2007-06-27 0 comments

Yep, another hiatus

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. If that's true, then I must be doggone adorable right about now.

(You can always chart the ebbs and flows of my Christian walk by how prolific I am in updating the blog, by the way. Just trying to be candid, you understand.)

Changes are afoot -- new job on the horizon, new ministry opportunities that's been taking up some time, challenges at home, stuff like that. It's conspired to keep me from bloggin', for good or ill. I've missed it. I'm praying things will sort of settle down pretty soon. If you think about it, maybe send a prayer or two upstairs and throw my name in the subject line. Jesus will know who you're talking about.

Also, I'm compiling some stuff I've had lying around and doing some more writing on my own that I'm not posting here -- the plan is to compile it all together in book form and then shop it around. Suffice to say there's not a big market for books written by a 30-something one-time borderline alcoholic who doesn't make his living behind the pulpit of a mega-church and who has some often-unflattering things to say about the state of the modern church. Go figure.

Anywho, I'm sittin' at my soon-to-be old job and trying to look busy, so here you go.

I promise to my four loyal readers I'll have something new up pretty soon.

Grace and peace ...
2007-06-18 0 comments

Worth reading

Environmental stewardship from a Biblical perspective ... taking care of the earth is not un-Godly, nor is it reserved for "tree-huggers."

Our Daily Bread for June 18:

2007-06-13 0 comments

Southern Baptists at a crossroads

Link: Southern Baptists urged to end infighting

Why in the world Southern Baptists are arguing over biblical infallibilty is beyond me. My great-grandfathers would roll over in their graves if they weren't too busy hanging out with Jesus and the Saints (kinda sounds like a rock-n-roll band.)

But arguing over speaking in tongues? Now there's an issue. It's my understanding that the SBC essentially encourages its pastoral candidates to lie prior to placement, if said pastoral candidate does, in fact, have a "private prayer language."

Candidates (or so I've heard) are asked if they have a private prayer language. If they answer yes -- again, we're talking private here -- they are unable to serve as an SBC pastor. Most know this going in, of course, and could embellish the truth if they feel it is in the greater interests of their calling to do so.

The merits of the SBC's stance are debatable. The problem is that pastoral candidates -- again, or so I've heard -- are told the issue can be smoothed over so long as they renounce the practice.

Therefore, if an SBC pastoral candidate truly believes a private prayer language is a gift of the spirit, then that candidate is told he cannot use a gift he believes is divinely given him by God. That's problematic.

(Sorry for the absence. We're all getting back to normal here.)
2007-06-06 0 comments

Don't gamble on gambling

The public vote to legalize table games here in Kanawha County, W.Va., was originally scheduled for this Saturday. Thankfully, it was pushed back due to a clerical error ... now, there's a better chance opponents (like me, and like you, hopefully) can take steps to fight it.

The West Virginia Council of Churches is involved, as is the West Virginia Family Foundation. Both are facing an uphill battle. Tri-State Racetrack and Gaming Center (read: the Cross Lanes casino) is bankrolling a massive public relations effort, and local officials are on board. Some police officers are actually appearing in ads in their uniforms. Which is probably illegal or, at the very least, unethical.

(Quick sidebar: I'm not issuing a blanket endorsement of any and everything the Council of Churches of the Family Foundation stand for. I haven't read all their materials, so I can't unequivocally lend my support to all that they do, even if I were to agree once I became more familiar. It's on the to-do list. At any rate, they happen to be right on this issue.)

Anyway, the annual West Virginia Methodist Convention is, during their annual meetings in Buckhannon, taking a stand on the issue. Kudos to them for realinzing "Gambling is a menace to society, deadly to the best interests of moral, social, economic and spiritual life, and destructive of good government." Here, here. (Check out the full story here.)

So, those of you in Kanawha County, W.Va. -- where polls show we actually have a chance of beating this thing -- get out and get active.
2007-06-01 0 comments

Why do miracles at all? (Prologue -- The Angry Man)

"At least I have a place to live," The Angry Man thought. "If you call this living."

It wasn't more than a hole, hewn out of the rock by one of his ancestors. He didn't remember which. It hardly mattered, anyway. If he had one complaint -- and he had a lot more than just one -- about where he lived, it was the gnarled and twisted olive tree that stood a few paces from the opening to his home. He hated that tree. It reminded him of his legs.

The Angry Man hated a lot of things.

He looked down at his legs, then back at the tree, just as he had done thousands of times since he was struck by the mysterious illness that confined him to the cave. His knee joints were large, knotted and misshapen below thighs whose muscles had atrophied to the point that, really, they were no longer there. The bottom half of his legs stuck out in awkward angles from those knee caps, just like the branches of the olive tree that mocked him every day.

Mostly he hated it because it lived in the sun.

The Angry Man rarely saw daylight overhead, except when four men from the local synagogue came to visit. They came every week to carry him out to sunbathe by a nearby creek. Most of the time he wished they wouldn't bother. Many times, he'd curse their efforts, and not always quietly.

After all, didn't he have to lie on a wooden plank they'd built -- it was terribly uncomfortable -- and be further mocked because he couldn't walk himself? He never let on that, in the end, it was more than worth it, just to feel the breeze, smell the water, hear the trickle of it across smooth stones.

There, just past the tree. The Angry Man squinted as they approached. His "friends."

He didn't expect them for several more days, yet here they were. He'd get to see the creek today, that was true. But he didn't like surprises.

The Angry Man tried to ignore the olive tree.

They were approaching fast. They weren't smiling, as usual. Well, maybe they were a little. But they were strange smiles -- condescending, if you want to know the truth -- and he didn't like it at all.

The fat one stepped through the door first.

"Just go away," The Angry Man said. "Can't you see I'm trying to sleep?"

"Oh, you'll want to be awake for this," the man said. "Jesus has come home."

The Angry Man remembered the name. The man was a prophet, some said. Elijah, come back from heaven. Others went so far as to claim Jesus was the Son of David, the Messiah. The Angry Man knew the type. Capernaum had seen its share of fools claiming this and that, making promises they couldn't keep. Jesus was nothing more than another charlatan, a simple fraud.

Still ...

"We'd like to take you to see Him," one of the men said. "He's speaking at a house not far from here. We brought your bed. Will you come with us?"

The Angry Man did not want to go. He'd have to listen to their incessant optimism. They clearly bought whatever Jesus was selling. This could benefit The Angry Man, of course. The fools could believe whatever they wished. If they had to suffer the disappointment of knowing their messiah was a fraud, that was their problem. At least he could get a free trip out of this God-forsaken cave and, just maybe, he could con a meal out of his four "friends." They were gullible enough to fall for it. They always were.

"I'll go with you," The Angry Man said, "if you'll take me to the creek after we're done."

They all smiled.

"My friend," one said, "when we're done, you can go yourself."

(To be continued)

(copyright 2006, andrew j. beckner. all rights under copyright reserved.)