Sunday, November 20, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, Gambling and the Difference Between "Legal" and "Right"


I haven't written anything here for awhile. The last “cause” that I took up kind of took the wind out of my sails. That being said, I feel that I should add my voice to the cacophony of noise that is circulating regarding the current climate in our country. There are many people who are rightly angry about many of the abuses of our government. Most notably, at the moment, it is the OWS movement. Before I go any further, I will say a few words about what I think on this subject.
First, I do not believe that everyone should have a free ride for their lifespan. I do not believe in socialism as a system of government, it has already proved itself to be a failure in many, many cases. That being said, I also think that we need to seriously consider what is going on. We have a situation where 1% of the country controls the vast majority of the wealth. I know that most of my conservative friends are knee jerking into a response that goes like this, “they earned it”. I have a long standing policy against using obscenity in print which I am about to suspend, BULLSHIT!
We have a system of government in place at the moment that is incredibly slanted towards those with deep pockets and influence, a system the virtually guarantees their continued reign, with very little threat of it changing. It goes a little something like this. Good, Christian people believe in a little thing called “law and order”. They believe in “submission to authority”. and what I believe has happened, actually I think I can observe it happening, is this: our leaders have tapped into that in the following way. First, find a source of revenue. Second, find out what those who control that source of revenue want to allow you to tap into it. Third, pass legislation to make the thing those who control the revenue want a matter of “legality”. Fourth, over time, overcome the moral outrage of the outspoken, keeping the law in place long enough that its “moral” component transforms itself from “wrong” to “legal” to “God given right”.
If you do not believe me, think back Okies, just a few years. We legalized gambling in our state. What had once been taboo became protected and within a few short years, many people who would not have been caught dead in a casino were vacationing in Vegas and spending their weekends at poker tournaments. Do I think gambling is a sin? Not relevant. But, I think this illustrates my point.
This same system also works in reverse. Find, or create a source of revenue large enough to be worthy of congressional attention. Adopt a cause that benefits said revenue. Petition congress to custom craft legislation to protect said revenue stream. Share said revenue stream with leaders in various ways. Sue everyone else out of business, or make sure they fall into an “illegal” category.
Because the “rule of law” has, in many cases, replaced the moral conscience in our society,the law is now our measuring stick. Whatever we can do within it, is “legit”, whatever is outside it is not, no matter its moral relevance. We are no longer a nation guided by our individual consciences, we have fallen victim to one of the most insidious devices, the “majority rule” , or human consensus. Whatever the majority of us will allow without too much fuss, becomes the standard.
This belief in law and order has even taken us (christians) to the point that rather engage in whatever cause God calls us to and allowing the civil system to mete out whatever consequences they see fit, as the disciples did, we lobby like everyone else to get our beliefs legislated. This is not, I believe, what the Bible speaks of when it talks about respect for authority. Those same passages were written at a time when the writers themselves were engaged in some of the most subversive of civil disobedience. They were conducting illegal religious services, teaching where they were forbidden and even expressly breaking laws that went against their beliefs, allowing themselves to be arrested, jailed, beaten, even executed, in following their conscience. “They loved not their lives, even unto death”.
This leads me to the current situation. We have a nation that is being more and more deeply divided every day between the haves and the have nots. There are many who argue that those who have not are simply lazy and jealous.
Let me stop here and ask a couple of questions. How many people do you know who will fight to the death to defend the idea that hard work and right choices will bring success? Now, how many of those are exhibiting this work ethic in their own lives? Most, right? Now, how many of them are successful enough that if they lost their ability to earn a living right now they would be able to maintain their current lifestyle for more than a year, six months, three months, a month? And yet, they hold onto this idea as if it were gospel.
In a fair and just society, this virtue of hard work and honest dealing would win out in the majority of cases. In our own society it is no longer the case. Things are changing rapidly, ask around. Old ways of doing business are no longer working. Marketing, advertising and sales techniques that used to net solid returns are not valid anymore. Jobs that used to feed families, pay for vacations and fund retirements are going away and new opportunities are taking their place. We are moving into a great transition, I think, unlike anything we have seen since the industrial revolution. The future is bright, but in the mean time, it sucks in a lot of ways.
In 2008, over a nine month span, food prices increased by nearly 40% and have not come back down. We, here in Oklahoma, have almost that many people (40%) on some type of government assistance, but unemployment is not nearly that high? Why the discrepancy? All of these working people are just too lazy to work hard enough? Really? I don't think so.
There will always be those who will not keep work. Whether it is within their power to change or not, who knows, I for one, think we pay enough into government (over 40% with fed state and local taxes even on the poorest Americans) that we ought to be able to give these guys a sandwich and a bunk. Do I like it? No, but look they already have my money, why not spend it on sustaining life at least, instead of whatever it is they do with it that makes them think they deserve more of it next year!
In this climate where more and more of our money is going to support an over bloated government, who can blame people for protesting? Are they protesting the right things? Not for me to decide. That brings me to the original point of this entire article, the OWS crew. In the last few days there have been increasing reports of police violence against these groups. In some cases, that violence is provoked, and in part, it is probably intentionally provoked, but in others it seems to be wholesale and unwarranted.
The entire reason I started writing tonight was this. I posted this on FB
A peace that must be kept with pepper spray and batons against non-violent protestors, is not worth keeping. I don't care what their complaint, I would gladly stand up to protect their right to protest. Who else believes that the militarization of our police forces has now turned the corner from protection to control? What will they want to control next?
A dear friend replied and in part here is what he said:
 If a protest is made on private property, and the protesters are trespassing, and refuse to obey a lawful order by a police officer, better a little pepper spray to disperse them than to arrest them for trespassing...
So, here, I ask you, please find that response for me in the first ammendment:
Amendment I: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
My response to this entire conversation goes back to my first premise, that many well meaning people have allowed their conscience, their sense of right and wrong, to be replaced with a belief in “law and order”. In this instance, I believe that allowing our police to brutally enforce ANY law against non combative people is tantamount to not allowing due process. I think that many who oppose OWS are cheering for this police response, but, I believe, this is short sighted. IF these protestors are breaking the law, arrest them. Give them due process and their day in court, not a faceful of pepper spray, a baton to the skull or a spraying with fire hoses, or rubber bullets. Is it messy to tie up our court system with this? Yes, but not nearly as costly as giving up our right to peaceably assemble. IF we allow this to continue, please listen, these incidents will be used to create precedence in case law, that WILL become legislative in its effect. That precedence will continue to be used in the future to further restrict our right to peaceably assembly and protest. Next time, it could be YOUR cause that is considered a threat.
Answer this for me. What good would it do to put a system in place which forced a child to ask the school yard bully for a permit to stand up against him or her? That is what we have allowed to happen. The constitution says that no law should abridge our right. Is forcing you to subject yourself to government to gain permission to protest not an abridgment?
Here is my prayer. I pray that America will wake up. That we will realize that we have a government we cannot afford, that has restricted many of our freedoms to the point of ridiculous while defending the rights of others to overthrow theirs, when it is politically expedient. I pray that we will stop “just doing our jobs” and start “just doing what is right” and be willing to pay the consequences.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Spin Class, Exercise Hell and a Spiritual Revelation!


