Thursday, November 5, 2009

What are you most thankful for about your church and/or its ministry leaders?

I am thankful that God reached out to them and made them the men and women they are today. And I am thankful God is still working through each one and in each one. I am thankful for their willingness to learn and submit to God. And I am thankful that each one is willing to take a stand and take the heat. I am grateful that these are prayer warriors, in support of everything else we do. And I am grateful for their willingness to train up those who will come behind them. For all these things and more, I am thankful.

Glenn Ziegler
Merrillville Christian Church

The Threads forum is asking you to contribute and possibly win a thanksgiving gift.
Click on to participate.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Christians Persecuted In America?

A small home bible study group claimed they were being persecuted by a county office in big, bad, who-knows-what-they-believe-out-there California, USA. (Apologies to everyone who lives in that beautiful and much maligned state. That was a very small attempt at sarcasm related to the way CA used to be viewed in the Bible Belt...and in some areas, still is so viewed by some folks.)

My take on the facts, at this time, after a brief investigation on the internet:

This is a non-issue that was resolved according to county ordinances, given the time for the investigation to work through its legal stages. Someone complained about some issues with a group that was gathered at a house near their friends' home and a standard form letter was sent, but the wrong form letter, indicating that ordinance violations were being investigated and fines and permit fees would be assessed for any violations of local ordinances as to land use and assembly. In the end, it was made clear that the county had no interest in pursuing a mistaken form letter demand. The county admitted the error and followed their internally prescribed steps to investigate and respond to the issue - eventually informing the home owner that the county was dropping the matter because no legal action was warranted.

In a litigious society, it is not surprising that certain individuals and/or groups of professing Christians will also get caught up in the desire to litigate instead of negotiating or (gasp!) serving our neighbors...or simply waiting for the system to have time to work. So few can even begin to grasp the concept of actually deciding not to pursue every right they might claim that religious groups of all kinds (though we admittedly hear disproportionately more from groups professing to 'Christian') are turning more and more directly to civil courts to settle disputes with one another, with local governance/ordinances, and with other interest groups (like neighbors and neighborhood associations and even neighbors' friends). One can only wonder what folks would do if a house was so fully packed with people listening to a guest teacher that you'd have to cut a hole in the roof in order to get in! (How many times and ways can you see THAT turning into lawsuits??!!!)

Further reflections:

It saddens me to think that more and more children are being raised to think of this kind of response from a group (however small or large) of Christians (led by their pastor, no less) as normative behavior. Paul addressed this to some extent, as had Jesus also, to some extent, during His ministry. And it seems important to me that neither Jesus nor Paul advocated the public outrage approach, nor the take-those-who-offend-you-to-court approach, either.

Perhaps this should come as no surprise to someone raised in a spiritual heritage defined, transformed, mutilated and splintered by litigious actions over a hundred years ago - and for which there has still yet been no wide-scale resolution of the original issues. Instead, myriad other issues have been used to solidify the dissolution of a unity movement that died when the first case went to court, no matter how we try to revive its corpses or deny that THAT movement has died. In its place today we have a hollow shell of a claim to similar interests, while most of the things being pursued today bear little resemblance to the kind of efforts that were taken when Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell were alive, much less during the time when they labored so long and hard to get the thing started. What is left today remains more as a testimony to the evolution of groups into that which was once opposed than as a living testimony to the kind of effort Stone and Campbell envisioned and plead for so passionately. So why should we be surprised when someone claims to follow Christ and then takes actions in opposition to those advocated by the Christ and by His apostles?

So, no, I am not surprised. I am saddened, though, that the lost have been handed on a platter more lame reasons to resist efforts to reach them with the gospel; and I am also sadly resigned to having to address the difference between what Jesus taught and what many claiming to follow Him have pursued instead. Stories like this one give me nightmares about what it must be like to hear so many crying out, "Lord, Lord" when there is so little attention paid to what the One being addressed taught. It must rip His heart to hear the cries He longs for coming from us when we ignore His teachings and yet cry when things don't go well for us, as if we should expect things to go well anyway - having chosen to follow One who was crucified, literally, for those very teachings and for the sake of those who killed Him. Shall we expect to be treated differently, on however mild or harsh a level, than He was treated? Jesus said we should expect what He received.

