All Authority Descends From Above

Derived Authority

Why are so many Christians making such a big deal out of having to wear masks? Why are so many Christians talking about defying the government’s orders to not gather indoors for worship? 

They argue that, “Jesus told us to love our neighbor and obey the government, rendering unto Caesar his due.”

These are reasonable questions by well-meaning Christians. Does the government have the authority to limit worship? Does the word of God give unlimited authority to the civil government in every area of or lives? 

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Romans 13:1 “…For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God…”

Jesus was shaping the New Covenant mission of God’s people and taught his disciples that Jesus was the highest authority in heaven and earth, so that the Apostles would be equipped to address the lesser authorities in their evangelism and conflict with pagan cultures. 

Paul understood this, and therefore encouraged the embattled Roman Church in their proper responsibility to authority, even pagan civil authority is derived by God. Authority is always derived and is therefore limited.  

Anyone in a position of authority receives that authority from God. It is similar to Jesus’ instruction about receiving the one whom He sends; by receiving the one Jesus sent, you receive Jesus. If you reject the one Jesus sent, you reject Jesus. 

The same principle applies to authority. Positions of authority are not autonomous, and neither are they to be ignored and scoffed at. God rules a world with hierarchies, therefore, to live faithfully in God’s world, we must avoid both being scofflaws or treating authorities as if they are absolute. 

All authority in heaven and earth is the Lord’s, who appoints people to positions of authority by His sovereign and wise will, who are therefore required to obey His rule.

Some would argue that Romans 13:1-5 makes no qualification to our obedience to authorities and that authority is autonomous and absolute. And that is true, there is no explicit qualification, but an implicit qualification.  We see, by good and necessary consequence, that there is a qualification given in v. 3 “rulers are not a terror to good conduct.” So, what happens if they are a terror to good conduct? Has God left us with no recourse? 

No, our defense for such a wickedness is found in sphere sovereignty; authority is given to different leaders that overlap and correct corruptions, protecting us from one another’s wickedness. Such as fathers and policemen, Congress and the President or State Governors and County Sheriffs. A biblical example of the protection provided by Sphere sovereignty is found in the coup committed by the High Priest Jehoiada in 2 Kings 11. Jehoiada led a violent overthrow of the evil Queen and the installment of the true King of Israel. 

Imagine a Pastor who wants to dictate exactly what his parishioners can and cannot watch on TV or how they must brush their teeth. Both of these are things outside his authority and the elders of the church, and the fathers within the community, should protect those parishioners from that overreach. Imagine a wife whose husband demands his wife wear only red, or dictates who she can and cannot be friends with or he gives her a bedtime – all appealing to his authority as her husband. The elders of their church should intervene and protect her from her husband’s tyranny. These varying authorities are not autonomous or absolute. The overlapping authorities protect us from one another’s wickedness and tyranny.

Currently, civil governments in the United States are violating the Fist Amendment of the Constitution by restricting whether the church can gather for worship or not, whether they can sing or take communion in that service, or not. But the worship of the church is regulated by God’s word and God alone. The authority to determine when, where and how the church worships is delegated to the authority of the Church, not the civil Government. As American citizens, we do not obey men, we obey the Constitution and the elected officials enforcing the constitution. Once those authorities are violating the constitution, then they have become tyrannical. 

As Pastor Trewhella wrote “America’s founders understood that the civil government’s authority was delegated, and therefore, limited. They state in the Declaration of Independence that all men are “endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” They understood that rights did not originate from the State, but rather were given to men by God, and it is the Government’s respnsiblity to protect those God-given rights. 

Authority is derived from God. God has appointed different kinds of authority to different governing bodies. Therefore, those authorities must recognize the objective and absolute authority of God and operate submissive to the law of the Land and the Law of God. No authority is absolute or autonomous. 

The Church needs to consider the different spheres of authority and exactly what is within each of their purviews to do and not do. We are commanded by God’s word to respect, pray for, honor and obey all rightful authority. This requires us to know the difference between properly exercised authority and tyranny. 

All authority is derived from God and is therefore not absolute. 

Fattening Calves for the Slaughter

Christ sat on the temple mount teaching and there were those who did not receive his words, for they relied completely on themselves. They were wealthy; two car wealthy. Some had a house they owned, some they rented, they ate meat every day, had an income. They even owned more than two coats and two pairs of shoes. 

