Issue 304 — The Paregien Journal — July 25, 2015
Focusing on Jesus
by Stan Paregien Sr
I have chosen to devote this page today to some issues with our religious thinking and behavior. The articles which I have selected highlight the fact that, through Christian history, our God’s desire has been for us to focus our faith on loving Him and pleasing Him by loving others and caring for the needy and downtrodden.
Where we have all hit road bumps is in such areas as (1) erroneously equating Bible knowledge with personal knowledge of Him and His Son, Jesus; (2) creating creeds, rules and rituals and then dividing from any believer who doesn’t accept that package; and, (3) focusing our faith on our performance-based and knowledge-based religion.” That is, believing we are always “right” (and others always “wrong”) on understanding the Bible, on doctrinal clarity and correctness, and on moral perfection.
This evil spirit of sectarianism and arrogance has dishonored God. It also has divided believers into hundreds of narrow-minded groups who believe they, alone, are God’s people. And It has kept honest searchers for God confused and discouraged.
However, all is not lost. We must confess our failures and give up our do-it-yourself religion, and focus our faith on Jesus Christ as the only way to God’s salvation. Please keep these concepts in mind as you read the rest of this material.
Can Jesus Survive Religion’s Failures?
by Dr. Rubel Shelly
One of the great strengths of the Christian faith has been its ability to endure, accommodate, and use the cultural shifts across the centuries without losing its essence. Even in its most misguided forms, the Christian religion has continued to pass along its central message about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
People in the most abysmal of churches in the most corrupt of cultures still have been counted among the redeemed. There were people in a church Jesus pronounced “dead” whose names were still in his Book of Life (cf. Revelation 3:1-6). They had been granted divine favor on account of God’s great love and in spite of church inadequacies or their personal failures.
Some who have been kicked out of churches became more vitally engaged in the Kingdom of God for their sufferings – whether Luther or Tyndale or myriad individuals and groups whose names are unknown to us but precious to Christ.
Over the past 500 years, a type of institutional church has functioned variously as a club, nation-state, forensic society, and irrelevance – all too frequently obscuring the presence and activity of God in the world.
It taught the gospel as laws and steps, creedal statements and confessions. There was little tolerance for leaving anything unexplained and even less tolerance for persons who did not hail the explanation offered – contrived as it might have been – as conclusive.
The Christian faith was termed a “system,” and one’s place within that system was determined by an all-or-nothing attitude toward it.
When agreement on some fine point of doctrine was not forthcoming, individuals and groups felt free to break off and further fragment the body for the sake of maintaining doctrinal purity. Thus came the formation of literally hundreds of denominations and non-denominations, with each group believing there could be unity only when others renounced their error and embraced its interpretation.
Catholics have done it, and Protestants have too. Churches of Christ have been bad at it, and so have Baptists and Pentecostals. It’s everywhere! And the marvel of it all is that God has been working through those flawed forms and incoherent formulas to reach people, save people, and transform people.
“So many people come to church with a genuine desire to hear what we have to say,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote of himself and his fellow-preachers, “yet they are always going back home with the uncomfortable feeling that we are making it too difficult for them to come to Jesus.”
Religion hasn’t killed what Jesus started. When we cut through the forms and failings of church history and look past our own bungling, Jesus is still there.
[Published online on July 18, 2015 at http://www.gracecentered.com/jesus-survive-religions-failures.htm%5D
All Human Beings Worship Someone or Something
By Curtis K. Shelburne
Copyrighted on Jan. 16, 20014
Human beings are inherently religious. We will worship someone or something.
Of course, some folks claim to believe in no god. Truth be told, the deity they refuse to bow before and direct prayers to is rarely a god of the “to whom the universe may concern” generic variety; it’s almost always the Judeo-Christian “God.”
Not even the small capital “G” God of truly off-the-rails “left of left, touchy-feely” religion and aging flower children (denying that wispy cut-rate deity must be as satisfying as denying the existence of a cumulus cloud), the God most atheists deny is the large capital “G” God of Believers, Bible-lovers, Baptists and such. God with a holy name. God who is a Person and not an it. The God they can deny and feel like they’ve accomplished something. The God they can slap in the face and feel like they’ve hit Somebody.
