Fixing Gates

Tuesday Musings of a Pastor – Fixing Gates
February 28, 2017
During my childhood there were private roads in rural areas that were shared courtesy of neighboring farmers.  Intermittently in crossing from one property to another there were gates typically made of rails or boards that slipped into notches on opposing posts.
Someone walking might lower only one rail. For a moving vehicle to go through the gate it might be necessary to completely remove all rails. After driving the vehicle through the gate the driver would have get out and put the rails back in place.

Failure to replace the rails could allow livestock to cross into another farmer’s land, gardens, cornfields and wheat. Or the livestock might disappear to never be found.

Failure to replace rails soon earned a reputation for carelessness, disrespect and neighborly grace was withdrawn. It might take hours or days for the loss of livestock to be realized. Of course, damage to a neighboring farmer’s property/fields/crops could be a sore issue.

There seems to be many ministers letting gates down and leaving them down. People are crossing into unfamiliar territory beyond safe boundaries, wandering around in no-man’s-land, getting lost in sin and doing a lot of harm to themselves and others.

It is disturbing that persons with high degrees often feel compelled to exalt the esoteric, to flaunt their liberties, and to talk more about how they disagree with the Bible moreso than how they agree.

Books and treatises are written without any compelling argument of the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ saving us from sin.

They base their thoughts on the odd twists of their own personality. They construe the whole Bible in order to make it a prosperity message.  They relegate the Coming of Jesus to a social movement of modern history as if the disciples did not believe in an imminent return of Jesus.

Shaking my head in wonder and puzzlement over self-exalted scholarship, I have to ask why people who believe in Jesus would spend more time questioning the Gospel than promoting the Gospel. Why do they spend so much time trying to convince saints how to wander around in another farmer’s field instead of teaching people how to share the simple message that Jesus saves?

I am in consternation that supposed scholars in America do not realize that their egocentric conjectures about theology would be soundly rejected by the Christian scholars in Africa, Asia, India, etc. When theology is so tangled that it diminishes Christ, it is not Biblical.

KEEP IT SIMPLE: Many times, too many times, I have seen women leave men who were rich, handsome and had all the toys and choose a life with a man not handsome and of modest economic means. Lacking the simplicity of love, romance disappears!

My journey is ever toward the simplicity of the gospel: JESUS SAVES, HEALS AND DELIVERS! Some of the most erudite scholars in our intellectual community have shared that they attend Covenant because the messages are simple! They say it as a compliment.

Occasionally [not very often because my stomach cannot handle the indigestion], I flip through TV channels to look at various religious programs. It is appalling that the content of many programs is directed to the blessing of saints. Of course, the blessing always comes with the price tag of monies to sponsor the “feel good” ministry.

Enough. We are not called to let the gate down for people to roam satisfying their flesh. We are called to preach JESUS. We are not called to preach with the intent of others being impressed with our intellect. We are called to point the way to the CROSS.

Finally, I must share with you news of a pause. Covenant Church is in a building program we hope to finish by Resurrection Sunday. Upon completion of the current building program, we need to launch another $2,500,000 building program by May. We are on a difficult timeline. Our attendance is increasing. It is harvest time!

In prayer I have had to reckon with my schedule. I love writing Tuesday Musings. However, the time involved must be dedicated to my part in the current challenges of Covenant Church. At least for a season, I must sign off.

You have traveled with me with Tuesday Musings since March 2009, not missing a week. My hope is that we will be able to someday compile a series and publish.

Yes, it is possible that I may from time-to-time MUSE.

Pray for me that as Lead Pastor I may serve Covenant well to victory of this next phase!

It would mean a lot to hear from you.

Much love,
Pastor Bare
Philippians 4:8

P.S. The first book of mystery crime adventure TROUBLE can be ordered: BaresEyeView.com, where you can also read reviews.

The second book in trilogy is written. The third book is in process.

Harold L. Bare, Sr., Ph.D.

Senior Pastor, Covenant Church
www.covenantchurch.net
pastorbare@covenantchurch.net
(434) 953-9065

Covenant Church
1025 Rio Road East
Charlottesville VA 22901

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Where Angels Fear to Tread

Tuesday Musing of a Pastor – Where Angels Fear to Tread
February 21, 2017

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Where Angels Fear To Tread

I have never been to a NASCAR race but understand that if a caution flag is waved every car must pace until flag is lifted.

Consider the caution flag raised.

Laila’s dissertation for her Virginia Tech doctorate was a study of the wives of pastors. At the time of her research more than 85 books had been written by, for or about ministers’ wives. No part of the life of a minister’s wife was spared advice, sometimes written by men.

Laila perused every book, selected certain ones for her research and proceeded with a contextual analysis. She did not include in her study husbands of women ministers. There were fascinating sociological differences discovered between eras of 1940-1959, 1960-1979, and 1980-1998.

For example, divorce was unthinkable in the first era, but in the last era pastors might divorce and continue to serve a congregation. In the first era, the wife of a pastor was expected to support her husband/pastor at home and in parish work. By 1980 the wife of a pastor might not even attend the church her husband served. There are numerous other notable differences.

Ministry is the only profession that a wife is expected to participate without pay in her husband’s profession. It has been designated the only profession where the hirer gets two for the price of one, i.e., one is paid, but the other is expected to fulfill duties without salary.

Most professions have no handbooks for wives. There are few manuals for wives of military and corporate wives. However, such books are more about behavior and emotional support than participation in the husband’s professional work.

