Monthly Archives: January 2011

Constant Growth: Abnormal?

If I understand what is being said by those who are supposed to know: we are in a recession because we are not growing economically.  I may be hopelessly naïve, but it seems to me that growth has to end somewhere.  If a human keeps growing, we will call him abnormal.  If a plant keeps growing, we take the pruners or clippers to it.  In other words, constant growth seems abnormal.  When is enough enough?  When do we quit being concerned about industrial and economic growth and start concentrating on consolidation?  When do we stop accumulating wealth and start feeding the hungry (we have an obscene amount of hunger in this country given our wealth) and clothing the naked…or, at least, help the victims become productive and less dependent?  I’m just saying…

And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14).

If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content (1 Timothy 6:8).

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5).

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Filed under Blessings, Culture Wars, Current Events, Economics, Faith, homelessness, independence, Politics, Random Thoughts

The Answers for Everything

Two questions: Why did the number of disciples explode in the first three centuries after the establishment of the church on that wondrous Day of Pentecost? And, why isn’t similar growth occurring now? Once we have answered these questions, we will have the answers for everything. So what are the differences between then and now and us and them?  I can think of a few:

1.      They were Holy Spirit motivated and driven. Too many of us are ignorant of the Spirit’s provision, power and His primary legacy: inspired Scripture. It is within these God-breathed words we will find the answers we seek, not in some book on church growth.

2.      They were not building-oriented. We are. We spend millions on structures we mistakenly call “churches” with a “sanctuary” and classrooms. Try finding that in Scripture!  What a classic misappropriation of time, energy and money!

3.      They did not have a “professional class” or clergy. We do. We spend millions on their salaries and benefits. Then we work the hound out of them. This too is alien to Scripture. As Lisa Sells has written,

…the pastor (“preacher” for us restorationists-DW) is expected to both nurture the mature and win the lost through a one-way monologue (i.e., the weekly sermon-DW).  Then through the week the pastor is expected to satisfy member needs for personal love and concern.

“The result is often a membership that watches the pastor try to do all the ministry as well as a pastor that is overextended and skating on the edge of burnout. (Lisa Sells, “Avery Willis’ Last Dream,” Mission Frontiers, USCWM, 1605 E. Elizabeth St., Pasadena, CA 91104, 626-7971111, www.missionfrontiers.org. January-February 2011, p. 9)

4.      They were not assembly-oriented. We are. Assembly has been called, “The Sunday Morning Show.” It has replaced The Great Commission as the focus of our resources and energies.  Assembly an essential part of our Christian walk but it must not become our major focus.  As Steve Smith wrote,

The Great Commission says we are to go, not invite people to come to us.  We must go to where the lost are, and train the new believers to also go to the lost, into factories, homes, shops and neighborhoods (Steve Smith, “Training for Trainers Process,” Mission Frontiers, January-February 2011, p. 11)

5.      They understood what “making disciples” was and how to do it.  We don’t.  They proclaimed the word, lived the gospel, baptized those who came to belief and taught them to observe all that Jesus commanded.  Those disciples made more disciples who could make disciples and multi-level discipling was born.

6.      They knew that their mission was to follow Christ.  We know it too, but we get distracted by stuff that has nothing to do with our primary mission. They didn’t get involved in peripheral diversions.  Since Jesus came to seek, serve and save the lost, they knew that was their job too.  It’s all right there in the Gospels and the Letters.

It is time to dump the ineffective inventions, innovations, diversions and distractions that have gummed up the simple process of seeking, saving and discipling the lost. It is time to stop wringing our hands in despair and to fill those hands with a copy of Scripture.  It is time to quit looking around wondering what to do and to fill our eyes, mind and heart with the teachings and examples of Jesus and the apostles. There we will find what to do. There we will find the answers to everything.

