Sunday, October 18, 2009

Larry and Earlene

Ken and Trinity and I spent a good portion of the day yesterday with B-I-L Larry and his new wife, Earlene. Earlene has had a difficult life, including already nursing one husband with cancer, and my heart goes out to her. It's the first time I've seen Larry since my sister's funeral, and I can't say it wasn't a bit strange and a little sad to see him with a pretty blonde. :-) I liked her. It was a good visit. Larry is going to have surgery next Wednesday, but he seems in reasonably good spirits. He is very impressed (as everyone seems to be who goes there) with Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Earlene hugged me when we left and whispered that it was very important to Larry that we came, and to have me in his life. Made me get teary-eyed. Kris and I will hopefully go down after the surgery and see Larry and get Earlene out of the hospital and over to the monster outlet mall that is right across the street.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Please Pray for Larry

Please pray for my dear brother-in-law, Larry. He has not been well for a while, had pnuemonia, congestive heart failure...and last night he called to let me know he has just been diagnosed with lung cancer. He will be travelling to the Midwestern location for Cancer Centers of America, here next week. I hope I can get down there to see him.

Here are a few pictures. Just because.

One of my favorite pictures of Larry. He is with my mother during a visit to our house just after my sister, Darlaine was diagnosed with Alzheimers. It was a bittersweet visit--and the beginning of a closer friendship between Larry and me as we pondered issues, grieved, planned, and tried to make wise decisions for my sister together.

When this picture was taken a couple of years ago, Larry and I were talking about how it could be possible that two formerly youthful and hip California beach lovers could have become so danged old and fat. We were having fun.

Darlaine and Larry and their daughter in law, Jessica on one side of the table. Ken and me on the other.

He's a special guy. Thanks for agreeing with me in prayer for him and his new wife, Earlene, and the family.

Earl Creps on the Emerging Church

This post from Pentecostal and "Emergent style" church planter Dr. Earl Creps in linked in my sidebar. In case you haven't noticed it and would like to read it, I'm posting the link here. Of course (the post is about being Pentecostal and Emergent), some of what he writes is rather specific to Pentecostals. But quite of bit of it would apply to any of us in the "Evangelical" camp.

Here is one snippet from the post. I wish John Mac A. was aware of what Earl says here:

Generalizations are the enemy: It’s hard to have a conversation without them, but they are misleading. I’ve been asked questions like, “is the EmChurch good or bad?” “Well,” I might reply, “is Pentecostalism good or bad?” The only answer with any integrity is, “yes.” Most of the pastors and members of EmChurch venues that I’ve met have no resemblance to the ...stereotype that my more conservative friends tend to fear so much. Remember, most of these friends are reacting to the sins (real and perceived) of the mainstream evangelical church... And some have few theological interests, as in the mainstream, they are present within EnChurch because of their cultural prefernces.

Earl left a professorship at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary to plant a church in extremely postmodern Berkeley, California. I wish I could be there and help them out!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Those Emerging Heretics

First, I want to recommend Molly's post here about defending "the truth." You know it's a good one when you see the number of comments.

In that post she says, somewhat as an aside (and she is talking about a Banty rooster), " I get such a kick out of watching the little guy. He is so small (and so easy to catch), but he doesn’t know it. He thinks he’s an amazing stud, ever eager to take on any and everything that gets near *his* hens...swaggering around with his wings spread low and his head up high, and we all good-naturedly put up with it, because, well, we have to. He can’t help himself. He has no idea we giggle at his crowing and strutting..." And speaking of a few bloody ankles, she adds, "His puffing, with all its littleness, has a bite. The...truth defenders are much the same. They would be funny, if they weren’t sometimes so harmful, particularly harmful to the very faith that they think they’re defending. All that puffing and snorting does little to attract anyone to grace or truth. It feels good and meaningful to the one doing the puffing (and their supporters), but that’s about all the good that it does."

She is speaking of truth defenders on the 'net, but it takes me back to a radio program I tuned in to recently. I was driving on a boring stretch of road and surfing radio stations. I stopped when I heard a well-modulated, reasonable and educated-sounding preacher.

It took me a few moments to realize what he was really speaking about. He was encouraging his church congregation to be wary of heretics. After some derogatory comments about church leaders who "strut about in robes," he cited alarming quotes, bashed mainline churches, and generally strutted, in a verbal sort of way. Who are these dangerous heretics?

It is those "emerging church" people, that's who. All of 'em.

The speaker said some alarming things and some arrogant things. He said them in such a reasonable way that it was frightening. The congregation was appreciate, laughing at the "right" times, offering affirmation and--I fear--never noticing the implications of what their pastor was saying. Those things included:

We should not respect people of other religions.