Spin class. The name sounds so casual for the exercise hell it represents.
Alissa Stinnet, she stands all of 5'2”, tiny little waif of a woman with a quick smile and a sense of humor, but she has a spine of steel when it comes to pushing us, cheering us on, dragging us when necessary, and she teaches spin at the North Side Y where my wife and I and 14 others sit for an hour every Tuesday and Thursday. In fact, if you don't show up 30 minutes early, there will not be a bike for you, and at least one person is frequently disappointed.
Sitting on a stationary bicycle, peddling seems easy enough, except that its much more than that. Spin class, in a way represents so much in life. You are in control of the tension, how much you are willing to suffer to get the body you want, to get more energy, to improve your health. Are you staying on the surface, or are you willing to make yourself deeply uncomfortable to achieve your Goals?
This morning, about half way into the workout, disappointed with our efforts Alissa says this, “ Come on! Add up the tension! It's okay to be uncomfortable!” and a groan almost escapes my lips followed by a sarcastic response, but then it hits me, she's right!
Internally I go into Alice in Wonderland mode and chase this particular rabbit down its hole into a universe of ideas that is one of my favorite places. As I fall, ideas begin to take form, words, thoughts, feelings merge into something more, a conviction. The feeling that I am about to taste some truth for the first time!
A wave of scenes from my life washes over me and in an instant I see myself more clearly. “It is okay to be uncomfortable”, on the surface this is something that I believe, that you don't always need more, don't always have to get everything you want to be happy, that happiness is a product of finding contentment with things as they are, not the finish line of a race to obtain. But, in this instant there is more. I am reminded of specific instances in my life, instances when I have been stirred to action by some perceived injustice, some wrong carried out against another that needs to be righted, and I watch my reactions.
Initially I wait, I think about these things, I feel around inside myself to find out what is stirring me, make sure this is a God deal, and in most cases come up with a yes! Then I watch as the situations progress, see my prayer, my asking for a solution, for resolution. I watch my descent into frustration, anger and finally see the limit I reach, the depths I go to before taking action, before speaking out, the level of frustration and anger that has forced me to react. But then I notice something. The place that I come to in each case is nowhere near as deep as I could go, not as deep as I can be pushed, but my level of discomfort becomes too high, the price to steep to keep it internal.
I ask God about this, and he understands, he sees my frustration and the fruit of it as a misplaced reaction to a genuine injustice, there is no judgment for me from him for my sometimes immature reactions, but he looks down, into the depths and holds out his hand. As I take it, we drop, down, inside of me, deeper than I have consciously been before, down to the seat of my soul, down to the place inside where God has taken root and changed me on a cellular level. Into the heart of God for me, and those I think to protect. Down into that place where the Psalmist says, Deep Calls to Deep!
And as I reach that level, below where my conscious mind can follow, into a realm of pure spirit, I sense that there are solutions, answers here that go beyond my simple reactions. Things that I do not access from the physical realm. This is the place where that battle that is not against flesh and blood takes place, but it is not in the way that I have heard it. Not in the way that I have been taught, there is nothing militant, or angry, or striving here, it is a force too large for those simple, violent ideas, it is the source of all. It has the flow of the oceans, with the strength and volume of a mountain. It roars silently around me, carries me so effortlessly, that although I know I am moving very fast toward something, deeper and deeper, there is no sensation of moving, I am one with this force. And as quickly as I am there, I am here, back, the wheel still spinning, the music still playing, but there is an understanding.
This is it. In those times when I see wrongs that must be righted, God is challenging me to press into him, until I no longer have the need to seek exterior answers. Until the solution is around me and in me and through me, until I give up in total surrender and am willing to suffer, at times in silence, other times suffering with a loud voice of warning, but always willing to not seek a human solution, until I am released to do so, and then only to follow Him, into the solution He wants. To dive deep to the heart of God and bring up solutions that surpass my human understanding, supersede my human need for justice and bring the cause of heaven to bear on the situations of life.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

God, why did you tell me to do that?


Have you ever wondered what it might be like to have real two way conversation with God? I know this sounds weird, but that is something I have done my whole life, and I know its him because of the things that happen after these conversations.

Trust me completely when I say I am not bragging and here is why. Many times these conversations go a little something like this....
Me: God, I really want you to use me for anything you need, anything at all.
God: Really? You sure about that, no "caveats" not exclusion clauses?
Me: Nope, I trust you. Give it to me.
God: That's great, cause you know what I really need right now?
Me: An ambassador to Italy? (my wife and I would love to live there for a year or two)
God:Nope, bigger than that.
Me: A Broadway Director with sterling character to change the heart of American Theatre?
God: Nope.
(this goes on with me going down the list of things that in my mind were included in "anything" and to each and every one he answers with "nope, bigger")
Me: I give up, what is it? (closing my eyes with childlike anticipation)
God: I could really use a human pinata!
Let the beating commence!

You always hear it said that God will not give you more than you can handle. If this is true, I am convinced that much like I confuse my own children from time to time, he has me confused with someone else. I have a sneaking suspicion that this not at all true, that in fact God loves overloading us to the point of breaking, just so he can prove how big he is.

Some of you probably read my blog over the last year and know what I have been through. I am not into comparing, and next to losing a child, or lung, or a loved one, it was really nothing, and yet...

So, now I am in this place of transition in my life, which is maybe why I feel like I have been wrapped in webbing and left dangling from a tree branch waiting to die. Or, maybe that is the feeling of turning 40 in less than a week, I don't know...But, here's the thing, I know I am not supposed to ask WHY? But I don't care. After everything that I went through I have to ask, why? Nothing changed in the place I was called to stand up and ask for change. In fact, the people that I see as the root of the problem are still very much doing business as usual. And in my own life, I feel like God has just further convinced me of my feelings about the institutional church as it exists today, and it isn't a happy conviction. So, what do I do?

See, there really isn't anything you can do about God. He has a plan which is so much bigger than any of us that it is a very rare day when we rise above the clouds far enough to catch a small glimpse of our part in it. Even when we do it's as if it were written in Martian.

No matter how much we try to package the idea that we can somehow decipher why God does what he does, or determine if it is God doing it, the TRUTH is we can't. But, I know when I hear his voice, when I get something deep seeded in me that will not let go and it's such a rush to be hearing it, and I am so excited about what comes next. That is what keeps me coming back to this place where I find myself today, dragging myself out of hiding and heading off to Mt Carmel to face God knows what.

One of these times, maybe I won't be so myopic. So near sighted that all I see is how this effects me. Maybe I will get it, but then, maybe not.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

In Honor of My Mother, Janett Sue Morton Morris 1948-1998

This is the eulogy I wrote for my Grandmother, Jessie Lucille Price Morton. 

There is a way that a mother looks at you. You probably cannot even recognize it until it is gone, but there is a subtle knowledge that all she really sees is the best of that tiny baby she once cradled in her arms. It is as if you were the innocent child, incapable of wrong that she first held. No one in this life can ever really see you like that.
            It is a function of viewing a part of one’s own being in its purest state, as if the separation between you and her that occurred at birth had never happened. She is seeing the best of her, and can only see the best of you. It is this, pure, unfiltered love that leads a mother to make any sacrifice for the well being of her child, even if she must lay down the rest of her to achieve it.
            That look, that glance that does not pass from eye to brain, but straight from your heart to hers is a very powerful thing. If you are truly blessed there is one other who might possess that knowledge of the real you, who sees only your potential, your mother’s mother. I was that fortunate.
            My mother seemed never to have noticed even the most grievous offenses that we committed against her, but let us wrong each other and there would be no stopping her in her quest for justice. Because although she saw in me the thing that God had placed there, that mirror of his image, she also saw it in the others that had shared her womb.
            She passed from this life early, three months to the day shy of her fiftieth birthday, not able to complete her course. Until recently the memory of her full life still lingered on this earth, in the woman that she was carbon copied from, my grandmother. With her passing from this life so passed the human knowledge of the real me in my perfect newborn state.
            No one will ever look on me with that knowledge again. As I said you never realize that the look exists until it is gone, and then the emptiness of knowing you will never be seen in those terms again in this life is indescribable. The void that that connection with my history having been broken has opened seems unfathomable.
            I now understand just a little of what my wife feels when her babies cry, it is this love, a love that a Father can never feel. It is in that intimacy of the womb, and only there, that this love can be born.
            A Father’s love is always a measurement, of pride, of achievement, of ownership. And while a Father can strive for unconditional love his knowledge of us is incomplete. He is incapable of that knowledge. God’s creation of man was to be in his own image, Adam was created with the knowledge of the womb, that gift was given to Eve in their physical separation.
            I wonder in seeking the Father’s heart if it is not this innate Mother’s knowing look we really seek. At the risk of sounding politically correct my heart longs for that mother’s gaze from my creator. To be known in my created state, the way only God sees me now.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Money Makes People Stupid Sometimes!


