The Son of a Carpenter

The son of a carpenter hung on a tree,
Condemned to the wood by a hateful decree.
He died on the cross that a woodworker made,
Brought low by the tools of His father’s own trade.

The Son of the Holy One died on the earth,
Brought low on the globe He had known from its birth.
The will of His Father had crafted the place
Where Jesus now perished in shame and disgrace.

The children of righteousness, saved by His life,
We follow His pattern through trouble and strife.
We die to ourselves as our Father has said,
Brought low by His will till we rise from the dead.

Where Progressive Churches End Up

A week or two ago, when I wrote a post  criticizing a YouTube Video called “Chairs”, I also spent some time online reading everything else I could find by the creator, Rick Atchley.  Among other items, I discovered this fascinating interview.

According to Atchley, who has left the churches of Christ himself, the progressive movement among such churches is doomed.  He says,

Back in the 80’s you could go to any major city, especially in the South, and you could find a progressive Church of Christ — and if they would preach grace, and if they would put words on a screen, and if they would let divorced people place membership, they would grow.

The generation of Boomers has enough denominational loyalty that they’re going to find the least legalistic Church of Christ they can find, and that’s where they’re going to attend.

Well, we discipled the children of those progressive churches for a whole generation to grow past us Boomers. They never heard the sermons we heard. They never heard the rationale for a cappella music. We sent them to youth rallies and Church of Christ events with some of the finest Christian bands in the world. We discipled our children to leave our Movement!

This is particularly ironic, coming from a man who sneers at slippery-slope arguments.  Not only does he himself represent the slippery slope in action; he has observed the slippery slope in action on a brotherhood-wide scale.  Continue reading

Problems with Worship

While it is true that every page of the Bible has something to say to us, sometimes, one part of the Scriptures is made particularly relevant by something about our circumstances.  I think this is the case with the book of Malachi.  Like the Jews of Malachi’s time, we live in a post-restoration existence.  Like them, we’re part of a community of God’s people that has been serving Him faithfully for more than a hundred years.

However, as Malachi reveals, being part of a faithful tradition is not enough to ensure that we personally are pleasing to God.  Malachi points out several areas in which the Jews, rather than asking how much they could give to God, had begun to ask how little they could get away with giving.  This was true with their marriages, it was true with their tithing, and it was true with their worship.  Because our spiritual position is so similar to theirs, we easily can fall into the same trap.  Let’s use a context in Malachi, then, to evaluate potential problems with our own worship. Continue reading

Sending Someone Else

The story of Exodus 3-4 is truly a descent from the sublime to the ridiculous.  It begins with God Himself appearing to Moses in the burning bush and revealing His great plan for the deliverance of His people.  Moses’ job is to be the pebble that starts the avalanche, to go to Pharaoh and bring the people out.

However, the pebble has other ideas.  Moses throws up excuse after excuse, God patiently answers them all, until finally, in 4:13, Moses reveals his true motivation.  He says, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”

The problem here isn’t inclination.  Moses does want to see Israel delivered.  In fact, that’s why he’s in exile in the first place!  The problem is participation.  Even though it’s a good work, Moses flat doesn’t want to get involved. Continue reading

Choosing Right or Choosing Kind

In years past, my wife and I spent a lot of time visiting her Uncle Chuck and Aunt Betty.  Betty likes antiques, so in the bathroom of their guest suite, there is a beautiful chrome vintage scale, clearly designed by the same people who designed the ’57 Chevy.

If you weigh yourself on the scale, you will discover a pleasant surprise.  Even though you have been on vacation, ingesting vast quantities of paper-wrapper fried-food garbage, the scale will inform you that you have actually LOST weight since you left home.  Down three pounds, down four pounds, maybe even down five pounds!

Sadly, when you return home, the truth will emerge.  You have not actually lost weight; indeed, quite the opposite is true.  The scale in Chuck and Betty’s guest bathroom is a lying scale.  They keep it around for looks, and possibly for the momentary pleasure it brings their guests. Continue reading