Nov 282014
 

istock_000015991944mediumIt’s all yours today…

I opened early so you can share your Black Friday experiences or anything else you choose.

  99 Responses to “Open Blogging”

  1. I went off to Black Friday with a few of my kids. We had a great time and didn’t encounter any awfulness, just folks shopping for Christmas presents for their family, which I find endearing. Local TV news crew was out, maybe I’ll see myself on TV tonight!

    Afterwards, breakfast at Dennys. Oatmeal, alas. It is the fast.

  2. If Paul was alive today, he might have thought the NT translators had translated his letter to the Romans thus:

    “For I am not ashamed of Joel Osteen’s gospel, for it is God’s power for an awesome Black Friday shopping experience to everyone who believes.”

    And Americans, by and large, have shown themselves NT literate, and are living out their faith boldly.

  3. Last of three Thanksgivings completed and I am turkeyed up and tuckered out.

    Family starts going back to their homes tomorrow. I love ’em but I am looking forward to some peace and quiet. (Small house, big family.)

    This morning at Old Navy (everything in the store 1/2 price!) I found my granddaughter the *perfect* Christmas present: a sweater with a chihuahua on the front w/ a pink heart. She loves our chihuahua. <3

    I am trying to think of something meaningful to read for Advent. In Ortholandia, bloggers have begun "40 Days of Advent Blogging" which I might join…. if so, I'd better get hopping.

    Try not to be too cynical, folks.

  4. Any of our resident posters or lurkers out there that knew John Wimber? Always looking for first hand 411 about the man. For that matter throw in Frisbee Blaine Cook who ministered with him. Love to hear your experiences. babylonthegreatfallen@yahoo.com

  5. I’m a little disheartened. For the first time in my life I was asked to go into another room or put some kind of cover on when I breast fed my daughter and it was kind of implied that to do otherwise was immodest and could cause someone to stumble. My husband was incredibly angered and offended by the request. I’m not angry so much as I am hurt, and I want to respond in a gracious way but, at the same time, I believe acquiescing to this request would be inappropriate if not outright harmful in some respects, so I don’t really know how to politely and graciously tell someone to pound sand. I guess this is my first experience with the dreaded holiday drama other people talk about so much.

  6. http://youtu.be/T8xAf4bxwFM

    Some of the comments are not real good. But I found the story sad but it happens way more than people think.

  7. J2,

    Some peeps are way too prudish and have to sexualize everything. Was this at a store?

  8. http://youtu.be/A7ukO7ENRMw

    Maybe someone could help me out with this. I get it that people loath Rick Warren, they loath is family, his friends and even his pets. They really do hate this guy with a passion. First of all I get that, it is a cottage industry and it does produce a niche market and sustainable revenue stream. I get that and that is important, actually that is tantamount. I get that to. I will never begrudge someone the ability to make an income especially in the religious industry. I value the first amendment to much. But Warren did not say too much way off base, um Catholics and other Christians do agree on more than they disagree with. I mean they are tripping on this, its sort of pathetic to be honest. I mean my first response was Grow up. I am not a RW fan, I found is book Purpose driven life and the entire industry that followed it a bit well stupid. What he did with the money he made spoke volumes more than his critics which sound like a bunch of sour grapes. I wont go any further out of respect for you all. But I dont, never have, and hope to God ever will get this type of religious nonsense. There are far to many real problems real grown ups need to follow.

  9. J2, I breastfed anywhere and everywhere with all my babies/toddlers 35+ years ago and no one ever said anything to me, in a negative way. I’m amazed when I hear so many women of this generation talking about how people are offended by it. It must be due to the fact that women have become even more sexualized and people have forgotten that the breasts are for nourishment for a baby. Stand your ground, don’t back down, and educated the ignorant or misinformed.

  10. Oddly, it was a family member whom I have breastfed in front of for the last 2.5 years. I don’t know if they’ve always been disturbed by it and have only just said something now or what. They kept quoting the phrase “women should be covered” (which takes that verse completely out of context) and expressed concern that I would make some of the men present stumble, but they wouldn’t speak in specifics and refused to clarify if there was a specific man they knew of who was there who would be sexually aroused by my breastfeeding. And the men who were at the dinner were the same few guys who are always there, so I don’t know.

  11. Had a real nice Thanksgiving with the family.Stayed home for black Friday and enjoyed the first day of the Christmas season.As I get older….I’m in my mid fifties,the little and normal things in life are starting to bring joy unspeakable…….

  12. I’ve fed my daughter in public and have never had a negative comment, but rather have had multiple positive comments. I feed her in church and no one is offended and all the people who sat in my area before I had Cal are still sitting there after I had her and started feeding her at church, so I would doubt any of them are bothered by it. I’ve had conversations in the presence of the family member in question about the benefits of breastfeeding and what is biologically normative breastfeeding behavior, so it’s not like they’re unaware of the science behind it. And they’ve never said anything about it in the past. So it was pretty unexpected for them to suddenly express dismay over it.

