Phil Naessens and I discuss how the culture is creating killers…and what to do about it.
We reference this article I wrote last week.
1. Why don’t you speak out against abortion? Isn’t that the most important “social justice” issue?
I don’t write much about abortion because everyone else does. There’s really nothing unique I have to offer to the discussion and the Christian community is already well mobilized against it. I’m “pro-life” after the child is born as well…and I don’t think we speak to that nearly enough.
2. Why don’t you write against same sex marriage? Are you another Anglican compromiser?
Again, I don’t write about this subject much because it’s been written about by everyone else ad nauseum. As a pastor/priest I will not perform same sex marriages. As a pastor/priest I will deal with individuals who struggle with same sex attraction with the same care and nuance that we are to give anybody struggling with sin…which is all of us.
3. What about transgender issues?
Above my pay scale. I find that whole area baffling. I do sometimes wonder if we’re placing a huge emphasis on a very tiny percent of the population…and for what purpose?
4. How can you be a liberal and call yourself a Christian?
I don’t identify as a liberal, but as a Christian. Embracing a political label before our primary identity as God’s people in exile is problematic no matter which side of the aisle you’re on. As a secondary identity, I would actually call myself a centrist because that is where the problems actually get solved…
5. Why don’t you write as much as you used to about Calvary Chapel and other church scandals?
If you have the choice to walk in the sewer or the sidewalk, take the sidewalk. I’ll still write when I can do the best job on a story, but the blogging community is doing a great job without me covering those stories.
6. You sound like you’ve abandoned inerrancy. Is that true?
Define inerrancy, then get back to me. I can’t psychically define which of the multiple definitions you want me to affirm… or deny.
7. You seem to have doubts about God and prayer…how can you be a pastor?
Because my congregation has doubts too…we help each other by being honest and confronting those doubts. I believe, help my unbelief…
8. Do you realize that by being ecumenical you’re setting the stage for the Anti-Christ and the one world religion?
Yes. I’m actually a Jesuit plant. We’re the worst.
9. Why do you have a “donate” button?
Because I need the money.
10. Someone calls you a “grumpy old cat man”… what do you say to that?
Guilty as charged.
Thanks again to EricL…support him at top right…
1. I found this quote to be compelling: : “Laws are more than that. They are one of the few ways we have, as a community and a society, of saying, “These are the kind of people we want to be. This is what we’ll tolerate. This is what we won’t abide.” They are a drawing of boundaries, a sort of moral map-making.” Arik Danielsen.
The question then becomes “what kind of people do we want to be?” I’m not sure that I want to be a people who rely on everyone being armed and ready to kill or be killed to insure a measure of safety in day to day life…that sounds more like a prison than a free society…
2. I have a more compelling question constantly on my mind…what does it mean to live with a primary identification as “Christian”? In the early church it meant living as a separated people ready to live or die in the service and imitation of Jesus. I think the definition has changed…but I’m not sure it should have…
3. Real discussion is now almost impossible. I say “immigration reform” and what is heard is “open borders!”… I say “reasonable gun laws” and what is heard is “gun confiscation!”… even though I would support neither premise. We haven’t been taught to listen and respond, but hear cues and react…
4. Forgive me if I don’t get excited by “ancient cures” from times where the life span expectation was about thirty…
5. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:9–12 ESV)
I think this is the biblical definition of what it means to identify as a Christian…first as a sojourner and exile. There’s nothing here about a “nation under God” or a prophecy of 1776…but it does tell us who we are…
6. “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:13–16 ESV)
Because they knew they were strangers and exiles and were seeking a heavenly homeland, God was not ashamed to be called their God. What if they thought they had already arrived? Asking for a friend…
7. I think that perhaps for the first time in human history we find ourselves unable to deal with the complexities of our technological progress…which increases exponentially by the day…
8. The church thrives where people understand and live Hebrews 11…it strives for “success” everywhere else. It is folly to judge the health of the church by what we see here…
9. It’s taken me a lifetime to learn to read what the Bible says without the interpretive lens of some Christian sect. It’s a much more interesting book now…
10. There would nothing more culturally cataclysmic than if we actually tried to love our enemies and our neighbors without first trying to change the definitions of “love”, “enemies”, and “neighbors”…
A Letter to the Church in Sardis – The Church of the Living Dead
- Something to think about as we have been going through these letters, we are having the opportunity to read, see, hear Jesus preach to his congregations.
