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On the Mark Driscoll apology and steps toward repentance

I saw that Mark Driscoll had sent an open letter to his congregation indicating apologies and a direction of repentance. You can read it here.

I am making public comments here because I have made public comments about Mark Driscoll in the past.

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I have to do something!

Luke 17:11-19 NET
Now on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten men with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance, raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went along, they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He fell with his face to the ground at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. (Now he was a Samaritan.) Then Jesus said, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to turn back and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to the man, “Get up and go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

I felt prompted to write this post because these thoughts have been weighing greatly on my heart and mind of late. I have found myself struggling to put my finger on what living my life daily as one who follows Jesus and his teachings should look like from an outward glance and also from inward inspection. There have been a few things that started this introspection. One huge one is Life. Daily living, people I interact with, things I read or overhear, products I use, things I see in passing. Life.

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Making of a Pig Poster

When I decided I was going to do a totally hand drawn poster, I started as everyone should start: grabbing a pencil and sketching.

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Koch and Meister: An Anabaptist Martyrs Prayer

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The following earnest prayer to God was spoken by Hans Koch and Leonhard Meister before their death, and left for the consolation of all their fellow believers:

O God! behold now from Thy high throne the misery of Thy servants, how the enemy persecutes them because it is their purpose to walk in the narrow way, and how abominably they are scorned. He who learns to know Thee, and holds fast to Thy words, is despised and scorned by them. O God of heaven! we have all sinned before Thee; therefore chastise us in mercy. We beseech Thee, let us enjoy Thy grace, that Thy honor may not be profaned by us before this world, which now seems determined to extinguish Thy Word. We might well have peace with them, if we would not confess Thy holy name, and not believe on Thy Son, that He atoned for us on the cross, bore our sins, and paid our debt. The enemy has no other reason for his daily raging against us, than because we do not fulfill his will, but love Thee, O God, in our hearts, which neither Satan nor his adherents can endure. Therefore they compel us with great distress, and afflict us with much tribulation. Thus, our misdeed, on account of which the enemy fights so hard against us, is, that we place our hope in Thee alone, and in Thy dear Son Christ Jesus, and in the Holy Ghost; therefore we must suffer reproach, because we do not set ourselves against Thee; if we would give ourselves up to idolatry, and practice all manner of wickedness, they would let us live unharmed, in peace and tranquillity. Therefore, O dear Lord, take up arms for us, and judge all those who disregard Thy power and might. If we would deny Thy Word, antichrist would not hate us; yea, if we would believe his false doctrine, follow his error, and walk with the world on the broad road, we would have favor with them; but because we seek to follow Thee, we are hated and forsaken by the world. But though the enemy brings us to torment, it does not happen to us alone, but was also done to Christ our Redeemer; for they afflicted Him first with much reproach and suffering; and thus it was with all that adhered to Him, and believed in His Word. Hence Christ says Himself: “Marvel not, if the world hate you; for it hated me first; they have not received my words; thus shall they also not receive your words. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; and when all these things happen to you, rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven.” Christ comforts us still more through the mouth of His beloved apostles, saying: “If we suffer with him, we shall also rejoice with him, and reign in everlasting joy.” What matters it, if we are ridiculed and scorned here for a little while? since God promises us eternal rest and bliss. O Lord, Thou seest and hearest the derision and contumely, and the suffering with which Thy children are afflicted. Thou also knowest their small and feeble ability; therefore we pray Thee, O God, that Thou wouldst protect Thine own honor, and sanctify Thy name, which is now so fearfully profaned by all those who, here on earth, are of high and low estate. Manifest Thy power, that the enemy may perceive and understand Thy divine strength, and may learn to be ashamed. O Lord God, have compassion upon Thy poor sheep, that are scattered, and have no longer a true shepherd who will henceforth teach them. Send them Thy Holy Spirit, that He may feed and satisfy them with Thy grace, and that they may not hearken to the voice of a stranger, unto the end. O God, in Thy high majesty, graciously hear our petition, and do not forsake us, since we are in great tribulation and conflict. Give us steadfast patience through Christ Thy Son, our Captain, who can vanquish Satan with all his host. To Him be honor, and praise to His holy name. Amen.