I was walking through a local grocery store last week when I heard my name being called. My name is common, and it's never me they are yelling at, so I ignored it and went on. When I finally realized they were calling me I turned to find a woman I hardly recognized. She had been the assistant manager of a small retail store near my home, an older lady in her late fifties. The woman standing before me now looked great, she was dressed nicer than I remembered, had her hair professionally done, was wearing full makeup and looked genuinely happy, and it restored my faith a little.

Two years ago this woman, we'll call her Helen, although that is not her name, had hired on as a part time stocker to make a little money. Within a month they were insisting she take a full time assistant managership, and not the being the type to say no, she did. I watched a vibrant, lovely woman with a quick smile age 10 years in just a few weeks under the heavy, stressful schedule.

About the same time a young man named Robert, again, not his real name, also showed up and began working cash register at this little store that I frequented almost daily since my theater was across the street. He was a college student, very polite, well spoken and everyone mentioned he was a hard worker. That would soon change.

Once Helen accepted the job, the manager of the store began dumping more and more responsibility on her to the point of breaking. She was closing almost every night, did most of the payroll, and in short was, in actuality managing the store because she just couldn't say no. But, still with a ready smile and a kind word, all around one of my favorite people. Until she was gone.

A few weeks before that I had noticed an extreme change in Robert, he began dressing a little more ghetto, not really seeming to care. He stopped taking care of his hair. His attitude became sullen and I heard from Helen that everyone suspected his new girlfriend was a bad influence. Then he dropped out of college and made the job his full time gig, always complaining, never enough money, and so on.

On the day that I asked about Helen, the manager, whose name I won't even substitute since I honestly cannot remember, told me that Helen had been let go due to a $3000 shortage in a bank deposit. This shocked me, what I heard next enraged me. It seemed that Robert suddenly had four months back rent money, a better car and new sneakers, that plus everyone had heard him joking about the heist, but it couldn't be proven. Helen had taken the fall, refusing to file a report of suspicion. Robert kept his job a few more months and the last time I saw him, he was shuffling through the same store, bleary eyed in Sponge Bob pajama pants, a scuzzy white wife beater and a pair of Bunny Slippers.

I wondered what had happened to my friend. I wanted to beat some sense into this stupid young punk for what he had done to himself and her. Wanted to throw his Gangsta rapper wannabe drug skinny sorry ass excuse for a man body up against the building and tell him what I thought. But, not Helen. She thought he deserved a chance and had moved on.

She is now assistant manager of a shiny new pharmacy, making three times as much money, twenty pounds lighter, looking ten years younger and with her mysterious health problems having corrected themselves,and she thanks God for Robert everyday, and prays for him. So, I guess it's true. The universe (AKA God, Jehovah, Elohim) really is paying attention.

So, when was the last time you truly let God fight your battles for you. He says he will you know. I'm looking for an opportunity to try it. An opportunity to be wronged and say nothing, to show love, instead of righteous indignation, and I can't wait to tell you how it turns out.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The One Secret to a perfect life!



God, Me and the Universe, Part two

So, you're curious, aren't you? Is he really claiming that he has a perfect life? Does he have it exactly the way he wants it? The answer to the first is no, the second is, I'm working on it, but seriously, no. So, you're probably wondering why I called you all here. (uncovering my white marker board on which there are rows of circles forming a pyramid) This is you, these are your three closest friends that you are going to convince to sell... Just kidding. But seriously, I have been doing a loooottt of thinking lately about how my life could be what I want it to be, perfect. Jesus commands us to do it in Matt 5:48. Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect. So, it must be doable. But how?

Here is what I came up with, and this is just the little thoughts rubbing around in my head until the friction causes smoke, but here it is: 1: I believe there is a God 2: I believe that God is everywhere at once 3:I believe that God is perfect 4:This leads me to the conclude that my life is also perfect! That's right, that's it, your life too. It's perfect, right now, this moment, exactly where you are, no matter how it looks, or feels or smells, perfect and in my thinking, I have proven it, at least to myself, ready?

If God is perfect and everywhere at once (although He is a non-local, extra-temporal entity) but, for arguments sakes, let's just agree with Paul who said: "In Him we live and move and have our being" and "He is One Father, above all, in all and through all" and say that he is everywhere at once. The only way that this is possible is for God to be equal to, or greater in capacity than the universe, and, for him to invest every molecule with his presence, it must exist...inside him. In other words, everything you touch see feel and experience is inside God. If the universe is part of a perfect God, the universe itself must also be perfect? Right?

How is that possible? Disney magic! No, seriously, though, since God is bigger than and, in fact, created what we experience as time, in the reality that God is, the universe is perfect. We all believe that it will be perfected in what we know as the future, right? So from God's perspective, it already is!

Do you agree? Well, before you write it off, as I did at first, consider this: If God is both perfect and omnipresent, the universe must be perfect. If it is not, then either A: God is not perfect, or B: God is not everywhere.

Okay, now tell me how wrong I am. Please. Because, if my life, as I am living it right now, is perfect then I really need a change of perspective to see it sometimes, and that sounds tiring!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Capitalist Societal Cannibalism.



While other political systems may crush, discredit or otherwise make their enemies impotent, only a capitalistic democratic republic has the ability to absorb them. What do I mean by that? Our governmental system has a unique ability to make its detractors a part of itself. Allow me to explain.

The unions were originally formed to work to protect the worker from the greed of the company owners and managers, now they are the engines of greed. They are driving for ever more government and more largesse, which is completely antithetical to what they were about in the first place, honest pay for honest work.

The Church too has become an ally instead of a watchdog. The lure of money is so great that few can withstand it. It seems that nearly everyone who possesses it is in turn consumed and possessed by it. Politicians forget where they came from, ministers forget the warning that you can't serve God and money and the government, the system, the greedy monster that has become America just laughs and looks for the next victim. It will lull them to sleep as well.

Success is the ultimate sedative. Once a person reaches a certain level of success in life anything approaching true moral outrage is all but impossible. We tend only to care for ourselves and the well being of those closest to us. The poor and marginalized tend to fade from memory very quickly. The rich man can ill afford the luxury of outrage and the poorest of the poor don't have time for it, which leaves it to the shrinking middle class to carry the load.

What God needs is people who literally have nothing to lose. It isn't that poverty is righteous, just the opposite, it is that wealth can breed a special kind of evil and its name is complacency.

Here's how it works. Group A opposes the actions of the government, or the “free market”, which by the way are finally being revealed as one and the same, so the government first tries to suppress them. Sometimes this works and the opposition amounts to nothing, other times this makes them even stronger and they continue to fight. At some point someone within government becomes their champion (or they send a man to Washington to fight for them) and convinces his peers to give them part of what they want, under the guise of “doing the right thing”. Soon the group that opposed the government becomes dependent on them for their sustenance. They actually become partners with them.

Another example is the civil rights movement, they fought to change the law, now they use government as a weapon to attain their ends. After partnership is established government becomes their friend, or so they think, and we are programmed to defend our friends.

Once this partnership, or team mentality has been achieved it is easy for government to shape the goals and methodology of that group to suit their purpose. They make them irrelevant by placing them in a long line of “issues” and giving each a small amount of their time and attention so that no meaningful reform can possibly be made without upsetting the whole apple cart and that would stop government and we don't want that.

Capitalism is particularly adept at this game. As long as the ATMs (AKA “citizens” or AUTOMATIC TAX MACHINES)don't revolt and keep paying their ever higher taxes, more and more people can be brought into the government, or supported by it. Therefor, all those who oppose it make up a smaller and smaller minority, and their causes being separate splinter this number even more. They are the fringe groups. It is the ultimate playing out of the saying: Politics makes for strange bedfellows. Completely disparate groups find themselves not on the same side of the issues but on the same side in defending the institution that supplies them with what they see as the only means of making any real change, the Federal Government of the United States.

A Democratic Republic is the only political entity that can sustain social canabalism. Cannibalism is the act of eating one's own kind, “Of the people, by the people and for the people” no other system has this same power because government is separate, it is another species and cannot cannibalize the social structures within it. They can be at odds, but their enemies are always separate. It is the only system that can be constantly at odds with itself and is inherently so.