  13. Some people get “weird” over breastfeeding if the baby is over 1 year old. Perhaps that is the issue, rather than breastfeeding??? I know I got flack from some people. One pastor even “shared” from the pulpit that babies didn’t “need” it after 9 months old . I was always glad I didn’t heed that advice.

  14. What kind of pastor opines on breastfeeding from the pulpit? Bizarre!

  15. On my many visits to the third world I cannot count the number of times a mother has pulled a child from her breast to thrust the babe into my arms for a blessing. Never caused me to stumble, but I have had a few chuckles at some of my more prudish and proper brethren when they encountered the same.

    I will admit however to being taken aback at an airport when a child who was toddling around repeatedly returned to self service his food complete with independently unveiling at will his bounty.

    As a man I would prefer that we never reach the point where bare chested women do not create some form of stress…but it seems that discreet public breastfeeding should be an easy path to navigate … still the grumps you have with you always.

    I know better than to comment on such things… but my restraint is poor. Hopefully not as poor as the offending family member.

  16. Now actually,

    The reason I was coming to post was to muse upon the fact that it is a good thing in this day and time that certain brethren do not have the power of the sword.

    I am writing about prophecy and the scriptural mandate to stone false prophets… Oh my, the blood would run in the streets and the charismatic renewal would have more problems than MacArthur’s poor diatribes.

  17. So even if you are ok with feeding Baby in public and others are ok with it, sometimes it is best to be desrete and use a cloth covering so as it to stumble the Puritans in the midst.

    In Africa it is all out in the open, topless in church services.

    Culture has a lot to do with it.

    The longer you can feed the better for babies immunity system.

    It all sifts down to the “stumble not” issue when feeding in public.
    Follow your instincts and do what each case warrents.
    Typed this from that tiny phone keypad and the pesky spell checker.

  18. I actually feel like I’m totally blameless in this situation and the request was deeply inappropriate for multiple reasons. I think this is possibly the only time in my life I’ve felt like the completely innocent party. I feel like it would be wrong for me to acquiesce to this request in pretty much any way and that doing so would be harmful to my daughter. But maybe I’m wrong to feel that way. I don’t think it was a God-prompted request on the persons part because it–in christianeze–has born a ton of bad fruit and really harmed our family dynamics.

  19. J2theperson, consider the source, realize the ignorance involved and the drama is “their stuff” and just go on being a great mommy, doing what is best for your girl. People are nuts.
    Love your enemies, bless them that ‘curse’ you, turn the other cheek/breast. 😀
    Blessed are the peacemakers.

    I nursed my four kids for YEARS… they were born at home, minimally vaccinated, nursed a long time….. and pretty danged healthy. … still. Praise God.

    We did a Thanksgiving brunch instead of dinner. Half the family was out of town…but we totally enjoyed a relatively quiet, low key day. Many many things to thank God for…

  20. The Ferguson protests have be bewildered…
    What is the evidence that has people believing an injustice was done?
    Someone point me to a reasonable voice because…
    This is just racism.
    If that officer was black or the kid was white this would be just another sad tale.
    The stuff that I heard people were upset about was debunked pretty clearly
    What am I missing?
    Was this officer suppose to die for asking a kid to get out of the street?
    I cannot tell that the officer unjustly escalated this.
    And cops are not trained to wing an assailant.
    So help this redneck.

    Now as for the breast feeding fracas… there is a movie coming out that will plead your cause.

  21. I suspect that there is much here I do not understand.
    I am not African American, nor do I live in an urban environment.
    My personal views on most law enforcement issues are very conservative and somewhat primitive, to be blunt.

    If something like this were to happen in my town it would involve Latinos, not African Americans.

    If they were to then speak of a history of violence and racism against Latinos in the area, I would have to agree, as I once participated in such with vigor, to my shame.

    My guess is that these protests are over history, not this specific incident.

    At this juncture, it’s my responsibility to listen until I understand.

  22. Jews have had worse discrimination and violence against them around the world than blacks or Latinos. Including in America.

    I have never seen Jewish communities protest or burn down their own community when a wrong doing occurs – and they are there – burning down synagogues, killing Jews in Jewish community centers – you name it.

    So, I think people who want to ‘understand’ a Ferguson situation need to go back to the drawing board.There is nothing to understand – they are immoral in their actions and need to be called on it.