This prayer by Koch and Meister, both likely Waldensian, was made before their execution in Augsburg in 1524. There are several elements that grabbed my attention, and I wanted to flesh out some of my thoughts.

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Silence is betrayal

While Martin Luther King, Jr. has been celebrated recently amid the memory of the March on Washington and his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, there is still a Martin Luther King, Jr.–the real Martin Luther King, Jr.–that few wish to acknowledge. His speeches and sermons against the war in Vietnam would have him considered an anti-American traitor by today’s conservative standards, and garnered him charges of being a communist and so forth even then.

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Never Alone #MennoNerdsOnLoss

There are so many ways that a person can experience loss. Loss of job or income, loss of dreams, loss of health, loss of property, loss of life,  just to name a few that our family has personally gone through. I’d like to discuss how we handled these losses as a family and how our church body helped us to carry the burden of our losses. I would hope that writing this would help add to the dialogue (that I believe SHOULD happen) about helping those around us to survive their losses and begin to thrive once again.

Different types of losses effect each one of us differently. The loss of a pregnancy/child will have similar, yet different effects on the mother, father, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, etc. The same goes for other losses. I can only speak to how specific losses have effected me. I’m sure the same goes for any losses that readers of this post may have gone through themselves. We each have a multitude of life experiences that effect how we experience loss, but there are some common threads that run through how we are able to recover from loss and how we can help others to survive losses as well.

1. Sharing Our Experiences with Each Other
I can’t tell you how many times I have felt comforted,  just by knowing that others had walked this road before me and survived. By this, I don’t mean that people said, “I know exactly how you feel,” or anything along those lines. I would never dare say that to anyone. What I am talking about is brothers and sisters in Christ who came along side me and said, “I have experienced something like this and I am here to listen to your experiences, to share your burden, and to talk if you need to talk.” Sometimes it is a comfort to simply know that you are not alone.

2. Others Offering to Help Carry Your Burden for Awhile
So many times, we have had fellow believers walk with us through our losses. Sometimes it is to offer monetary help. Sometimes it is to offer practical household help. Sometimes it is to buy us groceries or bring us a meal or run errands for us. Sometimes it is simply to sit with us as we prepare for the worst and to pray as hard as they can, with and for us. The recent illness I have been going through is a great example of how we can carry others through loss. In this instance we experienced a loss of health, a loss of income, and a loss of a dream/ideal (wanting to pursue natural medicine, but being forced into going through surgery because of the life threatening nature of the illness). We have had folks clean our house, bring us meals, pick up and dump our trash, pay our bills, run our errands, stock up our cupboards, pray with us, remind us to rest, and lend their ears and shoulders for us to share our burdens with them.

3. Being Silent and Knowing When to Speak
I believe this is truly a gift that God gives to those who have suffered losses. I also believe that this is accomplished by being sensitive to the nudging of the Holy Spirit. I also believe it is better to err on the side of being silent, but present than to speak words that can injure. I think this is a great subject for introspection and I am still working on this one myself.

4. Offering Support Beyond Ourselves
This could be in the form of books, blog posts we have read, support groups we have heard of, or connecting folks with friends who have gone through similar struggles. When using this tool, I try to remember how overwhelming it is to be experiencing loss. Most of the time there is not a lot a person can process because of their loss. It is all we can do to draw the next breath. I think it is a very hard place to be when you have a loved one that is experiencing a loss that you yourself have not experienced. The feeling of helplessness is overwhelming. I try to always remember in these instances, “first do no harm.”

I obviously don’t have all the answers, but I do know that these things have helped our family through miscarriage, health issues, deaths of family members, loss of income, and loss of property. We have been loved on by so many different folks, some from our church, some from our daily lives, and even some strangers. Experiencing loss myself has made me desire to be more intuitive towards noticing others who are experiencing loss and to be able to help them to survive their loss and thrive afterwards, as many people have helped us to do.

Be Peace, Kimbrah

This post is part of a MennoNerds Synchro-Blog on the topic of Death, Loss, Pain and Grief, July 14-30, 2013. Check out our page on MennoNerds.com to see all the other posts in this series.

Being separate, but how much?