It took me a long while to find my own copy of an out-of-print book “How to Be A Bishop Without Being Religious.” Written by a Methodist minister it has a tongue-in-cheek humorous twist. He suggests that a minister’s wife should be attractive, but not so much that other women feel jealous. She should be friendly, but not too friendly. If this book were taken seriously, being the wife of a pastor would be impossible.

If we move from 1940 to 2017 it feels like hurtling through the Milky Way at light years’ speed.

But before we venture too far let us go back to early Protestant history. Roman Catholicism forbade marriage, though many priests had secret wives and girlfriends and some Popes had children. However, a minister having a wife was a cultural intervention… a revolution. Keeping her quietly at home having babies and maintaining household was discrete. One Bishop’s wife if out in public was carried in a closed container in order to protect her from people who were opposed to clergy marriage.

The historical record of early Protestantism provides little record of wives of ministers being directly involved in ministry with their husbands. If the wife was attractive she was expected to camouflage her beauty by dressing extremely modest.

Now back to 2017. Frumpy dresses, high hairdos and pump heels of 1940’s are out.

Visit Facebook and websites of pastoral couples. You may see on a church web page a pastoral couple in a romantic posture. The wife may be dressed in sassy ways that speak of her beauty or boasts of name brand clothes. Do not be surprised if you see the minister’s wife in yoga pants with a short top. Her hair may be so stylish that it would catch attention in a public place. Do not expect the color of hair to be constant. Fingernails and toes may speak loudly of the comfort of economics to afford luxuries.

You may find pictures of the ministerial couple on Facebook in beach clothes,
sports cars, motorcycles, and exotic vacations are proudly displayed on social sites.

Careful, do not be hasty and judge the writer of this Musing as being an obstructionist to progress. This Musing is a call to reason, to think, to ask that clergy couples spend time in discussion, talking with mentors and praying. This Musing is a call that clergy couples to ask if those we lead see past the social presentation to Christ as Lord. After we have passed from this stage of life does the fragrance of Christ remain when we are forgotten.

To all of this we MUSE. If our liberation is so wonderful we wonder why the number of divorces among clergy continues to rise. We wonder why women are on stages of churches wear skin-tight pants with shirts. We wonder why there is an increasing number of ministers and wives who are becoming addicted to pornography. We wonder…

Yet we are not without answers. People follow their leaders. People in the pews feel free to do all their leaders do and a little bit more. The more immodest or carnal the leaders become, the more immodest or carnal their followers become.

Recently, a man arrived home from work early. He found his wife in bed with their pastor. The pastor fled out of the house naked. Police intervened but decided not to press charges. The pastor apologized to his congregation on Sunday and said to the congregation: “You ought not to have to apologize for my sin.” The congregation stood and asked for him to stay.

Let us take this apart. What the congregation did is not an act of godly mercy and compassion. Biblical mercy requires repentance, correction, and accountability. Yes, grace is a good thing.  But asking the pastor to stay in spite of his adulterous behavior and without any time taken for reflection and resolution before restitution was effectively saying: “Now we can keep our sins and do a little bit more.
The Pastor will have no right to correct us.”

Whatever a pastor and his wife do establishes social boundaries that give comfort zones to parishioners.

I grew up country. When we left the gates down the cows roamed. They knew no boundaries. You might find them, you might not.

It is not our liberty as ministerial couples to let the gates down.

Caution flag lifted… run the race at full speed.  And stay on the track.
It leads to the finish line with success.

Musing,
Pastor Bare
P.S. Whatever you are reading is Laila’s edited version.

Thank you for your notes of encouragement as I write the Musings.  If you find them helpful, please feel free to forward to friends and ministers.  No charge as long as you do not sell. It is a joy to hear from you.

Harold L. Bare, Sr., Ph.D.
Senior Pastor, Covenant Church
www.covenantchurch.net
pastorbare@covenantchurch.net
(434) 953-9065

Covenant Church
1025 Rio Road East
Charlottesville VA 22901

Valentine’s Day

Tuesday Musing of a Pastor – Valentine’s Day
February 14, 2017
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Taking my Valentine out to Dinner.

Pastor Harold and Laila Bare
Valentine’s Day


Mom and Dad had nine children. I am the middle child. Often I joke with people sharing that I am the psychologically damaged one. I had four kicking me in the teeth and four kicking me in the rear!
 
When the time came for the ninth child to be born Dad took mom, leaving us to think they may have been going to Sears and Roebuck to get a baby. Things were different in those times. Women did not talk about pregnancy. The word was not spoken in our home. We never put our hands on mom’s tummy to feel the baby kick. We did not go to the hospital to visit. Dad just brought mom and the baby home. 
 
It was not as if we were ignorant. We had lived on a farm. Children growing up on a farm see lots of things. However, in days past good folks practiced extreme modesty in dress and conversation. Bedroom happenings with a husband and wife in pre-TV days were private.
 
In total Mom and Dad celebrated 68 years of love for each other and God. They served nine churches. Mom was fiercely loyal to her man. Dad was determined to care for his woman and left her with sufficient to see 95 years without being a dependent. We nine children never doubted their love for each other and their joint love for God and people.
 
I grew up. I had decided not to be a pastor. My determination was to find a woman who loved the Lord more than she loved me. 
 
In my first year of college I saw Laila. Her modesty and self-composed look stole my heart. I chased. She ran. I was determined, and she was determined not to be caught. We were of different denominations. She had promised herself not to fall in love with anyone of my denomination. To all her protests I kept sending roses and speaking hopeful words.
 
