Tuesday, August 12, 2008

As you can tell by the lack of life changing articles here at semper reformanda, things have been busy down here on the farm. We had our very first micro-outreach this Saturday wherein we invited the immediate neighborhood to a simple cook out. While we did have two bounce houses set up (borrowed from two sister churches) we resisted the temptation of giving away hot air balloon rides, having a local celebrity like Bernie Kosar or someone swing by to give autographs or setting up a stage for rock bands to play all day. It was just a cook out and that’s what they were invited to.

And while I didn’t count, I’d guess about 25 people came out. Kids were bouncing in the bounce house and the adults sat around in folding chairs, catching up on the local gossip about the schools and such. Then people began to ask questions about the church and Jesus answered my prayer which was, “Lord, give me a family or two…” and He did! I invited them all, but one family seemed very sincere about actually coming to our first Bible study (which is tonight!) I walked them through the basement of the church building to show them the sweet children’s murals we’ve just had painted in the hallway and large room (pics forthcoming).

Coram Deo is starting…pray for us tonight (pray that one or two of these families actually come out!)

I’m going to go deeper into a topic that we’ve hashed out here before and I believe will really push the boundaries of our comfy evangelical subculture. If you are deeply satisfied with and love this comfy evangelical subculture I’m sure you are going to get uncomfortable very quickly over the next few posts. Being radically driven by the doctrine of “Sola Scriptura” I must provoke this conversation. I simply can not dig into the topic the Lord has laid on my heart without also digging into some evangelical assumptions about “right and wrong”.

The over arching topic is…where are the men? What is it about what we are doing and saying that seems so trivial, irrelevant and uninspiring to men? Of course I’m starting with the assumed acknowledgement that most men have no desire to throw themselves into active participation in the church. If your local church effectively reaches previously unchurched men then more power to you…but that’s not normal.

Most men in church today were raised in church and so they have deep roots in the church and see her value…even despite herself. Those men active in the church who were not raised in the church most likely married a women who was and has, for one reason or another, convinced him that he needs the church (maybe he truly buys that and appreciated the church, maybe he more or less needs to keep her happy or maybe he knows its good for the kids…the reasons can vary). My own brother in law was not raised in the church…then he met my lovely sister Sarah. He figured out very quickly that to get to her he had better get into church. Now he loves his church and serves in many ways right there.

Where are the unchurched men? Where are guys like Harvey, Johnny, Tyrone and Mike (guys I used to work with in the factory)? Where are the men who have little church background and are either unmarried or married to a women who is herself not a church attendee?

What do you think about those guys? Ought they settle down, cut their hair (or grow hair for those men who shave their heads bald), give up their rock n roll, clean up their language, be more polite and get into church like good dignified men?

There are of course the white collar unchurched men who dress the part but just need to work on their language.

If that’s what you think about guys like Harvey then get ready…cause I’m coming after your postulation.

Before we proceed let’s be sure of the framework. There are behaviors and attitudes that these men must repent of and daily forsake. The dude sleeping with his girlfriend(s) needs to end that lifestyle immediately. It is sinful and he needs to know that Jesus is very angry with him for doing that. He needs to know the standard is straightforward from the Bible…have lots of sex with your wife, provide for her and the kids…and that’s it. He needs to be told that it’s time to grow up, be a man, take responsibility for himself and his family and marry her. That means he needs to get and keep a job and then pay all his bills FIRST with the money from said job. It might mean he’ll have to sell his X-box and 47 games, 4 wicked-cool X-box controlers and the stupid 15inch subwoofers in his rust bucket car in order to buy her a ring. The white collar dude like Ron (I worked with him at a mortgage company) needs to know something very similar…but he’s gonna have to be told that he might not be able to keep the Camaro or his front row Browns season tickets and he might not be able to buy a house and “get himself established” before getting married. Get married or stop having sex with your girlfriend…there’s no third option…that’s the simple message the church has for that dude.

The lazy unchurched man, the hard working blue collar unchurched man and the ambitious white collar unchurched man all need to understand one fundamental thing…they are not King Kong. They are King Nothing. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and all men will bow in utter submission before Him someday. These dudes need to understand how this applies to them…they must release control. They must release the control they feel is rightful there’s for themselves, their girlfriends/wives and children. These men need to know that they would melt, sizzle and evaporate in the presence of the Holy Trinity…they must get over themselves because there is One greater then themselves who sandals they are not worthy to untie…

So before we even get started, be sure, I’m not nor will I ever suggest we compromise clear Biblical standards in order to accommodate the sinful lusts or selfishness of unregenerate men. I recommend just the opposite.

