Selfish Salvation – A Song I Need to Write

There is a lot of stuff Agent X does not publish to protect the guilty.  Some of it you know on his blog, but there are things behind the scenes he leaves out.  Last winter he took a class at church about caring for the poor and homeless that proved to be an exercise in futility.  The mantra of the class was “stop meeting needs and start seeking shalom”.  You know, just like Jesus who also stopped meeting needs and started seeking shalom.

X confronted the teacher and the class about this.  That much he published, but he didn’t tell how it got him in trouble with the elders.  They had meetings with him, meetings about him, accused him of being unloving and a bunch of other things.  All of it smokescreen and denial.  They should have listened to him, but the NEVER did.  Not even for a minute.

I surprised X by visiting his church this morning to see what it is like there first hand.  It’s a nice place.  Big.  Rich.  On the nice side of town.

But I walked out after the 4th song.  It was Reckless Love, a song you might know by Cory Asbury.  A nice song with sentiment from the heart, but I kept thinking about those words and how they fall flat when the street people of Lubbock bed down in the winter snow.

Here are a few of the lyrics with my inner voice sandwiched in between –

 

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me

(A Rich Church On The Rich Side of Town)

Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so, so kind to me

(A Rich Church On the Rich Side of Town)

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

(For Rich People Like Us)

I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away

(To the Rich but Not the Poor Who Sleep Outside Tonight)

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah
When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me

(To Bad You Don’t Fight For the Poor in the Gutter Though)

You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me

(But It’s A Good Thing You Don’t Give Money To Beggars Who Would Misuse Your Love)

You have been so, so kind to me
And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away

(It’s A Good Thing I am Not The Undeserving Poor, Huh?)

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah
There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down

(But You Won’t Open A Church House Door for the Poor, So I am glad I am Not Like Them!)

Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

 

I think you get the idea.

We sang this song with such passion and devotion, but it just rang hollow in my ears and in my heart.  God is just so good to US, but we won’t open a door to the poor who literary freeze to death.  Such a Selfish Salvation.

Make me think I should write a song about that.

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Whatever else you do today, DONT read THIS post

Okay, okay, okay… I see how you are – you stubborn blog reader.

 

Okay, in that case, then definitely, absolutely, DO NOT under any circumstance go out on the streets and pray with a homeless person and invite them out to eat after you take them to worship this Sunday.

 

Let’s see you NOT do that now!

 

Hmmm?

Good Guys and Bad Guys

I normally don’t visit other blogs except Fat Beggars, but X says we should reblog this one, and so here goes…

Hard Times Ministries

Aren’t we such good guys when we tell the story of the Good Samaritan? We love to point out the hypocrisy of the clergy in this parable and reflect on how we show compassion for people.

Yet, this past Saturday, here was a man around 40 years old.  He was ‘passed out’ and bleeding profusely from his nose and head and lying in the street.  Who knows if he was severely injured, drunk or on drugs or a combination of all?

The point is this: no one wants to stop and help these bums, drunks or and druggies.

We look down on this ‘trash’ as the bad guys, while we strut around as the good guys.  After all, we aren’t down in the street like some stray dog as a mark of road kill.

It ends up that I knew this man.  He is a neighbor of mine who suffers…

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Some People Make A Career Out of Church

You might say that St. Paul made a career out of church.  I wouldn’t deny it.  I think he did.  I would say St. James did too.  St. John might have.  Not sure who else we know from the Bible who really made a career of it.  But there probably are others.

And sure enough, St. Paul defends the idea of paying evangelists for their work, but he denied it to himself.  So, even though it seems complicated, there is nothing wrong with receiving compensation for the work done serving a church.

I want to say there is a difference between vocation and career.  If you answer a call to serve the church as a full-time minister and receive compensation for it, then surely that is a vocation.  But to my way of thinking, the word career carries other baggage with it.

It seems to me that a vocation to serve the church in ministry should be a different category of livelihood than all the others.  And there are some noble professions out there, but this is different from those too.  Serving a church should be a matter of humility, but the bigger the paycheck, the less humble it is.

And the thing is that in any profession, noble or not, those building careers in them work very hard at self-advancement and development.  They seek, not only more responsibility, but advancement up the ranks, better pay, retirement plans, and all the perks.  St. Paul worked himself in and out of jail until they finally beheaded him for all his trouble, and this is a minister who refused to accept a paycheck.  Martyrdom was common among the Apostles and many of the early church leaders.  But you don’t find in any career counseling sessions or brochures.

All the ministers I know, even those of a rather humble nature, expect a paycheck commensurate with their advancement in career.  They might live in modest dwellings, at least a few of them, but they live quite comfortably and respectably, it seems to me.  And that is not mentioning the great ones!  Book tours, seminars, private jets… this stuff is not at all unheard of amid career ministers.  But martyrdom sure is.