“In the context of the new, sociologically neutral use of the term “sect” introduced in the twentieth century by Weber and Troeltsch, historians friendly to Anabaptism have adopted a view very much like Zwingli’s. Believer’s baptism was primarily significant, they contended, as a means to create a gathered church. It is very doubtful, however, that Reublin, Mantz and Grebel thought of their concern with baptism as the basis for a separate church. Far more plausible is that they aimed at a reform of the sacraments, to be carried through today in Zurich and tomorrow throughout Christendom. Nevertheless, the initiation of adult baptisms, probably performed on January 21, 1525 by Conrad Grebel at the request of George Blaurock, was a dramatic and desperate act of defiance against the established church and government.” (1)

Something to consider. Are we being separate for the sake of being separate? Are we looking to reform the traditions and sacraments of the greater church body? Are we living out in the fringes of Christendom, calling Christians out to join us?

I strongly feel that within our current world and, more locally, my American cultural surroundings, Anabaptists ought to be an intentionally distinct body, but one that seeks interaction with, engagement in, and the reform of the established, traditional, imperial church. If we’re serious about our convictions then we need to live them out as best we can. Otherwise, we simply do not believe them at all.

Do you ever get offended or hurt or angry when someone lumps together Anabaptists with all other evangelicals, or they assume because you’re a Christian you’re just like all the others that are more known for certain things you don’t believe at all? Why are you offended or upset?

Where do I intersect my need for separation from the more traditional, American Christianity–which I believe is deeply rooted in imperialism and only has the resemblance of, and holds onto certain aspects of Christianity that allow it to still market itself as, a religion of Jesus–with the need to call for reform and engage with the powers (of the American church)? How close is too close? How far is too far?

A lot of questions, of course, but the answers more in the living out discipleship, the Nachfolge Christi. If I look at my life, interactions, reading, study, etc., I will see where I am answering the questions well, and where I need to make changes. And if I’m not willing to make the changes, then I’m not willing to be a disciple of Jesus, a follower of the Way, a fellow Anabaptist.

There may come a time, or times, when I will need to make a dramatic and desperate act of defiance against the powers . . . Or, am I doing that now in my walking on The Way and discipleship? And thru these practices, including my examination of those practices, the discipline and humility to change what needs to be changed, and the courage to be a disciple, I will be prepared to be obedient to Jesus, and love others, no matter what goes on.

(1) James Stayer, “The Swiss Brethren: An Exercise in Historical Definition,” Church History, Vol. 47, No. 2 (Jun. 1978), pp.174-195.

Confessions of a Rule Follower

I have pretty much always been a rule follower. It’s part of my nature to be a people pleaser, a rule follower, and a peace keeper. I just want every one to be happy. There are times when I have inadvertently trampled someone’s boundaries or hurt someone’s feelings or broken an unspoken rule and it literally crushes my spirit and brings me to tears when I realize what I have done. Embarrassment, sadness, awkwardness, frustration. I hate those feelings!

This is one of the major things that I struggle with in my daily walk with God. I’ve often pondered if this rule following/people pleasing/peacekeeping bent is a natural obedience that was meant to be directed towards God, but was somehow corrupted by the Fall. It would be so much easier if I could direct my natural bent towards God, His Word, and with those in mind, His creation. Alas, it is instead my daily struggle.

And in the midst of my struggle, God has convicted me to live my life in a way that is outside of the norm for the community I live in. He has led me to an Anabaptist understanding of His Word, He has called us to a pacifist way of life, and He has called us to allow Him to control the size of our family. These things are huge! I was raised in a family that served in the military for the last three generations and have attended Evangelical churches for at least that many generations as well. Several members of my family carry concealed weapons permits. A lot of my friends do as well. Most people in our family see us as idealistic dreamers and have no clue how God could possibly be convicting us to live the way we do. Some are not sure if we are really even “saved.”

As a people pleaser, this is painful for me! I want everyone to be happy. I want everyone to understand. As a peacemaker, I want to dialogue about it. I want to hear and be heard. I want everyone to be okay with our choices. I want to be able to live and let live. Here’s where the rule following saves me. God opened my eyes and let me see the better way for me, personally, to live. How can I walk away from that? How can I disobey that? I just can’t. I have to live out His convictions for my life. I have to learn more so that I might serve Him better. I have to allow Him to direct my life and purge my imperfections through trials and troubles. I have to continually turn my face back to Him, bask in His love and warmth, and remember that it is His approval only that I need to seek. This is much easier said than done, for me. This is the journey though, as easy or difficult as it may be.

