Jun 28, 2010

The Problem With The Community Church Model

Okay, so I know I am going to step on some toes out there and I am prepared for the backlash, but it has got to be said and I am going to say it.  I have a real problem with the Community Church model sweeping the country for the last decade.  The Word of God will never return void and I do not discount the good these churches are doing.   They succeed in their focus areas of getting people through the door and they boast quite an impressive record for bringing folks to Christ.  That is great and I do not dispute that, but what happens down the road?

The preaching and the services are so formulated and bland in their desire to be hip it is head shakingly boring.  Here is the formula - cool folks in T-shirts and jeans greet you from behind sun glasses.  You are invited in and given coffee and encouraged to fill out a "Connection Card".  You are ushered into a dark auditorium where the praise and worship band will begin with a Chris Tomlin worship song, followed by a "Just" prayer by the worship leader(who is another cool dude with sandals, jeans, and a T-shirt).  You know the "Just" prayers that I am talking about?  They are full of  lots of verbal pauses, and they go something, like:

Lord, we just come to you today, Lord, worshiping you, just where we are Lord.  We just ask you today, Lord....

So after the obligatory Chris Tomlin worship song, the band launches into one of their originals that no one knows and sounds remarkably like the one they just did, only to finish off with a third one that sounds exactly like the first two.  This last one though is accompanied by frantic over the head hand clapping that is copied by a few die hards in the first three rows.  If the Holy Spirit is moving, He stirs the crowd, but I do not find much evidence of this watching the performance on stage.

After 15 refrains of the final song, the lights are dropped dramatically and then we have a short film or drama that demonstrates where the message that morning is headed.  The Pastor comes out and he of course is identically dressed to the worship leader and the greeters except his hair is perhaps better and if it is a special occasion his T-shirt is accompanied by a sport coat.  He reads from his power point notes and you are invited to fill in the blanks in the printed notes they have conveniently provided for you when you entered the building.  It's the same sermon as last week, and last month, and last year.  It comes straight from the baby bottle and it is life fulfilling nutrients to the new born.  The infants hear it with open heart and tears in their eyes.  They are moved and get saved.  Unfortunately, this was the last bit of moving truth you are likely to get at a community church.

You see the model is designed to get you into the Kingdom and give you milk to drink as an infant.  When you are ready to move up to solid food, you are encouraged to "Join a Connection Group", because you will never get a bite of solid food at church again.  Thus, what you end up with is people who are on fire with the initial passion of a Born Again life and a whole congregation of starving toddlers who are still being fed milk when they are long past the time they should be weaned.

Community churches need to recognize their congregations are starving and start giving their people solid food and meat to eat in their walk with the Lord or they are destined to fail.  It greatly concerns me that we have thousands of new Christians who do not know the first thing about really living the Christian Faith and getting into the deep things of God.  They are never weaned passed the basic salvation message and it is in our human nature to embrace the new but once the mystery and the newness have worn off to move on to other pursuits.  The deep things of God are enough to keep a person fed for a life time and it is the Pastors job to insure their flocks are given milk, solid food, and meat in each and every service.

Jun 21, 2010

Bullies and Liberals - They Have A Lot in Common

Abigail and Dolley readers we have encountered our very first taste of cyber-bullying in our house hold.  There is a little sneaky rat bastard of a kid that lives in our neighborhood.  I have not liked him since the moment I met him.  There has always been something distasteful about this child and while I am a great believer in giving people a chance, I could never shake the fact that I do not like this kid.  Alas, in the ways of the neighborhood, sometimes there is nobody else home.  I have discouraged my son from playing with this kid.  He is not allowed to go in his house and I severely limit the amount of time he spends at mine.

Two times in 24 hours, my son has come in crying that this little rat has gotten others to "ditch" him. Now my son is not a wussy, he is a rough and tumble boy, but the Lord saw fit to give him my soft heart and he does not play silly head games well.  So when the little creep in the neighborhood started trying to turn all the friends in the neighborhood against my otherwise well liked child, my son was taken aback and hurt.  We did the normal parent thing, "Shake it off.  Don't listen to what he says.  He is lying, you still have friends."