  23. Yeah, the only time I see pictures of whites and/or latinos rioting, burning cars, looting storefronts is after winning/losing a sports championship or on the last day of the surf championships in Huntington Beach……… The dynamics of young men going into riot mode a strange phenomenon crosses racial/socioeconomic lines. Maybe easy for them to destroy the property because they don’t see it as their community in both the protest & sports scenarios. The saddest thing to me is the media and arm chair pundits focusing on the fact that young men rioted, rather than the more pressing issues the case in Ferguson represents.

    Dread – you might make a date to have a conversation with a black pastor in ABQ, who like you is probably saddened by the violence, but can help you understand the bigger picture, build some bridges, etc. It might be a nice counterbalance to some of the feedback you may be getting from those in law enforcement in your congregation.

  24. Anne,
    The difference is that nobody makes excuses for the rioting crowd after a soccer win or the hoards of whites after the surfing championship. Everyone designates them as wrong. No one says, “I must first understand them before I speak out against their actions.”

  25. MLD, you’re an a roll today!!

  26. I will stick by my claim that our President gave tacit approval for the riots and the governor had the guard stand down refusing to protect the businesses of his citizens. I think the court house and the police station would have been protected.

    Further… imagine if we had a dead cop and an indicted kid. The riots would be worse. The protected class in America is not race it is economic. Black people with money for lawyers do just as well as whites in the justice system.

    A black president and attorney general had plenty of power in this situation and wielded it poorly. They could have stopped the problem.

    Where is the call for understanding of the police experience or the business person’s experience?

    The issue is right and wrong. If the cop was wrong then handle the man. If not then back him up.

  27. I have yet to see anybody making excuses, unless by excuses you mean acknowledging that there are deeper issues that go beyond the looting regarding the killing of Brown, that tend to get back listed when folks focus on a handful of young men’s lawless response. A word on the word “violence”, because this word alone is probably generating more bad feelings than “racism” this week.

    I appreciated this midwestern librarian, poet, blogger, Scott Woods’ response about folks bringing up the violence in their talking points about not only the situation in Ferguson, but racism in general.

    “Let’s be clear about the level of violence we’re actually talking about when we talk about Ferguson’s riots: more people have been killed in Black Friday Sale mobs than have been killed in either Ferguson riot. Black Friday Sales have experienced more murder, more brawls, more stabbings, more police injury, and more bomb threats than either Ferguson riot. That murder statistic would be true if only one person had been killed at a Black Friday Sale. Just one. Suffice it to say, we have more than one to refer to.

    THAT’S violence. How about you criticize THAT?

    People who criticize Ferguson’s violence are either misled about how applying the word “violence” clouds the issue, don’t have enough information, or they mean to paint a certain picture. The violence in Ferguson is largely relegated to property damage, so we should be using better words for that, like “vandalism” and “arson” and “wanton destruction,” and save terms like “violence” for Black Friday Sales and police shootings, where they belong.”

    This lengthy article offers much food for thought on the subject of racism. I recommend it highly.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/opinion/sunday/where-do-we-go-after-ferguson.html?_r=0

  28. Based on your #29, Dread, I think you will appreciate the NYT article that I linked.

  29. Anne, you said “I have yet to see anybody making excuses,…”.

    I personally see the actions to be suggested, requested and demanded by the so called parent of a thug to “Burn this b**ch down” immediately after an indictment was found to not be appropriate by a grand jury, to be an “excuse” for violence.

    As for, “…there are deeper issues that go beyond the looting regarding the killing of Brown…” Why are they not done separately than the Brown case instead of as a monetarily response after the parents call?

    Or have I misunderstood what excuses you have not yet seen?

  30. My apologies, Paul, for not being clearer in my statements. Yes, I saw the news reporting of Michael Brown’s father and step father remarks in their rage. I was referring more to the discussions going on about how to deal with issues of race in our country in light of all issues this has raised. The blame game playing out in media and internet. Last night here in Portland there was a small protest following an appearance by Jesse Jackson. Behavior of the protesters was called “unruly”, despite protesters resisting arrest and a police vehicle being slightly damaged. Narrative, even how we frame our questions about such issues, is important. I am as woefully unskilled as any in this regard.

    The Brown case tears at scabs on long lingering fear, mistrust, and hopelessness from all sides of the argument. Where ever one’s opinion falls regarding the matter, it is painful.

  31. I disagree that what was happening in Ferguson should not be labeled violence.
    It doesn’t need a tamer laver just because it resulted in fewer deaths than shopping on Black Friday or was “only” perpetrated on property.
    It is violence and we should call it what it is.

  32. Anne, thank you for the clarification. My point now is that I can not understand a legal situation to be used as the tear of a scab for previously being dealt with unfairly. Why not address the matter separately from an officer enforcing the law? Perhaps my hardened heart comes from being a disability retired prison guard. I have personally witnessed criminals claim foul play to justify their means inappropriately. I am sure there are a few who were convicted wrongly but I am more sure that they are of a extreme minimum percentage.