One day she looked at me and said: “I am an only child, loved by my parents, and plan to finish my education and start my own business. Exactly what do you think you can do for me that I cannot do myself?”
 
She was a hard sell. It took me quite a while. I did crazy things to get her attention. 
 
One day I went to my knees on the front lawn of Lee College (now Lee University – LU). I held Laila’s hand, looked into her eyes and asked: “Will you marry me?” 
 
“Get up from there before someone sees you,” she said. 
 
I refused until she said: “Yes.”
 
The battle was not over. We broke up. She transferred to a college in Richmond, Virginia. I stayed at LU another semester. Once I asked another young lady out on a Fridayevening. We began the evening with her saying: “Let’s have an understanding. I know you are still in love with Laila. So we will go out and enjoy the evening as friends. Is that clear?”
 
I came to my senses. I transferred to a college in Salisbury, NC – within striking distance of Petersburg, VA. I started going up on weekends. Our relationship renewed. Then it came to another bump in the road. I do not remember even what the bump was, but we decided to break up. Laila asked me not to tell her parents. They had come to like me. She wanted to tell them about our breaking up after I was gone.
 
I had hitchhiked 240 miles one way to see Laila. She was going to drive me across town to a place where I could begin my hitchhiking journey back to college. I drove. She sat beside me. Her mother was beside her. I eased out of the car. Laila slid under the steering wheel and rolled the window down. We looked at each other. About two and a half years of dating. Now forever “Goodbye”. How do you say that word? We still loved each other – just thought we had differences that could not be repaired, though I cannot for the life of me remember what those differences were.
 
Her mother sat quietly looking out the window on the other side of the car. She was being respectful to two lovers… having no idea of our struggle. Finally, Laila’s mother said: “Laila, for goodness sake kiss him goodbye so we can go!”
 
Those were magical words. I did not hesitate, but went thru that open window and kissed her. That kiss has sealed 50 years of happiness. As I write she sits beside me. She has been faithful in love to her Lord and to me and her family. 
 
‘Tis true I loved her parents. Laila’s dad died suddenly at age 60. I cared for her mother with love as if she were my own. I had a debt I could not repay.
 
We began marriage with virtually no worldly goods except my car (photo below). I was a restless soul. We moved about ten times in seven years. I had promised Laila I would not be a pastor. In desperation she suggested we go visit the Bishop. He offered us a church. We moved into a parsonage to assume responsibility for a 24 x 36 SF cinderblock building, no classrooms, no restrooms and a congregation of 17 people!
 
Thus began our journey of serving as a pastor’s family. God blessed us with four children. One is in heaven, which is like a magnet drawing us to a future meeting. Soon we will mark the calendar with 41 years of serving two congregations. The first was five years and four months in Wytheville, VA, where I say that God helped me to grow up. The balance of almost 36 years we have been privileged to be at Covenant. 

Tuesday Musing of a Pastor

Tuesday Musing of a Pastor
February 7, 2017
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Pastor Harold and Laila Bare

Ask parishioners of Covenant Church which sermon they would remember out of 35 years my hunch is many would say the “Merry-go-round Sermon.”
 
The Sunday after 911 the sermon began with a reference to sociologist Ernest Burgess’ concentric zone theory published in 1925 to illustrate where we would be going in the future. Burgess studied cities as zones. It is easy to google Burgess for further study.
 
The sermon suggested that post 9-11 would be like folks on a merry-go-round. 
 
Technology fails. The merry-go-round goes faster and faster. No one seems to have the power to slow the merry-go-round down. Consternation. Anxiety. Fear. Panic.
 
Those on outer edges begin to fall off, e.g., persons mentally ill, homeless, criminals, etc. 

Next to fall off are persons partially employed, employed with low wages, no benefits, persons in broken home situations, etc.

Next to fall off are persons with modest security, but no deep reserves. Those to which daily living requires great effort to keep up/survive.

Next to fall off are those who fare better; those who have never suffered and are able to enjoy life.

Finally, at the center of the merry-go-round are those who feel sure they could survive all the ups and downs of the economy, war, natural disasters or other difficulties of life. During the storm and after they would be safe and have sufficient.
 
When fear comes to those at the center society it is a high risk of revolution or anarchy.
 
Ours is such a time as shakes the soul of the most stout-hearted.
 
NATO is less than healthy.
The United Nations is disgracefully dysfunctional.
The Middle East is a boiling cauldron.
Russia is flexing its military muscle.
Iran is saber-rattling.
Mexico is challenged with drug lords.
China is testing world powers and threatening Taiwan.
The Philippine government is restless and unpredictable.
Our own country is experiencing tumult exacerbated by the technology of instant media.
Churches are now embroiled in politics, moral and ethical issues not just dividing denominations but also dividing saints in the pews.
Narcissism is drifting to hedonism with public figures wearing their sins openly as if they are a badge of honor.
 
There is a high risk of pastors taking politics to the pulpit and dividing congregations.
 
Good folks, God-fearing folks, tax-paying, law-abiding and church-going are shaken in their souls. We have to watch every word we say. Be careful of media postings. Recognize that persecution of Christians is on a more massive scale than any time in history.  According to recent research, Christians are the most persecuted people in the world.
 
We wonder if the merry-go-round will fling the strongest off. Paul’s admonition in II Timothy 3, “in the last days perilous times shall come”, seems very present.  
 
