Wednesday, August 31, 2005

St. Patrick's Prayer -- or "The Deer's Cry"

READER'S NOTE: Saint Patrick reached Ireland with the gospel during a very dark time. The method he used so successfully is chronicled in George Hunter III's, "The Celtic Way of Evangelism" and Thomas Cahill's "How The Irish Saved Civilization." Patrick was called "The Deer" because of a failed attempt to kill him. An Irish tribal king laid in wait to kill Patrick and his followers as they went down a path to the next village. A fog set in and all the killers could see were some deer moving down the path. When the fog lifted they saw, not deer tracks, but the tracks of men. It was assumed that God made them appear as deer so they could pass safely by, and the name stuck. The Rochester Church of Christ uses this prayer (modified) when we send out missionaries or hire new staff. This translation is by Patrick Mead.

St. Patrick's Prayer

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preachings of apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendour of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me from snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in a multitude.

I summon today
All these powers between me and these evils:
Against every cruel, merciless power that may oppose my body and my soul:
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against witchcraft and idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me.
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise.
Christ in the heart of every one who thinks of me.
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me.
Christ in every eye that sees me.
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

Monday, August 29, 2005

No Jesus For YOU!

Yes, the title comes from an old Seinfeld episode. I only saw about six or so during their run and one of those was about the soup Nazi. He was a difficult man who made the world's best soup. When someone annoyed him or stepped out of his rigidly drawn lines of correct behavior he would shout "No soup for you!" And THAT, my friends, is my argument against legalism.

Legalism is not a love of the law. It is not wanting to do the right thing to please Jesus. Legalism is saying that you must have Jesus AND.... or that you can't have Jesus UNTIL... and then placing barriers around the would-be disciple. Jesus talked about the devout Pharisees who would search the world for another follower and then turn them into twice the child of hell they were! Strong stuff from the Prince of Peace. (but where we ever got the idea that peace was achieved by being nice all the time is beyond me...)

My Catholic friends tell me I need Jesus AND the Pope and their structure. My Mormon friends tell me I need Jesus AND their extra Bible (Jesus: The Sequel). My charismatic friends tell me I need Jesus AND a second outpouring of the Spirit. My friends in the church tell me I need Jesus AND the right doctrines on a hundred different crucial matters. And if I don't have Jesus AND whatever they add? Then -- no Jesus for me! I am denied equal status with them, turned away from their fellowship, because I only brought Jesus and that -- to them -- was just not enough. Or, alternatively, what I brought wasn't the real Jesus because the real Jesus only comes in a package with whatever else they declare as essential.

We sometimes do this unintentionally. While one of our three Sunday AM crowds is about 30% minority our staff is unrelievedly white. I wonder what message that sends. The majority of us are shiny happy people and I wonder if that makes some people -- who will never be shiny happy people -- think "no Jesus for me!" While this church makes a sincere and effective effort to reach the downtrodden, thrown away, and broken I wonder how many people are still turned away from Jesus because we act as if they have to have Jesus AND our traditions, way of speaking, and code of conduct.

This doesn't have to be the way things are. I remember a trip to the American West when I was twelve years old. It was 1969 or 1970 and a small church in Wyoming asked my father to come help them launch their new congregation with a week long meeting. They were a very small group of highly conservative people who were renting a VFW hall. Every night they arrived early enough to clean out the beer cans and get things looking 'churchy.' Every man sported a buzz cut or flattop and every woman used about a can and a half of Aquanet on their 'do' before arriving (which is why, I maintain, the churches of Christ don't use candles in worship. Open flame around that much hairspray might replay the Hindenburg disaster). We spent the day passing out leaflets saying "whosoever will may come." And then they did...

A proto-typical VW van pulled up, painted with daisies and peace symbols (remember the year?). Out of it poured a gaggle of hippies: long hair, dirty, handmade sandals, John Lennon style wire rimmed glasses, tie dyed shirts. They walked in and I braced myself. What would happen in this clash of cultures; similar to that between the Jerusalem Jews and the new believers in Galatia? What I saw, I will never forget. Those old, rigid, sticks-in-the-mud Christians turned out to be anything but. They got up and offered seats to the smelly newcomers. They opened the Bible and showed them where we were reading and how to use the songbooks. They asked them out to eat afterwards. I remember even going to the trailer one hippy 'family' used and seeing the old folk talking to them -- kindly and with great dignity -- about Jesus.

