did not want some stranger coming in and caring for my yard.  But the biggest adjustment for me in giving up that little area of self-reliance was the fact that somebody else was going to get very familiar with all of the embarrassing hidden messes in my yard…all of those corners and hidden spots which were not well-groomed and which hid some not-so-nice things.

If you have ever had someone come in and clean your house, you have felt that same feeling.  They see everything…that junk drawer in the kitchen, that cabinet which hides stuff you haven’t seen in years, and that horrible, cluttered closet.  It is embarrassing!

Thinking about Step 4 in our recovery from the addiction to self-reliance, taking an honest moral inventory of our inner-most life is revealing.  Just like that secret cluttered closet in the house and that hidden ugly corner in the yard, our lives have secret areas of …

Leading Without a Net

Tuesday Re-mix –

The only people who should work without a net are people who have something to prove about themselves.  Honestly, but for the entertainment value, I cannot think of any good reason to do it.  Nonetheless, as I consult with churches and their leaders, I encounter leader after leader working without the safety net of an accountability group.  In most cases these are bright, well-meaning ministers with lots of good things going for them.  But they will fall at some point (we all do) and that deafening silence they experience just before the sharp pain of rock bottom will be the complete absence of any support structure in their ministry life…and it will be their own fault, because they never pulled any accountability around them.

More times than not, the reason we don’t subject ourselves to accountability is that we do not like being questioned.  This is perhaps even more true when we are following a calling God has placed on our lives.  In that case, depending on how comfortable we are in our own skin, we are capable of interpreting every question as opposition (rather than as a helpful thing).  And we all know that, when we are doing God’s work, we must either ignore the opposition or steamroll right over it.  There are no other options, right?

“I’m not accountable to anybody but God.” Believe it or not, I’ve actually heard this come out of the mouths of more than one pastor.  It is silly enough that any of us would think these words to ourselves, but to actually say them out loud demonstrates an entirely new level of both arrogance and ignorance.  It is arrogant because it implies that I, as pastor, am wired differently than everyone else–that I am NOT wired for community like …