Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 

Tuesday
Sep042012

CAN OUR CHURCHES WALK THE WALK?

My older daughter recently had an e-mail exchange with a friend.  Because they accurately identified major problems with American churches and culture, I'm including their four pungent paragraphs:

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Older Daughter:  Why has American Christianity --  to use a broad, generic brush -- become so worried about things that Jesus didn't talk about?  E.g. homosexuality, politics and personal prosperity.  But it's not worried about what he DID talk about.  E.g. orphans, widows, strangers, 'Samaritans', voluntary poverty/homelessness and self-sacrifice.

That said, I'm guilty, too, since I usually spend time on my daily comfort and book reading/TV watching rather than pursuing such things. No wonder I often feel restless and wonder "Is this it?"

Friend:  More than that, how is it that those whom He reserved His strongest words for have come to be considered His representatives?  Meanwhile, the poor and outcast, who spent so much time in His company, no longer feel welcome in His church.  It's possible to find more grace at an AA meeting than among His followers.

And I have a two-fold concern with the arts: I look around at our culture and its media -- the books on the shelves at my store, the movies at the cinema, the programs on TV.  There's not a whole lot of content, substance, value or depth.  I also see that Good is most often depicted as somewhat boring, while Evil is seen as exciting and fun.  I believe that's the very opposite of the truth. I want to use the arts to find some way of addressing this cultural distortion.

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An additional thought --

Years ago, my older daughter, quoting Brennan Manning, gave me a useful insight for understanding contemporary American Christianity:

"If you want to know how most American Christians believe and act, reverse the Beatitudes."

I tried it, and it works.  For example, "Blessed are the rich, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.  Blessed are those who rejoice, for they shall be honored."  And so on --

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Purpose of this blog is to compile a book for my grandchildren to read in 25 years.

Copyright © 2012 by Jack Towe

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