Instead of a "No Jesus for you!" attitude, they showed a "Jesus and nothing else" attitude. When I read Galatians to this day I think of that VW van, that clash of cultures, and the war that was avoided because nobody insisted on anything but Jesus and nobody brought anything but Jesus. Dear Father, let me be more like those old folk and less like me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Start Your Engines

Reading the Book of Acts reminds me of an RV park I frequently drive by in Ohio. No, wait, hear me out. This is a very strange RV park. It is not a trailer park, mobile home community, or manufactured housing estate. It is an RV park. Every one of the RV's has wheels, an engine, and a steering wheel. Got it? However... and this is the strange bit... grass has grown high around some of them. Others have satellite dishes and groomed lawns. A couple have wooden decks. This is an RV park where nobody is moving!

And that brings me to the Book of Acts. It seems to me that we do very well with this book right up until we get past Acts 2:39 (one verse beyond 2:38 which is tattooed in a secret area on every member's body right after conversion). Then, having done so well, we put our RV's in park and stop right where the first church started. We try to act like we haven't stopped. We surround our RV's with customs that we call law and we search for ways to tell "us" from the bad RV-ers in the park down the street.

The early church just started in Acts 2:39 and went on from there to divorce themselves from the world's story. No longer possessed by possessions, position, prestige, or power they launched themselves out into the world, taking with them the story of Jesus. By so doing they were said to have kept the apostles' doctrine. The apostles' doctrine was not the sum total of all the New Testament (and all our conclusions about it) for it did not exist at the time. Paul's letters were a long way away and the gospels wouldn't be written for decades. The doctrine they taught was the story of Jesus. Just as Paul said, all we know is Jesus -- son of God, died for us, resurrected and now interceding for us.

This story freed them from worldly conventions of competition and factionalism. In chapter four it could be boldly stated that "there were no needy among them" for those who had, sold, and brought the money so that others could be taken care of. In First John we see the pattern continuing when John says that anyone who loves will not hesitate to share what they have with those who have not.

Have we traded the thrill of the open road for the safety of the RV park? Has our Christian journey stalled at the starting line? When I was a boy and we climbed into the car for a trip, my father would always make us kids sing the first verse of "Take The Name of Jesus With You." We didn't always like doing it, but he didn't care: we sang it. Now I wish we all sang it every time we went anywhere. Now I wish our Christianity WENT somewhere, like beyond Acts 2:39.
And it can. A sandwich delivery man came in a moment ago with the lunch order for our preschool teachers. He leaned his head in and asked for some recommendations on study books.He is not a member here and I have never seen him before. I laid out eight books on my desk and examined them with him. He was going to write down titles that interested him when I said, "No. Take as many as you want. If you remember to bring them back, fine. If not, fine." He couldn't believe it. We had a good discussion about the fact that everything in my office was dust or was going to be one day, and if we can't give away dust (or proto-dust), our possessions possess us and not the other way around. We have a rule in our home: if you haven't worn it in six months, give it away. We have exceptions built in for coats or swimsuits or other items we rarely need. Everything else is given away -- and we don't take a tax write off for it. That makes it more of a gift. Why do we treat our possessions so cavalierly? Because we want to leave the RV park and get our Christianity on the road as they did in Acts.

This Sunday I asked our members to raise their hands if they were going on a foreign mission in the next twelve months so that we could pray for them. Among the twenty or so hands that went up was the hand of a four year old girl, smiling brightly. Her mother tried to pull it down, but she was enthusiastically volunteering! Afterward, I went up to her and asked, "You want me to take you overseas with us?" She beamed and said, "Yes, but I'll need a car seat!"