And by recommending just the opposite I am forced to equally cut against the grain of what is now common in evangelicalism and this is where I’m going to get into some trouble with some of you. You have to love me anyway, right?

We're totally Chic-a-Fide. Up, down, sideways and backwards. Our style of music, dress, decor, preaching, attitude and even the way our lead men, the pastors, act and talk is all girlie and totally uninspiring to unchurched men. It's like we project to the community this message: "come to us with your hurts, we don't know you but we love you, we're ever so gentle, we're unoffensive, we're safe, we're polite, we're tender...yes, come share your deepest fears with us and blow intimate kisses to sweet Jesus with us..." and the dudes send their women and children (if they are interested)...and they stay home to work on the truck and listen to the ball game on the radio.

I’d like you to take a look at this music video/tribute to a dude whom nearly every lazy unchurched man, hard working blue collar unchurched man and every ambitious white collar unchurched man I have ever met were fascinated by and in some way or another, admired. In fact, most churched men that I know who are familiar with Stone Cold Steve Austin in some way “got a kick out of him” or even admired him in some way…admired him...even if they didn’t admit it too loud.

Why? My question is this as you watch this video…what was it about this wrestler that so radically and in such an unprecedented way connected with men? Stone Cold Steve Austin was one of the most popular wrestlers ever and was known by nearly all men of nearly all ages. I don’t think I’ve ever met a guy who didn’t like “Stone Cold”. In fact it doesn’t matter what type of work a man is into, if he is having problems at work all you have to say is, “well Bob, go in there tomorrow like Stone Cold…” and you’ll be sure to get a boyish smile instantly and a “ha…yeah…” as he quickly daydreams about doing it.

Pay attention…here we have Stone Cold extending the middle finger TO THE CROWD (watch closely and you’ll see him do this several times) and THE CROWD LOVED IT! He did that constantly throughout his career and the more he did the more the crowd loved him for it! Why is that? Watch with an open mind and discernment, look for clues. For those of you not familiar with wrestling of the late 90’s and early 00’s and if you don’t know who these guys are he’s attacking let me give you a couple clarifying clues. These guys he’s smashing and “stunning” were the villains who used to get over on the “hero’s” by cheating…until Stone Cold hit the scene and began to fight fire with fire. You’ll notice some plain clothed guys who get the boot to stomach and then the Stunner as well. Those were the corporate big wigs who were corrupt and who would stack the deck against Stone Cold in various situations in order to rob him of the championship so they could have a more refined and classy champion represent the company. And once or twice you’ll see a referee get the Stunner. Those refs were, according to the story line, bought and paid for by the company…they were corrupt refs and Stone Cold would end up having enough of it and deal with them “his way”. So Stone Cold was dealing with the cards totally stacked against him all the time. They even put him in the ring with a dozen other men…you’ll see that at the end of the clip. Watch his gleeful attitude as he stomps down the ramp into the pit of guys there to beat him down…it’s at about the 3 minute mark. It’s classic Stone Cold.

I’m not suggesting that Stone Cold is the model Christian, lol. BUT…is there anything about his attitude and his connection with the crowd, mostly men, that the church should pay attention to and redeem? What if we presented spiritual warfare to men as Stone Cold went to war in the fantasy world of wrestling? What is redeemable about Stone Cold…is there anything about this character that our pastors should assimilate into their ministry? What is unredeemable? There is a gesture he makes in this video montage that is an absolute abomination...and I mean that in the truest sense. Can you guess what it is? It’s not the extended middle finger. He does something else with his hands that is a flat out offense to Jesus and is the opposite of what a Christian man should ever do. Look for it…I’ll mail a check for $10 to the first person to rightly point this gesture out in the comment section. The attitude displayed by this one gesture is the one thing I see that is unredeemable. Look for it.

What is going on here? If you are offended by rock n roll, the middle finger, blood or Stone Cold Stunners please don’t watch this. But if you are curious as to what “inspires” the raw, unrefined and unchurched men in your community hold onto your hat and watch this. Let’s talk about it in the comment section.



