Church Hurts And

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Sex, Church and Ministers with Ned Beadel

I was only 15 when I first thought about going into the ministry. In light of the fact that I hadn’t grown up in church, and my mind was filled with sex (isn’t that what 15 means?), it was a unique spiritual dynamic. Still, it was at that age I received what is considered a “call” in the church world. That was a long time ago, but isn’t it interesting I talk about a call to the ministry and sex in the same breath?

As I look back upon it I never really really veered from that direction for the next thirty years. Wait, am I talking about my call to the ministry or a mind filled with sex? Sometimes I wonder if they aren’t the same thing. Uh oh. We are headed for trouble here.

Since I’m in the distant past I might as well go down those ancient streets. I remember wondering what it would be like if I really did become a minister as I pursued an education in that direction. I became acutely aware of how clergy were perceived in the world around me. Remember the televangelists' scandals? Jim Bakker. Jimmy Swaggart. Famous T.V. preachers who not-so-euphemistically got caught with their pants down.

I’m not sure what the numbers were, what the cause and effect formula was or who exactly is to blame, but I do know that church attendance has declined significantly in my lifetime and the dignity and respect of clergy has gone with it and lots of people roll their eyes when the subject comes up. 

You see, it didn’t stop with headlines. Almost anyone close to the church knows of some story where sexual scandal and church got into their world. This minister did this. That priest did that. The volunteer who disappeared with rumors following did what? 

Just this week I talked to a man who is a generous donor on my support team at Standing Stone Ministry. He’s a deacon in his church and takes meals to Seniors during this pandemic called Corona. He was telling me about the background checks he had to go through to volunteer to take meals to seniors.

So today we brought in an expert uniquely qualified to speak to this subject. Sex, Church, and Ministers. Oh my.

Welcome to Church Hurts And Rev. Ned Beadel.

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Part 2 London Town, Slaves and Grace with Ben Virgo

Before we go, I’d just like to take a moment to say a word about perspective. Ben Virgo on the Christian Heritage Tour gave me a perspective of London I simply never would have had if I hadn’t gone on that tour. It wasn’t all new information to me, I knew some of it, but it sure was different seeing it, matching places to events and people. I hope you’ve gotten a bit of that tour in the past few minutes and maybe had your perspective adjusted a bit too.

Many years ago I had a similar perspective-changing Tour given by Ray Bakke in Chicago. I was living in the city at the time, but just a few hours with Ray changed what I saw every day. Really? The street means that much and that happened there? Wow.

When you get next to experts your perspective is likely to get threatened. If they really know their stuff, like Ben knows his stuff, you will see things differently, maybe hear things differently, and perhaps even feel things differently. When the plaque on the old building you walk by says, “Within a few feet of this place John Rogers, John Bradford, John Philpot and other servants of God suffered death by fire for the faith of Christ 1555, 1556, 1557” it gives one reason to pause. “Just tell me you don’t believe something and I won’t burn you to death.” What do you believe in strongly enough not to give in to that?

Yet almost invariably with perspective growth, comes nuance. Nuance is very underrated. Life is so much easier with black and white perspectives. Good-Bad. Righteous. Sinner.

Surely I may be wrong, but I suspect some of our propensity to wanting things that way is because it is easier. This king is good. That queen was bad. Royalty is all bad. Presbyterians are good. Catholics are bad. Churches are filled with hypocrites. You get the point. Or do you?

 Life, people, and churches aren’t easy to put in a box with “All” connected very successfully. It’s a mixed bag. We are a mixed bag. Churches are a mixed bag. Add time to the equation and it gets even messier. Someone who was really bad can end up being really good and someone really good can end up being a scoundrel.

You know how I can prove that. Look in the mirror. See that person. All good? Nope. All bad? Nope. We need a lot more nuance.

I came not to call the righteous, but sinners. Nuance. You bet. And that’s what we mean by AND. Leonard Ravenhill from Leeds in Yorkshire England once said:"Jesus did not come into the world to make bad men good. He came into the world to make dead men live!” Now that’s nuance and that is Worth a Thought.

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London Town, Slaves and Grace with Ben Virgo

PART 1. I was disappointed when my hostess in London informed me she had set up a tour for us to go on. I’m not a tour-going kind of tourist and I was sure no tour was going to show me to the kind of places I’d want to see. “But it is the Christian Heritage Tour” she explained, a bit hurt by my obvious lack of enthusiasm. I bit my lip, not wanting to appear any more unappreciative than I already had. So now I’m going to get some sappy tour of Church architecture by a typical Anglican who will explain away the empty churches with some cultural psycho babble. Surely the guide won’t know much about the truly great preachers of London I would want to know about. 