Our Father, give us hearts like hers. May we leave the RV park at last and hit the road with the gospel of the kingdom. Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Politics, Pain, and Patrick

I thought it might put the cat amongst the pigeons to post a political post -- and it did. But it also proved something: for all the talk about how we should be united and allow diversity of thought and speech, when someone steps outside the lines we have drawn politically it is hard not to jump all over them. Almost all of the comments -- even those who misunderstood me or took me to task -- were still irenic and thoughtful. Eight or nine had to be removed because of language, attitude, etc. I might one day create a political blog, but this isn't it. This one is about how we deal on a practical level with what we say we believe. My findings are what most of us would expect: we talk a better game than we play.

We talk about the spirit of Christ, about the evils of traditionalism and factionalism, but we react in sarcasm, personal attacks, and by piling on assertions rather than making arguments. NOTE: if anyone is guilty of this, I am, too. I find myself trapped in a Romans 7 lifestyle while my spirit wants to soar in chapter eight's truths.

I once mentioned in a sermon that I was not a member of any political party. A woman went out and said, "You may say you're not a member of any party but you're the most Republican preacher I've ever met!" Later a young man went out and asked if we could meet for breakfast the next morning. After that breakfast I asked him what he was going to do the rest of that day. He told me, "You don't want to know." I told him that -- yes, -- that was true before... I was only being polite, but that now I really DID want to know! He told me that he was going to work for President Bush's re-election. I asked him"Why did you think I didn't want to know about that?" He replied, "You've always struck me as a touchy-feely Democrat kind of guy.

Ready for the kicker? He was the son of the woman who made the comment about me being the most Republican preacher she'd ever met.

Fact is, I was once a member of the Scottish National Party from about 1979-1987. Since then I haven't been a member of any party. I voted for Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan (not in the same election....) and have never voted a straight ticket in my life. In my heart (and I am now bracing myself for incoming fire from my friends and worse from my... uh.... non-friends) I am libertarian. I believe in the freedom to believe what you believe and to live free from any rules or laws except those absolutely required. But notice I used a little "l" because the party that bears that name has too many anti-Christian principles for me to carry their card.

I can't be a Democrat for their concept of forced re-allocation of funds is offensive to me. I can't be a Republican because their "sink or swim" ideology doesn't cover all the bases and leaves too many people behind. I don't support gay marriage, but I think heterosexuals have harmed marriage far more than homosexuals ever could so which party should I rally with?

I believe in giving away my possession, money and time to any who need it. Those who know me know I live out that belief, sometimes to the point of irrationality. But I do not believe in forcing, by law, others to give to anyone. I find the Bible to be a book that will not make the left or the right happy. It requires a personal response to needs. The only corporate directives are to the group who have voluntarily placed themselves under the authority of God. We are never called to create a Christian government. We are called to be Christians regardless of the government. We are not asked to let the government do the church's work.

Last political statement and then I will return to the arena I prefer -- God and life (although, this is also God and life to me). I believe that the existence of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and vice laws are testimony to the failure of the church to take care of its own. I shudder to think of God's response to our failure to lavishly give to our needy, care for our elderly with respect and sacrifice, and provide homes for any who need them. I don't have time to bash Clinton or Bush. It is taking everything I have just to live for Jesus -- and I'm not doing that good a job yet.

I want to get better. I want to play whatever part He requires of me and I know that starts with the first step: giving Him access to everything I have and everything I am.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Because of a Dead Guy...

I drove home last night after our Wednesday night main event, and passed a group of perhaps seven adults and twenty children holding up signs and candles in support of Cindy Sheehan and attacking President Bush. I know that some feel they can't say anything about her since she lost her son (though that idea is debunked thoroughly at Ann Coulter's website: but I feel a need to speak up about matters of perspective and truth.

I have pacifist friends and have told them that I don't mind them being pacifist at all (it makes it easier to get their stuff), but that I cannot join them. While some would try to convince me that Jesus was a pacifist it is clear that his daddy wasn't and there is still that problematical bit where Jesus tells his apostles to buy swords. Regardless, I would like to live in a world of pacifists, but pacifists can only live in a world where they are surrounded by men ready to do violence to protect them and allow them their illusions of superiority.

