I’m going to keep this short. Fred Phelps Sr., founder of Westboro Baptist church in Topeka, Kansas is on his death bed. He is at Midland Hospice house in Topeka, Kansas on the verge of death. In case you aren’t familiar with Westboro Baptist Church, they are the guys who picket soldiers’ funerals, celebrity funerals, and various events. Their choice of words is horribly unkind, with posters saying things like, “God Hates Fags” or “Fag Nation” or “Fag Troops” or “Priests Rape Boys” or “Dike Liberty.” They are most known for being the “God Hates Fags church.” Their defense of the use of the word “fag” comes from the Old Testament. They claim that the term “fag” is an “elegant” term for sinners in general, and that the term denotes a pile of sticks that fuel a fire – the way that the wicked kindle God’s wrath. Only, the term “fag” isn’t used this way in our culture, and when you show up with signs saying that God hate fags, it comes off as meaning something totally different. Anyhow, I’ve been following these guys for years, listening to messages or interviews and watching documentaries. I’ve learned much about them. Continue reading Fred Phelps Sr. of Westboro Baptist Church is Near Death
Dead Man Walking is a book written by a nun named Sister Helen Prejean. Tim Robbins made a play out of it, and I had the chance to go check it out on Friday at Miami Dade College. It was also made into a movie. My wife is taking a stage course at Miami Dade and was doing some “behind the scenes” stuff. The school had been performing it all week long and Friday night was the last night of the performance. It was very well done. Everyone in attendance seemed to thoroughly enjoy the play and be captivated by it, as evidenced by the gasps and laughs and crying. Dead Man Walking follows a particular time in Prejean’s life when she meets a man by the name of Matthew Poncelet. I don’t want to give away too many details, so I’ll just say that she was his spiritual advisor while he was on death row. The really cool part was that Prejean was actually there on Friday night, and we were able to hear her speak afterwards. She filled us in on the fact that she ultimately wanted the story to stir the audience to think about the death penalty and how it is wrong to use death to teach that death is wrong. It certainly made me think about my own position, and the defenses of others. But that’s not what I want to briefly comment on. I heard many reactions of approval in the audience to a lot of the spiritual advice that Prejean gave Matthew Poncelet. I wasn’t one of them. There were three statements she made to him during their time together that I think were totally devastating for anyone to hear while on death row. I found her advice to be hopeless news for the poor guy and hoped that he paid no attention to it. Continue reading Some Thoughts on Dead Man Walking
1 It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. 4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), 6 and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
I Timothy 3:1-7
In this passage, Paul tells Timothy that there are particular expectations that a pastor is to meet. Paul doesn’t say that these are optional. He adds a “must.” These aren’t qualifications for justification, but for the Christian office of overseer. The pastor must be above reproach. This doesn’t mean that the pastor should be without sin. That’s impossible. After all, the Christian life is marked by a recognition of sin and trust in Christ to forgive that sin. Instead, he should not have a bad reputation before anyone. And this is outlined for us by the proceeding qualifiers. 1. He should have one wife 2. Sober-minded 3. Self-controlled 4. Respectable 5. Hospitable 6. Able to teach 7. Not a drunk 8. Not violent, but gentle 9. Not quarrelsome 10. Not a lover of money 11. Manage his household well 12. Keep his kids under control with dignity 13. Not a recent convert 14. Well thought of by outsiders. If someone doesn’t meet these qualifications, it means that they ought not be an overseer. It’s not difficult. It doesn’t make them more justified before God to meet these qualifications, and it doesn’t make them less justified if they don’t. It just means that they should not be a pastor. Continue reading 5 Reasons Why Pastor Mark Driscoll Should Freak You Out
Have you ever done anything that grieved you? Has the shame of it loomed over your head like a dark cloud? Maybe you struggle with anger, and you just exploded at your family members. Maybe you struggle with lust, and no matter how many times you say you will never look again, the Internet woos you back to pornography. Maybe you struggle with not being able to say, “no” to anyone, and you continuously promise to do things with others that you end up never doing. Maybe you struggle with covetousness, and you drain your bank account with things that you “just have to have” only to always be absolutely stretching pennies to afford your appetite. These are each sins, and they should grieve us. We ought to recognize them as sins, and not deceive ourselves. But, what do we do with that grief and shamefulness? Do we rest, trusting that they are forgiven by God in Christ? Oftentimes we just try to satisfy our grief by “making up” for it somehow. Continue reading Confessionally Christian, Functionally an Unbeliever
Has anyone ever asked you what your “ministry” is? I was just asked this the other day. If you’re like me, a natural nail biter, this question causes you to tense up. My mind starts spinning and grasping for something interesting or meaningful or powerful to say. I say something like, “Well, I went to Bible college for a little bit, and then did some seminary, and run a blog” and then I immediately feel kind of disgusted. I really do. I wonder why I have to try to find some sort of official sounding description of myself. But, at the same time, it’s probably the appropriate answer for that question. I think we all know what the question is really getting at. The questioner is looking for something official sounding. It’s like the answer you’ve probably heard a million times to the question, “What church do you go to?” The answer that usually follows is, “Well, we ARE the church.” Of course we are. But we know what the person is really asking – “Which building do you fellowship with other believers in?” And the person asking, “What’s your ministry?” really means, “What’s the especially Christian thing you do?” The question itself comes out of a confused presupposition. Continue reading Do You Even Serve, Bro?!