Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Wisdom of Solomon

There are a number of Blogs which your humble Catbird visits regularly. These range from the informative, to the funny, to the outrageous. The Blog, "Standing on my Head", tended by Fr. Dwight Longenecker, is up on the list of the thoughtful ones. Dwight+ apparently was born and American fundamentalist, became and Anglican cleric, and is now an RC Priest in the Carolinas. Our brother had this powerful story posted this past Monday:

"A worried woman went to her gynecologist and said: 'Doctor, I have a serious problem and desperately need your help! My baby is not even 1 year old and I'm pregnant again. I don't want kids so close together. So the doctor said: 'OK and what do you want me to do?' She said: 'I want you to end my pregnancy, and I'm counting on your help with this.' The doctor thought for a little, and after some silence he said to the lady: 'I think I have a better solution for your problem. It's less dangerous for you too.' She smiled, thinking that the doctor was going to accept her request. Then he continued: 'You see, in order for you not to have to take care 2 babies at the same time, let's kill the one in your arms. This way, you could rest some before the other one is born. If we're going to kill one of them, it doesn't matter which one it is. There would be no risk for your body if you chose the one in your arms. The lady was horrified and said: 'No doctor! How terrible! It's a crime to kill a child! 'I agree', the doctor replied. 'But you seemed to be OK with it, so I thought maybe that was the best solution.' The doctor smiled, realizing that he had made his point. He convinced the mom that there is no difference in killing a child who's already been born and one who's still in the womb. The crime is the same!"

The truth will set us free, but sometimes it first has to punch us in the stomach.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Question for the guys out there

Being a guy with a full head of (gray) hair, I don't have firsthand experience on this one but I still have to ask.
Is there a moment, when looking at the balding pate starring at you in the mirror, that you just need to embrace it for dignity's sake?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Study in Contrasts

Unless you've just rose from a ten-year nap, you're well aware of the solemn remembrance that occurred this past September 11. I hesitate to use the term Anniversary to describe the day, as an anniversary typically calls to mind a joyful occasion. It was a somber day to reflect and perhaps to mourn over what was wrenched from our Republic over clear mid-Atlantic skies on a September morning.
That morning two Bishops, each leader of their respective churches spoke in churches that were adjacent or close to terror targets. Jeff Walton, writing on, provides an interesting look at each Bishop's homily.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Music that Defined a Decade

The Rolling Stone Magazine has released its list of the top ten worst songs of the 90's. Wow, if you thought the 90's were a rough decade politically, with its lip-reading, "Bimbo Eruptions", and enough "gates" to fill a hardware store, wait 'til you stroll down this musical memory lane of lemons.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Worth of One Picture

I want to give props to Nikie Goomba over on the Blog, "It don't make sense" for this photo. The Economy is stagnant, August 2011 saw zero job growth and a true un/underemployment rate above sixteen percent, and a debt beyond the the scope of human comprehension. What is this guy thinking?
I'm no conspiracy theorist but I had to concede that photos like these throw dripping red meat to those who are. If I were POTUS, this is the absolute LAST BOOK I'd want to be seen with in my hand! For the love of Pete, grab a copy of the federalist papers or something by Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams or Milton Friedman.

Spiritual Empowerment

Its far more satisfying to see a though finishing in a major key, so thats where we'll be heading in this second installment on the thoughts of Spiritual Disempowerment and its remedy.

I make no claim to any thought of being the father of Spiritual Empowerment. I believe that this concept is in the very warp and woof of the New Testament, and the mission of the church. Christ's words and deeds drip of this empowerment and can be seen in the sending of the twelve and seventy, Breathing the Holy Spirit on his disciples, and in the Great Commission. The precedent of empowerment continues through the Acts of the Apostles and on through the Epistles. The burning question for now is... How can we who tend God's sheep practice Spiritual Empowerment?

First, we pray. Not in a simple or Pollyann-ish way but full-on intercession for those whom that Almighty has given us stewardship of. We pray that they would grow daily in the love and wisdom of God. We pray for their spiritual wellness that includes a life of prayer, study and meditation on the Godhead. We also pray that WE would be the leaders that God would be as WE live simultaneously Coram Deo and Coram Ecclesia.

We Lead and Model. In our stewardship to those souls charged to us, we must never rule from behind, but rather lead from the front. Saint Paul said it well when he encouraged the Corinthians to "Follow his example, as he followed the example of Christ". Someone else once said simply, "show me, don't tell me". Those being empowered should see a healthy and vibrant model of empowerment in motion. Though it might be an easy temptation to dismiss this as imitation, this very imitation is commended by Paul in his letters to the Ephesians and Thessalonians. This type of imitation is normative and will produce budding fruit in the lives of believers.