They could get medical service when they needed it. Dental too. They could choose between 5 grocery store chains. Two kinds of Thai, hell, even two kinds of decent fried chicken. Even their burgers came from cows healthier than the average kid born in the southern hemisphere. 

They had never known hunger. The cops came when they called for them, aid cars too. They could play any song, from any era, whenever they wanted as many times as they wanted. They could vote. 

They could buy guns. They could turn the heat up or down. Sit in the shade or not. Plant gardens of whatever suited them. They could even water those gardens as often as they wanted. They could pay neighbor kids to mow their lawn. 

They were wealthy and self-sufficient and therefore, they were hard of hearing. 

One of them in the front row didn’t have a bible, didn’t need to verify what the Messenger said, he was just there to listen. The messenger was probably right, maybe not, whatever. The rich man’s mind wandered. He thought of all those fools at home, going about their day, lost in darkness out in the world, missing out on the Lord’s service. He was grateful he were chosen, special, different. 

The Messenger mentioned liberals and it was always funny. Always spot on. Those progressives, they don’t know the ear from a hole in the wall. What morons. “Thank God I’m not an idiot,” thought the rich man. 

Jesus got up to pray. Our wealthy friend heard him ask God to give them courage and the rich man chuckled to himself. He had never feared anything. Nothing. God loved him so much and took such good care of him. Not like the loser on the side of the road of the offramp; that addict under God’s judgement, probably a registered sex offender too, just like that filth living under the Aurora Bridge. 

The man’s heart was full of gratitude for being who and what he was. He had a full tithe check in his pocket ready to slide into the box. He was an honest hard-working man who wanted for nothing. He was a faithful husband too – it was all just so overwhelming.  

Further back was another well-to-do rich man. But he lingered just inside the door, clutching his bible, listening from afar. Unable to draw any closer, too ashamed to even lift his head. He knew that all the wealth and worldly blessing were just whitewash. He knew inside, he was as corrupt as a corpse three years in the grave. 

“Mercy,” was his half audible prayer. “Mercy.” 

Only one of these men went home Justified. 

Friendship with BLM is Enmity with God

James, the Lord’s brother, led the first church in Jerusalem and wrote the epistle known as James. He wrote it to the scattered church, intending for it to be a circular sermon read at each house meeting, addressing issues common to all Christians. The content of the letter is a summary of both OT wisdom literature and the Sermon on the Mount, rendered in a uniquely concise and poetic form. James’ overall message is that orthodoxy (right doctrine) must be expressed in orthopraxy (right living). 

An important aspect of that right doctrine and right living is loyalty within the body of the Lord, to the Lord. Wisdom and the tongue are the two things James addresses in 3:1-4:12, which were causing dissension within the body of Christ. More specifically, worldliness expressed in a lack of wisdom and a misuse of the tongue is causing dissension within the body. Worldliness is an extreme form of disloyalty to the Lord and was causing enmity, or warfare, within the body of the Lord. 

If Christians are disloyal to the Lord himself, then they will not have peace with the Lord’s body. James 4:4 says that our unfaithfulness to Jesus his friendship with the world and friendship with the world is enmity with God. Enmity means being at war, the opposite of friendship. It means ill-will, hatred, unfriendly dispositions, malevolence. 

This is an echo of the protoevangelium of Genesis 3:15, where the sons of God were at enmity with the sons of Satan which is a poetic description of Man’s fall and subsequent brokenness and estrangement from God. James is essentially saying that loyalty to the world is an act of war on God and His people. 

Some might say that friendship with the world is necessary for evangelism, because relationship is the best means to live out the great commission and the command to love our neighbors. Especially since Jesus ate with prostitutes and drunks and immoral people, compassionately befriending them in the circumstance in which he found them. But Paul is going beyond mere affection or affinity that constitutes casual, neighborly relationships. 

The word that Paul uses is the Greek word for love; Philia – to have love for someone or something, based on sincere appreciation and high regard – a state of being inclined to help or support someone or something. The Greek word for world is Kosmos – the world system; the people constituting the world whose values, beliefs and morals are in distinction and rebellion to God. We are not called to love the world but hate it. John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Christ has called our hearts, affections, minds and desires out of this world and calls us to focus them on Him, even as our physical bodies remain in this world. We are to be in the world, not of it. The warfare between the kingdom of darkness against the Kingdom of Christ is real and though we fight that war like Christ, we are to seek to save those in the world, without promoting the world’s values and beliefs and morals. 

