Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.

7/31/2005

Thanks for saying "No"

At A New Life Life Emerging Rick writes about unanswered prayer saying in part,
Have you ever looked back on your life and thanked God that he didn’t answer yes to a particular prayer, I mean something or someone that, at the time you thought you could not live without?

I have.

There are days when I say aloud, "Thank you God! Thank you God! For not saying yes!"

If I am honest, looking back on it, I knew deep in my soul that I wasn’t ready or that God wasn’t ready, yet I attempted to force open closed doors.

I have had times in my life where I wasn’t getting the response I desired and so I forced situations. Every time that I did I ended-up in a position where I was basically miserable or at least had to go through the learning process all over again.

Jesus told his people to ask, seek and knock.

He did not say, "Demand from God that your will be done. Define what you think is best. Force every closed door to open."
The rest of the post is here.

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7/30/2005

You are who you eat with

In tomorrow's Gospel reading, tells of Jesus feeding 5,000 men plus the women and children with them with a two little fish and five small loaves of bread. At her lectionary blog, Sarah Laughed Dylan writes

click to see more by the artistIn Jesus' culture, it wasn't just "you are what you eat"; it was also "you are who you eat with." Some of that was just a logical extension of purity observance. Imagine the scene of that spontaneous dinner party in this Sunday's gospel, and imagine that you'd just experienced that second miracle of being able to trust Jesus to provide you with food that's good. But Jesus isn't the peanut vendor at the ballpark; he didn't hurl individual portions with miraculous accuracy directly to you. Strangers brought the bread to Jesus, who blessed and broke them ... and handed them to the disciples, who handed them to others in the crowd, who handed them to others, and so on across countless pairs of hands before it got to you. Take that bread, and you're taking into yourself not just whatever was in the field where the wheat was grown and in the kitchen when it was baked, but also what was on the hands of every other person in that crowd.

That's reason enough to be skittish about who you eat with, but that's not all. There's also the business of honor, crucial in Jesus' culture. People's perception of how honorable you and your family were determined whether were willing to do business with you, to consider allowing their daughter to marry your son, to acknowledge you as a person worth acknowledging. And "you are who you eat with" was the operative rule that said that your character would be assumed to be the same as that of those you ate with. Eat impure food, and you're impure. Eat with a rebellious son or a tax collector and you're not going to be seen as being any more honorable than they are.

But along that hillside, over five thousand people were willing to receive not only Jesus and the bread that he blessed, but also the strangers with whom they shared it. Every one of them became, on that dusty hillside, one with every other. This was a completely spontaneous dinner, so there was no checking the guest list or asking for credentials. Distinctions between Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, priest and tax collector -- indeed, all the distinctions around which wars were fought between nations, families, and brothers -- just didn't count any more.
Though not bound by Jewish purity laws, we remain mindful of those with whom we keep company. Yet the story of scripture is that in drawing closer to God, we are brought closer to all whom God loves, which is, of course, everybody. In what ways do we close ourselves off to others (at least some others) despite Jesus' wishes that we too reach out in love to all around us?

A different take on the feeding of the 5,000 is in a sermon, The Story of Bread, in the archives.

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7/29/2005

The kingdom of heaven, is like a small church

In his sermon for St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Waynesboro, Georgia this past Sunday, The Rev. Stephen Rice wrote in part,

The kingdom of heaven, is like a small church…

smallest church in AmericaIt’s no secret that St Michael’s Episcopal Church in Waynesboro, Georgia will never take the place of the Washington National Cathedral.

Chances are we will never have a thousand members. Our budget may never reach one million dollars. Our staff may never reach double digits.

But that doesn’t mean we aren’t a vital, growing, needed, healthy, important community in the kingdom of God. That doesn’t mean we will never accomplish great things. That doesn’t mean we can’t greatly influence and change the hearts, minds, and souls of children, youth and adults to the love of God.

The full text of the sermon, The Kingdom of God is like a 14-year old boy is online.

Churches of various sizes have varying gifts to offer their communities. There are great gifts in churches that do not inherently depend upon the congregation's numbers. Our current average Sunday attendance this year is 109 a week. The question to ask may well be, "What is the size that God has in mind for King of Peace?" How can we know and how do we achieve what God dreams rather than merely our own ideal? Is size the best indicator of a church's vitality? If not, what is?

peace,

Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

1 Comments:

  • At 7/29/2005 7:12 PM, Blogger Celeste said…

    ahhh....amazing that I've been thinking about this very thing. I agree that a large congregation may be good in some ways, but medium can also be good. Neither one is good if the Word is not preached. I believe KOP is destined to be what God dreams it to be because the Word is preached and folks come through and fall in love with Jesus. Perhaps they have to leave; but they leave having heard and learned what God intended them to learn. Those of us that remain get to continue watching newcomers repeat the process. Whatever size congregation God has in mind for KOP, I pray that we never lose the charity that He's planted there.

     

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7/28/2005

The meaning behind the words

“We believe in one God…”

“God’s peace be with you.”

“Our Father, who art in heaven…”

“Thanks be to God.”

Phrases we all know and say often…so often in fact that they are in danger of losing meaning. It’s happened to all of us at some point or another…you’re saying the Nicene Creed when suddenly your mind strays to what you want to have for lunch or what happened in the book you were reading before bed last night. It’s an easy trap to fall into when parts of the liturgy become second nature. How can we avoid complacency and enable our worship community to do the same?

worship at King of PeaceJust because the words are the same each week does not mean the message of God’s love for us becomes less important, less true. Think about the meaning behind the words, the fact that they are the joyful proclamation of God’s grace in our lives. We are called not only to spread the good news to others but to remind ourselves of it, not only to believe but to proclaim our belief in our worship and praise. If we can do this we can open our hearts and minds to what God may be trying to say to us rather than becoming mired in meaningless words.