  33. Meant to just copy the definition, not the link to definition.

  34. I agree, London. My blundering point, was intended to illustrate more how words are used by media and apologists on both sides. One of those days I should refrain from commenting. My brain is pea soup and my heart all wobbly today. No particular reason, expect possibly post holiday malaise. Peace to all.

  35. Anne, I missed the point I think. I thought you were agreeing with that guy that it wasn’t violence.
    And you should never stop commenting!

  36. yes, Anne – what London said, never stop commenting… your comments (others’, too) give me good ponders as i go about my dull daily chores…

  37. Anne,

    You’re making sense to me. I was in your amen corner 15 posts back.

  38. Switching gears. If 1 Timothy is to be seen as a guideline for church ministry (and I sure think it is) then it seems non negotiable that the local church have a helps ministry at least to the poor people within that church.

    I taught the “widows” passage today – and verse 16 is the kicker. Laid out above are all the details why the church would NOT help someone, but the reason is given so that the church is not burdened IN ORDER THAT it can help the other widows. The “true” widows (who have nobody).

    It’s a hina clause in Greek – a purpose clause.

    Not simply being a facilitator for some clothing or canned food drive – actual benjamins going from the account of the church to the needs of the people.

    I am now firmly convinced of this.

  39. Michael recently started using a new notice at the bottom of some of his postings.

    Sharing is winning.

    In 2015, Creative Commons is expected to pass one billion licensed works under the commons.

    Millions of creators around the world use CC licenses to give others permission to use their work in ways that they wouldn’t otherwise be allowed to.

    Those millions of users are the proof that Creative Commons works. But measuring the size of the commons has always been a challenge.

    Until now…

    Creative Commons is gaining traction
    http://opensource.com/life/14/11/state-commons

  40. Interesting question about the widows.
    What do you do with a 75 yr old widow who was married 2 or 3 time, lived a bit of a shady life and bore no children? Do you enroll her in the church widow’s program?

  41. MLD – listen to the message and find out. 🙂 (When it is posted that is…)

  42. In a way, widows who are “widows indeed” might be considered the beginnings of female monasticism: No family other than brothers and sisters in Christ, praying night and day, and being sustained financially by the Church.

  43. Also, Anna:

    There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, [37] and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.

    There is a precedent for godly widows living in the temple, praying night and day.

    My husband and I have talked about joining a monastery if one of us died. We would like to, but probably will not because our children will still need us.

  44. St. Anthony the Great (late 200’s, early 300’s) is often considered to be the first monastic (or at least, the father of monasticism) but before he left for the desert, he entrusted his young sister in the care of female monastics. This says to me that women took up monasticism before men and I suspect this got its start with the group of women who are “widows indeed.”

  45. We visited an EO parish in San Diego recently and they were planning to buy a vacant house in across the street to house widows who are willing to spend a great deal of time in prayer for the parish. What a great idea! Gives them a secure home and a real purpose and they will be cherished by the congregation as an asset and not shuffled off to some “fabulous fifties” group.

  46. I don’t thing the passage under discussion gives any indication one way or the other that these widows are to somehow work, even through prayer, for the financial benefit discussed.

    Not that such an option is off the table of course, but the 1 Timothy text indicates their reputation as Godly, servants BEFORE ever being brought into the support of the local church. No reason of course for that service to stop (and note – nothing is mentioned about praying). But I think this is an important detail.

    They are worthy of support even if they can’t or don’t do a thing to “earn” it – simply because of their faith and their prior servant testimony.

  47. simply because of their faith and their prior servant testimony.
    ——————————————-
    …and their need with no other options to meet that need. (Important point)

  48. Ms. Pappas wrote in part regarding her objections to the Prayer on the prayer thread: “The question was sincere as the thread simply does not make sense when reading in light of the whole counsel of scripture.” Shaking my head, heart pounding, stomach nauseous. Been a quite a few years now since I heard someone use the phrase “whole counsel of scripture”. Variations of this juke include “whole counsel of God”, “God showed me that…” etc, etc. 41,000 different denominations, millions of professional and arm chair theologians all disagreeing on what the whole counsel of scripture means. Yet Pappas is so confident that if we read/understand her interpretation/explanation, we would be free from our ignorance and deception. I can think of many other adjectives to describe the question regarding the prayer besides sincere. She sincerely felt compelled to show Michael and any who might appreciate the prayer he posted the error of their ways. Spiritually passive/agressive just a bit perhaps?