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Filed under church, Community, conversion, discipleship, Evangelism, Faith, History, Holy Spirit, Ignorance, Jesus Christ, Kingdom Growth, Missions/Evangelism, Preaching/Teaching, Restoration, Salvation, Scripture, Uncategorized

Australia: Land Down Under Water

All the flooding in Australia, Brazil and elsewhere has set me to pondering. We humans are an odd lot.  Even though we know better, we build our houses and cities on the slopes of volcanoes, in floodplains, below sea level, on top of fault lines and in the paths of bushfires, tornadoes and hurricanes. Every year tragedy strikes. Volcanoes erupt, rivers flood, fault lines shift, bushfires, forest fires, tornadoes and hurricanes leave a path of destruction. When it is over, we rebuild in the same dangerous places. We usually do this out of necessity…most of us can’t afford to live where we choose. We are fly-trapped by sticky financial necessity.

For example, If your job requires you to live in Los Angeles, San Francisco or some other shaky place, do you abandon your livelihood to seek terra more firma?

If the only place to grow your crops is on the slopes or in the vulnerable vicinity of Mt. Blowapart, do you give up farming to starve on safer ground?

If the only place to build a shelter is to squat on a dangerous piece of ground or be homeless, what would you do?

On the one hand, I feel little pity for the folks with funds to live where they want but build holiday homes on the beach and then get upset because a storm spoils their fun. And then they have the cheek to expect us to help them rebuild. I question the sanity of those who have the resources to reside above sea-level but choose to live below it. Those who carelessly and perilously build in the forest because they love trees must understand that they have surrounded themselves with flammable materials.

On the other hand, there are the disastrous floods in the states of Queensland and Victoria in Australia. I have been in some of these stricken areas in the last year. No one could have foreseen the unceasing deluge that has killed, destroyed and changed lives forever. The sheer size of the flooded areas boggles the mind.  But I know something of the Australian psyche. They may have to live in the same place but Australians are tough folks. They will mourn their dead and then get to work.  After reminding each other, “She’ll be right, mate!” they will sluice out the mud, rebuild and reclaim what they can. God bless them every one!

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Filed under Australia, Current Events, Natural Disaster, South Pacific

Thoughts on WikiLeaks

What do you think of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks?

A writer could get in big trouble here.  Nevertheless, here goes.  Personally, I have mixed emotions.  I’ve had a few leaks in my life…water leaks that is…and I hate to see them.  They mean that I have some leaky pipes, places where rainwater can get in or some other regrettable fault in roof or plumbing.  In the case of water leaks, it is better to be aware of them in order to make needed repairs.  Fuel leaks, air leaks (drafts), and other sorts of leaks too personal to mention here…all signal problems that need to be dealt with.

In the same way, WikiLeaks exposes some faults and problems that need fixing.

1.       Somebody with access to state secrets has, for love, fame or money, spilled the state beans.

2.       Somebody is sloppy and careless with what they know that could harm others or be otherwise damaging/destructive/dangerous.

3.       Someone thinks that keeping secrets at all is counterproductive to their view of how the world should be.

4.       There are probably others I haven’t thought of yet (feel free to make a contribution here).

It turns out some of our folks have said some less-than-flattering things about leaders in other countries.  These have been “leaked” by the informants of Mr. Assange and there is hell to pay.  Our State Department is scrambling like a drowning rat to do damage-control.

But there are other significant leaks as well.  For example, reporters Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman have learned from U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks that the Bush administration drew up ways to retaliate against Europe for refusing to use Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds.  Conclusion: we have more problems than we thought.  Monsanto is the very definition of a bully.  The rest of the world sees the U.S. as a bully.  So one bully is taking up the disgraceful cause of another bully…good grief!

It seems to me there are a couple of reasons for keeping secrets:

1.       It is vital to our nation’s defense, just like any other strategic matter.

2.       You’ve got something to hide that, if revealed, will bring you trouble/shame/disgrace, etc.

I have been very angry with Mr. Assange for his willy-nilly revelations made without consideration of the potential damage.  On the other hand, revelations such as the collusion of two bullies to force their agenda on others need to be exposed to the light.