The God many atheists spend their lives resenting (so much that they let themselves be defined by a resentment of Someone they don’t think exists) is often the God of their parents, or their childhood church, or some other group they think has been overly strict with them, potty-trained them poorly, or otherwise ticked them off. Atheism is payback.
The God they deny is the God whose standards and rules are as real as the law of gravity, but gravity is confining, and they’ve decided to shake it off. Never mind that ignoring gravity on a globe governed by it is uphill business fraught with bumps and bruises.
Most atheists are unable to espouse disbelief as quietly, as, say, a person who doesn’t believe in collard greens as food. No matter how sincere he is in his conviction that collard greens are a weed and not a food, he feels no particular need to found an Anti-Collard Green Society or take out a sanctimonious ad in the paper; he just doesn’t eat them, and, if you do, he may look down his nose at you, but it’s no skin off his snout.
Atheists tend to be testy about disbelief. Agnosticism, a more honorable position I think, may partake of these self-righteous qualities, but is often less militant. In our culture, atheism is often an “in your face,” “up yours,” full-blown religion. Agnosticism is a question; atheism is a statement that seems to require, at the least, a raised eyebrow, a gaze down the nose, a snooty sort of disbelief.
But gods we will have, even if we toss out God. The psalmists made unmerciful fun of folks who carved statues carefully so they wouldn’t topple over, then put them on stands and worshiped them. But the god-makers the psalmists lampooned had more sense than modern pagans in business suits who worship only themselves and their 401k’s.
A few decades ago liberals made fun of conservatives who worshiped a God with rules; now many of the same liberals worship rules with no God. They tack up many more commandments than ten. Lacking belief in an afterlife, they center on constricting this one, all in the name of salvation; it’s just that “salvation” is mostly about saving your body (no trans fat and no cigars ever, and don’t even think about taking a Coke can into a school cafeteria) or saving the earth (you never met a Bible thumper more self-righteous or blindly believing than a devout environmentalist so green his brain has molded).
Human beings will worship someone or something. We may be sure of that. So . . . who or what will we worship? That’s the question.
[Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.Visit his web site: http://www.curtisshelburne.com ]
by Rubel Shelly
The bulk of the finest people I have ever known are devoutly religious. But some of the meanest people I’ve ever known are also among the most religious people I’ve ever encountered. I struggled for a long time to figure it out.
For example, one lady I grew to fear and avoid could quote more Scripture than just about anybody in our church. Little kids had better not touch her, though, or she would screech at them and make them cry. Her husband was a cowering little fellow who hardly ever spoke. I never wondered why.
A preacher whom I recall very distinctly had a withering wit that he turned on people to mimic, mock, or otherwise humiliate them. As I think back on it, the worst thing about that memory is that I sometimes laughed as he did it.
If you think I’m making it up that truly devout religious people can be mean-spirited and evil, just read the online comments made to stories in the New York Times or your local newspaper that speak positively about evolution or homosexuality. The invective is too harsh to reproduce here. Some of the comments even use profanity, assign the “godless evolutionist” to hell, or tell the “shameless perverts” that God will damn them at the Final Judgment.
I’ve read a few of those pieces that made me think the writer would kill somebody if he thought he could do it without getting caught. So is it his religion or his fear of the police that keeps him from doing something evil?
Nobody ever read one of those postings and thought the harsh language and judgment it contained helped them see Jesus. Understand his mission to the lost. Want to be his follower. Or give her a positive impression of his people.
So I think I’ve figured out the mystery: Religion can lead people to do hateful and wicked things to people, but loving and following Jesus never does.
Aren’t “religion” and “following Jesus” one and the same thing? Hardly! Religion is the system of beliefs and institutional loyalties one embraces, while following Jesus is the conscious imitation of the person one learns about in the Gospels. And the only people Jesus ever called names or declared in danger of hell were the most religious people of his time and place. They prayed, made pilgrimages, gave money, worshipped with pious looks on their faces, and quoted Scripture. They had no clue about the loving, compassionate nature of God.