In the beginning the founders realized this and in their wisdom created a loose confederation of individual states that were each, by and large, self determinate. Through the years, especially the last half of the twentieth century, since the civil war the states power has been eroded by an ever increasing consolidation of money, resources and power at the Federal level. This, in turn, is used to coerce the individual states into toeing the political line in order to receive what they perceive, just like other institutions and groups, to be their lifeline. The funding the provides the only way for them to accomplish what they see as vitally important.

Among groups that cannot be brought directly into the fold oppositional thinking is employed to keep them in competition with themselves. We rank the states in order of successes in: education, cost of living, per cap-pita income and the like. This has the effect of placing them in direct competition for the attention and reward from the Federal Government. The same is true for political parties. They posture as if there are major philosophical differences, but in reality that is, at least in part, a ploy to make the people feel that there is still a system of checks and balances in place.

Most of these differences are not substantive. Take for instance, the current debate over healthcare. Many members of congress are rebelling at the thought of state supported abortion. In substance there is very little difference between state sanctioned abortion (it being legal) and state supported abortion (it being paid for with tax dollars) In a very real way there is no method of compartmentalization that can justify the support of any government that allows this practice to continue through the paying of taxes or the adherence to its laws, except as regards the sanctity of other lives, for a person who believes that the practice of abortion is wrong. We are all guilty by association. The apostle Paul said: For him who knows what to do and does not do it, for him it is sin. Logic dictates that the reverse is also true, If you know what you should not do, then doing it is sin as well. If we believe that we should not allow unborn children to be slaughtered by the thousands then we should be doing what we can to prevent it from continuing.

While it is an extreme example, abortion provides one of the clearest pictures of societal cannibalism. It starts as a measure to protect women who feel they need the ability to avail themselves legally of what they perceive as a necessary “medical” procedure. Without capitalism, this reaches its zenith with only a small percentage of women willing to make this decision, with capitalism, the debate is redefined. Someone, somewhere began to see the potential for money to be made. I know, crass but the numbers don't lie. Average number of abortions per year = 854,000, cost per abortion $350-$550 each= a 38 million dollar per year idustry. In comparison, this is more than total annual sales for one of the current most popular tech gadgets, the Ipad.

So, what do we do about it? We can no longer continue to allow things to happen around us that we know are wrong with no response. We must personally take a stand and be willing to to the right thing, even when it costs us. We must think of others more highly than ourselves, realizing that there is a very real connection between us and others and that what effects one negatively effects us all. We must first “be the change we want to see” in the words of Ghandi.

We must continually express God's thoughts on the matter in a loving, kind, embracing way, with the view in mind, not of changing others into what we want them to be, but with the revelation of God in mind. In other words, we are not working to expose the others, but to expose the heart of God, to aid in his goal of reconciling creation to himself. We must refuse to engage in capitalist cannibalism by conducting our own lives and businesses by first “doing no harm”. This means being aware of who we are conducting business with and what the outcome of our work, purchases and investments ultimately are and find ways around supporting the cannibals.

While boycotts and other “negative” actions can have some effect, I think we are better served by promoting partnerships with those that are working toward the same aim, rather than engaging in their battle of oppositional thinking by spending our time and energy opposing what we disagree with. One positive action is so much more powerful than a campaign of negative responses.
 
Lastly, we should have this attitude that was also in Christ Jesus, who being found in form like God, did not think equality with God a thing to be grasped, but humbled himself, taking on the form of a servant. He submitted himself to his creation, even allowing them to crucify him on a cross to serve the Father's purpose. We must die to ourselves both emotionally and in ownership, holding the things that God lends us lightly, so that as they have served their purpose in our lives, we allow them to flow from us to meet the needs of others. It is hard to cannibalize the capital of a people who own nothing.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

God, Me and the Universe, are one and the same?




Living with the user interface of a physical universe inside an infinite spiritual entity (aka God, Abbah, Creator, Elohim, Jehovah, etc) can be so frustrating at times. Recently my existence in this plane has been one of controversy and , from my perspective, unfair criticism and persecution, but at the same time, God is widening my perspective.

In Acts chapter 17 the apostle Paul gives us a hint as to the nature of the universe in his speaking with the men of Athens. He says that they worship an unknown god, a God that the disciples of Jesus worship as known. And, that while they (the men of Athens) grope around looking for him they fail to recognize that they live inside the fabric of this self-same God. “In Him we live, and move and have our being.”

This concept is the focus of the study of Quantum Mechanics, the essential connection between, and in fact, “sameness” of all things. So I have spent some time pondering, and meditating on this. And I have come to this conclusion: if I accept that God is omnipresent, (in all places at all times) which I do. Then I must accept that everything I can see, hear touch, taste and feel is, in its essence, part of the fabric of God. (don't freak out, I know not to worship trees, or the sun, etc. stay with me) Col. 1:16-17 gives voice to the same idea: For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, (invisible, cool huh?) whether thrones or dominions or authorities-all things have been created through Him and for Him. (here comes the really interesting part) He is before all things, and in Him ALL THINGS, hold together.

Think about it. In order for God to be big enough to have created the universe, and exist in every place, at every time, the universe MUST exist inside of God and everything that exists inside of God, is as much PART of God as everything that exists inside of you, is part of you. Now, look at that last sentence. Everything that exists inside of you is part of you. Wow, that is trippy, especially for those of us who are believers, who have received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Remembering this last thought, take Jesus' words in John 15 into account. I am the vine, you are the branches. If you are in me, then I am in you. As long as you remain in me, you can ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. Wow. Who needs a genie in a bottle? (I jest of course) Interesting ideas.

The indications, therefore, from both science and scripture are that you and I (as believers) have become one with the creator of the universe. Notice, we have not “become God” (nor can we, scripture is repleat with reassurances of God's unique nature) we are partners with him in revealing his presence in the creation, and to a certain extent (through our creative talents and powers of invention) in finishing the creation with him. How exciting is that? Food for thought.

Next time: Why am I constantly searching for God like a long lost employer who owes me money, when he left me his address and he's always home?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Instead of "Church" as usual



Since becoming an ex-church member through the modern wonder of email excommunication I have had time to catch up on some reading. One of the books that has caught my attention is a little gem entitled Pagan Christianity. In their book George Barna, Christian culture researcher extraordinaire and Frank Viola, house church guru, have undertaken the task of unmasking some of the modern churches most closely held practices and revealing their true origins. While many of these are based in Biblical texts, the modern versions often vary widely from the original.

They tackle ten of the most essential facets of modern church life
The Church Building
The Order of Worship
The Sermon
Professional Pastors
Sunday Morning Dress Codes
Professional Music Ministers
Tithing and Clergy Salaries
Baptism
The Lord's Supper
Christian Education

While many Christians are already confident that the fellowship they attend is doing things “by the book” some of us are curious trouble makers who like to ask questions such as, “What does scripture have to say about this.”

If you are one of “those” people who stir up trouble wherever you go and are never happy unless you are tearing something down, or blowing things up like me. (dripping with sarcasm, but these are the things I have recently been accused of, without any specific accusations of course) then I highly recommend this book. If you are not, avoid it like the plague, because the copiously researched footnotes may upset your apple cart and start you down the road to questioning the teachings and practices of your own congregation.

Over the next little while I am going to delve into these areas a little more in my personal thinking and, being the firebrand that I am I will be sharing my conclusions here for anyone who cares to read them. This is, of course, my blog, and as such my personal platform to say anything I like. But, I love dialogue and will post any comment that is not obscene, so joint in the conversation, or read the book, write your own blog and leave a link to it here.

Here is why I think this is important. We are moving into an interesting time, whether we like it or not. Our planet is becoming smaller, relationship wise, and we are headed toward a more global community. It is obvious that our government understands the strength of group thinking and influencing large numbers of people through their relationships. One of the largest groups in the US is the evangelical church. When totalitarianism comes, it has a tendency to masquerade as a return to law and order, which the church is, understandably, in favor of, but it quickly moves beyond that into control.

