Mike Cope's blog

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

There's a wonderful piece by Tom Smith in Relevantmagazine.com. It begins . . . I love experiments. A few years ago I wore my Jabez T-shirt in Colorado Springs. It said, “I prayed the prayer of Jabez for thirty days and the only thing I got was this lousy shirt.” The reactions I got were truly amazing. Some people were furious while others thanked me. A few weeks ago I embarked on another one of my ventures. The laboratory I chose was the local Christian bookstores in Johannesburg, South Africa. The experiment was really simple; I would browse the store in search of books on helping the poor and fighting AIDS. After I saw a million, ‘Here’s how to use Jesus to make you more successful’ titles, I would then ask the sales clerk or manager if they stock books about helping the hurting and helpless. The first store’s clerk looked confused when I asked the question, and the manager intervened and said, “If you find a book on the subject you should immediately buy it.” Two days later I took my science to a bookstore in another mall. I walked in with one of my seventeen year old friends, who happened to be someone who was on the receiving end of apartheid. I asked the clerk if they had books on poverty or AIDS. Nothing could have prepared me for the answer she gave me. “No sir, this is a religious bookstore. I think you should try the secular bookstore around the corner.” In utter shock I asked her if she didn’t think that helping the poor or sick had anything to do with religion. I only got a blank stare. Now it’s easy to harp on this poor girl but to tell you the truth, if you asked me the same question a few years ago, I probably would have had the same confused look, and I’m a pastor! I often wonder why I never made the link between my relationship with Christ and my responsibility towards people who suffer and are poor. To read more, you can find the full article here. - - - - "The one principle of Hell is -- 'I am my own.'" - George MacDonald - - - - Yes, that's right. I said it in this morning's post: Joe Montana is the greatest QB ever to play the game. A few years from now, I expect that to be edited to Peyton Manning (who stars in some of my favorite commercials on TV).


  • Nice MacDonald quote.

    Here are two of my favorites:

    "Attitudes are more important than facts."

    "How strange this fear of death is! We are never frightened at a sunset."

    By Blogger Jared Cramer, at 11/08/2005 04:41:00 PM  

  • Great post, brother. I was so bummed to miss you guys on Friday--I guess we passed in the air.

    As we gathered for staff meeting on visioning today we talked a lot about Emergent stuff and where the Lord might be leading us. Leonard Sweet's comments at the ZOE conference rang in my head--"Why do we keep having to come up with our mission statements? Are we saying that the mission statement Jesus left us wasn't complete?"

    While we all do like narrowing the focus, the truth of his statement is convicting to me.

    Jesus would be about tending to and loving the sick. He'd be about spending time with them--just as the guy you quoted was doing.

    Today in our meeting Steve Sherman said something that is the quote of the month for me...
    "The salvation of the rich is directly associated to the salvation of the poor."

    Convicting words. Convicting call!

    By Blogger Brandon Scott, at 11/08/2005 06:18:00 PM  

  • 1. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one reading articles on Relevantmagazine.com. With the age of some of the guys/girls that write stuff on there, I feel like an old geezer just reading it, but - as was the case here - the stuff they say is often a LOT better than things that Christian leaders two and three times their age are saying (with you - Mike - being an exception, of course [G]).

    2. MacDonald is saying something about a "chosen" hell that resonates with me, but I'm still puzzled by some of the biblical depictions of hell, especially in Matthew, trying to reconcile the two. I have McClaren and his book "The Last Word..." to thank for my newly-found neurosis on this subject.

    3. My favorite Manning commercial is the one where he is standing in a parking lot in front of a large office building, trying to catch the attention of a mass of men and women walking into work. He's singing "Lets go insurance adjusters! Lets go!" I just about fell out of my chair the first time I saw that one.

    By Blogger Matt, at 11/08/2005 06:45:00 PM  

  • Great post. Asking for books on helping the needy...that may be my next covert operation...

    ...and I'd wear that Jabez shirt any day of the week.

    By Blogger Agent B, at 11/08/2005 07:06:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger c hand, at 11/08/2005 08:21:00 PM  

  • People have been taking that clerk's advice for years. There are plenty of people looking to make a difference in the lives of the hurting. They just don't meet in our churches. They do gather around the corner in coffee shops.

    I hate the walls of the church.

    Good thing Jesus isn't limited like we are.

    Great post Mike.

    Amen on Joe Montana!

    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 11/08/2005 09:10:00 PM  

  • Mike,
    Sorry for the commercial interuption, but you are THE place to get information out ASAP.

