Asleep In The Snow

Here is a scene from the streets (an alley actually) of Lubbock last winter.

Asleep in snow

Will history repeat itself?

WWJD?

I put out prayer requests to churches around town last week on their websites – those that have prayer request sites.  I asked for prayer and for those churches to consider hosting street homeless during cold weather.

It appears I was ignored by all but one.  (To be fair, some of them might be praying without sending me an email response.)

The one that did respond only responded negatively and argumentatively.  (Hey, at least I was taken seriously and engaged! … and not only that, but with actual Scripture too! … but negatively nonetheless.)  The passage in Matthew 25 about Judgment for how we treat the poor was acknowledged, but dismissed by suggesting it only applies to “brothers” and not random people from the streets.

Wow!  You have to be a member of that church on the streets before that church will help you?  Does that ring true with Jesus?  What do you think?

Of course the responder totally misconstrued my request as a ploy to get money.  I made no such request.  But the response was largely about that and denied me money that I did not ask for.  It ended with a quote from 2nd Thessalonians 3:10, where St. Paul says, “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.”

That is a powerful verse.  I cannot deny that it is the very Word of God.  And it is one that gets trotted out frequently to defend a stance against loving the homeless.  But this is a deeply mistaken application and misuse of that verse – in my view.  (I must respect that others will hold a different view, but I expect that its meaning and usefulness is a matter of debate.  Also, I am actually thrilled to have a response that seeks God’s Word on these matters.  So often, “Christians” don’t even bother!)

I will not explicate a proper use of that verse at this time, but I will note that it is not a blanket directive for all people on all occasions.  We don’t use this verse to deny sick people food, for instance.  And many of those living on the streets suffer with various illnesses that prevent them from working.  Therefore, a blanket denial of loving street people by way of this verse is actually very unloving and reveals a hard heart.

What about cold & flu?  What about alcoholism and drug addiction?  What about mental illness of various kinds?  What about war-related PTSD?  Would you deny a veteran food if he is out of work and on the streets after he “defends” your nation?

So…

Back to my questions at the start of this post.  WWJD? and Will history repeat itself this winter in Lubbock?

Thank God for Restoring Hope, Paul’s Project, and the other 501c3’s that are out there doing the Lord’s work, because without them making the church look good, no one would (I think).

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8 comments

  1. Ryan · December 17, 2015

    The reactions you received from the churches in your town reminded me of this passage:

    “Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of wickedness,
    to undo the straps of the yoke,
    to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
    Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
    when you see the naked, to cover him,
    and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
    Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up speedily;
    your righteousness shall go before you;
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
    Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
    (Isaiah 58:6-9 ESV)

    This is God’s condemnation through His prophet Isaiah to the self-righteous ones who worshiped Him with their fastidious empty religion, but without their hearts. May we be among those who call on the Lord and He answers “Here I AM!”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agent B · December 20, 2015

      Isaiah 58. Powerful words. Very fitting here. I used to be part of a ministry in Abilene Texas called Isaiah 58. This passage was more than a moniker. It was our very foundation.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. BrookeM · December 18, 2015

    I’m saddened by the response that you got (and the silence). My children and I are going through Proverbs–one verse every morning. Yesterday, our verse was Proverbs 16:26: “The appetite of workers works for them;
    their hunger urges them on.” We discussed how it is a God-given responsibility to work, but we also talked about how those who are able to work bear responsibility for those who can’t. Parents support their children, grown children support their elderly parents, and we are all meant to help feed those who are too sick or incapacitated to work for themselves. We also talked about how there are not always enough jobs to go around and not all jobs pay enough to support a family.

    In context of the Bible as a whole, we cannot deny that we are required by God to work for our own subsistence, as well as that of those who are unable to support themselves. The very same chapter of Proverbs also says: “It is better to be of a lowly spirit among the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud” (16:19).

    Stay encouraged! Many churches are not living this out, but many individuals are.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Agent X · December 18, 2015

    Thanks for commenting. Thanks for your generous, charitable words.

    Yeah, one thing I did not mention in the post: The spokesman from that church was also perturbed with my pseudonym, “Agent X” and suggested I was ashamed of myself. He seemed to really zero in on it harshly.

    Let me be clear here with all publically. I use the pseudonym to avoid pride and to do my giving in secret as per Matt. 6:3. I choose this method because I learned it from following The Agent B Files (blog) years ago, and it seemed to work well. My ID is not locked up iron-clad. I do not actually have that ability. But I make effort(s) to mute it so that I can give without puffing up myself, talk about needs I address without puffing up myself, and tell stories I hope inspire without puffing up myself.

