Willohroots


I miss fitting in, am I a misfit?
October 30, 2009, 19:05
Filed under: blessings, Christ | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Thomas Grunfeldmisfit_4Thomas Grunfeld is my favorite taxidermist.  He has taken the Jackalope to new heights.  I really relate to these images.  Quite often I have felt that I too am an assemblage of cast off parts.

In my search for a new career,  OK,   job,  I  get the weirdest comments about my resume from interviewers.  ” So you were an Electrician for over twenty years, went from being  Pa.’s youngest licensed Journeyman electrician,  to an Electrical Inspector, then a teacher of robotics at a  junior college , yet you have a Psychology degree , spent more time as a volunteer Fire Chief  than in any kind of job,  worked as a banker for 12 years managing branches,  and you say you have been a Pastor since 2004, and now you want a career in with us?”  I can’t imagine why they are confused.  From this side of the desk it all seems so logical.

At least there is this degree of consistency,  my ministry resume is just as odd.  For years I did not go to any church planting meetings, as I did not think I was a church planter,  as I was in a pulpit of a church that was built 25 years ago.  Now I am in a church that is a new plant that started four years ago. It is the same  Church building, but a new church was born there.   I was just along for the ride.  There were no meetings or trainings offered for people serving in a church that was being reinvented.  Church Strengthening,  yes,  church Planting,  yes,  Church Reinventing or Church Rebirth, not so much.

I have been preaching the Gospel  as pulpit supply on and off for 32 years.  I never went to seminary, and that was by choice.  There is a  conservative Baptist dispensational  seminary almost in my back yard, and even though we preach from the same book and share so many values, I find an attitude there that repulses me.  I have looked back in the history of a few local churches and found that they were doing great, until a preacher from that Seminary was called to serve there.  After that church growth would cease and families would be torn apart, all in the name of Jesus.  As I looked into other sources of education I found two schools.  One so loosey goosey that scripture was a suggestion,  the other so sure of their doctrine that they would choose it over Jesus, and in fact I think some of them did. I then judged all seminaries by this one.  I am also nonjudgmental.

In most areas of doctrine people say I am quite conservative,  but I am comfortable with gays and addicts and criminals, and atheists,  many of whom really are nicer than I  by any standard.   I do not like liberal theology,  nor do I like the cocky conservative who is so sure of himself that he would advise the Apostles.  I am comfortable with reading conservatives, but would rather associate with liberals.  The conservatives think I am aberrant, the liberals think I am conservative.Neither side will buy me lunch.

I have never been ordained,  as the only groups whose ordination I would accept would reject me for some of my beliefs.  My head does not fit in the jar. I have sat on ordination councils, but it is not likely I will ever be ordained.  There does not seem to be too much of a problem with this in practice,  no one really seems to care.  When I was an Atheist I was ordained in the Universal Church Of   Life, as a professor of mine thought that if a bunch of ministers of this group met at his home , it would be tax exempt.   Ordained as an atheist,  but not as a believer.
What a misfit!

The people I baptize become Baptists, yet I was baptized Church of Christ.  I was dedicated as a Methodist, but was never a dedicated Methodist.   I play guitar in a praise band with drums and all, but I personally prefer the old hymns of the faith.  I serve communion with Matzo and Welches, and yet think that if there is  no Real Presence, something is awfully wrong.  I do  not believe in divorce, but the best elders I have worked with were divorced men. Divorce ends a marriage, not necessarily a ministry.

I preach out of the Holman, but only because I bought them for $3.00 a piece.  I love the King James, but lean on the NASB, study out of the ESV and put up with the NIV.  In the 70’s, after King James study and them discovering the NASB I really enjoyed the Good News bible.  I taught with a guy who claimed he was saved with the Good News,   and soon after his conversion the Holy Ghost told him the only translation was KJV.  Go figure .

To me the Catholic church has let down thousands of people,  so poorly taught them that the vast majority know very little of the Gospel, and fall into unbelief.  A couple weeks ago I sat in Mass  at a funeral and had a wonderful time of prayer and worship.  I disagreed with a couple points of the homily,  but the priest has such a loving attitude it did not bother me. It was all about Jesus and that suits me fine. I’m not turning, but I’m not all that turned off either.

I tell my  wife who is of Italian heritage that my Welsh heritage of song is superior to all, yet I listen to this, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2SZ-nCBmsU Nice as it is, it can’t compare to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_XJFp5JXpk

So none of the pieces fit together.   Well I have been given a great gift of faith,  I know that my loving, Father will not allow a sparrow to fall, but that He knows.  Even if it is a funny looking sparrow.

Thomas Grunfeld misfit_8

Thomas Grunfeld, artist for today's images.