I asked one such friend if he would protect his family against attack and he said no. (NOTE: this extreme position is certainly NOT the position of all pacifists) I told them that if my son and I heard screams of pain and sounds of struggle coming from his house we would immediately arm, lock and load, and come in primed to protect them. He replied "I wouldn't want you to do that." I responded, "You can't stop me." I could not live with myself if I didn't go into harm's way and that caused others to die. I will NOT discuss everything in my history, but I will tell you that this is not a purely hypothetical construct to me. The best things I have done in my life is when I have placed it in jeopardy for a higher cause.

I am at my office today because of dead men. When I leave in a few minutes to get lunch I can choose from a huge variety of restaurants and pay a few dollars for a meal... all because of dead men. I can go shopping later, if I want, because of dead men.

Can we have some perspective here? Remember Iwo Jima? It is an island 5 miles long with a collapsed volcano at one end rising up 550 feet above sea level. In a five week long battle 6,821 Americans lost their lives on that horrible lump of worthless real estate. In five weeks we lost three and a half times as many precious lives as we have lost in the last three years in both Iraq and Afghanistan (@1850) . Did anyone demand that FDR or Truman stop vacations and meet with anti-war activists, bring all the soldiers, sailors and Marines home and make nice with the enemy after Iwo Jima? If so, I have never heard of them.

On D-Day, to break the yoke of some of the most wicked men to ever draw breath, we stormed the beaches of Normandy. 2,420 Americans were killed or wounded on that one day. In preparation for that invasion we lost over 1,300 killed in accidents. Are we better off because of that war? Only the most blind would say 'no.'

I believe that, should Jesus delay His return that long, my grandchildren will see a much more peaceful Middle East. Yes, other areas will still be evil and full of violence, but the stranglehold of Islamofacism can only be broken by brave, brave men and women willing to do violence, and lose their lives in the doing. My son will be joining them soon. He has begun applying for NROTC and ROTC programs in Michigan and Texas. We talk openly about losing legs, faces, and lives and that the politicians and clerics who cause such misery and pain will not miss a meal. He is willing to go anyway. He told me that it is what he wants to do; it is important and meaningful -- even noble. And if he dies? Then he died doing what he wanted to do and knowing it mattered.

His determination humbles me. So does that of all who have served before him. Go ahead and light your candles. You can do that because of dead men. Go ahead and say filthy things about soldiers and the US. You can do that because of dead men. But not in my house. In my house, because of a dead man, our Savior, who lives again, I will be kind and gentle to you and offer you the last dollar I have. But I will not respect you when you walk on the back of dead men only to attack them and what they stood for.

And for all of you who served or who had family members who served, may I say from the bottom of my heart: thank you. God bless you for the freedom I enjoy. I can live anywhere on the planet but I choose to live here, because it is the best, freest place on the planet. Because of dead men and the grace of God.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

A Morbid Bit O' Fun

One of my favorite authors is a journalist/adventurer named Robert Young Pelton. His pithy observations about life, death, and dangerous places are priceless. His opus major entitled "The World's Most Dangerous Places" has just entered its 5th edition. It is a quick read, even though it runs over a thousand pages. Here is one quote that you might have thought I said, but it comes from his book, page 12:

"Most of the world lives day-to-day, hand to mouth, trusting to a religious deity or luck for their long-term survival. Yes, most of the world is poor, slightly nervous, and a little fatalistic about what's around the corner. But the secret is that they make do. Are they living every moment in fear and apprehension? Not really. It's the West that does that. It is only in developed countries ... that we have developed this obsession with fear and safety. There isn't really anything to fear. Crime is under control, wages are pretty good, life spans are longer, health is improving, and every segment of society has benefited from the political efforts of bleeding-heart liberals and the business efforts of cold-hearted capitalists. So let's all take a deep breath, have a group hug, and be thankful that if you are reading this book in English, and didn't steal it, you are part of the longest-lived, healthiest, most-protected generation that has ever lived on this planet."