Our only hope is for pulpits to regain fallen ground and return to preaching the Gospel under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We need ministers who are Called. We need ministers who are fearless when it comes to declaring the truths of the Gospel. We need ministers who spend less time preaching theory and more time preaching fact. We need ministers who leave politics out of the pulpit. We need ministers who believe in and preach the power of the cross.
 
911 brought changes that will not be reversed. 
Our world has “speeded up”. 
 
Our anchor in these times is Jesus.
 
Musing,
Pastor Bare

Thank you for your notes of encouragement as I write the Musings.  If you find them helpful, please feel free to forward to friends and ministers.  No charge as long as you do not sell.
It is a joy to hear from you.

Harold L. Bare, Sr., Ph.D.
Senior Pastor, Covenant Church
www.covenantchurch.net
pastorbare@covenantchurch.net
(434) 953-9065

Covenant Church
1025 Rio Road East
Charlottesville VA 22901

Where Are We?

Tuesday Musing of a Pastor – Where are We?
January 31, 2017

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This is the Bible my dad was reading when at age 17 I stood before him and said: “Dad, I feel called to preach the gospel.” 

My dad, a pastor, never moved. He gave me a studied look and said: “We, son, if you can get out of it DO!”

I cherish his words among the wisest counsel ever given to me.

Pastor Harold and Laila Bare

Where Are We?

As a little boy, I listened to country preachers who had never seen a college classroom talk about future events. They talked as if they were sure of God’s planning. They quoted scripture by memory to substantiate prophetical teaching
and preaching.

 
The pews we sat on were hard. There was no air-conditioning. There was no carpet. There were no data projectors or fancy LED lights. Hopefully a piano, maybe an organ and guitar. A pretty simple setting. A restroom maybe outside in a little building without running water.
 
The years have passed. We have padded chairs/pews, air-conditioning, light shows that compete with Hollywood, stained glass cathedrals, church restrooms with marble floors, state-of-the-art sound systems, parking lots filled with fancy cars and pulpits with doctors limitless. 
 
We have dispensed with Dispensationalism and decided we will stay here for the anti-christ, made sinners feel comfortable in our pews, put singers on stage with yoga pants tight enough to show a pimple, darkened sanctuaries until people cannot see to read a Bible, eliminated Sunday School and hymns, and introduced preachers with a coffee cup sitting on a bar stool to share their spe-sermon (speech). 

We learned how to use movies and sports for illustrations in sermons. We decided not to do anything religious to interfere with Super Bowl. We chose our favorite ball team that became the point of discussion when together with other clergy.
 
We called it “progressive.”
 
Hollywood took our music and Bible stories. Christians in the pews spent more time watching movies than reading their Bible.

We called it “progressive.”
 
Theologians in seminaries mused about how the Bible should be given some grace; thus, allowing that it was not always correct about the dignity of women, sexual behavior, Jesus being the only savior, the Apostle Paul possibly not writing as many books as we had been told, and that it is possible God will not narrow His salvation plan for heaven to just having a Jesus Ticket.

We called it “progressive.”
 
We blundered along getting richer and having more toys until we insisted that church is an entertainment center. Our kids should “have a blast” in children’s church. Our teens are to be petted and pampered for the darlings we have made them while taxi moms and dads sacrifice for every whim of youth. Adults weary
with the intensity of life deserve to be made to feel good when they leave Sunday services regardless of their sins.

 
We called it “progressive.”

All the while Israel grew into a powerful nation, just like the country preachers said it would. All the while the world increased its hatred of Israel, just like the not formally educated preachers said would happen. All the while churches in America were building bigger and better complexes the percentage of people in America being an atheist or not going to church increased. The number of preachers morally failing seems to be increasing. The number of Christians tithing decreased.
The percentage of Americans going to church decreased.

 
Just makes me wonder if we have gotten “Too big for our britches”, as folks in North Carolina (my roots) would say.
 
Makes me wonder what would happen if we were to resort to being old-fashioned and preach the Gospel under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, as flames of fire, as
if we believed that God’s word is true.

 
Makes me wonder why preachers are getting tangled up in politics and fussing with liberals when Jesus never did.
 
Makes me wonder what would happen if we made the gospel simple with convicting power to bring sinners to repentance. 
 
I wonder what Jesus would do if He started a church in our day?

Where are we? 

We are in need of old-fashioned revival.

Musing,
Pastor Bare
II Chronicles 7:14

Thank you for your notes of encouragement as I write the Musings.  If you find them helpful, please feel free to forward to friends and ministers.  No charge as long as you do not sell.
It is a joy to hear from you.

Harold L. Bare, Sr., Ph.D.
Senior Pastor, Covenant Church
www.covenantchurch.net
pastorbare@covenantchurch.net
(434) 953-9065

Covenant Church
1025 Rio Road East
Charlottesville VA 22901

Can I see Jesus Thru Your Politics?

Tuesday Musing of a Pastor – Can I see Jesus Thru Your Politics?
January 24, 2017

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Laila celebrating with some of our young ladies at the Sunday
launch dinner of our Gen-Friend Ministry for ladies.
Pastor Harold and Laila Bare

Can I See Jesus Thru Your Politics?

Perspective: Nascar is one of America’s most popular and widely televised sports. It is standard procedure for prayer to be offered before the races. People stand in respect while prayer is offered by a minister. Engines roar into life filling the air with throaty raspings like slow rolling thunder. Beer cans are popped. Not a little profanity follows. The race is on, tires screaming, crowds yelling, metal against metal, lights flashing, flags waving and sometimes horrific crashes. And prayer will be offered again next race.

