21 October 2009

Best of centuri0n: Practical application

by Frank Turk

[This post when up 5 days before Christmas, 2006; it caused many people to be angered that I pointed out that living in a trailer park in Arkansas has a stigma attached to it. Listen: what I really mean was ... oh nevermind ...]


Let me tell you that you readers have greatly disappointed me this week – stats or not, I have to say that after last week's post and then Santa's stop by yesterday, I think we obviously still have some work to do on you via this blog.

The actual object of my disappointment is the trajectory we can plot between the points of two comments posted here – last week, in the demand for practical examples of loving your neighbor because that's what the Gospel yields, and this week the view rendered that somehow Dan and Santa wishing the members of TeamPyro a swell noel is somehow not substantive.

Listen: the latter is an example of the former. Yes: Dan and Santa do not usually have an open mutual admiration society here at the blog, but these are men with a Christian objective in mind – a Gospel objective. And in that, for them to offer encouragement to each other is an act of Godly and right-minded love. To overlook that is to demonstrate that it doesn't matter how often cent comes out and beats on the drum of “Christ died to make us new men right now”, and it doesn't matter if you read it: you have to “get it”, people.

You. Have to Get. It. You do. You.

If I was really in the right mood, we'd now tear into the parable of the good Samaritan. But I'm not in that mood. I'm in a Christmas mood even if Santa is not going to find that sweet, black Apple Intel for my stocking because he's got no sense of humor and this thing for Presbyterian baptism. So we're going to go instead to the book of Mark, and we're going to watch Jesus love somebody. Please forgive my vulgar use of the NIV here as I am composing off-line and the only Bible I have handy is my Zondervan Reformation Study Bible:

A man with leprosy came to [Jesus] and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said, “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.
Now, the more-blog-asphyxiated among you will expect that I will at this point expound on the healing of one man who asked for the help, and how God was expending His omnipotence in such a mundane way, and blah blah blah reformed wonkery blah blah blah.

Forget it. There's no way I'm going to make this that boring and not-about-you-and-me on the Wednesday before Christmas. Instead, I'm going to ask you to jump back with me for a second to Leviticus and read with me what it says about the person with leprosy. I'm going to switch over to the KJV because that's the language the Levitical law was written in, right?
Lev 13:44He is a leprous man, he is unclean: the priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean ...

45And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.46All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.
Now, you see there? This person is not just in trouble ritually, but he's untouchable by other people – that is, for him to allow other people to touch him is a sin. There's no other thing a person can be where he or she is condemned to “dwell alone” and literally drive others away by crying out “UNCLEAN!” Literally, a leper was filthy by the practice of the Levitical law – unable to be clean. So the application of the Law for this person was, of course, that he was vile.

But Jesus touched this guy anyway – he touched him, and then he healed him. That is, he didn't just meet the ritual need. This Jesus – the one born in the stable, who slept in a feeding trough, but for whom the angels were singing, and whom the Angel said is the son of the most high God – touched a man who was ashamed to be touched. God came across the shame and the guilt to make this man whole.

Listen: if you want a lesson on how to love somebody, learn from this that the first boundary we have to cross to love other people is the boundary of how vile we think others are.This may shock many of you, but I live down the street from a trailer park. It doesn't have any vacancies as far as I can tell, so there's a problem over there: it's full of people. Now, regardless of where you live, that's not really a problem for them -- for many of them, owning a trailer is a step up from living in a rented quad-plex. Or an actual garbage dump. The trailer park is a problem for me.

Because people live there.

People who, btw, are not on any of the church rolls of the 60 churches in my backwater corner of the Earth. I know this because it's common knowledge in the local churches that “we” don't do evangelism there because “it doesn't make any difference”. And by we, folks, I mean “me”.

Somehow, I can write this giant pile of exhortation to you 5000 TeamPyro readers and my much more humble 500 Flame of Fire readers about the joy of the answer to God's wrath in Christmas, but I can't ride a bike over to the trailer park and find out if anyone there has ever heard of the man Christ Jesus.