We should not engage in dialog with non-Christians, except for the purpose of converting them.

We should not listen to anyone who is not a fundamentalist (he did not use that word, but he might as well have).

The emerging church is extremely dangerous. Heretics, in fact, who have perverted the truth.

Jesus rebuked the self-righteous religious leaders. He would, if he were here, soundly rebuke these religious leaders too.

He quoted at least two men, one "a prominent emergent church leader" and the other "the leading spokesman for the emerging church movement" without ever naming either one. I suspect the quotes were taken out of context, but I can't read and find out for myself, since he did not name any of the heretical leaders. He seemed unaware that the "emerging church" is not a cohesive, coherent body, not a denomination, and not even a united group.

I have to admit that I agreed with a tiny fraction of what the speaker said. But I have been pondering the possible effects on his hearers. I am all too aware that people in a congregation or an audience only hear a small part of what is spoken from a platform. And they can misconstrue things in amazing ways.

So what might some people do who hear John MacArthur say that they should not respect, not engage in dialog, in fact should rebuke and correct those who have beliefs unlike their own? I shudder to think!

If you want to read the sermon you can find it at Grace Community Church online.
However, as Molly said, all that puffing does little to bring anyone to grace or truth. Perhaps he (and all of us) should take note of the facts that clearly point to some serious trouble in the evangelical camp as well. We have plenty of work to do to clean our own "houses," seems to me.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Autumn Round These Parts

The feed corn is brown and drying in the fields; the soy beans are about ready for harvest. The trees are beginning to show more color, and the wind is usually blowing. We've reluctantly turned on the furnace and I have pulled out my sweaters from the chest in the basement.

Yes, autumn has arrived. So today we decided to get out our fall lawn decoration and add some corn stalks and pumpkins. Squash and pumpkins grow very well in the upper portion of the USA, and all around in our area are wagons loaded with beautiful varieties for sale. Usually there is a box somewhere for depositing cash.

Trinity came along to help us check out the best ones. Here she is with Uncle Kevin.

How 'bout this one, Grandma?

Papa selects a pie pumpkin, and Trinity picks out a few of the colorful gourds.
Back home, I start a pot of stew on the stove while Papa and Trinity work on a Lion King puzzle.
Oh yeah, football is on TV, of course. It IS Autumn, after all.

When is the last time you fell asleep with your feet in the air? This is Trinity's toddler size bed, snagged at the local thrift store.

I love the color in the fields and trees, the pumpkins, the scent of smoke, the warmth of a cozy sweater, snuggling under the weight of more blankets on the bed. Tonight I am feeling a bit at a loss. I still feel like I should be working on a sermon on Saturday. I am missing my mother (who absolutely loved Fall) and I am missing my sister too. Something about this time of year always makes me feel a bit melancholy, even though there are many things I love about it.

I miss fellowship and fun with certain close friends. I miss prayer with a group of others who longed for God's will to be done. I miss the sense of expectation and anticipation for what God was doing and would do.

Lately I keep thinking of Darlaine, and the odd thing is that for a millisecond I forget that she died. I always think of her being somewhere. I know, she is. But I mean somewhere in this world that just does not happen to be the same place as I am--not difficult because we never lived in close proximity after I got married.

So for a moment I think of her at her stove, or sipping a steaming cup of tea as she reads a book...or...and then I realize I will not see her, or hear her voice till eternity. I miss her with a sharp pain of loss. Strange time. I wonder how long it will before I realize she is really gone?

This will be the first Christmas since my mother died, though she was not really "present" last year and did not enjoy the season. How long before I do not feel guilty for using anything that was hers? I mean, I can feel guilty using a towel or a basket or anything that belonged to her. Not rational, I know. Doesn't matter.

I am missing things I always did at this time of year: decorating the sanctuary with fall flowers along with my secretary and friend. Doing our annual prayer walk around the towns of our area. Beginning to think seriously about what I will do for the annual Christmas Eve candlelight service.

How long before I am feeling comfortable in my own skin again? How long before certain worship songs do not make me teary-eyed? Or how long before I stop feeling out of place and a bit lost? How long till I am genuinely at peace with God--and with myself? How long until I am aware of God's presence or become aware of God's "voice"?

I don't know. Autumn is a strange time. Especially this year. But it was, nonetheless, a lovely day. And God is still good.

The Psalmist knew this too, and Psalm 13 reminds me that I can make a choice to praise God and be thankful, even when I do not understand.

How long, O LORD?
Will You forget me forever?

How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and hear me, O LORD my God;
Enlighten my eyes..
Lest my enemy say,
“I have prevailed against him”;
Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

But I have trusted in Your mercy;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.