Evangelicals were the extra push for electing President Obama.

Eight years later Evangelicals have had a change of heart and have elected President Trump.

President Obama was pro-abortion and pro-gay and rarely went to church if we trust the media to have given an honest report.

President Trump leans pro-life and is not as pro-gay – the jury is still out.

President Obama could not come to use the term “Islamic terrorists”.

President Trump used the term in his Inaugural Address.

President Obama was reluctant to put emphasis on the God of the Bible.

President Trump had a rabbi, Catholic priest, and four Protestants ministers participate in inaugural ceremonies – three of these defined as Pentecostals. No Koran was present for the ceremony.

There is a euphoria among many church-going people in America. There is the expectation that Christianity is once again becoming the dominant religion of America.

Yet, there are caveats. Trump will not drink alcoholic beverages but owns a winery.
His current marriage is a third.
He owns casinos.

We are a divided nation with irrational divides.

While writing this Musing there is a women’s march in Washington, DC, and other cities around the world to protest Trumpism. However, a women’s group whose leader voted against Trump is denied marching in today’s protest because the group she leads is pro-life.

Dare we be so mundane as to reflect on history? Who would suggest that we might learn something from history? Is each generation not entitled to determine its own destiny without debt to God or forebears?

Constantine was a soldier. His army proclaimed him as emperor. According to Wikipedia, “Constantine enacted many administrative, financial, social, and military reforms to strengthen the empire.” His leadership easily impacted a thousand years and maybe even until today.

Constantine served under Diocletian and saw the horrible persecution of Christians. When he became the ruler of the Roman Empire he was the first emperor to declare Christianity to be the state religion. He personally called, attended and even helped to officiate gatherings of Christians. He was instrumental in the formation of the Nicene Creed.

Hats off.

But not so quick. Constantine insisted on formalized religion, giving it art, elevating the ceremony of worship, providing tax money for robes of clergy and helping to build Christian churches. The Roman Catholic Church is a direct result of Emperor Constantine.

Constantine’s interpretation of Christianity and how it should be practiced divided believers…followers…Christians. The war was on. Those who formalized religion for a thousand years sought diligently to totally crush all semblance of Christianity that was not Roman Church. Militant efforts were employed to destroy persons, literature, and evidence that was not approved by the Roman Church, e.g., Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation was not the first protest nor the last.
John Tyndale and countless others paid with their lives to say “No” to the Roman Church.

Let us be glad for all that is good. But if we will wrap our religion in the cloak of government we are fools. We betray our Lord. We betray reasonable history. We betray reason.

We are Christians who have denied ourselves and taken up our cross to follow Jesus. We need no crutch. We need not wait on politicians. We need not be like a yo-yo swinging on the vicissitudes of political elections.

We march on. We preach the Gospel, the full Gospel, in fear of God and Judgment Day.
We refuse to subvert our message. There is one Lord, one Hope, one Cross, one hell, one heaven. “Behold, all souls are mine,” (Ezekiel 18). “Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess” (Romans 14:11).

Respectfully, I submit that the church is strengthened under persecution.

Respectfully, I submit that this is a dangerous hour tempting us to believe that gentle winds are blowing. We are being encouraged to leave port. Biblically, the storm ahead will inevitably blow us in the direction of a world government with an anti-christ ruler. This world will not be a utopia without Jesus ruling.

There are good governments and bad governments. Righteous rulers bless a nation.
Wicked rulers corrupt a people. Government without Jesus as Lord is human, flawed and terminal.

Let us be careful to do what we were called to do: Follow Jesus who shall reign forever and ever (Isaiah 9:7). When the show is over let us be sure when we lift our eyes we only see Jesus and that we are unashamed of how we have lived our lives and preached the Gospel.

In these times may we refuse to allow social media, politics and public opinion to preempt our commitment to “Let us go that we may die with him [Jesus]” (John 11:16).

If your politics come first it is difficult for me to see Jesus in you.

Musing,
Pastor Bare

Thank you for your notes of encouragement as I write the Musings.  If you find them helpful, please feel free to forward to friends and ministers.  No charge as long as you do not sell.
It is a joy to hear from you.

Harold L. Bare, Sr., Ph.D.
Senior Pastor, Covenant Church
www.covenantchurch.net
pastorbare@covenantchurch.net
(434) 953-9065

Covenant Church
1025 Rio Road East
Charlottesville VA 22901

Part III: Allegory: The Groom and Bride

Tuesday Musing of a Pastor – Part III: Allegory: The Groom and Bride
January 17, 2017

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Note: I write from a pastor’s heart. I travel. Research.
Try to understand where the church is in America. Resolved that at Covenant we
will never have to apologize for a social gospel that would be embarrassing to Jesus.

Pastor Harold and Laila Bare

Part III: Allegory: The Groom and Bride

Please click on the following links to read or re-read Part I and Part II as predicates.

Part III comes from a soul greatly troubled for the status of the church. In the allegory shared there is true love that points to a wedding day. The groom waits. The bride comes but she comes dressed inappropriately, casually and with friends of the world who have no reverence for the sacrifices of the groom, the sanctuary built for worship, or the plans that have been made for future happiness.
 
One may attempt to toss me aside as a relic of past eras who has lost the ability to move with the times. But casually tossing me aside puts me among about 27% of all Americans that include most congressman, governmental department heads, President and Vice-President, majority of governors and about half of ministers, Warren Buffet and host of other persons whose net worth exceeds the GNP of most governments of the world…do I need to continue? While not all of those in my category are Christians the point is clear –  our age group cannot be ignored. Further, we are a significant part of the finances of most congregations in America.
 