If I follow Jesus, and if I believe Him, then the kind of persecution we will face is going to get a lot worse than an erroneous assembly citation in the mail. And the question remains: What will we do then?



Sunday, April 12, 2009

He Did Not Run


As we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus from the grave,
we meet together in relative safety and Peace.
The sound of guns firing is far away for most of us,
and the sounds of weeping and wailing seem far away, too.

But what if the 'powers that be' decided to do away with all religious gatherings,
and what if they were coming now … with guns ... for you?

Would YOU run?

Take a minute and think about it ... just now ... and consider your answer carefully.
Just imagine how you would feel ... and what you would do.
And remember, even the apostles ran away ... the night He was betrayed.

Let this Resurrection Sunday be a new beginning in your life.
And let this be a day of thanksgiving and wonder ... because
He did not run away!

He faced the death you and I deserved and took our place ...
hanging there on a cross between two thieves ...
the Son of God giving His life for the ungodly ...
fulfilling the Father's promise in the Garden ...
crushing the accuser who would destroy us ...
by suffering on our behalf.

Today we celebrate the One who would NOT stay dead!
Today we celebrate the re-birth of hope.
Today we celebrate Jesus.

May God richly bless each of you as you celebrate the Son, the Lamb of God, who died to pay our sin-debt and open the way back home to
the Father who has never stopped seeking after us –
ever since that day in the Garden!

Celebrate the Resurrection!
Celebrate Life!
Celebrate the One who did not run!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

25 random things

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

Tim Archer tagged me, and now I’ve tagged you. So be a sport and share…

1. I am 6 feet 7 inches tall

2. I am almost that round...(not really)

3. I like not shaving, but I sometimes hate having a beard (but I have a skin condition that pretty much mandates me keeping it)

4. I love basketball, but can't play it as much as I'd like because of weak knees and a fat belly

5. Golf is a substitute for basketball, but a very expensive one

6. All my old dreams of living in a commune have been crushed out of me by living in a 3 BR 1.5 Bath home with 7 other people

7. In kindergarten a little girl from 1st grade tried to kiss me...but I resisted b/c she had cooties

8. That didn't happen again until 6th grade, when a girl named Pam kissed me...and I found out that if that's what cooties are like, then I like cooties

9. I love reading and exploring, but I miss playing sports more often and watching less

10. Having another birthday isn't the same as getting older, b/c you get love on your birthday and you get aches and pains and stuff when you get old-er

11. I love ‘schooling’ younger players who are in better shape than I am – in any game at all – just for the fun of it

12. I find it easier to work to help others achieve their dreams that it is to just work on my own

13. We are all statistics in somebody’s study, but only some of us are statistics in the divorce column…and it isn’t one anyone wants to be part of

14. Marriage may not last forever, but the affects of the divorce will

15. Some of my hair is still so dark brown it is almost black, but the majority is now white and gaining ground

16. I don’t like politics because there are few absolutes and fewer people who value the absolutes that remain in the political arena

17. A day spent doing something to help someone else to walk closer to God is better than any other day

18. A full quiver of arrows is expensive…in many ways…and sometimes makes you look like a target

19. My wife loves dressing me up, but hates having to wear something dressy (almost makes me wonder if she’s planning my funeral…LOLOLOLOL )

20. When I look in the mirror I wonder where the athlete I used to be went to and why he doesn’t come around much anymore

21. When I look at my treadmill and weights and ab-lounger, I think about moving all the stuff that is stacked on top of them…and it makes me want to go and lounge in my La-Z-boy recline-a-rocker

22. I drink tea and soda pop and Gatorade more, but I love water for the way it makes me feel

23. I married ‘up’ when I married my wife of almost 10 years now

24. She thinks she married ‘up’ too…go figure

25. Jesus is my best friend and my first love…period

And whether all else works or fails you, everything will be better when you fix your sights on Jesus and never give up walking with Him.