May 18, 2007

New Blog Address

Goodbye Blogger.

Hello Wordpress.

New address: The Occasional Opinion

May 16, 2007

Francis Marie Lyon 1929-2007

Attending a memorial service (funerals to some) ranks low on my list of joyful and fun events. Yesterday I went to the funeral of a dear elderly sister expecting the usual sad and depressing ceremony that so often seems to bring more sadness into the lives of the family than encouragement. Much to my surprise what I experienced was a wonderful celebration of the life of this Christian woman.

The event was a farewell party for a loving woman who had dedicated her life to follow Jesus through the rich as well as the lean years, and her family had no doubts where she would spend eternity. What a great testimony this woman has left for her immediate family, church family, and friends throughout the community.

She will be missed by all, but she is in a far better place.

May 13, 2007

Blog Dread

If this page appears as a total mess it's because I finally decided it was time to make the change from the old Blogger and switch to the New Blogger. For some time I have been dreading this, now I know the fear was justified; for something lauded as quick and easy...NOT!

Why can't someone develop a change-over that includes the tweaks, etc. from the old template, so a person can just hit the NEW BUTTON and everything dances along happily and orderly in the right direction? As soon as I get use to this new system, Google will change to something even EASIER, so once more I can start from scratch.

May 8, 2007

I Like the Church of Christ

Usually I post about things happening in the church that I don't agree with, and while I don't believe wondering openly about matters affecting the church is inappropriate, it may be time to present some things I believe are generally positive about the Church of Christ (well, most of them):

  • ITS INDEPENDENT STANCE that refuses to tolerate any hierarchical church governments that issue laws and regulations seeking to conform the local churches to meet their personal scriptural interpretation. Since each COC is autonomous, it is not as likely to become corrupted by other churches.
  • THE NAME, CHURCH OF CHRIST, certainly portrays the fact that we are the church, and we belong to Christ. Many churches have concocted names that often reveal what they believe, or what someone else calls them, but have little meaning in designating them as Christians. I prefer something as simple as, the church that meets at _______; the Lords church at ______; or something simple and meaningful without the usual ostentatious verbiage. At any rate the Church of Christ is a great name in my book.
  • ITS SIMPLE ORGANIZATION utilizing elders and deacons instead of being governed by committee, or hierarchy, fits my understanding of the scriptures. Some in the COC have seen this as archaic, and went on to what they believe are newer and better means of leadership, but many of us old die-hards still hold to the elder/deacon approach. I know of one large COC that has elders, but no deacons. They rely on committees to run just about everything, but at least there are elders making the final decisions...hopefully!
There are many great reasons to claim the Church of Christ as my choice, but for now I'm basically comfortable with it's approach to following Jesus, and feel at home within its environs (probably because it's the only church I have ever known.) There are now so many different variations in the COC that it's almost impossible to generalize any specific COC belief, but warts and all, I still like it...

Apr 30, 2007

Throwing Preachers in the Pool

Occasionally I mention my friendship with the local Pentecostal preacher; he is moving to a larger city because of his wife's health problems, and I will miss him. He is a good honest man, and while we differ, often drastically on our perception of truth, we overlook each others faults and consider ourselves brothers in serving the Lord.

The Pentecostal hierarchy he associates with has a pool of preachers that are assigned to churches throughout their jurisdiction, so he has to jump back into the pool and start over again. For a church to accept him as their preacher he must first preach for them, then they will vote whether or not he is acceptable. If after three preachers are refused by a church the ministerial association will appoint a preacher from their available pool to fill the vacancy, whether that church likes it or not.

The requirements for a preacher in his church are high; they have to meet certain qualifications educationally, and spiritually, including an ordination ceremony, and a series of tests before they are recognized as acceptable candidates to preach. I couldn't help but remind him that Jesus selected a bunch of fishermen to become Apostles that wouldn't even qualify to be in his church's preacher pool. We're still friends :)

Churches of Christ can run into problems selecting a preacher, but at least its members have the final word on who stands in the pulpit on Sunday morning. Without our stand for church autonomy we could be at the mercy of some hierarchal ministerial association paid to decide what is in our best thanks!

Apr 24, 2007

Rants, Rants, and More Rants

Churches will never meet the expectations of all their members. The church is inhabited by God's elect, but we are still human, and what one Christian perceives as absolute truth is a bunch of hogwash to another. Perhaps the questions listed below are old and something we have come to accept, but surely the body of Christ is more than a social club for retired Christians:

  • Why are some churches so self-centered that sinners in their community are left to fend for themselves without ever knowing that God exists and loves them?

  • Why are so many churches divided into cliques; seldom extending their hand of fellowship, or friendship for that matter, to their brothers and sisters among them who feel lost and out of place?

  • Why do some churches continually preach to the choir (themselves,) and expect their lost neighbors to come to the "church building" if they want to hear a soul-saving sermon?

  • Why do some churches continually spend the Lord's money on grander and more unique church buildings, while neglecting the poor, widows, and orphans?

  • Why do some churches seek worldly honors, acclaim, and prestige; forgetting that we are only pilgrims on earth for a short time?

Not all churches are guilty of these shortcomings, but I have seen many examples of these listed questions in my small part of the perhaps it's spread far and wide. While the church is a refuge for the saved, it's not just a building that houses a few weekly meetings, it should be the primary influence in the community to save the lost, feed the poor, and in general spread the gospel everywhere, not just in isolated human structures we call church buildings.

Mar 24, 2007

Playing with Religious Toys

Often people plaster big ugly labels on our religious foreheads based on how they perceive we interpret scripture. Unfortunately, we're often mislabeled, and doomed to walk around sporting false labels when they don't represent what we actually believe. The quirky characterizations in the list below spotlights how some in the Church of Christ play with their toys; sadly enough, these one-liners present a lot of truth.

The following list, swiped at Sadistic Desire, provides humorous insight into what other people think we believe:

  • Voodoo - "Let me borrow that doll for a second..."
  • Confucianism - "Once a toy is dipped in water, it is no longer dry"
  • Capitalism - "He who dies with the most toys, wins"
  • Hari Krishna - "He who plays with the most toys, wins"
  • Judaism - "He who buys the most toys at the lowest price, wins"
  • Catholicism - "He who denies himself the most toys, wins"
  • Anglican - "They were our toys first"
  • Greek Orthodox - "No, they were OURS first"
  • Branch Davidians - "He who dies playing with the biggest toys, wins"
  • Mormonism - "Every boy may have as many toys as he wants"
  • 7th Day Adventists - "He who plays with his toys on Saturday, loses"
  • Amish - "Toys with batteries are surely a sin"
  • Church of Christ - "He whose toys make music, loses"
  • Baptist - "Once played, always played"
  • Church of Christ, Scientist - "We are the toys"
  • Jehovah's Witnesses - "He who 'places' the most toys door-to-door, wins"
  • Non-Denominationalism - "Does it really matter where the toys came from?"
  • Communism - "Everyone gets the same number of toys"
  • Hedonism - "Hang the rule book! Let's play!"
  • Atheism - "There is no toy maker"
  • Polytheism - "There are many toy makers"
  • Evolutionism - "The toys made themselves"