    I few weeks ago I commented on this blog about my 6 year old son Tyler. My wife and I discovered on Oct. 10th that he had a brain tumor. Within 3 weeks, we were able to get him the best care for surgery. The entire tumor was removed and is benign. He is as happy as ever and you would never know he had a tumor besides his the stitches on his head.

    I just want to thank everyone for the prayers and support for our little guy. It is wonderful to be in God's family. If you'd like to view Tyler's webpage, it is located at www.carepages.com, then register (usually takes a minute) and then type "tyler99" to view his page. It contains updates, comments from others, and pictures.

    By the way, Montana will always be the man to me. God bless!

    Mark Stewart
    Bloomington, IL

    By Blogger slipperycatsanddogs, at 11/08/2005 09:42:00 PM  

  • Thanks, Mark. I read your wonderful note to your son earlier this morning. May God continue to surround your family. Also loved your tribute to your church, friends, doctors and nurses, employer (John Deere), etc.

    - - - -

    If you've never made a visit to the strange world of www.grantboone.blogspot.com, do so. And someone pointed me to the last few posts at jesustheradicalpastor.blogspot.com.

    By Blogger Mike, at 11/09/2005 04:29:00 AM  

  • Great post. You're right on about Joe Montana but not Peyton Manning. Anyone who played college football at Tennessee (You can't spell "thug" without UT)could ever be considered the best at anything!

    By Blogger Ed Harrell, at 11/09/2005 05:33:00 AM  

  • Didn't Montana win 4 Super Bowls? (or was it just 3?) either way, I don't think Manning will get there. Maybe 2, but not 3 and definitely not 4.

    Brady, on the other hand...

    By Blogger Greg, at 11/09/2005 06:16:00 AM  

  • Order YOUR t-shirt here!

    By Blogger Matt Elliott, at 11/09/2005 06:32:00 AM  

  • Okay, so my "ethno-sensitivity" came rushing out as I read the story. Just so we are clear - this is not just a South African thing....:-). I bet the question could have been asked just about anywhere and received the same response.
    Phew, I feel better now. The need to "stand up for my peeps and my country" just overtook me there, sorry!!!

    By Blogger Arlene Kasselman, at 11/09/2005 06:56:00 AM  

  • Mike, what is "c hand's" problem? Does blogger have a function that blocks certain people?

    By Blogger John, at 11/09/2005 07:01:00 AM  

  • First of all, I have to echo Arlene's statement...this is a problem that is global. NOT EVERY WHITE SOUTH AFRICAN WAS AN APARTHEID SUPPORTER!

    Moving on, I'm not sure how successful we'll be at all this "helping the poor" stuff if we keep our current mindset. Bro. Larry James hooked us up with some tickets to hear Jim Wallis speak a few weeks ago in Dallas, and it was a very good speech. It was a very good speech heard by a room full of older, apparently affluent white people. There were a few "minorities" there, but the message I got from the evening was that right now, "poverty" is a service project done BY the rich FOR the poor. Where is the partnership? Surely this won't work if it's a one-sided relationship.

    Mostly I just wanted to say that stuff about white South Africans.

    Hier kom die Bokke!

    By Blogger Greg Kendall-Ball, at 11/09/2005 07:18:00 AM  

  • My husband introduced me to Relevant Magazine and, (true confession time), I pour over it and read it cover to cover.

    The article that moved me was the XXX Ministry that went to the Porn Convention in LA. Now that took some courage.

    This is from today's Dallas NMorning News:

    Dallas voters on Tuesday easily approved a $23.8 million downtown center to help the city's growing homeless population despite a fierce campaign to defeat the project.

    "Dallas has got a heart and is going to do the right thing by the homeless," Dallas homeless czar Mike Rawlings said. "We've got to deal with this issue downtown. It's a serious issue, and I think everybody recognizes it."

    By Blogger Hoots Musings, at 11/09/2005 08:00:00 AM  

  • I appreciate the article. I have noticed that Christian book stores lack in 4 areas:
    1. Domestic Violence in the Christian home
    2. Anorexia and eating disorders
    3. Working to end poverty and helping the poor
    4. Divorce recovery material

    Sometimes I feel like it is a step into a magic world without problems.

    Ron Clark
    Portland, OR

    By Blogger KMiV, at 11/09/2005 08:32:00 AM  

  • John said... "Mike, what is "c hand's" problem? Does blogger have a function that blocks certain people? --9:01 AM"

    John, I raised a similar question about an earlier deletion here.

    Is it possible that Mike thinks we are not capable of judging for ourselves the merits of what c_hand has to say?

    I don't always agree with what c_hand says or the way he says it, but if he wants to be the skunk at the party, what's the big deal?