Why? Because I am afraid to touch the lepers. That is, in my town, the people who live in the trailer park are the same socially as lepers, and to touch them is to touch something vile. It might get on me. I wish they'd say “UNCLEAN” as they shamble through WAL*MART because I'd cut them some space to avoid being mistaken as making eye contact with them. It would make me vile, and Leviticus notwithstanding, being socially vile will never do.

If you want an example of how to love, that's the example, folks: not filling a shoe box anonymously with some stuff for a kid who has a dad in prison (although, I admit, that's pretty good – it's a lot better than doing nothing), but finding that kid, or any of the people in your analogically-local trailer park, and doing something personally costly for them. Like being seen in public with them, and giving them a hug as if you mean it. You know: because you do it more than once to assuage your conscience at Christmas after charging up a bunch of junk that is bound for the next neighborhood garage sale, or after reading a crumby blog post – you love them into the Gospel and out of the leprosy of being a trailer park kid. To the Gospel, not warm fuzzies or some stupid therapudic transitional state, and out of leprosy, and not casually or inconsequentially, but at great cost.

If you want a practical example of how to love, find a person and do the thing for them which is Godly and right, which will shatter their view of how outcast and separated from others they are, and which you are most afraid to do. You do that, and keep doing it, and you are then a messenger for His name's sake.

Don't get snippy about substance if you can't do that. That's the meat and the bread and the glass of red wine of what the Gospel calls us to, and if you can't stomach it, be glad that Santa stops by to wish Dan and Phil and Pecadillo a happy Christmas. That's all you're ready for.

Happy Christmas and may God richly bless you so you can spend those blessing on others. Amen. You are dismissed.











49 comments:

Reformed and Renewed said...

I often wonder how the brethren should love one another practically. I have not practically experinced much love form the "institutionalized church "either. I have worke as a missionary among the poorest of the poor until I had a nervous breakdown. Love costs. I would have probable gone the emenergent way if God had not at the right time showed me His gospel throught the writings of the Puritans. But in the church? Why no one has even called me at my home yet just to see if I am dead or alive. So love costs.

SandMan said...

Frank, I rend my garment and clap my hand over my mouth. I have been thinking about this exact thing for a while now. I live in a neighborhood that was "transitioning" when we bought it during the real estate boom. Well, it never transitioned and the boom is over. We have called the cops repeatedly over suspicious lurkers, domestic violence on front lawns, and drug sales and open usage on our next door neighbors front door step. For a long time now my idea of a solution has been to pay the mortgage down to what the house is now worth and move "back to civilization." Recently I have been convicted about the mission field that is before me, and my family. That has been the rub for me... "those people's" kids want to play at my house with my little ones. What an opportunity!... but to lay one's own children on the altar; to open them to the influence of "those kids." Thank God He didn't spare His own Son to save "those people" (me). If anyone can relate to what I am saying, I covet your prayers. The first step is always the hardest.

Frank Turk said...

R&R:

Please e-mail me. We need to chat.
______________________________

SandMan:

While I applaud your conscience and its Gospel-inclined view of your new digs, letting your kids get killed by a crack head in not necessarily what I would call "clearly a case of martyrdom". Be careful that you do all the things the Bible asks you to do in right-minded Gospel-centeredness -- including taking care of your own family.

stratagem said...

It's a good analogy. Touching lepers was dangerous in NT times. Touching the drug-addicted and uneducated and slovenly is dangerous in our times because they are apt to just take and take and take, maybe be a bad influence on our kids, cost us a lot of time for nothing, etc. Trailer park ministry is tough, speaking from experience. Maybe not quite as tough as actual leper ministry, but tough nonetheless. This article is a good, hit-me-in-the-face reminder of our middle-class USA caste system, and how that's our system, not God's.

gmftech said...

Love? Church leadership does not show 'love' to the members by condoning the emailing of racist and bigoted political materials by spouses to members. I am sure you meant well by this post but be aware please.

The church does not get it.

The 'reformed' churches really don't get it.

stratagem said...

gmftech
What in the world are you referring to (bigoted and racist materials etc)? Did you comment the wrong article, or is there something glaring that I've missed?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Scenario: Militant same-sex marriage proponents storm in during a church service and blatantly disrupt the worship of God in all sorts of blasphemous ways. They mock the Gospel and profane Jesus. Many in the congregation are stunned, if not shocked.