Loren Hague, Intern
King of Peace Episcopal Church

2 Comments:

  • At 7/28/2005 1:54 PM, Blogger The Rev. Leslie J. Hague said…

    Isn't it, "Howard be thy name?" ;-)

    I often put down the prayer book and don't look at the familiar words. I find that I'm more able to concentrate on the actual meaning then.

     
  • At 7/29/2005 7:16 PM, Blogger Celeste said…

    I find that it helps me pay attentionif I close my eyes and then just go with it. That's the best I can do.

     

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7/27/2005

Hope

So I pray that God, who gives you hope,
will keep you happy and full of peace
as you believe in him.
May you overflow with hope
through the power of the Holy Spirit.
—Romans 15:13

a flower grows out of a rockExpect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again.—Sarah Ban Breathnach

The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.—Barbara Kingsolver

We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

When you say a situation or a person is hopeless, you're slamming the door in the face of God.—Charles L. Allen

Through Christ you have come to trust in God.
And because God raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory, your faith and hope can be placed confidently in God.
—1 Peter 1:21

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7/26/2005

Followers, not admirers

The Danish theologian Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) wrote,
It is well known that Christ consistently used the expression “follower.” He never asks for admirers, worshippers, or adherents. No, he calls disciples. It is not adherents of a teaching but followers of a life Christ is looking for.

Jesus calls the first two disciples to follow himChrist understood that being a “disciple” was in innermost and deepest harmony with what he said about himself. Christ claimed to be the way and the truth and the life (Jn. 14:6). For this reason, he could never be satisfied with adherents who accepted his teaching – especially with those who in their lives ignored it or let things take their usual course. His whole life on earth, from beginning to end, was destined solely to have followers and to make admirers impossible.

Christ came into the world with the purpose of saving, not instructing it. At the same time – as is implied in his saving work – he came to be the pattern, to leave footprints for the person who would join him, who would become a follower. This is why Christ was born and lived and died in lowliness. It is absolutely impossible for anyone to sneak away from the Pattern with excuse and evasion on the basis that It, after all, possessed earthly and worldly advantages that he did not have. In that sense, to admire Christ is the false invention of a later age, aided by the presumption of “loftiness.” No, there is absolutely nothing to admire in Jesus, unless you want to admire poverty, misery, and contempt.

What then, is the difference between an admirer and a follower? A follower is or strives to be what he admires. An admirer, however, keeps himself personally detached. He fails to see that what is admired involves a claim upon him, and thus he fails to be or strive to be what he admires.

To want to admire instead of to follow Christ is not necessarily an invention by bad people. No, it is more an invention by those who spinelessly keep themselves detached, who keep themselves at a safe distance....
You can read more of this text from Kierkegaard online here.

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7/25/2005

True Prayer

In Does God Hear Us? Eberhard Arnold writes,
I have heard people say, “At one time I was very near to God, but he didn’t hear me. Since then I haven’t been so sure about him.” Such people fail to recognize that God wanted to say something to them, namely, that none of us really knows what to pray for. We certainly do not always know what is best. If we want to give God orders according to our will, if we want to dictate God's direction through our prayers, then such prayers are not under the blessing of God. Rather, these prayers are born of the spirit of darkness, the spirit that told Eve, "You shall be like God."

True prayer acknowledges that of ourselves we are incapable of striking the right course in prayer. True prayer demands complete surrender and complete confidence, so that we can say, "We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express" (Romans 8:26-30).

When we come before God, we do not always find the right words. We are often unclear about what we want to pray for. We are sometimes so weak we cannot even gather our thoughts sufficiently to frame our prayer in words at all. Yet there is one who knows everything that is in our hearts. If we know him, then we will say with Peter, "Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you" (John 21:15-17).

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7/24/2005

What do you need to stop doing?

Bruce D. Johnson has an interesting post that suggest each of us ask the question,
What do I need to stop doing, that I'm currently doing, so that I can focus more of my time and energy on the things that matter most and will create the greatest impact over the course of my life and time?
Certainly, this would fit in a simplistic sense with 1 Corinthians 15:34, "Come to your senses and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don't even know God." But, the author of course knows that there may be some good things we need to stop doing to focus on what is better or best for us.

That post is based on an article by Jim Collins which suggests "making your life a creative work of art" by the choices you make in what to stop doing as well as what to do.

What would you need to stop doing to make more room for your life to be the creative work of art you and God have in mind for your life?

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7/23/2005

The Kingdom of Heaven

In tomorrow's Gospel reading, Jesus tells several short parables to explain what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. For example,
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Brian Stoffregen of Faith Lutheran in Marysville, California offers his thoughts on this parable at Crossmarks Christian Resources
I read this suggested modern version of the parable: "A man left his family and work and all that he had, in order to follow a pretty woman. The kingdom of heaven is like that."

While we normally assume that giving up everything for a pretty woman (or handsome man) is foolishness or uncontrollable lust or blind infatuation; I think there are similarities with being grasped by the desire to have the treasure in the field (or the pearl of great value in the next parable). I have seen people give up family and jobs because they had been grasped by alcohol or other addictive drugs. I had started to write, "they have turned their lives over to ...." But, at least with addictive substances, it is not a "turning over" so much as the drugs or alcohol grabs one's life and takes it away. The addictive substances (or lustful desires) take control of one's life -- and leaves one "out of control." Should we say that the kingdom of heaven is like that? It takes control of our lives.