    Of course, maybe his deleted comments crossed a line that he should have recognized. Without an explanation from the blog administrator, we cannot know.

    By Blogger extremist, at 11/09/2005 08:43:00 AM  

  • Extremist - My explanation can be found in comments from yesterday. He stated as fact what my position is on gay marriages. What is said is wrong, and (when stated as a fact) a lie. It's the kind of stuff that is printed in religious porn all the time. But not here. But mostly, he crossed a line in referring to what one of my children believes (that isn't right, either). My children are off limit for attacks. He's off my site for good. I'll be deleting every further comment from him. Sorry, you can go after me -- especially in well-articulated disagreements (which I've always welcomed) -- but not my family.

    By Blogger Mike, at 11/09/2005 08:50:00 AM  

  • Bottom line: This is MIKE'S Blog & he can do with it what he likes - no excuses needed.

    By Blogger Beaner, at 11/09/2005 09:33:00 AM  

  • Seriously, if c hand wants to, he can start his own blog.

    By Blogger Phil, at 11/09/2005 10:21:00 AM  

  • Mike, sorry. I missed your explanation on the other post. Thanks for pointing me to it.

    By Blogger extremist, at 11/09/2005 10:32:00 AM  

  • Now Montana won games and Manning puts up numbers, but Elway had soul. I'm just saying, I'd love to see what Elway could've done with Jerry Rice or one of those Niners defenses! Then again, I was very young....

    Great article, by the way. I think all us in Randy's class really appreciated your lesson on Tuesday.

    By Blogger Brian, at 11/09/2005 11:09:00 AM  

  • One word: NAMATH.

    I'd like to see Montana, Brady or Elway get away with that panty hose thing.

    (Dennis Rodman can do it, of course, but who's talking basketball?)

    By Blogger Matt Elliott, at 11/09/2005 11:19:00 AM  

  • This suspension is an outrage. C_hand is a great person. He's just misunderstood. All he wants to do is blog. In fact, he hopes to be back blogging Monday night against the Cowboys.

    By Blogger D. Rosenhaus, at 11/09/2005 12:00:00 PM  

  • I loved the idea of the jabez t-shirt. my husband (a business guy) has said from the first pubishing of jabez that he wanted to write a book entitled you can fail in business, wind up penniless, and God still loves you!

    By Blogger Literati Mommy, at 11/09/2005 01:33:00 PM  

  • To make this less South Africa specific, and less ecumenical (momentarily), how many CofC tracts deal substantively with social justice issues. Howmany of our church libraries have books on AIDS and poverty? I, for one, know that my church library growing up had none, and our tracts...well, you know the kind...

    By Blogger R U S S, at 11/09/2005 03:17:00 PM  

  • Mike Cope said... "But mostly, he crossed a line in referring to what one of my children believes (that isn't right, either)."

    Oh, I see. There were two Tuesday posts (morning and evening) and one on Sunday. The first deletion appears on the Sunday post without explantion. There were more deletions with some explanation on the Tuesday morning post, but it's sort of hard to follow without the offending posts there. Today is the first indication that you are imposing a general ban on all c_hand comments. Thanks again for the clarification. Sorry I missed the discussion on the Tuesday morning post post at first. However, I still have questions.

    Mike Cope said... "He stated as fact what my position is on gay marriages. What is said is wrong, and (when stated as a fact) a lie."

    It is a lie *if he knew* or should have known it was untrue. Otherwise it might be jumping to conclusions or some similar offense, but not a lie.

    What *is* your position?

    How does it differ from his characterization?

    Why do you think he knew or should have known what your position actually is?

    Does c_hand have a path to redemption on this blog or is it once-banned always-banned?

    Just curious.
    (WWJD: What would Jesus delete?)

    By Blogger extremist, at 11/09/2005 04:29:00 PM  

  • Hmmm, extremist, is it??

    May I offer my totally unsolicited opinion, a general opinion and POV regarding the difference between a blog and message board? They do have different objectives and usages.

    A blog is very private, allowing others to comment, but comments are not required, it is a personal journal.

    A message board is for open, usually unmonitored exchange of ideas with all participants having the opportunity to open a thread on a subject they wish to discuss.

    As has been said, Mike's blog is HIS blog. If he so wished, he could exclude us all and just post his daily journal. I feel blessed to be invited to read, and occasionally post my opinion on his blog. But since it is private communication, I try always to respect the blog administrator/owner. It is my opinion that Mike is well within his blog rights to exclude certain areas of his private life and family from open discussion as he sees fit and to exclude misleading posts, again as he sees fit. It is HIS blog.

    Mike, again, thank you for the blessing of not only reading but for allowing me to participate in your blog journal!