What's the proper way to love blasphemers who fully believe that the Church/Christians have marginalized them and their same-sex behavior/lifestyle?

SandMan said...

Frank,

Thanks for the wise words in this matter. I am careful to protect my family... and am more than equipped to "protect the castle." What I am referring to is allowing their kids to play at my house. My son is 5 and he is getting excited about the AWANA club. He is memorizing verses like no 5 year old I have seen, but he is missing some badge or pin (or whatever) because for 5 weeks now he hasn't invited anyone to the club. There is a 6 year old girl next door that no one there seems to care about (as she wanders the neighborhood aimlessly, often). I am relatively sure that the parents would let her go if we asked (anything to keep her from being their responsibility)... but I have balked because I have feared opening a dialogue with the drug-using parents. Anyway, no way no how are my kids ever going to their house... but to invite a 6 year old girl to the AWANA club seems like a Christ-like thing to do. God give me the grace.

mike said...

This whole issue can be difficult to live even, let alone teach. We value our safety, and should, yet are called to be willing to lay down our lives or be poured out etc.
Often we create an idol out of comfort and safety, that becomes outright sin, but as with all of our sin, we work hard to explain or protect it. We see potential danger, inconvenience, and embarrassment as equally abhorant. And to borrow Frank’s line, when I say we, I mean me”.
We have allowed our society to redefine the word love, away from what God stated it to be. It now invokes tolerance, acceptance and unity over truth and attempting to protect others from an eternity in hell.

stratagem said...

What's the proper way to love blasphemers who fully believe that the Church/Christians have marginalized them and their same-sex behavior/lifestyle?

This is an interesting comment on a number of levels, the major one to me seems to be that it is entirely OK in my view for Christians to 'marginalize' the homosexual lifestyle or any other sinful practice. I think a lot of the issue boils down to how we do that in Christian love. We would also marginalize alcohol addiction or drug addiction, correct?

What would our response be if Drunks Against Mad Mothers disrupted our church service because we are disapproving of drunkeness as a lifestyle? I think we might try to reason with them, and if they stubbornly refuse to respect our right to worship without interruption, then we'd call the cops eventually. That's what I think we ought to do in the situation you describe. Doesn't seem that puzzling to me. Should it?

Stefan said...

Frank:

Our sermon last weekend was on Romans 13:8-10 ("Owe no one anything, except to love each other....").

Our pastor had been wrestling with what it means to "owe" love to each other. It sounds a lot like works.

It is a financial term, and is also used in Romans 1:14-15: "I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians....So I am eager to preach the gospel to you."

What kind of debt is Paul talking about? We cannot repay our debt to God, and indeed He has paid it on our behalf. What other kind of debt could there be (apart from actual financial debt)?

The answer seems to come in 2 Kings 7:9. The Syrians had been besieging the city of Samaria, but had fled after God had caused them to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army—but no one in the city knew it yet.

Four lepers decided to go to the Syrian camp, surrender, and live (or at the worst die, which they were going to anyhow, either of leprosy or starvation).

Seeing the empty camp, they helped themselves to food and treasures, until they said to each other, "This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us."

Although they acted out of a fear of punishment, they had an obligation to tell their fellow citizens of the good news of the city's liberation from the besieging army.

We too have the same obligation to our fellow citizens—of our community, and of the world—not to keep God's blessings to ourselves, but to tell them of the good news that has brought us Samaritan lepers such freedom and abundance.

Stefan said...

Now, there's just the messy matter of actually applying that teaching in my own life....

Verification word: "flamatic."

Rachael Starke said...

SandMan,

I'm going to guess that your neighbors see you pulling out of your driveway on Sundays (or at least returning) in nice clothes with big Bibles in tow. If you don't ask her at some point, what will that say to them? I'm praying for you too - Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world...

This post reminded me of the shock that arose when Princess Dians was photographed shaking the hands of an AIDS patient - without gloves.

You're a missionary to the church, brother. Don't ever quit.