Apparently though, this child felt he did not get the reaction and the results he was seeking and sent a text message to my son detailing how no one liked him in the neighborhood.  Big mistake.  You see, unlike his screwed up family, you do not go after someone in this household and escape unscathed.  Using my son's phone, my husband called this child and with righteous indignation was told in no uncertain terms that this type of behavior would stop and right now.  I doubt until his dying day if this brat will ever forget the tongue lashing he was dealt.  Faced with the consequences of his actions and confronted, not by a boy 2 years his junior, but by an irate father who had had enough.  He was stammering and seemingly apologetic, I am sure not for what he'd done, but by the fact that he had been caught doing it.

Allegorically, our Country is much like my son.  Who has run in the door of the Guardians of Liberty with a fat lip and a black eye because the Progressives and Liberals have declared that nobody likes them anymore. They have sneaked around to all the neighbors and tried to stir up trouble.  They have worked within the structures to undermine what has made us great and it is time, Ladies and Gentlemen, to make that phone call to say, no you will not do this.  No you will not and if I see you around here anymore, I will haul you off my property by the scruff of the neck.  We will defend what is ours, we will defend it to the end.

Jun 19, 2010

Chinese Spammers

Abigail and Dolley readers I am considering putting in comment moderation because of the Chinese Spammers.  This is getting a bit crazy.

Jun 18, 2010

Japanese Beetles - the Progressives in the Garden

Abigail and Dolley readers I walked out to my back porch this morning with my cup of coffee intent on watching the sprinklers run.  I am not sure why, but I find that tremendously soothing.  Perhaps it is the sound of the water, or maybe it is the fact that I know the plants need and enjoy the extra drink.  The air was cool and crisp and held none of the oppressive humidity that is sure to follow in an hour or so.  The wind blew some of the spray my way and I sighed with contentment at all the work I have done in the last six weeks.  Then I saw them.

The dreaded invaders of mid-June, the scourge of all gardeners in the Southeast, the Japanese Beetles have returned.  Every year, they descend upon the garden in a swarm and destroy all that nature and I have worked so hard to produce.  They cluster on flowers and leaves and completely destroy everything they touch, devouring the very plants they feed on, to total destruction and death.

They are not natural to our environment, they were brought here in the Kudzu that FDR had brought in during the Raw Deal.  The beetles and the kudzu do not belong here, they do not have the natural predators they need to keep them in check.  It is fitting that the Progressives brought them here because they are emblematic of their source.

Progressives are not the gardeners of the world, they are the devourers.  They do not prepare the soil, choose the plants, place them in the correct spot, water, fertilize, and mulch them - no, they come along when the hard work is done and just as the plant begins to show its blooms they descend to feed and destroy.  If you shake the plant and blast it with water, most of them will scatter, but they will return.  If you spray the plant with chemical, most will die, but the plants are left weak and injured in the blazing hot sun and do not recover to their original pre-beetle glory.  The chemicals stink and if you are not careful they will burn the plant.  The garden smells with the pollution of their deaths and yet they continue to come.

Some gardeners will hang beetle traps, these tasty little bags of death do nothing but bring beetles from miles around to die upon themselves.  These bags are like social programs designed to help the garden when they are in fact lures for more progressives and ultimately do nothing to relieve the problems and usually escalate the population in your garden.

Come November they will be gone and I will once again proceed with the tending of the garden, in the hopes that one day, they will not return.  I expect that will only happen when I am tending my beautiful garden that the Lord has prepared for me in Heaven.  Until then, I have beetles to kill.

