When a Pastor Gives Up…

who will weep, who will shoulder the blame?

This evening I feel twinges of nostalgia and sadness. And perhaps a twitch of a whiff of bitterness? No, I overcame that a long time ago.

Twenty-five years ago this evening, at the Mennonite church in Santa María (Sonora, Mexico), the first national minister of that congregation was ordained.

photo of Emanuel church in Santa Maria

As I recall, my Dad (James Roth) gave the charge. And as I recall, the church’s “founding father” (Joe Mast) as well as two members of BMF Missions (Merle Kropf and Wilton Smucker) were there from Oregon as well. I was the congregation’s pastor.

I continued in that role til I resigned in March or April (as I fuzzily recall) so Manuel Torres could take over. My family and I had to leave the field (in May, I think). Read it all

I Flunked Song of Solomon 907

I wrote it for ninth graders and overshot the mark.

You may know I’m writing Old Testament lessons for high school freshmen. Recently I got to the sole lesson on the Song of Solomon.

The instructions I had were quite elementary:

The lesson focus is that last sentence.

In addition to those mandated parameters, I had these of my own:

  • Make it practical for ninth graders.
  • Avoid eye-rolling stretching to make the passage point to Christ and the church.

Well, I finally settled on using these passages:

  • Song of Solomon 2:4 (85)
  • Song of Solomon 4:1-7 (176)
  • Song of Solomon 5:10-16 (143)
  • Song of Solomon 7:10 (107)
  • Song of Solomon 8:6,7 (217)

The numbers in parentheses tell you how many words I dedicated to each passage.

I began and ended the lesson with these paragraphs respectively:

Song of Solomon is a difficult, much-debated, little-understood book. Perhaps it describes a real-life romance. Perhaps it’s more a poem or play to instruct and encourage husbands and wives. Perhaps it’s an intricate allegory illustrating God’s relationship with His people. Perhaps it’s some combination of those. This lesson, though, will help you consider several portions of the Song of Solomon from three different angles: pre-marriage guidelines, marital principles, and spiritual truths pertaining to Christ and the church.

Nothing shall be able to separate us from divine love (Romans 8:35-39). As the church is secure in Christ, so the church must secure her love for Christ alone (Matthew 24:12; Revelation 2:4). We should let Him know in thought, word, and deed that we are His alone.

Considering the parameters I had, I was enamored with what I submitted. Well, that’s too strong. Maybe infatuated. No, not that either. Pleased, anyway.

So much for feelings. I received instructions to please rewrite the lesson. :mrgreen:

(Oh, you’re wondering about the 907 in the post title? Well, 101 is so predictable, passé, and/or blasé.)

Today I started that process by reading through Song of Solomon. Alas, now I’m less optimistic than when I started. 😯

Do you have any passages to suggest (that fall within the above parameters)?

Yes, It Could Happen Here

God has so blessed America that we can happily relegate such terror to Asia and Europe and say it can’t happen here—but it could if churches content themselves with blessing bicycles, bees, and yaks instead of teaching about sin and what happens to societies that encourage it rather than restrain it. We need to learn about real ghouls.

Halloween’s real ghouls

Non-Accountable Christians — What’s With That?!

Many of the exhortations in the Bible are not popular in today’s world. But a new study by the Barna Group indicates that one of the least favorite biblical principles might well be “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow” Hebrews 13:17, NLT.

Because the underlying theme of the Christian life is one of being transformed from a selfish and self-driven individual to one who lives for and surrenders control of one’s life to God, the practice of accountability for life choices and behavior is central to that process of transformation. Yet, a national survey by the Barna Group among people who describe themselves as Christian and involved in a church discovered that only 5% indicated that their church does anything to hold them accountable for integrating biblical beliefs and principles into their life.

As a member of a congregation with a written set of (minimum) standards, I find this to be an interesting poll/study/survey.

And I’m curious where you and your congregation would have shown up in it.

That aside, here’s a little more from the above article:

“Barna Group studies among pastors and other church leaders have consistently shown that such leaders have a distaste for initiating any type of confrontation and conflict with congregants. Another barrier is that many followers of Christ are uncertain about the difference between judgment and discernment. Not wanting to be judgmental, they therefore avoid all conversation about the other person’s behavior—except, sometimes, gossip.

“One of the cornerstones of the biblical concept of community is that of mutual accountability. But Americans these days cherish privacy and freedom to the extent that the very idea of being held accountable by others—even those with their best interests in mind, or who have a legal or spiritual authority to do so—is considered inappropriate, antiquated and rigid. With a large majority of Christian churches proclaiming that people should know, trust and obey all of the behavioral principles taught in the Bible, overlooking a principle as foundational as accountability breeds even more public confusion about scriptural authority and faith-based community, as well as personal behavioral responsibility.”

Anyway, here’s the full story: The Barna Group – National Study Describes Christian Accountability Provided by Churches

What’s With Rick Warren?

From the current Lighthouse Trails Newsletter:

You’ve heard me say many times that the greatest thing you can do with your life is tell somebody about Jesus … if you help somebody secure their eternal destiny, that they spend the rest of their life in Heaven not Hell …your life counts, your life matters because nothing matters more than helping get a person and their eternal destiny settled. They will be forever eternally grateful….And I’ve always said that that was the greatest thing you can do with your life. I was wrong. There is one thing you can do greater than share Jesus Christ with somebody, and it is help start a church.” -Sermon from 11/2003 when Rick Warren Announced His Global Peace Plan to Saddleback.

In an interview in August 2006 with Charlie Rose, Warren stated that we don’t have to have the same religion or moral beliefs to work with people on poverty, disease, etc. As an example he said he just met with the President of the gay-activist group ACT UP, and asked him, “Eric [Sawyer], how can I help you get your message out?” Sawyer answered, “Use your moral authority.” Warren then said to Rose, “I’m working with these guys … I’m looking for a coalition of civility, which means let’s get back to the original meaning of tolerance.”

Do you agree with Mr. Warren?

Above all, love God!