In our current institutional mode of operation, the church will be a much easier target than the organic church that survived three centuries of Roman Empire, before succumbing to major institutionalization. It is time for us to begin to reimagine the church as the underground movement Christ intended her to be. The church where community was so strong a value that outsiders called the believers Christian for their strong likeness to Christ.

So, if my thoughts interest you, or piss you off, subscribe to my blog for more as I share with you what I have been imagining for the better part of two decades and am just now finding the words to describe.

PS, please don't send me emails worried that I have lost my faith. Just the opposite, I firmly believe that what happened to me and my family, while painful, was a necessary part of what God is doing in my life. If anything, I am more in tune with what God is saying to me now, than I perhaps have ever been and am excited to see what will come out of this exploration of what Church could be.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gasoline on the bonfire of my excommunication.

Now that the jello has hit the fan, I feel free to share some of the scripture that God has been talking to me about. The Bold type is scripture from the New American Standard Bible

Today I am going to explore a couple of things that I mentioned briefly in my blog post, regarding the situation at The Edge Church. I think it is important for all believers to have a healthy understanding of how God functions in regard to human authority and how we should respond to it. There are a lot of verses in the Bible that mention authority, its establishment and our response to it. A couple real easy ones are

Epehesians 6:1-3

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 
Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 
so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.

This was originally found in Moses' commands to the people of Israel after conversing with God on mount Sinai and is quoted here almost word for word.

Romans 13:1

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 
Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 
For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 
for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 
Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 
For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 
Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Now, these verses seem to indicate to some that there is never a time to question authority and yet, we also are told this story, about the early apostles and their conflict with religious leaders for teaching in the temple from Acts, Chapter 5

When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 
saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 
“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. 
“He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 
“And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

Then we are also told to “test the spirits”, pay close attention to the last few verses for what I believe is the ultimate test. This is From 1st John, chapter 4

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 
and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 
You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 
They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. 
We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 
The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 
By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 
No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 
By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 
We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 
We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 
By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 
We love, because He first loved us. 
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 
And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

Regarding authority in the Church we are told in Epehesians Chapter 4

(particularly verse 11)

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 
Therefore it says,      “When He ascended on high,     He led captive a host of captives,     And He gave gifts to men.”
(Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 
He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) 
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 
for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 
until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 
but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 
from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.


  So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 
being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 
and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 
But you did not learn Christ in this way, 
if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 
that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 
and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 
and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 
Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 
and do not give the devil an opportunity.

As to its exercise we have this from 1st Corinthians 12

For the body is not one member, but many. 
If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 
And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 
If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 
But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 
If they were all one member, where would the body be? 
But now there are many members, but one body. 
And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 
On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 
and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 
whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 
so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 
And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. 
And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. 
All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? 
All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? 
But earnestly desire the greater gifts.

AS to participation by members of a congregation, other than a pastor we have this in 1st Corinthians 14

Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 
For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. 
But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. 
One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. 
Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.
But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching? 
Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp? 
For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? 
So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. 
There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. 
If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me. 
So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.
Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 
For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 
What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. 
Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? 
For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not edified. 
I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; 
however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.

  Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. 
In the Law it is written, “By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me,” says the Lord. 
So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe. 
Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? 
But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; 
the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.
What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 
If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret;
but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 
Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. 
But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 
For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 
and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 
for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

Notice, that Paul does not suggest that anyone needs to “submit” these offerings before they are shared and that it is the prophets who are to pass judgment on their soundness and not the pastors.

The Idea of a “pastor driven church” was born in the seeds of the reformation, when people were coming out of the dark ages and being given a Bible in something other than Latin. Most of them were uneducated and could not read even the Bible's translated into their own languages. Ex-priests, leaving the catholic church began to serve as teachers for these congregations, who could not read and understand scripture for themselves, however this is an interesting passage in1st John chapter 2

These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. 
As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.


(His, refers to Christ in the person of the Holy Spirit)

Or, how about 1st Corinthians chapter 2

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 
For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 
I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 
and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 
so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 
but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 
the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 
but just as it is written,      “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,     And which have not entered the heart of man,     All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 
For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 
which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 
But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 
For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

The Idea of “Unity” also gets mentioned a lot, but, is it good just to agree to agree? One of the darkest scenes in human history grew out of “being in one mind”. This story occurs in Genesis 11, right after the flood, which you would think would still be fresh on everyone's mind:

Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.
It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.
They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar.
They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.
The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.
“Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”
So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.
Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.

The members of The Edge Church were asked to believe that it would be difficult for the members of our elder's board to agree unanimously to oust a pastor on a whim. I argued in favor of language in the bylaws to hold them accountable to the pastor and congregation in some small way. You can see where that ended if you read yesterday's post. BTW, for those of you keeping up with the “drama” during that meeting, I was out of line when I interrupted Greg. I was harsh and immediately said so, and asked his forgiveness.

In contrast to the story of Babel, a story that we did not delve into from our pulpit can be found in Acts chapter 1, starting in verse 15

At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, 
“Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 
“For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.” 
(Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. 
And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 
“For it is written in the book of Psalms,      ‘Let his homestead be made desolate,     And let no one dwell in it’; and,      ‘Let another man take his office.’
“Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— 
beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” 
So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. 
And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen 
to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 
And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

We, at The Edge, heard two or three weeks of teaching,  from this chapter without this story, one of the few physical snap shots of actual first century church "community" in action, even being mentioned. It seems to me that this kind of being, “in one accord” took everyone into account. It was not done in secret, between a few members, no matter how they were appointed. The 120 were in the same room throughout the entire process, a pattern you will find throughout the New Testament, that not everyone was welcome to say whatever the hell came to mind whenever, but they were welcome to witness God at work in the Apostles, even with a situation as sticky as Annanias and Saphira. (If you don't know, look it up, online is fine, but it is best to read the whole thing from the Bible, with the surrounding context) They decided on their criteria, had to have walked with Jesus, etc, put forward the two candidates who best fit and then they cast lots, flipped a coin, drew a straw, to keep human opinion at bay, they so trusted in God's providence that they risked it all.

I know, you think it's crazy or isolated, but...

Proverbs 16:33

    The lot is cast into the lap,     But its every decision is from the LORD.

And this from: Got Questions .org

The Urim "lights" and Thummim "perfections" were gemstones that were carried by the High Priest of Israel on the ephod / priestly garments. They were used by the High Priest to determine God's will in some situations. Some propose that God would cause the Urim and Thummim to light up in varying patterns to reveal His decision. Others propose that the Urim and Thummim were kept in a pouch and were engraved with symbols identifying yes / no and true / false.

It is unclear whether the Urim and Thummim were on, by, or in the High Priest's ephod. No one knows the precise nature of the Urim and Thummim or exactly how they were used. The Bible simply does not give us enough information. References to the Urim and Thummim are rare in the Bible. They are first mentioned in the description of the breastplate of judgment (Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8). When Joshua succeeded Moses as leader over Israel, he was to receive answers from God by means of the Urim through Eleazar the High Priest (Numbers 27:21). The Urim and Thummim are next mentioned in Moses' dying blessing upon Levi (Deuteronomy 33:8). The following Scripture likely also speak of the Urim and Thummim: Joshua 7:14-18; 1 Samuel 14:37-45; and 2 Samuel 21:1.

Weird, huh? Apparently there are times when God calls His people to trust so much in His Divine Providence that they take themselves out of the equation.

I know that some Edgers are thinking that I am suggesting that I wanted them to flip a coin to see if Britton or I should be pastor. Why would I want to take over a failing congregation? My motive in speaking up was simply that God told me to and would not let it go. I wanted to help save the congregation my family had come to consider as family, from the mess we were all in. I know mentioning this kind of “weird” stuff will get me labeled, but what the heck, I mean I already published a public “prophecy”, how much weirder can it get?

