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Blog titles & the problem

May 25, 2005

Well the scrubbing toilets got a lot of comments, Dee Andrews even e-mailed me privately to discourage me. Keith gave some good suggestions. I changed one of his to “Believing Thomas” not doubting Thomas or you could take it as believing what I say.

I want to go ahead and write about this problem that has been hanging around in my mind for several weeks. I actually have several things that I would like to write about but God has blessed me with so much work that it is hard to find the time. God blessing me with work is worthy of a blog of its own.

The problem is related to a camp that I support with blood, sweat and tears. I have left all of those at the place. I love it as a sacred place. It is by earthly standards a complete and undeniable dump. A lousy crummy facility. But it is getting better.

The problem is not the facility.

I quit going to camp when I needed it the most as a teenager. I know it to be an incredible place of love and acceptance. It is the highlight of the year to many children and adults alike. If you have ever been to a Christian camp you know what I mean.

My point is not to talk about the greatness of camp.

Our camp attracts youth from several states and obviously many churches. Due to an action (I assume it is true, but don’t know it to be) at one congregation involving 1 woman and 1 worship assembly. We find ourselves with some calling for something referredd to a marking false teachers. I expect it to take the form of something similar to The Christian affirmation that has caused so much debate.

One member wants “a discussion of board members and directors who may hold to teachings contrary to sound doctrine, esp. in regards to instrumental music, women’s leadership in assembly worship or praying and teaching in the presence of men, and even the essentiality of baptism.”

He goes on to say “It is a sad day in the church for these matters to have to concern us, but we have a responsibility as leaders to make sure no one of the above hold to error on these subjects or will teach or practice them at camp, or hold them in belief. How can they give the kids a clear, firm, correct Bible answer and refute false teachings when the kids ask their questions if they don’t believe the truth, even though they may not practice their error at camp.”

He then later said this regarding anyone from two particular congregations,” I intend to oppose their leadership and plead for their resignation. I feel strongly about this. I do not intend to be contentious, but that is the way I will vote come decision time. I do not wish to bind my opinions in our leadership on the board, but I will stand with the Scriptures and what has identified us as a church over the years, and particularly among us who are involved at” [camp]

The last statement of standing with Scriptures AND what has identified us as a church over the years, (emphasis mine) is what bothers me.

I think it shows a concern for maintaining orthodoxy. It is denominational in mindset. It is saying “I want to preserve our way of doing things”.

I am not interested in that. If it gets in the way of God’s work.

I am interested in following Jesus.

I am interested in following God.

I have received another letter with very similar thoughts, but it added that the founders of camp would be rolling in their graves.

To be honest my understanding on that has grown over the years. Didn’t God promise it would?

I expect there to be some motion for everyone to sign on to some list of dos and don’ts that bothers me. Any list made by man is both too long and too short. Plus, who gets to make the lists. The no kitchen folks, what about the KJV only folks, maybe the no clapping folks, maybe the baptism is not necessary folks, maybe the …. You get the idea. Depending on who you ask, you will get a different set of do’s and don’ts. That is just how it works.

It also bothers me because I feel that anyone, including me, that decides to think or re-think anything will be pushed out. It doesn’t matter what conclusion you come to. It was suggested that any director approached about instrumental music must be able to say it is wrong. No waffling, certainly no saying its ok. That was his example not mine.

Again the only document I really want my name on is The Book of Life.

In preparing part of the curriculum for my week of camp (we are studying James, last year was Galatians) I have been amazed at chapter 3. The chapter is a lesson to teachers to watch their tounges and use Godly not manmade wisdom.

verse 17 says their teaching is Pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, and produces good fruit

So wise teachers or wise Christians who control their tongues
1. Are peace loving instead of being divisive.
2. Are considerate of others instead of being seeing things only their way
3. Are submissive instead of having to have it their way
4. Are full of mercy instead of always wanting to bring others to justice
5. The produce students who are good fruit instead of students who are bad fruit

In case you couldn’t tell. I am scared. Scared that my brothers may be hurt. Scared that I may be run off. Scared that anyone that doesn’t fit into a circle drawn by ??? then they have no place at camp.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2005 11:33 am

    I really like your new blog title. That’s perfect! Suits you well, either way you want to take it – that you’re a believer or we should believe you.

    As for the camp problems – I know where you’re talking about and know how things are in the church in Mississippi for the most part (and other states associated with the camp), but haven’t dealt with any of the board members or leaders involved, so don’t want to comment on any of that.

    All I can say, from here, is that you are in a very difficult situation and would advise that you be very, very careful in all you say and do, mindful as you said, of how we are to conduct ourselves as Christians and teachers according to James (and the rest of the Bible, of course).

    I’d certainly not plow into the middle of anything and would spend a lot of time praying and thinking about it first before I spoke, even. I absolutely wouldn’t burn any bridges, if at all possible, although it sounds like that could very well happen from those of a different point of view than you have.