Defending a pattern or system, proving my church is better than yours, or trumping my argument with your counter-argument breeds defensiveness. Makes tempers flare. Alienates friends. Starts wars. Makes people nasty. Breaks God’s heart. Following Jesus produces humility and keeps you from being mean.
Jesus never called us to be religious. He said, “Follow me.”
[Dr. Rubel Shelly is the chancellor of Rochester College in Rochester Hills, Michigan. He writes a weekly online devotional called, “Good News: The Fax of Life” This essay was published for the Week of September 29, 2014. A collection of his essays and sermons may be found at: http://www.rubelshelly.com/default.asp ]
“I’d Like To Try Being Spiritual But Not Religious”
By Curtis K. Shelburne
I’ve thought about it, and I’m pretty sure I’d like to join the cool crowd, the growing numbers of folks in our society who are button-bustin’ proud of being “spiritual but not religious.”
A good friend who reads a lot and, consequently, thinks a lot, pointed me to an interesting book the other day. Written by Lillian Daniel, the book is entitled, When “Spiritual but Not Religious” Is Not Enough: Seeing God in Surprising Places, Even the Church.
It’s strange, she says, that folks who are so “spiritual” they can hardly stand themselves, but proud as punch of never darkening the door of a church, nowadays feel such a burning need to “witness” to out-dated religious folks, particularly ministers, about the weaknesses of church and organized religion.
Daniels says she’s never felt a particular need to educate every teacher she meets with the knowledge that she’s always hated math, or to inform cooks in her presence that she can’t cook, or to tell clowns she runs across that she’s always thought clowns were scary. But, for some reason, folks lock-stepping along to the popular “spiritual but not religious” tune feel a need to evangelize or poke the unenlightened old-fashioned.
Well, except that I’d be unemployed, I might like to try joining the “spiritual but not religious” folks. I’ve long wondered if I was religious enough to be a preacher anyway. And I think I could be as practically “spiritual” as any of the popular crowd.
I like birdies and sunsets. I like lakes and rivers (even more since ours here are all drying up.) I’m particularly fond of mountains and snow and sliding around in snow on sticks. If you want to find me looking “spiritual” and know it’s what passes for the real deal and not just intestinal gas, catch me on top of a mountain in the snow.
I’m sure I’d like sleeping in a good bit more on Sunday mornings than I get to, which is, sadly, almost never.
I’m certain I’d like not giving tithes and offerings. I’d be willing to try mentally assenting that all blessings come from God but never being thankful in a way that involved much painful check-writing.
But I think I’d miss a lot.
I’d miss joining my heart and voice and prayers with others so that faith becomes a river and not just a dried up trickle.
I’d miss being encouraged alongside others of the centrality of Christ and his cross and what his people have always held most deeply meaningful and true and dear.
I’d miss being a genuine part of a fellowship of folks who love me and mine as family and laugh with me, cry with me, live in hope with me.
I’d miss being part of something bigger than me and the flavor or style I happen to like best at this moment. I’d miss the opportunity to follow a crucified Lord by at times crucifying my own desires so that others in his body might be blessed.
I’d miss being a real part of a group called to follow an unchanging Lord and his will rather than being led around the nose by society’s latest always-changing opinion polls.
I’d like to try being spiritual but not religious. I just have a really bad feeling that, the more folks who try it, the more we all lose. Come to think of it, it’s being religious and not just spiritual that forces me to believe a genuinely inconvenient truth: I need to care about how my decisions affect others and not just me.
[ Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice. Visit his website at http://www.curtisshelburne.com ]
No Mexican Jews?
Two old Jewish men, Irv and Abe, are sitting in a Mexican restaurant one day. Irv asks Abe, “Do you know if any people of our ancestry were ever born and raised in Mexico?”
Abe replies, “I don’t know, let’s ask our waiter.”
When the waiter arrives, Abe asks, “Are there any Mexican Jews?”