As I sat on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral, best know to this American mind for the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981, little was I prepared for the bouncing smiling tour guide to be another act of God’s humor upon me. Ben Virgo was his name. Surprisingly he was not a stayed traditional Anglican at all and proceeded to take us on a walking tour of London which turned the day into one of the most meaningful and memorable days of my life.

I’d like to keep telling you about it, but let me cut to the chase. In a way I had never understood, Ben helped me see how much of key moments in history can be tied back to London and even to specific places in London. So in the midst of all the questions and unrest lately here in the US, I figured I’d test out Ben’s theory. What can we learn about racial issues from London? What about disease and pandemics? What about God and Church and Hurts?

So with no further adieu, Ben Virgo, Welcome to Church Hurts And from the other side of the pond.

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Clergy, Congregations and Me with Dr. Sam Hamstra

Losing My Religion. That was the title of a book written in 2009 with this subtitle: “How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace”. It was a great read. It ended up being the atheist book of the year and certainly one of my favorites. It was well written, a fast read, thoughtful, and seemingly quite authentic.

 

I’d love to have the Author William Lobdell on this show sometime, but let me ruin the plot of the book so you can buy something more encouraging. After positive and apparently life-changing experiences with authentic evangelical men, Lobdell gave his life to Christ. Then after being one the key people to really explode the news stories about sex abuse replete in the Roman Catholic priesthood, he was overwhelmed by the pain of the victims and concluded, no good God would allow that. This world is out of control, quite incompatible with any notion of a Benign Deity.

 

I bring this up today, not to jump into the field of apologetics and refute the arguments of Lobdell which are really just another rendition of the problem of evil, but rather to remember at Church Hurts And that for many people the Hurt of Church is quite often located specifically at the intersection of clergy and congregation.

 

Two years ago Forbes listed Clergy and the 8th most trusted profession right beneath Judges, which I remind you are usually attorneys and right above auto mechanics. Imagine. The World Economic Forum in 2018 found that clergy weren’t even in the top ten.

 

Pastors, Ministers, Priests, Preachers, call them whatever you want, are key to our perceptions good and bad of church today and in our personal experiences. I think this is worth another look and to get that we have a specialist in the subject, which in and of itself makes him a scary dude. Sam helps match congregations with the right clergy to try to avoid some of what I am talking about. Sam Hamstra, welcome to Church Hurts And.

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Two Things I Hate - Dr. Voddie Baucham

Sir Michael Caine, the famed two-time Academy Award-winning English actor once said:  “There are only two things I hate in this world. People who are intolerant of other people's cultures and the Dutch.” Now that was a great comedic line and the Dutch are a fun and easy target, but I’m not kidding around today. I don’t use the word “Hate” lightly either and to make matters worse, those two things I hate are directly about religion and politics, the two untouchables for a proper party to be had. So let’s get it over with.

The first thing I hate is going to make you want to turn off the radio, roll your eyes in irritation, and wonder what in the world is wrong with me. What is it? Gnosticism.  I hate Gnosticism! It is even spelled with a silent “G” which is annoying and if you don’t know what it means, stay around, because I hope you will learn to hate it too. It is evil, from the pit of hell, won’t go away, shows up in every culture and every generation, and wreaks havoc whenever it raises its nasty head.

The second thing I hate came from the pen of a spoiled adult German boy running around in London after being kicked out France writing home to his more affluent relatives asking them to send money to support his indulgent rebellious lifestyle and writing. Untold millions of deaths can be traced back to this thing we know as Marxism. I hate Marxism!

Wait. Isn’t this a show about Church? Where’s the love?

Our guest today knows more about the two things I hate than most people in the world. He’s current. He’s relevant. He’s educated beyond impressive. He’s controversial. He’s honest. He’s real. He’s also a bit of a hero to me, so I may stuttering a bit during this interview realizing I can preach a sermon in one of his pauses and we don’t have that long.

 

Dr. Voddie Baucham, Welcome to Church Hurts And.

White, English & Privileged-Julia Nand

I’ll never forget the first time I heard someone mention WASP and realized they weren’t talking about those bee-like creatures who sting and are really scary. I was quite young and when the acrostic was explained to me I realized I was still lost. I only understood what one of the four words meant. WHITE ANGLO SAXON PROTESTANT. Ok. I thought I got the WHITE. The other three, forget it. 

I’m guessing everyone has their own story of how they came to discover the identity of their family, skin color, racial background, national identity, religion, etc., but it isn’t something that comes very intuitively. These are all categories that require some degree of learning and context.

As the years went by I learned a bit more. Anglo Saxon in my mind just meant English or British and I didn’t get the difference between those two at all, but at least I had a bucket into which I could put Anglo and Saxon. 