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The Culture Wars, I Refuse to Surrender.
June 16, 2009, 18:23
Filed under: Crazed Thought, Reaction | Tags: , , , , , ,
The Cross and the Flag , not Mutually Exclusive

The Cross and the Flag , not Mutually Exclusive

I have been told by preachers , politicians, and many Christian Bloggers, that the culture wars are over and WE LOST.  In every war I have read about  there are a few hold outs who refuse to drop their arms and submit.  I join the ranks of those who become resistance fighters in hope, however slim of a turn around in fortune and an eventual victory.  Even if victory is impossible I will still continue to fight until  my commander and chief calls me home.

I think the reason so many feel the war is lost is that our leadership has been so horrible.  We did not choose our battles well.  Large formations of well meaning Christian soldiers fought in vain over issues that were a diversion from the real battle.  The issue was never Democrat or Republican, it was family values versus blatant filth. Instead of marshalling the troops and training them to attack only the worse most obvious examples of darkness and sin, we boxed at shadows and made great mountains out of ant hills, while the problems of our culture worsened.  Did we really think ‘ Harry Potter’  was the worst thing that could happen to our children?  Western civilization  has had witch stories since before The Brother’s Grimm  collected them.   We can show kids movies about a talking cucumber, but stay away from magic!  Friends, talking cucumbers are not of God!

Why were we so upset that Disney had Gay Day?  If we were not going to attend that day what do we care?  And what is the difference between Disney movies and Harry Potter?  Big Blue Genies may look cute, but the dijin are fallen angels.  The movie ‘Pocohantas’ shows my ancestors digging for gold teaching children that the Pilgrim fathers came here to despoil the land, the truth is they wanted a Puritan  State.  Is that what we were going for in the culture war?  If I boycotted everything that did not think and act in a way that met my approval I would be a Robinson Crusoe on an island of  my own isolation.  How does that move the war ahead?

Our generals missed the main camps  of the enemy.  Drugs have been and still are ripping our culture apart.  How many can name the great Christian battle against them?  Did we offer prevention programs in schools?  Pizza parties for youth groups were designed more to boost our numbers, however well that worked, than to broadcast the dangers of drug use and provide coping behavior for an entire generation.    Alcohol destroys families, kills youth and wastes life, yet few churches joined the battle even as far as hosting an AA group.  Marriage success runs fifty- fifty even among the church, so  while we have talked about the problem we do not seem to have had much impact, even in our own ranks.  We seem to be better at uniting against an issue than forming a coalition for anything.

One great problem we have suffered in the war is fratricide.  The other day I was on a site that just loves to pick on Mark Driscol.  You may not like him or want him for your Pastor, that is your choice, but if your biggest enemy is Mark Driscol, you need to look around a bit more.  People who love Jesus pick on Billy Graham,  John MacArthur, the Internet Monk, and you and I when they get a chance.  After the name of Jesus, all those mentioned are fallible.  Are you surprised?  only the Savior is without fault, and if we dig enough we will find something to complain about in all our brothers and sisters.   Hold your fire!  Our ranks are thin enough.

So as a surviving warrior I make my stand in the jungle of America.  I love the values with which I was raised.  My elementary school dismissed for Wednesday morning church school in good weather. We would go to the closest Protestant or Catholic  Church for Bible study or CCD according to our denomination.  Some students stayed behind and played ball, nobody judged.   We began the day with The Pledge of Allegiance.  Why not pledge allegiance to the Government in a government school?  We had a moment of silent prayer.  I have visited schools over the last thirty years.  There is no silence, ever.  I am not a barbarian for valuing this.

I still think taxes higher than a tithe are wrong,  that abortion is awful and all too much turned to in our country.  Using abortion as birth control is abhorrent to me, but signs in churches,  “Unwed Pregnant Women Welcomed and Supported” are not to be found.  Legislation is not an answer,  propagation of a culture of life is.  I find most songs on some radio channels offensive, and no Britney, I could care less where Amy is.   I do not like Gay Pride Parades,  but what adults do in private is of no concern or interest to me.   Forbidding someones closest friend and partner full access in medical emergencies seems barbaric.  Anyone who pays rent and maintains a property has a right to live in it.  Christians do not need to accept sinners behavior, but we do need to be understanding, as we know we too have fallen short of the Glory of God .

I do not wish to turn the clock back to the fifties or the sixties, I seek only to have my point of view accepted, as I accept the point of view of others. So  quit if you want but for me the struggle goes on.  My role model  will be Hiroo Onada.  He was sent to war in 1944 and continued his struggle until 1974, until his commanding officer told him to stand down.

onoda-Hiroo my HeroCan I do less?  Do I have less faith and desire to obey my maker than this good soldier had to obey his superiors?  I was told to ‘Fight the Good Fight’  and I will do so till ordered  differently.