Now, about elders: I do not believe that the men who serve The Edge Church were properly ordained, or screened for Biblical qualification to this office. This is not a personal attack, it is a simple statement. Just as you have to be a natural born citizen, 35 years of age to run for President of the United States, which, thank God, may be the only thing standing between “Arnold” and the whitehouse, one of the few things concerning Church “government” ( a term that gives me the willies and conjures up all kinds of stories of abuse by these types of institutions, and no I am not talking about The Edge, when I am I will say so) that was set in place by the Apostles were the necessary credentials for eldership:

Here's a little more on that from a blog I found here:

http://inductivestudy.wordpress.com/2009/01/24/qualifications-of-elders-and-overseers-in-titus/

(Strong's, mentioned here, is Strong's exhaustive concordance of the Bible, which is a list of most words in scripture, with their Greek or Hebrew equivalent and a list of everywhere that that word is used in a particular meaning, it's like a Bible dictionary on Steroids, get one! Or use the online version for free, here: http://www.biblestudytools.com/concordances/strongs-exhaustive-concordance/)

The Strong’s number for “elders” is 4245. The transliteration is “presbteros” and means “an old man, elder.” The translators used the English words “elder, elders, men of old, old men, older, older man, older ones, older women, and women” when translating this word. That, in a nutshell, is our word study.

We see that there was a list of qualifications in Titus,

I am adding these verses to the writing, since the author is referencing another blog post:

Titus 1


For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 
namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 
For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 
but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 
holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

--Now back to the Blog--

but we’ll see what else we can find out about Elders. To do that, we need to do some Cross-Referencing, which means to look in other parts of scripture where Elders are mentioned. We see from the Strong’s that “elders” are mentioned quite a few times – notice that they are mentioned in the New Testament before the birth of the church, as well as in the Old Testament. In looking through those scriptures, we see that the title “Elder” was one used in the Jewish religion, then borrowed and used in the Church. Because we’re studying the church and the positon of elder that would have pertained to Titus (and to us), we’ll look at the references of Elder after the birth of the Church in Acts 2.

In Acts 14: 23, we see Paul and Barnabas visited cities and appointed elders for them in every church. That lines up with Paul’s direction to Titus to appoint elders. In 1 Timothy 5: 17 it says that elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of a double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. We need to add those three things to our list: Elders rule, preach, and teach.

James 5:14 gives us more things to add to our list of elder’s jobs – elders pray over the sick, anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord (and should be available to come when called). You see that we’ve actually got two lists going – one of the Elder’s jobs, and another of his qualifications to be able to do those jobs. Interesting.

1 Peter 5: 1-4 gives us more information that falls under the “Elder’s jobs” list. They are to 1) shepherd the flock of God among them and 2) exercise oversight with a proper attitude. If they do that, they get an unfading crown of glory from the Chief Shepherd, which they will take off in Revelation’s accounts of elders.

What about an Overseer – Inductively

One of the things we wondered about in Titus was the use of the word “overseer.” Is he a different guy, or is “overseer” a different title for “elder”? Overseer is 1985 in the Strong’s and is transliterated: episkopos. It means superintendant or overseer. Let’s start a new list of things we learn about the overseer. 1 Timothy 3: 1-11 has a list of qualifications – above reproach, husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from love of money, manages his household well, not a new convert and have a good reputation with those outside the church. That sounds a lot like the list in Titus!

But we still are wondering if Elders and Overseers are the same guy, or are two guys. Acts 20: 28 will clear it up for us. In Acts 20: 17, Paul calls the elders of Ephesus to him and gives them his last words – he’s sure that he won’t see them again, so he hits them with his final wishes, and in doing so, answers our question. In verse 28, while talking to Elders, he says, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God.” So Elders and Overseers are the same guy! Now you know how to write your list of qualifications in Titus – all of those qualifications go to an Elder.

Okay, I am back and am adding this to avoid it biting me, because some will see me described here, and I am not above being subjected to scrutiny, and may be wanting in some of this, however, I do not believe this is referring to what I have done, pray, ask the Holy Spirit and make up your own mind, if you are even part of this situation. If not, sit back, laugh and enjoy the show, but please pray for The Edge Church, the Pastor, and Elders and the congregation.

Titus 1 continued

For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 
who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. 
One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 
This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 
not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 
To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 
They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

Geesh, Paul, what a gossip monger, ratting this guy out for teaching falsehood.

Okay, well, I have lots more to share and will continue to do so. If anyone takes issue with my use of scripture, or my opinions, correct me, please! Please leave a comment, or email me privately at Markrmorris2@sbcglobal.net I want to do this Church thing right in the future.

May the God of Peace Guard Our Hearts and Minds in Christ Jesus

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I was just excommunicated in an email!

An open letter to the Interim Pastor, Elders and members of the Edge Church and members of Christ's church universal, his Bride.

Jesus Matthew 18: 15-

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.
“But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.
“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
“Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.
“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
Forgiveness
  Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.
“When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.
“But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.
“So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’
“And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.
“But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’
“So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’
“But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.
“So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened.
“Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.
‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’
“And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.
“My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

This is what that looks like.

Mark and Angel Morris
It is with much thought and prayer that we wrote this letter to you. Your actions regarding the church, its staff and leaders have become divisive to the church congregation. Because of this, the pastor and elders are now requiring you, beginning immediately, to no longer take part in our church functions, meetings, assemblies, and or any other associations with the Edge Church.

The Elders, Pastoral team, and staff feel this is a very critical time for the Edge Church and all agree that it is important for us to be resolute in this decision so that the church can continue its quest of recovery from hard times that we have all experienced over the last year.

Edge Church Elder Board

Sent from the email account of Aaron Owen and brought to my attention through a speaker phone conversation this afternoon at about 3:30.

To which I responded, that is fine (angrily, I admit) then you need to carry this out correctly according to the words of Jesus in Matthew Chapter 18. To which they replied, or rather I believe it was Mike Arnett replied, We are not going to argue with you about this, it has been decided and there is going to be no further discussion. I asked them what the cause was, or what had I done. He replied that it was self eveident and needed no clarification.

To which I replied, Fine I will show up there myself and then you can explain why you are escorting me and my family from the premises, you F'ing cowards. (this is the first time I have lost my temper with this group, which took considerable control once you have heard the rest of the story. I am not proud of my conduct in regards to this conversation, and deeply regret that I lost my cool, but am not trying to hide anything. You can decide for yourself if anyone else is.)

What follows is an account from my blog, private journal and memories of the events that led up to this moment and my excommunication from the Edge Church. I believe, except where I willingly admit in this account, that I have conducted myself in an honorable and forthright manner and therefor have nothing to hide.

In July, or August, I don't remember because I didn't write it down, but many of you already are familiar with the date a letter of resignation from Israel Hogue, the founding pastor of The Edge Church was read in Sunday service. I was not there, but did later receive and read a copy.

The details of this situation were highlighted briefly, which is neither here nor there, and I addressed it in a blog post which I will include in its part of this time line.

The next Sunday evening a Church Townhall meeting was called in which the circumstances of this resignation were termed no longer a topic for conversation the elders. Mike Arnett, Andy Rasmussen, Tod Nickels, Aaron Owen and at that time John Savage, and one other whose name I have since forgotten had determined that talking about it would only make things worse and they said as much.

They outlined their plan. Britton Thurlough, one of our associate pastors, would be stepping in as interim. He would also be heading up the pastor search and we would be hearing from candidates over the next few weeks. Mark Ryan, our music minister, had been recently appointed as executive pastor and we were assured he was not going anywhere, but his wife would be stepping down as co-children's minister effective immediately. They then opened the floor for questions and comments, there were a few.

On the way home from that meeting my wife turned to me in the car and said, “I think you should do the job.” I laughed and pretended to blow her off. In my heart, I felt God say the same thing, when I heard that Israel had left.

I spent the next month praying and fasting and generally freaking out as to whether I should even say anything. Through that month, God continued to speak to me about it. I couldn't sleep, because my heart was heavy for The Edge and I wanted to know what to do to help. I immediately went to Britton and offered to help in any way. He offered nothing, but asked us to pray. So, we showed up every time the doors were open and did everything we could to serve.