If we were to go back to 1776 when America was founded, ministers were among the most educated and respected leaders in America. If children were asked what they would like to be when they grew up, “minister” would have been among the top five choices. 
 
Harvard University, Yale University and The College of William and Mary are just the beginning of
a long list of institutions now secular that were formed for the primary purpose of educating and training ministers. 

 
We have drifted. Our seminaries in America have too often become liberal cesspools of challenging the most fundamental tenets of scripture. Students that I have talked with tell stories of homosexual and lesbian professors who advocate their social views in classrooms and writings. Professors feel free to impose their personal views upon “guppies” in classrooms financially provided by denominational funds.  Denominations have been divided by morality issues. Recently,
an old historic church in Washington, D.C. hired two lesbians to be their lead ministers.

 
While we have talked about being progressive, abortion chugs along with fewer voices protesting. The federal government deceived us and gave hundreds of millions to Planned Parenthood which is the primary abortion provider in America. Passing out condoms to high school students is funded and provided in high schools and colleges while Bible study and prayer are banned as if they belonged to the Cro-Magnon Era or were the missing link of evolution.
 
Instead of the church resisting the world, the church jumped on the bandwagon. While Christ left us the task of sharing the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20) the church converted the purpose of existence to making everyone feel comfortable.
 
We party and play.

We have tried to be like everyone else.
We have lost the distinctiveness of our identity.

We have followed fads and fashions.
We have lost the sacredness of simple worship.

We wear expensive name-brand sports clothes indicating our allegiance to games. 
We wear casual clothes, shorts and flip-flops to church.

We can name countless movies and movie stars.
We struggle to quote books of Bible and know a few of the names of the disciples.

We can quote sports statistics at the drop of a hat.
We do not know enough scripture to point a sinner to Christ.

We drive nice cars, live in fancy homes and take exotic vacations.
We complain about tithing and fuss about giving to missions.

We make our sanctuaries rock-star performance centers with congregations in the dark and spotlights on stage.
We wonder why people do not carry their Bibles to church.

We have women on stage in yoga pants and without enough upper support jumping up and down.
We pretend men leave their eyes outside when going to church.
 
Sinners are encouraged to feel comfortable in the presence of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.
We wonder why sinners do not take the church seriously.
 
We sing songs more about us than Jesus.
Yet we wonder why our children do not long to be in His presence.
 
We nip and toddy and fuss about the right to do so.
We wonder that alcoholics do not see us as being different.
 
The groom waits for the Bride. Jesus will come for His Church. He tells us “broad is the way…that leads to destruction…and few will enter” (Matthew 7:13-14).
 
We must take more seriously whether we will be included when He comes! 
 
My heart’s desire is that sinners will desire to come to church. My heart’s desire is that they will feel welcome. Yet, even though they come inappropriately dressed may they find “saints” looking like they care that they are in a sacred place. May they find the stage to be more than performance. May they find the message to be more than social chatter about “doing good” wrapped in jokes and humor to entertain. May they find more than a good talk while holding a cup
of coffee.

 
May we allow the Word to do its work. May the anointing be powerful. May conviction of God’s love draw sinners into the holy presence of a holy God. May they leave sobered, changed and with a spiritual hunger in their bosom to know Jesus.
 
May this generation know the beauty of sacred worship. May this generation know what it is like to experience worship in a simple setting with songs that have sound theology.
 
Jesus is not coming for a Bride that is partying with the world – looking like it, hanging out with it and smelling like it.
 
Musing,
Pastor Bare
Ephesians 5

Thank you for your notes of encouragement as I write the Musings.  If you find them helpful, please feel free to forward to friends and ministers.  No charge as long as you do not sell.
It is a joy to hear from you.

Harold L. Bare, Sr., Ph.D.

Senior Pastor, Covenant Church
www.covenantchurch.net
pastorbare@covenantchurch.net
(434) 953-9065

Part II: An Allegory

Tuesday Musing of a Pastor – Part II: An Allegory
January 10, 2017

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NOTE: You may want to read Part I published last week before reading Part II. Follow this link for Part I.

Pastor Harold and Laila Bare

   Part II: An Allegory

The Groom stood tall and regal at the altar waiting for his Bride. The doors opened and the Bride entered.

His struggled for his face not to reveal his shock or disappointment or the inner struggle of his soul. Who was this woman coming down the aisle?  Where was the drop-dead gorgeous girl with a simple beauty that spoke of purity? Where was the girl of his dreams?

A low whistle came from one of the back pews. The bride did not look at the person who whistled, but her face registered pleasure at the attention.

The audience gasped in horror. Folks who had come from the community of her childhood were stunned that a bride would show up for a wedding in such party clothes, if they could be called clothes.

Who was this woman? Could it be the sweet and adorable girl who had been so pure, so gentle, so modest? Were they in the wrong place? But they could not be in the wrong place. The groom they knew. They were sure of his identity. But the appearance of the bride and her presentation were inconsistent with the person they had known.

The minister was aghast. He did not know what to do. He anxiously waited for the groom’s response.

The groom remained steady in his place.

The folks from the country began to shuffle with a dignified uncertainty.

The friends of the bride knew no decorum and were becoming more raucous by the moment. If they were at a party they would be the center of attention.