Be Peace, Kimbrah

An Ode to Emily Saliers and The Indigo Girls

I first discovered the awesomeness that is The Indigo Girls when I was in junior high. I can’t remember if it was my twin brother who introduced me to them (most of my favorites were first discovered by my very musically inclined and talented brother) or if it was our church youth group. Ironically, I remember lots of church youth group activities with Indigo Girls as the soundtrack. In a way, it was the music of my youth.

Fast forward about 20 years and The Indigo Girls are still my all time favorite band, hands down. My husband humors me and feeds my love for them with all the newest albums as a surprise for my birthday or Christmas. I think he may even be starting to like them himself. He really has no choice in the matter. Our children are also being steadily indoctrinated to be the next generation of Indigo Girls fans. They are coming along nicely. When I found out that Emily Saliers opened a restaurant called Watershed in Atlanta, I started saving up my mad money for our family trip to Georgia.

The other day I discovered a mix tape that I made back in college of my very favorite songs. As we drove the long drive into town, I serenaded our van full of little people with tunes like “Get Out The Map,” “Power of Two,” “Hammer and a Nail,” and our toddler’s all time favorite, “Ozalene.” He actually cried when the song was over. I had to rewind it and play it again to make him happy. That’s good stuff. Then the song “Virginia Woolf” started playing and it set my mind to thinking.

Some of my very favorite songs by the Indigo Girls were written by Emily Saliers. I admit, I am a complete sucker for a love ballad with a gorgeous, catchy melody. There are times that I feel like I’ve lived part of her life with her, as she pours herself into each song she writes. I admire the voice that she has given to her passions, her ideas, her life. In fact, there are times I envy it and even feel convicted for allowing my voice to have faded, only to be seen randomly in brief Facebook status updates. The song “Virgina Woolf” is sort of an homage to a lady who obviously inspired Emily, herself. I have not read much of Virginia’s works (a mistake I plan to rectify soon, I promise, Emily!), but I can sense the sway they hold over one who’s inner voice compels them to speak out through writing as mine often does.

I am not quite sure what made me give up writing. Sometimes I read the things I wrote in college or when I first got married and started having children and I think, Wow! That girl is brilliant! What happened to her? Sometimes I get great ideas that I want to write about, but by the time I get to a piece of paper they have disappeared into the ether. I have planned out several children’s books in my head, complete with illustrations that I am perfectly capable of drawing and not one of them have ever been put to paper.

I recently had a very close brush with death. My liver decided to get all crazy and I very easily could have died. I am still recovering slowly from that illness as I type. I guess it kind of gave me a wake up call. If I had died, what kind of a legacy would be left to my boys? Would they know what I was passionate about? Would they realize why We have chosen to raise them the way we are? Would they really even know who I am? I keep coming up with a resounding no! I’ve never been one to keep journals very well. I start them, write a few lame and uninteresting things and then forget about them.

And it’s not just my kids that I wonder about. I wonder if anyone I know could ever guess what makes me tick, what gets me out of bed everyday, the things I turn over and over in my mind when I have a minute to ponder something. Am I just the shallow person I portray on social media? That’s honestly not who I want to be remembered as.

So I have entitled this post to the ladies who have been with me since my youth. The two who have made me think outside the box. The two who caused me to look past my prejudices and see beautiful people who are worthy of my time and my love. The two who speak so fervently about social justice. And special thanks to Emily, who in sharing the melody of her soul, encouraged and reminded me to share mine, too.  I’m not sure exactly what form it will take yet, but the adventure awaits and I look forward to it with great anticipation.

Be Peace, Kimbrah

New farm poster’s finally up

We created this poster late last year, and finally got it up. Kind of. The frame isn’t the right size; eventually that’ll be fixed.

Here are some shots.

Poster

We put it in the hallway, where it’s the first thing you see when you walk in the front door.

SF Poster 2

Pretty nice against the wall color.

Poster

The duck has become our farm’s logo. Simple. A tribute to our first animals: a batch of four little ducklings back in 2009. One of those ducks, Sassy the white and fawn Indian Runner, is still with us, running the show.

SF Poster 4

Here’s some detail.

SF Poster 5

What do you think?