Jun 14, 2010

Turn the Music Up and Roll Down Your Windows

Abigail and Dolley readers we are entering the long hot days of summer after a dry and dreary time in the dessert.  We see the possibility of change, but we are tired and weary in well doing.  I ask that we all take some time to recharge our batteries and prepare for the home stretch.  To that end, recapture something that you loved and that you no longer do.

It could be painting - pull out your paints.  I could be dancing.  Get off the couch.  It could be roller skating, dig out your speed skates and GO!  For me recently, it has been driving around with my windows down, the sunroof open, and the iPod jamming.  The wind in my hair, a tune on the radio, and turned up LOUD!  Now this particular pleasure is best enjoyed on a cool summer morning or evening, out of traffic and on a female road.  You know, skinny and curvy.  The night jasmine and the honeysuckle drip with aroma, the humidity of the day is long gone, and there is a freedom in a powerful automobile under your hands; the possibilities are endless.

For a little while, I remember what it was like to be 17 and cruising around these parts with my permed hair beating me about my head and shoulders.  Of course, it was never my car at 17 that gave me that feeling, no I was stuck with a 1977 Cutlass S that had been my Grandma and Grandpa's car.  It was a behemouth of a thing and we never drove it if there were other cooler cars available, but riding with friends, sitting in the back seat of a Camaro with Heart jamming on the speakers.  Life was good and I remember.

Jun 9, 2010

Why Don't We Throw Parties Anymore?

Abigail and Dolley readers - when is the last time you went to a party?  Now if you are over 30, when is the last time you went to a party that was not a birthday party or a holiday party?  I will bet you it has been a long time.  I honestly can't remember the last time I went to someone's house simply because they were having a party.  Growing up, my parents were not what you would call "Party Animals" but they had and attended parties on a regular basis.  When did this stop and why haven't we noticed that it did?

I would venture to say, it stopped when Better Homes and Gardens entered everyone's home.  I remember running around with the other children while the adults had their party.  Kids explore all areas of a house during a party and I never remember being particularly impressed with anyone's house, it was just where they lived.  We were not there to see the house and admire the decor, we were there to visit and have fun.  We don't do that any longer because we will have a party when we buy new living room furniture, or patio furniture, or pressure wash the deck, or fix the front door, or the zillion other things that keep our houses out of Better Homes and Gardens and keep our friends at keyboard distance.

We have lost something, America.  We are too concerned with what others think about our houses than we are about connecting with our friends and neighbors.  We have stopped rolling down the windows, cranking up the tunes, and having fun.  Maybe it is just me, but I am determined to bring "fun" back into my life.  I have been flying around town in my black sports car with the sun roof open and the iPod cranked.  Now if I could just convince my husband George to let me have that party.....  You wanna come?

Jun 8, 2010

The Death Rock

I am pleased to say that today, I encountered the Death Rock and emerged victorious. Copperhead 0, Dolley 1: Black Widow Spider 0, Dolley 1. Coincidentally, the little wisp of a nothing Russian Sage is not a new plant. It has been languishing in my garden for 10 years! I finally took pity on it and moved it, but it was a dangerous undertaking.

I got to thinking how our precious Republic is like that Russian Sage, it has been languishing in the shadows, neglected and unattended by us.  When we determine to replant it in friendlier territory there will be plenty of copperheads and black widow spiders waiting for us to turn their rocks over.  We must be prepared to do exactly what I did.

Upon discovering the copperhead, I paused for a moment while I determined what was in front of me and then took the giant shovel I had in my hands and sliced it to smithereens.  I replanted the little Russian Sage, put the mulch back in place and returned the rock, only to discover that a Black Widow Spider had also been hiding under that rock and was quietly waiting for things to go back to "normal" before she returned.  She was met, after quite a loud expletive on my part, with the flat end of the shovel.

So fellow patriots, we need to prepare ourselves for the copperheads and the black widows when we start turning over some of these big ole rocks.