I think our colleges and seminaries are putting our budding ministers in hopes of, and often enough on track with, career plans with all the bells and whistles of most all the others.  And I think this both reflects the mentality of the church and helps shape it.  Churches are now trying to be respectable places that fit in the community and accessorize the culture rather than hold it to account, critique it, challenge it, and counter it with humility  and sacrifice.

Thus the church doesn’t look like the Body of Christ I see on the pages of the Bible.  And I think this is confusing for those inside the church and those outside it.  And I think those making careers of it are adding to the problem, no matter how noble their service is otherwise.

Resume On Top Of The Stack

So, speaking of resumes (https://fatbeggars.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/resume-from-hell/), I want to interview a different candidate.  His credentials aren’t as impressive as the others – maybe, but they aren’t bad either actually.

The candidate I have in mind got a Bible degree from a top notch school and finished with highest honors.  He may not have completed grad school, but he started coursework in one of the more prestigious institutions and was accepted at several others.  Point being, he is sufficiently educated to serve.

You may wonder why he didn’t complete his graduate studies and move on to post grad, and I cannot answer that for him, but I can say he has written at least four books, and likely more.

Perhaps the reason you haven’t heard more about him is because he does not promote himself and prefers to keep his name private when discussing his work.  Thus you have not seen him in the papers or on TV.  He has served on various committees and leadership teams in various churches, but he has not sought leadership roles in organizations outside the church.  Therefore his is not the president of anything, the chairman of anything, nor the director of anything.  So, you might be forgiven if you never heard of him.

But while others were out there making names for themselves and raking in money for fundraisers and so forth, this candidate instead was down at Tent City cleaning the port-O-potty on behalf of Jesus for the homeless.

Think about that.  Jesus took up a towel and basin and assumed the role of the lowliest servant in the house, causing even his own disciples to chafe at his humility in that.  Well, this candidate was representing his church down at the homeless encampment scrubbing the filth off the crapper and stocking it with fresh paper when no one else wanted that job.  Oh, and he did not call the papers when he did it, nor did he raise any money for it.

He went on to camp out there with the homeless.  He suffered through a haboob right along with the others.  He prayed with them, worshiped with them, and led them in communion on Easter Sunday when the church of Lubbock didn’t even show up.

Then he left the relative comfort and safety of Tent City and began camping in alleys and empty lots and city parks – under “no trespassing” signs and amid all manner of alcoholics and addicts.  All the while praying, not only for them (how many of you people even do that?) but right there WITH them in the cold, the wet, the heat, and the stink!

And do you know who turned out to thank him for it?

Ask him.

I bet it wasn’t the church.

No.  If anyone ever said thanks, it is unknown to me.  Thus, this shepherd did a thankless job.  At least that is how it appears to me.

I hope we can interview THIS guy.  I think he needs a hearing.  Listen to him!  I bet you learn something.

Private Eyes (A Message For Fat Beggars)

I have been reading Fat Beggars and talking to Agent X for a long time.  I hear X get bummed about the lack of local response from street people or church leaders.  I share the concern for the poor and for the church.  That is why I write this blog.  I want to support the message what ever way I can.

But as I see it, there is one angle to this Agent X has not acknowledged.  It is possible that street people and church people are reading.

Think about it, X.  You and I have talked about this before.  You don’t have access to all the information.  You use the counter WordPress gives you for free, but that does not actually count every view.  It does not give you information on who is reading – only if they are in America or foreign.  And so you are working from limited information.

Unless your readers respond and reveal more to you, you don’t actually know who is reading or what they think.  And it is clear that more people are reading and thinking about what you share than just the ones you know.

It is possible that some local street people are reading your blog.  Like you, I think that if they are, they will respond and let you know.  So, it is likely that none are, but it is possible.  On the other hand, it also is possible that some church leaders are reading your blog too, and it is likely they will not respond.  So it actually is likely that some are reading.

You are too hot for them to handle.  If they can read your work and remain below the radar, it is to their advantage.  It is too risky getting burned by the word of God you bring to them.  It is too risky having their name associated with yours.  But your message is out there and has confronted them.  So even though you have no evidence of it, I think it is likely that at least a few local church leaders are monitoring your blog.

Therefore, I encourage you to keep it up.  Keep the heat on.  I think you are being heard.  I think you have a hearing with your intended audience.  And I think that in God’s time, your message will make a difference.

I wish these church leaders had the guts to step up and answer for themselves or better yet openly repent and change the direction of the church in this town.  The internet gives them the chance to lay low.  They can watch with private eyes.  But God knows who is looking.  And the Holy Spirit brings conviction.

Don’t give up.  Don’t lose heart.  Stay on task.  The arrow has found the chink in the armor.  You are hitting the mark right now.  God guides his word and it does not return to him void.

No Loitering