It’s like neutrality in warfare. A nation cannot say that it is neutral toward both parties of an armed conflict and then sell supplies to one party, aiding them in the conflict. Friendship between nations means lending mutual support. Promoting the welfare and ability of one nation in battle means that you are not neutral, but are friendly – promoting their success, upholding their values, beliefs and morals. Logically, you are not neutral but at war with the third country. 

John Calvin comments that, He calls it the friendship of the world, when men surrender themselves to the corruptions of the world, and become slaves to them. For such and so great is the disagreement between the world and God, that as much as any one inclines to the world, so much he alienates himself from God. Hence the Scripture bids us often to renounce the world, if we wish to serve God.”

Contemporary applications abound. But one prevalent one is the BLM movement. Now, no one can argue with the fact that black lives matter. It is a true statement that ought to be defended. 

However, the organization of the same name is antithetical to Christian values and friendship with God. The BLM creed is social marxism. Marxism is an economic-political theory that the “haves” are oppressing the “have-nots”. The bourgeoise must be toppled and the workers must be ennobled and empowered. 

The BLM form of Marxism is racial rather than financial. Certain races and sexual orientations have all the money, opportunity, power, privilege etc. and they must be toppled, and the oppressed races must be ennobled and empowered. 

It’s a framework for understanding both history and current socio-economic disparities. This social Marxism implores us to see that race is everything, all disparities come down ethnicity.  The social ills of our day are caused by the new bourgeoise – white people. This is the epicenter of the commie revolution in America that is hijacking the real and justified outrage over the death of George Floyd.

The injustice in the world must be remedied. But the heightened outrage is being channeled into support for an organization that is revolutionary and opposed to basic Christian morality. 

Their creed states that are “self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege.” Cisgendered means a sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex. But there are only two genders and those genders depend on one’s sex at birth; “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27).” 

The BLM creed states further that they, “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.” God gave man the cultural mandate at the beginning of creation and the Word of God places the nuclear family at the heart of society; “from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate (Mark 10:5–9).” “Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth” (Malachi 2:15). 

The BLM creed closes with this statement, “We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).” This is opposed to biblical morality as we see in 1 Corinthians 6:9; “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality.” 

BLM is at war with God and His Holiness. Their ethos is summed up in Psalm 2:2–3; “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

Promoting the values, beliefs and morals of the BLM movement isn’t neutral. It’s an act of war on God’s holiness. Friendship with BLM is enmity with God. Walking in step with BLM is not right living and promoting their ideology is not right thinking. 

As we seek to right injustices and teach the nations to be disciples of Christ, we cannot compromise with the world and remain neutral to organizations that promote warfare with and hatred of the living God. 

I Don’t Need to Repent of That

A middle schooler sits in PNW history reading, for the first time, about the internment of Japanese Americans during world war II.  He is horrified to learn that 120,000 innocent people were rounded up and imprisoned because some of them might be spies. He thought to himself, “how could the US fight to liberate Europe while simultaneously committing atrocious war crimes against its own people?” 

One of his best friends is a second generation Japanese American. One day after school, at the friend’s house, this young man apologizes to his friend and his whole family, including his grandma, for what Americans had done to their people. 

The family just looks at him in awkward and stunned silence. “but,” his grandmother says, “you didn’t do that…your parents weren’t even alive. And our family was still in Japan, enemies of the United States. But I heard you and my grandson talking about how you were treating your classmate poorly; tomorrow, apologize to him for what you actually did do.” The boys go out to play basketball. 

When we say the United States sinned, what does that mean? The United States isn’t a person. So, who did the sinning? 

When we say that non-Japanese Americans sinned against Japanese Americans who did the sinning? Every non-Japanese american? Against every Japanese American alive then and now? In the case of the Japanese prisoners, US politicians, military officials, local government officials and normal citizens who claimed the businesses and homes of those interred Japanese Americans all participated in particular sins against particular individuals. Specific crimes against Specific people. Who is responsible for those sins? Those war crimes? 

We live in the information age in which we know a great deal about what happened 300 years ago and what is happening 3000 miles away. Meanwhile, we hardly know what is going on 3 houses down our street. When we hear of atrocities, crimes, sins, injustices and wrongs what is our responsibility? 

We are not responsible for the sins of every American or everyone who shares our ethnicity, our language, our creed, etc. 