    WOW! I certainly feel for you, Tommy.

    Talk with JD, since he is involved in the big camp on the Gulf coast. Maybe he can be of help and counsel to you.

    We’ll be praying for you and the situation, for sure.

  2. May 25, 2005 2:44 pm

    (I like “Believing Thomas” even better than what I sent you!)

    My advice: Point out to the folks who are protesting that they haven’t gone through the scriptural steps in the scriptural way. (They’ll understand that kind of language. I’ve been guilty of thinking that way.)

    Show them, via Matthew 18:15-20, that each is to go to the person who has sinned/has something against them. Enumerate all four steps. Encourage them to take them in order. Insist that they explain their points of view to each other using scripture to illustrate them.

    [Maybe you could pull up some of my points at my post Correcting the Correctors.]

    Ask about the severity of the presumed sin – does it approach blasphemy, sorcery, teaching sexual immorality, lying to the Holy Spirit or any of the other things for which “false teachers” and others were “marked” or “called out” by name. Ask if distance or captivity in prison precludes following the instruction to “go to” them in Matthew 15.

    Finally, ask if a third party would be welcome. My wife Angi was instrumental in establishing the Center for Conflict Resolution at ACU to help in these situations. It might be that Joey Cope, Jerry Strader, Charles Siburt or someone of their caliber could come to help de-fuse the situation.

    And – like Dee says – pray, pray, pray.

  3. May 25, 2005 4:55 pm

    I’ve been thinking about you and worrying about you all day with your big problem, Tommy.

    I think that Keith’s advice is just terrific, though. All of it.

    If I were you, I’d print out his entire blog on “correcting” the correcters and use it, along with his comment to you today, as a guide (along with his scriptures, of course) in proceeding very carefully (and prayerfully) from here.

    Pray that you’ll be able to have the wisdom and opportunities to bring people together in this in trying to work it all out in a constructive and positive way. Maybe as Keith says with a third party to intervene and help, too.

    Let us know how it goes and be sure to let us all know if there is anything at all we can do to help you out along the way. We’ll all be praying for you and will be more than happy to provide you with any resources we can.

  4. May 25, 2005 6:36 pm

    I too like the new title! I recognized you at once this time on bloglines.

    I hurt for you and what you are going through. While you may do all the things Keith and Dee lay out the truth is you will still be separated. Even if they don’t draw up the dreaded guidelines when you voice an opinion that differs to what people truly believe is “gospel” you will be seperating yourself.

    I will pray for you as well. Camp is a great place for kids to come and learn about the real Jesus, the one who is not locked up in the church building without a piano. I hope for their sakes and yours this issue doesn’t come to a head.

  5. May 26, 2005 12:52 pm

    The title rocks and is now among my favorites on the web.

    If my camp board only knew what goes on in my head – or my blog for that matter. I’m teaching 4-6 graders this summer, unless I get busted.

    I know about half my camp board would have confidence in my diverse opinions and views, but then there is about half that would need to explore the matter.

    So, I hear you. Camp is about kids, so find a way to bless the kids without cursing the ____________.

  6. June 10, 2005 3:20 pm

    I’m behind the times here by a few weeks…but glad I caught up to this blog post. I know which camp you are talking about, and I know the parties involved. I suspect the person who wrote the letter was my mentor who taught me how to ‘do’ Christian camping. I directed a week for several years at that camp.

    Now I am president of the board of Gulf Coast Bible Camp. This is the first year I have discerned that the unrest among the churches has affected who goes to camp – and with whom. One of our weeks wants to make as a part of it’s purpose to be a ‘no clapping’ week. I have no problem with that. The week I direct featured this year prayer stations, praise team each night, Nooma videos, excessive joyous noisy clapping, a praise band playing one night following our ‘service’. I don’t think that makes us a better week than the ‘no clapping’ week, just different. I told the brother in charge of that week that no one would tell me how to run my week, and I would not tell him how to run his week.

    How long will this ‘unity in diversity’ continue? I don’t know. Honestly, I feel a bit like you do because I know we have board members all over the place on these subjects. I propose that we let each week be autonomous. That’s the only way for it to work.

    Your camp has varying degrees of ‘conservatism’ … I remember one of the sessions even uses the old church songbooks, and does not sing the new songs (I don’t know if this is still true).

    I love the men on that board, including the brother who wrote the letter. But that does not mean that each camp week can be cookie cutter. They never have been. Your own history is a testimony against what is being proposed.

    The founders of that camp were rolling in thier graves years ago when I let some girls do a scripture reading during a worship service – the very thing that has a brother upset enough to cast off part of his family to hell.

    What’s scary about this is that the camp is not the church – and people can be a bit more carefree about it … controlling … and it can become a pawn in church politics. Bad stuff. You have my prayers.

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