  49. since i am a 78 year old widow, permit me to speak regarding MLD’s 75 year old widow, who’s description sounds as if she were an opportunist throughout her life…
    if she is a faithful member of the congregation, she’d better be looked after… if she is able to maintain and pay for her own care, she should do so – maybe with a little nudging and encouragement?
    myself, i love the idea of Xenia’s houseful of praying widows… look out!

  50. Well said, Anne.

  51. em,
    Actually I was playing off of the requirement found in 1 Tim 5:9-10
    “Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children,…”

    So I made her over 60, not married to one man but a couple, her reputation a bit soiled but not devilish and she never raised children. – In the program or out? according to God’s word. 🙂

    Just making conversation.

  52. What does this passage on widows mean for a church that doesn’t have a membership?

  53. MLD, you are the master of the “what-ifs” 🙂
    actually, she couldn’t have been a Lutheran in good standing with that many ex’s…. unless she could say, “well, i buried three husbands and none of them left me with a dime.” …?… and what about the old men?

    but i wander… as i ponder…

  54. Lutherans are the original forgivnatarians – the number of Exs matters little. And we have no blue laws. 😉

  55. MLD – you mentioned your food program, and I know about the tuition help for Lutheran students, but does your church have a formal ministry that offers financial assistance to those in the church (or the greater community) that have needs?

    (Sorry to ask and run, but will check back later…)

  56. Charles Barkley loses his race card forever.

    http://news.yahoo.com/why-charles-barkley-supports-ferguson-grand-jury-decision-163736319.html

    Incredible courage

  57. Charles Barkley called the looters in Ferguson, scumbags. I can think of a lot worse things he could have called them.

  58. personally i think that Ferguson will serve as I.Q. test for the nation… i don’t know what we can expect of the law enforcement community when we make laws or take away laws that result in such ambiguity… it just occurred to me that i don’t know what time of night the Brown boy was out on the street that night, but since when does any teenager – unless going to or from a job – have any reason to roam after 10 p.m? Actually, no one freely roamed the streets late at night…
    i remember an occasion in the late 1940s, my uncle, a business man, decided to get up and go for a walk after midnight – didn’t take any I.D. just went out to walk and think… the police picked him up and brought him to his house for verification of who he was… there was some kind of law that kept “strangers” without means to be out and about late at night … were his civil rights violated or was it just an annoying, semi-embarrassing incident?

  59. Steve, financial assistance? No, but we are always looking for financial assistance.:-)

    We may pay someone’s electric bill to keep the lights on, but that’s about it.

  60. Thanks for answering, MLD. I would be interested in hearing from other pastors, and from others in the know about their church’s financial spending.

    I would also be interested in the basic point, namely should the local church have a formal program, budgeted for, that is to help the needy in the body and the local community?

    It seems a close tie to the whole idea about accountability and pastoral leadership expressed in chapter three so often quoted. In other words, if one believes the local church SHOULD have such a ministry, and one’s particular church does not, then how can one continue to attend that church (and support it financially)?

    (Maybe this is worthy of an entire post for discussion someday, Michael??)

  61. #63,

    Em, I understand the shooting occurred at approximately noon.

  62. Steve – are you saying that working through denominational organizations in my case or working through parachurch organizations does not satisfy what you read as a local church responsibility?

  63. thank you, Jean… if Michael B was committing a strong arm robbery mid-day – for a box of cigars – he must have been on some kind of a rant before he ever encountered the police that day… was he looking for a dust-up? walking right down the middle of the street with witnesses out and about? something smells odd… just does…

  64. Em,
    I was thinking the same thing. Although it is a tragedy in its own right, It’s probably luck that he wasn’t armed with a gun, like the guy who went on the shooting spree today in W. Virginia who killed 4 people and is on the loose.

    On a separate, but related note, there seems to be a devaluing of life in this country that is ever increasing and to what end I have no idea, but it’s very unsettling.

  65. MLD – Not really sure what you might be referencing in your case. What denominational organizations you reference.

    Someone in your congregation needs help…or someone in the local area, a block or two from your church needs help..and they come to your pastor or one of the elders with their need. Do you ask them to contact a denominational organization. Does your church have the right to contact that organization with the full assurance they will meet the need?

    Play it out for us…

    If you are speaking of the equivalence of an independent church giving to the Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, Feed the Children etc…then no, that would not satisfy what I see pretty clearly taught in that passage.

    And if your mindset is something like with taxes, where people equate paying taxes with helping the poor because there are tax-supported poverty programs out there, only your tax is a certain assessment from denominational headquarters which spreads (some) of that money around, then again, my answer would be, no.

  66. Jean, not to belabor the point… but there is no doubt that something is wrong in our nation (or maybe we were the exception for a time?)… too many and mostly whites, i think, seem to reach a wall or something and conclude all is lost, perhaps? then either go on a killing rant or take their own lives – is life cheap now? or do some conclude it’s worthless? and that doesn’t include the religious who are killing for their god’s gory glory

    now i’m done…

  67. So really the parachurch organizations are actually working against the biblical mandate to the local church – to work locally..