Excuse me if I talk about death a moment. I am at Ohio State University where I teach a course on Death and Dying tomorrow morning to a group of forty or so mid-life professionals who already have their degrees (I'm the CEU guy). I have an excuse for thinking about death a lot. I come from Scotland. Anybody who lives/lived in a country where it rains every day, the national dress is a wool skirt, and the national music sounds like somebody is backing over a cat can be excused for longing for the nice long lay-down in the wee wood box. So here are some quick facts you might be interested in.

1. Everybody dies of something. Butter killed my grandfather. My grandmother slathered it on the stairs in the middle of the night. (Just kidding)

2. I have friends who exercise, eat right, and take vitamins. I think they're avoiding Jesus. They try to get me to run. I have a job, a car, and firearms -- so why do I need to run?

3. The reason we don't give our beloved one a ring with a lump of gravel on the top is because gravel is all over the place. We give them diamonds because those are much more rare. What is scarce is valuable. Since life is limited, that makes it valuable. Every hug, every sunrise (not that I'm up. I'm going on third hand info here) is beautiful.

4. Relationships are the most important thing. I played with my grandfather every week. Technically, he was dead, but my parents had him cremated and put his ashes in my Etch-O-Sketch, so we stayed close.

5. Our blessings have given us a sense of entitlement. We now want to live ever increasing lifespans, even though we genetically begin dying around the age 30 and, from then on, it is treading water, my friends! When we compare the length of time it takes us to deal with death versus the length of time it takes someone in Thailand or Uganda, it is staggering to see how quickly they re-enter their lives. Why? It isn't because they love their children or parents less. It is because they didn't expect someone to stop sickness and death. We do, and suffer for it. We would do better to consider this a temporary stop on our way to heaven.

6. Keeping all of this in mind allows us to enjoy every moment. Even the construction zones I navigated at glacial speed on my way down from Detroit to Columbus can be enjoyed. Spend that time making up funny stories about the people in other cars. Sing, pray, laugh -- whatever it takes. This might be your last traffic jam. Enjoy it!

Several years ago, I was recovering from surgery that removed a tumor (non-malignant, we found out later) from my head (not my brain, regardless of what you've heard). I hurt. Every noise hurt, every bit of light hurt, and I had two small children who wanted to play and couldn't understand why daddy was so grouchy and glaring at them. Then the Lord said to me (not audibly -- as a member of the Church of Christ I am sure I couldn't handle that) "If you can't be happy now, you can't be happy." He was right (duh!). I was in a comfy chair, had just received world class medical treatment, had two healthy children, and a excellent prognosis. I had reason to rejoice. Yes, I hurt, but only living people hurt. Dead ones don't.

A deacon had asked repeatedly if there was something he could do for me. I couldn't think of anything and he, in comic desperation, asked if I wanted someone to mow my lawn. Uh... it was February and he was making a joke. Yet, shortly after listening to God I heard another noise. I looked outside and there, on the brown grass and in the swirling flurries, that deacon was pushing a Fisher Price bubble mower back and forth across the lawn. Priceless. Reason to rejoice.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say, rejoice.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Avoid The Pink Aisle!

Taking my kids to the toy store was about as much fun as mediating the Palestinian-Israeli conflict while simultaneously overthrowing the corrupt Sudanese government. Except my kids weren't quite that cooperative. One bone of contention was that they didn't want to be in the same area. Kara, being a girl and all, liked the pink aisle. Duncan, being a non-girl, considered the pink aisle a cootie infested seventh circle of hell.

Fact is -- I did, too. I've never subscribed to the James Dobson theory that Barbie is responsible for the downfall of Western civilization, but that doesn't mean that I liked her much. Sure, she's the most popular doll in the world and, yes, she is the most profitable toy ever made, but it always bothered me that she had a better house and car than I did and yet you STILL had to buy friends for her.

She has changed a little over the years. The old stewardess outfits and nurse outfits have become pilot and doctor outfits. Mattel announced several years ago that she was having a body makeover, enlarging her waist and trimming her breasts down to more natural proportions. Unconnected with that announcement, Ken announced that he was going to start seeing other dolls.