    By Blogger Kathy, at 11/09/2005 05:50:00 PM  

  • I think that Roger Clemens is the best.

    If you've seen his HEB commercials with David Carr in Houston, you'll agree.

    I love the t shirt. I love t shirts that are offensive, but not really if you think about it. I have a general ban on shirts with too much writing or else I'd probably order this one. (I don't like to stand while people read my shirt. I'm too figity.)

    By Blogger Kyle, at 11/09/2005 10:03:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger c hand, at 11/09/2005 10:09:00 PM  

  • Kathy said... "Mike's blog is HIS blog. If he so wished, he could exclude us all and just post his daily journal. ...Mike is well within his blog rights to exclude certain areas of his private life and family from open discussion as he sees fit and to exclude misleading posts, again as he sees fit. It is HIS blog."

    I agree. No one is questioning his right to exclude anyone he wants. More to the point, I am not even questioning whether his banning of c_hand was appropriate. I merely sought more information about why. Naturally, he's free to answer my questions, ignore me, or ban me. It's up to him because, as you so eloquently put it, it is HIS blog.

    However, Mike also said that he welcomes disagreement. I'm just struggling to figure out what's going on.

    Larry James posted about this medical student conference having something to do with "social justice." Mike re-posted his comments, but it is unclear to me what it is actually about. I think c_hand and Kelly assumed the conference was consistent with the general tenor of Larry James' blog, which often advocates increased government spending on social programs and lambastes conservatives, especially conservative Christians, who try to control spending.

    Mere mention of "social justice" then prompted c_hand to sarcastically express skepticism. Then Kelly also expressed skepticism about the implications of saying that Christians must favor "social justice." This prompted Mike to say, "A couple of these responses make me very nervous. ...The reign of God is breaking in, and social justice is very much a part of the message." Then he started deleting comments, which I hadn't seen him do before. I am genuinely confused

    Mike, what makes you "very nervous," exactly? Any Christian dissenting from the notion that social justice requires the adoption left-leaning political positions?

    What makes me very nervous is the tendency of some folks to equate support for centrally-planned, government programs with being "smart" and moral.

    Some of us believe that there are inefficiencies and waste inherent in any government program and that excessive government responsibility for the poor deadens the call of the Church to care for the poor. If we, therefore, support free-market policies, it doesn't mean we are either dumb or heartless. Many of the folks who take this position also have big brains and loving hearts.

    The issue of gay marriage was first raised here in a question from Matt to Kelly: "Do you believe that abortion, gay marriage, and terrorism are societal problems?"

    The question implied an inconsistency between Kelly's laissez faire approach on economic issues versus a presumed support for government intervention on other matters.

    There is often an opposite "inconsistency" on the other side, but it is less defensible. Confining government to its core, limited functions, such as protecting innocent life from violent destruction, seems less problematic than freeing it from those responsibilities in order to pursue adventures in centrally-planned economies of the sort that have been proven over and over again to fail (See, e.g., France and Europe generally).

    As James Toranto wrote (quoted and discussed at Fishkite): "Contemporary liberals are happy to beat you over the head with the Bible, but only when completely technocratic matters, like budgets or environmental regulations, are at stake. When the subject turns to abortion or same-sex marriage or Terri Schiavo, suddenly they become absolutists about the separation of church and state. In other words, they fear and oppose religion when it comes to matters of sex and death–the two great mysteries of life, and the two areas where a religious outlook has the most to offer."

    As for homosexual marriage, I explained my view here in the context of Proposition 2 in Texas (which passed on Tuesday with about a three-fourths majority).

    Mike, I'm curious about what your position is. If you don't want to answer, fine. But, given that you say c_hand intentionally misrepresented your position ("a lie") and was banned for doing so, it seems like a relevant question. If I *wanted* to intentionally misrepresent your position, I wouldn't know how because I don't know what it is.

    I'm not demanding your time and attention either. If anyone else can point me to a clear description of Mike's position on homosexual marriage, I would appreciate it.

    What I don't think is fair, Kathy, is to try to shame me for being curious about what his position is or for trying to understand and explore the dispute occurring here. This is not a "private journal." It is a free, public space on the Internet in which Mike chose to bring up the subject of social justice and Matt chose to bring up the subject of homosexual marriage.

    I didn't raise these subjects, but I am trying to engage in dialogue on them. If dialogue is not welcome here, then I will gladly return to my blog. Maybe c_hand can start a blog too, and we can all focus on interacting only with those who will affirm our own views and praise whatever we say.