The bride hesitated. She looked right and left as if thinking – perhaps hesitating – but she moved steadily toward the altar where the groom waited.

“Who giveth this woman to be married?” the minister said.

A chorus of voices from the rear pews erupted in a discordant chant “We do…We do…
We do!!!”

There was silence.

The groom spoke.

“I grew up with you. We played together as children. You were so beautiful. I was a little older and knew that I loved you. You were the woman of my dreams. Four years of hellish war called me away to serve my country. I never looked at another woman to lust. I never put a pin-up above my locker. I stayed on base while others partied. I declined offers by women to entertain me. I saved my money to buy you a jeep. I bought you your first car. I sent you a diamond friendship ring. Every month I put money into an investment for our future.
I pledged my love and sent you an engagement ring. I wrote you love letters every day of the four years that I was in war.”

“You wrote fewer and fewer letters, and they became shorter. You said the right words, but they lost warmth and beauty. Yet I still believed that if I came for you I would find the girl of my dreams.”

“You were here. You lacked for nothing. You have imposed upon your body holes and tattoos to mar your beauty. You chose as your companions persons that are not of my choosing. You played. You partied. You come here today without your wedding dress. You did not prepare yourself, perfume and brush your hair.”

“I do not know you. You have marred your beauty and traded love for pleasure.  I came for a bride that I could take from this place with dignity and unreservedly give my love to for the rest of our lives.”

“You have come wanting my love, but not sure if you are willing to give up what you have found in the city.”

“I came for a bride that would be pure in heart and appearance. I was waiting for a bride in a wedding dress. I do not know you,” the groom said.

Stepping forward with the precision of a military officer he looked at the audience and said: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I apologize for your inconvenience. Please know that I will cover the cost of all foods and refreshments. What is left give to the poor.”

“There will be no wedding,” he said. “I will now take my exit and go to search for a bride of pure and undivided heart. It matters not if she is outwardly beautiful. It matters not whether she is rich or poor. It matters that she be pure and committed. I shall not rest until I have found such a bride!”

Thereupon the groom turned, expressed appreciation to the minister and exited by the chapel door.

Musing,
Pastor Bare
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things…”

Next week: An Allegory
Part III

Please respond to MusingsPastorbare@covenantchurch.net

Thank you for your notes of encouragement as I write the Musings.  If you find them helpful, please feel free to forward to friends and ministers.  No charge as long as you do not sell.
It is a joy to hear from you.

Harold L. Bare, Sr., Ph.D.

Senior Pastor, Covenant Church
www.covenantchurch.net
pastorbare@covenantchurch.net
(434) 953-9065

An Allegory

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Having fun at rehearsal for our 50th.  Missing one grandson who was sick but in the pictures the next day.

January 3, 2017
Pastor Harold and Laila Bare

An Allegory

The community was small and rural. The birth of a child was cause to celebrate. A boy.
The family’s first child.

Three years passed until another family rejoiced to have a little girl. 

Quite naturally the boy and girl grew up together. More like big-brother and little-sister, though no kin. From running through mud puddles they progressed to teenage years of riding horses, fishing, and other sports. No movies. No skating rinks or putt-putts. If they went to a big city it was with the family [together] for a day to get necessities not available where they lived.

As they grew older he was tall and handsome. She was petite and drop-dead gorgeous. He dreamed of her. He dreamed of marriage. But she was only 15 when he was drafted into the army. The hug goodbye was more like a brother and sister. He wanted to kiss her for the first time. Not the first time he wanted to kiss her, but it would have been their first kiss. But he would have been kissing a 15-year-old. Folks treated them like brother and sister. If they went riding horses for hours no one questioned their behavior. For him to kiss her like he wanted to kiss her in front of others would have been bold and would have raised questions.

He pulled away quickly from her hug hearing her whisper “I love you,” but he could not tell if it was love of a sister or more. He wanted to think more.

Boot camp. Special training. Because there was war and his skills were needed on the battlefield,
he was not able to go home. But every day he wrote her. On her sixteenth birthday, he bought her a jeep. On her 17th birthday, he bought her a car. Her 18th birthday, he sen a diamond friendship ring. Every payday he sent her as much as he put into a savings plan for their future.

Their letters had moved from a “sibling” tone to passionate love. She wrote that her family was moving to a small city. In anxiety he proposed by letter. She responded with love and acceptance. 

He kept writing letters every day during the last year of his military duty. Often with the sound of fighter planes, bombs and cries of men in pain he would write to her his profound love and his dreams for their future together.

She looked forward to his letters. But the city had an opportunity for fun and parties that she had not experienced. She wrote back to him dutifully, but the letters were not as long after she moved to the city. She wore the diamond friendship ring. But keep the engagement ring in its box on her vanity. She was not ashamed of the engagement ring, but it was nice getting attention from other men. And she did get attention. 

They agreed upon a wedding date. It would be one week after he was discharged with great military honors. He wanted to see her for the first time coming down the aisle as a bride. She agreed.

He came from the side chapel to the altar.  Almost all of the folks from their childhood had come to the city for the wedding. The audience gasped at the tall and handsome man so dignified in his dress military uniform. They had followed his career mostly by newspaper articles. He had become a hero to be celebrated.

Time passed. The groom waited a full ten minutes with great patience. He had visions of what she would look like when the doors opened and she came down the aisle. He imagined the beautiful women in her wedding dress as he had dreamed night-after-night since their engagement.