Sir Aaron said...

gmftech, I think you need to offer an explanation since you've essentially charged all churches with wrongdoing.

TUAD:

I think your point is beyond the scope of the post. Frank's poost is basically telling us that we don't evangelize with certain elements of society, at least not on a personal basis, because we still carry a social stigma of associating with these people. But Jesus, by example, specifically went out of His way to show love to these people and to bring them the good news. Therefore we ought to do that. So if you don't associate or evangelize with gay people because you feel uncomfortable around them, then this post is applicable. I don't believe Frank was at all dealing with our response to assaults by said people.

Sir Aaron said...

Sandman:

I relate very well to your predicament. I wont give advice because I'm not worthy to instruct you when my own failings in this area are so glaring. Therefore, I will simply pray that God will give you the wisdom to know what to do and the courage and boldness to follow through once you do know.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Strategm: "This is an interesting comment on a number of levels, the major one to me seems to be that it is entirely OK in my view for Christians to 'marginalize' the homosexual lifestyle or any other sinful practice."

Duly noted. Yet do note that while "marginalizing" the sinful practice (per Scripture) and presumably under the rubric of "Love the sinner, hate the sin", there are many of these folks who so identify themselves with their behavior, their sin, that they see anyone hating their sin (or even to call it a sin) as hating them. On a personal level.

Hence their protests.

Sir Aaron: "I think your point is beyond the scope of the post."

Thanks. Good to know that their are limits to the scope of this post.

stratagem said...

TUAD: Sure, many homosexuals equate hating their lifestyle with hating them, but the fact that they are in error on that point should not cause us to change our attitude toward that particular sin, correct?

Frank Turk said...

TUAD:

Start a blog, of course. That'll show 'em -- or better yet: leave comments on other people's well-read blogs.

Because that's obviously what works, right?

Frank Turk said...

SandMan:

Wow. That's exactly what I'm talking about.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Strategm: "TUAD: Sure, many homosexuals equate hating their lifestyle with hating them, but the fact that they are in error on that point should not cause us to change our attitude toward that particular sin, correct?"

We certainly can't change Scripture toward that particular sin. What is the attitude of Scripture toward that particular sin?

Aric said...

My heart is torn with conviction as I read your post, Frank. Thanks for not holding back. While my neighborhood sounds different from Sandman’s, I empathize with the need to reach out and the fear of offering up our children. I don’t have an answer.

I think an AWANA invite or play date at the house is a good step. At least there is the ability to protect your children and limit certain influences. I hesitate strongly to allow my children to go to homes of people I do not know well (this includes relatives, which is its own sticky wicket). I know all too well how it only takes a brief moment to do or view something that will cause repercussions for decades. Call me overprotective, but I desire to protect my children’s innocence as long as I can: once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Praying that God would help me to break free from my self-imposed bubble to tell those in need of a Savior about Jesus Christ. May we all embrace more “lepers” with the Gospel.

stratagem said...

TUAD: Same as its attitude toward every other sin: You have to leave it behind. That was the point. I know you are well-acquainted with the whole Sodom and Gomorrah incident, Romans 1st chapter,a nd so on. So now that you've asked some questions and I've answered them, why don't you tell me if you agree or not?

stratagem said...

As far as the subject of protecting one's children, the issue strikes much closer to home than the local trailer park. Here in Ohio, many local evang*** churches are dominated by home-schoolers, a fair number of whom (and in some cases, the vast majority of whom) want to protect their home-schooled kids from the evil influences of those of us whose kids attend either Christian schools or public schools. In one sense I can't blame them but in some churches, non-homeschoolers are shunned by not letting them know about youth activities and so on. Having experienced this, it is hurtful and in a way I consider it to be a bigger deal than whether or not we shun the lepers who are outside the church.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Strategm,

I thought I was clear. Sorry if I wasn't.

Of course I agree with you.

We Christians who profess to follow both the Living Word and His Written Word have no standing to dilute God's clear Word and to say that something is not sin when He clearly declares that it is.

We do have standing, however, to share the Gospel and to share that God graciously provides the atoning work of His Son to redeem us from our sins. And that we are all sinners in desperate need of His grace.