    By Blogger extremist, at 11/10/2005 05:16:00 PM  

  • Extremist -- wouldn't you agree that your assumption that Kathy is "shaming you" could be erroneous? I don't read that at all in Kathy's post. Conversely, you might tell me the same thing if I stated I believe you're attempting to hijack Mike's blog and brow-beat him into answering endless theories, "what ifs" and other assumptive rhetoric that you pose to him.

    By Blogger KentF, at 11/10/2005 06:33:00 PM  

  • KentF said: "Wouldn't you agree that your assumption that Kathy is shaming you' could be erroneous?"

    Fair point. I could be wrong about that. The focus should be on substance not assumptions about people's motives. Let me rephrase. What I don't think *would be* fair, *would be* to shame me.

    And, for the record, I'm not trying to hijack anything or brow-beat anyone.

    By Blogger extremist, at 11/10/2005 07:01:00 PM  

  • To Kent - Thanks for that note. Yes, that's reading a LOT into Kathy's comment.

    To Jason Foster (Extremist) - I've got about as much "on record" in this area as anyone I know -- in books, in Wineskins, in sermons. Maybe I'll come back later with a longer blog. Short answer for now: I'm opposed to gay marriages. I don't like the short answer -- because there is so much more to be said on the topic about the need for compassion and about the church's tendency to overlook those areas that even more tear apart marriage -- like divorce and greed -- because we're so compromised in those areas. But still, perhaps for here the short answer is what you want.

    By Blogger Mike, at 11/11/2005 04:54:00 AM  

  • Thanks for a wonderful example of the golden rule. I appreciate your taking the time to answer me, personally and by name.

    I didn't mean to imply that your position was a secret. It doesn't surprise me that you've spoken and written about it before, which is why I also asked others to point me to where I could find it in lieu of a response from you.

    I don't subscribe to New Wineskins, and I don't have an opportunity to hear your sermons. Thus, I was in the dark.

    I totally understand your caveats and likely agree with them. There's no need to expand on them on my account.

    Sorry to have bothered you.

    By Blogger extremist, at 11/11/2005 06:42:00 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Mike, at 11/11/2005 08:14:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    I'm at home. It's Veteran's Day, a federal holiday.

    Have I ever posted a brief comment during a break on a work day? On occasion. And there's no rule against it in my office just as there aren't rules against folks making personal phone calls or sending personal emails on occasion (because we often work long hours).

    I don't see how this relates to the substance of the discussion. It seems to have taken a personal turn.

    By Blogger extremist, at 11/11/2005 09:13:00 AM  

  • It's interesting how people knock The Prayer of Jabez and Bruce Wilkinson for being materialistic. Expanding your territory doesn't necessarily mean money and things. In fact, Wilkinson himself has experienced a Jabez awakening -- which has ultimately taken him to Africa to work with AIDS victims. This article at beliefnet.com tells about how he had thought God wanted to increase his territory by making movies and how he truly listened to the leading of the Holy Spirit and ended up in Africa instead. I don't think the message of Jabez is wrong, I just thing that many of us as Americans, toiling for the American Dream, equate it with increasing our stuff. God has so much more for us than that, and I always thought that was what Bruce's books were about.

    By Blogger Gem, at 11/13/2005 10:33:00 AM  

  • Excellent point, Gem. I think the concern isn't what Wilkinson intended but how it's heard in a largely materialistic, indulging, individualistic society.

    By Blogger Mike, at 11/14/2005 04:39:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    Great post.

    One of the greatest disappointments in ministry for me has been our lack of caring for the poor, the widow, the orphan, the alien. It's just unreal to me how selective our reading of the text has been and often continues to be.

    I have a class I teach entitled, "God and the Poor" and invariably by the end of it those who truly study will sit stunned in class as they realize much of their faith is not tied to God or Gospel but greed and the American dream.

    If anyone would like to do an experiment, here is a one for you. Bring up "the rich young ruler" and ask "what was the problem for this young man?" in a Sunday School (or even Christian College) class. "Why is he in danger of losing his soul?"

    Time how long it takes for the reaction of, "He was in love with his money."

    That is our explanation for the passage, but it is not the one offered in the text. The text simply states he was rich and that it is harder for a rich man to get to heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.

    Thus the reaction of the disciples was one of shock.

    Our riches have become our snare and in some senses - our God. Even the ministry class we have created has crossed this rubicon; when a larger congregation calls with an offer of greater pay - what happens? Do we stay, or do we tell our spouse, "You go ahead and pack while I pray."

    God will call us into accounting some day for our lack of response to the poor - especially since we live in the richest land in all of human history.

    By Blogger Charles, at 11/14/2005 08:01:00 AM  

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