    Tell us your plan – what have you set in motion since you began studying this passage? The way you began was kind of like saying – I know you guys have a food program and I know you guys subsidize people’s education … but what are you really doing?

    I will be honest here, but I don’t think the great commission of the church is to help the needy. It is something the church does on the way of fulfilling it’s mission, or it is something done to ease into our mission – but it is not the mission.

  68. Steve…I’m putting it in Things I Think…

  69. MLD – Please don’t be obtuse. I’m as serious as a heart attack. I did not comment on parachurch organizations, but if you wish to, tell me the ones you speak of. For example, Samaritan’s Purse taking shoeboxes to kids in 3rd world countries is not something my local church could do. So if people in our church wish to do so, we can collect them and send them on. They are not working against the local church. Neither is the Jesus Film Project, World Vision or all sorts of examples we could cite.

    I asked you pointed questions about what your church does when someone in need, even someone who is a member, or a neighbor, comes to your door and presents that need. You told me your church supports denominational ministry efforts but have yet to say what they are or how specifically they help the needy church member/neighbor.

    And the obtuse thing is your comment about the Great Commission. Once more, who in the world said that?

    I’ll share more in the Things I Think when I get a chance

  70. Steve, what do you think the average church needs to budget for this? At least in ‘Merica, I can’t see this as being a significant portion of the average church’s budget. I’m guessing the needs are greatest in those congregations that can least afford it. In your realm, seems like all the large, suburban Calvary’s could up their helps budgets and direct those funds to those congregations in less affluent areas……. Now that’s an area I could get excited about contributing to…….

  71. My church gives gift cards for local grocery stores to parishioners who are down and out. Small church, it’s about all we can do.

  72. Well when you get down to it – how many people are really in need vs just don’t know how to access the system?
    We have everything in place to give every American in need a safety net. We as a nation, influenced by Christian thought (not saying we are a Christian nation at all) have chosen to help all.

    So, if I feed someone a meal and point them to a food pantry, a shelter, help them get public assistance – food stamps, welfare etc I am doing.

    I don’t know that the local church is really commanded to do. I think the local church is commanded to teach it’s people to live generously.

    I personally give out $50 to $75 per week in ‘handout’ and I encourage everyone to do the same. I keep 5s and 1s in my front pocket (so I don’t have to trouble myself getting my wallet out) and if I pass someone with a sign, I pop some dough on them. I have designated that money so I don’t miss it.

    I don’t know of any individual local church that is prepared to give long term care to a needy family

  73. You look at areas like India and Asia – before Western (Christian) influence and arrival had no public care – because their religions care little for the individual.
    But the Christian church, while doing things on a temporary level taught people the value of life in God’s eyes and taught them to live generously.

  74. Steve, you are misreading my comments. So if we give to a centralize food bank, you are saying that does not count because all local churches must be equipped for a larger local project.

    Go back and read my #67 – it was a question to you that you neglected to answer and deflected into your own question – and look at my #72 where I asked you a direct question that you did not answer.

  75. Not to embarrass MLD, but he is often criticized here for being heartless. Yet who else among us sets aside a weekly allowance of money to pass out to street people without asking questions?

  76. I think the local church is commanded to teach it’s people to live generously.<<<

    Yes.

  77. MLD, all I asked is how your church handles someone in the fellowship or the neighborhood who comes to the church in need. You have yet to even remotely attempt to answer the question.

    I answered your question in #67 – clearly. I did not answer your question in #72 because Michael moved the discussion (sort of since there seems to be more here than there in the comments) to another post and because as you know I have to be careful in what and how I word anything having to do with out church when it comes to changes I might have led. Since there is more “action” here on the discussion, I will respond here.

    The brief response is, once we got above water a year or so after becoming pastor here, we have for the last several years put aside 10% off the top of the offering, split halfway between missions we support and half for local helps. By commitment, I mean I’ll postpone getting my salary when times are tough so as not to stop that set aside or dip into those funds which are set aside and spent throughout the year as the needs arise. It is not at all uncommon for us to have more money in those two accounts at any snapshot in time than we have in our basic checking account.

    We actually have done more than 10% probably for more months than not, depending on how finances might be, but 10% has been our floor. My intention is to raise that level asap, and we will hopefully soon be able to do so.

    I’ll let you know when they post Sunday’s message and you can have a listen as I touch on several other of the issues you have raised.

