I want to bring over a slightly edited archive post from one of my other blogs at RedLetterLiving.net for this Sunday’s post. It is from March 13.
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I’m not sure who brought up the concept but it is about how churches are actually more like clubhouses than anything else. They are buildings that are built almost exclusively for their members comfort. Yes that comfort does bring in some to hear the message but that seems to be very secondary at best.

I had a recent round of comments on this topic and it stirred up some heated words. It seems that calling a church a country club strikes the nerve of many Christians.  I think the ounce of truth in it is the reason.  Everyone wants to think that their church is somehow different from the others. They want to think that  what they give in weekly donations is for the greater good of God. But, facts simply don’t bear that belief out.  The majority of what they give stays within the church’s hierarchy.

When I was giving regularly to the small church I once belonged to I never deemed that the money I gave actually went to God’s work here or earth.  Being a regular member on the church board I realized that 99+% of what I gave ended up paying the mortgage, utilities and the pastor’s salary.  Did I feel guilty about that? No, not really. I know that this small church was struggling, and still struggles after almost ten years, to keep the doors open.  There is nothing wrong with needing a clubhouse.

But what is wrong is when we fail to recognize the fact that we are really not doing much in the community besides holding down a property.  We try to rationalize that giving a few families a turkey and canned goods during the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays somehow meets our community obligations.  Being a church is supposed to be about showing God’s blessing throughout our communities. It is supposed to be about others and not ourselves.  When we finally acknowledge that fact and diligently plan on making  community support happen is when we turn the corner from clubhouse to church.  Sadly too many small churches fail to ever reach that point in their congregation’s life.

I am often accused of painting with too broad a brush in these types of posts so I want to  recognize that there are many churches out there that are very much valuable contributors to their communities. They run soup kitchens and food banks in the areas.  They open their doors on cold and windy nights for those who are homeless. In other words they act like they are followers of Jesus Christ. I celebrate every one of those churches.  But at the same time even those churches must be constantly tracking their allocations of funds.  It is impossible to give too much to your community instead of yourself.

Everyone needs a clubhouse that you can go to weekly. Where everyone know your name as the old Cheers TV show used to say. That is a valuable part of Christian fellowship but we must constantly remind ourselves that is supposed to be very much secondary to being our brother’s keeper and helping God’s kingdom come to earth as it is in heaven.

NYC – 911 Memorial….

August 2, 2014

We spent a morning during our recent visit to NYC at the 911 Memorial. The original estimated cost of the facility was about $1 trillion but was eventually cut to $500 million. Like the Vietnam memorial the reflecting pools with all the names are soberly impressive. The new towers themselves are nice but not nearly as big as the WTC was.

Except for the ticketing area the museum is totally below ground and it is BIG. It takes several hours to just manage the path through it. I heard that it was designed by committee and since they couldn’t decide on what to put in they put everything. The cost is $24 per ticket which is pretty pricey. We were there two weeks after it opened so it was crowded. Don’t try to just show up if you want to see the museum. Get on line and buy an advanced ticket or you will likely wait for hours.

 

Sometimes It Takes….

August 1, 2014

Sometimes it takes a huge loss to remind you what you care about the most. Many of us, probably most, go about the humdrum of our daily lives without even realizing what is, or at least should be, important to us. We are just too used to trudging through the work week and looking to the weekend for some relief.  And then comes that event that changes everything and shocks us back to show us what is important.

In my college years I made up a placard with the words “Remember the future comes but a day at a time.” Those words were intended to remind me what I was striving so hard to accomplish. I was working a forty day week while attending college full-time. It was a struggle that sometimes just drained me. With the help of those words I managed to survive those years.

It was only later that I realized that these words had a two-sided message. Too many of us, me included, spend too much time dreaming of the future and too little time living in the present. We simply let life get away from us. Time goes by with little accomplished, at least little of what we deem important. And then comes that earth-shaking event….

Sometimes you find yourself becoming stronger as a result. Wiser better able to tackle the next big thing that comes along. You are jolted out of your complacency. You put your life back into perspective of what is important and move on from there.  Sometimes but not always.  Sometimes we fall further into a trap and it swallows us.

There are many people who live the rest of their lives with the trauma of that one huge event. Many in my generation continue to live with the trauma of Vietnam. They can’t shake those years of almost fifty years ago.  I’m sure that the current generation has their share of kids traumatized by this century’s wars. PTSD just won’t let go of them. They will continue to see the Iraq tree and basically ignore all the other trees in their forest.  We need to do whatever we can to help them find their way back into the world. Too many lives are wasted because of our needless wars.

Sometimes you have a huge shock in your life make you change for the better. When I went deaf more than twenty-five years ago I was sure that it was pretty much the end of my world as I knew it.  I thank God for the supporting wife and work colleagues who helped me through those very rough years.  In reality I firmly came to really understand how much the love of my life cared for me. In my work life with the support of others I moved from circuit design to software development It was then that I found out that is where I should have been my whole work life. I was just surviving before but I flourished in my new occupation.

Don’t let yourself or anyone you know get swallowed up by a huge loss…..

 

2014-03-02_16-18-10“Party Politics is the most narrow minded occupation in the World.” – Will Rogers, 29 March 1925

It is sad to say that this is probably more true today than even in Will’s Day.  But then again the Republicans in Will’s day were fighting just as hard against Social Security and the WPA as they fight today against immigration, helping the poor and healthcare for all. So maybe nothing has really changed.  Progress comes agonizingly slow when them GOPers have their fingers in the stew… Maybe not much faster with the Democrats but at least they do something…