Speaking of light, I can think of another bit of news that everyone needs to know.  It is the good news of a way of reconciling the created to their Creator and, hence, to each other.  It is a way to have peace on earth and good will among men with whom God is pleased.  It isn’t a secret, but we handle it like one.  Shame on us!  Maybe we need some professional help.  So, Mr. Assange, if you will contact me, I will tell you this secret and you can leak it for all you’re worth!

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Filed under Culture Wars, Current Events, Discussion, Ignorance, Intelligence, morality, Pedophilia, Politics

The Tucson Memorial: Some Thoughts

Here are a few thoughts on the memorial held this evening for the victims of the shootings in Tucson.

1.       Wasn’t that “Native American Blessing” weird?  The bloke who gave it was not even a Native American…he was descended from the Yaquis of Mexico!  If he wasn’t a professor at the University, he probably wouldn’t have been on the program.

2.       I thought President Obama gave the finest speech I have heard from him so far (and he does love to give speeches).  It was exactly what we needed to hear.  It was thoughtful, sympathetic, conciliatory, uniting and comforting.

3.       It was uplifting to hear Scripture read by the Attorney General and the Secretary for Homeland Security.  They read with courage and conviction at a time when our nation drifts toward secularism.  Even the President, who is not known for his personal exercise of faith, referred at least twice to Scripture.

4.       How about that Daniel Hernandez?  Without notes or any sign of stage fright this articulate young man made some very thoughtful comments and renounced the title of Hero…handing that appellation to others he felt deserved it more.  I was impressed!

5.       I was surprised at the tone of the memorial.  It seemed more like a pep rally but, as one commentator suggested, maybe this is what was needed.  Nevertheless, I was angered by those who kept screaming even after the rest of the audience had become quiet.  What makes them think we are as much in love with their voice as they obviously are?

6.       I hope this brings to an end the incredibly stupid finger-pointing and mud-slinging employed by political opportunists.  I must say, however, that I am not holding my breath.

7.       I was moved by the brief sketches of those who were killed given by the President.  It was a personal touch that gave us all a little insight into the always extraordinary lives of ordinary people.

8.       The sketch of one precious little girl, Christina Taylor Green who would remind her mother, “We are so blessed. We have the best life,” brought me to tears.

As Mr. Obama said, may we work toward “…forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.”

My Blogs:
Whitticisms
: dwhitsett.wordpress.com

In the Charamon Garden: charamongarden.wordpress.com
Whitsett Woodcarving: whitcarv.wordpress.com
Mission South Pacific: missionsouthpacific.wordpress.com

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Filed under Blessings, Community, Current Events, Faith, Good & Evil, Life, Love, Prayer, Religion, Scripture, Theism, Unity

Arizona Anguish

In the aftermath of the horrible tragedy in Tucson, we in the U.S. are taking another look at ourselves and our conduct.  This shooting is another in a series of multiple murders occurring in public places.  We are attempting to surface and analyze factors which might have contributed to such horrible bloodshed.  It seems to this writer these incidents have at least two common ingredients:

1.       Some deranged nut has decided to make his point by killing innocent people then, in some cases, committing suicide.

2.       Very often their erratic, potentially violent and aberrant behavior has been revealed in their public ranting and raving on the internet and in other forums.

Otherwise, commonalities are hard to find.

Some have pointed to the obvious decline of civility – especially among politicians and particularly during campaigns (where the mud-slinging is equivalent to excavating the Panama Canal) — as a cause.  They have specified rancorous debates in Congress where one member actually dares to interrupt another – even the President of the United States!

I find this amusing.  Our congress is actually much more sedate than the British or Australian legislative bodies.  If you don’t believe me, listen in to public debates and speeches (even by the Prime Ministers) in the English or Australian Parliaments.  So far, these have not provoked anything worse than name-calling.  Nasty campaigns and rowdy debates may be reprehensible, but there’s no evidence they morph into massacres.

