Bill Kemp's publishing site

Sail Boat and the Sub

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Whisky submarine is moored to the past/sailboat faces dangers

In San Diego there’s a boat museum with three old submarines tied to the dock. I was visiting the Russian Whisky Class submarine from the 1970s, when I noticed a beautiful sailboat tacking against the wind in the harbor. What’s the difference between these two boats? The sailboat is dealing with wind and current. It is taking risks. The Russian sub is securely fastened to the shore. It is a museum piece. I find that when I talk about the church in the postmodern world, the image of the sailboat resonates with only a few church leaders. Most pastors and lay people would prefer to have their house of worship firmly entrenched in tradition. There isn’t sufficient evangelical passion to send them out into open water.

Since the 1980s, the religious undercurrent of American life has turned against weekly worship. This past week, less than 18% of the population was in worship. Further, there is a stiff wind blowing against all forms of institutionalism and hierarchy. People have embraced the the old Marx brothers’ joke, I wouldn’t want to be a member of any organization that would have me. The gentle, Newtonian, wave theory that supported our traditional church boat is gone. In its place, relativism rules. People go to their social networks with their problems, instead of their pastor. A generation has arisen that does not know organized religion.

We can respond to the postmodern world by allowing our churches to become museum pieces. The old submarines in San Diego don’t have to deal with the wind and the waves. They don’t care which way society is going. They say, “Relativism is just wrong.” 

If you learn to sail, you discover some interesting facts. A modern, sloop rigged, sailboat can sail very close to the wind. In fact, it sails fastest when the wind is against it. A modern sailboat can also survive a terrible storm, as long as it keeps its bow into the wind. There are very few places in this world, that a thirty-foot sailboat can’t reach. It does well on the margins, away from the shipping lines crowded with big institutional boats. Where has Jesus called us to take the gospel?

I’m not campaigning to buy a boat. I’m simply pointing out that the reason so few church leaders embrace postmodern ministry is because they have the wrong image of the church in their heads. Jesus commanded his disciples to sail on a night that the wind and the waves would be against them. When they became afraid, he came to where they were, in the midst of the ever changing sea of contemporary society.

God Loves Justice

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Photo from Monument Valley - Utah

Today is a day of reversals. Those on top are tumbling. Take that, Mr.Harvey Weinstein. And yet still, the rich get richer and no one speaks for the poor in the halls of government. But, Jesus spoke for them. When asked to give the sermon in Capernaum, he took for his text the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He put his finger on this passage and read:

“The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed…” (Isaiah 61:1). 

Jesus also echoes much of Isaiah’s “good news” in his day to day teaching. As he walks among common folk he says:
Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now,
    for you will be satisfied…
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
        - Luke 6:20, 21, and Matthew 5:4-5

We should look at what is happening in today’s news and rejoice. Those without a voice are now speaking up and saying, “Me too!”

A line from Isaiah gives me hope: “For I the LORD love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them [the poor, the abused, the meek] their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them (Isaiah 61:8).

This is the shocking statement of Advent: The Lord God cares about Justice.

George Carlin Lives!

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A little while ago it came out that seven words had to be sanitized by the CDC from their reports to get the budget request that they needed from the "Politically Correct" Trump Whitehouse. Owellian was the word most of us used to describe that news story. Now we are in the midst of a terrible flu season and the CDC has a limited budget. The administration seems reluctant to support the Universal Vacine development that will save lives in the future. I get it. Trump doesn't trust science. Believe me, facts, truth, and science are not a libreal cause, unless the GOP chooses to make it so.