Skunks, frogs and old truths

I’m told that criticism is actually a holier-than-thou form of jealous flattery.

While I’m not sure that such is exactly correct, I know that skunks stink, frogs croak and that some people really ought to get a life! Such it is with those who wish to be so religious that they enjoy putting down folks who want to make an impact in the Kingdom of the Living Lord.

There are folks out there who enjoy looking for signs of “abandoning the old ways,” and, once found, behind the safety of their blog, commence to attack, belittle, slander, cast innuendo and condemn those who do not hold to the “old truths,” as they call it. One such site is oldtruths.com, moderated by Jim Bublitz who describes himself as a “refugee” from the Seeker Sensitive / Purpose Driven movement.

If they wish to follow a particular way of being the church, then have at it. Why is it necessary to belittle others who wish to do it differently?

But what do I know? I just blindly follow the Carpenter and am dumb enough to take him at his word when he tells us to leave everything, especially the traditions of man, to bring life to the lost. If that means wearing 3-D glasses in a worship service or encouraging folks to listen to the sermons of Perry Noble, so be it!

Postscript (June 14, 2007): In my zeal to defend myself, the church I attend and others whom I respect for their service in the Kingdom, I overstepped my limits and responded in an unchristian manner. I have changed the above blog post to more appropriately express my point of view and to remove the need to use a decoder ring to understand who I was referencing.

For my inappropriate response, I am truly sorry. Even though angered, rightly or wrongly, I do not have the privilege of behaving like one who is walking with the world.

4 responses to “Skunks, frogs and old truths

  1. Pingback: Temporary disappointment « ru·mi·na·tions

  2. Joe, I don’t think this is fair. You really don’t know anything about the “other side” either. You don’t know how they (we) are reaching the lost and helping the poor in our own communities. You don’t know how we welcome the unchurched or those otherwise far away from God. You don’t know we are not making an impact (maybe it’s simply not your KIND of impact) or that we don’t have a life.

    It seems to be a common theme among some Christians that if a person focuses on orthodox theology and insists on a worship service that gives God the glory and respect they believe He deserves, that they care nothing about the lost. I’ve heard this refrain so many, many times from the 20-somethings who grew up in the church and have so little direct knowledge of the outside lost and hurting world, that it’s extremely tiring. (Don’t get me wrong: they are blessed beyond words; but they should be respectful and at least listen to those of us who have been on the “other side.”) Surely not from you as well!

    Now, I understand frustration, of course. I often feel it myself and end up saying things I regret later. But please don’t fall into the trap of judging others before you’ve (as you said yourself) walked a mile in their shoes.

  3. Gary,
    You see, this is my point. I do know about the other side. I worked in it full-time for decades and I know exactly how we reached the lost, took care of the poor and welcomed the unchurched. I did all of that. I lived it, intimately. I’ve done it in 3 states and on 2 continents. I was a “hitman” who went after those who weren’t following the “right” ways. I trained under the most faithful and hardcore devotees to purity of the faith and restoring the ancient paths – and I’m making no smug reference to oldtruths.com – that you could possibly imagine.

    There was no love, only being correct at any cost. While speaking “words of life,” I followed the “party” line that meant giving double meaning to what was spoken. I’ve seen people broken, not broken by sin and brought to repentance, but broken emotionally and spiritually by the “church” because they did not do things “decently and in order.” I’ve cast people out of the assembly because they were “sinners” and patted myself on the back when they went full-bore back into the world, proving that I was right in throwing them back and never once stopping to think if my actions and those of the church were the reason for them running back into sin.

    I reveled in being orthodox. And there was no real love of the lost, just lip service. I know that is not true of all people and churches, but, at least denominationally specific, it was broadly true. I watched lives of godly pastors ruined by a system that maintained orthodoxy over faith; I saw good men driven from the pulpit, from the church and from their faith. The expression, “Christians shoot their wounded,” was the order of the day.

    I have worn the shoes and walked in them for 2 and a half decades. It is only because of the grace and love of Jesus that I serve Him now. It is this understanding that causes my heart to weep for the lost. I would no more have something to do with a body that called itself “Christian” and turned its back on the lost than I would drive a nail into my eye. Hence, when someone belittles the body of believers I have attached myself to, my reaction tends to be immediate. I would not be there if they were not madly in love with the Master and seeking to serve Him with every breath.

    I have little tolerance for those who want to play church in the light of the number of peoples who do not know Jesus. I do not what to act like a church, I want to be the church. I do not want to go to worship, I want to live in a state of worship. Sunday is when I get to experience it in an intense way with other disciples; Sunday is when I get to show the lost what they’re missing. If that proves that worship is entertaining to them, that is exactly what I want. I will become all things to all men to see them become followers.

    I do not mean in any form to be derisive to you or anyone else who prefers to follow a more traditional form of worship. We can find and worship the Creator in any environment. I likewise prefer to not be ridiculed and condemned if I choose not to do it in the same way as you. As I have stated, we are brothers if we accept the Lordship of Jesus. That is what matters. All else is icing on a really tasty “cake.”

  4. Joe, I appreciate your comments and position. When I said you didn’t know the “other side,” I guess I was being too inclusive there. I apologize for that. You clearly have been on the other side, and as you know it is not monolithic. You can see my frustration as well – I have been told so many times that we who care about maintaining orthodoxy (I don’t like that expression, but I’ll use it here) DON’T care about the lost, that I get a bit tired.

    I should note that I am not very traditional in my worship preferences, so I don’t believe style is the big differentiator between our positions. I strongly believe that a lot of modern praise and worship music is God-exalting and appropriate for worship services, not just old hymns. I myself am a sometimes-worship leader on the guitar; more often I play the keyboard on our church’s worship team.

    I think our goals are exactly the same, and I agree with you that I should be the church. What I do not think this requires is making worship services cater to the world.
    After all, the true Gospel is an offense to unbelievers unless God changes their hearts; and if God does change their hearts, they will not be deterred by worship services that lack entertainment.

    Since my last note, I have listened to a randomly-chosen sermon from the Lifepoint web site in its entirely. I honestly went into it wanting to know what it was like, not with preconceived ideas except positive ones from your comments. It turned out to be fortuitously (perhaps divinely) chosen: it was one of the sermons on sex. I say fortuitous, because my own pastor recently did two sermons on sex. What I heard was exposition of exactly two Bible verses taking a total of approximately 2.5 minutes, with over 34 minutes of personal stories and “Men are from Mars” type self-help advice, mixed in with some unfortunate sexual innuendos and jokes, and apparently a “sex picture” on the big screen. The conversation with his wife on stage struck me as voyeuristic at points. I heard a few generic references to God.

    Now, a lot of it is good advice, no doubt. But, if I were an unbeliever come into such a service, I would get the idea that this is a sex self-help group and not a church. Compare with my own pastor’s approach: two sermons of solid exposition on Song of Solomon. Did he talk about sex? Yes. Was it casual and informal? Yes. But it was two 40 minute sessions of exposition, steeped with God’s purposes, God’s approach, and God’s point of view on sex.

    If you think the difference merely one of style, I respectfully disagree. One is personal stories and self-help advice; the other is solid teaching from the Word of God. And it is my believe that only the Word of God can truly convert anybody – no self-help sermon ever will.

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