As of this writing, citizens of the United States are in mourning for the senseless loss of life in our country.  How to avoid similar tragedies in the future will be the subject of many future discussions and investigations.  In the meantime, what can we do?

1.       Our leaders/public figures/politicians/celebrities can be more circumspect and take responsibility for their conduct.  Unfortunately thousands, like sheep, look to them as trend-setters and examples, for good or ill.

2.       We can be sensitive to warning signs in our neighbors, family, co-workers and fellow-students.  Parents, counselors and teachers need to take erratic behavior and threats of violence seriously.  So often the shooters are lonely, marginalized people who need help we can give or get for them.  And, for goodness sake, keep guns out of the hands of the obviously mentally disturbed.

3.       Finally, and most important of all – those who claim to follow Christ can live as our Master dictates: loving our God, loving our neighbors and treating others as we wish to be treated.  There are enough of us to make a major positive difference.

In the meantime, as you pray, be sure to lift up the precious families and victims of the Arizona heartbreak to the Father.

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Filed under Community, Current Events, Life, Love, Politics, Prayer

The Life of Rafferty

Since I became aware of the death of Gerry Rafferty I’ve been thinking about how we hear so many truths from unexpected sources.  For example, it is all too easy to go Back, Jack and Do it Again because You Don’t Always Get What You Want.  When You Can’t Hide Your Lying Eyes and Life in the Fast Lane makes you lose your mind, The Devil is Pleased to Meet You (we could go on but I’ll stop with these classics).

Rafferty’s rendition of Baker Street, has never failed to move me…not only with its haunting music, but with the truths in his lyrics.  In so many ways, they describe the life of Rafferty including his struggle with alcohol and his reclusive spirit.  The lyrics speak of misguided struggles leading nowhere, lessons learned but not heeded, of truths realized but never internalized.  Sadly, you and I have probably known some pathless pilgrims on Baker Street.

Winding your way down on Baker Street
Light in your head and dead on your feet
Well another crazy day, you’ll drink the night away
And forget about everything.

This city desert makes you feel so cold
It’s got so many people but it’s got no soul
And it’s taken you so long to find out you were wrong
When you thought it held everything.

You used to think that it was so easy,
You used to say that it was so easy
But you’re tryin’, you’re tryin’ now.
Another year and then you’d be happy
Just one more year and then you’d be happy
But you’re cryin’, you’re cryin’ now.

He’s got this dream about buyin’ some land
He’s gonna give up the booze and the one night stands
And then he’ll settle down, it’s a quiet little town
And forget about everything.

But you know he’ll always keep movin’
You know he’s never gonna stop movin’
Cause he’s rolling, he’s the rolling stone.
And when you wake up it’s a new morning
The sun is shining, it’s a new morning
But you’re going, you’re going home

Rafferty never found the lasting inner peace longed for in his lyrics.  From his beginnings as an unwanted child with a dysfunctional family to the end of his life, his history is one of hopelessness addiction and unrealized potential.

Would Jesus Christ have made a difference in his life?  I think so, but you be the judge.  Since Jesus is the bringer of light and life, peace and hope — I believe it would have made a huge difference.  And since fellowship with His followers brings comfort, compassion, encouragement and shared strength, I am confident his life could have been very different.  Tragically, we shall never know.

Look around my friend.  Do you see someone on a hopeless highway, trying to find their way home?  Help them find the way to a new morning.
♦♦♦♦

My Blogs:
Whitticisms
: dwhitsett.wordpress.com

In the Charamon Garden: charamongarden.wordpress.com
Whitsett Woodcarving: whitcarv.wordpress.com
Mission South Pacific: missionsouthpacific.wordpress.com

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Filed under Biography, Christlikeness, church, Community, conversion, Culture Wars, Current Events, Devil, Faith, Jesus Christ, Life, Meaning of Life, morality, Religion, Satan