In the mountains of western Massachusetts the Lord has built a foundry out of which are cast all manner of instruments for His service. These hammers, these nails - these scalpels and swords were fashioned from metals made molten by the crucible of confrontation, study, independence, and community. This experience and environment is unlike any other and has provided its products a peculiar ethic and a wonderful worldview. Those of us tempered in this foundry are a league of useful soldiers and in the kingdom we are the Lenox Order of Saints.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Life and Times of the Laid Low

When I entered the hallowed hall of BICS I was far too eager to express my opinion on every point of contention.  I was ready to do Garry Friesen a favor and diagnose for him the nature of his spiritual cancer.  I floated effortlessly above the dim-witted debaters of Calvinism vs. Arminianism and, with a golden tongue, paved for everyone the high and middle way forward.  Of course, my crowning achievement and the surest evidence of my prodigious genius was the blueprint for denominational and worldwide revival that I first articulated during my three minute chapel presentation.  The days of wine and roses!  But I soon found that the motherly admonition in the Johnny Cash song was true - when one takes his gun to town he'll likely find for himself a fight.  And fight I did - rarely winning and always losing.  A little contentiousness is permissible I suppose - kind of like lion cubs tussling and tumbling in a training exercise for survival.  It was good to match wits if only to prove I had none and better get busy studying to find some.  But I find it interesting - I've never argued much after BICS.  Humility is hard to come by today with a world that's bent on building me up.  We can all praise the Lord for the doctors in Lenox willing to administer a daily dose of "get over yourself"!  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Declaration of Dependence

Individuality is most important when one's goals are personal.  After all - the world has made it clear that true genius can know no collaboration and that authentic greatness means never sitting on another's shoulders.  The lionization of Steve Jobs would not be complete without the autopsies of a thousand dead friendships, right?  Each class of students that comes here to Lenox exhibits the awful symptoms of this cultural contagion.  We all came to BICS a little i am and were made to look up and consider the Great I AM.  We certainly didn't all get it right away - making silly where serious would have profited far more, flirting when courting would have been more productive, and talking when listening would have kept us from being discovered for the fools that we were.  But, for most of us, we eventually decided to spend our lives and devote our energies on goals that can only be met as a group.  We were taught what it means to be in the family of God and we took our places up front and behind; but always alongside.    

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Siren Song of Silliness

A shepherd can no more shepherd wolves than a pastor can disciple a flock of fools.  Those who may be discipled are the humble, the hungry, and those distrustful of their own understanding.  BICS has long stated as both its goal and reason for existing that it is in the business of discipleship.  Whether or not it is able to make good on that aspiration depends greatly on the type of young people that make up each class.  Everyone enrolled is a student but very few are disciples.  Looking back on our experience - was orientation the beginning of a lazy-river ride or was it the end of one?  Are we yet disciples?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

There Are No Good Ol' Days

In the seventh chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon has this word for the weary: "Do not say, 'Why is it that the former days were better than these?' For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this."  What makes this question unwise is that it is hardly a question at all; but is instead a declarative statement and a sad one at that.  There is a note of despair in this inquiry which is evidence of a cold or cowardly disinclination to fight.  Every age has its own struggles and challenges and we are responsible for today's.  Yesterday is gone forever and so are the men and women who led the charge for the Kingdom in those days.  We are not misplaced in history.  We have been called to this time and age - to fight to raise the banner of Christ over our quarter-inch of the timeline.  Make this your mindset and mine and perhaps a turn towards revival will be seen before our generation's sun has set.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Westminster Confession or Kennel Club for You?

With a modicum of skill a man may train his dog but he will never be able to disciple it.  Propriety by prompts is not victorious Christianity but rather the life of the well-heeled cocker spaniel.  Discipleship is aspiration over instinct, love over reward, meaning over function.  Like Pavlov's dimwitted dogs, do you still salivate when the world rings a bell?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Healthy Discontent

The practice of tithing seems to be going the way of the gray flannel suit, the top hat, and the diagrammed sentence - "nice and proper and all but. . ."  Why do you suppose the younger generations aren't signing up for a regimented program of giving that involves forking over a percentage of their pay?  Is it the ascendancy of the secular values of personal peace and affluency as Francis Schaeffer warned?  Is it the despairing of ever seeing any appreciable return on their investment?  is it a conscious or subconscious protest against the traditional institutions?  Have we just lost our nerve?

Whatever the causes - as the infrastructure of our church's income crumbles so will its actual brick and mortar construction begin to crumble as well.  When the herd is thinned over the next fifty years and most of the little steepled buildings have been sold and "repurposed" will our children find a home in the megachurches that alone remain standing?  I doubt it.  Where, then, will they meet?  How will they meet. Why will they meet at all?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Permanent Fatal Errors

"Blindness separates us from things but deafness separates us from people." ~ Helen Keller

Our class of fourteen graduated on Saturday and their commencement address was delivered by Sue Thomas, a woman who has been deaf since she was eighteen months old.  She overcame her disability to lead a very successful and productive life - even working for the FBI for a time as a lip reader.  She shared with the class that what embittered her the most about being deaf was that it kept her from the thing she most loved and longed to have: meaningful relationships with people.  She wanted a friend.  What a wonderful thing it was to hear her tell of how she eventually found that friend.  The silence left her only to listen for the One whose voice is inaudible and whose fellowship unbreakable.  The silence she had despised became the sanctuary she adored as she came into a loving relationship with the Lord there.

Miss Thomas's remarks reminded me of an old Michael Knott song I used to listen to back in high school (Knott was in the band The Throes for all you alternative Christian music people out there).  The song's entitled Deaf and Dumb - it tries to explain why it would be desirable to no longer be able to hear or speak.  If the main delivery system for lies, deceptions, half-truths, and seduction is by what we listen to then wouldn't it be best to be deaf and if the vast majority of the utterances of my understandings only add to the sum total of all that is in error then wouldn't it be best that I be dumb?  You get the idea I think.  Obviously this is just the expression of the frustration we all feel with ourselves at times and not a viable plan of action - we'd never choose these disabilities for ourselves - not really.  The gifts of God are wonderful in the joys they provide and terrible in the accounting that must be given for how we've redeemed them.  I believe that BICS provides an opportunity for its students to be deaf and dumb for a year.  BICS can be a great place to be quiet and listen for the Word and its wisdom if one doesn't spit the bit, toss his rider, and gallop away.  Do you miss the silence?