Eyeballs, Logs, and Specks

My friend the Pentecostal Presbyterian recently emailed us Presby pastor types in Wyoming a little note.  Huh.  I thought I was the plain spoken one in the presbytery …

Christ’s Church  all over our nation  finds itself in  CRISIS  MODE   concerning ways to  accomplish our  GREAT COMMISSION.  Many writers in HIS CHURCH challenge  us, disturb us,  exhort us,  placate us  and occasionally  one will inform  us and raise our sights  to view a work that seems feasible  for that particular congregation.  The biggest  issues I have encountered in getting  PCUSA  folks  to try new  planning and initiatives  in our mission as CHRIST’S CHURCH :  First ,  apathy birthed in wealth and comfort  ;  second,  great majority of Presbyterians I’ve encountered  are  afraid to  speak openly and publicly about their relationship with Christ.  I discern  these  folks  have either settled  for a knowledge  of Christ as found in ritualistic religion  or have not surrendered  their hearts  to God through Jesus Christ  and thus have not personal,  intimate relationship  with Christ which gives them a  passionate  love for Christ that leads to  excitement  to share personally and simply  their experience with Christ. 

Yez-sir!  Preach it!  Sock it to those pathetic pew-sitters; beat them into submission to radically following Jesus!  His words got me all warmed up for the epic multi-media post I’m planning on to shake mainstream Christendom into abandoning its current forms in favor of the future.  Yez-sir!  I’m really going to irresistibly inspire people into true, at the roots, lay-it-on-the-line for Jesus changes in their values and priorities.

But my hubris began suffering little pinpricks from a still small voice suggesting that I was hardly a paragon of radical discipleship myself.  For weeks my spiritual disciplines have been nonexistent.  No prayer time, no scripture, or worship, and little fellowship, and not much writing.

I’ve been a slug; only doing what come easily, choosing sloth over diligence 82.3 percent of the time.  I haven’t even qualified for the exalted rank of Pathetic Pew-sitter.  I guess my irresistible inspirations will need to wait.



5 thoughts on “Eyeballs, Logs, and Specks

  1. Friend Tom, we are admonished to not ARGUE the Gospel, but to DEMONSTRATE it. Stop kicking yourself. I think you’re doing a heck of a job.

    Tom, we live in a town with a railroad running through it. We know when a train’s going through town, because we can all hear it.

    So, what’s the sound of the Church when it’s in town? “Can I pray for you?” “Are you alright?” “Is everything okay?” “Here, take this…God told me to give it to you.”

  2. Dear Tom,

    Following, some thoughts:

    A lot of us have become all tired out trying to ‘give ourselves 100% to Christ- 95% won’t do’. We’ve been browbeaten into believing it’s what we do, how often we do it, how well we do it, with what attitude we do it that determines firstly, our state of grace and secondly, whether God’s kingdom will come or not. While I believe that works are a part of my faith, they issue out of God’s grace which is already present, not earned. And they issue out of my ‘being’ in Christ.

    I judge allowing myself to be exposed to God so he can look at me and impart to me his view of me to be an important part of ‘being’ and one of the best services I can render to God. This takes time, quiet time, rest, inactivity. So often we are hiding behind, among other things, activity. God’s view of me is firstly, accepting. No matter what that picture is. Period. However, I also believe that he loves me too much to leave me in the state I am and works with me to bring about change where it is necessary, to sanctify and develop that which he has laid in me and shall be useful for his purposes. The process may be relatively painless or it can mean much trial but it can only be done on the basis of my becoming visible to God (transparent even) and my resulant knowledge of his love for me and deep trust in him.

    Your fire and brimstone sermon might spur the young and powerful into action but many of us may just feel discouraged and wonder what we have done our whole lives and if we still have a chance with our waning strength and years.

    I agree that wealth and comfort can birth apathy- but a story by the famous German evangelist, Wilhelm Busch, shows that God can call us through the blessings of wealth, comfort and peace, too, and that these can also be tools in his hands.