Ciao for now,


Jun 6, 2010

Selective Enforcement

Abigail and Dolley readers you may have noticed I am taking time off politics because frankly I have become so discouraged with the current situation and the lack of power and influence my side has right now that I have withdrawn into my own world for a while.  I will reemerge in time for the election and I am certain there will be more than enough posts on the current political situation once election season rolls around.  Even though I have buried myself in my garden and my family, I am not deaf, dumb and blind to what is still going on around me and this little tidbit made it through my perceptual filters and I find that I must share.

There is much controversy (I do not really understand why) around the new Arizona Immigration Law that basically does nothing other than state that Arizona will enforce the laws of the State and the laws of the Country.  What really can be wrong with that?  I heard a pundit on the radio the other day, and I am sorry I do not remember who it was, so while I can not give credit, I do not claim these thoughts are entirely mine.

The argument that we must across the board enforce immigration law in order for it to be effective is dispelled by selective enforcement.  Selective enforcement states that you can catch a few lawbreakers and that influences the behavior of the rest of the population.  Here is the example, if on your commute home from work, there is a stretch of highway where the police never set up radar.  You have been driving it for years and have never seen a cop.  Do you go 55 mph?  NOT!  You drive as fast as you can and so does everyone else.  What happens if one day, you see a cop giving someone a ticket?  The next day you may give it a second thought before putting the gas petal to the floor.  Sure enough, day two there is another cop pulling someone over.  Did the cop get everyone that was speeding?  No.  Ask yourself though, what did they accomplish in just two days?  They made people think before they headed down that highway.  The free for all was clearly over and the existing drivers began to obey the law.  The police influenced behavior with only a minimal effort.

The same is true for the Illegal Immigration Highway.  If someone is minding the influx, it will automatically improve the enforcement of the laws.  It is really quite simple.

On a side note, I wish they would enforce the laws.  It would be better for everyone to feel confident that our neighbors, workers, and fellow countrymen are here lawfully and legally.  I do not like looking at a group of Mexicans in the back of a pick up truck and thinking they are probably illegal.  I remember the same sight 20 years ago inspired in me that they were hard working and good people.  No longer.  So ignoring the laws and not enforcing them hurts everyone, especially those hard working, good people who are here legally.

The Mad Gardener

Abigail and Dolley readers this is a note I wrote last Spring.  I hope you enjoy it.

Once upon a time, I was a gardener. I was passionate, I was inventive, I was tireless in pursuit of the prettiest garden I could imagine. It started with a six pack of vincas and a half price bag of dahlia tubers from Walmart. I dug out around a tree at my townhouse with a big spoon. The vincas flourished and the dahlias were spectacular. It was on.

I read everything I could lay my hands on about gardening. I truly became a kitchen table scholar. I took classes at the local community college on landscape design, perennial gardening, and color gardening. I knew the Latin names of plants and could tell you preferred cultivars. I lugged rocks from the townhouse natural areas and proceeded to badly encroach upon the neighbors property and the common area of the town house. I was the mad gardener and it was beautiful.

I rubbed my hands together in greedy anticipation of the half acre of land at our new house. My plans were extensive, but the funds were limited. I got a decent start and then along came the baby. My days of leisurely hours after work and all weekend came to a gradual end as the priorities of the house shifted. The garden was neglected and even one year, I let it get completely overrun with weeds. It was a bad season. In many ways, I still fight the weeds I allowed to flourish that one bad season. Perhaps it will take years to eradicate them completely.

Gardening in many ways follows the pattern of my spiritual life and my relationship to the Savior. It started slow, caught fire, burned bright, then priority shifted and one season of allowing the weeds in can have long lasting ramifications.

I am back in the garden again. My son is growing up and I find that the desire has returned to get back out there and dig in the dirt. I have done a lot of prep and preventative work lately to keep it from becoming a chore. I even did some "kitchen table scholar" stuff this weekend and learned about intensive gardening and companion planting. So if you all will indulge me, I am going to blog a bit on the progress this garden and perhaps it will be some fun to watch this grow.

The not so "mad" gardener