The whole allure of Barbie is that you can make her whatever you want to make her. The accessories never end. She can be anything from scuba diving Barbie to International Aid Worker Barbie to Divorced Barbie (that last one comes with everything Ken ever owned).

Unfortunately, we have taken Jesus down the pink aisle. Republicans have their own Jesus and the Democrats have countered with their own. We've seen nuts waving signs saying "Jesus hates fags" countered by TV and media blitzes on "What would Jesus drive?" We are preached at by rock stars who claim to have a Jesus only to see blue suits and red ties topped with pancake makeup on the 24/7 news channels holding up an alternative Jesus. There are American Jesus's and Mexican Jesus's. In our phone book, a four inch thick tome that covers only the northern section of Oakland County, MI, there are 455 churches listed, representing 88 denominations. It's anybody's guess how many Jesus's are in those buildings.

And don't get me started on TV preachers or religious paper publishers and their Jesus's. That's a dark place full of nasty rides and Jesus' s that are more like a bunco artist or hangin' judge than a savior.

Here's an idea: let's read the gospels and let Jesus take us down any aisle He chooses, when He chooses, and let Him accessorize us, making us into anything He wants us to be. Let Him take some of our friends, clothes, and gear and put them into a box and then re-outift us in His image, reflecting His dreams for us.

Don't take Jesus down the pink aisle.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Nothing but Bragging

As far as I know my elders never read this blog. In fact, I am not sure that more than one or two of them even knows it exists. I'm not ashamed of it; it's just that I'm still a bit stunned that anyone wants to read the gravel washed eroded bits of brain cells that makes up this column. With that said, as a follow up to my last blog, let me brag on my elders.

These eleven men of God have traveled farther down a hard road than any group I have ever worked with before. When they saw that holding on to our traditions as if they were "thus saith the Lord" and keeping the church locked down in the building would not be effective in changing the world, they said, "enough."

It is the eldership here that said we will put no more money into the ground. We built our building and remodeled it as fast as we could, but we are still having three morning services to get the folk in (and to serve different groups). Some have said we need to sell this building and build bigger, like those other megachurches in town. Our elders said no. They are willing to put money into off-site churches in coffee bars or empty storefronts, happy to pour money into mission works in Michigan, Canada, and six or seven countries overseas, and thrilled to maintain a massive warehouse of clothes and food that serves between 30-90 families a week (good stuff, not hominy and hand-me-downs). But no more money for church buildings. Why?

They want the church to escape the building. They want us to go out and bring in the lost. They want us to find those who are different from us, care for them, love them, and, should they wish to worship with us, welcome them. So... what was an upper-income white church is rapidly becoming something else. A large percentage of our congregation has no background in the restoration movement and some worship services have 30-35% minority representation now. The poor, the punks, and the pierced sit beside old ladies with blue rinsed hair, people who came down the hall from their AA or NA meetings and found a worship going on, black, white, asian, and an amazing assortment of financial situations and emotional histories.

Small groups meet all over the county and beyond. Our own people are giving up their jobs to go into the mission field in numbers that, frankly, stuns me -- especially when I know that no one asked them to do this. It seems that once the church leaves the confines of the building -- using it as a gathering place and resource only and not the focus of church life -- things start happening that harken back to "daily and from house to house."

Our elders spend more of their time in prayer than in discussing budgets, staff, and next to no time at all mentioning the building and grounds. Men and women step up and serve, knowing that the elders are right there to love and support them. Staff are not afraid of criticism for when someone carps that "this isn't the way the church of Christ used to do things" the elders are there, standing up for them and making sure the people know that they are loved but they will not be allowed to drag the church backwards into the building.

They aren't going to read this, but know this: I pray for our elders every day and thank God I am allowed to serve with them. Agree with them all the time? Are you kidding? I don't agree with anybody all the time, including myself or She Who Must Be Obeyed. However, it is only speaking the truth to say that they have often been right when I doubted them. We may butt heads from time to time but we will never let go of each other or Jesus.

The most amazing thing about Christianity: when you really try it, it works. Amazing.