The kingdom of God is not a treasure we possess. It is something that grasps us.

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7/22/2005

The Christ of experience

In his 1925 book The Christ of the Indian Road E. Stanley Jones wrote
The early disciples had little ritual but a mighty realization. They went out not remembering Christ, but experiencing him. He was not a mere fair and beautiful story to remember with gratitude - he was a living, redemptive, actual presence then and there. They went out with the joyous and grateful cry, "Christ lives in me!" The Jesus of history had become the Christ of experience.

Some have suggested that the early Christians conquered the pagan world because they out-thought, out-lived and out-died the pagans. But that was not enough: they out-experienced them. Without that they would have lacked the vital glow...

We cannot merely talk about Christ - we must bring him. He must be a living vital reality - closer than breathing and nearer than hands and feet. We must be "God-bearers."
More of this text is found here at Bruderhof online.

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7/21/2005

Resurrection in the here and now

California State Prison-SolanoAn unusual ordination took place June 18th as the ordination took place at the California State Prison-Solano. The newly ordained priest, The Rev. James Trammel, will serve as a chaplain in the prison. What is more unusual is that Trammel is an inmate who has served 19 years of a 15 to life sentence for murder—a murder he has never denied committing.

Bishop William Swing, who laid hands on Trammel for his ordination said of the prison service, "It meant that Resurrection is not just for the afterlife but here and now." According to the Episcopal News Service article
Tramel began ministry as an Episcopalian while working with dying inmates at a hospice in the California Correctional Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif. In 1998, Tramel became the first inmate accepted at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, where he earned a Masters of Theological Studies degree through a distance-learning program.

In the Episcopal Church, those who have discerned that they are called to be a priest undergo a lengthy process, testing their calling first with a congregation, then by a commission appointed by a bishop. The process includes education and completion of an advanced degree, academic and psychological testing, and proven service in ministry. Those who are approved to become priests must first serve as deacons for a period ranging from six months to several years.

The Rev. James TramelTramel, a member of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Berkeley, met with members of his congregation and the Commission on Ministry through letters, over the phone, and in the visiting room at Solano Prison. While conducting his studies, Tramel began an Episcopal congregation at the prison, which started with a group of inmates saying prayers from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. Eventually, the congregation grew, and chaplains began visiting to conduct full communion services.

Swing ordained Tramel to the deaconate on July 4th, 2004. As a deacon, Tramel has been more involved in the planning and leadership of services for the prison's Episcopal congregation, but he had very little sacramental responsibility. In the past when there was no priest available to conduct services, the congregation would have Communion (also called Eucharist) with bread that had been consecrated at a church outside the prison. Now that Tramel is a priest, he will be consecrating the Eucharist for the Episcopal worshipping community in Solano Prison.
Steve Rice's July 3rd sermon Prisoners of Hope, which connects with Tramel's story, is worth a read.

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7/20/2005

To be in communion

Last Summer I was invited to travel to Honduras with a group from my church. While I was excited about the opportunity to visit our sister parishes outside of the city of San Pedro Sula, I had never left the United States before and my Spanish was only sophisticated enough to order food from Taco Bell. I was terrified.

Window in San LucasArriving at the church of San Lucas, which was located in a tiny community with no running water or electricity, I was thrust into intense culture shock. All of my preconceived notions about forming bonds in the Church were thrown out the window. There were no newcomer’s cards, potluck luncheons or “get to know you” chats over coffee hour. I couldn’t understand a word that anyone said and felt lost, thinking I would have no way to make any real connections.

As the days went on I quickly learned that a common language wasn’t necessary. Cleaning the skinned knee of an 8 year old boy, planting flowers around the church with two 15 year old girls, visiting the homes of the people in the congregation…simple shared experiences, just spending time in the presence of one another and not worrying about keeping up idle small talk. By the time we left I had picked up enough Spanish to say the Lord’s Prayer and sing a few hymns but that is not what has stuck with me. Instead I remember being welcomed into the community through silent smiles, handshakes and hugs, driven by our shared love of God. To me those moments are the true embodiment of what it means to be in communion, to be connected as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Loren Hague, Intern
King of Peace Episcopal Church

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7/19/2005

A Compellingly Radical Welcome

In a recent post at her Sister Mary Alternative blog, Jen writes of her first visit to an Episcopal Church. She was 12 years old and she went to church alone. Here is her brief description of what hooked her:
i asked, where's the nearest episcopalian church. suddenly, going to church with all the pomp and circumstance and none of the guilt sounded good. she told me of one a few blocks away, next door to my summer camp. Church of the Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity, NYCi went. by myself. i was 12. two things happened that sunday. one, a homeless woman came into the church after the service was well underway. she shuffled up the center aisle with her bags, looking pretty scruffy. i held my breath, wondering what people would do. i guess i thought they would throw her out. everyone else looked pretty smart. instead of throwing her out, a woman in the pew ahead of this woman turned around. she was tall, thin, wearing a nice dress, pearls, coiffed hair - really, a classic wasp. i remember watching all this agog. she turned to face the bag lady and her face lit up! she smiled and threw her arms around this homeless woman and hugged her as if she were an old friend she hadn't seen in years.

i was hooked from that moment on. i couldn't have articulated it at the time, but i was watching the very essence of christ in both these women. it was absolutely compelling.