In September my wife felt called to start a women's ministry since what had been there was connected to the pastor's wife, who was now gone. There was no one else prepared to step in, she asked if she could join up with the women who had done it and submitted her ideas to Britton. Here in her own words is why she did that.

My name is Angel and I volunteered to help plan the women's ministry. If you have attended the events or talked to me then you know why I have done this. For those of you who have not I wanted to let you know . There has been a lot of gossip in our church since our pastors have left, starting with why they left and then going on to everything else going on in the church. I believe transparency is key to defeating gossip that can quickly turn hurtful. So here is my story.

I became a Christian in the 2nd grade by watching a puppet show, and it changed my life. From that moment on I have always followed and trusted Jesus with the faith of a child. I have attended First Baptist Church, a penacostal church and ended up at MetroChurch when I was 15. Where I met my husband, the only man I have dated or kissed. I was blessed to seek God's guidence my entire youth and highschool years, which protected me from trying the things that kids often do. At Metro youth I fell in love with my husband and the light of God I saw in him. He, from the day I met him, knew the Bible and was always helping others, mostly girls at the time but that changed. He had an amazing family who's parents prayed for their children and showed me love that lasts to the end. We married the December after I graduated in 1991, and have been together since. I have found that marriage is work but it's worth it.

After we married we attended Metro Church till it ended, then went to LifeChurch, Bridgeway and NewChurch. We were looking for a place where everyone in our family fit and felt at home. We never found that till the Edge Church. We fell in love with the teaching the Bible, the worship, children's ministry, and the men's ministry. These were all important to us. Then the church changed.

I had attended the Edge for over 2 years and had created no friendships. This didn't really hit me until Kathrynne and Brittany were not there to say hello and talk to me on Sundays. When that happened is when I really felt alone. It occurred to me that Mark, my husband, had built many great friendships and knew a lot of the men in the church. He went to movies with them, they played poker, went on fishing trips, and ate breakfast together. I did nothing. It was because of this that I started to think what about the women. I began to get excited about making a women's ministry that could include everyone, create lasting friendships and help women with their daily life, because none of us should have to do life alone. When I began, I was surprised to hear from many women that I was not alone, in feeling lonely. I have been so ecstatic to see friendships being built and how God has been moving in those relationships.

It was my goal in working with the women's ministry to create an enviroment that was open for anyone who wanted to to serve. I believe that we all have gifts and talents and I want to help you see those used to glorify Jesus. The only things I have asked of the women on the committee is that they be willing to serve and they not overwhelm themselves by taking on to much.

It has come to my attention that people have said that I had other intentions for taking over the women's ministry. This is simply untrue. I was lonely and wanted to make sure that no one else was. I love doing the women's ministry. I love doing fun events, gno's, I even love the planning meetings. I really hope to move us to a place of discipling in the future. Where we are given a chance to find accountabity for the things we want to change in our lives, and we truly learn what the Bible teaches us about following Christ. It is my hope that the women's retreat will be a launch for this next step. Women are the foundation to our families. We all know that if the woman isn't happy then no one is. I hope this helps you all get to know me and why I am here.  (This was written prior to this afternoon, before the email)

Through this time she had to handle several difficult things. Some of the women who had been involved before felt they were not being heard, but they worked it out and held a few moderately successful events.

During this time I began to seek council on whether to declare what I was feeling or not. I talked with my father, a nearly forty year veteran pastor. I talked with several close friends, all four of my brothers and a long time pastor friend. My question to them was this, and I had asked Britton as well, Am I crazy to think this is even possible? These men, several of whom are quick to tell me when I am crazy, all of whom have known me intimately, or at least well, for years, to a man encouraged me to say something.

Sometime after the first of September, and I wish I had written more in my journal so that I could tell you the date, I asked Britton if he would meet with me to discuss something. We met at Vintage Coffee on 33rd in Edmond and I told him that I felt God was calling me to put my name in the hat for position of pastor. He revealed to me that he had recently declared his own candidacy only recently, in his words he hadn't been sure, but the elders had forced him to decide. So, again in his words, he might not be the best person to advise me. We talked for a wile, pleasantly and he informed me that since he had decided to be a candidate, Mike Arnett would be the man to talk to.

We met once after this at a meeting where I asked if it would be okay to start a Bible study, reading through the 90 day Bible, a program that breaks the scripture up into readings so that the whole Bible is completed in 90 days. He said to wait on that but it sounded good. I said I had heard that we had some issues in our community of moral concern (details don't matter) he asked what I thought should be done. My response was to take the opportunity for our community to go through the 90 day Bible, bringing them to the ultimate standard, so that opinions would not come into it more than humanly possible, and they would get a complete picture of what God is about, he again said good idea, but please wait.

Mike and I played phone tag until about the first of October at which time I met him at his office for lunch and we went to Panera bread to discuss the matter. I told him everything that I have outlined here to which he replied, you may be the one for the job, but Britton is the front runner at this time. Once everything settles and our commitment to Israel is finished after the first of the year I would have absolutely no qualms about suggesting you as an associate pastor, and he gave me a set of videos and asked me to look into a men's retreat, we also talked about the possibility of starting a study based on the 90 day Bible.

During lunch he also shared what he felt were pertinent details of the “situation” that had occurred and when I suggested talking the whole thing out with everybody, he whole heartedly agreed that that would be a good thing.

I went with the men on a fishing trip, during which I spent an entire day with Mike Arnett discussing many things, little having to do with this, since I had decided not to mention it.

I have been an active part of the Bacon Club and met with the men's council, I think for every meeting, or at least most of them. At one of these meetings I did express a strongly held belief that we didn't need to spend our money on marketing until we had our feet on the ground and had worked out our own junk, before bringing people in. I also told Mike Arnett and Andy, with Britton present at breakfast that I felt there were spiritual elements of the situation that were being ignored, after which they held kneel. ( a prayer meeting attended by very few)

On October 10 I wrote this which I shared with Britton after seeking council from a pastor friend and a man that he considered to be very knowledgeable when it comes to prophecy.

Here is a link to the blog post.

http://markrmorris2.blogspot.com/2011/01/blog-that-got-me-busted-sort-of.html

I started going to the Warehouse for worship on Thursday nights. It was a wonderful time of worship. A few times I showed up early swept and set up chairs while my son Asher was at soccer.

Then I wrote this:

http://markrmorris2.blogspot.com/2010/11/edge-church-scandal-juicy-details.html

Britton had asked me to call him, so I did. That evening he expressed that he felt like I was trying to push an agenda. He told me that I was too forceful and needed to back off. He complained about my blog post, and asked why would I put all that out there to embarrass our church and make his job harder, he said he had been getting calls. I asked him what he thought of it, he said he hadn't read it and asked me to “back off” for a while. I apologized and asked him what I had done to make him say that. He told me that he felt like I was just waiting for him to screw up. I again apologized and we left the conversation with him telling me perhaps he had overreacted. That Sunday he came to me smiling and said he was putting together a team of men to study leadership, I said that was exciting, he said he wanted me to be part of it. During this time I shared this with no one. I did not place any phone calls to him facebook with him, or speak about the bible study, or any other ministry related issues through the Holidays, until after the New Years.

From my personal journal that no one but me ever reads

Today I had lunch with Britton Thurlow, or at least it was supposed to be with Britton. When I arrived, Ben Hill walked in, should have known things would get interesting. Britton showed up a little later, we ordered lunch and sat exchanging random pleasantries for ten minutes or so before we got to the topic. Britton asked me to refresh his memory regarding what I had in mind. I outlined a plan for a Bible study discussion group based on The 90 Day Bible that I have been talking with him about for four months,as outlined in a few of these other posts, he kept putting me off. So, he started into the same old song and dance, wait a few weeks until we get organized. I tell him I will, but if it takes longer I will probably go ahead and start a group with some friends, that I don't care if it's official. Then he drops the bomb, that he doesn't think I'm fit to lead a Bible discussion group, or anything else in his church. WHAT!??? So, I ask him why and get the damnedest response. He tells me that it has to do with the fact that I am too intimidating and I scare people with my confrontational attitude. Funny, he's never even seen me pissed off. So I probe further to discover he's been talking about me behind my back for months. A random "pastor" who doesn't know him, or me, saw my blog, looked him up and told him not to let me lead anything at his church, what the heck??!! Then he claims that( afriend of mine who I have not asked permission to reveal his identity) told him that he was glad I had not stayed at his Church. I feel like I am living in a nightmare. Where do these people get off? What is their problem? Why would they talk about me like this and think its okay. The stranger should have commented on my blog, (my friend) should have the balls to tell me the truth and Britton sat on this information for several months, letting me think everything was okay.  Really cool. So, what now?