Protestant? That was a bit harder. We went to a different church building (as if we ever went) than the Catholics did and we could eat meat on Friday and if we had a cross hanging in our home it wouldn’t still have Jesus hanging on it. And our ministers wouldn’t wear those long dresses or black clothes during the week with a white thing called a collar.

But so what? What really mattered was discovering what this meant to others. Some seemed very proud of being WASPs, like attainment of sorts, and somehow superior to other categories. And there didn’t seem to be variations of it. Never heard of WASC or WHITE ANGLO SAXON CATHOLICS. OR BASPs. BLACK ANGLO SAXON PROTESTANTS.

I could go on, but you get the point. What’s the big deal? For my Grandmother is was a huge deal because she was DAR (more initials) or Daughter of the American Revolution and even an elite one because she was also a DAM, Daughter of the Mayflower. That’s about as close to royal pedigree as one could have as it was explained to me in Elementary School. My blood must be red white and blue.

Now I know that WASP was referring to a certain combination of Race, Heritage, and Religion which somehow meant I had hit the jackpot. I was privileged. Over time I came to discover that lots of people didn’t like WASPs and the subtleties and nuances surrounding the issues weren’t going to go away-certainly not anytime soon if you read the same newspapers I do.

So today I decided to bring in a special guest. She is more white than me. She is way more English than I am and she’s worked in the City in London and on Wall Street in Manhattan with names that look exactly like the ones on your checking account. Privileged indeed. Born English. Raised in Cambridge. Mother of 3. Miss Julia Kate Nand. Welcome to Church Hurts And.

 

Messy, Confusing & Personal - Rich Hurst

Are you a good host or hostess? If you aren’t sure of that answer, let me tell you how you can figure it out. Do people like coming to your house? When you are hosting, is it a fun time had by all?

 

Now let me tell you a secret. I have come to believe that there is a direct inverse proportion between how much time you take fussing to make everything perfect before people come over and the degree of fun people have. How many of you felt at ease when grandma pulled off the plastic covers from her treasured meticulously upholstered furniture so you could “make yourself comfortable”?

How about those decorative candles and embroidered hand towels in the guest bath? Aren’t they charming? Years ago I read an article telling people to go around and light all the candles in the house and blow them out before people came. Who feels comfortable seeing someone light a fresh new candle that’s been sitting as a decoration for unknown months?

 

I have already made a category leap in this opening monologue. Did you catch it? I started by asking if you were a good host/hostess? Then what did I do? I switched to talking about your home and details which can easily get our attention-furniture, towels, candles. Let’s go backward.

 

What about you? Are you a person people want to hang with? Is your hair done right? Do you wear nice clothes? What about you draws people in and what about you give people a deep desire to be lonely?

 

Today we have as a guest someone who is laughing because he understands everything I have said so far as bizarre as my thinking has been. I’m really not sure what he is an expert in. He doesn’t have a ton of impressive degrees, the sales of his books have fallen through the floor since his mother died, but for some unknown reason, people like to be around him and even listen to his wise advice.

Rich Hurst, Welcome to Church Hurts And.

Pick Your God II: India & Irvine- Dr. Francis Burgula

Part 2 with Francis. I don’t know many Indians. As an American, I want to say, “You know like Indian Indians, not like American Indians.” I can not imagine how ignorant that must sound to the people who make up 1.3 billion of the world’s population. If you need something to put that in perspective as I do, that’s over three times the population of the United States.

But wait. What race is Francis? I bet you don’t know. In fact, I bet you are not sure how many races there are in the world. Your mind is saying 5 right? or is it 4? or 7? I’m not going to tell you and if you do know that answer, right now you are feeling insulted and want to tell me. But do I mean race as a biological category or a sociological one? Which is it? Do I really mean ethnicity? 

Wait again. Name those races. What are they? Once again I bet you can’t name the major races, let alone the corresponding ethnicities and countries they mainly populate.

But you feel strongly about the race dialogue going on in America, so much so that there is a good chance your friendships are being effected. You are insulted by those who are taking a different view from you. You may think they are ignorant and backward and bigoted or they may be ill-informed and pushy or snobby. I have some friends who are considering cutting off friends and even posted on Facebook if you have XYZ view, you can unfriend me. I don’t want to even be around you. Really? 

Some of you aren’t hearing a word because you are stuck on Black, White, Indian, Asian and you are counting on your fingers as you do it. What are you missing?

We could do the same exercise in Major World Religions if we wanted to. What are the major World Religions? I divert.

Back to Francis. I don’t know many Indians. I don’t have many Indian friends. Francis is a new friend for me and I suspect he will be one for life and it is going to be good and deep and filled with humor and teasing and a mutual passion for the God we love, the one Triune God who reveals Himself in Holy Scripture.

