The Incarnation: An Illustration

I had an epiphany two nights ago.

After arriving home from a revival late, I was doing my nightly (boring) fluoride routine before going to bed, and had turned on the television.

A local channel was running a program on “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the Harper Lee classic from 1960 that was turned into an award-winning movie starring Gregory Peck and Mary Badham.  The program featured interviews with various celebrities on how the story (the book, the movie) had impacted their lives.

It was a fascinating show, one that I could not turn away from.

Just last week, I had bought the book (“Scout, Atticus, & Boo” by Mary McDonagh Murphy) containing these same interviews, and had eagerly devoured it. (If you want to conclude that I love “To Kill a Mockingbird,” go to the head of the class.)

So, after reading the book last week, I had the experience two nights ago of seeing the book, so to speak.

That night, lying in bed trying to get to sleep, I was struck by the difference in reading the interviews in the book and watching the subjects actually say those things on television. That’s when something struck me about the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s one thing to have a message in print; another thing entirely to have it in person.

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You’re a Skeptic? That’s Good.

Last evening, I stepped inside a diner a few blocks from my house to pick up the sandwiches I’d just called in. The place was busy–it was Friday evening and suppertime–and I spotted two kids at a table with their mother, so took my sketch pad inside.

“Ma’am, may I draw your sons?” showing her my pen and sketchpad.

“You’re an artist?”

I said, “Cartoonist.”

“Sure. That would be fine.”

The first one, a boy about 9 or 10, looked up with a killer smile and eyes aglow, so I drew him first. It takes 90 seconds. Then, I sketched his big brother while we made small conversation. Last, I drew the mom. She was friendly and trusting and we talked about that. I get a lot of skepticism when walking up to complete strangers asking, “May I draw you?”  People worry that someone is going to try to con them into something. It’s understandable.

A few minutes later, while in the line to pay for my order, the mother came over to give a takeout order, and we continued our conversation. One of her sons goes to a local Christian school, but she does not go to church anywhere.

“I’m skeptical of religions and churches,” she said.

Our visit was cut short at the counter, and she promised to check out my website, so I want to continue the discussion with her on the blog. Had we had longer to chat, this would have been my next statement:

“That’s good. There are so many weird religions today, so many churches of every type imaginable, and so many unfaithful ministers, it’s good to be skeptical. It’s good to have a healthy skepticism.”

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Things The Church Forgot to Remember

This notice appeared on the front page of the July 4, 2004, issue of the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader:

It has come to the editor’s attention that the Herald-Leader neglected to cover the civil rights movement. We regret the omission.

When that newspaper’s staff decided to prepare a special edition commemorating the 40th anniversary of the passing of the Civil Rights Act, they began combing through their archives looking for local material. That’s when they discovered a complete lack of such information. The newspaper had simply not covered the civil rights movement, period.

A local African-American leader said, “The white community just prayed that rumors and reports (of the civil rights movement) would be swept under the rug and just go away.”

As odd as it is that a newspaper would fail to cover a world-changing movement going on throughout the world and happening in its own hometown, it will not come as a surprise to many of our readers that churches lived through the same revolution in this country without the first mention of it being made from the pulpit. (And we wonder why outsiders found our sermons irrelevant.)

Churches are prone to forget the things they do not want to acknowledge.

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Reforming the Deacons (19): “The Ultimate Test”

My friend, Pastor Rob, resigned. He called to inform me and to say I would not be leading the revival we had scheduled in his church.

“What happened?” I asked.

The story Rob related was the back end of what he had told me some months earlier when he became the pastor of that church. A couple active in leadership roles had been living together as man and wife for several years, but without having ever married.

Scripture calls this fornication.

When my friend Rob had agreed to become their pastor, he did so on the condition that the deacons would deal with this issue and not foist it off on him as the new shepherd. They agreed to do so. Less than a year into his ministry, nothing had been done and the pastor was being attacked by the man and woman as a trouble-maker. They and their supporters in the church griped that all was well until this new preacher came, and he’s stirring it up.(Understand that I’m abbreviating the story and omitting a great deal.)

When the pastor asked the deacons if they intended to act, the chairman said, “Preacher, I guess we’re just cowards.”

So, my friend resigned and moved away with no new church in sight.

He did a courageous thing.

Those who allowed this situation to fester did the cowardly thing. (One could make a case for the previous pastor being a coward too, since he left that situation intact for the next preacher to deal with.)

The ultimate test of a deacon is whether he has the courage to take a stand against a hypocrite who is doing great damage in the Lord’s church; whether he is willing to stand up for his church, for his Lord, for the calling of God. (Granted, this is true also of pastors. But we are addressing deacons here.)

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