    On the subject of ‘pathetic pew-sitters- I plead for care in judging someone in these terms. I am reminded of the passage where Paul lists the various gifts and offices. It offers us a healthy perspective on the varied services God’s people can perform. Some are called to blog (and God remembers that we are dust, not Superman), some are called to give financially, some open their homes and counsel and comfort, some go to far-away lands, some exercise influence in political arenas, some are very visible, some work in the background. By the same token, our ‘being’ encompasses various modes- at times, we are very active, at times we are quiet, recouperating, at times we are reaching outward, at times we need a place of rest and fellowship. God is accomplishing his purposes using any channel we offer and whether we are visibly active or not. It may not look very spectacular but in his hands, it is good.

    I would like to encourage you with the words from Zeph.3:17 (NIV), ‘The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.’ He knows your frame and has accepted you He is aware of your strength and your weakness. He has seen what you have done and sees what you are doing.. He sees who you are and rejoices over you.

    • Miriam:
      Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response. Well said! Despite how my post may have sounded, we are in the same chapter, if not on the same page.

      What the written word misses is the inflection of voice, which is in my head, but doesn’t always come through my key pad. My words were meant to be heavy with irony … I was trying to express the wry realization I had come to that my discipleship is more in need of exortation than some faceless “them” out there.

      I hope you keep reading. Your response is being used by the Spirit to inspire my next post. Thank you.


      • Tom,
        No, the irony wasn’t completely lost on me but your comment on your own diligence made me think I might be picking up a different signal.

        Let me give you a little background on the alarm bells I heard. Part of my reaction was on the backdrop of my own experience. I was approaching middle-age when, during counselling, I finally began grasping what it means to be unconditionally loved by God and learning to trust him for what I need. I began to understand what it really means to be mature and responsible and to learn to integrate this ‘being’ and ‘doing’ in my life in a healthy way. I later trained to work in the same program. Our participants are Christians. Many of them have experienced some kind of neglect or abuse. They have reacted to their wounding either by giving up or by overachieving (very generally speaking). Either way, they are all worn out and hopeless employing whatever survival techniques they have cobbled together. So I was reacting with them in mind, too.

        In the program, we spend a good amount of time exploring what our basic needs are and the role of parents in meeting them. This is essential as most of them didn’t experience a healthy, loving parent-child relationship and if they are going to be able to trust God for their healing and experience his fatherhood, their ability to perceive him as a loving father needs to be developed. It is deeply satisfying to see these people begin to rest in God’s love. For the first time they experience that they don’t have to fight for their place in this world, they don’t have to try to reach God, they don’t have to perform for him. He meets them.

        And then the pendulum swings to the other extreme (and pastors complain to us about it) and our dear participants proclaim that they don’t have to do anything anymore, they are at rest and everybody else exists to meet their needs! As immature and difficult for everybody this stage is, it is a normal one on the way to maturity. How does one know what rest looks and feels like if it hasn’t been experienced? Especially later, when it’s easy to fall back into old patterns, this first-hand knowledge of rest can exert corrective influence.

        And here, one of the things you said in your reply is what we hope to lead them into- we are called into relationship where we display and practice God’s perfect purposes; we are only viable in relationship with others; in relationship we become whole; being in relationship means being vulnerable and it costs.

        Yes, ‘doing’ is part of the whole deal but depending on what ears one is hearing with, it can sound threatening.

        Many thanks for your further reflections with which I agree. I appreciate your sharp insight and articulate writing.


      • Thank you for describing the dynamics of the people you work with. I am in awe of that ministry. What a difficult but thrilling thing to have a role in God’s love setting people free.
        As I was reading your last comment the letter to the Galatians came to mind. I have been influenced by a commentator who suggests that Paul was dealing with two groups who were polar opposite in their understanding of the Gospel. One group insisted the only way to live the Christian life was by strict observation of the Hebrew law. The other group distorted “saved by grace alone” and declared that there were no obligations to the Christian life, one was free to live however one chose. Paul sets out a third way – yes, Christians are free from slavish obedience to the Law, but not free to indulge our selfish desires (Sin). Christians are set free from both extremes to live under the guidance of the Spirit.
        Finally, thank you for reminding me that love requires vulnerability/trust. It’s one big bungee jump, isn’t it?

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