During the first Crusade, the Christian soldiers marched into the Middle East and promptly slaughtered 30,000 infidels. The problem was, well there are lots of problems with that, but one of them is that they weren’t infidels, they were all Christians who dressed and talked differently than the Germanic soldiers. The first massacre of the first crusade were Christians slaughtering Christians because they looked and talked different. So, you are Christians. Are you responsible for that? 

Does the bible have anything to say about this? Covenantal theology is necessary at this point. A husband is responsible for His wife, a free agent who commits sins. His responsibility does not mean his wife will not answer for her sins, it means he will answer for his sins and her sins. Add children. Add greater and greater spheres of authority and responsibility. 

Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. 

Your pastors will give an account for their own sins and yours. This is federal headship, covenantal headship. FDR will give an account for His own Sins and the sins of his administration for Interring Japanese Americans. Mayors, presidents, generals, husbands, mothers, pastors – anyone who has authority and responsibility will give an account for the sins of those in their care. 

We must repent of our worldly thinking. The false belief that the bible has nothing to say about the most difficult questions that face us right now. God’s word is sufficient for the problems of our age, if we have the courage and humility to study it and apply it no matter how unwelcome in the public sphere, we are people of the word. 

Here is an example. Deuteronomy 21:1–3 “If in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess someone is found slain, lying in the open country, and it is not known who killed him, then your elders and your judges shall come out, and they shall measure the distance to the surrounding cities. And the elders of the city that is nearest to the slain man shall take a heifer that has never been worked and that has not pulled in a yoke.

Did the whole town repent? No, the elders and judges of the nearest town repented. How were they responsible? They were covenantally responsible, sice the unsolved murder happened in their jurisdiction. Do we want more justice in our community? Then the mayor and judges of Lynnwood ought to repent, on behalf of the city, for every unsolved murder and cold case on record right now. That is biblical justice. And this is just one example. Let us shape our cries for justice with a biblical standard rather than the standard of academics, sociologists, race-baiting social Darwinists. We have a great deal to learn about how to process the injustices we learn about. Whether through history books or the nightly news. 

The struggle is real though, because our culture does not recognize God, his law or the responsibility leaders owe for the sins of their administration. We are tempted to make justice solely an issue of this age. We want vindication now, but we are not promised vindication now. We ought to cry out against injustice, but all injustice will not be reconciled in this age. We can be neither complacent nor without hope. 

In the age to come all injustices will be dealt with by Christ. If that isn’t our ministry than we have a gospel problem. And if that isn’t enough, then we have a gospel problem. We see here an opportunity to pray for our leaders, but prayer doesn’t seem like enough. It seems futile. We want to grasp the levers of power and reshape this world. 

Being a just person is harder than bewailing the injustice we so readily see in others. There is a great temptation in national or ethical repentance. C.S. Lewis sums it up in his essay on national repentance.

 “When we speak of England’s actions we mean the actions of the British Government. The young man who is called upon to repent of England’s foreign policy is really being called upon to repent the acts of his neighbour; for a Foreign Secretary … is certainly a neighbour. And repentance presupposes condemnation. The first and fatal charm of national repentance is, therefore, the encouragement it gives us to turn from the bitter task of repenting our own sins to the congenial one of bewailing—but, first, of denouncing—the conduct of others.

National repentance can rob us of the crucial virtue of charity. There is a great deal everyone needs to take responsibility for. But does that include you and I repenting for the trail of tears or wounded knee or the Tuskegee Experiment? Those are all hard and important lessons from history. Those kinds of injustices are happening today and there are covenanted authorities responsible for them. 

How about the Chief of the Minneapolis Police department repenting publicly for the negligent homicide of George Floyd? The Obama Administration repenting for the fast and furious program? Every government official who has supported the murder mills of Planned parenthood? 

Want to address injustice? Pray that those who are in authority would count the cost of their authority and responsibility for which they will give an account? That they would be converted and seek to obey God’s law in their office?  

Pray that we all would stop being distracted by things three thousand miles away and things that happened three hundred tears ago and start concerning ourselves a lot more about what’s going on three doors down the street. 

What are the sins of millennials? Gen X-ers? Baby boomers? Things they actually participated in?  

What are the national idols and what is the spirit of the age with which you and I are actively whoring ourselves with right now? We can’t let injustice across the country distract us from the most important injustices that involve each one of us – those injustices we ourselves commit. Those sins of omission and commission affecting our spouse, children, friend, family, neighbors and our larger communities.

A Death Sentence

Why does God allow suffering and difficulty in our lives if He loves us?