1 Comments:

  • At 7/19/2005 5:17 PM, Blogger Pilgrim said…

    What a wonderful story! I just wish I could do that too. I want to say that I can but I'm not to sure. In my airconditioned hotel room, sitting on a comfortable couch, reading e-mail and blogs over a high-speed internet connection, drinking imported German coffee and wearing designer clothes I want to say, "Yeah... I can see that happening." And the post inspired me; made me feel good to be a Christian. Not five minutes later I had my chance to experience that kind of love. I went to the front of the hotel to have a smoke and finish my coffee. Right before I lit my cigarette I noticed a homeless man sitting on a bench adjacent to the hotel. Jen's post came rushing back... should I go over and talk to him? Do I ignore him? What do I say? Lots of questions and no faith! I felt like Pilate, "What is truth?" (I think a lot of myself don't I.) I didn't do anything. I missed my chance. Why can't I just trust Him? What am I scared of?

     

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7/18/2005

Scripture coming true

Jesus told a story to illustrate the Kingdom of Heaven in which a king threw a great wedding banquet for his son and many invited guests did not show. So the king said to his servants,
The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren't worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.
Last month, a bride and groom in Washington State cancelled their wedding on 12 days notice, too late to get refunds. In a move not unlike the parable, the bride and her parents held the reception and invited the homeless. In an All Headline News report, the bride was quoted saying
With the notoriety of the runaway bride, I would like people to know that these things do happen, and there is another outlet. The money is spent. But oh my Gosh,we had so much fun!
Now that's a radically welcoming wedding banquet (see post below for radical welcome).

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7/17/2005

Radical Welcome

The Rev. Nicholas Lang preached a sermon called "Inviting Trouble" at St. Paul's on the Green in Norwalk, Connecticut, that talked about why his church was to be a radically welcoming community. He gave the example of Jesus' life and then told of some radically unwelcoming situations
Stories-especially true stories-speak well to the relevance of the Scripture for our time. Last year, a priest in Delaware refused a child the opportunity to make his first communion. The reason? The child has cerebral palsy. The priest said the boy could not possibly understand the meaning of the Holy Eucharist. His parents were devastated.

The Rev. Nancy J. Lane, an Episcopal priest from the Diocese of Central New York believes wholeheartedly in Jesus’ commitment to the healing of body and soul. In 1983 she established a ministry to educate congregations to be more welcoming and inclusive of people with disabilities. Mother Lane has cerebral palsy.

Henderson Brome, an African-American man was arrested in Milton, Massachusetts, in 1990 as he did his daily three-mile walk one morning. He was handcuffed near his home after a police officer took him for a suspect who had been spotted breaking into a car. The description they got was of a “tall, thin, black male,” but it was not this man. The Boston Globe later reported the incident along with these remarks by the man who was arrested: “I never resisted. I never did anything. I tried to tell them I was an Episcopal priest. I tried to tell him I lived on the street. He didn’t even ask who I was. He wasn’t interested. All he saw was a black man.” He is the rector of St. Cyprian’s Church, Roxbury...

the welcome at St. Paul's NYC after 9/11Stories of hospitality, expanding the table; stories of exclusion and building prison walls. Mother Lane, the priest who lives with cerebral palsy, writes “Healing happens when we are welcomed, included, and our gifts received because we are part of the body of Christ. As I traveled around the country I discovered enormous suffering in people with and without disabilities.

And in a a forum on the Dream of Radical Welcome Stephanie Spellers, Minister of Radical Welcoming at St. Paul's Cathedral in Boston, said in part
Welcome is bold yet tasteful signage outside. Welcome is nametags for members and newcomers when they walk inside. Welcome is that warm greeting at the doorway, and an attractive and compelling set of materials for newcomers. It is a friendly member who scoots over to make room for a stranger in the pew. It is another intentional member who leans over to help the person struggling to find their way through the liturgy.

Welcome is really good coffee and irresistible munchies in the Undercroft. It is also a follow-up call from a clergy person or a lay visitor. It is an invitation to join a small group and journey together.

We need welcome. The church is dead without welcome. So do check to see if you're welcoming and commit to providing that inviting space. But please don't stop there, because that is not yet radical welcome.

Radical welcome kicks welcome to the next level. It asks, Who would never even come to the door, because they are so sure we will not receive them, and because, historically, we have not?

It asks, how do we make sure that people on the margins know as soon as they walk in that things have changed in here? How do we make it crystal clear that we are making room for their voices, their presence, their power, at the heart of our life together?

From the unwelcoming priest who refused communion to a person with cerebral palsy to the radical welcome of asking who isn't even coming because they don't feel they will be received. The idea of radical welcome reminds me of Chris Duncan's funeral, held at King of Peace on February 12, 2005. I pray the sermon was both radically welcoming and grace-filled in a time of pain and loss.

That day we welcomed a congregation of 400 hurting people into our sanctuary. As Chris Duncan was high school aged, the congregation included many teens who would not usually attend our church. Many of those there are among the ones who don't feel they would be received because of their clothes, their piercings, their tattoos...We really didn't mind. We really were glad they came. We really didn't judge.

How do we show others that they are in fact already welcomed...radically?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

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7/16/2005

Weeds Among the Wheat

wheat on the roadside in Israel

In tomorrow's Gospel reading, Jesus tells a parable saying,
The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away.
In a sermon on these readings at the Episcopal Church website, Sermons that Work, Katerina K. Whitley writes
The daily news of terrorism takes hope away and tries to convince us that only human cleverness, spying on the enemies, having the smartest weapons, living in constant fear and suspicion of strangers can save us. The enemy indeed has sown the weeds of fear in our hearts. There is no question about that in our minds any longer, no matter who we think the enemy is. The cleverest ploy of the enemy has been to make us forget that we are not our own, that we belong to the God who created us and has compassion for us. Depending on human power will not save us. Trusting in God, in the hope of adoption as children of God, will save us indeed, both the Old and the New Testaments assure us.