8 comments:

Naomi said...

That's an awesome blog! I hope it gets people to think...

Actually, I think this blog is legendary.

Love ya!

irreverend fox said...

wow...my wife endorces the blog! thanks hun! love you too!

Zac said...

Hey man,

Long time no see. Just wanted to let you know I deleted my blog-- mainly because it felt wrong leaving it up for so long with no contributions or anything. Plus, I need to think of a better purpose for the blog other than simply to have a dialog with you! Stay tuned, I'll be starting one with broader subject matter-- Orthodoxy, American- and geo- politics, history, and social commentary-- God-willing.

Hope all is well.

irreverend fox said...

Zac!

I've been meaning to get ahold of you to learn your thoughts about the Russian aggression in Georgia and how the Eastern Orthodox deal with such situations. Can the Metropolitan call (in a strong persuasive way) for Putin to repentance? Do the Eastern Orthodox bring discipline to wayward leaders such as Putin (I assume he's in communion with the Eastern Orthodox church of Russia)?

If they can strong arm him through church discipline I sure hope they do so for the sake of peace in that region and the world.

Zac said...

Gary,

Yes, the Church existed as a check on human governments long before constitutions and democracies. It can and does call leaders to repentance for injustice and unjustified military actions. Above all, of course, it points all combatants and political figures to the Heavenly Kingdom. Currently, in our Church, we include a litany for peace between these nations, calling upon the Lord's mercy for all involved.

That having been said, there are important considerations in the present conflict here. Neither Russia nor Georgia are "Orthodox" governments in the sense of official endorsement of the Faith, although many many people in those societies are Orthodox. Their governments are both recovering from Western-originated communism and soviet totalitarianism.

I encourage you to consult various media on this particular conflict. Unfortunately the American pundits on both the left and right have towed the same party line about Russian agression. This is understandable, since Georgia is in some ways an American "puppet regime" that we have sturdily within our grip of influence. I'm confident you'll find, if you look to international sources like the BBC and others, that much of the facts not being reported or emphasized in American media show that the Georgian government was the initial aggressor. The Ossetian region had democratically decided to secede from Georgia and declare autonomy. The Georgian military responded on August 8 by invading the region, killing more than 1,500 civilians (causing another 37,000 to flea for their lives), destroying 70% of the region's buildings, and doing more than 4 billion dollars' damage. Russia, having predicted such an invasion, moved into the region to protect the inhabitants (many of which were ethnic Russians and Russian citizens). They repelled the Sakashvili's armies and all but left within four days. The remaining Russian forces in South Ossetia are the peacekeepers that will help to prevent another Georgian invasion.

What I suspect has provoked the ire of many an American pundit is the way in which the American-trained Georgian armies were so thoroughly defeated by the Russian juggernaut. We did not expect such a thing from the losers of the Cold War, but we can hardly complain since so often America has intervened to protect regions asserting their independence from the mother countries: Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Cuba, etc.

May God grant peace to His people, and may His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Hope this helps.

irreverend fox said...

zac,

interesting perspective you have there. I'm not involved enough to counter...but I do not think the situation is as simple as you are presenting it (given the fact that Russia has her eyes upon Ukraine and Poland as well). Nor would I qualify Georgia as a "regime". Also I’m not so sure the Ossetian region had the prerogative to attempt the break away as it did and I’m not sure how greatly the Russians were influencing that situation. Beyond that, what right did Russia have to invade Georgia at any rate? I’m sure the international community was aware of the Georgia-Ossetian war, why not let it deal with it? What gave Russia the right to simply butt-in? Again, I’m not as familiar with the details as well as you are so I can’t debate the issue…but those are just my initial thoughts after reading your comment.

One thing I'm sure of...the leftwing press is not usually in the habit of covering the rear-ends of US freedom policies (or US interests in general) so that would be surprising to me if they were cooperating with right wing press and pundits in their reporting of this situation.

Tim said...

Funny, didn't we fight the bloodiest war in our nations history over whether or not states had the right to secede from the union? Another weird thought is that people over here would believe much of what is put out by the BBC. They are notoriously left wing.

irreverend fox said...

hey...I thought "The Ossetian region had democratically decided to secede from Georgia and declare "autonomy""
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-08-29-georgia-russia_N.htm?csp=34