Church Hurts And

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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.

Mental Illness, Addiction and Hope with Dr. Jim Stout

It was the watershed moment in my life. I don’t say that just looking back. I knew it at the time. A decision had to be made and there would be no turning back. I was mentally, spiritually, and physically exhausted.

I had studied, laboriously studied. That’s what I do when I get stuck in a corner. I figure I must be in that corner because I didn’t know enough.  Then I feel stupid. How can you not feel stupid if you are stuck in this corner? Smart people don’t get stuck in corners like this, do they?

Then I became an expert. I talked to more people about it. I read more. Now it felt like I was stuck in the corner with a suicide vest on. My only option out was to blow myself up.

Have you ever felt stuck in a corner by something in life like that? Had I been the suicidal type, it would have been the end of me.

Now I’m not going to name names or tell you where the bodies are buried, but I will give you the category. It’s called “Mental Illness”. In so many ways that defy definition because rational categories seem to elude it. 

If I keep trying to talk about this I am going to get myself in trouble so I have brought into the show today a man who is just crazy enough to understand what I am talking about, and just rational enough to make more sense out of it than I can.

Dr. Jim Stout from Costa Mesa, California is a husband on one for over 50 years, a father of two, grandfather to 6, long time pastor, author, speaker, and handler of therapy dog “Thunder the Wonder Dog”.

Welcome, Rev. Dr. Jim Stout to Church Hurts And.

www.churchhurtsand.org

You can hear more from our guest here: drjimstout.com

Clarity in Confusion with Kent Burklow

 

I watched a humorous video the other day which showed a horse race with a mock announcer calling out the silly horse names which were made analogous to the trending solutions for the virus called Corona. “Shelter in Place” is rounding the curve followed closely by “Daily Briefings”. Here comes “Doctor Fauci” … you get the point. It was hard not to laugh but as one got weary of the point being made, hopefully, they stuck around for the ending. To paraphrase: “And coming from nowhere to take the race is “WHO THE HECK KNOWS” by a head.

Confusion. Have you ever experienced a time where the world together stood in common confusion? What is the best thing for the country to do? What is the best thing for the national government to do? What should states do and what should local officials do? 

Laws and rules and advice vary from expert to expert, medical minds intersecting with legal minds, and politicians never stopping with opinions. And then it all gets personal. What do you do? And we talk about the church here, what should the church do? Really we are asking, “How do we find clarity in the midst of confusion?”

We have a guest today who is uniquely qualified to help us navigate this subject. Currently, he is the CFO at Effcon Laboratories which means he plays around in the middle of clinical trials with money. Doesn’t that sound fun? Back in the days of the biotech boom, he was with Genentech, and in between, he worked with churches a lot. His life has produced results so that lots of people seek his advice on lots of things, so let’s find out why.

Now from Atlanta, let me bring on J. Kent Burklow. Welcome Kent, to Church Hurts And.

www.churchhurtsand.org

Generations Style Now with Ryan Gaffney

Since the world seems very upside down these days, let us begin with an upside down story. Many people do not realize that most prestigious universities were begun with one of their primary emphasis being to train ministers. Harvard and Yale were Puritan schools. Harvard was named after a Christian minister. Yale was started by a clergyman. Princeton defined Presbyterianism for a long time finding its roots in The Log College designed specifically to train ministers. One only has to check out the old crests and latin slogans of many schools to discover the truth of this.

There certainly is an irony to the fact that most of these schools morphed into institutions overtly hostile to any version of classical Christianity. By the early 1900’s farmers having saved for a lifetime to send one of their children to college got back a confident faithless adult child. Soon Bible Colleges started to pop up, assuring parents this faithless transition wouldn’t occur there.

But now the story gets even weirder. Churches themselves started to imitate what happened in the colleges & universities. More and more traditional beliefs were falling away as sophisticated thinkers assured people that no one with a brain really believes many of the things in the Bible any more. 19th Century Philosophical Liberalism was turning into the story of 20th Century mainstream churches. Intelligence was being measured not by what one believed but by what they didn’t believe. Gone were the Sunday School stories of a Creation mandated by God, Moses and the burning bush, Jonah and the whale, Noah and the Arc let alone Jesus walking on water and a gravestone rolled away. We knew better now. 2000 years after the time of Christ we had it figured out. Those poor ignorant people who for 1900 years believed in a God who created something out of nothing and sent his son to redeem mankind just didn’t get the truth.

By the time the 1970’s rolled around churches were pretty well divided between those who were more “Bible believing” and those more what we will call “Progressive”. For many, these issues just weren’t doing anything for them spiritually, emotionally, or in any way really, and the decline of church attendance got momentum. It was boring, irrelevant, faithless and passé. 

But… then some young baby boomer church leaders decided that the issues weren’t so much intellectual ones as they were stylistic. Princetonian sermons with three alliterated points and a poem weren’t relevant to real life. Hymns and responsive readings were boring. Creeds in unison seemed meaningless. But what would happen if we took a biblically based message with relevant application for real life and combined it with music we actually listened to and dropped out the boring liturgy, maybe even throw in a drama or multi media show?

Orange County California had some of the first churches developed with many of these thoughts. The Chrystal Cathedral was a precursor of sorts to the movement and Robert Schuller a mentor to a few. Calvary Chapel certainly comes to mind. South Coast Community, now Mariners was another. Later on Saddleback took the lead. That’s the kind of church many Millennials saw as typical church. Let’s talk to one of them today.

