Tag Archives: plumb line

The One Test Your Church Really Must Pass

Tuesday Re-mix –

This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand.  And the LORD asked me, “What do you see, Amos?”

   “A plumb line,” I replied.

   Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.  Amos 7:7-8

plumblineThere are a lot of ways to measure the “success” of the church today, a lot of standards from which we can draw.  I suppose which standard we use will depend on who we are trying to please at the time.  Whether they will admit it or not, our people most often use their own comfort level as the standard for judging whether or not we are “getting it right”.  Our denominational entities likely would care about our level of “support” for their programs and, more importantly, their budget.  Our communities would measure our effectiveness by how much assistance we offer them.  And you and I?  Oh we probably count noses in gathered worship or baptisms last year or variance from budget or some other such objective, measurable standards.

Please hear me when I say that, as far as I am concerned, all of those standards are fine measurements of some aspect of our effectiveness as a church.  I really have no qualms with any of them.  Each of them, it seems to me, has a right place in our strategic planning and in our “doing church”.  Similarly, I suspect that, during Amos’ time, the people of Israel had some objective, measurable standards for their own version of church and worship and honoring God.  I also suspect that, like the church today, they were knocking it out of the park by some …

Understanding the Rules of Engagement

Tuesday Re-mix –

My South African friend, Frank, tells a great story about being in a motorcycle gang when he turned his life over to the Lord.  A member of the gang confronted him: “So, I hear you’re a Christian now.”  “That’s right,” said Frank.  The gang member continued, “So, if I hit you, you have to turn the other cheek.”  “That’s right,” said Frank, “That’s what the scripture tells me.”  So the gang member belted Frank, right across the face.  Frank obediently turned the other cheek.  The gang member hit him again, maybe a little harder this time.  Frank straightened himself out, looked back at the gang member…and flattened him.  Then Frank told him, “Scripture gives no further instructions after that.”

It’s important to know the rules of engagement.

In the Christian church, the rules of engagement are all spelled out for us in God’s Word.  The Bible, then, becomes the cultural guideline for all of our interaction with one another, whether in times of conflict or in times of agreement.  In most Christian churches, the Bible is held among the very highest of values.  Understanding that culture (i.e., the rules of engagement), then, requires understanding God’s Word.  I think it is fair to say that, in the church today, one of the critical limiting factors to finding peace with one another is Biblical illiteracy.  By the same token, all of the most effective peacemakers I know in the church, past or present, have had a pretty good working knowledge of scripture.

In the secular world, at least in our culture, the highest value in mediation is the agreement.  In other words, that the parties agree is what matters most.  It doesn’t matter so much whether the agreement is fair or unfair or good or bad.  If the parties