2 Corinthians 1:9-11 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

The circumstances of Paul’s life felt like a death sentence. Why would God allow one of His loving servants to suffer in this way? What was the point? 

Calvin wrote, “we are not brought to real submission until we have been laid low by the crushing hand of God.” 

Truly, we often need a bout of helplessness, to reduce our self-reliance and strip us of all false confidence, so that we might learn humility and open ourselves to the deep realities of God’s power. 

A severe threat of death led Paul to a deeper trust in God. 

When we rely on our own strength, righteousness and wisdom, we are unable to depend entirely on God, dooming ourselves to frustration, fear and moral failure. Romans 10:3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

Don’t Kill Your Wife With Curriculum

I want to tell you homeschool husbands a secret. Something you don’t know that, if you did know, would bring more joy and contentment to your home. I worked for two years at a Classical Christian School. I was in the staff meetings and homework planning sessions. The secret is: NO TEACHER, TEACHES THE ENTIRE CURRICULUM IN EVERY SUBJECT, IN ANY GIVEN YEAR.

You know why? Because the curriculum is a guide, its an estimation –  its an ideal. You teach to the student’s ability and understanding, not a strict, objective standard. For teachers there are things that arise like difficulties in some concept that requires a great deal more time and effort. There are illnesses and snow days. There are distractions. Every teacher gets in the final weeks of a school year and has to decide what is the most important concept or concepts to cover. Because there is always next year.

The ditches for homeschool families are either – viewing the curriculum as a mere suggestion and not covering most of it, or,  for most homeschoolers, the ditch hubby drives mom into where she MUST do all the curriculum in a given year. ALL OF IT.  This is the fear of being left behind, or undereducated. The ditch that looks at the money spent and and the professional looking syllabuses and wants to keep up with the standard.

But curriculum isn’t that kind of standard. Any given curriculum is going to outline more work than can be done in a year.

The thing with homeschooling is that depending on the number of kids, the amount of resources and the gifting of mom, you are making an exchange.

We have six kids. Five boys. We did the day school thing. But we exchanged all that rigor and professionalism and TIME because I would rather my kids get slightly less “professional” instruction, if it means they can get it done in 1/3 of the time and then go outside and build a tree fort. We exchanged seven  subjects for four because, its not the quantity but quality that matters. If my kids spend years and years reading their bibles but don’t do a science lab till they are sixteen, then amen.

Reading covers a multitude of sins.

Husbands, your wife doesn’t have to cover the whole curriculum. Its summer time. Its time for your kids to learn other things. How to mow the yard or build a birdhouse. How to change the oil in your car and power wash a sidewalk. Its time to perfect their sidewalk chalk art and lemonade mixing skills. Its time to learn that trampoline backflip and how to make a campfire.

Be like the good teachers. Look at what’s left, decide what’s the most important, teach it, then put it away and open a bottle of wine and let the kids read comic books.

Relax. Its not about getting it all done. Its about growing up to be Godly, competent learners. And the yard is calling, full of lessons that only come in this beautifully unique time of year.

Escaping the Christian Ghetto of the “church”

Individuals are saved into a community. St. Paul refers to this community as a temple of the Lord. This temple is unfinished. It’s a work in progress.

It’s an ever-expanding renovation project, acquiring new people, new tribes, new lands and new areas of human culture – sanded, refitted, resurfaced, polished and repurposed – without end – from the rivers to the end of the earth.

It’s messy but this building is being shaped into something beautiful that houses the Triune God.

But like all renovation projects, in which you are still trying to live in it – it strains patience, strains belief, strains our ability to envision the final product – it requires a lot of faith and hope.

We all know that.

People sin. Circumstances of life are difficult. People move away. People in church are not perfect. Resources are strained.

The people being repurposed into this building, the church, are delicate and difficult, they require specialized tools. And those tools are you and me.

I don’t know if you know this – but you – with all your attributes, life experiences, frailties and character traits – complete me. Without you I am a foot without a leg, an ear without a head.

You were born to have a significant role in my life. To play the part of sandpaper and duct tape. Pry bar and finishing hammer. Veneer and scrub brush. Congratulations. But I also complete you. This community is not the elders. This community is not a select clique.

You need everyone in this community. Not just the folks whose company you enjoy most – who are the most compatible, likeable, lovable and the least work.

I instill a lot of patience in people, by nature, because it takes a lot of patience to be close to me. Ask my wife. There is a fruit of the spirit that you are most adequately equipped to encourage in me. Trust me. Continue reading “Escaping the Christian Ghetto of the “church””

Escaping the Christian ghetto of “family”

Jeremiah 29:4-6 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.”