Let us draw hope from the lessons today. It is not our job to pull out the weeds, to wreak vengeance. "The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers," this passage from Matthew tells us. There is certainly an eschatological [meaning "end times"] ring to these words-of the end of time — but they were written during a time of doubt, of war, of political upheaval, and of persecution — in other words, during a time very much like our own.

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7/14/2005

Krispy Kreme Church

In a recent post at A New Life Emerging, Rick writes
When I was a kid in the summer my family would venture off to the shores of South Carolina for a family vacation at the beach. Right down the boardwalk from the hotel was a Krispy Kreme Donut shop. Dad would give my older brother a few bucks and soon he would return with a dozen or two of hot freshly made Krispy Kreme donuts. The donuts would actually melt in my mouth and I would wash them down with ice-cold whole milk. My brothers and I would boast as to how many donuts we could eat. Once I ate four donuts and thought I was king.

Each donut is about 210 calories.

Four donuts and a cup of milk are about 1,000 calories—empty calories.

As a child I thought I could live off of Krispy Kreme donuts but as you know, sugar-glazed donuts and whole milk are not very nutritious, and ultimately not very filling.

Just because one is consuming massive quantities of Krispy Kreme donuts doesn’t mean he is healthy.

Spirituality is a lot like Krispy Kreme donuts.
At some point you have to change your diet or you will die.

I think there are many folks who are being fed sugar-glazed theology and they leave the building with a sugar rush having consumed 1,000 calories of bad theology thinking they have been fed when in realty they are just buzzing from the sugar.

After a half-hour nap they are hungry again. Many go back to the donut shop not realizing that they are being fed white flour and sugar, or that they cannot get healthy off the white flour and sugar regardless of how much you eat.

They have the Church of Krispy Kreme tee-shirt,
the Krispy Kreme Church Study Bible,
the Krispy Kreme Church Praise CD,
the Krispy Kreme Church Small Group
but no one is getting healthy.

Folks get addicted to the sugar buzz rather than God.

And when the sugar buzz diminishes they think God has gone some where and so they create a new version of the same donut. It’s still white flour and sugar no matter how you serve it.
That’s the problem, eventually folks wake-up sick and in great need of spiritual food.

Their minds attempt to send them back to the Church of Krispy Kreme, but their bodies are begging for something nutritious. Consuming massive amount of sugar-glazed theology only makes them sicker.

Just because there are long crowded lines at Krispy Kreme doesn’t mean the food is healthy.

Will someone please tell this to the church?
In his profile at the blog Rick describes himself saying, "Personally, I don't have the guts to follow Jesus, so I often settle for being a Christian." Do you settle for less in your faith than than that to which you think Jesus is calling you?

Then, as concerns theology with holes in it, it's never safe when reading something like the post above to assume that it applies to someone other than yourself or in this case, your church. How can King of Peace keep protein and vegetables in our nutritional plan? What are the ways we balance our church diet, rather than going for lots of quick spiritual calories with no nutrional value?

3 Comments:

  • At 7/14/2005 7:11 AM, Anonymous Cal said…

    Wonderful story and development. If you go along with this analogy, it is as you point out, so tempting to exclude one's self. But I have a hard time going there in the first place. To me, there is something more than vaguely unsatisfying about western, consumerist style church where [of course] you "get fed". This sort of church is never able to meaningfully engage the world in either it's joys or sorrows - it's imitation of the world is thorough! Sometimes, don't you just yearn for a church that has gotten over itself enough to be discovering that feeding is incidental to worship and service. Not what we so blithely call "worship service" where we won't go unless we get fed. Where what feeds you won't necessarily feed me. How disgustingly marketplace. This is not gospel.

     
  • At 7/14/2005 9:48 AM, Blogger Celeste said…

    I love this analogy. It reminds me of the gospel reading about the sower and all the different areas he planted seed.
    It's hard for me to be objective about what KOP could do differently. Protein is offered in Bible studies, Labyrinth, weblog, Women's group and it's always open to questions. Perhaps Sunday school would be well received, who knows. I think of a saying I have heard, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink". How true that is.
    We've probably all been guilty of choosing not to go to church at some point for the reason of "not being fed" or "we don't like the preacher" when we should go to give that time exclusively to God with a group of people with the same idea. Shouldn't we?

     
  • At 7/20/2005 4:16 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Steve Rice links to this post, with some thoughts of his own on "sugar=glazed theology" at http://waynesboro.blogspot.com/2005/07/nations-largest-attendance-church.html

     

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7/13/2005

Recognizing the Truth

The story is told of a poor grass cutter who found a beautiful stone in the jungle. He had often heard of people finding valuable diamonds and thought this must be one. He took it to a jeweler and showed it to him with delight. Being a kind and sympathetic man, the jeweler knew that if he bluntly told the grass cutter that his stone was worthless glass, the man would either refuse to believe it or else fall into a state of depression. So instead, the jeweler offered the grass cutter some work in his shop so that he might become better acquainted with precious stones and their value.

Meanwhile, the man kept his stone safely locked away in a strongbox. Several weeks later, the jeweler encouraged the man to bring out his own stone and examine it. As soon as he took it out of the chest and looked at it more closely, he immediately saw that it was worthless. His disappointment was great, but he went to the jeweler and said: "I thank you that you did not destroy my hope but aided me instead to see my mistake on my own.

If you will have me, I will stay with you and faithfully serve you, as you are a good and kind master." In the same way, God leads back to truth those who have wandered into error. When they recognize the truth for themselves, they gladly and joyfully give themselves in obedient service.
—Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929), from A Sadhu's Wisdom

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7/12/2005

Valuing Questions

King of Peace's Yellow Page adKing of Peace strives to be the sort of church that you'll enjoy if you were always the kid constantly raising your hand in Sunday school class. After all, the Yellow Pages ad for King of Peace says "We value questions." Aren't questions the sign of an active faith?