    I also confront the church publically too. I continue to use the pseudonym there too. What matters is not so much what I say as what God says anyway. I do not need glory for that. And likewise, I take care not to specify the name of any church I happen to confront. In general, as I see it, they all are in need of the confrontation actually, so you could put in nearly any name there and it would stick! But, I hope to give those churches the space to find conviction and repent with grace without seeing their name associated with their sins. And that is a bigger favor than St. John gives the 7 churches of the Apocalypse!

    Anyway, that responder did not have the benefit of the three paragraphs above. So, I will grant him a measure of slack on that account. However, he spoke for the Body of Christ. And as I see it, I prophetically slipped up in the crowd of internet users and touched the hem of the garment! His response did not honor that scene from Mark 5. Jesus did not shame her for anonymity. He did not check her membership card. In fact he healed gentiles too, both in his “earthly body” (as we are apt to call it) and in the church.

    Perhaps I was not so charitable in my prayer request. That is possible. Especially as far as that one website was concerned. When I clicked on it, I was immediately confronted myself with some statements about “waging war” against “error” and so forth. I told him I was not interested in waging war with his error; I wanted to see the church do the business of Jesus with the poor on the streets – you know, like we read about in Matthew 25.

    Well, he wanted to argue. And that is fine. I looked over his argument(s). I don’t want to pass up a chance to be taught a lesson. However, I am good for about one or two banters back and forth of disagreement, and then I will give the last word and go away. Continual arguing will only do damage. And there is a good chance that when arguing, we actually are “talking past” each other rather than really addressing the actual issues raised. It just happens. But if your point is not convincing after a couple of attempts to clarify, then either is has no real merit or you are not really getting a hearing.

    Now, I am okay with persistence. If you are being ignored – that is not the same as getting bogged down in argument… You really can (and perhaps (debatable, I am sure) should) find new and creative ways to make your case – including speaking up louder and louder over the interfering noise. It could possibly make the difference.

    I am okay with blunt talk. In fact I prefer it – a lot of the time. So what if it hurts? Well, the circumstances and wisdom hopefully help determine when it is really appropriate. But it is always on the table, in my view, and is used by Jesus on many occasions too. Of course, there is no excuse to turn blunt talk into beating people up. Again, use wisdom to tell the difference.

    Okay, obviously this post works on one of my nerves too. But one more thing I want to reiterated here (as I pointed out rather sloppily in my post) I am happy the guy took me seriously enough to engage me. Most didn’t. And even more so, I am happy he engaged me with scripture (actually he used several passages). Whether I agree with him or not, that in and of itself is rather refreshing in today’s world. We have a real where-the-wind-blows, feel-good Christian mentality dominating out there these days. There is no real reasoning with that. More and more stuff goes these days that is not warranted in the Bible. A lot of that will always be matters of debate, but if you don’t open your Bible to familiarize yourself at the least, then why do I care what you say?

    At least this guy did that. So I gave him a back and forth good for 2 exchanges. He is not the first. But he is one of only three (two of them in the blog-O-sphere/internet sites, and found in recent days) that have ever engaged me in argument with a Bible in one hand at all. This leaves me to think that BY FAR most of the Christian ministers I have confronted either don’t know what God says on these matters (and don’t bother to find out) or they don’t care enough to make necessary changes – thus I go ignored MOST OF THE TIME. The few exceptions have been rebuttals that did not seek God’s word when they rebutted.

    There. That is practically a post of its own.

    Thank you for commenting and caring.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. SurvivorX · December 19, 2015

    It never ceases to amaze me how carelessly people manipulate words written for the purpose of teaching religion to support their self-interested assertion. No single passage from any book of religion can be read independently of the entire scripture. What a silly person. So many silly, cruel people feigning religion these days. Christians chase me around trying to beat me with their bible until I share the intimate details of my personal relationship with God, but they don’t monitor themselves or their congregation to spread actual Christianity. Both intrusive and complacent at the same time. I look forward to change from within.

    Like

    • Agent X · December 20, 2015

      I want to welcome, Survivor X, to this blog! Thank you for visiting. I was really intrigued by your recent post. I really was jazzed by the picture and the title, and also moved by your experience of opening your eyes to the invisible people.

      As for this post and your response, I keep thinking on it too. I keep thinking about how I opened the exchange by going on the prayer request line. I think about how both it and I were confrontational, rather than conversational.

      The website I responded to greeted me with its war waged on error. It really raised my hackles. I am quite clear that this church (along with almost every other church in this town with rare exception) locks their doors every night. Meanwhile the homeless in this “Christian” town sleep outside on the streets. And according to Jesus, those people ARE HIM!