Francis is going to teach me more about Indians, the amazing diversity among these people, their land, their history, their food, and cultures. I’ll probably even pick up novels about India that I never would have considered before I met Francis.

His skin has different pigmentation than mine. Of course, I notice it. I’m not blind. Do I care? Not really. Bet you don’t either.  Why? Because it is Francis. You know his name, His mission, his values, his love of God and country.

Why do I know Francis? Because as a middle-age man he came to my country and he learned about my people and from my people. When he met me, he smiled and shook my hand. I know Francis because he came here.

I don’t want to push an analogy too far, but that’s also the story of the Gospel the Church has taught for 2,000 years. God made the trip. He came here, to this earth, in human flesh. His name is Jesus. He cared. He loved. He taught. He died. The message: “In my Father’s House there are many mansions. If it were not so I would have told you.” Want one of those mansions? 

Check out a church today who can tell you more about that. The real estate up there in Heaven sure isn’t cheap, but the price has already been paid. And that is what we mean by “AND” and that is WORTH A THOUGHT.

For Church Hurts AND this is John Bash. Love somebody today and Enjoy God, won’t you?

Pick Your God - Dr. Francis Burgula

What god do you believe in? Imagine that as the icebreaker question at a party or business roundtable. Quickly we would realize why the old adage came to be, “We can talk about anything but politics or religion.” Violate that rule and trouble is sure to brew. But isn’t it a legitimate question? What god do you believe in?

I work a lot in the recovery field and talk of a “Higher Power” is very important there. People will refer to “their” Higher Power. It seemed strange to me at first. Do people think that God is like ordering a Hamburger? I’ll take my God with an extra pickle, hold the judgment, drop the adultery for sure, and give me an extra dose of love sweet love.

Reflection upon this took me back to my first Philosophy of Religion course, day one. There you learn to distinguish between religions which are “Theistic” (believing in one God) and those which are “Polytheistic” (believing in many gods). Sounds simple, right?

Guess what? I’ve watched in my lifetime the world around me (I mean in the USA) transition from overwhelming predominant Theists (even Christian Theists going to church) to unapologetic unrefined Polytheists. Think about that for a second. 

Who is your higher power? What god do you worship? Sounds like a smorgasbord to me. How could this have happened? 

Wait. I have an idea. It is my Western thinking. We can learn from the East. They have different logic and certainly a different view of God. 

If you are not confused yet, you are not listening. Today we have as a guest one of the best people in the world to help us understand what is baffling to most. He grew up in India. Ended up becoming a Christian in college to join the 2 percent of that country which is so, even went on to become a minister and came to Southern California to study further and get his doctorate at Talbot Theological Seminary. Now he spends most of his year in India ministering to ministers. Welcome, Dr. Francis Burgula to Church Hurts And.

Men, Macho and Ministry-Dr. Pete Alwinson

I love the Socratic method. It’s part of what makes me a curmudgeon. It went out of style a long time ago as the premier didactic tool of education, but I had the good fortune of having some professors who didn’t drink the cool-aid of modern educationalese and still taught that way. One had to come to class prepared knowing the professor would likely challenge their knowledge and arguments for or against the issue under discussion.

“What do you think about that Mr. Bash?” might come out of the professor’s mouth at any moment, making daydreaming quite a perilous activity.

I snuck in late to a special event one time which was featuring one of those aforementioned professors. You knew him, Pete. His name was R.C. Sproul and hundreds of people were in attendance. As he was apt to do he broke into a Latin phrase to make a fine point which always got people’s attention wondering if he had lost his mind. Like quoting Latin is going to make something clearer, right?

In dramatic fashion he turned his back on the audience and walked toward the blackboard he would use long after they went out of style, raising his hands in the air he said, “What does that mean, BASH?”

This wasn’t my church. I was a stranger there. So much for my trying to sneak in late inconspicuously. Immediately turning 50 shades of red I responded with the right answer from the middle of the crowd, wanting to sink through the floor only to have my professor say, “No! It means…” and then he went on to say loudly with the microphone exactly what I had said. He was such a turkey.

What does that have to do with today? Men, Macho & Ministry? I want to do a bit of that Socratic method with our guest, even play the devil’s advocate, if you will.

Really? In this day and age to focus on men? Doesn’t this guy know that’s as out of fashion as the Socratic Method?

Dr. Pete Alwinson, California native, but has made Orlando home for decades, has a ministry to men that keeps growing. Talk about bucking the trend. Doesn’t he know that there’s not much difference between men and women? It’s the 21st century. And in church too? Bet he believes only men should be leaders in the church and the Bible ought to keep its sexist language and that God has a beard like a grandFATHER.

Why in the world would someone focus on men and church in this day and age?

Welcome Dr. Alwinson to Church Hurts And.

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