Ryan Gaffney, Woodbridge High School Grad in Irvine and then Concordia University in Irvine and then Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He now pastors College Park Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Florida.

Jews, Conflict and Culture with Dr. Carl Moeller

It is hard to describe the tension in the air and in the spirits of Americans at the time of this broadcast. After three months we were tired of the shutdown caused by the virus called Corona, perhaps even more tired of the endless pundits discussing reopening the country, when the air got sucked out of the room by the senseless murder of George Floyd on May 25 and then the protests turned to riots and the pundits kept going and going and I’m tired even describing it. It’s been painful.

I’ve really have had to focus to keep myself from losing my serenity during this time. How easy it would be to get wound up over big issues of which I have no control. People I talk to all have a lot of opinions about the virus, about race, about authorities and bias as virtue signaling has taken over Facebook, family groups, and almost all public discourse. I’m tired, but it got me thinking.

What would it be like if this stress didn’t go away? What would it be like to live daily under conditions where events outside of your control might impose at any moment in dramatic ways? As I often do, I went to the Bible, and soon I was thinking about that land where so much of the Bible played out. In my lifetime, I can’t think of a place more synonymous with conflict and stress and charges of bigotry and bias and international virtue signaling than the Middle East. One might even think that “Powder Keg” is defined as the number one adjective for the Middle East.

So lets calm things down, if you are following my clear train of thought (virus, shut down, pundits, George Floyd, Middle East), now let’s add church into the equation. If you grew up in a Church you probably heard some teaching about Israel and some attempt to apply that to the modern-day. Some churches are just go-go Israel, the Jews are God’s people and we need to stand behind them no matter what. God said so. It’s in the Bible.

Other churches find the connection between modern Israel and Ancient Israel a stretch at best and have far more empathy for the causes of the Palestinians. But know this, no matter what you heard emphasized, it probably didn’t come with a lot of flexibility toward the other viewpoint.

But let’s get more personal yet. If you came from a churched family, What were you told about Jews growing up? 

And then in the news, in the very back pages, at the very bottom was an announcement which you may have overlooked. The Joshua Fund hired a new Executive Director. Paul, I bet you missed it. Well, you may not know that guy or The Joshua Fund and we are going to correct that right now.

Welcome, Dr. Carl Moeller to Church Hurts And.

Come visit us at ChurchHurtsAnd.org

You can hear more from our guest here: TheJoshuaFund.com

 

Plagues, Pandemics and Churches-Carl Trueman

Today we are asking some bigger questions! The famous theologian and boxer Mike Tyson once said: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” I like that. It rings true today as much of America and the World cowers in their homes in this storm of an invisible virus called Corona. We’ve been punched in the mouth and any plans we had have been put to the test. We’ve heard from more medical experts than ever before. We’ve listened to economists by the dozen wax eloquent guessing about the future. But I think something else has been going on to, and it is something that usually takes a punch in mouth. We are asking some bigger questions. Who’s in charge here? How could this happen in our sophisticated scientific age? What can I do? What should I do? What if it gets me?

It’s in times like this that I find some wisdom in look backwards. Has anything like this happened before? How did the Church handle it? What did they do right? What did they do wrong? So today we have one of the most qualified people I know to help us do exactly that. His name is Carl Trueman. I could take the rest of the show introducing him by listing his degrees and books but anyone can just google his name for that. Let me just say his specialty is Historical Theology which is a soup with history and theology all mixed together and it can be pretty healing stuff if it is cooked properly.

Welcome Carl… Rumor has it that you grew up in Dudley England which is a lot like growing up in Pittsburgh from what I can tell? The title of this show is “Church Hurts AND…” For a lot of people who’ve been hurt or disillusioned by the church, they might think that is largely new to period of history. Might you be interested in removing that illusion from us as a bonafide expert in Historical Theology? So…tell me what times in history have come to your mind in recent weeks in the midst of this Corona Virus… Can you tell us a few stories of when people and the church faced anything that felt like this? 

churchhurtsand.org

Denominations, Change and Culture with Dr. Doug Rehberg

The numbers aren’t good. They really aren’t. Church attendance. Church membership. Religious affiliation.  All down. Gallop tells us that in the past 20 years church membership has gone down a percent a year. 20 years ago 70% of Americans were church members. Now it is 50% and I probably don’t need to tell you that the younger a person is the less likely they have any religious affiliation.

If we dig into that a bit we discover some more trends that are no longer breaking news. Mainline Denominations are leading in this decline. We also discover that this trend is not world wide. According the Guardian “religion is on the wane in western Europe and North America, and it’s growing everywhere else.” Interesting.

To help us navigate these swirling waters we have a guest today uniquely qualified to speak on the subject. He’s a mainline Presbyterian pastor who has never bought into the status quo although he is so buttoned down he makes L.L. Bean apologize for their trendiness. 

Dr. Doug Rehberg started out as an economist with a MPA degree from George Washington, even worked for the EPA before turning religious and getting another masters, this time to Princeton for his Master of Divinity Degree and then got his Doctorate in Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary. Maybe he can help us sort out this morass of change and tell us what it means.

Welcome Dr. Rehberg to Church Hurts And.

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