If  Hiroo can hold out in the jungles of Guam for 30 years I can fight a bit longer  here in Pennsylvania .

It would be easy to call Hiroo a fool, to ridicule him for being overly zealous,  but he earned my respect,  and although I think he was on the wrong side supporting  a racist Imperialistic government that  am thankful was defeated, he did his job, and then some.

28n_onoda_narrowweb__200x226 Hiroo’s commanding officer assists his surrender after 30 years.

Will my commander be as proud of me?  Put me down as an armed belligerent,  a guerrilla fighter.  I will use my voice and my vote to the best of my ability in the hopes of someday hearing” Well done, my good and Faithful servant.”  I will continue to shine the Light of the Cross that I love on the Flag of the country that I love, and pray that the pendulum will swing back to a more moderate, less secular state of affairs in the United States.  Call me an optimist or a fool, but surrender is not an option.



WWYD, What would you do ,#1.
November 24, 2008, 18:45
Filed under: What would you do? | Tags: , , ,

This is an invite!  Open armed, no right answers. It is a way for me to get advice or check myself.  I propse a situation and ask you,”What would you do?” .  You know WWYD? [and I do not mean Yeshua!]  You can ask yourself  ‘what would Jesus do?’, but then tell me based on that if that is how you do it,  What would you do?    Here we go, and this happened to me.

Some one hands you the keys to a church.  It comes with piano, organ , nice enough building with great parking, moveable pews, total seating for 100, and about 8 new Christians, one couple from a fundementalist/legalist background and a couple seekers. All the officers quit and leave with costs of$750.00 per month and a balance of $7000.00 available to you.   The downside, the basement has been flooded twice in 3 years and there is no leadership, none.  The church was started by the SBC in the 70’s and went down hill ever since.  There is no lock to stay with SBC, if you do you are one of 20 SBC churches in a 17 county area of 1.7 million people, fully half of those people are RC.  There are no rules, no existing culture, no one will get mad at your ideas, do what you want.

So here are the keys, you’re up! What do you do? What worship style, what bible, what meetings,  what vision?  I can’t wait to read the comments!



What Kind Of Place Is This? I. : The Origin
November 3, 2008, 15:00
Filed under: History, roots of Willohroots | Tags: , , , ,

Dayspring Bible Chapel does not readily fit in to any of the accepted categories.  By that I mean, we’re not really an existing work as we have all new people, new name, we’re creating our own new traditions, but then again, we’re not a new start either.  The branch that is Dayspring grew from the stump of something called the Wyoming Valley Baptist Church.  Let me give you a quick history.  In the seventies the SBC looked at a map and decided that Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, really needed a southern baptist work.  Now the area had quite a few American Baptist churches and Independent Baptist churches, but was predominantly Roman Catholic with Methodist and Presbyterian presence.  What church a person attended was by and large based upon his or her ancestry.  Later european immigrants were RC, earlier English and German immigrants were not.

A tent revival was held and I’m told two hundred people walked the aisle.  A church was needed to house these people so Wyoming Valley Baptist Church was formed.  When the church’s temporary headquarters was leveled to put in a bypass a new building was sought for a permanent home.  A fellow named Pacey ran a bar/shoe store on River Road in Plains.  I find that an odd combination.  Pacey was being charged by the stool (barstool) for his sewer hookup.  He told the town fathers that he didn’t like that and for spite would sell his building to a religious organization that would not have to pay taxes just to teach them a lesson.  He actually threatened to sell to a black religious organization but there were none in the market for a bar/shoe store at the time.  The building was purchased and the SBC went to work.

I love how SBC churches work together when they have a mission, and the mission of destroying  a bar, it seems, brought them great glee.  They built a really nice meeting hall for approximately 100 people.  They gave some donated bibles and hymnals from a church in Flordia that had upgraded, helped them call a pastor, prayed for them with loving hearts and turned them loose.  While this was all done with the best of intentions, it didn’t work out.  I can safely say that it didn’t work out because they went through twenty two pastors in twenty five years.  What really had been built was a meat grinder for pastors, their families, and the believers who loved them.  Put the latter into the mix, wait a little while, and watch the bleeding mangled mess that comes out the other side.

Now as all good southern baptists know, right next to the soverignty of God is the autonomy of the local church, so that when some mess like this exists the cure can only come from within.  I admire the courage of the men who accepted the call to this work.  I am forced to admire their courage else I would have to doubt their sanity.  Through all of this a core group of “deacons” and key leaders hung in there.  They prayed fervently that God would finally have mercy on them and send them a decent pastor instead of all the fellows they had put up with to date.  That’s the origin.

R