March 2013 Fruit Tree update

With a lot of trees in their fruiting mode right now, I thought I would show a few of them. This is exactly 6 weeks since the last pictorial update.

Here’s the Asian Pear.

asian pear 03302013

Next up: Pomegranate. I thought this one was dead, but it has really come out strong.

pomegranate 03302013

How about the 3 in 1 Pluots? Looking good.

pluot 03302013

And then we have the Peach tree. Very, very nice.

peaches 03302013

First Baptist Dallas, again

To see the original post on First Baptist Dallas, click here.

Yesterday I put out a rant on the $130 Million building project for First Baptist Dallas. For whatever reason, that post exploded with readers today. No comments, though.

Earlier I went into their pressroom (on the web, not actually to some sort of pressroom they might have there in Dallas; though, with $130 Million spent on it, they probably have a press team) and dug into a PDF they have available regarding the new campus.

Toward the end of the document were these words that finally did me in:

The pedestal, which stands 68-feet high to the top of the cross, will flow water down to the pool and then to the edge, flowing over the text, “…whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” The Scripture verse taken from John 4:14 is inscribed on the edge of the reflecting pool with stainless-steel lettering. The water flow, as well as undulating titan jets, can be coordinated and programmed to a custom orchestral score of hymns and spiritual songs.

The point of all of this, to spend the money on all of that stuff, is to appear a certain way so that people will look in their direction. It is a show, a production. Regardless of however much good is going on inside–could be great ministry of the Scriptures, excellent counseling of hurting people, etc.–the money was shelled out for the external appearance, to make people look at them.

Why exactly? Why put on the show? Why make the production? Why take $130 Million and do all of this physical, material stuff? Because they want people to see the church and come inside.

That might sound good to some, except Jesus told his disciples to go to the people. He told them to wash feet. He told them to get to the prisons. He told them to go feed the masses. He told them to go preach the Good News. He did not tell them to fortify themselves, to build for themselves a glorious altar, and then tell the people to come inside. He did not tell the disciples to dance on the streets so that hurting people would be entranced and want to enjoy further entertainment like they would with a prostitute.

The $130 Million spent on this project gets even more daunting when you stop to consider what the church as it was could have done with just percentages of that.

What if they took $1 Million, less than 1% of that funding, and handed that over to whatever homeless outreach program already in their body?

What if they took $1 Million, less than 1% of that funding, and created a mortgage support program to help folks avoid or who are going through foreclosure? Or even to help people renovate their home so they could house some people?

What if they took $1 Million, less than 1% of that funding, and supported single mothers, single mothers-to-be, battered women, poor young couples, to help eliminate abortions in Dallas?

What if they took $1 Million, less than 1% of that funding, and created a meals for poor kids program so kids can get good meals every day of the week even if they don’t go to school that day?

That’s $4,000,000. That left $126,000,000 of the original number.

I have no idea if this church already has programs like that in place. If they did, couldn’t $1,000,000 for each of them help for quite a long time? Maybe bump the foreclosure one up to $10,000,000.

How much more could be done? How many could be served? The church is supposed to know the people of Dallas. They are supposed to know what the people of Dallas need. What they really need.

I can tell you they do not need another well dressed preacher telling them they need to come into this pristine glass building to get fed and fixed otherwise their troubles will continue.

Again, sorry for the continued rant. Instead of focusing simply on what this church chose to do, I turn to myself. Am I siding with Jesus? Am I utilizing my resources and talents to support the Kingdom of God and the mission of Jesus? Am I going into my community and loving them, take care of them, and engaging with them in such a way that Jesus is magnified?

Updated a couple of posts

I recently checked my stats for this blog and found there has been a lot of interested lately in a couple posts in particular, not just from the hits on the posts but from the searches also.

The first post is Casting away the woman in adultery, discussing my take that the story of the woman caught in adultery found in John vii.53–viii.11 ought to be removed from the main reading of John’s Gospel, and at most referenced or considered in the footnotes for a historical purpose.

The second post is The NLT is not a scholarly translation? There I discuss a quote from a reformed apologist wherein he questioned the status of the NLT as a scholarly translation of the Scriptures.

While the Casting away post I don’t really need to update, I definitely need to do some updated discussion on Bible Translations in general, but the NLT in particular. There’s still a lot of interest in Bible translation and it’s a good topic to keep working through.