And to the particulars of the same-sex community, they would benefit from understanding that same-sex behavior is a sin, a sin that they need to repent of, a sin that they have to "leave behind" (as you say Strategm) so as to faithfully follow Christ. Luke 9:23. The active GLBTer would take up his/her cross, deny his/her same-sex behavior (among other sins), and with the strength, power, and grace of the Holy Spirit, follow and grow in Christ.

Rob Bailey said...

Sandman,
Take that 6 year old to AWANA. And many more like her. We have been blessed with the opportunity to live near many lost people in dire and vile circumstances. The opportunities that have arisen for the Gospel have been the greatest ministry of our lives. Yes, our children have learned some realities of the world that we may fear meeting head on. Play the man. Even delving into ministry to these areas, my children have never been in physical danger. Several excons know where I live because they have been to my house. The one that was a murderer is now walking with the Lord. You cannot be careless though. Be shrewd. Be able to protect w/o hesitation.
By the way, two of the families we have involved in AWANA lived in trailers, one we are ministering to now does also. Wait a minute... so do I :) One little girl lives in a shack (literally) out in the woods. This type of ministry is the #1 thing I learned from my father before he went to be with the Lord. To see him weep over the wretched and downtrodden is what made me realize one time that I was wretched. Go for it.

Stefan said...

Frank, you might as well have Phil shut down this whole blog after Rob Bailey's comment.

There's really nothing more than can be said on the principle of applying the Gospel.

I'm going to go and wallow in my own putrescent wretchedness now, and ask WWASLD (What Would a Samaritan Leper Do?).

Verification word: antnest

Sir Aaron said...

Strategem:

My church was infected with the elitist homeschool mentality for a bit. It was like an ugly rancor that caused serious division in the Church. My Pastor has been stamping it out in some rather blistering sermons. Just so you know, it seems to be a virus that isn't just running through your church.

TUAD:

You're welcome. I figured somebody should tell you.

SandMan said...

@ Rob:

Thanks for the encouragement. I believe that this is the kind of ministry God expects us to have. I know what to do... now to go do it. Stay tuned.

Did not mean to make this all about me today... thank you all for the graciousness.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Sir Aaron,

You also happened to be the one who noted the unspoken and unwritten limits in the scope of another recent Pyro post.

Thanks for that.

Stefan said...

SandMan:

You didn't make it about you. You made it about your neighbours, which is the point. God bless you!

stratagem said...

Aaron
Yes, in addition to human nature, apparently there are also a lot of homeschool authors who advocate shunning non-home schoolers (or so I've been told by the home schoolers).
"Unclean, unclean!"

Sir Brass said...

R&R, I've seen that too. And the place where I've found that that is different, where if I'm missing from church then people notice and worry is the church which I am a member at which is VERY reformed.

But in all the other churches I've been in, nothing like that at all.

With one exception: the Episcopal church in which I was raised. When I was 10, I had eye surgery to remove a cataract from my left eye. On the morning of the surgery, a lady from the church came by to pray with me and my parents.

Visitation to the sick and homebound is something that I think that the liturgical traditions have down pat that the more reformed traditions could really use a good dose of. IIRC, actually, they used to be solid on such things. I wonder why that seems to have dropped off these days. Even just visiting the sick and homebound among the congregation, not JUST praying for them in one's daily prayers and corporate church prayers.

Something my pastor mentioned when preaching through the Lord's Prayer, specifically on "Give us this day our daily bread." He gave us a bit of practical application to go with the exegesis: "Ask, then act." We ask in faith for those things which we need (like food and shelter, etc.) and then go out and act on that faith. So, if we are praying for the comfort and recovery of those among us who are sick, then shouldn't we then go out and ACT on that, even if it is a phone call to call and ask how the person is doing and if they or their family need anything or could use some help.

I'm not saying I don't see this, but I DO see this not happening in many places. SO much focus on these outreach ministries to the homeless (which is good), but if you're part of the congregation, you don't get reached out to. If the church is big enough, you're not even MISSED on Sunday morning.

Scottj said...

It seems, sometimes, that we label the "uncomfortable" as "impractical" and find some other way to serve.