- We observe how he effectively uses the law and the gospel. We see how Jesus speaks to his church and by extension speaks to us.
- Note the increasing level of sin in each church.
- Ephesus left its 1st
- Smyrna started to love 2 masters.
- Pergamum went further along listening to false teachers –like Balaam & Balak.
- Thyatira was in bed with Jezebel.
- As Jesus gets to Sardis, he is spiting mad.
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
- Go back and read the emphasis on the trinity – 1:4 = Father & Holy Spirit – 1:5 = Jesus.
- A reminder – the 7 spirits = the Holy Spirit in his completeness – the 7 stars = the spirit of the churches.
- Again we see Jesus’ intimate knowledge of his church – God’s word pierces us. What is the message right off the bat? You aren’t what you think you are.
- Is this church any different than what Jesus said about the Pharisees? Matthew 23:27 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.”
- When Jesus says ‘but you are dead, how far does that go? No Holy Spirit?
- How do you know if a church has the Holy Spirit? If Christ is being preached then the Holy Spirit is present – not if tongues are preached, not if works outside of Jesus are preached.
- What is the biggest killer of a church? “Jesus and…” // so the pastor continues, “here we have spoken of Jesus but now let’s get down to the important stuff – what you need to be doing.”
- If the ongoing message is not Christ crucified for sinners, for you, it is not of the Holy Spirit.
- This will probably be met with some opposition, but if you want to know if you are in a church with the Holy Spirit, do not look for great numbers (although they may be there), do not look for a lot of excitement and joy (although it may be there) – look for depressed people hearing the word of Christ.
2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.
- KJV – Be watchful. Seems to indicate that they are asleep or not conscious of what is going on. ‘Wake up seems to be a shout – this is not the nice, gentle Jesus.
- What remains seems to indicate there is a flicker of flame remaining.
- They are lacking before God.
3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
- Verses 2 & 3 are all law
- ‘What you have received and heard’- we may not know what it was, but they had it previously and they drifted away. Jesus is saying go back to it. (received faith is a receiving of Jesus – not necessarily an understanding of everything that is going on.)
- If you are not paying attention, watch what Jesus says here – his coming will surprise you. How important is this for the Christian to hear? This is Jesus’ version of ‘do this or else!’
- Now this is to be seriously studied. If you do not repent Jesus is not coming for you. The passage says he will be coming against you.
- Who is this Jesus? Is he always for you / us? Or is this the real Jesus? These scriptures seem to say if you do not repent, Jesus will come against you.
- Like a thief – a thief does not call on your cell phone to set an appointment.
- Like a thief – a thief does not come to give you things – but to take things from you. A thief comes against you.
- While the imagery of “coming like a thief” is used elsewhere in the New Testament to refer to the second coming of Christ at the end of the age, the return spoken of here is an imminent return to this church in this age for judgment in anticipation of the final judgment. Similar to Ephesus and the removing of the lampstand – or better yet, similar to God sending the Assyrians down to execute his judgment on Israel.
4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.
- Jesus is speaking of the faithful remnant – there is always a faithful remnant. The faithful remnant walks with Jesus.
- What is this garment? Where does it come from? This is the baptismal grace given to them as their identity as Christians in Christ’s righteousness.
- Paul teaches in Galatians that through our baptism, we have been clothed in Jesus. – Galatians 3:27
- Why the color white?
- How do you soil your garment? Is not each sin you commit washed away? Is it not covered up? Impenitence!! – the failure to repent.
- Can one be worthy? Not on our own – our worthiness resides completely in our repentance. The absolution is granted as the Small Catechism teaches.
- We see the example here in Ephesians 5:25-27. We see the efficacy of holy baptism in carrying out Jesus’ mission in bringing a people to himself.