The waiter says, “I don’t know senor, I ask the cooks.” He returns from the kitchen after a few minutes and says, “No senor, the cook say no Mexican Jews.”
Abe isn’t satisfied and asks, “Are you absolutely sure?” The waiter, realizing he is dealing with “Gringos” replies,
“I check once again, senor,” and goes back into the kitchen. While the waiter is away, Irv says, “I find it hard to believe that there are no Jews in Mexico. Our people are scattered everywhere.”
The waiter returns and says, “Senor, the head cook, Manuel, he say there is no Mexican Jews.”
“Are you certain?” Abe asks again. “I just can’t believe there are no Mexican Jews!”
“Senor, I ask EVERYONE,” replies the exasperated waiter. “All we have is Orange Jews, Grape Jews, Prune Jews, Tomato Jews and Apple Jews, but no Mexican Jews.”
[From Johnnie Benson Ward (Bakersfield, Calif.) on Feb. 14, 2015]
* * * * * * * * * *
[The copyrighted cartoon, above, is used for educational purposes, only.]
Reading the Bible in Churches of Christ
By Patrick A. Mead
In the churches of my youth the Bible was read several times during each worship period. A passage would be read before communion (usually First Corinthians 11:23ff or a portion of Isaiah 53), another before the sermon (usually a few verses that were part of the text being used by the minister), and during Bible class where we used the text as you would a “Wordsearch” puzzle, finding answers to fill in blanks in our class workbooks.
Scripture was considered holy and perfect. It was a rule book and quite a complex rule book at that, full of hidden laws, man traps, and gotchas for those not schooled properly in how to “rightly divide the Word.” We were certain we had found the proper method of interpreting it and most of us made it through high school with a dozen or so passages etched in our minds – proof texts to keep us on the straight and narrow. All of this was done by well meaning, honest, good hearted people who devoted their lives to serving Jesus the best way they knew how and I will owe them the rest of my life.
But…there were problems, problems we never talked about and were never encouraged to ask about. For me, it all started with lasciviousness and the Moabites. But I’m getting ahead of my story…
We were told that the Bible was dictated by the Holy Spirit, word for word, to holy men who wrote it down just as they were told and then other holy people preserved those words perfectly, exactly for us in our Bibles. One illustration on how God dictated every single word – told to us by more than one preacher – was the story of Balaam and his donkey. The donkey, when beaten by Balaam, turned to the prophet and told him that there is an angel blocking the path. Balaam doesn’t seem to be surprised that his donkey is speaking to him but that isn‘t the point. The preachers told us that God made the donkey talk and gave him the very words he was to speak. “He didn’t just tell the donkey to talk to Balaam and put it in his own words” they said and we all laughed.
The problem came later when some of us read the parts of the Bible we never read in church or Bible class and when others of us studied how the Bible came to be written and then gathered in the first place. While those two items alone were enough to knock us silly and cause us to question what we’d been taught (and which may be why we lose so many of our teens once they leave the nest) we can’t fully explore either of them here. Allow me to give a few illustrations of the problem and a possible solution and then allow you and the Spirit of God to take it from there.
Remember I said that it started with lasciviousness? We were told that God condemned it but we’d never heard the word before. It’s a great word, a wonderful old King James word and we were told it was why we weren’t allowed to dance or go to our prom (even if we refrained from dancing and “just watched”). Tracts – small booklets available in racks in our foyer – told us about the dangers of dancing and each made the point that the word “lasciviousness” meant dancing and since God condemned it, we shouldn’t even want to dance.
When I was 13, I overheard some older teens doubt this wisdom from the elders and I was offended at their questioning of the faith. My father had an extensive library (I’d read over half of it by then. It was a requirement in our family) so I spent a day going through Greek and Hebrew lexicons, thesauruses, and commentaries…and was devastated at what I found. It became plain that one could dance in a lascivious manner but the word most certainly did NOT mean “dance” and, in fact, most dances in the Bible were in honor of God and He didn’t care for anyone who disapproved of them. If I was being lied to about THIS…what else was I being told that wasn’t true? I tried to ask a question about this twice and the fierce reaction I received from my father and, later, a Bible class teacher taught me to never ask questions again.