  78. This will be familiar to readers who have spent time with the homeless, but may come as a surprise to readers who have not: For a lot of homeless people, especially those suffering from mental health and/or addiction issues, they often are not receiving some of the safety net programs for which they are eligible. For many of these people, navigating the maze and paperwork of the bureaucracies involved with these programs is extremely difficult, if not impossible without assistance. So, many of them simply don’t sign up.

    We may read about people here and there who either game the system or commit fraud, but what we don’t hear about are the people who are eligible, yet are not being served by the safety net programs. Therefore, the volunteers who help these people get to the right places and fill out the paperwork to get assistance to which they’re eligible are also providing a “helps ministry”. So, in this respect, the church (or individual Christians) can provide help in partnership with public assistance.

    Something as simple as getting to an appointment at a set date and time for some homeless people is a major challenge without assistance. Why? Well, think of it this way: If you’re a long term homeless person, without a job, place to live or prospects, what is “time” to you? Are you thinking about the day after tomorrow, or are you wondering how to get out of the cold this afternoon and where to get your next meal.

  79. Jean, a focus of our helps ministry of recent days, thanks to a wonderful sister in the Lord here, is to help people in areas like what you say. Whether to understand what may be available, or to help put together a job resume, or find housing etc.

    And the concerns you rightly express apply to far more than true “homeless” people as so many folks do have a roof over their heads, but otherwise are really “trapped” in the poverty quicksand and need some help to pull themselves out.

    I hope to greatly expand this effort in the years to come.

  80. Steve,
    Your effort is and will be timely. If it bears much fruit, don’t keep it secret.

  81. Steve,
    I answered you in my #64 = “We may pay someone’s electric bill to keep the lights on, but that’s about it.”

    And you replied @ #65 = “Thanks for answering, MLD. I would be interested in hearing from other pastors, and from others in the know about their church’s financial spending.”

  82. Well, we must be agreeing.
    What I said in my #77 “So, if I feed someone a meal and point them to a food pantry, a shelter, help them get public assistance – food stamps, welfare etc I am doing.”

    Seems to match what Jean said at 83 and Steve said at 84. 🙂

  83. MLD, I think the emphasis on whether the widow has other sources for help would allow us to include for our time and nation the idea of tax-supported or charitable assistance programs before the church is writing a check.

    Yes, I saw your mention of the electric bill. If I conclude correctly you are saying there really is no ministry, and no financial commitment…maybe a random helping on an ad hoc basis.

    May I ask then, who does receive the help from the Lutheran denomination when your church donates? That is what I am seriously asking you and trying to understand. You mentioned “working through denominational organizations” – so your church gives a portion of the offering to these Lutheran organizations, and thus fulfilling any Biblical mandate to support the needy…..but if one of your own members is now in need, how do they get helped? Can they get helped?

    That’s all I am trying to figure out. But while you are at it, can a non-member get help from such an organization. Your church’s neighbor living a block of El Toro Road – shows up in need.

  84. How do you define “the needy”? We help support 9 group homes for the mentally disabled and are responsible for their spiritual needs. We have 50 plus of them each Sunday to receive word and sacrament – does that count?

    Even the widow example is ver, very restricted – Must be a certain age, must have a good moral reputation, must have been married only once and must have been a mother to children.

    I see no where that Paul obligated Timothy to care for the local community outside the church.

    As I said, we will help pay some bills – but we are in no position to tell even a single family, we will cover your $2,000 a month nut for the next 6 months.

  85. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. (Maybe not to Timothy, but to the churches in Galatia)

    Of course those group homes are a wonderful thing. Good grief, man.

    And nobody is talking about paying a $2000 rent bill for 6 months. But I don’t really think I need to define “needy” either.

    You’ve answered the question.

  86. #80, Xenia,
    I was thinking the same thing. I think MLD may be suffering (blessed) by that pesky “s” word which the disciples of M. Luther are so loathe to acknowledge. We better keep this in confidence else we risk ruining his rep with his fellow Lutherans. 🙂

    The other thing you reminded me of is this verse: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who….”

  87. Steve, I have no issue in helping the needy – and i have no problem offering help in a neighborhood – however,…
    My issue is that you taught something new – had an epiphany and now everyone needs to have a helps ministry as you dictate – seen in your statements from your #42

    “then it seems non negotiable that the local church have a helps ministry at least to the poor people within that church.” – non negotiable???
    and
    “Not simply being a facilitator for some clothing or canned food drive – actual benjamins going from the account of the church to the needs of the people.” – simply being a facilitator???

    Come on, the pastoral epistles have been around a long time, you are not the first to deal with this.

