Monday, August 30, 2004

Church and the World

Church finance is always a tricky thing for a pastor. There was a front page story in the L.A. Times today, August 30, written by Jason Finch, that caught my eye. The paper has been following the fate of a bogus high school diploma mill called California Alternative High School. They were handing out unaccredited bogus high school diplomas to many poor, helpless, and immigrant people. The article today disclosed that churches were accepting money from the school to operate and recruit students. the article seemed to indicate that some churches were duped but others were probably in on the racket. Although some churches thought they were providing a service, most were involved purely for money.

Sadly, churches have often turned their property over for "beneficial" uses for monetary gain. I am sensitive to the money pressure that churches face. However, a church should be "holy", i.e. it is set apart for the use of God. When we forget that a church is owned by God for God's use and pleasure, then we are open to exploitation by the evil in this world. Our churches are not just real estate, they are holy ground. I am not a believer in using churches for day care centers, non-biblical education, or places for secular political rallies--like the Bush campaign calling for church directories for their campaign use.

Let's cleanse, purify, and allow our churches to become holy again.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Manna's Pastor

Welcome to the Manna Church blog--the online community forum. What is Manna Church and Why? As we repeat over and over, Manna Church is built upon service to the Lord Jesus Christ and outreach to our neighbors. Although that can sound like a cliche, hopefully it isn't here. I will deal with two major points here. First, we believe God is God and we're not. To a large degree and despite our rhetoric, the evangelical church has forgotten this. Our values are no longer biblical. Rather, we have become an echo chamber for one side of the culture wars. A recent Ellision Poll cited in the Baptist Press showed nearly 80% of evangelical pastors believing their churches should play major roles in the culture wars on behalf of right-wing politics. The clergy have become loyal footsoldiers in the Republican army.

Is that what God intended his church to become? We think not. Biblical values are not embraced by either party. Rather both parties must be judged by the Bible, not the Bible judged by political hacks. How can the Republicans defend their stance with regard to the poor and oppressed in our land against the numerous biblical passages commanding our championing the cause of the poor? How can the Democrats defend their defense of the right to choose with the Bible's radical defense of the helpless? Who is more helpless than an unborn child? Neither party is godly. The church must preserve its independent stance to call the political process and politicians to godliness.

Unfortunately, let's face facts. Our clergy firmly believe that salvation is political. If only we had prayer in schools, ten commandments in our schools (how many churches have them on their walls), or nativity creches on their lawns... then what? If the religious right got everything they wanted, we would still be in the moral mess that we are in today. Why? I come from the generation that said "under God" in the pledge, it didn't make any difference. The only difference is when people really make Jesus as Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to change their lives. Wake up! The religious right is simply an idolatrous movement that intentionally misleads people from the Truth solely for political advantage.

Not only does the religious right mislead us, it causes division between us and our neighbors. We fear our neighbor, because he or she carries the germ of liberalism or humanism. We fear our neighbor, because he or she does not support our politics or our pet hobby horses. We hate our neighbor, because they are different from us and are diluting our "biblical" or "American" values. Our neighbors become labels: feminists, humanists, liberals, ACLU, and the list goes on. Jesus looked and had compassion on the people because they are lost. He also looked at many people who cried Lord, Lord, and bragged about their ministry and banished them to hell. Don't believe me. Read the Bible. It's there.

Yes, the true church will find itself divided from the world. However, the division is caused by our truly different lives. The problem is that the lives in the modern evangelical church are not different or better. We only talk a better game. In a number of instances, our lives are in fact worse than our neighbors.

This brings me to the second point of this long blog. We don't believe Jesus is Lord anymore. A Lord is your boss. You do what your boss says. We are far from an obedient people. First, we are ignorant of the God's word found in the Bible. Secondly, when we do read it, we interpret it away. Therefore, we ignore the Christian teaching on family and the poor, because it would inconvenience us. We ignore the demand to change. We preach cheap grace. Come forward. Pray, And go to heaven. If you think that is the Christian life, you better seriously get into the Scripture or risk a rude surprise.

Love doesn't mean loving our enemies or our neighbors or our fellow church members. It means marching for Jesus. It means buying Christian books and CDs. It means supporting the Christian business edifice that we have constructed.

If you are looking for a church that is serious about faith and commitment. If you are serious about discovering God, not just warm fuzzies on a Sunday morning, check us out. Get an ID and post a response to this blog. Let's make Jesus our Lord in fact, not just name. God bless.

Manna's Pastor

This is a test blog. Welcome to Manna Church's blog.