Yet, questions have not always been valued by the Church. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215) wrote,
Now we know that certain things aren't worth questioning. For example, we don't investigtae subjects that are already evident, such as whether it is daytime when it is the day. Neither do we study things unknown that are never destined to become clear, such as whether the stars are even or odd in number...

Again, some questions demand evidence of the senses, like whether fire is warm or snow is white. Other questions demand admonition and rebuke, such as the question of whether you should honor your parents. In addition, there are those questions that deserve punishment, such as asking for proof that there is such a thing as providence.
Questions deserving punishment just for asking them. Really? Jesus asked many questions and he never seemed to mind even the most pointed questions if the asker was genuine and not looking to ensare him. If Jesus did not limit questions, should we? Or are some questions, as Clement suggests, really blasephemous even to consider? What does it mean for a church to value questions?

1 Comments:

  • At 7/14/2005 5:14 PM, Blogger Pilgrim said…

    Nothing makes me happier than watching my children question something and then helping them reach the truth. Their discovery is mine also.

    "Why do we go to church Daddy?" or a better one, "Why don't we go to church Daddy?"

    A co-worker shared that one with me and he didn't have a good answer. I could see him looking off into the distance...

    "Do you think God is reaching out to you through your daughter?"

    "I'm sure he is."

    "What are you going to do?"

    "I don't know..."

    "Have you thought of asking your daughter?"

    It was a very awkward moment for both of us. I wanted so much to tell him what to do but I knew better than that. Why was it so awkward? Why did he share that with me in the first place? Why does God work in such mysterious ways? Why do I have to ask so many questions?...

    Matt <><

     

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7/11/2005

A General Thanksgiving

One lovely prayer hidden in the back of our Book of Common Prayer, is A General Thanksgiving, written by Episcopal theologian and liturgist The Rev. Dr. Charles Price. It is appropriate for use at any time and is well worth praying slowly and thinking through.

I took the photo below in the sacristy of the chapel at Virginia Seminary at Charles Price's funeral. The photo remains linked for me to this prayer and so I share them together.

A General Thanksgiving
dead ivy leaves photographed through frosted glassAccept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know Christ and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

1 Comments:

  • At 7/13/2005 8:31 AM, Blogger Celeste said…

    I have a copy of this prayer on my refrigerator. The first time I read it was after we spent the entire day in at least 90* weather staining the concrete at KOP thinking that was what we should do. It washed away after being hosed down the next day. I was sure we hadn't wasted our time. Frank showed the prayer to me and I believe prayed it with the congregation and it certainly reminded me of our dependence on Him. It is one of my favorite prayers from the prayer book.

     

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7/10/2005

The Wounded Healer

There is a thought provoking post at The RiverStone Journal worth a read. The author is looking forward to praying for others during a healing service, knowing full well the absurdity of that act knowing that she too is in need of healing. She says in part

What will happen is that I will go in on Sunday morning in full touch with the absurdity of the situation, feeling like a faker and a hypocrite. Then, during Eucharist, I will lay hands on the first head that comes before me, and I will say the prayer for healing. And I will be completely present in the moment, which is transported outside of space and time while still being firmly rooted in the here and now, and God's grace will flow through me. I will do this again and again, for each person who comes to me. When it is over, I will realize once again why I continue in this ministry. I am not a faker and a hypocrite. I do not have healing power. All I can do is humble myself, put myself into the background, and let God work through me.
In his book The Wounded Healer Henri Nouwen writes

In short: "Who can take away suffering without entering it?"

The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there....

On the other hand, it would be very easy to misuse the concept of the wounded healer by defending a form of spiritual exhibitionism. A minister who talks in the pulpit about his own personal problems is of no help to the congregation...Making one's own wounds a source of healing, therefore, does not call for a sharing of superficial personal pains but for a constant willingness to see one's own pain and suffering as rising from the depth of the human condition which all men share.
You may be wounded and feel that you have nothing to offer God. Yet it is your wounds you have to offer. By getting in touch with your own emotional scars, you can find the empathy and compassion to reach out to others. You do this not by dumping all your hurts on someone, but by being fully present with him or her in the pain, loss, loneliness, despair, grief or whatever else they battle. You have some sense of what they need for The Holy Spirit can use your own woundedness to guide you.

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7/09/2005

Sowing seed

Van Gogh's Sower
In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus tells the parable of a sower sowing seed. At the Center for Liturgy website the Rev. Dr. Reginald Fuller states
What we see is a tremendous harvest, despite the loss of some of the seed. The climax comes at the end and, as so often in Jesus' parables, contains an element of deliberate absurdity—a hundredfold yield is fantastic, the usual yield being in the neighborhood of seven and a half, with ten as an outside possibility. The point of the parable is miraculous success in spite of apparent frustration.
The same website also offers this prayer
Oh,
we know the
obstacles well, Lord.
We know the rocky ground and thorns,
fear, lure of riches, and pain that can go with your words,

Show us the rich soil that gives forth a hundredfold.

If it is in the listening, please open our ears.
If in understanding, open our hearts.
If it is in the desire for healing
make us want to be well.
In spite of all of our
obstacles.

Please let your Word bear
amazingly abundant fruit in our lives.

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7/08/2005

Do ethics still matter?