We Mentor. Spiritual Empowerment entails an investment of time in the lives of others. I requires us to sit, meet, talk, laugh, cry (sometimes), and pray with folk. This level of granularity gives us a view of their lives where we can discern through observation or listening, specific areas where they may be gifted or in the process of being gifted. With this, we can then begin to guide and direct them in the formation of these gifts.

We free them to both soar, and stink it up. I'll never forget my first sermon. It was on a Sunday morning at Dual Highway Church of God in Hagerstown Maryland. I had studied, prayed, studied and prayed some more leading up to that morning. I was going to preach the sermon that was going to launch the third "Great Awakening". It was going to have the same net effect as Edward's Sinners in the hand of an Angry God. It lasted sixteen minutes long, having the grace of a train wreck and the gravitas of a whoopee cushion. After morning worship, Pastor Al Pickerall said "you'll do better next time".
I've shared this particular story because we've all been there. Every saint has been there and those who follow after us will have been there at some stage of their lives. When this happens, we dust them off, debrief them in the spirit of charity, then point them back to the runway for another go in the pattern. If the saint is gifted in a particular area and faithfully pursuing their gift, they'll grow in that gift and will soar. We do them a horrible disservice with we tie them down under the guise of them "not being ready" to operate in their spiritual gifts.

We Empower because we've been Empowered. Saint Paul's Ephesian Letter paints a spectacular picture of Spiritual Empowerment in motion in its 4th chapter. The saints who have been prepared for spiritual works are set loose. The body grows in unity and spiritual maturity. Its no longer easy prey to the doctrines of devils. The process continues until the body on earth is joined to its head in the heavenlies.

Monday, September 05, 2011

A Labor Day Prayer

From the Book of Common Prayer on this Labor Day 2011...

Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Spiritual Disempowerment

I’ve been away from the blog over the summer. Its been a busy time of home improvement that saw the re-flooring of four rooms and a hallway (two wood & two/hall ceramic). The last time I spent any time in the seat was during the “great brisketquest of 2011”. But now, I’m back in the seat and burning up the MacBook Pro.

Recently, I had the unfortunate chance to observe spiritual disempowerment being played out. The effect was both disheartening and chilling, and I fear one that’s only begun to reverberate through the affected parish. I'll not labor the details, but it was unsettling.

So what just is “Spiritual Disempowerment”? Webster tells us that to disempower someone is to make them weak, ineffectual or unimportant. For our purposes, I’m defining spiritual disempowerment as making or causing a believer in Christ to be ineffectual, weak and under utilized within the economy of the Kingdom of God. Though certainly not the sole cause, this disempowerment is a major factor behind spiritual immaturity and failure to thrive as members of the family of God.

Disempowerment occurs when believers, gifted in their respective spiritual gift are thwarted in their proper exercise. By gifts, I refer to St. Paul’s descriptions in his writings to the churches at Rome and Corinth.

And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 1 Cor 12:28 (NIV)

Though some of these gifts are miraculous and rare, other gifts are widely given and in full operation within healthy, vibrant churches. Think about it, how could a church grow without the gifts of faith, helps, mercy, prayer, teaching or administration? You’ll find at least one of these gifts operating in a spiritually healthy saint. Its also not rare to see multiple gifts operating in God’s people. In its immediate effect, disempowered believers miss the opportunity to move, grow and mature in their gifts. The greater, farther-reaching effect is that the ministry and outreach of the local church is stymied.

I need to consider the question of why do folk spiritually disempower other believers. The answer, I feel is two-fold. There’s a willful, intentional type that is rooted in pride, envy and insecurity. The second, though less malicious, is just as dampening. This unintentional variety stems from a lack of spiritual sensitivity or awareness. Regardless, both willful and unintentional spiritual disempowerment is a church killer, driving gifted saints away from one local body and into another.

Next, I’d like to discuss our role as church leaders in empowering the saints in a way that sets them onto a path of spiritual growth, fruitful lives, and God-honoring service to the Kingdom.

Friday, September 02, 2011

A tune for a Labor Day Weekend


Its been an interesting summer, but its time to get back to blogging. I've got a few essays percolating in the back by the brainstem that'll be here in the bit stream soon. Topping this are thoughts concerning paedo- vs. credo-baptism. Having held both views, it'll be fun to put 'er out there. Too, in thinking about the coming scatstorm/turdnado (also known as decision '12), I'll be discussing how Dr. Ron Paul could be simultaneously, the best and worst man for the desk in the oval office. Finally, some thoughts as to what its gonna take to clean up the mess bequeathed to us by POTUS 44. Don't change that dial. For now, how about a little Buffet!