Just so you know, I am not a “saint” in the holier than thou way of speaking, but I was the son of a Church of Christ minister and I don't use strong obscenity in print, even in my own personal writing, so this is unedited.

The conversation continued and I said some things to Britton about the fact that I felt he was holding back in his preaching. I encouraged him to share everything with us, because what we were getting was not teaching, or inspiring, and while I don't think we should be looking for a ring master, if we were going to only have Sunday service, please give us everything that I can see is in you! Then he awkwardly drove me home and we talked on the way. I apologized for the way I shared the things I shared, he said he knew I would be upset and didn't blame me. We agreed to meet, because, he said, he needed to see my humility before we could work together and that if he became pastor we might never be able to work together in ministry because out personalities were just too different.

I went inside and wrote the blog post you just saw and posted this on my Facebook.

To the anonymous “pastor” who was so offended by one of my blog posts that he felt it necessary to call the interim pastor of the Edge Church, Britton Thurlough, to tell him that I was unfit would he next time please leave a comment, or call me or email me.

After my lunch, my wife sent this:

Dear Elders of the Edge Church,


My name is Angel Morris. Most of you know me as the mother of the eight kids and Mark's wife. Some of you may know me through your wife, as I have been working on creating a strong women's ministry at the Edge church that unites the women of our church. My husband and I have been married for over 19 years. We met in a church youth group and have been in church and served in church for our entire lives. We have attended the Edge Church for over 3 years and love our church and our friends that we have there. We have committed to stay, serve and do whatever is necessary to help our church through this difficult time. My husband does not know I am writing this to you and would not agree with what I am doing, however I feel that my family has been greatly offended without cause or reason by the interim pastor. He has been told that he is unfit to serve in our church. Mark is a strong man of God who knows the Bible, I would dare say, more than the majority if not all of the people in our church. He is continually trying to follow and honor God and His word. I am beside myself with disbelief at what has been done to him. He has done nothing wrong. His only offense is that Britton does not like his personality. His request that got him said treatment, was wanting to start a group that read the Bible in 90 days together.

This in a church where ( this section has been edited because the information shared was sensitive and regards personal moral issues in the lives of people we love) My husband is a man of character. He does not get drunk and never has a day in his life, he has been the man of one wife and if you truly want to see what kind of man he is, spend time with his children. They are a true testament to his character. They are respectful and kind to others as well as strong thinkers encouraged to have their own opinions.

I am tired of watching my friends leave. I am tired of seeing the wisdom and pillars of our church walk away because they are unhappy with the direction that Britton has taken our church. I fell in love with our church because it was scripturally based. The Word was taught. Now it is not. We no longer serve the others. We have been left with a great number of immature Christians. I am constantly be told by those leaving and some who have stayed that he has changed everything and I agree. But now, he has chosen to hurt and offend someone for speaking God's word, to protect people who might be offended by it. Isreal was a man who spoke the word of God without fear and Britton, in my opinion is the complete opposite. He is afraid of the doing anything that would hurt others including sharing the Bible.

I know you are all in a difficult position and making hard choices, and I pray for you often. I am extremely sorry to add to that, but I feel I no longer have a choice to remain silent.

I am willing to serve in anyway needed in our church, I am a graphic designer and am willing to work for free. (you can see my banners in front of Bob Moore and Edmond Hyundai) I will sweep, work, attend and do anything needed of me to help our church succeed and follow the mission that once made it great.
Angel Morris


The next night, this happened:

After a really hard conversation with a friend who informed me he was facing some very tough temptation and needed my prayer and advice, I went to Warehouse to worship. Toward the end, I went to ask Britton to pray with me. He said, I think its awesome that you want me to pray with your for your friend but how can you ask that after you bad mouthed me on Facebook all day, I have been getting calls from the elders. Did you read it yourself? I asked, no he had not. I told him I didn't think that was fair. I told him what I had posted. He told me he never said the man was a stranger to him and revealed that he was Josh Kouri, the pastor of Frontline Church. After which he said. I didn't want it to come to this, but, Disciple and Ben and I have discussed it and you and your family are not welcome here anymore. I told him that that would only work for me if he was willing to handle it under Jesus' terms, as very specifically outlined in Matthew 18 at the beginning of this post. He immediately said if he was wrong he would back off. I then asked him if he could not see that I was infinitely in love with Christ and wounded by the way the Church was being run. He shook his head no. I sais, you do know that I am saved and have been a believer since childhood, to which he replied that he did not believe that. I told him that no matter whether I was at Edge Church or not, they could run it one of two ways, God's way (Biblically) or by man's opinion. Judge for yourself what they have chosen.



We were at Church last Sunday, he scheduled a meeting with me on Tuesday at 9, later on in the week over Facebook, then this happened today.



I have been in conversations in the last week with several men in this congregation who have serious doubts and issues with our pastor and elders. I approached them with every concern I had about the way things were not handled the increasing gossip and hostility toward Mark Ryan, Katherine, Israel and Brittany, who have all been the villain in at least one story version I have heard over the last week. I met Mark the other day, the details are not you business. I told him I was sorry for believing what someone else said, about someone else's version of the story, without ever talking to him. For those of you have sent him hateful messages, and attacked those who have remained his friends, shame on you, no matter what happened.



The elders have spoken and now I have said my piece. There are rumors that I was trying to take over, what army general submits his “takeover” plans to the enemy general. They won't answer me as to why they have made this decision and no accusations have been made against me in my presence. This is not meant to be a defense, but rather my side of the story.



Edge Church. Do not believe the lie that says you are not allowed to question “God's annointed”. The word pastor is mentioned one time in the singular in your New Testament. Every other time it is translated as “elders” and is typically discussed in plurality. Here are the qualifications listed for Elder and some exposition, I make no claim about its correctness, but do not have time or strength to share what I think in depth.



http://www.opc.org/OS/html/V3/4e.html



It is your job to judge the Spirits, whether they be from God. Fathers, you are called to be the prophet and priests of your own family to guard them against the wiles of the enemy, including false teachings.



In that light, ask yourself one question: Would you agree to be an officer of any corporation without A: reading the bylaws, B: Finding out what your obligations and responsibilites were, let alone wait until the corporation was deeply in debt ($1.3 million dollars) with a heavy monthly obligation ($15000) to even ask where they were? Or be able to give an answer as to what your duties are as a Biblical elder?



Mike, Andy, I have loved you guys like brothers and still believe you to be men of integrity who are making some very interesting choices. Britton, this is me coming to you to say that you have sinned against me. You started out great, but I am not the only one who questions if your intentions are still selfless.



I know many of you will be angry with me, for airing our “dirty laundry” that this is “family business” but here is what I have to say. ALL of us know that a former king of Israel killed his best friend and stole his wife, because its recorded in scripture for all posterity. All of us can read about Christians who were committing adultery, incest and engaging in temple prostitution, none of which got them excommunicated. It was written in a public letter to those congregations then copied, sent elsewhere and was eventually recorded in the Bible. I do not feel one ounce of guilt for sharing any of this, and I will swear to its truth in front of anyone.
 
The Edge Church is not an isolated little community. It is a part of the Body of Christ. What you do there effects the entire Bride of Christ. WE, as the Church, are the culmination of history, creation, the crucifiction, the resurrection and His second coming are all because of us and if we do not care enough to get Church as right as humanly possible, we should stop breathing.