Wednesday, October 31, 2007


We love buildings...

Those of us in the church of Christ love buildings. For all of my life that has been one of the great milestones for the congregations where I have worshiped. I know that some of that is because we used to be a poor fellowship on the "wrong" side of the tracks and it was a big deal to be able to build a nice building. It showed we had arrived. Of course, I always wonder if we didn't grow more when we weren't so much a part of the establishment.

I also know that many people will give generously to a building program because it is something tangible. Brick and mortar is easy to see... and to sell.

But I do not get it. We always sell building programs as great acts of faith and sacrifice. I think giving to a building would be pretty far down the list of sacrificial acts of faith for most Christians. We always make buildings out to be about God, or about reaching the lost, or saving our young people. I rarely hear of a building program being undertaken because of all the people baptized in the last two or three years. It seems they are always "going" to be the magic bullet that opens the door to evangelism.

Sometimes I am afraid that we build buildings because it is easier to do that than to really get in lives and bring people to Jesus. At Southern Hills we are entering a building program around the theme of being God's front porch. And hopefully our facilities will reflect that emphasis. But I still suspect it is easier to build a front porch than to be a front porch. After all, one just takes money. The other takes committed lives.

So what are some of your thoughts about church buildings.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Back from the cruise...

We are back from our cruise with our small group from church. I was right: great food, great fun, great friends. It really was wonderful. One day we visited a very old, very historic church in Halifax, Nova Scotia and in some ways my experiences there impacted me more than anything else on the trip.

There were a number of plaques on the wall honoring various members of that congregation. One in particular struck me as incredibly ironic. It was a tribute to a soldier who had made the "ultimate sacrifice". Maybe it was just me, but it seems that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. I have a hard time comparing anything a man might do to what he did. You would think a church would know that. By the way, it was in Canada, not the U.S. so I really don't see how it could be anywhere near the ultimate (heavy dose of sarcasm here).

As Marsha was walking around, she started to step up into one section of seats. Immediately the attendant came running over and told her she was not allowed there because it was reserved for royalty. It just seemed funny to me that a church would have clearly marked segregated seating. Not much unity in Christ there.

Experiences like those really make me appreciate our spiritual heritage in the restoration movement.

But one last experience impacted me even more. Tim Yandell is a good friend and a wonderful singer. Phil Ware decided that the acoustics in this old building would be perfect for Tim to sing Amazing Grace. He talked him into it and Tim cut loose.

I choked up, teared up, and was reminded again of the amazing grace that saved a wretch like me.

I would tell you more, but we all agreed...what happened on the cruise stays on the cruise.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Out again...but on vacation

I am about to be out of town for another week, but this time I am going on vacation. Our small group at church is going on a cruise together. Actually, the guys started this little adventure. We said one time that we ought to take a trip together. We were thinking Fredricksburg. Within two weeks, our wives had a cruise planned. But I have to confess I am really looking forward to it. Marsha and I will get to spend some time together, we will be hanging out with some of our closest friends, and New England/Canada will be beautiful.

Fun, food, and fellowship. It just doesn't get much better than that in this life.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


I can't take it any more...

I grew up hearing some clear teaching on instrumental music that just did not make sense to me. I am sure I did not always hear clearly and maybe I made assumptions that were not really taught, but here are some things that seemed to be taught:

The right position on music in worship was clear and not in doubt (even when I could agree with the final opinion I could never see it quite as clear as others)

You could recognize a true church by their music practice in worship (even tho that is not what Jesus said)

People who did not see it the right way were not as spiritual, Biblical, or enlightened (how self righteous)

It was important to our outreach to be correct on this matter (tho I really didn't think people in the world were going to have their lives changed by this)

There were people who actually looked down on those who were wrong about this (and even talked badly about them)

There were people who threatened to leave if their church did not practice the way they believed on this (and some did)

I sometimes even wondered if there was almost hatred for those who didn't see it our way (at least it sure was hard to see any love and respect)


But 40 something years later I hear the exact same things. Nothing seems to have changed.

Except... growing up these positions and attitudes were often held by non-instrumental brothers. Now they are often held by instrumental brothers. Same attitude and same arrogance. Then I seemed to be branded a liberal heretic who was going to lead the church astray. Now I am seen as conservative stick in the mud who is chaining the church to the past. And I believe just like I did before.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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