Puerto Rico and UMCOR

The bad news is that reports from Puerto Rico are growing increasingly dire. The good news is that UMCOR (and other agencies) are on it. Like Texas and Florida, Puerto Rico (though not a state) is part of the United States and Puerto Ricans are United States Citizens (I mention this because only about 50 percent of those of us in the states are aware of it). I would ask you to remember Puerto Rico (and other countries as well) when you pray for Texas and Florida.

The National Anthem Brouhaha, Part 2

A friend and clergy college of mine, Heather Hensarling, wrote the following as an introduction when she shared my post from yesterday. I want to share the meat of it with you. I especially want to share the sentiment of “No judgment here, folks. I promise.”

I first met my friend, Reverend John Collins, at Licensing School in York, NE, 1994. … I’m sharing his blog on The National Anthem Brouhaha (always wondered how to spell that word). It strikes at the heart of what I’ve been feeling as I witness the amount of angry energy church members exert over “a game player” taking a knee during the National Anthem…yet somehow feel no amount of loyalty themselves to remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy. I.e., come to church. I’m not thinking of anyone in particular. I’m thinking of everyone in general who call themselves followers of Jesus, yet somehow muster up more energy about taking a knee on NFL game day than they do about taking a seat on Sunday. No judgment here, folks. I promise. The only shoes I walk in are my own. Just curious, that’s all. …

The National Anthem Brouhaha

I’m feeling prophetic this morning, and that means that there’s a pretty good chance that what follows is going to offend someone. To avoid possible confusion, let me state at the outset that I’m not writing to argue against standing for the national anthem, I’m writing to argue for weekly worship attendance. I welcome your feedback via email, a phone call, or a face to face conversation.

The current brouhaha over standing or not standing for the national anthem at the beginning of a for-profit sporting event has left me slightly bemused. Here’s why.

I think that there is an analogy to be drawn between the singing of the national anthem at the beginning of a sporting event and the weekly service of worship at the beginning of the week (remember the New Testament refers to Sunday as the first day of the week), but it is an unequal analogy. What I mean by an unequal analogy is this: whatever honor and respect we owe to the country in which we live pales in comparison to the honor and respect we owe the Almighty. After all, it is God who formed the earth upon which we live, the air that we breathe, and without whose continuous grace all that exists would cease to be.

The extent to which many people have gotten upset over the fact that a few professional athletes are refusing to stand for the national anthem is surprising when you consider how everyone takes it in stride when a much larger percentage of the population stays away from the weekly worship service. My country has given me a great many things; my God has given me even more and without the God who made all that is, my country would have nothing to offer me. Any argument that can be made for the importance of standing for the national anthem can be made even more forcefully for attending worship. But despite that fact, we get very upset about any neglect of the first no matter what the reason while being sanguine about the most flagrant violations of the second for any old reason at all.

Obviously, we cannot coerce sincere faith in God by mandating weekly worship attendance any more than we can coerce true allegiance to our country by making everyone stand for the national anthem, but shame on us for being so concerned about the latter and so untroubled about the former. It’s almost a textbook case of idolatry. May God have mercy on us.

Please do not confuse my failure to discuss the reasons for taking a knee for indifference to them. Regardless of the efficacy of their protest, I consider the matters of injustice given by those taking a knee to be of grave concern.

John Wesley on Reading

In honor of our Breakfast Club gathering this morning, I wanted to share the following quote from John Wesley:

It cannot be that the people should grow in grace, unless they give themselves to reading. A reading people will always be a knowing people. — John Wesley [1]

Now I know that not everyone is a reader, but note that Wesley says “the people,” “a reading people,” and “a knowing people.” All of these terms refer to a group of people. Don’t worry if you’re not a reader, other members of your congregation have you covered, simply do what you can and be attentive to the other means of grace.

[1] John Wesley in an unpublished letter dated November 8, 1790. As quoted by L. Tyerman, The Life and times of the Rev. John Wesley, M.A., Founder of the Methodists (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1871), 632. Found online at books.google.com.

God’s Love for Us is Steadfast

The language is a bit archaic, but all these years later, the point C. S. Lewis made in 1952 stands:

On the whole, God’s love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him. . . . The great [important] thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him. — C. S. Lewis [1]


[1] C. S. Lewis, “Charity,” in Mere Christianity (1952).

Apologists Don’t Necessarily Apologize

You may have heard the term Christian apologetics and been unsure what exactly it was. It is an old term that doesn’t mean saying “I’m sorry” for Christianity. I finally came across a concise explanation in a book about early Christianity:

Referred to by scholars as the classic Christian “Apologists” (from the Greek word apologia = “defense”), these writers not only responded to accusations against Christians; they also attempted to advocate and defend vigorously Christian beliefs in the larger intellectual world of their time. [1]

Christian apologetics, defenses of the faith, are still being written. C. S. Lewis is a well-known example of a 20th-century apologist.

[1] Larry W. Hurtado, Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2017), 4.