I did clean those posts up real quick. They had some formatting issues. Wrote them while using a different WordPress layout; this layout doesn’t handle certain elements the same way.

There has also been interest in the Carl Bogus discussion, 2nd Amendment stuff, and general Bible Translation issues. I have to update some things and start writing about others. I can’t cover it all or anything like that. But I can point folks to others who have wonderful discussions going on about them.

Book Review: God’s Reign and the End of Empires

My review of Antonio Gonzalez’s excellent work, God’s Reign and the End of Empires is available now at Englewood Review of Books.

Many, many thanks to Chris Smith at ERB for the opportunity to engage this great text. I hope you take a few moments to look over the review and maybe even read the book yourself.

Looking back at it, I think there are a couple minor points I would adjust, not really change. Essentially I’d want to emphasize a couple of points. And I missed some grammatical goofs. Oops. But, overall, I think my excitement over the text is evident. Here’s the opening to the review.

Not many Americans would list the US among the world’s empires. Why should they? We declared independence from England, went to war to keep that independence, and established a government to avoid a monarchy. We’re a Republic, not an empire.

But that’s a limited understanding of the term empire. An empire is not necessarily just what you read about in the history books on Babylon, Persia, Rome, or China. Empire is more general, having to do with power, control, authority, monopolization of violence, marking out distinct classes of people, and of course, economics. So the term can be applied broadly, especially to large, active, and globally influential governments around the world. We can talk about the American empire, the English empire, Israeli empire; Iraqi,  Brazilian, Australian, European, Asian empire; whatever it may be.

Whether or not those empires are good or do good, are just or act in the interest of justice, is constantly up for discussion. While all earthly empires are man-made and therefore tied to the nature of fallen humanity (sinful), there are times we see them doing good, acting justly.  In the last few decades there has been an upswing in the number of conversations on the relationship of Christianity to Empire or global empires. There are many who want complete separation from the empires of the world, while others see the need for integration and involvement. Antonio Gonzalez’s recent work, God’s Reign and the End of Empires, is a very timely addition to the discussion. The focus of the book is clear:

When trusting in God’s creative activity in history and building up alternative communities from the grassroots, there is no need to submit to the tyranny of empire. Another world is possible and it begins now, wherever people change the nature of their social relationships and liberate themselves from oppression and violence. (17)

Read the rest of the review at ERB. Let me know what you think, either in the comments there or over here.

First Baptist Dallas

The following rant is brought to you by the following articles:

First: Christianity Today

Second: Church Executive

Just being honest.

I don’t care one tiny bit about where Tim Tebow does and does not speak.

But when I hear about a church spending $130 Million on a building campaign, I get pissed off. That is money stolen from poor and homeless people, from hungry children unable to eat day-to-day, from programs that would have helped people survive. That is money stolen opportunities to stop God knows how many abortions, not by political campaigns but by caring for the impoverished mothers-to-be so desperate that abortion was the only way.

And for what? Leather seats for the large dollar contributors while many families within the community have no furniture at all to sit or sleep on? Even get some designating seating, like box seats for folks who pay a little more? Numerous wide-screen TVs to read the songs lauding how much you love the Jesus who told you to give it all up and take care of the poor, the widows, the sick, and the imprisoned? A large fountain that pumps a massive number of gallons of water when people have no clean water to drink?

No. I don’t know this church or the people there. But I do know the attitude and mentality behind these massive building projects, and they disgust me. First Baptist Dallas is not the only one to have done such a thing. And it won’t be the last. Maybe in 10 or 20 years a church will engage in a project that will make us wonder how any church was able to build anything good with only $130 Million.

And it makes me angry.

“Oh, Eddie. You’re being judgmental.”

Well, yes. But not in the sense of me judging them self righteously or hypocritically (weren’t you just judging me, by the way). When fellow disciples of Jesus are committing acts that defame the very name and teachings of Jesus, Christians absolutely must speak up and call for repentance. If they want to defend their actions, then by all means.

You have to understand that this very mentality behind the audacious building projects is one that says material accumulation and success is a sign of God’s blessing. That was also the sentiment in the south among Christian slaveholders: the more successful they were, the more blessed they had been by God, which then justified continuing the practice of slavery. A vicious, evil circle.