A recent survey found that 92% of Americans aged 18-24 "value honesty and integrity, saying they believe that doing the right thing is more important than getting ahead in their careers." The survey's sponsor was Jim Lichtman, an author and ethics specialist who wrote in a press release on the survey
fingers crossed"Ultimately, however, ethics is not about what we say or what we intend, it’s about what we do,” says Jim Lichtman. Given a choice between Loyalty and Honesty, almost half of those surveyed (43%) would compromise their integrity for the sake of a friend. Given a choice between having an unethical relationship within the company, 32% would disregard company rules. And, given the right circumstances, 46% would look the other way or encourage unethical sales tactics in order to meet sales needs. “Do ethics still matter? Clearly most 18-24 year-olds believe they do,” Lichtman says. “Yet, when values conflict many show a readiness to compromise.”

Lichtman quotes respected ethicist Michael Josephson in noting that, ‘Ethics is having the character and the courage to do the right thing even when it costs more than we want to pay.’ “If we want to build long-term trusting relationships,” says Lichtman, “each of us should strive to make a stronger commitment to practice the kinds of ethical values many of our grandparents have lived by – honesty, integrity, loyalty, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.”
Lichtman said, "Ultimately, however, ethics is not about what we say or what we intend, it’s about what we do." Jesus said,
"But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.' The son answered, 'No, I won't go,' but later he changed his mind and went anyway. Then the father told the other son, 'You go,' and he said, 'Yes, sir, I will.' But he didn't go. Which of the two was obeying his father?" They replied, "The first, of course."—Matthew 21:28-31a
Jesus says that your actions matter more than any unfulfilled promises. This is something like the saying, "Your actions are speaking so loudly that I can't hear a word you are saying."

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7/07/2005

Children and Church

The Russian Orthodox priest and theologian Alexander Schmemann wrote
children learning about baptismAs a general rule, children like attending Church, and this instinctive attraction to and interest in Church services is the foundation on which we must build our religious education. When parents worry that children will get tired because services are long and are sorry for them, they usually subconsciously express their concern not for their children but for themselves.

footwashing in Holy WeekChildren penetrate more easily than do adults into the world of ritual, of liturgical symbolism. They feel and appreciate the atmosphere of our Church services. The experience of Holiness, the sense of encounter with Someone Who is beyond daily life, that mysterium tremendum that is at the root of all religion and is the core of our services is more accessible to our children than it is to us. "Except ye become as little children," these words apply to the receptivity, the open-mindedness, the naturalness, which we lose when we grow out of childhood.
Is Schmemann right? Are adults missing some of the experience of the Holy? And if he's right, how do we tap into that?

In the archives is the sermon As a Little Child, the religion column Teaching Children the Language of Faith, and the information on Making Room for Children in Church.

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7/06/2005

God was there all the time

In her book Amazing Grace: A vocabulary of faith, Kathleen Norris writes,
As is often the case, what comes easily is of considerably less value than that which comes hard, earned over time and with a struggle.

I once heard a Holocaust survivor asked if her experience of a death march and forced labor camp hadn't destroyed her faith in God. "Of course," she said, adding, "but only for a time." She had come to the conclusion that what she and so many others had endured was not God's doing, but was due to human beings having chosen to do evil. She said she now believed that God was good, but had given people the ability to choose between good and evil. As for the terrors that she and the other Jews of her village had endured, she had come to believe that God had been there all the time, suffering with them....

The woman was describing the God of ordinary religious faith, but her rediscovery of this God in adulthood had come to her by extraordinary and unspeakably cruel means.
Does faith have to come through a hard struggle? Or is it just more valuable if it does come through darkness and tears?

In the archives is a talk from the Questioning Your Faith series on Why does God allow suffering?

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7/05/2005

Breathe in God's life-giving spirit

Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929) wrote in A Sadhu's Wisdom
Dolphins can live in the deepest water without danger because they regularly come to the surface and take in the air that sustains them. We, too, must rise in prayer into the spiritual realm. To pray is to breathe in God's life-giving spirit that gives life and peace, even in this world.

The new-born child needs no instruction in drinking, but instinctively turns to its mother's breast for nourishment. For her part, the mother withholds no good gift from her child, but still the child cannot receive the mother's milk without effort. In the same way, we are carried at God's breast, but we must turn to God in prayer for the spiritual milk that sustains our souls.

olive tree in IsraelThe root tips of trees are so sensitive and responsive that they instinctively turn away from places where there is no nourishment and spread themselves instead in places where they can drink in moisture and life.

I have seen green and fruitful trees standing in the middle of a dry and barren desert. These trees survive and flourish because their roots have driven down and discovered hidden streams of flowing water.

Some people live in the midst of evil and misery but still radiate joy and lead fruitful lives. Through prayer, the hidden roots of their faith have reached down to the source of living water. They draw from it energy and life to bear spiritual fruit. If we lead active lives of prayer, we will also gain the spiritual discernment to turn away from illusion and evil and to find the truth we need for life.

1 Comments:

  • At 7/05/2006 8:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The new SADHU SUNDAR SINGH graphic novel by Alec Stevens is now available:

    http://www.calvarycomics.com

     

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7/04/2005

America Bless God


From The Book of Common Prayer
Thanksgiving for our Nation
Almighty God, giver of all good things: We thank you for the natural majesty and beauty of this land. They restore us, though we often destroy them.
Heal us.

We thank you for the great resources of this nation. They make us rich, though we often exploit them.
Forgive us.

We thank you for the men and women who have made this country strong. They are models for us, though we often fall short of them.
Inspire us.

We thank you for the torch of liberty which has been lit in this land. It has drawn people from every nation, though we have often hidden from its light.
Enlighten us.

We thank you for the faith we have inherited in all its rich variety. It sustains our life, though we have been faithless again and again.
Renew us.

