Thursday, April 15, 2004

Josh had some nice things to say about me. I do I know a little doctrine, but that little bit of doctrine has turned into a major concern about the direction the LCMS is going and to why there are people who want us to swallow PDL and, even worse, The Prayer of Jabez. I have kicked myself for three years because of that book.

Here is the setup. I volunteered to help out at the past two National Youth Gatherings. The first gathering, I did servant events and I had a blast. I learned how not to do servant events (make sure the bus driver knows where he is going) and met a lot of very diverse and interesting people. Somehow, I have managed to not keep in touch with any of them (very typical of me). The second gathering, I learned how to take getting yelled at by hot, angry crowds, that the SP elect even needs the proper bracelet to get in (yes, I did meet Kieschnick), and how to drink beer even though the covenant you signed says you shouldn't. That's what happens when you put two geologists into the same roomin a hotel. You gotta love the French Quarter. All of this proved to me that the Doctrine of Total Depravity is correct.

I am positive I haven't told this story to anyone, but I think it does need to be told. The Friday before the gathering (it started on a Saturday), all the workers and volunteers got together for a worship service and communion. By this point, my transformation from loving Contemporary Christian Music (I have a huge collection of CCM in the basement which I rarely listen to anymore) to becoming a man made in the image of Bach (sort of). I did know one thing at this time: the Prayer of Jabez was a book to be despised and the Purple Palace (a term I haven't used: synodical headquarters) released a statement to that effect. I walk into the hall (we ate pizza in the place before the service) and I find a praise and worship band setting up. OK. I'm not exactly happy about this but I'll deal with it. The service was hosted by a local church and the President of the Southern District helped with the reading. Let me tell you the shock when the reading was 1 Chronicles 4:9-11 . I was thinking, "OK, maybe he has some strong sermon against the book." I actually obeyed the Eighth Commandment (this is not as much me bragging as me just saying that it was a miracle and I cannot take any credit for it). Then came the sermon and I could hear all those positive thoughts being flushed down the drain with my ignorance. Yes, I actually hear a man certified by the LCMS as a shepherd lead this flock of sheep right to the gates of "name it and claim it" land. He preached on aspects of Jabez and his prayer and then had us go to our knees to pray about that aspect. My prayers were probably much different than my colleagues. Mine started with "Our Father" and "Why God!? Why!?" and when I was done with that, "I believe in God the Father almighty..." What I should have done was walk out, but I was in such shock that someone within the LCMS would actually say the things I was hearing. If I had thought about it, I would have taken notes as proof of what I was seeing. Somehow, I managed to justify taking communion from this pastor (another mistake which I have been kicking myself for three years about) and the nightmare was over. If this had happened now, I would have taken notes and then left before communion and found the Irish Pub in the French Quarter I had scouted out and had a sacrament of black and tans and pretzels. It would have done me more good than that sermon. It was that day that sent me over the edge and I became the thorn in the side of everybody that I am today. I learned a lesson that day as well: tolerance sucks.

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