Almost two years ago a 15 year old in our church ran away from home to our house. Dad and Mom weren't together, Dad is never sober, and Mom's on all sorts of drugs. The Children's Aid Society thought it would be a good idea for him to stay, and so now I have custody until he is of age.

He is doing poorly in school, has never had responsibility and essentially has raised himself until now. I think he might have fetal alcohol syndrome; it would be a miracle if he didn't.

But now he is a Christian. It is a big piece of work, and we're tired sometimes (our youngest biological child is 21). It is not convenient or rewarding, it does not produce warm fuzzy feelings. But it is a good thing, and we love this kid.

Last January a youth leader in our church and his wife left for a church that emphasizes an "immediate" experience of faith (ie, a God-told-me this and this today). In their letter of resignation, they said they wanted "greater" areas of ministry. I was in a bad mood (like today--I just got home from the hospital after having my nose opened up), but I reminded the couple that their landlord's daughter and husband just welcomed their third child into the world (third in three years); and maybe, just maybe, the "greater" area of ministry might start there.

For them, it didn't. But what if every Christian, just did something. I don't mean start a para church thing, but just invite that kid to church, or open your door to a kid running away from home. We've had a bunch over the years end up at our house, but this is the first one we were able to keep.

Just thoughts. Going back to pain meds now.

Robert said...

Frank,

I just happened to see your post today and you refer to one of my favorite bible stories where Jesus **touches** the leper. I have used it in many different situations and used it primarily for evangelism but also as a direct attack on self-righteousness.

I start by talking about leprosy in the OT Law (discuss some of the rules and how it would feel to be separate from other people especially people you love that you cannot even touch). I then make the point that lepers also often attached bells to their clothing so that you the “healthy” one could **hear them coming** so that you the “health” one could stay away and how they were to yell out “unclean” in order to notify “healthy” people like us to keep our distance. After this I talk about how Jesus could and did sometimes heal by merely speaking the word, without touching the person involved. Then I talk about the actual story and make a big point that though Jesus did not have to touch him he did so intentionally. All the while I make points about how God loves sinners and how leprosy is a biblical picture of sin and its effects. After I make all of these points one of my points for believers is that there are bells all around us (hence I often call the message “do you hear the bells?” And I ring an actual bell at the very beginning, at this poing in the message, and at the end of the message) because from God’s perspectives we are all spiritual lepers.

I also caution people not to be self righteous about their own condition of leprosy/sin. By this I mean that if you even talk about or think about “those other people” (in the trailer park, in the “bad” section of town, those practicing homosexuals, etc. etc. etc. etc.) versus “you”, then you really don’t **get it** cause again from the most important perspective, God’s, we are all lepers hideously deformed by sin and needing the compassion and touch of Jesus to be healed. In that sense we all are from the "trailer park".

Robert

Paul D said...

Frank - right on man. thanks.

Sir Aaron:
My church was infected with the elitist homeschool mentality for a bit. It was like an ugly rancor that caused serious division in the Church. My Pastor has been stamping it out in some rather blistering sermons.

Wow, if only all churches could stamp out that ugly rancor, homeschoolers. What?

Sir Aaron said...

TUAD:

Again, you're welcome. I'm always happy to help a brother figure out the bounds of common decency and respect.

Frank Turk said...

If you are ever in Little Rock, you should contact Rob Bailey and his lovely wife and take them to lunch. If all reformed people were like them, people wouldn't hate us as much as they do.

Sir Aaron said...

Paul D:

Dont be silly. The rancor was the elitist attitude displayed by homeschooling parents against those who chose other education options for whatever reason.

Scottj said...

Frank,

Living among the crack houses here was the experiential push I needed to become a Calvinist. The theology was falling into place for me (read a lot of Van Til), but living here I could "see" depravity, both in the actions of those living in this neighbourhood and in the powerful people of the city who condone and benefit from it.

Paul D said...

Sir Aaron: got it - thanks, agree. very rancorous.

Paul D said...

Rob Bailey: THAT is awesome - go for it.