Hopefully, one day I can articulate this better. But right now I’m angry. I’m angry that this is yet another big church spending a ton of money on material possessions and status, taking away incredibly valuable resources from organizations and people desperately needing them, all in the name of Jesus when in reality it spits in his face and drags his name through the dirt. I want to voice my position here more clearly, more calmly, but I just needed to digitally vent for now.

I hate that I don’t have the money to help people who could be helped by money. Money isn’t the answer to everything, and it doesn’t make the world rotate. But, for some, help is needed in a monetary, financial way. I don’t have that at my disposal. So, yes, I get ticked off when Christians who do have coffers of cash use it for building projects like this when there are friends who are being foreclosed on and will be homeless soon. Or when they write over a large check so First Baptist Dallas can have a 150 foot screen when a friend is in desperate need of special medical help that no insurance will take care of. Sure, I can help my friends eat because we have chickens and eggs we can help them with. But, what good is the chicken if they have no stove to cook it one because they couldn’t afford their gas or electric bill?

Again, sorry, I’m upset. If it was $100,000 for a new auditorium or building to take care of kids, whatever. That’s the individual church’s choice based on their needs within their communities. They decide. But this, $130 Million for what First Baptist Dallas is doing? Where exactly is Jesus in all of it?

I see money. I see a show. I see a sham.

I see myself needing to step up, step out, and sacrifice and invest more in my own community, among the people here. I see myself being humbled by the grace and teachings of Jesus to where I can and must shrug this off and live out the truth so that maybe others will see the truth as well, and we can get closer to this never happening again.

The travails of buying local

Just some semi-random thoughts on the travails of buying local.

I love to support our local small businesses. Buying from local folks and sources is important to us. As much as we can, we want to support local people. Not just the local economy, but the people. If it’s food, you know where the food came from, what went into growing it and getting it ready for sale, and you promote that ideal.

But, there can be definite downsides. Buying local is not the same as buying quality. And by quality I mean ethically or naturally grown or produced; sustainability; a consciousness to take care of everyone involved in the process, from production to consumption to the environment.

I like sandwiches. When I am able, I like to check out the different local sandwich shops and delis around here. Some are better than others. Some are way more expensive than others. Sequoia Sandwich Company is amazing, with a pretty good median price range for the amount of food you get. Big Popy’s Deli is great, with a fun atmosphere, and an exquisite selection of un-crappified cherry sodas (good stuff, not the syrups and junk). They are very pricey, though, and the amount of food struggles to justify it.

But, back to the point of the post.

I recently checked out a local sandwich shop that very recently opened up two blocks away. They actually replaced a Quiznos that left. I heard good things about them. So I walked over, saw they had a Deep Pit Sandwich and wanted to give that a try. I had a choice of salsa or BBQ sauce, and I went with BBQ sauce. I also asked that it be toasted.

Done. Sandwich ordered. I walked over to to register, and I get to watch them make the sandwich. The young man who took my order grabbed what was the deep pit, wrapped in some sort of parchment paper. He tossed that into a microwave for 15 seconds. Then he walked over to the bre…

Wait. What? The microwave? Oh, that’s no good.

He got the bread ready with some sauce and cheese, grabbed the nuked meat, placed it on the bread,  then ran it through the toasting contraption. While waiting, the gentleman at the register grabbed my BBQ sauce. It looked pretty good; and not in a packet. I asked, “Say, is this a homemade sauce?” He told me, “No. It’s from … um … a Smart & Final brand.”

Dang.

Even though their prices were just a tad more than that of Subway or Quiznos, the quality just wasn’t there. I am willing to pay more for quality local food. But, it needs to be quality. If it costs $1-2 more for a sandwich that’s ultimately no different than that of Subway–poorly raised and processed chickens and cattle, GMO packed grains and produce, using a microwave as a heating element, and not even purchasing their produce or ingredients from local sources–from my perspective that is not supporting local businesses.

The food and restaurant industry as a whole is a complicated mess of inhumanity. There are gems out there, but they have to use street diligence and word of mouth promotions to fight against the billionaire marketing machines. I want to support and promote those local businesses that have quality products and services who are dwarfed and stepped on by the giants. I want them to have a chance.

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