Doing what I do best…NOT catching fish Posted by Picasa

The subtitle I put on this bothers me. I did it hastily to make fun. It’s true. When fishing I typically am not the one to catch fish.

Yet, it is also symbolic of my life right now, it seems. Am I “catching fish”? Am I “bearing fruit”? I don’t like those questions in my life because I am beginning to wonder about the true answer.

I should count the days since I emailed the candidates for Senate in Minnesota concerning some campaign issues. Actually, if I had the money, I would try an experiement.

I would count the days they do not respond to my questions concerning their stances in the campaign. Then, I should donate to both campaigns and see how long THAT response would take! In other words, I could donate to both campaigns, then email a question and see how long it takes them to respond.

Money is king. Give some cash, show some significance of some sort, and you might be heard. You probably have a lot better chance that way than just asking them a question.

Imgaine that! Representative government NOT responding to a constituent’s question! Astonishing!

The silence is deafening.

In the past few days I have emailed two prominent contenders for the US Senate seat in Minnesota and asked for a dialogue with them regarding issues that concern a biblical worldview. I asked the Democratic contender how she would approach some “pro-life” issues, even though she might be pro-choice. I asked the Republican contender how he intended to face some issues of poverty and injustice from a legislative standpoint.

To date… no answer from either side. They must be too busy fundraising.

Does this gospel really mean anything to anyone?

So many Christians I am associated with right now seem to be name only Christians. Applying the Bible to ANY part of their life is almost foreign to them. They have no desire to be around the Body of Christ. There aren’t any real spiritual connections.

I find more and more “believers” who get more from Dr. Phil or Oprah or some other source than they do the Word of God. They won’t go to the Word, search the Word, seek the Lord in prayer. They struggle and fear and are full of anxiety and are there no answers for their lives.

And they call themselves Christians.

Something is wrong.

One of the central issues in making Christ the center is his view of the poor. Jesus spent his time with the poor.

As Pentecostals, we need to regain the Kingdom view on the poor. Too often we are ready to blame liberals, or the “system”, or lack of family values.

We do not grasp the situation of the poor and the institutions that have locked people into almost continuous cycles of poverty. Working parents may be working poor. They have little chance to gain more education, because if they stop one of their jobs to go to school, they lose wages. If they lose wages, they may get behind on rent, and on and on.

Affording down payments for their own homes can be a huge task.

What are we doing to keep our eyes on the poor? What are we doing to extend our hands to the poor?

The challenge of Christ being the center cannot be avoided. In the Gospel of Mark, there are two stories of blind men being healed. The first one in Mark 8 is followed by the great confession of Peter. He answers the question everyone of us must answer concerning Jesus.

“Who do YOU say that I am?”

What follows in Mark are three stories when Jesus revealed what was ahead and how the disciples completely missed what Jesus was saying. It wraps up at the end of Mark 10 with healing of Bartimaeus.

Three times Jesus reveals he will be arrested, beaten, crucified, then resurrected. Three times the disciples bring on discussion about greatness…THEIR greatness.

We struggle with our own place today. We search for our own significance. We have the same reaction too often. Jesus gives HIS agenda, and then we quickly redirect the discussion to OUR agenda. We are like blind people walking around!

To have significance in this life, Jesus calls us to be slaves. “Servants” is too polite. Slaves is the right term. No rights. No agenda of our own. We are called to serve.

Even though I am a pastor, I do not do this well. I confess my weakness. I need to be like Bartimaeus and recognize I am indeed blind. I do NOT want to be a slave. Too often I want to be served! Or, if I serve, I want to be RECOGNIZED for my serving!

I need to cry out with Bartimaeus, “Lord Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

We are so easily susceptible to being hypocrites. In the 90’s we were all over Clinton for parsing “is”. But when the shoe seems to fit on the Republican operatives…well… we seem to play that “is” game as good as Clinton.

It seems Karl Rove leaked information regarding a CIA operative, but didn’t actually “name the name”. So…he didn’t really do anything bad? He named the man and said his wife was a CIA agent… how hard is it to take clues from there?

The hypocritical spirit cuts both ways. Maybe it’s time for Karl Rove to be cut as well.

The Supreme Court nomination battle will begin to heat up. Sandra Day O’Connor has retired, opening up new battle grounds for “conservatives” and “liberals”. Liberals, of course, want someone to interpet the Constituion their way. Conservatives, astoundingly, want the same!

What is atrocious is the thought that the Supreme Court is supposed to “unite us”. Yet, that is the claim of Senator Patrick Leahy when he declared he would stand with President Bush in selecting a nominee who can unite Americans.

In a cursory reading of the United States Constitution, I cannot find anywhere in the document where that is a JOB REQUIREMENT!

Then again, I’m not a “Constitutional Scholar”. It must be in there somewhere…just like the “right to privacy”.

While I was visiting my parents this past weekend, we enjoyed being in their church. It is also the church Terri and I planted back in 1989. During the worship service they actually sang a hymn! (This is rare in that church these days, as I understand it.)

They were having a great time singing, “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”. It’s one of my favorites. However, reflecting on Bonhoeffer, I noticed a line in a verse that was sad. It said, “If I falter, Lord, who cares? None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.”

That is supposed to be comforting. “It’s you and me, Jesus.”

I don’t find that very comforting. That’s not the Church. If I falter, the CHURCH should care! If I hurt, the CHURCH should feel that hurt.

A young children’s pastor and his wife tragically lost their two year old daughter recently. It is incredibly painful. If that man had to rely on just him and Jesus, he would be in a world of hurt! Instead, Christ moves through the Body to be with that dear brother and his wife. Maybe words cannot be spoken, but the PRESENCE of the Body of Christ is so crucial. If I lost one of my sons, the PRESENCE of the Body of Christ would be so meaningful to me. Maybe there would be meaningless words spoken. There always are. Yet, the PRESENCE of Christ in his Body would be so real and so needful to me.

“If I falter, Lord, who cares?”

I hope the Church cares! If another falters, I hope I care!

The issue of eminent domain and the recent Supreme Court decision has a chilling effect on non-profit organizations and their property.

If a city needs to increase their revenue and a developer would like some land, what better source than property that currently does not pay any taxes? Some churches with “prime locations” are not very protected with this Supreme Court ruling.

As a side note, I find it interesting that my hometown newspaper, the StarTribune, has not commented on their editorial page concerning this recent ruling. They were very quick to support the latest ruling on the Ten Commandments in the Kentucky case, but they have balked at any opinion concerning the right of eminent domain. I find that interesting.