      I grant that this man has biblical reasons to see it differently. I think his biblical reasons are weak, and I warned him against banking on that with his soul in Judgment because the very passage that equates those people with Jesus is a JUDGMENT passage! If there is room for argument on its meaning, take care which side you err on!!!

      And I see his defense as a glaring defense of the status quo, of ignoring Jesus by means of quoting Jesus! Wow! I see that as a blatant betrayal of the first order. But I must acknowledge that the man did use biblical reasoning, and I have to take that seriously even if I disagree.

      But if my case is in the right and his in the wrong, then the overwhelming observation that Jesus sleeping outside while the church ignores him is like an alcoholic family’s ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM! To come to that realization is to do battle with utter denial! And denial is a stubborn opponent! I sense I am justified in confronting it bluntly and harshly. I have spent many nights in the cold on those streets outside those locked up church house doors, and that was a blunt and unrelenting reality that you would not reason with at all!! The only place I could see to do a little reasoning with those circumstances was by confronting the cold/hardness of the hearts that put locks on those doors!

      I sense rather strongly that more conversation, anecdotal observations, and funny or thrilling sermon illustrations are not getting us past a warm and fuzzy feeling. So, I have chosen confrontation, and I really don’t care if it hurts some feelings or rattles a few cages!

      I have no desire to beat people up with this message, but I sense I am actually a far cry from it really. If a church opens its doors, I am certain I could go on criticizing other aspects of their ministry, and perhaps justifiably so. But I would likely need to put the brakes on that criticism at least long enough to praise new efforts to actually get moving in a good direction… to encourage the repentance that is finally under way. To continue in unabashed confrontation at that point would be like beating people up with the message, but I will cross that bridge when we get there.

      Meanwhile, I will do my best to restrain contempt and show respect to the extent that it is due. I refrain from calling people names and using labels, but I recognize that even Jesus called people hypocrites and snakes etc on some occasions. So, I sense I am out there where angels fear to tread.

      I don’t really expect you personally to read, absorb, and appreciate all of my remarks here at this point, but I say all this to lay down a marker publically on the one hand as a map for where I go and why. Also it gives me a sense of accountability before critical readers too. It helps me to find proper restraint.

      And that makes me want to say that I wish no harm against the church. I do not wish to afflict revenge for scorn I feel. I wish for change. But I have been banging my head and heart against the wall of contempt and the locked up door I find there as I speak to deaf ears! As soon as you want to take me seriously, we can move into a different arena…. but keep in mind that as long as Jesus is left out in the cold night, I will keep pushing and pushing hard for the repentance the church needs to get on with!

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Like

      • Agent X · December 20, 2015

        I say I refrain from using labels and calling names… That is true, but not without exception. And I need to make that point publically too.

        I coined a term meant to shame pastors last year that I have used several times: Pastorbator! I make clear that Pastorbation is what you get when the pastor is more interested in pleasing himself than in tending to the needs of his beloved. I also made a blanket assertion that it applies to pastors all over Lubbock. I did not single any one pastor out for it..

        That said, I have received feedback that at least one pastor has faced the ridicule of that label. I never associated his name with the label, but the label found its way to his reputation. That is a disturbing label to be stuck with. The problem is that was fully deserved. And the best way for it to be removed is not by my retraction or repentance in using it, but in his repentance in practicing it.

        This is the only exception I can think of for use of labels and name calling done by me. It makes me shudder too. I really feel bad for the guy it stuck to, but I keep recalling the cold wind I slept in just outside his locked up church house door with members of his own flock. I (and others) confronted him several times in much more “civil” ways long before that label stuck on him, but he refused to repent. At ANY TIME of his choosing, he can change it and make it completely irrelevant by simply following the judgment passage of Matt 25:35/40.

        Until then, destruction awaits the goats. I hardly think the label Pastorbator rivals that!

        Like

      • SurvivorX · December 20, 2015

        I understand every thing you’re saying. And I take a partisan position on it. I refuse to engage a semantic debate with anyone. Or reveal my theological orientation. Neither are necessary and detract from the simple truth. All religions are founded on humanitarian principles. If that is missing from your practice, your feigned dedication is sacrilegious. I use words like hypocrite when it’s due. I openly sit in judgment of sacrilegious hypocrites who incredulously lecture me on holiness, whilst they practice nothing holy. It’s time for the church to tend to it’s own flock instead of seeking to continually grow this unholy mass of malignant, self serving hypocrites.

        Like

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