The doors opened. The people stood. The bride entered. She was wearing shorts, a skin-tight tank-top with too much showing, flip-flops, her hair had the effect of having been in the wind, her nose ring was a distraction marring simple beauty. There were tattoos on both arms.

As she came down the aisle an assortment of young people, more males than females, slipped into the back pews. They were dressed to party. That they had been to a mud-bog was apparent from the dirty spots on clothes and feet or sandals. Strange hair-dos, tattoos and rings from toes to noses and eyebrows to belly-buttons were generous. 

She had been part of their party. She had refused to do some of the things they did, but she still hung out with them and went to places they liked. They knew she was engaged. But from time to time she did things with them that made them wonder what engagement meant. They finally decided that engagement meant “Have fun until you get married.”

But they came with her for the big day. They had never been to a wedding. Their life-style was to live together without weddings. But they came for the show and to see the hero. And, there would be food.

Musing,
Pastor Bare
Mark 4:9 Then Jesus said: “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

***************************************************
Next Week:  Tuesday Musings of a Pastor
                      Part II: Allegory
P.S. Wonder if you will figure it out before I write it.

Please respond to MusingsPastorbare@covenantchurch.net

Thank you for your notes of encouragement as I write the Musings.  If you find them helpful, please feel free to forward to friends and ministers.  No charge as long as you do not sell.
It is a joy to hear from you.

Harold L. Bare, Sr., Ph.D.

Senior Pastor, Covenant Church
www.covenantchurch.net
pastorbare@covenantchurch.net
(434) 953-9065

The Future

Tuesday Musing of a Pastor – December 28, 2016
The Future

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My hand beside of foot of new parishioner.

Pastor Harold and Laila Bare

The Future

I am a powerful believer that if we do not study history we tend to repeat history’s failures.

Of the top 50 universities in the United States, only about six require every student to take a class in Western Civilization. Forget Civics, which is a study of our government and how it works – it might suggest patriotism.  Who cares about patriotism? But not to study who we are and how we got here? Not to understand our roots? Not to have a basis of historical understanding for our law, our courts, our school system, our religion(s)?

Compound this insanity with the madness of liberal professors outnumbering conservative professors in U.S. colleges and universities by 5 to 1. This is a radical increase of liberals in the last 50 years. Indications are that once a person acknowledges being liberal there is a progressive move toward the extreme Left. The further Left persons move the more they tend to accept diverse views of religions, i.e., not believe in Jesus, or not believe in any god. Bluntly, they tend toward atheism or agnosticism. The percentage of atheists in the U.S. and the percentage of those who choose not to follow any mainstream religion is approaching 21% in a recent survey.

Left incorporates freedom to engage in sexual lifestyles of choice without a punitive god having any power to punish. Left favors abortion with unborn children not being human beings but things to be disposed of at the will of a mother if it interferes with her bodily pleasure or suggests future responsibility. Left favors evolution with the inherent rejection of a Creative God who has the power to judge human behavior. Left favors government tax money funding lifestyles not biblical and destructive to health and society.

We would be wise to study old kingdoms and realize that many world leaders are responding to current crises with the hope of one day restoring the glory of their past kingdoms. Has anyone been listening to Putin? History counts.

When the Israelites marched across the Jordan River the Lord God who had delivered them instructed that they rehearse their history of God’s provision with all future generations. From time to time God reminded the Israelites how He had delivered them by with the narrative of His Mighty Hand.

We are in a dangerous vacuum in these current times. Terrorism is not our greatest threat.

The greatest danger to Christianity is our failure to see that many of the people who are assuming common values with Christians are not Christian, do not go to church, do not profess a relationship with Jesus Christ and never refer to the Bible as a guide for their behavior, thinking or social action.

Being anti-abortion was once considered a Christian political stance.
Being anti-homosexual, et al was once considered a Christian political stance. Being anti-evolution was once considered a Christian political stance. Being anti-Israel was once considered a non-Christian stance.

There are politicians, religious figures and millions of common folks who are ANTI the above. But their ANTI is not rooted in the Bible or belief in Jesus Christ. For whatever reasons many folks who do not go to church, have never been born again, and who do not couch their political and social opinions in religious beliefs are ANTI or PRO to positions once considered indicators of Christianity.

We should be glad for voices raised against disastrous social and political policies. Good is good. Yet, being morally good is not salvific. Being good is not a ticket to heaven.

These are dangerous times in which folks are easily fooled to believe that political values are a result of Christ’s heart, and that heaven is attainable without a cross. No blood. No sacrifice at Calvary. No repentance. No changed heart. Just vote for things considered RIGHT.

We should not be surprised that the number of people who do not care about organized religion is increasing. If the church is no more than a self-righteous political party preaching “do good” under the cover of religion we have failed. There are many social organizations that “do good”.

We need an old-fashioned revival of the preached word under the anointing of the Holy Ghost that brings conviction of sin leading to salvation. We need a wake-up call in the pulpits of America that reaches to the pews of America. We need a meeting of the pulpit and pews at an altar.

We need the church to be a holy place with people meeting a holy God. We need fear and trembling before the Lord, not social gospel preached to comfort those who seek pleasure in this present world.

Musing,
Pastor Bare

Thank you for your notes of encouragement as I write the Musings.  If you find them helpful, please feel free to forward to friends and ministers.  No charge as long as you do not sell.
It is a joy to hear from you.

Harold L. Bare, Sr., Ph.D.

Senior Pastor, Covenant Church
www.covenantchurch.net
pastorbare@covenantchurch.net
(434) 953-9065