After spending time in agnosticism, I came back to God because of the intricacies in the human brain (I eventually became a psychotherapist and neuroscientist). I wanted to be a deist but I just wasn’t sure if that was a safe option… So I did something I had never done before: I read the Bible and paid attention. I wasn’t looking for rules or patterns or ways to prove other religions wrong. I just wanted to read it and see what it said.
And here’s the thing: I wasn’t alone. I have since found a very large number of Church of Christ members have been doing the same, many of them for much longer than I. Fact is, I was a bit late to the party.
As a church without a bureaucracy, we can change our direction much faster than other religious tribes. And when the younger generation came up and took its place as leaders, it brought with it an honest look at some scriptures we had never dealt with before (or swept aside with a “things were different back then. Just trust God. He must have had His reasons”). It wasn’t just the young preachers passing on a different way of viewing scripture: we had Cecil Hook, Leroy Garrett, Carl Ketcherside and many others who’d been cast out of fellowship by most of our churches but who kept writing and living lives of faith and love. We read their stuff and it changed everything. At least it did for me.
That’s why I wanted to mention the Moabites. They are merely one of a couple dozen examples I could bring up but since this is a blog and not a book…
If you carefully read the Old Testament you would be excused for being confused about God’s view of Moabites. In Deuteronomy 23:3-6 they (and the Ammonites) are expressly barred from the assembly of God. They are unsaveable and unconvertible – even to the tenth generation. If you had a single Moabite ancestor even nine generations back, you were forbidden from coming into the assembly or worshiping with the Jews. This wasn’t a temporary rule – it is recalled and enforced in Ezra 9, Nehemiah 13 and elsewhere.
God goes after the Moabites again in Isaiah 15-16, Jeremiah 48-49:6, Ezekiel 21 and 25, and Zephaniah 2:8,9.
But then we have the Book of Ruth. And she was a Moabite woman who was not only loved and protected by a Jewish man, he married her and she became the king’s grandmother and a grandmother of Jesus. Whaaa?
We have God telling the Hebrews to kill everyone in Jericho but they save a prostitute (I am interested in how they ended up at her house but that’s beside the point) who lied to protect them. Later, she married a Jew and she, too, enters the line of Jesus. Seriously? That seems to go against a lot of Deuteronomy and Leviticus…
Then we see Jonah. It isn’t about the fish/whale – it’s about God’s love for people that a lot of His followers hated. They were convinced God wanted the Ninevites and all other foreigners dead or banished. Instead, God sends them a prophet and forgives then when they repent, changing the decree He had made against them earlier.
It seems that God’s dislike/hatred of Moabites was overstated. At a minimum. And that changes the way we read scripture.
Skip to the New Testament and you find Paul saying a couple of things to the church in Corinth and Ephesus that people use to overrule other things he says about women in leadership and teaching. People ignore his conversational remarks and lists of workers, teachers, and leaders and go for what looks like rules and I understand their motivation; that was the way I was told to read scripture, too.
So how do we deal with the fact that Philip’s four daughters preached alongside him or that Junia was an apostle or that Phoebe is the only person in scripture expressly titled a deacon?
I haven’t figured it all out yet but I find one story very helpful: The Trans-figuration. Jesus is praying when Elijah and Moses show up. The apostles are overjoyed – this is their entire Marvel Comic universe showing up, their pantheon of heroes, their fearless leaders! They want to build altars to them but God’s voice thunders and indicates Jesus, NOT the representatives of the law and the prophets. “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
I – and a great many in the churches of Christ along with countless others in other religious traditions – now see the Bible as a narrative, not a rulebook. It is our story that points us to Jesus. When I get confused by Deuteronomy or Joshua or Paul or James I remember: go back and listen to Jesus. Hear him.
My path out of deism and into faith in Jesus had many steps but none so important as my decision to read the Gospels over and over for six months. It was easier back then to maintain an electronic-free room but I believe it is still worth the effort to do so. Go in there and read the story of Jesus again and again. Get to know his voice. As Hebrews 1 says, Jesus is what God looks like, sounds like, IS like.