And I know this is totally untheological and even wrong, but I can't help but think that if I had a beard like yours I wouldn't be scared for my safety.

Zaphon said...

Several years ago, young adult group on sunday morning, a man came into our fellowship off the street. He was a homeless man, smelled bad,unshaven, did not "fit" into our niche.

He came right up to me, in front of everybody, and asked for some money or food. I was sort of frozen in time. But I do recall seeing one of the sponsor's of our group looking in disdain and disgust at this man.

I'll never forget that look. But what it revealed to me is that I am ashamed to be associated with people of low estate, and my CHURCH is hypocritical.

I think we just told the man to leave.

Another war story:

A small group of us were doing street ministry at the time, giving hot chocolate and some food to street people in the winter( I live in Canada).

I recall trying to talk to these men about the Gospel too, and a firefighter who volunteers to help them found us doing this, and he interrupted our work, and claimed that we just preach and "do nothing for these people".

Perhaps that's a rebuke to the church. We're known by our way of life and good deeds. And maybe this guy was being antagonistic for it's own sake, but perhaps in this affluent, comfortable Western world we just don't sacrifice to the point where the world can marvel.

Good post Centurion. I keep your merciless beatings(which are faithful) in mind when I need an admonishment to love and good deeds.

David Rudd said...

1) i think i want to move to little rock so i can work with rob bailey!

2) sandman, there is so much more potential than you know in what you are doing. hebrews 11 kind of faith will lead you to things you haven't even imagined!

3) frank, another good repost. maybe you should never write a new thought again! (is it "green" to recycle blog posts?)

~Mark said...

I live in a neighborhood most in my city won't come to because of the drugs and the murders and because the city dumps the majority of it's child molesters and other sex offenders here. (Literally. I've checked the registrations.)

I can't afford anywhere else yet, and if I could I'd have probably moved by now.

Still, I was on one knee washing my vehicle's tire and praying for this man who walks around here unshaven, dirty and talking to himself. I prayed that God would send someone to witness to Him.

At that moment he came around the corner of my fence. I instantly ducked down so that he wouldn't see me and had the inexcusable thought:

"But not me Lord."

I was so ashamed my face burned.

I find it very easy to give. To provide money, or food, or clothing, or a ride somewhere, or help with some physical job. I've been homeless so that doesn't get to me anymore.

I guess this is easy for me because it means I don't have to touch anyone by actually stopping, looking them in the eye, and listening to them.

~Mark said...

Ironically, my home church has become SO concerned with meeting felt and physical needs that the ministry of the Word has gone dry.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Sir Aaron: "I'm always happy to help a brother figure out the bounds of common decency and respect."

I thought this comment of yours on this thread did that rather nicely:

"So let me get this straight. It's a sin to leave your local church under almost any situation or circumstance. But

(1) you're free to choose whichever church you wish to join. Once you join however, you're stuck there.

(2) The verses on unity only apply to leaving the church. If you leave the church silently, that's prohibited,, even sinful, and causing disunity. Being outspoken or acting contrary to specific elder pronoucements because of bad or heretical teaching is acceptable, at least under certain circumstances. It's therefore preferable to cause enough disturbance to get kicked out then to leave in silence over heresy.

(3)God placed you in a church with a false teacher for a reason, but that reason wasn't to finally convince you to join a church down the street with sound Biblical teaching.

(4) Anyone who doesn't debate Frank on D-blog is a chicken, incapable of putting forth a defensible argument.

Is that about the sum of it?"

Rob Bailey said...

frank. hey man, i didn't out you.

david, if you can take orders and get the food out of the kitchen while it's still hot, come on to the LR.

sorry, had to shave the beard, people were afraid it would get in their chowder. there were a couple of small birds and one field mouse that had to find new digs after i shaved the thing.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Sir Brass: "SO much focus on these outreach ministries to the homeless (which is good), but if you're part of the congregation, you don't get reached out to."

~Mark: "Ironically, my home church has become SO concerned with meeting felt and physical needs that the ministry of the Word has gone dry."

Thanks guys for providing cautionary counterbalance.

Sir Aaron said...

TUAD:

I get that you're grateful but you really only have to thank me once, Brother.