Help us, O Lord, to finish the good work here begun. Strengthen our efforts to blot out ignorance and prejudice, and to abolish poverty and crime. And hasten the day when all our people, with many voices in one united chorus, will glorify your holy Name. Amen.
A related item in our archives is the Tribune & Georgian religion column America Bless God. You may also support our troops with prayer.

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7/03/2005

Why men hate going to church

perhaps the problem starts earlyThe blog for St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Waynesboro, Georgia had a recent post quoting from a June 18 review in the Augusta Chronicle of David Murrow's Why Men Hate Going to Church. The top ten reasons men hate going to church listed in the book are:

10. I don't have time
9. Church just doesn't work for me
8. It's boring
7. It's irrelevant to my life
6. I don't like the pastor
5. I don't want to talk about it
4. It's too long
3. They ask for money too much
2. It's for wimps
1. There are too many hypocrites there

a poor excuseItems like no time, long, boring, irrelevant, they ask for money and there are too many hypocrites sound like they would apply to men and women equally. Do the men you know fall into these? If you are a man, are any of these relevant for you? How would a woman's list look different?
What did the book miss?

3 Comments:

  • At 7/04/2005 9:25 AM, Blogger Celeste said…

    The men I know seem to be afraid to go. They would then have to face their feelings and Church can be very emotional at times. I suppose it is hard to accept or believe how much God does love us, no matter what we have done. It can't be boredom or too long, they watch football and Nascar. That's boring! I think fear of the unknown keeps men and women away. Church may take them out of their comfort zone which we don't often like.

     
  • At 7/05/2005 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think the biggest fear was missed for men... the fear of judgement. Shannon

     
  • At 1/19/2006 6:29 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    This post generated a lengthy comment that resulted in a new post in January 2006.

     

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7/02/2005

Come to me all that are weary

In our Gospel reading for tomorrow Jesus ends saying
Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
or as Eugene Peterson puts it in his paraphrase, The Message,
Are you tired? Worn out?
Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me,
and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me...
watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced Rythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me,
and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Larry Gillick of Creighton University's Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality writes,
We keep learning of his gentle heart and how to rest in his identity. We do tend to submit to false dependencies which result in wars within and between ourselves. Addictions, obsessions, pretendings, self-hatreds, and other deceptions can attract us to a heavy-burdened life. We learn by our bad experiences the wisdom of going back to him for rest and recovery.

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7/01/2005

The least of these

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said this week,
There is no place for apathy in a world which sees 30,000 children die each day because of poverty related conditions. The bible teaches that whatever we do to the poorest we do also for Jesus. We believe God judges nations by what they do to the poorest.
Williams statement came as part of communiqué created by church leaders from the UK, the US, Africa and elsewhere to go to the G-8 leaders gathering in Scotland in July. The Anglican Communion News Service report went on to say
Archbishop Rowan underscored the "deep convergence" of churches from North America, Europe and the Global South regarding the issue of extreme poverty. Churches of all traditions, he said, have found that they have a "common moral base resting on the bible" which calls them to act for economic justice.

The Archbishop also observed that the eradication of poverty is a "generational issue". It is, he said, "the moral cause of the younger generation whose moral vision must be affirmed."
The full text of the press release and the communiqué itself are found online.

This communiqué comes out together with a statement by key leaders in the UK of Christianity, Judaism and Islam publicly urging their Prime Minister Tony Blair to make the case for concrete actions to aid the poorest peoples on earth. That multi-faith letter said in part,
We start from the reality that at the heart of our three great Abrahamic faiths, stands a shared vision of what is owed by right to those who are most in need. For Christian, Jew, and Muslim alike, a world that fails to offer a full measure of compassionate justice to all our brothers and sisters, whoever and wherever they may be, is a world that is failing to meet God's design for humanity.
The full text of that statement is found here. Do you like it when religion gets involved in politics? By what means are Christians and other persons of faith to reach out to those in need?

One concrete step you can take is to leave this blog by way of The Hunger Site where thanks for you stopping in, advertisers will donate to world hunger projects.

1 Comments:

  • At 1/18/2006 7:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I enjoyed this blog. Found it looking for comments on "Why men hate going to church." I have a couple of thoughts (as a man)about what the book missed and would like your response.
    1. Christians have turned Jesus into a neutered Mr. nice guy. He's all meek and mild and most men aren't comfortable with that whole "metro-male" thing.
    2. The songs at church are mostly "Jesus is my boyfriend and I really love him" stuff.
    3. The church hierarchy often bashes men and sings the praises of the female.
    4. Christians are always talking about "personal relationships with Jesus and each other." Men don't like "relationship" speeches. Hint: what did Jesus preach? Personal relationships or repent, believe, and follow?
    5. Men hate things like share time, personal testimony time, passing the peace/ hug everybody you don't know time.
    6. Church has turned into a sentimental emotion-fest. Worship has become just another "Chick flick." Men don't like church for the same reason they don't watch Oprah. Nothing wrong with it, it's just a girl thing.
    7. The Rector, vestry, education teachers, youth director, treasurer, and secretary, even acolytes, are all female. Men don't like female domination any more than women like male domination.
    8. At church, the teaching is fluff and the expectations low. At least with Nascar, the skill is hard won, the expectations high, and the competition fierce. In a busy world, Nascar is a more worthy investment.
    9. Men don't mind paying for something that impacts or improves their lives - boats, cable, satellites, etc. What have we done to worship that it isn't worth it to men?
    10. The problem isn't the feminine side of Christianity. Men actually like women. The problem is that Christians have emasculated the church.

    What do you think of my top ten?

    \

     

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