The Bible is a finger pointing to Jesus. I love the Bible but I love Whom it points to even more.We are, after all, the Church of Christ – not the church of those other guys.
[November 17, 2014; from Re-examining How We Read the Bible; found at: http://wineskins.org/2014/11/17/reading-the-bible-in-churches-of-christ/ Dr. Patrick Mead preaches for the Fourth Street Church of Christ in Franklin, Tenn. A scientist by education, he holds doctorates in psychology and psychoneuroimmunology. Patrick he comes to faith by a different path and looks at scripture with a different lens than that used by most ministers. Remaining active in his field, he works with various police agencies as well as federal and international law enforcement agencies as a trainer in ethics, leadership, and avoiding burnout or PTSD. He helps several churches a year restructure their leadership, vision, and programs to better match the world in which they find themselves.]
To call them “The Legendary Shelburne Brothers” may sound like I’m introducing a country music band or referring to a family in the Texas Mafia. Nope. They are, in fact, highly respected ministers — B. Shelburne, Gene Shelburne, Jim Shelburne and the relative baby of the bunch, Curtis Shelburne. They are the sons of the late preacher and educator, G.B. Shelburne, Jr. I was quite fortunate to have G.B. as my Bible teacher at the Amarillo Bible Training Work over 50 years ago.
Anyway, these four have distinguished themselves in many ways and over the years their respective ministries have blessed thousands of folks around the world. Two of these men, Gene and Curtis, are particularly gifted speakers and writers. And the religious journal shown above, THE CHRISTIAN JOURNAL, is their publication. These two gentlemen, like their esteemed father, work in a very conservative wing of their denomination. Yet they have been steady voices advocating (1) the appreciation of what other belivers in other groups are doing for Christ; (2) the need to expand our vision of who is a Christian; and (3) the command of Christ that his followers walk in unity.
So I highly recommend that you write to the address below and request your own FREE SUBSCRIPTION. Or as they say in Texas: “It don’t cost nuttin’; it’s plum freeee-ah.” Okay, okay. I exaggerated that accent just a week bit. But it really is free because other people who believe in that ministry provide support for it. Try it, you’ll like it.
Oh, hey, also check out the magazine’s new and improved web site at: http://christianappeal.com .
One of the most thoughtful, insightful, influential and loving men I have ever known has stopped writing articles for the first time in some 76 years. Dr. Leroy Garrett, a retired university philosophy professor, is now 96 years of age and his body has just about wore complelely out. I first discovered Dr. Garrett’s soul-companion, W. Carl Ketcherside, and his “MISSION MESSENGER” magazine in 1963 as a ministerial student at Lipscomb University in Nashville. He was an outspoken advocate of Christian unity. I began to correspond with him and, then, discovered a similarly focused magazine, RESTORATION REVIEW, published by Dr. Leroy Garrett. Those two men were God’s instruments to liberate this wet-behind-the-ears, narrow-minded kid from the idea that folks in our little religious group were right and anyone who didn’t agree with us was not only wrong but on a greased slide right to hell. Yikes! Sad, but true. Anyway, I have loved those two men since that time. Carl died decades ago, and Leroy cannot be far behind.
A mutual friend, Edward Fudge, broke the news about Leroy’s retirement from publishing this way in his email on June 17, 2015:
“LEROY GARRETT SAYS GOODBYE — After many decades of consistent written ministry, Leroy Garrett has said his last goodbye and laid down the pen. The old warrior and iconoclast for Christ, 96, mentor to many of us who came after him, announced in his bulletin for last Friday that fatigue due to “old age” required him to call his bulletin two weeks ago his last.
“‘My fatigue is often so bad that I can hardly get to my bed,’ he wrote, ‘and I feel like I must be dying. If that be the case, so be it. Our time is in His hands, the Psalmist assures us. Among my 485 essays is one on ‘the Abolition of Death,’ one of my favorites and which is a testimony of my faith. ‘I do not like goodbyes,’ Garrett wrote, ‘but I do like farewells, a meaningful felicitude. May you fare well, right into God’s tomorrow.’ Garrett said that he saved his last sentence ‘for the one that matters most: God loves you and I love you.’