    But I love your spirited effort 🙂

  88. Jean, we do good out of the J word. 😉

  89. My issue is that you taught something new – had an epiphany and now everyone needs to have a helps ministry as you dictate
    ——————————————————–
    I’m going to throw a flag on that one….As the history I recounted shows, this is not “something new” to me at all. It is a conviction I have held for awhile and has showed itself in practice for years at CCLE. In fact, there isn’t a single thing we are going to do “new” at our church as a result of this past weekend.

    What happened, as is often the case, in doing the sort of deeper study connected with Sunday preaching is to wrestle with the ramifications that the Bible is using a purpose clause in this verse, (as I have said repeatedly). – Maybe non-negotiable is too strong a word. Maybe not. Maybe the better question is simply does God want the local church to help its local members with financial aid if they have no other avenues and are praying to God for that help? Or do we say “be warm and filled” – or does the pastor just encourage people to give individually when they encounter someone and to understand their giving to the church is a separate thing and that money is going to something else entirely.

    And I thought it would prompt some discussion. For over 6 years I have read repeatedly on this blog and elsewhere about the importance of the pastoral qualifications cited from this same book of the Bible. How if your pastor does not meet the standards, he should be gone (and to which I agree).

    So how about the standards for the church’s finances from the same book of the BIble?

    Please go read again my post #65

    And to your credit MLD, you are the only one to really enter into the discussion.

  90. Steve,

    If you go all the way back to the very beginning of the church in Acts Ch 2, the believers were distributing help to one another “as any had need.”

    From there, in Chapter 6, seven reputable brothers were chosen to administer assistance to widows.

    Later, Paul took up a collection among his churches in Asia and Achaia for the believers in Judea.

    He also, encouraged his churches to be generous, especially to members of the Church.

    All this precedes Paul’s instructions in 1 Tim 5. I know you are familiar with all these preceding texts, so my intent is not to belittle your discovery, but only to say that what you are talking about totally is consistent with a lot of other Scripture and, at least to me, is not anything knew. In fact one might say that Christianity = the church in the NT.

    The issues is that in Western Christianity, we have “spiritualized” the Faith and have turned what originally was a corporate affair (with individual salvation as but one component) into an individualistic religion where the corporate component is an optional add on.

    I suspect that in countries where Christians are persecuted, they practice their religion in a much more corporate manner, probably more in common with what we find in the NT.

  91. Somewhere along the line, this thing called “Protestant Work Ethic” entered the lexicon and became a virtue. I’m not here to attack that ethic, but only to point out a dark side in the context of our discussion. At least here in the Midwest it means: Asking for help is a sign of failure, weakness and shame. Thus, a lot of people who have real needs instead put themselves through all kinds of machinations to conceal their needs. This sense of shame can often make problems worse and can lead to even worse consequences, than if in the safety of a caring community, people felt comfortable sharing their burdens.

  92. Jean, yes I am aware of those verses and the general principle but I think you are on to something that has been missing so far from the discussion.

    To go to the next step – about individual versus corporate giving. What happens when someone in the church shares a need with another in the church and that person in the goodness of their heart writes them a check for a couple hundred bucks. However, the leadership of the church knows things about the person in need, and why he is in need, and the last thing he needs is money from an innocent, kind hearted believer that will only enable him in his sin.

    However, what if there was a discipline where, because of corporate giving, the person would be expected to go to the leadership in the church with that need, and that same giving person gave to the church knowing they would distribute to the needs of the saints.

    So then, imagine the pastor who suggested such a thing! Suggested a prohibition against indiv church giving within the friendships formed in the body in place of that money being given to the church!

    I sure can’t imagine myself making such a statement….but would Peter? DID Peter?

  93. Steve,
    The issue of the well meaning giver enabling unhealthy conduct is real, and so prayer and discernment are certainly needed. But, the level of top down discipline your #97 contemplates goes too far IMO. The commandment to love our neighbor is personal as is the parable of the the good Samaritan, not to mention James’ admonishment in 2:15-17.

    When an individual helps another individual, often the helper is blessed just as much or more than the helped. This is something we don’t want to lose. It also helps with empathy, something dearly needed in our day among people.

    It’s probably a “both and.”

  94. When an individual helps another individual, often the helper is blessed just as much or more than the helped.
    ——————————————————-
    Until they possibly realize later they were duped and lied to….which happens.And to find that out and also find out others knew the real story (though ignorant of the duping) is also rough. Someone says “Why didn’t you tell me?” – Can you imagine someone in leadership going around saying “Hey, just in case brother so and so asks some of you for money, you guys need to know that he is guilty of ….”

    Not a chance.

    So I agree with your #98. It is too far. I think the intimacy of the early church is something that is just far removed from where we are today. That chapter speaks (commands) family members to take care of others, and for the church basically to say “no” if a family member exists – no mention of their willingness to help.

    But there are some principles here to ponder as to their most effective outworking given the times in which we live, the country, the church we serve etc.

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