Can’t we sympathize with those faithful servants of God dwelling in Babylon? Exiled amid a pagan and god-hating culture? We know something about living among pagans. Using the right pronoun is a high crime in our society. God is imminently concerned for our welfare, so he calls us to not be discouraged but to build, to seek fruitfulness; in the field and in the home.

And this is warfare, for the Babylon in which we live hates fruitfulness. Abortion and the politics of sodomy are opposed to the cultural mandate and the ethics of our King. And the culture now is one of mammon and not husbandry – not sowing and reaping plenty as good stewards taking dominion of the soil, but our modern culture seeks the god of money and lays everything on its altar as sacrifice in pursuit of self-gratification with this idol.

Ladies, it’s hard to imagine how counter-cultural and warlike remaining in the home is. How violent a demonstration against the world a full womb is, the vehement politics of submitting to one man and raising 3, 4, 5+ children, even dare I say, teaching them yourselves, what a “revolution?” Men do you know how subversive it is to marry in the sight of God with vows of fidelity? To commit, for life, to a single woman and provide for her? To rear children? To remain in those children’s’ lives?

To put your hand to the plow of your job, not to seek riches for the god of Mammon and self-gratification but for the welfare of a wife who serves and helps you and children who depend endlessly on you -this is subversive. This is Reformation. Continue reading “Escaping the Christian ghetto of “family””

Escaping the Christian Ghetto of “self”

Get out of the Ghetto

Are there times when you feel isolated and alone? Even amid family, friends or y our church community? When you hear your pastors preach and teach about outreach and hospitality and servanthood – do you feel a lack of resources prevent you from taking our calls and admonitions seriously? Do you feel ill-equipped to obey in all that God has called you to do through your ministers? Do you keep people at a distance because you have experienced pain or difficulty in relationships?

Have people let you down? Abandoned you? Sinned against you? Judged you? Or perhaps you are so judgmental, that people aren’t worthy of meaningful friendship because they are prudish, arrogant, self-important and self-righteous? Pretty much, do you keep people at arm’s length where it’s safest?

Isolation. A lack of resources. Ill-treatment. These are all characteristics of a community, which since the sixteenth century, has been referred to as a ghetto. Modern use of the word tends to mean an ethnic, racial, low-income and inner-city. We don’t refer to trailer parks as ghetto – the word now as certain connotations. But the more accurate definition of the word is an isolated community turned inward from a city that is hostile toward it.

We did not set out to build ghettos. Suburban churches in our denomination are small, generally 30-100 people. We don’t have access to the wheels of cultural or political power. We are spread over a vast geographic area, in Seattle, we are in one of the most expensive regions to live in. We like big families. Continue reading “Escaping the Christian Ghetto of “self””

Seattle is The Fairy Tale City of Heroin and Home Invasion

In the Kloss house, fairy tales play a large part in our ethical instruction[1]. Fairy tales play a large part in the relating of truth: generation to generation and culture to culture. Good fairy tales echo the truth of God’s word. Really, what is the story of the bible if it isn’t, “slay the dragon – get the girl?” Therefore, St. George and the Dragon has been talked about a great deal with our five boys. “Boys… you’re either the self-indulgent, nasty dragon or you’re the brave knight saving the fair maiden (virtue, wisdom, sister, etc.).”

The fairy tale of the hour, not only for my boys, but for you and me as well, is the Emperor’s New Clothes. Seattle is that town. You mean because “In the great city where he lived, life was always gay.”[2] No…well yes…but…not that part. I think gay used to mean something else.

And neither am I referring to Seattle’s naked cycle ride on solstice or the poof parade. Those people know they are naked and long for us all to acknowledge it.

Seattle is the fairy tale town from the Emperor’s New Clothes. The story begins with a gay town and gay emperor and goes on to say that the effeminate emperor and all his fawning courtiers were too afraid to say he was naked, because they were told by the enterprising clothiers that the, “clothes made of this cloth had a wonderful way of becoming invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office, or who was unusually stupid.”[3] They were shamed into accepting lies as truth and bowed to the fear of man. No one had the courage to say the plain truth; the emperor is naked. It’s not until a small child finally has the good sense and moral fortitude to state the plain truth, “’but he hasn’t got anything on.’”[4] Continue reading “Seattle is The Fairy Tale City of Heroin and Home Invasion”