Dr. Bob Lewis has put practically all Garrett’s writings online–the menu is found at http://www.leroygarrett.org
Here is another interesting tidbit, dated June 10th, from Edward Fudge:
“A PLACE IN HISTORY — Finding their Voices: Sermons by Women in the Churches of Christ, edited by D’Esta Love (ACU Press, 2015), 254 pages. This new book not only relates history, it also makes history, preserving sermons of 29 women from Churches of Christ, a new notion during the past 100+ years among this fellowship, although its earliest days saw more than one woman evangelist on the American frontier.
“The editor was Pepperdine University’s first chaplain, and I applaud Pepperdine for leading the way in that regard. A more personal point of interest to me is that four of the 29 women who speak for God here had direct connections with Bering Drive Church of Christ in Houston, my church family now for 33 years, one of whom is my daughter. I can speak with personal experience from the inside, therefore, in saying that the motivation and rationale for welcoming the word of God from our sisters can be (and for many of us, is) based on long, thorough and prayerful study of scripture. (Perhaps more on that later.) That led us in turn to welcome preaching and teaching based on divine giftedness and not on gender.
“Read these sermons and hear–not just women speaking–but women speaking messages from God, given (as always) to build up bind up, and stir up his sons and daughters alike. To order, go to http://www.acupressbooks.com/ “
We are on our way to becoming a light on a hill here in Bradenton. Okay, that is an insider’s joke because we have no hills here or anywhere in Manatee County. Apparently our County Commissioners never saw a development they didn’t adore. They admit our city street capacity is at least ten years behind the population growth, and the best advice our Transportation Director has is “You better get used to it.”
While we are not a light on the hill, we may be headed toward underwater lighting. Here’s the deal. A nurseryman-turned-developer is asking approval to convert his 1,300 acres of farm land in . . . the flood plain . . . of southwest Bradenton to a “mixed use community” featuring 6,500 residential units . . . and 1 million square feet of retail space . . . and 2 million square feet of commercial space (which includes the building two hotels with about 250 rooms each).
I don’t get it on several levels. First, I don’t get in on the sea level. There is precious little “high ground” (i.e., not within flood level) in the Bradenton. We had no clue about elevations when we bought here two years ago, but our community is not within any designated flood zone. That was simply blind, dumb luck on our part. Very few areas in Manatee County are so fortunate. Most other areas are in danger zones for potential flooding, to one degree or another. We have been here for two years and I have watched with amazement as developers have built homes and businesses on low ground. Amazing.
I also don’t get why County Commissions don’t blow the whistle on development/growth until street, water, sewer and electrical infrastructures catch up. Actually, I suspect the answer is pretty simple: more tax revenue from new homes and businesses, plus the glory of running a hot-growth county. If they would restrict growth for two or three years, and then force the developers to pay for the installation of all such future infrastructure, then it would be headed toward commonsense growth. Right now it is as crazy and wild as living in California during the 1849 gold strike. It’s nuts.
Oh, by the way, please take a moment to sign up for your “Free Subscription” by simply putting your email address in the box at the very bottom, center of this site. Once you do that, you’ll get an occasional email each time a new entry is made.
If you want to make comments on this site, and you’re welcome to do that, you simply need to register under the heading “Register.” It’s that easy. We’d really like to hear from you.
And, as the rumpled police detective Columbo often said, . . . “Just one more thing.”
I also edit and publish a new web site called STORYTELLING DIGEST.COM (http://www.storytellingdigest.com). This last week I’m been tweeking it quite a bit, dealing with some technical issues. I think I’ve got that under control. Please take a look at it. If you would like to contribute a storytelling short article, a storytelling photo or poem or video, please read the “Submissions” page and send a couple of things to me at the email address you’ll find there.
Thanks, friends, for stopping by my little virtual living room. Come back, again.