- “… as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
- How is this for a great gospel promise?
- Question – If Jesus says he will not blot their name out of the book of life, does this mean that he can? Could Jesus blot someone out?
- When we confess Jesus, he will confess us before the father – deny him, he will deny us. Matthew 10:32-33. What does it mean to deny him?
- What happens to those who are clothed in white? See Rev 7:13-17 and Rev 22:14.
6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
- A reminder – those who have the ears to hear are the sinners.
Take note of something – this passage warns of drowsiness, not staying alert, not paying attention, losing focus on the things of the world. Don’t lose focus – stay in church, stay alert to the word of God – live in your baptism and fellowship.
I wondered what the hell she thought she was doing.
“He’s a broken person”, she said.
He came from a broken home, has a broken mind, and a broken spirit.
There are lots of people with similar issues that don’t become mass murderers.
My guts tell me that he is a prototype of what’s to come, however.
There has been much ado about the things he posted on social media.
I can show you similar things on a huge number of kids social media…because I check out my kids social media on a regular basis.
It seems that a great deal of popular “music” glamorizes guns and violence and millions of kids emulate what they hear on their social media.
The society we live in calls this a “cultural expression’, the kids call it “normal”… I call it evil.
Maybe it’s time we all did.
It’s become banal to repeat, but none of T’s friends come from unbroken homes.
The “culture” is raising too many children.
The most popular video games are ones in which you kill mass numbers of people in order to prove your skill.
You sit in front of a screen and kill for hours on end.
You can even connect with a friend via the internet and kill together.
Call it what it is.
An alarming number of kids have diagnosed mental illnesses that were unheard of when I was a kid.
The illnesses are real.
We train lonely, disturbed, kids to become killers through all the technology they’re attached to and then act shocked when they become what we’ve trained them to be.
In my day, the community would have made a difference.
Today, the community is in cyber space because we haven’t taught the kids (or each other) how to relate to real human beings.
In cyber space problems go away with a click.
In video games, they disappear with a shot.
Who’s to blame for the carnage?
It’s my fault.
It’s your fault.
The Florida killer now feels remorse because it has dawned on him that he can’t restart this game.
I’m not sure the rest of us can, either.
Make your own application…
We worry about their grades, their clothes, their friends, and all the things that we’ve always worried about.
Now, we also worry whether they will come home alive.
It takes a village to raise a child, but only one disturbed person with an assault weapon to wipe out the village and the child.
If some deadly virus were wiping out our kids with this sort of regularity our people and our government would move heaven and earth to stop it’s spread and find a cure.
However, after each new crop of caskets we talk about all the reasons we can do nothing about this situation.
The pious take their Bible off the gun safe and tell us it’s a sin problem.
If only everyone knew Jesus…
Not everyone does and not everyone will, so our hands are tied.
We should have left God in the schools, damn it.
Some will tell us that we must protect the Second Amendment at all costs because we never know when we will have to join a well regulated militia to take on the most powerful military in the world.
Our freedom depends on being armed.
We can’t touch that…
Mental health services cost money and that money would come from taxpayers and we need to spend that money on the military (that we may someday have to join a well regulated militia to fight).
Taxation is theft, anyway, damn it.
America has finally found the one thing it cannot do anything about.
The slaughter of our own kids.
The unspoken truth is that they are collateral damage necessary to protect more important things, the most important of which is political expediency.
So…everyday I wake up and pray that my godson and his friends will survive another day in school…because just like after another massacre, all we have are thoughts and prayers.
The truth as I see it is that if we don’t have the heart or will to do something about this, none of us have a prayer at all.
If the most precious asset we have isn’t worth saving, neither are the rest of us.
“Collateral damage” has a way of broadening it’s scope.
A reporter just tweeted this…”David Hogg, a high school student who survived the Florida shooting, just looked directly into the camera and made this plea to members of Congress: “We are children. You guys are the adults. Work together, come over your politics, and get something done.”
I won’t pretend I know what to do, but I damn sure want to do something…maybe that’s the answer to all those thoughts and prayers.